Human Rights Activist Jestina Mukoko and 18 others have had their bail revoked and were rearrested by the Zimbabwe government.

Jestina Mukoko is a journalist and head of the Zimbabwe Peace Project, which has monitored the violence against civilians and intimidation of voters during previous political campaigns.

Others who had their bail revoked include several opposition MDC party members.

Last December, some of these activists were “disappeared” and later it was announced that they were arrested for “treason”. There are reports of torture and poor conditions during their time in jail.

Most of them were finally released on bail in March 2009, but were rearrested due to a legal move by the Attorney General which allows him to remand suspects to court on his own say so, and the court has no leeway except to re-jail them if the AG invokes a certain law. Alex Magaisa explains the legal details HERE.

Of course, what this is about is a power play by the Mugabe government to further marginalize the MDC, who would have won the election despite the violence if the ballot boxes hadn’t been counted creatively to show he lacked one or two percent of the vote to win. The creative counting allowed a follow up election, but Tsvangirai and the MDC withdrew due to the violence against their candidates and supporters.

However, international outcry resulted in a “joint government” agreement, that allows African governments to pretend that Mugabe is sharing power with the MDC.

Recently, there has been a lot of “pretend” going on in Zimbabwe.

The Mugabe government pretended to make a deal with Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC, but then said whoops, we didn’t mean you would actually have power (i.e. they kept the army and police and banks under Mugabe).

But at least the appearance of a joint government has given cover to South Africa and other states who are now opening up aid to that country, which desperately need it.

But a couple weeks ago, despite the farm seizures being put on hold to pacify the UK, Mugabe again orchestrated land seizures by his thugs, ignoring a weak outcry by the Tsvangirai MDC part of the government.

I am ambivalent about the European farms, since many of these originally displaced those who lived in these areas. The problem is that land reform is needed, but grabbing farms by sending in thugs, displacing farmers and their workers,  and giving them to government big shots is not the way to do it. Land reform means to figure out who owns the farm, and then parceling it out to those who are actually working the land, similar to what has been done here in the Philippines.

However, because Mugabe’s thuggery did not cause much of an outcry, apparently Mugabe figured he could get away with more human rights violations.

From SWRadioAfrica:

JAG’s(Justice for Agriculture) John Worsley-Worswick explained on Tuesday that the MDC was in a prime position to challenge the Robert Mugabe regime when they formed the coalition government, because the GPA (the Global Political Agreement (GPA) that formed the basis for the unity government,) included the release of all political prisoners and encouraged production on farms….

Worsley-Worswick argued that the MDC’s passive response to the farm attacks, which started in earnest the same week that Morgan Tsvangirai was sworn in as Prime Minister, set the scene for the re-arrest of Mukoko and the 17 others.

Morgan Tsvangirai has few options.

As a Mashona, he will try to solve things in a peaceful manner by compromise. However, in the face of a ruthless and corrupt Mugabe government, he is finding his power slowly being chipped away, while Mugabe insists that western sanctions should end because of the joint agreement that is not an agreement, since only Tsvangirai seems to be trying to hold to the agreement.

Yet what is his alternative? With Mugabe in charge of the police and Army (and the local youth groups AKA Green bombers), who will be willing to demonstrate peacefully, knowing that they may too “disappear” or be beaten by thugs?

Yet who would fight a “civil war” when all the guns are in the hands of Mugabe’s supporters?

From SWRadioAfrica:

Cape Town based analyst Glen Mpani said negotiations are going nowhere. He said the re-arrest of activists is a clear signal that there are elements within government and ZANU PF who are against the implementation of the GPA….

‘It has exposed the MDC to the fact that there is no power sharing in this arrangement. What they need to tell the world is – are they part and parcel of a government that represses the rights of individuals who have been fighting for democracy in Zimbabwe,’ Mpani added.

In summary, it looks like the “agreement” is a sham, and the Mugabe government will simply continue to do as it pleases, slowly marginalizing the MDC and Tsvangirai, in the same way that Mugabe’s government neutralized the Nkomo opposition in the past.

In the meanwhile, reports of a poor harvest mean another season of hunger for the average Zimbabwean.

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The Free Jestina Mukoko page on Facebook can be found HERE.

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Nancy Reyes is a retired physician living in the rural Philippines. She writes on human rights at Makaipa Blog

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