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Zimbabwe's 30th birthday: how did Robert Mugabe turn hope into misery?

It is exactly 30 years since Robert Mugabe became newly-created Zimbabwe's
first prime minister. What went wrong, asks Peta Thornycroft?

By Peta Thornycroft in Harare
Published: 7:30AM BST 18 Apr 2010

"If yesterday I fought as an enemy, today you have become a friend. If
yesterday you hated me, today you cannot avoid the love that binds you to
me, and me to you."

With these words, Robert Mugabe sought to reassure white and black alike on
the eve of his swearing-in as prime minister of the newly independent and
internationally recognised state of Zimbabwe, exactly 30 years ago today.

He broadcast his address to the nation, then drove to a packed and carefully
orchestrated ceremony in a football stadium in the capital, Harare.

On a chilly autumn night a choir of mostly white schoolchildren sang of the
Rhodesia they loved - to the obvious embarrassment of whites in the VIP box,
who were hearing their country praised like this for the last time. Then,
with voices rising, the youngsters eulogised the new Zimbabwe in the second
verse, sending 25,000 blacks into prolonged and ecstatic applause.

Many feared Mr Mugabe, particularly whites, and with the benefit of three
decades' hindsight - after murders, expropriations, starvation and economic
ruin of both blacks and whites - they appear to have been right.

Yet many also fell for his considerable charm that night. Were they duped,
or did Mr Mugabe change? This is the question that, as Mr Mugabe's cronies
prepare to celebrate his 30 years of unineterrupted power today, Zimbabweans
with long enough memories still ask. How could a man who offered so much
hope have presided over so much chaos, repression and political murder?

In the days after the new prime minister's conciliatory words, the anti-bomb
blast tape was taken down from windows and refugees and exiles came home.
There was a new mood of optimism after 15 bloody years of bush war.

Mr Mugabe made great efforts to reassure white farmers - even appointing a
British-born farmer as his first agriculture minister.

Many whites left, but others stayed and some went willingly to work for his
new government. Among them was Costa Pafitis, now 72, press secretary to the
ousted white leader, Ian Smith, who was asked by Mr Mugabe to stay on.

"I agreed, hoping it would help confidence," Mr Pafitis said at his home in
a suburb of Harare.

Mr Mugabe mostly wrote his own speeches at that time, said Mr Pafitis,
recalling the former guerrilla fighter's promise to "turn guns into

Other assurances now seem even more bitterly ironic. "Our majority rule
could easily turn into inhuman rule if we oppressed, persecuted or harassed
those who do not look or think like the majority of us," Mr Mugabe said
then. "Democracy is never mob rule."

Today it seems astonishing to a generation of young Zimbabweans that the
aged and vindictive tyrant who rules them now could have ever talked in such
a way.

"He said that?" exclaimed an astonished 37-year-old, shown Mr Mugabe's first
speech to the nation. The man, who was too fearful of repercussions to be
named, lost his job as a post office technician 10 years ago when he was
discovered to be an activist for the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
opposition party. Fascinated, he wanted to read every word.

White Zimbabweans liked Mr Mugabe at first. He scrupulously complied with
the 1979 constitution, agreed in lengthy negotiations at Lancaster House,
and urged them to expand production. They did so happily, until their
exports were bringing in 40 per cent of the nation's foreign currency.

Grateful foreign-owned companies and many farmers gave generous donations
towards a new headquarters for Zanu-PF, the party against which they had
fought for 15 bitter years.

I myself fell for Mr Mugabe's charm, for a while. In 1981 I returned from
South Africa, where I had been working as a journalist, after he appealed
for skilled expatriates to come and build the new nation. I was born in
Britain but my mother emigrated to Rhodesia when I was 18 months old, and it
where I considered to be home.

Yet within months Zanu-PF began taking control, telling newspaper editors
how to write stories, for example. A year later came a grim turning point:
Mr Mugabe ordered the mass murder of his black countrymen in Matabeleland,
the stronghold of the opposition party Zapu. His killers left 20,000 dead
and wrecked the most significant potential challenge to his power.

Yet even this did not set the alarm bells ringing elsewhere. Prospering
white farmers turned a blind eye and it was not until Zimabwe's 20th
anniversary approached that its descent into real chaos began.

With the economy in decline, Mr Mugabe - by now president - faced a serious
challenge from the new MDC, which many white farmers backed. The killing
began again, and this time it was the turn of the farmers.

The MDC still very nearly beat Zanu-PF in the 2000 general election, and two
years later Morgan Tsvangirai, a trades union leader turned politician,
challenged Mr Mugabe in a presidential poll but was denied his victory by a
combination of violence, threats and electoral trickery.

By then Zimbabwe was going badly wrong. The economy was in deep trouble.
Incompetence and corruption were on glaring display. Yet Mr Mugabe's
rhetoric had persuaded many Zimbabweans that he was personally honest, lived
on a modest salary and was uninterested in wealth.

In August 2003, suspicions that he had in fact been enriching himself were
confirmed when my story in The Daily Telegraph revealed that builders were
putting the finishing touches to his new £6 million residence, the largest
ever built in either Rhodesia or Zimbabwe. With 25 bedrooms, spas and a
swimming pool, its roof clad with blue glazed tiles from Shanghai, it was as
luxurious as any to be built in the post-colonial Africa of corrupt "big
men" - and was three times the size of the president's official residence.

Its cost far exceeded his earnings since he came to power.

In fact, Mr Mugabe had quietly taken control of four of Zimbabwe's most
profitable white-owned farms. They were secretly managed by state employees
with all the profits going to him, his second wife, Grace, and their close
relatives. Many believe that Mrs Mugabe's shopping addiction has contributed
to his increasingly greedy rule.

His charm could work its spell at first because Mr Mugabe was unknown to
most Zimbabweans in 1980, thanks to Rhodesia's press censorship. They hadn't
heard of the vicious fights within the ranks of his Zanu-PF party during its
exile in Mozambique. The antagonism between Mr Mugabe and his former wartime
allies in the late Joshua Nkomo's Zapu was also little understood. Few
realised that during the liberation war Mr Mugabe had jailed scores of
youthful militants in horrendous conditions in Mozambique.

And he could put on a good show of being a moderate. While still in Marxist
Mozambique, Mr Mugabe met a visiting US Congressman who had come to get his
measure to brief the then secretary of state, Henry Kissinger. The
evaluation, made public only recently after a freedom of information
request, is revealing.

