Thursday, June 30, 2005

Zimbabwe's worst enemy.

Earlier this year Robert Mugabe fixed his eyes on Zimbabwe’s newest enemy saying, “Let us make inflation Zimbabwe’s enemy number one.” He was flat out wrong.

Before that it had been Tony Blair, George Bush, the British, the Americans, the EU, Morgan Tsvangirai, MDC, Bretton Woods institutions, the climate and many more. The cynic sages have debated ad naseum about whether Mugabe or the people themselves are Zimbabwe’s worst enemy. But Mugabe, even at his most cruel is hardly cruel enough to match up to it and the breadth of its wrath reaches much wider than the confines of Zimbabwe’s borders.

Our nation’s worst enemy is not in the West, nor the East; not in the State House, the White House nor any house. Zimbabwe’s worst enemy is not the people of Zimbabwe or any people at all.

It is not as physical as much as it is psychological, not as tangible as it salient, and not as quantifiable as it ubiquitous. It’s both evasive and pervasive, persisting, yes thriving, throughout the harshest of times and against the toughest of odds that our people face.

And the discovery of Zimbabwe’s worst enemy is not a novice discovery either. It has been known and was named as far back as the earliest human narratives can trace but it always finds a why seep beneath the surface time and time again. The last time it was called out was almost a hundred years ago. It’s time once again to name Zimbabwe’s, and indeed humanity’s worst enemy.

In 1933, the situation in the United States was grim, almost like it is in Zimbabwe today. The business elite lost millions upon millions on Wall Street, factories were closing, inflation and unemployment were spiraling. Meanwhile hunger and cold became children’s new companions. Times were rough. The great depression was upon the nation. Misery and gloom met the eyes of anyone who cared to look around and notice.

It was against this background that Franklin D. Roosevelt correctly singled out the greatest challenge facing the American people in his firs inaugural address,
“This is preeminently the time to speak the truth, the whole truth, frankly and boldly. Nor need we shrink from honestly facing conditions in our country today. This great Nation will endure as it has endured, will revive and will prosper. So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.”
It is fear that is restraining Zimbabweans from protesting the brutality they are suffering at the hands of so called “clean-up operations” and perpetuating our gloom. It is only by fear that Mugabe retains such a repressive grip on such a well endowed nation. People are afraid for their lives and the lives of their families. Fear is causing us not see that we have nothing more to lose than what they’ve already taken from us.

It is time to fight the fear that is inside of us. We must face the demons inside us that tell us that pain, prison and even death are unbearable.

If we are to salvage our nation and our freedom from the grips of a selfish and heartless tyranny, we all have to echo the words of that gallant warrior of justice, Roy Bennett, after his release from Zimbabwe’s hell of a prison;
“I’m not worried about dying, I’m not worried about death. I will stand strong for righteousness and justice.”
We can’t let fear be a factor anymore.

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  • Wednesday, June 29, 2005

    Result of the fuel price hike....

    First, medical doctors are on strike because they can't find the fuel they can't afford. They are spending more time in fuel ques than in the hospitals doing their jobs.

    Inflation, I mean our hyperinflation, is accelerating again, it's set to his 200% by the end of the year.

    People can't afford to work anymore. That's right, this from my Harare based source,
    "We are now living hand to mouth, and even that's not working. Since the government gazetted the fuel price increase of over 250%, commuter omnibuses are now charging between ZW$5,000 and ZW$10,000. I have to take two each way to work. How do you want me afford that?

    Can you even begin to imagine the ripple effect that this price increase is going to have on everything else? Bread, meat, rent and all that?

    The worst part about it is that the price increase doesn't mean that fuel is now available. People are still spening days in long lines waiting for fuel. We're not going to make it this time."

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  • Retarded

    While rest of the world jubiliates over easing oil prices, Zimbabweans woke up this morning to be shocked and awed by, you guessed it, an outrageous increase in the cost of fuel, which one can hardly find in Zimbabwe these days.

    Says the Herald (Read: Horrid):
    "THE price of fuel has been increased by about 300 percent with effect from last night.

    Petrol now costs $10 000 per litre, up from $3 600 while diesel is now priced at $9 600, up from $3 800. A litre of paraffin now sells for $6 500 while Jet A1 now costs $9 500 per litre.

    Petroleum Marketers of Zimbabwe (Private) Limited chief executive Mr Muziwoxolo Bukhwele, who announced the new prices, said the increases had been necessitated by the rise in oil prices on the international market.

    Oil prices have shot up from US$27 a barrel in January to more than US$60 a barrel at the weekend"
    Let me get this straight, world oil prices are high, we increase ours to match what others are charging, then this should help us procure more oil (Read: enough for the barebones necessities) right? Wrong. From the same article,

    "Mr Bukhwele, however, said the increases would not result in a drastic change in the fuel supply situation since there were still several constraints to contend with, such as the shortage of foreign currency in the country."

    So there are other problems to be dealt with? Well surprise me! By the way, what has the government been doing to ammend these other "constraints"? That's right, turning people out of their homes and eradicating the informal market.

    This is economics ZANU-PF style and it's...!

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  • Tuesday, June 28, 2005

    Bennett update

    SW Radio Africa has a moving interview with Roy Bennett just released from 8 months in prison today. Please listen to this interview and look into the heart of a a saint, a man love and integrity.

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  • Roy Bennet Free!

    After serving nine months of an unfair 12 month sentence, opposition MP Roy Bennett is a free man. Bennett was jailed not buy a judge, but by parliament after shoving ascerbic justice minister, Patrick Chinamasa, to the floor during a parliamentary session last year. Chinamasa drew Bennet's ire after some outrageously racist comments.

    Bennett known as "Pachedu" by his beloved black Zimbabwean supporters became one of the very few white parliamentarians in Zimbabwe when he the Chimanimani seat in 2000. He tried to stand from prison in the March parliamentaries, but was barred using some unscrpulous law by the Mugabe friendly election commission. His wife Heather, ended up contesting the election in his stead but lost.

    The Roy Bennet Campaign has more.

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  • Today's headlines

    Zimonline reveals that Mugabe's famed reconstruction project is going to cost ZW3 trillion which is not in the budget. Where they are going to find the money remains the question.

    As the Zimbabwean refugee standoff continues to rock the British government, Prime Minister Tony Blair is now pushing for the UN security council to discuss Zimbabwe. Blair defended the continued deportation of failed Zimbabwean asylum seekers citing claims that he has let immigration get out of control. See this.

    Now Zimbabwe is challenging Blair to be "man enough" to visit Zimbabwe and see the situation on the ground for himself.

    There's a cholera outbreak in Nyanga, in Eastern Zimbabwe.

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  • Monday, June 27, 2005

    Posted over the weekend

    I do not blog over the weekend, but that doesn't apply to all the other bloggers on Zimbabwe. There's was a lot of news coming through last weekend, here are a couple things worth mentioning.

    Norm Geras of Normblog has excerpts and a link to the Pius Ncube interview.

    A.M. Mora y Leon at Publius Pundit unearthed this article which claims the UK is involved in clandestine talks about a Mugabe exit strategy. I'll discuss this one when I've verified it with my connections in government.

    Gateway pundit put up a great run down of the big headlines out of Zimbabwe here.

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  • Exit Murambatsvina; enter Garikai/Live well, Pfekaizvakanaka/ Dress well, Svikaizvakana/Arrive well (and more?)

    THE Zimbabwean government’s clean-up operation code-named "Operation Murambatsvina or Cleanup" is over claims the Sunday Mail, a pro-government weekly. In it’s place a new wave of initiatives among them, "Operation Garikai/Hlalani Kuhle," which literally means live comfortably, Operation “Pfekazvaikanaka or dress properly” are sweeping across the country, and "Svikaizvakana or arrive properly".

    Under operation garikai or live well, the government claims it will construct houses, micro, small and medium business facilities across the country by the end of August.

    Operation pfekaizvakanaka or dress properly is allegedly a battle cry against progressive dress trends which have impinged on Zimbabwe's conservative dress styles. While it sounds good, the only problem is it is being sporadically enforced by ZANU-PF youths and the police across the country. According to Sokwanele, a civil action group based Bulawayo, police and youths are demanding that anyone seen sporting dreadlocks or women in pants change their attire immediately or risk a beating.

    Like pfekaizvakana, svikaizvakana or arrive well is targeting the country's official ports of entry. Arriving diasporans and tourists are subject to intense searches and steep custom tariffs like never before. Also like pfekaizvakanaka, and because the government does not have the wherewithal or the desire, this operation is being enforced selectively. My sources tell me the arrival initiative targets people arriving on direct flights from European cities more than those arriving from other African countries.

