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Archive for the ‘Africa’ Category

‘She listened until the screams from her husband disappeared’ – Jestina Mukoko recalls the Matabeleland massacres

The Abduction and Trial of Jestina MukokoFormer broadcast journalist and human rights activist Jestina Mukoko was interviewed by The Freedom Collection about Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe.

In 2008, Mukoko was abducted and tortured because of her work with the Zimbabwe Peace Project.

Her book, The Abduction and Trial of Jestina Mukoko: The Fight for Human Rights in Zimbabwe, is a gripping and chilling account of Zimbabwe’s history.

Mugabe came to power in 1980, when Mukoko was entering high school. She says she remembers Mugabe as a charismatic leader.

“In those early years he was really everyone’s hero. We had just come from a protracted liberation struggle, and he came out as a hero of that struggle. In those early years we were basking in the euphoria of getting out independence.

“For me it took a bit of a while to really see the man that he was.”

Mukoko recalls talking to the women whose husbands had been killed in the the massacres of Matabeleland in the 1980s, when an estimated 20 000 people are thought to have died. She says it was the stories she heard from these people that really affected her.

“Some of these women had experienced their husbands being buried alive. I remember one woman saying to me she listened until the screams from her husband disappeared.”

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Revealed in Jestina Mukoko’s new book: Zanu PF minister tried to rescue her after abduction

The Abduction and Trial of Jestina MukokoThe Abduction and Trial of Jestina Mukoko: The Fight for Human Rights in Zimbabwe tells the story of how a former broadcast journalist and human rights activist was abducted by the government and put on trial in a wave of massive human rights abuses in Zimbabwe’s history.

Mugove Tafirenyika recently wrote an article for the Daily News about a particularly interesting fact revealed in Mukoko’s book – the Zanu PF Women’s League leader at the time, Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri, had tried to assist her family in finding her.

In a poignant paragraph, Mukoko describes how the Environment Minister hugged her like a long-lost daughter, when at long last she was released from captivity.

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My lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa was convinced that if Muchinguri-Kashiri had not been a member of Zanu PF, she would have taken to the streets to protest my disappearance.”

“When I did finally meet Muchinguri-Kashiri, she hugged me like a long-lost daughter. Three years later she told me she had not known what work I was doing and had put her head on a block, despite the fact that it made her unpopular, simply because I was a woman in trouble,” Mukoko wrote.

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Read a chilling excerpt from The Abduction and Trial of Jestina Mukoko: The Fight for Human Rights in Zimbabwe

The Abduction and Trial of Jestina MukokoKMM Review Publishing has shared an excerpt from the newly released book The Abduction and Trial of Jestina Mukoko: The Fight for Human Rights in Zimbabwe by Jestina Mukoko.

Mukoko is a former broadcast journalist and human rights activist who was abducted and tortured because of her work with the Zimbabwe Peace Project.

While she was imprisoned, Mukoko’s family were desperate to find her, visiting government offices for assistance and getting none, searching hospitals and morgues and feeling hope and despair whenever the body of a woman was found – even visiting the much-feared Goromonzi prison.

Mukoko’s recollections provide a gripping and chilling account of one of the most turbulent and repressive periods marred by a wave of massive human rights abuses in Zimbabwe’s history.

Mukoko has received many local and international accolades for her work as an activist, among them the United States Secretary of State Women of Courage Award. She is based in Harare, and is currently the National Director of the Zimbabwe Peace Project.

Jestina Mukoko receiving the United States Secretary of State Women of Courage Award from Hillary Clinton and Michelle Obama

Read an excerpt:

* * * * *

I had heard a number of people come in and dreaded the turning of the key, which meant continuing where my interrogators had left off the previous night. I heard voices and realised that the boss was there.

I could hear my heart thudding away at such a pace that it threatened to break out of the covering of my chest, which was heaving and out of control. My brow collected strings of sweat and I was uncomfortable in my own skin. The room had suddenly become very hot. December is the height of summer and the small window was closed. I was not called immediately and the waiting gnawed at me slowly. I had decided not to put on the wet panties, but used them as a fan in an attempt to dry them and slipped them on as soon as I sensed the big woman dragging her feet towards the room.

‘Now that you have had some sleep and know what we want, do you remember the name of the police officer?’ I did not. The interrogation shifted. ‘How do you get the information in your reports and how do you identify the people that you assist?’ I tried to explain, but they were not interested in my answers, it seemed they wanted particular answers but I did not have them.

