ZIMBABWE ILLEGAL MINERSReaders of Monday April 26’s edition of the Herald would have found the article Zimbabwe: Time to Walk the Talk (sic) a bit of an eye-brow raiser for more than one reason. Among these are the astonishing liberties the writer, one Dambudzo Mapuranga, takes with information.

There can be no question that Dambudzo Mapuranga’s article is opinion. However, it would be grossly inaccurate to apply the word analysis when it is abundantly clear that there was very little attempt to analyse the facts about Zimbabwe’s Diaspora community. If anything, Mapuranga exhibits a fixation with one Gilbert Muponda, who cannot fairly be considered representative of Zimbabwe’s Diaspora. I suspect that most of this article is a reply to one posted on zimeye.com by Muponda in which he suggests how the Zimbabwean community abroad could be represented. This article was published in June of 2009. It has taken Mapuranga this long to react?!!

When it suits him, Mapuranga treats Muponda’s views as if they are those of the entire Diaspora and as if the prospect of Parliamentary representation is imminent and something to be feared. Then, he decries the lack of cohesion and unity among Zimbabweans abroad and calls upon the Diaspora to “organise”.

The Draft National Migration Management and Diaspora Policy, issued by the GPA Government of Zimbabwe, admits that the impetus for the departure of many Zimbabweans from their homeland was the loss of political freedoms. The Referendum on the proposed constitution and the Presidential elections were characterised by violence, media suppression and characterisation of political alternatives as enemies of the State, a situation which left most people with no doubt that the future for Zimbabwe was going to be anything but bright. It was not an issue of whether Mugabe’s government was the right one, but that the right to decide this had been taken away from Zimbabweans. As we at 1 Million Zimbabwean Voices continue to assert, the departure of Zimbabweans was the clearest demonstration of the confidence of the people in the government and the political process that had returned it to power. Today, political parties in Zimbabwe can count on people who were too young to vote in 2002, or even 2008 for that matter, but that statement against the political situation was made with those who applied for visas or risked the crocodiles of the Limpopo.

Contrary to Mapuranga’s claim, the chief reason we want voting rights is that this is what we have always wanted as Zimbabweans. This was the reason we left. Mr Muponda left under different circumstances, and, from what he has said or not said over the internet, he is not in a very big rush to return home just yet.

Mr Mapuranga dissects the Zimbabwean Diaspora in two distinct groups. One comprises academics and the other, which he considers the larger, is made up of economic migrants. Even if the former group is only a fraction, when you consider the fact that there are over 4,5 m Zimbabweans abroad, that is a lot of academics. Then, he accommodates the possibility of a third group, made up of what he describes as individuals who have “used politics to gain access to the West”. In this category, he places his pet-hate, Gilbert Muponda, who appears to have been already tried and convicted in Zimbabwe as a criminal!

The majority of Zimbabweans abroad are in fact in South Africa, Botswana, Namibia etc, but Mapuranga has airbrushed them out of the picture whenever they do not help his argument. Which leaves those of us who are in the West. How exactly does one “use politics to gain access to the West”? Isn’t this a dismally simplified and therefore inaccurate depiction of the immigration process of a country like the United Kingdom?

Just last week, 22 April to be exact, Mapuranga was reminding readers of RaceandHistory.com that “He who controls the politics controls the economy and he who controls the economy controls the politics; it’s one of the more complex but symbiotic relationships in the game of survival.” For him, this explains the foreign policy of “the West” (he chooses to see the West as a single monolithic entity). But how this same adage could as easily be applied to the relationship between ordinary Zimbabweans and the politicians is either something he has chosen to ignore and hope that somehow no one else will make the connection, or he really doesn’t have a clue. In either case, this does not lend to the idea that since the signing of the GPA, we all live in a brave new world where free and honest debate is tolerated by the powers that be.

The Diaspora cannot speak with one voice for the simple fact that Zimbabweans are a diverse lot. Diversity is not the same as division. We want a free Zimbabwe, there we all agree. But to expect that every Zimbabwean is a Gilbert Muponda, whatever that means to Mapuranga, is an exercise in delusion.

Mr Tsvangirai saw this for himself in London recently when he assumed that it was his place to tell us to come home. Whatever his purpose, he came across as particularly and unpleasantly arrogant and out of touch with the people. Not surprisingly, he was jeered at by the people who voted for him in 2002. A clear lesson for those with wisdom to see it; do not take us for granted. I am sure this incident should allay Mapuranga’s fears of political manipulation of the Diaspora, thereby eliminating the need for what ominously he calls “safeguards”. I say ominously because the word “safeguards” has been used to justify tightening the screws on the media, civic society activity etc in Zimbabwe before.

The rest of the article becomes a paternalistic sermon on what Zimbabweans abroad should be doing or not doing. But it does little to redeem Mapuranga from coming across as incapable of distinguishing facts, views, generalisation and the special case of Gilbert Muponda from that of a female teacher who was raped several times by the people who helped her cross the border in to South Africa. Nor has he managed the miracle of turning the vinegar of his regime’s propaganda in to honest wine.

Fortunately, most Zimbabweans are more intelligent!

Masimba Musodza
1 mILLION zIMBABWEAN vOICES Information and Publicity

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