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  • Friday, June 24, 2005

    Shaking in their boots

    After approving of their violent occupation of farms but then unceremoniously dumping the war vets during the "cleanup", Mugabe & Co., now have the unenviable task of calming the rage of their war vets, their hitherto allies now turned most dangerous threat yet from within the country.

    The war vets were enraged by the police's wanton destruction of their properties on farms which they had invaded over the past five years (with government approval).

    On Monday I wrote that,

    "The most confused though are the "war vets." Led by self proclaimed leaders, this is the group that started the violent occupation of farms. They had the support of the government even before that; in 1998 Mugabe & Co. decided to pay them "gratuities" for fighting in the war of independence. When they started fighting the third "Chimurenga" (struggle) that of taking back land, their violence was given tacit approval by the government. So they galvanized and formed housing cooperations, small business groups etc. They even had singers put their views to song.

    Alas, last week all that was undone. All illegal structures, including those put up by the "vets," were taken down. Here are the details of one such demolition, that of an illegal mansion built by nationally prominet war vet and singer Comrade Chinx"
    Clearly pertubed by growing discontent within this radical and unpredictable group, the Zimbabwean government wary of the possibility that some of the veterans might still have ammunition from the liberation struggle which ended in 1980 is not taking any risks. Chief police spokesman, Wayne Bvudzijena announced that anyone with ammunition must immediately hand it over to the police signalling the depths of their fear that tensions due to the cleanup might finally spill over. The Herald (read: The Horrid), the state's mouthpiece reports that,
    "POLICE yesterday urged people with automatic weapons at their homes to surrender them at the nearest police station.

    These weapons include, self-loading weapons, G3 (all types), FN 7.62 mm rifles, UZI M.G and scorpion pistols.

    Police chief spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Wayne Bvudzijena urged the public to co-operate and did not give the reasons of the withdrawal.

    "We would like to urge the people to fully co-operate with the police and those who will remain with these weapons would be contravening the law," he said.

    Harare police spokesperson Inspector Jessie Banda said the firearm licences for such weapons had been withdrawn with immediate effect.

    "Police would like to advise members of the public that firearm licences of the following weapons, self loading weapons, G3, FN 7,62 mm rifles and scorpion pistols have since been revoked in terms of sub section (7) of Section (6) of the Firearms Act (Chapter) 10:09," she said.

    "Possession of the above listed firearms is now unlawful. Members of the public are being urged to surrender these firearms to their nearest police stations by 30 June 2005. They will be issued with an issue voucher upon surrendering the firearm," said Insp Banda."
    After dodging a bullet Friday when the African Union announced that it would not reprimand them, Mugabe & Co. now face their most daunting challenging yet; stifling revolt in such tense conditions.

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  • Zimbabwe's outrageous police

    While the government is struggling to scrape up foreign currency to buy fuel, food and other basic necessities, the ZRP (Zimbabwean Republic Police), spent an astonishing US$3.5 million on new equipment from a South African firm.

    Zimonline writes,
    "Zimbabwean police have ordered US$3.5 million worth of high-tech gear from a South African company as the country battles to raise money for food and fuel imports, ZimOnline has established.

    The Zimbabwe Republic Police made the order from Johannesburg-based Travelo Manufacturing Company, which through its marketing arm, Instrument for
    Traffic Law Enforcement (ITLE), dispatched a team to Harare last month with samples of equipment.

    Police authorities headed by deputy commissioner, Godwin Matanga, authorised the purchasing of the equipment after viewing the samples, according to
    sources at police general headquarters in Harare.

    "We had a team from South Africa which showed us samples of the equipment that includes high-tech digital cameras, pro-laser speed traps and other
    various equipment that we require on a day-to-day basis. We are happy with the equipment and we have made a purchase order," said a source on condition he
    was not named."
    Earlier this week the ZRP were reported to have destroyed 200 thousand rand worth of an in house magazine over a coverpage error.

    Zimbabwe's police, who have been roundly condemned by human rights groups for their brutality, are blamed for the deaths for three toddlers during the infamous "cleanup."

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  • British government confused

    While British Foreign secretary Jack Straw (joined by Condi) is castigating African leaders for allowing the Zimbabwean crisis to rage on, the UK home department is conning Zimbabwean refugees into turning themselves in for deportation.

    Said Straw yesterday,
    "Speaking on behalf of the United Kingdom government, we believe that there was a really high responsibility now placed on African leaders not to continue to turn a blind eye to what is going on in Zimbabwe," said Mr. Straw. "If the reports are simply half true, and we believe it will be much more than half true, this is a situation of serious international concern and no government which subscribes to human rights and democracy should allow this kind of thing effectively to go on under their noses."
    But NewZimbabwe has this report,

    "IMMIGRATION officials are trapping Zimbabwean couples and forcibly deporting them when they turn up for their wedding ceremonies.

    As Jack Straw told his G8 counterparts at a meeting in London yesterday that the latest wave of terror by Robert Mugabe against his own people was a “serious international concern”, the Home Office insisted that it was safe to send its detainees back to Zimbabwe.

    A number of couples who were told that they had to retake their vows in a British register office to prove that they were married have been arrested with their guests and sent back to Harare within hours"

    Now Zimbabwean inmates in holding centers across Britain are on a hunger strike,
    "LONDON: Hundreds of Zimbabwean asylum-seekers held in British detention centres have begun a hunger strike over a decision to speed up their removal and send them back to face torture from Robert Mugabe's regime.

    Scores of Zimbabwean refugees have been removed forceably from Britain in the past month at a time when the UN has ordered an investigation into Mr Mugabe's latest terror operation, which has made up to a million people homeless.

    Human rights groups and MPs have demanded the Home Office stop the deportations. They are urging Prime Minister Tony Blair to discuss the plight of the refugees at next month's G8 summit at Gleneagles.

    This hunger protest was started after Crespen Kulingi, a prominent opposition leader, was told he was to be removed on Saturday. Mr Kulingi, 32, who is a close aide of Morgan Tsvangirai, the leader of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), is in a wheelchair after suffering crippling injuries in detention in Zimbabwe.

    Detainees in several detention centres are understood to have joined the protest. Mr Kulingi said: "I am truly frightened I will be killed if I am sent back to Zimbabwe. I don't understand why Mr Blair and his ministers condemn Mugabe as a cruel dictator to his people and yet Britain sends us back to face his wrath."
    The British can't it right on Zimbabwe.

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  • Thursday, June 23, 2005

    Don't buy South African to protest against Mbeki

    Zimvigil, the UK based civil action group specializing in protesting that country's forced repatriation of Zimbabwean aslyum seekers, is encouraging it's supporters to boycott all things South African. The group is taking the stance to draw the attention of Thabo Mbeki who's perceived by many as having the capabilities to shut Mugabe down in hours. Mbeki has stalled mantaining that his "quiet diplomacy" is the best approach to the Zim crisis.

    This from The Zimbabwean,

    " In a controversial move driven by desperation, Zimbabwean exiles and human rights campaigners in the UK are to launch a campaign to boycott South African products because of President Mbeki’s support of the Mugabe regime. The campaign is organised by the Zimbabwe Vigil, which has been demonstrating outside the Zimbabwe Embassy in London every Saturday for nearly three years in support of free and fair elections in Zimbabwe. `

    South African fruit is to be trampled into the pavement and South African wine poured down the gutter at a demonstration on July 4 outside the Guildhall in the historic heart of the City of London. The occasion is a one-day meeting there organised by the New Partnership for Africa’s Development. NEPAD, as it is known, is largely a Mbeki idea and is aimed at boosting investment and aid in Africa. In return it promises good governance.

    “We support NEPAD and by his sacking of Vice-President Zuma, Mbeki has shown he is serious about good governance”, said a representative of the Vigil. “But why doesn’t he openly condemn Mugabe? The sale of military equipment to Zimbabwe is the last straw” – referring to the supply by South Africa of spare parts for helicopters which have been involved in the recent devastation of the homes and businesses of the poor in Zimbabwean cities and towns.

    The Vigil spokesperson said, “We had been debating the question of a boycott against South Africa for a long time. We wanted to draw on the resonance of the anti-apartheid protest but were worried that our problem with Mbeki’s policy might be seen as an attack on our brothers and sisters in South Africa. Then came the new arms sales directly related to civil control and everyone said ‘what else can we do?"

    The announcement comes on the heels of calls by Labor MP Kate Hoey to ban Mbeki from the G8 summit and criticizm of Mbeki by the British foreign secretary Jack Straw.

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  • Wednesday, June 22, 2005

    People fight back

    South Africa's Mail & Guardian reports that there are some Zimbabweans who are fighting back against the inhumane destruction by the police,
    "The pro-government Daily Mirror reported on Wednesday that there has been rioting by scores of people resisting demolitions in the Marondera and Wedza townships, 110km east of Harare on Tuesday.

