We have just received this detailed personal account of the riots
that took place in Harare on Saturday, please read:
On Saturday 1st April, we (Brenda, my sister Debbie, my two nephews
aged 8 and 11 and myself) marched for peace in Zimbabwe. Even before
we had left the house we were telephoned and warned that there were
numerous roadblocks blocking movement into the city. On Enterprise
Road in Newlands we waited for about 20 minutes to get through a
roadblock. All cars were being searched. Later in the day, on news
reports, cars filled with MDC and NCA supporters were actually being
turned back. We met up with Patricia at Causeway Post Office, the
starting point of the March. There were only a few people there.
Probably more riot police than potential marchers. It was good to
see familiar faces and inspiring to be a part of such a multi-racial
and joyful group of people in spite of the ominous police presence.
Mike Auret was there. His towering yet calm and diplomatic presence
gave me a lot of reassurance. The Police were trying their best to
convince everyone that the gathering was an unlawful one. Apparently
a few of the earlier arrivals had already been arrested for not
"dispersing when instructed to do so". Mike Auret asked everyone to
sit on the road and led the group in prayer asking for God's
forgiveness for those leading Zimbabwe into such despair.
Organisers reassured us that a court order was on its way, to
prohibit the police from interfering in the peace march. True to
their word, the order was produced shortly thereafter, together with
word that other NCA supporters were on their way after being held up
by the numerous police blocks. Suddenly there was a sound of
cheering, because behind the row of riot police blocking our way,
came a huge number of fellow marchers to help us set off. What did
we need to actually get moving? MORE PEOPLE. There is such strength
in numbers and this was one of the most obvious examples of how
efforts to effect change in Zimbabwe were being frustrated by the
lack of involvement of citizens of this country. We surged forward.
People proudly carried posters with slogans like: Cry Our Beloved
Country; Stop This Nonsense; United We Stand; Peace For Zimbabwe. The
atmosphere amongst the marchers was a mixture of emotions. One Greek
woman was so overcome by the occasion that she sobbed and shook.
Others danced and whistled.
Marchers greeted Saturday morning Harare shoppers with the MDC open
hand gesture. At one stage an elderly white man in a wheel chair
struggled onto his crutches and made a few faltering steps forward.
There were two white women pushing his wheelchair the length of the
march until a young black schoolboy took over to give them a break.
The "Over The Edge" theatre group was there, marching with colorful
peace flowers in their hair. All through the city, onlookers
encouraged the marchers by greeting them with a raised open hand
symbolising the huge support for peace and a new leadership in this
country. At a construction site in Jason Moyo Avenue, hundreds of
construction workers in bright blue overalls voiced their united
approval and support as we marched by. Marching with children caused
a mixture of emotion in me. At the beginning when the children were
faced by a row of arrogant and aggressive riot police with batons in
hand and tear gas on their hip, they were visibly shaken and upset.
"I want to go home" was tearfully suggested a number of times. But
once we had got going, they settled down and I could feel the wonder
How amazing it is at 8 years of age, under a despicably oppressive
government, to take over the centre of Harare. I continually
emphasised to them that if something was wrong, how could we not join
together and try to change things? The relationship between the
marchers and onlookers (pedestrians, motorists, and shopkeepers) was
friendly and the marchers showed complete respect for peoples'
property. No-one was hurt and nor was property vandalised in any
way. Unfortunately, roughly 2 hours from the time the peach march
set off, at the corner of Union Avenue and First Street a group of so-
called war vets ambushed the Peace March. I can't emphasise enough
that these were not war vets but rather ZANU PF paid thugs. They were
young and violent and they were looking for whites. How is it that
the police allowed them into the city to violently attack a peaceful
demonstration. The police, instead of repelling the violent mob that
disrupted the march, chose to fire teargas at the fleeing NCA
supporters. Film footage shows the police running with the
disgusting thugs, chasing the marchers.