The short man questioned me about how the ZPP gets its information. ‘Some of the incidents you report happen in the middle of the night and you get the information correct?’ I responded that the people who provide information are concerned Zimbabweans who want to see the rights of citizens respected. He then handed me a piece of paper and demanded that I list the names of these concerned Zimbabweans.

I said there were many of them and I would not know where to begin. His body language told me he was not impressed by my response and I thought I might be punished for refusing to write names as instructed.

The subject of the interrogation turned again to Botswana. ‘When you travelled to Botswana who did you meet and how many staff members did you leave there?’ asked Mararike. Tired of responding to the same question I held back a while then explained again that I had not met and did not even know the people that they thought I had met – if they existed at all.

The short man was unarmed, perhaps he was not angry enough to collect his weapons. However, he embarked on a strange ranting sparked by the perception that I was an MDC-T stalwart and that while I was detained others in the party would scramble for positions in the new government. ‘While you are here, your colleagues in the MDC-T are going to be appointing a director of information because you have decided not to reveal the names of the big fish,’ the man raged.

Mararike sat on a chair facing me, while the boss seemed to be expecting someone or something. He stood close to the window, his attention divided between the interrogation and what was happening outside. My chest continued to heave and I struggled, dismally, to control it. I suspected the reason was that I feared more beatings.

The boss moved a few steps towards me, pointing a finger at me as if addressing a child. ‘I am not governed by the 48-hour or even the 96-hour rule. You simply have to follow what we want here or you go extinct. There are several others buried around here,’ he added, gesturing at the surrounds of the building.

According to the old Constitution anyone taken into detention must appear in court within 48 hours or the detaining authority must seek a 96-hour extension for further detention of the suspect. ‘No one will find you here even if they try, so you might as well behave and tell us what we want. There are two options – either become a state witness or go extinct. It is your choice,’ raged the boss. I was very afraid. I knew that people had been killed in similar circumstances and the thought of that happening to me lingered. On one of the days after this interrogation I realised that there were people digging behind the interrogation room and my mind resolved that it was my grave being dug.

At that moment I made an undertaking to myself that I would try to fend off sleep so that if I was to be killed I would have the opportunity to look into the eyes of my killer.

The boss left the room several times and, although it took a long time for the truncheons to be brought in, the short man punched the desk more than once. The loud music and the banging on the desk were frightening.

As if trying to curry favour with me, Mararike, who was fidgeting in his chair, said, ‘there is no hurting of the flesh today. All that is required is for you to give us all the information we are looking for.’ But I was not the right person to help them.

As the day wore on it became clear that someone had been after me for a long time. They knew about the places I frequented, the car I drove, where I had worked and lived and the campaigns I had been involved in. They questioned me about the distribution of T-shirts and caps in my home town of Gweru when I was still with Radio Voice of the People. We had run a campaign to publicise the frequency of the station so people could tune in.

With most radio and television stations controlled by the state, Radio Voice of the People offered an alternative voice.

In the afternoon, well after lunch, there were still no truncheons, but the short man continued to bang on the furniture and each time he did so I feared he might leave to fetch the weapons of his trade.

After supper Mararike announced that because I had failed to give them what they wanted they had no choice but to ‘take you to our bosses, whose faces you will not see as yours will be tied in a sack. We have no control over what they decide to do.’ He signalled that I must put on the blindfold. Before I did so I noticed that one of the men who had sat next to me in the car from home was waiting in the next room.

I groped in the induced darkness, trying to be sure where I was stepping and the door of a van – the type known in Zimbabwe as a kombi and used for public transportation – slid open. I was instructed to lie on a seat that was more like a bench than a car seat. There were a number of people in the vehicle and I could identify ‘Guns’ and Mararike by their voices. After I was asked a few similar questions to those I had been asked in the afternoon relating to my distribution of T-shirts I sensed that they preferred to talk about other things among themselves.

The drive lasted for what seemed close to two hours on a winding road. After a while the kombi stopped and there was some shuffling between it and some place. For a while I sensed that I might be alone in the vehicle and strange thoughts troubled me. Perhaps they were going to blow it up, or maybe they were making a huge fire outside to throw me in. I dared not get up for fear that someone might be close to the vehicle, and, besides, I was blindfolded. After a good 40 to 50 minutes the door opened, the ignition was turned on and the car moved off again.

