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The Scotsman

Concern at neo-Nazi plan for street kids


CONFIDENTIAL reports show that the ruling Zanu (PF) party has a plan that
involves drafting tens of thousands of unemployed, often violent street
kids, into a neo-Nazi style Mugabe Youth League.

They will be rounded up in towns, sent to rural areas for "ideological
re-education" and then out in uniform to patrol the streets of Harare,
Bulawayo and other urban areas looking for "dissidents", members of the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change and suspicious-looking foreigners.

If the youngsters - who have no home other than sewers at night or disused
warehouses and garages where they live out of dustbins or on what they can
steal from shops or passersby - refuse to volunteer, they will be
pressganged into the militia.

Robert Mugabe and his cabinet approved the plan in March after Zanu (PF)
swept back to power in a general election that was marred by intimidation
and violence against the opposition.

Sources said the plan looked good on paper, to rid the streets of
troublemakers, clean them up and give them an understanding of their
country's history. Street children regularly harass residents, robbing,
molesting and in some cases raping.

"But unless these kids are tightly controlled and organised, they will
become a law unto themselves," said a media source who asked not to be
named. "Many of us now believe Mugabe has gone too far and we would like to
link up with a well-organised opposition to stop him - but there is no
organised opposition here, just the MDC which is run by white Christians who
want to avoid street confrontation with the police and army at all costs."

The government denies that children recruited into the Mugabe Youth will
persecute political opponents. "They will be taught the country's history
and how Robert Mugabe saved us from white terrorists," said a source.
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The Telegraph

Not even an orphanage was safe from Robert Mugabe's purge of the slums
By Neil Connery in Harare
(Filed: 19/06/2005)

It is a wasteland. Street after street razed in a scene that looks like a natural disaster. The hundreds of thousands who have been left homeless are calling it Zimbabwe's tsunami. But man, not nature, is to blame for the destruction enveloping this country.

The full force of Robert Mugabe's state is destroying homes and lives in what it calls Operation Restore Order. But all that can be seen is chaos and trauma. There is no compassion, only carefully executed brutality.

Bulldozers destroy the Hatcliffe orphanage
Bulldozers start the demolition of the Hatcliffe orphanage

At Hatcliffe orphanage, run by Dominican sisters, the nuns, workers and 180 orphans were given a day to get out before the bulldozers arrived. Many of the children had lost their parents to Aids. Now, thanks to what the regime justifies as a crackdown on illegal settlements and traders, they have lost the roof over their heads and have nowhere to go.

Harrowing details of shattered lives tumbled from the lips of Sister Patricia Walsh. "There were people all over the place. There was smoke coming up from where some things had been burned. It was one of the most painful experiences I've ever known.

"I was here during the liberation struggle [before independence in 1980] and I never thought I would see the day that this was happening to Zimbabweans.

"When I arrived on Monday they were all outside. There was furniture and goods all over the place, children screaming, sick people in agony.

A young Zimbabwe boy forages for wood
Revenge: ‘Here is a government that has become morally bankrupt and that has run out of ideas’

"How does one say that Peter, who's 10, and his little brother, who's four, are 'illegal'? We had provided them with a wooden hut when their mother was dying. She has died in the meantime, and now these two little people had their home destroyed in the middle of the night, we get there, they are sitting crying in the rubbish. What do we do with them?"

She gave other examples of sick and vulnerable people - adults and children - whose lives were being destroyed. "Veronica is an elderly widow who is chronically ill herself, she has three young grandchildren from her dead daughter. Her home is destroyed. She is wearing rosary beads around her neck, an apron with the picture of the Sacred Heart and a T-shirt with President Mugabe's photo. She has tried all means to survive.

"Some people came and said, 'Sister, there are two people who are dying please come'. One of them, Mary, who is out in the open all night lying on an old damp mattress can't move with pain, she has shingles, which is open and bleeding. What is worse - her tears or her bleeding wounds?

"I felt paralysed. Anne delivered a baby a week ago, she is critically ill and is on the verge of death. What do we do with her? We give her painkillers, we give her blankets, we give her food, which she in unable to eat. What is going to happen to her baby?"

In the ruins of his former home in the Harare suburb of Mbare, a man called Isaac prepared for another night in the freezing mid-winter cold. His wife and four children were huddled around a small fire.

Three pieces of corrugated iron that they managed to salvage from the mess left behind by the bulldozers are the walls of their new home.

