AT least six
people, among them four children, have died so far in circumstances related
to the controversial Operation Restore Order, which has left thousands of
people homeless, The Standard can reveal.
Some were crushed to death by
structures that remained after police partially demolished their homes,
while others died after exposure to cold. A fortnight ago, two-year-old
Charmaine Nyika of Old Tafara died after a wall, that police had partially
destroyed, collapsed on her while one-and -half-year-old baby Terence
Munyaka, died last week under similar circumstances in
Early this month, 30-year-old Onward Duwa of Chirumhanzu
committed suicide after a misunderstanding with his father over
accommodation, following the demolition of his house in Harare.
Bulawayo, where about 10 000 people have been displaced, eight month-old
Aleck Sibanda from Richmond suburb died of pneumonia last week after
excessive exposure to cold following the demolition of his parents
Sibanda was buried last Wednesday in a tense mood, with churches,
civic groups and concerned citizens condemning the operation.
police destroyed Sibandas house, burning blankets and food, leaving the
family in the open and exposing the child to the harsh winter
Speaking to The Standard at the gravesite, the deceased boys
mother, Sandiso Mutupidzi, said she would seek advice on taking legal action
against the government for the loss of her only child.
lying dead here was my only child and I dont know what to do. I am making
efforts to see that justice prevails. I am a poor person but what happened
to my son needs Gods intervention because we are fighting a powerful force
that does not care about human life, said a grief-stricken
Alecks father, Crispen Sibanda, cried while at the same
time trying to console his distraught wife. The Sibandas had spent almost a
week in the open.
Had it not for the destruction of our house,
burning of our blankets, food and other personal belongings, this boy could
not have died. We are poor but we were going to look after our child, fumed
Pastor Patson Neta of the New Life For All Fellowship Church
said he was disturbed that an innocent life had been lost as a result of the
As I speak to you right now, my church is
taking care of over 2 000 displaced families. By Tuesday I had 1 126 people
at my church, who came seeking food, accommodation and clothes whilst others
were asking for transport money so that they return to their respective
The situation is so pathetic, disturbing and I hope God
will provide. The only appeal I would like to make to the government is that
they have to provide land for these people so that they start preparing for
the next rainy season.
In another related incident, 10-year-old
Takudzwa Taroyiwa from Mutare died of pneumonia after spending nights in the
Mutare, which is situated in the Eastern Highlands, is one of the
coldest areas in Zimbabwe.
Woman from Mutare, Chido Nhongo, also died
of pneumonia leaving behind a five-month-old baby. Chidos husband, Enock
Nhongo, said although his wife was not feeling well before undergoing an
operation, her illness worsened after being exposed to the winter
My baby son is now surviving on bottled milk and sleeping
in the open like us grown ups, Nhongo said.
at Mutare provincial hospital confirmed the two died of
The Red Cross Society of Zimbabwe on Thursday started setting
up tents for displaced families who had camped at Sports Oval Grounds in
However, Mutare executive mayor, Misheck Kagurabadza, says the
assistance by Red Cross is just a drop in the ocean as the city estimates
120 000 people have been displaced by the operation. Kagurabadza said Mutare
was likely to have more deaths related to sleeping outside in the
Home Affairs Minister, Kembo Mohadi, refused to comment referring
all questions to Ignatius Chombo, the Minister of Local Government, Public
Works and Urban Development, who was not available for comment.
cant be public relations officers of another ministry, you talk to Chombo
because we are just a law enforcement agency, Mohadi said.
Clean-up forces 300 000 pupils out of school By our own
EDUCATION, one of the sectors where Zimbabwe won world recognition
for post-independence successes, is a major casualty of the governments
on-going clean-up operation, The Standard can reveal.
Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) and the Zimbabwe Teachers Association
(Zimta) estimate that as many as 300 000 children have dropped out of school
after their homes were destroyed. The teachers organisations last week said
they understood regional directors of education were compiling a list of
children who have dropped out of school since the operation
The Minister of Education, Sport and Culture, Aeneas Chigwedere,
and the permanent secretary for Education, Dr Stephen Mahere, were last week
said to be in a series of meetings and by yesterday, Mahere was reportedly
out of town while the minister was not reachable for
Children have dropped out of school because some have found
themselves living in areas far away from their schools, or because the
transport crisis has rendered it impossible to travel daily to and from
school and arrive on time. Others have completely relocated and face
challenges of raising school and uniform fees without a regular source of
Zimta said: Learners whose parents have been forced to relocate
to other settlements or rural areas, have had their learning programmes
disrupted. Even those few affected learners who remain at the sites of
demolished structures seem so traumatised that they cannot concentrate in
their learning. The affected teachers are in a similar state of
Reminding the government that education is a basic human right,
Zimta said school children and teachers who were affected by the
postponement of the June 2005 examinations were seriously
It is likely that the affected learners will not be
resident in the suburbs or townships near enough to their examination
centres when the rescheduled examination papers are written. How will the
candidates who were forced to relocate to far away rural or resettlement
areas daily commute to their examination centres? asked Zimta, which
described the predicament of school children and teachers affected by the
clean-up as desperate.
The more outspoken PTUZ said thousands of school
children had lost valuable learning time as a result of the disruptions or
because their teachers were busy looking for accommodation or asking for
time off to find new lodgings.
Learning time has also been lost because
children are arriving at school late or asking to go home early because of
transport problems, resulting in learning time being
According to the PTUZ: In the first three weeks attendance was
inconsistent and sporadic as children helped in safe-guarding family
property against theft while parents were looking for
The majority of teachers were lodgers and bore the brunt
of the clean-up. But as if that was not enough, rentals soared as
accommodation became scarce.
The most acutely affected school
children and teachers were in the Harare suburbs of Mbare, Hatfield,
Highfield, Glen Norah, Glen View, Budiriro, Mufakose, Warren Park,
Kuwadzana, Mabelreign, Dzivarasekwa, Epworth, Tafara and Mabvuku.
Harare central, the impact was more on teachers than on pupils, although
there were reports of pupils missing lessons. Teachers have not been
reporting to work because they fear losing their property.
warned of threats to the family unit saying there were disruptions within
families, leading to separations as a result of the clean-up. The union said
it was worried that the disruptions could fuel child prostitution among
those dropping out of school.
The girl child is going to be the biggest
victim of this exercise. There has also been a substantial increase in
children asking for transfer letters, but the real movement of children will
be seen during the August school holidays. The benefits of the operation
remain more apparent than real, the PTUZ warned.
The two teachers
organisations said they were concerned that while teachers were among the
victims of the clean-up, they were not being accorded any preference in the
allocation of stands announced by government for civil servants.
Urban areas to get chiefs By our own
MUTARE The government is preparing to place urban areas
under the jurisdiction of chiefs because they are better placed to implement
Webster Shamu, the Minister of State for Policy
Implementation in the Office of the President, made the revelation last week
in Mutare at a stakeholders meeting, where he met chiefs, business people,
heads of government departments, parastatals and city council
officials. Shamu said: Urban centres like Mutare, Chipinge and Rusape will
have chiefs, the same with other centres in the country before the end of
He said chiefs were better placed to implement government policy
unlike some local authority officials at the helm of urban areas at the
moment. The minister blamed some council officials and government employees
for undermining government efforts by failing to implement development in
urban areas, saying this was the reason behind the governments plan to
introduce chiefs in urban centres.
He said there was stunted growth
in urban centres owing to current office bearers attempts to discredit the
ruling Zanu PF government and President Robert Mugabe.
are confined to rural areas is something colonial. Before Mutare was a city
there was a chief here as is the case of other cities. It was a deliberate
ploy by whites, who did not what anything to do with African traditional
leaders and wanted no interference in their affairs. We will put an end to
that, he said.
Shamu blamed the opposition MDC-dominated Mutare City
Council for failing to come up with a turnaround programme for the town. He
said had the council done so, it would have benefited from a $40 billion
grant from the Reserve Bank. He warned the council that it was inviting
trouble by resisting Operation Restore Order.
But Mutares executive
mayor, Misheck Kagurabadza said he had co-operated with the
We have been co-operating with the police and the turnaround
programme for the city was left to the Town Clerk, (Dr Morgan Chawawa) who
redrafted the turnaround programme of the Harare City Council. But the Town
Clerk did us a disservice, Kagurabadza said.
