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Government insists diplomacy will be quiet on Zimbabwe

International Herald Tribune

The Associated PressPublished: April 19, 2007

CAPE TOWN, South Africa: The South African government said Thursday it would
provide no public blow-by-blow of its Zimbabwe mediation efforts.

Spokesman Thembo Maseka said it was vital to get Zimbabwean President Robert
Mugabe's government and opposition leaders talking and it would be
counterproductive to publicize details of the effort.

Southern African leaders last month named President Thabo Mbeki as mediator
in the Zimbabwean crisis - even though Western governments and domestic
critics, including his own brother, have criticized him for not being tough
enough with Mugabe.

When asked what advice he would give his older brother in handling the
Zimbabwe issue, Moeletsi Mbeki said: "I think the South African government
needs to show a lot more energy in dissuading Zimbabwe's ruling party Zanu
PF from brutalizing the opposition party."

"We need to send a message across to the Zanu PF that an opposition in a
democratic country has a right to exist and has the right to participate in
activities," the political analyst said at a lecture in Pretoria, according
to the South African Press Association.

Mugabe's brutal clampdown on opposition leaders earlier this month earned
international condemnation. Following that storm, the Southern African
Development Community named Mbeki as mediator. Mbeki has long advocated a
quiet diplomatic approach, saying public pressure on Mugabe was
counterproductive.
The opposition Movement for Democratic Change has said it welcomes South
African mediation efforts. South African spokesman Maseka wouldn't say
whether Mugabe had agreed to cooperate.

"The critical and urgent challenge facing all Zimbabweans is to take the
necessary steps to create an environment that would be conducive for free
and fair elections in 2008," Maseka told journalists after a regular Cabinet
meeting.

He said Mbeki wanted to deal with the Zimbabwe crisis "behind closed doors
and confidentially."


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Mugabe smashed dreams of Zimbabwe, all Africans


POSTED: 12:40 p.m. EDT, April 19, 2007

By Jeff Koinange
CNN

Editor's note: In our Behind the Scenes series, CNN correspondents share
their experiences in covering news and analyze the stories behind the
events. This week marked Robert Mugabe's 27th year in power in Zimbabwe.
Here, CNN Africa correspondent Jeff Koinange shares his perspective on
Mugabe's reign.

DAR ES SALAAM, Tanzania (CNN) -- I was 14 years old in 1980 and vividly
recall that historic day on April 18 when the southern African nation of
Rhodesia became independent Zimbabwe.

I remember the British flag being lowered and the Zimbabwean one being
raised. To me, it seemed there wasn't a dry eye in the crowd at Rufaru
Stadium in the country's newly named capital, Harare, previously known as
Salisbury.

Rhodesia was named after the British financier-turned-philanthropist, Cecil
Rhodes, and was a bastion of white settler rule with commercial farms,
producing everything from tobacco to maize. Africa's latest independent
republic rightfully boasted the title: southern Africa's bread basket.

Among the guests at the stadium that night was reggae superstar, Bob Marley
and the Wailers. Zimbabweans went wild as Marley took to the stage, belting
out his song "Zimbabwe."

Watching these events unfolding on my black and white TV in not-too-distant
Kenya, I thought what a great feat this nation had just accomplished.

Also impressive for me that night was the man speaking at the podium, the
bespectacled, articulate, smartly dressed and newly elected prime minister
of independent Zimbabwe: Robert Gabriel Mugabe.

His speech was like nothing I'd ever heard. His diction, impeccable -- his
command of the English language, inspirational.

Mugabe was the toast of his nation that night, and the envy of millions
across Africa. In the minds of most, he could do no wrong having inherited a
stable economy, a solid infrastructure and an agriculturally rich nation.

How wrong they turned out to be.

Mugabe cuts off 'nose to spite face'
Less than three decades later, Mugabe continues in power at the age of 83
years old despite squandering the post-independence inheritance.

In 2000, he ordered the invasion of commercially owned white farms -- what
critics say was a huge mistake. Those farmers who didn't get killed or
injured fled the country in droves.

The world cried foul -- in particular, Zimbabwe's former colonial power,
Britain. The United States chipped in as well, and imposed sanctions on the
government.

Mugabe's answer was to tighten his grip on power.

I was in Zimbabwe for those first farm invasions in April 2000. What I saw
was a country in a state of self-strangulation. One of the white farmers
being forced off his farm told me: "Mugabe's about to cut off his nose to
spite his face."

At least 12 white farmers were killed in the next few months. Months later,
the confiscated farms ended up in the hands of Mugabe's close allies. Few of
them had experience farming and the land quickly deteriorated to the point
of lying barren.

Mugabe also clamped down on just about everything and everyone he felt was a
threat, from lawyers to doctors to teachers and nurses. He even went after
the churches.

I continued to cover Zimbabwe's downward spiral, from the presidential
elections in 2002 that saw Mugabe defeat his opponent, Morgan Tsvangirai. It
was an election that was seen by international monitors as largely flawed.

I returned again for the 2005 parliamentary elections in which the
opposition lost badly, leading to deep divisions. Mugabe laughed off the win
saying, "No one can beat me, not now, not ever."

Some of our reports infuriated him and it was just a matter of time when
Mugabe would turn on us. In 2003, he expelled most Western broadcasters from
reporting within Zimbabwe.

"We consider the CNN and the BBC as enemy agents," was what Zimbabwe's
ambassador to the United States, Machivenyika Mapuranga, said as he was
being interviewed live on CNN recently.

'Millionaires go to bed hungry'
Zimbabweans have been fleeing their country across the border into South
Africa in large numbers.

The United Nations estimates there are now more than three million Zimbabwe
exiles in South Africa alone. That's about one-fourth of Zimbabwe's
population. Many more have fled to Europe, Australia, the United States and
Canada.

What Zimbabweans are leaving behind is a country spiraling out of control.
Inflation is the highest in the world -- at more than 1,700 percent. The
country's currency -- the Zimbabwe dollar -- is being printed so fast that
Morgan Tsvangirai, the country's opposition leader, declared, "Zimbabwe is
the only nation in the world where millionaires go to bed hungry."

Eight out of 10 Zimbabweans are out of work, according to the CIA fact book,
which profiles the countries of the world. Many can't afford to send their
children to school and life expectancy due to the onslaught of HIV-AIDS, as
well as the current economic woes, is among the lowest in the world. (Read
about Zimbabweans so desperate for food they eat rats)

Add to all this what happened just weeks ago: the battered, bruised and
bloodied images of opposition members who'd been savagely attacked while in
police custody.

Mugabe had managed with this single incident to turn his splintering
opposition into global heroes. Whatever Mugabe's intentions had been, these
pictures, Africa watchers say, had shown a gross miscalculation on his part
and a possible sign he may be starting to lose his grip.

Mugabe has not backed down, saying police have the "right to bash"
protesters.

Is this the 'end game'?
Some in Zimbabwe see these latest events as the beginning of the end for the
long-time leader.

"I hope these are pangs of birth for a new Zimbabwe and that this dictator
must be brought down, brought down by peoples' power," said Pius Ncube, one
of Mugabe's most outspoken critics, who is the Archbishop of the southern
Zimbabwe city of Bulawayo.

However, not every one believes this will happen.

Sekai Holland, a 64-year-old mother of two children and grandmother of 10,
was among the opposition leaders who were badly beaten.

"I really think that for people to assume that this is the end game is quite
silly -- unless efforts are done to ensure that Mugabe understands and
accepts that," she said.

Any efforts to that end would have to come from other presidents in Africa,
she said. "Unless that can be done, there is really no end game here. He
will continue to abuse until I don't know, Zimbabwe is sitting down because
right now we are on our knees."

Africa analysts say the future of Zimbabwe -- with or without Mugabe -- is
crucial due to the possible spillover effect across Africa.

"Zimbabwe is on the skids," said political analyst Moeletsi Mbeki. "The only
positive thing is that there is a bottom to the skids."

That bottom could be what some experts fear most -- that Zimbabwe, which
literally means "House of Stone," could come crumbling down to its
foundations.


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Portugal facing stiff resistance over plans to invite Mugabe



By Tichaona Sibanda
19 April 2007

Most European Union countries will likely boycott a summit with African
leaders set for Portugal in December if Robert Mugabe is allowed to travel
there, Newsreel learned on Thursday.

Reports this week suggested Mugabe was likely to be allowed to travel to
Portugal for a second summit between EU and African leaders. The summit has
been postponed the last four years because of a disagreement between the two
continents over whether Mugabe may attend.

Portuguese Foreign Minister Luis Amado said that the EU was now determined
the summit would be held in Lisbon in December, with African leaders united
that Mugabe should also attend.

But the MDC's chief representative in the UK Hebson Makuvise said Portugal
is in danger of failing to get the necessary support from other EU nations
for Mugabe to attend. Makuvise has already embarked on a diplomatic
offensive among EU embassies in London on an anti-Mugabe campaign and has
been told by diplomats that Portugal's invitation to the dictator would
weaken the diplomatic isolation of his regime that most European Union
states are trying to maintain.

'Portugal's position now is that African leaders are united that Mugabe must
attend but it's exactly the opposite with the European Union. African
leaders took a similar stance earlier this year and even threatened to
boycott the summit in France. But in the end they all turned up while France
was forced not to extend an invitation to Mugabe,' Makuvise said.

He added that EU states are united in their efforts to see to it that they
will not attend if Mugabe makes it to Portugal. And the Portuguese cannot
afford
to lose the support of its counterparts.

'It's a tricky situation for Portugal but the main thing is they cannot
afford to undermine efforts by other EU states to keep Mugabe under pressure
for human rights abuses. Only yesterday (Wednesday) the EU stepped up
pressure on Mugabe by adding five names of his deputy ministers to a list of
top officials banned from the bloc and expressing strong concerns about
human rights abuses,' he added.

The MDC chief in the UK said a statement by ambassadors of the EU member
states in Brussels also expressed strong concern at the rapidly
deteriorating human rights, political and economic situation in Zimbabwe.

'So can you tell me if these same people can turn around in December and sit
in the same conference room with Mugabe in Portugal. What would have changed
between now and December when everyone knows that Mugabe is immune to
change,' Makuvise added.

SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news


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One must support the EU for moral reasons (not!)

freemarket news
 
Thursday, April 19, 2007

Let us not forget that one reason of the fifty listed by the Independent last month for liking and supporting the European Union was its ability to unite and put pressure on bloodthirsty thugs like Robert Mugabe. Well, if not exactly put pressure, at least prevent them and their best friends and relations from visiting European countries.

As we have seen, this does not always work out, what with people not giving their full names when asking for visas and what not. The question of Mugabe himself coming to Europe has come up again.

A report by Africast says that the Portuguese Foreign Minister, Luis Amado, is muttering that the EU is determined that there will be an EU-Africa Summit in Lisbon in December and if that means asking Mugabe, so be it. He will be asked, given visa and welcomed, undoubtedly with all pomp and circumstance.

The EU, according to this, wants to carry on bilaterally with Zimbabwe in order to exert pressure (can’t see why they should bother as they have been so totally unsuccessful) but, as it has been made clear by Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, the South African Foreign Minister, that there can be no summit without Zimbabwe’s participation, the EU will have to swallow its objections.

Incidentally, recent rumours in various publications that the South African government was about to put some pressure on Mugabe or try to replace him by someone else, have clearly not corresponded to anything resembling reality.

The report is quite helpful in explaining the difference between bilateral and multilateral negotiations:

This issue in some ways illuminates two contrasting approaches to analyzing Africa’s problems: the one identifies internal causes as paramount; the other, external causes.

Usually, as here, bilateral approaches stress internal causes while multilateral approaches stress external causes.

The EU prefers, as a matter almost of principle, multilateral approaches, though, to be fair, those could stress internal causes a bit more with all African countries, especially Zimbabwe. Incidentally, according to a report in the Daily Telegraph, Robert Mugabe has proclaimed joyfully that he has managed to beat off another attempt by Tony Blair to turn Zimbabwe back into a British colony. The reaction of his audience (after the tumultuous applause died down) is not recorded.

Why is it so important to hold this summit, apart from the EU’s need to show that it does have a common foreign policy towards other parts of the world?

One of the main strategic concerns that is now motivating the EU towards holding this summit is the flood of illegal African migrants to Europe in the last few years and the eruption of rioting among African immigrant communities already in Europe.

Amado said the EU and AU were already working on a joint strategy to be ratified at the summit that would include a tripartite approach to the migration problem.

This would be: increased security to address illegal immigration; better integration of legal migrants; and more and better development aid in Africa (to reduce the push factor, presumably).

This does not sound very promising to me. Given the security situation across most of Africa the first one seems all but impossible, unless a huge security fence is built round the European Union, including its sea-shores. It would dwarf the Israeli security fence, so much disliked by the transnational great and the good.

Better integration of legal migrants has precious little to do with the African Union and not a whole lot with the European Union. Each member state has to deal with that separately, not least by working on definitions of national identity, something the EU actually dislikes and tries to undermine.

There seems to be no suggestion that trade, fishing and agricultural policies might be changed in order “to reduce the push factor”. So, we are left with more development aid money that goes to kleptocratic African tyrants, who then continue the wrecking of their countries, thus forcing more people to flee.

It is hardly worth undermining one’s moral standing over Robert Mugabe over this.


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Hundreds descend on Beitbridge border for COSATU demo



By Tererai Karimakwenda
19 April, 2007

Hundreds of members from the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU)
gathered at the Beitbridge border post on Thursday to demonstrate in
solidarity with the workers in Zimbabwe. COSATU acting spokesperson Patrick
Craven said this was the continuation of a campaign which was launched on
April 3rd and 4th this year, during the mass action stay-away organised by
the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU). He said hundreds of
Zimbabweans living in South Africa had also turned out for the event and he
hoped it would encourage many more to take part.

Explaining further Craven said: "It is one of the founding principles of
COSATU that we must act in solidarity with workers under attack." The
powerful labour group has also organised protests at the border of Swaziland
in solidarity with workers in that country who are under siege.

In Zimbabwe, officials from the ZCTU including President Lovemore Matombo
and Secretary General Wellington Chibhebhe, have been arrested and tortured
on several occasions as part of a government campaign to replace them with a
group more sympathetic to the ruling party. But the umbrella labour union
said they refuse to betray the needs of the workers and will continue to
fight.

The majority of workers in Zimbabwe are earning wages below the poverty
datum line. When they express their frustration by demonstrating, as is
allowed by the constitution, they are beaten severely and arrested.

SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news


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Arrested youth leaders dumped in bush near Marondera



By Lance Guma
19 April 2007

The leaders of a newly formed youth movement who were arrested on Wednesday,
were dumped in the bush near Marondera by arresting police officers. 5
leaders from the Zimbabwe Youth Movement were bundled into a police truck
after riot police violently broke up their rally at Huruyadzo shopping
centre in Chitungwiza. The youths say they were trying to commemorate a
betrayed revolution, which has seen the ideals of the liberation war being
forsaken by the Zanu PF regime. Collen Chibango the president of the group
told Newsreel how their national organising secretary Hentchel Mavuma was
severely beaten up during the violent disruption of their Independence Day
rally.

Mavuma, a former footballer who underwent an unsuccessful knee operation a
few years ago, was clobbered by baton sticks on exactly the same knee. He is
said to be requiring urgent medical attention. The entire top leadership was
arrested including Chibango, Vice president Sinduza Ndlovu, Information
Secretary Garikai Kajawu, National Organising Secretary Hentchel Mavuma and
Wellington Mahohoma the treasurer. Other reports say Sendisa Sandura a
member of the group was also arrested. By the end of the day the police had
arrested over 20 other youths in follow up operations, but they were
released on the same day.

Chibango said they were taken to what looked like Makoni police station and
locked up in a back room for about 3 hours. They were then put into a
Landrover Santana vehicle with civilian number plates and driven along the
Chitungwiza-Marondera road. He says after a 40-minute drive the police
turned into a dirt road by the side and stopped the vehicle. At this point
the youths were interrogated about their organisation and who was funding
them. The police also asked if they had any links to the opposition, the
Save Zimbabwe Campaign or the Zimbabwe National Students Union. It was only
after an hour of interrogation and threats that they were dumped in the bush
around 4am in the morning and left to walk back to Chitungwiza.

The youth movement issued a defiant message saying they will not be cowed by
the harassment and instead will be organising an 'all youth' convention in
which a strong leadership will emerge that will complete the 'betrayed
Chimurenga revolution.'

SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news


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Electoral reforms designed to favour ZANU-PF



By Tererai Karimakwenda
19 April, 2007

Electoral reforms announced in the state media on Thursday have been
strongly criticised due to government's failure to consult other
stakeholders and for tilting the playing field to favour the ruling party.
The state's Herald newspaper reported that the government has almost
completed the alteration of boundaries for Harare Metropolitan Province, in
preparation for the joint elections due in 2008. The Minister of Local
government Ignatius Chombo said the new boundaries would be gazetted soon
and a similar exercise would be undertaken in Bulawayo Metropolitan Province
and other cities and rural areas. The changes seek to increase the size of
the electoral constituencies in Harare and Bulawayo, to include rural areas
nearby.

Dr Reginald Matchaba Hove, director of the Zimbabwe Election Support Network
(ZESN), said it is their position that any changes to electoral legislation
should be done in full consultation with all stakeholders. This includes
opposition political parties and also civil society. He added: "What
government has done here goes contrary to what was agreed to in
Dar-es-Salaam at the SADC summit. The idea was for President Mbeki to level
the playing field before conducting elections. And if already one party is
setting the agenda and altering the odds then this raises suspicion."
Matchaba Hove stressed that President Mbeki be advised of these changes and
that he should strongly move to block them.

The electoral changes announced Thursday were approved at a cabinet meeting
on Tuesday. This was a day after Mugabe's cabinet approved the harmonisation
of presidential and parliamentary elections in 2008. But no other
stakeholders were consulted in the process. Critics believe Robert Mugabe
plans to scuttle any plans Mbeki may have. The South African president was
recently appointed as the key mediator on Zimbabwe by regional heads of
state at an extra ordinary summit in Tanzania. His task is to facilitate
dialogue between the political parties, to lead to free and fair elections
in 2008.

According to the Herald, Harare Metropolitan Province would be expanded by
incorporating some parts of Mashonaland West, Mashonaland East and
Mashonaland Central provinces. This means Harare's current 45 wards will be
increased to include more rural wards.
In Bulawayo, the change would be to incorporate some of the commercial farms
where resettled farmers live. Large wards in rural areas would be subdivided
to create more rural wards.

Matchaba Hove explained why suspicion over these changes is justified. He
said: "If we look at the March 31st 2005 parliamentary elections, ZANU-PF
won only one seat in Harare and that was Harare South which was a newly
created constituency which predominantly consisted of rural areas,
especially commercial farms that had been resettled."

One media report from South Africa quotes a government official there who
said President Mbeki would make sure SADC regulations on elections were
adhered to in Zimbabwe. But Mbeki has so far made no attempt to even
criticise the current government sponsored campaign of violence against the
opposition, or urged Robert Mugabe to put an end to it.

SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news


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'I can only see civil war'

Northern Echo, UK

ZIMBABWE is 5,000 miles away. When the media brings us images of its police
openly assaulting people on its streets, it can seem a lot further. But walk
through its towns and cities, and this southern African nation appears a
very British place. Buildings, street names and even mannerisms are
strangely familiar - like a scene from a nostalgic movie. Stay within the
commercial centre of Harare, the high-rise capital home to 1.6 million, and
you could be in any city in the world.

But this is a fragile facade.

"What should I do about Mugabe?," I finally found the courage to ask a new
friend over dinner.

It was early July 2006 and I was in Mutare, a provincial city in eastern
Zimbabwe. We had been enjoying drinks, good food and good company. But the
atmosphere changed. I knew it would, but I still had to ask.

My new friend, a large, shaven-headed black Zimbabwean, sighed and looked to
the floor. "You buy a gun, and I'll shoot him."

When I entered Zimbabwe, on the last day of June 2006, I had spent the
previous six months working as a missionary volunteer in neighbouring
Zambia. Perhaps I had become too cocksure - thought I had learned everything
I needed to know about Africa. If so, my stay in Zimbabwe was to shake me
from this belief.

After nine days, I could not understand how Zimbabweans survived from one
day to the next.

