Jestina Mukoko - Real Reasons For Arrest Revealed

Flattering to deceive, Mugabe with Tsvangirai in September 20008

The latest news on Jestina Mukoko is that she appeared in court today, where the presiding judge ordered that she should be taken to hospital to have allegations of torture investigated before her trial can proceed. 

I wonder whether that will happen. 

There is no doubt at all that the defence has just handed the state a gift, as I explained in my post "Mugabe Prepares To Arrest Tsvangirai", in which I informed you that there is a predetermined timeline to the Jestina Mukoko case, in which we will see no final verdict on all those being charged until March, with April factored in for appeals. This by the way, says nothing about the sentencing.

The real reason for her arrest has also now been revealed. And it explains why the case against her is so flimsy, based on a single "instance" of her facilitating the travel of an individual to cross the border into Botswana.

The reason is that the "government" simply wanted her out of the way. Why?

Right now, as you read this, hundreds of people, mostly MDC activists and some concillors, have disappeared in Zimbabwe's rural areas, which are also awash with ZANU PF activists. Some of the disappeared councillors have been fished out rivers in Mutoko recently. Cars and death squads have been sent out by ZANU PF to "campaign" in these areas (got to find some use for those 10 million litres of diesel donated by South Africa, because the farming season is over) 

They are, "permanently living in the rural areas". (Read they have set up bases). Ask any MDC activist you can find in any rural area in Zimbabwe today and he will tell you where the local base is, you will see the cars driving around or parked at rural shopping centres during the day. At night, well....) 

Mugabe has already started campaigning, which is why he had inserted that clause into the September 15 GPA allowing him to [appro] "terminate the agreement if he thought that it was no longer tenable". He could then terminate the agreement, dissolving the GNU at any time ZANU PF thought that the people had been "cooked enough" and were now ready for an election, ZANU style.

But why would they want the Zimbabwe Peace Project paralysed and out of commisson, its network intimidated into silence, its boss and staff members behind bars on serious charges that carry life sentences?

It was Jestina Mukoko's organisation that was cataloging all these things that are taking place now. But no one is doing anything of the sort now because the world's attention is focused on Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison and the Magistrates court where she is being tried. Mugabe has succesfully created a diversion while giving himself carte blanche to grind the rural electorate into the ground in preparation for a new election, whether Tsvangirai goes into government or not. Mugabe's bet is that he will not, and an election will have to be called to break the deadlock.

He is doing much of the violence now so that when the time comes, as the world stares, he can minimise this and win an election that African observers would say was "credible and an expression of the will of the people". For an explanation on this tactic, read Prof Chan's article that I posted below. If not, just know this: ZANU PF has perfected its art, as one Politubro member told me over Christmas: "We waged such a vicious war during the 1970s that, for over ten years after independence, every single election was won simply by telling rural people, who bore the brunt of this war, that we would go back to the bush if we lost." And hey presto!, without too many people being beaten or killed, Mugabe would win handsomely in the rural areas, carrying the total vote into State House.

Indeed, Mugabe has used this strategy over and over again since 1980 to secure his "rural stronghold". It was not violence, but the fear of some pretty gruesome violence that had been demonstrated in the recent memory of villagers, that won it for him.

The Politubro member says, "The March election shows that they had forgotten. It is time to remind them again." He is quite certain that as long as the people who were running the liberation war are still alive, no party except ZANU PF will carry the rural vote. That makes it about 10-15 more years, he reckons. Which makes it vital and urgent that the solution to this crisis be crafted at a strategic level. It must be taken out of the battlefield and into the boardroom. It is now a game of wits, if a game it can be called.

Certainly, if Jestina Mukoko was free right now, and the Zimbabwe Peace Project was also freed from this oppressive fear that envelopes it at present, the organisation would have by now raised the alarm. They had a network of people on the ground whose job it was to monitor such things and report them immediately. As things stand right now, the councillors who were fished out of rivers in Mutoko remain unknown to the world. The hundreds of people who are disappearing are going unreported. This, Mr Mutota (a reader who asked a question here), is "why her, when there are so many other people running safe houses?".

Intense debates on the declaration of a state of emergency, first revealed on this blog and later independently confirmed by The Financial Gazette and Tendai Biti of the MDC, were meant to "interrogate" the most efficient way to bring this monstrosity we see being implemented now into being.

"Hawks", as The Financial Gazette called them, were of the opinion that it should simply be a decisive blow against the MDC-T, to smash it once and for all, rule it a "terrorist organisation" and ban them from elections.

There are no doves in this story, unfortunately. But let us follow the logic: 

The doves were of the opinion that banning the MDC outright from elections would complicate the matter internationally and regionally, especially. A semblance of competition had to be given to this whole thing. The doves appear to have won the day. Because here is the plan that explains everything from Mukoko's trial to Morgan Tsvangirai's skittishness over coming back to claim his "prize". Tsvangirai knows of this strategy, but he just can't prove it, and Mugabe denies everything. Here's the thing in essence, then:

  • Clear the countryside of as many Zimbabwe Peace Project activists as possible. Those that remain will be so terrified of charges of treason that they will effectively go underground.
  • The coast is now clear for an orgy of violence and intimidation on a massive scale.
  • Concurrently, have the charges against the MDC activists and Jestina Mukoko's people upheld in court, paving the way for a state of emergency to be declared in certain areas where "it has recently been reported that there are killings and destruction of the properties of ZANU PF supporters (impostors, obviously). The insurgents have infiltrated those areas, and we are reasonable, we will only declare a state of emergency in those areas only to protect the lives and property of law-abiding citizens." (The MDC nailed itself to the cross during the negotiations by signing an document, released to the public in which they admitted equal culpability with the ZANU PF in the violence around the elections.
  • Soldiers move into those areas to "keep the peace".
  • An election is called a little while later because the GNU or the talks have broken down irretrievably. 
  • The election is held, still with soldiers on the ground, MDC activists disappeared or underground. The soldiers are there "to protect our rural parents and grandparents from the menace of terrorism and banditry, which will seek to disrupt these elections.
  • The rural folk see these soldiers, this show of force and remember the threats that they have been hearing since December 2008. Naturally they assume that the soldiers are there for one reason: to await the results of the election and, if they are found to have "voted wrong", then all hell breaks loose.
  • How do you think the MDC will fare in that election?

