Sunday, 27 April 2008

The truth will make you free

The truth will make you free (John 8.32)

During the last two weeks we have been held hostage to the situation in Zimbabwe: when are the election results going to be released? If they are released can the figures given be trusted?

The story unfolding from Zimbabwe is again a very sad one. President Mugabe is unwilling to give up his power hold of the country. He sees himself as a freedom fighter par excellence, and rightly so. He played a key role in the liberation of Zimbabwe. As such he should also be sensitive to his country’s best: if he were told that he is a liability to the country, to say it mildly, he should step down; this, provided that he saw himself as a freedom fighter wanting only the best for his country and its people.

What disturbs me the most is not the fact that those at power do not want to relinquish their power; it is also not the fact that Zimbabwe has become a violent nation due to its police and security police wielding power over helpless citizens; it is not even the fact that much of the media and the press are gagged. What really disturbs me is the fact that the truth, ever since the election took place, has been tampered with. It is certainly so: those who twist the truth to their own advantage will one day pay for it, one way or another. Those tampering with the truth end up in bondage but the truth will set us free.

Human beings are easily becoming cynical. So it is with our perceptions of many politicians. We don’t even expect them to be truthful. Western democracies unfortunately do not have a lot to boast about. Elections may be far more difficult to steal, but before they take place there are many ways by which truth is turned around, stretched or changed. The very fact that we today have politicians (Tony Blair is a striking example among many), with clever spin-doctors, who are prepared to listen in to the electorate before they take a stand on a particular issue, is in the long run going to make the democratic exercise meaningless. What we need is people who have an ideology and a policy that are consistent so that people know what to expect.

What however this third Sunday after Easter adds insult to injury is the message conveyed by our President Thabo Mbeki. He said yesterday, after having met Mugabe on his way to a regional summit of heads of state in Zambia, that there is no crisis in Zimbabwe. Repeatedly he has said the last few days that whatever the regime does, it is acceptable: if they (the regime) ask for a run off (re-election for president), that’s fine, if they want to accept the result as eventually pronounced by the electoral commission, that’s fine. The word treachery is hanging in the air.

Everybody knows that this is not fine, we find ourselves in a remarkable situation because the majority of the Zimbabwean population seems to know that the opposition MDC (Movement for Democratic Change) has won the election and the same impression is common truth in South Africa. So we are saddened by our own president’s pronouncements. Yes, this is more than sad. Being afraid of the truth or somehow not willing to tell the truth makes our president complicit with Mugabe in a very stark way. History will one day give the details.

Despite shortcomings of different kinds, one should still be glad for the sake of a viable opposition, MDC and the break-away party from ZANU-PF. Peacefully and consistently they have claimed their point of view. If they continue like that, they will not only take over one day, they will have the capacity to take over and run this beloved neighbouring country Zimbabwe in a democratic way.


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