Zimbabwe: Shadows and Lies

Story Synopsis and Video

Video and Synopsis


In a scene filled with tension and despair, men and women sit crouched, huddling on a 17 hour-long night train ride that will send them back to Zimbabwe. "Heads down," shouts a South African guard - because crouched down like this, the deportees are less likely to jump out the window. Despite this, more than a dozen Zimbabweans jump from the train that night; they'd rather risk death than face the ruling party back home.

These men and women have been living illegally in South Africa. But the South Africans don't want them; they round up thousands of Zimbabweans each week, gather them into overcrowded detention centers, then finally, send them back across the border to Zimbabwe.

On this night, FRONTLINE/World reporter Alexis Bloom takes the journey with them. Talking to people on the train, Bloom senses that it will be the last chance for many to talk openly. One man tells her: "You can't get the truth in Zimbabwe... Even if you come to me in Zimbabwe, I can't give you the truth because there are people always watching. And once you go, they will kill me."

When Bloom and producer Cassandra Herrman traveled to Zimbabwe to report "Shadows and Lies," they entered carrying fake business cards, pretending to be tourists. It is impossible for foreign journalists to work freely in Zimbabwe these days. They arrive at the spectacular Victoria Falls, once the high point on Zimbabwe's popular tourist circuit and one of the seven natural wonders of the world. Now the hotels at the falls are eerily empty.

Ten years ago, explains Bloom, as she counts out bricks of the local currency in the hotel, Zimbabwe was one of the richest countries in Africa, but with inflation now running at more than 1,000 percent, Zimbabwean money isn't worth the ink that's used to print it. Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe's long-standing president, was once a respected liberator, but after 26 years in power, he has turned this jewel of Africa into an impoverished state of fear.

From Victoria Falls, Bloom and Herrman set off for the capital, Harare. Along the way, they film through the car window, shooting long lines of cars at empty gas stations. People can wait for weeks before fuel arrives, Bloom is told. They film people scavenging in garbage dumps alongside baboons, and they pass families on the roadside who have resorted to donkey carts to get around. Signs of food and fuel shortages are everywhere.

In Harare, they meet with journalist Duminsani Muleya, who takes them to the building that used to house The Daily News, Zimbabwe's last independent daily newspaper. The newspaper's offices were bombed, under suspicious circumstances, after clashes with the government.

Muleya tells Bloom what is happening to his country, but only behind the safety of the tinted windows of Bloom's car. "Zimbabwe has, without a doubt, the weakest currency in Africa, if not even in the world," he tells Bloom. "It has now become a monumental museum of failure. The air is fraught with frustration, with anger, with despair, and some people have just given up."

It wasn't always this bleak, says Bloom. "Robert Mugabe was once a liberation hero, admired around the world. He ushered in prosperity, health care and a literacy rate of 85 percent - the highest in Africa."

But politics here has turned into thuggery, she says - holding on to power has become Mugabe's top priority. And during the last seven years, intimidation has become his chief weapon. His radical land redistribution plan set out to seize white-owned farms and turn them over to black farmworkers. Instead, Bloom reports, these farms were given to members of Mugabe's inner circle, who didn't know how to run them. A once-thriving agricultural economy has been brought to its knees, and many of Zimbabwe's most productive farms now lie fallow.

Describing Mugabe's regime today, a former ally of his, Margaret Dongo, tells Bloom: "They have no feeling for any other person, for any human beings anymore. What they want to make sure of is how can they maintain their power base." Dongo is a famous freedom fighter. She fought for Zimbabwe's independence in the 1970s and became the first member of parliament to confront her old ruling party colleagues.

"You're watching the country going down the drain," Dongo continues. "You look at the time it took to build it up, and then one can just destroy it overnight. It is something painful."

In the city of Bulawayo - long considered an opposition stronghold - things look even worse: There are long lines all over town, people waiting to buy the most basic necessities, but many supermarket shelves are simply empty. A local farmer tells Bloom that the army has launched a new policy of farm seizures that targets small family farms owned by ordinary Zimbabweans - this despite the evident lack of food. In an effort to make up the shortfall precipitated by Mugabe's disastrous land reform, the army is now ordering locals to dig up the crops that feed their families and instead grow maize that will be sent to the government mill. A woman tells Bloom that when she protested these orders, a soldier beat her.

Resistance runs deep in Bulawayo - and there is none so outspoken as Pius Ncube, Bulawayo's Catholic archbishop. Despite constant surveillance and death threats, Ncube refuses to be intimidated by Mugabe: He denounces the government and tries as best he can to look after parishioners who are increasingly short of food. "Women come and cry before me, 'We haven't eaten for all these days,'" he tells our reporter. "What I pray for is that people become so restless and angry enough ... to simply say, 'We've had enough' and get the army to their side, the police ... and rise up and bring him down."

Over the course of his rule, many say that Mugabe has brought each one of the country's democratic institutions to heel: Critics say he has muzzled the media, politicized the police force and rewritten the laws to maintain his power base. To explore the reality of justice under Mugabe, Bloom and Herrman meet with two members of the opposition movement - the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). Khethani Sibanda and Sazini Mpofu describe how they became the fall guys for a much larger campaign to discredit the opposition, and they speak of the violence that the regime is willing to use in its name.

The reality of daily life in Zimbabwe comes into stark relief when one drives past the luxurious gated compounds in Harare. Among them is Mugabe's sprawling retirement palace, epitomizing the splendor of the ruling elite. But for most Zimbabweans, life is increasingly grim: tin-roof shacks, even cardboard boxes, are the homes for many of Mugabe's people.

The fate of the urban poor comes to light in footage smuggled out of Zimbabwe in 2005 that shows police burning and bulldozing many of these dwellings as part of a government campaign called Operation Murambatsvina, or "Clear Out the Filth." Though Mugabe claimed this government operation would beautify urban areas across Zimbabwe, many say his real aim was to break up these communities because they had become a breeding ground for revolt. The clearing operation left some 700,000 people homeless, and millions lost their livelihood overnight. And though Mugabe promised to build better homes for these communities, a year later Bloom is witness that nothing has been done.

Leaving a muted and beaten country behind, Bloom and Herrman travel back to South Africa. It's nighttime in downtown Johannesburg, and the police are trying to control a crowd of anxious Zimbabweans, lined up and waiting to apply for political asylum at an immigration office. The authorities here are overwhelmed. More than 2 million people have poured into South Africa from Zimbabwe since the country's economic collapse.

"For these Zimbabweans, a place in line represents survival," says Bloom. "They know only a handful will ever be allowed to stay."

But it's not only refugees and economic migrants who make their way to South Africa. Prominent Zimbabweans also find it increasingly difficult to continue to live in Zimbabwe. Visiting the offices of Zimbabwean newspaper publisher Trevor Ncube, Bloom asks him why the rest of world remains silent while Zimbabwe continues to break down.

"South Africans don't know what to do with Robert Mugabe," he tells her. "The Americans don't have a clue... How do you deal with a fallen hero like Mugabe, a man that the whole continent looked up to, who assisted the liberation of South Africa? How do you tell your father to sit down and shut up?"

The final words come from an asylum seeker, who is being loaded into a security van, to be deported back to Zimbabwe. "This is torture," he cries. "This is torture."

From Victoria Falls, Bloom and Herrman set off for the capital, Harare. Along the way, they film through the car window, shooting long lines of cars at empty gas stations. They film people scavenging in garbage dumps alongside baboons. Signs of food and fuel shortages are everywhere.

share your reactions

Garikai Zvakanaka
Birmingham, Alabama

In most cases, Zimbabweans are very reasonable people. I am not so sure why Mr. Mugabe hates us so much. Mr. Mugabe was well received and respected at the time of independence. I wonder whether he fought for the independence of Zimbabweans or for improvement of the Chinese. It seems that's all he and the government care about.

As a matter of record, without the cooperation of village people (old and young), independence would never have been won. What do we have to show for all the suffering? More suffering, amputations, beatings and never-ending starvation. Only God knows.

mak omondi
nairobi, kenya

Mugabe should know that life is short. He will one day go but Zimbabwe will stay. The man should give up power now to his people.

I just feel we as Zimbabweans outside should go back to free our people form these power hungry dictators. I think we can do it if we are given help with the needed equiment. I feel helpless seeing things going this way. Mugabe does not own title deeds to Zimbabwe, its not his plot, neither are Zimbabweans his kids which he thinks he can humiliate and kill to keep him and his party holding on to power. It's time to get rid of Mugabe, we have suffered enough at his hand and are sick of him.

Dr. Aaron Moyana
Birmingham, Alabama

I was born in Zimbabwe and grew up in several districts including Mutare , Marondera , Murewa and Mutoko. Quite frankly the days under colonialism were much better than under independence. I do not condone colonialism by any measure, but just comparing the quality of life, it was better then. People should never be given less even under independence -- less in the form of poor education, dwindling economy, no transportation, no food, pot-holes in the streets, waiting in long lines just to buy basic comodities.

Now after elections, there is less information coming out of the Governmental sources. Even under Ian Smith we knew what was happening even though we did not like it. Now under our own bretheren, we can't even afford to ask the question lest we risk being labelled western stooges. What kind of crap is that?

As a free Zimbabwean I feel that all priviledges must be extended to all. This includes the right to an education, property, freedom of association and expression. At the moment, we seem to be slaves in our own country. Why should we be afraid of our government? Why should the government be afraid of its own citizens? Until fairness and equity prevail there will never be peace in any country. I hope there will be fairness and equity in Zimbabwe, including fairness in representation.

London, UK
It is so sad that I cannot put my reactions and/or feelings into words. It's sad to see what Mugabe has turned our motherland into.

Edious K
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

I didn't get a chance to see this documentary, but from what I've read, I sincerely want to thank these 2 brave women for what they did. Zimbabwe is an extremely hostile place right now, much more so to foreign journalists. It took some major guts to do what they did.

I was born "free" in Zimbabwe, after we gained independance in 1980. I have heard some descriptions of what it was like for black people during colonial rule. It appears there was much racism akin to apartheid in South Africa. This was certainly not an acceptable situation by any means. What pains me the most, however, is how that situation was incomparably better to what it is now. I almost cried when my Grandma was telling me of how much better the quality of living was during colonial times. Food was abundant, and very cheap. Inflation was near zero, and $20 could last weeks. Now a loaf of bread cost $1M plus!! It is truly unfortunate how a black leader could be more oppressive to his own people that the colonial masters.

The really sad part is, it is extremely difficult to know the situation on the ground, which is why I want to again commend the brave work of these reporters. Every form of media is now state controlled, from the radio, TV, to the newspaper. The last independant newspaper had it's headquarters bombed a few years ago! It truly amazes me how a Zimbabwean reporter on state TV can paint a glossy picture, surrounded by such a catastrophic economic and social situation. How do these people go to sleep at night??!!

To all the people struggling in Zimbabwean, please keep hope alive! If there is a God, there surely is a limit to how much he will let innocent people suffer. And to the ZANU PF, your day of reckoning shall surely come.

Khudzai Khudazi

Well, it's terrible what is going on in Zimbabwe, boo! hoo! but we only brought it on ourselves, we allow Mugabe to do this to us because we believe he is one of us. And this belief is so deep that no-one can help us. We won't help ourselves. When things get really hard we just leave the country and pretend we have genuine reasons for being out of the country when we are just cowards who want a better life without making any sacrifice or making a stand. Maybe its post-salvery trauma or post-colonial trauma but the fact is we as black Zimbabweans can not stand up to Mugabe on our own and we won't. We will wait for him to die and then complain and run away from the next person who decides to treat us badly.