"Ten years of detention (in Rhodesia) have not dulled Mugabe," wrote the
Congressman, Stephen Solarz. "He is an impressive, articulate and extremely
confident individual. His philosophical approach to problems and his well
reasoned arguments remind one of Julius Nyerere, a man Mugabe obviously

That comparison was reassuring. Mr Nyerere, Tanzania's first president, was
a socialist but also a democrat, and one of the few post-colonial leaders to
step down peacefully from power without looting his nation's wealth.

Mr Mugabe reassured in other respects. "Mozambique is a military state and
we do not want military rule, we want a civilian government democratically
elected," he assured the US politician. "We will follow English common law."

Yet there was also a glimpse of ruthlessness. Asked what he would do if he
met Ian Smith, Rhodesia's white leader, Mr Mugabe grinned and said: "Shoot

To those close to Mr Mugabe's government in the 1980s - but not to others -
it was quickly obvious that his rule was going wrong. Mr Pafitis worked
loyally as his press secretary for three years, and then quit.

"There was an Africanisation programme in the civil service and people
wanted my job," he said. "At the end of the day I couldn't separate the
party (Zanu-PF) from the government. It was clear we were moving towards a
one-party state, and unless I became Zanu-PF I had to move on."

Many white farmers came to regret their public support for the MDC because
of the trouble that brought them. "We were naive, we should have done what
we did underground," said one ex-farmer, who has lived in Harare since being
violently evicted from his property in 2001.

The early farm invasions were a hard story to cover and extremely dangerous.
Every day there was violence somewhere. Since 2000 around 1,000 people,
mostly MDC supporters, have been killed, thousands injured and tens of
thousands arrested.

So were Mr Mugabe's words at Zimbabwe's creation merely a cover for his
personal ambition?

To many Zimbabweans it now seems like that. Zanu-PF now controls nine out of
10 once white-owned farms, and wants to take controlling stakes in
white-controlled foreign and local companies. Zimbabwe's mine owners are
worried. And still waiting to be seized are the prizes of white-owned homes
in the cities.

To rule like this Mr Mugabe needs a subservient population, dependant on him
for favours. He needs land and resources to dispense to supporters. And he
must respond with violence to anyone brave enough to stand up to him.

Yet a majority rejected him in the 2008 presidential election, when former
Zanu-PF supporters took real risks to vote for Mr Tsvangirai. Many were
desperate at the state of the economy: hyperinflation had soared so high
that prices doubled and redoubled over a single day. Life expectancy for
women had fallen to 34 - half that of 1980 - and of men to 37.

Four thousand white farmers had been pushed off their land, and many times
that number of black farmworkers were reduced to living in dreadful poverty.

But Mr Mugabe again refused to cede power and Mr Tsvangerai was forced to
join a tenuous unity government - knowing that the president is plotting to
oust him again entirely at the next election.

And so there will be no hopeful ceremony uniting Zimbabweans today, no
echoes of that uplifting moment 30 years ago. The official "celebration"
will be dominated by Mr Mugabe's henchmen, with a sprinkling of MDC figures
who feel obliged to attend.

The nation remains all but bankrupt and isolated internationally, and life
for most Zimbabweans remains paralysed.

What does Mr Mugabe want now, in his 87th year, as he celebrates three
decades in power? He is convinced that he has righted a historic wrong by
taking back land for blacks. Extraordinary though it may sound, he
desperately wants a more favourable legacy by which to be remembered.

And, in the hope of achieving this, he will hang on. Most Zimbabweans are
sure of this: we will be stuck with Robert Mugabe until he dies in office.

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Zimbabwe's child cadets parade for independence anniversary celebrations
Zimbabwe's child cadets paraded with guns in Harare on Sunday as the country celebrated the 30th anniversary of its independence from Britain.
Zimbabwean child cadets on parade during the celebrations of 30 years of independence from Britain

President Robert Mugabe joined thousands at the National Sports Stadium, where he inspected a guard of honour before giving a keynote speech.

Mr Mugabe issued a rare appeal for an end to politically-driven violence, saying: "As Zimbabweans, we need to foster an environment of tolerance and treating each other with dignity and respect irrespective of age, gender, race, ethnicity, tribe, political or religious affiliation."

Many people arrived in buses hired by government to ferry residents of poor suburbs to the festivities, while others walked to the Chinese-built stadium.

For the second year running, leaders of Zimbabwe's three main political parties attended the event, which had previously been dominated by Mr Mugabe's Zanu-PF party.

Morgan Tsvangirai, the prime minister, and his deputy Arthur Mutambara, Mr Mugabe's partners in the troubled power-sharing government, were among notable dignitaries present.

The commemorations come as Zimbabwe battles to ease political tensions that threaten its stability and to revive an economy ravaged by nearly a decade of political crisis.

Mr Mugabe and Mr Tsvangirai's MDC party are trying to make an accord so that elections can be held this year or next.

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Tsvangirai Played Second Fiddle At Celebrations

18/04/2010 18:51:00

Harare, April 18, 2010 - Zimbabwe's three main political parties, Zanu (PF),
the two Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) factions and 60 000 people
might have joined hands to celebrate the country's 30 years of independence
at the National Sports Stadium on Sunday, but questions still lingered if
this was genuine freedom.

Three decades after independence, Zimbabweans are still crying out for real
freedom - human rights are still being violated with impunity, unemployment
is hovering around 90 percent, preventable diseases are killing thousands,
people are dying of hunger, poverty has worsened and corruption among top
government officials is still rampant.

Zimbabweans are saying yes we have achieved independence but where is the
freedom and justice we fought for?

 Like he has done for the past 30 years in which he has been ruler of
Zimbabwe, President Robert Mugabe, monopolised Independence celebrations as
he was the main speaker. Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, a long time rival
of the 86-year-old leader, but now in government played, no official role.
He was seen chatting away with other senior government officials.

 There were reports during the week that Mugabe and Tsvangirai had argued
over the role the Prime Minister would play on Independence Day.

MDC officials had advocated for boycotting the celebrations but Tsvangirai
whipped them into line and ordered them to attend the event at the National
Sports Stadium.

For the observers everything looked rosy between Mugabe and Tsvangirai but
those in the know, said the two were just working together for convenience
otherwise rifts still exist.

 Tsvangirai spent most of his time talking to Vice-presidents John Nkomo and
at times Joice Mujuru.

 However, each time Tsvangirai's picture appeared on the big screen in the
stadium or his name was mentioned, the huge crowd roared in approval. This
did not deter Mugabe as he went on to give one of his most sober speeches in
a long time where he preached peace and tolerance.

