South African Nobel laureate Desmond Tutu on Friday said Africans ‘should hang their heads in shame’ over developments in Zimbabwe where people were ‘being treated like rubbish.’
The former Anglican Archbishop, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984 for fighting the oppression of blacks under apartheid, made his views known as political tensions rose across the border in Zimbabwe following a crackdown on opponents of President Robert Mugabe’s government.
‘We Africans should hang our heads in shame,’ he said. ‘Do we really care about human rights, do we care that people of flesh and blood, fellow Africans are being treated like rubbish, almost worse than they were ever treated by rabid racists?’
Zimbabwe’s main opposition political party leader Morgan Tsvangirai left hospital in a wheelchair on Friday following treatment for severe injuries sustained in a police beating several days earlier.
The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader came across as militant and unbroken in an interview with South African radio as he left the Harare clinic.
His treatment at the hands of police officers in Harare at the weekend, has earned Mugabe’s government fresh criticism from the international community.
The African Union earlier this week described the situation in Zimbabwe as ‘very embarassing.’
‘Yes, they brutalized my flesh. But they will never break my spirit,’ Tsvangirai also wrote in an article published by the liberal London Independent in which he indicated that he believed democratic change in Zimbabwe was ‘within sight.’
‘Far from killing my spirit, the scars they brutally inflicted on me have re-energized me. I seek no martyrdom,’ Tsvangirai said, giving details of the ‘orgy of beating’ to which he and some of his supporters were subjected last Sunday.
Tsvangirai, who emerged from prison with a large gash in his head, a suspected cracked skull and a black eye, vowed to continue his struggle to free Zimbabwe from the ‘authoritarian rule’ of Mugabe.
The 83-year-old leader on Thursday told Western governments to ‘go and hang’ over their condemnation of his government’s crackdown on the political opposition in Harare.
Mugabe blamed the MDC for the outbreak of violence and declared: ‘When they criticise the government when it tries to prevent violence and punish perpetrators of that violence, we take the position that they can go and hang.’
In a state radio report Friday, Mugabe threatened to expel Western diplomats from the country and warned that police would now be armed to deal with disturbances.
Mugabe said his foreign minister would next week summon Western diplomats accredited to the southern African country in order ‘to read them the country’s riot act,’ the report said.
‘Zimbabwe will kick (the diplomats) out if they repeat what they did over the past week,’ the radio said.
Mugabe accused the diplomats of funding the MDC as well as the perpetrators of recent violence.
In addition, the report said: ‘Comrade Mugabe said the police will from now on be armed and if MDC supporters repeat what they did recently, they will be severely punished.’
Mugabe called on the militant youth wing of his ruling ZANU-PF party to ‘get prepared to defend their people … as the British and their Western allies have changed tack by wanting to generate violence in Zimbabwe in order to effect regime change.’
At least six police officers have been injured in revenge attacks by suspected MDC activists.
On Thursday, youths barricaded roads in the south-western city of Bulawayo with burning tyres as political tensions in Zimbabwe mounted on Thursday, reports published Friday said.
Zimbabweans living in South Africa Friday staged a protest against the latest crackdown on opposition in the country from which many have fled.
A student leader was quoted as saying: ‘We are here to send a very clear message to Mugabe – your days as dictator and president of Zimbabwe are numbered. The Zimbabwean people will do everything to ensure that you are defeated.’
Tsvangirai and several of his supporters were arrested on Sunday in Harare as they planned to hold a prayer meeting. They were beaten by police, taken to court on Monday, but not charged.
Recalling the beating at the hands of officers at a Harare police station, Tsvangirai wrote Friday: ‘I felt my head had been smashed open or had been partially decapitated.’
‘I can’t remember many things. Later I found myself in a crowded, hot filthy and cockroach-infected police cell. The rest is now history,’ the former trade unionist said. Deutsche Presse-Agentur