| ACN News: Tuesday, 29th April 2008 – ZIMBABWE
Zimbabwe – “Genocide in the making”
FAMILIES in Zimbabwe have had their homes bulldozed by armed police, been left without food and water, and are reduced to begging in the streets where they are forced to sleep in freezing temperatures.
Such is the traumatic situation described by an eye-witness, who has sent a message which has been passed to Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need.
The message comes after ACN decided to give more help to the suffering people of Zimbabwe.
The author of the message, who wishes to remain anonymous because of fears for his family’s safety, described the terror gripping the country.
In the message, he said: “We are all terrified at what they are going to destroy next. I mean they are actually ploughing down brick and mortar houses.
“One white family with twin boys of 10 had no chance of salvaging anything when a hundred riot police came in with AK47 [assault rifle]s and bulldozers and demolished their beautiful house – five bedrooms and pine ceilings – because it was ‘too close to the airport’, so we are feeling extremely insecure right now.
“To be frank with you, it’s genocide in the making,” he said.
The message comes at a time when ACN is about to give more emergency help, details of which are due to be announced shortly.
This aid is on top of the charity’s ongoing support for the pastoral and humanitarian work of missionary congregations working with the poor and dispossessed.
In his message, the eye-witness went on to describe the human cost of the atrocities.
He wrote: “Today a family approached me, [the] brother of the gardener’s wife with two small children. Their home was trashed and they will have to sleep outside.
“We already support eight adult people and a child on this property, and electricity is going up next month by 250 percent, as is water. How can I take on another family of four – and yet how can I turn them away to sleep out in the open?”
A statement from Zimbabwe’s Catholic Bishops’ Conference, Council of Churches, and the Evangelical Fellowship claim that those who voted against Robert Mugabe are being tortured, abducted and murdered.
The statement warned that “if nothing is done to help the people of Zimbabwe from their predicament, we shall soon be witnessing genocide”.
ACN was told by Fr Chris Smith of the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SACBC) that they are getting more reports of violence and targeted retaliation.
With reports of violence escalating, the Church is concerned about armaments destined for land-locked Zimbabwe being transported via South Africa.
Cardinal Wilfrid Napier, spokesman for the SACBC, said, “I call on the South Africa government not to allow any more arms and munitions to enter Zimbabwe through South Africa until an acceptable solution is found to the present situation.”
While the president of South Africa, Jacob Zuma, said “I do not think we have reached the stage of [an] arms embargo in Zimbabwe”, Prime Minister Gordon Brown said on Wednesday (23rd) that the British government “will promote proposals for an embargo on all arms to Zimbabwe.”
On Thursday (24th), China’s Foreign Ministry confirmed that a ship bound for Zimbabwe with a cargo of mortar bombs and munitions from China would turn back without unloading its cargo, after dockworkers in Durban, South Africa refused to unload it.
With inflation at more than 165,000 percent, ACN is continuing to support various projects including a $25,000 emergency food programme for people in the Archdiocese of Bulawayo threatened with starvation.
More than 500 children – many of them orphans – are receiving food and medical support via a programme run by Sisters in the Archdiocese.
According to the U.N. World Food Program, a third of the country’s 12 million people will face starvation unless they receive aid.
Directly under the Holy See, Aid to the Church in Need supports the faithful wherever they are persecuted, oppressed or in pastoral need. ACN is a Catholic charity – helping to bring Christ to the world through prayer, information and action.
Founded in 1947 by Fr Werenfried van Straaten, whom Pope John Paul II named “An Outstanding Apostle of Charity”, the organisation is now at work in about 145 countries throughout the world.
The charity – whose UK office is in Sutton, Surrey – undertakes thousands of projects every year including providing transport for clergy and lay Church workers, construction of church buildings, funding for priests and nuns and help to train seminarians. Since the initiative’s launch in 1979, 45 million Aid to the Church in Need Child’s Bibles have been distributed worldwide.
For more information, please contact the Sydney office of ACN on (02) 9679-1929. e-mail: email@example.com or write to Aid to the Church in Need PO Box 6245 Blacktown DC NSW 2148. Web:www.aidtochurch.org
Posts Tagged ‘Zimbabwe’
The following article appeared with the title “Mauritius: Saving a Nation and Averting Genocide”— it was so well written, I have nothing to add.
In January 2006 in an article entitled The hopeful continent, The Economist referred to a Gallup International Poll that indicated that Africans are the world’s staunchest optimists. Indeed post colonial African politics has undergone positive developments, which saw in certain parts of Africa a significant shift from single to multi party systems, the presence of opposition parties, the demise of political parties founded by military leaders as well as the introduction of a two-term presidential limit.
However these gains /advancements can easily be reversed, sending the continent and its people into the darkest of ages. In fact, the unfolding human tragedy in Zimbabwe and the recent traumatic post-election violence in Kenya bear witness to this.
polls with a strong expectation to change their destiny and that of their country. Instead the country has entered into deep political limbo which has seen a series of absurd / bizarre events ranging from the non release of the presidential results by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC), the High Court’s outright rejection of the MDC’s petition to force ZEC to release the presidential election results and the decision of ZEC to accede to the demand of ZANU-PF to conduct a recount of the presidential, parliamentary, and local council votes from 23 constituencies!