Mugabe promised the crowd a better future, he gave them hope for a better
life and gave them hope that a new constitution will be in place soon.

While acknowledging that Zimbabwe has been and is facing problems, he mostly
decided to dwell on the positives.

But the generality of the population is still not convinced that this is the
Zimbabwe they want. They are still pondering on when they will reach the
promised land.

 In Zimbabwe, most people have no voice due to the fact that media space is
The Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP), which is headed by Jestina Mukoko, who was
arrested and tortured for defending human rights, doubts the relevance of
independence when violations are still rampant.

"The previous years were marred by violations which included murder,
torture, assaults, sexual abuses, harassment and intimidation, abductions,
disappearances, arbitrary arrests, and unlawful detentions, displacements,
and evictions in all the provinces of Zimbabwe.

"Many Zimbabweans were maimed, arrested, displaced and lost their lives
mostly during election periods, mainly for claiming their freedom to
associate, choose and assemble," said ZPP in a statement.

Justice for Children Trust says while things were better soon after
independence - the situation is now a disaster 30 years on.

"Despite the existence of both international and domestic laws, little has
been done in the last 10 years to fully promote and protect children's
rights. The State's failure to enshrine children's human rights in the
constitution has further compromised the respect, promotion and protection
of children's rights.

"Since the year 2000, Zimbabwe has experienced a myriad of challenges which
worsened the vulnerability of children. The health care and delivery system
has rapidly crumbled. Children are at the midst of the crisis as they are
victims of HIV and AIDS, high child mortality rates, cholera and measles.

"Many children with HIV and AIDS require constant supply of medication which
is expensive and inaccessible to those in remote areas," says Justice for
Children Trust.

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Zimbabe President Calls for End to Inter-Party Violence
Zimbabwean leader President Robert Mugabe during the 30th 
Independence celebrations in Harare, 18 April 2010 Photo: AP

Zimbabwean leader President Robert Mugabe during the 30th Independence celebrations in Harare, 18 April 2010

President Robert Mugabe has appealed for an end to political violence in Zimbabwe as the country marks 30 years of independence.

Addressing a ceremony in Harare Sunday, Mr. Mugabe said Zimbabwe's government wants people to "desist from any acts of violence that will cause harm to others and become a blight on our society."

Mr. Mugabe did not mention any names or parties, but human rights groups have long accused his ZANU-PF party of beating, torturing, and killing supporters of the longtime opposition Movement for Democratic Change.

The parties are now in a unity government formed after the disputed and violence-plagued 2008 elections.

The sides remain at odds over multiple issues, including a law that would require all businesses in Zimbabwe to hand over a majority stake to local blacks.

Mr. Mugabe said Sunday that the program would remain in place.  He said the program and the controversial land seizures of the past decade are examples of "empowerment" designed to fix historic imbalances in the economy.

Mr. Mugabe was a leader in the guerilla war that resulted in Zimbabwe winning independence from Britain on April 18, 1980.  

He was once hailed as one of Africa's most progressive leaders, but has seen his popularity wane since 2000 when his government began a land-redistribution campaign.  Mr. Mugabe's widely-condemned seizures of land from white farmers triggered a sharp drop in food production and severely damaged the country's economy.

The 86-year-old president is Africa's oldest head of state.  Despite his age and political setbacks, Mr. Mugabe has said he will seek re-election in 2013 if he has his party's support.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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Zimbabwe at 30: a tale of broken promises

Thirty years ago today, Zimbabwe declared its independence and Robert Mugabe
became its first president. But the dreams of the emerging nation were
short-lived, writes Justin Kilcullen

'We have abundant mineral, agricultural and human re­s­ources to exploit and
develop, for which we need perfect peace. Given such peace, our endeavours
to transform our society and raise our standard of living are bound to
succeed." - Robert Mugabe on the eve of independence in Zimbabwe, 17 April

In 1980, as President Mugabe noted in his speech to the blossoming nation,
Zimbabwe was a land of great prosperity, especially compared to its
neighbours. It was a country of proud industry and giant agricultural
outputs. Its education system was renowned as the best in Africa. It was a
time of great joy and optimism, with the promise of equality, freedom and an
end to mass poverty finally within reach.

Thirty years later, the situation, in contrast, is stark. Inflation stood at
231 million percent when it stopped being measured in late 2008. The
Zimbabwe dollar was suspended four months later and goods are now being sold
in US dollars and South African rand. This means that those without access
to hard currency are unable to afford many basic items as fuel and
medicines. Unemployment stands at 94%. The education system, once such a
source of pride, has all but collapsed.

Between 1990 and 2008, average life expectancy fell from 61 to 44. Infant
mortality climbed from 53 to 81 per 1,000 births in the same period.
One-third of all Zimbabwean children suffer from stunting due to
under-nourishment. Among its other work, Trócaire is providing life-saving
food packs including maize and beans every month for 2,000 vulnerable
families and daily meals for over 24,000 hungry school children and orphans.

People in the rural areas are suffering through what has become known as
'the hungry season' - the period between harvests when food stocks run dry.
It is estimated that almost three million people are dependent on food aid
right now. This is more than a fifth of the population in a country once
known as the bread basket of Africa. Last year the country suffered through
one of the worst cholera epidemics Africa has ever known, infecting over
90,000 people all over the country and killing more than 4,000 by March
2009. As the sanitation system has almost completely collapsed and the
country's health structures are practically non-existent, disease remains a
serious concern.

After what seemed like years of watching Zimbabwe descend further into the
abyss (with the violent elections of spring 2008 a particular lowlight),
last February Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangirai of the Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC) finally agreed on a power-sharing agreement that would see
fresh elections within two years.

The formation of this government was welcomed with relief by many
Zimbabweans and the international community at large, including Trócaire,
which has worked in Zimbabwe for almost 40 years. Some work of the
administration has been encouraging, although it is almost entirely
overshadowed by Mugabe's continual undermining of the executive power of
Tsvangirai, the prime minister. For its part, the MDC has failed to stem the
human rights abuses perpetrated by state agents, nor has it managed to
curtail the gross corruption which further undermines the economic recovery
of Zimbabwe.

Sadly, election violence and gross human rights abuses have been hallmarks
of Zimbabwean elections since independence. With growing indications that
fresh elections will be held in early 2011, there are reports of a
resurgence of politically-motivated violence throughout the country.
Trócaire is working with people around the country to help break this cycle
of violence and destruction. This work is critically important right now.

