Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Zimbabwe's "Brotherhood of Silence"

The January 7th Sunday Times contained a chilling overview by RW Johnson of the horrific nature of Robert Mugabe's tyranny over Zimbabwe. In particular, Johnson shows how crushing free expression has been integral to the Mugabe regime's war against its own people:

The only people brave enough to talk to me about what is going on preface everything with “but you can’t quote me”. The only exception is Pius Ncube, the Catholic Archbishop of Matabeleland, whose outspoken critique of the Mugabe regime has earned him death threats.

When I go to his house behind the cathedral he speaks in a flat monotone, without looking at me, almost as if soliloquising or speaking to history. He strikes me as a man driven to the limits of exhaustion both by his punishing workload in the 40C heat and his own deep depression.

Given the terrible death toll, I ask him about the infamous statement by Mugabe’s henchman (and secret police boss), Didymus Mutasa, in 2002, that “we would be better off with only 6m people, with our own who support the liberation struggle. We don’t want all these extra people”.

Is this a master plan, I ask? Is the government trying to reduce the population? Ncube shakes his head slowly. “What is going on is truly evil but I do not think they set out to kill people, it is just that they do not care. Their only concern is to stay in power and enrich themselves and to turn people into terrified, compliant subjects. Some public killing is useful for that, of course. It frightens the rest.

“They have broken the confidence of the people. If you speak out, it is seen as odd, even mad, for there is a brotherhood of silence.

Please read it all.


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