Thu 3 Apr 2008, 5:34 GMT
JOHANNESBURG, April 3 (Reuters) - Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe has
admitted to his family and advisers that he has lost the most important
election of his 28-year rule, South African financial daily Business Day
reported on Thursday.
Mugabe lost control of parliament for the first time since independence in
1980 and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) said he had
also been defeated in a presidential election last Saturday and should
Business Day said Mugabe had privately conceded defeat and was deciding if
he should contest a run-off vote needed because MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai
failed to secure a clear majority.
"Mugabe has conceded to his closest advisers, the army, police and
intelligence chiefs. He has also told his family and personal advisers that
he has lost the election," Business Day quoted an unidentified source as
The newspaper said hardliners in Mugabe's government wanted him to see the
contest through to the bitter end, but that personal advisers and his family
want Mugabe to quit.
The ruling ZANU-PF and Mugabe's spokesman were not immediately available for
Mugabe, known for his fierce and defiant rhetoric, has not been seen in
public since the vote.
In final results of the election for parliament's lower house, the Movement
for Democratic Change (MDC) won 99 seats, while Mugabe's ZANU-PF won 97
seats and a breakaway MDC faction won 10. One independent candidate won a
Results for parliament's upper house, the senate, will be issued next.
No official results have emerged in the presidential vote.
Widely blamed for economic collapse of his once prosperous nation, Mugabe
has faced growing discontent with the world's highest inflation rate of more
than 100,000 percent, a virtually worthless currency and severe food and
The opposition and international observers said Mugabe rigged the last
presidential election in 2002. But some analysts say discontent over daily
hardships is too great for him to fix the result this time without risking
The mainstream MDC faction said its Tsvangirai had won 50.3 percent of the
presidential vote and Mugabe 43.8 percent according to its own tallies.
(Reporting by Marius Bosch; Editing by Catherine Evans)
By Geoff Hill
April 3, 2008
JOHANNESBURG — South Africa's ruling African National Congress (ANC)
yesterday made clear that it expects the government of neighboring Zimbabwe
to accept the results of Saturday's election, in which the opposition won an
outright majority in parliament and could unseat long-ruling President
Final results announced early today gave the combined opposition parties 109
seats in the 210-seat parliament, compared to 97 for Mr. Mugabe's Zimbabwe
African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF), which has been in power
since 1980. One independent was elected and three seats remained vacant
because of the deaths or withdrawals of candidates.
Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai appeared close to victory in the
presidential vote but could still face a runoff against Mr. Mugabe.
Pretoria's intervention was striking for its tough tone following years in
which South Africa was criticized by human rights organizations for its soft
stance toward the Mugabe government.
In a clear call to the Zimbabwe army, whose leaders had stated they might
not accept a loss by Mr. Mugabe, the ANC asked "all institutions of state to
respect the outcome of the election and work together with the government of
the day to earnestly address the challenges the country faces."
Presidential, parliamentary and municipal elections were held in Zimbabwe on
Saturday, but it was only late yesterday, under pressure from Mr.
Tsvangirai"s opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) that the
electoral commission announced some of the results.
Ballots were counted at individual polling stations within hours of the
election, and the delay in announcing results promoted fears that ZANU-PF
was trying to rig the vote.
Most Western countries, including the United States, refused to accept the
outcome of similar elections that returned Mr. Mugabe to power in 2002 and
2005, citing widespread reports of violence, torture and fraud.
The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission announced the final results of the
parliamentary ballot early today but has still not announced the outcome of
the presidential count. Yesterday afternoon, the MDC unilaterally released
its own estimate, claiming a victory for Mr. Tsvangirai with 50.3 percent.
MDC Secretary-General Tendai Biti read out the figures at a press conference
Mr. Mugabe, he said, had secured just 43.8 percent with the remaining votes
going to independent candidate Simba Makoni, who defected from ZANU-PF weeks
before the election.
If these results are confirmed, it will not be enough to give Mr. Tsvangirai
the presidency. A winning candidate must achieve at least 51 percent,
otherwise a runoff must be held within 21 days.
The government had warned that any attempt to reveal figures before an
official announcement had been made would be "regarded as a coup d"etat."
Although Zimbabwe's state-controlled radio and television stations made
scant mention of the election on last night"s news bulletins, reports from
external radio stations such as Voice of America, had reached Harare and
Zimbabwe's second largest city, Bulawayo, and crowds were cheering on the
street and blowing whistles thought to have been distributed by the MDC.
"It is incredible, we are free at last, this will be a new start," one of
the revelers, Mpumelelo Ngwenya said in Bulawayo.
"My family has lost everything the past few years, there is no work,
nothing, but we can start again if we know Mugabe has gone."
Unemployment in Zimbabwe is above 80 percent and the local dollar which at
independence from Britain in 1980 was stronger than the American currency
now changes hands at Z$38 million to $1.
Diplomatic sources in Harare said there appeared to be confusion within
ZANU-PF on how to handle the loss of power, with a small group of
hard-liners arguing for the election to be declared null and void.
