The Heart of the Matter: Zimbabwe has no need for a hangman

Tanonoka Joseph Whande

9th August 2012

What does MDC-T’s Obert Gutu mean when he says “the Executive has no appetite for executions”.

Gutu, a deputy minister of Justice and Legal Affairs whose party supports the hanging of men only for “cases of aggravated murder”, says there is an unofficial moratorium on executing inmates on death row.

First, their draft constitution does not indicate what “aggravated murder” is; then they just keep people on death row without indicating what’s to be done with them.

Zimbabwe has apparently been looking for a hangman, a vacancy which they first advertised in 2010 and again in 2011.

But, all things considered, I am very surprised that Zimbabwe, with all its numerous ZANU-PF murderers scattered around the country, is unable to fill the vacancy of a hangman.

This can’t possibly be true. Not in Zimbabwe!

I suspect that this is the work of counter-revolutionaries who are saying that our country is in a desperate search for a hangman.

We have enough hangmen in Zimbabwe, from the President to the ZANU-PF village operative, including Chipangano, the police and the army. They all chip in once in a while. We have an over abundance of hangmen.

There are more than 60 death row inmates, some of whom having been waiting to be hanged for 15 years. They cannot be made to wait anymore.

This is of grave concern, pardon the expression.

Those on death row should not be made to wait so long. That is what Americans call “cruel and unusual punishment”.

If our country says that they gotta die, let them die and let them die pronto.

I wouldn’t be surprised if some death row inmates are being visited in prison by children produced from the rape of their mothers.

It’s been that long.

But we have no hangman.

We have a crisis on our hands.

We fail to feed our people, including those on death row.

We fail to send our kids to school, including those whose fathers are on death.

We fail to treat our sick at our hospitals, including those on death row.

We fail to govern ourselves and we fail to hang our own condemned prisoners.

Our condemned men and women cannot be hanged because there reportedly is no one available to hang people in a country full of ZANU-PF murderers.

This is unbelievable.

I am surprised that Mugabe allowed people to languish on death row for fifteen years when he could have let ZANU-PF goons into those prisons to do what they do every day in the countryside.

But I think I understand the man now.

Mugabe kills those who want to live and let live those who have reason to die.

There is no greater pain than to remain alive when one prefers death to the torture that’s being inflicted on them; there is no greater torture than to be killed for having committed no crime.

And we have people who have not been hanged because “Zimbabwe is desperately looking for a hangman”.

Those people on death row are not celebrating an extra hour or day of life; they do not consider each extra day as a bonus.

Their mere existence is torture; either hang them or spare them.

Fifteen years after being condemned to death, they are still counting the endless hours because there is no one available to hang them? I can’t believe this.

And yet the world is full of hangmen.

For starters, those alleged ZANU-PF murderers, like Kitsiyatota and Joseph Mwale, have not been considered.

They are said to have a proven track record and should be prime contenders for this job. They would also have the added advantage that they would continue with their favourite pastime but this time without being called murderers.

They will be killing people legally.

ZANU-PF has thousands of deserving hangmen and women who should be jostling for this post.

I find it funny that the country is said to be without a hangman. I have always thought that the job already belonged to Robert Mugabe and am not aware that he had retired from it and a new hangman is being sought.

This is one dude who has unmarked graves in almost all parts of Zimbabwe and why the prison authorities want to fire Mugabe from his hangman’s job is cause for concern.

Some people just don’t appreciate talent.

They are jealousy; they should let Mugabe keep his job.

I would hate it if the job were to be given to those Iraq bunglers who hanged Saddam Hussein.

I mean, Saddam literally hanged himself while those morons kept trying to remember quotations from the Quran, instead of getting on with the job.

In the end, the video showed Saddam to be more courageous than those hanging monkeys. Saddam even assisted them while the hangmen were yapping something about Saddam rotting in hell.

No, I wouldn’t like it if the job were to go to a foreigner.

Foreigners are no good.

Besides, there is something sinister about a foreigner legally hanging our citizens.

I wouldn’t like it if the job went to a foreigner. There is always an element of racism involved.

Imagine an Iranian, an American, a Briton, an Iraq or an Arab hanging our people under orders from our own black president.

No, foreigners won’t do.

And what if the hangman is an MDC sympathizer? Would ZANU-PF murderers protest?

Should a hangman belong to a political party? What are the implications?

But I know locals are scared of it.

In our society, murder appears preferable to being a hangman. Imagine coming home for Christmas and telling your kin that you had a busy season and deserve some rest since you hanged 50 people during the year.

I can imagine the old men and uncles looking at each other and nodding their heads in satisfaction as they bask in the glory of their son’s impressive hard work and the results thereof…until a cousin or other member of the extended family returns home to summon all elders and complain that there is a ngozi, that’s decimating his family because “there is one among us who is killing at random and does not bother to exorcise the ghosts” of his dead victims.

I can envisage the poor folks going into a scrum of whispered consultations.

They know who is killing people but won’t be able to do anything about it because their son would be killing within the bounds of law.

It’s called collateral damage.

No, the hangman’s job can’t go to a local.

Tribal wars might flare up and we can’t risk an MDC hangman hanging a ZANU-PF thug. Or vice versa.

There would be chaos.

The job can’t go to a local and it can’t go to a foreigner either.

So what do we do?

Let’s stop hanging people but we can’t keep this vermin alive either.

The heart of the matter is that those human rights groups must, of necessity, hold all night candlelight vigils in support of victims, just like they do every time a murderer is to be hanged. They must march and protest on behalf of victims just as much as they do for murderers.

We must give more consideration to victims and survivors than we do to the murderers. It is not fair to worry so much about murderers while we don’t do anything for the victims they killed.

I am Tanonoka Joseph Whande saying, Zimbabwe has no need for a hangman; let Mugabe keep his hangman’s job. He is the only one qualified for it and appears to be enjoying it.

And that, my fellow Zimbabweans, is the way it is today, Thursday, August 9th, 2012.


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