|The ZIMBABWE Situation||Our
thoughts and prayers are with Zimbabwe |
- may peace, truth and justice prevail.
As a white African - my family having lived in the southern part of Africa since the early seventeenth century - I find myself endorsing the remarks in the article below. I expect the easy thing to do in the present climate of racial intolerance is to leave the continent; but there is a profound bond that comes from living for generations in Africa - a deep love of all things African.
It is sadly a reality that Africa's best - from all backgrounds - all too often end up leaving and contributing to the more advanced economies in the global village; and in the process leaving those that remain in Africa the poorer.
Whether we speak of nurses leaving to work in California or England, or teachers who can no longer tolerate the violent abuse, or the many talented, and skilled farmers who have over generations built up a intimate knowledge of the soil types, rainfall patterns, seasonal vagaries, insect pests, weeds and the measures to control them on the land they have often cultivated from virgin bush; each one that leaves is sorely missed by those who remain.
The countries they go and settle in, and raise their children in, will never be African - but will enjoy the contribution they make.
Racial and ethnic diversity has been a blessing in Africa - not the curse it is presently claimed to be by those with self serving autocratic tendencies. The evidence abounds - simply look back apon the past forty years at those African countries which have expelled peoples of different ethnic backgrounds and form your own opinion. Which among them became resounding successes after expelling those with the "wrong" ethnic backgrounds?
From The Saturday Star (SA), 11 May
‘Silent diplomacy failed in Zimbabwe’
The government has, for the first time, admitted that its "silent diplomacy" approach to the economic and political crisis in Zimbabwe was a failure. Defence Minister Mosiuoa Lekota, addressing a Diakonia Council of Churches breakfast in Durban on Friday, spoke frankly about strong behind-the-scenes attempts to prevail on the Zimbabwean government to stop violence and looting. "We failed. The government of Zimbabwe would not listen to us. We asked them to do something to stop the looting of farms and not to follow the route of lawlessness, but we failed," he said. Lekota disclosed that in spite of undertakings made during several talks between South Africa and Zimbabwe at the height of the crisis, chaos was allowed to reign and the crisis to spiral out of control.
Lekota added that Zimbabwe-style land grabs and lawlessness would not be allowed in this country. "I can assure you that what is happening in Zimbabwe will never happen in this country. We will make sure that it does not happen." "We could have invaded Zimbabwe as some people suggested - but what would that have achieved? Apart from the fact that Zimbabwe is a sovereign country, you must remember what happened to us (at the Commonwealth meeting) in Australia (in 1998)," said Lekota. During the Commonwealth meeting, former president Nelson Mandela condemned what was to be the execution of Ogoni activist and internationally celebrated author Ken Saro-Wiwa in Nigeria by the military government of Sani Abacha. "We suddenly found that we were the only ones who condemned the planned hanging. As a result, we learnt a valuable lesson that, especially in Africa, you cannot act alone because you will find yourself isolated and in a position similar to that of the apartheid government."
"We have now persuaded the government of Zimbabwe to adopt the approach that we did in this country, and have asked them to talk to the opposition. We have also suggested the formation of a government of national unity like we did (following the 1994 elections)," said Lekota. Soon after Lekota's disclosures, ongoing peace talks between the ruling Zanu PF and the Movement for Democratic Change all but collapsed after Zanu PF, unhappy with the MDC's claims that the presidential election had been rigged, terminated the talks. SA and Nigeria are still trying to broker peace between them.
Anthony C. LoBaido
© 2002 WorldNetDaily.com
CAPE TOWN, South Africa – Human beings aren't the only victims of Zimbabwe dictator Robert Mugabe's famine-inducing policy of land theft and murder. Farm animals also are being terrorized and abused by state-sanctioned bands of henchmen.
Mugabe's men are locking horses in corrals and lighting them on fire, slaughtering rhinos and cutting off one leg of every cow they find and then eating the cattle alive, according to eyewitness reports inside Zimbabwe.
According to these reports, domestic and farm animals are dying horrific deaths because the so-called "war veterans" are using the abuse to warn farmers not to return to their farms after being evicted. Dogs reportedly are being hung alive on hooks from farm gates, and children's pet ponies are having one hoof chopped off to serve as proof of what would happen to the white farmers themselves.
