|The ZIMBABWE Situation||Our
thoughts and prayers are with Zimbabwe |
- may peace, truth and justice prevail.
Zimbabwe's unwanted 'foreigners'
In the third part of his series following an undercover trip to Zimbabwe, Justin Pearce talks to Zimbabweans who have lost their citizenship, years after their parents or grandparents went there from neighbouring countries.
"They didn't know where to put us, because we have no rural home," one woman explains. "Our grandparents came from Malawi."
In the wake of the government's crackdown on illegal buildings and unlicensed traders, Zimbabweans of foreign parentage are finding themselves in a particularly difficult situation.
The seven families living in the bush on the edge of Bulawayo have been there since their homes in the Killarney informal settlement were destroyed by the police in July.
"To say every Zimbabwean has a rural home is not true," says Alouis Chaumba, head of the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace in Zimbabwe.
"Some are the grandchildren of people who came here during the Federation."
In the 1950s and early 1960s, Zimbabwe - then Southern Rhodesia - was part of a federation with Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia) and Nyasaland (now Malawi).
People from those countries, as well as from neighbouring Mozambique, migrated to seek work - many of them on white-owned farms - in the more developed Southern Rhodesia.
But a change in the citizenship law shortly before the 2002 presidential elections meant that being born in Zimbabwe no longer automatically conferred nationality.
Zimbabweans who had one or both parents born outside the country were reclassified as aliens, unless they formally renounced claims to foreign nationality.
Although most observers believe the law was designed to disenfranchise whites, it also affected the status of Zimbabweans who have roots in other African countries.
"Some people were not even aware they were classified as aliens," one human rights activist says.
The loss of citizenship has made the future still less certain for those who have lost their homes, particularly the younger generation.
Among the older people who can remember life in another country, some feel that the best option is to go back to where they came from.
"I have been working here since 1953, first as a domestic cook," says Jose, an elderly Mozambican whose home in Killarney squatter camp was destroyed two months ago.
He is referring to Ngozi Mine, a dumping ground outside Bulawayo where many Killarney residents scratched out a living by recycling rubbish.
"Some of my relatives went back to Chimoio, in Mozambique. I would like to go back - but I don't have the money or a passport," Jose says. "I would be so thankful if I could go back."
But most of the so-called aliens have spent all their lives in Zimbabwe and have lost contact with their roots in neighbouring countries.
"I was born in Harare - my parents are from Mozambique," says Patience, the 23-year-old mother of two young children.
"My father came from Mozambique in 1956."
From there, some people were trucked back to villages; others were dumped in the Hopley Farm resettlement area on the opposite side of the capital.
For two weeks, the police denied access to humanitarian agencies who tried to bring in the food and clean water that the settlement lacked.
"For those of us who had no rural home, the only option was to go to Hopley Farm," Patience says.
All names in this piece were changed to protect interviewees.
News: Zimbabweans rated among saddest people in the world
been rated as some of the saddest people in the world in a recent international
study published in the Danish newspaper, 'Berlingske Titnedeh'.
Ghana, the highest in Africa, scored 7.7 points ahead of Canada, Guatemala, Luxumburg, Holland and Sweden which scored 7.6 points.
According to the study, the citizens of Denmark, Malta and Switzerland are the happiest in the world. They scored eight points on a scale of 10.
People living in these three countries came at the top of a list of 90 countries which were included in a sample survey about how "people living in these countries enjoy their lives".
Iceland and Ireland came in second position with a score of 7.8 points.
The process of ranking the citizens of these countries in a list of international happiness was based on a study conducted by Professor Ruud Van Hoven, at the Erasmus University located in the Netherlands over the last 20 years.
The patterns in Denmark point to an increase in the levels of satisfaction with life, whereas the indications in Switzerland and Malta point to a decrease in satisfaction.
Van Hoven argues that the model of the northern European country fulfils all of the five main criteria of a society that enjoys good standards of living, in relation to the levels of income, democracy and good governance, the low levels of corruption and the high margins of freedom.
Armenia and Ukraine, Moldova, Zimbabwe and Tanzania came at the bottom of the list, with Tanzania scoring a mere 3.2.
Editor's Comment: Now, if you are a Zimbabwean reading this, we urge you not to take it too seriously as you will only pull us even further down the joy-scale.