Airzim fails to remit CAAZ passenger fees By Allen
THE Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe (CAAZ) was forced to
cancel its contract with the embattled national airline Air Zimbabwe
(Airzim) after the latter failed to remit passenger service charges
collected on behalf of the aviation authority.
CAAZ issued a notice
saying that Airzim as was no longer collecting passenger service charges on
its behalf due to processing problems and passengers were now asked to pay
the charges directly to CAAZ. The move by the aviation authority now means
that both domestic and international air travellers have to queue first for
an air ticket and then to pay for the service charges. Airzim was the
only airline stopped by CAAZ from collecting the passenger service charges
and other foreign airlines, which ply the Zimbabwean route, will continue to
Sources revealed that CAAZ was owed billions of dollars and the
amount could be as high as $30 billion dollars.
David Chawota, the
acting general manager and CEO of CAAZ said they stopped Airzim from
collecting the money as a proactive approach to an impending
What we did was one of the many measures we are taking in
efforts to keep on providing a service to passengers, Chawota
When asked if this was not going to inconvenience passengers, the
CAAZ CEO said it was better for the customers to stand in two queues than to
lose the service. The money from the passenger service charges is used to
maintain airport facilities.
He however could not confirm or deny
whether Airzim owed them money saying that there were reasons for them
making such a move.
We are not comfortable discussing our financial
issues in the Press but maybe you should contact Airzim, Chawota said. When
pressed further, he said their relationship with Airzim was contractual and
by their taking such a decision, it means one party was failing to meet its
Efforts to contact Tendai Mahachi, Airzim
CEO, were unsuccessful. His mobile phone was constantly
The passenger services charges for domestic passengers are
$50 000 and for international passengers, $300 000, and these are for using
CAAZ introduced the ticket system in 2002 and all
airlines that fly into the country collect the charges on behalf of the
Mashonaland West provincial executive has dismissed its suspended chairman,
Philip Chiyangwa, for his involvement in the controversial espionage case
that erupted in December last year, although the courts found he had no case
The Standard understands that his dismissal was communicated
to the partys disciplinary committee last week and that the issue was also
raised during the partys central committee meeting on Friday. Official
Zanu PF sources said that President Robert Mugabe was also not happy with
Chiyangwa was arrested last year together with four top Zanu
PF officials, three of whom have been convicted for espionage.
President has also maintained that we cant have people at that level
getting involved in such activities. He says the party would lose its
integrity, said a source.
The source said two days before the
central committee meeting the provincial executive had written a letter
proposing the dismissal of Chiyangwa from the post of chairman of the
He added: The disciplinary committee is most likely going to
concur with the provincial executives decision.
Zanu PF national
chairman John Nkomo could not deny or confirm that the dismissal of the
flamboyant business man from the chairmanship of Mashonaland West. He,
however, confirmed that Chiyangwas case was discussed at Fridays
Acting provincial chairperson, John Mafa, was not immediately
available for comment.
BULAWAYO BRITISH Labour Party MP Kate Hoey, who sneaked into the
country recently to witness the controversial clean-up exercise, says she
will lobby other British law-makers to pressure Prime Minister Tony Blair to
put Zimbabwe top on the agenda of the G8 summit on 8 July in
Hoey, who is the Labour MP for Vauxhall, was in the country to
see first-hand the results of Operation Murambatsvina that has left
thousands of people homeless. The MP spent a week incognito in Zimbabwe,
watching in horror as state security agents tore peoples properties
Speaking in a telephone interview from London on Friday afternoon,
Hoey said she was shocked with what she saw in Zimbabwe.
experience of the destruction of peoples homes left me numb and it was
horrific. There are no words to describe the manner in which peoples
properties were destroyed and the situation that is being faced by the now
homeless people, Hoey said.
She visited several sites in Harare that
were destroyed by the police and spoke to families that were affected by the
destruction of their properties.
Hoey visited several suburbs in Harare
and Kilarney in Bulawayo, where she witnessed police razing down
She said the government was at war with its own people but
expressed hope that international pressure would be piled on President
The systematic destruction of peoples homes was horrific
and the manner it is being done in is very heavy-handed and I am currently
lobbying other MPs to ensure that the issue is raised by Prime Minister Tony
Blair at the G8 summit, she said.
Britain is the current chair of
the powerful industrialised Group of Eight.
