** Zimbabwe-Starving to Death **
Posted 10 March 2003 - 04:24 AM
Dear Family and Friends,
This week the price of petrol went up by 91%. The announcement has been accepted with exhausted resignation by us all. It has done absolutely nothing for the availability of fuel and if you are lucky enough to find a queue the lines are endlessly long and still mean waiting for hours before being served. Within days we expect the price of everything to rise dramatically. What this will do to our 208% inflation rate and the availability of food hardly bears thinking about. The government announced price freezes for everything imaginable last year so it seems most likely that our supermarket shelves will only get even emptier. This clearly does not matter to our government who, on Friday, listed another 16 farms they intend to seize. There are now only an estimated 15% of Zimbabwe's original commercial farmers still left on their land trying to growing food for us. While the country slowly starves, the World Food Programme this week announced that even the so called settler farmers now living on seized farms are starving and in need of food aid. Every day now our obsession is with finding food, trying to survive and wondering how much longer we can go on like this. Each day is exhausting and utterly depressing and yet some brave people still find the courage to make a stand.
The world cup cricket matches continue to be played in Zimbabwe. Our two brave heroes, Andy Flower and Henry Olonga remain defiant and continue with their silent protest at the appalling chaos and suffering in the country. With each match the two men have come under greater and greater attack for their courage and honesty. Olonga's cricket Club, Takashinga, expelled him from their membership. Both men were reprimanded by the Zimbabwe Cricket Union and told to take off their black armbands. At the next game they wore white wristbands in a call for peace and were again hauled in by cricketing authorities. They were told to end their protest or risk being dropped from the selection. Both men refused and bravely play on. During the match against Australia, Catholic Archbishop, Pius Ncube and 20 others wore black armbands and ribbons in the grounds and issued a press statement saying that they too mourned the death of democracy in Zimbabwe.
Our Catholic Archbishop has given us more than a little reason to feel proud in the last 3 years of his consistent outspokenness. He continues to risk his life by speaking out. On Thursday evening he held a service for victims of torture in Zimbabwe. A dozen people gave testimony about what had happened to them. Police were in the Church and the following morning they visited Archbishop Ncube. He was cautioned by the Police and told not to bring politics into his Church. Asked on Short Wave Radio Africa if this warning would deter him, Archbishop Ncube said: "I cannot stop. As long as people are suffering I must speak out." His example has given others in the church courage to speak out. On Friday morning 22 pastors and clergymen marched to Harare Police Headquarters. They carried a petition saying that the laws which forbid gatherings without police permission were impinging on people's right to the freedom of worship. Having phoned the Police and said that they were coming and why, the Pastors continued. At Police Headquarters they were met by a vehicle filled with uniformed men. These policemen taunted the clergymen, condemning them for their position and promptly took 19 of them in for questioning. Six hours later they were released, two have to return on Monday for further questioning. We are outraged but can do nothing. Now, more than ever before, there is not a shadow of doubt in anyone's minds that the tragedy in Zimbabwe is not about land or the colour of our skins, but simply about a party clinging to power. No one is safe, not even men of God.
I am delighted to be able to tell you that both "African Tears" and "Beyond Tears" have now arrived in Australia and can be sourced from John Reed Books at firstname.lastname@example.org. John has also kindly agreed to handle orders from people in New Zealand. Hopefully stocks will soon be in England too. If anyone can help with a distributor in America or Canada I would be most grateful for your help. The further we can get our desperate cry for help the better. We have given up on looking to our neighbours in South Africa to even do us the human courtesy of admitting that people are suffering, dying, starving, rotting in prisons and being arrested for worshipping God. We know we are alone and I think that without your support, loving emails and wonderful letters and parcels I too would give up hope.
Until next week, with love, cathy.
Copyright cathy buckle, 1st March 2003.
"African Tears" and "Beyond Tears" are available from: www.exclusivebooks.com and www.kalahari.net
Posted 10 March 2003 - 04:28 AM
Cathy Buckle writes
Dear Family and Friends,
A month ago two of the most important African Presidents said that they would not support a renewal of Zimbabwe's suspension from the Councils of the Commonwealth. Nigerian President Obasanjo and South African President Mbeki said they had been reassured by the Zimbabwean government that the land seizures were over. They were also told that all white farmers who had been thrown off their land would be given another farm in a policy of one farmer, one farm. They were lied to because in the last 10 days thirteen farms have been listed for state seizure and 24 others in Karoi have been served with 90 day eviction notices and none of us have been given back a farm on which to grow food for our starving country. The African Presidents also said that they were satisfied with assurances from our government that public repression would stop. Again they were lied to because since their visit 280 people have been arrested under the Public Order and Security Act. This number includes 73 women on a peace march; 19 priests and clergymen on a freedom of worship march; 1 human rights lawyer, 1 Bishop and 1 American diplomat. It also includes a well known civic rights leader who was assaulted whilst in police custody and 26 opposition MDC supporters whose vehicle was stopped as it drove past State House. The 26 were taken into the grounds of State House, detained and physically assaulted for wearing MDC T shirts. Another 70 MDC supporters were dragged out of their homes by police in the early hours of the morning after having attended an MDC rally.