Robert Mugabe became Prime Minister of Zimbabwe on April 18, 1980. His
election, following the white minority rule of Ian Smith, was welcomed by
many in the West who saw him as a moderate liberal - part of a new
generation of democratic African leaders. Twenty-seven years later,
inflation stands at 2,200 per cent, unemployment at 80 per cent and Mugabe,
now President, has been accused of widespread human rights abuses.

Last month, two people were killed when police broke up a prayer vigil.
Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change,
was arrested and badly beaten.

I travelled to Zimbabwe to visit students I had been teaching at a Zambian
Christian adult education college. The great pity of Zimbabwe is it could be
a success story. It has huge expanses of good farmland and millions of
people ready to work and learn - the tragedy is there is no one to lead and
teach them.

Most white farmers were removed under a disastrous land reform programme,
replaced by Government stooges with no knowledge of agriculture. Zimbabwe
used to feed the whole of southern Africa. Now it depends on food aid to
feed itself. It went from bread basket to basket case. It also used to be a
manufacturing nation - rivalling South Africa in industrial output. Now,
anyone who can afford electronic items imports them.

I travelled to Mutare on an ageing bus, taking in everything I could of the
countryside through its large, grimy windows. I wrote in my journal:
Zimbabwe seems a very dark place - a place living in fear, where the
electricity is intermittent and people huddle in remote farms, hoping Mugabe
will never come knocking.

But it is also a beautiful place. There are green rolling hills for miles
and miles, nourished by rain many African nations can only wish for - all of
which only adds to the illusion of being back in Britain.

But the first reminder that I was an outsider came before I had even entered
the country. At the northern Lake Kariba border crossing, to be granted a
visa I had to promise I would leave the country within ten days, and not
sell my laptop or digital camera. I was glad UK passports do not carry the
holder's occupation. Mugabe does not think highly of British journalists. He
banned the BBC from the country entirely.

The border crossing also brought my first contact with Zimbabwean dollars.
Zim dollars, as they are known, are the most obvious example of the bizarre
double life the country leads. The official exchange rate - that offered at
the border checkpoint - was 100,000 Zim dollars to one US dollar. That in
itself is a fairly staggering statistic. I wrote at the time of a 'confusing
string of zeros'. But no one uses that rate. Everyone wants foreign currency
and, on the street, a US dollar brought five times as much.

With the largest Zimbabwean note at the time being the 100,000, this brought
practical difficulties. For one US dollar, I was given a stack of paper I
struggled to fit into my bag. Zimbabwe is not a good place for
wallet-makers.

A man I met in Mutare market told me: "My bag is heavier with money when I
go to market than when I return with my shopping." Another said the rate of
inflation was so high that a shop assistant's first job each morning was to
add another nought to every price tag. A wage agreed at the start of the
month was worthless by the time it was paid at the end. If you forgot to buy
a bar of soap in town on Monday, by Friday it would cost you twice as much.

In a hectic supermarket, a bag of apples cost me $1.9m Zim dollars.

Another problem is fuel. Most of Zimbabwe's petrol is imported, meaning it
comes through the government-controlled border points. It is then
distributed to government staff and supporters.

"The government has the fuel, the food and the jobs," a friend told me. "If
you are starving and the President offers you a bag of food to vote for him,
you will vote for him."

"What is going to happen?" I asked.

"I can only see civil war," he replied.


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Regional leaders pulled up for "non-response" to Operation Murambatsvina


JOHANNESBURG, 19 April 2007 (IRIN) - The United Nations (UN) Special
Rapporteur on Adequate Housing, Miloon Kothari, has described the
"non-response" by the African Union (AU) and southern Africa to the
"oppressive" Zimbabwean government as "shocking" and "unhelpful".

He was critical of regional leaders' reaction to the Zimbabwean government's
forced evictions during Operation Murambatsvina (Clean out Filth) in 2005,
which left more than 700,000 people homeless or without livelihoods. "The
recent clampdown on the opposition, the lack of transparency, has made it
difficult for us to track down those affected by the operation," he added.

The rapporteur said the government's promises to provide the deserving
displaced with decent and affordable accommodation in subsequent campaign,
Operation Garikai/Hlalani Kuhle (Live Well), had been a "failure".

Soon after the sudden eviction campaign in 2005, he and several other
international and regional human rights experts had warned that Zimbabwe was
"very, very close to a complete collapse of the society", but the region had
chosen to ignore the "early warning".

His efforts, as well as those of other agencies, to hold Zimbabwe's
government accountable for the consequences of the campaign since 2005 had
been caught up in a flurry of diplomatic manoeuvrings, led by the AU and
South Africa, who insisted on pursuing "quiet diplomacy".

Zimbabwe not alone

There were other countries in the region, and elsewhere in the world, with
the same tendencies as Zimbabwe, which were "cutting across a human rights
approach and not to give preference to the needs of the most vulnerable;
reluctant to pursue housing policies which were inclusive and underlined the
need for mixed neighbourhoods".

Kothari is in South Africa to look at access to and affordability of
adequate housing, land and civic services, homelessness, evictions, security
of tenure, women and housing, non-discrimination, and the rights of
indigenous people.

He said even "progressive" countries like South Africa were evicting the
poor from the inner cities in their attempt to "create world-class cities".
According to the Centre for Housing Rights and Evictions, a Geneva-based
nongovernmental organisation, up to 26,000 squatters living in inner
Johannesburg, South Africa, were suffering widespread human rights
violations as a result of the city's redevelopment plan.

"Countries are adopting a neoliberal approach, be it privatisation of
essential services, such as water, with the installation of prepaid water
meters, which creates other problems. Even in countries with strong human
rights commitment, such as South Africa, there is a big gap between the
recognition and the detailing of the recognition," Kothari commented.

"There is often contradiction between economic policies which necessitate
eviction, which leads to further segregation along economic lines, as
happened under Operation Murambatsvina, and even the recent evictions in
Luanda (Angola's capital)," he added.

According to the rapporteur, thousands of poor people in Luanda have been
forcibly removed to make way for new developments. Last year 600 people were
removed from poor areas on the outskirts of Luanda, near the official
residence of President Jose Eduardo dos Santos, to make room for the
expansion of a government-sponsored housing project, ironically called 'Nova
Vida' or New Life.

"Providing adequate housing is a huge challenge, and Luanda is an extreme
example. It was originally built to accommodate 400 or 500 people but it is
home to four to five million people, and 90 percent of them live in slums,"
he added.

Countries often cited the market as a stumbling block to providing
affordable adequate housing to the poor, said Kothari, because governments
were reluctant to intervene for fear of destabilising the economy. The
existing housing finance system in most countries did not meet the needs of
the bottom 20 percent of the global population, and was geared to the
lower-middle and middle classes.


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Zimbabwean Delegates Reject Proposed Mission



The Herald (Harare)

April 19, 2007
Posted to the web April 19, 2007

Michael Padera
Nairobi

ZIMBABWEAN delegates attending the 21st Session of the Governing Council of
the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (commonly known by the
acronym UN-Habitat) here, have shot down a proposal to send a mission to
Zimbabwe to talk to social groups involved in housing.

The delegation said money earmarked for such trips should instead be
invested in proper housing delivery.

UN-Habitat is mandated to promote socially and environmentally sustainable
towns and cities with the goal of providing shelter for all

Reacting to a presentation on the proposed visit to Harare by Mr Cesare
Otolini, the co-ordinator of the International Alliance of Inhabitants,
Bindura mayor Advocate Martin Dinha said it would be in the best interest of
Zimbabweans if the group sent a mission to build houses.

Mr Otolini had indicated that the group would come to Zimbabwe to try and
bring the Government, local authorities and social groups together with a
view to agreeing on the modalities of availing accommodation to people
displaced by Operation Murambatsvina.

But Advocate Dinha instead accused UN-Habitat and Mr Otolini of "celebrating
poverty", saying this was evident in the existence of slum settlements like
Kibera in Kenya, which, if removed, would leave the agency without work.
"Why another mission to Zimbabwe to support social movements? Why not send a
mission to build houses? You people celebrate poverty," said Advocate Dinha.

Zimbabwe Local Government Association president Cde Jerry Gotora echoed
Advocate Dinha's sentiments but urged the proposed mission to consult the
right people if it succeeds to visit Zimbabwe.

UN-Habitat under secretary general Mrs Anna Tibaijuka said Zimbabwe was far
ahead of even some developed countries in terms of the management of slum
settlements.

She said only 3,4 percent of the country's population was living in slums
while the figure in some developed countries was 5 percent.

Mrs Tibaijuka said some people affected under Operation Murambatsvina were,
in fact, victims of a skewed colonial system that outlawed blacks from urban
centres.

With independence people began to settle in urban centres leading to an
unplanned boom.

She said some of the victims had come to Zimbabwe as migrant labourers to
work on white commercial farms who flocked to cities following the land
reform programme and were then caught up under Operation Murambatsvina.

Making references to Kibera, she said Africa should be ashamed to have
people living in slums.

Mrs Tibaijuka said for the first time in the history of Kibera, the Kenyan
government had put a budget for slum upgrading.

Responding to concerns by the Zimbabwean delegation, she claimed her
recommendations after her mission to Zimbabwe following Operation
Murambatsvina had stood the test of time. She said the recommendations were
also meant to garner international solidarity on the situation in the
country.


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Briton in Harare jail fears torture in Eq. Guinea

Reuters

Thu Apr 19, 2007 7:22PM BST

HARARE (Reuters) - A Briton accused of plotting a coup in Equatorial Guinea
told a court convened at Zimbabwe's top security prison on Thursday that he
would be tortured if extradited to face trial in that country, his lawyer
said.

Former special forces officer Simon Mann, convicted by a Zimbabwean court in
September 2004, is fighting a bid by Equatorial Guinea to have him
extradited to Malabo to face charges of plotting to assassinate President
Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo.

Mann's lawyer said the Briton told a magistrate's court specially convened
at Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison on the outskirts of Harare that he
would not get a fair trial and would be tortured if sent to Equatorial
Guinea.

