Brutality in Zimbabwe worse than that of Ian Smith

ZIMBABWE is a continuation and perfection of the Rhodesian colonial state, says Pedzisai Ruhanya of the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition.

Speaking at a gathering in South Africa this week to address the human rights situation in Zimbabwe, Ruhanya said: "There is no difference between the regime of Ian Smith and that of Robert Mugabe. Smith lost an election and handed over power, but Mugabe lost and refused to hand over. 

"Mugabe is more brutal than Smith. The implementation of the Global Political Agreement between Zanu-PF and the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has failed. Zimbabwe has not returned to law and order, and is filled with rampant impunity."  

Ruhanya said that people of Zimbabwe continue to live in fear of the security forces.

Congress of South African Trade Unions’ international relations secretary, Bongani Masuku, urged people "to feel the pain of all human beings, and share in the pain and the joys of another".

Masuku raised his concern that people separated themselves from other nations’ plight and struggles against the erosion of human rights.

He insisted that Mugabe must take responsibility for the suffering he has caused Zimbabweans and the continued culture of impunity.

African leaders were not spared for their failure to uphold human rights on the continent. Tiseke Kasambala, of the Human Rights Watch, said these leaders failed people by applying their "so-called African solution" when human rights are not only for Africans but universal.

"It would seem that whenever there is a human rights crisis in Africa their gut instinct is always to go against the so-called Western interference," said Kasambala.

Pelagia Razemba Semakweli of Zimright said: "They are blaming the human rights atrocities from the past colonial regimes as if there are no human rights issues now.

"If you want to be comfortable in Zimbabwe you have to be a Zanu-PF member."

In response to a suggestion from an audience member that Zimbabwe should follow the Arab revolution, Semakweli said: "No one is ready to take the lead. (Myself) I will be right at the back because I fear for my life."

Reverend Paul Verryn, of the Central Methodist Church in Johannesburg, which has become home to thousands of Zimbabwean refugees, was greeted by shouts of "Father Zimbabwe".

He said the church should be leading the campaign for human rights everywhere.

Asked what MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai should do, Bishop Verryn said: "I am probably the least experienced person to answer that question, but a part of me feels that Tsvangirai should withdraw and allow Zimbabwe to collapse into a revolution."

But Masuku said in response to the question: "How do we use access to the levers of power? Tsvangirai should also admit and indicate where he is not responsible for the failures of the government of national unity."

Masuku concluded that "when people suffer too much they lose focus on what the real problem is".

He said Zimbabweans should preoccupy themselves with issues that matter – "the transformation of power rather than the transfer of power".

The debate came against the backdrop of South Africa’s Human Rights Day celebrations on March 21. The day is the anniversary of the 1960 March 21 massacre of 69 demonstrators by the police force in Sharpeville, an event regarded as a turning point in SA’s struggle for liberation. – TimesLive