Recently, young women in a community in the rural area of Masvingo in
southern Zimbabwe told Trócaire staff that they believed they should be able
to "live in peace in our communities". This basic human right ? this true
independence ? is what Trócaire and our local partners are trying to defend
and protect.

We have had successes and we have seen people continue to suffer. But as the
high turnout for the 2008 elections showed, the people of Zimbabwe will not
give in to tyranny and oppression. The road ahead is fraught with risk for
Zimbabweans but there is also hope for a better future. There is a vibrancy
and energy in Zimbabwe today which is best seen in the light of its
activists - those who have consistently stood up for what is right in the
face of oppression.

One of the best-known is Jestina Mukoko, director of the Zimbabwe Peace
Project. Trócaire has funded her work for many years and we are proud to
know her. In December 2008 she was abducted from in front of her child by
government agents, held in an undisclosed location for three weeks and
eventually put in front of a court charged with spurious crimes such as
treason. Her crime? Documenting human rights abuses that occurred in the
aftermath of that year's sham election.

Last month Jestina was awarded an International Women of Courage award by
Hillary Clinton and Michelle Obama in Washington. In her acceptance speech,
Jestina said: "We do not want to be passive bystanders, and it is such
recognition that ensures that we do not tire until we reach the finish line
and pass the baton to the next generation".

In Jestina, and others like her, we see the hope of a new Zimbabwe.

Justin Kilcullen is director of Trócaire

April 18, 2010

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African viewpoint: House of Stone at 30
Sunday, 18 April 2010 15:28 UK

Zanla (Zimbabwe African National Liberation Army) forces celebrate
 on 18 April 1980, the proclamation of country's independence, becoming 
Zimbabwe gaining independence seems a lifetime away

In our series of viewpoints from African journalists, Zimbabwean filmmaker and columnist Farai Sevenzo asks what a nation does at 30, after times of relentless pain.

Zimbabwe, the House of Stone, is 30 years old. April 18 1980 seems a lifetime away.

The righting of colonial wrongs can take up to 30 years to complete and do more harm to those a revolution seeks to protect

This nation's tale has constantly divided opinion and people, creating new histories and revisionist ones that say I told you so - but the umbilical cord for Zimbabweans remains attached and pulsing.

At 30 a man or a woman may be feeling broody, that it is time to have some children, set down some roots, leave a legacy.

What does a nation do?


I have no old men memories of the liberation struggle to offer you - like crossing into Mozambique to fight, dismantling Rhodesia's apartheid, educating a country, forging a peace and moving from prime minister to president and holding on as those around me die off.

Instead, my own personal memories are filled with ghosts - the kind of ghosts only a reporter would bother to give head space to.

For just over a decade now I have been reporting on Zimbabwe on camera, radio, print and on the internet; and my ghosts are the kind of characters only people like me get to meet.

And, unlike many a reporter whose reports are prefaced with, "the BBC is banned from reporting in Zimbabwe," I have never suffered those restrictions.

Great Zimbabwe buildings
House of Stone refers to the ruins of Great Zimbabwe, one of the most famous ancinet stone structures in southern Africa

There was Chenjerai Hitler Hunzvi, the doctor and war veteran leader, who, after kicking out my white cameraman from his office on Rezende Street, told me the revolution had started and I should come home and claim my land.

There was former governor Border Gezi, bearded and sharply focused, meeting me at dawn in the town of Bindura to declare his allegiance to, "our father, Comrade RG[Robert Mugabe]."

Both Hitler and Border have moved on to the great green farm in the sky, as have others to whom the revolution was the very purpose of life.

There were images too of burning farmhouses, of marauding youths stoning farm dogs to death, of battering rams and thousands of farm workers wandering the dusty roads, homeless and jobless.

At the Commercial Farmer's Union offices in Marlborough, the siege mentality was whole and awesome to behold, of farmers battling through the courts to hold onto their century-old inheritance, and others who wanted to protect their post-independence purchases.

Shrinking and wilting

Perhaps 30 years from now, historians in Harare be applauding a new economic class of freshly empowered black Zimbabweans.

young Zimbabwean children with their heads decorated with wild 
flowers posing
Hopefully Zimbabwe's children of today will grow up empowered

But I am getting ahead of myself, there was more to come in the relentless pain of our times.

Thousands more lost their homes in the great sweep out of "filth" in 2005, and the urban voters of a rising opposition known as the Movement for Democratic Change found themselves homeless and beached on the sands of political expediency.

Meanwhile the land, famed for its stunning beauty and green acres, was shrinking and wilting like the skin of a dying man.

It is the drought, cried the politicians, we cannot farm when there is no rain.

And no-one mentioned the departed farmers but everything was done to help the new ones - free fertiliser, brand new tractors - and still this fertile land failed to yield its once bountiful produce to previous levels.

Swept away

Then came the Age of Inflation, when billion dollar banknotes mingled with waste on rubbish dumps and those scouring for food preferred to pick up anything but those notes.

A woman prays in front of one of the city's water reticulation 
tanks in Harare on 6 December 2008 during the Cholera outbreak
The pain has been relentless at times during Zimbabwe's 30-year history

And the politics remained bloody. The art of persuasion which politics can be was diminished to the swollen and battered limbs of the opposition leaders, of trade union leaders, troublesome priests, those stubborn farmers and hundreds of poor activists who were swept away in the storm after the calm of the 2008 elections.

By the time a kind of peace was achieved, with a new prime minister in this nation's 29th year, reporters had had their fill of the drama in the House of Stone.

So what can this compressed history tell us?

A history such as this has many truths, and seems to say that the righting of colonial wrongs can take up to 30 years to complete and do more harm to those a revolution seeks to protect.

Other lands, other cities, other lives

Of course much of this history, by open agreement between the feuding parties, is no longer of any relevance to the bright new future.

Instead, the Ministry of Indigenisation says it is determined to put into the hands of the people those platinum, gold and diamond mines which for so long squirrelled the nation's wealth into foreign bank accounts.

Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe
The gap between the rich and the poor is wider than the Victoria Falls

But who will benefit?

Will the ministers who took the farms also take the mines?

Meanwhile, the gap between the rich and the poor is wider than the Victoria Falls; houses being built in affluent suburbs are large and feature imported Italian marble; and I for one miss the cafe society feel of Harare with its many restaurants and excellent bars.

