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Where is the
Sokwanele Comment : 30 June 2005
Robert Mugabe's purge of the poor, code-named "Operation Murambatsvina", which has cut a swathe of destruction across the country and displaced more than a million Zimbabwean's from their homes and workplaces, must rank as the greatest single terrorist act for which he is ultimately responsible after Gukurahundi - the brutal campaign of the mid 1980s led by the notorious Fifth Brigade which resulted in the slaughter of between 20,000 and 40,000 Matabele.
The effects of the latest outrage - which is still continuing - are there for all to see. Tens of thousands of dwellings torched, informal sector businesses razed to the ground, so-called "illegal structures" bulldozed - leaving hundreds of thousands of the nation's poorest now homeless and destitute. Countless Zimbabweans, including little babies, nursing mothers and the frail elderly, now reduced to sleeping in the bush in mid winter - the first reports of linked deaths beginning to trickle in. Scores of others clutching their few pathetic belongings, setting out on hopeless journeys (when there is fuel available) to their famine-stricken rural "homes" where there is no food or shelter for them anyway and they are hardly welcome. Others again out of desperation returning to the site of their former homes, just to sleep there while trying to avoid another sweep of the Mugabe black-booted thugs who pose as agents of law and order. An estimated 300,000 children whose homes have been destroyed now forced to drop out from school. And how many others how much closer to starvation now ? The list goes on, as it is impossible to catalogue the wave upon wave of suffering inflicted on a defenceless population by a vengeful ZANU PF elite and a cruelly-calculating dictator.
As the horror of the Mugabe tsunami becomes clear for all to see, the question arises where is the Church in all this? Surely the Church has a role to play in condemning tyranny and calling delinquent rulers to account? Is it not the role of the Church to be a voice for the voiceless? Are there not historical precedents for the Church to offer shelter and sanctuary to the poor and homeless, and to victims of state-sponsored violence? And don't the citizens of so-called Christian countries traditionally look to the Church for moral and spiritual guidance, especially in turbulent and uncertain times? So where is the Church in all this mayhem and madness? What has been the Church's contribution to turning the country around from its present path to destruction?
Sokwanele claims no special insight here, and certainly we have neither the time nor the resources to conduct a nation-wide survey, but there are certain observations we can make from our civic society perspective. We don't want to judge the Church too harshly and if we are wrong in any of our conclusions we should be delighted to have the facts brought to our attention. But this is what we have observed to date:
And a final observation. Let the churches judge themselves, not by the standards of what is "politically correct" within an environment dominated by fear and timidity, but rather by the standards of the Great Judge to whom we will all have to render account one day. To quote: "whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me."
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Red Cross assists the most vulnerable in Zimbabwe
30 Jun 2005 13:54:00 GMTSource: NGO latest
by Varaidzo Dongozi, Zimbabwe Red Cross and Tapiwa Gomo in Harare
[ Any views expressed in this article are those of the writer and not of Reuters. ]
'Shadows of ourselves'?
30/06/2005 09:04 - (SA)
Why, one hears people ask, is our government visible and audible if things go wrong in other African countries, yet across our own northern border, a dictator compared to Pol Pot, is destroying his country and its people - and our government upholds its "quiet diplomacy"?
Phrased differently: why is our media not more vocal about the outrage carried out against fellow-Africans trans-Limpopo?
As some clarification, if you have not followed the news lately:
A "clean-up" operation - according to news reports, if translated directly, it means "do away with the rubbish" - has been going on these past weeks. Shelters and vegetable gardens were "cleaned-up".
Why? It seems it is to prevent diseases, and so. But won't people be more exposed to diseases if they do not have a shelter, and do not have food to eat? And is it true that it is aimed at opposition supporters?
Clarification 2: Why is this compared to Pol Pot and who was he? Pot was the notorious Cambodian leader who, in the 1970s, led his Khmer Rouge to victory - and, in the process, approximately 1.7 million people to their death.
So, the question should be rightfully asked: why are our leaders not more vocal? Also: why isn't our media hitting the e-drums of communication to spread the message of this violation of human rights to the rest of Africa and the world?
On the first question, only our government will have the answer.