In many cases, farmers have under an hour to leave their properties, thus domestic and farm animals most often are left on the farms in the hope that they can be rescued later. Unfortunately, this is seldom the case. Domestic animals are sometimes locked up in the farmhouses, drinking from the toilets and shower drains, and suffering a slow death from starvation. Livestock are left without water and food, and the cows remain unmilked, causing a dreadful, slow death. When the fields are burned, animals are left inside the paddocks, and horses, cows and sheep die in the flames, or worse, suffer terrible burn wounds.
One animal-protection official – who asked that his name not be used because of Mugabe's retribution against those who oppose his tactics – told WorldNetDaily, "Our group became involved in April last year when [Mugabe's] 'squatters' or 'war vets' took over farms. At that stage, we had no idea that the attacks on animals, farmers and their workers would be a regular occurrence," the official explained.
"There were six animals involved in the first farm attack. They were all beaten brutally. A Great Dane bitch and a Ridgeback male did not survive. Mini, a Labrador, and Minstrel, a Ridgeback, made good recoveries, but Bonzo, a Lab, had an eye removed. Black Jack, a Great Dane, suffered the most. He had a fractured skull, perforated ears, eyes and a fractured tibia. He had a 12-inch gash on top of his head. He made remarkable recovery but will be blind for life. This was all recorded by local TV camera people on the scene."
Continued the official, "The attacks began in August. A great number of farmhouses were totally ransacked, destroyed or burnt. The people perpetrating these atrocities have no farming knowledge and no feelings for animals. It is not just domestic animals but horses, sheep, pigs and cattle that are suffering. Many dogs have been abducted, beaten or shot – all very traumatized!"
John Redfern of the Flame Lily Foundation is coordinating the acceptance of donations to help Zimbabwe's Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals care for the animals amid the growing crisis in Zimbabwe.
Thus far, the Zimbabwe Pet Rescue Project is seeking to pay vet and fuel bills and buy medical supplies through a company in Zimbabwe that distributes these supplies to the rescue operators.
One South African professional active in the field of animal cruelty told WorldNetDaily, "We have a stupendous amount of animal cruelty, and we have ground to a halt with the ability to raise funds."
Said another South African animal advocate: "We avoid at all costs any political stand, as this would jeopardize our project, so all we can do is ask the media to help publicize what we do in the hope that the community can support us in our endeavor."
Farm animals aren't the only type in jeopardy due to terror in Zimbabwe.
Forty black rhinos are at risk of poaching on Gourlays Ranch, which is a part of the official national strategy for black rhino conservation. Ten black rhinos arrived on Gourlays Ranch in 1987 in a Zimbabwe government attempt to halt the extinction of the species. The animals quickly adapted to their new home on 42,000 acres of natural habitat. They bred at the highest rate of any rhino project on private game farms in the nation.
From 1987 to 2001, only one rhino died – and that was of old age. The herd is rated by some as the best in the country. Zoologists from the Center of Endangered Species at the San Diego Zoo repeatedly visit the ranch to study the animals and to donate funds for their protection.
According to eyewitnesses inside Zimbabwe, in February 2000, supposed Mugabe war veterans invaded the Gourlays Ranch and many other farm properties across the country. They built their huts where they pleased, and the territorial rhinos were forced to live in smaller areas. The reduced habitat causes fighting between the territorial bulls. A bull rhino recently died due to the stressed conditions.
Last week, the war veterans invaded and barricaded the ranch and demanded the eviction of the family who has owned the land for 15 years. They threatened to kill the family and all the employees and burn the buildings unless the owners vacate the property within a week. Over the weekend, they intensified their demands, and the family was forced to move on Saturday.
The residents that remain, the black rhinos, now face death by poaching. The loss of the rhinos on one property, it is thought, would push the species close to extinction status. The gene pool will be extinguished, it is predicted, and as much as 10 percent of the black rhinos in Zimbabwe will die. This after 15 years of conservationists working to get the numbers up to a reasonable level.
CHERYL Jones, the 46-year-old Australian shot on her farm in Zimbabwe on
Sunday, remained in a critical but stable condition yesterday in hospital in
Shot in the arm and the abdomen at her farm gates by an unknown assailant wielding a .303 rifle, Ms Jones managed to drive 5km to her homestead where her friend and her 13-year-old son Callum were waiting.
She was immediately taken to hospital and placed on a respirator in intensive care.