"This is our tsunami," he said. "We are cold and alone and who cares? What are we meant to do? We have no money, there is nowhere for us to go. What have done wrong?" Tendai Biti, an MP for the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, says that Operation Restore Order is really all about revenge. He added: "I think the major reason is Mugabe is very vindictive. They stole the March election and they know the extent to which they stole the election. So they are literally saying in their mind, 'You people you don't love us, you don't care about us, we don't care about you so to hell with you' "

Fr William Guri, a Catholic priest who has been trying to help those affected, has had meetings with government ministers to beg them to change their policies. He said: "I have come to a point where I feel that as a nation we are alone.

"As a priest I am trained to preach and give hope to the people and here is a situation where you can not hope against hope.

"How can the people say God is with us?

"Here is a government that has become morally bankrupt and that has run out of ideas.

"The most appropriate term is to call this a tsunami because the devastation has been so wide-ranging. The worst thing is that it is a man-made tsunami."

• Neil Connery is the Africa Correspondent for ITV News

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The Scotsman

Fury at Mbeki failure to rein in Mugabe


THABO Mbeki is known as the West's "point man" in Africa - the one head of
state on the impoverished continent whom George Bush and Tony Blair can
really trust.

But ahead of the G8 summit at Gleneagles, the 62-year-old South African
President is facing growing pressure to immediately distance himself from
Robert Mugabe and his regime in Zimbabwe or stay well away from Scotland
next month.

"Make poverty history is the slogan," says David Coltart, the Scottish-born
shadow minister of justice in Zimbabwe. "To do that, we must first make
Mugabe history."

The dictator is currently carrying out the mass destruction of urban
shanties and homes throughout Zimbabwe - a mass punishment on those who
voted for the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) in the General
Election last March.

Speaking from his home in Bulawayo, Coltart, whose grandfather James Robert
Coltart was the Deputy Lord Provost of Edinburgh before the Second World
War, said: "These are terrible times, especially for poor people. Nothing
like this was done by the white regime when this country was called Rhodesia
before 1980.

"Some of the scenes I have seen in the last few weeks are truly shocking and
what is so awful is that the world does not seem to appreciate what's going
on here, or care. The world is looking the other way and Thabo Mbeki is a
disgrace to Africa because he is pretending to do something to change
Zimbabwe with his now futile and dangerous policy of quiet diplomacy.

"Mugabe is taunting and defying the world by ordering the destruction of
thousands of homes which have made over one million simply starving ordinary
people homeless.

"Mugabe is encouraged by Mbeki and, so far, President Bush and Prime
Minister Blair have remained mute on the eve of the Gleneagles summit."

The leader of Zimbabwe's small but extremely active Jesuit Community in
Zimbabwe, Father Oskar Wermter, said: "This is definitely cruder and more
brutish than anything the white minority did to Africans in Rhodesia."

University of Zimbabwe lecturer Eldred Masunungwe added: "Anarchy is
breaking out all over Zimbabwe. Soon there will be an uncontrollable
explosion of public anger against Mugabe and when he goes, I fear we will
see the rapid rise of another dangerous demagogue. When we reach that point,
all hell will break out in southern Africa."

A million black urbanites - many of them women with babies on their backs
but no food or shelter in sight - are facing a Zimbabwean winter and the
third year of drought.

After visiting devastated townships around Harare, Bulawayo, Mutare and
Gweru, British Labour MP Kate Hoey last week wrote: "Tony Blair should be
insisting that the South African President condemns the excesses of Mugabe's
regime. If he won't, the invitation to Gleneagles Summit should be

Ordinary black Zimbabweans who make a living by trading in shanty town
markets were last week shown on television knocking down their own concrete
homes - watched by armed police and riot squads.

"This is a tsunami style disaster," one told Ms Hoey, one of the few British
MPs to have visited Zimbabwe.

Zimbabwe, which was food rich on gaining independence a quarter of a century
ago, is now on the brink of nationwide starvation. Inflation runs at 400%
and fuel queues snake around the capital seven days a week.

But sources in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, said that at the Gleneagles summit,
Mbeki and the outgoing Tanzanian leader, President Ben Mkapa, plan to tell
G8 leaders that the time has come to bring Mugabe "in from the cold".