This part of the drive was equally long and I was sure I was back in the same place because the radio was blaring. I was led into the interrogation room, where Alice was fast asleep. She asked, ‘Where are you people coming from at this time? It is one in the morning.’ I was not best placed to answer her, it seemed she was not happy being woken up at such a late hour.

As I sat on the mat that she had left free for me something hot gushed out of my body and I felt a sharp pain in my lower back. I asked to be led to the bathroom and, just as I suspected, I had my periods. When I was growing up my mother had taught me that monthly periods are a private affair that are not announced to strangers, so what should I do? This being the first flow I knew I could manage through the night and I did not think Alice would be pleased to be burdened with searching for sanitary pads at this ungodly hour.

The next morning Alice asked what my totem is. A totem is a form of traditional identity in Zimbabwe. Totems are drawn from animals or birds that families identify with. The tradition is so strong that a man and a woman with the same totem cannot marry as they are considered relatives. If, for some reason, they have to marry, a ceremony is held to untie the relationship. Remembering that I had heard that people could be killed by using their totem, I made one up. The logic is that if your ancestors are approached using a totem they can identify with they can open floodgates for tragedy to strike.

My totem is the zebra – mbizi in ichiShona, dube in isiNdebele, but I told Alice that it is a lion. ‘That is the same totem as my mother,’ she said, and began to call me ‘moms’, the street lingo for mother. The zebra is a majestic animal that walks with a certain gaiety in its step. The stripes, which are like fingerprints – no two zebras have the same stripes – look extremely beautiful in the blazing Zimbabwean sun. The zebra adapts to difficult situations, for instance, never losing weight even in times of drought. There are praise songs for different totems and most Zimbabweans love to hear their own. When I have done something good for my mother or the family she takes time to sing ‘Maita Mbizi, maita varihowera, varikumasumbureru, gwara’, interspersing the words with ululation and clapping with cupped hands.

There was no interrogation on the third day and in the morning I told Alice about the need for sanitary pads, hoping that she would deal with it herself. During the day I had to use toilet paper and frequented the bathroom more than usual because it was only towards early evening that a man brought in the pads and two new pairs of panties. The items were in a shopping bag from the upmarket store, Bon Marché. The next day the boss wanted to know, ‘Did you get your parcel?’ Anyone listening would have been forgiven for thinking that he had bought me a Christmas present.

My periods had not been due for another two weeks and I was experiencing a lot of pain, anxiety and the fear of not knowing what would happen next. Supper came early and I was told I was going on another drive.

This time I was taken in a saloon car with two men flanking me, my head on the lap of the one to the right. The drive did not take long and when we arrived at our destination the driver blew the horn and waited for the gate to open. One of the two men who were sitting in front went out and, after ten or so minutes the rear left door opened. ‘Come with me,’ came the instruction as the man sitting next to the door got out to make way for me.

As I walked, forcing my sore legs along, I thought that perhaps the ‘bosses’ had been unavailable the day before and had made time today.

I went up one step and there was a change of hands on my arm – someone else was now leading me. The room I entered was carpeted and, after a few steps, an order was given. ‘Sit down!’ I prepared to go all the way to the floor but something caught me. I was on a chair. I was uneasy in this chair, just occupying a small space of its base, not trying to sit back. I thought about the threat of extinction. All my strength transferred to my mouth and, between gritted teeth, I prayed quietly. My torso was constrained between a table and the back of the chair.

The furniture in this new interrogation was expensive and the room was well curtained and more opulent than the first. Later I was to wonder whether a particular house on Enterprise Road in Harare, between Arcturus and Glenara roads might have been the place. Whenever I drive past it I get goose bumps and I always want to look in when the double black gate is open. There are always unmarked vehicles parked there, some of their windows tinted.

A new male voice instructed, ‘Remove the blindfold.’ There were ten people in the room, five on either side of a huge pine boardroom table. Nine of them were men and the one woman there was drowned by the mound of lever arch files beside her. She was close to me and, as she perused one, I tried to see whether I could read what she was reading.

‘Be careful with that file, Jestina is trying to read,’ said a light-skinned burly man, the only one who had spoken so far. She shifted the files out of my sight. I could only make out the frames of those at the end of the table, it was difficult to see them clearly because I was still without my glasses.

