Saturday, June 11, 2005


More bad news from Mugabe

A few days ago I saw television clips of Zimbabwean government workers carrying out Operation Murambatsvina, a Shona word meaning "drive out the rubbish." In the follow-up story, today's New York Times describes the areas being demolished as "shanties and roadside markets."
I don't know about anyone else, but to me the term "shanty" describes a temporary structure made of relatively ephemeral materials -- houses built of cardboard boxes, maybe, or piled up old plastic milk cartons. That wasn't what I saw on the "Newshour" the other day. What they showed were bulldozers demolishing houses like the one I live in. Some looked even more substantial than mine. The yards looked well-landscaped and manicured, not what I would picture as a shanty town.
Were either of these reports misleading? Well, one or the other must have been -- or maybe each report was merely incomplete. Maybe Operation Murambatsvina was aimed at both manicured suburbs and crude slums.
From my far-away vantage point, I have no way of knowing.

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