The Radio Equalizer: Brian Maloney

30 May 2005

Zimbabwean Conditions Rapidly Deteriorating

Mugabe On The Rampage

Attacks Urban Poor, New Racist Socialism Push

Are Zimbabwean thug Robert Mugabe's increasingly brutal crackdowns on virtually every segment of society leading the country toward inevitable civil war?

In a race against North Korea to claim the world's biggest basketcase title, the government recently attacked poor citydwellers and announced plans to nationalize all farmland, abolishing private land ownership.

Conditions are now so bad that Bush and Blair have no choice but to give the situation their immediate full attention.

Poor urban vendors, having lost what little they owned to Mugabe's bulldozers in an effort to remove them from the streets, are begging for arms to take violent action. They say they don't mind dying if they can take him down with them.

Mugabe has been busy ordering shanties and slums demolished in city after city, forcing residents into the streets, as temperatures drop with winter's approach. Church leaders have denounced the savage and senseless attacks on the poor, but police have continued to carry out their destructive raids.

Opposition party leaders from the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) have tried to calm the vendors, hoping to convince them that legal action is better than a violent uprising. But that's going to be a difficult task, as they now have nothing to lose by fighting back.

Zimbabwe's National Flag

Zimbabwean author Cathy Buckle's May letters have now been published, describing the conditions she's recently encountered:

This week I find myself as a stranger in my home town. Familiar faces have gone, familiar stopping places have been demolished. Men and women who would nod, wave and smile as I passed, have disappeared and I feel an overwhelming sadness at what has happened to them and to their struggle to make a decent living in these most desperate of times.

Around the corner from my home a woman used to sit on a concrete block with her vegetables laid out for sale on a piece of cardboard in front of her: butternuts, tomatoes and onions. She has gone, chased away by Police.

At the end of the road a young woman, sometimes with her little boy in his bright red jersey, sat on the ground under a tree with a few things to sell to passers by. She had pushed four sticks into the ground and fashioned a little table to hold her products: popcorn, matches and vegetables.

Often her little boy would smile and wave when I passed by, but they have gone, chased away by the Police. Outside the junior school four women waited every day to sell their wares to parents and children when the last bell of the day rang. They sold frozen drinks, toffees, peppermints and bubble gum balls. They have gone, chased away by Police.

Opposite the hospital eight or ten women, many with children at their feet or babies on their backs, stood selling fruits and vegetables to nursing staff, patients and visitors. Their stalls were substantial and made of treated gum poles with thick plastic sheeting overhead to protect them and their produce from the weather.

Here you could buy bananas and apples, avocado pears, cucumbers, cabbages, tomatoes and almost any fruit or vegetable in season. They have gone, chased away by Police.

Coupled with Mugabe's effort to smash the poor, for reasons perhaps known only to himself, he's also targeting landowners, by announcing the abolishment of all private farmland. Where in the past, it was whites who were prohibited from remaining on their land, now everyone must turn it over to the state.

White farmer with his workers
The move will prevent white farmers reclaiming land
BBC Library Photo

This is said to upset some ruling ZANU-PF party officials, who were rewarded with the farms of whites, as a reward for continuing loyalty to the regime. But they dare not protest.

The reason for the marxist land confiscation is to get around recent court rulings, which favored white farmowners, seeking to reclaim their stolen land.

Mugabe has long used racism as a tool for solidifying power, but the funny thing is that racial tensions are few, in a place where whites and others have mostly been cleansed from society.

With Mugabe's previous farmland confiscation plunging the country into economic chaos and a probable famine, one would think that South Africa's government would be greatly concerned.

Sadly, the corrupt African National Congress has looked the other way, along with American liberals, who have been reluctant to denounce the regime, placing selfish political concerns ahead of starving people.


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