Patricia and my family made a desperate attempt to avoid tear gas
canisters and the stampede of people trying to get away from both the
police (how ironic) and the thugs. In a way I think it was lucky that
we had two little boys with us. We were so focused on their safety
that we made sure to get out of the firing line. Patricia wasn't so
lucky. She had noticed a blind busker sitting in his usual downtown
spot playing his guitar. She ran passed him but returned to help him
get out of the way of the mob. After moving him some distance up the
road, she huddled with him and two black women in a doorway. A thug
spotted them and laid into Patricia with a stick, splitting her head
open and kicking her in the stomach, accusing her of being an MDC
supporter. The two black women tried to shield Patricia from the
blows. When we emerged from the building that we had taken refuge in
there were torn placards laying strewn in the streets. A MARS
ambulance was parked in First Street Mall attending to injured NCA
supporters and scores of dazed people wandered around questioning how
the police could have let thugs harm peaceful Zimbabwean citizens. In
particular, the fact that people who were helping other injured
marchers, were viciously assaulted is completely abhorrent. Perhaps
one of the most poignant symbols of the morning was the blind
busker's guitar lying on the sidewalk, broken and useless. Just what
Robert Mugabe and ZANU PF are trying to do to the Zimbabwean nation's
spirit. Brenda picked up the remains of the guitar and took it back
to the busker's chair on the corner, hoping that at least he would
emerge unscathed. Happily he did and a number of us, including
other passers-by contributed money to help him replace or repair his
guitar. A white man walked passed with a bandaged arm and what
looked like sjambok cuts on his back, as if he had been whipped. We
had seen him bleeding from his head a short time before. Andy, a
reporter, had a rock thrown in his face. Trish, who had stopped to
help someone injured, was head-butted and had to go to hospital. I've
just read that Impi had his legs beaten by a policeman. My family
made our way back to Causeway Post Office and met up with a
reassembled group of marchers on Second Street. Their spirits were
not broken. We joined them and continued clapping and singing. When
we rounded the corner in Central Avenue, the vision that greeted us
was masses of police in full riot gear. They were waiting for us. My
family skirted the police and looked back to see the NCA supporters
sit down on the road well away from the police, chanting PEACE,
PEACE. What reply did they get? The police fired several tear gas
canisters into them, seated and completely unarmed. As we continued
up Central Avenue, the riot police followed, waving their batons
threateningly and chasing on-lookers away. Meanwhile military
helicopters circled the city. What did this experience mean to me?
On the one hand I was truly inspired being with so many motivated and
patriotic people. We came together in the hope of encouraging change.
I must emphasise that by getting out of my safe world and stretching
my own boundaries and being involved in collective action gave me the
opportunity to see very clearly that black, white, colored, Greek -
all of us in Zimbabwe, for the most part, like and respect each
other. During the march and after the violence, everyone helped each
other. Willingly and with respect. I never imagined that I would
"high 5" commuter drivers but I did and when these moments happen our
country is a better place. It is clear that Mugabe and his cronies
need hired thugs to do their dirty work. Mugabe is milking the race
card for all it's worth. Don't succumb to fear and paranoia in the
face of the continued bombardment of racist propaganda from the state-
controlled broadcasting sector. On the ground it's different. The
people of Zimbabwe want peace and stability not civil war. So how do
we achieve this. Impi mentioned being disappointed by the low turnout
of white people on the march. I can't agree with him more. When you
articulate opnions like these you're likely to become unpopular with
your peers but speaking as a white woman, I have to say "Where were
the people I know"? Doing your shopping, having breakfast, attending
a course, dipping the dog, gardening? Or, is there a feeling out
there of , "Well I told you so, I knew it would end up like that".
Let's emerge from behind our emails and actually get together and do
something. Real collective action just once, will make a huge
difference. We had calls to say "Don't go, it's going to be violent"
and we said but why must it always be someone else who sticks their
neck out for US? You might have given a donation to the NCA or the
MDC, or work in the background but sometimes there's nothing like
putting a face to the struggle.
(a) If you pay sales tax, income tax and other monies over to the
Zimbabwean government every month, or every time you shop for that
matter, you are supporting a corrupt and useless system. Why not
donate a small amount of money to the NCA or the MDC to support
change in this country.
