A Peoples Government?
I have just come in from visiting the squatter camps at Kilarney
Bulawayo. They have been there since independence in 1980 and are home
transient population of homeless people who live in makeshift shelters.
can see how long they have been there by the trees and shrubs that have
Today there were just smoking ruins of what had been homes. The people
sitting with what they had left - a few blankets and pots and sticks.
Perhaps an item of furniture or two. We saw armed Police still at work
smoke billowing up behind them in the valley below us. A local Pastor
to us that they had threatened him when they found him talking to the
in one settlement.
There are three separate camps - all told I am informed, about 2000
women and children. The site is on a barren hillside facing south and
tonight we will have sub zero temperatures and a southeast wind blowing
the way from the artic across South Africa.
Three days ago they were warned - move or else. Many started to
their meager homes, many simply ignored the threat. Today several
made military vehicles arrived with a number of armed police onboard
these then went from settlement to settlement burning homes and
people to move by tomorrow (Sunday) or face the destruction of their
This community of the poorest people in the country will spend tonight
in the open. Local Pastors said they would go in after the Police left
area to assess needs and to ask the people what they wanted to do. 90
cent have nowhere to go at all.
Last week I saw a similar exercise in Dulibadzimu - a township in the
town of Beitbridge. My estimate then was that in that exercise at least
third of the total population of the town would be rendered homeless. I
personally put 5 families into my workshop until they can find an
alternative. A widow I know, Mrs. Siphali, came to me and said they
destroyed my home and I have three children in local schools - one
write O levels. "What can you do" she asked?
What makes this pogrom against the absolute poor so evil is that it is
the worst time of the year - mid winter. There has been little warning
no preparation of any alternative accommodation and the exercise is
carried out nationwide - millions of people are involved. If this were
stopped I would estimate that at least 2 million people - many of them
children - will be rendered homeless and destitute. Without access to
amenities, water and sanitation.
Many will take the only route to safety - across the Limpopo and South
Africa will have to brace itself for another influx of economic
from Zimbabwe. This time however they will be desperate and will be
to do anything to make a bit of money and I mean anything.
Bulawayo 11th June 2005