Sunday, June 22, 2008

Zimbabwe update

year in and year out, depressing and sad news from Zimbabwe rolls into my mailbox. really, for how long must this situation go on?
first, the latest news from Cathy Buckle (you will note that South Africa is still the silent neighbour...), and then below that, a related news piece from Yahoo.
Blanket of fear
Saturday 22nd June 2008

Dear Family and Friends,
A blanket of fear has descended over Zimbabwe as we count down the last few days before the second Presidential election. Our streets and towns are seething with police, army and youth brigade members. Our shops are empty of all basic foodstuffs; filling stations still have no diesel or petrol; water and electricity supplies are scarce; queues at banks and cash machines are immense and prices increase at least once every day. The trauma of living like this has been compounded a hundred fold as now each day brings news of terror, torture, kidnapping, burning and murder. The reports are of barbaric behaviour and extreme cruelty and they are coming from all over the country. The perpetrators move in groups; sometimes they come in the day but more often it is at night.

A report released this week by the Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights contains details of some of the victims of violence seen in the last month: men and women with broken arms and legs, fingers and toes, soft tissue damage to face, feet and buttocks; burns, lacerations and bruising. One patient the doctors described had been: " beaten extensively on the shoulders, back, buttocks and thighs, was also struck in the face and suffered a leak of vitreous humour (the transparent gel-like substance behind the lens of the eye) resulting in blindness."

Alongside the fear of physical violence is the rhetoric from the rallies whose words are now being quoted around the world. In the last few days Zanu PF leader Mr Mugabe has said on four different occasions:
"We are prepared to fight for our country and to go to war for it."
"We are not going to give up our country because of a mere X. How can a ballpoint fight with a gun?"
"The MDC will never be allowed to rule this country - never ever."
"Only God, who appointed me, will remove me, not the MDC, not the British."

Its hard to know what the MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai has been saying as he's been detained by police five times, his rallies have been cancelled, his vehicle has been impounded and his secretary general is in police custody charged with treason. To further silence the MDC leader, and in obvious violation of electoral laws, the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation said that they wouldn't air campaign adverts from the opposition party. Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa defended the ZBC's stance saying that international coverage favoured the MDC and never reported Zanu PF's position.

As silenced as Zimbabweans are, hope has come at last from our neighbours who have begun to speak out. This week Tanzanian Foreign Minister Bernard Membe said: "There is every sign that these elections will never be free nor fair," adding that he and the foreign ministers of Swaziland and Angola would write to their presidents "so that they do something urgently so that we can save Zimbabwe."

And now, beaten, bloodied, scared and in a state of mourning, we go to the polls again. We don't need the rallies and the speeches to know where to vote on the 27th of June.
Until next time, thanks for reading, love cathy


Mugabe's rival Tsvangirai pulls out of election

By Nelson Banya Reuters - 2 hours 22 minutes ago

HARARE (Reuters) - Zimbabwean opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai pulled out of a run-off election against President Robert Mugabe on Sunday, saying a free and fair poll was impossible in the current climate of violence.

More can be read here