They did not tell me their names, but the light-skinned man, in an authoritative voice, broke the silence, bellowing ‘We are from the law and we are here to talk to you.’ Four years later I found out the man’s name when I travelled with him on a flight from Cape Town to Harare. In the arrivals hall our eyes met and he knew and I knew that we were not meeting for the first time. I asked a colleague I was travelling with if he knew the man, who had moved to the other end of the hall while we waited to claim our bags from the carousel. He was an assistant commissioner in the Criminal Investigations Department.

My hosts were given refreshments – tea, served in a beautiful tea set and a jug of water for the Mazoe orange cordial drink. A burly man wearing a loose white lace African caftan offered me refreshment, but I declined. On my immediate left were two fairly young men, one wearing spectacles. They were all smartly dressed and the one without glasses was wearing a black lace shirt. The woman’s hair was pulled up into a bun, with a hairpiece that dropped to her shoulders. She was wearing a black top and slightly faded jeans that defined her curves. She stood up once or twice to search for a file.

The interrogation followed the same lines as the previous ones. ‘We want to know the people you are working with in the MDC-T and we also want to know about the police officer who came to your office,’ demanded the assistant commissioner. I still did not remember the name of the police officer and I made it clear that I did not work with the MDC-T.

The assistant commissioner continued, ‘We know you met the police officer in your office and he came ready with your stated requirements of an identity card and a photograph in police uniform.’ This is not how it happened. I had met the officer in Broderick’s office and I was already holding my handbag and my notebook because I was in a hurry to get to a meeting outside the office.

The police identity card had been on the desk when I entered Broderick’s office. As if to chide me, the assistant commissioner said, as though to his colleagues, ‘Do you remember Jestina asking the officer, “Wazvipira here kufira nyika yako [Are you committed to die for your country]?”’ The name of the police officer might have slipped my mind but I am sure I never asked that question.

Visibly angry in response to my denial that I had made the statement or that I had met the officer in my office, the assistant commissioner charged towards me, going around the table to approach me from the left. By the time he reached me I was shaking and I think I now know why people soil themselves in the face of a threat. He stood very close to me and I could swear he could hear my heart thud. ‘She thinks she is still talking to the people where she is coming from who are not doing their job properly. Bring my stick and I will teach her a lesson.’

‘It is unfortunate the people holding you are using kid gloves with you,’ said the assistant commissioner. It seemed that I was expected to confirm all the accusations they had put on the table. The pain in my feet was no kid glove show. I could hardly sleep or walk after the beatings and I was tempted to lift my feet to show what had been done to me.

‘Don’t look at me,’ he raved. It was difficult to ignore a threat that was so close and was hovering over my head, but I looked down, though from time to time I raised my head. A short, dark man brought in a one-metre long bamboo stick, but the burly man in white advised him, shaking his head from side to side and looking him in the eye, ‘Don’t do it’. He slowly moved away.

‘I feel sorry for you because you are wasting your time and ours – soon we will catch them all,’ swore the assistant commissioner. Although he did not physically leave a mark with the bamboo stick, what he put me through left a deep scar that swelled and took a long time to heal.

A huge, dark man sitting towards the end of the table stood to address me. He banged on the table and the vibrations reached my end of the table.

‘Uchamama [You will defecate], Jestina, when we are done with you.’

I could not believe that these words had come from a grown man. What I know is that as a child if I had said something like that and my mother or any other adult had found out I would have been severely punished.

During my court appearance I would hesitate to repeat the words but Beatrice, my attorney, insisted that I do so.
‘Where did you leave your child?’ the man asked arrogantly. I confirmed that I had left Takudzwa at home. ‘Is your son still at home?’ the man wanted to know. My heart sank. Since I had been taken from my home Takudzwa had occupied my thoughts – I was, after all, his only surviving parent.

Distracted from the goings-on in the room, I wondered just what had happened to my son. The woman forced a thick needle into my heart: ‘By not giving us the information that we require from you, what you have done in the process is to sign away an opportunity to unite with your son. Only an irresponsible mother does what you are doing.’

One of the young men to the left confronted me: ‘There are figures that you presented at a meeting on 2 December, where did you get them?’ I told him the information had come from the community-based monitors the ZPP deployed.

Later that night, back in the first interrogation room, which was now my bedroom, I knew I was in deep trouble. Would I survive two interrogation centres? I began to hum my mother’s favourite hymn – number 106 in the Anglican hymn book.

