Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Where did this man go to Law School?

Events in the High Court yesterday read like something from the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party. Except that it is real and deadly serious.

Roy Bennet is on trial for his life – that’s the serious part of this. Bennet is charged with “possessing dangerous weapons for terrorism as well as inciting acts of insurgency”. The prosecutor is no less than the Attorney General, Johannes Tomana. Tomana is himself a target for change inasmuch as his appointment prior to the inception of the Government of National Unity is being challenged by the MDC as an act in breach of the agreement signed by Mugabe and Tsvangirayi. Tomana is alleged to be a ‘political appointee’ and this may well be the case for it seems he does not know some of the basic tenets of the law in Zimbabwe.

The entire case against Bennet, we have learned today, is hinged on the ‘confession’ of Peter Michael Hitschmann who was charged with terrorism some three years ago and ended up being gaoled for ‘illegal possession of firearms’ after the main charges would not stick when it was found by the court that his ‘confessions’ were made under duress. Hitschmann is now a free man and he has made it public that he was tortured in order for the police to extract a confession.

Notwithstanding, Tomana thinks he can get a conviction against Bennet by introducing Hitschmann’s confession before the court at Bennet’s trial.

In efforts to bring these ‘confessions’ before the court, Tomana used a policeman yesterday in an attempt to give hearsay evidence of Hitschmann’s confessions. Not surprisingly the judge disallowed the evidence to be presented.

In response Tomana told the court he could not immediately proceed with trial as he had prepared his case anticipating that Makone’s evidence would be accepted.

And this is the Attorney General! Where did he go to law school?

In the meantime a lawyer representing Hitschmann, Mordecai Mahlangu was arrested after writing a letter to Tomana, saying his client Peter Hitschmann had no evidence to offer in the treason trial against MDC Treasurer General Roy Bennett. This letter has been construed by Tomana as an attempt to defeat the course of justice! Mahlangu has since been in custody for over two weeks. How bizarre can things get?

Perhaps Tomana’s strategy was aimed at using the State Press who would dutifully report any hearsay evidence that he managed to get passed the judge and thus publicly ‘justify’ the arrest of Bennet. Once confessions are out in the public domain in Zimbabwe it matters not that the confession was obtained through torture. Like ‘Illegal Economic Sanctions’ the confessions would be reproduced ad infinitum – minus of course the ‘obtained under duress’ part – until the constant repetition would create a Zimbabwean ‘truth’.

Once again, ZANU PF is demonstrating it’s hold on power – and of course it’s total lack of sincerity.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Could this be the Penultimate Nail in the ZANU PF Coffin?

The Comptroller and Auditor General’s report tabled in Parliament earlier this month is the most damning evidence ever publicly produced of the ongoing kleptocracy that is Zimbabwe today. The staggering theft of public funds by ZANU PF ministers, military leaders and senior bureaucrats is shaking the ordinary people to the core. The theft of public funds is said to be ‘unbelievable’ in its enormity but in the realty of what Zimbabwe has become it is very believable. It simply goes hand in hand with the enormous theft of land, land improvements, growing crops and stock – including very recently some 8,000 crocodiles raised by a Chiredzi farmer – that has taken place in Zimbabwe in recent years. That it is being exposed to public scrutiny is what I find to be ‘unbelievable’ but perhaps the arrival of the MDC to Parliament has enabled this exposure to take place.

The report tells us that 10,277 youths were employed in the Ministry of Youth Development as so-called Ward Officers without nay authority. They were employed in the run up to and during the 2008 elections. It is crystal clear they were employed to ‘ensure victory’ for the ruling party in the usual way they do these things – holding night pungwes, beating up the local people, threatening death for voting ‘the wrong way’ and committing other like criminal acts. Mugabe and his coterie of thugs have never been more exposed for what they are.

But then the report tells of the brazen thefts of public property – generally motor vehicles ‘donated’ by the Reserve Bank Governor, the notorious Gideon Gono, to various ministries during the year under review. Some have simply not been accounted for by the ministries and departments concerned, others have been taken away by the drivers – mostly ministers in government, senior civil servants and military personnel. Add to that the theft of fuel where these same people entrusted with governing the country have been ‘allocated’ as much as 5,000 litres a month for fuel.

Now at last – well just perhaps – the people who continually like to defend Mugabe as a ‘hero of the liberation struggle’ will come to realise just what kind of heroes he and his cronies are – and have been all along.

South Africa should take note before they suffer the same fate. If you allow corruption to survive because it is ‘not really significant’, it just grows more heads like Medusa until it suffocates an entire nation of ordinary people.

The End is nigh? In a normal society one would think so. Zimbabwe is not a normal society.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Why is Africa not successful?

I learned something new today about the Psychology of Happiness and Success. There is an entire psychological school of thought devoted to this theory. The theory says:

1. If you are happy you are more likely to be successful than if you are unhappy
2. Optimists are more likely to be happy with their circumstances than pessimists.
3. Man is a social animal who is generally empathetic and will respond to the behaviour – good or bad, happy or unhappy, of others who surround him. As a proven statistic 85% of people will be influenced by the behaviour of those around them while the other 15% will not. We tried this in a brief experiment and it worked inasmuch as 85% of us were able to make the other 85% smile!

So beware of the company you keep and surround yourself with happy optimists.

The drift moved on to why is Africa not successful. Of all the continents, Africa has the highest misery index and the least success. It has been suggested by the School of Happiness and Success, no less, that the possible reason for Africa’s continuing failure is that as a people, they do not believe they can change things through their own behaviour. As in Zimbabwe, Africans tend to say ‘But what can we do?’ when faced with a government that leads them into a trillion percent inflation, bullies them, even kills them off one or more at a time and leads them into lives of misery, uncertainty and insecurity. And African governments, faced with failure to perform, blame outside influences – a la ‘Western Illegal Economic Sanctions’, droughts, world recessions, global warming caused by the West, etc, etc, etc.

But I wonder about this. The ordinary people are generally happy in the midst of some of the most appalling circumstances. Then there are some of the people who make a lot of decisions to help themselves and become successful beyond their wildest dreams – that is if you measure success by the amount of money in their bank balances or the numbers and size of the cars in their garages, their homes, whatever. Look at Phillip Chiyangwa, the senior members of the Army and Police, civil servants, judges, and ZANU PF politicians who now have several farms – each(!), plenty of expensive and luxurious motor cars and homes that would challenge Balmoral Castle (if not quite Buckingham Palace!) So given the right circumstances (power) they can be happy (successful) optimists – at the expense of course – of the ordinary people who are ‘fatalists’ if not pessimists.

Yet Africa as a continent and Zimbabwe as a country is getting poorer by the day so there is an ingredient missing amongst the successful Africans – perhaps it is empathy? They could be the 15% who you can’t make smile around the boardroom table?

Is this the psychological answer to Africa’s failure, I wonder?