Africa's two most important and influential leaders were not the only ones who were taken in by lies. The International Cricket Council said they were satisfied with reassurances by Zimbabwean police that cricket fans would be allowed to demonstrate peacefully at world cup matches here. In fact, 41 were arrested for demonstrating after the match against Holland, 28 after the game with Pakistan and 5 after the game against Australia. In a number of cases those arrested were held for as long as 4 days without being allowed bail and many were assaulted, kicked and whipped whilst in police custody. People carrying newspapers not written and owned by the State were not allowed to take them in to the grounds and one man was detained and interrogated because he wore a black armband. All queues, whether for food or fuel, were banned on roads leading to cricket grounds and people went hungrier than before. There was nothing at all peaceful about the world cup cricket matches that were held in Zimbabwe and frankly we are glad it's over.
Contrary to all the arguments that the cricket matches would highlight our plight, in fact they exacerbated it. Not once did we see film footage of protesters or even close up shots of our two brave players who wore black armbands. All the world saw were ridiculously romantic pictures of lions and elephants and Victoria Falls during the game breaks and not people queuing for fuel, lining up for bread, waiting for world food aid or being arrested and bundled into police cars for carrying banners calling for democracy. The oppression of all Zimbabweans, men and women, black and white, priests, professionals and peasants has increased dramatically recently. Arrests, unlawful detentions and assaults in police custody are now everyday occurrences and there are 9 pages carrying public statements by human rights and civic groups in this weeks Independent newspaper.
Zimbabwe's all powerful police found themselves unusually impotent when the remnants of Cyclone Japhat hit us this week. The worst storm in Marondera deposited 40 mms (1.5 inches) of rain in just half an hour and 3 days later nothing whatsoever has been done to repair the damage inflicted by the wrath of God. Storm drains uncleared for over a year still spew rivers across the streets. Pot holes have become craters; suburban tar roads have become slippery tracks with as little as 18inches of width still in tact. Cemeteries are flooded, graves and headstones have subsided into mud and dirt roads have become slippery accidents waiting to happen. Nothing is being done because the councils have no money. They have no money because their biggest source of revenue came from the commercial farmers, 85% of whom have been evicted by the State.
Things are falling apart very rapidly in Zimbabwe. This week the National railways announced the suspension of trains between the country's two main cities, Harare and Bulawayo, because of damage to the line. The damage was not caused by Cyclone Japhat but by illegal gold panners who have been left unchecked for months. They have now dug their trenches for gold right under the main rail line and it is no longer safe. No one knows yet how the goods carried by the daily train will now reach Bulawayo - petrol, diesel and food. People are hungry and angry, infrastructure is collapsing and still our own African neighbours will not condemn our governance. There are none so blind as those that will not see.
Until next week, with love cathy.
Copyright cathy buckle, 8th March 2003.
Both of my books, "African Tears" and "Beyond Tears" are available from www.exclusivebooks.com and www.kalahari.net
Posted 10 March 2003 - 08:16 PM
On a different thread I didn't know what you were saying. Sometimes us English speakers are too unforgiving of the dificulties those encounter when posting here. My mistake.
What is going on in Zimbabwe is very important when considering how the world is being run. The whites in Rhodesia, the Palestinians in their cruel concentration camp existance, Serbian and S. Afican farmers murdered with the complicity of their 'governments'. These things going on are were set into motion by the Jew World Order powers that be and are encouraged by the deafening silence from their media monopoly.
We're about to attack Iraq when we ought be in Zimbabwe taking out that communist son of a bitch Mugabe.
Keep fighting the good fight Reven, there are many in the USA that are outraged at whats going on and many more that don't even know. That why it's vital to use the net as the only source of info not censored by the stinkin Zionists. Yet.
Posted 30 March 2003 - 03:16 AM
Dear Family and Friends,
As a white African living in a black African country, it has taken me a long time to understand that my religious and cultural beliefs are not as different from those of black Zimbabweans as I once thought. Just as I believe that I must pay for my misdeeds, to man or to God, so African culture dictates that people are completely responsible for their behaviour and actions.Failure to behave in an acceptable and humane way will bring down upon the offender the evil spirit of Ngozi which will drive you mad unless it is appeased. The daily incidences of barbaric, evil and inhuman behaviour in Zimbabwe are so totally alien to both black and white cultures that it is now almost impossible to understand how either the victims or the perpetrators will ever find peace.
Last Saturday, as I sat writing my weekly letter, 500 women braved the wind and rain and gathered in the car park of the Bulawayo City Hall. It was International Women's Day and they were holding a peaceful demonstration about the crisis in Zimbabwe. When police arrived and attempted to arrest 8 of the organisers, the woman tried to prevent it by kneeling down in front of the police vehicles.They sang and prayed. Eye witnesses said that the women, some with babies on their backs, were kicked and beaten by riot police wielding baton sticks. An elderly woman who lay on the ground begging for mercy was repeatedly assaulted by 5 policemen who took it in turns to beat her. 15 women were arrested and later there were horrific reports of how they were treated whilst in police custody. They were stripped naked and made to lie on their stomachs. They were beaten on their backs and then made to roll over and were beaten on their lower abdomens. It was men inflicting the beating but they were watched by police women who stood and laughed as their sisters screamed out in agony. There was a lot of blood, both internal and external and as a woman I still cannot get the picture out of my mind of women police watching and laughing as this went on.
