|The ZIMBABWE Situation||Our
thoughts and prayers are with Zimbabwe |
- may peace, truth and justice prevail.
by Judi McLeod, Canadafreepress.com
January 13, 2005
If you are one of the average Canadians or Americans who responded to Canadafreeepress.com’s request for emails of hope and encouragement to Heather Bennett during the recent holidays, it worked.
As the months of her husband MP Roy Bennett’s imprisonment by the Robert Mugabe Government wore on, Heather, facing life without him, was getting depressed and discouraged.
Just before December 25, there was a surge in incoming emails from North America to FreeRoyBennett.com, and it made Heather and her two children feel a little less alone.
"We take it one day at a time. We try to be positive but it’s not easy," a grateful Heather told Canada Free Press in a telephone interview from Zimbabwe yesterday.
Without a court trial, Roy Bennett began one year’s hard labour in prison on October 28.
"He’s lost so much weight. They only feed them twice a day. Just one cup of rice and one serving of cabbage stew, no meat. I am so worried about him," Heather told CFP.
Time hangs heavy for the anxious wife who is permitted to see her husband just twice a month, and only for 10 minutes per visit.
Roy Bennett, the only white farmer Member of Parliament in Zimbabwe’s opposition, is being forced to work long hours under the hot Zimbabwe sun. Badly blistered, he is covered with body lice.
There was no court of law to take testimony for the crime of which he was accused. Bennett was tried and sentenced by the same people who have harassed and tormented his family and workers ever since his election: the Robert Mugabe government–the only law in current day Zimbabwe.
What kind of crime could land him in jail without a trial? The crime came from his angrily pushing Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa, who had taunted him publicly, on the floor of Parliament. Chinamasa had called Bennett’s father and grandfather "thieves" and "murderers" and told Bennett that he’d never be able to again return to his coffee plantation, taken by Mugabe’s treacherous ZANU-PF government.
Bennett’s sincere apology to the Justice Minister brought no sympathy and no justice.
Since first being elected in 2000, Bennett has consistently stood up to Mugabe’s treatment of the Zimbabwean people.
Just two months after Election Day, Charleswood, ZANU PF thugs raided Bennett’s hard-worked coffee plantation. The plantation, which hired hundreds of blacks, and had just paid off all of its bank loans, was driven into bankruptcy. Its animals were slaughtered wholesale, and the tons of coffee that came from plants long nurtured were exported to faraway Germany.
During the raid, Heather, four months pregnant at the time, was held hostage at knifepoint and made to dance and sing ZANU PF songs in the rain. Two of the plantation’s workers were killed in front of her. When she finally managed to escape with their two children, she had miscarried their third child.
Like so many other Zimbabweans, Roy, Heather and their children were forced to start all over again from scratch. Even that did not stop the feisty MP. Always a farmer at heart, he took a job as a travelling salesmen to keep his family together and the bills paid.
Given all that has happened to them, the separation is particularly painful. Their 20th anniversary passed with the couple being separated. Ditto for Christmas and New Years.
In the beginning, there was always the hope that outrage expressed by the international community would soon set things right.
But the outside world seems not only to have forgotten Zimbabwe’s loneliest political prisoner, but the longsuffering people of Zimbabwe.
No matter how dim the wick, the candle of hope keeps burning in Zimbabwe.Zimbabwe's loneliest prisoner
Canada Free Press founding editor Judi McLeod is an award-winning journalist with 30 years experience in the media. A former Toronto Sun and Kingston Whig Standard columnist, she has also appeared on Newsmax.com, the Drudge Report, Foxnews.com, and World Net Daily. Judi can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
A WOMEN OF ZIMBABWE ARISE (WOZA) INFORMATION SHEET
Write: Box FM701, Famona, Bulawayo Mobile: +26311-213-885
WOZA means ‘Come forward’. By women for women and with women, across race, colour, creed, class or political persuasion. Empowering women to be courageous, caring, committed and in communication with their communities.
This right is also in The African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights, in the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, and in our Education Act. The international community also undertook to provide EDUCATION FOR ALL by 2015 and an equal number of boys and girls in school by year 2005! According to the United Nations, as recently as 2000, 90% of young Zimbabweans went to primary school. The highest attendance in Africa. But by 2003 that figure has plummeted, to only 65%. (Source The Zimbabwe Standard article by B. Philips)
Government money spent on schools almost all goes to teachers’ salaries – they give the schools nothing for books, stationery, buildings, maintenance, sports, equipment, cleaning etc. To keep the schools running, parents have to pay for everything else! WHY IS GOVERNMENT NOT ALLOCATING ENOUGH MONEY FOR OUR EDUCATION? BAD POLICIES HAVE DESTROYED THE ECONOMY. Little money is allocated to the Education Budget. The rest is spent on the wrong things i.e. Buying votes, National service, Cars for chiefs and headmasters. On Tuesday 11 January 2005, how many children will be sent home for non payment of school fees whilst on the same day the Zimbabwe secret services will spend one billion dollars they managed to win from the state budget.
WOZA WOMEN SPEAK OUT ON THE CHALLENGES THEY FACE IN EDUCATING THEIR CHILDREN. UDUBO LUZALELE EKHAYA! NHAMO YAKABEREKERWA KUMUUSHA!
We have debated on whether to regard School headmasters as friends or enemies. School Development Associations and parents seem to carry more burdens on their shoulders and school heads need to show us that they are committed to educating our children. They must help us to remind the Government that they promised us free primary education and affordable senior schooling. For the first 20 years we had one of the highest enrollments in Africa. We have had enough and are calling for a Day of Protest and are telling Chigwedere to PACK and GO!
About $6000 is expected for each child. Four classes in each grade x 7 Grades, bringing an estimate to 1260 children contributing $7 million? In one school last term there were 3 ‘days’ in succession demanding a contribution from parents. Children who did not pay up were told they would not get their school report. Sponsorship Forms is another area of disgruntlement. Children are given forms of 25 lines and told to raise at least $ 500 per name. If the children do not raise this money the parents are made to pay up.
In the next issue: Valentines Day Theme: The Power of LOVE Can Conquer the Love of POWER! Simba rwe Rudo Runokunda Rudo rwe Simba! Amandla Othando Anqoba Utando Lwamandla!
Ask for a copy of the Sisterhood Bond / Sungano Yemadzimai / Isibopho Sabomama.
This newsletter was printed with funds raised from the 440 km Sponsored Walk conducted by
WOZA to protest against the passing of the NGO Bill. Thank you for your contribution!!