B style=”FONT-WEIGHT: normal; mso-bidi-font-size: 10.0pt”>The same facts do not make people draw the same conclusions. A woman is seen cooking and selling sadza for a little profit with which to keep her family alive. She may be technically breaking the law, but to fair-minded people the right to life overrules technicalities. Not so in the eyes of the politically controlled police: she is breaking the law, so she must feel the wrath of the law; she is doing something dirty, so they rub her nose in the filth, as it were.
The WOZA women in
They merely use their God-given right to freedom of expression, say the rest of us.
Pope Benedict XVI says, “Justice never makes love superfluous. Beyond justice, man will always need love, which alone is able to give a soul to justice. In a world so profoundly wounded, as the one we know in our days, this affirmation does not need demonstrations. The world expects the testimony of Christian love that is inspired in faith. In our world, often so dark, the love of God shines with this love.”
The law by itself is never enough. If the application of the law has such absurd consequences we must ask who is at fault: the people who break it, or the people who made it.
We need justice that has a soul, is humane and inspired by love. – Jesuit Communications In Touch
MBARE – She had her home destroyed by “Murambatsvina”. She braved the cold nights of June and July sleeping in the open, with her children. She lost her income when she was barred from informal trading.
But she fought back. She went back to her trading, first trying her luck in
Last Sunday evening the police caught up with her when she was cooking and selling “sadza” (our Zimbabwean staple diet). She was held for two days and nights in a filthy stinking police cell, reeking of urine, dirty with human waste.
If the authorities are so concerned about hygiene and public health, why is refuse not removed in Mbare? Why are people held in such filthy police cells?
This woman is not a criminal. She would be quite happy to operate legally. But the fees charged for trading licences are exorbitant. Only big business people can pay that kind of money and still make a profit. The little people like this mother have no choice but to operate illegally if they want to survive. Do they not have the right to keep their families alive? A starving person is permitted to take what is needed to keep him/her alive; the Church, for one, has always been saying so.
Police enter even homes and take away anything they think is for trading. On top of that, people are fined heavily.
A supporter of “Murambatsvina”, writing to the editor of the “Daily Mirror”, 9th February, wants “another operation targeted at the squatters”.
Whom does he mean by “squatters” anyway? Fellow citizens who lost their homes through “Murambatsvina”, lodgers who never owned a home because the government housing policy failed? “Remove squatters to save us from Cholera,” the writer ends his letter because he does not want “filth to return to Mbare.”
He sounds as if the homeless to him are “filth”. This is the language of inhumanity. Is our society totally devoid of compassion? Do we no longer recognize our common humanity?
A teacher learnt from an essay written by one of his pupils about the total destitution of his homeless family who seek refuge at night in a corridor of one of the many hostels in Mbare. He sends us a message: can the church help? They need food urgently, the child is obviously starving.
This family of five – parents and three teenage children – used to live with the husband’s parents in an outbuilding. That was destroyed by “Murambatsvina”. The wife promptly went to register the family’s name for a stand on which to build a family home. Hundreds of people went to queue for such registrations at the time, each paying $ 120 000. No one has heard anything about it since.
Now the family – parents and children – sleeps in one room. Who has ever heard of anything so improper? But this is just one of many such families.
This is what “Murambatsvina” has done and is still doing to people. It is destroying our families and our family culture. But the real obscenity is that the people who ordered the “cleaning up” of Mbare, throwing thousands into misery, build themselves palaces.
Naome used to sleep in a park near the city centre until she was chased away. Recently she joined the homeless sleeping near the central bus terminus in Mbare. There she met Mrs Chapera. For helping her sell food to travellers she was given a place to sleep.
Naome, 14 years old, was born in
She is just another “squatter”, another bit of “filth” our friendly Mirror reader wants “evicted” and “removed”. Whereto, for heaven’s sake? Whereto?
Lord, have mercy, we pray, Lord have mercy because your people haven’t .
Oskar Wermter SJ, Jesuit Communications In Touch