In another incident in the past week a young opposition activist was kidnapped in broad daylight in Nkayi. Mthulusi Moyo was putting up posters on a tree when he was grabbed and hauled into a government vehicle without number plates. He has not been seen since but all his clothes, including his underpants have been found, covered in blood. We fear that the young man is now dead.
Other young men and women, graduates from the notorious so-called Training Camps are reported to be fleeing to South Africa in their hundreds. According to South African newspapers, human rights organizations, law firms and churches in that country, youths as young as 15 are appealing for assistance. The youngsters say they have fled Zimbabwe because they are' tired of killing for nothing.' The youths report that training centres have been set up in secondary schools where students have no choice but to attend. There they are trained to kill in ways that are 'silent and leave no evidence'. They say they are given alcohol and cannabis to give them false courage before being sent out on missions of violence. Youngsters told how they had killed a man by breaking his neck and were ordered to burn the body. They said they could not do that, so they just dumped the man next to a railway line. In another incident, one boy reported how he had been instructed to kill his own father. Others have been instructed to kill close family members because of their membership of the opposition.
I do not know how Zimbabwe will even begin to heal these wounds.As a nation we are traumatised by evil. I know, that for my 10 year old son, it has been a long and painful two years overcoming the trauma and memories of the awful things that happened on our Marondera farm in 2000. Just one and a half years before he starts senior school I had begun to despair that he would ever be able to spell. Teachers, counsellors and educational specialists told me that he had a mental block, that he had unlearned basic spelling and writing principles and that it was a type of stress dyslexia. This week he came home wearing a merit badge for spelling. He has finally overcome the trauma and opened his mind again. We can only pray that it will be the same for all the living victims of violence. For the dead, their spirits will never rest until justice is done.
Until next week, with love
Posted 30 March 2003 - 05:22 AM
Dear Family and Friends,
Last week I reported on how women had been arrested and beaten whilst in police custody. I apologise for getting my facts wrong; women were indeed beaten and abused in police custody, but this was in Harare and not Bulawayo. I am sorry that I caused offence to the brave women of Harare and Bulawayo, all of whom have earned the country's highest respect for their most courageous stand. Everyday life in Zimbabwe is so filled with tales of horror, violence and arrests that sometimes it's hard to keep track of all the facts.
This week Zimbabweans began to show our government that they are almost at the end of their tether and have had enough of living like this. The opposition MDC called for a 2 day national stayaway and it is estimated that as many as 80% of shops, businesses and factories stayed closed for the two days. The country's two main cities of Harare and Bulawayo were apparently almost deserted. At the end of the 2 days, it was estimated that at least 200 but possibly as many as 500 people had been arrested for a host of obscure reasons. Included amongst those arrested was a newspaper photographer who was held for 2 days without being charged and assaulted whilst in custody. When the Corporate Director of the Newspaper company enquired at a police station as to the photographer's whereabouts, she was also arrested and then severely assaulted by the wife of the Commander of the Army, Jocelyn Chiwenga and her messenger. No one knows what Jocelyn Chiwenga and her henchman were doing in a police station or why they were allowed to do what they did.
Newspapers reported that in Ruwa, 15kms from the capital city on an MDC MP's leased farm, armed men in army uniform, over two days indiscriminately assaulted men, women and children who work and live on the farm. Three security guards at the farm had their fingers and toes broken by these men and were then severely assaulted. The farm manager and his wife were beaten and then the attackers turned their attentions on at least 80 men, women and children resident on the property. Dozens had to be taken to hospital and one man, Steven Tonera was literally beaten to death by the men in army uniforms.
At the end of our country's mass public action calling for an end to anarchy, the MDC delivered a 15 point ultimatum to the Zimbabwe government. Basically they have given the ruling party until the 31st March to restore freedom and democracy to the country. Amongst their demands are an end to the torture of people in police custody; the restoration of freedom of speech, worship and association; disbanding of the youth militias; repealing the repressive legislation and depoliticising the police and security personnel in the country. We have little hope that any of these most basic of human dignities will be adhered to by the Zimbabwe government. The MDC leader has stated publicly that if these demands are not met by the end of March, "mass action will escalate" and "proceed on another level." Dark days are undoubtedly ahead, but for the first time in over a year, we have seen that Zimbabweans have had enough and are starting to making a stand.
Any changes in Zimbabwe can't come soon enough. This month telephone charges went up by almost 100%, inflation is over 220% and every day, week and month has become a struggle for survival. This week, both South African and Mozambican suppliers of electricity to our country have said they will disconnect us completely if the massive and outstanding bills owed to them are not paid by the 23rd of March. Our electricity company, Zesa, do not know where to find the foreign money they owe. Industrialists say that supply restrictions in the form of load shedding to domestic households during the day and to factories at night are very likely in the weeks ahead. Winter is just two months away and facing it with restricted light, heat and cooking facilities is a frightening possibility.
