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ZIMBABWE ALERT – Relentlessly pushing Zimbabwe’s poor towards the edge PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Sunday, 23 August 2015 11:15

Zimbabwe is not the place for an easy life today.  With the economy in tailspin, businesses closing and workers being laid off in increasing numbers, and with a quarter of the population forced to work outside the country in order to keep their families alive, it comes as no surprise to learn that the unemployment rate is a staggering 90 per cent.  And if life is difficult even for the few in employment, one can but wonder how the rest manage to get by.

 

Imagine then the precarious life of some of those living close to the edge. Take for example a settled community of some 300 families eking out a meagre existence on a barren strip of land some 15 miles east of the city of Bulawayo. The area they inhabit is given the rather imposing name of Willsgrove Farm.   Here among the thorn scrub, without significant income or resources, or indeed any of the facilities we consider essential to modern life, somehow they manage to survive – just.  Mind you, even in their dire poverty they are in a better position than some because at least the houses they live in are constructed of good and strong building materials.  Better by far than the flimsy structures of their near neighbours in Killarney, dwellings which the Zimbabwean security forces tore down in the infamous Operation Murambatsvina back in 2005.  By contrast the dwellings on the Willsgrove Farm are well constructed and of sturdy material.  The community has been settled here for many years – the headman for 27 years – and no one was intending to move.

 

On the afternoon of 5th August a pastor was visiting this community who are a part of his scattered flock of impoverished, marginalised people. Suddenly and without warning a contingent of the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) arrived on the scene.  They produced to the old headman a document purporting to be an eviction order served on behalf of the company claiming ownership of the land, and while still talking to him proceeded to start throwing out his belongings.  Minutes later a bulldozer appeared and began systematically demolishing, first his house and then the dwellings of other recognised leaders in the community.  The speed of the operation was breath-taking, as was the brutality that accompanied it.  Evidently the orders under which the ZRP were operating were not only to destroy these solid dwellings but to put the building materials beyond any possibility of rescue or re-use.  One old man who had used all his savings on retirement to purchase one solid roof structure saw that roof knocked down and then mangled beyond recognition.

 

Nor did the destruction end with the houses. Chickens reared by residents, turkeys and domestic animals suffered a worse fate.  The headman himself who owned three chicken houses containing some 2,000 poultry watched helplessly as the bulldozer flattened both the structures and the birds housed in them. The remaining live chickens found among the houses were stuffed into sacks and left to suffocate. Likewise with a number of puppies seized by the ZRP.

 

   It was a sickening display of unbelievable cruelty. Residents stood, shocked and helpless, while the wanton violence and mayhem swept through the community – a community that until that fateful afternoon had been living at peace with itself and the world.  Men, women and children wept aloud at the destruction unfolding before their unbelieving eyes.  

 

The pastor tried to remonstrate with the ZRP but to no avail.  Only later was he able to persuade them even to let him know where they had dumped the items seized in the raid – mostly in the bush and further out of town.  The now homeless residents of the Willsgrove Farm estate made their way on foot to these sites as best they were able in order to protect their trashed belongings.

 

The following morning (6th August) the ZRP returned to Willsgrove Farm and continued the wanton destruction of homesteads. But by this time the local press had been alerted and were present to witness the mayhem. So too a human rights lawyer who by early afternoon had secured authority sufficient to stop the evictions and the violence pending a Court hearing on 2nd September.  It transpires that there has been some litigation over a period concerning this site and the right of the residents to live there, though as the lawyer made plain to the ZRP even the existence of a valid eviction order, if such there was, would in no way justify such wanton brutality or the destruction of the property which was the subject of litigation. In the pastor’s words their actions were “very, very cruel”, indeed “barbaric”.

 

Moreover this barbaric raid upon the Willsgrove Farm community is by no means an isolated incident in Zimbabwe today. Similar raids have taken places in and around Harare and Chinoyi upon street traders and other poor and marginalised communities.  A common feature throughout is the destruction of well-constructed dwellings – in several cases dwellings that were built with donor funds following the terrible bloodshed that was a feature of the elections in 2008.  Within the seething political cauldron that is Zimbabwe today who, outside the inner circles of ZANU PF, can say who is responsible for initiating this destructive purge, or what their motive is?  It has become the lot of ordinary Zimbabweans under this suffocating tyranny simply to suffer and to endure, without asking why.

