Jonathan Bellamy talks with Zimbabwean Robert MacDonald
On Thursday 21st June, City Drive presenter Jonathan Bellamy interviewed Zimbabwean Robert MacDonald in response to the tragic news that on Sunday 10th June two members of his family had been murdered by soldiers when the minibus they were travelling in was stopped at a roadblock.
From our news reports we get a little feedback of what life is like in Zimbabwe but there's nothing more revealing and clear than hearing it directly from people who live or have lived in Zimbabwe and have gone through some of the trials that have taken place there over recent years.
Jonathan: Good afternoon Robert
Robert: Good afternoon
Jonathan: Robert, I just want to ask you a little bit about your background, cause at the moment apparently more people die in Zimbabwe than in Iraq which sounds like a staggering statistic cause we get so much focus of what is happening in Iraq. Can you try to give us an overview of what life is like in Zimbabwe at the moment?
Robert: Well more people die in Zimbabwe than Iraq and the Dhafur regions put together. Life is a living hell in that country.
Jonathan: And this is all with Robert Mugabe's administration. How do you view the administration then Mr MacDonald, living under it?
Robert: People are crying, we are free at last, we are free at last; but they didn't know the hidden agenda of Robert Mugabe, and as the years went on he's tightened his grip on the political situation in Zimbabwe by eliminating vast amounts of his opposition. In one area of Matabeleland, he sent in the foot brigade that killed 20,000 people by slaughtering them.
He has apologised for this, but what does apology do; and we find that people are disappearing never to be seen again. Families are ripped apart; people are burnt in their homes. Political people are assaulted and killed, even people like Morgan Tsvangirai are assaulted and near to death and there are no medicines; the hospitals there have no medicine; no food for the starving millions, and he's refusing international aid.
Jonathan: Mr MacDonald, I know that you yourself have gone through torture and beating. Would you be able to describe that and just explain the background to it as well?
Robert: Well I had a very profitable mixed farming ranch business in Zimbabwe and 40% of my profits were shared between the workers on the farm. It was highly profitable. One evening I was raided by the so-called war veterans and the CIO, which is the Central Intelligence Organisation. I was dragged outside and tied to a tree, and they left me there and went to the village where my workers were and they herded the villagers into a house and set the house alight, and my co-workers perished in that fire. They came back and they started beating me and they started to have a wild party, slaughtering some of the cattle, feasting, beating me every now and then. After three days with a broken arm and a broken leg and a broken nose, I was taken down to the river and thrown in and left there for the crocodiles to eat. I came too and managed to crawl to a village three miles away to ask for help.
Jonathan: Why did they do it Robert, what's the motivation?
Robert: Well, Mugabe is colour blind. He's not just after the white farmers and the white businesses. He kills more of his own people, and there's a hatred of the past colonial system and he's never forgiven that and he's trying to eradicate that. But meanwhile he's making his own people suffer.
Jonathan: For yourself Robert, you're a Christian I believe aren't you?