Until next week, with love,
Posted 30 March 2003 - 05:29 AM
Subject: For Patricia
Dear Family and Friends,
People who have been following my weekly letters from Zimbabwe for some time may remember the reports of farm invasions in 2000 and then the company invasions in 2001. Throughout those nightmare years one man featured prominently and I called him Mr Grass Hat. His real name is Joseph Chinotimba and he used to wear a hard hat covered with grass when he was invading farms and evicting the owners. Captured by international TV cameras, Mr Grass Hat, accompanied by scores of men, was seen bellowing at a shaking farmer who stood at the front door of his life long home and farm. "This is now our farm," he bellowed, "you may not plough, you may not plant here anymore". Mr Grass Hat, with the aid of war veterans and government supporters, evicted many commercial farmers from their homes and all the while he was employed by the Harare Municipal Council as a security guard.
The following year, the grass hat gone, Chinotimba had risen to being a senior political commissar in Harare. He and others raided hundreds of companies in towns and cities and extorted billions of dollars from the owners, under the guise of addressing aggrieved workers' demands. By the time he had finished with farm and company invasions, Chinotimba was living in a plush Harare house, wearing designer clothes and sitting in a brand new chauffeur driven Cherokee Jeep. He was still employed by the Harare Municipality but when an MDC Mayor took over the running of our capital city, Mr Chinotimba said the new city officials had made his job too uncomfortable and he left, receiving a multi million dollar pay out.
This weekend Mr Joseph (Grass Hat) Chinotimba is standing as the Zanu PF candidate in a parliamentary by election in Highfields, Harare. A man with form one education and who was just an ordinary security guard just three years ago may well be sitting in parliament in a week's time. This is one of two by elections being held in Harare and there are allegations of massive rigging, vote buying and a highly flawed voters roll. The opposition suspect that as many as 19 000 "ghost" names have been added to the roll for the two constituencies which have been overwhelmingly MDC strongholds for the past 3 years. God knows how the tired and angry people of Harare will react should Mr Grass Hat become their MP.
Everything in Zimbabwe is so unbelievable now that it's hard to describe, let alone explain it to people outside of the country. We are still reeling with shock at the massive State violence over the past fortnight which has been filled with stories of utter barbarity. One woman in Harare this week told of how she was brutalised by men in army uniform in Harare last week. After forcing their way into her home at one in the morning, they accused Patricia of supporting the opposition, put a condom on the end of a rifle barrel and forced it inside her. Afterwards they beat her and forced her to drink her child's urine. Patricia told reporters that she was very afraid but remains determined in her support of democratic governance. "They have already killed me" she said, but "I have to carry on."
I am delighted to be able to announce that stocks of both my books, the reprinted "African Tears" and it's sequel, "Beyond Tears" are now available in the UK. I am so grateful to everyone who helped to make this possible. The distributor is Donald Martin of Bloomfield Books (Donald.Martin@fsbdial.co.uk) and if you are interested you can contact either me or Donald for full details. Thanks to all the help, support and encouragement of my extended Family and Friends, the books are now being sold in 9 countries and I am so humbled by your help in this achievement. I, and thousands of others, are determined that Zimbabwe's horrors will continue to be exposed and that the world must know that Zimbabwe's madness is not about land or race but about political power. I continue to wear my very tattered yellow ribbon in support of those who are suffering, this week it is for Patricia.
Until next week, with love,
Original posting here:
Posted 30 March 2003 - 03:23 PM
1) It is the right of any government or ruler to slaughter, torture, maime, kill, etc their people.
2) The peaceniks place much higher importance on the sovereignty of a country than the treatment of the people of that country by its government. In Iraq for example, consider the following two scenarios. Suppose Saddam and his killing machine sons were to stay in power another 30 years and they were to kill 100,000 (a conservative estimate) more Iraqis, torture, maime and brutalize countless others over the course of those 30 years. Or the conflict in Iraq plays itself out and Saddam is removed from power; 10,000 civilians dead as a result of collateral damage. (Iraqi military forces are not included in the final count).
Blind anti-America hatred and lack of a broader view of the world, the peaceniks will easily choose to leave Saddam in power.
3) Lastly, this applies to America as well as many other countries. Unless there is a strategic, financial or some other beneficial reason to intervene, most are likely to turn the other cheek (to the great satisfaction of the peaceniks).
Peaceniks don't mind war nor tremendous human suffering as long as its not splashed on the frontpage of every newspaper around the world and headlining every news channel so they don't have to see it or read about it.
Just a dose of reality.
Posted 16 April 2003 - 03:25 AM
Dear Family and Friends,
A few days ago a large and menacing Gymnogene repeatedly circled lazily over my garden. This big grey bird of prey came to rest on a branch of a dead tree on my front lawn and immediately started trying to get the chicks of a pair of crested barbets out of their nest. It was an amazing sight watching the huge raptor using first it's curved claws and then it's bright yellow and very sharp beak trying to spear the helpless babies. The barbet parents were going mad, screeching alarm calls and hurling themselves at the raptor trying to stop it from destroying their babies. They mobbed him, flying closer and closer to the huge bird, hitting him with their own bodies in desperation. I ran outside to try and scare the Gymnogene away. The barbets are residents in my garden and having watched them over the weeks as they built the nest and then incubated and hatched the eggs, the barbets had become a part of my life. It wasn't easy persuading the raptor to leave. Shouting didn't do it, waving my arms was pointless and it finally took a stone hitting the trunk inches from the bird's feet that made him leave. The Raptor didn't go far, he sat in a tree across the garden and whenever the coast was clear he tried again. All afternoon it was only the screaming of the adult barbets that told me he was back and I would run outside again to chase him away.
