Wednesday, November 24, 2004

News From Cathy Buckle in Zimbabwe

Here is a recent letter from Cathy Buckle who lives in Zimbabwe.
She has been writing every week for nearly 4 years on how things are really like there.

Dear Family and Friends,
I met a very brave woman this week. Heather is 42 and married with two teenage
children. Her 18 year old son has recently left home and her daughter is at
boarding school and about to write public exams. These are about the only normal
things left in Heather's life after almost five years of hell. As we sat and
talked Heather's phone rang almost incessantly, but we had time to have a cup of
coffee together. It was very special coffee, home grown on their farm in
Chimanimani.

Heather is the wife of an opposition Member of Parliament and she and her
husband have lost everything in their determination to bring democratic
governance to Zimbabwe. Being married to an MP hasn't meant chauffeur driven
limousines, exotic weekend retreats and lavish dinner parties for Heather. It
has meant rape, torture, murder, arson, looting and theft All of these horrors
have become personal experiences as they have happened directly to Heather and
Roy Bennett and their friends and employees in the last five years. None of the
crimes committed against the Bennett's and their employees have been resolved.
None of the perpetrators have been sentenced or imprisoned and none of the court
rulings issued in favour of the Bennetts have been upheld or obeyed by
Zimbabwe's police.

Being married to an MDC MP has meant fear, anguish and enormous personal
sacrifice for Heather but amazingly, even now with her husband in prison, she is
not angry and bitter or baying for blood and revenge. It is unlikely, but not
yet clear, if Roy Bennett will be allowed to stand for Parliament again now that
he has been convicted for pushing an MP to the floor and sentenced to a year in
prison for the offence. Heather told me that even if Roy could never represent
the people of Chimanimani in Parliament again, the five years have not been
wasted. The Bennett's have stood up for what is right, spoken for those who
cannot and helped build the New Zimbabwe we are all fighting for. Heather says
at the moment she feels like she's flailing in a raging waterfall with demands
tugging at her from all directions. But her focus is entirely on her husband,
his safety and his health in prison. Heather can only visit Roy once every two
weeks for ten minutes. All she can take him is a 50ml tube of toothpaste, a bar
of carbolic soap, a small jar of vaseline and 6 individual pieces of fruit. This
ten minutes every fourteen days has become the focus of Heather's life and she
said it takes every ounce of her self control to get through those ten minutes
without crying.

For pushing an MP who was shouting abuse at him in Parliament, Roy Bennett is
sharing a four man cell with 17 other people. He is dressed in rags and working
all day in the fields at Harare Central Prison. When I left Heather I drove
past the Harare central prison this week so that I could describe the view. In
temperatures of over 30 degrees C, men wearing ragged white shorts and short
sleeved tops, trudge barefoot, without hats, in the burning sun carrying
buckets. They walk to the river, bend, fill their buckets and carry the water
back to pour on the vegetables. Others carry hoes and they bend and weed between
lines of straggling greenery, watched by a bored prison official.

For almost five years I have been writing this letter to the world about events
in Zimbabwe. It is men and women like Roy and Heather Bennett whose unceasing
bravery and determination have given me the courage to keep going. When I left
Heather this week I was ashamed that all I could offer as thanks for their
example and inspiration was my words. Roy Bennett did not steal or loot, burn,
torture, rape or murder, he pushed a man to the floor. If you would like to know
more or would like to be involved, please email: freeroybennett@yahoo.com . If
you are able to contact your local MP please ask them to expose this situation
and lobby support for a fellow parliamentarian. If you could just help with
signing a petition, please do so. Every name is wanted and needed as soon as
possible, just write PETITION in the subject line and contact
freeroybennett@yahoo.com. This letter is for Heather Bennett, a very brave
woman who asks only for our voices. Until next week, love cathy. For full
information on Roy Bennett please also visit my website :
http://africantears.netfirms.com
Copyright cathy buckle 13th November 2004.

My books "African Tears" and "Beyond Tears" are available from:
orders@africabookcentre.com ; www.africabookcentre.com ; www.amazon.co.uk ; in
Australia and New Zealand: johnmreed@johnreedbooks.com.au ; Africa:
www.kalahari.net www.exclusivebooks.com




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