Highlights of 2005

BY MAGAISA IBENZI WARD 12, PARIRENYATWA HOSPITAL, HARARE - My old friend Storm has sent me his highlights of 2005. What a year it has been! To recap, 2004 ended with the Minister of Public Services publicly stating that national unemployment stood at 9% (read 80% for a more accurate figure),

the Minister of Education (Chigwedere) being taken to court by the Private Schools, and the flamboyant parliamentarian Philip Chiyangwa being arrested, amongst others, over the SA spy scandal.

January dawned with the news that Parliamentary Elections would take place in April. The MDC were divided on whether to participate or not whilst a war vet in Gwanda stated that only ZANU PF card holders would be allowed to vote. The food situation was beginning to bite and Reserve Bank Governor Gono stated in desperation that property rights were sacrosanct. All this whilst the settlers on ‘Little England’ farm, just west of Harare below the Great Dyke, were being kicked off their recently acquired land to make way for yet another of Mugabe’s relations. The Weekly Times was launched in Bulawayo and then promptly closed 2 weeks later under POSA. US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice branded Zimbabwe as an ‘outpost of tyranny’.

February brought another visit by COSATU, now with the backing of the SA government. However they were promptly put on a bus and returned from whence they came by our scared officials. After pressure from SADC the MDC agreed to participate in the parliamentary elections and Margaret Dongo returned from America to contest the Harare Central seat as an independent.

March started with a new, but shambolic, voters roll. MP Tendai Biti presented us with a copy of our Harare East constituency roll, which we endlessly checked for duplicate voters names and ghost voters. The Chinese continued to influence our day to day life, their jets having replaced the British Hawks and their low slung buses plying the urban bus routes.

April brought the elections which went off relatively peacefully, but massive Zanu rigging and fraud soon became apparent. Voter numbers did not match the number of ballots cast. Over 50% of constituency results had been announced before this became glaringly apparent and the ZEC then stopped recording the number of voters. Later that month the Pope died. Who should attend his funeral at the Vatican and shake hands with Prince Charles? Dear old Bob who jumps at any opportunity to travel and open his mouth……… “Charles Windsor, I presume!”

Zanu (PF) election retribution began in May with the army raiding Charleswood (Roy Bennett’s farm) supposedly looking for arms. This heralded the start of Operation Murambatsivina (Clean up Rubbish). A friend was caught filming the destruction in Mbare and ended up in hospital having been beaten up by CIO agents. At this stage, Bob admitted that we needed food aid and attempted to persuade some ex white farmers to return. They weren’t that stupid.

June saw the demolitions and destruction continue leaving thousands homeless and with no means of making an honest living. Both the EU and UN slammed the government for this evil and Labour MP and human rights stalwart Kate Hoey slipped into the country to see the horror for herself.

July. Further condemnations flowed in after the Tibaijuka report was tabled at the UN. These came from all members of the G8, the (new) Pope and the SA churches. This didn’t discourage our government, as they staged midnight raids on families who had taken shelter in churches. Constitutional Amendment N-17 was gazetted towards the end of the month. Fuel at this time, when available, cost Z$12 000 per litre and a parking fine was Z$5.2 million.

By August the country’s sugar production had hit rock bottom and coal shortages were blamed for the constant power outages. The Minister of Health was threatening doctors with arrest if they continued with industrial action for a livable wage and the housing demolitions continued. The SA Council of Churches had collected food and blankets for the victims, but Bob refused them entry to the country whilst Zanu (PF) set up yet another holding camp at Hopley Estate on the outskirts of Harare. Operation Garakai (renew) was meant to have started but there were no plot services in place, never mind building materials.

In September the Senate Bill (Constitutional Amendment 17) was passed and included the erosion of all rights to agricultural land, the removal of permanent residents from the voters roll (that includes us) and a travel ban on 64 Zimbabweans who are deemed as saying ‘bad things’ about the country and it’s leadership. Meanwhile Didimus Mutasa, our Minister of Security, threatened to evict ALL white farmers whilst Gono was frantically condemning land grabbers as common criminals. Air Zimbabwe broke all international records by flying three passengers on its Bangkok to Dubai run. Tsvangirai walked to work in support of the workers as fuel now cost Z$20,000 a litre, when available.

October began with American Ambassador Christopher Dell being arrested in the Botanical Gardens for ‘spying’ on Bob. A major split erupted in the MDC over participation in the Senate Elections. Tsvangirai stood up against the academic contingent stating that these elections were a waste of time and money. At last we had some leadership! This wrangle continues today with an expos- that the rebels, along with CIO, had been planning Tsvangirai’s ouster for some time.

November heralded the official inflation rate soaring to 411% and an Air Zimbabwe fare to London rose to Z$141 million government fuel was now being sold on the black market and a further 250 squatters were made homeless in Mbare ahead of UN envoy Jan Egeland’s visit. The Chinese were ceded more land and Bob announced his proposal to construct a nuclear power station with the Chinese mining uranium concessions.

December brings another crazy year in Zimbabwe to a close. The Zim Dollar has devalued from 6700 to 85 000 to $US 1,00 in the past 12 months. Fuel is now unaffordable and unavailable at Z$120 000 per litre. At least we have plenty rain………no fertilizer or seed, but plenty rain.

Magaisa wishes all his readers a Happy Christmas and a Zanu (PF)-free New Year!

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