For the last three years ordinary Zimbabwean have been very much like the crested barbets in my garden. We've been screaming out for help, we've been shouting out alarms and have been desperate for someone to hear our calls. In the last month our calls have got more frantic but now no one is hearing them. The Iraq war has totally overshadowed the horrors in Zimbabwe. Day after day, hour after hour, the BBC, CNN and SKY television tell of the moment by moment developments in Iraq. We scream of murder, torture, beating, abductions and gang rape of school girls as young as 12 but no one is listening. Night after night Short Wave Radio Africa interviews ordinary men and women in Zimbabwe who tell of horrors so barbaric that they belong in 16th century history books. Our government are using the incessant international media coverage of the Iraq war as a smoke screen and behind it they are crushing all dissent in Zimbabwe.
Opposition supporters, activists and even MP's are being arrested and held for days without bail, charged with being involved in last month's two day stay aways. This week there were more reports of how men, wearing army uniforms and carrying rifles, force their way into people's private homes, accuse them of supporting the opposition and then ransack and steal, beat and humiliate, rape and violate. One man told of a 12 year old girl being gang raped in Chitungwiza this week and how friends and neighbours were beaten and then forced to watch. The wife of the MDC MP for Chitungwiza had her home invaded in the middle of the night by 14 armed men who arrived in an army vehicle and a private car. The men said they were looking for the MP as they wanted to kill him. The violence has escalated over the last week as ruling party supporters have rampaged in angry retribution after the opposition won the two by elections in Harare.
A visiting delegation of Southern African Foreign Ministers were in Zimbabwe this week. At the close of their 9 hour meeting in Harare, a spokesman for the South African Foreign Ministry said: "Our position is that the people of Zimbabwe must be the masters of their own destiny." That's a bit like saying that two tiny, naked, helpless and flightless chicks should get rid of a massive bird of prey without assistance. This month it is our 23rd anniversary of Independence and already the intimidation has started. In villages, suburbs, towns and cities the government supporters are banging on our gates and doors demanding that each household give them 500 dollars for Independence celebrations. If you refuse to pay they take your name off the lists for food distribution and say you may not even line up to buy maize when it is available. There are no receipts but no one stops these freelance revenue collectors and if you were hungry what would you do? As I have said for 3 years, the terrible tragedy that has engulfed Zimbabwe for the last 37 months is not about land or race but about political power - the proof is there for anyone who cares to see it. This week I wear my yellow ribbon in support of the brave men and women who languish alone, cold and hungry in our prisons because they dared to differ with our politicians. If anyone receiving this letter has copies of any of the letters I sent out in 2000, I would be so grateful if you could contact me. Until next week,
Copyright cathy buckle, 5th April 2003.
http://africantears.netfirms.com "African Tears" and "Beyond Tears" are available via my website or from www.exclusivebooks.com and www.kalahari.net
Posted 16 April 2003 - 03:27 AM
*Dear Family and Friends,
The school holidays have started in Zimbabwe and there was an almost audible nationwide sigh of relief. It's been a chaotic three months of school for parents when every day we've struggled to find bread to put in the lunch box, battled to afford the most basic of stationery let alone replacement items of uniforms or school shoes. Talking to other mums on the last day of term it was tragic to have to say final good-byes to yet more black and white families who are emigrating because they simply cannot afford to support their families and educate their children here. Some are going to the UK, others to Botswana and South Africa and some to Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Living with shortages of basic foodstuffs and surviving a 220% inflation rate is a nightmare. Things that we always took for granted are either not available or have become luxury items and it gets harder and harder to keep our children healthy, let alone provide them with occasional treats. The stress of living like this, day after day wears you down so much that in the end it's easier to just leave. The skills drain from the country is now very noticeable and has affected every aspect of our lives - from teachers, doctors, vets and lawyers to engineers, electricians and plumbers.
For me the biggest relief of the end of the school term was finding the petrol to actually get Richard there every day. Fuel shortages throughout the country have bought us almost to a standstill. Yesterday, with my car running on the smell of an oil rag, I joined a massive petrol queue in Marondera town. It's the first time there's been a queue for over two weeks and people are getting pretty desperate. I don't know how far back I was in the line but I couldn't even see the petrol station and guessed at about 50 cars ahead of me. Usually I find things to amuse myself with in the queue but after 4 hours I'd written my newspaper column, read two magazines from cover to cover and got hotter and hotter until sweat dripped out of every pore. It wasn't the usual friendly queue either because when people get desperate the law of the jungle takes over. At least ten vehicles pushed into the queue during my four and a half hour wait. You feel like a helpless pawn when a car just pulls up alongside you , blocks your path and then pushes in. It doesn't matter how close you get to the car in front - these queue jumpers are professionals, they get a man to stand in front of you and short of physically running him over you have to sit and watch as a car pushes in front of you. There were a lot of angry voices and one exchange which almost ended in physical violence but it seems if you use the name of the ruling political party you can get away with anything in Zimbabwe. I never did reach the front of the queue, the petrol ran out and I got home hot, exhausted and extremely depressed just before dark.