We have low self-esteem and a co-dependence to our abusers who-ever they are. And as we know with abused women the cycle just continues. No one should be amazed at what Mugabe has done, anyone given enough power would likely do the same. And the point here is they are GIVEN this power. Mugabe is only one man who is dying and he has lived his life fully. But the Zimbabwean nation, we are just sad, we can't stand up for ourselves, we can't admit to what we want,we can't admit we've made mistakes, we believe in having things done for us, we believe in help, we see ourselves as victims.

...Zimbabweans need to sit on the couch and have their heads examined. This is the biggest help they can be given.

The situation in Zimbabwe is not a new thing....

syracuse, UT
As a former Zimbabwean I keep a very close eye on what Mugabe is up to on a daily basis. I have parents who still live in Harare. I cannot get news from them either by phone or email for fear of placing them in further danger. The situation is critical. This tyrant is killing Zimbabwe. Do not let anyone try to fool you into believing things are not that bad. If anyone is interested in staying up to date on the situation in Zimbabwe please visit Zimbabwejounalists.com. This is a website created by a group of exiled Zimbabwean journalists who keep the world up to date on the crisis in that country.

Milan, Italy
Being one of the many Zimbabwean's who have "fled" from their beloved home, I feel it is absolutely incredible how the world is just sitting back, letting thousands of people die just because Mugabe has gone off his head! Let's stop looking at the past the whole time regarding colonial rule and land issues. The point is that NOW people are dying silently and no-one is doing anything about it. Doesnt anyone care?

Suzy Matwetwe
Las Vegas, NV

I want to highlight the perspective that with Zimbabwe you are looking at the same fundamental factors that give root to what we call the "War on Terror".
The world has lived with dictators who have abused and destroyed their countries as far back as we keep records. What is changing is that the developed world can no longer tolerate such situations because we are becoming a global society. Such atrocities disrupt both our sensibilities and our security.

At some point, between now and the time when a disgruntled Third World dictator or terrorist sets off a nuke in Manhattan, the developed world is going to have to come up with a strategy for intervention, management and prevention of failed states and dictatorships.

Ideally is should look like a loose Republic of States which agrees to behave as a Government for Governments. Its principles of action should be centered on the preservation of human rights and rule of law throughout the world backed by the full force of the armies of its member states. Such a government would be charged with intervention and removal if necessary of governments and leaders in violation of such principles where the prospect of continued harm and threat to its own people and society are likely to be greater than the disruption by intervention. I forsee a new branch of the extension of force by governments that concerns itself with building and rebuilding economies and societies wrecked by such dictators.

Imagine such an intervention in Zimbabwe: Mugabe is tried in a world court and declared in violation of the stewardship of the people of Zimbabwe. He is given a set of consequences to reform or step down. Upon failure, an international force intervenes and evicts him from power. An entirely new branch of the intervention force (one we sorely could have used in Iraq) comprised of economists, social and judicial experts, businessmen and financial experts, is sent in and charged with literally cleaning out and rebuilding the structures of society. Finally upon achievement of a stable base the society is transitioned back to self government.

I hope that we have time to debate, vet and refine such an idea before someone nukes Manhattan. If our knee jerk reaction to 9/11 and the consequential chaos is an indication of our lack of understanding and short sightedness, I shudder to think what a major weapon of mass destruction would bring out in us.

I was born in Zimbabwe. What bothers me most is not that power corrupts absolutely. It does not surprise me that man will commit and support atrocity for his own benefit. What truly disturbs me is the ability of those not directly affected to passively watch and turn away. In a world where small groups can kill thousands of people human beings can no longer afford to be sheep.
Civilization is evolving before our eyes - what we become is still within our influence.

John Harper
Battle Creek, Michigan

It is painful to see the wreck Zimbabwe has become. However, it is a story that must be told to the world, and I am grateful Frontline chose to tell it. Mr. Mugabe has made it clear by his words and actions that he intends to destroy the Zimbabwe people (on the matter of bulldozing homes, Mr. Mugabe said he was testing the character of the people to see who will be left standing!) I don't believe Mr. Mugabe changed while in office. I believe he was a criminal and a thug even as he proclaimed himself a freedom fighter in the 60s and 70s. Unfortunately, not only has Mr. Mugabe been corrupt thoughout his tenure, he has now filled Zimbabwe's government and social institutions with corrupt people. Even if he were to leave office today, it will be a long and difficult process to root out all the corrupt people who now fill positions of public trust.

While the Frontline story was excellent, there was clearly not enough time to show how very devastating Mr. Mugabe's policies have been. For example, there is a very large cemetary in Harare named Warren Hills. AIDS especially, but other diseases too, and hunger have combined to largely wipe out a generation of young people. I have seen rows and rows, literally thousands, of graves covering much of the cemetary where none of the markers shows a person who died who was over the age of 30. Funerals are happening so often that there are queues every day of the week in the cemetaries for burials.

The Zimbabwe government is so short of foreign currency that it sells grain to other countries while Zimbabwe's people starve. And to fool IMF investigators, Mr. Mugabe authorizes banks and other financial institutions to buy foreign currency on the black market while at the same time, he jails citizens who possess foreign currency. It would take a report many times longer than the one produced by Frontline to cover the scope of evil that is occurring at Mr. Mugabe's direction.

African States must condemn this man and his government. And the international community should charge Mr. Mugabe with and try him for his crimes against humanity.

Nkosana Mkandla - Gagisa
Kalamazoo, Michigan

I am very embarrassed to be associated with a country that has such a dyslexic government. I fail to understand how Zimbabwean politicians wake up each day surrounded by an overwhelming evidence of a moribund economy and yet fail to realize that it is a reflection of their intellect. No one in the Zimbabwean government has the gut to say "the emperor is necked" and yet continue to blame it on the man on top. It is a shame to think that even the inhuman colonial regime ran the country much better than the present government. What does this say about black leadership? What kind of legacy are these idiots going to leave?

El Reno, Oklahoma
As an ex-Rhodesian I found your program to be extremely heartrenching and very upsetting. I am well aware of the problems in Zimbabwe, as I still have family living there, but to see the pictures - what is the saying - a picture is worth a thousand words - really brought it home. The comment at the end of the show by the South African journalist about Mugabe being their father is typical of the mind set of the African people. I wish they would see him as he is now - definately no "father figure." It breaks my heart that the situation there seems to be ignored by the rest of the world and nothing is done to help the people. Mugabe's hunger for power must be stopped. I believe that it will take many many years - maybe two or three generations - before the country can recover. My love for that land will never die and I will always be an African - born and bred, though white.

New Haven, Connecticut
A truly heartbreaking expose on this once proud nation. Yet again the question: What is the world community doing about this? The U.N. reports are worthless if not acted upon. One last word about the comments/question by the editior of the Mail & Guardian in South Afirca: ("What do you say to a liberation Hero gone bad?" - paraphrased).

You say: Shut up, Get out now or bear appropiate consequences.

A heartless, obviously senile dictator is nothing other than a heartless, obvioulsy senile dictator, no matter what you did before.

Nkosi Sikelel' iAfrika - God bless Africa

New York, NY
The interference by the West in Africa in general and Zimbabwe in particular is an effort to re-colonize the country. Where was the world when the people of Zimbabwe were murdered by the white racist regime of Ian Smith? Where was the world were the land, livelihood and communities were bulldozed by weapons supplied by Britain and the US? Those who serve the interest of the West under the cover of "democracy" are nothing but wolves who are ready to see the country go to the highest bidder. Remember what such wolves did in Angola, Mozambique, Algeria; Ethiopia and elsewhere in Africa.

karim N'Diak
Chicago, Illinois

I am appauled by the cover you had of a Zimbawe street beggar.I am in no fashion a supporter of Mugabe, but I have a bad tasteless eye of the Western portrayal of anything African. I have been to Harare and there are better images that you could have put as a cover to your documentary. I respect Frontline, but disagree totally with who ever thought to make a point with this picture. I live in Chicago and I see guys like the man you put on your cover everyday. I have never seen any street beggars or handicap being exploited for the sake of the message when it comes to a topic about the USA. It's purely bias.

Prague, Czech Republic
The situation now has the American Secretary of State asking for African leadership to "step forward" to protest Mugabe. But how much has she invested in his regime during her service as both National Security Director and Secretary of State?

Knoxville, TN
I have no affiliation with Zimbabwe and was directed to this site for a college course and happened upon this video by chance. I am appalled and disgusted that I had no idea this was happening in the world. It doesn't sound much different, however, than Romania in the '80's. Their dictator Ceaucescu was finally overthrown and executed in '89 after decades in power. The world did nothing to help that small country-they did it themselves. (That is not to say the world community does not have an obligation to the Zimbabwean peoples).

The point is...how do I help?? I'm 20 years old, in school stuck trying to scrape a life together with two jobs. Yes, I am planning to join the Peace Corps after college, but what does that actually accomplish? I can not do anything to help those people and it makes me sick. All I can do is educate myself I guess and wait for an opening which I can take advantage of.

The image of those men being packed into trucks and trains brings back images from the Holocaust Museum in D.C. WHY AREN'T WE HELPING THESE PEOPLE??!

I wish I could actually DO something. My words are so empty.

Dallas, Texas
It is evident the Zimbabwe government stays in power in order to serve the few oligarchs. It is a government founded on the principles of democracy and corrupted since then to increase wealth for the ruling few. It isn't just Mugabe who needs to go, it is the very system of governance that needs to be looked at. However, the Zimbabweans seem so well-spoken and intelligent. If those people with a literacy rate of 80% can be given enterprising opportunities, I think the country can be trusted to upright itself. There is hope.

Zimbabwe is just an other sad story of Africa. One thing has to be corrected: Rhodesia was never a colony but had about the same status as Canada or Australia, with the Queen as head of State and it had its own government and elections. Since 1923 when the first government was elected, there were in the Senate, the African Chiefs, who were elected by their tribesmen. There was no apartheid, which is a Dutch invention (Holland had religious apartheid till 1968.) Since the 1950s there were also African people in the congress.

One must not forget that before 1890, there was no written language and the population was about 400.000 in an area the size of Texas. There were no cities and no schools and no hospitals, no roads and no farms. The first schools were for the Africans built by the missionaries.

I worked there as an immigrant for 6 years (first in Rhodesia and then it became Zimbabwe) and I had the same wages as my African colleagues as a nurse. The African nurses had the same high standards as the white African nurses or foreign nurses, like me.

The land: the commercial farmers (there were also black commercial farmers) only had about 25% of the total land. The Tribal-lands were about 50% of the total land and the government had the rest in National Parks, woodlands and cities. Land in Nature is not good or bad, it is the people that can make land good or bad.

And lastly, the Rhodesian army was 80% black Africans, all volunteers, the white Africans were conscripts and were called up. Everything Mugabe is doing today, killing people, burning houses, destroying businesses, he and his Zanla terrorists, were doing this in the seventies as terrorists (some called them freedom fighters!) nothing has changed.

But the people of Zimbabwe are all suffering, and so is the land and especially the animals, almost poached out, they want to start killing the elephants for food! Where is the voice of the World Wildlife Fund?

Hopefully there will be a change in government, and the new government, I hope, will not make the same mistakes of stealing and corruption. There should be a strong opposition there to keep a close eye on the ones in power. Total power corrupts totally. And hopefully, as in normal countries, there will be a change in government, every so many years.

Melbourne, Vic

I am horrified about what is going on in Zimbabwe. It is sad to know that most of us live such a good life and think that it is normal. Whereas a normal life in Zimbabwe consists of daily attacks and being absolutly terrified for their lives. Hopefully countries across the world can come to the rescue in Zimbabwe, for the people's sake. People can't be treated like that. The US and the UN stopped terroism in Iraq and I think that they should now take their stand in Zimbabwe and stop the corruption going on there.

