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Thursday, September 16, 2010

news from Zimbabwe

ANGUS BUCHAN in Harare 25 September 2010

Angus Buchan is coming to Harare and will be speaking on the playing fields at Chisipite School on 25 September at 6pm.

Angus was born in this country and as a fellow farmer - a farmer with a bigger following than any farmer in the whole of Africa - he has a message of hope that we all need to hear. The evening is free.

The mighty mans conference had around half a million men on Angus'

farm. This is for women too. Invite your friends. Get excited and let's get there in numbers and hear what Angus has to say.

Ben Freeth.

Ben Freeth - Protecting Communities in Zimbabwe from Violence:

Peace Watch has started a discussion with the above title. As farmers we need to contribute - perhaps let's have a discussion on this forum? So long as the issue of fear is not overcome with in all of our hearts and in the nation as a whole, malevolent dictatorship will persist and the future will remain bleak for the vast majority of Zimbabweans.

Let me kick off:

I think that it is important to try to learn from the past if we are going to have any hope of countering violence in the future. It has been our experience in the past in the rural areas, where the majority of Zimbabweans live, that a few key people in authority in each district will run the campaign of violence. Rural people are very isolated and vulnerable to campaigns of violence. The main violence will be timed just before the election - but it will be kept simmering in the interim period too so that people continue to live under a dark cloud of fear.

The police are under strict instruction to not get involved in stopping violence - and just a few key people in each police station make sure that this instruction is adhered too. The ruling party militia camps will be started up properly again very soon and the youth will be forced to attend them and be trained in violence with a breaking down process that instills intense fear into them. Alcohol, drugs, loot and money will be used to enhance the fervor of the militia in carrying out the orders from the few in command - the finding of Zimbabwe's diamonds will be a big factor in ensuring that the militia can be well paid to seal off rural wards from those who care about trying to expose and stop violence, and thereby ensure that a campaign of violence can go on unhindered.

When the violence starts in earnest, we know from the past that the wards will be sealed off and people will be stopped from moving around from ward to ward. Rural people will be called in to compulsorily attend meetings - pungwes. We know that non attendance will result in houses being burnt and people being beaten. We know that meetings will be more often held at night when they will not be discovered by observers in their hotel beds and the safety of town. In the night no pictures can be taken either. We know that the pungwes will involve the trusted torture method of much sleep deprivation. Many threats will be issued. Much hate speech will be pronounced. Rural people will be forced to denounce people within their communities for the crime of saying something or doing something unsupportive of the ruling party. These people will be brought forward and fear will gradually be instilled into everyone through the night as more are brought forward and eventually dealt with by being beaten in front of their whole community - often by members within the community who are forced to do so. The youth militia will be stationed around to stop anyone coming in to observe and to stop anyone from leaving.

When it comes to voting day everyone will be forced to vote. There will be very few opposition polling agents prepared to come forward because of the violent example that has been made of them in the past. Either they will be in hiding or abducted or in hospital or even in their graves as they were by the hundred in the last election. People will be lined up

in groups. Each group will have a number and an order within it where each individual goes into the voting booth. That way each person will know that his number on the ballot paper will correspond to his or her number in his or her group. They will be told again of the dire consequences of violence for not voting for the ruling party.

By this process of all night indoctrination pungwes of fear - repeated in each ward as often as is necessary to instill total fear and therefore total control, violence will win. It has won every time it has been used. How can a rural community protect itself from it? It is almost impossible. Here are some options:

Each rural community refuses to go to the meetings en masse. But if they refuse to go to meeting they will have selected violence committed against them or against their property or family and realistically most people will be too scared not to go to the meetings.

Individuals in the community get past the road blocks sealing the wards off and manage to get to the police to report on the pungwes and violence and threats. The problem here is that the police will do nothing as we have seen so often in the past because although they want to help they are also under intense fear.

Individuals in the community go to the observers and diplomats and NGO's and report on the violence. The problem here is that none of these people will ever go out at night and are too scared to even go to many the rural areas in the day where there is trouble. In any case what will the observers do besides make a report as they have done in the past. They have no power to stop the violence.

