Friday, September 25, 2009

ZIMBABWE - LETTER FROM THE DIASPORA !

25th September 2009.

Dear Friends,


"Pass a law no whites are allowed to farm," said a white commercial farmer this week, "Then it makes it clear." It's not hard to understand the white farmer's bitterness, anyone with a white skin in Zimbabwe, farmer or not, knows very well that the possibility of his or her being declared a non-citizen at any time is never far away. Accurate population statistics are a thing of the past in Zimbabwe but I can't believe there are more than 20-30.000 whites left inside the country but if Robert Mugabe and his Zanu PF apologists are to be believed, this handful of people is responsible for every evil under the sun.

Mugabe is at the UN this week, no doubt loving the opportunity to outdo all his friends in their anti-imperialist rhetoric. It was Gadaffi's turn earlier in the week and he ranted on for over an hour; Iran's man was also there with his holocaust denial and claims that his recent hotly contested election was all above board and today it will be Mugabe's turn. More of the same, no doubt! How he loves these opportunities to rub shoulders with world leaders and play the international statesman! As a foretaste, perhaps, of what he will say today, Mugabe gave an interview to CNN's Christiane Amanpour yesterday. She asked him some pretty direct questions but, as usual, Mugabe was in total denial of the facts; he prefers his own version of reality. When taxed with the vexed question of sanctions by Amanpour who reminded him that sanctions were directed only at individuals within his regime, he simply told her she was wrong. Sanctions had ruined the country's economy and thus harmed the whole population, he claimed, while at the same time stating that the country's economy was healthy! On the question of land, Mugabe said, "The land reform is the best thing that could have happened to an African country. It has to do with national sovereignty." That old chestnut again! The problem is that Mugabe has never defined exactly what he means by this catchall label. What it appears to mean is that he can do exactly as he likes with ‘his' Zimbabwe and ‘foreigners' must just keep out –except those with money to give, of course. And who are these ‘foreigners'? Now we come to the nub of the matter, "Zimbabwe belongs to Zimbabweans, pure and simple." he said, "White Zimbabweans, even those born in the country with legal ownership of their land, have a debt to pay. They occupied the land illegally. They seized the land from our people." And if that wasn't clear enough, he went on, "They are British settlers – citizens by colonization, seizing land from original people, the indigenous people of the country."

When I read those words of his I was reminded of an incident that happened when I was living in Murehwa. In one of the only racially motivated incidents I experienced in my twelve years in Murehwa as the only white person in an all-black town, a complete stranger stepped out into the road as my vehicle passed, stuck his clenched fist in the air and shouted "Go back to Britain!" ‘How does he know I'm British?" I thought, I could be any European nationality.' Then it struck me, what that complete stranger saw was not my nationality but the colour of my skin. If my pigmentation was white, then I was a foreigner, in the eyes of Mugabe and his followers and apparently not a part of the ‘national sovereignty' that he constantly refers to.

So, like the white farmer quoted at the beginning of this Letter, I too wonder why Mugabe doesn't come right out and say clearly that whites are not and cannot ever be Zimbabweans? My five children were all born and brought up in Zimbabwe but to Mugabe they are still ‘settlers' who, in his words, ‘have a debt to pay'. That nonsensical argument is used to justify the hideous violence and injustice being meted out not only on white farmers but also on black farm workers who are caught in the tsunami of land invasions that rolls across the country. Are they not ‘the indigenous people of the country' to use Mugabe's definition of what it is to be a true Zimbabwean? The truth is that anyone, black or white who stands in the way of the bottomless greed and corruption displayed by Mugabe's followers and – dare I say it – perhaps some newly powerful MDC followers too, is liable to be beaten or killed and have his property destroyed or stolen. The police will not lift a hand to defend them, they are too busy invading farms.

Week by week, we hear of the moral collapse that has engulfed Mugabe's Zimbabwe. The lack of response from the population at large to actions that would once be totally unacceptable in African culture is shocking. A seventy-year old woman is stoned to death by Zanu PF youths for daring to protest at the mini-murambatsvina being proposed by Harare City Council against market traders; a man is beaten bloody for wearing a T shirt saying ‘No to the Kariba draft' and forced to don a Zanu PF T shirt and at the Chiadzwa diamond fields another young man is killed by soldiers anxious to protect the ‘blood diamonds' for greedy army generals. Zimbabwe seems to have totally lost its moral compass. Even the churches remain strangely silent about the abuse of basic human rights in the country. As for the MDC, having ‘sat down with the devil' they appear powerless to raise their collective voice above a whisper to defend anyone from Mugabe's vindictive spite against all his perceived enemies, be they black or white. We are all ‘paying the debt' for our complicity in permitting thirty years of Zanu PF's tyrannical rule.

Yours in the (continuing) struggle PH.

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