Kelsey L
Allen, TX

The despair and poverty of Zimbabwe is clearly evident, and a change is definitely needed. I do not understand how a country that was once a leading vacation spot, and possibly one of the richest countries in Africa can change so drastically, so quickly. It is evident that Mugabe had good intentions to start out, but I'm highly curious as to why he turned his country into such a corrupt state. This country is desperately crying out for help, and only change can be brought about if other countries unite as a whole to fix the problem, and help the suffering cease.

K Long
Allen, TX

The despair and poverty of Zimbabwe is clearly evident, and a change is definitely needed. I do not understand how a country that was once a leading vacation spot, and possibly one of the richest countries in Africa can change so drastically, so quickly. It is evident that Mugabe had good intentions to start out, but I'm highly curious as to why he turned his country into such a corrupt state. This country is desperately crying out for help, and only change can be brought about if other countries unite as a whole to fix the problem, and help the suffering cease.

Batavia, New York
In mid November of this year, I had the oportunity to witness first hand, the poverty and the hungry children in a small village of Zimbabwe. It indeed is a very sad situation, with little hope for the future of these starving people who want only a chance to attend school to learn, and to better themselves. But learning is nearly impossible when you are hungry all the time. They have nothing, and yet they could still smile as we walked with them to their homesteads.

West Haven, CT
I agree that something is definitely wrong with Mugabe,and surely in need of help. But that's no reason why millions of helpless Zimbabweans should be abandoned and left to suffer by the United Nation and the West.

The West decided not to have anything to do with Zimbagwe because Mugabe decided to take the plush land of white farmers to be redistributed to the Africans, because the whites in their greed refused voluntarily to share what they and their family had unjustly enjoyed for generations.

The West and the United Nations will do better to hold talks with Mugabe and promise to help him rebuild his nation's economy. What the West is doing now [limited sanctions] has no direct negative effect on him or his cronies. It the always the poor and the innocents that suffer in most places and especially in Africa.

Frankly, I am fed-up with the African Union. If properly fuctioning, it should have been able to resolve the Zimbabwe problem. Under their nose, million were massacred in Rwanda, another million lost their lives in Congo, they did nothing.

Mugabe used to be one of my greatest heros, but he has reduced himself to a tyrant and enemy of his own people. Be patient brothers and sisters of Zimbabwe, he's around 83years old, he'll be lucky to make it to 90. But Mugabe is not the only one, the world is full of bad people like him. God help us!

I believe the people of Zimbabwe should rise up and overthrow the brute that runs Harare called Mugabe. Viva Freedom Revolution. But the people that don't live in Zimbabwe should go there and join the people in that nation to overthrow him.

Sheffield, uk
I am 16 years old and I am very heartbroken by this! That is my home and that is my country. I am in luck because I am so far away, but my family is still there and my father is still there. Please can someone help our country? Please !!

jonathan gibbs
oakland, ca

I was born in the U.S. but was raised in Rhodesia until I left in November of 1981. I served in the army and saw first hand the future of what this country would become if Mugabe and his creatures came to power. What has distressed me the most over all these years is the complete and utter blindness, if not just downright stupidity of my fellow Americans who bought this monsters tales of aspirations for democracy without question! I read Stephen Talbot's reflection on his meeting with Mugabe and have only this to say on it; Mr Talbot, Robert Mugabe was and has always been the Terror you only NOW seem to be able to admit to. But then. you were not alone in that, as many here in America were blind to this man's intentions. Rhodesian's (both black and white) fought a bloody 11 year war to prevent the terror he would bring. The CBS programme 60 Minutes did a fine story on this, I wish more americans would have seen it. However,the country was lost because it was alone and so many who should have known better and aid Rhodesia did not! It was... unfashionable. Perhaps it is a lesson for those of you" in the know "as you like to think of yourselves in the media. Maybe, just maybe, you can be duped. Tell a lie long enough and loud enough and someone will believe it! Mr. Mugabe could have coined this himself. Enjoyed your programme greatly. It brought back memories of a land so beautiful it was worth fighting for and I thank you for it.

Nehemia Mhinda
Harare, Zimbabwe

What we need is a fair share of Zimbabwe land.No matter what hate speech and lies you propagate to the world we will win war.It is ours and we fought for it.

Dallas, TX
I don't support communism or socialism, but it's lame to hear some responders pointing to Mugabe's affiliation to such philosophies as the cause of Africa's plight. Let's not appeal to philosophies that died years ago.

Greed and incompetence conceived and fuel the current state in Zimbabwe. Self-proclaimed Ex-Rhodesians, blame yourselves just as much as Mugabe because it is your attitudes manifesting through your denial of the country's liberty that feeds the likes of Mugabe. Notwithstanding, Mugabe's regime shoulders the elephant's share of responsibility for Zimbabwe's situation. Time is coming when they will feel the full weight of their ill governance!

Themba Maprons
salt lake city, ut

It's touching to hear the views expressed by many: Disappointment, heartfelt sympathies and whatever else....
I'm Zimbabwean. Though fortunate to be in the U.S the bulk of my family and friends still live in Zim. My heart bleeds not only for them but our beautiful country. Mr. Mugabe's wrong doings have been well documented but like my good friend always says "Whets the point, nobody cares, we don't have oil."
Contrary to a certain John Joblin (who speaks from a position of ignorance), black people are very proud of our African heritage. You do not understand the struggles blacks endure worldwide, you find it easy to ridicule us and think that we always blame white folk for our own shortcomings. Don't be naÔve, there's actually a world outside the U.S. There are millions of honorable black people as there are white people...you choose to see what you want to. Foolish leaders are not only a black thing, what of Hitler, what about Milosevic? Riches were plundered in Africa by colonial powers (mostly Britain and France). It's water under the bridge, who cares. Don't disrespect our race. I despise Mugabe and what he stands for, I hate what we as Zimbabweans have been reduced to, a people without country pride.

Itayi Garande
London, UK

Let me take this opportunity to commend you for your courage and your uncompromising fight for democracy in Zimbabwe - a worthy cause. We have an urgent need for change in Zimbabwe. Every story coming out of Zimbabwe today makes the headlines, and many people are being sacrificed under the brutal regime of Robert Mugabe. It's comforting to know that we are together in this struggle.

Judith Grace
Chicago, IL

My prayers are with Zimbabwe. I have sent money and materials, but I pray someone sends God.

Julian Wamukala
Malden, MA

What you don't say is that Mugabe was put in power by Westerners to defend their interests. The indigenous population, which make up 99% of the population, was pushed and gathered in 1% of bad land when the Europeans who colonized the country (came from outside) and were 1% of the population took 99% of good land.

As it happened everywhere in the third world, the lustful life and the cult of personality brought by the Romans( all leaders must be man of war as was the roman emperor) ruined the mind of the ‚ÄĚchosen leader". And like everywhere in the third world, the relationship between the european "masters" and the puppet deteriorated and turned into a fight for survival.

The Zimbabwean people don't have much to loose in this fight but it is the Romans colonialists who have lost their sources of richness and are making a bad painting of Mugabe, hoping to get back into their business of exclusion and exploitation.
It is normal that Frontline, which is after all a democratic creation sides with their brothers, the Westerners. They don't know or share the wonderful knowledge and lifestyle of the Gospel.

The Europeans have made exploiting and looting other peoples lives and resources into a lifestyle and they don't back away from anything to attain their goal: to control the World (use all other nations lives and resources to feed and to glorify themselves).
Will the World stay like this? With the Europeans running it like their own possession? They act like a criminal organization? a mafia? Exploiting naive people through institutions like the United Nations, the World Bank, the monetary international fund... Is it going to last forever?

Will the Western foundation of evil and lies last forever?
Can they turn around and change their ways? That's the question.

Comrade Siphala Ndiweni
Bulawayo, Zimbabwe

This is all rubbish. All those with eyes can see that this is western propaganda. I have ignored it, and I think all patriotic Zimbabweans should do the same. There are problems in Zimbabwe, yes. All Zimbabweans should come together to solve them. Mugabe is a human being with ears; he is ready to listen if approached correctly. So please stop wasting money on such demonizing and useless projects. Zimbabwe is ruled by Zimbabweans and not the two aimless journalists. Wake up Zimbabweans!

Yazf Morgan

I am sick and tired of articles that continue to portray Zimbabwe as "defeated." I agree that there are a number of issues that need to be addressed in the Zimbabwean government. The "clean up campaign" was over 8 months ago and you are still publishing pictures of what you portray Zimbabwe looks like. When was the last time you went back to Zimbabwe? Yes inflation is rising and will continue to rise if attitudes do not change. May I suggest one thing please: update your reports and please get someone who has something positive to say of the country. I am a patriotic Zimbabwean even though there are difficulties; there are people who are willing to work towards a better Zimbabwe. We don't know when and how the government is going to get out of power, but is this the solution, bearing in mind that there is no one better to lead the country as yet, and, bearing in mind that the next person may only want to be a president for the sake of greasing his/her pocket? An issue that needs to be addressed by not only African leaders but those of the western world is greed. At one point we thought that Morgan Tsvangirai would lead the country and all our troubles would be over; however, he sabotaged his own efforts by coming to influence - not that they needed to be influenced - the world powers that Mugabe must go. What did this accomplish, other than negative press, loss of life (not his), and sanctions which automatically contributed to the crash of the Zimbabwe dollar?

As a citizen that has faith in my country and the people, note country and people, I have one suggestion and that would be for people who are willing and committed to continue in their efforts to build. Disregard the negative press, the situations that we are faced with daily and look for solutions and not more problems.

I believe in my countrymen/women, as they are a nation that is not prepared to give up in the present circumstances. Facts are subject to change.

If the western world would really like to help Zimbabweans, then please do not focus on Mr. Mugabe; he is not Zimbabwe. Stop showing morbid adverts on websites and television of what Zimbabwe "looks" and like using old footage, and for a change please show how beautiful the country and the people are. Thanks to the BBC and most of the international media, Zimbabwe has been listed as an unsafe tourist destination. Our country is no more safe than it is walking in the United States where, if you are walking around late at night you could be mugged etc, or in the subways where bombs go off. There is a risk living anywhere. I do not think that Mr. Mugabe will have the time to come to your doorstep to cause you any harm.

I hope that there would be more people who thought like me and did not take the easy way out, looking for sympathy and pity, because that is not going to help us; it hasn't so far.

Morristown, NJ
Having lived in Rhodesia in the 1960s and 1970s, I am not surprised by the deterioration of Zimbabwe. Mugabe is a self-proclaimed revolutionary who made himself very clear that he had revolutionary aims and goals. The country that voted in his rule is really getting what they desired. After having looted the Rhodesian-built country, he and Zanu PF have turned on their own people. That said, the Zimbabweans don't deserve this misrule but they should not expect any help from the South Africans where the ANC government is beginning to follow in the footsteps of Mugabe. It will get worse, especially when you think about the bone-chilling words of Didymus Mutasa, the Zimbabwean Security Minister, who opined that Zimbabwe had 6 million too many people. I wonder where he got that particular figure, 6 million? Makes one think! The postcolonial period of Africa has been a disaster and the worse, sadly, is yet to come when the ANC of South Africa begins its indigenization process.