Both say he won a "free and fair" election in March and that the West must
talk to the Zimbabwean dictator if it wants to see the end of poverty in

William Gumede, the prize- winning South African journalist who has just
written a book about Mbeki, said: "The truth is, President Mbeki is
frightened of Mugabe.

"They once clashed over how to deal with the situation in the Democratic
Republic of the Congo. Now Mbeki backs off when Mugabe is around.

"At public meetings, Mugabe attacks Mbeki and tells fellow Africans that he
is in danger of becoming a stooge of the West and that he was never a real
freedom fighter, just a man appointed to power by Anglo American and white
businessmen to do their bidding."

Gumede said that Mbeki - despite his bravado in front of TV cameras when he
is with Bush and Blair - is a recluse.

"He sits silently, on his own, in a tweed jacket, smoking a pipe. Africans
laugh at his English accent and the way he keeps himself to himself - not at
all like his predecessor Nelson Mandela. He dares not say a word against
Robert Mugabe, who treats him like a junior member of the African Club."

Yet last week Mbeki shocked many by sacking his deputy, 63-year-old Jacob
Zuma, who had been caught up in a corruption scandal.

Observers in Pretoria said it was the most momentous political development
since the end of apartheid in South Africa.

"It was a defining moment for South African democracy," said a senior trade
unionist, who asked not to be named.

"If Mbeki can sack his own deputy who is so popular with the ruling African
National Congress [ANC], surely he can distance himself from Robert Mugabe,
who the world detests. What on earth is stopping him from doing that? We all
are asking if Mugabe has some strange hold or power over Mbeki."

Church leaders say there is method in Mugabe's apparent madness.

One senior Roman Catholic in Bulawayo said: "Mugabe knows his government can
no longer feed 11.8 million people.

"He wants to halve the population by throwing out so-called foreigners - all
whites, Malawians, Angolans and Mozambicans who live there - many of them in
the shanty towns.

"He also wants to drive urbanites into the countryside - Pol Pot style -
where they can be brutally taught to support Mugabe and the ruling party,
Zanu (PF). We are horrified that Thabo Mbeki has not yet uttered a word of
condemnation after helping to dismantle apartheid."

Last month, the Zimbabwean who is now in charge of all land "reform"
programmes, 76-year-old Didymus Mutasa, shocked even members of Zanu PF when
he said: "We would be better off with only six million people in Zimbabwe.
They would be people who support the liberation struggle. We don't want all
these extra people."

A group of Catholic bishops said: "A great crime has been committed against
poor and helpless people. We warn the perpetrators. History will hold you

"History will," said David Coltart, "but not yet the man who most counts in
Africa, President Thabo Mbeki.

"Thabo Mbeki was to be central in not only an African renaissance but as the
man who would usher in a new age of prosperity through his Western supported
policy called NEPAD (New Economic Plan for Africa). But he has lost all
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The Scotsman

Fatherhood in crisis


IN A tiny scene, captured by a hidden TV camera filming the political
cleansing Robert Mugabe has visited on hundreds of thousands of Zimbabweans
this past week, one shot expressed a moment of great poignancy. A man,
squatting on the ground, reached out and stroked the arm of a girl who was
presumably his daughter, as she walked away from him and he gazed down, eyes
shaded, at the ground. It was the gesture of a second: hopeless, as it
seemed, because he could do nothing more to protect or soothe her than this
touch, a gesture which only told her he was still a living being, and
reassured him that she was, too.

Is to so interpret such a glimpsed gesture to romanticise misery? To seek,
in such a tiny thing, for something solidly affectionate in the midst of a
deliberately engineered social breakdown? Perhaps, since Father's Day has
been in the air - more precisely, posters reminding sons and daughters to
buy something for their fathers had been in the shop windows - the
subconscious desire to discover a fatherly theme in yet another humanly
engineered disaster was greater than usual.

Most people, in lands like ours where human disasters on that scale don't
happen any longer, grow up with fathers as part of their lives; they look to
them for guidance, fight them for freedom, hate them for the restrictions
they impose and sometimes manage to understand, and to love, them. Fathers'
Day, insofar as it can be disentangled from the sales campaigns which attend
it, can become a day of mutual reflection on the nature of fatherhood, and
childhood. It can for many, maybe most, be a day of celebration of a
relationship to which our society gives support and our stability gives

Yet the institution is now seen as a problem. The reasons include:

. The growth of fatherless families, most of all among the poor. It's no
longer controversial that the children of these families are
disproportionately bewildered, disruptive and criminal and that they make
bad, or wholly absent, fathers themselves.