 

Meanwhile for the pastor and the few courageous souls who are working with him on the ground many months of intensive work lie ahead. He has already started attending to the urgent needs of this freshly displaced and traumatised community, ferrying them to collect their few battered belongings, taking those few who have relatives able to accommodate them temporarily to those homes, and providing such food, clothing and blankets as are available.  Informally an urgent appeal has gone out to local churches and a limited response is beginning to trickle in from a few individuals. Remember, these are hard times in Zimbabwe for all but the tiny number safely cocooned by political patronage.  For most there is little to give away or be generous with.

 

Zimbabwe Victims’ Support Fund has received an appeal to help the roughly 1,000 people who have been rendered homeless and who are in urgent need of relief supplies, particularly food and clothing.  We are sending an immediate initial sum of $ 1,000 and hope to send more later, depending on the needs identified on the ground and the response of our supporters.

 

Your prayers are also requested for the victims of this latest outrage and for those bravely standing with them in their hour of desperate need.  Remember Karl Barth’s words – “To clasp hands in prayer is the beginning of an uprising against the disorder of the world.”

 

17th August 2015

 

Editorial note: we have taken out names.

 
Mugabe demands return of freedom fighters’ skulls PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Saturday, 15 August 2015 12:18

Jan Raath Harare  10:39AM, August 14 2015

 

President Mugabe has accused British museums of displaying the skulls of beheaded Zimbabwean freedom fighters and demanded their return, setting off a new row with the country’s former colonial masters.

 

In a speech to mark “Heroes’ Day” this week, Mr Mugabe said that in the 1896-97 uprising by the Matabele and Mashona people, the chieftains were “decapitated by the colonial occupying force . . . then dispatched to England to signify British victory over and subjugation of the local population”.

 

He claimed that the skulls were exhibited in British museums. “Surely, keeping decapitated heads as war trophies in this day and age, in a national history museum must rank among the highest forms of racist moral decadence, sadism and human insensitivity,” he said.

 

The state-run press took up Mr Mugabe’s campaign against the British “barbarians”. The Herald newspaper even compared the alleged exhibition of skulls with the killing of Cecil the lion last month.

 

Whether the skulls exist, however, is yet to be established. The British Museum said it did not have human skulls matching Mr Mugabe’s description, nor “any other human skulls from Zimbabwe” in its collection.

 

A spokesman for the Natural History Museum said it did have human remains from Africa from that period but its pathology department was unaware of any request relating to Zimbabwe.

 

“The Natural History Museum has a policy of considering requests for return of human remains to their places of origin, under the provisions of Section 47 of the Human Tissue Act 2004,” the spokesman said. “The museum engages in discussions with governments and communities who wish to make a claim for return of remains.”

 

Officials said there were no exhibits of any Zimbabwean body parts on display in any of London’s museums.

 

Historians also question the version of events presented by Mr Mugabe, noting that there was no record of decapitations in that conflict. Professor Terence Ranger, the doyen of Zimbabwe’s early colonial history and a friend of Mr Mugabe, had established that there was talk of one possible decapitation in the two-year rebellion.

 

A chief in the east of the country had hidden from officers of Cecil Rhodes’s British South Africa Police.

 

“They had to dynamite him out,” said a historian who asked not to be named. “As soon as they captured him, he was subjected to a summary court martial, found guilty and shot. There was talk that one of the troopers had cut off his head and taken it back to England but Ranger said there was never anything to back it up.”

 

Most of the leaders of the rebellion were given courts martial, found guilty and shot or hanged, and then buried in the yard of the prison, he said. “It’s a bit of an exaggerated idea to suggest that British officials routinely beheaded people. It’s just not credible. 

 

http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/news/world/africa/article4527157.ece

 
Pastor’s Eviction Report PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Sunday, 09 August 2015 13:13

On 5 August 2015 around 2 pm, without warning, the Zimbabwe Republic Police in the company of the Deputy Sheriff arrived at the headman’s house on Willsgrove Farm with an eviction order and commanded the headman to move away and said that they were destroying the buildings.  This farm is the property of a brick manufacturing company. As the senior police officer was talking to the old man the rest of his team rushed into the house and started throwing out the belongings. No sooner had they started than a bulldozer arrived and started to demolish the buildings. They did not only demolish the homestead but also three chicken houses that the headman had, containing about 2000 birds. The remaining live chickens were stuffed into sacks. The turkeys’ legs were tied and they were also shoved into sacks. Most of them suffocated. In addition puppies were also put into sacks and suffocated. They also towed the headman’s car away. It was found with no bonnet and a smashed windscreen. The headman had been living on the property for 27 years.  