But with most of landlocked Zimbabwe"s fuel, electricity and other imports
passing through South Africa, they said that the warning from Pretoria would
likely put an end to any thoughts of hanging on.
Zimbabwe"s northern neighbor, Zambia, has backed up the South African demand
for a smooth change of government.
In the capital Lusaka, Defense Minister George Mpombo said last night his
government was "monitoring the situation very closely."
"We hope they will manage the situation properly," he said.
By Fikile Mapala and Torby Chimhashu
Last updated: 04/03/2008 03:48:53
ZANU PF lost control of Zimbabwe’s parliament on Wednesday in the biggest
power shift since the country won independence from Britain in 1980.
Official figures showed the two rival Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
factions had won 105 seats in the 210 seat parliament, with one going to
Professor Jonathan Moyo, an independent. Zanu PF was trailing on 94 with 10
more seats still at stake.
The MDC split into two factions in 2005. The faction led by founding leader
Morgan Tsvangirai has the lion’s share with 96 seats so far, and nine went
to the other faction led by Arthur Mutambara.
The MDC’s dramatic win in parliament saw seven ministers fall by the wayside
as the party penetrated deep into Mugabe’s traditional rural strongholds.
Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa was the first to face the music in Makoni
Central, Agriculture Minister Joseph Made was sunk in Makoni West and Women’s
Affairs and Gender minister Oppah Muchingura was simultaneously rejected in
Mutasa Central – all considered safe seats for Zanu PF going into the
Energy Minister Mike Nyambuya ran out of power in Mutasa North, Mines
Minister Amos Midzi was dug out of Epworth and veteran Chen Chimutengwende,
the Minister of Public and Interactive Affairs, was sent packing in Mazowe
Voters delivered further carnage, driving Transport Minister Chris Mushowe
out of Mutare West.
The MDC, having swept 11 contested seats in the second largest city of
Bulawayo, may yet claim an eighth member of Mugabe’s outgoing cabinet –
Information Minister Sikhanyiso Ndlovu -- when voters go to the polls in
Mpopoma constituency where the election was delayed by the death of Milford
Gwetu, a Mutambara MDC candidate and incumbent MP.
The MDC’s stunning success in the hinterlands –for long the bedrock of
Mugabe’s success – was the key to unlocking Mugabe’s stranglehold on power.
Zanu PF yielded in Masvingo, Manicaland, Midlands , Mashonaland East and
Mashonaland West where Mugabe previously enjoyed sweeping dominance.
Analysts say a collapsed economy and rising poverty connected rural
populations with the change message of the opposition.
03 April 2008
Wilson Johwa and Karima Brown
SA IS closely involved in behind the scenes attempts to stabilise Zimbabwe
in a process that officials have described as “delicate and sensitive ”.
Although foreign affairs said it would comment only once all election
results had been finalised, Business Day understood that as the facilitator
in the regionally mandated talks to stabilise the situation in Zimbabwe, SA
was in continuing contact with the main contenders in the presidential race.
The intention was to persuade the parties to either conduct a run-off
election later this month or negotiate an amicable settlement for President
“The situation is very delicate and sensitive and SA will not join the
chorus of calling for all sorts of things about the results while we know
that will not solve the matter,” sources close to the process said.
President Thabo Mbeki was believed to be involved in secret negotiations
with sections of the security establishment to stave off possible military
intervention in the event that Mugabe loses to the leader of the Movement
for Democratic Change, Morgan Tsvangirai.
The African National Congress (ANC) also yesterday urged state institutions
in Zimbabwe, including the army, police and intelligence services, to
respect the outcome of Saturday’s election.
The party’s secretary-general, Gwede Mantashe, said the ANC made the call
because the elections were an “emotional” issue and called on all
Zimbabweans to act within the law.
Mantashe would not be drawn on speculation that Mbeki was trying to broker a
deal involving some generals in the Zimbabwean army.
Presidential spokesman Mukoni Ratshitanga dismissed reports of SA’s
involvement in the Zimbabwe process as complete “fabrication”. He said SA
was merely part of the Southern African Development Community -led
initiative to stabilise Zimbabwe.
However, it is understood that SA was worried about the possibility of
violent clashes should voters on the ground be under the impression that the
results were being withheld so they could be rigged.
SA was said to be working hard at helping Zimbabwe manage the situation that
had the potential of turning thousands of Zimbabweans into refugees
Reports from Zimbabwe point to heightened security, particularly in the
major centres and along the country’s borders. Military personnel in
civilian clothing had been deployed within the customs department on the
Zimbabwe side of the Beitbridge border with SA.
Military intervention by some sections loyal to Mugabe had always been a
threat as Tsvangirai was never fully accepted as a “legitimate” leader.
Meanwhile, MDC secretary- general Tendai Biti this week indicated a change
in attitude of his party towards Pretoria by publicly thanking Mbeki for his
role in midwifing the unfolding transition.
Institute for Security Studies African Security Analysis Programme head
Wafula Okumu warned that too much focus was being placed on getting rid of
one person. With Hopewell Radebe
03 April 2008
A LEGITIMATE change of regime in Zimbabwe is likely to generate
international goodwill and immediate financial support for the country’s
battered economy, top US rating agency Standard & Poor’s said yesterday.