(b) Everytime you buy or advertise in The Herald you are supporting a
despicably biased and racist newspaper. STOP or even reduce your
support of The Herald. At the very least don't buy the Sunday
(c) There is MDC literature available for dissemination. Contact the
the MDC firstname.lastname@example.org to find out how to get some of this
literature. Organise yourselves in groups and go door to door. Have a
drink or a coffee afterwards. Do this on a regular basis. You can
lso write your own views down and disseminate them. If you would
like MDC materials you can also contact me.
(d) Contact friends and have discussion evenings. Keep each other
informed about what's going on. Being isolated can lead to
(e) If you, or anyone you know was injured on Saturday, please
contact the NCA, the MDC and the independent newspapers with details
of your injuries (together with photographic evidence, if you have
(f) Write letters to the newspapers, to the President's Office to
ZANU PF: The Herald, PO Box 396, Harare, Zimbabwe or email:
The Daily News email: email@example.com
The Zimbabwe Independent email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Office of the President: Post Bag 7700, Causeway, Harare, ZW.
Write and complain about police brutality and their partisan modus
operandi to: The Chief of Police, PO Box CY154, Causeway, Harare,
(g) Send emails of support to the NCA email@example.com and
the MDC firstname.lastname@example.org
(h) Please do not refer to "war veterans" in any correspondence.
They are ZANU PF thugs and do not deserve the title, war veteran.
(i) Send messages of support to farmers c/o the CFU.
(j) Buy an MDC t-shirt or screenprint a design of your own choice and
wear it proudly.
(k) Design and/or contribute financially toward the printing of
(l) Attend meetings at the Book Café where political and cultural
topics are discussed on a regular basis.
(m) If you, or anyone that you know has a second hand guitar that can
be donated to the blind busker, please contact me on 495484.
(n) If you have any other ideas to encourage change in this country -
SHARE THEM. Any overseas friends and well wishers (Ms Munn!) asking
how you can help us: If you would like to contribute financially
to the MDC please let me know and I will get account details to you.
Please write, fax and email in protest to the addresses in this
email. Please try and organise protests (even if they're small) at
Zimbabwean High Commissions abroad.
Bev Clark and Brenda Burrell
Tuesday, 4 April, 2000, 14:47 GMT 15:47 UK
Opposition pushes for power
The MDC are the first credible challengers to Mugabe's party
The new force in Zimbabwean politics is the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, which is well organised and confident of winning elections expected in May.
This is an astonishing prospect, as President Robert Mugabe and his ruling Zanu-PF party have romped home in every presidential and parliamentary election since Zimbabwe became independent.
They have bled our lovely country dry. We pledge to deal ruthlessly with the corrupt. From being the envy of the region, we have become a laughing stock
Opposition MDC official Gibson Sibanda
At present Mr Mugabe's party holds an overwhelming 147 of the 150 seats in parliament.
And the history of the opposition in Zimbabwe is one of defeat and division, unable to compete against a strong ruling party, led by an increasingly authoritarian leader.
Yet as Zimbabwe's economy has accelerated its decline in recent years, so the fortunes of the opposition have risen, culminating in the shock referendum defeat for the ruling coalition in February.
Morgan Tsvangirai: A popular union leader
The historic No vote, campaigned for by the opposition, not only dealt a blow to President Mugabe's hopes of extending his powers, but also gave fresh impetus to the MDC, which was only formed last year.
It emerged out of the trade union movement, as many former Zanu-PF supporters fed up with rampant inflation, corruption and collapsing health and education services finally said enough is enough.
Bleeding Zimbabwe dry
The MDC accuses the ruling party of bleeding Zimbabwe dry and says the only way to change things is to remove the government.
And significantly its leaders, including popular party president Morgan Tsvangirai, appear to have the organisational structure and power base inherited from the union movement, to mount a serious challenge to the ruling party.
Police failed to prevent recent attacks on opposition supporters
The MDC held their first party congress in January attended by 4,000 delegates and appeared determined and united in seeking to remove a government they see as corrupt and incompetent.
