"Ceasing our book is constant with the DNA of this fascist state," says Zimbabwean co-author of Democracy Works

"Democracy frightens the regime and this book and the authors frighten the regime," says Zimbabwean MP and co-author of Democracy Works, Tendai Biti

15 March 2019 - 12:28 By Mila de Villiers

It was reported on Thursday that Zimbabwe's Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) seized a consignment of copies of Democracy Works.

Co-authored by Tendai Biti (Zimbabwe's Movement for Democratic Change MP), Greg Mills (head of Johannesburg-based Brenthurst Foundation), Olusegun Obasanjo (a former president of Nigeria), and Jeffrey Herbst (president of the American Jewish University), Democracy Works explores how democratic ties can be developed in Africa to ensure economic growth and political stability.

Here Biti delivers commentary on the seizure of this seminal book, published by Picador Africa:

1) What does this act of government interference with a book specifically about democracy say about the state of 'democracy' in Africa?

The seizure just confirms that after the coup and Mugabe the situation in Zim has gone worse.

The military junta now running Zimbabwe has no qualms. In the past few weeks, the internet has been shut down for more than a week, popper have been shot dead by the army, women have been raped.

There has been mass trials and targeted arrests of senior members of the opposition in a systematic attempt to destroy the main opposition. They have also been interfering with Civic Society organizations and quite a few such as Cotrad have been told to stop operating.

So ceasing our book is constant with the DNA of this fascist state.

2) How were you informed about the seize? Did you expect the CIO to act the way it did?

These books were couriered months ago through DHL. DHL itself has been exceptionally incompetent. After weeks they asked me to pay duty which I did and then they went quite on me.

On Thursday I sent a driver from my office to collect the books from DHL at the Robert Mugabe International Airport. We were then advised that the books had been taken by the President's office.

We approached the CIO and they advised that the boss who was in charge was not present but we should return today on Friday at ten am. I am not going back and have not gone back.

3) Why would the CIO be against the distribution of this book? Did you publish facts about the president's office which they would deem defamatory?

Democracy frightens the regime and this book and the authors frighten the regime.

Maybe as a friend of mine cynically put it Emmerson took the book so that he can learn about democracy 😄

  • This interview was conducted by our editor, Mila de Villiers, via WhatsApp