Thursday, September 22, 2005

Cathy's letter from Zimbabwe

Dear Family and Friends,
It was cause for great sadness to watch Zanu PF MP's clapping, dancing and singing in Zimbabwe's parliament this week after the announcement that their two thirds majority had secured the latest amendments to our country's constitution. The rights of individual Zimbabweans are being systematically stripped away and for this the ruling party cheer - as if the country was theirs alone, for all time. The latest amendments allow government to withdraw passports from people whose travel is deemed to be against the national interest. A 65 member Senate is to be re introducedeven though the economy is shrinking and Ministers say that 90% of their annual budgets are needed for wages and allowances.The constitutional amendments also forbid citizens whose land was seized by Zanu PF from having their grievances heard in court. The Minister of Justice, being interviewed by a South African television programme,insisted that this latest prohibition on seeking legal recourse was aimed at white skinned Zimbabweans only. The wording of the constitutional amendment however, does not mention skin colour at all, so one can only wonder how long it will be before this same provision is used against other out of favour Zimbabwean farmers. However, according to the propaganda, this was the end, once and for all, of white farmers and for this "achievement" Zanu PF MP's and even the Vice President, danced in the aisles of parliament.One after another a string of "analysts", "commentators" and "experts" have been paraded on state owned TV to praise the constitutional amendments. None have questioned why there was not a referendum or if this is what 11.6 million Zimbabweans really want. The government says that this now brings "finality" to five years of land seizures and that all agricultural land belongs to the state.Most ordinary Zimbabweans have got absolutely no idea what is going on on the farms anymore and they are not alone in their confusion. Every season the government announces they are conducting an "audit" of who is on which farm as if they don't know themselves. They say they are investigating why production continues to fall monstrously short of national requirements.The few commercial farmers still left operating after five years of utter mayhem are permanently sea sick as the orders from officials change literally by the week - get off your farm, stay on it, give up half of the farm, have an unwritten lease but give us the title deeds, oops we changed our minds and want it all, put your crop in we'll protect you, get out by tomorrow, this is our farm and our crop. And so Zanu PF MP's might be dancing in the aisles and congratulating themselves but it doesn't actually change a thing. People are tired, hungry and destitute, inflation is soaring and it is as uncertain as ever on the farms. Just weeks away from the main planting season there is little sign that anything is about to change anytime soon - regardless of the constitutional changes or the skin colour of the Zimbabwean out there on the farm. I am going to take a break from this letter for a few weeks but please keep watching and caring about Zimbabwe and until next time, thanks for reading, with love,cathy.
Copyright cathy buckle 3rd September 2005http://africantears.netfirms.comMy books "African Tears" and "Beyond Tears" are available from:orders@africabookcentre.com

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