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Maguwu interview -full text


Farai Maguwu, released on bail last Monday after spending five weeks in prison is back at his home in Mutare.
Maguwu is currently trying to pick up the pieces of his broken life that has seen him become one of the most talked about persons in Zimbabwe and the world over.
NewsDay’s Senior Reporter Kelvin Jakachira visited Maguwu at his home in Chikanga high density suburb of Mutare and spoke to him at length. Below are excerpts:
Jakachira: How does it feel to be finally free, out of prison and being with your family once again?
Maguwu: It feels great to be out – l am feeling happier that l am free from one of the worst jails in the world. I feel happy and grateful to everyone who stood by me in those trying times.
Jakachira: But do you feel really safe?
Maguwu: I do not feel safe; I feel I am dealing with an issue with high stakes. Diamonds have led to the death of thousands of poor Africans and millions have been maimed while many others have been displaced. I have angered some but I am sure many ordinary Zimbabweans wish me well. It was in acrimonious circumstances that they hunted me so I don’t know who will be for me or against me as I walk in the streets. Anything can happen to me.
For six days they (police) camped in my house and feasted. During those six days, they were terrorising my relatives. My family has developed a phobia of state security agents. I can assure you that if they are attacked by robbers the police station is the last place they will seek refuge.
Jakachira: What were the circumstances under which you handed yourself over to the police?
Maguwu: I heard some people who did not even identify themselves raided my house and arrested my cousin so I handed myself over to the police but I was afraid, knowing very well the history of torture in the country.
Jakachira: So after spending 39 days in detention you are now free?
Maguwu: Now I’m partially free but as you know bail doesn’t give you total freedom. I cannot visit my relatives at home. I can’t travel beyond 40km out of Mutare. It’s limited freedom, but I am very happy because at least I’m free from the terrible jail conditions.
Jakachira: How did you feel when you surrendered yourself to the police and how were the conditions in the cells?
Maguwu: When I went to the police I was afraid as I had been told the people were vicious and breathing fire. I sought legal representation and handed over myself to the police but I was expecting the worst. I give credit to my brave lawyers Mr Bere, Mr Zviuya, Mrs Mtetwa and Mr Maanda. Their courage and industry became my backbone.
The conditions in the cells were terrible because it was at the height of winter and we slept on the floor with no blankets.
On my second day in custody, I developed chest and throat infections and flu. When lawyers brought me medication I only took it once before it was taken away by the police. A doctor was refused access to me and my health continued to deteriorate.
Jakachira: How did you end up at Matapi Police Station?
Maguwu: When I was remanded to Harare Central Prison the police came four days later to drag me to Matapi Police Station where the conditions were hellish. The men who came to take me did not identify themselves and never told me where they were taking me to. It was terrible to say the least. I think it’s part of the struggle. Zimbabwe has a history of harassing and torturing people who fight for freedom. It’s an ongoing drama like the (Jestina) Mukoko saga.
A private doctor finally examined me in the company of a prison nurse and the two agreed that I urgently needed treatment. I felt my life was wasting away. Finally I was admitted to Avenues Clinic because then I was breathing heavily owing to the chest and throat infections. Barely three days after my throat operation I was prematurely discharged by a prison doctor who promised medical staff at Avenues that he was going to take care of my post operative care from Harare Central Prison Hospital. That was the last time I saw him. He failed me and for a while I thought there was a conspiracy. But I kept reciting the Psalm: “I shall not die but live and proclaim the works of the Lord.”
Jakachira: How did you feel when you heard that MDC Co-Home Affairs Minister Theresa Makone accompanied Didymus Mutasa to assist him secure the release of his son from Matapi Police Station when she did nothing about your harassment in police cells?
Maguwu: I am yet to hear her explanation for that move. For now I just want to thank all those local individuals, local organisations and the international community for showing concern while I was in custody. I would like to comment on what I know rather than on actions that I don’t understand.
Jakachira: Were you happy with the overall response of the MDC and civil society in Zimbabwe?
Maguwu: I noted two patterns of response from civil society. One was to effectively work behind the scenes. Many individuals and organisations were not only concerned but they actively tried their best to ensure that my needs were met whilst I was in detention. The other response was loud and public in the form of press statements and press conferences. Of course, civil society is not a single institution; it’s a heterogeneous network of organisations with varying and at times contrasting interests, goals and agendas. Others demonstrated the full meaning of solidarity while others, hopefully learnt a lesson or two from the example set by others. These things can happen to anyone. Yesterday it was Jestina Mukoko; today its Farai Maguwu and we don’t know who is next. We need each other in times like these.
The MDC-T is now part of government and I don’t expect them to continue protesting like an opposition party. I have faith that they raised the issue at government level, if not, then God help us!
Jakachira: After what you have gone through, will you continue with your human rights work ?
Maguwu: I am strengthened and motivated and ready to continue defending human rights. It’s not just a job but l feel there is no one all over the world who shall come to Zimbabwe to start doing the work that myself and others in civil society are doing. If arrest and harassment are now conditions for early retirement from human rights work then Martin Luther King must be turning in his grave. A threat to human rights in this country is a regional threat. Human beings are created in the image of God. This is why Jesus Christ said: “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” Someone must know that when they persecute God’s people, they are persecuting God Himself. God loves all humanity and we may think differently but please respect my right to be different from you.
Jakachira: Will you continue with research in Chiadzwa?
Maguwu: On researches from Chiadzwa, the CRD board will sit at the end of the court case but I see nothing criminal about researching on Marange diamonds and any other resources which God has endowed our beautiful country with.
Jakachira: What’s your take on the latest developments in Russia?
Maguwu: The Kimberley Process Certification in Russia is centred in creating a win-win situation that’s why we were not given a blank cheque and there are restrictions. This is a compromise agreement aimed at ensuring that Zimbabwe can inject some cash into its near-comatose economy and balance this with efforts to ensure the country complies with the KP minimum standards.
Jakachira: What do you say about (Finance minister Tendai) Biti’s claims that government has lost close to $30 million from diamonds?
Maguwu: That is our problem in mining diamonds. There is no transparency and accountability. There has to be strong government institutions to guard against corruption.
We want accountability and transparency. The disappearance of the said money means there are weak institutions to safeguard diamonds.
Jakachira: Your final comments?
Maguwu: Diamonds are meant to express love and the sources of the diamonds should express love, peace and harmony and if there are human rights abuses, locals are unhappy.
It becomes illogical to express love. Let true love, peace and prosperity ring from Chiadzwa to the entirety of Zimbabwe.

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