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Hold on. Do not be afraid. Change is coming.
Saturday 27th April 2008
Dear Family and Friends,
I am sitting in the shade of a big old Msasa tree writing this letter by hand because yet again the electricity is off. It is a magnificent day so typical of early winter in Zimbabwe: a wide blue sky, comforting warm sun and a refreshing gentle breeze. It's hard to concentrate on telling this tragic story of events here when so many jewels are on display just a few feet away: a blue headed lizard nodding on a lichen covered branch; lines of red soil left by white ants climbing ever higher into the tree; bright orange crane flowers and an exquisite red firefinch collecting feathers and fluff for his nest. Its a deceptive paradise where violence rages just out of sight and final election results have still not been released four weeks after people voted. Its a paradise which can only momentarily take our minds off the nightmare that has become Zimbabwe.
What a disgraceful insult these 2008 elections have become to the people of Zimbabwe who have suffered so much, lost so much and yet have remained peaceful and turned the other cheek despite the most extreme provocation and deprivation.
As we stand now without a parliament, with no sworn in MP's and still not knowing who the newly elected President of Zimbabwe is, we find ourselves stuck in a frightening and barbaric No Man's Land.
Every day the reports of horror continue to emerge. Youngsters in uniform going door to door in villages at night; men with guns; beatings, house burnings and torture. People having burning, molten plastic dripped onto their backs and doctors treating patients who have been whipped with bicycle chains. The MDC reports that 10 of their supporters have been murdered, 3000 displaced from their homes and 500 hospitalized since the elections. Listed amongst the people murdered is a five year old boy, Brighton Mbwera from Manyika Village. This little boy, too young to read or write and a complete innocent in this month of hell, burnt to death in a house set on fire during the rampage of political vengeance that is tearing our country apart.
As each day has passed since the elections, Zimbabwe has drawn quieter and quieter - silenced by fear. No one knows who to trust, who they can talk to or who might be listening. One man described how he and his family eat a small plate of sadza at dusk and then go indoors and sit in silence in the dark just listening to the noises in the village. The slightest change, an unfamiliar sound, the alarming of a night bird, an unknown voice and the family immediately get outside and hide in the bush. People are living in constant fear of burnings and beatings and are ready, always, to take flight at a moments notice. This week even our own church leaders warned of genocide being a real possibility if these events are not stopped immediately.
While the voices of Zimbabweans have been silenced, the calls from outside continue to rise and for this we are deeply grateful. Ordinary men and women in South Africa, civic society leaders, churches, political leaders - a great roar of disapproval over events in Zimbabwe is reaching a crescendo. Most touching in the last few days was the voice of the Archbishop of York, John Sentamu, speaking on BBC radio. Asked if he had a message for the ordinary people of Zimbabwe, Archbishop Sentamu said: "Hold on. Do Not be afraid. Change is coming."
Until next week, thanks for reading, love cathy.
19th April 2008
Dear Family and Friends,
Behind every tree, under every bush and around every corner, it seems there is a British enemy waiting to invade Zimbabwe.
"We must maintain the utmost vigilance in the face of vicious British machinations," Mr Mugabe warned as he spoke at his celebration of Zimbabwe's 28th anniversary of Independence.
No one that I've spoken to this week had even the vaguest clue of what a machination is. A few thought it had something to do with machinery or engines, others that it was a mispronunciation of the word imagination. Still others wondered if these mysterious machinations had anything to do with the Chinese ship steaming around looking for somewhere to unload its cargo of death destined for Harare. The ship loaded with 3 million bullets, 1500 rocket propelled grenades and 3000 mortar shells. So we sat on the edge of our chairs this Independence day wondering just exactly where the British are hiding and what their unknown vicious something-or-other means to our daily lives.
Nearly thirty years after Independence the threats and warnings of British plots haven't just worn thin, they've worn out altogether. It is generally agreed that at most there are perhaps thirty thousand white people left in Zimbabwe - a miniscule percentage in a population of approximately 11 million people. It's way past time for our leaders to stop blaming someone else and accept responsibility for their own deeds and machinations such as those portrayed on the front page of one weekly independent newspaper:
"Hundreds flee Zanu PF Rampage."
"Murder, torture, terror."
It's three weeks since Zimbabwe voted and we are exhausted, frustrated and frightened. As each day passes there is less and less food to buy, more and more reports of people beaten and hiding and still no final election results.
