Wikileaks comes to Africa

7 Min Read

Guest Post from Andrew Field


Wikileaks came to Africa last week, more pertinently to Zimbabwe. We were regaled with stories about Zimbabwe’s exposure to the State Department in the, now infamous, Cablegate scandal. We have read America’s, not often complimentary, innermost secrets and opinions about the president and the prime minister; about the fracturing of the liberation party and the other one as well; about the central banker; about diamonds, skulduggery, corruption and other nefarious meanderings too; and about almost all the leading lights in Zimbabwe’s political hegemony. There will, no doubt, be more to come.

The media is really having quite a feeding frenzy, thanks to the Wikileaks crew. Journalists, hacks and columnists, bloggers too, are having such a wonderful time. Even Zimbabwe’s very own turn coat politician, one in the image of Hitler’s Gobels, has jumped on the band wagon…pointing his vitriolic pen at the colonialists, the opposition and, irresistibly, minority white groups too, while pouring praise on Zimbabwe’s ‘Great Leader’.

People have been literally whooping for joy, gushing in their newfound freedom of expression, which is all very well. In fact, this is what Wikileaks and transparency is all about. We all want this, and supposedly nobody will be arguing the point. But this is not about freedom of speech per se. It should be more to do with ones rights to privacy: or how telling all may create some potentially precarious, if not terminal, situations for some.

A few may not be too ecstatic, of course, they being the victims of these sometimes outrageous renderings of private opinion. Those too, who have never been partial to the unveiling of the truth, are not exactly euphoric either. Our bitter propagandist, already here alluded to, will only cherish the flow when skewed in his favour or towards those whom he worships with daunting sycophantic fervour.

More than any other, however, of those who should fear this exposure, and surely they will be regretting their fleeting associations with United States Ambassadors, will be those who passed any opinion and then were named. They are the sources of the juicy content of Cablegate’s exposures. Something, the now apparently lethal, Wikileaks never did, in all its glory, is to cover the tracks of those who ventured an opinion to their American friends. Wikileaks were inefficient with their redactions.

Confidential, if not secret, sources have been revealed, something any excellent journalist would never, ever, do. Perhaps this critical consideration does not apply to people who are black or from ‘savage Africa’, life is worthless there. Be that as it may, the amateur Wikileaks has named delicate Zimbabwean sources of State Department information.

One person comes to light, a poor fellow by the name of Mudarikwa, apparently a ZANU PF official who confided in United States Ambassador, Charles Ray. Now Wikileaks were not to know, but Mudarikwa is not such a common Shona name, and there is only one, by deduction and indeed assumption, known within higher party circles. That is, someone who would actually have the status and knowledge to attract the ear of the American Ambassador. Some have already pointed fingers at the Member of Parliament for Uzumba and Pfungwe, who, for the record, denies knowing the ambassador.

Let us be clear, this is purely an assumption, a perception, something which may be far from the truth. However, one wonders how few would believe Mr Mudarikwa’s protestations of innocence, in the passion of the witch hunt already begun. And it will surely follow that people get hurt or killed.

This massive exposure of the intimate thinking of the State Department, through its classified cables between outlying diplomatic outposts and Washington, may cause untold damage. Firstly, when Wikileaks chose to disclose the names of America’s sources of intelligence, the transparency barons effectively dried up Washington’s intelligence network.

Few people will care to venture an opinion to any American officials for some time to come. Their fear of indiscretions by a bureaucracy which has become blasé in its handling of delicate information, worse still, allowing it to fall into irresponsible hands, has been exposed.

Secondly, there are going to be a few desperate people diving for cover, Mr Mudarikwa, whom ever he is, being just one. What Wikileaks may never have understood, in their brazen quest for freedom of speech, was the culture of witch hunt and elimination so often associated with the vanguards of liberation and sustained power.

We have a word for those who sell out their own, vatengesi. It is a remnant of the liberation struggle. Those who know this mafia culture will realise that some have a perilous path to tread in the days ahead…the traps of retribution await. Many will remember the ghastly fate of Zimbabwe’s most notorious snitch uncovered, Morrison Nyathi. He was not the first and most certainly may not be the last.

Twitter: @zimbandrew – find me, follow me LinkedIn: Andrew Field – link up there too

Harare, Zimbabwe

As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts!

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