Like the rest of the world we've been watching the Iraq war and cannot help but compare the situation there with that in Zimbabwe. When a political party infiltrates every single aspect of society, ordinary people become completely and utterly helpless. The government, either directly through their Ministers and officials, or indirectly through their secret police, war veterans, youth brigades or security personnel control almost everything in Zimbabwe. They control the telephones and television, the railways and airport, the food supply and it's distribution, the electricity and water, the fuel and gas. They now occupy and control almost all of the land, nature reserves and conservancies. Anyone who gets in their way is simply stamped on and the Minister of Information just goes on and on peddling his propaganda. Seeing TV images of underground cells and torture chambers in Baghdad and hearing people tell of their relatives who were tortured, disappeared or died in the bowels of these state institutions is chillingly familiar. Of particular interest to us here is what happened to all those Iraqi Ministers and state agents and supporters when they finally realised their time was up. Where did they run to, where are they hiding, will they ever be made to answer for their crimes against their own brothers and sisters. Or will they be given sanctuary in other countries like Mengistu is in Zimbabwe or Idi Amin - wherever he is?
Zimbabwe hasn't got oil or any other vital natural wealth so we don't expect anyone to come roaring in to help us but still we cry out for help - what else can we do. Until next week,
Copyright cathy buckle 12th April 2003. http://africantears.netfirms.com
"African Tears" and "Beyond Tears" are available from www.exclusivebooks.com and www.kalahari.net.
Posted 16 April 2003 - 04:14 AM
Because they simply are LAZY . We have no right to keep lazy 'people' alife and suck the blood from the hard-working and righteous people , only for the goal to keep LAZY 'people' alife.
Have a fine day from
Posted 12 May 2003 - 03:07 AM
Dear Family and Friends,
I am writing this letter in the evening of the 18th April 2003. Today is the 23rd anniversary of Zimbabwe's Independence. This morning I sat watching President Mugabe speaking at Independence celebrations in Harare.
The stadium was decorated with impeccably printed banners which read:
"Zimbabwe will never be a colony again."
"We have 11 million hectares of reclaimed land in the bag."
"We are now on solid ground."
"Zimbabwe @ 23 : our land is finally in our hands."
President Mugabe stood at the podium, unsmiling. His wife sat behind him, she wore dark glasses throughout and seldom was there a flicker of any emotion whatsoever on her face.
Mugabe spoke briefly and only from a prepared script. There was nothing surprising in his speech and no indication that he has the slightest idea or concern for the massive suffering of 11.6 million Zimbabweans. He ended his speech with the sentence:
"Never, never, never again will Zimbabwe become a colony."
This evening Short Wave Radio Africa replayed President Mugabe's speech made at Independence in 1980. I sat with goose bumps listening to his words of 23 years ago. He called for tolerance and patience; said the time for retribution was over and that the wrongs of the past must stand forgotten.
In 1980 President Mugabe said that racism and oppression
were iniquities that must never again happen in Zimbabwe. The two speeches, made by the same person, 23 years apart have left me with only one question: My God, what has happened.
Someone wrote to me from Australia this week and commented that lately my letters are only factual and seldom have any emotional content. The reason for this is that l, and hundreds of thousands of Zimbabweans are just weeping inside.
This week of Independence has been particularly
sad for me as I battle to banish the memories of events that occurred during the week before Independence in 2000. The gruesome murder of David Stevens, the abduction and torture of 5 Macheke farmers, the evacuation of hundreds of farmers from their homes, the gang rape of 2 young women in Harare, the brutal murder of Martin Olds and the beating of hundreds
of farm workers and opposition supporters.
I can hardly believe that I have met most of these people, written about their hell, described their shattered lives and struggled to understand how they have survived the pain of it all. It is all beyond belief and sometimes I think I cannot bear another day of doing this, of telling of the ongoing hell in Zimbabwe.
It's also been a sad week for Zimbabwe as we heard about
the death in Iraq of a young Zimbabwean who was serving in the Irish Guards. 20 year old Christopher Muzvuru from Gweru was killed by sniper fire in Basra . He died helping to set Iraq free of a dictator and just as he never saw Iraq's freedom, neither will he see his own country once it is under a new and democratic government.
Again I will end on a cold and factual note. This week President
Mugabe's government gave us a 23rd birthday present. The price of petrol went up by 320%.
Happy birthday Zimbabwe !
Until next week,
Posted 12 May 2003 - 05:11 AM
This week, for the first time in three years, I became a farmer again, although only for a day. Battling to survive the massive inflation and the price of food, I had reared 24 chicks from fluffy yellow dayolds to plump chickens for the table.
Sam, whose name I've changed for his own safety, was the foreman on our farm before we were evicted, and we work well together. He sat on an empty and upturned fuel container and I
on an empty blue milk crate. We both had knives and buckets of water, his scalding hot and mine very cold. George chopped and plucked and then I gutted and cleaned.
What an exhausting but memorable day it was, filled with a lot of talk and shared memories; many of which made us laugh one minute and then wipe away tears the next. Just working in the sun side by side bought back a lot of reminders of hundreds of occasions just like this, three years ago.