After this they moved to another brick under iron homestead which they destroyed and took property such as fridges which were taken to an unknown destination. They targeted the four leaders of the community first. After that they started on the other homesteads. There was a lot of crying among the people: women and men and children.

At first we did not know how to respond. The police said that because I was not living there they could not give me any details. Then we did some follow-up and located property along the Old Esigodini Road. Once the people knew where their property was whole families (33 people) walked to where it was to guard it. Similar groups formed round property on the Gwanda Road (8 families) and in the bush (40-50 families). They slept out in the cold with no shelter for three nights by the road.

On 6th August the police returned at 9am and continued to destroy homesteads. We alerted the press, who came to witness what was happening, and we also notified Bulawayo churches and pleaded for food and blankets. We received help from Bulawayo Help Network, Whitestone Chapel and individuals who donated food, clothing and fuel.

A human rights lawyer managed to get the evictions stopped.  He came with papers around 2 pm. He showed the police the papers and instructed them to stop the operation immediately. There will be a hearing on 2nd September.

Records have been taken of the people now internally displaced and around 1000 names have been collected.

Bulawayo is not the only city affected by the destructions. The same thing is happening in Chinoyi and around Harare.

At present the families are very distressed.  Some of the children have been taken to pastors and relatives in the surrounding area. I am very puzzled and distressed at the manner in which this exercise was carried out in such an inhumane way to people who are struggling to make ends meet and the way in which animals were destroyed. To date people are still sleeping in the open indicating that they have nowhere else to go. The little that they have has been destroyed. One old man had to be taken to hospital and they said he had to be put into Ingutsheni Hospital because of his unstable mental condition.

Up to now we have not had any support from the local churches by way of food, blankets, clothing and transport. No one has come to visit. The displaced people are greatly encouraged when people come to see them.

 
Ben Freeth’s Address to US Congress – 2nd June 2015 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Sunday, 28 June 2015 13:48

“The only language the black man will understand is the language of the gun.  The more you kill the closer you get to your objective.”

 

“Our party must continue to strike fear into the heart of the black man, they must tremble . . .”

 

“I am the Hitler of the times . . .”

 

Imagine a President of a western country saying such things.  These are exact quotes from our President - except you need to substitute the word “black” for “white.”

 

 “Whites are not human beings . . .” said our late vice president.

 

We need to get the root of the problem in Zimbabwe.  What is it that caused the fastest shrinking economy in the recorded history of the world in a peace time situation?  What is it that brought the most industrialized country in sub Saharan Africa after SA into a state of 85% unemployment?  What is it that made the bread basket of Southern Africa into a country that would have had widespread death by starvation if food aid had not come in from the USA and the west every year for the last 14 years?  What is that has caused an estimated 25% of the entire Zimbabwe population to flee the country of their birth in such a short period of time?

 

At the root of it is the break down of the rule of law and the discrimination that has allowed Mugabe’s political elite to greedily grab or destroy homes, businesses and other assets from opposition members or people with a white coloured skin.  They then asset strip them and leave the workers on them hungry, poor and dependant on the ruling Party and international food aid for their very survival.

 

The racial record of the Mugabe’s ruling elite is evident: first there was the racially inspired genocide of the 1980s when the current regime murdered an estimated 20,000 Matabele people.  Then there is the white population in Zimbabwe that has depleted in numbers by approximately 90 percent.  In the last 15 years the white population on the farms has been systematically and lawlessly driven off their farms and is now less than 5 percent of what it was; and the ethnic cleansing of those rural areas continues.  Those last 5 % are persistently terrorized or criminalized - and face 2 years in jail for committing the crime of farming and living in their own homes in a country that is starving.   

 

My father in law, Mike Campbell, was abducted and severely beaten – and later died – when Mike took Mugabe to court in the regional African SADC Tribunal on the racial discrimination issue – and the fact that we as white people are constitutionally denied the right to a day in court when our homes and livelihoods are violently and systematically stolen.  Mike got a final and binding judgment to say that racial discrimination is taking place in Zimbabwe and must stop.  Despite that not a single signatory country to the International Convention for the Elimination of all forms of Racial Discrimination [ICERD] has asked the Committee for the Elimination of all forms of Racial Discrimination [ICERD] to investigate the continued breaking of the ICERD by the Zimbabwe Government - and with that the UN Charter, the African Charter and the SADC Treaty.   

 

Later, after the Zimbabwe Government was found to be in contempt of court, Mugabe got the whole court closed down, depriving quarter of a billion people in 15 countries in Southern Africa of a court of last resort when their own justice systems fail them.

