Behind the stench of flowing sewage and the smell of disease is a country that is beyond collapse. Yet, nowhere are there more signs of bustling activity than the countries graveyards. On a bright day, in Unit L graveyard in Chitungwiza, the staff opens up 50 new graves for burials. Those allocated graves will be used up far before Sunset. The increases in burials in this cemetery are up 150 percent. Every few minutes families take turns burying their loved ones. They dig; they grieve and then depart; perhaps wondering if the will be able to afford the next funeral.
The rich soil of this previously prosperous country is once again at the heart of its activities; at one time famous for its rich harvests and abundant food the soil is now providing the country's blanket of death. The blanket needs to expand.
When I stayed with a friend in a residential area of Bulawayo last August, there was no water. Fifteen months later, there is still no water in their home. In many parts of Zimbabwe there is no water. According to a source yesterday, the government utilities turned off water when it ran out of money for treatment chemicals. Shovels have become as familiar an item as walking sticks as desperate families search the ground until they find water. People fill pots and pans, as they drink from this untreated sewage water.
In addition to the AIDS epidemic, the mass starvation and increase of rape and abuse, Cholera has reared its' head. Still, nothing is done by the rest of the world.
The situation in Zimbabwe is desperate. Most world news this weekend discussed President Mugabe's refusal to let a humanitarian team in the country. This team included former United States President, Jimmy Carter and former head of the United Nations, Kofi Anon and human rights activist, Graca Machel, who is also Nelson Mandela's wife. This was a diversion. So much more needs to be done immediately. If I hear one more President or Chancellor talk about the illegitimate regime or make a statement, I am going to scream.
The United Nations and The Red Cross push into war torn countries like Rwanda and the Congo, yet Zimbabwe is left on its own. True, there is not a typical war in this country, but there is systematic genocide. Isn't that a situation worth the world community's response?
The country has virtually shut down. Many schools, stores and government offices are closed. Last I read, inflation hovered somewhere near 230 million percent. Zimbabwean currency has been abandoned and replaced by the American Dollar.
Last week a group of men who supported the opposition party disappeared in the dark of night from their homes. The locals know these men will never be seen alive again. Families are separating out of desperation, traveling to other parts of Africa or globally, so they can send money back to family stranded in Zimbabwe. These people are the lucky ones. The families who have never traveled outside of Zimbabwe are the ones dying. They have no alternative.
Rapes have doubled, if not tripled. The women who had been raped by the youth militia are nowhere to be found. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/michealene-cristini-risley/the-estimated-cost-of-hum_b_103772.html?view=screen
There is no medical treatment available, so most of these women are developing full blown AIDS. HIV/AIDS treatment medication is inaccessible; there is not a single hospital or clinic with its doors open.
A woman pregnant in Zimbabwe right now, is anything but joyful; most are certain to die. If a woman is unlucky enough to be in need of a caesarean for birth, she has two choices. She must pay the $400 dollars to get this procedure done, or her family creates a vigil as she dies. Death in these cases is almost imminent.
In the LA Times on Friday, Robyn Dixon interviewed a member of the Central Intelligence office, the CIA of Zimbabwe. http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-cio20-2008nov20,0,4184119.story.
The CIO agent speaking anonymously and "Estimates that 60% to 70% of CIO officers -- all but the hard-line ideologues -- no longer back Mugabe." Even with Mugabe's support deteriorating it is not likely to change the outcome in Zimbabwe. Conformity is a prerequisite to those in Mugabe's regime. No matter what your personal feelings, conform or risk death. This is why change cannot happen from inside Zimbabwe.
My friend recently pleaded with her husband to get their three children to a neighboring country. All their friends beg for food as they watch their children starve to death. Some of the Zimbabweans have had to bring food in by bus to feed their families. They cannot bring in enough food to feed everyone. She has struggled to help many to stay alive, but her life has been threatened, so she is now in hiding. Her husband drove all night to visit with her. She almost did not recognize him as he drove up; he had not had a bath in months. His skin was very dry and much darker than she remembered. He smelled as if he had "all the sewage of Gaborone on him", she said.
I often wonder if the rumor of Mugabe's Syphilis is true -- has this disease ravaged this man's mind or do I use that as an excuse? " It is hard for me to imagine a man turned so rotten from the inside out. His thirst for power and insatiable greed has destroyed this incredible country. Perhaps we can learn from the destruction of Zimbabwe that the actions of power and greed can destroy us all.