Groups in each rural community try to single out the perpetrators of violence and fight back by committing violence against them. The problem here is that the police and army and militia from other areas will then react with a heavy hand and the cycle of violence will continue much worse.

The rural people evacuate the rural areas en masse and go to the towns or protected villages where they are not so isolated and vulnerable. The problem here is that the majority of the Zimbabwe population live and derive their subsistence livelihoods from the rural areas. What do they do with their crops and livestock? Where in the towns can they all live? Murambatsvina effectively closed down this option.

People in rural communities form up as "peace keepers" where they try to properly document the violence and get the press involved and bring the perpetrators to justice through exposure and the courts. The churches which constitute by far the largest constituency in Zimbabwe would have to take a leading role too, with large groups of clerics and pastors descending on hot spots of violence to plead with the police and the perpetrators of the violence to stop it and document it for the sake of truth and justice in the future in both the local and the international courts. So far the churches and the church leaders have been sadly uncoordinated and fearful themselves to get involved with any kind of plan in stopping violence when it starts. The trouble with the courts is that this is so long term - getting justice in the Zimbabwe courts takes years; and if the perpetrators are agents of the ruling Party, justice will take much longer and will be frustrated by fearful magistrates. This is no reason not to seek justice though.

Prevailing on the leaders in the MDC who now hold office in Government to go on an all out international campaign now to call in international peace keepers to protect the rural people of Zimbabwe. Unfortunately, the MDC leadership do not seem to be willing to do anything to protect our rural people [who form the majority of the population] from violence: the PM has not been to a rural police station to try to get police to follow court orders or protect the people in his 2 years in office that we know of; neither has he even been to a commercial farm to see with his own eyes the violence that is being perpetrated on them! If the MDC leaders do not focus on stopping violence, I fear that they will not have a future either

Revelation says: "they overcame him by the blood of the lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death."

Ben Freeth - once from rural Chegutu.
 Hand Bag Slashers on the Prowl - Mary

Please be warned that there are two women masquerading as shoppers and in the process stealing from unsuspecting individuals. I was a victim on Saturday midday at the Caves toy shop at Sam Levy's village.

I have also since found out that two similar incidents occurred at Arundel Spar and TM Borrowdale recently.
I now suspect that they followed me from Coconut Joe where I ( misguidedly in retrospect )paid for my stuff taking money from a bunch of $10 notes held by a rubber band that I had gotten from the bank. I went into Caves to pick up some games for the children and as I was going through some, there were two "girls" I would put them in late twenties to thirty behind me making a din on which items to buy.

I felt one of them sort of bumping into my bag and I moved away slightly thinking I was in someone's way. That was the first slash and she failed to get the money as I had moved. They then followed me to the till, where my stuff was about 133 and I gave the guy 130 again from the same bunch of tens and I threw the remainder into my bag and got my wallet to look for 5 dollars. By now the same ladies had also come to the till and were on either side of me and pretended to be in such a great hurry with the "slasher" literally paying for their stuff over my shoulder (as a cover) I simply thought this was a very rude person invading my space and waited for my change but in the meantime she had slashed my bag the second time and pulled out the money and left her mate to get their change. As we walked out of the shop that's when my daughter noticed that my bag was ripped as some of my stuff was almost falling out.

What is scary to note is that they have the audacity to do so in a shop with cameras and interestingly when we went back to Caves and they tried to play back the camera it was off from the time I got into the shop and up to the time I paid for the games.

I am told (though I cannot confirm) that at Arundel Spar only their back profiles were caught on camera.

Looking at them from the little that I can remember, they did not seem threatening at all I just brushed them off as being rather rude, and normally you suspect men not women. They must have used a very sharp blade as the cuts are very "clean".

Please be very careful as you go about your routine business, I just thank God that the kids and I were not harmed as I don't want to imagine what would have happened if I had turned around and found the blade in my bag or worse still if any one of the kids had noticed and raised alarm, if they can have the nerve to slash a bag over one's shoulder at 12.30 in the afternoon am sure they are capable of worse.


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