Mubatsiri wedu Mwari,
Tariro yeduzve,
Mudziviriri munhamo,
Chivimbo narini

(The Lord our helper,
our hope and strength,
the one who deters trouble our eternal hope)

I managed just one stanza because I did not know the others well without a hymn book. However, when I did get my hymn book, when I was in Chikurubi, I learned the words and now I do not need to look up the hymn.

Humming the hymn ignited emotions I failed to deal with. I cried myself to sleep. But also, somehow, the hymn brought me closer to my family.

I could almost touch them. In good and in bad times my mother sings and dances to this hymn and I knew that since 3 December it had echoed many times both in Gweru and in Norton.

This feeling would later be confirmed by my brother, Cosmas. ‘At times I felt sorry for mbuya Mukoko and gogo Dizha because they would wake everyone up with either hymn 130 or 106, leading them in prayer. One time I looked at my watch and it was 3am.’

I would return to the second interrogation office on three occasions. The second time I was interrogated by a smaller group, without the assistant commissioner. I was told that I had to write a statement when I was returned to what had become my ‘home’. As it turned out, I would have to write three statements before one was accepted. In the third statement I was instructed to say that I had referred the police officer, Hwasheni, to my friend Fidelis Mudimu, who had handed him the money. It was all fiction, no money had changed hands. I also had to include in the statement the names of my late father and my mother as well as my mother’s residential address. On the third occasion that I returned to the second interrogation office a video was recorded in which I was asked to repeat what I had said in the statement.

The burly man informed me that I was being recorded in order to establish whether I would qualify to be a state witness. I wanted to know what that would mean, as the ‘boss’ at the detention centre had told me that if I became a state witness he could improve my living conditions.

The burly man giggled. ‘It does not mean going home but rather into protective custody because in your case your friends will think you have sold out. Hwasheni [the police officer to whom the ZPP was alleged to have given money] is in protective custody. Harrison [Nkomo, a lawyer who would be a member of my defence team] and other lawyers have the opportunity to visit him.’ When I later asked Harrison about the visit he told me that Hwasheni had been ‘wearing a suit, holding a television remote control and wanted us to believe that he was comfortable, but his body language told a different story’.

That day, taking advantage of the burly man’s good mood, I asked to use the telephone. My request was followed by a prolonged silence and the burly man, who seemed to be the only one talking to me, asked who I wanted to call. Looking him in the eye I told him it was nearly the festive season and I wanted to speak to my son. In fact, what I wanted to do was establish Takudzwa’s whereabouts and whether he was in any trouble. The man’s response surprised me. ‘I hope you do not think we could be that cruel.’

On the fifth day of my incarceration I was in the bathroom looking out through the mesh wire window when I saw a Mazda 626 pull up on the gravel driveway and watched as Broderick was led into the detention centre.

Later that afternoon during my interrogation Mararike was not his usual self. He banged on the desk and shouted, ‘You think we are children, but today I will show you we are not because all along you have been lying to us since day one.’ I insisted I had not lied. ‘You deserve to be punished and that is all I can say about your behaviour. For your information, the record has been set straight and from now on think hard about your answers because we know everything,’ he said.

In his rage, Mararike stormed out, and my mind focused on just one thing, the truncheons. When he came back he was holding something in his fists. He came to where I was sitting, emptied his hands and made two mounds of gravel. ‘I want you to kneel,’ he instructed, pointing to where my knees should be placed. The mounds reminded me of my childhood. When friends wanted to challenge each other we would make two sets of such mounds, which we called a mother’s breasts. The kicking of the opponent’s mother’s breasts resulted in retaliation and the start of a fistfight.

As someone who is socialised to kneel, I thought it would be a piece of cake. I was so wrong. The pain was intense, numbing. I drifted out of my own body and watched this woman from the ceiling.

Despite the pain I still could not name people from the MDC-T. I had not worked with them on any project. I did not meet with anyone in Botswana to discuss the training of youths. I still did not remember the name of the police officer and I did not give him money to go to Botswana. The interrogation went on for about two hours and the pain was unbearable, the small stones kept pushing up bruising the hard skin of my knees.

The interrogation team was thinning out by the day and, on that day, there were only three of them. I was saved when all three filed out to respond to a phone call. I remained on my knees for more than 10 minutes, not knowing whether they would be coming back, then I heard a vehicle leave and the ‘watering can man’ came in to relieve me. The gravel had left marks on my knees and I had a cramp. I spent the next few minutes massaging my knees. I cannot believe that people leave home to go to work where their business is to inflict pain on others.

