Second mosque destroyed in Harare  
Murambatsvina update - 14.08.05

Last Friday I spotted the remains of the second mosque destroyed and forcibly abandoned in Harare during Operation Murambastvina. This one had a spendid minaret, which is still standing, as are the walls - but windows and roof have disappeared. Ironically, at one corner, abandoned in the rubble, is the remains of a large tin of vegetable oil, in red, white and blue with "USA" glaring out at any stray passer-by!

A friend and I had decided to visit the "model houses" at Whitecliff, to see what they are like and what is being charged, as a possible solution for the 4000 stands in Hatcliffe which will need houses. We were given a tour by the municipal police, and not allowed to take photos even of the intriguing "rammed earth" house, as they were afraid to give permission. Pity, but we did not want to endanger them, so respected their wish. Such is the level of fear among ordinary people, and paranoia among our rulers. I would have thought publicity for model houses would be welcome, if this is a genuine construction exercise. Sadly, the rammed earth house is still far from finished, as is the pre-fab panel house, whereas one model house only had the foundations dug.

We noted that no one is actually living in the houses yet, and indeed none of the houses has been completed. There are no proper doors or windows except on a couple of the model houses, which are used as site offices. One reason for non-occupancy is undoubtedly the lack of water and sewerage! Our guides showed us the trench they are starting to dig for the pipes - but it looks like it will take weeks to connect any house to running water or the sewerage system. For house construction, they use water bowsers and fill up at one water point not too far away.

I was intrigued by a group of women sitting in the middle of the model house site, engaged in hairdressing! One lady whisked me off to show me their brick-molding project - she came from Rusape with her group, to mold bricks at Whitecliff, which seemed very far to come for such an enterprise. Nor did I see much sign of the brickmolding itself, only some completed bricks. When we left, my friend pointed out that most of those women were probably prostitutes! This explains the seeming incongruities - but what a sad state of affairs. Most of the women probably come from nearby areas which have been destroyed in the Zimbabwe Tsunami, attracted by a large group of men and the possibilities of the empty houses all around - what dangers lurk there, for both the men and the women!

After Whitecliff, we went out to Porta Farm to see what, if anything, remained. The school buildings are still standing, one obviously built by New Life Ministries which has a big sign as you enter Porta Farm, but I estimate they will not remain standing for long, since there are no more children to attend the schools! We hear that they are mostly help captive at Hopley Farm, facing a very uncertain future. Such a disaster, as much energy and donor funding went into those schools and community support in general - just like Hatcliffe! The entire place was deserted, except for a couple of youth wandering through, possibly looking for what they might scavenge. It was here at Porta Farm that we spotted the remains of the second mosque I have seen destroyed in Harare. The minaret was strangely evocative, especially in the silence of what is now a ghost town, with the Hunyani Hills beyond.

I wonder what the Muslim community is saying about this, and how many other mosques have been destroyed in this Operation?

Meanwhile US Ambassador to the UN's FAO and WFP, Tony Hall, visited Hatcliffe Extension on Friday and reported that he was distressed by what he saw. Several people approached him for food and blankets, saying their children were hungry, and he heard first-hand how the people had been evicted in the coldest time of year with no notice whatsoever. Minister Chombo also visited, and told people to buy their own poles and asbestos roofing, rather than waiting for government! So much for Garikai-Hlalani Kuhle!