Monday, November 29, 2004

Cathy's last letter

Dear Family and Friends,This week Zimbabwe made international news almost every day as the Englishcricket team hovered over the border while the politicians and assortedspokesmen argued and threatened, issued ultimatums and huffed and puffedabout who would and would not be allowed into the country. Finally, byFriday, it looked as if the cricket matches were going to happen and thereporters were going to be there and while it was good that Zimbabwe wasin the world news, as far as I was concerned it was for all the wrongreasons.To the best of my knowledge most people in Zimbabwe don't give a damnabout cricket anymore. Our inspirational players are gone after theirblack armband protest; our national team has been politically cleansed andanyway, most of us don't have time to worry about cricket - we've got farmore important things on our minds. I was asked this week how bad thingsare now compared to four years ago. At the time of the question I was in ameeting and we were talking about the desperate conditions of hundreds ofpeople who live in wooden shacks in the back streets of Marondera. Theirhouses, if you can call them that, are made of rough timber off-cuts,lined with cardboard boxes for insulation and roofed with pieces of brokenasbestos, rusty sheets of tin or old plastic fertilizer bags. In thesedreadful hovels which have neither water nor plumbing, whole families areliterally living on the floor which is just compacted dirt. They have nomoney and do not work because there are no jobs for 8 out of 10Zimbabweans. They have only the food given to them by charities, churchesand well wishers because they cannot afford to buy any of the food in theshops. The children do not go to school. HIV is common as is TB and it isthe most abominable way for any human being to have to live. To makematters worse, our local hospitals and clinics are desperately short ofmoney. This is now the second month in a row when our local hospital hasnot even been able to dispense phenobarb to unemployed epilepsyoutpatients.These are the real things that ordinary people are worrying about inZimbabwe. Long after the shouting, batting and bowling is over and thecricket players have gone home, nothing will have changed for the ordinarypeople of Zimbabwe. We will still have 80 % unemployment, 209% inflationand a life expectancy of just 35 years. I don't now how many multimillions or billions of dollars these cricket games have involved but forsure they could have got people out of rickety wooden shacks and intodecent brick houses with water and electricity are maybe, luxury ofluxuries, a flushing toilet.Until next week, love cathyCopyright cathy buckle 27 November 2004 http://africantears.netfirms.comMy books on the Zimbabwean crisis, "African Tears" and "Beyond Tears" areavailable in the UK from: orders@africabookcentre.com ; www.africabookcentre.com ; in Australia and New Zealand:johnmreed@johnreedbooks.com.au ; and in Africa: www.kalahari.net www.exclusivebooks.com

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