Letter from Harare

 Anglican Information has sent us this letter from a correspondent in Zimbabwe. First, the good news: God willing, one congregation, St Peter's, Meyrick Park, Mabelreign, will return to their church building next Sunday for an 11 o'clock service after the Kunonga 'priest's' service is over. This was announced last Sunday by a lawyer in the congregation, who is also the Diocesan Registrar. The congregation have been meeting as usual in the Roman Catholic Church Hall at Mabelreign. The lawyer said they had gone back to the courts because of police harassment and the closure of 53 Anglican churches in the diocese. The original judgment by Judge Rita Makarau that the churches should be shared was now to be followed. Talks had taken place with the Kunonga people who had apparently agreed not to disrupt the services further. When this notice was given out there was a huge cheer, clapping and ululating. People stood up waving their arms in excitement. One thing we have realised in the last months is that the church is the people not the building, but we are still rather fond of our place of worship. However - it remains to be seen whether or not the police have indeed withdrawn! Now the bad news: The political situation has deteriorated out of all recognition. With inflation exceeding two million percent and food desperately short, members of the opposition are no longer just at risk of beating, but at risk of their lives. Our first hand informant is a prominent MDC member, living in a shack in one of the poorest areas of town. The family had their home destroyed at the Murambatsvina in 2005, but have managed to get going again living in a glorified tent supplied by the Roman Catholic Church. Now they are subjected to endless rallies, which they have to attend. In addition they were collected from there home by the Zanu-PF youth for beating. The mother was subjected to two hours of intimidation and watched others being beaten, but they actually relented when she handed her two months old baby to them when it was her turn. But they assured her that they would come and burn down her house. The police were informed but did nothing. We asked her if her children (11, 9 and 7) understood what was going on. 'Oh, yes,' she said cheerfully, 'They have watched people being beaten'. Since this happened she, her husband who has a job, and her five children have slept rough, despite the wintery conditions. They are now in a 'safe house'. The teenage son has been left behind with a neighbour to feed the chickens. She feels herself to be lucky as when they came for another MDC leader, who was in hiding, they took his wife and hacked her to death with machetes. The body was found in a field, but burial has been impossible as they assure the family that anyone who arranges it will be arrested and........ At night the Zanu PF Youth either call people to Pungwes ('Parties' all-night sessions of re-education including forced singing of Zanu-PF slogans and songs), or they march about the township shouting. Any youths they find are told to join them on pain of a beating. On one night it was estimated that 800 youths were involved. Some obviously stay with them because they are fed. The food is taken from the people. If your home is selected for a donation you must either give them Z$10 billion, or 10Kg of maize meal, or you are beaten. In the better off townships this is going on, but on a smaller scale. They seem to target the poorest of the poor. Presumably as food gets shorter and shorter they must move into the low density suburbs. So far there has been no concerted attacks on Europeans, but some of their servants have been targetted for the crime of working for a European. No one has any idea as to what will happen next. Thank you again for all the prayers.

Share this story