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can't go telling folk that life in Zimbabwe is murder
John Scott, The Cape Times (SA)
October 16, 2007
There is a big debate
going on in Musina about a large hoarding that proclaimed in red
letters: LIFE IN ZIMBABWE IS MURDER THESE DAYS. It didn't stay up
very long last week. Before the two workers had quite finished pasting
up the notice, armed police arrived, accompanied by nine soldiers
in a troop carrier, and arrested the men on unspecified charges.
They were handcuffed and carted off to the police station. The mayor
and a town councillor had also raced up to the scene of the crime
in their respective cars. The hoarding was meant to be read by the
thousands of Zimbabwean refugees pouring across the border. It said
it knew why they were in South Africa, but urged them return to
their own country in March to vote. Townsfolk opposed to the hoarding
are deeply divided. One group argues: "Zimbabweans don't need
to be told life in Zimbabwe is murder. They must know already, or
they wouldn't be fleeing across the border. "Reading that billboard
would make them even more depressed, and unlikely to return. Surely
it's our job to reassure them that things aren't so bad, otherwise
they'll be hanging round here until March." Another group says:
"Notices like that just further inflame rebellious Zimbabweans
unloyal to their great leader. Of course life in Zimbabwe isn't
murder, except to those who vote against him, and then they don't
deserve to live, anyway." A third group is pedantically insisting:
"Life in Zimbabwe can't be murder. Only a person can be murdered,
but if they arrive here and are able to read the board, then obviously
they haven't been murdered. It is not life that is murder, it is
death that is."
One thing they all do
agree on is that such notices should never be permitted on South
African soil. "It's very unfriendly to our neighbouring state,"
said a municipal spokesman. "How would we like it if Zimbabwe
allowed a notice on the other side of the Limpopo that said, for
instance: MBEKI IS A PAP PRESIDENT. We would expect the Zimbabwean
authorities to tear it down, too." "Even if it's true,"
added a spokesman for the group that said Zimbabweans didn't need
to be told life in Zim was murder. A minority in Musina believe
the short-lived billboard at least created a bit of excitement in
the town. A professional person confessed: "Once you've seen
the rock bed in the Munyengedzi River - it's called Sand River Gneiss
and is supposed to date back 3 850 million years, making it the
oldest rock in Africa - there's not much of interest here in Musina.
Life in Zimbabwe is murder these days made a nice change from the
usual Kentucky Fried Chicken and Coca-Cola ads. But the best part
was when the police and army rushed up to tear it down. If only
they were as quick when there is a real murder on this side of the
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