Can you imagine? Four dollars would buy most of a fast food meal in the United States, perhaps a cup of designer coffee. In Zimbabwe it is enough to motivate boys to beat pregnant women with nail ridden planks and smash the skulls of old men into the earth, blending their blood with the rich red soil of this beautiful but anguished country.
How could life have become so cheap and power so expensive? How can the world not scream in despair about the situation occurring in our Global village? Are we waiting for proof enough to step in with aid or are we waiting for a confirmed genocide that has happened in countries like Darfur and the Congo? Are we so caught up in the insignificant details of every day life that we cannot take the time to stop the phenomena of civil war? Where are the elders?
In the rural areas of Zimbabwe, the youth Militia are passing out plates of terror. It was after the 2000 elections that President Mugabe recruited young boys to help him administer control over the country. The kids were recruited for a national Zimbabwe training program. Since the election results of this year did not come out in Mugabe's favor, he took 150 of his Senior Army officials and assigned them to administer terror. He asked them to focus on the 58 districts of the country and to make sure that these districts received enough torture to re-think their votes. In order for these officials to carry the torture, they again called in the youth militia.
Since the current election run off in not until June 27th, Mugabe has ample time for these young men to set up base torture camps. Right now there are roughly 20,000 young boys and men who make up the youth militia. Each member gets a billion Zimbabwe dollars a day. This pay is equivalent to 3 to 4 US dollars. The youth militias have set up base camps in each of these districts and bring in MDC supporters for questioning.
The camps are usually set up at a police station, a local store or an abandoned schoolyard. Anywhere the Youth Militia decides they would like place the training camp. Once the base is established the militia carries out the required requests from the senior officials. It can be as simple as torturing 15 of the locals so that the rest of the village runs away. The trick is, once these people run away, the Youth Militia makes sure to destroy their identity cards. They are not able to vote without these cards. It's an easy way for Mugabe to destroy Tsengeri's lead.
The political violence in this once economic pillar of African country success stories is out of control. I wonder what it will take for the International Community to move and stop this murderous rampage. I have spent countless hours on the phone with the United Nations and The Red Cross-Zimbabwe needs HELP! I am flabbergasted by the Bureaucratic maze of humanitarian efforts.
The state backed violence has reached a pinnacle in rural areas. Mugabe and his allies think the rural vote will decide the octogenarian's grip on power.
17-year-old Chido (her name has been changed) of Mbizi village in Murewa will live with the horror of the political violence orchestrated by Zanu PF for the rest of her life. Her life may not be much longer. In their desire to maintain power, Zanu PF tortures any real or perceived threat from MDC supporters. This wave of human retribution is calculated to instill fear in Tsengeri supporters before the presidential run off next month. Truth be conveyed, Mugabe is instilling terror in every single human being still stranded in Zimbabwe.
For Chido, May 18, 2008 will always remain deeply etched in her mind as the blackest day in her life. This was when marauding Zanu PF supporters invaded their village, kidnapped MDC supporters, took them to their "bases" and beat them into submission.
"There were 50 of them who came to our homestead at around eight in the morning and marched my father to one of their bases at Nhakiwa Township. My father was beaten together with others accused of supporting the MDC."
"About 80 villagers were kidnapped and beaten, 15 people died. My father was one of the few survivors. I think they gave him a controlled beating because they knew he is an ailing man." Chidos father suffers from aids.
Apart from beating up the villagers, the marauding thugs reportedly destroyed homes that belonged to those accused of supporting MDC. "Headman Gotora Mbizi fled to Harare with his entire family after escaping from the militia. His homestead is now a heap of rubble and ashes after the thugs had completed their work. Many homes have suffered the same fate." Said Chido. Ashe and rubble; broken bodies and souls: a human Myanmar in Zimbabwe.
The leaders of the terror campaign in the area have been identified as Bonnie Magunje and Fibion Mbizi. Two Zimbabwean men in their mid thirties who report directly to President Mugabe's team of elimination strategists.
For girls like Chido, the notorious bases set up at Nhakiwa, Mapfeka and Chitimbe embody the horror suffered by women in such barbaric circumstances. Thousands of girls under the age of 18 are forced into these bases where many of them are face gang rape, sexual abuse and torture.
"If they kidnap or beat up a woman, rape is sure to follow and girls like me become desperate where there is no organization to assist us." Chido is now hiding in Harare. Her worst fear is that the youth militia will return to finish off her father who was left behind in Murewa.
A very sad story. Murewa is just a microcosm of the brewing hurricane that is sweeping through Zimbabwe's rural landscape. The world can show no greater insensitivity than to watch quietly when thousands of innocent human beings are caught up in the eye of the storm. Think of that, next time you buy a cup of designer coffee.