Monthly Archives: April 2015

See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil: Signs of Changing Times

African Solutions in Peace and Security

By Gift Mwonzora*

Africa continues to grapple with emergent conflict situations such as the recent CAR, South Sudan conflict, Lesotho (August 30, 2014 botched coup) and Mali crisis. The situation raises the question of Africa’s capability and commitment to solve its own problems. How long should Africa continue to outsource solutions? Why can’t African countries find specific home grown solutions within the realm of their borders, without necessarily going across borders to shop for solutions? Why do we rely on large foreign military contingencies in our African conflicts, case of the overshadowing presence of the French military in Mali can attest.

In recent years there seems to be a marked shift amongst the African political leadership from the see no evil,hear no evil, speak no evil–syndrome (Welch, 1991: 538) towards active military intervention and involvement of various states. Do the regional and continental interventions of institutions such as…

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Scatterlings of Africa

Retirement and beyond

This  song was written by a South African singer, Johnny Clegg, and tells about the many people who were born in Africa, or  who, like me,  lived there for a considerable time, and are now scattered all over the world.

I was born in Ireland, but moved to Zimbabwe (then known as Rhodesia) in the 70s when I was newly wed and looking for adventure and a new life.    My four children were born there, and I stayed in Zimbabwe until 2002, almost 30 years.  We lived in a peaceful country with a great climate, in a country with lots of natural beauty, and with lots of wildlife and amazing scenery, sunrises and  sunsets like no other.   Life was good, we watched our children take their first steps, starting their own big adventures, learning to walk, learning to run, but always within the comfort of home and within…

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Xenophobia in South Africa. The Real Reasons Behind The Attacks…


     Ladies and gentlemen, unjani? (How are you, in Zulu, a South African language) We have all read the newspapers, seen the online reports and videos of the violent, deadly attacks that have left scores of foreigners in South Africa dead and seriously injured. As an immigrant myself, these attacks touch the very core of who I am. What is the difference between the unfortunate immigrants and myself? Nothing! I consider myself to be very lucky. They were simply at the ‘wrong place’ at the wrong time…
     Indigenous black South Africans are attacking other black Africans who just happen to be foreign. The only difference between the attackers and the victims is their birthplace; their country of origin. They are probably in the same station in life, going through similar trials and tribulations and pray to the same God for sustenance and mercy. Therefore, what causes the…

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Dust, tear gas and horse droppingsMarch 27, by Cathy Buckle

This is a lady whose blog i follow constantly and i am sure for those in the Diaspora a link to home For those of you who would like to learn more click on her link below
Dust, tear gas and horse droppingsMarch 27, 2015, 11:22 am

Dear Family and Friends,

Early in the morning a trail of brand new one dollar notes lay in the dust on an out of town dirt road. There were about a hundred of them and they hadn’t been there the day before. Aside from the dampness of the dew that had fallen on them, the $1 notes were obviously new; they were clean and unblemished as if they’d come straight from the printing press. The notes had watermarks and silver security strips and the place and date of issue was Harare 2007. These brand new one Zimbabwe dollar notes are absolutely useless now but they invoked a sense of macabre nostalgia.

None of us want to remember hyper inflation, economic meltdown, empty shops and hunger but lately the state of things in Zimbabwe is giving us a very strong sense of déjà vu. You don’t have to look hard to see that we are a country in deep trouble. Our government is completely broke, our 91 year old President has spent $US 10 million on foreign travel in the last three months and the political squabbling inundates every facet of our lives. In recent weeks there has been a growing tide of unrest. Inmates at Chikurubi Maximum Prison in Harare embarked on a violent food riot which ended up needing prison officers, police, support unit, fire brigade and tear gas to quell the hungry rioters and later armed men on horseback hunting for possible escapees. At least three people died in the incident which had been brewing for weeks. The Deputy Commissioner of Prisons caution a few weeks earlier had fallen on deaf ears: “We are only getting US$300 000 from Treasury monthly, yet our institution needs at least US$1,5 million to sustain operations.” When it was all over a parliamentary committee looked into conditions and said they had found that “prisoners were living like rats.”

Then came a food demonstration by students at the University of Zimbabwe. Students on campus said they were going to lectures on empty stomachs while their lecturers were striking over non payment of salaries. Riot police and running battles followed and then came a statement from the UZ ordering all students to vacate the campus by 3 pm the same day as the University was closing for a week. The usual contradictions followed: it’s open, it’s closed, go home, come back but the flame has been lit and so we watch and wait.

Hardly had the dust, tear gas canisters and horse droppings been cleared up after the Prison and University incidents when the biggest bomb shell fell. 21 MDC T Legislators (4 Senators and 17 MP’s) were expelled from Parliament at the request of the MDC T President. All are big names in Zimbabwe’s long struggle for a new democratic order; all have suffered mental and verbal abuse along the way; most have been beaten; many have been tortured; most have been arrested, imprisoned and hounded for much of the last fifteen years. And, without exception, all have given so much to Zimbabwe. Their courage, sacrifice and example will not be forgotten and we hope they will not give up on us, the people who voted them into parliament in the first place.

