NEWS & LETTERS, July-August 2005

Our Life and Times by Kevin A. Barry

Zimbabwe's civil war

Robert Mugabe, the former independence fighter, who has transformed liberated Zimbabwe into a vicious one-man dictatorship that tries to justify itself by anti-imperialist demagoguery, is no longer content to intimidate the democratic opposition and the media.  In true Stalinist fashion, he has launched a preventive civil war, no longer against the weakened opposition as such, but against its social base.

With unemployment standing at 70% and with urban areas seething with discontent, Mugabe has bulldozed the shantytowns of the capital, Harare, driving these "illegal" residents into tent cities in distant suburbs, or into the countryside.

At least 300,000 and perhaps over a million people have seen their housing destroyed, this in a country with a severe housing shortage, in what the regime calls "Operation Drive Out the Rubbish."  Zimbabwe’s total population is only 10 million.

A number have been killed, including small children.  The Progressive Teachers Union estimates that 300,000 uprooted children have stopped attending school.  Those evicted face winter temperatures that can drop to 40F/7C.

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