Kilarney suburb was the worst
affected residential area in Bulawayo after police destroyed several
buildings in the suburb, throwing thousands of people into the
Hoey said the British MPs will also call for direct pressure to be
put on the South African government to act on the unfolding crisis in
Zimbabwe. President Thabo Mbekis quiet diplomacy has not helped the
The crisis unfolding in Zimbabwe currently will
definitely be priority, at the G8 meeting but the main problem to all this
has been South Africas position as alluded to by Foreign Affairs Secretary
Jack Straw early this week, she said.
She accused Mbeki of turning a
blind eye to the crisis adding that South Africa should desist from blocking
countries that want the Zimbabwean issue to be raised on the international
Hoey said targeted sanctions against Mugabe and his lieutenants
should be tightened in the face of ongoing human rights abuses.
call by Hoey comes hard on the heels of another call by the MDC for the
inclusion of more of Mugabes cronies onto the sanctions list.
representative in Brussels, Grace Kwinje, last week addressed European Union
(EU) ministers and urged them to include more of Mugabes cronies on the
EU Members of Parliament two weeks ago ordered a review
of the sanctions list.
A United Nations envoy will this week visit
Zimbabwe to assess the ongoing clean-up operation, which has been condemned
by the international community including the human rights watchdog, Amnesty
Drop in production to blame for milk shortage NADF By
THE National Association of Dairy Farmers (NADF) has
attributed the shortage of milk to a decline in the number of registered
NADF said the dairy farmers had dropped from 314 in 2000
to 277 this year, adding there was great uncertainty due to continued
listing of farms, which the government wishes to acquire from their present
owners. Dairibord Zimbabwe Limited (DZL) embarked on Producer Finance Scheme
(PFS) in 2002 in a move meant to help new dairy farmers to improve
efficiency at farm level. The programme appears not to have been the success
it was intended because milk shortages persist.
NADF said dairy
farmers were in constant dialogue with processors and relevant authorities
to try to alleviate the problems facing the association.
The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwes financial package about to be made available
to the dairy producers at preferential interest rate should assist in
improving the viability and thus improving production.
Deon Theron, NADF
chairman, said the shortages were a result of viability problems caused
partly by rising inflation.
He said: Inflation and the inability to
produce feed requirements thus forcing the purchase of expensive,
manufactured stockfeeds have constantly eroded the viability of milk
Dairibord Zimbabwe Limited (DZL) has laid blame on the dairy
farmers for the erratic milk supplies.
PLUMES of dust rose high, like the wild Harmattan, across the
Sahara. Except this was neither the Sahara, the season of the dry-dusty wind
nor the desert.
Heavy equipment made up of bulldozers and
caterpillars roared, the dust intensified, enveloping whole areas. The women
in their party regalia cheered and ululated. It was as if this was a
significantly momentous occasion. Perhaps it was, but few of us saw it the
same way. For how could these women and youths dressed in the Freedonia
Revolutionary Party colours celebrate the destruction of their homes? Their
paltry belongings gathered outside resembling an open bazaar or an auction
The quiet old man of Freedonia, broke the silence and asked what
every one of us had on their mind but had not uttered: What are you
One man answered him, because either he was the only one
who heard the question, or because the others were too busy cheering and
urging on the demolition squad to take note of other things around them, let
alone hear anyone.
He looked well-built and fed, perhaps out of place
with the rest of the cheerleading crowd.
He cleared his throat first
and then struggling for breath, he said: You see Sekuru; we are purging
this country of all the vestiges of the oppressors. We want to drive out the
last ghost of the oppressors from our midst, by removing anything they built
or that which reminds us of the oppressors, then our great ancestors will
rest peacefully in their graves, knowing that the battle which centuries ago
they took up arms for, has finally been won.
The jubilation was
short-lived. The winter blast, which had been tolerable, became a blizzard.
Soon, icy cold showers began to pour. Someone was trying to explain this
weather phenomenon to a group of spectators of the zero city demolition
squad. But how does one listen to such talk when instincts yell: shelter,
The portly character beside us startled several of us
when he started shouting out for people who wanted free accommodation at his
farm, which he said was a short drive from the city. They would be housed
there in exchange for their labour. He rushed for shelter in a truck that
had been parked a short-distance from the demolitions. He had some takers
and sped off, north of Free City.
