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

Wiped clean
February 12, 2011, 3:03 pm



Dear family and friends

China’s Foreign Minister arrived in Harare just three days after a bunch of Zanu PF youths went running through the streets of central Harare.  According to The Herald newspaper, these men were on a police approved demonstration against foreign businesses and traders and even had a police escort on their route. The demonstration was apparently supposed to be protesting what was called the “slow pace of indigenisation.” The protest which began at the Zanu PF Headquarters was headed by a group calling themselves Upfumi Kuvadiki and it soon turned very ugly. Apparently hijacked shortly before it neared its final destination, the protest against foreign businesses rapidly degenerated into a looting spree.

Shops were ransacked, glass display cabinets smashed, and thousands of dollars worth of goods snatched. Laptops, cell-phones and TV’s were some of the items which disappeared in the arms of the looters. It took just a few minutes of lawlessness to destroy peoples’ livelihoods – something we have become very familiar with in Zimbabwe since the year 2000.

In the days that followed the incident there was much finger pointing, accusing and blaming. Within 24 hours ZBC had fixed their gaze squarely upon the MDC and proceeded to fill their news bulletins with more and more far fetched stories, none of which were backed up by police statements.

The furore had hardly died down when China’s foreign minister arrived to discuss investment opportunities. Foreign investment after we’ve just had protests against foreign businesses – a pall of confusion clouded the capital city! Our  Economic Planning Minister said  that the Chinese were: “looking into mining development, that is exploration and exploitation, agriculture, infrastructure development and information communication technology.”

The air surrounding the Chinese visit was heavy, suffocating with irony. Just three days before we’ve had youngsters protesting against foreign owned businesses and now we’re talking about massive Chinese investment. Even more ironic was the mention, in passing, of Chinese interest in Zimbabwean agriculture. Coming after 10 years of taking farms away from born and raised Zimbabweans because they have white skins, how can we be looking at a Chinese role in our country’s agricultural future?

One answer came in The Zimbabwean newspaper which quoted a speech by the Minister of Youth Empowerment last week. Speaking In Marondera about a white Zimbabwean farmer who had his land seized but was now managing to make a success on a small piece of rented land, Minister Kasukuwere  said:“ New black farmers are struggling to utilize land productively while white commercial farmers are realizing high yields out of our land. Life should be made difficult for such white farmers.”

The irony of a Chinese investment visit in a week of mayhem was exposed in the Independent newspaper in the readers’ SMS hotline which said it all:

“Zimbabwe can never be a colony of the US or Britain but it can be a colony of China. Talk about double standards.”

“It is difficult to say which is not colonisation, the British way or the Chinese way …”

“Zimbabwe must now allow China to take us for a ride…”

“This is another form of colonisation…

The visit is over, the propaganda continues but I am left haunted by the words of one man whose shop was looted : “ How do I come back? I’ve been wiped clean.” His words echo those of so many who have lost everything in the last decade where ugly politics has left multiple thousands of casualties in its wake.  A new war has just started: on one side is foreign investment and on the other is indigenisation, empowerment, racism and xenophobia. Until next week, thanks for reading love cathy.

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