 "He denied that he was going to Equatorial Guinea, he denied that he had
anything to do with what was happening there and he told the court that he
would not receive a fair trial," lawyer Jonathan Samkange told Reuters.
"He also told the magistrate that he would be subjected to torture (if
extradited) and that the charges he is facing are of a political nature and
according to Zimbabwe's laws he cannot be extradited," Samkange said.

The court case was moved from Harare magistrate's court to Chikurubi, where
Mann is imprisoned, after the state said he was a "high security risk" and
could not be brought to court.

Samkange said Mann had also told the magistrate he was too sick to be
extradited. Last week a doctor examined Mann, and Samkange said he needed a
hernia operation.

Equatorial Guuinea's attorney general has said there is enough evidence to
convict Mann and he would get a fair trial.

Mann was accused of being the ringleader of the coup plot and is serving a
four-year sentence in Zimbabwe for trying to buy weapons without a licence.
He is due for early release for good behaviour on May 11.

Sixty-six defendants, arrested when their plane landed in Harare, served
less than one year in jail after pleading guilty to charges of violating
Zimbabwe's civil aviation and immigration laws.

Eleven others, including a number of foreigners, are serving sentences
ranging from 13 to 34 years in an Equatorial Guinea jail in connection with
the coup plot.

Former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher's son Mark, accused of having helped
fund the foiled coup, pleaded guilty to taking part but cut a deal with
prosecutors in South Africa, where he lived, to avoid jail.


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Remark at the Young Global Leaders Policy Roundtable

US Department of State

Secretary Condoleezza Rice
East Auditorium
Washington, DC
April 19, 2007

(9:45 a.m. EST)

Excerpt...

QUESTION: Thank you very much. I must start by saying that I'm from
Zimbabwe. Adam Mutambara (ph). I'm one of the opposition leaders. I want to
start by expressing our gratitude to the United States Government for
supporting us, in particular last month when we were brutalized, tortured
and arrested. But my emphasis today is to say we need more than democracy in
Africa. In other words, democratic existence is a necessary but not
sufficient condition for progress. We want Zimbabwe, for example, to be a
peaceful, democratic and prosperous nation. What we want in Africa is
African countries becoming knowledge economy driven, technology driven,
globally competitive economies.

What policies are we putting in place to promote technology transfer into
Africa, to promote free and fair trade between Africa and the U.S., to
promote value-added manufacturing in Africa? When we are successful,
Secretary, we would want Zimbabwe to be exporting IT products, technology
products to the U.S. In other words, we are saying where are we committing a
little bit of economic suicide on the part of the U.S. because we want to be
competing against you and also being your equals in the long run.

SECRETARY RICE: That's good. Yes. Yes.

QUESTION: Thank you very much.

SECRETARY RICE: Thank you very much. That's great. (Applause.) Well, first
of all, thank you for your courage as a member of the opposition in
Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe is a story that I think the world should be more focused
on. Particularly the countries of the region need to be more focused on what
is going on in Zimbabwe. The people of Zimbabwe I think did not fight for
independence only to find themselves in a position of repression. And so you
will have our support and we have spoken out.

I'd love to have Zimbabwe as a competitor internationally. I think that the
United States has always had a view that free trade is not a zero-sum game,
that in fact you can grow all economies through free trade. And it's why the
United States and this President, but really American presidents for decades
now have been strong proponents of free trade. In Africa in particular, we
have had programs that recognize that democracy is a necessary condition,
but not sufficient to be able to deliver for people. And so we've begun to
talk more and more about democracy and development.

We have through the African Growth and Opportunity Act made it possible for
a product to come into the United States. And I have seen in some cases when
I visited Africa how that's affected and helped promote small business. We
have been very involved in education in Africa which after all with an
educated population you can compete better in the international economy. The
United States has almost quadrupled official development assistance to
Africa over the term of this presidency because we believe that trade, aid
and foreign direct investment have to go together to improve people's lives.

Finally, with the Millennium Challenge Account, which I dearly hope one day,
if governance can be improved, that Zimbabwe would be a possible candidate
for that kind of program, we have been rewarding governments that are
involved in good governance, that are fighting corruption, that are
investing in their people with really rather large development compacts that
are -- you might be interested as members of -- some of you as members of
civil society -- that are actually developed between the United States, the
government and civil society as to how to help to alleviate poverty.

So I think in Africa, we've been working very hard to try to make the link
between development and democracy because you're right, democracies perhaps
even more than non-democratic forms of government have to be able to deliver
for their people because when people cast their vote, they expect that the
government is going to be able to deliver for them. And so this link between
democracy and development is very important.

Yes, yes.


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SA elite stalling change in Zim: Moeletsi Mbeki

SABC

April 19, 2007, 17:00

Moeletsi Mbeki, the deputy chairperson of the South African Institute for
International Affairs, says he believes the South African government is not
taking action on Zimbabwe because the crisis there does not directly impact
on the political elite.

Moeletsi was speaking in Pretoria at an African Dialogue lecture titled The
Crisis in Zimbabwe. Mbeki says the driving interest of our own dominant
elites is not affected by what is going on in Zimbabwe.

He says government's quiet diplomacy is a "do nothing scenario" which
impacts on the poor. He says the only element of South African society that
is affected by the plight and the near collapse of the Zimbabwean economy
are the poor in South Africa, who are then forced to compete with the poor
from Zimbabwe for jobs, housing and services.

Pressure from western countries
Mbeki, however, says the South Africa government is feeling pressure from
some western countries that are sensitive about human rights abuses in
Zimbabwe. These western powers, he says, had been party to the struggle
against the white minority rule in South Africa.

Mbeki says the South African government is also feeling pressure from its
own people as the great majority of South Africans have learnt about
dictatorship from the example of the National Party, which ruled from 1948.
He says South Africans have seen the consequences of dictatorship in
independent countries, and want something to be done in Zimbabwe.

Meanwhile, Claire Doube, the Civil Society Watch Programme manager, says
civil society has a role to play in convincing their governments to stand up
for human rights and democracy. She says South Africa holds the key in
unlocking the crisis, and therefore it is fitting that President Thabo Mbeki
has been mandated to facilitate the dialogue between government and
opposition in Zimbabwe.


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Zim: Boom, Doom, Gloom, Zoom?

Fin24

19/04/2007 09:14

IN THE "Money Matters" column in the Finweek magazine of April 5 by Vic de
Klerk (aka Trader Vic), the feasibility of a contrarian speculation on
Zimbabwe was raised, but not answered.
I hope in this column to give the informed outsider an overview that will
serve to filter a decision to further investigate - or not.

There are currently 82 listed counters and the stock exchange was originally
founded in the 1890s, so it's old and established.

Some have an element of foreign ownership by large multi-nationals, e.g.
Circle Cement by Lafarge, Delta by SAB and Barclays Zim by Barclays plc.

The only places for investors (private and institutional) to hide from the
ravages of hyper inflation are the property and stock markets, both of which
have been stable in real terms over the past seven years.

Daily trades currently average about US$0.8m. That is small by SA standards,
but respectable by African standards, and in any case both bombed out shares
and markets have a tendency to be illiquid.

Savage deflation

There is something very important to remember about hyper inflating
economies. In effect, in real terms, they inflict a savage deflation on
their populace.

Here are a few examples of the joys inflicted by the economically illiterate
octogenarian child of Mao:

GDP is down by over 50% since 1999. Inflation in February was officially at
1 739% and just released figures for March suggest over 6 000%.

Real disposable incomes are falling and there is declining Capacity
Utilisation (firms indicate 15-30%). Real interest rates are hugely
negative.

Unemployment of 70% (excluding the informal sector) is often quoted. There
is a large civil service, arbitrary price controls on certain products and
full exchange control.

Zimbabwe is cheap for good reason. In the face of problems, the government's
answer has been to throw money straight off the printing press at them. This
is unsustainable, not least because there has been no dollarisation, nor has
there been indexation.

Political will

Both of these were crucial to perpetuating hyperinflation in Latin America
in the 1980s. Up to now, the private sector has been amazingly resilient and
adaptable, but the public sector has been the opposite and is crumbling -
hence public sector strikes and an unhappy security forces.

The ministry of finance and the Reserve Bank have admitted the cause of the
problem and have some idea how to mend the economy. The Governor has even
suggested that the country only needs the political will to take the
necessary pain. But one year before an election, this may not happen.

If it doesn't, the problem will get worse. With hyperinflation, time is not
a luxury any politician can afford. The pressure is on and the world's media
is watching. However, we would like to caution that we are dealing with a
smart political strategist who has "Houdini" characteristics. Change is
inevitable, only the timing is unclear.

So how do recovery prospects look?

Like SA, it has a broad industrial base due to sanctions driving self
reliance in the 1970s. Zimbabwe is rich in mineral resources, with some of
the largest platinum deposits in the world, substantial reserves of coal and
gas, gold, chrome and diamonds (potential investments into the mining sector
could easily top US$1.5bn), but it would help if Bob went.

Scope for quick recovery

Agricultural prospects would be assessed from a low base but infrastructure
(dams etc) is in place. Growing conditions for sugar and tobacco are
excellent. The financial sector is well developed with stock exchange,
banks, building societies, asset managers, pension and insurance funds in
place. The work force is well educated.

The large Diaspora may well prove a source of redevelopment funds (may
number as high as 3m people). Currently there is scope to recover quickly,
but the longer the delay in squandering the opportunity, the more permanent
the damage will be.

How would the mechanics look? The official exchange rate in Zimbabwe is
Z$250 to US$1, the unofficial about Z$19000 to US$1. Foreign investors would
never contemplate an investment using Z$250, nor would they invest illegally
through the black market. They can however legally buy Old Mutual shares on
the LSE or JSE and sell on the ZSE for Zim$.

This gives rise to an "implied exchange rate" (OMIR) that at the end of
March stood at Z$21000 to US$1. Since this is a market-determined rate at
which foreign assets can enter and leave the country, it is the rate
foreigners use to value Zimbabwean assets.

However, since this rate of exchange is determined using equities, the
derived exchange rate will tend to be more volatile than normal exchange
rates. Company Law allows share buybacks in Zimbabwe. On the negative side,
hyperinflation can distort economic profits resulting in excessive tax.
Holding cash is suicide.

