On the eve of United Nations Human Rights High Commissioner Navi Pillay’s visit to Zimbabwe this week, Justice and Legal Affairs minister Patrick Chinamasa reminded the nation that she was coming at the inclusive government’s invitation.
Chinamasa said Zimbabwe had gone to great lengths to ensure the top envoy assessed the human rights situation on the ground because the government had nothing to hide.
The minister was largely speaking for his Zanu PF party, which has for years battled against accusations that it was in the forefront of human rights abuses using State institutions.
Pillay’s visit in the Zanu PF scheme of things was meant to dispel all those notions and show a Zimbabwe that is a victim of a Western-sponsored campaign to portray it as a pariah state.
Perhaps naïvely, Zanu PF thought it would achieve this through guided tours to selected farms, tobacco auction floors and inviting dubious non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to present a sanitised version of the situation in Zimbabwe.
But the strategy seemed to backfire simply because some things are difficult to hide in these days of the information superhighway.
The world knows what is happening in Zimbabwe without having to rely on the so-called Western-funded NGOs.
Before Pillay could conclude her visit, Zanu PF officials were already panicking with former propaganda chief Jonathan Moyo claiming her findings were made before she even landed in Harare.
“First, does Pillay or any other right-thinking person honestly believe that she can objectively assess the human rights situation in Zimbabwe in 96 hours with any credibility worthy of being taken seriously by Zimbabweans and fair-minded observers around the world?” Moyo wrote in the State media yesterday.
“Second, is Pillay aware that the talk in the NGO community is that she arrived in Zimbabwe on Sunday with the remarks to be made at her Press conference already written and wired in her laptop waiting for delivery today?” Moyo claimed.
Zanu PF spokesperson Rugare Gumbo said his party also expected an adverse report from the envoy because similar assessments in the past had been pre-determined.
We thought the Zanu PF side of the inclusive government had so much belief in Pillay that they were desperate for her visit.
What had changed in the few days that Pillay was in the country to warrant this sense of insecurity by Zanu PF officials?
Are the likes of Moyo afraid that she might state the self-evident truth that Zimbabwe is a police state?
Zanu PF believes in controlling the flow of information to the extent that the party ends up being out of step with world trends. You cannot airbrush some things away.
For Zimbabwe to be fully reintegrated into the world community of nations, it has to open itself to outside scrutiny and Pillay’s visit presented one such opportunity.
Instead of trying to scandalise her before she even presents her findings, Zanu PF officials should have waited for Pillay to finish the work they asked her to come and do in Zimbabwe.