It would also be likely to have positive spinoffs for SA and other countries
in the region, through both improved foreign investor perceptions and
flourishing trade, said Konrad Reuss, S&P’s MD for SA and sub- Saharan
Africa. “If you have regime change in Zimbabwe and a government that has
legitimacy, there would be a significant amount of goodwill on the
international side,” he said.
“That would be a favourable context to do a deal with creditors in the
international community, such as the International Monetary Fund, the World
Bank, or the African Development Bank.”
News late yesterday showed President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu (PF) party had
failed to win the election for the first time in nearly three decades,
losing to the opposition Movement for Democratic Change.
“If the election and the outcome truly reflect the people’s vote it would be
a very positive signal for SA and the region in general,” Reuss said .
Several years ago, Zimbabwe’s political and economic woes had knock-on
effects on SA’s financial markets, but analysts say global investors have
become more discerning.
Reuss said major western donors such as the US and the European Union would
also be likely to step in with significant capital injections to resuscitate
But he believes it will take time before the private sector pumps large
amounts of money into the country, which has been mired in a recession for
nearly a decade and is saddled with external debt of about $5bn.
Domestic debt is about double the size of Zimbabwe’s gross domestic product,
and inflation is rising by more than 100000% — making it the world’s
An Africa London-based analyst who did not want to be named said it would
probably not take too much effort or time to pull Zimbabwe’s economy back
out of its abyss.
“All you would need, given the right supportive factors, would be an
injection of external funds to stabilise the country and stop growth in
domestic debt,” the analyst said.
“Zimbabwe’s economy still has long-term positives going for it. It has the
best human capital in Africa, vast commodities wealth and an infrastructure
that wouldn’t take much to start again.”
April 03 2008 at 06:42AM
By Fiona Forde
Senior members of Zimbabwe's security forces and Zanu-PF have met
Robert Mugabe to persuade him not to contest a second round of elections
while Simba Makoni paves the way for a government of national unity.
The ruling party on Wednesday lost control of parliament and it is
expected that the official presidential results will force Mugabe into a
run-off against Morgan Tsvangirai of the Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC), despite Tsvangirai's insistence that he won the lion's share of the
vote - 50.3 percent, according to unofficial results.
Advisers to Makoni, the former finance minister, said negotiations
were laying the groundwork for a government of national unity that would
include not only the MDC, but also Zanu-PF. Makoni would take on a senior
role with extended executive powers.
"Simba wants to be at the top," said Godfrey Chanetsa, Makoni's
right-hand man and a former spokesperson for Mugabe.
"He didn't enter this campaign to play second fiddle. He came in to
"This country doesn't need regime change now. It needs new leadership.
And many people believe Simba is the man who can bring this country to the
level that it should be."
But the likelihood of Tsvangirai handing over the reigns to Makoni,
who won only a fraction of the vote, is slim.
"But this is not about numbers," Chanetsa said. "The eight percent is
an illusion. Many people were afraid to vote for Simba, afraid of letting
Zanu-PF in the back door and losing their chance of getting rid of Robert.
But if they got rid of Robert, do you still think they would see Morgan as
the right man for the job?"
Zimbabwe needed a transition, Chanetsa said.
"If (Tsvangirai) goes it alone he would be dealing with a very
unstable structure for the next 10 years because the dismantling of the
entrenched Zanu-PF structure will take a long time.
"But we can avoid conflict if we go the route of a government of
Makoni has the support of moderate Zanu-PF members.
"A lot of people have gone down," Chanetsa said, referring to many of
the old guard who lost their parliamentary seats, among them Mugabe
loyalists Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa and Public and Interactive
Affairs Minister Chen Chimutengwende.
Chanetsa said many in the ruling party saw in Makoni a man who could
help them bridge the divide between the Mugabe era and what followed next.
But it is not only ruling party members who will look to Makoni for
Retired army major and current Makoni adviser Kudzai Mbudzi said
senior members of the country's security forces were also considering their
futures as they encouraged Mugabe to step down, in his own interest and in
"The military runs the presidential campaign in this country, and they
gave feedback to Mugabe that he was not to run.
"They don't trust Tsvangirai, but they also knew that Mugabe would be
heavily defeated in a second round. And with Simba backing Morgan in the
event of a run-off, they knew it was time for a compromise."
It is understood that in return for reasoning with the 84-year-old
leader to bow out gracefully, the role players want an understanding that
"the status quo and the present status of Zanu-PF would not be totally
destroyed. And Simba can give them that assurance".
Under Zimbabwean law, 21 days must lapse after the results have been
officially announced before a second round can take place. Makoni's men
believe that provides an ideal window of opportunity for Mugabe to step
down. "Stepping down is his only alternative to impending defeat," Mudzi's
In the event that he does, Chanetsa was confident that any future
government will allow Mugabe to reside peacefully in the country he fought
"He is no Charles Taylor. And there is no point in us looking back. We
want to move on."
