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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