For Ms Jones, the shooting represented the brutal end of her African dream.
Former English teacher and co-ordinator of Victoria's Flying Fruit Fly Circus, Ms Jones moved to Zambia, Africa, almost 10 years ago with her former husband and children Sally, now 21, and Callum.
According to her younger brother, Ian Stone, she was "unable to sit still" so she set up a financial services company despite having no prior experience in finance.
She moved to Zimbabwe after the failure of her marriage and bought a property at Headland, 150km east of Harare, and made it her home.
Mr Stone described his sister as "a passionate and powerful woman". Ms Jones built her homestead and single-handedly set up a thriving farm, employing dozens of locals to whom she also provided health and education services.
Early last year, however, Ms Jones and her daughter -- who lived in London -- were confronted on the property by a group of men carrying machetes, but managed to escape unscathed.
Despite the danger, she was determined to stay in Zimbabwe, but late last
year she was told her property would be seized under President Robert Mugabe's
controversial land ownership policy.
Soon the bars clanked behind me and I numbly entered the chilly jail cells of Harare Central, Zimbabwe, barefoot and shirtless, but with my sweater.
Harare Central's cells are small, with three concrete bunks on one side. A few guys sat as far as possible from the stinking hole in the floor that was our toilet. It was unimaginably smelly, cramped and miserable.
'Psssst! Come over here,' said a lively young man. It was Collin Chiwanza, a Daily News reporter who had been jailed the day before. I was delighted to see him and fellow journalist Lloyd Mudiwa. They showed me the ropes and shared the food supporters had brought.
'We've got a blanket which can keep us all warm,' Collin said. I looked at the dirty rag and smelt urine. Lloyd said it had bugs and showed little bites on his body. I vowed never to use that blanket, but before long I had my freezing feet stuck into it. By that night I had snuggled under it.
We huddled together and talked about our arrests, what would happen to us, journalism in Zimbabwe and, as the hours drew on, everything under the sun.
Outgoing and chatty, Collin told us how he worked as a teacher then began writing articles for newspapers. He described his wife and baby daughter. Lloyd and I also told stories and we made silly jokes. Our camaraderie helped to pass the time and lifted our spirits.
Night was the most difficult time. It was cold and I couldn't sleep. I went to the 'toilet' and cringed as my feet felt the sticky floor. The walls, the dark and the stench made me claustrophobic. I wanted to shout: 'Let me out!' But I pulled myself together, realising I could drive myself crazy but it wouldn't help matters. I just had to endure it. I clambered back under the blanket with Collin and Lloyd and tried to sleep.
In the morning the guards told us to come with them. We excitedly pulled on our socks and shoes and put on our watches and all our clothes. We became giddy at the thought of climbing the stairs and seeing blue sky through a window.
But our happiness was dashed when we arrived at the magistrates' court and were taken to basement cells. We each had to wear a single handcuff, and, with nearly 30 other prisoners, were ordered on to a narrow, steep staircase. The doors, behind us and at the bottom of the stairs, were locked. We waited for two hours to appear in court. One prisoner relieved himself at the top of the stairs. I concentrated on the little sliver of window and could hear a bird chirping.
Lloyd began acting as a jailhouse lawyer, advising inmates on what they should do. Many had been arrested for stealing food, some were charged with swindling money in a real estate scam. Several guys were in for burglaries. I asked a burly fellow what he was in for and he said the police were waiting for the post-mortem. I gulped.
Big graffiti scrawled on the walls asked: 'Where is our CONSTITUTION?'
Eventually we appeared in court. The charges against Collin were dropped as he had not written a word of the story in question. Lloyd and I were released without bail pending trial.
Eight journalists have been charged with criminal offences since the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act became law in March.
'This is police doing their work in the usual manner - cracking down on criminals, not on journalists,' said Information Minister Jonathan Moyo, commenting on our arrests on state television. 'Whether they call themselves journalists, whether they are editors, reporters, Americans or anyone else, they will be held accountable. That is what the rule of law means. We have to crack down on lawlessness.'
Since my release I have revelled in my new-found freedom. I have had several hot baths. I love looking up at the sky and walking outside. But long after the smell and dirt of jail have faded, I still have a sense of unease. Zimbabwe no longer seems like a land of liberation to me. It feels like a jail.