This article was originally published on page 1 of Pretoria News on
April 03, 2008
April 3, 2008
By Peter Apps
London - Having long written Zimbabwe off as one of the least appealing
investment destinations, international investors are starting to show
interest as they suspect the end of President Robert Mugabe's rule is
After iron-fisted farm seizures and slum clearances raised fears over the
safety of outside holdings, even risk-hungry investors avoided an economy
with 100 586 percent inflation.
But sentiment is starting to shift after Mugabe failed to win a clear
majority in elections on Saturday, paving the way for a likely run-off with
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai.
"It looks like the endgame is very close," said Renaissance Capital
strategist Richard Segal. "There is certainly more interest. Hopefully we'll
have a unity government, with a reasonable stance on property rights. That
could work out quite well for foreign investors."
Renaissance, a Russian investment bank aiming to become Africa's market
leader, says it has been pushing Zimbabwe as a good opportunity for six
months, with interest rising in the run-up to the polls.
Renaissance snapped up a stake in CBZ Holdings sold by Absa last year, while
African Banking Corporation says Citigroup has approved a $25 million (R195
million) purchase of a 20 percent stake.
Segal said the end of Mugabe's 28-year rule could see a donor conference
bringing in about $1.5 billion of foreign aid.
And two-thirds of the 3 million Zimbabweans who had left during the economic
crisis could return over time, he said, potentially bringing home between $2
billion and $3 billion.
China invested $1.6 billion in Zimbabwe last year, it says, and analysts say
this may increase.
Zimbabwean equities already look cheap, according to analysts, and there is
enthusiasm for stocks such as cellular operator Econet and retail and hotel
chain Meikles Africa.
African equities rose 60 percent last year and the continent expects ongoing
growth of 7 percent, but Zimbabwe has long bucked the trend. Its gross
domestic product (GDP) has contracted each year since 2000, bottoming out at
10.4 percent in 2003. The International Monetary Fund expects GDP to fall
4.5 percent this year.
Bond brokerage Exotix said it had received new inquiries for prices of
Zimbabwean traded debt, although as far as it knew none existed. The nation
had outstanding medium- and short-term debt of $4.3 billion, it said, 95
percent of it official debt with multilateral lenders.
Given the scale of the slump, most are cautious. Some say it would take much
more than Mugabe's exit to tempt them in. The presence of Zanu-PF names in a
unity government could further spook investors.
With Kenya's debacle fresh in the mind, one Africa fund said it was refusing
to comment on Zimbabwe, while another major bank said it would not talk for
fears over staff safety.
"It's not a place we will rush to take a look at," said Aberdeen Asset
Management emerging equities fund manager Andrew Brown. "You'd have to see
inflation come under control and the business environment improve. Political
change might be the catalyst, but we want to stand back. It's more the sort
of place you would find private equity."
Others have taken a dip. London-listed Mwana, which has a nickel mining
project in Zimbabwe, climbed 20 percent in early trade on Tuesday on talk of
an MDC victory.
"Once [Mugabe] goes, there will be a rush to get in," said one South African
analyst. "People who are already positioned will make a lot of money."
UK-based Lonrho last month unveiled plans to raise $140 million to expand in
With its gold, nickel, platinum, palladium and ferrochrome reserves,
Zimbabwe could benefit from continued high global commodity prices, but huge
Analysts warn that the electricity system is failing to supply a
manufacturing sector that has shrunk by 70 percent, ruling out a sudden
spike in production.
Even with high global food prices, the devastated agricultural sector would
also be difficult to resuscitate.
"There are questions over property rights," said analyst Mike Davies at risk
consultancy Eurasia Group. "People are going to be cautious given the
history of land grabs. It will take time to clear that sentiment."
03 April 2008
THERE IS a whiff of miracle about Zimbabwe. It is beginning to seem just
possible that one of the ugliest regimes in Africa, and one of its most
tyrannical leaders, could soon be peaceably and democratically removed from
power and office.
It seems almost unreal that after so long, and after so much damage ,
President Robert Mugabe may soon no longer be with us. And that Morgan
Tsvangirai, who we have seen beaten and insulted by Mugabe’s thugs, will be
the next president of Zimbabwe.
For Zimbabweans it must all seem like a dream. Poverty-stricken, mostly
hungry and desperate, their country has turned its back on them. Now, by
having the fortitude to stand once more in a queue and the courage to make a
mark somewhere other than under Mugabe’s picture, they just may be getting
their country back.
When you think of the millions of Zimbabweans who have fled and who could
not vote, the scale of Mugabe’s and Zanu (PF)’s defeat in the general
elections last weekend becomes apparent. They were hammered. Zimbabweans
should be proud of themselves.
It would also be remiss not to allow President Thabo Mbeki to take a bow at
progress so far. Mbeki’s handling of the crisis in Zimbabwe divides neatly
into two — the period before and since 2006, when he was given a mandate by
the Southern African Development Community to mediate talks between Zanu
(PF) and the opposition. Mbeki and his administration have been assiduous in
carrying out their task, and he was able to report to Parliament in his
state of the nation speech this year : “Over the past year, we carried out
the mandate of SADC to assist the political leadership of Zimbabwe to find a
lasting solution to the challenges they face.... In short, the parties
involved in the dialogue have reached full agreement on all matters relating
to the substantive matters the parties had to address.”
