“When you die, pray that you are reincarnated as a white man. It is a curse to be born black,” joked a local journalist. He had been overwhelmed by the world interest in the case of alleged mercenaries arrested at Harare International Airport on March 7, allegedly on their way to Equatorial Guinea to overthrow the president of that country.
The story attracted so much world attention that it completely overshadowed the visit of the International Monetary Fund team to see how they could get the country out of its economic mess. It overshadowed the continuing financial scandals which saw hundreds of Zimbabweans stranded as their accounts were frozen after the financial institutions were placed under curatorship.
A check on the internet showed that an average of 20 stories on the mercenaries were being churned out every day. Datelines were spread across four continents. Some came from the United States where the plane the alleged mercenaries were using originated. Others came from Britain where the alleged leader of the operation Michael Mann came from. Some were from South Africa where the mercenaries took off from, from Windhoek where some of the alleged mercenaries also came from, from Harare where they were detained, and from Malabo where they were allegedly heading.
But what baffled the local journalist who quipped about colour was that some local journalists, had swallowed the bait that the alleged mercenaries were “security guards” on their way to protect mines in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Their arrest was a ploy by Mugabe who was trying to divert world attention and get an excuse to lynch them.
This was quite baffling because media from the countries where the key players came from were publishing their profiles linking them to the Special Air Services or the crack 32 battalion and the mercenary company Executive Outcomes.
Some of the local journalists had every reason to sell this idea of “innocence” because they are not so innocent themselves. Searches in the archives will show them in camouflage, trying to flash out “terrorists”.
The question that begs some answers, and which so-called media analysts will definitely lie about through their teeth, is: would the arrest of the alleged mercenaries have received so much coverage if all had been black? And would they have been treated the same way in prison as those who were paraded on local television, even affording some smiles when some media had claimed that they were being tortured?