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


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Red warning lights
September 25, 2010, 2:48 pm



Dear Family and Friends,

As the programme to consult people about what they want included in our new constitution draws to a close, we have begun bracing ourselves for what comes next. The drawing up of a new draft constitution leading to a referendum and then an election is now in sight. It is exactly this three-step process where the mayhem began for us all, 10 years ago, in February 2000.

We are bracing ourselves now because in the last few weeks we have seen the re-emergence of the same crude harassment, intimidatory tactics and oppressive practices which tell us that, without a shadow of a doubt, nothing has changed.

The first red warning light went on when the constitutional consultative meetings got to the capital city. The process immediately descended into chaos.  45 meetings were violently disrupted as truck loads of people, apparently bussed in from rural areas, made sure that no one was free to voice their opinions. At one venue Zanu PF youths and ‘war veterans’ barred some people from participating because of their skin colour; at another venue a Zanu PF supporter  reportedly drew a gun in order to stop a resident from delivering an opening prayer before the commencement of the meeting. When the police did not intervene and arrest perpetrators, the MDC’s co Home Affairs Minister, Theresa Makone, finally found her voice. Minister Makone said Zanu PF were “virtually holding the Zimbabwe Republic Police to ransom.” She said the police were too afraid to do their jobs because they received instructions from Zanu PF.

The next red light went on when 83 members of WOZA were arrested whilst taking part in a peaceful march to Parliament on International Peace Day. 76 women and 7 men were held for 2 nights in prison cells, amongst them was a 9 month old baby. WOZA press releases talked of prisoners being held in passageways as the cells themselves were uninhabitable. There were no toilets, no water was available and one man was severely beaten with baton sticks.

The last red warning light came at local level in the form of a strike at the Marondera municipality. It was a strike that hadn’t attracted any sympathy whatsoever from ratepayers or residents of the town who are totally disenchanted with street lights that haven’t worked for over 4 years, roads that haven’t been maintained for 3 years, piles of uncollected garbage dumped on roadsides and under trees and less than 2 hours of dirty water a day if we are lucky. Then there are all the ghost workers still on the municipal payroll and the large amounts of fuel we see being drawn by municipal vehicles every Friday afternoon and Monday morning. Add to this the talk of top council officials each drawing salaries in the multiple thousands every month and you’ll understand why there was no support at all for a strike. All that aside, the warning light came on when the drumming started; clenched fists waving in the air told us this had been hijacked (or perhaps masterminded) by Zanu PF. The signs written on the green cardboard placards were proof. A part of one banner being held up by a dreadlocked man who was probably still in nappies at Independence thirty one years ago, read: ‘Rhodesians must go.’

The warning signs are now clearly visible and we can see the true nature of the beast which has been hiding behind a cloak called “Unity Government” all along. Until next time, thanks for reading, love cathy



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