Sunday, August 24, 2008


22nd August 2008.

Dear Friends,

Another week has gone by, another year is almost over and still Zimbabweans wait in exile all over the world for something to happen, anything that will tell them their country is finally shaking off the shackles of dictatorship. Here in the UK, as August draws to its wet and windy close we too watch and wait for news of the change which seemed so tantalisingly close just a month ago. For the past week the British media has been almost totally silent on the subject of Zimbabwe, their attention has been elsewhere: Russian tanks advancing into Georgia, the Olympics with its clutch of medals for Britain and for a little while it was the resignation of Pakistan's president Mushareff that dominated the news. Listening to Mushareff's resignation speech it was hard not to wonder if there was a warning there for Robert Mugabe? If there was, then Our Man in Harare just wasn't listening - but then he rarely does. Now, top of the news is the Spanish air crash, that's the story for the moment until some fresh disaster grabs the headlines.

Meanwhile Zimbabwe's disaster goes on: people die of starvation or Aids or a combination of the two, Zanu PF continues its campaign of violence against the opposition and the remaining white farmers are driven off their farms, villagers are raped and brutalized, the shops are still empty, even affluent suburbs are going without water for months and power supplies diminish by the day while inflation climbs to even more dizzying heights. It's just the same old story. So much for Gideon Gono chopping off the noughts; like white ants climbing up the house wall no matter how often you knock them down they will not go away; everyone knows you have to eliminate the cause if you really want to rid yourself of the tiresome beasties. Left to their own devices, they will bring your house down in the end.

Commenting on the Central Statistical Office's inflation figure of 11.2 million percent, the Minister of Finance - I didn't even know we had one, he's been so silent lately - Samuel Mumbengegwi commented that Zimbabwe wasn't the only country in the world with high inflation. In Zimbabwe's case, the minister maintained, the situation was exacerbated by world food prices and western sanctions. Perhaps it is better if the Minister remains silent with that kind of reasoning! Since when has Zimbabwe with its stone-age barter economics been part of the twenty-first century world economy? The real Finance Minister, Gideon Gono aka the Governor of the Reserve Bank says we must find a way of getting people in the diaspora to contribute more to the country's economic revival. While Zanu PF sharks gobble up the country's remaining assets, Gono expects hard-pressed exiles to send even more of their precious pounds and dollars home to rebuild the collapsing economy which he and his government cronies have plundered. Only watch the parallel market rate and you will see in a five day period the rate shot up from 340 to 800$ to the pound sterling. Those pesky noughts are already back again!

In the absence of hard news, political hacks spend their time writing stories whose sole purpose is to make trouble and create division, particularly in MDC ranks. 'It's all Morgan Tsvangirai's fault that there is no agreement signed,' they claim, ignoring the fact that it is Robert Mugabe aided by Thabo Mbeki and SADC who stubbornly clings to power. Worse than that, he still refuses to let the NGO's do their work of feeding the people. An estimated 5 million Zimbabweans face starvation; villagers in Matabeleland survive on wild berries and roots and urban folk struggle to cope while the infrastructure collapses around them. It is indeed the same old story.Now we hear talk that Mugabe will reconvene parliament next week in direct contravention of the MOU that all parties to the talks signed. Yet another example of the spineless SADC mediation that virtually gave Mugabe the go-ahead to do just what he likes; after all he is the Liberation Hero and liberation credentials are apparently the only qualifications needed to run a country - into the ground. Witness the antics of one Joseph Chinotimba, the so-called war veteran, as he directs the terror campaign in Manicaland.

But it's Arthur Mutambara who continues to echo Mugabe's vitriolic rhetoric against the west and appears to align himself with the dictator. Interviewed by an Australian radio station, Mutambara was at his loud-mouthed, arrogant best. "We are smarter than the Australians. We are smarter than the Americans" he bragged. " We went to better schools than most of these leaders in America, in Britain and Australia. I am coming out of Oxford. None of your prime ministers can challenge me intellectually." With two such massive egos: Robert Mugabe, the self-elected president, at the top and Mutambara, the self-proclaimed intellectual giant, at his side in whatever role, there is little hope that sanity will prevail in Zimbabwe soon but Robert Mugabe will be 85 years old in February. He will go at a time of his own choosing, we hear, not when he is told to. But what if the summons comes from a higher authority? That's one call the Old Man will not be able to reject.

Yours in the (continuing) struggle. PH.



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