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Home | ZimCrisis#42 -- Letter from Zimbabwe

Date: Fri, 16 Jun 2000 00:59:59 -0700
To: "Zimbabwe Crisis Mailing List":;
From: Zimbabwe Crisis
Subject: ZimCrisis#42 -- Letter from Zimbabwe
Cc: "Australian government":;, "British government":;,
"Canadian government":
;, "South African government":;,
"US government":;, Commonwealth:;, "NG organisations":;, Press:;

Hi everyone,

Another letter from Zimbabwe.


Dear family and friends,

This week we've had the toughest time since the farm invasions started just over three months ago and our resolve has been pushed right to the limits. The week started with getting Jane some professional treatment for the wound on her mouth. While she is still not saying what happened to her last weekend, we have pieced a number of different stories together and have been left in no doubt at all that she was the victim of a political beating. She went to our local clinic to get the dressing changed on Monday morning and came back with nothing having been done - the nurses apparently were unable to treat her (more likely unwilling). I immediately took her to my GP and saw the full extent of the damage. From the base of her nostrils to the top of her lip there is just a huge mush of flesh and I have never seen anyone sit as bravely and quietly in the doctor's chair as she did. I had hoped that the doctor would be able to stitch or clip the wound together but that was impossible on a wound of that size and depth, there was just no skin onto which she could stitch and it simply has to be left open and cleaned daily while the layers of flesh and skin rebuild themselves. The conjecture is that she was scorched with a hot steel bar. Whatever it was that happened to Jane, she is more determined than ever to carry on and, like the rest of us, is very, very angry at her fellow Zimbabweans.

For the first three days of the week, X and I watched with mounting alarm as dozens and then hundreds of people gathered daily in the field below our house. These gatherings have only taken place on the weekends before so now the pressure is clearly mounting. These people are farm workers and villagers from our neighbouring areas and have been frog marched into our fields daily to be re-educated. All have been forced to renew their ZANU membership cards and buy ZANU "data forms" and then sit and be lectured to by "war veterans". They sit from 10 am to 3.30 pm, no food or drink, in the rain, mist and wind and are not allowed to leave until the rent a mob leaders are finished.

On Thursday mid-day a group of 7 rent a mob made their way up the fields to our back gate and shouted and whistled, refusing to go away until they had seen me. With X and all the workers busily unloading 4 tonnes of winter feed at our dairy, I had no option but to go and talk to them as they were threatening to smash the gates down. When I arrived at the gate one man stepped forward and started shouting at me immediately: "This is my farm, this is my fields, this is my cows, this is my ostrich and this is my house" he said, shouting and foam bubbling at the edges of his mouth. I knew immediately that he was either very drunk or drugged and that there would be no reasoning with him at all. I just said very calmly to each statement: Oh! When he'd run out of things to claim ownership to, I asked him what it was that he wanted. "You bring your workers NOW" he screamed, he wanted them in the field for their meeting. When I told him that they were unloading cattle feed from the National Foods truck, he went mad and went into another shouting session: "National Foods is for Africans, we are Africans; you are whites, you f... off our land, you f... off back to Britain. Then he repeated the "this is my farm" speech. By now I was getting more than a little tired of the rhetoric and he suddenly decided to push it a step further. "This is my house" he yelled, "you get out now, by 4pm, you get out". I asked him then what his name was and that totally pushed him over the edge. "My name, my farm, my house etc etc ". Then he stepped right up to the gate and started shaking it and then opened his jacket and I could see the butt of a revolver in his inside pocket. "I could drop you right now" he said "you see my gun, I can take you now" and then he ranted on about his shooting prowess. He had completely lost control now so I just quietly said I would go and get all my workers to come to his meeting. I turned my back on the gate and walked away just waiting for the click and the bang and as soon as I rounded the corner to the house I ran. By the time I got to where X and the workers were I was a hysterical gibbering idiot but managed to tell everyone what had happened and they ran to their homes to check on the safety of the families and children. The "this is my farm" team had left me and gone to the workers houses and dragged everyone out including a 7 month pregnant woman, two children under five and everyone else. Jane was marched out of the store and they were all forced to go and sit in the field for the rest of the day.

I immediately phoned the farmers union and the police, begged someone to come out here and put a stop to this. Amazingly the police were there in 20 minutes. They came first to the house, got a description from me of the man with the gun and then went down into the field. There they shouted and waved their fists for thirty minutes. We heard later that the police told the "war vets" that if anyone came to the house again, or threatened us, or demanded anything, they would be arrested. They ordered the leader of the "war vets" to do a physical search for the gun, which was done (why the police didn't do it themselves, I don't know) but nothing was found. Later the police (5 of them) came back to the house and reassured us. One was the Chief Inspector in charge of rural affairs and he gave me his home phone number and said I should call him day or night if we needed help.

On Saturday Mugabe addressed a rally in Marondera, all our workers went and all the people from the neighbouring villages went, in the free buses provided for them. They were all told that if they weren't there, they too would be beaten. Apparently Mugabe again praised the actions of the war veterans, told them they should not get off the farms and that victory was in sight, the land was almost theirs. I very much doubt it, certainly none of the hundreds that have been forced to sit in our fields all day, every day this week will vote for his party. Personally I think defeat is inevitable. I drew enormous strength from the reaction of the police to our crisis this week. As someone said to me, the political brakes seem to have been taken off the police.

And so we wait, counting down the days, exhausted but determined - after all, this is MY farm!

Much love...

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Brief list of helpful sites on the issue:
- Comprehensive news updates -- http://www.1freespace.com/beetee
- Offers of and requests for help for Zimbabweans -- http://pub9.ezboard.com/boffersofhelp
- Commercial Farmers' Union -- http://www.mweb.co.zw/cfu
- Movement for Democratic Change -- http://www.in2zw.com/mdc
- Zimbabwe Democracy Trust -- http://www.zimbabwedemocracytrust.org
- BSAP Pursuit of Zimbabwean Criminals -- http://www.bsaphq.f9.co.uk