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


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No respect
March 26, 2011, 8:32 am

 

Dear Family and Friends,

For the past fortnight Zimbabwe has been subjected to the most horrific images on ZBC television’s news bulletins. Every evening, during what is advertised as prime time, family viewing, ZBC TV have been showing film footage of hundreds of bodies being exhumed from a mine shaft in Mount Darwin. The same film clips are repeated in early morning bulletins, as children are getting ready for school, and again at lunch time; presenting images of such horror that it doesn’t bear thinking how these gruesome and gory sights are affecting young minds.  

The exhumations are not being carried out by the Ministry of Home Affairs, Department of Museums and Monuments, archaeologists, pathologists or other specialists. There don’t appear to be any independent witnesses, recorders or experts on hand. The Co- Home Affairs Minister, Kembo Mohadi was quoted in the press as saying: “My ministry is not in charge of the project and we are not part of it.” The Director of National Museums and Monuments said the same, resulting in much suspicion and political posturing.  The Co-minister involved in the country’s programme of National Healing really put his finger on the pulse when he said: “The truth must be told during this exercise, but how do you tell the truth when evidence has been exhumed and reburied without involving organisations like churches, the Organ of National Healing, civic society and other groups?”

The exhumations are being carried out by a group called The Fallen Heroes’ Trust whose co-ordinator is George Rutanhire, a member of the Zanu PF Politburo.

On television we do not see images of professionals and specialists carefully recovering the remains, instead we see men in blue overalls wearing gum boots and plastic gloves pushing and shoving bones into plastic bags. We do not see the recovered remains being carefully laid out for examination, investigation and scientific identification; instead we see great mounds of human remains, piled high on top of each other, partly covered with loose strips of plastic sheeting. We do not see ropes and barriers preventing members of the public from disturbing the site, instead we see people in their own clothes clambering in and out of the mine shaft to have a look. And then, horror of horrors, comes the report that schoolchildren, teachers and villagers in the area were forced to go down into the mine shaft to view the bodies close up. The trauma of what they have seen will surely haunt them for the rest of their lives.

Zanu PF say that the bodies in the mine shaft are the remains of people massacred by Rhodesian soldiers in the 1970’s. Eyebrows are raised for many reasons, one of which is that the film footage being shown by ZBC TV is of some corpses with hair still attached; bones still joined; clothes still intact. Journalists described a putrefying stench in the mine shaft; one reporter described fluid dripping from a body and there appear to be many flies buzzing around the exhumed remains. All this from bodies that have supposedly been underground for over three decades?

Perhaps worst of all is that this place of horror and tragedy has been turned into a prime Zanu PF propaganda venue. One after the other speakers are coming forward and castigating the  MDC for not visiting the site and condemning Rhodesians. Speeches criticizing and rebuking Prime Minister Tsvangirai are being made alongside mounds of human remains and we sit and watch in stunned silence at the crass insensitivity and obscenity of it all. Respect is sorely absent throughout this whole gruesome spectacle; respect for the dead, for their surviving relations and for millions of Zimbabwean children seeing such horror on television at breakfast, lunch and supper time. 

Until next time, love, cathy 



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