Columns

Too little, too late

Tamara Scott-Williams

Sunday, September 16, 2012    

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THERE have been so many opportunities to 'take on' Robert Mugabe.

When in 2005 Junior Gong sang in "Road to Zion" about "President Mugabe holding guns to innocent bodies in Zimbabwe" it should have been Jamaica's wake up call. Or in that same year when Mugabe referred to lesbians and gays as being "worse than dogs and pigs" we should have made some noise. Or in 2008 when the bodies of 12 murdered activists were discovered in Zimbabwe and a continued campaign of torture and killings against the wives of opposition leaders was perpetuated. But we were quiet then too.

The prime minister's statement on Thursday which called Mugabe's "uncomplimentary remarks" (which I won't even bother to repeat here) " unfortunate, misguided and disrespectful of Jamaican men" was a waste of her time and talent and did little justice to the post she holds as leader of the most powerful likkle island in the world. Before she tell Mugabe nuh fi draw har tongue and give him a tracing that would shame him and make the world finally sit up and take notice of Mugabe's destructiveness.

Mugabe put us on the world stage again with his latest crazy utterance and we had an opportunity to stop him in his tracks and we wasted it.

There is no depth to the depravity of Robert Mugabe. The heinous crimes perpetrated by his troops in the southern province of Matabeleland after independence were revealed in 1997 report by Zimbabwe's Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace article entitled: "Nightmare of Mugabe's Matabele atrocities"

It tells a story of how Mugabe's Korean-trained brigade engaged in "Gukurahundi" in the early 1980s wherein within the space of six weeks more than 2000 civilians died in public executions, thousands more beaten and hundreds of homesteads burnt.

Other stories, based on testimony gathered from more than 1000 people over a five-year period, include villagers being forced to sing songs praising Zanu-PF (Mugabe's Party) while dancing on the mass open graves of their families and fellow villagers. Tribal belief in Matabeleland says that the tears of the living need to be spilled to release the souls of the dead and allow them rest in peace. But the Brigade forbade mourning and so families were forced to watch the corpses of their loved ones rotting in the sun and being mauled by scavengers.

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There was the shooting of two young pregnant girls, followed by their being bayoneted open to reveal the still moving foetuses. How about the young woman from Bonkwe going to buy mielie meal who was beaten for wearing her husband's watch. Her husband was also beaten to death. Every bone in his body was broken - he was referred to as being "like a cloth". One man took eight days to die, without medical care after having his jaw broken and his tongue cut out.

The list of "horrific atrocities" continues: "A four-month-old infant was axed three times and the mother forced to eat the flesh of her dead child. An 18-year-old girl was raped by six soldiers and then killed. An 11-year-old child had her vagina burnt with plastic and was later shot. Twin infants were buried alive." A young woman and her father-in-law were asked about dissidents and beaten. They were then stripped naked and told to have sex with each other. The father-in-law said he would die first. They killed him.

In February 1984 100 adults and schoolchildren were rounded up and told they were in for a treat. Instead they were beaten. The father of two badly beaten girls were shot in front of them and his children made to search his pockets to see if they could find any evidence that he was a dissident.

So we wonder, with Mugabe's history how dare he pass judgment on us? Maybe we didn't respond in full to Mugabe's comments because we had heard a similar statement before and ran with it. When former Singapore prime minister Lee Kuan Yew said about us after his 1975 visit that: "The people were full of song and dance, spoke eloquently, danced vigorously and drank copiously. Hard work they had left behind with slavery," we didn't bat an eye.

To make much of Mugabe's version of that same statement is 37 years too late.

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