It is highly unlikely now that, having herded Mugabe and the rest of the
Zimbabwean body politic into a corner, SA would accept anything other than
compliance with the election result.
In the parliamentary election the result was official yesterday afternoon —
Zanu (PF) has lost, according to the Zimbabwean Electoral Commission, its
majority in parliament. That is surely cause for celebration by any
democrat. And it is clearly only a matter of time before it is officially
confirmed that Mugabe has also failed to be re-elected president. What a
In the immediate aftermath, it is to be hoped that Zimbabweans can keep
their thus-far commendable cool. The world must ready itself for a rapid and
massive injection of food aid to Zimbabwe. Winter is approaching and as much
seed as possible needs to be planted ahead of next summer.
There will be time for grand reconstruction plans and monetary reform. For
now, having stood up for democracy, Zimbabweans need to be spoiled and
fussed over by the rest of the world.
Dieketseng Maleke HERALD REPORTER
ECONOMIC growth, democracy, freedom and a new leadership are some of the
things some Zimbabweans living in the Eastern Cape would like to see in
their country before they would consider moving back there.
Harare-born Winnie Tafirenyika said she planned to go back home as soon as
everything stabilised in Zimbabwe.
“That country is my home and I hope it will be under a new leadership which
will help people get jobs and have a stable future.”
She hoped for huge corporate investment and for other Zimbabweans working in
other countries to return.
Jack White, who lived in Zimbabwe for 40 years, said: “I would like to see
Zimbabwe back as the bread basket of Africa, as it was the second-biggest
maizeexporting country after South Africa.”
White said he missed the lifestyle of Zimbabwe, which was “laid-back”.
The country is smaller than South Africa, so it was easier to get to know
“For the country to develop and have a bright future, it must be under a new
government. Zimbabwe needs skills development, economic rebirth and all of
this will take a few years to be done,” White said.
Former Zimbabwean farmer Harley Knott, who lives in St Francis Bay, said he
had lost everything in 2006 and decided to move to SA.
“I would like to return if there is going to be democracy and everything is
not controlled by the government.”
He was positive about the future in Zimbabwe, under different leadership.
Peter Hoffman was born in Kadoma, Zimbabwe, and also moved to St Francis Bay
after his farm was taken from him by the Mugabe government. He said he
missed Zimbabwe and would move back if there was change.
“I would like to see absolute democracy in that country as it has the best
resources, especially in agriculture, and the people there are lovely,
friendly and hard workers.
“The challenge I had to meet when moving to South Africa was to start from
nothing after my farm was taken away from me by force.”
“I have accepted this country as my home and I will be forever grateful
because it took us in, but Zimbabwe is home.”
Emma White said the country‘s future would depend on the outcome of these
elections. She said she would go back to Zimbabwe if given the chance and
when things improved in that country.
“Even though I was born in England, Zimbabwe is my home because I grew up
there. It is a special country.
“I miss Zimbabwe and the economy, the healthcare. The people should receive
help. They need food.”
Robin Masocha said he would only go back home when there was stability.
“Zimbabwe used to be the bread basket, but now it is the worst economic
basket case in Africa.” he said. He believed that if the MDC came into power
things would improve “but that won‘t take one night”.
Political analyst Aubrey Matshiqi said: “If the MDC is victorious, a window
of opportunity will be opened for the reconstruction of Zimbabwe. One hopes
the world will come out in support.”
The first task in Zimbabwe‘s transition would be to attract people who had
left the country, and some e would return if there was a new government.
“Some will come back to Zimbabwe immediately after a new government has been
appointed and some will go back a bit later,” Matshiqi said.
Thursday, April 03, 2008
With the results of Zimbabwe's elections up in the air, the world can only
hope that its people will remain calm while the situation works itself out.
The nation of 12 million people held presidential and parliamentary
elections Saturday against a backdrop of economic disintegration. This
situation is the result of 28 years of what became dictatorial rule by
Robert G. Mugabe, the country's 84-year-old president. The tottery leader
was seeking another term in office.
What had been a flourishing African economy with mineral wealth, profitable
agriculture and light industry has descended under Mr. Mugabe's cold hand
into inflation that has made its currency valueless, unemployment
inestimably high and millions of people requiring external food aid to avoid
Mr. Mugabe had two opponents: Morgan Tsvangirai, a veteran opposition
leader, and Simba Makoni, the nation's former finance minister. The
electoral commission said the opposition party won control of parliament,
but it reported no results on the presidency. Mr. Tsvangirai claimed
yesterday that he had won 50.3 percent. The nation's state-run newspaper,
meanwhile, said no candidate had gotten 50 percent and that a runoff vote
Zimbabwe's security forces, with a reputation for a heavy hand that can
become brutal with no prompting, remain on high alert. Several possible
outcomes seem likely: 1) Mr. Mugabe retires, or "shares power" from a
symbolic position with Mr. Tsvangirai; 2) a runoff election is held between
Mr. Mugabe and Mr. Tsvangirai (and the incumbent tries again to cook that
one); 3) Mr. Mugabe, backed by the security forces, announces that he won,
whatever the actual results were, and the people of Zimbabwe are sentenced
to more of the same awful conditions.