Zimbabweans want food and jobs not grenades and bullets. We want our voices to be heard and our votes to be respected. When the South African Transport workers union refused to unload the Chinese cargo ship in Durban this week they showed the way and we thank them for this. Zimbabwe is not at war, it is hungry.
Until next week, thanks for reading, love cathy
Hunting us down
Sunday 13th April 2008
Dear Family and Friends,
I received a call early one morning this week from a friend in a small country town. Speaking quickly and quietly for fear of being overheard, he told me of the frightening events that were going on all around him. Eight double cab vehicles had arrived in the town. Armed men in civilian clothes alighted. They had lists of names of people who had been involved in the election campaign for the opposition MDC in the area.
"They are hunting us down," he said. "Each and every one of us is being sought out, beaten and punished for supporting the MDC."
Some have had their homes burnt down, large numbers of people have been beaten and a local opposition organizer said :" it is terrible, there are injured people everywhere."
Later another call came, this time the story was of events on one of the few remaining commercial farms. Again the eye witness account was of armed men.
There were youths too, many scores of them and they were clearly high on drugs and drink. The drumming, singing, shouting and intimidation carried only one
message: there will be no change in Zimbabwe.
Scores of stories like this are coming in from all over the country. Armed men, drugged youths, lists of opposition supporters and activists, and a wave of fear sweeping over our country. None are being spared : men, women, children.
Beating, burning, threatening and intimidating is the result of the brave voices of Zimbabweans across the country who voted for change.
While this goes on the economic and domestic situation for families everywhere has reached absolutely critical levels. In the fortnight since the elections food supplies in the shops have dropped to almost nothing. One major supermarket in my home town this weekend had lines and lines of scouring powder but no basics at all - no rice, pasta, flour, cereals, tin, jars or in fact anything edible. All fresh produce from milk and eggs to vegetables and meat has become virtually unobtainable as thugs and mobs close down farms, terrify workers and rob the nations shelves of the last few mouthfuls of food. A friend who helps feed children whose parents have died of AIDS, waited for almost 5 hours at the local Grain Marketing Board Depot while every single bag of the precious staple grain was loaded onto army trucks. She left empty handed and had also failed to find any beans, fish or even soya to buy for vulnerable children hungry and alone.
The reaction of our neighbours to the terror and tragedy unravelling Zimbabwe is beyond all understanding. South African president Thabo Mbeki emerged from an hour long meeting with Mr Mugabe saying: "There is no crisis in Zimbabwe."
Fourteen African heads of state met for 12 hours in Zambia and emerged saying:
"election results must be released expeditiously."
Of course we don't know what went on behind closed doors but it seems like quiet diplomacy has again been the convenient smoke screen for Africa's Big Men.
It is no comfort whatsoever to us mums who can't find enough food for our families. It is no comfort to frightened men whispering on crackly telephone lines about men with guns on an opposition witch hunt. It is no comfort to farmers trying to grow food but faced with drugged, drunken youths who want what they've got.
Zimbabweans voted for change a fortnight ago, the MDC announced that it had been achieved but day by day that change is being painfully, brutally stripped away.
Until next week, love cathy.
"That's the moment you should quit politics"
Saturday 5th April 2008
Dear Family and Friends,
As we stand exhausted and betrayed at this critical moment in Zimbabwe's
crisis, it seems pertinent to look back over the last few days and record
who said what.
On the 29th March shortly after casting his ballot Mr Mugabe said: "We are
not in the habit of rigging... We don't rig elections. I cannot sleep with
my conscience if I have rigged,"
On the 29th March, sure that Zanu PF would win the elections, Mr Mugabe
said: "We will succeed. We will conquer. Why should I cheat? The people are
there supporting us. The moment the people stop supporting you, then that's
the moment you should quit politics."
On the 29th March asked if he would participate in a run off Presidential
election should the result not be decisive, Mr Mugabe dismissed the
suggestion and said: "We are not in the habit of boxing matches here. We
knock each other out in the first round."
In an evening press conference on the 1st April MDC President Morgan
Tsvangirai said: "Zimbabwe will never be the same again; the people have
spoken with one voice. I would like to thank the millions who came to
reclaim their dignity and invest in the change they can trust."
In the evening of the 1st April the world media went into a frenzy and
reported that a deal had been done and Mr Mugabe was about to step down.
The news didn't last long and a CNN reporter said: "What's clear is that
nothing is clear."
