One of the Pastors here most closely linked to the Murambatsvina
last year has tracked the nearly 1000 families displaced from a
camp on the outskirts of Bulawayo. He claims that in his estimate,
half those displaced have died since they were rendered homeless and
destitute by the 'clean up the filth campaign' of the Mugabe regime.
By the United Nations own estimates 700 000 people were displaced. My
estimate has always been much higher because we know that up to 40 per
of all who live in the towns and cities affected by the campaign, were
fact living as lodgers - most in illegal structures. One of my senior
for example has a sister in Harare where she has a two roomed home to
she added 7 other rooms, which were rented out to lodgers. The
gave her (a widow with two children) a home and an income. During the
campaign her extension was completely destroyed and with it her only
of an income.
Whatever the figures, even at the low level estimated by the UN - this
Church Pastor estimates that 300 000 will have died in the 11 months
the operation was launched. Today Green Peace are claiming that the
from the Chernobyl disaster in the Ukraine will reach 100 000 in two
decades. This was world news on the BBC this morning. The impact of
Mugabe did on May the 18th 2005 is many times more serious than the
from Chernobyl. The only difference is that Mugabe’s victims will die
lonely villages, far away from the searching lens of a TV camera. These
deaths will go unrecorded and unrecognized except for the attendance at
subsequent funeral of family and a Pastor who can do little but weep
those for whom God has made him shepherd.
In one month from now we will remember those who were displaced by the
regime in May 2005. Churches will hold memorial services and protests
take place across the country. But it will do little to remedy the
done to millions by a government that not only has lost its way but is
bent on destroying what little is left of the economy or it’s own
Despite the furor caused by the campaign and negative reports by the UN
many others, the campaign itself continues. Just yesterday my daughter
to the local shops where she was buying some vegetables from the local
vendors. Suddenly several Police vehicles arrived with police in plain
clothes in them. The vendors were rounded up and their produce
and they were taken to the local Police Station where they were charged
fined. I hear widespread reports that the demolition of 'illegal'
continues across the country. Last week a Minister confirmed that
instructions had been given to the effect that all such structures were
be demolished in urban areas.
The motivation is not what they are saying it is - it has nothing to do
the question of legality, it is a deliberate attempt to destroy
areas from which dissent might come following economic collapse and the
withdrawal of all our basic rights. It is an attempt to move millions
people from the sprawling urban areas to the rural districts where they
be controlled and manipulated for political reasons and social control.
human consequences are not a concern. In fact the architects of this
programme welcome the deaths of those they regard as enemies.
Mugabe is on record as saying that he admired Hitler. Perhaps he also
admires Stalin - they were both cut from the same cloth. Hitler
eliminated all those he regarded as enemies of the Reich. Stalin
personally overseeing the murder of a million people and responsible
killing a quarter of the total population of Russia. The Russians made
film on the Stalin era but it was so horrific they canned it and it has
never been shown in public.
Mugabe is directly and indirectly responsible for millions of deaths
displacements in Zimbabwe. He is responsible for the displacement of
millions as economic and political refugees to other countries. He is
responsible for millions of internally displaced refugees who have lost
homes and livelihood at his hands. He is responsible for the hundreds
thousands who die each year in Zimbabwe because they have no access to
adequate food, shelter or medicine.
Will he ever be held accountable? It certainly has become more likely
recent years and the Charles Taylor episode shows that it is very
that unless he is able to persuade another State and government to
sanctuary, he will get his day in court. But as recent experience also
shows - this process is long and drawn out and the likelihood is that
will die before justice is done.
But our concern is for the living and those who are still to be born.
of us would say let him go - together with his coterie of sycophants
allow us to get on with our lives in some semblance of a normal,
State where the rule of law prevails.
There are rumors that the international community is in fact trying to
engineer such an outcome. That regional leaders and the Secretary
the UN have a plan and that Mugabe himself is negotiating his exit. But
have been there before and have little faith in the UN, the SADC or
else. Malawi has just announced they are going to name a new highway
Robert Gabriel Mugabe and have invited him to open it and enjoy a full
visit to that impoverished country. The road, by the way, was funded by
European Union. Can you blame us for being skeptical?
No! We stick to our plan for a national conference of representatives
all sectors of Zimbabwean life to determine a new constitution and a
transitional mechanism to fresh, free and fair elections in 2007. Only
a transition will give us the clean start we need, the respectable
international standing as a democratic and progressive State and allow
as Zimbabwean citizens to decide what to do with our past and our
Anything less would be a betrayal of those who have given their all in
struggle against this Zanu PF tyranny in the past two decades or more.
Bulawayo, 18th April 2006