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Something we have become grudgingly used to in Zimbabwe is the knowledge that all our cities, towns, villages and neighbourhoods are the perpetrators of bloody crimes and brutal human rights abuses. Up to three decades after they murdered, raped, burnt and tortured, in the name of their political masters, they have gone unpunished and continue to walk brazenly amongst us.
At the time of writing there has been no response to the Prime Minister’s challenge. What there has been, however, is renewed attention on a member of the CIO, who continues to live in the peace and safety of Wales in the UK. Despite admitting that he had kidnapped dozens of MDC activists and, in his own words, done things to them that: ”are too gruesome to recount,” the 47 year old Zimbabwean former spy has been living in asylum in the UK. Phillip Machemedze also admitted in a UK court to rubbing salt into the wounds of a female MDC member before she was taken to an underground cell, stripped and whipped. He admitted electrocuting, slapping, beating and punching a white farmer who was suspected of giving money to the MDC.
Despite all of this a Judge in Newport, South Wales, said that Machemedze will not be deported from the UK because his life would be in danger if he came back to Zimbabwe. When an attempt to appeal the ruling was made, a senior immigration judge said in part: “Whatever is felt about Philip Machemedze and his actions, the UK cannot return him to face death or inhuman or degrading treatment ….”
“Death or inhuman or degrading treatment” are just words to a judge. To the relations and survivors of a massacre in Matabeleand in the early 1980’s, they are words describing the slaughter of twenty five thousand men, women, children and babies. To those of us living here, the judges words are experiences that the vast majority of Zimbabweans have encountered again and again in the last decade.
We’ve seen our friends beaten and detained, our parents and grandparents destitute and suicidal; our children out of school and our professionals crawling under border fences to survive. We’ve lost our homes and businesses, put our children to bed hungry and been to so many funerals we’ve lost count.
The UK rulings protecting CIO operative Machemedze are apparently because he supplied information about his colleagues. But we are left wondering if the Bosnian Serb military commander Ratko Mladic supplies information about his colleagues will he too be granted asylum in Newport, South Wales?
I will be taking a short break for a while but in the meantime please keep watching Zimbabwe and supporting the efforts of the ordinary, hard working people who make our country great.
Until next time, thanks for reading,
28th May 2011.