The problem with the third possibility is that Zimbabwe's people might truly
blow up, as the Kenyans did when they thought President Mwai Kibaki had
stolen their elections.
The best outcome would have Mr. Mugabe leave the stage completely. Even
then, Zimbabwe would need a long recovery period to get back to where it was
even a few years ago. The world would be asked to help, and it should. In
the short term, Zimbabweans should remain calm, and not wreck the country
any more than Mr. Mugabe already has.
Patience is hard to maintain, but it's still the best course at this point.
First published on April 3, 2008 at 12:00 am
By David R. Sands
April 3, 2008
In September 1983, President Reagan hosted Zimbabwean Prime Minister Robert
Mugabe at the White House, praising the three-year-old southern African
country as a bulwark against Soviet influence and praising his guest for his
"wise leadership in healing the wounds of civil war."
A quarter-century later, the 84-year-old Mr. Mugabe, now the country's
president, is fighting for his political life. Once one of the richest
countries on the continent, Zimbabwe today suffers from a shattered economy,
plunging health and social indicators, bitter internal divisions and
international sanctions that have left its leader and his regime a pariah in
the United States and the West.
In post-colonial Africa, dominated by a string of political "big men,"
perhaps no one rose so high or fell so far as Robert Gabriel Mugabe, the
Jesuit-educated carpenter's son who has dominated political life since the
end of white rule in the country once known as Southern Rhodesia.
The high hopes of the Reagan administration have given way to bitter
denunciations in the George W. Bush administration.
"The Mugabe regime is a disgrace to the people of Zimbabwe and a disgrace to
southern Africa and to the continent of Africa as a whole," Secretary of
State Condoleezza Rice told reporters last week during a Middle East tour.
And with opposition parties claiming they have won the March 29 presidential
and parliamentary elections, Mr. Mugabe and his ruling Zimbabwe African
National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) party now stand accused of not even
being able to rig an election competently.
"ZANU-PF's core of power is so weak now that once they start down the path
of reforms, they will not be able to control the process," said David
Coltart, a top figure in the opposition Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC), on a recent Washington visit.
It was all very different when Mr. Mugabe first came to the world's notice.
A schoolteacher by profession, Mr. Mugabe earned a law degree while serving
a 10-year prison sentence for opposing the white-dominated Rhodesian regime.
While in prison, his 4-year-old son died of malaria, but government
officials refused the prisoner permission to attend the funeral.
Released from prison, he fled to neighboring Mozambique, becoming a key
figure in the militant guerrilla movement that eventually forced the
capitulation of the minority government of Rhodesian Prime Minister Ian
Smith. The struggle for majority rule claimed an estimated 30,000 lives.
Becoming prime minister of the newly christened Zimbabwe in 1980, Mr. Mugabe
at first preached a message of reconciliation and racial harmony. Citing the
country's productive economy and thriving agricultural sector, Mr. Mugabe
said he had "inherited the jewel of Africa."
In a direct appeal to the fearful white minority, he said in January 1980,
"Stay with us, please remain in this country and constitute a nation based
The country enjoyed broad international support under Mr. Mugabe and was
seen as a sharp contrast to the apartheid regime in neighboring South
Africa. During his first decade in power, the economy grew steadily,
infant-mortality rates were cut nearly in half, and average life expectancy
increased from 56 years to 64 years.
Productive white landowners, key to the economy, were allowed to keep their
often-sizable holdings. "There is a place for you in the sun," Mr. Mugabe
After a change in the constitution, Mr. Mugabe was easily elected president
of Zimbabwe in 1987.
But there were also early signs that Zimbabwe's leader did not willingly
In 1982, Mr. Mugabe had a falling out with fellow rebel leader Joshua Nkomo,
whose rival Zimbabwe African People's Union (ZAPU) had a political base in
the country's Ndebele-speaking south. Mr. Mugabe, from the ethnic-Shona
north, ordered the country's North Korea-trained army into the southern
provinces, in an operation that killed an estimated 25,000 people, including
large number of civilians.
Memories in Matabeleland and other Ndebele strongholds of the attacks have
not faded, and many believe Mr. Mugabe has clung to power for so long for
fear he will face human rights charges springing from the three-year
campaign should he leave office.
Relations between an increasingly authoritarian Mr. Mugabe and the West
deteriorated in the 1990s, underscored by the decision of the new Labor
government of Prime Minister Tony Blair in 1997 to stop funding land-reform
programs allowing lower-income blacks to purchase acreage from large
landowners, most of them white.
Britain complained that many of the buyers of the land were relatives and
cronies of Mr. Mugabe, a pattern of insider dealing that critics say has
only accelerated in recent years.
The dispute also intensified Mr. Mugabe's public complaints about the West,
especially Britain, the former colonial power. The president has blamed much
of the country's recent economic problems on U.S. and European sanctions.
