‘We are not a tents people’

BY LITANY BIRD Dear Family and Friends, Zimbabwe's ruling party has been holding its annual congress this week and watching some of the coverage on television made for staggering viewing. By any standards Zimbabwe is a country in dire trouble. Inflation, which began the year at 134% is again c

ompletely out of control and presently at over 400%. Life expectancy continues to plummet and is now just over 30 years. Unemployment is well over 70%, almost a quarter of our population are eating food provided by international donors and the number of people in need grows by the week.

With these dreadful facts and figures you would think that our ruling party would have more than enough to worry and talk about at their annual congress. The posters adorning the walls of the now well-known enormous white tent were damning. The slogans were not about the economy, early death, hunger or inflation. They were the same old deflectory attacks, just as they have been since Zanu (PF) first realised they had lost popular support when they were defeated in the constitutional referendum in 2000.

“Mr Bush, how about New Orleans!” “MDC beating about the Bush.” “Mr Blair, how about Brixton?” “Humpty Dumpty fell off the wall and Blairs horses couldn’t put the MDC together again.”

So while the party which has governed Zimbabwe for 25 years finds it fitting to focus its energies on attacking the world, ordinary Zimbabweans have been looking to more pressing issues. This week the United Nations Emergency Relief Co-ordinator Jan Egeland concluded a five day visit to Zimbabwe and saw first hand the dramatically deteriorating situation in the country. His observations and comments were not about nursery rhymes or Humpty Dumpty and will hopefully again cause the world to look to the dreadful conditions of so many people in Zimbabwe.

In the course of his visit Mr Egeland offered Mr Mugabe tents from the UN for the estimated 700 000 people whose homes were destroyed by the bulldozers of the Zimbabwean government’s Operation Murambatsvina in mid winter. The offer was declined. According to the Herald newspaper, President Mugabe told the UN envoy that: “We are not a tent’s people… We believe in houses.”

Mr Egeland criticized the governments rejection of tents saying: “If they are good enough for people in Europe and the United States who have lost their houses, why are they not good enough for Zimbabwe?”

The situation in Zimbabwe is neither nursery rhyme nor fairy story but the grim picture of real people struggling endlessly from one day the next just to survive. Until next week, ndini shamwari yenyu.

Post published in: Opinions

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