Broderick, I was to learn when I finally managed to speak to him, had been interrogated in the same room in the morning and was punished for being conservative with the truth. After he was beaten the soles of his feet turned black – a discolouration he carried for several months afterwards.

After more than 14 days in this detention place the ‘watering can man’ brought me my meal one evening and left me shell shocked when he said, ‘My name is Cosmas’. When he returned to collect the plates and have me wash my hands he spoke softly, ‘But I am a better Cosmas because I know where you are, unlike the other Cosmas, who is getting desperate and appealing to anyone who might know where you could be.

‘I hear the other Cosmas regularly making passionate pleas on Studio 7,’ he continued before disappearing again. I was shocked that someone from the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO), which, I had established when I overheard a telephone conversation, was responsible for my incarceration, listened to those stations that had been declared to be ‘pirate’. They included shortwave Radio Africa broadcasts from the United Kingdom, Studio 7 of the Voice of America from Washington, DC and Radio Voice of the People, broadcast from Cape Town, South Africa.

I am still not sure if Cosmas was his real name and I am torn between believing he was deployed to be pleasant as a bait to fish for information and considering that he did what he did out of the goodness of his heart and hoping that the Lord blesses him. Once he gave me an old magazine, Fair Lady, which helped distract me from the nightmare that continued to unfold and without which I might have lost my mind.

On another occasion he brought me a Mills and Boon novel, whose title I never got to know because its covers were torn. As someone within the system he knew the effect of solitary confinement. One night, while on night shift, Cosmas said I could sit between the two desks in my room to watch the television in the next room. It was always on so loudly when there was power that it hurt my ears. It was during a brief loss of power, when the music and the television were silent, that I had overheard the telephone conversation that suggested I was in a CIO detention centre.

I declined the offer to watch. Being short sighted I have trouble seeing things from a distance so I avoided straining my eyes, but my ears heard every word. Thus I learned about the death of the then Zanu-PF political commissar, Elliot Manyika, who was killed in a car accident on 6 December and was interred in the National Heroes Acre on 11 December. I listened to the address by the president at the burial, thinking I might hear him mention a woman who had disappeared. There was no mention, instead he scoffed at the idea of intervening in response to the cholera epidemic.

On one occasion I asked Cosmas about the digging outside the interrogation room. He explained that the workers were digging for ants the ‘boss’ liked that came out during the rainy season. The explanation came as a relief and I did not reveal my fears to Cosmas.

‘Sisi (sister), I hear you wear glasses and I have been told that carrots improve eyesight,’ said Cosmas during one of his meal duties. ‘I have carrots in my garden and if you like mealie cobs I can bring those for you.’ He brought the goodies, telling me to put them in a drawer until the coast was clear, meaning when all the vehicles had left the facility at the end of the day.

One night, during another power cut, I overheard the operative known as ‘Guns’ educating Cosmas about the movie The Transporter.

… there is a driver who is supposed to take commodities and people between point A and point B without opening the goods or speaking to the people. He does this well several times but one time when he transports a woman he makes a mistake. The woman, who is gagged, requests to relieve herself and he allows her and the woman flees.

As I listened I got the sense that Cosmas was being warned about getting too close to me.

Late one night, long after activity in the detention centre had died down, I experienced real terror when I saw the glass door that separated my room from the television room being covered with a curtain by the short operative, who had to stand on a chair to reach for the curtain hooks. I wondered why it had suddenly become necessary for the door to be curtained. Sweating and sensing danger I sat up, watching intently. I thought the worst was about to happen and I wanted to see the person who was going to do it. He did not see my movement because the room was dark, as it had been during my entire time as a ‘guest’. I said a prayer quietly and started humming an Anglican hymn – number 130:

Mukristu usanete
Inzwa ingirosi yako
Uripedyo pemhandu
Namata urinde

(Christian! seek not yet repose,
Hear thy guardian angel say;
Thou art in the midst of foes -
Watch and pray.)

Singing hymns always brought me closer to the family during the dark days and nights and somehow after singing I gained a bit of courage to face my tormentors.

For a long time, perhaps an hour, I heard people talking in the next room but the voices were low and difficult to catch. My mind went wild as I speculated about the reason for the curtain.