    Police spokesperson Darlington Mathuthu told the newspaper police had to call for reinforcements and arrested at least eight people who had been involved in running battles with security forces."

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  • Mbeki replaces Zuma

    South Africa has named their first female deputy president. Former Minerals and Energy Minister Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka was named by Thabo Mbeki as Zuma's succeror.

    Early in December, Mugabe named Zimbabwe's first female vice president when he appointed Joyce Mujuru.

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  • Kate Hoey Interview

    British Labour MP Kate Hoey, slipped into Zimbabwe a few weeks ago to see first hand the extent of "clean-up" damage. She's subseqeuntly filed several reports through various British media outlets including this for the London times in which she compares Mugabe to Pol Pot;
    "I write this from Harare, my fury overflowing after days of avoiding police roadblocks and witnessing the terrible scenes left behind in towns and villages destroyed by Mugabe’s Operation Murambatsviva, or Drive Out Rubbish, a violent programme that can be likened to Pol Pot’s."
    Violent Gonda of SW Radio Africa caught up with her and filed this interview for their program Hot Seat.

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  • Tuesday, June 21, 2005

    This week's feature:Tuku Interview!

    Zimbabwean music maestro Oliver "Tuku" Mtukudzi who's criss-crossing the US on tour this week is featured in this interview on BBC's The World.

    Check out this short but perceptive interview for a candid view from a thinking Zimbabwean who is deeply venerated by millions of people spanning across the globe myself included.

    **Tuku has one more showing left in the US; he'll be performing at the Cedar in Minneapolis Wednesday at 7:30. I know from experience he puts on scintillating shows. Go if you can!**

    More about Tuku here and here.

    Tuku founded (and funds) the Pakare-Paye Arts Center for aspiring musicians in Zimbabwe.

    Hat tip: Justin!
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  • Now this

    Despite a raging drought and an anaemic economy the Zimbabwean government has the audacity to prohibit gardening in the towns and cities of the country. This from IOL;

    "Zimbabwe police have extended a demolition campaign targeting the homes and livelihoods of the urban poor to the vegetable gardens they rely on for food, saying the crops planted on vacant lots are damaging the environment.

    President Robert Mugabe was quoted Tuesday as saying concern about the campaign was misplaced and agreeing to allow in a UN observer.

    The crackdown on urban farming - at a time of food shortages in Zimbabwe - is the latest escalation in the government's monthlong Operation Murambatsvina, or Drive Out Trash, which has seen police torch the shacks of poor city dwellers, arrest street vendors and demolish their kiosks.

    The destruction of city plots is a painful reminder of one of the most hated policies of the white government that ruled before independence in 1980 - the random slashing of crops on roadsides and railroad embankments.

    The current crackdown comes when this southern African country needs to import 1,2 million metric tons of food to avoid famine. Years of drought, combined with the seizure of thousands of white-owned farms for redistribution to black Zimbabweans, have slashed agricultural production.

    Many poor families depend on their vegetable patches for food and a tiny income at a time of 144 percent inflation and 80 percent unemployment.

    Many of the capital's two million residents till any vacant ground they can find for an annual production of 50 000 metric tons of corn - over a fifth of their total food requirements - according to farming expert Richard Winkfield."

    Just how are people supposed to survive?

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  • Zim Government Fights Inflation...

    ...With well, paper.

    ZANU-PF's economic charltans have concluded the best way to ease the country's inflation woes is to print more money (read: paper). As the economic meltdown in Zimbabwe esclates amidst the government's cleanup excercise (read: eradication of informal market), perennial fuel and foreign currency shortages, drought, bloated government etc, the government is said to be repaying it's current account overdrafts by printing more money instead of money generated on the market. Says The Standard,
    "Current statistics show that money supply growth has more than doubled in the past year, yet the economy is shrinking and this is ample evidence that more money is being printed ahead of developments in the productive sector."
    Inflation, is (for those who don't remember basic economics) the decline in purchasing power or value of a currency (in this case ZW$). As with all other things an increase in supply leads to a decrease in value of said commodity. Since the Zim dollar is not immune from this maxim, Mugabe's economic policymakers are excaberating inflation! But then again, what else is new?

    For more economics ZANU-PF style see this and this.

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  • Catholic Bishops Respond to "Cleanup"

    Here's a letter published by the Catholic Bishops of Zimbabwe in response to Operation Murambatsvina. Also see Pope Benedict's response in a letter posted by Sokwanele.
    * * *

    Pastoral Letter of the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops' Conference
    June 2005

    We, the members of the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops Conference, issued a press statement on June 2, 2005, in regard to the "clean up" operation, dubbed "Operation Restore Order'' in which we expressed our dismay at the suffering and hardship experienced by the most vulnerable members of society in some areas nationwide. Now, almost four weeks after the event, countless numbers of men, women with babies, children of school age, the old and the sick, continue to sleep in the open air at winter temperatures near to freezing. These people urgently need shelter, food, clothing, medicines, etc. Any claim to justify this operation in view of a desired orderly end becomes totally groundless in view of the cruel and inhumane means that have been used. People have a right to shelter and that has been deliberately destroyed in this operation without much warning. While we all desire orderliness, alternative accommodation and sources of income should have been identified and provided before the demolitions and stoppage of informal trading. We condemn the gross injustice done to the poor.

    As a follow-up to our press statement, we wish to offer a pastoral reflection on recent events based on Scripture and on the Social Teaching of the Church.


    In the gospel of Sunday, June 5, while these events were taking place, Jesus tells us "what I want is mercy, not sacrifice" (Matthew 9:13). His words reflect those of the Old Testament prophets who continually state that prayers and sacrifices are of no value unless there is concern for the poor and needy (Amos 5:1-4). There has been no concern for the poor and needy in this Operation and the prayers and offerings of those responsible find no favour before God.

    The prophet Isaiah reminds us "to share our bread with the hungry, to shelter the homeless poor and to clothe the man seen to be naked" (Isaiah 58:5-7).

    The entire ministry of Jesus is marked by concern for the weak and vulnerable. Jesus tells us that we will be judged at the end of time on whether we have shared this concern, and he has terrible words to say to those who saw him hungry, thirsty, a stranger, or naked, or sick (or homeless ...) and neglected to help him (Matthews 25:42-46).

    As Christians we must hear the cry of the poor and the homeless in our townships and villages and support them in their efforts to gradually rebuild their lives. In this task we should be motivated and guided by the Social Teaching of the Church.

    The Social Teaching of the Church

    The Social Teaching of the Church sheds the light of the gospel on issues that affect our lives in society, and offers the church's wisdom, insight and experience in dealing with them. This teaching, based on scripture, has developed over more than a hundred years, and is mainly found in Papal letters and documents emanating from Synods and Conferences of Bishops. It contains a number of principles, which are particularly relevant at this time:

    1. The Dignity of the Human Person

    Created in the image and likeness of God (Genesis 1:26-27), each person has an innate human dignity, given to us, not by secular authorities, but by the Creator himself. This dignity was gravely violated by the ruthless manner in which "Operation Restore Order" was conducted in the townships and other areas.

    Every violation of the personal dignity of the human being cries out for vengeance to God and is an offence against the Creator of the individual ("Christifideles Laici," 37 -- Pope John Paul II).

    2. The Basic Rights of the Human Person

    Basic human rights are an offshoot of our God-given dignity. Every human being -- man, woman and child -- has the right to life, shelter, clothing, food, education, health care, employment, etc. These basic rights have been and are being violated. No secular authority, no group, or no individual should be allowed to violate such rights.

    As Christian leaders we must continually remind authorities of both their duty to respect and uphold human rights, and of the serious consequences of failure to observe such rights. Furthermore, it is our duty as a teaching Church to form and educate Christian people in rights, values and principles -- a task that we will continue to perform.

    3. The Promotion of the Common Good

    Public authorities should promote the common good of all members of society -- not the good of an elite group -- by creating an environment in which economic, social, cultural and political life can flourish. In such an environment all citizens -- including those who have lost their homes and livelihoods -- can have access to the goods of the earth which are intended by God to be equally shared. The promotion of the common good should be the first priority of public policy, not the promotion of party political aims.

    "It is the proper function of authority to arbitrate, in the name of the common good, between various particular interests; but it should make accessible to each what is needed to lead a truly human life: food, clothing, health, work, education and culture, suitable information, the right to establish a family, and so on" (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1992, par. 1909). In the order of things, people always come first and cannot be subservient to an economy, a political agenda or an ideology for that matter.