. The nature of 'modern life', which in this context is interpreted as
meaning that men and women, fathers and mothers, must work like hell to
ensure their families' material wellbeing - thus giving them little time to
attend to their emotional and moral wellbeing.

. The nature of fatherhood, rendered controversial by (above all) feminist
thinkers, who see its past forms as suffocatingly authoritarian and its
present ideal as one of mutual responsibility for children with the mother.
This challenge can take radical forms, but in its most frequent version is
itself largely a product of women's desire to have a public life through
work, and to encourage men to extend their private life through their

. The growth of artificial conception techniques, with the use of which
women can be impregnated by an unknown man, separates biological from family
fatherhood, and implicitly consigns to men the status of mere provider of
the necessary component to a larger, and exclusively women's, creation.

. The status of the 'patriarch', the notion of (male) leaders deriving their
authority from their identification with the virtues or responsibilities of
fatherhood, has gone from the political society of the developed world. It
remains in third world dictatorship, and it remains in some religions -
especially in the Catholic Church, where the Pope is addressed as 'Holy
Father' and a priest as 'Father'; a status insisted on by the past and the
present Popes, but contested by liberals within the Catholic Church

. The continuing enlargement of the duties of the state towards the child -
in education, where state education is seeking to make up for the
deficiencies of, among others, families by extending the hours and
difficulty of school; in welfare, where more and more money is spent on the
upkeep of one-parent families; and on the criminal justice system, into
which more and more young men and boys fall.

. The rapidity of technical and other changes, rendering the knowledge of
one generation out-of-date for the next, and making difficult the
transmission of knowledge and experience from generation to generation. A
century ago, many fathers still taught their sons (rarely their daughters)
their trade. How many do today?

These problems press on modern society, and lead some to forecast the death
of fatherhood. Yet if this is a real, rather than an illusory, threat, I
think we should try to prevent it - not primarily through state action,
because that often has the perverse effect of substituting the state for the
parent, but through reflection on what fatherhood gives.

It has given me no less than an emotional centre. Love for my (one) child
forced a consideration of what love meant, and what loss its denial would
entail. It is an emotional school, in which the fears and angers of one's
own nature must meet the realities of another's growing maturity and
strength of character, to match with one's own and to modify one's emotions.
It is to develop - late, in my case - some forbearing, and to appreciate the
depths of hope and hopelessness behind the gesture of the Zimbabwean towards
his daughter.

I didn't know my father: a wartime marriage, an unhappy coming together in
cramped conditions in Bristol after the war, meant my wilful mother left
him - with no apparent resistance from him - when pregnant. She returned to
East Fife to have and bring up her child in her own, outraged, parents'
house. My grandfather, an engineering craftsman who fixed the engines of the
fishing fleet, was a loved father surrogate; later, when I was nine, my
mother's second husband tried to be one also.

But we could not get on: his own demons dominated his nature. He was of that
generation of young Poles who, refugees from Nazism, were taken by Stalinism
to brutal camps, surviving only because the German invasion caused the
Soviets to release the Poles to form the Free Polish Army under British
command. These young men returned to Britain after the war to seek a new
life - in his case, in the first instance, in the Fife coal mines and then
on construction sites in the Highlands. Some came to terms with such a life
rapidly. He could do so only in part.

He, too, had lost his father - and his family, his country, the status he
might have had. Two fatherless men lived together in the same house, and
grew apart, rather than together. At times, I think, we yearned for each
other - but it was an 'other' of our own creations. The reality, we were
both too narrow to accommodate; and so it has remained. On this Father's
Day, the mutual lack of generosity which was my experience of son-hood, and
the undeserved human gift of love which has been that of fatherhood, make a
kind of schizophrenic celebration in my mind. And make me mindful of my
fortune in having it so, compared to the hopeless man stroking his
daughter's arm in a Harare wasteland.
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Sunday Times (UK)

            June 19, 2005

            Priests told: don't aid 'filth'
            Christina Lamb

            EVERY morning Father Michael looks out of the window of his
Harare parish house and sees an ever larger crowd of homeless families
outside. "I feel helpless," said the Jesuit priest, who was too terrified to
give his real name.
            "I keep telling them my little homilies, that the violent will
not win, they will have to answer for what they have done, but I see a city
ringed by fire.