Buying 'the world'

The universe of stocks valued at just over US$1bn buys a Lafarge cement
plant, a monopoly brewer and coke bottler, two property companies, Barclays
Bank Zimbabwe, a construction company, a building materials company, Rio
Tinto Zimbabwe, the largest cellphone operator, BAT Zimbabwe, a monopoly
paper and pulp producer, a sugar refiner, a hotel group, two supermarket
chains, the world's largest crocodile skin producer, the monopoly dairy
products group, two tea estates and a leading regional seed producer.

Barclays Bank Botswana is valued at US$1bn and Barclays Kenya US$1.2bn. To
pay <$50m for Barclays Zimbabwe would appear a bargain.

In monetary terms, the economy at OMIR rates is worth about US$3bn, 30% the
size of neighbouring Zambia which has less infrastructure and a less
diversified economy.

On a turnaround, the currency (on an OMIR basis) would firm overnight, so
the key is to hold assets in anticipation of a change that hopefully will
otherwise hold their value in real terms. The upside is considerable - but
so too the volatility during the waiting period. Here are just a few
possibilities:

SAB's Delta is highly cash generative and virtually as dominant in its home
market as its parent, as long as current power cuts don't too badly destroy
productivity.

The irrigated barley crop is highly dependent on electricity. The group
secured an order to supply 16m beer bottles worth US$2.8m to SABMiller,
South Africa, also malt exports to the DRC worth US$1m was also secured.

CFI is a food producer from which Kevin James of the soon to be listed (on
the JSE) Country Bird hails. Turnover typically outpaces average inflation,
especially in the poultry division which contributes greater than 50% to
turnover. Stock feed constraints are a risk.

War chest of free cash

Main worry is the tight cash conversion cycle dealt with by borrowing.

Innscor (recall that Nando's when listed was an investor) had franchise
stores across Africa, and a war chest of free cash flow. It also is a croc
farmer and expects to be doing 100 000 skins by 2010.

Dawn Properties holds the creme de la creme of hotel properties. Earnings
power is very limited but capital uplift would be immense should
international donor support resume and a turnaround occur in the tourism
sector.

Nicoz Diamond is a dominant player in the short-term insurance market, with
over 20% market share. Negative real premium growth is destroying viability
of smaller players.

The claims ratio is likely to deteriorate with the worsening economic
environment.

Afdis - African distillers has dominant market share in its segment. It is
owned and controlled by Distillers (SA). Dairibord has a significant share
of its market. Hunyani, the paper producer, has a high export content (about
33% of volumes F2006). Circle Cement has a market capitalisation of only
US$30m, despite annual capacity of 450000 tons. Ludicrous.

Investable capital

In his article, Vic expressed the wish to see a fund formed to offer
exposure. I can say with confidence that there are a number available in
Europe, which obviously has a far deeper pool of investable capital.

A South African investor can if he/she really wants to, absolutely insist
that their adviser sources a fund to make such an investment, but must bear
in mind that it will not be regulated of supervised by the South African
FSB.

Any prospective investor into Zimbabwe should ensure that they receive
adequate expert guidance. While I have extensively drawn upon the work of my
colleagues (at Imara Edwards and Imara Asset management) in Zimbabwe, this
column absolutely must not be considered as advice.

Warwick Lucas is an industrials and quants analyst at Imara SPReid


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Mugabe reiterates threat to seize mines

Africa-interactive

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe Wednesday reiterated his government's
controversial plans to claim shareholding in privately-owned foreign mining
companies operating in the country, as part of a new wave of economic
empowerment for the majority blacks.

In the last seven years, his government has seized thousands of prime farms
from white owners and re-distributed them to landless peasants to
economically empower them.
The seizures attracted international rebuke, including sanctions from
Western countries, but Mugabe ignored the censure and went ahead.
He has now trained his eyes on foreign-owned mining companies operating in
Zimbabwe, from which his government plans to claim, again to economically
empower blacks.

Under the draft plans, the government will take either controlling 51
percent stakes or 49 percent shareholding in the mines on agreement with
each company.
Part of the shareholding would be paid for, but the bulk would be taken over
for free just as the farms.
"We are tired of being illegal miners," Mugabe said, referring to mostly
prohibited small-scale mining by blacks.
He said a bill would soon be presented in parliament to enable the
government to go ahead with the mine seizures.
The planned seizures have drawn criticism, and led to most international
investors to stay off Zimbabwe until government plans become clear. 19 April
2007 - PANA


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South Africa's Mbeki Lays Goundwork for Stabilizing Zimbabwe

VOA

By Delia Robertson
Johannesburg
19 April 2007

Last month, Southern African leaders appointed South African President Thabo
Mbeki their mediator to facilitate talks between Zimbabwean President Robert
Mugabe and opposition groups in his country.  The goal is to end the
political crisis in Zimbabwe, prepare for free and fair elections as early
as next year, and lay the groundwork for an economic recovery program.  In
this report from our southern Africa bureau in Johannesburg, VOA's Delia
Robertson takes a closer look at how the facilitation might work and what
its chances of success are.

Zimbabweans wondering what President Mbeki has in mind for negotiations in
their country need look no further than South Africa itself.  The blueprint
Mr. Mbeki will be working from is the one that brought an end to apartheid
in South Africa.

But Mr. Mbeki will not be seeking to impose the same final model on Zimbabwe
that South Africans chose.  Rather he will be asking them to use similar
methods.  This means having talks with as wide a range of interest groups as
possible, each with an equal standing, discussing and debating, giving and
taking, until consensus is reached.

Already Mr. Mbeki has asked the two factions of the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) for proposals, including on constitutional reform
and on requirements for the holding of free and fair elections.  And Tomaz
Augusto Salomão, the executive secretary of the Southern Africa Development
Community (SADC), has begun an audit of the Zimbabwe economy to determine
what will be needed to kick-start its recovery.

But Chris Landsberg, director of Johannesburg's Center for Policy Studies,
says that looming large over all Mr. Mbeki's plans is President Robert
Mugabe, who he says has, on four previous occasions, obstructed regional
initiatives to end the crisis in Zimbabwe.

"But since 2000 SADC in general - South Africa in particular tried to do
something - they have consistently offered something since 2001, they have
offered something in 2002, 2003 - we know about the significant offer in
2005 where South Africa even offered a loan package as much as $1 billion in
exchange for political concessions," he said.

Mr. Mbeki has set himself a tight timeline.  He would like an agreement
between the parties early enough to allow adequate preparations for an
election next March that will be viewed as free and fair not only by all the
parties in Zimbabwe and by Southern African leaders, but also by the
international community.  Landsberg warns that Mr. Mugabe is likely to
resist for as long as possible.

"I think what we are likely to see between now and next year's proposed
election, we are going to have Mugabe dragging out the Mbeki facilitation as
much as possible," he added.  "In other words, he is going to posture, he
going to play games, he is going to be too busy, he is only going to show
urgency to meet Mbeki and to formally participate at a time when he will say
it is too late to have the facilitation and to have elections.  One of the
things must give.  So he'll make a convincing case for the postponement of
the elections."

Landsberg argues that Mr. Mugabe will likely want to postpone elections
until 2010, the latest possible date they could be held under the current
constitution.  He says that this will enable Mr. Mugabe to delay identifying
his successor, because, he says, once this happens, Mr. Mugabe will lose
whatever control he has left within ZANU-PF, his own party.

"At some point he is going to anoint a successor," he explained.  "And, of
course, he is going to go for somebody who is likely to be seen by him as a
puppet.  And instead of that power working in his favor, people will then
say this is it, he is now weakened, then they will really push him out."

But other experts, such as Chris Maroleng of the Institute for Security
Studies in Pretoria, say that the confluence of events in Zimbabwe and the
region in recent months may be enough to propel Mr. Mugabe to fall into line
on the timeline set by southern Africa leaders for completion of the
mediation.

Maroleng argues that the octogenarian leader has never before had such poor
support within his own party.  Also that he has never previously had to face
a united opposition from southern Africa leaders, as he did last month in
Dar Es Salaam.

"If he yet again scuttles such an opportunity, this would create the
impression in the region that he doesn't take his counterparts seriously,"
he explained.

Following the Dar Es Salaam meeting, the leaders issued a statement that
expressed support for Mr. Mugabe and also called on western countries such
as the United States and the United Kingdom to abandon so-called smart or
targeted sanctions against Zimbabwe.  Maroleng says that it has become
common knowledge that in the privacy of the meeting, Mr. Mugabe was
subjected to severe criticism from the regional grouping.  He says their
call for an end to sanctions was a device to prevent Mr. Mugabe from finding
excuses to avoid or delay the mediation.

"The fact that they are distancing themselves from a western approach to
regime change is a clear indication that the southern African development
community is really preparing the groundwork for a mediation in Zimbabwe and
closing any exit that Mugabe has taken where he has [in the past]
consistently accused any mediator as puppets of the west or neo-colonial
lackeys of the west," he said.

Like all previous initiatives, the current effort will likely include an
offer that will allow Mr Mugabe to retire gracefully without the threat of
being brought on charges before the International Criminal Court or even
before Zimbabwe's own courts for crimes against humanity.

To satisfy Zimbabwe's opposition, Mr. Mbeki will have to find a way to
ensure that pre-election campaigning and the elections themselves are
overseen by an independent electoral commission supported by a peacekeeping
body, such as the Peace Commission which operated in South Africa in 1994.
In addition, opposition groups also want the support of southern African and
western observers.

Any agreement will also include an economic recovery program designed to
kick-start Zimbabwe's ailing economy as quickly as possible.  That will
require the support of the international community, particularly the
industrialized nations, and Mr. Mbeki will be keenly aware that this support
will not be forthcoming unless the agreement meets their criteria for free
and fair elections.

Mr. Mbeki has appointed two seasoned South African facilitators who have
already held several meetings with representatives of the two factions of
Zimbabwe's Movement for Democratic Change and with representatives of some
Zimbabwean civil society groups.

The facilitators will draw up a draft agreement, and when that is ready in
the coming weeks, Mr. Mbeki will want to present it to Mr. Mugabe. It is at
that point, that Zimbabweans and regional leaders will get their first
indication of whether or not Mr. Mugabe intends to fully cooperate with the
Southern Africa Development Community's mediator.


