Letters 14.09.2006

Economic hardship forces law-breaking
EDITOR - The mood at Beitbridge on the Zimbabwe side resembles that of a funeral. The smell of poverty is in the air. With the recently launched Gono initiative to clamp down on parallel market forex dealers, it is not difficult to notice the over exerted

presence of policeman, suspicious of everyone passing by. I stopped to buy a drink (freezit) and one policeman had to intervene in our transaction to ensure that no currency was being exchanged.
Directly opposite the immigration and customs shades, exists a dilapidated wooden police post with broken windows manned by a policeman in tattered and worn out uniform. The immigration and customs area is a hive of activity as one vehicle after another races to clear their goods. The three-hour process causes a long queue of vehicles awaiting clearance. The shortages caused by catastrophic inflation levels in Zimbabwe have forced Zimbabweans to import most of their basic requirements such as toilet paper, cooking oil, and washing soap.
What I found interesting was the fighting spirit in most of the cross border traders. Many were afraid of being robbed. Across the Limpopo, just a few meters from the South African immigration check point, I saw a sea of people covered in makeshift blankets sleeping on the floor. They had crossed into South Africa to buy travellers cheques. A woman who spoke to me on condition of anonymity said that the reason why they were purchasing travelers checks was to use them as financial proof to apply for visas. She went on to show me the foreign exchange bureau in Musina -crowded with close to 100 people at about four in the morning.
One day I spotted a police van parked on the side of the road directly opposite to the restaurant. I subsequently saw several similar vehicles in various parts of the town.
I was told that on a daily basis three trucks like this deliver close to 70 illegal immigrant Zimbabweans at the border post for deportation.
Others come to Musina from the rest of South Africa by rail for deportation. As many as two carriages of the train per week is full of Zimbabweans destined for Musina, who will later be deported.
As I left the town of Musina the plight of my fellow countrymen left an indelible mark on my heart and reminded me of the words of West Indian economist Arthur Lewis: “As some sit on the Dinner table to feast and dine of turkey and beef, most of Africa’s children who once celebrated the independence of their country, now roam the streets across the continent and beyond in search of a penny to feed themselves, not necessarily to feast as their leaders but to remain alive everyday…..”

Stop being negative
EDITOR – I am writing to urge all MDC members and supporters (regardless of factions) to stop writing negatively about each other pertaining to ongoing differences among their leaders. Negative writings are likely to attract party foes, which are likely to blow everything out of proportion.
Intelligence agencies usually capitalise on a situation to accomplish an agenda. Enemies of the MDC made some confusing statements about the split, with an agenda of derailing the party’s objectives and democracy in Zimbabwe as much as possible.
Genuine members who want to comment about the split must consider the effects of their utterances and the confusion they are dishing out to the people.
This is not the time to discuss the split but to suggest possible solutions to the MDC internal crisis. All political parties are likely to go into a crisis. These are the most trying times for the MDC, let’s all commit ourselves to finding a solution than criticizing each other.
Constructive ideas will see the party overcoming its current problems and lead to a victory whether in 2008 or in 2010. This is not the time to split votes and opposition. Splitting is really a betrayal of those who voted MDC into Parliament. The problem must be resolved immediately and abuse of the followers must be stopped.
LOOKOUT, Chairperson, Zimbabwe Action Movement, Jozi

Shot the wrong elephant!
EDITOR – On Sat September 2, the same day of the “opening” of the new customs building in Chirundu. I was one of the unfortunate “scarce” tourists to be visiting the Chirundu area. I was game viewing down the river from the bridge. A dark green landrover belonging to Parks arrived looking for an elephant who had killed a local chap who had stumbled into the elephant drunk. These Parks people put 16 BULLETS into this elephant.
The following day it was rumoured they had shot the wrong elephant! Cruelty beyond belief! Did the proceeds of the elephant meat go back into conservation or into someone’s pocket?
DISGUSTED, South Africa

CHRA sends a message to Makwavavarara
EDITOR – Please allow me space to point out that Harare is ready to roll for the Democratic Resistance, come rain come thunder. I have a reason to prophesy because what I witnessed on 09-09-06 in Harare’s CBD area was unbelievable as a group of about 3000-4000 protesters marched to Town House to present a petition to the Makwavarara led commission, chanting revolutionary slogans saying To Save Zimbabwe- Mugabe Must Go. The group started to swell into large numbers by 1300hrs as the Z.R.P- Zipurisa Rinorova Povho- were caught pants down for the second time following the MDC’s Liberation Team campaign which was recently led by the MDC President, Morgan Tsvangirai.
MR THUNDER, Glen Norah

Free Zinasu Leaders
EDITOR – We FreeZimYouth are disgusted with the arrest of student leaders by the Mugabe regime. On Friday the Zinasu leaders were having a strategic workshop ahead of mass protests scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday, when armed riot police invaded the organised workshop and arrested eight student leaders: Zinasu Vice President Gideon Chitanga, Secretary General Beloved Chiweshe, President of Bulawayo Poly Milward Makwenjere,George Makoni, Fungai Mageza, Lawrence Mashungu, Clayton Njova, Terrence Chimhavi. They were working on a petition demanding accessible, affordable and a good standard of education for all in Zimbabwe.
This is unacceptable. There is no doubt that Mugabe is now panicking ahead of the Mass protest planned by ZCTU, and is now trying by all means to frustrate and eradicate any efforts to solidify all Pro-democracy forces.
We demand the immediate release of our brothers and sisters, who have committed no crime but exercising what should be, their civic rights by demanding a better Educational system for all Zimbabweans which has been mis-managed in the hands of Mugabe’s rule. We Exiled Youth of Zimbabwe will stand shoulder to shoulder with our Fellow Youth back home and expose this hostile approach towards Future Zimbabweans(Youth) by the tyranny.
It’s high time Mugabe realises he can jail or kill a revolutionary but he can’t jail or kill a revolution.”
Free-ZimYouth Komradz, UK

Concern over XDR-TB
EDITOR – As I write newspapers around the world are reporting a World Health Organisation report by Dr Ernesto Jaramillo on the emergence of a new form of drug-resistant tuberculosis. They use the letters XDR-TB as a shorthand form of identification.
The WHO are missing a global warning as resistant cases have been identified in Africa, Russia and the far east. New methods for detecting XDR-TB are costly for first world countries and may therefore be out of the financial reach of emerging ones. Countries with a high incidence of HIV have even a further handicap, not that HIV increases drug resistance but that the infected persons resistance makes them so much more vulnerable and sadly likely to die.
Question; where does Zimbabwe stand within this global issue? Given the that there is an increasing use of traditional medicine and referrals to “n’angas” because of the escalating increase of costs in the medical services, this may be used as a cover up for Zimbabwe Health services to implement a rapid response.
Traditional medicines do play an important part in all health services and pharmaceutical companies do investigate such worldwide resources, but- another but and it is a big one. Tuberculosis requires conventional medication; patients also require close supervision; lack of supervision and incorrect medication is a cause of XDR-TB. Again another additional cost on all health services.
If I appear to be pessimistic it is simply because I am, especially with regards to Zimbabwe. Financial restriction, increasing costs, high HIV levels all combine to make one fear for the spread of XDR-TB. Finally I frequently pass a commemorative plaque in the Edinburgh city centre to Sir Robert Philip who in 1894 opened Scotland’s first specialist TB hospital. He identified poor social conditions as perhaps the most important cause of TB. That was a long time ago; now perhaps as we all need the cooperation of all specialists in health and social areas and not those simply confined to one country. Please ask the Zimbabwean Health Services what plans they have to counter XDR-TB.
TOM REILLY, Edinburgh

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