- Dear Family and Friends,
- Less than 3 years ago Zimbabwe was a major regional
exporter of food but in January 2002 we are begging international donors
for US$100 million of urgent food aid. This is needed to feed an estimated
2 million Zimbabweans who experts say will face starvation within the
next three weeks. After almost 2 years of the most extreme policies, harassment,
intimidation and murder of our country's farmers and workers, we have now
run out of food. There are no reserves of the staple maize meal left and
95% of our commercial farms have been gazetted for state seizure.
- The Zimbabwe government this week began publishing the
names of people who have been allocated plots of land on the newly seized
farms. By yesterday, over 5000 names had been listed and less than 20
of those people have been given Large Scale plots. Most have been given
barely enough land on which to support themselves let alone grow a surplus
to feed 13 million people.
- Included in these first lists of people whom we are told
are "landless peasants" are the Mayor of the City of Chitungwiza;
the Deputy Minister of Transport; the MP's of Mutoko, Buhera and Hurungwe.
Also benefitting are a number of journalists from the state run Herald
newspaper including the Deputy Editor, the Business Editor, the Features
Editor and the Health Reporter.
- I stood dumfounded in a Marondera supermarket yesterday
morning looking at a bag of 4 apples priced at Z$320. I could not afford
to buy them and chose instead an Z$80 weekly newspaper whose front page
story is of the latest government pay rises. All Zimbabwe's uniformed
forces have been awarded a 100% pay rise effective from the 1st of January.
This includes police, army, air force, prison service workers and war
veterans (the latter now fall under the Ministry of Defence).
- Stringing a few facts together paints a bleak but blatantly
obvious picture of a government willing to do anything to stay in power,
a government who does not care about her people: Presidential elections
are due in 8-10 weeks time; 95% of farms have been re-allocated to "landless
peasants"; uniformed forces and war veterans are awarded a 100% pay
rise; 2 million people are less than a month away from starvation; citizenship
laws have been changed; 300 000 farm workers are about to be jobless and
destitute; electoral and media laws are about to be changed; 5 Judges
have left the benches in the last eight months; 100 000 people have been
displaced internally because of violence; 90 people have been murdered
for their political beliefs.
- It is an abysmal situation and we are completely powerless
to do anything about it. We cannot turn to the police or army. We cannot
look to the courts. We cannot petition our MP's. Next week when when the
new Public Order and Security Bill passes through parliament we will not
even be able to speak out any longer. We cannot look to our regional neighbours
for assistance because they have decided that it is not politically correct
to condemn a dictator. Even when the currencies of massively powerful
countries like South Africa have dropped to lowest ever levels because
of the crisis in Zimbabwe, their leaders continue to pussy foot around
for fear of being labelled racists or colonialists. I can only say God
- This week two farm workers were beaten to death in Wedza
by militant farm invaders. I have been unable to get their names but grieve
with their family and friends. I hope that next week I will still be legally
allowed to write this letter but am not optimistic. As always, my thanks
for your support and encouragement.
- With love,