There was talk mumbled
protestations of people being subjected to semi-slavery conditions at
settlements owned and run by the nouveaux riches. The icy cold winter rain
came down rather heavily, as if to put out the fire of the demolition team.
The women, who had been celebrating, scurried for cover, wet and shivering,
many of them sure candidates for a bout of flu. Vulnerable groups were at
the mercy of the elements left to succumb to death.The following morning,
not all had survived the cold night and the effects of the sub-zero
downpour. Why does He allow such suffering?
But the dawn of a new day
brought with it news of a wave that was sweeping the locations.
woman actually swore that she had witnessed one of the cases. I was there
when the officers arrived in half a dozen trucks. They started to knock down
a cottage when six aged elves (zvikwambo) emerged from nowhere and asked:
‘who sent you? The officers laughed out at the top of their
Thats when the drama started. I have never seen anything of
the sort. All of a sudden the officers became hysterical. It was very very
scary, I tell you.
The other story doing the rounds in the locations
was more or less the same, but it referred to demolition teams who were fond
of helping themselves to fruits and sugar cane they found at houses
earmarked for demolition. Many people were going down with a mysterious
condition that vexed the medical profession in Freedonia. The authorities
were persuaded to carry out public warnings to their officers in order to
arrest the crisis. The hospitals were filing up with officers presenting
mental conditions (mamhepo).
The FRP had a simple explanation for this:
the enemy was trying to scare away people from a noble exercise. Secretly
though, officers were being relocated from where they had lived among the
people into camps. Word was the authorities were afraid their officers would
be victimised or targeted
ON behalf of
Zimbabwes poor rats and cockroaches, may I extend our gratitude to you
for voting Zimbabwe into the Human Rights Commission. The Zimbabwe
government has given you a present for your generosity by removing from
among people not like them, rats and cockroaches.
You see, the removal
of rats and cockroaches will improve the inflow of foreign currency. We
will now be able to equip our hospitals, have medicines and retain the
medical staff in our hospitals. Our schools will also be well equipped with
all the necessary textbooks, science equipment etc for effective teaching
and teachers will no longer run away from home to work in foreign lands.
Motorists will no longer sleep in queues but in their warm beds, as fuel
will be in abundance. Our country will be biblically flowing with milk and
honey. We gratefully hope you will sleep peacefully at night knowing fully
well that on your next visit to the Sunshine City you will be met by fresh
air uncontaminated by the smell from rats and cockroaches.
considerate of our government to remove the venom of rats and cockroaches
soon after its election victory! And in winter rats and cockroaches dont
feel the cold as they are not human. You see, the same rats and
cockroaches from the year 2000 were encouraged by the same government to be
where they are now being removed from.
Our considerate police officers
even destroyed clay pots sold by old women in Chivi along
Masvingo/Beitbridge Road (on the way to South Africa), claiming that the
clay pots were sold in foreign currency, which was changed on the
black-market. Can you imagine our economy being sustained by clay pots? At
Jerera Growth Point, they cut down mango trees where women used to sit
selling their goods, so as to drive the point home that those women will
never sit under those trees again. Can you imagine cutting down fruit trees?
Chicken runs at the back of houses in town have been destroyed. Can we say
our economy is a chicken economy?
Should we say we wish Tony Blair
and George W Bush go to hell for not voting Zimbabwe into the Human Rights
Commission? Article 5 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states:
No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading
treatment or punishment. But this is irrelevant since these are rats and
cockroaches. Dont you think these rats and cockroaches deserve this
Thank you very much once again for supporting the government of
MANY people in Mbare have
lost their livelihood. Their home industries have been destroyed, the
On top of all this, home owners are now receiving massive
back-dated bills charging them for water, rates, refuse collection,
sewerage, and millions in penalties. Many will not be able to pay these
bills. Why are they being penalised and on what legal grounds?
city administration must not put unbearable burdens on people who have been
hit very hard already by the destruction of housing.
Many lodgers left
homeless are now sleeping outside in the cold, including pregnant women,
mothers with small children and extremely sick people. They have nowhere to
Shelter is a basic human right. Every human being is entitled to
respect for his/her life and to safety (The African Charter on Human and
Peoples Rights, article 4).
