Voices from Zimbabwe and the Great Lakes

Zimbabwe: The first anniversary of Zimbabwe's notorious “cleanup” operation, Operation Murambatsvina passed recently. There was a marked reticence among Zimbabwean bloggers towards organized commerations. Accoustic Motorbike explains her reasons;

Marking the “one year” anniversary of this destruction ignores the fact that Murambatsvina is on going. It’s become a verb, a noun, and a state of being for both the people and the government of Zimbabwe. In the past four weeks alone, Murambatsvina-style evictions have been carried out in cities like Masvingo and Ruwa. Operation Round Up has seen police in Harare “sweep up” over 10,000 homeless people and dump them on a farm outside Harare.

…The government isn’t pursuing any long-term development or assistance project here. But sadly, by not integrating an element of resistance and defiance into the “commemorations,” civil society also will not move towards the long term programme it needs to see genuine democratic change in Zimbabwe. It seems like Zimbabweans are more and more trapped in our own victimhood. We say that things will change when the old man dies. Or that God is watching, and won’t let our suffering continue forever. But there is not the spirit of defiance that is essential if things like collective non violent action are ever to succeed here. As a friend of mine said the other day, “we’re missing the belief that we deserve better. And that we have the right to demand it.”

Over at This is Zimbabwe, the commemoration events were cast acts of defiance in themselves. This post, replete with pictures, honors those who did take a moment to remember the Murambatsvina's hapless victims and explains that the few people that did turn out for the march did so in the face assured police action;

Church leaders in Zimbabwe’s second city, Bulawayo, achieved a remarkable victory today in keeping to their original plan to stage a peaceful protest march and hold public prayers, despite the most severe intimidation from Mugabe’s security forces. Many similar events planned by churches and civic groups in other parts of the country to commemorate the anniversary of the regime’s infamous Operation Murambatsvina were either called off or postponed in the face of massive police intimidation. But the steely resolve of the pastors leading an informal group called Churches in Bulawayo, and the courage of several hundred church members who turned out in support enabled the Bulawayo protest to go ahead notwithstanding.

Zimpundit, at Enough is Enough expresses reservations about commemorating Murambatsvina now,

We’re still reeling from the problem of Murambatsvina, you still hear reports of police inadvertently raiding markets, and we still have the same brute leadership. We’re trying to work on this here problem, we haven’t given up yet. We’re not quite ready to even think of giving up yet.

In sense, there’s still too much pain everywhere for us to take time to mourn right now.

The Bearded Man has several news roundups and a couple of podcasts to update you on the latest headlines out of Zimbabwe.

Burundi: Agathon Rwasa cites a report which details how Tutsi activist were arrested for arranging commeration of their brethren massacred by the Buranda government.

He also blogs about the arrest of Térence Nahimana, a former parliamentarian turned activist who was incarcerated after questioning why the government had not started peace negotions with the FNL.

D.R.C: With elections fast approaching in the DRC, 007 in Africa notes that life is getting more and more tense as the days go by.

Speaking of elections, Congogirl picks up on a report about election candidates in the DRC being told to limit the number of bodyguards they have.

Carl of Because we're here boy, no one else; just us finds himself extremely close to alleged mercenaries who were arrested in a senational predawn raid,

A house across the street from the other pilot house was recently refurbished and empty until about 3 weeks ago. Then it was occupied by a large number of English speaking guys, mostly black, but some whites.

Our guards were suspicious of all this because they said there was no activity at the house during the day but much activity during the night with many cars coming and going…Last Friday, May 19, the guards said FARDC (Congolese Army) troops surrounded the house at 0400 and arrested the occupants at 0600. 17 men, 15 blacks and 2 whites, all English speakers were taken. The house is unoccupied now and there is a big padlock on the front gate.

A couple of days ago, the arrests were announced by the DRC gov. A total of 32 were arrested, across the street from our pilot house and at 2 other locations in Kinshasa. They were accused of being “mercenaries” (a loaded word around here) and of, essentially, plotting a coup.

Rwanda: Carl on the activities of the FDLR,

They hang around in the forest and occasionally launch small raids into Rwanda. They also rape and pillage the surrounding countryside with impunity. A British guy with their equivalent of the USAID told me that is because they are, with the exception of the UN, the most effective military force in the Congo. The Congolese Army can't begin to handle them so they can do what they want.

What they want, is not only to rape women, but to ruin them. This they do by ripping up their genitals with various implements to include knives and pistol bullets. This behavior is intentional, a technique to influence “hearts and minds.”

Visit his blog for more.

Uganda: The one, author of Ivan Presents rails out at the selection of movies deemed watchable in Uganda,

The Powers That Be ( I really have no idea who they were in this case) decided that we as a nation should not watch Brokeback Mountain. I can't recall what the argument was. I think they may have been afraid that some Ugandans,too impressionable, would watch the movie and then turn gay…or (God Forbid)…become GAY COWBOYS.

…The Da Vinci Code is here.No one has said anything.

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