Tsunami Hypocrisy

EDITOR - During Mugabe and his first family's annual holiday in Thailand recently, Zimbabweans have been subjected to repeated viewings of them paying their respects to the victims of the December 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. Of course we all share the victims' grief and sympathize, but what about our

own “Tsunami”?

Everyone knows that’s what people call the cruel Operation Murambatsvina, which came so unexpectedly, destroyed 700,000 people’s homes and destroyed the livelihoods of over two million people in most of our cities and towns. No, we did not have nearly as many deaths as the Indian Ocean tsunami, thank God, but some Zimbabweans did die, here at home. Our tragedy is that ours was a man-made, entirely preventable tsunami, thought up and carried out by Mugabe’s government and security forces.

The Zimbabwe government airlifted water to the tsunami disaster area last year, and an appeal was set up to raise relief funds. Here at home, it took the local and international humanitarian organizations some considerable time and effort to persuade government to allow them to provide water and other emergency relief to our own victims. Government is still preventing the provision of any temporary shelter by the UN and other agencies.

Meanwhile, pathetic settlements of our own tsunami victims are re-establishing themselves and growing, alongside the disgracefully few “Garikayi” houses or elsewhere. Victims shelter under cardboard and plastic and anything else they can find, and rely almost completely on water, food, medicines and other necessities to be provided by the humanitarian agencies. If they try to earn their own living in informal trade, they are chased away and their wares stolen from them, unless they produce a licence, notoriously difficult to obtain if they do not hold a ruling party card.

As for praising our own Tsunami because without it there would have been even more cases of cholera and other diseases – let those officials get in their 4X4 vehicles and plough through the mud to visit Hatcliffe Extension or Hopley Farm today, to see for themselves the conditions those victims are living under, eight months after Murambatsvina.

The MDC condemns this tsunami hypocrisy for what it is, and challenges the Mugabe government to accept the emergency relief, including temporary shelter, which the UN and other humanitarian agencies are willing to provide to our own “Tsunami” victims.

TRUDY STEVENSON, Harare

Put constitution first
Detention Watch from Zimbabwe Association

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