Although most of the disappearances are taking place in the rural areas of Mashonaland West, Central and East, cities have also not been spared. Scores of young men who were known MDC activists and whom neighbours say were routinely sent to campaign for the party in rural areas have also disappeared. Most of these come from the hostel areas of Mbare.

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  1. The liberation era "camps" created for the run-off were never disbanded. The only change is that since these get their direction at provincial level...and provinces now have new leaders...

  2. Very true, that, and I sometimes forget that some of our readers are from beyond our borders and hence do not have the background info.

    You are correct that they were never disbanded. Previously, they were controlled by the Provincial Chairmen who have now been fired and who either actively or passively campaigned against Mugabe.

    Most people just take events at face value, hence newspapers write of "disunity" within ZANU PF etc. Mugabe never does anything without a reason.

    His firing old Provincial leaders and their firing had one purpose: so that Mugabe could have his trusted people (such as Nyanhongo, Harare South, whose constituency is composed almost entirely of "war vets and youths" who were settled on confiscated farms along the road out of Harare, towards South Africa, the Beitbridge road.

    These new chairmen are obviously have to sing for their supper and are absolutely on song. The countryside and all targeted provinces will once again become no-go areas for the MDC when a new election comes.

    The MDC, as was the case previously, could be allowed a few showcase (star) rallies, but by and large they will find that few, if any people will show up, knowing as they do that they will be watched.


    Thank you for that.

  3. I don't understand one thing and perhaps you can explain it for me......Exactly where does Morgan think he is going? Morgan anofunga kuti anozvika kupi nekuda kuita vhigoroni namagandanga? You get to a point where you are almost removing Zanu to openly showing you are on a leash....yaJendayi for crying out loud!What was he thinking allowing himself to be led by Jendayi?

    Nemiwo varume vakuru munoregera mumwe achiita zvakapusa kudai?

  4. Ask Welshman and everyone else who worked with him, as far as he is concerned, NOONE can tell him anything, because he is the leader and his is the final word.

    You heard him yourselves at one of the rallies he held around the time of the split: "Without me, there is no MDC".

    And at another rally: "I am the MDC".

    And people cheered. They cheered! I bet they are not cheering now.

  5. Let me play the Devil's advocate for a moment, since you're getting a bit too good!

    As far as I understand, the strategy you propose ZPF will run is just business as usual, though with a glossy cherry on top with Jestina's arrest. I suggest that the following be true:

    - Field staff for civil society organisations across Zimbabwe already work under great pressure, and risk of violence from local State and political agents. What makes you think that these resiliant people will be any more intimidated now, or that the level or danger will in practice be any different? Field staff have years of operating in this way, and are largely experienced hands, enlightened, committed (and without other employment options in the econopalyse). JM's arrest will scare and disgust them, but may also strengthen their resolve to carry out the monitoring work.

    - ZPP is a coalition of other prominent organisations (read the rubric on their reports), who pool their capacity to a common monitoring service. Jestina isn't the first prominent figure to be arrested, and this dented but didn't stop the monitoring work (the routing of Amani Trust in years past). The systems set up will survive the loss of the leader; they survived the harsh regulatory climate (media restrictions, communications surveillance, financial monitoring) intact. Notwithstanding that, there is considerable functional overlap in terms of the mandates of civil society organisations, so the torch will be taken up by other orgs, and the information will still flow. The real question is about the ability to efficiently and quickly leverage what they learn and /make hay with it/, something that ZPP have got quite good at. In public relations terms, the dirty way in which JM is being treated could be used to great effect by ZPP to continue to get their message about nationwide ongoing abuses.

    - the promulgation of information about abuses has limited tangible political impact at the ballot box. Information more useful at some future, undefined political opportunity, such as a Truth and Reconciliation Commission or a tribunal. Document now, prosecute later.

    Interested to know what you think.


  6. @de-soto,

    Why then is there silence on the horrendous massacres that are taking place all over the country right now if there are other organisations that can take up the mantle.

    You know what happened to Amani Trust. Any NGO operating in the country has to get a licence from government. If they don't, they will get arrested.

    If there is even a hint that they are aligned to the MDC, they will not get the licence.

    While it is correct that the information has no impact at the polling station, Mugabe has previously shown (in March, for instance), that he does get embarassed by the excessive violence and this violence would decrease if there was a risk that it would immediately be known.

    The Truth and Reconciliation you speak about will probably come when we are all dead and forgotten. Mnangagwa is poised to take over from Mugabe. He is even more ruthless and vicious. People will be killed and beaten in even larger numbers when it is his turn to campaign. He is relatively young and can probably maintain 10-15 years on the throne. After him, who knows....

    BUT MY BIG QUESTION: If there are other organisations ready to fill the ZPP void, where are they? They are needed NOW. People are being killed and thrown into rivers.

    You kid yourself if you think that there is actually anyone on the ground taking these things down. Mugabe has cowed the ZPP and the MDC out in the rural areas. All he wants is to get in at the next snap election.


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