Letter from Zimbabwe by Cathy Buckle

Betrayed and bereft

Dear Family and Friends,

For six months we have not had a drop of rain in Zimbabwe and now, as we wait for the first thunderstorm, the atmosphere is exceedingly strained.
Daytime temperatures are way up in the thirties Centigrade and the skies are mostly clear and still. During the day we battle with flies which seem to be everywhere and at night the mosquitoes whine and wheedle incessantly. The mozzies, as we call them, are very bad already, even before the rains have started, and they are going mostly unchecked as even a simple tin of insecticide is now over quarter a million of dollars and a luxury that few people can afford.

In Marondera this week we've gone two days without water, one day without electricity and every day without petrol and yet, amazingly enough, we muddle through one day after another. I have found it almost unbearable to watch and follow Zimbabwe's politics this week as it seems the opposition have lost their way, forgotten their reason for being and become intent on squabbling over the chance to get a seat in a Senate which they themselves said was not wanted and an unacceptable financial burden on a population stretched way beyond the limits. Night after night state owned television have announced with growing glee that that "the rift in the MDC is widening" and have shown opposition party officials issuing opposing statements and publicly contradicting each other. For six years we have seen almost no coverage of the opposition party on national television but this week the film footage has been incessant as the ruling party have gloated, crowed and chortled at what Mr Mugabe calls "that irrelevant party."

I pray that by the time you read this letter, the MDC will have come to their senses. I cannot believe that any one of them has forgotten the rapes, arson, torture, beating, brutality and murder that have littered our lives for the past five and a half years. I cannot believe that any of them are happy and contented that their families are spread out all over the world, in political and financial exile. I cannot believe that any one of them will be able to look at themselves in the mirror and feel good about earning a living as a Senator. It will be a living that ordinary people are dying, literally, to give them. I cannot believe that any of the MDC leaders, even one of them, think that these elections will be different - clean, unrigged, free, fair and transparent. Multiple hundreds of thousands of people are already disenfranchised, either through forced removal from their homes and constituencies through one government policy or another or by having been declared aliens in the country of their birth.

On Friday Registrar General Tobaiwa Mudede announced on ZBC TV that people displaced by Operation Murambatsvina would not be eligible to vote unless they had re-registered in their new constituencies. This announcement was followed shortly afterwards by an advert advising that voter registration would close just 48 hours later on Sunday.

And so, while it is agonising to watch the MDC tear themselves apart, ordinary people are left feeling betrayed and bereft and asking why we have all endured so much, suffered so much and lost so much. Certainly not to become part of the gravy train. We are waiting for the rain in Zimbabwe, and for democracy and an end to oppression, unemployment, hunger and soaring inflation. Until next week, love cathy Copyright cathy buckle
22 October 2005. http://africantears.netfirms.com "African Tears" and "Beyond Tears" are available from: [email protected]