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Mugabe does not want to go down in history simply as the first executive President of Zimbabwe. Being so determined to leave an indelible mark on the history of his country and the continent, he has genuinely and correctly identified land as the issue that would define his entire career and is grooming his son to guard this legacy when he dies. He is gambling that on the land issue, history will judge him very favourably. Put simply, Mugabe is fighting for his legacy. And when a man is fighting for his legacy, he has got everything to lose. Mugabe seems to have successfully deployed a (literal) black and white divide to the African debate. In Mugabe's rhetorical world, the contest is between progressive black Zimbabweans, black stooges of imperialism and white Anglo-Saxons. The first are the good guys, the second the bad and the latter the ugly guys. He leads the good guys and British Prime Minister Tony Blair leads the bad and ugly guys. In his warped mind Tsvangirai and the MDC gain relevance in this scheme only as Blair's foot soldiers. Thus this pan-Africanism championed by Mugabe and Mbeki brings upon itself the criticism of lassitude and ineptitude. Its emphasis on the sentimental or emotional bequeaths no intellectual tools with which to confront present and future challenges and forge a grand strategy for political and economic emancipation of black people. Mugabe continues to be surrounded by ministers, relatives, advisors and others who grossly misinform him as to the political, social and economic realities of the country that he leads. Addresses by him revealed major misconceptions of the causes of Zimbabwe's ills. Further his corrupt wife wields a major shadow over him and his equally corrupt administration. He is also corrupt himself and at one time forced the GMB were I was working then to pay for his wheat as first grade when in actual fact was fourth grade. He also personally forced the Ministry of Higher Education to pay for the tuition fees of his cronies' kids from a fund that pays grants to UZ students and I uncovered this in 1994. Hence it also seems physical and mental laziness and kleptomania on his part plays a major role in his failure to control things.

Susan Heppenstall
Canterbury, NH

I am a nurse volunteer who was in Zimbabwe last March,2006 and plan to return in early 2007. I made so many friends and became very connected to the people and am therefore happy to see that the situation in Zimbabwe is kept in the public eye. It is a forgotten country of so many needs and with so much potential that i pray that awarenedss is the beginning of change. Thank you for your Frontline Broadcast.

Susan Heppenstall
Canterbury, NH

I am a nurse volunteer who was in Zimbabwe last March, 2006, and plan to return in early 2007. I made so many friends and became very connected to the people and am therefore happy to see that the situation in Zimbabwe is kept in the public eye. It is a forgotten country of so many needs and with so much potential that I pray that awareness is the beginning of change. Thank you for your Frontline broadcast.

Chipo Moyo
Dallas, TX

It is sad to see my country destroyed this way by one of its own.

AF de V
New York, NY

Blah...blah...blah. Whoopee; another breathless story on the land of my birth, and all the wailing and hand ringing commentators following up. And one fool wondering why, "Mugabe has changed!" Mugabe was a murdering bastard 30 years ago, you liberal fool. The Western powers supported Mugabe and hailed him as a leader of the Liberation Movement, a Freedom Fighter. The UN, the Carter administration, PM Wilson of Great Britain, all kissed his ass, and supported his terror war. Hacking off body parts of live humans, beating, raping, mutilating women, children, missionaries and civilians, and the support of the bleeding-heart Western liberals put Mugabe in power and Zimbabwe where it is. Focus on the Jihad Nazis now, you cannot do a THING for Zimbabwe.


It is so hard to be a Zimbabwean living abroad and knowing the perils that face your fellow countrymen. Looking at what is going on in the world - getting anyone in the so called First World to look at Africa let alone Zimbabwe would need for us to have oil or some desired resource. Well we don't have oil but I would have thought a human life would have been just as precious. America does not know how to deal with Mugabe? No! America cannot be bothered to deal with Zimbabwe! I guess we shall just have to find our own way out like Rwanda had to. Amazing how one American or British life can cause a war on terror but how any other country's bloodshed can be ignored! And you wonder why you are fighting terrorists. Maybe it's because they feel so hard done by that dying for a cause - no matter how warped - can seem justified!

New York, NY
This documentary felt unbalanced and rings like propaganda. I don't know if it is the reporter, Ms. Bloom's unconscious bias as a privileged white South African. I just heard regurgitated the perspective common in the white South African media who are happy to see Zimbabwe falter, because they fear that South African blacks will soon demand the majority of land and resources, stolen during Apartheid, that remains in white hands. I'm disappointed by Frontline for the trite handling of such complex issues. I spent several months in Zimbabwe last year. I was in Zimbabwe during the elections in 2005 and saw the candidates from various parties: ZANU-PF, the opposition MDC and a plethora of smaller parties campaigning on TV. Candidates from opposition were interviewed nightly leading up to the election. I was surprised because before going to Zimbabwe and seeing for myself, I had read many times in the British and American press that the MDC is repressed. At the same time, I would read on the BBC website and other western media outlets predictions that the elections were not going to be fair, that people were living in fear, and the opposition was being suppressed and couldn't campaign freely; meanwhile the opposition parties had free access to state TV nightly! I marveled at the doom inspired abroad by the western media about the country where I often saw the opposite of their claims. In the capital Harare, I remember driving and having to make way for a convoy of open-backed trucks carrying MDC (the major opposition party) people, supporters and campaigners shouting slogans, waving open palms and wearing white t-shirts with red open hands on them. The open hand is the symbol of the MDC. They were happily making a lot of noise and calling a lot of attention. Are these actions in a police state?

Ms. Bloom disappointingly glosses over it, but Zimbabweans lived not simply under white rule; it was Apartheid until 1980 when Mugabe came to power following a long liberation war that gave black Zimbabweans freedom. The liberation war was about freedom from white colonialism, near slavery conditions and Apartheid and reclaiming the land which blacks had been pushed off. Mugabe took too long to address the issue of land reform to give more blacks land, 20 years later, it was a powder keg that would eventually explode because the people who fought in the liberation war started demanding the land saying they went to war and thousands had been killed in the struggle for the land and Mugabe had not addressed it. Mugabe did not lead these people, the war veterans, to take the land. He literally could not stop the thousands after the situation exploded when they decided they would not wait any longer. Being a true politician, he co-opted the land issue in a populist move. He endorsed the seizure of the land after it was underway and he knew he could not stop it. Unfortunately, approximately 200 people, black and white, died during this period of reclaiming land.

Land reform in southern Africa is inescapable. I pray these governments don't allow another powder keg to happen but that they will tackle the issue of land reform and black Africans having greater access to their own resources. Statistics show that in South Africa more white farmers are murdered there annually than ever happened in Zimbabwe. Why is this, I wonder, when there is no Mugabe there? Ms. Bloom, of course, did not mention that Mugabe is still seen as a hero to millions of black South Africans for taking the land back.

Samuel Solani
Bulawayo, Zimbabwe

It is very easy & convenient to reduce the troubles of Zimbabwe to an individual. Easy too to reduce everything to a particular event (land seizure) and even simpler yet a particular time (2000). Truth be told the issue is more complicated and dynamic. For if it were that Bob should keel over and die, and the land policies of 2000, reversed - the balance of social/economic/historical/political forces would emerge to wreck havoc still, not withstanding the nostalgia of some ex-Rhodies & limited understanding of most journalists. The issue is one of a continuous phenomenon that began with the circumnavigation of the Cape by Dias & the discovery of the New World. And so truth be told, Robert Mugabe is really a particular manifestation of a phenomenon, albeit in his present form as an anachronism. The future of Zimbabwe lies first and principally with Zimbabweans, and our ability to identify and reject self-interested folly whether from Monumutapa House, Union Buildings, Washington DC, London, Paris, Beijing, to reclaim what it is to be named the Vana Vemabge, Abantu Betshe.

Paul Shriver
Minneapolis, MN

I would somewhat agree with the person who said Mugabe was always a thug. However, he very wisely tempered his actions all along, and always tried to do what was best for his country so long as he could stay in power. Early on in his regime he could rely on good will and gratitude from those who experienced the war for independence to stay in power. He used state media and probably some extralegal actions to control opposition, and still tolerate many freedoms including freedom of press. In addition he used state resources to promote his political party. But as opposition grew, he felt the need to use more and more drastic measures to hold onto power. I don't know that there was any one point where things changed; it was more a continual slide, an erosion of rights to keep his grasp on power. At this point over half of the population does not remember the war for independence, does not remember Mugabe as a hero, only as a dictator. He can only control those people by force.

Vancouver, British Columbia
The scariest thing about the situation in Zimbabwe is the similarities to pretty much all of the rest of Africa. I am reading a book on the fate of Africa over the past 50 years and almost every country follows the same path. Zimbabwe got independence later than most of the others, so they are going through this stage later than the others. The BIG question to an ex-South African like myself is whether South Africa will follow the same pattern. I believe it all depends who takes over from Mbeke. If history repeats itself, and someone like Jacob Zuma gets into power, I believe it will follow all the others. The interesting point made in the book by Martin Meredith is that many of the problems come back to tribalism, which is a concept that so many in the west find difficult to believe is so strong.

I do believe some of the things reported but not all of it. I recently went home to Zimbabwe and yes, the inflation is bad and the long queues for money still there but I have to admit fuel situation has improved. You will not find it everywhere but they have a coupon system that enables people not to be without fuel for long. And I was impressed how the supermarkets were full and people were buying. I am not sure how people supplement their incomes but they seem to do so. And at the end, most of all I would like to remind my African brothers and sisters out there is that yes Mugabe is not perfect, but the reason the west is so against him is not because of democracy or all the excuses that they are trying to tell us but because he dared enough to take land from whites and gave it to blacks. The land reform is not perfect, but standing together with western media and politicians and condemning one of our own is not the way forward. We do not learn democracy and humanitarianism from the west that kept us in bondage under colonialism many years ago and still exploits us in this neo-colonialism period.

Viomak Viomak
Halifax, Canada

I just pray that God removes this evil man in our midst as soon as possible. And thank you for this information. It is very unfortunate that many of us Zimbabweans just sit and watch and wait for whites to do everything for us. Thank you again for your concern and courage. God bless you.

Gevas Moyo
Traverse City, Michigan

Simply put the Frontline episode was a powerful and moving piece. As Trevor Ncube said, How do you deal with a fallen hero? Mugabe as I have always contended is a hyena in wolf's clothing, avaricious, cruel and bloodthirsty. How else can one explain the suffering of the people and his complete ineptitude about the situation?
For all his posturing and foaming at the mouth about "whites," Britain and the U.S. amongst others, was he not the one who attended every U.N. summitt and flew through London on every trip? In the process raking up more miles than the chief test pilot at Boeing. Could there have been something more sinister going on like the banking of looted monies from Bob's takeaway (The Reserve Bank)? The joke then was that Air Zimbabwe pilots were first taught how to fly to London before could fly to Bulawayo. Hence the case of stashed funds in The United Kindgom. If "whites" are as bad as Mugabe says, why is he in cahoots with the likes of John Bredenkamp and Billy Rautenbach? Makes you wonder why he speaketh with forked tongue!

All I ask is for is that the United Nations arrest any dictator who sets foot inside any U.N. summitt and haul them off to The Hague. At least they will get justice which they have refused to so many and some decent toilet paper. People in Zimbabwe jails have resorted to using pages from Bibles, that's right, Bibles! Imagine if the people outside are suffering like this, how about the people in the jails. Mugabe cannot be allowed to continue running the country as if it were his personal fiefdom. Nada!!

Criticism of one's country should never be construed as being unpatriotic, the problem in Africa is that we do not criticize each other often!

My hat goes off to Alexis Bloom and her colleague, job well done!

It is so sad to see my country come down to its knees like this. Mugabe has to go; that is the only way that we can return and begin to rebuild the country.

Atlanta, GA

In response to the comment from New York:
"Your documentary begs the following question: who are the good men and women on this small planet we live on and why do they do nothing? For those of us ordinary people who want to do something, what can we do?" There are people working for change in Zimbabwe. Go to this site to see what Americans and Zimbabweans are doing together and how you can help: http://www.asapafrica.org

New York, NY

Thanks for an insight into the situation in Zimbabwe. The risks that go with your job in these circumstances are great. My further request is for you to speak out more on this. Put this story more on people's tables to get rid of this unprecedented suffering of people.

Juan Vasquez
Phoenix, AZ

It's sad. These are the kind of things that open up opportunities for Islamic fundamentalist extremism. This does not help us on the war on terrorism!

