…top human rights lawyer predicts bloody 2023 polls
…says business must fund CSOs
PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa is said to have sought the services of vocal critics to sanitise the November 2017 military coup and while he could have succeeded in luring some, several including the late constitutional law expert Alex Magaisa (pictured) turned his emissaries down.
Mnangagwa came to power on the back of a military coup that ousted Robert Mugabe amid heavy criticism from local and international observers including Magaisa. Amid the coup euphoria, Mnangagwa enjoyed the support of the opposition and the United Kingdom government who wrongly believed he was a reformist.
Journalist Hopewell Chin’ono, who was close to Magaisa, revealed on Thursday during a memorial lecture organised by the Constitutional Law Centre (CLC) that there were overtures to lure him and Magaisa, among others, to be part of the government.
“The new dispensation approached him for his services. In 2019, the late Douglas Munatsi and a senior lawyer who is still around approached me and wanted me in either government or at ZBC, I called Alex and he said it’s laundering,” Chin’ono said.
“He said they want to launder their image using you. He said let them fix reforms and every Zimbabwean would want to be part of a new dispensation,” Chin’ono said.
“Magaisa was very clear with this government. He said I worked with these people and I know they will not change. He said it was just an opportunity for them as they wanted to get rid of Mugabe who had other plans.”
“The new dispensation made an approach to Alex and he said I am Zimbabwean and if you want to do the right thing, do the right things and every Zimbabwean will support you.”
Chin’ono said Magaisa always spoke of his days in government working as an adviser to the then Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai where he exposed a lot of corruption and incompetence.
“He would tell me of corruption when he was in government and serious incompetence by senior government officials. He told me of how the system was corrupt.”
“He saved many from being poisoned by some in the system and he loved to say how enablers work. He said not everyone is an enabler in the system, he used to tell me there are good people also.”
Respected human rights lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa, who was the guest speaker at the memorial lecture, said it was painful Magaisa died before he could see a Zimbabwe he would have wanted. She warned of a potentially bloody 2023 general election campaign.
Mtetwa said under Zanu PF’s solo rule since the 2013 constitution was adopted, a lot of amendments have been put forward to perpetuate undesirable aspects Magaisa and his colleagues in the constitution-making process had dealt with.
“Now we see judges making decisions in a case they are interested parties and seek to benefit from the decisions they would have made. Alex thought this would never happen when they wrote the constitution,” Mtetwa said.
“I want to say to business executives that know Alex, those bond notes you keep and do not know what to do with them, the CLC will find them useful.”
“Everyone must play a part. Businesses are the biggest victims of policy flip-flops we get every day. If you look at statutory instruments this year alone, you can run out of figures and it is a tragedy that business is affected the most by failure of government, but is not supporting voices of reason where a constitution must be respected.”
Mtetwa said the situation in Zimbabwe is likely to get worse, particularly with the coming in of the Private Voluntary Organisations (PVO) Amendment Bill, with donor funding to protect human rights and other projects being blocked.
The leading lawyer also predicated a bloody 2003 election campaign.
“Business must come to the table and openly support civil society organisations. Business must know where there is the rule of law and respect for constitutionalism business thrives and investors will follow, then the economy will thrive.”
“Each one of us can contribute towards what Alex believed in. I am pained he died without seeing the Zimbabwe he wanted and I am pained that he left as we approach an election that will be bloody and those who relied on him will not have him as we approach that period.”
Magaisa was declared a people’s national hero in recognition of his efforts to improve governance.
Magaisa, a law lecturer at Kent University, died on Sunday in the United Kingdom after cardiac arrest.
Five days of mourning amid a series of events have been set in honour of Magaisa, popular for his Big Saturday Read (BSR) writings which touched on issues ranging from law to rural livelihoods.
The Thursday memorial lecture was attended by Citizens’ Coalition for Change (CCC) leader Nelson Chamisa, businessman Nigel Chanakira, Zanu PF member of Parliament and former Justice minister Fortune Chasi, among others.