Murambatsvina: the pogrom hasn’t ended

ZIMBABWEANS who feel strongly about democratic principles and processes would have welcomed the full report of UN special envoy Anna Tibaijuka, which views Operation Murambatsvina from many perspectives — socially, historically and

politically.


It is a comprehensive and clearly articulated report. The report gives many recommendations for making reparations and calls on the government “to facilitate humanitarian operations within a pro-poor, gender sensitive policy framework”.


Most of these recommendations naturally revolve around helping affected persons to pick up the pieces of their lives and to be given some form of shelter and sustenance; the sorts of things that most caring people would suggest.


The report also speaks of crimes against humanity (Article 7 of the Rome Statute) and examines the sustainability of prosecution for “all those who orchestrated this catastrophe”.


One hoped that on reading the report, the government would take heed of its dismal record of human rights abuses, so clearly described within, and thereafter attempt to make amends.


And so the horror of August 15 to witness Reuben Barwe on ZTV news complaining about children, blind beggars and women coming back onto the streets and how they are going to be dealt with: a batch of newly trained, baton-wielding municipal police on the way! He asks in an exasperated voice: “But why are they coming back?” This is Barwe being “pro-poor”.


The pogrom hasn’t ended, and this government has no intention of helping the poorest members of our society as recommended by Tibaijuka. The government’s solution is just to drive them away again.


Since the beginning of the demolitions ZTV’s Newsnet, in particular its chief reporter Reuben Barwe, has consistently filmed and gloated over the fate of these poor displaced persons, without once questioning the morality of it all, or to offer possible solutions to the problems.


The tones of the reporting and innuendos always cast these persons as some sort of criminals — children, grandmothers, blind people included. Film footage was often dishonestly edited to distort events. It was and seemingly still is Barwe’s pet project.


Surely persons who stand by and film and report on citizens having their houses destroyed by their own government are as guilty of crimes against humanity as those doing the destruction. Just as those who gave the orders are guilty.


I trust that the strong, principled, champion of democracy, Tibaijuka, is still watching and taking notes.


Umbrage,

Harare.