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Dear Family and Friends,
There’s a constant tapping on the windows at night, now that the first rains have fallen in Zimbabwe. The reappearance of millions of insects after an absence of four months is an attack on the senses. From the persistent whining of mosquitoes that turn sideways and disappear when you look for them, to the silent ascension from the depths of the earth of a million flying ants, the insects are back. A vast array of airborne beetles, ranging from small shiny brown creatures to large glossy black monsters with fearsome body armour, horns and spiked legs, spend their nights pinging against lights and tapping on windows. The natural aerial assault has added to the man made surprises and uncertainty that has overtaken Zimbabwe this week.
It started with a visit from South Africa’s ex ANC youth leader Julius Malema who had apparently come to Zimbabwe to ‘meet progressive forces’ and also to attend the wedding of a Zanu PF youth leader. Met at the airport by Zimbabwe’s minister of youth and indigenisation, Malema was said to have been ‘whisked away,’ first through the airport’s VIP section and then in a convoy of fast moving vehicles. Later, when Daily News reporters tried to interview Malema, his body guards whom the paper described as ‘heavily built goons,’ manhandled the press photographer, forced him to delete photographs of Malema and then confiscated the camera’s memory card. Speaking at the wedding he’d come to attend, Malema had obviously been taking lessons from us. He said that white South Africans must give back land and minerals. Malema said that they would not pay for the land in South Africa when it was surrendered and the only thing they were scared of was defeat. ‘Seeing blood is not what we are scared of as long as that blood delivers what belongs to us we are prepared to go to that extent.’ It wasn’t clear who the ‘we’ was that Julius Malema referred to but they were frighteningly familiar sentiments in a country that has witnessed at first hand just how easily radical rhetoric becomes terrifying reality.
The next frighteningly familiar thing came in the form of newspaper photographs and TV video footage of houses being knocked down by bulldozers in Epworth outside Harare. Disturbing images were shown of men, women and children standing amidst the rubble and ruins of their homes with all their worldly goods jumbled in heaps around them: furniture, bedding, clothing, kitchen equipment and food. Hundreds of families were affected by the demolitions and said they’d been allocated stands on the land a year ago by a couple of men they called Zanu PF party leaders. Asked to comment on the allocation of stands on privately owned land, Zanu PF’s Harare province chairman, Amos Midzi, said: “we have no policy whatsoever to take over private property anywhere in Harare.' It was the most ironic statement after twelve years of private property seizures.
Then came the warning made by Zanu PF spokesman Rugare Gumbo who was being interviewed by a South African TV channel. Gumbo said that if Zanu PF lost the next election it would be ‘messy.’ Gumbo said that events such as had taken place in Libya and were still taking place in Syria, could happen in Zimbabwe. ‘There will be deaths. People could be killed and maimed,’ he said. It wasn’t clear if Mr Gumbo was representing his own position or that of Zanu PF but it all adds to the fear factor that increases as we draw ever closer to a constitutional referendum and election. Until next time, thanks for reading, love cathy.
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