"This country is facing a crisis ... our primary goal is to remove the crisis itself, Robert Mugabe and his government," Mr Tsvangirai told his cheering supporters at the conference.
The MDC's election manifesto promises higher spending on health, education and housing.
And it promises to save money by fighting corruption and slashing the number of government ministries.
Yet Mr Tsvangirai has warned that the ruling party could react brutally to the new party's growing support.
Union leaders should stick to driving trains
He survived an assault last year by Zanu-PF supporters that his Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) described as an assassination attempt.
And the recent violent break-up of opposition protests in Harare suggest the campaign could be a rough ride for the opposition, unable to rely on an impartial media or police force.
Origins in the strike
In December 1997, the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, led by Mr Tsvangirai, organised a national strike against tax rises.
A march in Harare was broken up by riot police with tear gas and truncheons but in the end, the government gave in to the strikers' demands.
President Mugabe: Accuses opposition of being unpatriotic
The ZCTU called a series of general strikes since then, arguing that government policies were causing a sharp fall in workers' living standards.
The logical conclusion to that argument was to try to replace Zanu-PF as the party of government, and so the MDC was launched last September.
Just as with Zanu-PF, MDC leaders represent a delicate balance between Zimbabwe's major ethnic groups - Shona and Ndebele - but in addition, the white community is also well represented.
The MDC does not dwell on ideology, but promises more competent, less corrupt economic management.
With living standards falling sharply and a fuel shortage causing massive disruption, increasing numbers of Zimbabweans appear to be ready for change.
Jobs are increasingly hard for young people to find
If the forthcoming elections are free and fair then a defeat for the ruling party is a distinct possibility.
And the international goodwill attached to an opposition victory could well give an immediate boost to any new government seeking to lift Zimbabwe out of its economic mess.
Yet President Mugabe still has two years before the next presidential elections, and he and his party show no signs of giving way without a fight.
Land Invasions Update - 3 April 2000
COMMERCIAL FARMERS' UNION
LAND INVASIONS UPDATE - 3 APRIL 2000
At the time of writing 884 farms have been affected by the land
invasions, 522 of which are currently occupied.
On Friday 31 March a member of the Agricultural Labour Bureau staff and
officials from National Employment Council were detained and
harrassed by invaders for four hours on a farm in Centenary.
Mash Central -
This was the quietest weekend since the start of the
crisis. There was a lot of political activity involving two main
there were some scuffles, but no serious violence. The most significant
development is that there was a strong military and police support unit
presence in the Province over the weekend. Reports indicate that they
have come out to cool down the situation. There are no reports of any
negative activity by the combined military / support unit visitations.
Quiet: recent threats did not materialise. Farmers are
growing accustomed to the situation.
South West Mash -
A quiet weekend.
Four new invasions over the weekend.
Mash East -
A few problems over the weekend, mainly concerning the
intimidation of labour. On Monday 3 April at 11:00 a.m., Iain Kay was
assaulted for the second time in ten days and has been hospitalised in
Marondera. His condition is stable.
Quiet. Invaders in the Juliasdale area have been issued
with uniforms similar to the Freelimo type.
Mash West North -
Quiet in Doma and Mhangura. Tengwe had a quiet weekend
but today (Monday 3 April) there seemed to be an increase in
invaders and more intimidation on the labour force. There seems to be an
increase in activity in Chinhoyi.
Meikles Hotel have very kindly offered commercial farmers who need to
get off their farms two free nights (bed and Breakfast only) at Meikles
Hotel. They have asked the CFU to co-ordinate this and anyone wishing to
avail themselves of this offer should contact Nicky Petersen of Jan
Wentworth, who will put arrangements in hand.
Mr Andrew Walsh who is a local businessman has phoned to offer support
to farmers with invaders. He has a cottage to offer anyone who
wishes to get off farm for a time. He is also willing to visit farmers
with invaders on farm to generally be supportive and has other friends
would be pleased to do the same.
Mr Walsh can be contacted on 011 607 450
Business Phone 480033
or e mail address email@example.com