letter_Nothing changes
EDITOR - In Zimbabwe, as events this week graphically demonstrated, everything changes but nothing changes.

Some time around midnight on Tuesday August 24, 2010 police from Harare Central, assisted by members from Highland Police Station, some of them armed with AK 47s and accompanied by police dogs, descended on a squatter camp at Borrowdale Race Track. Sleeping residents were ordered out of their shacks into the cold night air.

They were not allowed to collect their few possessions and within minutes 100 shacks were torched by the cops and the people were either taken to the police cells or told to “Go home to their rural areas and build houses there.” It was that instruction to these former victims of Operation Murambatsvina which served to remind Zimbabweans that history was repeating itself.

A recent report by the Solidarity Peace Trust says that 2 million people were displaced by Murambatsvina – 50 per cent went into the Diaspora and the other 50 per cent were moved constantly – some as many as four times in five years. 10 per cent died.

Senator Mishek Marave was one of a group of MDC MPs in Masvingo arrested on police allegations of public violence. The Senator’s words deserve quoting: “Since we joined the Inclusive Government, not a single day has gone by without the police harassing, intimidating and persecuting MDC officials and supporters. (Zanu PF) have a free pass to do as they please and are never held accountable, they are simply untouchable”.

In an extraordinarily bad-tempered exchange between the Zimbabwean Foreign Minister Mumbengegwi and the German Ambassador this week, the latter reminded Mumbengegwi that the very countries being lambasted by Zanu (PF) for EU sanctions were themselves donors of massive aid to the impoverished country. With the arrogance that characterises Zanu (PF) the German Ambassador was told in no uncertain terms that Zimbabwe – as a sovereign nation – didn’t need foreign aid. “We are the victims of sanctions,” Mumbengegwi ranted. Tell that to the 100 families burnt out of their shelters by the police. PH, by e-mail

Out with the bathwater

EDITOR – I read with interest Mugabe and the struggle for the African Self (***The Zimbabwean 29 August, 2010) by an un-named writer with Sokwanele. Mugabes commitment to Africaness is about as sincere as the Corleone familys commitment to international brotherhood in The Godfather.

Arnold Toynbee hit the right button in his preface to Christopher Dawsons wonderful book The Gods of the Revolution.

He said that there had been two very distinct types during the French Revolution and its aftermath. I quote: While the Ideologues and the Terrorists occupied the foreground of the stage, the background gave ample room for people whose main concern was not either theories or massacres, but the sly acquisition of real estate on advantageous terms.

Mugabe doesnt know how to deal with real Africanists. Look who he threw out of the bathwater James Chikerema, George Nyandoro, Stanlake Samkange, Enoch Dumbutshena, Joshua Nkomo, Garfield Todd, Ndabaningi Sithole, Herbert Chitepo, Josiah Tongogara and scores of other men and women.

Look whos splashing around in the bath with him at the moment, playing with their diamond studded ducks- the loathsome Jonathan Moyo, Leo Mugabe, Grace Mugabe, Philip Chiyangwa, God help us! How long will this lot survive, is the question? For a long time yet, is the chilling answer. But take heart and remember the words of the poet Juvenal who wrote about the antics of a similar lot in Rome some years back: Yesterday they were ruffians: today they rule our lives: tomorrow they will wind up as keepers of the public lavatories. TREVOR GRUNDY, Kent

Dealing with foreigners

EDITOR – The continuous confiscation of documents by South African Home Affairs Officials, has forced Zimbabweans into hiding in South Africa. This has been pioneered by the new government of President Jacob Zuma and his cabinet. In his opening parliamentary speech Zuma promised the nation that he would deal will foreigners, and attacked them for invading and taking the South African jobs, welfare incentives and houses.

A man from Zimbabwe called Qaphelisa Gibson Mvalela has suffered a great deal at the hands of South African Home Affairs officials. Mvalelas’ parents were from Empendle, Pietermarizburg. Sibanda’s children were registered on their passports. The situation in Zimbabwe caused Mvalela to flee to South Africa in search of a better life. He is currently searching for his relatives who are believed to be in South Africa.

Mvalela has accused the South African Police of harassing him and accusing him of being in the country illegally. His situation has even caught the attention of the Zimbabwean Embassy Consul General, Chris Mapanga, who said he had discussed this issue with the South African government in order to establish the authenticity of the documents. Qaphelisa is awaiting trial or deportation. He came to South Africa in 1989 and he has been working as a security guard. His story is a common tale among Zimbabweans living in South Africa. AARON DUBE, Johannesburg

The stomach changes govt

EDITOR – Sometimes politicians forget that it is the stomach that changes the government. Last week I was passing the ANC building in Bloemfontein. One thing that caught my attention was the cars parked outside the party building. I dont even want to mention the type of cars that were there, but as I passed by it just crossed my mind that if only these top guns could sell some of these luxury cars to pay the salaries of some striking public servants.

About 1, 3 million public servants are participating in a nationwide public sector strike for an 8, 6 % salary increase and R1 000 housing allowance. The mass action resulted in the shut down of numerous schools. State hospitals were also severely disrupted. Some are of the opinion that the government has a right to fire the striking public servants. It is absolutely true. But there is one thing that these people are forgetting. It is the stomach that changes the government.

When I was growing up in Zimbabwe in the middle 80s elections were not making news as they do today. People knew that Mugabe would always win the elections, because there was no serious opposition. However, behind the scenes national coffers were being emptied slowly but surely and corruption was developing like cancer in the body of governmental institutions.

If there is one big mistake we made as Zimbabweans it was assuming that democracy is created by governments. Democracy is a culture and a way of life that needs to be tended everyday. In Zimbabwe we failed to tend our democracy. We went to sleep after independence.

The strike of public servants is a wake up call to the government. There may be many opposition parties in South Africa at the moment, but if the government fails to fulfil and deliver their promises, who knows what we might end up with. MAXWELL PERKINS KANEMANYANGA, by e-mail

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