Saturday, July 23, 2005

Cathy's letter from Zimbabwe

Dear Family and Friends,
Shocking reports this week told of how 300 homeless men, women and children sheltering in Bulawayo churches were forcibly turned out in the middle of the night by government officials and trucked off to a holding camp. One Church leader described the midnight raid as brutal and horrific and said: "They had elderly folk, and they were piling them onto vehicles; they were frog-marching children ...who had been asleep." I know that any parent who has woken their child from a deep sleep will feel the same utter horror as I do at this description. I am appalled to think that our government officials have become so cruel as to be able to carry out these acts in the middle of the night, in mid winter, to defenceless women, children and babies. Are they not also parents, fathers, grandfathers?
Also this week priests who had been helping displaced people in Mutare and Bulawayo were called in for questioning by government officials. In Bulawayo church leaders from various denominations were forbidden from going into holding camps where hundreds of homeless people have been taken. The churches were told that they have to have permission from the political governor of the area before they may visit the poor and destitute in the holding camp. Meanwhile in an absolutely absurd Alice in Wonderland development inHarare, the government started moving homeless people back to exactly the same sites on which their homes had been demolished a few weeks ago. ZBC television on Friday showed Zanu PF Minister Chombo preparing to address a crowd of people whose homes had been demolished by government bulldozers. The people clenched their fists, raised their arms and chanted slogans inpraise of Zanu PF and then listened as the Minister told them that those who had lease agreements were to be taken "home" to their piles of rubble. Minister Chombo told these people who have lost everything that not only can they go back, but that they will be given free transport to get there. The Minister then went on to announce that the people would be given sheets of asbestos and treated timber poles which they could use to erect "temporary structures" which they would be allowed to live in for one year while they built their permanent homes. Oh dear, I am just left utterlyspeechless.
As things get worse and worse in Zimbabwe, more and more people are seeing the truth about what has really been going on here and are speaking out, and for this we give thanks. We thank the South African Council of Churches who have launched Operation Hope for Zimbabwe to assist the 700 000 people made homeless by Operation Murambatsvina. We thank Nigerian poet and Nobel Prize winner Wole Soyinka who this week said that: "A great revolutionary...a liberation fighter has become a monster." Soyinka said that African leaders should have the courage to sanction Zimbabwe - by refusing to give it loans. And we thank the UN special envoy Anna Tibaijuka for her report, her voice and her courageous words which speak for millions here who are voiceless. We thank the people of New Zealand for their protests on our behalf and we thank Zimbabweans in exile in countries all over the world for not having forgotten us. Until next week, with love cathyCopyright cathy buckle 23 July 2005.http://africantears.netfirms.comMy books on the Zimbabwean crisis, "African Tears" and "Beyond Tears" areavailable from: orders@africabookcentre.com ; www.africabookcentre.com ;www.amazon.co.uk ; in Australia and New Zealand: johnmreed@johnreedbooks.com.au; Africa: www.exclusivebooks.com

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