The second one?
The easy answer: maybe it is because South African media has its hands full with local stories; we cannot also use our valuable editorial space for another country's problems.
But then, what are news values all about if this is not a "story"?
Also, if we want to do journalism in a different way on our continent, should not this story be on our front pages every single day? Is that not what the African spirit is all about? "I am because you are"?
Afro-humanism, ubuntu, has also been summarised in two words: people care. Should our media not care more about our neighbours? Or are we too afraid to put Zimbabwe high on the news agenda and thereby, in effect, repudiate our government for its in-action?
In the dark old days, a mentor for young Afrikaans journalists was the unique Wilhelm Grütter, arts editor of Die Burger. He shared his knowledge, experience, wisdom, humour - Lebensfreude - with an overwhelming spirit of kindness with undeserving juniors.
There were many lessons one could learn from this generous teacher. But there was one ominous phrase that to this day still resounds if I think of him.
He once reflected that journalists, in the heyday of Nationalist government, were only "shadows of themselves". What an indictment. Without an own free will, a puppet of the body. Going where it goes, jumping where it jumps.
Will we once again stand accused of being "shadows of ourselves"?
What can be done to bring the atrocities across our border higher on our "news agenda" - that abstract but so powerful concept?
To illustrate that term, take two other tragedies.
The tsunami in Asia, and the war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The first one was literally a news tsunami, which flooded our news agenda for a long time.
One answer is because the "elites" of the world - affluent European tourists - were involved. And technology - video cameras and cellphones - could capture the disaster.
The DRC? Well, it's "just another African country".
The same could be said of Zimbabwe.
But maybe the latest human rights violations have, at last, caught the attention of the rest of the world. And maybe it will put our South African media to shame that it was not because of our vigilance; that we were not the watchdogs we so proudly profess to be.
But then, at least, we should now dedicate more of our valuable editorial space to illustrate the tsunami on human rights. Otherwise that other phrase that we love to bandy about - the media being "the voice of the voiceless" - would become one inaudible, desperate scream for help.
And doesn't that have the same sound of being "shadows of ourselves"?
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Here is our Press release for the month. We shall be issuing a press statement every month.
With the ongoing barbaric destruction of people’s homes, the AU has clearly shown that it is just a toothless dog and is just a talk shop. SADC has also proven beyond reasonable doubt that it is a another bunch of thugs who just meet to enjoy holidaying in the name of conferences. The screams from Zimbabwe are so loud not to be ignored and the tears are flooding rivers. In no way can normal leaderships ignore such a catastrophe.
President Thabo Mbeki is a traitor and a dismally failing regional leader. While the EU, Britain and America are standing up for the ordinary African human rights, the AU and SADC are trampling on them. President Mbeki whom we thought would steer the regional train in the right direction is blasting the west for listing Zimbabwe as one of the world’s outpost of tyranny. Quiet Diplomacy is actually turning out to be quiet hypocricy.
The worst part of the ongoing destructions is that the very same people who are displaced are coming into S.Africa and they become squatters.
If Mbeki condemned Zuma, we are left with no words for his support of Mugabe.
President Mbeki is defending Mugabe left right and centre. Defending a killer so openly means one day he can also kill. Defending a barbarian means one day President Mbeki can adopt the same methods to run S.Africa. It is now in black and white that Mugabe and President Mbeki are the same in deeds. Mugabe was once the most loved man in the country but now he is the most hated. With the vast information at his disposal, how can President Mbeki fail to give a fair balanced account of the suffering in Zim. He must repent or else God will curse S.Africa as well for its moral support of a killer, rapist, arsonist, robber, liar, racist, torturer and barbarian.
President Mbeki and the other regional leaders feel that the installation of a better government in Zimbabwe will provide a standard that can be used to judge their own performances. In no way can they say that they cannot meddle in another country’s affairs when there are tears and blood flowing.
We support the many organisations in S.Africa that are condemning the Mugabe regime to include The Anglican Church,COSATU, S.Afrca Council of Churches , SANGOCO and its affiliates, a few voices from the ANC and the different political parties.
Phone 072 092 5353 or landline 011 403 5037