Sadly I end this letter with the same question as last time: Where is Itai Dzamara? There is still no sign of him: handcuffed by unknown men and abducted in broad daylight from a barber shop in Harare on the 9th March. You are not forgotten Itai Dzamara: journalist/activist/husband and father of a 7 year old son and 3 year old daughter. Until next time, thanks for reading, love cathy

Who are we? Zimbabwe at 35.

This is a lady whose blog i follow constantly and i am sure for those in the Diaspora a link to home For those of you who would like to learn more click on her link below
Who are we? Zimbabwe at 35.April 10, 2015, 11:03 am

Dear Family and Friends,

Next weekend Zimbabwe commemorates its 35th anniversary of Independence. We have had only one leader for the entire thirty five years of our Independence. At first he was called the Prime Minister and then the President but whatever the title, Mr Mugabe has occupied the top position of leadership in Zimbabwe for three and half decades. It’s easy to wax lyrical about how many schools, universities, hospitals and dams have been built; how many graduates have been capped and what the literacy rate in the country is. It’s not so easy to understand why then, after thirty five years, we find ourselves in such a shocking state.

Three and a half decades after Independence Zimbabwe doesn’t even have its own currency anymore. Economic mismanagement, hyperinflation and repeated devaluations left us abandoning the Zim dollar and trading mostly in US dollars and South African Rand. It’s also legal to use Botswana pula, British pounds, the Euro, Australian dollar, Chinese yuan , Indian rupee and Japanese yen. All this leaves us with one simple question about our identity: who are we?

Thirty five years after Independence Zimbabwe, which was a regional food exporter and known as the Breadbasket of Africa, now imports at least 80% of the food it needs to support our population of 14 million people. In clothing and hardware shops you can get anything you want but almost everything says Made in China. In the supermarkets the shelves are crammed with goods which have come mostly from South Africa. Most are three or four times more expensive than in South Africa so some fat cats are making a lot of money at the expense of ordinary people but still we’re left with the identity question: who are we?

Three and half decades after Independence 90% of people in Zimbabwe are unemployed. Everyone from university graduates to school dropouts tries to make a living selling things on the roadsides. The borders are crammed with Zimbabweans going to neighbouring countries to buy goods they can sell on our pavements. Across the country industrial areas have deserted factories and locked warehouses: grass and weeds sprout from concrete while big rusted padlocks on heavy chains tell the story without words of our massive unemployment. It’s the same on farms where once half a million people worked. Many farms are now empty fields without crops, livestock or fences; the infrastructure’s been looted and buildings are derelict. Even our President of 35 years admitted a few weeks ago that large farms seized from white Zimbabweans and given to black Zimbabweans were not producing anything, they were just being used as status symbols he said.

Then there’s the issue of our debts. As of April 2015 we have domestic and international debts to the tune of 9.9 billion US dollars and no chance of repaying any of it. As we turn 35 all these things are too painful for most Zimbabweans to think about as we struggle to stay afloat, pay our rent, keep food on the table and kids in school. But we haven’t forgotten them and as we commemorate 35 years of Independence we still ask: where is journalist/ activist ITAI DZAMARA? Abducted one month ago and not seen or heard from since. We also offer condolences at the murder of Australian conservationist Greg Gibbard working with Zimbabwe’s painted dogs, found axed to death near Hwange.

And lastly, as we turn 35 we look to Mr Mugabe for mercy for 36 baby elephants, captured in the wild and about to be exported to the UAE and China. We look to Mr Mugabe to honour his promise of 2002 when he addressed the UN Summit on Sustainable Development. He said: “ We look after our elephants and ivory. We look after our lions as they roar everywhere. They attract those who would want to see them. We sustain our environment. We are committed to that not just now, but in the future because we want a heritage as a legacy. We want that to pass on to future generations.”

Until next time, thanks for reading, love cathy.

Here not safe, home not safe by Cathy Buckle

This is a lady whose blog i follow constantly and i am sure for those in the Diaspora a link to home For those of you who would like to learn more click on her link below
Here not safe, home not safeApril 24, 2015, 5:20 am

Dear Family and Friends,

Ninety one year old President Mugabe inspected the forces on Independence day from a standing position in a grey and red open military vehicle. As the vehicle drove slowly around the assembled forces, the President stood head and shoulders above the people he was inspecting, like a spectator in the upper gallery. Later, when his speech was almost over Mr Mugabe at last commented on the xenophobic violence affecting Zimbabweans and other foreigners in South Africa which had by then been going on for three weeks. “I would want now to express our sense of shock, disgust as we abhor the incidences which happened in Durban. .. The act of treating other Africans in that horrible way can never be condoned by anyone,” he said.

