Michael Darby

Observations on politics and poetry by Australian bush poet, Michael Darby.

Michael was born in Sydney in 1945 and is a former Australian Army Officer who has been writing and broadcasting on politics and economics since 1972.

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Saturday, June 25, 2005

Below are some extracts from Michael's most recent newsletter (PDF). The report is by Eddie Cross -- a longstanding white supporter of black rule in Zimbabwe and a former fierce opponent of the white Smith regime

We saw evidence of the cyclone all the way to Harare and then over the weekend we saw the Capital City go up in flames. The markets at Magaba, Mbare all destroyed and billions of dollars worth of goods taken or destroyed. My daughter witnessed a team on the street cutting a vendors hot dog stand loose and then loading it onto a truck - she remonstrated with them and they threatened to arrest her. Some Z$2 billion in cash stolen from vendors by the Police.

All over the City homes were destroyed, goods stolen or destroyed and people threatened with loaded weapons and live ammunition. They were also threatened with tear gas supplied by Israel that stuns its victims. Officers in charge of this mindless destruction said that they had orders to shoot anyone resisting. In one area I visited the majority of the squatters had voted Zanu PF in the recent election, believing that in doing so they were protecting themselves from eviction because the land they occupied was not theirs - they sat stunned by events surrounded by burnt out wrecks of their homes and crying children who had spent the night out in the cold.

The question is why are they doing this - punishment is one reason given by police to those they were hurting, punishment for voting MDC in the cities. But I think there is another reason and this is that Mugabe - now in the final stages of his rule, has decided - like Stalin in the 30's and Pol Pot in the 60's and the Afrikaner administration in South Africa, that it is time to move some people out of the cities and back to the rural areas. This is a mass eviction of unwanted urban poor being forced to go "back to their rural homes" and "grow food!"

In the cities they are a threat - restless, independent and proving a powerful support base for opposition politics. In the rural areas they can be controlled and perhaps forced to grow food where none is being grown at present. Will they get away with it - probably, just like Stalin and Pol Pot and the apartheid regime. But only for a while, eventually the tide will turn and when it does, those who were the oppressors will themselves become the victims of their own evil acts.

To back up this thesis that strange new Ministry called the Ministry of Rural Housing and Social Amenities with Munangagawa in charge has been given a massive budget from nowhere to operate with. This suggests that they really are trying to force a relocation of population. In the past 5 years, rural populations have been declining - the maths suggest by as much as 10 per cent per annum. This coupled with the impact of Aids has meant that these areas can no longer even feed themselves. Mugabe is trying to reverse this situation.

When you go to bed tonight - just think of those tens of thousands of poor, hungry, destitute people and their children who will sleep in the open in near zero temperatures, without hope or a future. Mugabe is goading the population to revolt - then he can declare a state of emergency and remove what is left of our civil liberties and rights.


Our collapse is self inflicted, its home grown, and until this sort of nonsense is addressed by the global and the African community, there is no hope for countries like Zimbabwe, the Congo, Sudan, Somalia and so on. We are our own worst enemies and we must fix what is wrong here at home in Africa, before we can make effective use of the generosity of the developed world and the new global village that offers such marvellous opportunities and freedom.

The question is how to effect such changes without running the risk of being accused of neo-colonialism? How to ensure that when leadership fails a country, the people can change them without violence and mayhem? We have tried here in Zimbabwe for the past 5 years - we have insisted on no violence, no guns, we have worked to secure a democratic, legal transfer of power to new, popular leadership and we have not succeeded - why? It has been simply because African leaders pay lip service to the fundamentals of the rule of law and democracy.

When it comes to the wholesale theft of national resources and the subversion of the rule of law and democracy, our leaders are in a league all by themselves. We have become adept at manipulating the media and foreign governments and the multinational agencies such as the World Bank and the UN. To this long list we perhaps should now add the G8 leadership and Bob Geldof. We allow African leaders to strut across the platforms of the world stage as if they were acting in the real interests of their people and not acting simply as self-serving tyrants.

Quite frankly until African leaders themselves put their own houses in order there should be no talk of assistance of any kind.It is ridiculous that Ethiopia with its rich agricultural resources has been supported by massive food aid for over 20 years. Just take a look at Nigeria - one of the oil giants of the world yet threatened with instability and rising poverty that belies its wealth and status.