All I want for Christmas..

BY LITANY BIRD Dear Family and Friends, I think if you could ask any Zimbabwean what three things they most wanted for Christmas in 2005, the answers would be the same in almost all households. Firstly we want food security in all areas: we want food growing on our farms, food stacked in silos

and warehouses and food in our pantries and on our tables. After 70 months of turmoil, food security would be a blessed gift for every Zimbabwean.

Secondly this Christmas we want our families. I don’t think I know a single family which does not have some or most of its members living outside of the country. Siblings, parents, children and grandparents are separated – we are a nation whose families and extended families have been torn apart. Over three million Zimbabweans (almost a quarter of our population) have left home in the last seventy months and they are sorely missed.

Thirdly this Christmas we want fuel. Shops, businesses, transporters, schools, institutions and ordinary families – we want to be able to go to a filling station and buy fuel. Ever since the elections in March, the vast majority of Zimbabweans have been unable to buy fuel anywhere except on the black market. The nine month unavailability of fuel affects every single Zimbabwean as black market fuel prices are now tagged onto everything from bread to bus fares, shoes to sugar and everything in between. We long to travel in our own country again, to see our friends in other towns and to go to Zimbabwe’s beautiful places again, what a gift that would be this Christmas.

Seventy months – it is hard to believe that this has been going on for so long and that we have endured so much. The gap between the very rich and the desperately poor continues to widen. The extravagance of the Zanu (PF) annual Congress last weekend was appalling. Three thousand delegates for four days were fed with: 50 cattle, 48 goats, 11 kudu, 5 reed buck, 17 impala, 5 buffaloes and 60 chickens. This was accompanied by 1.19 tonnes of rice, 50 kg of wheat and 11 tonnes of maize.

Also on hand were 250 bags of oranges, a tonne of tomatoes, 400 cabbages and 60 litres of ice cream. And, all this in a country in which THREE MILLION Zimbabweans are eating world food aid. And freedom, that flimsy concept taken for granted by so many, seems as elusive as ever for Zimbabweans this Christmas. Darker days are already upon us as 2006 approaches. This week passports of outspoken government critics were seized and the Minister of Information said that journalists were “weapons of mass destruction.”

The excesses and traditions of Christmas are cancelled for most Zimbabweans this year and we are left hoping and praying for an end to the hardships, turmoil and struggle of living like this. Ndini shamwari yenyu

Wonderful rains - at last!
There is no room

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