By Helen McClafferty
A political candidate stands as an Independent on issues of principle during elections in Zimbabwe. Every political dirty trick and smear in the book is used against him during the campaign.
At the end of the election count, he is arrested as he leaves the Poll Count Center and taken for interrogation. The international community, with Britain taking the lead, would be in uproar squealing over the injustice of it all. Despite his high-profile during the election and before, the Zimbabwe police state that they arrested him at the Center only because they had no idea of his whereabouts prior to that date. The international media are disgusted at the pathetic excuse.
A few days later, the candidate is charged with attacks against the former Rhodesian military going back 35 years and thrown in jail. Only after a massive legal struggle is he granted bail and freed under severe restrictions. Due to these restrictions he is unable to pursue his teaching career, which has an effect on his family as he is the main breadwinner.
While his political enemies continue to slander him on the Internet, he is dragged before courts every month and the case is put back for no good reason every time. Britain continues to highlight the injustice of his case and demands that all politically motivated charges be dropped.
Two-and-a-half years after his arrest, the candidate remains in legal limbo. He suffers a major heart attack. The British press and media are in uproar and demand that Robert Mugabe put an end to this vindictive political persecution.
The candidate survives the heart-attack but his health is now a source of major concern to his legal team. Regardless of this, the Zimbabwe authorities go ahead with a trial against him, which begins exactly three years to the day after his arrest.
In order to try him, a special non-jury court system is resurrected for the event, even though this system has been repealed years earlier and is notoriously corrupt. The British government is hysterical about this human rights abuse.
The trial is stopped for an Abuse of Process application. This is refused despite the excellent legal arguments in its favor.
The trial resumes six months after it first began. On the second day, the candidate is rushed to hospital for emergency heart treatment. The local national media censor all reporting on this major development. The British are outraged.
Following a surgical procedure, the trial is resumed for a third time. The charges against him involve membership of a Nationalist group and the wounding of a Rhodesian soldier during the conflict 30 years earlier.
The evidence against the candidate includes one of his novels, a stated work of fiction, which has been published and on sale for years. A chapter from this novel is read out of context in court and entered as “evidence”. The international community is aghast at the idiocy of such a development, and writers’ guilds around the world protest at the injustice of such Philistine behavior.
Next, it emerges that the candidate once sought political asylum in Sweden. The Swedish government readily hand over his application papers to the Zimbabwean authorities and dispatch one of their Immigration Officials to testify against the candidate. This constitutes the prosecution’s main evidence.
International Human Rights and Refugee Groups are beside themselves with fury and the UN condemns the move. The British threaten a boycott against Zimbabwe and lecture the Swedes on their treachery.
The trial ends and the candidate is told to brace himself for a twenty year sentence.
The above story is hardly imaginable. A government provokes international anger in order to pursue a vindictive, politically motivated trial against someone just because he stood in an election and articulated views that were at odds with the powers that be.
Guess what? All of this has happened, not in Zimbabwe but in the North of Ireland against Gerry McGeough. The only difference is that the British government far from speaking out against the injustice is actually responsible for it. Also, the international community, human rights groups and writers’ guilds have been remarkably silent about it all. It’s time we all spoke out.