The Herald (Harare)

Zimbabwe: Hoey's Motion Opens Old Wounds

editorial

That British Labour MP Kate Hoey has tabled a motion in the British parliament condemning the downing in September 1978 of Air Rhodesia Viscount RH827 by Zipra, the other arm of Zimbabwe's iberation forces, and calling for action is not the central element to this issue.

We say so because to some people, history, especially the liberation struggle, is irrelevant.

Hoey has the right to do that within the confines of the British laws that govern her, and of which she is a legislator. But, what we have to guard against at this juncture are elements who pull out skeletons in their closets in order to make a human rights case against Zimbabwe.

This is our sunset hour, and agenda driven issues can be used to derail the progress that we have so far made. Hoey and her kith and kin know fully well the advances made not only in the constitution-making process, but also in uniting the people of Zimbabwe.

Thus, anything that will continue to polarise us in order for them to gain maximum benefit for their permanent interests will be used to best advantage. However, the motion also gives the British away. Since the Tony Blair days of illegal regime change, this latest move shows that they are running scared that when the draft constitution goes to the referendum, the people will endorse it, and then elections will follow. The worst case scenario for the British is a Zanu-PF and Robert Mugabe win in the forthcoming harmonised elections.

Thus, the motion is a desperate attempt by the Labour party that has failed so many times to ensure that the election outcome will produce a result with anyone but Mugabe.

Right now, every indication to them points toward the very people that the Labour government, led by Tony Blair, first fought so hard to illegally remove from power. Put simply, they are scared of a Mugabe win.

So what better way to upset that, than to put spanners in the works and go back to the very history they usually tell us is immaterial in dealing with current and future challenges?

The fact that President Mugabe has remained resolute and steadfast in his gospel of peace and non-violence before, during and after the polls, and that the people seem to be listening is not what the British had hoped for.

Thus the British have to go to great lengths to extract a violence-related historical narrative, in order to prove that Zanu-PF is violence prone.

As the British MPs deliberate on that 35-year old incident, they will do so in a calculated manner -- expecting the Zimbabwean Government to be counter-attacking. But more specifically, they would be expecting freedom fighters from the two liberation movements -- Zanla and Zipra -- to raise their ire. Then, the hue and cry about violent polls will have some basis.

However, the approach has become so banal and trite. Hoey has been Labour MP since 1989 -- way before Zimbabwe seriously embarked on the land reform programme. If the downing of the Air Rhodesia Viscount by Zimbabwe's freedom fighters was a major issue for her as an MP and the British government, why didn't she raise it when she became an MP, and later a cabinet minister?

When her colleague Claire Short, who was Minister of Overseas Development in the Blair government, spurned Cde Kumbirai Kangai in her infamous November 5, 1997 letter, wasn't it prudent for her to also raise these historical issues, despite the fact that Short was reneging on historical promises? The very history that Hoey is using to make a case for the former colonisers!

Claire Short wrote to Cde Kangai: "I should make it clear that we do not accept that Britain has a special responsibility to meet the costs of land purchase in Zimbabwe. We are a new government from diverse backgrounds without links to former colonial interests. My own origins are Irish and as you know we were colonised not colonisers . . . I should make it clear that we do not accept that Britain has a special responsibility to meet the costs of land purchase in Zimbabwe."

Is Zimbabwe's Government of National Unity supposed to tell the British House of Commons that it is currently operating under a Global Political Agreement, which means that it cannot be held accountable to any events or agreements prior to 2009, and that the 1978 incident was supposed to have been dealt with by Ian Smith?

But, it is not possible for the Zimbabwe Government to do that since it is a product of the liberation struggle.

Notwithstanding, the motion tabled in the British House of Commons reveals a number of factors. While it shows that they do not forgive and forget, and while they also seek revenge for the blood of their kith and kin, we have on the other hand been too forgiving and in most cases we forget. The Japanese Prime Minister Abe Shinzo articulated the colonisers' mindset so well during the recent Algerian hostage crisis -- it was unforgivable act.

Colonisers, the British included, pillaged and plundered our resources and used us every which way as commodities. Even after taking up arms to fight them, they have shown that they will never accept defeat. The Mau Mau victory in the British courts against British colonisers should have been one of the many examples that they owe us and they should pay us reparations. However, Mkushi, Nyadzonia, Tembwe, Chimoio and countless mass graves and torture camps are meaningless to them. Why? Because they want to own our resources and they never see themselves as being on the wrong side of the law, since they believe that they are the architects of the rule of law.

The Hoey motion also makes us understand why we had to bend backwards and forwards in order to make the policy of reconciliation work. They were not interested in it as General Peter Walls, the target of the Viscount attack, showed soon after independence. Instead of reciprocating, Walls was planning a coup d'etat.

One of the most critical remarks on Hoey's motion was from Dr Dumiso Dabengwa, a former Zipra supremo. He described it as a provocation that would "open old wounds".

However, as we situate reactions to this motion, it is important to see that the rug has been pulled from under our feet.

As we see these divisive aspects, do we introspect, and tell ourselves that if they will never change, we should also have measures to counter that.

But when all is said and done the British House of Commons motion is nothing but one of the many failed attempts to make us capitulate to the West's demands, effect an illegal regime change and finally recolonise Zimbabwe.

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