"Blair, keep your England, and let me keep my Zimbabwe," Mr. Mugabe told a
U.N. summit in Johannesburg in 2002.
South African author Heidi Holland, who is completing a biography of Mr.
Mugabe, said the president appeared to her in a lengthy recent interview to
be a resentful, insecure man, one who never got over the perceived British
"He realized Britain had cast him adrift. His problem with Britain was on
the scale of a big, family quarrel," she said in an interview with the
German DPA news agency.
Life in Zimbabwe deteriorated sharply after Mr. Mugabe unexpectedly lost a
2000 constitutional referendum designed to increase his hold on power. The
regime's campaign against domestic opposition, including top MDC leaders,
intensified, while forced land seizures and economic mismanagement drove the
country to the edge of collapse.
The economy has imploded, shrinking by 5.1 percent in 2006. Unemployment is
estimated at around 80 percent, and the international financial agencies say
Zimbabwe has the world's highest inflation rate at 100,000 percent. After
rising throughout the 1980s, average life expectancy has plummeted to 37
years for men and 34 for women, owing in part to a raging HIV/AIDS epidemic.
The country once known as southern Africa's breadbasket now is dependent on
foreign food aid. Neighboring South Africa and Botswana have had to deal
with a flood of Zimbabwean refugees fleeing political repression and
economic hardship back home.
Even Mr. Mugabe's iron grip on the country's security forces and ruling
ZANU-PF party have been sorely tested in recent days. A ZANU-PF dissident
broke with the president to run in Saturday's presidential election.
Mr. Mugabe, who compared himself to a boxer in the most recent campaign, has
shown repeatedly in the past his ability to face down challenges to his
But as the votes slowly trickle in and the opposition makes repeated claims
of victory, the president has been uncharacteristically quiet.
ROBERT GABRIEL MUGABE
President of Zimbabwe
Born: Feb. 21, 1924, Kutama, Zvimba District, Rhodesia/Zimbabwe
Education: Bachelor's degree, University of Fort Hare, South Africa;
bachelor's degree, University of London; multiple degrees, University of
Family: Wives Sally Hayfron (died 1992), and Grace Marufu; three children,
Bona, Robert Jr. and Bellarmine
Career highlights: Schoolteacher, Rhodesia and Ghana, 1955-60; joins
opposition to Rhodesia's white government and helps form the Zimbabwe
African National Union (ZANU), 1960-63; sentenced to 10 years in jail for
"subversive speech," earning a law degree while in prison, 1964-74; elected
head of ZANU, 1974; elected prime minister in "independence elections" after
the end of white rule, 1980; launches military campaign against opposition
parties in Zimbabwe's Ndebele-speaking south, 1982-85; elected president
after a power-sharing deal creates the ZANU-Patriotic Front, or ZANU-PF,
1987, re-elected in 1990, 1996 and 2002; voters reject a constitutional
referendum to give the government more power, 2000; government accelerates
seizures of white-owned farms, causing widespread economic hardship, 2001;
ZANU-PF wins parliamentary elections amid growing international condemnation
and sanctions, 2005; runs for fifth term as president, 2008.
SOURCES: Government of Zimbabwe; British Broadcasting Corp.; U.S. State
Department; Associated Press
AfricanLiberty.org , AfricanLiberty.org
Published 04/03/2008 - 2:40 a.m. GMT
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dollarisation may be a strange term for continental Africans who have never
experienced hyperinflation of One Hundred Thousand Percentage Points, but to
members of the Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce [ZNCC], the word evokes
familiar echoes of despair. In this landlocked Southern African country that
shares borders with South Africa, Mozambique, Zambia and Botswana, the
American Dollar, known popularly as The USA, is competing for legal and
illegal circulation in daily transactions. ZNCC members, bankers,
industrialists, academics, economists and interested citizens disagree on
the acceptability of 'dollarisation' in an economy that has contracted by
almost Seventy Percent since year 2000.
Dr DanielSteve Hanke, former economic adviser to Ronald Reagan and now
professor of applied economics at the prestigious Johns Hopkins University,
recently published a report in which he accuses Reserve Bank [RBZ] governor
Dr Gideon Gono of steering Zimbabwe in a course of fiscal and monetary doom,
calling for the bank's dissolution. This hypothesis seems to dovetail with
Friedrich Hayek's that an institution that causes a problem – by introducing
commandist-type anti market controls – cannot proffer any sustainable
solutions since it is itself an integral part of the problem. Gideon Gono,
by admitting that he has authorised his Fidelity Printers to churn out in
excess of Three Hundred Trillion Zimbabwe dollars, seems to fulfil Hanke's
prophecy of self-destruction.
ZNCC members are therefore justified to feel confused by Dr Gono's
insistence on managed exchange controls that on one hand stifle the
industry's ability to create foreign currency reserves, while on the other
they authorise ZIMRA – Zimbabwe Revenue Authority -, fuel stations, hotels,
Air Zimbabwe and the Passport Office to charge for their services in USAs.
