Keeping things in perspective
Just this past weekend we have had three deaths of people closely
with us. This is becoming all too common and points to the crisis here
taking on a new dimension. Yesterday a young man walked through the
he had just arrived from the UK where he has married and works for the
London Police. He was here to see to the needs of his parents and I
him that one of the things that worried me was that the crisis was now
reaching beyond empty supermarket shelves and becoming life threatening
Two of the deaths this weekend were relatively young people - one was
tuberculosis death, the other a sudden death in hospital from causes
unknown. Our cemeteries are expanding exponentially as people with HIV
to get a proper diet and are unable to receive treatment of any kind
they become Aids sufferers. The third death was a grandmother who had
ill for some time.
The statistics are horrendous - 1,6 million orphans - nearly a
third of all
children, increasing at the rate of 350 a day. Nearly 1000 deaths a day
the highest child mortality in the world, the highest maternal
levels in Africa, if not the world. Add to this 3 500 Aids deaths, 1000
deaths from Tuberculosis, 550 deaths from Malaria every week. Add to
water borne diseases as urban water supplies go untreated and sewerage
systems fail and effluent plants fall into disrepair. Add to even these
terrifying statistics the toll from malnutrition and even starvation.
Yet the regime here shows no sign that it is even aware of the nature
extent of the crisis. They act as if almost every citizen was an enemy
that their deaths were therefore a matter of little significance. Their
total preoccupation with the retention of power overrides all other
concerns. It is astonishing to say the least, especially for someone
myself who knows personally, so many of the leadership. I doubt if we
have 8 million people in the country by the time of the proposed
in March 2008.
That is half the population we predicted for the country by 2003 of 16
million. It chills me to think that just a few years ago we heard of
statement by Didymus Mutasa that Zimbabwe would be better off with 6
people who supported Zanu PF. Chilling to think that they thought like
years ago and that this process of self destruction and genocide was in
planned and deliberate, not simply the results of crass ineptitude.
in a new league all by itself. It makes Pol Pot and the Rwandan
look amateurish and clumsy.
In the face of this unfolding human tragedy on a scale (in relative
not seen since Stalin and Hitler, I find the whole attitude of the
incomprehensible. Just take two headlines in the past two days -
backs down' in the Standard and then today 'Violent clashes outside
Headquarters' in Harare in Zimdaily. Both refer to the story about
Women's Assembly decision to remove Lucia Mativenga from her post as
Chairlady of the MDC Women's wing and replace her with Theresa
In the first instance it was the decision of the Women in the MDC to
against their leadership. It was the representatives of all districts
provincial Assemblies that met and elected Theresa Makone virtually
unanimously. The fact that Lucia has decided to fight back is nothing
extraordinary - its politics. By doing so she has exhausted what
and support she had in the leadership of the MDC and the matter is now
dead letter. Theresa's election still has to be reported formally to
National Executive but she is already hard at work organising the
wing in a way that we have not seen for years.
But the local press (forget the State controlled media - that is just
joke) and the South African press are making a huge story out of the
thing. Suggesting that the MDC might split again (a repetition of the
October 2005 incident that did such damage and from which we are just
recovering). That is simply nonsense.
But when it comes to the really big issues - like that of the silent
genocide that is killing millions of our people or the tidal wave of
refugees flooding out of Zimbabwe into neighboring countries, the media
little except pick up the occasional incident - such as the tragic
the man who died of starvation outside the Home Affairs Office in the
The wholesale abuse of Zimbabweans in South Africa and in Botswana goes
largely unreported. Journalists pay scant regard to the real story that
cleverly disguised and hidden by Zanu PF rhetoric and propaganda.
When I read the story today of the Matabeleland massacres in the 80's
think that I lived through that in Bulawayo, was very largely ignorant
what was going on in my own backyard, then I realize the full extent of
failure of our press and media. Those who did do something were simply
visible to the ordinary men and women. The media, by their very nature,
a responsibility to search for the real stories in any situation and
publish those stories with integrity and conviction.
The Soweto massacre was one such incident carved into the mind of the
by a vigorous press and media. It involved the killing of 62 young
who were protesting the use of Afrikaans in schools. Set that against
thousands dying every week in Zimbabwe as a consequence of a delinquent
rapacious regime. It bears no comparison - yet I see no significant
campaign around this issue.
Lets keep these things in perspective. There is only one agenda in
today and that is how to remove Zanu PF from power and replace it with
government that will restore sanity to the country. Anyone supporting
other agenda, no matter how justified in normal circumstances, is just
perpetuating our misery and mortality.
Bulawayo, 19th November 2007