Officials must refrain from harsh and
inhuman treatment of defenceless people.
It cannot be in the interest
of responsible government to drive its citizens into unemployment,
homelessness and general destitution.
Judgment will be without mercy to
anyone who has shown no mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment (James 2:
government, without proper planning and warning, has engaged in a disastrous
clean up exercise, the so-called ‘Operation Murambatsvina.
The lack of
proper planning surrounding the whole operation has led to valid claims that
the government is denying its citizens their fundamental rights as human
beings; the right to life, shelter and health. This reminds me of the early
80s when the government unleashed the infamous Gukurahundi operation on its
citizens because of political differences. And years later, in a veiled
acceptance and apology, President Mugabe referred to the brutalisation of
his subjects as a moment of madness.
It seems another moment of
madness is upon us as evidenced by events unfolding before us.
Stakeholders, as in the previous episode which occurred in Matabeleland,
have remained the same. Government and its agents are still the main actors.
The theme is basically the same; terror on defenseless citizens.
should we again wait for our dear great leader to sober up and tell us when
it suits him that it was a moment of madness? We all want a clean
environment but when the cleaning comes at a price of death then we should
rise and say NO.
Alternative accommodation should have been arranged
first before people were forced to leave illegal structures, some of
which, as in the case of Hatcliffe Extension, were once legal – that is we
trust things said by Minister Ignatious Chombo. But now some families are
sleeping in the open this winter and I shudder to imagine the fate of
innocent school children who are now just roaming the locations instead of
Should we just voice our concern and watch this
tragedy continue unfolding? Or is there room for decisive action in
Harare city council and police commissioner, Augustine Chihuri,
must be held responsible for the current suffering of so many of Zimbabwe
THE governments crackdown on illegal structures and flea markets
has affected the operations of the informal sector, an industry that had
absorbed millions of the unemployed, StandardBusiness has
Armed police have since May been rounding up informal
traders in the city centre and in the townships in an operation dubbed
Operation Murambatsvina/Restore Order. Thousands of informal traders
who depended on selling wares have been banished from the pavements and
market stalls their workplace for years while valuable goods were
impounded in the widely condemned urban beautification campaign.
government accuses traders, including vegetable vendors, of turning their
stalls into a haven for illegal trading in hard currency, drugs and basic
commodities, which are in short supply.
But analysts told
StandardBusiness that the economy is on its last legs and cannot withstand
any further battering, such as that accompanying Operation
The majority of those involved in the informal sector
were at the bottom of the economic and social ladder and endured
back-breaking work while getting irregular and insecure incomes with little
or no access to social security, said one analyst.
Because of the
government blitz, many of marginal Zimbabweans have found themselves
redundant and with no source of a regular income at a time when
accessibility and affordability of commodities is
Economists warn that the blitz will depress aggregate demand
in the economy and consequently chop further the Gross Domestic
The informal sector supports over three million families and
makes a very substantial contribution to the national economy, said a
Its destruction will impact on human
welfare across the country, damaging food supplies and markets and plunging
millions into increased poverty and deprivation.
No food, clothes and shelter sundayopinion By Marko
THE past five weeks have added a new dimension to the hardships
people in Zimbabwe have come to know and grudgingly accept.
majority of people have had to deal with expensive and scarce food
commodities, with the ruling elite virtually enjoying the best of
everything, another angle has been added to their ever-increasing
woes. Food, clothes and shelter have been known as mans basic necessities
since the beginning of history, but the failure to access all three is being
painfully felt in Zimbabwe. The absence of a roof over ones head is partly
responsible for people accepting life as perpetual lodgers.
pointed to the harsh realities of breadwinners who failed to provide for
their families. But during the beginning of May, the little that families
had put in to provide protection from hostile elements fell victim to the
governments clean up campaign. Many here believe that the government ceased
to care about the welfare of the people long ago.
May heralds the onset
of winter, yet homes were destroyed amid growing food shortages, leaving
many without shelter during a biting winter. In one fell swoop, hundreds of
thousand of people across the country were both hungry and homeless. This
was after the United Nations and other food security agencies had already
warned that at least half the population here faced starvation and would
need food aid. For aid agencies, it means besides efforts to feed the hungry
millions, they must now also provide shelter for them.
