Letter - Zimbabwe - June 21, 2005

This is a letter received from two sister workers labouring in Zimbabwe dated June 21, 2005. I believe there was some thing on the New Zealand television news on Thursday, June 24, 2005.

Just wanted to share a little of what our friends have shared with us the last few days. One can speak to them and try and comfort and say, "Yielding to circumstances is yielding to God." One can tell them that to submit to things will give us blessing. Blessed are the persecuted...poor in spirit...peacemakers... etc... But it seems to me when I hear some of the things that have happened, my words are like a tinkling bell and empty tin... I am sure some of the news is well known where you are... but this is just a little gleaned as we visited... It is called OPERATION CLEAN UP. 

Out in Chitungwiza area, Mai Casper had her little "tuck shop" selling veges, fruit, and bits and pieces. Now she is told to go to her house and sell. We shall see what happens when a new law comes in that homes must not combine with business????!!!

Mai Nyasha has lost her 3 little shops. One was very well stocked with millions of dollars (zim of course) worth of things...daily commodities...two deep freezers, one coke fridge (coke has been hardly seen for months now). Her sons had to pull these well built little shops down with crowbars and picks, etc. It looks like a bombs have hit the townships. Anyhow, Mai Nyasha could luckily transfer her shop goods to her own house where it can be stored and so far, she can sell from the house. That is allowed.

Yesterday, her son Moses was on the last of the demolition banging when we got there and he told us his mother was standing in a long long queue applying for permission to put a shop in a demarcated area... Where? Who knows? Not yet decided. It is true these shops are not in "business" areas. People for years now have been trying to subsist with whatever they can find to buy and sell. Did our big top leader not tell the people when whites left to be entrepreneurs (I never can spell or say that word) and show the world, we can support ourselves with our own businesses. and so that is what the whole country has tried to do, of course. Some are not straight according to the laws, of which there is no law and order, anyhow.

Okay if you do not demolish your own "unlawful" building, be it a shop, a kia, a shack, a lodging place, a chicken run or goat place... The bulldozers come and blast the lot down. It is better to try and salvage something of your windows or doors or roof or rafters than lose the whole thing. Now, anyone wanting to build can go round and buy things cheap...hoorah. Die een se dood is die ander se brood?? (One's death is another’s life.)

The next visit was to Letwina. On Sunday at 7 am, Emily and her 3 children ran to Letwina, being a cousin, for help having been kicked out of their one room which is INSIDE THE MAIN HOUSE AND NOT BEING DEMOLISHED BECAUSE IT IS LAWFUL. But the owner said he needed their one room, for someone else of his relatives or friends because their shack had been destroyed. So of course the lodgers, although having paid a deposit for a year, and the month's rent, were kicked out...poor Emily. She ran to her cousin who, of course, took them in. Today, she has left her bits and pieces of furniture outside. Her husband is out of work. Two of her children, a boy of about 14 and the dearest girl of about 9 both have ulcers and asthma...does that tell you something? Nerves in young kids? I could have wept for her.

After we chatted a long time about the situation, I said we must now speak about "the land of God," Nyika yaMwari, and told them some of what had been said the Sunday they missed the Union meeting at the convention grounds. Both women had something they had read and thought about. Emily spoke of the man sitting 38 years only waiting for a relative or friend to help him... Why did he not first think about God or Jesus? She said that is what she had done on Sunday...run to a relative before thinking of God!!!

Today's visit to Lena Kanzoto, dear Baba Black's daughter, during her lunch hour. Her two daughters-in-law and husbands and a lodger who rented the outbuildings at their place were kicked out, the place demolished. It rained that night and was cold. She told all men to go into one room in her house and all women into another room. So they are crammed in tight....shame. Baba Black had to pull down his lovely little wooden shacks where he had lodgers. Tobias likewise. Festus had built a good garage and two outside rooms and toilet, etc...also come down because it does not comply with the rules of building. Now Festus will have to take his ramshackle old car about 2 kilometers away to a "safe parking area" which is around the townships. Not funny, hey. People have tried so hard to better themselves but just because it does not comply with rules and law (there is no law, anyhow, in the country), it must come down.

Of course, the flea markets are totally unhygienic, etc...but no warning. Rudo had her little sewing machine and paid for a "space" in a dingy room of a miserable Indian's building. Along came the police and hauled her off to the charge office. What for? She was totally bewildered. She was sewing in a condemned building and also she had not paid for a license to sew there!!!! She has been there for years and was totally unaware of such laws. Now she cannot sew there, and what to do? How do you make some money? She paid for her little space in this room. She was fined 100.000 dollars and luckily she had the money on her. Otherwise, they said they would put her in jail!!! Stories and more stories...oh, we are so sad.

As for petrol and fuel. People are leaving home at 3 am to walk to work. Hundreds. At night, they get home midnight. The streets are crawling with people. We have not been able to buy petrol once since we returned from South America. We have stood in queues for days. When the bowser (Fuel tanker) comes to the garage, there is such fighting, pushing, shoving...police are called. As soon as their back is turned, the combis (Mini bus) push in and shove. So, the legitimate cars go home with nothing. Luckily in Bulawayo, we can use bikes. In Harare, it is out of the question to use a Bike. But we are okay. Some friends have got us some of this golden liquid and for the time being, we are okay if we are careful.

This is not conducive to Gospel meetings, to say the least. Anyhow, just sit it out and wait and see. They are now starting on the more elite areas of the city to pull down anything not on a plan...I wonder what will happen where we are??? You know that some of the buildings on the convention grounds were put up in the 1930s - ha ha!!! Of course, most of the buildings are approved, etc... Anyone who runs a business from a residential area is prohibited, i.e., if Jack Palmer were still here in Harare, he would have been stopped and pulled down. We hear they are starting on his side of the town...so we are glad and it was timely they got away when they did.

There is so much more one can write. A few have been killed in this "clean up operation" - police, bulldozer drivers, children, and babies when walls fell on them, etc. But the nation is placid and just accept and get on with things quietly. I marvel at them. I wish I just knew how to be a help. but we just weep with them and try to share with them. That is all. Give us some advice, if you can!!

Better end off with something really super....we had Bram and Ann Den Boer visiting us for six days last week. What a wonderful wonderful time it was - uplifting, encouraging, helpful thoughts. We had lovely meetings with them in one of the rural areas far, far from the cities and its chaos and troubles. I should say thanks for yours when it came not so recently. That should be at the beginning of the letter - ha ha!


Love and greetings,

Jackie and Averil.