 

As both the current African Union Chairman and the SADC Chairman he has recently told SADC: “I give poison not for you to swallow but to give to someone else” - the poison being racial hatred, and the “someone else” being white people.  The double standards of the world need to stop. Racism against white people is just as evil and wrong as racism against black people or any other people. 

 

I have been impressed by the moral manner in which so many in the USA wish to try to deal with immoral situations.  The Zimbabwe Democracy Act needs to remain in place and be strengthened.  At the same time, in the spirit of truth and the Martin Luther King civil rights movement, it is important that the USA made a complaint to CERD and asked for an investigation into the Zimbabwe Government.

 

Until non-discrimination, property rights and the rule of law are returned to the people of Zimbabwe and Africans as a whole, hunger, deprivation and regression will continue to be the order of the day.  Racial discrimination takes a nation into a never ending spiral of hate and recrimination.  There is no way forward while the world allows this to continue.  Silence is the sickening sound of tacit approval.     

 

Ben Freeth MBE

 
Senator Michael Carter's Speech to the Senate PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Saturday, 16 May 2015 22:05

5ht May 2015 

The concept of the Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-Economic Transformation (ZIM-ASSET) was at the centre of the President’s Speech. ZIM-ASSET is an appealing idea that needs US$27 billion to implement. Proof of its success, will be the creation of 2 million jobs. Job creation is the result of a growing economy. Sadly, it is not something that Zimbabwe has at the moment. A growing economy cannot be forced; it depends on a political and economic climate which is trustworthy, enabling and has integrity.

At the heart of ZIM-ASSET, there is a need to attract foreign-direct-investment, but this is difficult and is only partially working. The reason is that we are not providing what investors seek. They seek security and growth for their investment. This is exactly the same climate which local business requires. It is not different whether you are local or foreign, you will need the same environment for your business to be secure and for it to grow. The fact that local businesses are shrinking means that we are failing to provide the correct climate for them to succeed.

Government is literally taxing them to death as the Minister cannot balance his books. Therefore, we have the danger of the State and business becoming hostile to each other. The Minister of Finance and Economic Development as well as the Governor of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe are seeking to rebuild the integrity of our financial institutions. They deserve political support.

I met a friend recently who wants to buy a brick –making machine from China and he would like to bring it back here where his home is. However, for him to import it to Zimbabwe will cost him 45% of tax on the price of that machine. Instead, if he takes it to Botswana, he can take it there for free, he does not get taxed at all. Sadly, his decision will be to take it to Botswana and set up a new business there. Government needs to create the environment to allow the re-building of local businesses. If we can provide an investor-friendly environment for local businesses, it will be strange but very interesting because then, foreign-direct-investment, as if by magic, will start to come in because they will

see that the environment here is promoting locals and they would want to be part of it.

For local businesses to flourish, we need to provide equality before the law and secure property rights which are the foundations for growth. Do we provide a level playing field for all our citizens before the law? Sadly, we have not yet arrived at that point. The result is that we are not accountable enough to attract foreign investment or to enable our local businesses to flourish and sadly, corruption continues.

We have a long list of financial scandals which were motivated by political patronage. Do we have secure property rights? Certainly not in the agricultural sector.

Agreement amongst politicians is needed, just five things to promote growth and ZIM-ASSET could begin to be implemented;

1. Development must be our main priority and we must create a domestic investor-friendly environment.

2. To attract foreign-direct-investment, we need this domestic-friendly environment first of all, but then we also need to be regionally competitive. Therefore, we have to look at the region and be more attractive than our neighbours.

3. Thirdly, this is what I proposed in my motion last year which found some sense of feeling, but sadly did not go through but I still believe it; agricultural land requires security of tenure. Security of tenure on the agricultural land will empower farmers; it will relieve poverty, increase production, restart the manufacturing sector and begin the economic recovery of our nation. Zimbabweans are sufficiently educated, intelligent and mature enough to have the right to own agricultural land.

4. We need to get serious about corruption and accountability needs to become a value that we all cherish, not something we just speak about. Sometimes, when there is a clash between loyalty and accountability, the truth is not told because loyalty is a higher value than accountability or honesty. If people want to be accountable they have to be truthful.

5. Lastly, we need to include all the tribes of Zimbabwe, including the whites and the brown tribes as equal before the law and part of the vision for Zimbabwe.

Madam President, these things are achievable and are similar to those confronted and overcome by most successful companies and countries.

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