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Home | ZimCrisis#92 -- Ambushed -- Another Report from Eddie Cross

Date: Thu, 13 Jul 2000 19:14:08 -0700
To: "Zimbabwe Crisis Mailing List":;
From: Zimbabwe Crisis
Subject: ZimCrisis#92 -- Ambushed -- Another Report from Eddie Cross

It had to happen eventually I was ambushed outside the MDC offices this week. I had a meeting with Morgan and we left the offices at dusk and I went off to my vehicle with my driver/guard. As I approached the passenger door of the vehicle, they cornered me there were three of them, the youngest about 6 and the others less than 10, the two oldest with babies on their back. They looked like sisters.

It was nearly freezing at that time of the day the wind blowing off the snows on the Drakensberg in South Africa. They were thinly dressed and none even had a jersey on. Three young girls with their weapons, big brown eyes and begging bowls. "Where are you from?" I asked in Shona "Mozambique" they replied, "where do you stay"? "Epworth". What could I do I paid my dues and $10.00 lighter got into the car and was driven away as we left they were dividing the loot three ways and ignored me. "Mugabe's children" I remarked to my driver, he laughed.

Outside the MDC offices in central Harare we have a resident gang of about 6 street "kids", these are all male and about 20 years old and are all MDC supporters. A relative from South Africa, Peter Cross, visiting Zimbabwe to observe the elections, parked his car outside the offices and when we went back out to it it had been broken into and his bags, shoes and a sum of money stolen. He could not work out how they got in past the alarm and other security systems, the car was locked and the thief had been very selective. We approached the kids, yes, they had witnessed the theft, they knew the people involved and had not known that the owner was connected to the MDC they would try to get the valuable items returned (they failed).

They look after our vehicles I never pay for parking formally just give the guys a cash contribution from time to time. My driver, who has to wait for me for hours on end, has witnessed several thefts and no action from the Police. In fact the kids told me the other day that they paid the Police to leave them alone. The group owns three cars, which they use to travel to and from their homes this week they were trying to buy a fourth vehicle business must be good! They are all well educated, a cheerful bunch and pick their targets carefully and often with a political motive in mind, foreign vehicles are a target.

These waifs of the street are a symptom of the collapse of the formal economy and the shortage of job opportunities. They are forced to turn to forms of criminal activity to survive and it is hoped that they do not graduate to other forms of crime, which are more dangerous, for them and our society. Peter was a victim and we quickly replaced the stuff he lost and he put it down to a form of income distribution. Solving the problems that puts these kids onto the streets will take longer.

For the three little girls, what lies ahead? A life of prostitution, eventually death through an AIDS related disease at the age of 20 or less, no chance of an education or any kind of future. For the babies on their backs, probably death before they are 5 years of age.

Charity is not the answer; the answers are found in sound policies, market driven economics and honest, inspired government at both national and local level. All of those things are in our hands, outsiders cannot deliver these things or even help us with the process. Once in place they can and will help massively until my parking attendants and the ambush squad can be offered a decent education with health services and a chance of a better life.

Zanu PF and the President are slowly coming to grips with their new situation the moral defeat of the election process and its aftermath are making themselves felt. They are clearly struggling with the formation of a new cabinet and the news that the MDC had appointed its shadow spokespersons to cover all 15 ministerial portfolios put the fox amongst the hens with a vengeance. I listened to our new spokesman on defense on the BBC this morning he did us proud with a clear statement on MDC policy towards the army and its role in our society. The Zanu front bench must be waking up to the fact that for the first time they are up against a competent and well informed opponent in the House, no more sleeping the hours away while the ministers fiddle!

As for us in the wings we are gearing up for the local government elections and looking forward to the fray. It's a real chance to show what we can do when we have power and try to deliver real improvement in the lives of the people we serve. On the farms the violence has continued and might have even escalated. It is especially concerning that the army is still being used and that there is evidence that the CIO is also playing a role the question is why? In theory they have what they wanted hundreds of farms to settle people on without any immediate financial obligations to the owners. However they must be aware of the fact that the whole world is watching them on this issue and that they will be further isolated and denied financial assistance if they make one false step.

The immediate developments after the elections have not been encouraging aside from the farm invasions. There have been outspoken attacks on the MDC and its leadership plus a number of death threats against all sorts of people from the Catholic Bishop of Matabeleland to white farmers who supported the MDC in the elections and senior MDC officials and candidates. For the President to call the MDC and its supporters "enemies" is totally unacceptable behavior does he care?

These are serious issues and to a very large extent it's his decisions that will determine our situation in the next 22 months. If he decides to continue as if nothing had changed since April, then we are in for a very rough time as a country. The deteriorating economic situation could lead to social unrest and the consequential decline in the standard of living will create serious hardship. If he acknowledges that the balance of power has changed and that he must adjust the agenda to take this into account and to accommodate the views of the opposition then maybe, just maybe, we can start the slow climb back to stability and eventually, growth.

Eddie Cross
7th July 2000

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