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African Tears Beyond Tears Innocent Victims Imire Can you hear the drums, by Cathy Buckle


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Hit List
March 5, 2011, 3:08 pm



Dear Family and Friends,

At 6 am in the morning, seven soldiers dressed in camouflage stood hitch hiking on the main highway leading to Harare. A few kilometres along the road another group were trying to flag down a lift. This was the day that Mr Mugabe and Zanu PF were holding their much advertised ‘Anti Sanctions Petition Campaign.’ The early morning was cool and overcast, the roadside grass dripping with dew, drenching strings of children as they cavorted along the road towards their schools. Smiling and waving, shiny-faced and innocent, they pushed and giggled, proud in their bottle green, navy blue, and deep purple uniforms.

On the outskirts of Harare there were three Police roadblocks within ten kilometres and an increasing number of soldiers sitting in the back of open pick up trucks. In the centre of Harare some shaven headed youths and a few newspaper vendors were wearing full size Zimbabwe flags strung around their necks and draped down their backs. And so the city braced for what was coming.

The first sign of what lay ahead came , as it always does, with shouting, whistling and banging. These are the Zanu PF  ‘youths’  calling people to come to the Zanu PF function. By 9 in the morning numerous big open trucks full of people were heading towards the venue. A 60 seater bus went past, filled to bursting with people even standing in the aisles. On the roof rack of the bus, sitting in fifteen lines of four, were another fifty or so people. These on the roof rack were the rabble rousers. Wearing the national flag wrapped around their heads and draped like towels round their shoulders, they whistled and shouted, banged their hands on the sides of the bus and waved their fists, the Zanu PF symbol.

A truck filled with white-robed Apostolic church members went past, forty to fifty women sitting on the floor of the truck, watched over by half a dozen shaven headed Church men, also wearing full length white robes. Sitting half in and half out of commuter minibus windows, youths wearing Zanu PF T shirts shouted for people to go to the Anti Sanctions rally. Mostly people did what they have become used to doing: they looked away and tried not to make eye contact.

“Down with Sanctions” the speakers at the rally shouted, clenched fists thrust over their heads. Down with, down with, down with – the same feverish, negative, chorusing that so personifies politics here. Mr Mugabe said there was a Hit List of Western companies he had instructed his Minister of Indigenisation to look into. Companies which include Old Mutual, Rio Tinto and BP. Barclays Bank and Standard Chartered Bank were singled out particularly by Mr Mugabe; he said they were on the Hit List of foreign owned companies to be investigated by Minister Kasukuwere.  

Two days later I popped into my local branch of Barclays Bank. They have installed new security doors since I was there a couple of weeks ago, a fascinating little coincidence considering the Indigenisation Hit List talk.  I thought I’d find the place full to bursting, with worried customers, but there was only one other non staff member in the bank on an otherwise busy Friday morning.  The Personal Banker on duty couldn’t answer any of my questions like: is my account going to be safe here, or, is there a chance you will close your branches in Zimbabwe?, Looking nervously over his shoulder, smiling even more nervously, he talked quickly and quietly:  the Hit List speech was the first time he’d heard about this, he said, they were as much in the dark as I was. I was worried about my account, he was worried about his job. I didn’t tell him that as a farmer I knew all about these Hit Lists and as a result was now a dispossessed farmer. The farm indigenisation Hit List left nearly three quarters of a million people who worked on the land without homes, jobs and pensions.  Three quarters of a million people of whom less than 10 thousand had white skin colour.

Until next week, thanks for reading, love cathy. 5th March 2011.  Copyright © Cathy Buckle. www.cathybuckle.com

For information on my new book “IMIRE”, about Norman Travers and Imire Game Park, or my other  books about Zimbabwe: “Innocent Victims,” African Tears,” “Beyond Tears;” and “History of the Mukuvisi Woodlands 1910-2010”, or to subscribe/unsubscribe to this letter, please visit my website or contact cbuckle@zol.co.zw



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