Sleeping Like a Hare Millions Billions Trillions    
African Tears Beyond Tears Innocent Victims Imire Can you hear the drums, by Cathy Buckle

It's up to you
July 17, 2015, 10:41 am


Dear Family and Friends,

The sunsets over Zimbabwe at this time of year are breathtaking: burnt orange, caramel, golden, glowing. Each evening as the sun slips towards the horizon you can’t help but look out on the majestic colours and listen to the clear, haunting songs of the Heuglin’s Robin. The books describe the call as a rising crescendo which says again and again: “it’s up to you, it’s up to you.” Apparently it’s the dust at this time of year that makes the sunsets so spectacular but you know that as soon as the sun sinks into the horizon the temperatures will drop dramatically into single digits and soon after the Robin will fall silent too.

Fifteen years into Zimbabwe’s upheaval  there are no shortage of big questions, moral issues and matters of conscience and  principle which leave us trying to decide what to do. Uppermost at the moment are the evictions of vendors from city streets, the eviction of farmers from agricultural land and the four month long disappearance of journalist/activist Itai Dzamara. To these and so many other issues we ask:  Do we stay quiet or speak out? Do we give a bribe or stand firm?  Do we compromise on right and wrong so as to have a peaceful ‘normal’ life? The questions go on and on as does the Robin’s litany: it’s up to you!

Since the December purging by Zanu PF of some of their most senior and long-standing officials, we have been a country in turmoil. Every day politics dominates the front pages of the news. Faction fighting, succession fighting, power struggles and positioning are the order of the day. As each ousted  Zanu PF official has been removed from office, their successors have moved in and begun flexing their muscles. District by district the newcomers  are positioning themselves and removing all traces of their predecessors influence and support.

In towns  the vendors are the victims of evictions while in country areas it’s the farmers again. For the many thousands of vendors the battle is ongoing but for the farmers it’s a different matter.  Fifteen years into land seizures it’s very hard to understand how any farmers have managed to keep going. Some have gone into strange and very one- sided partnerships with political heavyweights; some are renting their own land back from the very people who seized it from them; some have managed to be ‘given the nod’ from people in high political office.   

That all changed after the December upheavals in Zanu PF and farmers are being evicted by the new political figures in affected areas. With little or no notice they are being ordered off farms, regardless of previous  arrangements, deals, agreements or bits of paper. Relief should come from court orders and the police but it doesn’t, so farmers scramble to try and get meetings with people in high office, the higher the better.

This week front page headlines declared: “VP sucked into bribes scandal. ” An official in the CFU (Commercial Farmers Union) described how he tried to arrange a meeting with Vice President Mnangagwa to discuss farm invasions and officials openly demanded a ‘brown envelope’ containing at least US$500 in order to enable the meeting. Once the story hit the press there was a rash of denials and claims of ignorance along with the usual underlying threats.  


In another report this week, after years of trying to save his Beitbridge game farm, a farmer told how countless meetings and court orders had achieved nothing: political interference continually blocked police intervention on the property. The farmer said that there was undoubtedly one “political heavyweight in the district” who was driving the whole issue. "What the actual motivation behind this man's agenda is, is a mystery to me,” the farmer said. “If it is because I have not obsequiously ingratiated myself with him as some people do, then so be it, as I was not brought up in that mould.”

As political figures jostle for position and ordinary people lose their livelihoods in the scramble, it’s hard to see how we’ll ever find a way out of the mess? Surely the call of the Heuglin’s Robin holds our answer?   Until next time,  thanks for reading, love cathy.

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