    4. The Option for the Poor

    In the application of the principle of the common good, some people remain poor and marginalised. The church must show particular concern for them. The moral test of a society is how it treats its most vulnerable members. As Christians we must continue to examine public policy decisions, including policies related to housing, health care and food security, in terms of how they affect the poor, and bow our heads in shame at the nation-wide operation that has greatly increased poverty and destitution in all areas. The interference with informal trading, which supports formal trading, can only accelerate our economic decline. The option for the poor, most of whom are informal traders, is an essential part of society's effort to achieve the common good of all its members. To the Church, the poor are a treasure (St. Laurence, in Butler, "Lives of the Saints," 10 August).

    5. Subsidiarity

    The principle of subsidiarity refers to passing powers downward from the top to the grassroots, or as close to the grassroots as possible. The principle implies a preference for local over central decision making. Central authority should support local authority efforts and only undertake those tasks which local bodies cannot achieve. If there is a "clean-up" required on our streets or if there is a problem of criminality in the townships, it is essentially the task of local authorities -- including community/residents associations and church bodies -- supported by the police and the courts, to deal with these problems.

    This should take place in an ordered process over a period of time, and in a way that promotes and preserves human dignity, people's rights and the common good.

    6. Solidarity

    As sons and daughters of our loving Father, we are all sisters and brothers who are called by God to build a society where we can live together in solidarity with each other. Solidarity means being ready to see the other person as another "self" and to regard acts of injustice done to others as done to oneself. Solidarity is not a passing feeling of distress at the suffering of others.

    Rather, it is a commitment to stand side-by-side with those who are without shelter and means of livelihood, to do what one can do to rectify a situation of grave injustice, and to promote the common good. The principle of solidarity reflects St. Paul's theology of the body of Christ: where one person suffers, each person suffers and the whole body is weakened (1 Corinthians 12:12-30).

    Reflection on the above six principles should concern all members of society, for a whole nation has suffered because of recent and ongoing actions. Specifically as Christians, we cannot pick and choose which principles we wish to follow; all of them are binding. Putting them into practice in daily life is as important as going to Church on Sundays.

    Finally, we repeat what we said on a previous occasion: "... we call upon all those (Christians in particular) who hold special responsibilities in society, be it government, the business community or other spheres of influence, to exercise your duties according to the social teaching of the Church. … We cannot lead a double way of life, one for Sunday services in Church and another for our public tasks, be they political, economic, social or other kind. We are always called to be guided by our conscience and to live our Christian faith as an integral part of our lives" (ZCBC, Lenten Pastoral Letter, March 2003, Par. 7:3).

    As always our prayer for you is PEACE BE WITH YOU."

    Rev Robert C Ndlovu of Harare
    Rev Pius Alec M Ncube of Bulawayo
    Rev Michael D Bhasera of Masvingo (ZCBC President)
    Rev Alexio Churu Muchabaiwa of Mutare
    Rev Angel Floro of Gokwe
    Rev Patrick M Mutume, Auxiliary Bishop of Mutare
    Very Rev Fr Alphonse Mapfumo, Administrator of Gweru
    Very Rev Fr Matthew Jonga, Administrator of Chinhoyi
    Very Rev Fr Albert Serrano, SMI, Administrator of Hwange

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  • Monday, June 20, 2005


    Zimbabwe is confused.

    Poor people who thought they'd graduated from their poverty when they were allowed to takeover white owned commercial farms five years ago are confused about where they'll go next since they've been kicked off those properties. The famer's themselves who were confused about whether government would spare them, are now stumped in a double stupor as they wonder whether they will someday get their land back. The ministries of Lands and Public housing are confused about where they'll take the people they have in "holding camps" outside Harare. The well praised Chinese businessmen in Zimbabwe are confused as they now live under constant threat of arrest if they are found in possesion of prized foreign currency.

    The most confused though are the "war vets." Led by self proclaimed leaders, this is the group that started the violent occupation of farms. They had the support of the government even before that; in 1998 Mugabe & Co. decided to pay them "gratuities" for fighting in the war of independence. When they started fighting the third "Chimurenga" (struggle) that of taking back land, their violence was given tacit approval by the government. So they galvanized and formed housing cooerations, small business groups etc. They even had singers put their views to song.

    Alas, last week all that was undone. All illegal structures, including those put up by the "vets," were taken down. Here are the details ofone such demolition, that of an illegal mansion built by nationally prominet war vet and singer Comrade Chinx, by Lance Guma of SW Radio Africa;
    "FOR years, he sang to prop up Robert Mugabe's regime but then a few days back Dickson Chingaira (better known as Comrade Chinx) had the roof fall over his head, literally that is.

    Police demolition squads descended on a mansion he built near Ngungunyana Housing Co-operative, between Mufakose and Kambuzuma in Harare earlier this week.

    The area was mainly occupied by war veterans but has not been spared in the ongoing Operation Murambatsvina.

    Eye witnesses said the war veteran who has for years been an engineer at the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Holdings pulled a gun and fired shots in the air as the police arrived at his house.

    "That did not deter the police, and in a last throw of the dice, he asked to be allowed to talk to President Mugabe," a witness told SW Radio Africa last night.

    That failed too.

    "He went on top of the roof knowing police would not knock the structure down when he was petched high up there," the unnamed witness said.

    "The police persuaded him to come down, but gave him a thorough beating once he got to the ground."

    SW Radio Africa sources say he is badly bruised around the rib area and his face is scarred. A friend told the station he broke a leg. Officials at Parirenyatwa Hospital also confirmed that Comrade Chinx was indeed admitted at the hospital.

    The irony of the situation is his loyalty to Zanu PF. During the land invasions, he became a figure head for the violent land seizures. He composed and also sang Hondo Yeminda, a song given excessive airplay on state radio. The song denigrates blacks who associate with whites as "sellouts" and calls the whites "devils".

    Pedzisai Ruhanya, a Zimbabwean journalist, said the onslaught on war veterans had the backing of Vice President Joyce Mujuru who was hitting back after the war veterans' leaders Joseph Chinotimba and Jabulani Sibanda both backed her bitter rival Emmerson Mnangagwa for the vice presidency.

    "It is instructive to note that the Mnangagwa camp has kept quite on the police raids," said Ruhanya. "This operation is hitting some elements of the war veterans hard because the war veterans rejected Mujuru's imposition by Mugabe."

    Mugabe has instigated a purge of the war veteran leadership and the current incidents of war vetereans housing schemes being destroyed tied in neatly with the strategy, said Ruhanya."
    Now in the same way he did after other onslaughts against the public, Mugabe is constituting commissions to cleanup the cleanup. More confusion.

    The only group that has their head above the murky water is the CIO (Central Intelligence Organization). They are now living among the displaced people on holding camps pretending to be homeless too. The reason: they want to "monitor" the attitudes of the people there. This from Zimonline,
    "HARARE – The Zimbabwe government, wary about swelling anger against its controversial urban clean-up campaign, has planted secret service agents among thousands of homeless families dumped at a farm outside Harare to spy on the families.

    A ZimOnline news crew touring Caledonia Farm, converted into a holding camp for thousands of families evicted from their shanty homes in and around Harare, met several agents of the state’s dreaded spy Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO).

    They said they were at the camp to “monitor the mood” of the families and also to keep a record on who visits them especially non-governmental organizations or members of the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change party, adding that this was being done only as a security precaution.

    "Do not blow my cover. We are here on assignment. We want to hear what these people say and who visits them," said one CIO agent, who is well known to ZimOnline reporters.

    Intelligence Minister Didymus Mutasa would not take questions on the matter saying he did not discuss security-related issues with the Press. "What makes you confident that a minister would talk about security matters to an irresponsible journalist," Mutasa said, before switching off his mobile phone.

    Several thousand families are being held at the Caledonia farm after their makeshift homes and informal trading stores were burnt down by police in a campaign condemned by the United Nations, European Union, United States, Zimbabwean church and human rights groups as insensitive and a gross violation of poor people’s human rights.

    There are no toilets or clean water and the majority of the families including children and elderly people sleep in the open at the camp, which the government says is only a temporary holding centre before the families are taken back to their rural homes.

    Mentally impaired people, blind beggars and street children rounded up from the streets of Harare are also being dumped at the farm, where health experts have warned of an imminent outbreak of diseases such as cholera unless clean water and sanitary facilities are put in place.

    According to the CIO agent, the state spies take turns to stay at the farm camp masquerading as homeless people and informal traders caught up in the clean-up exercise."
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  • Friday, June 17, 2005

    VP's of the same vice (will they meet the same fate?)

    The big news out of southern Africa this week was Thabo Mbeki's firing of his vice-president over incriminating ties to a known fraudster.

    North of the Limpopo in Harare, it also emerged this week that both of Mugabe's deputies have had similarly dubiuos flirtations with criminals.