            "People who worked to look after their families - carpenters,
metalworkers, street vendors and caterers - have been turned into beggars by
their own government. This is a crime against humanity and all we can do is
give them black plastic sheeting."

            As Operation Murambatsvina or "drive out filth", moves into its
second month, as many as a 1m city-dwellers have been made homeless by
government bulldozers and axe-wielding police.

            Churches have become the only refuge for people who have lost
everything. But priests have now been warned not to help by the government
of President Robert Mugabe.

            Harare has been turned into a refugee city with marauding bands
of families pursued through the smoking rubble by police who move on anyone
they find sleeping outside or still retaining a few possessions.

            Some have been taken to camps outside the city such as Caledonia
Farm, where there is only one lavatory for several thousand people. Those
with money have left for villages but many have no family to go to and the
country's fuel shortage means buses are few and far between.

            Others have returned to Harare, claiming village chiefs are
refusing to accept them because there is not enough food. Zimbabwe is facing
its lowest harvest since independence. The United Nations estimates that 6m
Zimbabweans are in urgent need of food aid.

            With international aid agencies prevented from helping, those
who can have sought shelter from the freezing winter nights in church yards
and halls.

            But confidential minutes of a meeting last Wednesday between
community representatives and government officials headed by Ignatius
Chombo, the minister of public works, confirm that church leaders have been
refused permission to help the homeless.

            The Catholic church has called for prayers all over the country
today. Bishops will condemn "the injustice done to the poor" in the bravest
move yet to stand up to Mugabe.

            "It's social engineering with sledgehammers," said Oskar
Wermter, a Jesuit priest in Harare. "I do not know anyone poorer than a
widow with her orphaned grandchildren - remember, there is Aids all around -
surrounded by the rubble of her destroyed home."

            Yet far from halting the brutal campaign, which has seen people
forced to destroy their homes at gunpoint, government officials said
yesterday they were extending it to rural areas. "We must clean the country
of the crawling mass of maggots bent on destroying the economy," declared
Augustine Chihuri, police commissioner.

            The announcement came as a list compiled by directors of
education in Zimbabwe's 10 provinces showed that more than 300,000 children
have dropped out of school since their homes were destroyed.

            According to Catholic priests, many of those seeking refuge have
appeared in the past couple of days waving pieces of paper forced on them by
police. These are bills for water, sewerage and electricity on their
destroyed homes and businesses, complete with enormous penalty charges.

            "A stream of people come to the parish, waving those ominous
letters, asking for loans to pay them," e-mailed one priest yesterday.

            "It's just becoming madder," said a Zimbabwean reporter. "All
this puts a question on Mugabe's patriotism. It seems as if he hates his own

            Steve Kibble, of the Catholic Institute for International
Relations, put it more starkly. "This is a genocide policy," he said. "It's
a strategy of letting the urban population die by leaving them to starve in
the bush rather than facing the bullets of Mugabe's goons. It doesn't cost
them a cent."

            One of those to receive a bill for electricity supplied to her
destroyed home and business was Glory Mawimbi. Everyone knew Glory's Hair
Palace on the corner of Madzima Road in Mbare. The pink-painted building was
her pride and joy.

            Inside, a radio blared township jazz and the walls were covered
with pictures of celebrities and the latest hairstyles torn from South
African magazines.

            Mawimbi had worked hard to create the business after her husband
left her with three children. Over the years, her fame had spread and Glory's
had become the place to go, particularly on a Friday evening when people had
just been paid and were planning a night out. She employed three other women
and paid for her children to go to school.

            Then two weeks ago the bulldozers came, flattening most of
Mbare. Mawimbi's home was destroyed in the early morning and she ran to the
salon to find it gone. The destruction means she and her employees now have
no income; none of them can send their children to school.

            Yesterday Mawimbi sat in the rubble, staring blankly. When a
priest asked how she would survive, she replied: "We will do, I suppose. I
made a decent life for my family out of nothing and now it's all gone."

            Zimbabwe has become a land with hundreds of thousands of such
stories. Many of the people the government is referring to as tsvina (filth)
are mothers and employers like Mawimbi.

            Mugabe's former information minister, Jonathan Moyo, said the
blitz was linked to a power struggle within the ruling party over who would
succeed the ailing 81-year-old president.

            "It seems to be a directionless activity of some mischievous
group which imagines it can profit by this in some mysterious way and
position itself ahead of the pack in the succession game," he said.

