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Zimbabwe -- Mugabe's war against the poor
Mail & Guardian (SA) ^ | 2005-05-30 | Michael Hartnack in Harare

Posted on 05/30/2005 8:06:36 AM PDT by Clive

Zimbabwean church representatives on Sunday denounced the week-long crackdown against street traders and shack dwellers, while police continued arrests and demolition work.

In the capital's crowded southern townships, residents were reportedly putting boulders across roads to hinder access. But no fresh incidents of stone throwing were reported after residents last week fought running battles with security forces, who pulled down slums and made thousands of people homeless in the midwinter cold.

In a statement, the National Pastors Conference, representing over 100 Christian ministers, demanded President Robert Mugabe's government "engage in a war against poverty and not against the poor".

They accused the authorities of "displaying lack of compassion in the face of human suffering and misery", with police squads singing "the destroyers have arrived" as they blitzed urban settlements that allegedly lacked planning permission.

The Roman Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace, Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, the Human Rights Trust of Southern Africa and university lecturers joined the condemnation.

Opposition lawmaker Trudi Stevenson said police had moved into other sections of the Hatcliffe township in her northern Harare constituency, where 500 families have already been made homeless despite having lease agreements issued in 2002 by Housing Minister Ignatius Chombo. Residents are not resisting but are attempting to salvage building materials, furniture and belongings, fearing bulldozers would move in.

"They [the police] go in with this massive force of 3,000, and if you are only 300 or 500 people or so, without weapons, and they are armed, you cannot resist," she said.

"In the closer knit high density areas people are resisting, but police have now been deployed there."

The National Pastors Conference accused the government of "randomly destroying sources of livelihood for the urban poor" who were encouraged to begin street trading by the economic liberalisation policy Mugabe adopted in 1991.

"Are we now to believe that these people were misled by the same sitting government that has now mercilessly turned against them?" asked the pastors.

Current 80% unemployment among Zimbabwe's 11,6-million people, shortages of all basic commodities and rampant hyper-inflation are dehumanising and compromising human dignity, they said.

"We need informed policy action, not police action, in order to make life bearable for the poor."

The privately owned Sunday Standard reported that the southern Glen View township "resembled a graveyard" after weeklong battles between armed police and street traders, roadside kiosk and workshop owners, and shack dwellers whose homes and businesses were torched or bulldozed.

The national council of the opposition Moverment for Democratic Change met at the weekend and "resolved to defend the rights of the people".

A formal statement and announcement of court action is expected on Monday.

Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai has accused Mugabe (81) of aiming to break the spirit of Zimbabweans ahead of imminent economic collapse, and drive the urban poor back into the rural areas where they can be controlled by denial of access to food.

Over the weekend, the price of maize meal, the staple of Zimbabweans' diet, was increased by 51% and bread prices by 29%.

Nationwide food riots in 1998 claimed seven lives after Mugabe deployed troops, backed by tanks and helicopters.

The government mouthpiece, The Sunday Mail, defended the action.

"The fact that the president has thrown his weight behind the clean-up must mean it is a well thought out programme," the newspaper said in an editorial.

World Food Programme Director James Morris is scheduled to arrive this week for talks with Mugabe on the humanitarian crisis, but was warned there must be "no political conditionality".

The country urgently needs to import 1,2-million metric tonnes of maize to avert the threat of famine to four million people. - Sapa-AP

TOPICS: Business/Economy; Culture/Society; Foreign Affairs; Government
KEYWORDS: zimbabwe
By "no political conditionality" Mugabe means that the WFP will be expected to deliver maize meal and famine rations to the Zanu PF and Zanu PF will then decide how to distribute it, to whom and under what conditions.

Many NGOs have withdrawn from Zimbabwe because of Mugabe's attempts to politicize their efforts to abate hunger and treat disease.

Zanu PF is using hunger as a political weapon.

1 posted on 05/30/2005 8:06:36 AM PDT by Clive
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To: blam; Cincinatus' Wife; sarcasm; happygrl; Byron_the_Aussie; robnoel; GeronL; ZOOKER; Bonaparte; ...


2 posted on 05/30/2005 8:07:00 AM PDT by Clive
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To: Clive

Can this in any way be described as genocide, a 'cleansing' of the unwanted?

3 posted on 05/30/2005 8:28:03 AM PDT by yoe
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To: Clive

Thanks, Clive. This is painful to read, but we need to know.

4 posted on 05/30/2005 8:51:04 AM PDT by solzhenitsyn ("Live Not By Lies")
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To: yoe

I don't think genocide includes 'cleansing' of an economic group, but it's exactly the word I was thinking when I read this.

5 posted on 05/30/2005 8:54:03 AM PDT by nuconvert (No More Axis of Evil by Christmas ! TLR) [there's a lot of bad people in the pistachio business])
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To: nuconvert
The word you are looking for is Pogrom.

po·grom n.

An organized, often officially encouraged massacre or persecution of a minority group, especially one conducted against Jews.

Though they're not Jewish, the word still fits.

These people need military heavy weapons and effective leadership if they are to stand a chance.
6 posted on 05/30/2005 9:02:33 AM PDT by Dr.Zoidberg (Children's classic songs updated for Islam "If you're happy and you know it, Go Kaboom!")
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To: Dr.Zoidberg

"massacre or persecution of a minority group"

I don't know if the poor qualify as a minority group in Zimbabwe. Maybe the poor self-employed qualify.

It's awful.

7 posted on 05/30/2005 9:07:32 AM PDT by nuconvert (No More Axis of Evil by Christmas ! TLR) [there's a lot of bad people in the pistachio business])
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To: nuconvert
Close enough.

I don't know how these people manage to keep going day to day. I would either make my way to South Africa or try to kill as many of Mugabeasts followers as I could before they killed me.

Either way, there's no way I could just hunker down and let the world fall in around me.

Such a tragedy.
8 posted on 05/30/2005 9:23:50 AM PDT by Dr.Zoidberg (Children's classic songs updated for Islam "If you're happy and you know it, Go Kaboom!")
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To: Clive

Hey, Zimbabwean church leaders protested! I wonder if they'll get any help from our left-wing clerics and their diminishing congregations.

9 posted on 05/30/2005 10:25:03 AM PDT by popdonnelly
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To: Clive; All
The first link is the most signifigant:


-Pity About Africa...--

-South Africa - The sellout of a nation--

-Cry, the Beloved Country--

-Robert Mugabe and the Struggle for Power--

-A Capsule History of Southern Africa--

-Rhetoric of blame is now a white lie--

-First it was Rhodesia then SA now America paying the price of silence--

-Parallels between Apartheid SA and USA--

-Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight--

"Why do you keep posting this stuff? Nobody cares about Africa, anyway..."

Clive, Cincinatus's Wife, blam, myself, and a few others get asked that occasionally- we are among the keepers of the "AfricaWatch" columns, and we continue to post articles about what I believe will prove to be one of the great, tragic stories of the new century.

The truth is archived here on Free Republic, and I maintain that one day, when things over there are too awful to be ignored any longer, those who have eyes to see will read the stories here, and be appalled at the silence.

That is all...

10 posted on 05/30/2005 11:05:21 AM PDT by backhoe (-30-)
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