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Mbeki must first stop the violence

The Zimbabwean

(19-04-07)
Zimbabwe mediation
April 18, 2007 Edition 1
Allister Sparks

If President Thabo Mbeki is to perform his role as Southern African
Development Community (SADC) mediator in Zimbabwe with any chance of
success, then he must intervene immediately to stop Robert Mugabe's vicious
campaign of physical assaults aimed at crushing the political opposition
there.
Mbeki's role is to initiate dialogue between Mugabe's ruling Zanu-PF and the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), leading to free and fair
elections next March.

Well, the election is less than 11 months away, which means it should
already be in the campaigning stage. Competing parties should be registering
voters, naming candidates and holding election rallies. But the MDC can do
none of that. Political meetings are banned, some 600 prominent opposition
figures, including its top leaders, have been arrested on trumped up charges
and badly beaten. At least three have died and dozens have been seriously
injured. It is an appalling situation.

Mugabe's strategy is obvious. It is a crude attempt to cripple the
opposition, to shatter its organisational structure, brutalise its
leadership and so intimidate its followers that it will be unable to mount a
coherent election challenge. Then in the last few weeks, when foreign
observer teams start arriving, Mugabe can put on a show of openness to
enable them to proclaim the election "free and fair."

Mbeki should act now to stop this travesty. He should tell Mugabe that
unless he stops this brutal campaign right now, SADC will have no option but
to pronounce the elections as having not been free and fair. And he should
spell out the implications of that to Mugabe - that SADC would not be able
to validate his re-election or recognise his new government. It would be an
illegitimate regime.

Mbeki's defenders often challenge those who accuse him of being craven in
the face of Mubage's human rights violations and economic devastation,
asking what they expect the president to do. "Do you want him to send in the
army?" they ask, knowing the absurdity of such a suggestion.

Or impose sanctions, which would cause even greater misery for the suffering
population while the ruling elite would still have access to what resources
remain? Or close the border and cut off electricity supplies, which would
have much the same result? Or publicly condemn Mugabe, what Mbeki himself
calls megaphone diplomacy, which would simply make the old tyrant more
stubborn and vindictive than ever without achieving anything?

There is merit in these rejoinders, although I believe a measured public
expression of disapproval would have undermined Mugabe's strategy, which has
been remarkably successful, of deluding his followers into believing he is
waging an honourable struggle against an iniquitous campaign by Western
powers, led by US President George Bush and UK Prime Minister Tony Blair, to
punish him for giving white farms to landless blacks - and that all of
Africa is behind him.

Simply to have exposed that lie would have gone a long way to undermining
Mugabe's political staying power.
But my real point is that there is now an active, positive, effective thing
Mbeki can do, and that is simply to give Mugabe that warning that a
continuation of his campaign of brutalising the opposition will lead to SADC
declaring the election invalid. It does not have to be uttered loudly, or
even publicly. It can be done in the context of "quiet diplomacy." It can be
conveyed to Mugabe in private - so long as Mbeki says it in a way that
Mugabe understands it is meant.

What is more, Mbeki can do this without acting in his capacity as President
of South Africa. He need not expose himself to an accusation that he is
acting on behalf of the West or of white South African business, a
retaliation that would be typical of Mugabe. Mbeki can do it on behalf of
SADC, which has mandated him to act on behalf of all 14 of the member
states.

Moreover, SADC has its own clear criteria for holding free and fair
elections, and Mugabe must be told to abide by them or face the
consequences. And he must be told now.

I believe that could stop him in his tracks. There can be nothing Mugabe
fears more than being disavowed by his SADC colleagues. Being a cunning and
resourceful man, he would doubtless try to wriggle out of such a corner, but
if the warnings kept coming and if he knew they were seriously intended he
would have to respond. He could not risk having the election invalidated.

Not least, and political considerations aside, such a serious warning would
put an end to a lot of gratuitous human suffering. A lot of good, honest
people have already been grievously damaged in these batterings. I know some
of them. One is William Bango with whom I worked as a colleague at the
Institute for the Advancement of Journalism in Johannesburg, where he was
head of print training for several years. Many of our leading South African
journalists will remember him as a lively, witty, talented man.

Willie is typical of many who are trying to bring about change in their
devastated country and who are certainly not agents of some nefarious
foreign power. Willie joined Zanla, Mugabe's guerrilla army, as a youth and
fought in the chimurenga, the liberation struggle.

He was wounded and the movement sent him abroad to further his education. He
obtained a masters degree at Cardiff University's renowned Thompson School
of Journalism.

Willie left the IAJ to return to Zimbabwe and become news editor of the
Daily News. When Mugabe closed that excellent independent paper and his
military thugs blew up its presses, Willie joined the MDC and became the
spokesman for its leader, Morgan Tsvangirai.

I visited Willie at his home the last time I was in Harare. "I am a
millionaire," he told me laconically, "but I am poor." He spelled out some
of the realities of life in a country whose currency has collapsed to Weimar
Republic levels. His wife had received a call from an insurance company to
tell her an annuity policy had matured. The payout was enough to buy a
bottle of Coca-Cola.

Willie was with Tsvangirai on that watershed Sunday, March 11, when police
arrested them on their way to a prayer rally. He was with him when uniformed
thugs arrived in a truck and began systematically beating them up with boots
and iron bars, when Tsvangirai suffered a fractured skull and Willie himself
serious internal injuries.

The world was shocked to see pictures of the bedraggled opposition leader
with his ugly head injury. Now the photographer who took those pictures has
been murdered.

Willie was flown to South Africa for medical treatment. He collapsed on
arrival at the hospital. He underwent emergency surgery to remove his gall
bladder and repair other ruptured internal organs. He was lucky to survive.

Willie is back home now. I phoned him last week to ask how he was. He said
he was OK, but had lost 20kg, which is a lot for a small man. I asked if he
was ready now to pitch into an election campaign.

There was a hollow laugh in reply.
Sparks is a veteran journalist and political commentator.


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Govt to Comment On Zim Talks After Milestones



BuaNews (Tshwane)

April 19, 2007
Posted to the web April 19, 2007

Shaun Benton
Cape Town

The South African government would comment on developments in talks between
Zimbabwe's politicians when "milestones" were reached, government
spokesperson Themba Maseko said Thursday.

In late March, President Thabo Mbeki was mandated by the Southern African
Development Community (SADC) leaders to facilitate dialogue between the
government and opposition of its northern neighbour.

The decision was taken at a meeting of the SADC Double Troika and an
Extraordinary SADC Summit in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania.

Until milestones were reached in what are likely to be sensitive
negotiations, the South African government would not release statements on
the discussions, Mr Maseko said, briefing reporters on the sixth meeting of
Cabinet this year, which took place Wednesday.

He said Cabinet welcomed the decision by the SADC Heads of State and
Government giving President Mbeki the mandate to facilitate such a dialogue.

"The government, opposition and people of Zimbabwe must take advantage of
the goodwill shown by the SADC Heads of State and move speedily towards
finding a lasting political solution," Mr Maseko said.

"The critical and urgent challenge facing all Zimbabweans is to take the
necessary steps to create an environment that would be conducive for free
and fair elections during 2008."

Zimbabwe and the whole SADC region, explained Mr Maseko, need a stable
socio-economic and political climate that would enable the region to attend
to "the urgent challenges of economic growth and development of our
peoples."

Cabinet welcomed, and was encouraged by, the confidence placed by the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) in South Africa's ability to
facilitate a negotiated resolution to Zimbabwe's problems, Mr Maseko said.

Emphasising that President Mbeki and Government would not be making regular
utterances on the developments, because of the sensitive nature of the
negotiations, Mr Maseko said "these discussions [between the Zimbabwe
government and the opposition] must be handled as confidentially as
possible".

Discussions will continue to be held behind closed doors and there will be
no comments made on progress in these talks "until substantial progress has
been made", Mr Maseko said.

All South Africa's efforts "must be aimed at making sure we get all parties
[in Zimbabwe] to sit around the table and talk", he said, adding that South
Africa was looking at "full negotiations".

South Africa will also continue to talk to the two parties separately, he
said.

It could be expected that "all kinds of statements will be made" by the
protagonists in Zimbabwe during the course of talks aimed at developing a
consensus that will allow the country to move forward.


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Don't point fingers, SA tells Zim parties

Mail and Guardian

Pretoria, South Africa

19 April 2007 04:45

      South Africa's Cabinet has urged Zimbabwe's government and
opposition to stop pointing fingers at each other in public.

      "We are aware, as we move closer and closer to getting
negotiations on track, chances are that both parties would be making all
kind of statements about and against each other... I see no value in both
parties, the opposition leaders and the government, continuing pointing
fingers at each other," said government spokesperson Themba Maseko.

      Briefing the media on Thursday following a Cabinet meeting on
Wednesday, Maseko said President Thabo Mbeki would encourage the Zimbabweans
to express their views and critique each other "around the table" as part of
the process for preparing for full negotiations.

      Mbeki was asked by the Southern African Development Community to
act as facilitator, a responsibility the Cabinet welcomed.

      In the meantime, Maseko said the South African government would
not make any statements on the progress of the facilitation.

      "We'll handle these matters behind closed doors and handle them
confidentially and will not divulge any details about what is happening
between our government and the various protagonists in Zimbabwe," he said.

      "There will be milestones and when milestones are achieved there
will be communications." -- Sapa


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11 arrested for cross-border 'connections'

IOL

     April 19 2007 at 04:54PM

Eleven men arrested after a Hillbrow shop robbery are believed to be
part of a gang running stolen goods to Zimbabwe, said Johannesburg police on
Thursday.

Superintendent Lungelo Dlamini said the 11 were all Zimbabwean
citizens.

"It is believed that the 11 are part of a syndicate transporting goods
to Zimbabwe," said Dlamini.

The shop in Hillbrow was burgled on Wednesday night.

"They broke the shop's burglar bars and entered the shop from the back
door.

They then took goods valued at more than R120 000 and loaded them onto
three vehicles," said Dlamini.

Dlamini said that a security guard patrolling the area became
suspicious and called police.

"Police tracked the men down at the corner of Caroline and Banket
streets in Hillbrow," said Dlamini.

Three vehicles, as well as goods including blankets, electrical
appliances as well as groceries were recovered.

Dlamini said police were still looking for other men linked to the
robbery.

The men aged between 20 and 30 years old, appeared in the Hillbrow
magistrate's court on Thursday on charges of possession of stolen property.

