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  • Operation Murambatsvina - Countrywide evictions of urban poor - Index of articles

  • Remember Murambatsvina!
    May 18, 2007

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    Today is the second anniversary of the occasion when, the grubby little dictator, Robert Mugabe, openly declared his contempt for the man in the street, placed there and suffering because of his economic policies. In an ensuing "moment of madness" Bob, spurred by his secret service, declared that these people were filth and had to be fumigated, removed like cockroaches from the simple homes they had lived in for years.

    In the dead of winter, just like Stalin, one his heroes, Bob set the armed forces on defenceless families and brought in the bulldozers to throw them into the street. Within a matter of weeks, 700 000 people were living in the open, exposed to the harsh winter by night and loss of dignity and property by day. It was a hopeless situation as working men and women were tormented by the choice between going to work and leaving their property and helpless children in the open, or not going to work and getting fired. The expression between a rock and a hard place has never been so real.

    Two years later, neither the rock nor the hard place has made way for comfort. Instead, the people continue to eke out a miserable life, their eyes clearly displaying their hopelessness while Bob gleefully speeds past in his motorcade. An evil man indeed.

    How did the world react to this? South Africa, who blame their own frightening crime levels on apartheid's legacy of stripping people of their dignity and on poverty, saw no evil at all and continued its quiet diplomacy with Brother Bob. Does this country, the so-called hope of Africa, deserve to host the world cup?

    The UN, it must be admitted, sent in Anna to confront King Bob. She wrote a good report and was called all sorts of names by Zanu PF, a fate which befalls everyone who dares criticise Bob and his policies. The UN bureaucrats did their work but Kofi Annan was focussed on something else - his impending retirement. So more 'quiet diplomacy' ensued and won the day as Annan's schedule did not allow him to visit this country while he jet-setted the world making farewell speeches. It was a question of priorities.

    Zimbabweans helped where they could but, in their majority, whispered comments in the privacy of their offices. Nearly all expressed sympathy; however, no public display of outrage ever occurred. Some companies bought a few tents for some of their staff and, with conscience clear, went back to the business of seeing to the bottom line. The opposition stayed ominously silent, with no attempt to mobilise the people.

    The rest of Africa either supported Bob or kept their heads averted in passive solidarity. There is a tremendous shame in Africa when to spite your face you cut off your nose. Just for the sake of thumbing their noses at the EU, African leaders did not condemn Bob.

    Instead, two years later, they have rewarded this evil regime by nominating and electing it to head the UN body on Sustainable Development. Sustainable Development!? The irony could not be more bitter for those people still living in plastic tents with absolutely no facilities at all. Their fate was sealed simply because a grubby little dictator was afraid the people would rise up against him. So, he set out to destroy them and send them back to the bleak backwaters of the rural areas.

    The pain of last week's endorsement of Zimbabwe at the UN could not be more poignant. How dare the world vote him in to lead the way in sustainable development, for a country no longer able to feed itself, not because of drought or non existent sanctions, but because Bob in a great sulk after being defeated in a referendum, set about punishing the people by dismantling the agricultural sector. It is a deep-seated evil that knows no bounds.

    The praise singers in his party all have relatives who were affected by this operation and still they have no shame in actively applauding the oppression of a humble people. It was not the first time, nor will it be the last the Bob has insulted all who dare oppose him: in the language typical of a cunning and manipulative thug, he called on peasants to "strike fear in the hearts of our enemy the whites," he then turned on the same peasants and called them "totemless people" and "filth" and now he is restoring their citizenship rights because he needs them for 2008.

    The man is truly evil and yet he gets away with it every time. He has demonstrated that no one is above a bashing from him; his own party members, business executives, the man in the street, lawyers, judges, women marching with children, church leaders, members of the opposition - in short anyone who dares oppose him is the enemy.

    This man stands alone, evil and surrounded by fear and misery. Yet he continues to gloat publicly like Bokassa, Mobutu and Amin did before him.

    Africa should be hanging its head in shame.

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