Plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose

The more things change, the more they stay the same. Plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose. So said the French philosopher Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Kerr in 1849.

IMG_0902Our once favourite and strong Madison cigarettes, ‘celebrating 40 years of quality,’ are still killing people. So are the police, intelligence organisations, soldiers and the establishment in general, past and present.

In my heyday, Madison were known as 12 volts – for their rich tar and nicotine-laden smoke – compared to 6 volts and 3 volts for milder brands.

To many of us, the much vaunted ‘new dispensation’ promised since the ouster of Mr Mugabe in IMG_0840November is still-born so far. The long tainted courts haven’t changed. Invitations to Mr Mnangagwa’s inauguration (above)  were sent out before the Constitutional Court election challenge ruling against Mr Chamisa was announced, as were orders for the catering for the event.

The judges’ colonial style horsehair wigs haven’t, of course, disappeared, though not long ago a newly qualified, dreadlocked Rastafarian lawyer was ordered to get a haircut before he could argue before the bench.

Despite the protestations of central bank governor Mr Mangudya that there are sufficent forex reserves in the short term, dire shortages of money, fuel, wheat, medicines and spares for industrial machinery persist.

Mr Mnangagwa has appointed a commission of inquiry into the shootings and bayonet stabbings of demonstrators in the centre of Harare that left seven dead and many grievously hurt. The panel doesn’t look completely impartial – Professor Charity Manyeruke is well known as a ruling party apparatchik from her frequent appearances defending the party on state TV. British barrister Rodney Dickson adds weight to the panel. He has wide and admirable experience on human rights in the Balkans, Sri Lanka and elsewhere, yet his legal opinion on the deadly suppression of Tamils and their perceived civilian sympathisers was that the Sri Lankan army did what they had to do.

The correct apportionings of blame in all our past judicial commissions of inquiry have never been made public. Some say this new panel is a ruse for the benefit of the West, particularly Mrs May, clumsy, ungainly dancer of the ‘Brexit shuffle’ on her trip seeking new trade ties with Africa, and Mrs Merkel.

Another Brit, Lord Tim Bell, 76, former head of the now disbanded Bell Pottinger public relations firm so disgraced in South Africa for cozying up to Mr Zuma and the Guptas, evidently contributed to Mr Mnangagwa’s stellar election hype. Previous clients of the British big daddy of PR spin: Margaret Thatcher, Pinochet loyalists in Chile and the harsh regimes of Belarus and Uzbekistan.

Thanks goodness, some aged and corrupt thugs have gone from Mr Mnangagwa’s new Cabinet.

Only time will tell if Monsieur Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Kerr can be confounded at last.

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(The shorter version of the wigs worn by Chief Justice Luke Malaba and all nine judges of the Constitutional Court)

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