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Voices from Zimbabwe

Years after the first commercial farms were invaded by marauding war veterans and supporters of the ruling ZANU-PF, a new wave of farm invasions has hit the country merely weeks before planting for the upcoming agricultural season is supposed to begin. The Bearded Man has picked up on the story:

So what else is new in Zimbabwe – Mugabe continues to bully the population, the government continues to chase white commercial farmers off their land, while the Zimbabwean economy is in a permanent nosedive with the local currency not faring very well against all other currencies

The government has passed a new law extending them greater liberty regarding how much leverage they can put on commercial farmers who own land the government wants to annex. What is surprising about these new invasions is that the government has announced the end of farm invasions several times over the past year. In fact, there has even speculation that the government was offering land back to farmers who'd lost it during the redistribution excercise. So much for that.

After its members where deported upon arrival at the Harare airport, AFL-CIO blog is shining the spotlight on the Zimbabwe government. First, documentation of police brutality:

“Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) President Lovemore Matombo and First Vice President Lucia Matibenga were among trade unionists badly injured during the government’s Sept. 13 attack on a peaceful demonstration by the nation’s unionists. AFSCME Secretary-Treasurer William Lucy, who traveled to Zimbabwe says “the police just went crazy” in their attack in the capital Harare.

Lucy described his experience today during a meeting with union members at the AFL-CIO building in Washington, D.C., where he showed a 12-minute video of the Sept. 13 assault given to him on their trip. (Note: The date of the attack is incorrect on the video. The attack occurred Sept. 13.)

Watch the video here.

After that, the AFL-CIO blog blasts Mugabe for endorsing police brutality of Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions members for attempting to hold a protest march.

President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe has joined the ranks of the worst anti-union goons by saying Zimbabwe’s union leaders who were severely beaten by police at a Sept. 13 demonstration deserved the beating.

Mugabe’s comments followed his country’s refusal Friday to allow a delegation of U.S. trade unionists, led by AFL-CIO Vice President William Lucy, into Zimbabwe to meet with injured leaders of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU).

Despite the gloomy reality in Zimbabwe, Zimpundit manages to find a silver lining in the hope that Zimbabweans will one day rise up fearlessly like the Civil Rights marchers:

We cannot forget the plain reality here; at just 7 years of age, the MDC has attained heights scaled by no other opposition party in Zimbabwe. And despite Mugabe's constant belittling, the NCA and ZCTU are still out there for the people. Don't forget the other civic activists braving assured police torture on a daily basis either.

As for the Bull Conner like government, their time is fast approaching. They too, like their infamous predecessor will realize that the most violent beatings, the most inhumane punishment, and the most demeaning things they can do and say will not take away from the people of Zimbabwe that which the government didn't give; our God-given right to freedom and dignity. Pretty soon, the people will have nothing left to fear anymore.

Puzzled to find that Mugabe is able to enter the U.S. to attend the opening of the 61st session of UN's General Assembly, This is Zimbabwe wants to know “Why is Mugabe allowed to go to America?”

Finally, GVO's own Ethan Zuckerman recently took a vacation in Zimbabwe. Ethan has posted several insights on his blog, My Heart is in Accra from his experiences in Zimbabwe. Here's my favorite excerpt on why Zimbabweans haven't poured out on the the streets en masse,

But Zimbabweans may also be avoiding the demonstrations because it’s just so hard to keep their families sheltered and fed. Operation Murambatsvina may have displaced as many as 2.4 million families from their homes; bread shortages are forcing the government to release hard currency to import wheat; petrol shortages make transport so expensive that some people can’t commute to work any more. These privations might inspire revolution in some countries. In Zimbabwe, it inspires people to “make a plan”.

The phrase is said as a single word – “makeaplan” – and reflects the incredible resilience of the Zimbabwean people. Power cuts mean the kids cannot study their books? Send the kids over to one house and light lamps, conserving expensive lamp oil. Can’t afford transport to your village? Trucks leaving Harare stop and load passengers on top of their loads, taking money to help with petrol costs. People who can’t afford prescription medicines – in short supply because of the currency crisis – make friends with people who travel to South Africa, who can smuggle medicines over the border.

Walking into town one morning, trying to find a taxi, I find myself in step with two young men walking to work. They tell me the taxis don’t come by here any more – it uses too much petrol to cruise for passengers – and encourage me to walk for another half an hour, into downtown, where I might find a cab. “It’s good exercise,” they tell me. “Look how strong we’ve become,” they say, laughing.

It’s amazing what you can accomplish by making a plan. My friend Kennedy Mavhumashava talks about a story she recently wrote for a Panos website. Despite AIDS donors deciding to cut programs in Zimbabwe, HIV prevalence in Zimbabwe is falling, both in the adult population and in mother to child transmission. What’s astonishing about this is that Zimbabwe spends much, much less on HIV care than other countries. Well-funded nations like Botswana spend $74 per patient per year – Zimbabwe spends $4.

You can read Ethan's posts here, here, here, here, here and here.

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