Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Ian Smith was better than Mugabe - Tekere

MUTARE-Edgar Tekere, a former Zanu PF strongman and a luminary of Zimbabwe’s war of liberation says the regime of Ian Smith was far less brutal to dissenting voices than the post independence government led by Robert Mugabe.Tekere told a political gathering in this eastern border city that during the struggle for independence the Smith regime never ill-treated opposition activisits in the manner in which Mugabe’s government does.He was referring to the brutal beatings, by the police in their custody, of MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai and several of his party activists last year.Tsvangirai and his fellow supporters were brutally assaulted by police while in custody after they were rounded up during a prayer meeting at Zimbabwe Grounds. MDC activists such as Grace Kwinjeh and Sekai Holland had to seek medical treatment in South Africa.“Ian Smith’s regime never treated us in the manner in which Mugabe is doing to the opposition,” the tough-talking politician said. “That’s the legacy of Zimbabwean governance.”Smith was the prime minister of Rhodesia before it was liberated in 1980 and renamed Zimbabwe. Smith’s regime was notorious for jailing and torturing independence activists during the turbulent 1970’s. But Tekere says such treatment, which nationalists endured under Smith, was far from what the Mugabe’s government was doing to those opposed to his iron-grip rule.Tekere, a former Zanu PF secretary general and Cabinet Minister, is contesting the March 29 polls as a senatorial candidate for Dangamvura-Chikanga, Mutare Central and Mutare North. He is standing as an independent but representing Simba Makoni, the independent presidential candidate.The fiery politician castigated Mugabe for boasting that he had degrees of violence saying such behavior had damaged the image of the country.Tekere said if Mugabe were to be removed at the March polls international investors would immediately descend on Zimbabwe –even before they were told who would have taken over. “If they hear that Mugabe is no longer there, without being told who has taken over, they will run to this country and things will start moving,” he said amid applause.

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