Sun Oct 23 10:06:30 SAST 2016
‘How varsity protest forced me to live in a shelter’

The Fees Must Fall protests had dire consequences for café employee Eddie at the University of Cape .

These exiles - are they criminals or is it state paranoia?

By unknown | Jun 20, 2008 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

There ought to be something oddly contradictory about "voluntary exile". The word "exile" means "a state of being expelled or long absence from one's native land".

There ought to be something oddly contradictory about "voluntary exile". The word "exile" means "a state of being expelled or long absence from one's native land".

In the political context "voluntary exile" would be someone who prefers to leave their native country for fear of being disgraced or lynched for misdeeds they committed when in power. During their uninterrupted reign they committed atrocities against their own people to maintain their grip on power.

Believing that to remain in the country after a clean rout at the polls would risk a revival of allegations of barbarism against them - now that they no longer enjoy immunity from prosecution - they volunteer to leave the country.

The new rulers might then make certain demands: return all looted property, assets stashed in Swiss bank accounts or chalets in Normandy or Monte Carlo, registered in fake names, and private jets registered in odd places such as the Maldives, Martinique, the Antilles or St Vincent.

Such ex-leaders have to be watchful of daredevil adventurers, who might ambush them on their way to the airport and blow up their Rolls Royce for a huge fee paid by the surviving relatives of their victims.

Back on terra firma, we know of many African leaders who have died in exile. They fled to escape retribution from their compatriots whose relatives they butchered only because they challenged their power, not by bearing arms, but with speeches.

In Zimbabwe, we have sheltered Mengistu Haile Mariam for donkey's years. Recently, he was sentenced to death by a court in his native Ethiopia.

Expecting his benefactor, President Robert Mugabe, to force him to return to face the music in Addis Ababa would be like trying to force Mugabe to re-bury the remains of Ndabaningi Sithole and James Chikerema in Heroes' Acre.

There are many Zimbabweans in exile, two of the most prominent being Strive Masiyiwa and Mutuma Mawere. There is some doubt about them being in exile - voluntary or forced.

Masiyiwa has been demonised by the government media, particularly when he bailed out of Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe (Pvt) Ltd, publishers of The Daily News. There is some doubt about the exact crime the Econet Wireless founder committed to be generally said to be a "fugitive" from Zimbabwean justice.

There is equally some doubt about Mawere, whose fight for his assets, seized by the government, has received publicity recently.

His friend, Phillip Chiyangwa, however, has no problems and seems to be thriving back home. Another person whose actions have got up the government's nose is Trevor Ncube, publisher of newspapers in South Africa and Zimbabwe. They brought out the "heavy weapons" against him - training them on his Zimbabwean citizenship, squandering billions in a court case which they lost.

Then there are the young bankers in exile. Are they all criminals, or victims of a paranoid government which has recently had people killed for dissent?

We should be thankful for small mercies, they might say, ... unless after June 27, someone else is forced into exile.


Login OR Join up TO COMMENT