By Cathy Buckle
THE propaganda in Zimbabwe has reached new boundaries in the last few weeks. First it was the mercenaries and their bolt cutters that made headline news every night and still appear on virtua
lly every television bulletin. Now it is the BBC documentary on Zimbabwe’s youth training camps.
Day after day ZBC have vehemently denied any wrong-doing in Zimbabwe’s youth training programme. They deny the allegations exposed in the film, deny rape, instruction in torture, human rights violations and victimisation of supporters of the political opposition. Unbelievably, last week ZBC even flighted the entire BBC documentary here in Zimbabwe and then followed it with a point by point denial of every millimetre of the film.
At the end of this “critique” on what was advertised as BBC’s “fiction”, the ZBC presenter challenged the documentary’s producers to prove their story, but this challenge was not accompanied by a removal of the three-year ban which has prohibited the BBC from entering or reporting from inside Zimbabwe!
Despite the fact that one of the women being interviewed in the documentary is described as being a youth camp deserter now in hiding in South Africa, ZBC announced triumphantly on Friday that she was an actor.
They said she was outside the country and offered as proof the mountains and ocean behind her. Presumably this little gem was intended for those of us who have not yet realised that Zimbabwe is a landlocked country!
A week of propaganda reached dizzy heights on Friday morning when the headline news on ZBC radio was that political anlaysts have described the documentary as part of Britain’s plan to control the world. It seems to have completely escaped the notice of the state media and all their political commentators and analysts that the opposition have been calling for the closure of the youth training camps for two years.
Also ignored by ZBC was the position taken by a group of Zimbabwe’s former war veterans regarding the BBC documentary. Quoted in the Zimbabwe Independent newspaper, the president of the Zimbabwe Liberator’s Peace Initiative said that they too had interviewed deserters from the youth training camps. Max Mnkandla said what they had established “is exactly what was highlighted in the BBC programme”.
The propaganda presently suffocating Zimbabwe about mercenaries and British plots to take over the world have done nothing to help cloud the real issues consuming Zimbabweans. We are again a country crippled without petrol. The capital city still has some fuel queues but in smaller towns like Marondera there is nothing to even queue for.
We are also a country gripped by panic about the safety of our money in banks which are collapsing, being closed or going into receivership.
Last week I met three people who had their life savings in a building society which used to be called Founders before it was taken over by a bigger company. That company has been closed and the money belonging to ordinary men and women is lost, savings are gone and no one knows who to turn to for help or how to survive.
Recently an American writer on matters Zimbabwean said that what had frightened her was to see how much people here bend as the situation deteriorates. We bend, and bend and then bend some more and surely the point must come when, like a green stick, eventually we will break.
Cathy Buckle is a Marondera-based author and human rights activist.