Most bloggers writing on Zimbabwe at the beginning of this new year are concerned with the economic and social situation in the country. Others are still following the court case of the human rights activist Jestina Mukoko, who was abducted and disappeared for three weeks before emerging in the hands of the police on 24 December 2008, facing charges of training bandits to topple Robert Mugabe's government.
Sokwanele's This is Zimbabwe starts off the year with a post of an ancedote that highlights the collapse of the health, infractucture and educational systems in Zimbabwe. It tells the experiences of two specific Zimbabweans during the Christmas break.
… he saw a child standing in the middle of nowhere crying its heart out by the side of the road, trying to wave down cars. An adult sat crumpled in the dirt next to her.
When he stopped, he learned that the child was with her grandmother, and that the grandmother was very very sick. The small girl had been trying to help her Gogo to find a way to get to a clinic or hospital and they had walked through the bush for miles. When they reached the road, Gogo’s legs gave out, and she could not find the strength to stand up again and the child was too small to help her stand and keep going. All she could do was sob, and try and wave down someone who would stop and help her.
My relative helped Gogo into the car and drove her and her grandchild to the nearest hospital. He said they had a long way to go and Gogo was silent all the way, very ill and every last bit of strength drained from her just trying to reach the road. The little girl, he said, sobbed the whole way there. He said she was crying in grief and fear, but that she also kept thanking him, her gratitude that he had stopped at all was heartbreaking.
He left them at the nearest clinic in the care of doctors and nurses who probably don’t have the medicines they need to help Gogo, and I fear she will probably die. ‘Happy New Year’ to that tiny little girl? I think not.
And the post ends with a promise for 2009:
My promise is to a child I have never met: I promise before God that I will not give up, I promise to keep going. I wish this promise meant something to this child, but the truth is it doesn’t even scratch the surface of a grief she has that runs so deep it will forever define her life as an adult.
The red VW minibus with South African Plates, which is ferrying the activists between court and prison (Picture from Denford Magora's Zimbabwe Blog)
Denford Magora's Zimbabwe Blog [Discloruse: that's me] follows the arrest and trial of human rights activist Jestina Mukoko. The blog starts off the year with a post revealing that Jestina Mukoko is still not in police custody but is being still under the direct custody of the Zimbabwe secret Police, the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO):
It is a lie that the case is being handled by the Law and Order section of the police. They were put in front of all this rather hastily on 22 December 2008, in order to give the whole thing a resemblance of following due process. No one at Central Police Station in Harare is privy what is really up with this case.
[…] There are CIO operatives as well as a beefed-up armed guard now permanently stationed at the prison where the abductees are being kept. They are still being questioned, which is why you are unlikely to see this court case begin in earnest for some weeks. It is not the police doing the questioning, obviously, but the CIO. “It's a national security issue,” as the minister in charge of the secret police, the CIO, told the court this week.
Guys, the real business of this Jestina Mukoko court case is being done outside the courtroom and what we see happening in the courts is simply a show. I have now come to realise this.
The blog also reports that President Robert Mugabe is preparing to arrest Morgan Tsvangirai, the opposition leader. It gives details of a plot to arrest the MDC leader on charges arising out of the current prosecution of Jestina Mukoko and the alleged recruitment and training of “bandits” to topple Mugabe.
Another blog coming out of Zimbabwe, Peace Love and Happiness bemoans the part-dollarisation of the Zimbabwean economy in a post addressed to the Reserve Bank Governor of that country, entitled “Gono, US Dollars Do Not Grow On Trees“. This is a revealing post that shows just how deeply the economic crisis has spread and gives an insight into how Zimbabweans are coping with record-breaking inflation now estimated to run into the trilions:
Right now ordinary Zimbabweans are faced with a situation whereby they are being paid in worthless Zimbabwean dollars and yet are expected to pay their rent, their transport, buy all their food, pay for school fees, hospital fees and medicine in US dollars. Where does the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor expect the ordinary Zimbabweans to get the US dollars from, is he aware that the US dollars do not grow on trees. Ordinary Zimbabweans were already suffering economically before this policy of using US dollars was put in place and putting it in place when most of them are paid in Zimbabwean dollars was like putting salt on a wound, adding more suffering to an already suffering people. This shows just how cruel, insensitive and indifferent Gono is to the suffering of ordinary Zimbabweans. His allowing pricing of goods and services to be done in US dollars when most people are paid in Zim dollars has increased poverty, hunger and deaths in the country and made reaching one of the NEPAD millenium goals of poverty reduction very far from being possible in this country. You might be wondering why the ordinary Zimbabweans can not just use their Zim dollar salaries to buy the needed US dollars from the foreign currency dealers which can be found at every street corner in the city. The reason they can't do that is because the maximum money withdrawal from the bank, that Gono set as the limit per person, per day is not enough to buy an adequate amount of US dollars.