The Big Dick

We have had quite a week. On Wednesday evening two vehicles parked outside our home with about 8 men in them. We are always on the watch for this sort of thing - it could be the Police, or politically motivated thugs or simply thieves. For this reason we have a night guard on duty from 6 to 6. When these men were still there at 20.00 hrs I called the armed reaction unit of a security company and they arrived in 15 minutes or so. They questioned the group and were told that they were 'police'. At 18.30 hrs our neighbors had fired a warning shot to persuade the group to move but they had only shifted their locale to a spot closer to us. I therefore thought it unlikely that they were 'police'.

At 22.00 hrs I called the Police and they arrived in strength (about 12 men) at 23.30 hrs. They also spoke to the group and then came to see me. They took statements from our staff and myself and then after looking around they left, leaving two uniformed officers on duty at the house - I was mystified! Who were these guys and what were they doing? The Police had given me no clue.

Three of the group had tried to enter our property and were duly chased over the back fence by our night guard and gardener. I told the Police this and also about the shot and again no reaction at all! I was perplexed and went back to bed. At 04.30 the Police details on duty at the house went off and at 06.00 hrs the last of the strange vehicles outside the house for the past 12 hours also drove away.

We went about our work - another Police vehicle arrived and dropped two plain clothes officers off at the house. We later fed them lunch and tea. Still no clue as to what was going on. At lunchtime I dispatched a truck to a business of ours with a load and we packed up and left for a family wedding in Johannesburg.

At the border that evening I received a call. Did I know that the Mutambara group had issued a statement saying I was hiding 5 men wanted by the Police for the attack on Trudy Stevenson the previous Sunday? I said no. The person then read out what they had said. It was quite serious - the statement claimed I was hiding 5 men on the run from the Police after the attack and that I was going to help them cross the border into South Africa illegally.

I laughed and said that this explained all the fuss at home the night before and during the day! Well, the Police kept a detail at the house for four days and then withdrew when it was apparent that I had no idea what they were looking for and no strangers had come anywhere near the house. I came home on Tuesday after a day in Johannesburg on business after the wedding and all was back to normal. It now transpires that the mystery group outside my house was made up of Mutambara group people including one of their National Executive whom I know well - he had a long cold night for nothing!

What made me laugh however was some of the e-mail responses to this ludicrous press statement. One guy said to the Press Secretary 'if you want to piss all over someone, at least take your dick out of your pants before you do it!' Not my sort of language, but it certainly expresses the situation well.

Since then the Police claim to have arrested 8 men responsible for the attack on Trudy and have also arrested a MDC Member of Parliament; Timothy Mubawu, on suspicion of being involved. Quite frankly I doubt the latter allegation, as he knows all too well that he would face the wrath of the Party for any such activity as well as a long prison sentence, but we wait to see what will eventually transpire.

The MDC has of course been blamed for the whole thing - that was after all, the objective of the exercise. The choice of Trudy was also quite deliberate - she is one of the few white women involved and is well known and respected. An attack on a black person in similar circumstances would not gain anything like the publicity and attention of this sort of attack. In fact the Chairperson of our Women's Assembly, Lucy Mativenga, was attacked a short while ago in Gwanda, had injuries similar to those of Trudy and could not walk for some weeks afterwards. This attack, perpetrated on an ethnic basis, hardly attracted any attention.

The question arises then as to who is carrying out these attacks, who puts up the money and the planning and why? It is certainly not the MDC. We are, always have been and will remain, totally opposed to any form of violence to achieve our goals.

The State on the other hand has every reason to carry out such attacks and they have lots of resources to make it happen and to then subsequently put the appropriate spin on the outcome. The motivation has been to foster any ethnic divide there exists, to foster any political divide that may exist - lots of raw material for both in a country like Zimbabwe. Then there is also the added attraction of being able to blame the MDC for the violence and to take the position that we are no different to Zanu PF which clearly has no compunction about claiming to be a Party that espouses violence in all its forms and who will use violence to maintain its grip on power. So my money is on the CIO and Zanu PF as the perpetrators of this so called 'intra Party violence'. If you examine the record carefully you can see a pattern emerge and it is also clear from the sporadic nature of these attacks that they are deliberate and well planned.

The question is how to react? I was very happy with the attitude of the Police in my own case - they were polite and considerate and when it became clear that we were not in any way involved as our big dick had claimed, they left us to get on with our normal lives. Clearly we must be clean ourselves and we simply must ensure a zero tolerance for violence - even when we are engaged in mass action.

But the one thing we must NOT do - is respond as expected and lay blame on the 'other Party' for the violence when it happens. This is exactly what the Mutambara group has done since last Sunday culminating in the silly Press Statement about my own involvement. I am still paying for the injuries inflicted on a young MDC supporter by a group of thugs at a rally here in Bulawayo - he lost an eye. But we have not blamed anyone for this - that is the way it should be.

Eddie Cross
Bulawayo, 12th July 2006