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The Abduction and Trial of Jestina Mukoko: A gripping and chilling account of Zimbabwe’s history

The Abduction and Trial of Jestina MukokoNew from KMM Review Publishing, The Abduction and Trial of Jestina Mukoko: The Fight for Human Rights in Zimbabwe:

The book tells the story of Jestina Mukoko, a former broadcast journalist who parted ways with the Zimbabwean state broadcaster in 2000 after becoming concerned about the level of editorial interference.

In 2002, while she was working for an independent radio station, she became a human rights activist.

Mukoko poignantly describes how, at the crack of dawn, in her nightclothes and in front of her teenaged son, she was bundled into an unmarked vehicle and abducted. In flashbacks combined with narratives related to her childhood, her family, and her work at the Zimbabwe Peace Project, Jestina documents what happened to her between 3 December, 2008 and her first appearance in court on Christmas Eve of the same year.

During her many appearances in court and continuing persecution, Mukoko challenged her abduction, torture, and the fact that she was not protected by the law. Mukoko’s family also suffered in their desperation to find her, visiting government offices for assistance and getting none, searching hospitals and morgues and feeling hope and despair whenever the body of a woman was found – even visiting the much-feared Goromonzi prison.

Mukoko’s recollections provide a gripping and chilling account of one of the most turbulent and repressive periods marred by a wave of massive human rights abuses in Zimbabwe’s history. In doing so, the book stands as a testament to the power of the human spirit and the will to survive.

Mukoko has garnered many local and international accolades for her work as an activist, among them the United States Secretary of State Women of Courage Award. She is based in Harare, grew up in the high density suburb of Mambo in Gweru and attended the University of Zimbabwe. An award winning peace and human rights campaigner, she is currently the National Director of the Zimbabwe Peace Project.

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Vishwas Satgar examines the crisis of the left in the context of Fees Must Fall

Cosatu in CrisisIn a recent article for Review of African Political Economy’s Radical Agendas series, Vishwas Satgar asks: “Where to for South Africa’s Left?”

Referring to the student protests that “rocked” South Africa towards the end of last year, and the fact that some commentators suggested that the country’s “Arab Spring Moment” had arrived, Satgar points out that the students themselves were using the discourse of the revolution.

According to Satgar, “This manifestation of resistance is far from over and cannot be isolated.”

He also insists that in the context of global neoliberal restructuring, “‘revolutionary nationalist,’ ‘communist’ and ‘social democrat’ are all anachronistic labels and meaningless slogans to the generation of youth rewriting history through their recent protests”.

Satgar is the co-editor of the recent KMM Review publication Cosatu in Crisis: The Fragmentation of an African Trade Union Federation.

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After World War II, national liberation politics captured much of the left imagination. For the South African liberation movement, the 1980s were decisive years in which the internal and external movements consolidated their struggle against the apartheid state. The future seemed poised for a radical alternative. What is often not acknowledged, however, is that national liberation politics was actually exhausted by the 1980s (Armin, 1994: 105-148). The Bandung project’s anti-colonial and revolutionary nationalisms came unhinged by their own internal limits and the shifting relations of imperial force. This crisis of national liberation politics existed alongside the collapse of the Soviet Union. Moreover, the neo-liberalisation of social democracy forced the left into defensive struggles to protect gains achieved under Keynesian–welfare capitalism. Since 1980 global neoliberal restructuring completely remade the ideological and political landscape. The defeats endured by the left in this conjuncture added to the confusion of left politics and identity. Coupled with earlier horrors, strategic defeats and political shortcomings this further contributed to the left’s discredited 20th century inheritance. In this context, “revolutionary nationalist” “communist” and “social democrat” are all anachronistic labels and meaningless slogans to the generation of youth rewriting history through their recent protests. In this article, I look at the crisis of the South African left and explore the possibilities for its renewal.

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  • Cosatu in Crisis: The Fragmentation of an African Trade Union Federation edited by Vishwas Satgar, Roger Southall
    EAN: 9780992232948
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Potgooi: Hussein Solomon meen dat Islam ’n Lutherse hervorming moet ondergaan

Against All OddsHussein Solomon het onlangs op RSG se Spektrum-program gesê dat daar elke dag ten minste drie terreuraanvalle in Afrika plaasvind.

Die samesteller van Against All Odds: Opposition Political Parties in Southern Africa gesels oor die persepsie dat Islam en terreur hand-aan-hand gaan en sê dat dié geloof nog nie ’n vernuwing beleef het nie.

