2008 was a year of two worlds. The two worlds far apart of hope and despair!
The exciting victorious world of hope, that reached its climax with the election of Senator Barak Obama, as America’s first black President. Almost signified that with enough resolve – all is possible. Yes we can, became the world-wide inspirational clarion call for mobilization and agitation for change.
Our small and even bigger struggles identified with Obama’s battle to the White-House, his victory symbolised our collective victory. None has touched the sensitive core of our collective humanity the way Obama has since the ecstatic release of Nelson Mandela from Robben Island prison.
That was a historic moment in itself when the formidable apartheid regime crumbled. But, South-Africa’s 2008 diary has its own leadership melodramatics that almost force one to wonder - whether it is whither the revolution?
It is in 2008 that we saw incumbent President Thabo Mbeki fail to complete his term in office, after being forced down by his party’s (ANC) leadership.
Obama’s victory after a long exciting campaign was soon to be overshadowed once again by the world’s never ending woes. The moment of Obama’s victory soon turned into a nightmare, as the glamorous pictures of the Obama family enjoying their moment of fame, were soon replaced by the gory images of fleeing families in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC); the images of sick people dying from cholera in Zimbabwe, to the horrific scenes of terrorist attacks in India’s Mumbai.
Indeed two worlds, one of triumph over odds of racial segregation, stereotypes and all negativities – a struggle fought and won in the belly of the beast.
To a world of political intrigues, made up of relics of Africa’s dictatorship, who simply refuse to let go of power, in the form of the Robert Mugabe’s, to those who fill power vacuums through coup d’états, as recently witnessed in Guinea in a coup led by Captain Moussa Dadis Camara, after the death of long time dictator, Lansana Conte. Guinea has since been expelled from the African Union (AU) which is demanding that the military junta in power restores ‘constitutional rule’ - - failure of which will result in more sanctions.
With hope but our fingers are crossed we look at the recent developments with regards to the eastern DR Congo crisis, at last Joseph Kabilas’ regime has agreed that the roots of the current bloody conflict, are negative forces, made up of the former ex-FAR and Interahamwe militia now grouped under the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) who are responsible for the 1994 Tutsi genocide, in Rwanda.
Talks between the Congolese and their Rwandan counterparts are now at an advanced stage, as they work out mechanisms for routing out these negative forces from the DR Congo.
There is hope for peace in the conflict ravaged Congo, that has experienced wide-spread looting, rape and mass displacement of civilians.
Even as the two governments (Rwanda and DR Congo) agree on mechanisms of routing out negative forces in line with earlier peace agreements, it seems the international community as represented by certain countries fails once again to read the mood on the ground.
The hope that came with the signs of movement towards peace in the Congo soon translates into despair after the release of the United Nations experts report on the DR Congo conflict.
The report at most exposes the international community’s duplicity when it comes to the handling of conflicts on the African continent.
While the report’s contents were being read out in New-York, the Dutch and Swedish governments, were announcing punitive action against the government of Rwanda, on the basis that they had proof, the country was supporting rebels led by General Laurent Nkunda the leader of the National Congress for the Defence of the People (CNDP).
One would not want to question the international norms and procedures followed in the decision by the Dutch and the Swedes, but it exposes some finer details in the workings of the international community and their contradictory responses to conflicts in this case the Congo and the Zimbabwe conflicts.
The double standards become clear in the report even if holes have since been punched into its credibility; it makes some alarming revelations, on arms that are being transported from the DR Congo to Zimbabwe. The report indicates that that shipments of
AK-47 rounds, rocket-propelled grenades and hand grenades appear to have been routed through a sequence of intermediary countries, to Zimbabwe.
Consequently, through the supply of arms, Mugabe’s ruthless security forces as merged under the Joint Operations Command (JOC) continue with their terror operations against innocent civilians.
The most recent cases of abductions of prominent activists, Jestina Mukoko, Gandi Mudzingwa and Chris Dlamini, are well documented. A two year old baby languishes in Chikurubhi Maximum prison.
The Mugabe regime even as Zimbabwe continues to teeter on the brink of collapse remains arrogant; its salvation being the use of force and continued repression.
Guns coming from the Congo are destined to kill innocent Zimbabweans, yet the most vocal players the Dutch and the Swedes chose to turn a blind eye to this, instead much evidence is there of them pushing for a power sharing settlement between the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and the Mugabe dictatorship.
Their failure to deal decisively with the problems in the Congo cannot be separated from their strategic errors when dealing with the Zimbabwe crisis.
A GNU that does not deal with issues at the core of the crisis rooted in leadership legitimacy, it is a fact that Zimbabweans no longer want Mugabe; issues of governance in particular the role of the security forces, the country is currently a defacto military junta.
And so we close the chapter that was 2008, with much anxiety as we balance the hope of Ghana holding successful elections and the despair of the Israeli – Palestinian conflict, scores are dying as Israel continues its on slaught against Gaza.
Yes Rose Kabuye gave us the 2008 lesson in confronting our adversaries head-on. She refused to be cowed into silence, when incarcerated by the French, she chose instead to face them in their territory head-on.
We held our breadths to see who will blink first – the French have blinked under their ‘largess’ Rose is back home for Christmas, promising to fight her case to its logical conclusion.
Yes indeed 2008 was a year of much despair, perhaps Kabuye and Obama, gave us the hope that all odds can be conquered.