Zimbabweans supporting Liberty & Livelihood

msbrown at boltblue.net msbrown at boltblue.net
Fri Oct 4 17:39:09 BST 2002

The following - for all it's sympathy with the genuine concerns of those who 
took part in the march here in London (as opposed to the "Countryside Alliance" 
organisers) - perhaps best reflects how the sabotage of a 'rural issue' in 
Zimbabwe by the black ruling class is akin to the sabotage of rural issues in 
the UK by a privileged minority:

Taken from the Zimbabwe Indymedia Website
ReF; http://zimbabwe.indymedia.org/news/2002/10/442.php

Zimbabweans supporting Liberty & Livelihood
by Albert Weidemann Thursday October 03, 2002 at 04:00 PM
albert at weidemann.fsnet.co.uk 

Zimbabweans Supporting Liberty & Livelihood

Zimbabweans supporting - Liberty & Livelihood 

The reasons Zimbabweans both black and white supported and marched alongside 
Liberty and Livelihood was that issues pertaining to rural Britain in our view 
were about countless thousands of ordinary men and women whose livelihoods 
depend not only upon farming, tourism, fishing, shooting, hunting and many 
other allied trades which are deeply affected and in crises. These are grounded 
in some of the same core issues as Zimbabweans are forced to endure. Town and 
country in Britain and Zimbabwe need each other and cannot (indeed, should not) 
exist in isolation from each other. Whilst many of their core problems are 
identical (affordable housing, access to reliable public transport, quality 
education, jobs etc) rural areas are doubly handicapped because they have to 
deal with geographical isolation, an ageing population, a declining 
agricultural base, higher costs of living, lower standards of living and lower 
rates of Government spending. 

The situation in the agricultural sector of Zimbabwe is catastrophic. The 
commercial sector of agriculture has almost totally been decimated. It is now 
illegal for many farmers to grow food for a country in which over half the 
population more than 6.5 million (United Nations estimates) - face starvation. 
Customs officials are currently holding food aid between the South African and 
Zimbabwean borders (Beitbridge border post). Desperately needed food 
consignments have been denied entry into the country by Zimbabwean officials 
who may well destroy tons due to permit restrictions and the lack of concern 
coupled with continuous restrictions placed on independent humanitarian 

The media have consistently reported on Africa's tragedy and its people 
suffering from hunger which increases daily in Southern Africa, of which the 
greater proportion are enfact from Zimbabwe. Whilst human rights abuses along 
with state sponsored violence escalates. The forced migration and dispersment 
of Zimbabweans will have no other alternative than flee rural areas to the 
urban towns and cities as was the case in Mozambique. Those forced to leave 
either from persecution or otherwise would also seek refuge and have crossed 
into neighbouring African countries. The escalation of Zimbabwean refugees both 
black and white into European and other countries continue to rise as the 
oppression of a regime are unleashed with impunity to demolish and detain those 
who seek freedom of speech, movement and association. Democracy and 
Liberalisation a gloomy illusion - The truth and reality is that African 
countries specifically South Africa lacks substance and makes a mockery of 
President Thabo Mbeki's initiative on ''African Renaissance'' along with his 
NEPAD initiative based on democracy, responsibility and good governance. Whilst 
giving credibility either directly or indirectly to a despot who has remained 
in power for 22 years. 

Approximately 1 million Zimbabwean farm workers and their families have been 
displaced. These people have lost their homes, their livelihood, education, 
healthcare and any chance of a better future. Many of them are living in tented 
camps, where they are still harassed by agents of the Mugabe regime. Others are 
in informal settlements without proper sanitation. Water borne diseases such as 
cholera are now on the increase in these areas. Malnutrition and HIV make this 
group even more vulnerable. 

In the cases of genuine new settlers, they have not been provided with any 
infrastructure. There is no help with agricultural inputs, no irrigation, no 
equipment, no financial assistance. They do not get title deeds and therefore 
cannot even apply for bank loans. Productive farms, which have been illegally 
taken, are generally not been given to landless peasants. Instead, most of them 
have gone to the political and military elite. 

Agricultural ancillary companies are no longer viable, and the economy in small 
agri-industry based towns have imploded. Animals on farms, both pets and 
livestock, have been deliberately starved and in some cases tortured. 

Over half of Zimbabwe's wildlife, including endangered species such as Rhino 
and wild dog, have been poached. This mass slaughter of the game in the country 
also impacts on the tourism industry, which has almost totally collapsed. This 
means further job losses and no foreign currency coming into the country. This 
is needed for vital supplies such as medicine, fuel, electricity and food. 

Taking part in the biggest protest of any kind in Britain with an array of 
people from all walks of life, different backgrounds and cultures. The police 
respectful and tolerant to all - impartial and without prejudice. The 
campaigners against the protest protected by legislation too and consideration 
given to their opinion and voice. To many a great success - to some bitter 
blow. However for the many Zimbabweans an opportunity of freedom of speech, 
movement and association with out fear of intimidation or reprisal. The scene 
in Zimbabwe sadly has radically changed and becomes more repressive daily. The 
urban and rural areas of Zimbabwe are under draconian rule. All voices 
regardless of race, colour or creed along with humanitarian consideration are 
effectively neutralised by the Zimbabwe Government. 

By Albert Weidemann - Human Rights Activist. 

albert at weidemann.fsnet.co.uk 

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