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We're all waiting for the 'big guns' now

I do volunteer work occassionaly for a welfare society. Yesterday, I witnessed fellow Zimbabweans in such emotional trauma that I cannot get the picture out of my head. I think the world must try visualise the same pictures as I saw.

I have had a personal taste of the intimidation tactics that are used on people that speak out, so for the purpose of this report, I will not use real names.

Myself and a welfare officer, “Luke”, attended to a report that farmers had been removed from their farms in Centenary and animals were still on the farms.

To summarise two days negotiating, we were told in no uncertain terms that our police force would offer us no protection, and even if we were hurt or killed, the situation was out of their hands.

In respect of the animals, we were informed that most farmworkers were still able to take care of the animals, and we were pleased to be told by a genuinely concerned member of the ZRP that he would phone us if animals were being mistreated.

At the police station there were over thirty farmworkers sitting or lying under a tree. Most of them were still in their overalls and gumboots. We learnt that these worker’s houses had been burnt down by war vets and they came to the police for assistance. The police offered them a piece of ground to sit on and wait, as important people were arriving today to assess the situation and resolve the current crisis. All those workers had left was the clothes on their back.

I asked Luke “What are they going to eat today?”

Luke informed me that even prisoners have to rely on relatives to feed them as the police do not have enough food, so therefore the farmworkers will go hungry.

We checked our stocks, but realised in dismay, that we had already acted like good Samaritans, as we had given most of our food away to a family in the Chadereka area, where we had spent the night. The family who were relatives of Luke's, had only wheat and yellow roller meal to eat, both donated by an aid organisation. This family’s life had been reduced to mere survival.

We left the farmworkers to their uncertain future, and left the area with heavy hearts as the situation was beyond our control and there seemed no likely solution in sight. We should have at least been pleased that the animals we went to assist were all ok, yet the human suffering marred any sense of achievement.

The world looks on whilst innocent people are suffering, whether by acts of violence (farmworkers) or starvation due to shortages of food.

I only wish that somehow I could make a difference to these people’s lives, but right now it is out of any ordinary person’s control – it is up to the “big guns” to stop this human rights abuse.


scotchcart says:

Maude, this is a very distressing story and yes we all have our hopes pinned on the meeting in Lusaka.

What I would like to say is don't underestimate the power of solidarity. Yes the people under the tree wanted relief of their immediate and severe distress. If you have nothing else, a smile and a hug goes far. It lifts the heart and helps people find the courage to go on. They smile and hug the next person and the next.

The difficulty for people on the ground is that emotion is contagious. So some of the stress moves to you.

And that is the role of people outside the country. Help the people with internet to keep smiling because they can pass on the smile and with things as bad as they are, that smile might be a life or death moment for the person on the ground.

And I know the pessimists will say that doesn't change anything. Well it does. There are moves afoot in the diplomatic world but it will help us not one bit if we are not around to see the result. So while they do their bit, let us do ours. Every smile matters. We are here to change difficult conditions not to be changed by them!

Thanks for the report Maude and please know our thoughts are with you.

Submitted by scotchcart on 12 April 2008 - 12:46pm
Malcolm says:

To Scotchcart - "Every smile matters."

If you get the chance check out the photo on the Mail&Guardian website. There's one sure to turn your stomach. Judging by the body language, I wouldn't be overly hopeful of anything concrete coming from the SADC meeting in progress in Zambia - not with Robbing Hood and Maid Mebeki exchanging vows across the border!

Submitted by Malcolm on 12 April 2008 - 3:28pm
scotchcart says:

Malcolm, I just get adverts. But I did learn that Ministers Munangagwa and Mumbengegwi are going to Lusaka. I think this is significant. They are heavy weights and actually it matters to have people with know-how there.

Someone else can explain Munangagwa - he has organizational ability and having faced death-by-hanging (have I got the right guy?) he has a mental resilience most of us don't have.

Mumbengegwi has been Ambassador to the UN, EC and UK. He was Chairman of the Security Council during the first Iraq war.

It's time to 'talk turkey'. Concrete suggestions. Specific details. Froth will be detected in an instant.

Thanks for the link. The SA press are doing quite a good job, but Sokwanele is still the best with Comrade Fatso giving us a good human angle.

Submitted by scotchcart on 12 April 2008 - 4:08pm
scotchcart says:

I've had a good look around - there seem to be three sets of pictures. The most common looks like the arrival. There is another with a soldier in the background probably as they approach an office such as State House. And another in front of a very high fireplace - probably State House.

I don't see the picture of relaxed confident men.

I heard Morgan Tsvangirai on SWRadioAfrica. Now he was confident. He was reasoned. He was calm and funny. He is able to engage in discussion without losing his temper.

And then I realized I have rarely heard him speak - and certainly not recently. I was positively impressed. Warmed and reassured. He was articulate and approachable. He felt 'real' - relaxed, sincere, in touch, on top of things, able to listen.