And still the
authorities said they were not going to allow aid agencies to set up
temporary structures to shelter the people from the winter cold.
makeshift structures put up by relief agencies were also bulldozed, after
being termed illegal buildings. It is common practice worldwide when
populations are displaced be it by natural disasters or civil war, tents and
other temporary structures are set for the affected people while plans are
being made to resettle them properly. Zimbabwe therefore appears to offer a
case unheard of in the world, thus raising a lot of theories about the
motives behind the forced evictions and demolitions.
The year 2005
will go down the history of Zimbabwe as one that tested the governments
commitment to providing a better life for the people it says elected it into
power. But then this has been asked already during the course of the
countrys 25 years of independence, and the questions, no doubt, became even
louder when the government unleashed former freedom fighters onto commercial
farms which saw the beginning of shortages of food and foreign
In the natural order of things where food, clothes and shelter
compete for their presence in a peoples existence, many agree that they
would rather sleep on empty stomachs than have full bellies but with nowhere
to lay their heads for the night. They will still prefer having some clothes
and a roof than being naked. But for hundreds of thousands who have been
denied both food and shelter by a government that seems to have abandoned
any semblance of observing these basic human rights, they ask why they are
being treated not differently from wild animals.
The past five weeks
have seen people being turned overnight into vagrants with nowhere to go
even after they had been allowed to erect those same structures the
government had encouraged them to put up in its bid to fulfil the goal of
Housing for All by the Year 2000. But then it has been known that in
politics there are no permanent friends, just permanent interests. So the
people who took part in the violent seizures of land from commercial farmers
who now see the structures they had put up to celebrate reclamation of their
heritage giving in to demolition teams should have seen it
Priests across the country tell sad stories about families who
approach them for assistance. But with their efforts being hampered by
threats from the police that whatever initiative the priests set up will
also be demolished there is very little if anything they can do.
Bulawayo a priest told me he wanted to set up a response to the crisis that
has left hundreds of thousands in the city homeless and hungry but was not
sure how to go about it. He feared police interference. So while a
humanitarian crisis unfolds authorities are still limiting relief efforts
and warn that it is the governments duty to make alternative arrangements
for the affected families.
But over the years, it has been
demonstrated that the government has no capacity to deal with relief efforts
and has been aided in those endeavours by non-governmental organisations.
Widows, orphans and young children have been left out in the open by the
operation, and it is anybodys guess how they will end the year
The irony of the increased hardship for the people is that their
homelessness came only a few weeks after the 31 March election won by the
ruling Zanu PF. The ruling partys campaign was based on electoral promises
that it was going to better the lives of the people.
governments have as their obligation the betterment of peoples lives, what
is happening in Zimbabwe raises serious questions about the role of an
elected government if its mandate does not extend to social and economic
justice. But then, many gave up on expecting the Zanu PF regime to champion
people–friendly policies long ago.
Muted voices in the streets talk
about a possible uprising, and this is even more tragic when such is uttered
by old women who by those silent pronouncements imply they are ready to
confront the security forces even with their batons and teargas. That is how
monstrous this government has become. It is ready to suppress dissent not
from hot-blooded youths, but from elderly men and women who bore the burden
raising the present generation of leaders from childhood.
Mugabe should learn from Mbeki Sundaytalk with Pius
I AM pleasantly surprised at the number of my Zanu PF friends
who are now coming to me to apologise for some of the things they said to me
because I criticised their party.
The on-going merciless destruction
of informal businesses and poor peoples homes has been the last
straw. They have changed their minds. They now openly say: Musangano warasa
gwara. Hauchagadzirika – The party has lost direction and can not be
Just a few weeks ago, I wrote that Zanu PF is afflicted by
an avenging spirit (Ngozi) and was going to self-destruct. This is happening
right before our very eyes.
What is most poignant is that the most
affected are war veterans. They have been the vanguard of the party. After
leading in the violent land invasions they vigorously campaigned for their
ruling party. Now their cooperative-built houses have been razed to the
ground and they are destitute. Their beloved patron has thrown them on the
Believe it or not, there are still some die-hard party
functionaries who refuse to see the truth which is staring them in the face.