    Joseph Msiska, the senior vice president, had his name dropped in the protracted trial of Banket farmer and businessan, Cecil Muderede, who faces charges of externalising foreign currency and hoarding/exporting agricultural produce (which, by law must be sold to the state's grain procurement entity for peanuts off course). The fun part about this tale is that I didn't even have to go dig through the indepent media to find it, the government's propaganda daily The Horrid, carried the story.

    In this Thursday report which should be titled "Vice President Implicated in Muderede Trial," The Herald reports;
    "CHINHOYI businessman and commercial farmer Cecil Muderede, on trial for various economic crimes, threatened a Grain Marketing Board senior official after the parastatal seized maize and wheat at his Shankuru Estates Farm in Banket, a Harare magistrate’s court heard yesterday.

    GMB loss control officer Mr Crispen Saidi made the revelation when he gave evidence during Muderede’s ongoing trial.

    Mr Saidi told presiding magistrate Mrs Sandra Nhau that Muderede called him from Botswana and threatened to deal with GMB officials who had participated in the seizure of his grains.

    "I tried to get hold of him on the phone but I could not get through. I think after three days or so he called me saying that he was in Botswana and asked me if I knew who he was.

    "He said he would finish us all," said Mr Saidi, who was led by prosecutor Mr Obi Mabahwana.

    When asked how Muderede was going to deal with them, Mr Saidi said he did not even have time to ask Muderede since he was fuming and that he only managed to listen to what he was saying.

    Mr Saidi said when he went to inspect Muderede’s farm, he found 1 803 536 tonnes of maize and over 59 665 tonnes of wheat, which he later seized.

    He said Muderede’s young brother, Kuvimba, resisted the inspection and subsequent seizure of the maize and wheat.

    He even ordered farm workers to attack the GMB officials and policemen who seized the crop.

    Mr Saidi said a police officer and two GMB employees were injured during the clashes with workers.

    He added that Muderede’s wife and young brother resisted the inspection and invited him to speak to a very prominent person on the phone.

    However, he refused, he said.

    Mr Saidi refused to name the said prominent person saying he had reasons to withhold the name of the person.

    The investigating officer in the matter, Chief Superintendent Musarashana Mabunda, last year told magistrate Ms Memory Chigwaza that top Government officials were interfering with Muderede’s probe..."
    Friday's edition of the paper in this article mistitled 'Msiska Warned Muderede' continues;

    "VICE-PRESIDENT Joseph Msika warned Chinhoyi businessman and commercial farmer Cecil Muderede on trial over illegal wheat and maize transactions and various economic crimes that if he were actually involved in the illegal deals, he would be arrested.

    This was said by Mr Crispen Saidi, a GMB loss control officer, during yesterday’s hearing being presided by Mrs Sandra Nhau.

    Mr Saidi testified that he was summoned to parliament buildings where the Vice President questioned him why the company had seized wheat and maize belonging to Muderede.

    Mr Saidi said when he went to Parliament, he found Muderede waiting for him and told him that Cde Msika wanted to see him immediately as he was due to leave for a Politburo meeting.

    "I was questioned by the Vice President and he said that Muderede was a popular farmer (therefore) we were not supposed to take his things. (By then) we had already taken the maize," said Mr Saidi, who added that he was a councillor in Banket.

    Mr Saidi said Muderede sat quietly by his side as Cde Msika spoke to him.

    Under cross-examination from defence lawyer Mr Tawanda Chitapi of TH Chitapi and Associates, Mr Saidi said Cde Msika also warned Muderede that if he were actually involved in the illegal deals, he would be arrested.

    When asked if Cde Msika’s actions jeopardised the GMB process, Mr Saidi said they did not in any way affect his activities since the maize was not returned to Muderede..."

    Which is the real story here; that president warned the man or the VP warned the government official not to enforce the law of the land because said violater was "popular?" You be the judge.

    For her part, Zimbabwe's newest VP and highetst ranking woman Joyce Mujuru, was exposed to have meddled with the teenage rape victim of Karikoga Kaseke, the permanent secretary in the ministry of Transport and Communications. Mujur allegedly attempted to stop the victim, who was impregnated by Kaseke when she was fifteen, from testifying in public during her civil case for child support against Kaseke. writes,
    "According to documents seen by New, Mujuru has been trying to prevent 17-year-old rape victim Nyasha Sonia Ndanga from testifying against Karikoga Kaseke, a Mujuru ally and permanent secretary in the Ministry of Transport and Communications.

    Ndanga has brought a civil suit against Kaseke for the maintenance of a child she bore with him when she was 15 years old. In Zimbabwean law, the age of consent is 16, and had Ndanga reported the matter to the police instead of opting for a civil settlement, Kaseke would have been charged with statutory rape.

    However sensational details emerged at the weekend of desperate attempts made by Mujuru, the CIO and newspaper publisher Ibbotson Day Mandaza to armtwist Ndanga into parting with pictures and documents supporting her claim."
    Meanwhile The Independent reports that Mugabe chastised his ministers for "blame shifting" and underpeformance.

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  • Thursday, June 16, 2005

    BIPA/BIT showdown looms

    BACKGROUND: Read this and this.

    The Zimbabwe government is set on confisticating any farms they want to EVEN those that fall under the BIPA/BIT clauses. Security and Lands minister (Didymus Mutasa--who's now best poised to succeed Mugabe) says the government can and will annex any farms they want to becuase there is no clause/treaty that specifically addresses land. See this.

    Land ownership in Zimbabwe is set to change as ZANU-PF has intended that it wants to pass legislation that will turn all land over to the state making way for 99 year leases.

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  • Tsvangirai's bungling guarantees MDC's demise

    Morgan Tsvangirai, the failing leader of Zimbabwe's main opposition party--the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)--was never behind the stayaway. Buried in the sometimes controversial and certainly obscure Zimbabwe Miror is this indicting article. The report claims Tsvangirai had cold feet about the stayaway because he was worried about how it would implicate him. It seems he was also worried about the effectiveness of the stayaway despite the fact that he championed Zimbabwe's most successful stayaway in 1998.

    Mugabe's incessantly derogatory labelling of Tsvangirai as a brainless anarchist stooge of the West's neo-colonial aspirations must be getting to the MDC leader's head. Mugabe and his spin masters in the governments propaganda machinary have sworn to stick by such statements as this,

    "Morgan Tsvangirai is an ambitious frog... as long as Morgan will be used by the British he will be a frog." Quote courtesy of Sokwanele (they have compiled quite a telling list of Mugabe quotes)

    Yet letting these lies cause his resolve to falter is exactly what Mugabe & Co. intend for them. Morgan has failed the litmus test of staying the course and enduring ZANU-PF's high sounding-low blow vitriole. He cares way too much about himself but not enough about the Zimbabwean people. His alliance with himself runs too deep to allow a selfless commitment to others and certainly to the leadership of a nation. And with that we must compose the epitaph for his political career and almost certainly, that of the MDC along with it.

    After the March parliamentary elections, I wrote this regarding the MDC:
    "As long as ordinary Zimbabweans don't hear the MDC championing their cause, for food security, employment and sustained economic growth, MDC can rest assured all the sympathies for them will come from a small minority. And that spells doom for them unless they change the mainstay of their platform and it's not too late to do that yet."

    It's now too late for that, the people of Zimbabwe are looking for a better leadership that is commited to them;
    "Gone are the days when politicians could call for action from their lofty quarters at the Monomotapa offices and then sit back to watch their vassals respond (while they helped themselves to the governments coffers). The only kind of leadership Zimbabweans are responding to is involved leadership. They are only rallying behind the clarion calls of those who practise what they preach; leaders who will walk the walk with them."

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  • Monday, June 13, 2005

    Fear and fear (of exploitation):Why the stay away flopped

    I'm sure many sympathizers of the Zimbabwean people in the blogosphere and beyond were dazed and drenched deeper into the dirges of despair when it became apparent that the much anticipated stay away was going nowhere early on Friday. I'm also going to go ahead and assume that most of you (like me) started burning with frustration and numerous questions as to why such a repressed and persecuted people would not stand up and protest the heinous crimes of a desperate and despotic regime. Some of you were enraged by the apparent long suffering attitude of the Zimbabwean public. A few extremists even went on to dismiss us as a passive, pathetic proletariat (with a few vulger explicatives to boot).

    At the root of all this bitterness and frustration was confusion over why the Zimbabwean masses practically ignored the calls for action from the MDC led coalition. I too was distraught and disillusioned. Morbid thoughts of the horrors of the cleanup being the doom fate has assigned us crossed my mind. But then I heard it, the calm resolute voice of the people of Zimbabwe. Yes through conversations and multiple assurences from friends and family (turned sources), I was directed (as has been the case many times over the last few weeks) to the right perspective.