Whether it was dosing sheep or dipping cows, cutting off lambs tails or putting tags in calves ears, stacking timber or picking vegetables, I had forgotten how good it was to get utterly involved in a physical job and how satisfying when the task had
I'd also forgotten how much I miss the ordinary gossip and chat that was so much a part of my life as a farmer.
Sam had lots of stories to tell about what's happening now on our occupied farm and others in the neighbourhood and, frankly, it's both shocking and disgusting to hear what's going on, on all those highly productive farms since the Zimbabwe government took them over.
On our farm the borehole has been destroyed so there's no piped water anymore. The house looks scruffy and the garden unkempt. The solar water panels and tanks have been stolen and the huge water reservoir stands permanently empty.
Most of the huge gum tree plantations have been felled for firewood and the fences, poles and wire have long since gone. The dairy no longer sees cows with udders heavy in milk but only lines of thin clothes hung up to dry on the milking stalls.
The tobacco barns are derelict:
doors, flues, furnace covers and bricks slowly being stolen bit by bit. A handful of huts are dotted in the fields and next to them stand little patches of scraggly, yellowing maize plants which may feed a family or two for a few weeks at the most.
The people there are hungry, the children go and beg from the kitchens of a nearby boarding school and the adults queue up for World Food Programme maize, beans and cooking oil
when the big trucks come.
Largely the 1000 acres of our farm is a neglected wasteland, the fields empty except for a few painfully thin cattle which are never dipped, de-wormed or de-horned.
Over the road on what was only one year ago a thriving beef and chicken producing farm there is absolutely nothing going on.
A local village chief has moved into the once beautiful house and there he lives entirely alone. He has not held out his hand to his fellow villagers and said:
come share and work this land with me, instead, he struts around arrogantly, Lord of his new Manor. He will not allow any of the neighbouring villagers to walk through the farm or even graze their cattle there. He says they are trespassing on his farm. Nothing whatsoever is being grown or produced on the land and slowly the bush is reclaiming the cattle dip and chicken runs, but the Chief is happy, in his eyes he is now the
Between these two farms two dozen people were employed and produced milk, timber, beef, lamb, wool, chickens, eggs, fruit and vegetables for the town of Marondera and paid out millions of dollars in telephone and electricity charges, road rates, drought and Aids levies, stock feed and farming equipment.
Now, nothing is produced for sale, no one is gainfully employed, nothing comes onto or goes off the farms and there is no more running water. Neither of the farms were ever served with
acquisition papers by the government of Zimbabwe, both just seized by men hungry for power and status.
Right next to these two farms there is still a very overcrowded communal village, those people, the genuinely land hungry peasants, have not gained at all from the seizure of productive
Edward, the war veteran who spearheaded the invasion of these two farms and a dozen others nearby, is a permanent drunk in the neighbourhood's bar. He lives off his government war veterans' pension which have this week been increased by 166% so there's plenty of money for beer and of course he already has his own farm, also given to him by the government 6 years ago so he has a very good life. Edward's got a broken arm at
the moment, the result of a drunken fall, but he's not worried about this or his children's school fees because the government pays for these too.
Sam told me there's a lot of resentment amongst the locals for Edward - the man who destroyed everything, got paid for doing it and now gets paid to get drunk every night.
This is the result of our government's land re-distribution programme three years down the road and these were the things George and I talked about as we slaughtered chickens all
We also talked about what's happened this week in Zimbabwe, how the country has again come to a standstill in a 3 day national strike and how the people are all so very angry with the empty promises of the government.
No one, not even barely literate peasants, believes that this
crumbling decayed country we call home has collapsed in order to correct land imbalances. Everyone sees the massive violence every day now. They see policemen invading funerals and arresting 55 mourners; they see police turning their backs on rape, torture, murder and arson and they all know this was neither about land nor race but about hanging on to
Until next week,
Never again I will give one single cent to Unesco or other world organisations whom feed people in such places. See...it's our people whom give food to the Negroes whom first killed,robbed our own. K_R_A_Z_Y !!
Reven say so
Posted 13 May 2003 - 02:29 AM
Dear Family and Friends,
It has gone deafeningly quiet in Zimbabwe this week. The usual early morning revving of a multitude of engines as people start their cars for work has been reduced to only one or two.
The country has now completely run out of petrol and diesel and even the recent 320% increase in the
price of fuel has done nothing at all to improve supplies.
According to the government run National Oil Company of Zimbabwe which has been riddled with corruption scandals, no supplies at all have entered the country for the last week and none is in the pipelines either.
Zimbabwe has no foreign currency with which to pay for imported fuel and at last our suppliers have said - no money, no fuel. This all sounds like a bit of a predictable disaster but the effect it is already having on our daily
lives is enormous. We simply can't go anywhere any more, twice weekly trips to the supermarket have become once a fortnight and even that is a pretty wasted trip because, with no petrol, there are hugely red
uced deliveries and so less and less food to buy especially in small towns like Marondera.
Something as simple as collecting post is also a
waste of time. Aside from the fact that postage went up from Z$30 to Z$100 for a local letter last week, and aside from the fact that the government just fired 3000 postal workers for having joined in the nationwide stay away, there is no post to collect as it's all stuck in Harare with no petrol to distribute it.
