Sunday, January 11, 2009

You won't learn this on cable news

Episcopal Cafe has a distressing and informative post by Anne Fontaine that shares some of what is going on in Zimbabwe these days. As you know, when something does not fit into the current "news cycle" it fades from public awareness. Zimbabwe is not Gaza or the transition in US administrations or a celebrity misadventure, so we hear nothing about it in the papers or on television.

From Anglican-Information we learn about tidbits such as this:
All eighteen turned out to have been in the hands of state agents during the time they were missing and all have sworn affidavits describing their torture during the period they were illegally held. These have been corroborated by medical evidence. Even the two year old was beaten with his mother.


To all the women in Zimbabwe: "Women have figured more prominently in the resistance over the past 10 years and have become increasingly visible. Often they face the police with the bearing and confidence of mothers, grandmothers and older women who deserve traditional respect."


The UN Children's Fund [UNICEF] recently stated that school attendance in Zimbabwe has been dropping at an alarming rate [from more than 85 percent in 2007 to just 20 percent by the third term of 2008] because of the collapse of the country's socio-economic system, affecting students and teachers alike, and that few children in Zimbabwe will be returning to class when schools re-open.

So here is a quick round-up for our readers:
S.Africa's Tutu calls for fast in solidarity with Zimbabwe
Nobel Peace Prize winner Desmond Tutu called Sunday on his fellow South Africans to stage solidarity fasts to support the people of Zimbabwe, who are struggling with poverty and drought.

Tutu, who as archbishop of Cape Town in the 1980s and 1990s waged an outspoken campaign against his country's apartheid regime, called on South Africans to express their solidarity with their northern neighbours.

"If you could have more people saying I'll fast maybe one day a week just to identify myself with my sisters and brothers in Zimbabwe," Tutu, who himself fasts once a week, said on South African radio 702.

International rights group Civicus -- the World Alliance for Citizen Participation -- said it planned to launch a similar campaign within two weeks. (1/11/09)

Basildon Peta shares this at Independent Online, South Africa (1/10/09):
Robert Mugabe's wife Grace has allegedly drawn a large sum of foreign exchange from the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe to bankroll her family holiday in the Far East, despite her country's crippling economic crisis.

At a time when more than 1 700 Zimbabweans have perished from cholera, despite the release of a R300-million relief package from South Africa, authoritative sources say Grace showed no restraint and withdrew US$92 000 (about R890 000) from the central bank to fund her month-long holiday in Malaysia.

The withdrawal comes after Grace's $80 000 shopping spree in Rome in June last year on the sidelines of a UN Food and Agriculture Organisation summit, to which Mugabe was invited.
A charming lady, I'm sure.

AFP reports comments by the current President of South Africa (1/9/09):
JOHANNESBURG (AFP) — Zimbabwe's feuding parties have had a "lackadaisical" attitude toward ending a months-long stalemate, despite a worsening humanitarian crisis, South African President Kgalema Motlanthe said Friday.

"The sooner an inclusive government is formed, the sooner there can be concerted efforts by all parties to deal with a massive humanitarian crisis," Motlanthe said in an interview with The Mail and Guardian newspaper.

"But the fact is that the parties there have sometimes had a lackadaisical attitude to these matters," he said.

Nelson Banya reports at Reuters:
HARARE, Jan 8 (Reuters) - A Zimbabwean court on Thursday ordered an investigation into allegations of torture brought against the police by opposition activists charged with plotting to topple President Robert Mugabe.

The seven, including a close aide of opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, are charged with plotting insurrection, sabotage, banditry and terrorism. The arrests have added to doubts over chances of a political power-sharing deal.

The activists deny the charges against them and say they were tortured while in police custody. Their lawyers are seeking their release, arguing that they were abducted and not arrested properly.

And how about access to information? The Media Institute of South Africa (Windhoek) reports this (via on 1/9/09):
The government has gazetted steep new fees under the repressive Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA). The move will see foreign-based media houses fork out more than US$30,000 in application and permission to operate fees.

Foreign media organisations wishing to establish a representative office in Zimbabwe will pay an application fee of US$10,000 and a further US$20,000 and US$2,000 in permission to operate and permit administration fees, respectively.

Local journalists working for foreign media organisations will pay US$1,000 and US$3,000 in individual application and accreditation fees.

The cholera situation has an update from the WHO (via Xinhua):
HARARE, Jan. 10 (Xinhua) -- The World Health Organization (WHO) has commended the Zimbabwean government for its efforts to contain the nationwide cholera outbreak, efforts that have led to a steady decline in reported cases and deaths, The Herald reported on Saturday.

Speaking from Geneva, WHO head of the Global Cholera Task Force Dr Claire-Lise Chaignat said there were signs that reported cholera cases along the South African border were also stabilizing.

"We are seeing that the epidemic is now starting to decline, especially when we break down the occurrence of cases by week. We see that, in fact, during the last week, up to January 3, there was quite an important decrease in the number of cases that have been reported from all over Zimbabwe," she said.

As of Thursday, the WHO reported that cholera cases had reached 36,671 with 1,822 deaths countrywide. New outbreaks were recorded in Gokwe South and Chipinge.

Let us pray for the people of Zimbabwe and every land who struggle with disease, oppression, and famine.
--the BB


FranIAm said...

The only thing to be learned from cable news is to avoid it.

This leaves me outraged and saddened.

O Lord, how long, how long?

Paul said...

Dear Fran, when you manage to squeeze in a few minutes for blog reading and come here, I seem to leave you outraged and saddened over and over again. I want us all informed and, yes, outraged, but I feel I take a toll on you. I also want to encourage and uplift.

(((((((((((( FranIAm ))))))))))))

Göran Koch-Swahne said...

Words fail me. And I think that is how it should be.