|The ZIMBABWE Situation||Our
thoughts and prayers are with Zimbabwe |
- may peace, truth and justice prevail.
Source: Sunday Mail - London
Posted on 11/25/01 12:56 AM Pacific by cmvc3
There is a 'fin de' everything, atmosphere among white people now, a sad, bitter resignation to the fact that our world is crumbling around us. It,s like going through a bereavement for the beloved country many of our families came to from England 100 years ago. It's an agonising process: anger, denial, bargaining - then maybe death.
The entire generation of whites know they are not wanted and have left or are leaving. The older generation is still desperate to live out what remains of their lives in what is left of British colonial style.
I saw a prosperous looking elderly couple in the supermarket last week looking at the prices of pet food. The woman said: "I don't think we can afford to keep the dogs anymore." They are lucky. Upcountry other pensioners have resorted to cooking with dog food - they cannot afford proper meat. Their fixed pensions have been almost wiped out over the past two years by an inflation rate which must be well over 150 per cent. With their children and grandchildren going or gone, many have been reduced to a kind of genteel poverty, trading in their beautiful old homes to huddle together in old age compounds.
The elderly are not the only vulnerable ones. A few days ago I saw a pretty white girl of about 17 touting for business at a flea pit hotel north of the city centre, in a mini skirt despite the cold winter wind. In a country where one in four people is thought to have AIDS, you have to be really desperate to become a prostitute.
There's simply no money here and certainly no security, not even in death.
Suburban street signs have been removed wholesale - we think they are being melted down and made into coffin handles. Graves have been opened, corpses dumped in the bush and coffins taken for resale, spruced up with aluminium from the signs. The other day I was trapped in a huge traffic jam - a rush of middle class black people applying for white land at the Ministry of Agriculture. Spectacles like that make even the bitter-enders talk about quitting.
The government's 'indigenisation' policy makes it more and more difficult for us to be employed instead of the millions of jobless black Zimbabweans. And without a very good job you can't afford a ticket to get out. There used to be a joke that if whites and middle-class blacks waited too long they would have to sell their plush mansions just to pay for the air fare to London. That joke is rapidly coming true as the value of the Zimbabwe dollar depreciates weekly. It's expected to reach 500 Zim dollars to the pound within a month, yet when the current government took over 21 years ago, one Zim dollar was worth £1.
The country feels like one big departure lounge in which we carry on our day to day activities while waiting for our flight. You go to the café but you only talk about who's gone, who's going and then you see someone you used to take coffee with who,s now sleeping on the pavement.
A chronically optimistic farmer friend told me recently he had always thought the rest of Africa could learn from Zimbabwe, but last week he changed his mind. "I was so naïve," he said. "to think that 50,000 whites could really make a difference and hold out against the tidal wave of chaos that is engulfing the rest of this continent." An opposition party supporter, he revealed that what really depressed him was the seeming indifference of most black Zimbabweans to what was happening to the whites.
Mobs of veterans - the catch-all name for Mugabe thugs - and party supporters have been surrounding farms, building road blocks and forcing farmers to flee in what is seen as the start of campaigning for the presidential election next year.
As I flew over the bush I watched crowds of people looting from the abandoned farmhouses, taking away white families possessions on their heads, donkey carts and on 'liberated' farm vehicles, some of which they immediately crashed.
At one farm in the Doma area I saw looters load bags of fertiliser from a smashed open warehouse on to a donkey cart. At another I saw beds, tables, cupboards and other bits of furniture scattered over the lawn and thrown into the swimming pool. I spotted caches of stolen goods in the bush around the farms. One farmer told me many workers had been forced at gunpoint to plunder their employers property but some loyal ones were hiding valuable stuff such as computers so they could return it later when law and order was restored. The farmer said that if that happened he would never miss another church service again.
Despite all this, Jack Straw, the UK'S new Foreign Secretary, has done nothing to help whites in what was for so many years a British colony, and in which so many of the white tribe still hold British passports.
The slaughter and robbery might seem random but it is not. There is a brutal logic at work. The government knows if it can drive the whites out of Zimbabwe, the rest of the world, and particularly the Western media, will lose interest and then it will be able to deal with its political opposition in no uncertain terms.
If that happens, there will be a descent into poverty and terror from which Zimbabwe, a once civilised and sophisticated nation, may never emerge.
Zimbabwe's Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku convened a special hearing on Sunday to hear arguments from government officials saying they do not have enough time to organise the vote because of preparations for next year's presidential elections.
Lawyers for the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) say Justice Chidyausiku - who was recently appointed by President Robert Mugabe - may have already decided in favour of the government.
Critics say the government has deliberately held up polls in Harare and other urban areas where the opposition MDC made a strong showing during last year's parliamentary elections.
Meanwhile, a white farmer is reported to be in critical condition after being been shot by assailants on his farm in the Macheke area, about 80 km southeast of Harare on Sunday evening.
A spokeswoman for the Commercial Farmers' Union (CFU) said Alan Bradley had been ambushed and then transferred to a hospital in Harare.
She did not say whether self-styled war veterans were to blame.
Many farm workers and white farmers have been injured, and some killed in an often violent campaign of invasions of white-owned farms in the past 18 months.
Zimbabwe could be moving closer towards some form of sanctions following a warning from the the British Foreign Office not to harass foreign correspondents based in Bulawayo.
A presidential spokesman was quoted in the government newspaper as calling six journalists "terrorists" after they reported on last week's political violence in Zimbabwe's second city, Bulawayo.
Also on Saturday, The Herald quoted President Robert Mugabe as rejecting calls from a visiting European Union delegation to monitor next year's presidential elections.
The EU has threatened to impose sanctions against Harare if it is not allowed to monitor next year's elections, in which Mr Mugabe will face his strongest-ever challenge from the MDC's Morgan Tsvangirai.
EU officials earlier said that relations were "critical".