Regular news feeds coming from Zimbabwe point to a country that is dangerously entering a point of no-return and, if allowed to go unchecked, may cause the genocide of a nation. The latest commando operation approved by Mugabe and his political cronies called Makavhoterapapi, a Shona word for ‘where did you put your cross?’ is profiling innocent Zimbabwean citizens who are being brutally mutilated and massacred. News of an ammunition cargo heading for Zimbabwe has accentuated the world’s concern and fear that Mugabe is gathering a war arsenal against his people.
This year marks 28 years that Mugabe ‘ruled’ Zimbabwe during which he took the country from glorious independence to absolute economic meltdown. Once known as the bread basket of Africa, Zimbabwe currently runs a whopping inflation rate of 165,000 percent (up from the 100,000 pre election rate), has 80 percent of its people unemployed, has one of the lowest life expectancy in the world – 37 years and has some 3 million of its people living in exile.
A decade of trauma and misery
One would expect that these are rather exaggerated figures popularized by western media in an attempt to vilify the Mugabe regime. Alas there is nothing more real than the daily brunt of the average Zimbabwean citizen who has to develop extraordinary survival techniques just to exist. Supermarkets and shops remain constantly empty and if ever one is able to get one’s hands on ordinary bread the price is too high for most Zimbabwean citizens to afford.
I was recently talking to a colleague who is a senior academic at the University of Zimbabwe and was shocked to hear that his monthly salary is just enough to fill half the tank of his car with gasoline and that is if you are lucky enough to get it. To deal with inflation the central bank has resorted to the printing of a 50 million Zim note and even contemplating of releasing a 100 million note in the near future!
The world has kept a close and constant eye on the Zimbabwe crisis and the question that has been on everyone’s lips is – how do we put a stop to the human carnage and free the Zimbabwean people? The West and especially Britain has been reprimanded for interfering into African matters and that it is up to Africa to find solutions to its problems. This no doubt is a fair argument which I strongly adhere to. Unfortunately no solution has yet been delivered except a quiet diplomacy approach of letting the electoral process follow its course!
Two summits (Lusaka and SADC Poverty & Development) have been missed opportunities to deal with the Zimbabwean crisis in a direct and firm manner. For those of us who were there, Zimbabwe’s state of anarchy and crisis was mentioned only by civil society, the Prime minister of Norway and the European Union Commissioner! In fact, it is quite mind-boggling to deal with the thematic of poverty and development in the SADC region and ‘diplomatically’ avoid referring to the Zimbabwean case.
It is imperative that SADC as a region bloc / community (if it wants to maintain its credibility as a relevant platform for people / countries of the region) takes an urgent stand on the Zimbabwe crisis. As Kofi Annan mentioned a couple of days ago “Where are the Africans? Where are the leaders and the countries in the region? What are they doing? It’s a crisis that will impact beyond Zimbabwe and we have a responsibility to find viable solution.”
Many observers believe that Mugabe has been tolerated for too long by his peers who have turned a lenient or at times a blind eye to his excessive and abusive behaviour. This can be partly explained by the prevailing African political culture where status, hierarchy and liberation solidarity forged during the battle for independence rank high and there is no doubt that Mugabe scores full marks in that register. Mugabe’s anti colonialism ranting against Britain has occasionally won him sympathy among other African leaders who found in him a convenient stick to use against the West.
However, patience and solidarity is wearing thin as the quiet diplomacy favoured by the region’s appointed mediator – President Mbeki is not really delivering concrete results. Mbeki’s political autism on the Zimbabwe crisis has been contrasted by the outright position taken by ANC’s leader – Jacob Zuma. However there seems to be a glimmer of hope with the stepping up of international pressure through the harsh condemnation of UN’s secretary general and other foreign leaders. This saw the African Union this week add its voice to the chorus of disapproval; its current chairman, the president of Tanzania, is pressing within the AU and the SADC for action.
The last decade has seen Zimbabwe and the majority of its people slip into a hell hole. At the moment all energies and efforts are concentrated on getting rid of someone who prides on calling himself the black Hitler, however it is imperative to reflect on the needs / requirements of a post-Mugabe era. A decade of trauma, misery and absolute dispossession should give way to prosperity, stability and dignity. The IMF has put aside a US $ 1 billion currency and stabilization fund and there are proposals around important infrastructure projects. Rebuilding and restructuring will also have to review the thorny issue of land reform and ensure that the people of Zimbabwe get their due.
Zimbabwe is a nation in peril and time is of the essence as on a daily basis we hear of horror stories where our brothers and sisters are being savagely exterminated. As Africans we have the moral responsibility to intervene to avoid the genocide of a nation otherwise we shall be held account for the killing of our own people!