All week in our little town there have been rumours of a petrol tanker heading our way. Suddenly a deserted
petrol station looks like a huge public occasion as literally hundreds of cars converge and park in massive lines along the road. Six or eight hours later everything gets back to normal and everyone disappears as it
becomes clear that it was just another rumour and there isn't any petrol.
Schools re-open again next week and Richie and I will be cycling to school. He's delighted at the idea, which he sees as a huge adventure but I suspect he'll change his mind fairly quickly as winter moves in and fingers and toes freeze!
Petrol is not the only topic causing rumours, there is also much talk this week that President Mugabe is about to step down. The Presidents of South Africa, Malawi and Nigeria are due in Harare in the coming days and there is much speculation about the real purpose of their visit.
Certainly Zimbabwe is teetering on the edge of complete collapse now, there is little left for the government to seize, loot or control, there is no fuel and very little food and the population seems to have found both its voice and its courage.
After the latest hugely successful three day national strike, people are champing at the bit for a huge push that would see the desperately needed changes to our governance. Neither the opposition MDC nor the trade unions are prepared to say what or when the next call for public action will be but it seems inevitable that it
will be very soon as people have simply had enough.
We've had enough of being hungry, had enough of rocketing inflation, had enough of not being able to afford anything, had enough of being pushed around and
had enough of being scared. I am certainly not alone in feeling that the beginning of the end is now only weeks away.
For me the most amazing thing that happened this last week was when the Harare Mayor was suspended from his duties by Home Affairs Minister Chombo. The MDC Mayor, Elias Mudzuri was overwhelmingly and democratically elected and has become the hero of Harare. He has consistently spoken out against mis-governance, he has been harassed, intimidated and even
imprisoned for standing up for the people of Harare so his suspension is undoubtedly a huge mistake and will make the restless population of the capital city even more willing to stand up for themselves.
Zimbabwe had shuddered to a stop. All eyes will be upon President's Mbeki, Obassanjo and Muluzi. We hope and pray they do not let us down again because we have had enough. Winter is coming and it will be a long
hard winter of discontent.
Until next week, with love,
Posted 13 May 2003 - 05:32 AM
It was with deep shock and disgust that Zimbabwe learned this week that our police commissioner Augustine Chihuri has been appointed the Honorary Vice President of Interpol.
The double standards shown by European countries to the horrific state of our daily lives in Zimbabwe leaves me just spitting with rage. One minute they describe us as being in the grip of a "brutal regime" and back this up with graphic reports of police
attaching electrodes to mens' testicles, and the next minute they
confer awards on the Police Commissioner.
A police spokesman in Harare said the award proves to the world that Zimbabwean police are both professional and non partisan.
I will never forget the day a young man pulled a gun on me at our
Marondera farm in 2000 and bragged that he could "drop me at forty paces".
Nor will I forget the police who came, took a statement, went down onto the field where the man was and did absolutely nothing.
They said they were powerless to act because "it was political." I will never forget sitting in the Harare High Court last year and hearing sworn testimony of how a dozen policemen stood aside in the Murehwa Police Station and allowed five farmers to be abducted from the safety of their offices.
For three years the Zimbabwe Republic Police have used a string of phrases which has excused them from acting against rape, murder, torture, arson and looting. These phrases are: "It is political," "It is my first time of hearing this", "I am not the one" or "We have received no instructions."
For three years the Police in Zimbabwe have ignored scores of
High Court Rulings and now, in 2003 it is a punishable offence to criticise them or say anything which causes people to ridicule them.
When I had the privilege of meeting a visiting Foreign Minister in 2001 he begged me to write more about the role of the police in Zimbabwe's madness. I hope he understands now why I cannot.
Just as I cannot forget what has happened to me and people I know personally, Zimbabweans cannot forget that over 200 people have been murdered in the country in the last 3 years and to this day not one person is in prison. Nor can we forget the hundreds of rapes, disgusting testimony of police brutality or the death in custody late last year of an MP in prison.
There are none so blind as those who will not see, including
Interpol whose address is email@example.com
At first, when I heard about this award being made to our Police
Commissioner, I thought it was just talk because it's been an extremely rumour filled week in Zimbabwe.
The Presidents of South Africa, Nigeria and Malawi came, listened and left. At the end of it no one told us anything so everyone is speculating and guessing about what exactly went on behind those close doors.
As another Zimbabwean writer put it, it seems the only thing agreed was that there would be more talks about talks.
And while they talked about talks, the Harare Mayor's office was being raided by riot police and women peacefully demonstrating and carrying placards were being arrested.
Perhaps something did go on behind closed doors and pressure was increased because we still have no petrol or diesel and the electricity cuts are increasing and, even in the small towns, they are now daily occurrences.
Things are getting quieter and tenser by the day and as I sat
researching facts for this letter yesterday an air force helicopter
circled our little town three times. The end is near.
Until next week, with love,
Posted 13 May 2003 - 05:38 AM
The people there whom was behind such a decission should be placed long,long time IN JAIL.
I'm North-European , and to me it was unforgivable what Interpol did do.
This is my opinion !
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