3% PASS RATE.
Dear Family and Friends,
With less than six weeks to go before parliamentary elections, the situation is heating up dramatically in Zimbabwe. In an early Valentine's Day walk last Saturday, 500 WOZA women carried roses and spread the message "Choose the power of love rather than the love of power". They were obviously seen as a threat because 40 of the women were arrested by police in Bulawayo.Three days later and with just six weeks to go before elections, the MDC were holding a training session for their 120 parliamentary candidates at the Sheraton Hotel in Harare. The police said the meeting was illegal under POSA and proceeded to apprehend the MDC's election director Ian Makone and warn everyone else to leave immediately or they would also be arrested. On Thursday 200 NCA protestors took to the streets in Harare distributing flyers and carrying placards calling for free and fair elections. This demonstration was also broken up by police, this time in riot gear, and the day ended with seven people in clinics being treated for assault and fourteen others being arrested. On Friday a three man delegation from South Africa's official oppositionparty, the Democratic Alliance, came on a fact finding mission to Zimbabwe. Like COSATU a couple of weeks ago, the DA didn't get very far and were denied entry and turned back at Harare Airport. You would think that with so much going on the Zimbabwean television would have been full of news stories about these happenings. But day after day our news bulletins were not about women being arrested for carrying flowers, or men assaulted and arrested for calling for free elections, our news bulletins were about computers. Night after night President Mugabe has been headline news, handing out computers to remote rural schools. At one such school the President revealed the shocking examination figures which illustrate better than anything else the diabolical state of Zimbabwe's education system. Speaking at a school in Shurugwi he said: "In Silobela they had a 3% pass rate. Here there was a pass rate of 8%. In other areas it is 6%."This week the South African Foreign Minister said she was satisfied that Zimbabwe was taking steps to ensure free and fair elections. For those of us that are living here and seeing computers if we support Zanu PF or arrests and prison cells if we don't, the Ministers words are insulting and nauseating. I don't know why, but because she is a woman, I had hoped for more from Mrs Dlamini Zuma. I wonder if she would be brave enough to face arrest for carrying a rose, to be assaulted for asking for a free election or even to send her child to a school here where the pass rate is just 3%. Mrs Dlamini Zuma could have given hope and inspiration had she been brave enough to just highlight even one of the things that happened this week in Zimbabwe. What shame on her. Until next week ,with love, cathy.Copyright cathy buckle 19th February 2005http://africantears.netfirms.comMy books on the Zimbabwean crisis, "African Tears" and "Beyond Tears" areavailable from: firstname.lastname@example.org ; www.africabookcentre.com ; inAustralia and New Zealand: email@example.com ; Africa:www.kalahari.net www.exclusivebooks.com