"Their case has been postponed for further investigation," said
Dlamini. - Sapa


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Forty years in Zimbabwe's schools

BBC

A recently retired junior school teacher tells the BBC News website
anonymously about her career spanning four decades.

1960s: First job
 I am from a family of teachers.

My father was a junior school teacher, but in the 1950s he stopped teaching
to look for better-paid work in Salisbury, which is now Harare. He worked as
a foreman at a construction company so he could pay for all eight of us
children to go to school.

We lived on my father's farm where we were the labourers. We attended a
Methodist Church school to begin with. Afterwards I was at boarding school.

I did my teacher training at a mission school and my first job in 1965 was
right out in the rural areas. It was a rule that you had to take a posting
in the rural areas before you could transfer to the cities.

To be honest, I have completely forgotten my first day. I just know that I
wasn't scared at all. I was free as anything then and I was enjoying my
kids.

I didn't have to be strict, because children in the rural areas behaved much
better than those in the urban areas. They were not a problem at all. Much
more respect.

I remember that the accommodation was very poor - just simple houses built
with daga [clay] and thatched with grass. No running water.

During that time we taught about 30 children in a class - enrolment was very
low there.

Most rural schools were run by missions and the children didn't pay school
fees. Our salaries were paid by the government.

After a year I transferred to a larger boarding school where I stayed until
I got married and moved to a township near Salisbury.

1970s: Townships
Working in the townships was easier - bread was available to you, sugar and
everything - compared to the rural areas where you had to walk or travel by
bus to a shopping centre to buy all those things - which was a bit hard.

I taught at a government school where about 40 to 45 pupils were enrolled in
a class. Most children came to school.

Their school fees were about nine cents per term, so 45 cents for the whole
year - which was cheap at the time because the price of living was low
generally.

I was happy teaching there; the environment was good. The liberation
struggle did not directly affect schools in town.

We used to teach in English, although sometimes we'd mix English and Shona
as there were some who didn't understand English very well.

All the text books were in English, even those for teaching Shona.

1980s: Independence
Four years after independence in 1980 I transferred to what was called a
Group A school in Harare.

Group A schools had been only for white children; Group B schools had been
for black children.

My class was mixed and I taught white children for the first time. They were
good students except for Shona, which they tended to lose interest in.

Group A schools had always been better funded and equipped, and their way of
teaching was different too.

For instance, they used phonics and a lot of activities in lessons. We
didn't teach English phonetically, we used the look and say method.

Children also received milk in break times, although unlike the high density
area pupils, they had to pay for it.

The milk scheme was stopped altogether in around 1990.

The school classification actually remained in place for about another 10
years - with the Group A schools getting more money.

1990s: Bigger classes
Class sizes began to grow in the 1990s: I think it was because people were
moving to urban areas, building houses and so on.

At one stage, there were so many children in our area that "hot-sitting" was
tried - with morning and afternoon sessions.

However it didn't work out as teachers found it hard sharing classrooms and
text books with their colleagues.

A teacher's salary has always been low. But in the 1990s a teacher could get
by. The 1980s were the best when a teacher could live well and pay credits -
even during those first days we could survive as things were cheap.

2000s: Hunger
But life became really difficult on a teacher's salary from 2000. Teachers
went on strike recently and were given an increase, but many of us only
manage to pay our transport costs because our children overseas are giving
us money.

Hunger also became a very big problem with some children from struggling
families coming to school with nothing to eat.

Uniforms, which were never very expensive, are also a problem now.

More and more people have come to settle in the high density areas, where
the schools are very few.

Whether or not standards in education have fallen, I am not sure. I can just
measure by my class and my standard of teaching didn't go down right up till
the day I resigned.

I was very, very particular that a child could only go into the next grade
once he or she was able to read.

In my younger days it was very competitive among the teachers to see who
could get good results.

Teachers today don't seem very serious because you can just see them
chatting to each other during teaching time; sometimes they come in a bit
late, they don't even bother - to them it's nothing.

And if you don't have enough text books that is lowering the standards.

Will I miss teaching? No, after all this time I was very tired. "


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Mistrust Hampers Zimbabwe Mediation Effort

Institute for War & Peace Reporting

The South African president will have to work hard to persuade Zimbabwe's
government and opposition to talk to one another - and even to him.

By Takesure Dengu in Harare (AR No. 109, 19-Apr-07)

Mutual mistrust and suspicion remain the two key obstacles to a negotiated
political settlement in Zimbabwe, say analysts. A third challenge facing
South African president Thabo Mbeki, who is leading the latest mediation
attempt by Zimbabwe's neighbours, will be persuading the personalities who
will be involved in any talks to put their egos to one side.

Police attacks on opposition leaders and their supporters on March 11 led to
an international outcry against the deteriorating human rights situation in
Zimbabwe. The United States, Britain, Australia and New Zealand cranked up
pressure on Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe to give his opponents
breathing space to operate, and threatened more "targeted sanctions" against
the ruling egime's elite.

The traditionally lethargic Southern African Development Community ,SADC,
called an emergency summit in the Tanzanian capital of Dar es Salaam on
March 28-29 at which they privately made Mugabe aware of their concerns
about the TV images showing a badly beaten Morgan Tsvangirai, the leader of
the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, MDC.

Although the president tried to downplay this ticking-off when he reported
back to ZANU-PF supporters at home, and went on to secure endorsement from
the party's Central Committee as its sole candidate in next year's
presidential election, South Africa's Thabo Mbeki has said Mugabe was told
that what was happening in Zimbabwe was "not acceptable".

Mugabe's talks with the SADC were was followed by more arrests, beatings,
abductions and torture of opposition activists accused of bombing state
infrastructure and police stations.

SADC heads of state appointed Mbeki to mediate between the MDC and the
ruling ZANU-PF. Mbeki has set up a five-member team to consider how such a
negotiation process would work.

Last week, Mbeki met the secretary-generals of the MDC's two factions in
Johannesburg. According to sources close to Mbeki, he refused to deal with
them as separate factions and instead said he wanted to address them as a
united party, and then take their common demands to the ZANU-PF leadership.

A political analyst in Harare said the biggest problem facing Mbeki was the
abiding atmosphere of mistrust. ZANU-PF accuses the MDC of being a front for
the West, while the opposition party returns the animosity, and also remains
suspicious of the South African leader's credentials as an impartial broker.

"The MDC has always had problems with Thabo Mbeki since his earlier
involvement in the Zimbabwean crisis," said the analyst, who asked not to be
named. "They don't trust Mbeki, in the first place because they think he is
too close to Mugabe. Secondly, they don't trust his so-called 'quiet
diplomacy', whereby Mbeki has refused to openly criticise Mugabe's brutal
rule."

By contrast, a ZANU-PF insider told IWPR that "Mbeki is welcome to discuss
our challenges with us. We are neighbours. We help each other in times of
need."

Speaking on condition of anonymity, the party insider repeated the official
line that the MDC exists only to advance western interests.

"It is up to them to prove they are Zimbabwean. Why do they always appeal to
foreigners whenever there is a problem at home? They must renounce their
western roots and denounce the sanctions which are hurting our people if
they want to talk to us," he said.

He was dismissive of the MDC's demand for a new constitution, and refused to
say whether ZANU-PF would consider the issue if it were put on the agenda of
the proposed talks.

"They rejected a new constitution in 2000. Have they changed their mind now?
What are they proposing?" he asked. "It is their problem. Comrade Mugabe has
said the current constitution is sacrosanct and non-negotiable."

A foreign diplomat based in Harare, who did not want to be named, said there
was a need for compromise on both sides. He said it was wrong to declare any
issue out of bounds in a negotiating process.

"For the sake of progress and for the good of the country, Tsvangirai will
have to accept a face-to-face meeting with Mugabe. He can't avoid him," he
said. "If it means recognising him as head of state, he will have to. After
all Mugabe, has only a few months as president if he is defeated in next
year's election."

He said there was a chance that the South African president would be able to
persuade Mugabe to meet his nemesis Tsvangirai at some stage.

"If Mugabe has accepted that there is a crisis in his country and wants
financial help from SADC, he cannot afford to humiliate those trying to
help," he said. " Zimbabwe is unlikely to get help from the World Bank or
the International Monetary Fund so long as there is no acceptable political
settlement."

To sum up, he said, "These are the pressures on both leaders. They will have
to subordinate their egos to the national good. It would be unfortunate to
squander this window of opportunity and allow the situation to get worse
than it already is now, or the institutions of the state will start to
collapse completely."

The MDC says it might boycott next year's joint parliamentary and
presidential elections if no major constitutional reforms take place before
then, and if draconian laws like the Public Order and Security Act and the
Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act have not been repealed.

The party is also calling for fair elections under international
supervision, and for the opposition to be given access to state-run media.

Overcoming the gulf between the MDC's demands and the Mugabe administration's
refusal to budge presents a huge challenge to the South African leader.

"Mbeki's mediation skills will be put to the test," said the Harare-based
analyst. "He cannot afford to fail again. Nobody in the region wants this
crisis to continue."

Takesure Dengu is the pseudonym of a journalist in Zimbabwe


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Sino-Zimbabwe cooperation enters brand-new stage

Xinhua

www.chinaview.cn  2007-04-19 16:08:23

    by Li Nuer

    HARARE, April 19 (Xinhua) -- The Sino-Zimbabwe trade and economic
cooperation has entered a brand-new development stage in the wake of the
Beijing Summit of the China-Africa Cooperation Forum last year, a senior
Chinese diplomat said on Thursday.

    In an exclusive interview with Xinhua, the Chinese Ambassador to
Zimbabwe Yuan Nansheng said fundamental changes have taken place in the
bilateral relations and economic cooperation between the two countries since
last year's summit.

    China has now become the second largest trade partner of Zimbabwe,
after South Africa, and China is also the biggest tobacco buyer from
Zimbabwe, with the total trade volume between the two countries reaching 275
million U.S. dollars in 2006, while a few years ago, China was not even
among the top ten trade partners of Zimbabwe, according to the Chinese
ambassador.

    According to the figures from the economic and commercial
counselor's office of the Chinese Embassy in Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe has bought
more than 100,000 tons of fertilizers and pesticides from China with a 200
million dollars buyer's credit loan offered by the Chinese banks, and China
also put in place nearly 20 million dollars to improve the
telecommunications facilities in Zimbabwe under a 300 million dollars
agreement signed a few years ago.