Da Bre
Arlington, TX

Just another example of a leader building his own kingdom instead of a kingdom for the people. He should have been "taken out" long ago. A nation needs to step up and do this.

Thank you for reporting this! It takes guts to cover stories that the government or people don't want us to know about. Now, how do we help out and step in?

Brian Deller
Marbella, Malaga

As someone who has lived in Africa for 25 years and understands more the conditions there, the average African is not ready for self-government yet to Western standards. The problem is that the ignorant and the "liberals" who have never had to endure the conditions there always shout the race card when statements like this are made, not the "realism" card. The average African is 500 years behind the western standards of democratic civilisations, and many educated ones, or those in countries such as Zimbabwe or Nigeria will agree with that statement. After all, the Rhodesian dollar used to be worth more that the US$ when Ian Smith was the Prime Minister, and Mugabe came to power on a propaganda ticket. The West has been subjected to propaganda over a protracted period of time and forgets that the main point in life is a full stomach, a job to go to, and dignity. South Africa will be the next in about ten years or so. And I am not a racist, but someone who wants the best for the average citizen of these countries with one qualification others do not have. I have lived there for a long time and love the continent.

Dallas, TX
Thanks for the documentary; as a Zimbabwean I know for sure that if the rest of the world is just going to watch, we will regret like we did after the Rwanda disaster. It has been seven years since Zimbabwe started falling; I was only 15 years old, I was ignorant. I am 22 and I am hopeless.

Jerry Kennedy
Casa Grande, AZ

I watched with great interest your presentation regarding today's Zimbabwe. The colonial regime that was replaced by Mugabe was far better than this pathetic excuse for a government. What irritates me and makes my blood boil is that when the white minority was in power, practically every nation cut off relations with what was then Rhodesia. Now the nations stand idly by while the black majority commit far greater crimes against their own people than could possibly be imagined under colonial rule. If the nations were able to bring white Rhodesia to its knees, why can't they do something about the monster in power now?

Santa Barbara, CA

In moments like these all you can do is pray that God would show you how you can help bring healing to Zimbabwe. It says in the bible that money is the root of evil and it is more evident in Zimbabwe but prevalent in every nation. I pray that Mugabe would have a Saul to Paul encounter with God and fall on his face in repentance. Amos 5:24 - But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!

Dallas, TX
I am so grateful to you for being so brave and going to Zimbabwe to show the world what is going on in our once beautiful country. Things are so bad right now; it is very difficult to even think about the hardships people are facing in Zimbabwe. The school kids are what pains me so much. I have heard of families of 6 kids sharing one pencil or pen to do homework, one candle in a 4 roomed house and kids not being able to do homework at all because they have to help make some income for the family. Others are just dropping out of school because they cannot afford to pay the school fees. The situation at the mortuaries is just sad; people are not collecting their dead relatives because they cannot afford to bury, let alone hire a car to take the body home or buy a coffin because they have to choose between burying a loved one and having enough left over to survive with their families. The situation is worse and I wish the world would come to the rescue of Zimbabwe, but of course we have nothing to offer them!

Boston, MA

I was born and raised in Zimbabwe and left my beautiful country to pursue university studies here in America. I am now pursuing a Master's Degree, and plan to return to Zimbabwe one day. I am grateful that Frontline/World has brought Zimbabwe's situation to light here in America. I am devastated every time I see and hear about present day Zimbabwe. I no longer recognize the country I was raised in: it was once a paradise, and my childhood was filled with so much faith, hope, and love - virtues that are deeply rooted in the spirit of the Zimbabwean people. These must remain strong for us to survive Mugabe's evil rule. I would like to appeal to fellow Zimbabweans that are now in the United States to continue to spread the truth about our country to as many people as possible. Promoting awareness will help in gaining more international attention to this awful situation.

Luis Juarez
Washington, DC

As a Peruvian who experienced hyperinflation in the late 80's and dictatorship under the mask of democracy in the 90's and corruption inside the government, still in the present as a shameful legacy of, ironically, one of the best presidents of Peru (Peruvian/Japanese ex-president Alberto Fujimori) this report touched me in so many levels. The shortage of food and fuel; the endless lines in order to get basic stuff such as a loaf of bread, milk, sugar; and most of all, the desperate look of a single mom that had to provide for the whole family is something that has to be experienced in order to understand it. Sadly, the world, including the US, has turned its back to Africa, and as long as it does not have anything to offer to the international community, this international inaction will continue.

Aurora, CO
I have recently been watching the film "The Interpreter" on HBO. It details exactly what is going on in Zimbabwe in a fictionalized account. As the DVD is available for purchase, why not stage a campaign to flood Robert Mugabe with mailings of the film from all over the world until he gets the point and steps down from office? Why not do the same to the UN Security Council until they indict Mugabe for trial before the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity?

Luis Lopez
Brooklyn, NY

This is a great journalistic piece. I was very moved and outraged at the same time. It is true to the mental state that an idealist has become that which he despised the most. To the people of that beautiful land, my heart and prayers are with them. I will pass this film on to all of the members of the NACFILMS Urban Arts camp on MYSPACE.com. Thanks to all the filmmakers involved in this piece.

Fred Bezhuitenhout
BC, Canada

The world has stood by because those that are suffering under this murderous regime are black, impoverished and have no oil to sell. G.W. Bush and the spineless Tony Blair have watched a country self-destruct, not prepared to intervene in any meaningful way. I wonder if this is a World Bank master plan to allow this breadbasket become a basket case, unable to produce anything? Mugabe must be taken before the international criminal court, and not be allowed to get away with murder.

John Malamba
Lilongwe, Malawi

I am so disappointed by the one-sided documentary on Zimbabwe which Frontline recently put up. I am from Malawi and I know a lot about Zimbabwe. My uncle worked in Zimbabwe and some of our relatives are still there. First of all, the documentary tried to portray Mugabe as a very unpopular person. This is not true. He was recently here in Malawi and he attracted a lot of admirers. When he goes to South Africa, he receives standing ovations everywhere (except among the whites). I wonder why you chose to interview white people and the opposition only. Wouldn't it be fair to interview some of the government supporters including the President himself?

The idea that Mugabe is stealing votes is false. If you look at the elections maps you see Mugabe winning in his strongholds whereas the opposition wins in their strongholds. Only a fool would want to rig in his stronghold where he would win anyway. The MDC cannot win because it is an ethnic party from the country's smallest tribe.

Zimbabwe was never a breadbasket of Africa. As a Malawian I can testify to this. Many times in the past the tiny Malawi government had sent maize to Zimbabwe to help the black people "who didn't have land." This is before any farm had been taken away from white people. The idea that Zimbabwe was better off under white rule is offensive. My uncle being black was forced to buy commodities through the window because black people couldn't get into the shops.

Britain and America used to praise Mugabe through thick and thin until he started taking land from white farmers. Everybody in Southern Africa knows all this propaganda is more about white farmers than everything else. Next time please try to put a more balanced documentation.

Woodbridge, VA
What went so horribly wrong? This is a good question to ask and would be difficult for many Zimbabweans who come from the other parts of the country. Mugabe was horrible and wrong from the time he became leader of the country. Zimbabweans are partly responsible for supporting and creating a monster. People from Matabeleland and Midlands will tell you that Mugabe was never a good man. He is a killer; he displayed the signs of cruelty as soon as he got into power.

I am not surprised that people will ask such a question. He started slowly by starving, slaughtering and causing human suffering in Matabeleland and Midlands. Our fellow Zimbabweans from where Mugabe comes from called us dissidents. When the dissident era started I worked in Harare and my brave fellow Zimbabweans openly called me a dissident because I came from Matabeleland. Our fellow Zimbabweans did not want to hear that Mugabe was a killer and a bad man. I appeal to those who can exercise their vote, especially now, that they realize that the man is bad, though too late to remove Mugabe from power.

A lot has not been said about the Gukurahundi and some people from Mashonaland will deny that there was Gukurahundi. What is happening now is a new Gukurahundi that is affecting the whole population. Let's do something about it. The truth is that the white Zimbabweans, the Ndebeles and the all Zimbabweans of Malawian, Zambian and Mozambican origin can never vote Mugabe out of power. Those responsible for putting the man in power are the only people that can remove him from power. People from Matabeleland and partly Midlands have not voted for the monster for all these years. I know that he rigs elections but how come he rigs in Mashonaland only? He has not rigged in Matabeleland. Why?

Tucson, AZ
I find it ironic that people who supported this person (Mugabe) in the past are now speaking out against him. I'm sorry, but those of you who selected violence as a way to settle political issues must now live with the consequences of your actions. Those of you asking for the US or the international community to come in and resolve this situation should sit down and shut up. Especially if you helped this dictator into power in the past ("Ohh, he's leftist, so he'll only kill those who don't agree with me. I know I can trust him!") You made this mess and you have to live with it. Teach your children differently, so they won't make the same mistakes you did and learn to live with the ones you made. You could, of course, attempt to resolve it yourself, but I would bet that you are all so uncreative that you would resort to violence, AGAIN. So often those on the left side of the political spectrum dismiss the western way of doing things, but a strong civil society and rule of law are great things to have, regardless of your place on the political spectrum. Fight for it. Or die.

Louisville, KY
First, I would like to address those skeptics who do not think PBS told both sides of the story. Zimbabwe does indeed have beautiful places, but what good are those places if they're only enjoyed by an elite few? Over 90% of the Zimbabwean population is living below the poverty line. It is now a luxury for most Zimbabweans to have more than one meal per day. I am telling you this because even though I am an American resident, I grew up in Zimbabwe and have spent most of my time in Zimbabwe since 2003. I have witnessed first hand how things are getting worse and worse. My brother and I, after always hearing bad things about Zimbabwe, decided to go back and do something to try and get our country back and perhaps make a little profit along the way. When the fuel shortage crisis hit Zimbabwe, we started a petroleum company. I quit everything I was doing in the US and temporarily moved back to Zimbabwe to get the business off the ground in late 2003. What I had planned to be a two-month stint ended up drawing out to almost a year. Everything that could possibly go wrong went wrong and there was seemingly endless red tape.

On June 25, 2005, I was arrested at the height of Operation Murambatsvina. The army swooped in on me and had me bundled up in their armored truck. When I arrived at the police camp I was surprised to see our fuel tanker pulling in behind me. Apparently, I had been arrested for selling fuel on the black market. The next 8 hours were the worst in my life. I was threatened, humiliated, and my truck along with the 9,000 gallons of fuel in it were to be seized by the State. Only after we proved beyond reasonable doubt that the fuel was legitimate (and the Member in Charge of the police station demanded a few barrels of petrol) I was set free. Despite all this adversity my brother and I are continuing to operate and deal with the bureaucratic issues as they arise.

Now that I look back, the sad thing is that in 2003 Zimbabwe was much better off than now. My friend who owns a butchery was telling me just the other day that he had closed shop. The meat in his shop was rotting because of the rampant power cuts and people can simply no longer afford to buy meat! In fact, this is no isolated incident--butcheries are closing down across the country at a growing pace. I have now managed to start a new company that produces tofu and other soy products. I hope it will be a good way for people to stretch their budget while maintaining a decent diet complete with the protein they need.

Everyone I know tells me I am either very stupid (who else would invest in an economy with 1200 inflation, warped property rights, and the list goes on) or I am truly in love with Zimbabwe. I was born soon after Independence so the only Zimbabwe I knew was the naturally beautifully endowed country where hard work paid off and its people were always warm and smiling. I am urging Zimbabweans who have been turned political and economic refugees across the globe not to give up hope on your motherland. I strongly believe the light is around the corner with the talks with Kofi Annan supposed to take place this weekend and so on. Am I just a hopeless optimist or the proverbial wife sticking to an abusive relationship, hoping "he" will change?

