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  • Granito – Lessons on nailing criminals against humanity
    Rejoice Ngwenya
    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 for Granito.

    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 to book.

    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 Gukurahundi, Murambatsvina, 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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