And it is easy to spend an entire weekend at The Stones in Highfield township watching football and eating grilled intestines at the Jambalaya Inn.

But the poor out in the villages are finding it increasingly difficult to get their hands on a US dollar; the country still needs food aid and the citizens of this flame lily of a nation have been leaving in droves, tucking away their education to bolster the economies of other lands, other cities, other lives.

But wherever I am I still feel the pull of that umbilical cord and think I should really have taken up Dr Hunzvi's offer of land.

Independence Day Protest – Zimbabwe Vigil Diary – 17th April 2010



            First group leaves Zim Embassy                              Arriving at the SA High Commission                                   Candles on the steps



       Mugabe outside the SA High Commission         Lovemore Matombo and Gabriel Shumba arrive                     Gabriel with Robert Mugabe



Mugabe drinks to another 30 years, Zim Embassy          Lovemore Matombo addresses the Vigil                      Ephraim Tapa and Gabriel Shumba  


Volcanic ash from Iceland 1,000 miles to the north dropped gently on the Vigil as we marked Zimbabwe’s 30th anniversary of Independence. Despite this it was a lovely sunny day and there was a big attendance at our anniversary demonstration during which we left thirty candles at the nearby South African High Commission to remind them of their obligation to help us achieve true independence. People left the Zimbabwe Embassy in small groups carrying banners and candles and left them on the steps of South Africa House around the corner on Trafalgar Square.


We were glad to be joined by two champions of Zimbabwean freedom: Lovemore Matombo of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions and Gabriel Shumba of the Zimbabwe Exiles Forum.


 Lovemore Matombo said that despite the earlier progress after independence there was still a lack of freedom in Zimbabwe. The MDC seemed to have been lulled into submission and had become a continuation of the Mugabe regime. They had betrayed the people but the ZCTU would not give up the struggle. He said Zimbabwe was a rich country which had been plundered for the benefit of the few. He added that Zimbabwe’s diamonds alone were enough to get the economy on track. Mr Matombo lamented what he called the fragmentation of civil society in Zimbabwe.


For his part Gabriel Shumba advised the diaspora that there must be rule of law in Zimbabwe before they could safely go home – so they would be free from harassment, torture and intimidation. He said people in the diaspora must be given the right to vote and dual citizenship should be allowed. He insisted there should be international observers on the ground during any election. Mr Shumba stressed the need for transitional justice. He said that people could not go home to Zimbabwe to find the perpetrators of the violence against them were still in place. He added that another demand was that South Africa must protect Zimbabweans against xenophobic violence. He said he feared a resurgence of this after the World Cup.


Another visitor to the Vigil was Mr Mugabe (alias Reginald Gwasira in our Mugabe mask).  He joined us at the South African High Commission with a placard reading ‘Thanks Comrade Malema’.  He reappeared later outside the Zimbabwe Embassy with a bottle of wine and large glass and a placard reading ’Here’s to another 30 years’.


Other points:

·       Lovemore Matombo renewed acquaintance with his fellow trade unionist and one of the Vigil founders Ephraim Tapa (previously head of the civil service union). Lovemore told Vigil supporters of the severe torture Ephraim suffered in 2002 and how the ZCTU looked after him and arranged his escape.  He said Ephraim was barely alive when he was found.

·       For the first time ever one of our petitions has been signed by a pigeon. He unloaded his bowels on our demand that the UK should not lift sanctions against Mugabe. It must have been a stool pigeon.

·       We were all delighted by the beautiful singing of a pair of songbirds in our maple trees completely oblivious to the hubbub below them. Also oblivious to reality is the Zimbabwean coalition government which has apparently decided ‘that all key stakeholders interested or involved in addressing the debt crisis in Zimbabwe, in particular the IFIs (international financial institutions, World Bank, International Monetary Fund and African Development Bank) and western countries "must overtly acknowledge that Zimbabwe is operating under economic sanctions”.’ Presumably if they don’t Zimbabwe will refuse their food to feed the starving or their medicines to save the sick . . .

·       It is impossible to say how many people attended the Vigil – certainly many more than signed the register. The sound of the drums thundered down the Strand.

·       It was good to be joined by Violet of SW Radio Africa, Mark and Tony of ACTSA and Tor and Wiz of the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum. 

·       On a very busy afternoon our thanks go to those who made our ‘Lights for Freedom’ protest possible: Jonathan Kariwoh who looked after back table throughout and sacrificed his chance to attend the activities at the SA High Commission, Luka Phiri who ran between the Embassy and the High Commission taking the Vigil photos and Dumi Tutani who stage managed the scenario at the South African High Commission.


For latest Vigil pictures check: For the latest ZimVigil TV programme check the link at the top of the home page of our website.  For earlier ZimVigil TV programmes check:


FOR THE RECORD: 225 signed the register.



·     ROHR South East London general meeting. Saturday 24th April from 1 – 3 pm. Venue: 16 Sydenham Road, Sydenham, London SE24 5QW. Contact P Chitsinde 07897000075, C Chiromo 07894586005 or 07838153217.

·     ROHR Leeds general meeting. Saturday 24th April from 1.30 – 4 pm. Venue: Dock Green Inn, Leeds LS9 7AB. Contact: Wonder M Mubaiwa 07958758568, Donna Mugoni (Chair Northern Region) 07748828913, Prosper Mudamvanji 07846621050, Beauty Sikosana 07940181761, David Munemo 07963708923 or P Mapfumo 07915926323/07932216070

·     ROHR Leicester general meeting. Saturday 24th April from 1.30 – 5.30. Venue: St Aiden Parish Church Hall, The Vicarage, South Oswald Road, New Parks, Leicester LE3 6RJ. Refreshments will be served. Contact C Ndoro 07833022167, D Sibanda 07901742649, P Mapfumo  07915926323/ 07932216070.