Brenda Miller
Orrville, OH

In 64 AD, Rome burned. Today, we do not know if the monstrous Nero set the blaze, as he has been accused, but we know he did not just fiddle while Rome burned. Today, Zimbabwe burns. But we know who set the blaze: Mugabe. And Mugabe fiddles while Zimbabwe burns. Nero was removed. It is time Mugabe receive the same: arsonists do not deserve power, glory, or luxury. May the beautiful people of Zimbabwe be freed from their modern Nero, and may, over time, both their lands and their spirits recover from the blazes he has set.

Harare, Zimbabwe
Having studied Mugabe for over 30 years, he has not changed one bit. Anyone who thinks otherwise is delusional. Mugabe has simply taken off his mask. He is a genocidal dictator who only survives because his brother African leaders have sheltered him. Mugabe declared war on the people of Zimbabwe in 2000 when he lost an election. He has rigged every other election since then. He declared the 3rd Chimuranga (war) and appointed a war cabinet. The media are remiss when they say that Zimbabwe has the fastest deteriorating economy during peacetime. The truth is that it is a war and that is why the economy is collapsing. The entire population of Zimbabwe has been traumatised. Mugabe is a disgrace to humanity and we, the people of Zimbabwe, ask you people in the free world to stand by us and help us wherever you can. The ruling ZanuPF are like pigs feeding from a trough. They are bloodsuckers stealing our country's assets and are destroying our children's future. Our country has been hijacked by gangsters and most of our people are now starving.

London, UK
Have read the articles but not seen the video. Congratulations to the journalist and camerawoman. It takes 2 brave women to expose the truth! I am very touched at their bravery. I was born in Zimbabwe but am now British. My mother was born in Zimbabwe and my Grandmother in Umtata. Although white, we have lived in Africa for 100 years but we are now not wanted due to the colour of our skin. Mugabe is a rabid racist. He plays the political race i.e. colonial card so incredibly well that countries back off engaging in any sort of battle with him and look the other way. He came into power through the barrel of a gun and he will stay in power using the same terrorist methodologies on his own people. Zimbabweans are generally placid in nature; the Ndebeles were more fiery as they were from Zulu descent but Mugabe has massacred 20,000 of them within years of his leadership and they are in the minority so there is no threat. He knows how to control his own people, through fear. The white man can do nothing; there are too few of us and they are easy targets for victimisation. Just the old pensioners are left, starving due to inflation and a few others earning foreign currency or with no foreign passport and are stuck. They would leave if they could. I left 5 years ago having being involved in riots and have observed the violence from the police first hand and death threats to my boss by so-called war veterans. I have lost work colleagues to AIDS, which is absolutely heart breaking and have had a friend brutally murdered. I am lucky though as I had a foreign passport, thanks to my father, and could leave. I just feel so desperate for the people I have left behind, especially for my black friends and workers who have to live with the evil and are defenceless. They are hungry, tired and defeated. God help them all!

Mugabe is Africa's father. He is Africa's selfish, abusive, neglectful father.

Anchorage, AK
I was in Zimbabwe last year, time measured now in huge jumps in inflation rather than days or months. There continues to be an unfulfilled promise, and an unaccepted challenge. Until Black Africa can provide more for their people, all of their people, than what was available under "colonial rule," they have failed. It is convenient to blame the whites or foreign rule for the dictatorships and suffering. It is just as phony as the communist rhetoric that fostered "change" in Africa. (One man, One vote...One Time). It is also politically incorrect to point out their failure, no matter how constructive, least one be thought racist. The recent waves of genocide however also point to a disturbing fact: for the rest of the world, black Africans killing black Africans is "tolerable." At present the UN insulates these dictatorships and prolongs the suffering. For Zimbabwe, change will not come from within any time soon. It can only come from strong willed and strong armed intervention from outside and from within the country. Actions mean something, words mean nothing to the suffering.

Fred Thomas
Los Angeles, CA

Very good reporting. In the words of Dr. M.L.K "no lie will live forever." What a waste to put your trust in a person only to be deceived. The pain is the common person simply wants a decent life.

Thank you for doing this story. I am going to Zimbabwe and am happy to know what is going on, but sad to hear the horrifying times these people live in.

Kansas City, MO

I am embarrassed with my country's state of affairs. What can be done this moment, maybe ask the United Nations to run it for us and restore investor confidence?

Canterbury, NH
I watched Shadows and Lies last night which is close to my heart as I recently returned from a 1-month Medical Mission as an RN in Zimbabwe. Tragically I know first hand that everything reported is true. I plan to return next winter and in the meantime send supplies and other forms of encouragement knowing that it is a drop in the bucket. Unemployment, hunger and inflation are killing people everyday. We need much more awareness nationally and higher profile people to get involved. I watched people dying for lack of basic medications, food, blood and ambulance transport. At the same time I have never worked with a group of more dedicated people filled with faith and hope that their situation will change. As the doctors and clergy came to trust us they shared their deepest frustrations and fears. Thank you for beginning to be the voice of the voiceless for this tragic country which seems to have been forgotten by the US and the international community.

Atlanta, GA
Congratulations on achieving the almost impossible by the sheer courage of Herrman and Bloom! As an American African having lived most of my life in that magnificent country, recently leaving with a broken heart, I can verify the accuracy of the report. However, this report is not the half of it!

Left unsaid was what terrible fate awaited the repatriated people once off the train - capture, torture and murder as they showed opposition. Left unsaid was the starvation of any opposition; the Aid hijacking: only giving-pardon, selling food to the government supporters; and stealing/burning/looting/imprisoning/murdering/torturing all and any opposition.

Therein lies the key; when Mugabe and thugs were riding high in 1980-1985, they controlled the massacre of the looming (and historical) opposition of the Ndebeles, deploying the Korean-trained "new" army in a very secret operation called Gukurahundi, when everyone in the media was taken by surprise so nothing was reported till much later. Thus in sheer arrogance came the referendum in 2000 to change the constitution earlier than had been agreed with Britain, when he got a resounding 'no' vote. I remember seeing his shocked face at the results, and then the retribution began. Hell hath no fury than Mugabe scorned!

He had NOT rid himself of the opposition! Blaming the whites whom he accused (rightly) of funding the opposition party, he set about holding the first of his rigged elections -- so easy to do when the very chiefs of police were party members -- and started removing all whites from the land. It's an old adage in Africa that who controls the land has the power.

Many ask, "What can we do?" and the answer is, nothing! Unless the people rise up against him as they did with Milosevic, nothing will work. Why? He has the guns, hijacked all the food aid to give to his party members only, so there is only one alternative: to go to the neighbours to put pressure on him.

However, Mbeki, arguably the most powerful African president and closest and strongest of neighbours, is in an invidious position. If he castigates Mugabe his own party will disown him; he has the same problem in South Africa. If he supports Mugabe openly, his country will fall into the same chaos, as his people will take it as a carte blanche license to drive out all the farmers there. So he, too, invokes a "quiet diplomacy" policy, hoping that people will see the failed land grab for themselves. The tragedy is that so many innocents have to sacrifice their lives before anything happens. I believe that they have not yet reached rock bottom.

Skye Hirst
Camden, ME

Paulo Freire in writing about the oppressed spoke about how when the oppressed are free of their oppressor, they must become oppressors unless they have learned about the traps and ways they have learned from their oppressors how to be good at it. Once free, the fears of ever being oppressed again take over. It's a terrible cycle. To stop this cycle, much strength is needed that comes from the powers within loving. It can be called upon, with reaching for that source of strength the Zimbabwe people have to survive, to peacefully stand together in force against this regime knowing that theirs is a greater force than all the fear and darkness this poor human being brings onto himself and his nation. Thank you so much for the courageous reporting. It has inspired me all day in thinking, how can I help? What do I know that could be of use? There are places where the people within the country have successfully overturned such evil leadership without enormous chaos and bloodshed. I hope someone in Zimbabwe is receiving all this concern and can use it to strengthen their resolve.

Olympia, WA

On Tuesday evening I sat down in anticipation, excited by the prospect that the Frontline episode on Zimbabwe would help me to organize the various clips of information that I had already acquired from other halfhearted reports on a country a half a world away, as well as provide a value adding source of information to which I could better understand how the situation has come to be. Unfortunately within the first minutes of the program my expectations were quickly extinguished, realizing that the basis of this piece relied on nothing more then a one-sided opinion, in no means better then watching CNN or Fox News report on the topic. It is not to say that I do not believe the content of the material that I saw, for during my work in Malawi I met firsthand many Zimbabweans with similar stories. My true concern with the Frontline report was that it in no way gave the viewer an opportunity to make an individual judgment, but rather started out with an immediate one-sided view of a situation that has been escalating for 20 years.

If Frontline was in fact truly committed to addressing the current problem in Zimbabwe they would have provided better background information on how the situation has come to be. For I do suspect that this was a classic case of a good idea(to someone) that simply went wrong and has intensified to the current problems that Zimbabwe is now experiencing.

Like I had mentioned my knowledge on the depth of Zimbabwean history is limited, however I do know that social and classist struggles have played a large part in the governments' rationale for such measures and again I do believe that the original motivations for such measures did have good intentions for the mass of the Zimbabwean population. And although those intentions may now be outweighed by elite individuals' demand for continuing power Frontline's failure to provide that basic background knowledge of the situation lead to a report that simply spoonfed another's interpretation, rather then allow for individual viewers to make their own conclusions.

It is without a doubt that either report route Frontline would have chosen would have ended with similar impressions from the viewer, however in spoonfeeding interpretations rather then providing actual knowledge Frontline is no better then the conventional media that the majority of Americans and westerners have allowed themselves to be subjected to.

As a appreciative viewer of the majority of Frontline's more unconventional and informative reporting I hope that you take this these words to heart for there is nothing that we need less then another fearmongering media source to stupefy viewers ability to make independent decisions.

While the nation has been destroyed, we Zimbabweans must sacrifice and fix it. Zimbabwe does not need expats and colonialists to fix its problems. The arrogance of the expats is stunning.

Sonoma, CA
I just happened to be flipping the channels to see what was on TV last night. I never expected my soul to be changed so much from this program about Zimbabwe, and I am so glad to have flipped to PBS, and that PBS does this kind of show. And I must say that I came to this site to find out how I can help in some small way. I don't know how to but I am going to try to find a way to help the people there. While watching the show I heard one of the people who had just been put in one of the trucks to be sent back to Zimbabwe say, "this is torture," and my heart just really sank. I cannot believe this is happening to them. I cannot understand it, why Mugabe has let his country become so sad. One of the other posts here says that Mugabe gave the land to his friends and relatives. Instead, I wish he would give it to the people and they could grow their country back. But, of course Mugabe doesn't seem like he is going to change. I hope he is not in power for much longer.

I guess I have reacted so strongly to this news because I just can't believe these things are happening to the Zimbabwe people. If I could stand up in front of Mugabe, then I would say, "How can you sleep at night when your country is dying? What would your mother say to you? Please, find your heart. Do what is right to save all the people of Zimbabwe."

Grand Prairie, TX
After watching the program I was so heartbroken. I was last in Zimbabwe 5 years ago and thought things were bad; they were not what they are today. My heart bleeds for the people of Zimbabwe and I pray that an end comes to this, and as a previous comment stated, if Zimbabwe had oil Bush would be there right now.

Mary Garcia-Wood
Dallas, TX

Such reporting as this should be requisite viewing at all UN meetings. Whilst political leaders around the world continue to espouse equality, the cries of those who suffer remain unheralded. Collectively we've more than enough human, financial and political resources to eradicate such suffering. Those of us who can, must, participate in this effort.

