- HARARE - We marked Heroes
and Ancestors Day - or Gooks and Spooks, as we prefer to call it - in
yesterday. The city was a place of eerie calm but in the bush all hell
was breaking loose, with women, children and old folk being evacuated
by light aircraft.
- There is a 'fin de' everything, atmosphere among white
people now, a sad, bitter resignation to the fact that our world is
around us. It,s like going through a bereavement for the beloved country
many of our families came to from England 100 years ago. It's an agonising
process: anger, denial, bargaining - then maybe death.
- The entire generation of whites know they are not wanted
and have left or are leaving. The older generation is still desperate to
live out what remains of their lives in what is left of British colonial
- I saw a prosperous looking elderly couple in the
last week looking at the prices of pet food. The woman said: "I don't
think we can afford to keep the dogs anymore." They are lucky.
other pensioners have resorted to cooking with dog food - they cannot
proper meat. Their fixed pensions have been almost wiped out over the past
two years by an inflation rate which must be well over 150 per cent. With
their children and grandchildren going or gone, many have been reduced
to a kind of genteel poverty, trading in their beautiful old homes to
together in old age compounds.
- The elderly are not the only vulnerable ones. A few days
ago I saw a pretty white girl of about 17 touting for business at a flea
pit hotel north of the city centre, in a mini skirt despite the cold winter
wind. In a country where one in four people is thought to have AIDS, you
have to be really desperate to become a prostitute.
- There's simply no money here and certainly no security,
not even in death.
- Suburban street signs have been removed wholesale - we
think they are being melted down and made into coffin handles. Graves have
been opened, corpses dumped in the bush and coffins taken for resale,
up with aluminium from the signs. The other day I was trapped in a huge
traffic jam - a rush of middle class black people applying for white land
at the Ministry of Agriculture. Spectacles like that make even the
talk about quitting.
- The government's 'indigenisation' policy makes it more
and more difficult for us to be employed instead of the millions of jobless
black Zimbabweans. And without a very good job you can't afford a ticket
to get out. There used to be a joke that if whites and middle-class blacks
waited too long they would have to sell their plush mansions just to pay
for the air fare to London. That joke is rapidly coming true as the value
of the Zimbabwe dollar depreciates weekly. It's expected to reach 500 Zim
dollars to the pound within a month, yet when the current government took
over 21 years ago, one Zim dollar was worth £1.
- The country feels like one big departure lounge in which
we carry on our day to day activities while waiting for our flight. You
go to the café but you only talk about who's gone, who's going and
then you see someone you used to take coffee with who,s now sleeping on
- A chronically optimistic farmer friend told me recently
he had always thought the rest of Africa could learn from Zimbabwe, but
last week he changed his mind. "I was so naïve," he said.
"to think that 50,000 whites could really make a difference and hold
out against the tidal wave of chaos that is engulfing the rest of this
continent." An opposition party supporter, he revealed that what
depressed him was the seeming indifference of most black Zimbabweans to
what was happening to the whites.
- Mobs of veterans - the catch-all name for Mugabe thugs
- and party supporters have been surrounding farms, building road blocks
and forcing farmers to flee in what is seen as the start of campaigning
for the presidential election next year.
- As I flew over the bush I watched crowds of people
from the abandoned farmhouses, taking away white families possessions on
their heads, donkey carts and on 'liberated' farm vehicles, some of which
they immediately crashed.
- At one farm in the Doma area I saw looters load bags
of fertiliser from a smashed open warehouse on to a donkey cart. At another
I saw beds, tables, cupboards and other bits of furniture scattered over
the lawn and thrown into the swimming pool. I spotted caches of stolen
goods in the bush around the farms. One farmer told me many workers had
been forced at gunpoint to plunder their employers property but some loyal
ones were hiding valuable stuff such as computers so they could return
it later when law and order was restored. The farmer said that if that
happened he would never miss another church service again.
- Despite all this, Jack Straw, the UK'S new Foreign
has done nothing to help whites in what was for so many years a British
colony, and in which so many of the white tribe still hold British
- The slaughter and robbery might seem random but it is
not. There is a brutal logic at work. The government knows if it can drive
the whites out of Zimbabwe, the rest of the world, and particularly the
Western media, will lose interest and then it will be able to deal with
its political opposition in no uncertain terms.
- If that happens, there will be a descent into poverty
and terror from which Zimbabwe, a once civilised and sophisticated nation,
may never emerge.
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