·     ROHR Glasgow relaunch meeting. Saturday 1st May from 1.30-5.30. Venue: Woodside Hall, 36 Glendarg Street, Glasgow, G20 7QE. ROHR Executive present to talk about the current issues in Zimbabwe and the UK.  Contact Kuda Mupunga 07940254328, Gugu Ncube 07534574763, Rugare Chifungo(Northern Coordinator) 07795070609, P Mapfumo 07915926323/07932216070

·     ROHR Woking Branch 1st Anniversary Party. Saturday 8th May from 3 – 10 pm. Venue: St Pauls Church Hall, Oriental Road, Woking GU22 7BD. Raffle for two hampers to be won. Tickets £6 adults £3.00 kids which includes entry and meal. Contact:  Mr Mudzamiri 07774044873, Jermaine 07908522992, Sithokozile 07886203113 or P Mapfumo 07915326323/07932216070

·     ROHR Cambridge fundraising event. Saturday 22nd May from 4 – 10 pm. Venue: Arbury Community Centre, Campkin Road, Cambridge CB4 2LD. African music, food and drinks hobho. Entrance fee £10 including food. Contact: Jospheth Hapazari 07782398725, Locadia Mugari 07501304116, Sibusisiwe Bafana 07765268622, Percy Marimba 07894670271 or P Mapfumo 07915926323/07932216070

·     ROHR  West Bromwich Branch fundraising event. Saturday 29th May from 1 – 11pm. Venue: St Peters Church Hall, Whitehall Rd, West Bromwich B70 0HF. Admission £8.00 including food and drink. Contact: Pamela Dunduru 07958386718, Diana Mtendereki 07768682961, Peter Nkomo  07817096594, Godwin Kativu 07576994816 or P Chibanguza  07908406069

·     ROHR Northampton General Meeting. Saturday 5th June at 2 pm. Venue:  Carey Memorial Baptist Church, King Street, Kettering, Northants, NN16 8QL.  ROHR executive members present and guest speakers. Contact: Marshall Rusike 07833787775,WadzanayiMpandawana 07717795574, Gladys Milanzi  07846 448 711, Norian Chindowa 07954379426, Sherry Ngaseke 07869295544 Or P Mapfumo 07915 926 323 / 07932 216 070.

·     Swaziland Vigil. Saturdays from 10 am – 1 pm. Venue: Swazi High Commission, 20 Buckingham Gate, London SW1E 6LB.  Please support our Swazi friends. Nearest stations: St James’s Park and Victoria. For more information check:

·     Zimbabwe Association’s Women’s Weekly Drop-in Centre. Fridays 10.30 am – 4 pm. Venue: The Fire Station Community and ICT Centre, 84 Mayton Street, London N7 6QT, Tel: 020 7607 9764. Nearest underground: Finsbury Park. For more information contact the Zimbabwe Association 020 7549 0355 (open Tuesdays and Thursdays).

·     Strategic Internship for Zimbabweans organised by Citizens for Sanctuary which is trying to secure work placements for qualified Zimbabweans with refugee status or asylum seekers. For information: or contact:


Vigil Co-ordinators

The Vigil, outside the Zimbabwe Embassy, 429 Strand, London, takes place every Saturday from 14.00 to 18.00 to protest against gross violations of human rights in Zimbabwe. The Vigil which started in October 2002 will continue until internationally-monitored, free and fair elections are held in Zimbabwe:


Zimbabwe business take overs stay, Mugabe pledges

Apr 18, 9:26 AM EDT

Associated Press Writer

HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) -- President Robert Mugabe pledged Sunday to move
ahead with plans to hand over 51 percent control of businesses to blacks
under a controversial program.

During ceremonies Sunday marking the 30th anniversary of independence from
colonial rule, Mugabe said the proposed business take overs are a concrete
example of policies followed over the last three decades that enable locals
to own the nation's resources.

The so-called indigenization and empowerment act was passed in 2008, when
parliament was still dominated by Mugabe's lawmakers. The law came into
force on March 1 and all businesses were given to April 15 to hand in
proposals as to how they'd hand over 51 percent of their company to blacks.
This included foreign and white-owned businesses.

The party of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, the former opposition leader
who was also present at the ceremonies Sunday, has opposed the program and
said Wednesday the law had been shelved to avoid deterring much-needed
foreign investment in the ailing economy.

Tsvangirai's party on Wednesday said a meeting of the coalition cabinet
chaired by Mugabe suspended the act, which defined "indigenous" Zimbabweans
as those who suffered under colonial-era racial discrimination and their
children born after independence in 1980, effectively excluding the nation's
20,000 whites.

Saviour Kasukwere, a minister from Mugabe's party in charge of empowerment
policy, countered this and said Wednesday the law will go ahead, but it had
only been delayed for more discussions.

The new so-called indigenization law "recognizes our sovereign right of
ownership," Mugabe told crowds at the 50,000 seat Chinese-built sports
stadium in Harare.

Mugabe said the nation, governed by a yearlong coalition between his ZANU-PF
party and Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change, faced continuing
criticism from what he called "unrepentant and incorrigible racist forces."

He said the coalition was proceeding with national reconstruction despite
outside opposition from Western countries.

Seizures of white-owned farms and "now the indigenization program serve as
concrete and living examples of empowerment ... designed chiefly to redress
the historic imbalances in ownership of the economy," Mugabe said.

Mugabe on Sunday did not elaborate on any fresh deadlines under the law.

Coalition leaders watched military displays at the stadium which was
reopened this month after being shut down for three years for structural
repairs by Chinese engineers. Crowds cheered and whistled for Tsvangirai
when Mugabe formally welcomed him to the celebrations.

Mugabe, 86, acknowledged a need for national healing Sunday "following a
period of polarization and hostilities between our people."

Years of political violence, much of it blamed on Mugabe militants and state
agents, and economic turmoil came with the often violent seizures of
white-owned farms that Mugabe ordered in 2000, disrupting the
agriculture-based economy in the former regional breadbasket and leading to
acute food shortages and world record inflation.

Human rights groups say at least 600 people, mostly Tsvangirai supporters,
died in the past decade and tens of thousands of cases of torture, illegal
arrests and other rights violations were reported.

Mugabe eyes World Cup tourism boost for Zimbabwe

(AFP) - 4 hours ago

HARARE - Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe said Sunday he hopes his
country's tourism industry will get a boost from the football World Cup in
neighbouring South Africa.

"With the 2010 FIFA World Cup tournament, it is government's hope that
tourism will receive another boost for its total recovery towards being a
major contributor to the country's economic growth," Mugabe told thousands
of Zimbabweans gathered at the National Sports Stadium for the country's
30th independence celebrations.

He said Zimbabwe's tourism industry is showing signs of recovery.

"In 2009 the sector generated an estimated amount of 522 million dollars,
contributing 6.5 percent to the gross domestic product," Mugabe said.

The southern African country is expecting to host some 100,000 foreign
nationals during the month-long World Cup, mostly South Africans looking to
escape the drama surrounding the tournament.

Zimbabwe's tourism industry has taken a beating as a result of the country's
ongoing political and economic woes.