Solomon verwys na Martin Luther se Ninety-Five Theses wat die Protestantse Hervorming teweeggebring het en voer aan dat die Islamitiese geloof ’n Lutherse hernuwing benodig.

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Hussein Solomon on Boko Haram: African Leaders Have No Sympathy for Their Own Citizens (Video)

Against All OddsHussein Solomon recently spoke out against the lack of global concern about the Boko Haram attacks in Nigeria.

The editor of Against All Odds: Opposition Political Parties in Southern Africa said that it’s particularly galling that Nigeria’s president, Goodluck Jonathan, expressed his sympathies to the French government about the recent terrorist attack on Charlie Hebdo, but has not said a word about the 2000 people who died in the Baga massacre.

Solomon said that the fact that Nigeria and Cameroon have not coordinated forces to combat the insurgents is a cause for concern. He argued that African states are too protective of their sovereignty and despite the high death toll Nigeria still prefers to go at it alone. African political leadership doesn’t have much sympathy for their own citizens suffering the scourge of terrorism, he says.

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Justice Malala Named One of South Africa’s Top 10 Speakers

Let Them Eat CakeThe International Meetings Review recently named Justice Malala one of the top 10 speakers in the country.

The author of Let Them Eat Cake, who has a well-earned reputation as an astute political analyst and commentator, joins Pieter-Dirk Uys, Debora Patta and JSE director Vusi Thembekwayo on the list.

The International Meetings Review consulted Paul McConnon of the Unique Speaker Bureau for the winning qualities of a good public speaker, which include “professionalism and the ability to stay relevant in a changing world”.

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Justice Malala

Justice Malala is one of South Africa’s most respected political analysts and newspaper columnists. As an award-winning former paper editor, Malala currently heads up Avusa’s stable of 56 magazines. Aside from this, he also writes for The Times and Financial Mail, presents a weekly political talk show – The Justice Factor on eNews – and is a resident analyst for eTV and eNews. On top of this, Malala has still managed to give talks and act as a political advisory for international and local institutions like JP Morgan, Liberty, Lehman Brothers and Edcon.

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Hussein Solomon: The Spreading of ISIS’ “Tentacles” in Africa is a “Worrisome Development”

Against All OddsHussein Solomon has written a article for the Centre for Research on Islamic and Malay Affairs (RIMA) Occasional Papers series entitled “ISIS in Africa: The Danger of Political Correctness”.

Solomon, the editor of Against All Odds: Opposition Political Parties in Southern Africa, says the fact that the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is spreading into Africa is “increasingly self-evident”, calling it a “worrisome development”.

According to Solomon, while Islam is dominant in north Africa, in countries such as Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco and Tunisia, another key factor to consider is that “one-third of the population in sub-Saharan Africa” is also Muslim.

The spreading of ISIS’ tentacles in Africa is taking place at a time when religious intolerance is on the rise on the continent with a concomitant rise in terrorist incidents. Nigeria’s Boko Haram, alone, has carried out more than 1,000 attacks since 2010 which has resulted in the deaths of 10,000 people and a further 6 million affected by this terrorist violence. The 300,000 Nigerian refugees who have fled this tsunami of terrorism and have sought refuge in neighbouring Cameroon, Chad and Niger provide adequate testimony to the human costs of such terrorism.

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Ray Hartley Discusses Africa Survey’s Dim View of South African Business Practice

How to Fix South AfricaRay Hartley reflects on Good Governance Africa’s recently released Africa Survey, which illustrates how difficult it is to do business in South Africa.

Hartley, the author of How to Fix South Africa, describes a report John Endres, CEO of Good Governance Africa, presented to an international audience on the state of Africa. The report suggests South Africa is falling behind Nigeria, Ghana, and even countries such as Zimbabwe and Rwanda, when it comes to business practice and economic growth.

Mr Endres has just released Good Governance Africa’s mammoth 421-page Africa Survey, which contains just about any statistical measurement of society, business and economics on the continent.

Instead of looking for African countries that tick all the boxes — there are precious few — Mr Endres says it is more useful to look at those who are improving their governance scores.

Or not. As in the case of South Africa, which has a deteriorating score. South Africa is viewed as a “young, but pretty much stable democracy”, though Mr Endres says: “I’m not so sure.”

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  • How to Fix South Africa: The country’s leading thinkers on what must be done to create jobs edited by Ray Hartley
    EAN: 9780620549882
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