    Zimbabweans are done being exploited by a greedy select at who's core vaulting ambitions lie awaiting opportunity to jump at power and prominence. With the corruption of government by ZANU-PF bigwigs and the prevailing hardships, power--political power that is-- has become the fastest escape route from the hard times into the good times. See this. Zimbabwe's papers are filled with filth like this and this which recount tales of high ranking officials in Mugabe's "development" cabinet raping a teenager and abandoning parental obligations to illicit children they fathered.

    Do not despair, Zimbabweans spoke over the weekend and what they are saying clear to anyone that'll pay attention. Zimbabweans have rejected the shoddy leadership of the opposition, they want a real leader. "A real leader," you ask.

    After so many years of lies and deception, the people of Zimbabwe are not going to fall for the gimmicks of cheap politics. Gone are the days when politicians could call for action from their lofty quarters at the Monomotapa offices and then sit back to watch their vassals respond. The only kind of leadership Zimbabweans are responding to is involved leadership. They are rallying behind the clarion calls of those who practise what they preach; leaders who will walk to the walk with them. [This is a part of why the farm invasions spread so quickly across the country; the leaders themselves did what they were urging people to do]

    The MDC has convinced Zimbabweans that they do not have that kind of leadership. They've become so obsessed with the idea of regime change that they've neglected the voices of the very laity to which they should turn if they expect to sweep into power with by popular vote. With their unproductive globetrotting missions and incessantly empty threats, they have become a party of envy and longing. Envy and longing for what ZANU-PF has that they could have too. Months I ago I wrote;

    "Somehow, after the MDC debuted as a political party, Tsvangirai's leadership began to distance itself from the realities and hardships faced by the proletariat. [regime] Change became his party's clarion call. As early as the run up to the 2002 presidential elections, MDC began to emphasize the need for regime change louder than they articulated wishes of the masses.

    But these continued cries for change didn't alleviate the pinch of an economy imploding under high inflation and unemployment as well as the detrimental effects of AIDS. Those were and remain the immediate concerns of the public in Zimbabwe.As long as ordinary Zimbabweans don't hear the MDC championing their cause, for food security, employment and sustained economic growth, MDC can rest assured all the sympathies for them will come from a small minority.

    And that spells doom for them unless they change the mainstay of their platform and it's not too late to do that yet."

    See this too.

    Nowhere do I find these charges better laid out than by the Zimbabwe Standard's sattirist Woodpecker;

    "Damp squib. The so-called two-day national stayaway by the misnamed Broad Alliance was, to be extremely polite, a phenomenal failure.

    Many long suffering Zimbabweans rightly ignored the call to stayaway from their dwindling sources of income simply because they are tired of being used by tired politicians and their equally tired cronies in the civil society.

    So then - the question has to be asked: Why do long suffering Zimbabweans prefer to go about their miserable lives without a whimper of a protest?

    Why do people whose meagre belongings overzealous police have wantonly destroyed and whose dwellings have been reduced to smithereens prefer to moan quietly rather than make much noise by going onto the streets, or joining calls for mass protest such as Thursday and Friday's stayaways? The answer, which I discovered after much soul searching, is simple.

    Ordinary and hard working Zimbabweans are fed up of being used as canon fodder by politicians and civic society leaders who call for stayaways and such other forms of mass protest, and then slide away when darkness comes to the comfort of their houses (with their well manicured gardens and posh servants' quarters) while they have to sleep in the open.

    Ordinary Zimbabweans are tired of being beaten up by police and soldiers at midnight, or such ungodly hours when they are alone and helpless in their tiny houses with nobody taking notice, while their so-called leaders can get the whole world to issue alerts and pour millions of dollars in their defence if they ever get harassed by the police or the CIO.

    Ordinary, peace loving and hard working Zimbabweans are tired of being used by civic society leaders who take advantage of their plight to write long and harrowing reports to their international benefactors for them to react with horror and disgust, while at the same time opening their fat cheque books and transferring millions that only serve to boost the civic society leaders' huge salaries and hefty allowances.

    Ordinary and peace loving Zimbabweans are tired of seeing the same leaders living in comfort while they wallow in abject poverty and are promised that, as the good book says, the meek shall inherit the earth.

    They are now saying if any blood is shed in the quest for democracy and human rights, then it should be the leaders' blood. Not theirs. Period.

    That is why ordinary and peace loving Zimbabweans are no longer interested in strikes or stayaways because they are badly organized and only serve the interests of fat-cat politicians and their friends in the civic society movement.

    Ordinary and peace loving Zimbabweans yearn for a new leadership that is not selfish or a leadership that is not driven by the need to make as much money from the Zimbabwe crisis as possible.

    That is why ordinary people would rather weep quietly and huddle in the bitter and cold nights of winter than join endless calls of stayaways and strikes. That is why Thursday and Friday's stayaway was a damp squib.

    Ordinary and peace loving Zimbabweans have spoken and spoken loudly: We need new leaders, we need new heroes."

    Remember when our friend spoke of fear being the reason for the failure of the protest;
    "The thing is people are afraid. People don't want to stay away from work because if they do, then they'll be sacked. With all the threats from the police and government, we're well aware that we might charged with inciting disorder. So no one wants to be the first one."
    What he was describing is not the paralyzing fear of the unknown that captivates us when we watch horror movies, but rather an enlightened, a wise fear of chaos such as the fear one has of a snake or a scorpion because they know how fatal contact with either can be. That kind of fear which can only come from a deep understanding of human nature is the fear the Zimbabwean people expressed last week.

    The Zimbabwean people have spoken, it's time for sons and daughters of the soil to lead us out of this mediocrity.

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  • Sunday, June 12, 2005

    Better for Zimbabweans: Mugabe or Smith?

    In my youthful Afrocentrism I have been surprised, nay startled and befuddled to read the consistency with which various pundits have aired their longings for Zimbabwe to return to white minority rule in discussions on blogs like this one and this one (see comments on both). This off course begs the question, "Which leader was better for Zimbabweans Robert Gabriel Mugabe or Ian Douglas Smith?"

    Notice I've inserted the phrase "better for Zimbabweans." This distintive is important as it highlights the duality of perspective that alters our view of global affairs (such as the Zimbabwe crisis). I've long maintained that the clarion call for democracy in Zimbabwe (emanating mainly from idealogues in the west) does not match the desperate pleas for help coming from within the country and from it's laity. There's a disconnect between the high-sounding arguments from the West and the simple disparity of Zimbabwe's rural population. So I have tried to paint vivid pictures of the reality of the Zimbabwean Crisis by publishing accounts from the perspective of my own friends and family as we go through these dark ages.

    Continuing in this tradition of looking at things "from the eyes of a Zimbabwean," I now turn to the question of leadership in Zimbabwe and address, "Which was a better leader for Zimbabwe: Mugabe or Smith?"

    Smith was never a leader of Zimbabweans, in fact he was anything but a leader of Zimbabweans. What he led was a loose coalition of white separatists (the Rhodesian Front-RF) who wanted out of the British empire because Great Britain was insisting on the transfer of political power to the majority blacks. He at one point stated, "only over my dead body will a black man rule this country." So in 1965, Smith & Co. proclaimed the Unilateral Declaration of Independence (UDI) essentially severed their ties to the British.

    After several years of sanctions by the west and a bitter, grotesquely violent guerrilla opposition, Smith finally gave in to the invitation by Lord Carrington to attend the Lancaster House Talks at which it was decided to elect a government of majority popularity. Amidst controversy, Smith lost the election, Mugabe emerged victor and Zimbabwe was born.

    Enter Mugabe with his cruelty, corruption and chicanery.

    So which of these two best represents the interests, ambitions and wishes of Zimbabweans?

    In the minds of many Zimbabweans, this is a no brainer. Smith led a racist regime which did not view blacks as equals or capable yet by the time Rhodes arrived we already had complex societal structures and were handling our affairs. Under Smith, blacks were not allowed to vote (well, you could vote if you paid enough in tax, but the menial jobs offered blacks didn't facilitate enough taxes to enable us to vote). Black men were emaciated from their families and restricted from moving about by an inhuman "pass" system. With the best land already taken by the imperialists, Smith made sure that Zimbabwean kids never got a good education by denying them schools (while providing them for the white kids).

    Healthcare was no better for the African either, there are numerous accounts in the anals of Zimbabwe's history of black men getting injured on the job (mining, farming) for the white "boss" but then instead of receiving treatment they were fired or left to die. Some are reported to have crawled for over 160 miles back to their rural homes! But off course, we don't hear of this inhumane behavior because proponents of white minority rule in Zimbabwe still don't want it remembered.

    Hundreds of thousands more blacks were killed in Zimbabwe by the white minority either during the imperiliasist conquests or during some white instigated tribal wars than have been killed by Mugabe & Co.