Tourist arrivals plunged from 1.4 million in 2000 to 223,000 in 2008, as
several countries in Asia and the West issued travel warnings against going
to Zimbabwe.

The Zimbabwean government has said it hopes to cash in on South African
visitors who have no interest in sport and those who are renting their homes
to foreign visitors.

South Africa is expecting hundreds of thousands of foreign football fans for
Africa's first World Cup, which runs from June 11 to July 11.

ZESA 4 remain in custody for Independence

Written by WOZA
Sunday, 18 April 2010 12:17

Jenni Williams, Magodonga Mahlangu, Clara Manjengwa and Celina Madukani will
remain in custody until Tuesday 20th when they will be taken to court. The
four women have yet to be formally charged. Police officers tried to force
the activists to pay admission of guilt fines, which they refused to do as
no offence had been committed. (Pictured: Jenni Williams & Magodonga
The continued detention of the women is once again a clear indication that
harassment of human rights defenders continues unchecked under the
government of national unity and makes a mockery of the Independence
celebrations that no doubt will be taking place across Zimbabwe this
weekend. There is very little to celebrate in the cold, dark, filthy cells
of Harare Central Police Station.

Minister appeals for calm over North Korean team visit

Apr 18, 2010, 15:14 GMT

Harare - Zimbabwe's tourism minister has appealed to activists in the
western provinces of Bulawayo to drop plans to protest against the North
Korean football team's scheduled camp in the country during the World Cup.

The presence of the team from the dictatorship of President Kim Jong Il has
stirred up strong emotions over the massacre in the early 80s of an
estimated 20 000 civilians of the Ndebele speaking people of western
Zimbabwe, carried out by soldiers of the Zimbabwe army's notorious Fifth
Brigade who were trained by North Korean instructors.

Groups have threatened to carry out protests against the team in the western
city of Bulawayo and in South Africa where over a million Zimbabwean exiles
from President Robert Mugabe's rule now live.

'We are totally against bringing the team to Zimbabwe,' said Methuseli Moyo,
spokesman for the Zimbabwe African People's Union party. 'Having a team
flying the North Korean flag is very provocative.'

The team is due in Harare on May 25 and is set to play friendly matches
against the Zimbabwe national team in the capital and in Bulawayo, but
activists have warned they would make Bulawayo's Barbourfields stadium a
centre of resistance against the North Koreans.

Tourism minister Walter Mzembi was quoted Sunday in the weekly Standard
newspaper as appealing to the groups not to mix politics with sport and to
allow national healing to take place.

'Sport must remain the bridge for people-to-people contact, probably the
only bridge that has remained standing even when nation states are in a
state of fall-out,' he said.

'I wouldn't want to make this a political issue. It's purely a sports

He said he had extended invitations to the major teams in the World Cup,
including Brazil, England and the United States, but North Korea was the
only team that had responded.

The North Korean instructors were brought to Zimbabwe in 1983 at the request
President Robert Mugabe to form a new brigade of the army, composed
exclusively of Shona-speaking veterans of Mugabe's civil war guerrilla army,
to put down a limited insurgency against Mugabe's rule by Ndebele-based
guerrilla veterans.

The Fifth Brigade troops immediately developed a reputation for savage
brutality, butchering children and pregnant women to deny the guerrillas
support among the population of rural areas where they operated.

Military experts say that the Fifth Brigade's methods were starkly different
from the rest of the country's largely British-trained army.

Mugabe, held responsible for the massacres, has only referred to the
murderous period in the country's history as a moment of madness. Demands
for acknowledgement of the brutality are rising round the country, but two
weeks ago police forcibly closed down an art exhibition portraying the
suffering of the period, and arrested the artist.

Key dates in Zimbabwe's history

Sun Apr 18, 2010 1:43pm GMT

April 18 (Reuters) - Zimbabwe marks 30 years of independance from Britain on

Here are some key dates in Zimbabwe's past:

1965 - Prime Minister Ian Smith cuts Rhodesia's ties with colonial master
Britain, unilaterally declaring independence under white-minority rule. The
move caused international outrage and United Nations economic sanctions.

1972 - Guerrilla war breaks out against the Smith regime; Robert Mugabe
becomes leader of the liberation ZANU-PF movement in the mid-1970s.

1979 - Britain convenes all-party Rhodesia conference after escalation of
independence war, brokering a peace agreement and constitution for an
independent Zimbabwe.

1980 - ZANU-PF party wins independence elections. Mugabe takes office as
prime minister on April 18.

1982 - Mugabe deploys North-Korean-trained Fifth Brigade to crush rebellion
by ex-ZAPU guerrillas. Government forces are accused of killing thousands of
civilians in the crackdown.

1987 - Mugabe and ZAPU's Joshua Nkomo sign a unity accord, leading to the
integration of PF-ZAPU and ZANU-PF. Mugabe amends independence constitution,
abolishes post of prime minister and becomes executive president with
sweeping powers.

1990 - ZANU-PF and Mugabe win parliamentary and presidential elections.

1995 - ZANU-PF wins parliamentary elections.

1996 - Mugabe re-elected president.

1998 - An economic crisis marked by high interest rates and inflation
provokes riots and increasing support for the Zimbabwean Congress of Trade
Unions led by Morgan Tsvangirai.

1999 - The opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) is formed and
Tsvangirai is appointed leader.

2000 - Voters back the MDC and turn down a proposed constitutional amendment
which would have given the president more power.

-- Thousands of independence war veterans and their allies, backed by the
government, seize white-owned farms, saying the land was illegally
appropriated by white settlers.

2002 - Mugabe wins election pitting him against Tsvangirai. Observers
condemn poll as flawed and unfair. Commonwealth suspends Zimbabwe.

2003 - IMF begins steps to expel Zimbabwe over dues unpaid since 2001.
Commonwealth summit agrees to continue suspension, leading Mugabe to pull
Zimbabwe out of the organisation.

2004 - High Court acquits Tsvangirai of plotting to assassinate Mugabe and
seize power, a ruling condemned by the government. Remaining charges are
dropped in August 2005.

2005 - ZANU-PF wins parliamentary election, giving it the majority it needs
to change the constitution.

-- About 700,000 people lose their homes or livelihoods in the demolition of
urban slums.

2007 - Tsvangirai says he was badly beaten after he attempts to attend a
banned protest rally, spurring international condemnation of Mugabe's

2008 - Parliamentary election results in March show ZANU-PF has lost its
majority for the first time. MDC says its leader Tsvangirai also won
presidential election and calls on Mugabe to concede.