            Another former close associate of Mugabe, now in exile in
Britain, said: "It's an exercise of power. He's doing it because he can."

            Whatever the reasoning, nobody is spared. Among the properties
to have been wiped out are many built by war veterans, the men who were
Mugabe's staunch supporters and were used to carry out the violent invasions
of white-owned farms.

            One of those to have the roof fall in on him last week was a
leading war vet called Dickson Chingaira, better known as Comrade Chinx.
During the land seizures, he composed and sang a song called Hondo Yeminda
which refers to whites as "devils" and was frequently played on state radio.

            Police demolition squads descended on a mansion he had built
near Ngungunyana Housing Co-operative in Harare, an area mainly occupied by
war veterans.

            Witnesses told SW Radio Africa that Chinx pulled a gun and fired
shots in the air as the police arrived at his house.

            When that did not deter them, he climbed on the roof and
demanded to talk to Mugabe. Eventually the police persuaded him down, only
to give him a thorough beating, leaving him badly bruised with a suspected
broken leg.

            Another group to find themselves unexpectedly disadvantaged by
Mugabe was the Zimbabwe national football team. The Warriors, as they are
known, had chartered one of Air Zimbabwe's three remaining functioning
aircraft to fly them to Algeria for a World Cup qualifier. When they arrived
at the airport they were informed that the president had taken the plane to
fly to Qatar for a meeting of G-77 nations.

            Yesterday in the face of all this, even the state-owned Herald
newspaper was finding it difficult to maintain its usual slavish support for
government policies. An article on the havoc caused by Operation
Murambatsvina ended by saying: "While there is consensus that people had
illegally built housing structures, there are widespread views that the
exercise has contributed to massive homelessness."

            Reuben Marumahoko, the deputy minister for home affairs, told
the civic leaders last Wednesday that the operation has been a success.
"Streetism has been wiped out," he said. "Robberies have fallen down
drastically and ladies can walk in the city freely."

            Some names have been changed to protect identities

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Date: 2005-06-18

Zimbabwe's Continuing Implosion

Bishops Voice Concern as Repression Grows

HARARE, Zimbabwe, JUNE 18, 2005 ( Zimbabwe's bishops are
increasingly concerned over the government's lack of respect for basic human
rights. Since the 1980 elections that followed the ousting of the white-led
regime, the country has been ruled by President Robert Mugabe and his
ZANU-PF government. The parliamentary elections held last March 31 confirmed
the ZANU-PF's control.

The March elections, however, were neither "free nor fair," observed a
recent report by the nongovernmental organization International Crisis
Group. A June 7 report by the group, titled "Post-Election Zimbabwe: What
Next?", commented that the elections were manipulated "through a range of
legal and extra-legal means to ensure that the election was basically
decided well before the first voters reached the polls."

As well, President Mugabe has the right to appoint another 30 members of
Parliament, which will take the ZANU-PF's numbers above the two-thirds
majority needed to amend the Constitution.

Evidence of the newfound power now enjoyed by the ruling party came in the
move earlier this month by authorities to raze a residential district on the
outskirts of the nation's capital, Harare. The zone, Mbare, was the
country's largest market, according to a June 5 report in the London-based
Sunday Times.

The newspaper report explained that Operation Murambatsvina, or "Clean Up
the Filth," began in late May, when police arrived without warning at the
shantytown of Hatcliff. The residents were ordered to return to their rural
hometowns and everything was destroyed, including a large orphanage.
Operation Murambatsvina has since spread to a number of localities.

The Sunday Times cited estimates by the opposition political party Movement
for Democratic Change, which alleged that more than 1 million people have
been left homeless by the operation, at a time when the winter is just
starting. The opposition party said that the cities that have been targeted
are those that voted against the ruling party in the March 31 elections.

"A grave crime"

The government replied, saying that the evictions were carried out to curb
crime, according to a June 10 report in the British daily Guardian. But, the
article noted that six Catholic bishops issued a statement describing the
action as "a grave crime." The bishops added: "We warn the perpetrators ...
history will hold you individually accountable."

The Guardian's report lowered the estimates of people affected, compared to
the figures cited by the Sunday Times. According to the Guardian, more than
22,000 people have been arrested, with over 200,000 being victims of the
destruction of their houses.

