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


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Blood in the dust
June 2, 2012, 7:56 am

 

Dear Family and Friends,

With overnight temperatures starting to drop below 5 degrees Celsius and frost peeping over the hedges, winter is upon us but it’s not just the temperatures that have left us chilled and shivering in the last few days.    

Hardly had the UN Human Rights commissioner Navi Pillay left  Zimbabwe after her five day visit to the country than there was blood on the dusty ground of Mashonaland East. During her visit Ms Pillay had commended President Mugabe on his recent calls for no more political violence but as soon as she was out of sight, news came of murder and mayhem in Mudzi. 

Sixty seven year old Cephas Magura died after being hit with stones while seven other MDC members were seriously injured and rushed  to hospital in Harare. The MDC had police clearance for their rally but said that when their members came under attack from  Zanu PF youths the police: “did not act.” Eye witnesses also said they saw the Zanu PF Member of Parliament for the area a few metres from the site of the attack. The MDC reported that an autopsy on Mr Magura showed there had been multiple blows with blunt objects to his body and head. On release from hospital another of the MDC victims not only named his attackers but also described how his desperate calls for help from Police were ignored. “ When I ran to the police officers seeking protection they locked their doors and drove off at high speed leaving us at the mercy of Zanu PF thugs,” the man said. A few days later the US Embassy In Harare issued a strongly worded statement on the violent encounter and clearly pointed a finger at both the perpetrators and the police. They embassy said : “The United States condemns the ZANU-PF thugs responsible for committing these attacks and the members of the Zimbabwe Republic Police who failed to fulfil their official duty to serve and protect their fellow Zimbabweans.”

Next came the news that a BBC Radio 3 classical music presenter, Petroc Trelawny  had been arrested while he was attending a music festival in Bulawayo. Mr Trelawny had come to the country representing a charitable organization called The British Friends  of the Zimbabwe Academy of Music and was acting as a compere at the Festival. One of the music festival’s committee members said Mr Trelawny was: “telling stories to about 500 children when they arrived to take him away." Mr Trelawny was charged with failing to apply for a Temporary Work Permit. Things got worse when Mr Trelawny slipped whilst in police detention and dislocated his shoulder and while he was in hospital the wrangling went on. First a judge ruled that Mr Trelwany should not be prosecuted but immigration challenged the decision saying Mr Trelawny had lied on his visa. Finally, a week later a Bulawayo magistrate ruled there was no law prohibiting tourists from taking part in music events and said Mr Trelawny was free to leave Zimbabwe.

In the midst of murder and bloodshed, classical music and arrest, came the amazing news  that President Mugabe  had been jointly chosen with Zambia’s President to be a tourism ambassador. The pair are to co-host the United Nations World Tourism Organization's general assembly in August 2013.  Almost as soon as the announcement had been made, the UN came in for strong international criticism and quickly back-pedalled. The UN said that the two weren’t actually tourism ambassadors or even tourism leaders but in fact had just received an open letter calling on African leaders to promote tourism That wasn’t how Zimbabwe saw it and the government controlled Herald newspaper had headlines boasting: “President appointed UN Tourism Ambassador.”

It’s hard to see how tourists could be attracted to a country where you can be stoned to death for going to a political meeting or you can be arrested and detained for a week for being a voluntary compere at a music concert. Zimbabwe will remember Cephas Magura and we send our condolences to his family and friends. Until next time, thanks for reading, love cathy



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