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– Lessons on nailing criminals against humanity
May 27, 2013
It is neither
hysteria nor paranoia that fuels my dream of annihilating authoritarian
dictatorship. Call it what you will: extreme libertarian insolence,
idle stupidity, utopic naivety. You may even speak in hushed tones
that I am agitating for a post-electoral blitzkrieg against perceived
or real perpetrators. I would not lose a minute night's sleep. My
point - we have to rid Africa of political dictators. A bridge too
far, but we can cross it. Better still, if there are records of
crimes against humanity, dictators and their groveling cronies can
and must be nailed - no matter how reformed or 'elderly' they are.
If you sense a new bounce
in the gait of my crusade, a somewhat superficial enthusiasm, your
prognosis is correct. I have just encountered a Pamela Yates documentary:
"Granito - How to Nail a Dictator". General Efraín
Ríos Montt murdered 200,000 Mayan Guatemalans in the 1980s
for resisting authoritarian dictatorship. In an attempt to seek
the truth, Yates set off to research for a film called "When
the Mountains Tremble". She inadvertently created material
Each one of us is like
a tiny grain of sand on the landscape of African humanity. But when
our collective anger and ire rises against oppressors like a sandstorm,
we can blow away the false protective cover these dictators cower
behind. No amount of diamond wealth or military camouflage can wither
the sandstorms of freedom. "Granito documents the irrepressible
nature of humans to seek justice for those horrific crimes so that
the option of genocide in response to a social movement for change
will never again be used."
There are those in the
very ranks of oppressors who claim that Africa can still become
a modern, democratic continent by merely 'forgiving and forgetting'.
Perpetrators remain defiant, some even laying claim to life presidency
and our national resources. Others ring-fence their egos with constitutional
legitimacy while accusing us of tribalism and fanning ethnic instability.
For me, the lasting lesson from Granito is that "until impunity
for past crimes is addressed and justice rendered" our nation
will forever remain in a permanent state of emotional fatigue. The
film "shows how important it is to look, document, understand
and, finally, to act on that understanding" of bringing perpetrators
Only last week,
MDC-T Secretary General Mr. Tendai Biti is quoted as saying: "On
national healing … [it] is very clear that the state should
apologise, should compensate, should pay reparations to all victims
of violence that we have seen in this country including and in particular
and the violence
we saw in
2008." It could have been put better. Crimes against humanity
are perpetrated by individuals, not states. Someone issues commands
to exterminate ethnic groups in the name of counter insurgency.
Granito is about naming and giving evidence against such individuals.
With Zimbabwe's looming
first truly democratic free and fair election, justice is on the
way. Records are all there - from 1985 to 2008. Perpetrators know
themselves. Luckily, their opulence and arrogance betrays them.
Says Jewish prophet Habakkuk: "O LORD, how long shall I cry,
and thou wilt not hear! [even] cry out unto thee [of] violence,
and thou wilt not save! Why dost thou shew me iniquity, and cause
[me] to behold grievance? for spoiling and violence [are] before
me: and there are [that] raise up strife and contention. Therefore
the law is slacked, and judgment doth never go forth: for the wicked
doth compass about the righteous; therefore wrong judgment proceedeth.
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