Archbishop Robert Ndlovu of Harare later condemned the government's actions,
describing them as "inhuman," the BBC reported June 12. The prelate told BBC
radio that it was particularly "inconsiderate" with the arrival of the
winter season there, and observed that small children there are now obliged
to sleep outdoors.

A June 11 report by the New York Times on the evictions commented that by
eliminating the markets, dominated by illegal businesses, the government
hopes to regain control over the economy, and above all, to obtain
much-needed foreign currency. But, the article observed, with the black
market having largely supplanted the official economy, the government's
actions will probably only worsen the shortages of food and gasoline.

Another critic of the government is Archbishop Pius Ncube, of the country's
second-most important city, Bulawayo. Interviewed just prior to the
parliamentary elections by the Associated Press on March 27, he called for
peaceful street protests aimed at overthrowing Mugabe, saying that the
elections were certain to be rigged.

The Associated Press reported that following the opposition's success in the
2000 elections, when they won almost half the seats, Mugabe began
redistributing white-owned farms to black Zimbabweans in a move to build his
popularity. The result has been disastrous for the economy, which contracted
by 50% in the last five years. The unemployment rate hovers around 70%, and
the agricultural sector, once the nation's economic mainstay, has collapsed.

Last month Archbishop Ncube spoke out again. On his way to Scotland to
receive the Robert Burns humanitarian award, he told the Guardian, in an
article published May 20, that the opposition parties need to propose
alternative leaders who can stand up to Mugabe's dictatorship. The
archbishop said that people lack the most basic necessities, and he warned
that many would die without outside food relief. He also accused the
government of denying food aid to areas that had voted for the opposition.

Death threats

In an interview May 22 in the Scottish newspaper Sunday Herald, Bulawayo's
archbishop described Mugabe as "a fascist, a fraudster, a liar and a godless
murderer." He noted that the government's economic policy, particularly the
confiscation of the white-owned farms, had led to economic ruin, with more
than 3 million Zimbabweans -- around 20% of the population -- fleeing the

Archbishop Ncube also criticized the government's use of intimidation
tactics, such as those employed by the National Youth Militia, also known as
the Green Bombers. "They specialize in violence," said the archbishop. "This
is killing off the souls of young people," he said in a reference to the
indoctrination tactics used on the youth members. He also accused the
government of threatening his life, saying that agents of the Central
Intelligence Organization told him: "We can kill you and bury you in a
shallow grave."

The archbishop received support from the Scottish bishops, during a meeting
last Tuesday. In a press statement issued that day by the Scottish Catholic
Media Office, they stated that they "express their concern that an estimated
100,000 of the poorest Zimbabweans have recently been evicted from their
homes on the instructions of President Robert Mugabe."

And, noting the recent visit by Archbishop Ncube, they said: "We speak out
in support of the archbishop and along with members of the Scotland Zimbabwe
Group, we wish to express our solidarity with the dispossessed and to unite
with our brother bishops in Zimbabwe who speak out in honesty and justice in
defense of the dignity and humanity of the people of Zimbabwe."

Lack of interest

In an attempt to gain international support, a Catholic bishop and a
Pentecostal prelate from Zimbabwe visited the United States last year. The
Washington Post reported Oct. 22 that Bishop Trevor Manhanga, of the
Pentecostal Assemblies of Zimbabwe, said that his country's situation ran
the risk of being overlooked.

He was accompanied by Catholic Bishop Patrick Mutume of the Diocese of
Manicaland. The two met with congressional staff members and a State
Department official. They explained to the Washington Post why they were
involving themselves in politics: "As members of the church, we have to
continue educating our people on what to look for and what to hold elected
officials accountable for."

A statement from the Southern African Catholic Bishops' Conference last year
also expressed concern about Zimbabwe. In a press release dated Aug. 11 they
called upon the international community to take stronger actions, including
sanctions against Zimbabwe, in order to prevent further suffering.

"The Zimbabwean situation of starvation and malnutrition, willful political
violence and intimidation, and the immoral use of food aid by the Zimbabwean
government demands stronger and transparent intervention by African
governments," said the bishops.

In its recent report the International Crisis Group noted that other African
governments have been reluctant to criticize Mugabe, given his background as
the hero who led the successful revolt against the former white rule.

For their part, European governments and the United States have been openly
critical of the authorities in Zimbabwe, but they have not been able to find
a way to bring about any changes in Mugabe's policy. Zimbabwe's long ordeal
might linger for a while.

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