The irony of those words are not lost on Zimbabweans who have been the victims of repeated horrors in Zimbabwe for the last fifteen years, regardless of our nationality or skin colour. Election violence, farm violence, political violence: burning, beating, torture, abductions, rape, arson, murder. Nor is the irony lost on Zimbabweans who are only in South Africa because they are either on the run from political persecution in Zimbabwe or because they are economic refugees from a country with 90% unemployment.

One of these Zimbabweans in South Africa described what it’s been like these past few weeks to be a foreigner in South Africa. Foreigners are called ‘makwerekwere’ there and these are his words:

“It’s a sorry and sad experience we are having …. So traumatic. You feel like the whole world has abandoned you. What you are seeing is just a tip of it. These guys daily they are bragging in the open saying you makwerekwere ain’t seen anything yet. Even during the day they go about carrying their weapons. Those of us using public transport are in real danger. Two days ago a discussion ended up being an argument in a taxi [kombi/minibus]; the driver, a Zulu, stopped and ordered the majority of us to get out of the taxi or they would ‘call their guys.’ By the grace of God we disembarked.

We are vulnerable and exposed. Even doing business with locals is becoming a challenge because they are now afraid of reprisals from big brother.

The majority of us don’t work but create our own jobs, – to their benefit too. And there’s the issue of impunity… the first perpetrators of violence and looters went scot-free. Like those in Zim 2008 election violence ..they will always do it again and again.

When you walk during daytime you do that with your heart in your hands and when you sleep at night-time you sleep with one eye closed for you don’t know what will happen next.

‘xeno’ eyes, tough n dangerous. Here not safe, home not safe… so sad.”

These brave words say it all. Our hearts are breaking. Zimbabweans in the Diaspora are not forgotten nor is activist Itai Dzamara, abducted in plain view in Zimbabwe and now missing for six weeks. Until the next time, thanks for reading this letter and supporting my books, love cathy.

Racism at Zimbabwe Passport RACISM

As a Zimbabwean who recently has witnessed Xenophobia in South AFRICA i thought its time to remind my fellow Zimbabweans that we should also remove the log in our eye before we start with the South Africans . This was posted by a Zimbabwean citizen about institutionalized RACISIM WE HAVE TO PUT UP WITH
Racism at Zimbabwe Passport Office
by Lorraine Randall
25 April 2015 |

I am writing this letter to report the appalling treatment I received from two of the ladies sitting at the front desk at the Citizenship Office at the Harare passport office recently.

My Zimbabwean passport and that of my husband had expired at the end of January 2015, so we decided to renew them as we needed to travel to represent Zimbabwe at an international karate tournament in South Africa in May, as we have done since 2006.

I was born in Zimbabwe in 1975 but because my father was born in Portugal I was subjected to verbal abuse by the lady at the front desk. I was interrogated like a criminal. she asked me in 15 different ways if I was the holder of a foreign passport, when did I last travel on it and so on ……each time I replied, I do not have another passport, I only possess a Zimbabwean passport as I have done since the age of 16.

She then asked me to produce my father’s name. On receiving it, she mocked his Portuguese birth name whilst she looked up his details on the computer. I then was told to get his national identification number, so I had to call him on the cell phone to obtain this information. She then asked me where my renunciation letter was from the Portuguese Embassy.

I advised her that I had supplied a citizen of Zimbabwe certificate from 2004, so didn’t that qualify me as a citizen? I was then very rudely told to go and “sit down over there”. When she returned she came back with my folder from the archives. As I waited, I heard my name being mentioned a few times by various officials, so I assumed I was being called up to her counter.

I asked are you calling me? To which she rudely replied “go and sit down, I did not call you”. I really was starting to get very upset so I messaged my husband who was in another office. I told him how I was being treated like a common criminal and spoken to like a dog.

He asked one of the officials how much money it would cost for the woman in the citizenship office to stop treating me so badly. He replied “$100”.

My husband paid the $100 and messaged me to just stay calm. As I sat and waited I heard a faint voice calling out something from the room next door. I didn’t respond at first. When I went to the counter, she asked me why I didn’t come as soon as she called me. At this stage I was standing to her right, she wasn’t happy about that and demanded that I stand to her left – I have no idea why.

Then I was told to go and get photocopies of the back page of my passport. As I left to do so, the other lady at the counter shouted at me saying “go and sit down, where do you think you are going?”.

I tried to tell her, but she rudely left me standing there like an imbecile. Eventually I had my finger prints and application form done.

I have never been treated so badly! The racial tension at the passport office is totally unacceptable. Is it not my right as a Zimbabwean to renew my passport?

Is it not my right, that I should be treated with some dignity and respect?

Lorraine Randall