December 02, 2004

Zimbabwe -- Let the Children Eat, what, cake? Nothing?

Mugabe is in the process of running out of Zimbabwe all foreign aid organizations. We have discussed previously how it has become a criminal offense to accept foreign money in connection with any electoral monitoring and we have also commented on the exclusion of the foreign press and the enhanced criminal penalties authorized for those who "tell falsehoods" about government. So I should not be astonished to learn that a charity responsible for giving 90,000 the only hot meal that they eat in a day has been kicked out of the country. Medair, a Swiss organization devoted to food distribution, had this to say:

It is with real sadness that after 2 years Medair has this week left Zimbabwe. The final move which forced the decision was the refusal by the Zimbabwean government to issue work permits for our 2 remaining senior expatriate staff members.

This follows months in which we had seen our temporary registration to continue our school feeding programmes in Gokwe North and Mudzi districts expire and not be renewed despite our best efforts, and all remaining expatriate staff refused work permits. Unable to work and consequently to fund our continued presence, we were left with no choice but to finally withdraw from the country.

The timing of this decision is all the more significant because of the deteriorating economic and humanitarian situation within the country. On the 15th of November the Famine Early Warning System Network for Zimbabwe (FEWS) reasserted their prediction that 2.2 million rural households would require food aid before the end of the year. Indeed, earlier this month World Food Programme (WFP) reported falling school attendances in Mudzi district as parents took their children out of school to work in the fields or find food. This was highlighted as a direct result of the halting of the Medair school feeding programme in August after our registration renewal was refused by the government.

‘We’d really hoped to continue the school feeding programme in partnership with WFP, but instead we found ourselves prevented from distributing, and so the food has sat deteriorating in the warehouses since August. It’s been so frustrating not being free to work and now we leave knowing the increasing food insecurity that faces those primary school children and their families’, said Mark Screeton, Medair Desk Officer for Zimbabwe.

At this time of great need our thoughts remain with the beneficiaries we have tried to serve in Zimbabwe over the last 2 years, and with our great local staff who have worked tirelessly, and who now find themselves unemployed at a time of national economic crisis.

Mugabe is a terrifying dictator in the worst of the authoritarian tradition. Children will starve as a result of his personally wrecking his country's economy.

I wonder if it will end in some form of armed uprising.

Posted by Random Penseur at December 2, 2004 08:17 AM

That is awful. What can someone like me do? How does a government starve its next generation? Looks bad no matter what happens.

Posted by: Rachel Ann at December 2, 2004 10:51 AM

You don't need to have a gun in your hand to commit murder. Mugabe is actively practicing genocide here.

Posted by: Jim at December 2, 2004 11:07 AM

Rachel Anne, I don't think that there is a single thing any of us can do about it.

I don't know that I agree with the use of the word genocide, Jim, but I do agree that an awful lot of people are going to die there.

Posted by: RP at December 2, 2004 11:26 AM

I would agree with Jim. Genocide takes many forms - Mass killings by arms, ovens, gas chambers, slave labor worked to death and prisoners starved to death. The genocide that was the Holocaust saw all these forms of genocide, and more. Why should Mugabe's starvation of his people be classified any differently?

Posted by: Mark at December 5, 2004 11:47 AM

Well, it just doesn't seem to meet the definition:

Nice to see you back, again, Mark!

Posted by: rp at December 6, 2004 09:59 AM

RP - Thanks - I'll have to sink my teeth into that definition. It's hard to keep up with such a prolific blogger! But I enjoy your posts.

Posted by: Mark at December 16, 2004 08:18 PM
Post a comment

Remember personal info?