He has a big job to do in Lusaka today. He is no longer just the leader of the opposition - as if that was ever a 'just'. He has to show a whole region the way forward. He has to show understanding and command of international politics, international banking, international law, UN procedures . . . This is genuinely a new dawn. Even people who voted against him, and some did after all, even those people must be looking with admiration today.

We are leading now - and leading requires a conversation with followers - a genuine conversation where we hear what they have to say. That conversation has begun.

Submitted by scotchcart on 12 April 2008 - 4:38pm
Madresicilia says:

Maud I am so sorry to hear of this event and others similar. Please be assured that you did what you could. In times like this, just your presence has an effect. The hyenas are out in force it seems and whatever their race, whenever their time, they run as a pack, not as thinking individuals. I think that the day to day actions of individuals with integrity are of great importance at times like this. All that is needed for injustice and violenec to prevail is for good people to sit back and say there is nothing they can do. Each one of us contributes to the collaborative construction of peace and justice. Thank you for sharing this, don't lose hope and know that you are all in out thoughts, wherever we are.

Submitted by Madresicilia on 12 April 2008 - 4:41pm
Malcolm says:

Try this one at Reuters. There's Kaunda complete with his customary handkerchief ever on standby to cry in - you know how it is at weddings. Don't forget the previous Kaunda regime and Mugabe stood on the frontline, at various times, in the struggle against colonialism, and the self determination of SA. It is unlikely that they will now pull in different ways. I'd pin my hopes on whatever Mocambique and Botswana can add to the debate, small contibution though it may be.

Submitted by Malcolm on 12 April 2008 - 7:22pm
Paida says:

Thanks Maude. Good job. It’s great to hear what’s going on the ground. My friends and I in the diaspora are getting desperate. We search the internet just so we can keep going. It’s a desperate feeling. We are angry that we are sitting here and unable to offer a hand to those who need it most, those who are caught in the crossfire, the grass on the battle field. But we are hopeful because those images you are collecting will tell a story. They are the testimony that refutes Mbeki’s “There is no crisis.” Tsvangirai is to be doing a good job too. He seems to be keeping ahead of Mugabe, and he needs our support. Again, the images of farmers who go on without food but do not give up show resilience, and that’s what we all need right now’ the strength to keep up the fight. I don’t see Mugabe holding on forever. In the process, some will die yes; but the truth remains, his days are numbered

Submitted by Paida on 12 April 2008 - 8:21pm
'Ave A laugh says:

Just an idea, remove travel restrictions for Bob and typically he will come to his favoured Harrods for shopping. I am sure Zimbabweans and everyone will enjoy watching his smug face when Tatchell accoast him

Submitted by 'Ave A laugh on 12 April 2008 - 11:18pm
Malcolm says:

Saw part of a documentary about Taiwan on BBC, and the commentator suggested that Taiwan consolidated independence through trade. Probably not original, but I hope SADC will look to where it hurts most - their pockets. Isolating oneself in order to proove independence is a lesson in folly that is quite evident in Zimbabwe, and Mugabe is too 'head in the cloud' with outdated doctrines to see reality. The poor Mr Black Man chip on the shoulder rhetoric will keep Africa in the past. We know about imperialism, colonialism and racsism (which by the way are NOT mutually inclusive) and its impacts. Just as I know I was born a male, I dont have to keep on pulling my trousers down every five minutes and show the world to confirm it. (Ah, now I see Mugabe's problem!)

Trade and ensuing wealth will give African independent states the means to forge ahead with their destiny. Countries bordering Zimbabwe do, and will more so, bear the ecconomic brunt of an unstable Zimbabwe. At this juncture, then I would suggest that the option to relocate the 2010 soccer world cup would be an appropriate reaction to Mbeki. The kind of reaction China is facing over Tibet through the Olympics is putting a dent in its efforts to gain worldwide acceptance and enter the world trade stage.

What intelligent politicians know is that a crisis tends to develop quite rapidly. The less intelligent ones debate it with retrospective insight, as if this denotes any proactiveness. SADC does not have a reputation for courage or determination. They could change this over the Zimbabwe situation. They would garner respect from international governments and reap benefits when potential trading nations take confidence in displays of integrity and maturity. WHich way SADC now?

Submitted by Malcolm on 13 April 2008 - 2:29am
Phillip - Cape Town says:

The souls of the northern dead cry out
"Mbeki, your idle and mute fuel our doubt!
You knew it was wrong, but all along,
you danced to the tune of the murderous lout.
Now all that's left of our once lovely land,
is smouldering ruin, and death by your hand.
'Quiet Diplomacy' the concience stills,
and sleep evades not, the one who kills".

Submitted by Phillip - Cape Town on 15 April 2008 - 3:38pm

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