    Does this absolve Mugabe of any and all wrongdoing? No! Neither am I claiming that Mugabe has a flawless record. In this very space I've reported how he's sytematically denying people of both livelihood and shelter, the most basic of human rights.

    Again I ask, which of these two men appears better to the Zimbabwean?

    Through the eyes of native Zimbabweans, this is how this question plays out: "Smith colonized us and interred us on horrible reserves, but Mugabe freed us from this. Even though we suffer, we can't return the dehumanization of Smith and his friends."

    Consider that in your thoughts about a future for Zimbabwe.

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  • Friday, June 10, 2005

    Hatcliffe update Part Three

    Harare North Member of Parliament, Trudy Stevenson had yet another update from Hatcliffe extension. Background here and here

    "This afternoon police set fire to furniture and other belongings of those Hatcliffe Extension residents who had not yet managed to leave - despite the fact that there were not enough police lorries to ferry all the people away to Caledonia Farm by the time they started burning!

    My suspicion is that they simply got tired, and decided to finish quickly by burning out everyone remaining - babies, sick, elderly, crippled, etc. included. As I write, I have no idea how many people have lost everything they possessed, nor do I know what has happened to those people. It was reported that they were told by the police that they had taken too long to leave, and now they would have to go in the lorries simply in the clothes they were wearing, nothing else - no food, no clothes, no furniture.It was not possible to get into New Stands this afternoon, because the fires were already out of control when I arrived around 4.00 pm.

    At this time of year the fields are full of dry long grass and mealie stalks, so fires spread extremely rapidly. I went into the old Holding Camp to ascertain reports that Nyasha Chikwinya (ZanuPF MP '95-2000) had visited and that ZanuPF were registering their members to be allocated stands at the new stands, but the atmosphere there was too tense. I was told to leave quickly because ZanuPF were writing lists and making threats, but before I could leave their delegation marched up and threatened me. We decided to leave before the vehicle was stoned.I fear that we will lose track of many constituents, and have no means of finding out what happens to them.

    Concerning your generous donations to all those unfortunate people, please hold on to all donations of blankets, food, etc, for the time being, until we find a way forward. Meanwhile cash donations can still be used to transport some of the residents to their preferred destination, provided we can trace them - or they contact us! Thank you all for your concern and your generosity. The victims have really appreciated knowing that "people out there" know about their situation and have been supporting them thus far."

    Trudy Stevenson, MP Harare North Constituency

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  • Thursday, June 09, 2005

    More on Hatcliffe extension

    Harare North MP, Trudy Stevenson chimes in with the following on the traversity in Hatcliffe extension:

    "I went out to Hatcliffe Extension this morning, accompanied by 3 friends, and met Fr William Guri (sorry, not Duri as I wrote initially) at New Stands. We spotted a couple of lorries from the distance, but could not see a heavy police presence. People were very subdued, sitting on or beside their belongings which appeared packed and ready to go. They reported that they had been told they would all have to leave today.

    On vacated stands the building materials were still piled up or scattered around - i.e. wooden cabin panels, asbestos roofing, windowframes, bricks, poles - because people are not allowed to take their building materials with them on the police lorries, only their furniture, food and clothes. This is a serious financial loss to poor people, and we wonder what will happen to all that building material.We tried to establish where the people were being taken, but this was difficult. The municipal police and workers did not want to tell us. "Go and ask at Mbare police station," we kept being told. This is puzzling, since Hatcliffe Extension is under Borrowdale police station, while Mbare is right in the centre of town.

    Eventually we saw one of the police lorries return for its second load, and quickly established that they were being taken to Caledonia Farm - this is the farm just outside the city boundary beyond Tafara, to the east of the city.Many of the people protested that they did not want to go to Caledonia Farm. Some were trying to make other arrangements quickly, before the lorries reached their stands - others had already set off on foot to various safer destinations - difficult with their all their furniture, however. Fr. William was of the opinion that it would be better to let the people go to Caledonia, then at least we would know where they were, and in any case there was no chance of their being able to stay put. The police had told people they were not forcing people to go to Caledonia at this stage, they were going voluntarily, but when they finished all the voluntary trips, they would force anyone still left onto the lorries to Caledonia.

    We decided to go and have a look at Caledonia Farm - but before we left, we had a contretemps with the policeman who had been accompanying the returning lorry. One of the purported municipal workers had reported to him that Nyandoro (UZ student, former president of SRC) was moving around with me encouraging people to resist eviction and encouraging the municipal workers to stop working and join the stayaway instead!! He was apparently incensed that we did not follow his "order" to go to Mbare police station, and that we had dared speak to people in the returning lorry and discovered the destination! Nyandoro finally persuaded the two of them that we were on legitimate business, as I am the MP for the area, trying to find out where my constituents are being moved, and he is one of my constituents accompanying his MP! After this we headed to Arcturus Road to look for Caledonia Farm.

    Soon after leaving, we crossed a Defender full of riot police and a police lorry full of "police" in plain clothes in the back, heading for Hatcliffe Extension. Caledonia took a bit of finding, and we were glad to be in a 4x4, because the last bit is quite tricky, especially coming back out up the hill - but when we eventually found it, we were all shocked. People are not spread around in open fields on the farm, as we had imagined. They are crowded together in the fenced compound immediately around the farmhouse. When we drove past (we didn't risk going inside) about a hundred were crowded around the verandah, and a man was addressing them with fist raised in the air (ZANU-PF slogan signal) - so we could imagine what he was saying!

    The people are staying in tents, and the tents are right next to each other, not a bit of space in between. Laundry was drying on the fence, children were wandering around behind the crowd, and we noticed a police car parked inside.The main shock was the small size of the place - there is no way all the people from Hatcliffe Extension (there are still roughly 6000 - 8000 people staying there) will fit inside that compound, even if they all remain standing! And even before the Hatcliffe people started arriving, there were others already there from Porta Farm - and there will be many others coming from all over Harare. We are told that it is a transit holding camp, and people are only supposed to stay there 3 days for "vetting," before they go "where they belong" - and noone knows where that is or how they will get there. Fr William however reported that when he visited earlier this week, people from Porta Farm had already been there a week.

    The health dangers looming in Caledonia transit holding camp are obvious, but serious. Moreover, we wonder what people are eating, where they are getting their water, and how the sick, especially Aids sufferers, are being cared for, and what is happening to the orphans. Another major worry is the children who should be at school. Zambuko Primary at Hatcliffe Extension had 1,100 children registered. That school was forced to close on Sunday 29 May, when police destroyed the Holding Camp. Since then some have managed to attend Hatcliffe 2 Primary for a few days, but now most of those families will be going to Caledonia - and where will all the children go to school? I am sure the school at Tafara is already overcrowded, and it certainly is not automatic that children get places at any school.

    We suspect that people at that Holding Camp are being kept under strict control, possibly not even allowed to leave until they are shipped off elsewhere. It has all the appearance of a detention centre - and it is extremely likely that they will be forced to attend re-education "pungwes" (all night rallies) at night for political correctness. The "vetting" may well be to sort out the ZanuPF members from the others, then they might well be re-allocated their stands back at Hatcliffe Extension - and the others will be discarded along with the other "rubbish" in this "clean-up campaign". Certainly Deputy Minister of Local Governmnet Zuwawo (sp?) rang alarm bells when he allocated most of the stands at White Cliff to people from Manyame - his own constituency!We are deeply concerned about the future of people from Hatcliffe Extension."

    Trudy Stevenson, MP Harare North Constituency

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  • Bust....

    Amid reports of what has been roundly dubbed a "slow start," yours truly can confirm that the proposed "stayaway" has flopped. This from my trusted friend whom we've heard from before:

    "I went to work today. Kombis (minibuses) were operating as usual and people were moving around unrestricted. I'm sure we're all going to go work tomorrow.

    The thing is people are afraid. People don't want to stay away from work because if they do, then they'll be sacked. With all the threats from the police and government, we're well aware that we might charged with inciting disorder. So no one wants to be the first one.

    The other thing is that they picked a wrong day for the stayaway. Parliament was opening today so off course they had heavy police presence in the city.

    I too was hoping that people will stand up because the situation here is beyond unbearable. Now I don't know what's going to happen in the future because we are suffering."
    We'll keep a close on eye on this and hope for better turnout tomorrow.

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  • Tuesday, June 07, 2005

    All is not well in Zimbabwe

    Just a day removed from the start of the intended job stay away to protest the unbearable chaos created by Mugabe & Co. in Zimbabwe there’s a strong sense that the mass protest will be a success. Here are snippets once again of a phone conversation I had with an immediate family member and my friend both in Harare, early Wednesday (Zim time off course):

    “We had to go to FOUR different stores just to find bread today. Because of the displacements during Operation “Murambatsvina” (cleanup), hundreds of thousands of people have nowhere to stay or prepare their food, so they clamor for the bread when they can find it cause they don’t have cook it any further before they can eat it.