Bremerton, Washington
Truth TV. The courage of Bloom and Herrman is so much more than commendable.
Risking discovery, prison, even worse to bring us this story. It makes me wonder if Mugabe gets Truth TV. Thanks PBS I'm a long-time contributor.

Reggie Smith
Charlotte, NC

Before viewing this I was totally opposed to the U.S. going into other countries and ousting tyrant dictators or goverments, especially after Iraq debacle. Now I am not so sure I feel that way. Usually, when a foreign country acts in a way contrary to our policy we could enforce economic santions. With Zimbabwe's economy already in ruins that would be useless. If the U.S. still has a poilcy regarding overthrowing governments Mugabe should be at the top of their list. Too bad we have the Iraq situation going on because no U.S. leader will ever be trusted again in regards to overthrowing a foreign government regardless of how corrupt they are. Sad to say, things won't change soon unless Mugabe dies or after a bloddy civil war.

Ithaca, NY
Thanks to PBS for screening such an informative documentary. It was great to get an in-depth analysis and update of the situation in Zimbabwe. In my opinion, Mugabe did not change at all. Mugabe has always been an egomaniacal dictator, ruling his party and the country with an iron fist. Rewind and consider the Matebeleland massacres of the 1980s - they are consistent with the repressive methods his regime uses to deal with dissent or opposition.

There are comments above that question the ability of Africans and black people in general to fend for themselves ("black civilization"). I start by applauding your dropping the shackles of political correctness and expressing your opinion. Then I'll attempt to answer your questions (though they seemed to be rhetorical) with Zimbabwe in mind and add my 2 cents to the discussion:

Mugabe was pretty much supported by Britain towards the end of the struggle for independence. (The Lancaster House agreement, during which land redistribution was the issue that was most topical, come to mind.) He seemed less radical and accomodating than others like Joshua Nkomo who were also involved in the war but were more concerned about economic independence.
After he assumed power, he went on a seven-year rampage - a campaign of terror and genocide in a region that opposed him and supported what he called "dissidents". During this time he was paraded as the quintessential African leader, worthy of foreign aid and support.
Now that he is meeting with dissent yet again, his claws and fangs are out and sharpened. The only difference is that this time it seems worthy of international criticism. It is at this time that sanctions have been piled upon the man and the country indiscriminately (since you can't separate one from the other sometimes).

Criticism where it's due:
- us Zimbabweans have been docile in as far as giving Mugabe the boot is concerned. I recall leaving my house angry and willing to join country-wide demonstrations in 2002-3. I also recall going back in with my tail between my legs after seeing army helicopters and tanks being paraded over and down the streets of Harare in a bid to (successfully) discourage would be demonstrators.
- Britain's hands are not clean either, regardless of how hard and how often you try to wash the stench of Mugabe off them. When he served the British interest, Mugabe was the "blue eyed boy", but now that he bites the hand that fed him....

Is it therefore just an issue of those Africans being at it yet again? Is it an issue of economic self interests clouding how and when the international community responds to dictators? Is it an issue of failure by a people to stand up to an oppressive regime?

What I'm saying is that it's easy and convenient to look at one side of what appears to be a coin. e.g. Mugabe changed from being a great statesman to a dictator. It's not that easy - when you look at different sides of the story, you'll realize that it's not really a coin but a more complicated sphere - a globe...

Boston, MA

The documentary was great. I hope many people had the opportunity to see it since other US news programs do not cover world news whatsoever. I read many people's reactions and their outrage that the US is not helping Zimbabwe and sending aid, and though in no way am I praising the US government, I find the critiques against it hollow. Zimbabwe is not the only country in the world plagued by corruption, civil strife, genocide, and a deteriorating economy. Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Nicaragua, Afghanistan, Tibet, Somalia--the list is almost endless. All these countries need aid and help but it is impossible to help them all. How is one to choose one country to help? It is impractical to disperse the aid throughout them all and yet by aiding one country we are criticized of neglecting another. Just another view on the subject of aid.

naples, florida
Thank you for the well done piece on Zimbabwe. I'm currently waiting for temporary work papers to allow me back into the country. I was there just recently and in 2004 serving the people as a medical missionary in the rural bush. I'm saddened by the lack of hope but I truly understand. AIDS, the economy and hunger have devastated these people, not to mention the goverment situation. We must not forget or put on blinders. There are American's and others who care but it will take a miracle to put some peace back into this land! The Zimbabweans have great faith and I pray they can be restored.

Gary Carroll
Highland Park, Michigan

I do not understand why the people take such cruelty from this has-been freedom fighter, aka dictator, emperor. People of the world and country, please stand up to this man. We must remember he's human with all the weakness and fragilities we pocess. He can be overcome!

New York, NY
What I saw in there was a dictator who has gone mad for power. This show was very informative. I only hope that the U.N. will wake up after this documentary and do something so that people here get some respect. If nothing is done, we do not need U.N. any more. U.N. will lose its place, which already has become increasingly unpopular in the modern world.

Harold Cope
Scottsdale, AZ

As a volunteer for the International Executive Service Corps, my wife and I lived under the thumb of Monster Mugabe for 2 years. Several white farmer friends of mine were beaten and killed on Mugabe's "white farm stealing." I was so distraught I was emailing Senator McCain of Arizona weekly pleading for our govenrment to do something to stop the brutallity of this monster against his own people and any opposition to his "thug regime." The Senate finally passed the "Zimbabe Demoarcy Act of 2000" which was to stop our crazy USAID from continuing to funnel (which we still are) money that directly and indirectly supported his terror agains his own people. Unfortunately the Bill failed in the House. Mugabe is a terrorist through and through.

I found it necessary for my own safety to leave that beautiful country as Mugabe and his rubber stamp parliament passed a law which allowed Mugabe to read all emails two and from Zimbabwe. I transferred back to Zambia just ahead of his "thug policmen." I understand our country has no strategic interest in Zimbabwe so it falls below the radar scope of our State Department. I would point out Somalia was below the radar scope for years but now our State Department is concerned it may be the next Afganistan. There was at one time a band of mercenaries that were to "take out Mugabe." I wish they had for the sake of Zimbabweans and that beautiful country that has been raped and brutalized by mad man Mugabe. I have spent over 40 years off and on in sub Sharan Africa and studied its checkered history since independence in 1960. Mugabe is the worst of the worst of "big man" Black governments and should be dealt with by our country in a most severe manner.

Athens, Georgia
While the feature could only scratch the surface of an unfolding tragedy, I thank Frontline for drawing attention to it in an insightful presentation. As a former resident of Zimbabwe who has relatives living there, I can attest to its accuracy.

You also have to think about people using this report for their own political benefit. I am from Zimbabwe, born and raised. Yes things are not well but there are nicer places than what you saw and to be honest, even in 1997 backwards, there were still places not so good looking in Zimbabwe. We have to look at the situation both ways and stop blaming one person when most of you are the ones sabotaging the country.

San Francisco, CA
Did it come to any surprise why Zimbabwe is in a state of disrepair? Mugabe is a Marxist plain and simple. As long as people in Africa think along those lines the entire continent will be impoverished. The only way out of poverty is the establishment of property rights. It's one of the oldest rights in civilization and the foundation for all other rights. Allow the farmer; manufacture, merchant and the rule of law to grow and keep the state to a very limited role and you will see a new Africa.

Lynn Bryant
Tyler, Texas

I wonder if a program combining this sort of review of governance with our neighbor to the south might not be in order. The corruption strikes closer to home yet impacts your viewers to a much greater degree. During this time of immigration debate, no one seems to have the fortitude to force a review of why Mexico's political system has been so disfunctional for so long.

Charles Wintle
Montreal, Canada

After watching the show I realized this is yet another failed African country that will be expecting handouts from the West. I think a military intervention is needed, led by the US, to restore hope to this country. Mugabe should be taken alive and put on trial at the world court in The Hague for crimes against humanity. But why is the populace so placid? When will enough be enough before there is a common uprising? The story is definitely not finished in Zimbabwe.

Birmingham, AL
People in such need and under such hardship. A very moving story.

Grover Mims
Winston Salem, NC

I want to thank you for having the courage to tell the truth about what is happening in Zimbabwe. The first time I traveled to Zimbabwe, some 10 years ago, one U.S. dollar equaled seven Zim bucks.Today it is over 90,000 Zim bucks to the dollar. Robert M. distroyed his country because he realized he was going to be voted out of office. The worst thing about all this suffering is that the U.S. goverment put him in office. Now we will not lift a finger to help the Zimbzbwe people. Other African leaders will not speak out because they may use his "land reform" system in the near future. South Africa is already looking at a similar plan.

Boston, MA

I was in Harare in 2005 and witnessed things that would be neither tolerated or tolerable for American citizens. The morale in this beautiful country has faltered and is disappearing in the face of hunger, AIDS, and the myriad of consequences caused by Mugabe and his minions. Write your congressman, write the president, hold the media responsible for not telling us about what is truly going on in this country. Having seen it firsthand and realizing just how much is being covered up in our country, I feel both ashamed and frightened of the many other things that one knows must be happening in other parts of the world and yet are not being reported. They are a beautiful people who are struggling for survival. Those who can cry out about these atrocities should.


This story is very heartwrenching. I met a music group in 1996 at our Festival International de Louisiane, back when I used to live in Louisiana. That singing and dancing troupe is none other than Black Umfolosi. Black Umfolosi is of course out of Bulawayo, Zimbabwe. They are so wonderful. Their dance is so atheletic and their singing so harmonious. They are like that South African group Ladysmith Black Mambazo, only better!!! Watching this story on PBS tonight (what I caught of it), caused me to wonder and worry about my friends I met and their families. I'm now worrying if they are ok there. I'm also hoping and praying that they are still all alive and not being abused so badly. The news of this hurts me deeply. I'm in tears now. I, like I'm sure so many other people, would like to know how did Mugabe get so evil and relentless in the first place? Did he start out with a hidden agenda and was evil to begin with? Did he become involved in some sort of witch craft? Does he have Alzheimers? Is he really senile? I think from the start of his political career he (Mugabe) had a very hidden agenda to be a rutheless dictator but, it was all so subtle, so subtle. Rise up!! My African brothers and sisters. Fight back!! Get strong!! Stay strong!! Fight back!! Whatever y'all do just do not give up!! DO NOT GIVE UP!!

San Diego, CA
The presentation was sad, but ultimately an unsatisfying look at a tragic situation. Many questions were asked, but answers were mainly emotional appeals. It is sad that Ms. Bloom had to enter as a journalist, but the interview with the woman in the bright green dress and headdress made me wonder why, if everything is so awful, how that film was able to be taken out of the country? I've read the comments of others, and I am under no illusions as to why the U.S. does not get involved: we have no interest in a country that does not have assets to exploit. If that means oil at this point, so be it. It is far more than that, I fear, going to the utter lack of order throughout the entire continent, making for an impossible business climate. And Mr. Joblin's comments from Ft. Worth are well worth noting.

Victor Manning
San Pablo, CA

When ever a new leader replaces an oppressive one, through whatever means, he/she should realize that they are stewards of the people.They have been given the privilege of managing the peoples' affairs for their benefit.That leader should forget themselves, and consider and act on what is truly best for those whom they serve,the people. A trite observation,but if neglected, it will cause that leader to follow in his predecessor's footsteps.Would that the United Nations had some effective way of removing such leaders as the Robert Mugabes of this world from power when the people cannot.

Camas, WA
How sad to see the country where my husband was born and raised, our children born and where I lived for 12 years become such a wasteland for that dictator. The farm we managed was trashed and looted and we lost everything. My husband knew no other home and had to come to the U.S. He is very grateful for that opportunity but our hearts are still in Africa.

I don't know where it will all end. I don't know how they will fix it. I do know that Mugabe must go and his regime with him. Who will fill the void? I don't know. I just know that all four of our hearts long for home, but not the violence, intimidation, political torture, deaths of farmers and local people, etc. I miss my family who are forced to stay there due to not being married to an American as my husband is.