On the 2nd April at a press conference MDC Secretary General Tendai Biti
announced election results based on figures displayed as public notices
outside polling stations. Biti said: "Zanu PF have lost this election.
Morgan Richard Tsvangirai is the next president of Zimbabwe."
On the 3rd April, long before the results of the Presidential election had
been announced, Deputy Minister of Information Bright Matonga said: "Zanu
PF is ready for a run-off, we are ready for a resulting victory. ... we
only applied 25 per cent of our energy into this campaign... we are going
to unleash the other 75 per cent that we did not apply in the first case."
On the 3rd April the former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said:
"If he (Mr Mugabe) wants to come here, the (Malaysian) government should
welcome him. If he has lost, he has to accept the decision of the people,
that is the best thing he can do."
On the 4th of April, before the results of the Presidential election had
been announced, Zanu PF Secretary Didymus Mutasa confirmed that Mr Mugabe
would contest in a re-run. He said: "We are down but not out. Absolutely
the candidate will be Robert Gabriel Mugabe - who else would it be other
than our dear old man?"
On the 4th April, hinting at what will inevitably be the slogan if there is
re-run of the election, war veteran leader Jabulani Sibanda said: "It now
looks like these elections were a way to open for the reinvasion of this
country [by the British]."
And so now we wait. We thought our poor broken country had suffered enough
and that at last our prayers had been answered - it seems not - not yet.
Until next time, thanks for reading, love cathy.
A pebble on the road
Wednesday 2nd April 2008
Dear Family and Friends,
It has been an excruciating three and a half days waiting for the Zimbabwe
Electoral Commission to announce the results of the March 29th elections. At the
time of writing this letter at 3.30 pm on the 2nd April 2008, the full
parliamentary results have not yet been announced. None of the figures for the
Presidential, Senate and Local Council elections have been announced at all.
The results are coming out at un-advertised intervals and at rate slower than a
snails pace. The waiting has been utterly exhausting, not to mention cause for
considerable suspicion but, as we Zimbabweans are so good at doing, we have
waited patiently and calmly. After all, we've been waiting for change since
February 2000 so a few more hours or days is a mere pebble on our rocky road.
On the evening of the 1st April 2008 after hours of frantic international media
speculation about deals, talks and resignations, MDC President Morgan Tsvangirai
addressed a press conference. As one, those of us who had access to the
broadcast, sat forward in our seats. Mr Tsvangirai's words will go down in the
history of this long and painful struggle we are nearing the end of. In part he
"I would like to thank the millions who came to reclaim their dignity and
invest in the change they can trust. The votes cast on Saturday was for a change
and a new beginning. It was a vote for jobs; it was a vote for food, for
dignity, for respect, for decency and equality, for tolerance, for love and for
Mr Tsvangirai urged the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission to proceed with haste in
announcing the full results of the election and said that the MDC would be
disclosing their own tabulated totals on Wednesday. He said there were no deals,
talks or resignations and wouldn't be until all results had been announced
At 1.30pm on Tuesday the 2nd of April 2008 the MDC announced that they had won
the parliamentary and presidential elections in Zimbabwe. Speaking at a press
conference in Harare, MDC Secretary General Tendai Biti announced the following
results based on figures which had been displayed outside polling stations as
prescribed by electoral law.
2,832,243 votes had been cast.
99 parliamentary seats had been won by the MDC (Tsvangirai)
96 seats had been won by Zanu PF
11 seats had been won by MDC (Mutambara)
1 seat had been won by independent Jonathan Moyo.
3 further parliamentary seats were subject to by-election and Mr Biti said the
MDC were confident of securing victory in these constituencies too.
With regard to the results of the Presidential votes, Mr Tendai Biti announced
the following percentages:
50,3% to Morgan Tsvangirai
43,8% to Robert Mugabe
7 % to Simba Makoni
As a result of the above figures Tendai Biti said: "Morgan Richard Tsvangirai
has won this election."
Two hours after the MDC had announced victory the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission
produced another batch of 11 results which give Zanu PF 93 seats, MDC
(Tsvangirai) 96 seats, MDC (Mutambara) 9 seats and 1 seat to Independent
candidate Jonathan Moyo. A further 7 results are still outstanding.
Its not clear how this is going to end but what is clear is that the avalanche
towards change has started. It may take a few days or even a few weeks but we
will continue to wait patiently until we can stand up with dignity and self
respect and say that we are proud to be Zimbabweans.
Until my next letter,
thanks for reading this update. With love cathy.
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