-- Police detain Tsvangirai five times during campaigning for a June run-off

-- Run-off goes head despite calls for a postponement from Africa and the
rest of the world. Mugabe is declared the winner with over 85 percent after
Tsvangirai pulls out and is sworn in for a new five-year term.

-- Negotiators from the MDC and ZANU-PF hold talks to end the deadlock over
Mugabe's re-election, eventually reaching a power-sharing deal in September.

2009 - Tsvangirai is sworn in as prime minister by old enemy President

Zimbabwe: a land of struggle and strife

Sun Apr 18, 2010 1:41pm GMT

April 18 (Reuters) - Zimbabwe marks 30 years of independance from Britain on

Here are some facts on Zimbabwe:


Although a power-sharing government has managed to stabilise the economy
after 10 straight years of decline, the country is struggling to restore
productivity, feed itself and repair its ruined infrastructure.

Inflation reached 231 million percent a year in July 2008 before the country
stopped announcing figures. The IMF estimated thaion peaked at 500 billion
percent in December 2008. Inflation was brought under control with the
adoption of the U.S. dollar and other foreign currencies.

Until 2008, GDP had fallen every year since 2000. The IMF estimated that the
economy shrank 14 percent in 2008 and 6.91 percent in 2007. The IMF said per
capita GDP fell from $519 in 2000 to $268 in 2008. In 1990, per capita GDP
was around $900.

The majority of the population lives on less than a $1 a day. 85 percent of
people live below the poverty line and annual per capita income is less than

Once the breadbasket of southern Africa, Zimbabwe now needs to import maize.
But the power-sharing government has projected maize output of up to 2.5
million tonnes next season, which would mark a return to food
self-sufficiency. About 7 million people -- over half the population -- 
relied on food aid last year.

Unemployment has been estimated at over 90 percent. Well over 3 million
Zimbabweans are thought to have fled, mostly to South Africa, in search of
work and food.

Zimbabwe has at least $6 billion of foreign debt.


POPULATION: About 12.5 million, down from a 2007 level of 13.3 million. The
prevalence of AIDS, falling life expectancy and high infant death rates mean
estimates are unreliable. About 3 million have fled to South Africa.

ETHNICITY: Most are of Bantu-speaking Shona or Ndebele origin. Other groups
include the Venda, Shangaan, Tsonga and San.

RELIGION: African traditional religions 55 percent; Christianity 45 percent.


In the 1830s Ndebele people fleeing Zulu violence and Boer migration in what
is now South Africa moved north and settled in what became known as
Matabeleland. In the next half-century European hunters, traders and
missionaries explore the region from the south. They include Cecil Rhodes.

In 1889 Rhodes' British South Africa Company gains a British mandate to
colonise what becomes Southern Rhodesia. In the 1890s white settlers arrive
and a Ndebele uprising is crushed.

In 1922 the British South Africa Company ends its administration and the
white minority opts for self-government. In the following years black
opposition to colonial rule grows. In the 1960s nationalist groups emerge -
the Zimbabwe African People's Union (ZAPU) and the Zimbabwe African National
Union (ZANU).

In 1963 the British-created Central African Federation, made up of Southern
Rhodesia (Zimbabwe), Northern Rhodesia (Zambia) and Nyasaland (Malawi),
breaks after Zambia and Malawi gain independence.

Prime Minister Ian Smith unilaterally decared independence for Rhodesia in
1965 causing international outrage and economic sanctions. 1979
British-brokered all-party talks lead to a peace agreement and new

In 1980 independence leader Robert Mugabe and his ZANU party win
British-supervised independence elections. Mugabe is named prime minister.
Independence on 18 April is internationally recognised.

Dig your own grave

Dear Family and Friends,

Three months before Zimbabwe's 30th anniversary of Independence I
happened to get lost in the vast urban sprawl that characterises the
outskirts of the capital city, Harare. A huge shanty town lay on both
sides of the road and stretched as far as the eye could see. Shacks
and shelters made of tin and plastic were surrounded by mounds of
rotting garbage which had even been scraped into contours in an
attempt to demarcate little vegetable plots. Stinking streams of
sewage ran right outside people's shacks and children ran barefoot
through the waste and the filth. Hand painted signs were everywhere,
on pieces of battered, rusty tin and written in charcoal on strips of
warped cardboard: 'Floor polish,' 'Cement,' 'Tyres,' 'Abattoir.' One
sign said: 'Hot Recharge' and a line of people with cellphones in
their hands stood waiting for their turn to plug onto a car battery
and get a precious top up of electrical power into their telephones.
A near naked man with no legs was dragging himself by his hands along
the road and I looked away but his image has stayed with me. How can
this be Zimbabwe 30 years after Independence, I keep asking myself.

Two months before Zimbabwe's 30th anniversary of Independence I went
to the local electricity supply office to hand in an up to date
reading of my electricity meter. I needed to bring accuracy to the
wild guesstimates they kept making on my monthly bills and the even
wilder amounts they were charging. The man at the desk was eating a
sausage and when I told him I had a reading I would like entered into
the computer record, he looked wildly around at the piles of papers
covering every inch of his desk. Eventually he chose one pile and
placed the sausage on top of the papers. He looked at his greasy
fingers for a moment, picked up a piece of paper from another pile on
his desk, wiped his fingers on the paper and entered my figures into
his computer. Can this really be Zimbabwe 30 years after

Last month I went with a friend who needed to have fingerprints taken
at a government office. One by one each finger is squashed into the
black ink pad and the digit then rolled onto the paper record. 'Wait
for your form,' the government official announces and you stare at
the filth on your hands and look around - no taps, no water, no
cloth, nowhere to remove the ink all over your hands. When you ask if
there is a public toilet you can use, the official mutters angrily
that they are locked, they don't work anymore. People wipe their inky
hands in their hair or in the sand. Can this be Zimbabwe 30 years
after Independence?

Last week a friend got a quote for a new garden tap but decided
against installing it because they get stolen so regularly. Stolen to
be melted down and made into coffin handles. Talking about coffins, I
attended a funeral a few days ago and was reminded that you have to
dig your own graves now as municipal workers don't, or won't do it

Can this really be Zimbabwe 30 years after Independence? Can this
really be a free and independent country when unarmed women are
arrested and held in Police custody for handing out yellow cards in
protest over electricity prices. Happy birthday Zimbabwe. Until next
time, thanks for reading, love cathy.� Copyright cathy buckle 17th
April 2010.