Moral negligence of our public officials.
The inability of Zimbabwe's public officials to overcome their fear and stand their moral ground is rapidly destroying our country. I do not know if it is now too late for these men and women, who are the servants of the people of Zimbabwe, to redeem themselves. I am talking about the men and women in the Zimbabwe Republic Police, the Zimbabwe National Army and all the Provincial and District Administrators throughout the country. For twenty months these public servants have stood by and witnessed rape, torture, beatings, looting, arson and murder. For twenty months the police, army and regional civil servants have folded their arms and turned their heads away. They have allowed common criminals and people young enough to be their children run rings around them and drag the country into this lawless state. The men and women who are paid with our taxes and levies have allowed rapists, murderers and thieves to take complete control. When asked to do their jobs, these men and women say: "It is political", "we have not recieved a directive" or "no comment." When this insanity is over, do these public officials really believe that their behaviour will be forgottem? The state Zimbabwe now finds herself in is their fault because they have been too cowardly to do what they know is the right thing. Walk with me around a small town in Mashonaland East and see the results of their moral negligence.
A three year old child was attacked by a rabble this week. He was pulled out of his parents house one night and told to run, told that this was no longer his home. The child, scared and confused, did not run fast enough and was beaten by crazed men with sticks. His face is covered in bruises and pus filled scabs. The men who did this call themselves "war veterans" and "settlers", they are known to the local Police, they live in shacks on a commercial farm and wear orange overalls with H.M. on the pocket. Is it possible that anyone in Zimbabwe does not know that HM stands for Harare Municipality. Why do the Police not arrest them and why don't the DA's and PA's stand up and condemn this most horrific attack on a child barely out of nappies? Why don't the men and women who are officials on the "Land Committees" stand up and say that these men in orange overalls are not landless peasants, they are paid Council workers. Public officials who are turning a blind eye and pretending it is not happening are being used by their political masters. They are condoning the beating of infants because they are too scared to speak out.
A bedraggled, skeletal man, wild eyed and almost dead from starvation emerged from the scrubby Msasa bushveld one day this week. He begged a passing motorist to help him. He, his wife and their children have eaten only roots and insects for five days. The man was a farm worker, evicted from his home by "war veterans", told to stay out of town, out of sight and off the road or he would be killed. His wife and children are too scared and too weak to come out onto the dirt road and also beg for help. What kind of public officials can continue in their jobs and keep saying "it is political" when this is the result?
A middle aged farmer, desperate to stay on his land, earn his living and keep putting food on our tables, gave up half of his hectarage to the rabble occupying his property. This week the "settlers" came back and told the farmer that if he did not remove all of his workers from the farm village then they would be forcibly removed. The farmer was told that he was now an "illegal squatter" and that if he did not do as he was told he would have to "bear the consequences". When the local district officials were informed they told the farmer that the settlers were entitled to evict everyone forcefully. 25 people calling themselves war veterans and settlers are intent on evicting 150 men, women and children and the public servants are sitting back and allowing it to happen.
A Marondera farmer with a court order saying that farming operations must be allowed to continue unimpeded has still not been able to put a single seed into the ground. The farmer has been prevented from putting food on our tables by men under 30 who call themselves war veterans. When the farmer approached public officials this week for help, he was told "we won't help you because you won't help us." Because the farmer has a court ruling protecting his rights, public officials accuse him of not helping them. On this property 18 men are depriving 400 men, women and children of accomodation and employment and the public officials are allowing it to happen because they cannot face their own fear.
I do not like to think what life will be like for Zimbabwe's public officials when this madness is over. Their refusal to protect the citizens of Zimbabwe, their cowardly fear will not be easily forgiven. How can these public officials sleep at night and live with themselves when they know people are being chased out of their homes at night, forced to survive by eating insects and have to witness their 3 year old children being beaten. Zimbabwe's public officials must be prepared to pay the price of their fear and silence which is causing untold suffering to hundreds of thousands of Zimbabweans. Public officials must serve the people who pay their wages, they must speak out now. They may be saving their jobs now but they must look to the months ahead. We will not trust you to continue holding these positions, we will not want you protecting us. We will not forget how you have stood by and done nothing. Their moral negligence is the shame of Zimbabwe.
12 November 2001