The world only sits and watches the country go down to ruin. Maybe that is what needs to happen. The people of Zimbabwe do need to learn to stand up for themselves in these African countries. There has never been a major change anywhere in the world that people did not die for it. Change must come.

James Saldana
Chicago, Illinois

I was in Zimbabwe in 1998 to help build a school in a small rural community. The country had so much promise as it seemed to be thriving at the time. Apparently much has changed since then. I still have friends there. This is truly sad.

Santa Rosa, CA
I was born in Zimbabwe (Rhodesia) and it fills my heart with anger and frustration at how Mugabe and his people have so successfully destroyed a once-great country. Zimbabwe had the potential to be different from other former colonies but Mugabe has shown that the thirst for power once again destroys everything. He has fallen for the same lust that has reduced so many countries to failure. Too bad there is no oil in Zimbabwe or the USA might get more interested in "regime change" there.

Thank you for bringing Zimbabwe to the attention of the world. I am one of many families disposed on our farm and awaiting justice and compensation. No support should go the current government in any form. Why reward tyranny?

Angelena Smith
Chicago, Illinois

I am amazed!! I visited Zimbabwe in 2004 and what a difference. We were scrutinized by the military but welcomed by the natives. The economy was not great but certainly not as it is today. My heart goes out to the people and although I am not wealthy I will do all I can to help.

Michelle Jones
Walker, Michigan

I am sickened by the way people are treated in Zimbabwe! I take great comfort in knowing that in the end Mugabe will not prevail -- God will and Mugabe will not have his entourage to save him! His imprisonment will be forever and I hope the people of Zimbabwe will take great comfort watching him suffer for eternity! What I do not understand is why the U.S. does nothing to help these poor people! Of course, I know the answer! Zimbabwe, nor Africa for that matter have no oil to offer our government, who thinks about nothing but power to begin with!

Birmingham, AL
Excellent show; thank you.

Enid, Oklahoma
I am going to try to explain as best I can why I believe he changed...
I am from Zimbabwe, was born there and grew up there. I left in 2002 when my family had their farm forcibly taken away by the government without compensation. The reason to correct imbalances in land ownership between black and white folk.

Mugabe, during the Sixties and Seventies was trained along with many by the Chinese and shown that Communism was the way foward. At independence in 1980 from Rhodesia -- a former British colony now a break away since declaring UDI (independence) -- the country had democratic elections and Mugabe became Prime Minister and his ally Nkomo (from a different tribe the Ndebeles) became President. In the early 80s, Mugabe started to see that the Ndebele were starting to threaten his power and had a group of soldiers trained by the Koreans and named the 5th Brigade. What ensued was a bloody masacre of tens of thousands of Ndebeles, all because Mugabe felt his power was threatened. After this, things settled down and all was well. In 2000 the government put foward a referendum to change the constitution of the country, which would have brought more power to the Mugabe government, this referendum/vote was a unanimous No!!! Which I believe angered him because the people spoke against him.

At this time there is a small but growing opposition to Mugabe, the Movement for Democratic Change MDC which to Mugabe is a front for Western oposition to Mugabe and sponsored by the UK, USA and white farmers. Mugabe decides to take the land from commercial farmers, huge minority, and give it to landless blacks, all this just before the presidential elections, saying that the whites stole the land and now he is giving it back the rightful owners. In reality Mugabe takes all the best land and distributes this among his ministers, friends family and gives the average black family next to nothing after elections, the government is broke already because of rampant corruption, no foreign currency because the country's biggest exporter tobacco is no longer grown. All the farms have been taken away from skilled operators and replaced by inexperienced weekend farmers who should have stuck to politics.

Where am I going with this, well Mugabe will play nice when all is going his way, but when it doesn't he is a ruthless dictator and will stop at nothing, because he changes the law to suit him, to stay in power , and will blame everything that is wrong on someone else. He is a coward like all dictators are.

Think of the charges he will face if brought in front of a court, genocide, corruption. Something the father of Africa will not do whilst he is alive.

Johnathan Brown
Savannah, Georgia

I was shocked to hear this about the country. It just shows how our own government fails to show us the "world news".

Ex Pat
Miami, Fl

Yet another case for bringing back Colonialism, the Third World is unable to take care of itself or its people without white Colonial rule.

New York, NY
"All that's necessary for the forces of evil to win in the world is for enough good men to do nothing." - Edmund Burke

Your documentary begs the following question: who are the good men and women on this small planet we live on and why do they do nothing?

For those of us ordinary people who want to do something, what can we do?

New York, NY
Where's George W. Bush when you need him? FYI the capital of South Africa is not Johannesburg.

Orly Zilkha
Austin, TX

I was a Peace Corps volunteer in Zimbabwe in 2001, just as things started to go bad. Everyone knew it was because of "the Old Man," but it was truly dangerous to say anything. I remember being frustrated at all the Zimbabweans who only wanted to leave, instead of staying and making the country better. Now I wish I'd helped them get visas instead of trying to start community projects that were meaningless in the face of the repression and disastrous economic situation to come. Frontline's report on Zimbabwe was gloomy enough, and it's amazing to think that's without mentioning the 40 percent HIV rate that is afflicting every Zimbabwean family there. I was there one year and personally knew many people who died of AIDS. The city streets are full of orphans and every cemetary is packed daily with funerals. Maybe a less oppressive leader will soon replace Mugabe (he's in his 80s) and give the poor wonderful people there some peace.

New York, New York
You were good enough to include the South African journalist's comments on the ineffectiveness of U.S. diplomacy in Zimbabwe.

It may have been more interesting, and more accurate, to explain the U.S. strong and consistent message regarding conditions in Zimbabwe, most clearly articulated in then-Secretary of State, Colin Powell's June 24, 2003 Opinion letter to the New York Times.

For those that admire a "nuanced", multinational approach, the proclaimed interest of the U.S. to work together with neighboring countries in southern Africa surely would bring smiles.

Perhaps more interesting to your viewers, unfamiliar with recent history in Zimbabwe, would be that around the same time Secretary Powell wrote this letter, French President Jacques Chirac invited Robert Mugabe to Paris for a trade summit, despite Europe's efforts to isolate him.

The BBC wrote of this: "Critics - mainly in Britain - suspect Mr. Chirac's invitation is motivated by France's long-standing tradition of wielding influence in Africa by supporting the continent's tyrants."

Seeing the utter despair depicted in your piece, one wonders how the whole country does not implode? Your piece offers no answers to this. Identifying the counties that lend support to this dictator, as the BBC did with France, would help in answering this.

Rather, we get an errant comment on US policy: if we can't drop bombs, we don't know what to do. How tedious.

As long as you put your politics before your subject, your grasp will always be beyond your reach.

Ithaca, NY
THANK YOU for this painful, critically important story. We hear nothing about Zimbabwe in the mainstream media. Why do I suspect that if Zimbabwe had oil, this administration would have liberated it long ago?

i could not help but think of the billions we have spent making and dropping bombs on Iraq when so many people here are desparately in need of food and help against this ruler gone mad - this is how one must see it - what else could he be? THE PRESENTATION ENDED WITHOUT COMMENTARY - YOU NEEDED MORE FOR CONTEXT.

Austin, TX

I sit in my parents' living room, on a visit that I am able to make at any time. With my mother, we watch in silence until my frustration keeps me from being able to sit still. I would like to think that I am somewhat aware of what is happening in this small world. But alas, I am reminded everyday that I do not know nearly as much as I should. I feel required to understand as much as I am able, because only then can I understand myself and this world I live in. I have been spending time, trying to figure out my calling in life, whatever it may be. I am never able come to anything concrete until the subject of humanity and my responsibility as a human to promote equality, is addressed. As a human, my brothers and sisters do not begin in one place and end in another. As an only child, I do not know what having a sibling is like, but I do know what it is like losing loved ones. I guess I answered my question, to what my calling is. I am unable to sit still and have peace in my head, when there are so many people that do not even have the ability to choose their own path. Nobody deserves to be kept down and tortured the way the people of Zimbabwe are. I do not know the history of Africa, but I trust what I watched on that video tonight. I will go home this evening and, as I know myself, get online for hours to research at least the past... years of Robert Mugabe's career and the people of Zimbabwe. I would hope that anybody who watched the video and felt moved would spread the word, as I hope to do. Thank you for risking your lives, whomever you may be, for your voice.

Deirdre Gedlitschka
Laurel, MS

Thank you for going under cover. My mother lives in Harare, a white woman who works hard, lives alone and can leave any day. She loves Africa much like I love Zambia where I was born. I want to return but am somewhat afraid. I have young children. I want to help people in Zambia and Zimbabwe but do not know the best way to do that.

If they had oil, our government would be helping them.

debra grauel
cincinnati, ohio

If the U.S. were true to its ideals, we could cooperate with the United Nations and intervene in tragic situations like this one and the horror in Darfur.

Why do we lack resources to help? Because, for unknown reasons our president lied our nation into unjustified aggression against Iraq, killing more than 100,000 Iraqis and several thousand of our troops. He incited terrorism in a country that, because of its dictator, had none. Of course his misadventure in Iraq left our soldiers in Afghanistan understaffed for their legitimate mission there. And now he threatens Iran as well.

I lived in Africa seven years, with three in Zimbabwe. It is a fabulous country well worth saving. Like us, it has a lying, torturing leader. As we neglect Zimbabwe, we may be turning our heads from a future that may come closer to our own future experience than we would like.

Spencer, MA
I appreciate this informative window into life in Zimbabwe today and admire the courage it took to make this film. We can all hope there will soon be relief from the suffering of all who live there.

John Joblin
Fort Worth, TX

I have always wondered where the seat of black civilization lies. Where are the mighty works, the grand accomplishments, the man-made wonders of these people? Racism is a beacon-cry for every black across the globe. "We must fight the white threat!" "Rise up against the Man!" But is white involvement beneficial or destructive? Do blacks across the globe need white involvement to realize civilization? To achieve lasting works? To become more than petty barbarians? To cooperate with each other for the greater good? To utilize technological advances within black culture and maintain proper order and flourish? I do not know the answer to any of these questions. I do know what I have been taught to believe by the American educational system. Do I accept what I hear? Do I trust in what is politically correct and comfortable or do I look at the big picture? The history of black culture, Africa today, the racial disparity in American prisons; where do these fit within truth? Bottom line: Sure is convenient to blame someone else for our problems. Wish I could.

Columbus, OH
I am moved to tears for my country once more. Words cannot capture the horror I feel when I see pictures of my countrywomen and men suffering under this disaster of a so-called government. The day of reckoning for Mugabe and his henchmen is coming. I just pray that Zimbabweans worldwide can rebuild our country once again.


Chagrin Falls, OH
It says in the Bible that the hearts of the people will turn cold before the coming of the Lord and this just confirms it. Not just in this country but throughout the nations you hear more and more of the hardness of heart and the corruption in all the governments. My daughter and her husband work in Swaziland and help with teaching abstinence and assisting in the orphanages where so many children have lost their families to AIDS. We need to scream and shout and pray that there is a revolution to overthrow these leaders who lead their people to such torture and destruction. The land in Africa is plentiful and the soil is rich for crops. To see and hear of people starving is downright shameful. May the Lord's wrath fall on all the wicked leaders who are causing this to happen to innocent men, women and especially children.

Perth, WA
All feelings and emotions aside, I am very curious in Robert Mugabe's drastic personality and leadership changes. Before analysing the situation I would need to know why he changed.


First Name

Last Name



Email Address

Your Comments

 You may post this

 Please do not post my name

 Please do not post this.

 Sign me up for the FRONTLINE/World newsletter

Back to top Back to Top