    Also, Zimbabwe's largest bus company Zupco has newly bought 55
luxurious buses and various motor parts from China's FAW since last year.

    Yuan said the action plan adopted at the China-Africa Cooperation
Forum last year has also boosted Chinese investment in this southern African
country.

    China becomes the investor with the fastest direct foreign
investment growth in Zimbabwe, replacing the western countries.

    The Sino-Zimbabwe Cement Company has become one of the largest
cement producers in Zimbabwe with its quality products exported to many
countries in South African region, earning Zimbabwe millions of U.S.
dollars.

    The construction of a large-scale modern glass producing and
processing center by Jingniu Group, one of the renowned Chinese glass
producers, is in full swing in Kadoma, an industrial city in central
Zimbabwe.

    With a planned investment of 400 million dollars and occupying an
area of 100 hectares, China Jingniu Glass Factory in Zimbabwe is expected to
be completed in five years.

    To bring into reality the action plan of the China-Africa
Cooperation Forum, the Chinese government plans to build two rural schools
and an agricultural technology experimenting center in Zimbabwe in the near
future, Yuan said.

    Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe last week commissioned 424
tractors imported from China at more than 25 million dollars to be used by
tobacco contract farmers under agricultural concern, Farmers' World.

    The consignment also included disc harrows. These tractors were
imported with a preferential loan provided by the Chinese government last
year, Yuan said.

    In January this year, the first 15-member group of the Chinese
young volunteers for Africa was sent to Zimbabwe, and they have joined hands
with their local counterparts to contribute to Zimbabwe's economic and
social development, Yuan said.

    The trade and economic cooperation between China and Zimbabwe in
the new historical period will focus on the agriculture sector and on the
interests and benefits of local ordinary people, Yuan said.

    China has committed to helping Zimbabwe to develop the
agricultural production in a bid to secure the food of local people against
the sanctions by the Western countries and the droughts, he explained.

    The Chinese ambassador said he hopes there is a greater success in
the cooperation between the two countries within five years, with the total
trade expected to surge to 500 million dollars in 2008.

    He said Zimbabwe will see more Chinese assistance and investment
in agriculture and mining, and the Chinese companies will help Zimbabwe to
build more projects in the country's infrastructure field.


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A New Zimbabwe: Everywhere in my life

Comment from The Mail & Guardian (SA), 12 April

Justice Malala

It is the small things that get you. Like, Nathaniel's wife is six months
pregnant. He is a young man who, anywhere else in the world, would be making
his way up the corporate ladder. She is somewhere in the deep dark depths of
Mutare, Zimbabwe. He is working as a gardener in the northern suburbs of
Johannesburg. He cannot go home. The last time he went home, in December
last year, it took him two months to get back into South Africa. He crossed
the Limpopo River, like so many thousands of his compatriots every day, on
foot. He was arrested and sent back home. Failure is not an option for
people like Nathaniel. If he does not get to South Africa, his wife and
child will die of hunger. So he made the perilous trip again, carrying only
a 500ml bottle of water. This time he succeeded, arriving in Johannesburg
bedraggled, gaunt and thirsty.

He lives in a room in a flat in Hillbrow. He is regularly arrested because
he has no official papers and has to bribe the police with amounts as small
as R10 to be let off into the seething suburb. He knows one thing: he
travels with at least R20 in his pocket just in case he is stopped. He knows
it is usually enough to get him out. I have known Nathaniel for three years
now. Instead of things getting better, his problem just gets more
intractable. He cannot buy fake South African documents - an identity
document and passport, primarily - because the police ignore these anyway.
They have managed to work out the accents, he says. Without these documents
he cannot get a formal job, he cannot engage in any commerce, he cannot put
his numerous talents out into the marketplace. He quests, and yet he is
condemned to a dark, underground, desperate life. He is perpetually playing
hide-and-seek with the law; gambling with his life as he attempts to get
home through game parks and a crocodile-infested river.

He is not the only one. Nowadays, everywhere one goes in South Africa, there
are brutalised Zimbabweans walking the streets, their lives a terrible cycle
of waking up, despairing, seeking a better life and despairing again. They
are not political activists or people who seek an insurrection in Zimbabwe.
They are not political at all. They are the type you harangue about their
responsibilities to democracy; you beg them to vote. They are ordinary human
beings trying to make their way through life. And now they are just a hungry
people, shamed into an ignominious exile. South Africa's official statistics
on the number of illegal Zimbabweans here are a joke. The more believable
figure bandied about most by NGOs is three million. I know that in every
aspect of my life there is a Zimbabwean. At work, in my job as a media
consultant, I meet brilliant young Zimbabweans. In my social life, I meet
and drink and weep with Zimbabweans. They are the lucky ones: they have jobs
and can afford to buy a beer. They have papers.

The tragedy is in the parallel worlds of the domestic worker, the gardener
and the street seller. The tragedy is the life of the ordinary man and woman
we used to call, in Marxist parlance, "the most advanced class, the worker".
They are here now, with their vaunted consciousness, looking after our
children, fixing burst car tyres in Hillbrow. They don't have papers. These
are people who go home, knowing that they might never get back. Then they
get back and wonder how they are going to make that trip again. They have
left their mothers and fathers behind. They have children in Zimbabwe
because they still believe the schooling is better there. Until one day,
when Dorothy tells me that there are only three teachers at her child's
primary school. Her daughter has been going to school every day since
January and has still not received a single lesson. "Perhaps, next year, I
can bring her to South Africa to live with me," she says.

It is these small, human moments that cause a weakness in my limbs, the
oomph as my breath rushes out of my whole body. It is not President Thabo
Mbeki refusing to condemn torture of opposition activists or the closure of
newspapers. These make me angry. The Zimbabweans are not coming. The
Zimbabweans are here. They are no longer a vast, depressed, heart-wrenching
mass. They are men and women, once proud, reduced to begging, to hustling,
to a shifty-eyed nether world. It should not be like this. As a young man I
spent a year in Zimbabwe studying for my A-levels. The people I met were
proud of their country and their leader. They worked hard and wanted to do
well. They wanted their children to be better human beings - materially and
spiritually - than they were. Most importantly, they believed that these
dreams could and would be achieved. Being there, one knew that this could be
done. The education system was pumping out well-spoken, well-grounded,
inquisitive minds. The economy was open and the international community
believed that this remained a place to invest. The transition from colonial
rule to democracy had been handled in exemplary fashion.

And then ... and then they are here. They are not refugees, because we say
there is no problem in Zimbabwe, and our department of home affairs will not
give them refugee status. They are not freedom fighters, because Zimbabwe is
free, right? So the Zimbabweans I knew are a nothing people now. Every day I
meet these nothing people. Sometimes I get a call: "Perhaps you can help me
...". These are the little things and I wonder why they do not get to so
many of my fellow countrymen. How, fresh from oppression and exile
ourselves, we don't wonder why so many people can want to leave their
mothers and children to seek a better life elsewhere. Why, when we claim to
put people at the centre of our every diplomatic initiative, do we keep
quiet when evil reigns just a few hundred kilometres to our north?


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Aussies agonise over Zimbabwe

news.com.au

Robert Craddock

April 20, 2007 12:00am

AUSTRALIA is again in a bind over whether to tour Zimbabwe with Cricket
Australia declaring it will not withdraw on moral grounds.

Australia is scheduled to play three one-day matches in the strife-torn
country in September but the tour remains in doubt.
Several players are known to have reservations about making the trip with
continued reports of widespread violence and general degeneration in the
standard of living in Zimbabwe.

Cricket Australia chief executive James Sutherland said while the moral
issues remained a concern, they were contracted to make the tour.

Safety and security reasons -- or a directive from the Federal Government -- 
are the only ways CA can cancel the tour and not be deemed liable for a $2
million fine.

"We are not turning a blind eye to the issues in Zimbabwe but the reality is
we have major formal commitments we are binded to," Sutherland said last
night.

"It is certainly in our minds but the difficulty we have is that we have a
contract with the ICC and all of the other full member countries, which
includes Zimbabwe, to play matches there.

"From that perspective we do not have much room to move."

Asked whether the tour could be cancelled on moral grounds, Sutherland said:
"no . . . there is no escape clause on that front.

"I cannot tell you what pressure we are going to come under.

"I know there is speculation about but that is par for the course of a
Zimbabwe tour.

"At the moment we are focused on the World Cup.

"We will at some stage look at the security issues surrounding the World
Cup."

Foreign Affairs Minister Alexander Downer said he would help Cricket
Australia explore all avenues to call off the trip but the government
insisted it would not order the team not to tour.


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Launch of new work on Mugabe

Eastern Province Herald

By Deon Van Der Merwe East London Correspondent

THE publication of a scholarly work on Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe,
and how he has taken his country to the brink of an abyss, is set to revive
the return of the lively publishing culture which characterised the
University of Fort Hare and the Lovedale Press more than 70 years ago.

The book, Zimbabwe: With Robert Mugabe to the Brink of the Abyss, by Prof M
J Matshazi, has just been published by the UFH's National Heritage and
Cultural Studies Centre in Alice. It examines the economic and political
meltdown in South Africa's northern neighbour.

The launch of the book, which coincided with Mugabe's latest crackdown on
opposition parties and dissidents, is expected to prove a popular read with
both academics and the lay reading public alike. It is generally viewed as a
work which will lend further impetus to secure the return of the healthy
culture of publication which characterised the UFH and Lovedale Press during
the 1930s and '40s.

The latest publication follows closely on the heels of the centre's first
successful publication last year of the book Sport and Liberation in South
Africa; Reflections and Suggestions.

Edited by the centre's director, Dr Cornelius Thomas, the work analyses the
role played by sport in the liberation of South Africa.

Thomas says the centre's archives, housed on the Alice campus of the UFH,
represent an internationally and nationally important resource.

They hold the liberation archives of the PAC, the Unity Movement, Azapo and
the Black Consciousness Movement.

"We also hold the personal papers of people such as Dr Costa Gazi and Dr
Motsoko Pheku (both PAC leaders)," Thomas said of the centre.  See Page 10.
deonews@telkom.net

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