Yes, they may see the truth but, because of vested personal interests, they
would rather cling to the sinking ship. They find all manner of
justification for doing so. These justifications are often in the form of
Professor Leon Festinger, one of the best known social
psychologists in the world called this phenomenon cognitive
He said human beings show a strain towards consistency. When
they feel an inconsistency between what they know and what they have done,
or are doing, they often engage in rather unexpected communication behaviour
in order to reduce this cognitive dissonance.
A pertinent example
emerged in a recent discussion with a friend who is a Zanu PF official. In
the discussion I referred to our President as being dictatorial. The man was
so furious that I should so refer to the President.
He said the President
was a very magnanimous person, who listens to other peoples views and has
the best interests of the people of Zimbabwe at heart. His reaction was so
strong that I sensed that our personal relationship was in danger. I
therefore said: Since you know the President personally, and I dont, I
will not argue with you over that.
Since I didnt want our conversation
to end there, on that particular subject, I went on a different tack. I had
forgotten that to some people, criticising President Robert Mugabe is
tantamount to sacrilege. Unlike the rest of us mortals, he can do no
I reminded my friend about the looting of the War Victims
Compensation Fund and the fact that the culprits were never brought to book.
I mentioned the Noczim fiasco and other parastatal failures which were never
thoroughly investigated. I talked about the violent land reform programme
which only succeeded in destroying our agricultural base.
I told him
about bad economic policies which have brought the country to its knees
economically. I asked him whether the Public Order and Security Act and the
Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act were not an improvement
on what the Rhodesia Front government had left on the statute books. What
about the present destruction of poor peoples sources of livelihood as well
as their homes without alternatives, I asked.
He admitted that most of
what I was saying was true. He, however, added: The problem is that the
President has some people around him who are self-seeking and dont give him
I agreed and also added that in this case then our
President is not a very wise leader since he allows himself to be constantly
misled by self-seekers.
My friend is right in a way. It is no secret that
President Mugabe is surrounded by some unsavoury characters. Some of them
are well-meaning but are so dim-witted and inept that one wonders what
criteria was used to appoint them to their influential positions in the
party and the government. One can only conclude that they are good
Others are just corrupt self-seekers whose only interest is
to acquire as much wealth as possible by using their influential
A good number are outright criminal mafia types who
successfully ensconced themselves in the higher echelons of power. Were he
alive today and observing his Zimbabwean counterparts, Al Capone would be
green with envy. He always wanted his Cosa Nostra to be respected as part of
the American way of life and be able to influence the government just like
the Zimbabwean mafia does today. He failed miserably and died in
It is not true that President Mugabe is not aware that there are
some rotten eggs in his government. He has often publicly rebuked and warned
them to mend their ways. Unfortunately his words have not been matched by
decisive action. Instead, he chooses to blame the countrys problems on
so-called colonialists, imperialists and neo-colonialists. Its more
convenient and less problematic for him to do this.
should learn from his colleague and counterpart in South Africa, President
Thabo Mbeki, who recently relieved his close friend and fellow freedom
fighter, Jacob Zuma, of his position as Vice President of the Republic of
Zuma was not found guilty of any wrong doing by any court
of law. However, his former financial adviser, Schabir Shaik, was convicted
of corruption and fraud in a high court ruling that also implicated Zuma and
ruled that the pairs relationship was generally corrupt. This in itself
was enough for Mbeki to fire his long-time friend and colleague.
was not easy for Mbeki to fire Zuma. Not only is he a personal friend who
has done much for South Africa but he is also popular in the ANC rank and
file as well as its allies, the labour movement (Cosatu) and the Communist
Party. In fact, the move to fire Zuma has publicly been opposed by many in
the ANC and its allies. However, former president Nelson Mandela came out in
support of Mbeki saying he had made the right decision to fire Zuma. And
those democrats who believe that political leaders, be they African or not,
should be without reproach and of exemplary conduct are applauding Mbeki
Those who are applauding Mbeki are now anxiously waiting for
him to give a lead to those countries in Africa which are threatening the
success of Nepad because of corruption, poor governance and abuse of human
For a long time Zimbabweans have forlornly looked to him for such
statesman-like leadership. He has failed us miserably. We are not asking him
to personally interfere in our internal affairs or anything like that. We
just want him, as a regional leader and neighbour, to tell the truth about
our situation and shame the devil nothing more and nothing less.