    Even those of us who lived through the war (of liberation) have never seen anything like this before. It is unbelievable I tell you.

    Harare is cold, and people are suffering. You will not believe Mbare Musika (long distance bus terminus and popular informal market) if you went there now; it looks like they dropped a bomb over there. There’s congestion as people try desperately to leave the city and the debris from demolished stalls is all over the place.

    I think this time the stay away will succeed it’s not like the other times. The war vets (chief culprits of violence and pandemonium during the government sanctioned farm invasions) are livid about the cleanup. They had their makeshift homes destroyed during the blitz too. People lost everything. That has made them frontliners in the calls for protests against the government.

    People around the city (Harare) are well aware of the planned protest. The independent media and cell phone text messages have been the main way that the message has been passed on. There have also been a lot of fliers handed out in the city here. People are definitely aware.

    The Herald and ZBC—Zimbabwe Broadcasting Cooperation (both government propaganda) continue to belittle the stay away but I think anyone who had any doubts, now knows the reality that this government is cruel. How can anyone with a heart do this to their own people?”

    I don’t think I’ll be able to get into town for work on Thursday and Friday. The combi (minibus—informal transporters) people have already told us that they will not be plying their routes during the stay away. Everyone seems set to be involved this time. I don’t know if I can get into town. I might go to work but if I have problems trying, it’s not worth it. What do you want us to do? This is too much man, we are suffering here.
    There you have it, “The world as seen from the eyes of a Zimbabwean.” It’s all falling apart.

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  • Monday, June 06, 2005

    Poor governance...

    ...Is this; in the week after a violent two week rampage against"least of these" that has seen up to 200,000 civilians displaced from their homes, the government threatens to deal ruthlessly with the protestors who are planning a two day stay away claiming that they are saboteurs bent on disturbing the peace!

    Please! If a two day job stayaway by unarmed civilians is "disturbing the peace" what hyperbolic term do we have for razing the homes and livelihood of half the nations economy? Oh, did I mention how well armed the rioters were against these poor civilians?

    We need your help! Speak out to your representative, contact one of the organizations at; or if you know anyone in Zimbabwe spread the message, we are going to stand up for what's rightfully ours.
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  • Sunday, June 05, 2005

    "Stay away" looms as MDC calls for protests.

    Zimbabwe's opposition, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) together with anti-government National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) and the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) have announced a mass job stay away to protest the governments rabid "cleanup" rampage for Thursday and Friday of this week. See this, this, and this (from the horrid).

    The last succesful stayaway which started on November 11, 1998 paralyzed the country as youths and rowdy crowds fought running battles with anti-riot police and the army. This last strike led ultimately to the formation of the MDC.

    The reason behind that protest: government authorized price increases which the public felt were unwarranted. Going by this formula of illogical government action preceding a violent protest countrywide, Operation Murambatsvina lends circumstances most conducive to widespread protest and chaos.

    This is our moment Zimbabweans, let us in the words of Bob Marley,
    *"Get up, stand up. Stand up for your rights!"
    *Corrected courtesy of VI Kraziest

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  • Friday, June 03, 2005

    Here's who really got "cleaned up"

    *For more on this, click here and click here.

    This report is written by Sister Patricia Walsh of the Dominican Order of the Catholic Church in Zimbabwe. Hatcliff Extension. This report is already in circulation, but Sokwanele feels it deserves greater prominance and are circulating it to our mailing list as well.

    "Family and Friends, thank you for your telephone calls, your e-mails and all your support and encouragement in these dreadful days and hours - it is a great help.The international press says that the police are destroying "illegal structures" in Zimbabwe. Let me share with you a little of what is very legal but has been destroyed.In 1992 many thousands of people were put into a Holding Camp at a Place called Hatcliffe Extension, they were not allowed to build permanent structures because this was going to be temporary.

    In 1995 one of our student Sisters, Tarisai Zata who was a student at the School of Social Work and was doing some studies for her degree, one evening she came back Home and said "we must do something to help these people to live like human beings" and that was the beginning of the Dominican Missionary Sisters involvement in Hatcliffe.We have worked with the people there for the past 10 years, peoples of all religions and none, people of all political persuasions and none.Over the years through the generosity of you all we were able to sink 8 bore holes, help to feed thousands of people, build and run a crèche for AIDS orphans (180) of them. We visited once a week and two of our nursing Sisters, Gaudiosa and Carina treated people, helped to get about 100 People on to an Anti-Retroviral medicine programmers etc do home based care, took people to hospitals etc.The people of Hatchliffe have become friends and family of us the Dominican Sisters.

    Yes, some people had moved in illegally, but the majority were there because they were put there and were repeatedly told that they would be moved to a better place at some time, most of them paid their monthly "rent" for The little square patch.

    On Friday morning last week I got a call that the riot police had come into a section of the area and demolished everything - most of the wooden Shacks are just broken to pieces. I went out on Friday and Saturday - people were sleeping out in the open, many of them sick, cold and hungry. On Saturday I visited again some had managed to leave (those who have Z$500 000 - and have some relatives in "legal" places".On Sunday morning I got a call that the police had given instructions That all structures in the original section have to be demolished within 24 hours, including the crèche, clinic and other structures which we had built with and for the people. Where do I get people on Sunday to come and dismantle all the buildings. I decided to wait until Monday. On Sunday evening I received one phone call after another saying "come quick they are going to kill us" - others would say "don't come you might be killed".Early on Monday morning I drove out to Hatcliffe, already in the distance I Could only see smoke rising up - nothing else. I arrived, I wept, Sister Carina was with me, she wept, the people tried to console us - they were aLL outside in the midst of their broken houses, furniture and goods all over the place, children screaming, sick people in agony. Some of the people who are on ARV drugs came to us and said we are phoning Sister Gaudiosa (Sister is doing the ARV programme) but she is not answering us, we are going to die". We explained that Sister was on Home leave but that we would help in whatever way we could.

    It was a heartbreaking situation.The structures "mentioned above" that we the Dominican Sisters were working from were left untouched but had to be dismantled immediately otherwise They too would be destroyed. Sister Balbina from the House of Adoration came with carpenters and other staff members and started dismantling the structures.We are distributing all of them to people who have nothing, they will be OK if we leave them lying on the ground. Some friends arranged for a crane to come in to lift out two containers where we had medicine and food stored - it was one of the saddest days of my life.How does one say that Peter aged 10 and his little brother (John) aged 4 (not their real names) are "illegal". We had provided them with a wooden hut when their Mother was dying, she has died in the meantime, these two Little people had their little home destroyed in the middle of the night, we get there, they are sitting crying in the rubbish (that was their home until Sunday) - what do we do with them? They are only one example of the many vulnerable orphans whose little lives are destroyed.Veronica (not her real name) is an elderly widow who is chronically ill herself, she has 3 young grandchildren from her dead daughter - her home is destroyed. She is wearing a Rosary Beads around her neck, an apron with the picture of the Sacred Heart and a tee shirt with President Mugabe's photo - she has tried all means to survive!Some people came and said, "Sister there are two people who are dying, please come." One of them Mary (not her real name) who is out in the open all night lying on an old damp mattress can't move with pain, she has shingles, which is open and bleeding. What is worse her tears or her bleeding wounds?

    I felt/feel paralyzed.Anne (not her real name) delivered a baby a week ago, she is Critically ill and is on the verge of death, what do we do with her? We give her pain killers, we give her blankets, we give her food (which she in unable to eat) - what is going to happen to her baby?Some of you have asked if I am safe, don't worry we are well "protected" by the riot police who are cruising around this disaster area all day, I was so relived to see them eating sugar cane which means that they are not hungry and will have the strength to "protect us", I don't for a minute believe that they accepted this sugar cane from "illegal people" on an "illegal settlement".A Grandmother asks, "Sister why has God abandoned us? I do not try to answer. People call out "Sisters pray for us".

    An emergency taxi (mini bus) stands in the middle of this "war zone" with the words "God is Faithful" written on it!Just now we are going back there with food, clothing, medicine and cash, we can only try.I am NOT cold, I am NOT hungry but I am very ANGRY. I pray that this will pass.We stand in shock and cry with the people but we also have to try to keep them alive. When will sanity prevail?Where is the outside world? Busy talking about a "NO vote by France".How can the "little ones of this world be brutalized in this way"? Their only crime - they are poor, they are helpless and they happen to live In the wrong part of town and in a country that does not have oil and is not very important to the West.One bystander told me that he had phoned the Red Cross asking for help but was informed "it is not a war situation" so there is nothing we can do!PRAY FOR US.

    God bless and reward you for your concern.

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