Infact, it is impossible to conceive how thousands of 'poor' Zimbabwean
citizens cross the borders everyday to buy groceries, furniture, electronic
goods and cars in foreign currency when RBZ fails to supply Letters of
Credit to local business for importation of critical raw materials. In the
midst of this policy confusion, both Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority
[ZESA] and Grain Marketing Board [GMB] are struggling to pay for power and
grain imports respectively due to a shortage of 'official' foreign currency
while the USA has common presence in the streets of Harare and Bulawayo.
University of Zimbabwe lecturer Dr Innocent Matshe argues that Dollarisation
is a global phenomenon that touches on sensitive political nerves of
sovereignty. Even if Dr Gono wanted to, he would not convince a government
that is already hostile to Americans to accept 'their money' as official
tender, as the country would lose more that it would gain. Like Hanke, Dr
Matshe asserts that it is stabilising the local currency that is more urgent
than legalising the USA. Ironically, he observes that the economy already
sits on foreign bonds and assets, so Dollarisation is not that strange after
all. Economic Analyst Dr Daniel Ndlela also concurs that Dollarising is a
short-term solution with few benefits. Although he seems to agree that
hyperinflation is a manifestation of failed state policies, eliminating the
RBZ is not recommendable, because both Mozambique and Zambia managed to
regain monetary sanity through their respective central banks. Rather, he
proposes a reconstitution of RBZ- as in East European cases where Currency
Boards were used in conjunction with 'unofficial' use of foreign currencies.
It is not possible, he adds, for Zimbabwe to 'officialise' local use of USAs
and Rands without seeking authority from the American and South African
MaraMarah Hativagone, current president of ZNCC, reflects the typical state
of self-resignation and despair that correctly portrays ZNCC members as
victims of an all too powerful, domineering bully policy control
environment. Her argument exposes fundamental a weakness of command and
control economies – they ignore the ingenuity of citizens to respond to the
natural dictates of demand and supply. Mrs Hativagone questions the wisdom
of banning Bureau de Changes while frog marching unwilling citizens to sell
the USA to a central bank that offers a rate One Thousand times below what
the 'real market' offers. "The government expects us to pay for duty, buy
petrol and pay for passports in foreign currency," she questions, "where do
they think we are getting that money from?" Her members have another
problem: the National Income Pricing Commission [NIPC], a fundamentalist
state institution run by dogmatic bureaucrats who impose price controls on
consumer goods and services yet completely ignore the supply cycle.
Public Relations consultant James Maridadi observes that Dollarisation is
more of a political problem that calls for a political solution rather than
monetary policy engineering. If part of this 'political solution' is
dissolving NIPC and the current regime of fiscal and monetary authorities,
global banking icon Nigel Chanakira argues for a case of engagement rather
than confrontation. "Our role as business is to impose our influence on
politicians," he says. Mr Chanakira' s father is a former diplomat, and with
Nigel's investment stakes high – currently on the verge of placing his
stocks on the New York Stock exchange – one can understand why he maintains
a politically correct perspective on banking issues, particularly the RBZ.
His colleagues - Dr Mthuli Ncube, James Mushore and Nicholas Vingirayi are
fugitives from justice for hitherto unspecified banking malpractices known
only to RBZ strongman Gideon Gono who generally resents criticism. Political
opposition parties also accuse him of starving business of 'cheap' foreign
currency to import critical raw materials while favouring to spend millions
importing agricultural equipment, computers and generators for president
Robert Mugabe's electoral campaign. Nevertheless, Nigel Chanakira insists
that it is the role of business to call politicians to account.
NigelTherefore what is it that Zimbabwe Business proposes as the way
forward? Liberal economist Professor Friedrich Hayek cautions in 'The Road
to Serfdom': "The fundamental principle that in the ordering of our affairs
we should make as much use as possible of the spontaneous forces of society,
and resort as little as possible to coercion – is capable of an infinite
variety of applications." For ZNCC members, Dollarisation is not just a
symptom of 'the spontaneous forces of society', but an inert, yet
unexpressed acceptance to be viewed as a manifestation and a backlash of the
rise and rise of market-defying totalitarian control of exchange policies by
Dr Gono's RBZ. Until Zimbabwe reverts back to the pre-2000 era where
legislators and business were natural protagonists of the free market
economy, Dr Gono will continue to buckle under the negative principalities
of commandist policies motivated by sinister political motives responsible
for creating a deficit in the foreign exchange market. What choice does
Zimbabwe business have other than not just exposing the failure of monetary
authorities but also demanding a return to free market justice? Muffled
cries camouflaged in retarded egotistical complacency, diplomatic talk and
political correctness will never restore, as Dr Matshe advises, the 'value
of local currency that must act as the basis for monetary confidence'.
Progressive modern-day entrepreneurs like financial whiz kid Nigel
Chanakira, food preservatives genius Marah Hativagone, telecom engineman
Strive Masiyiwa, refrigeration icon Callisto Jokonya, platinum king Jack
Murehwa and beverage mogul Johnson Manyakara have reason to fear for their
corporate lives. In having to deal with Reserve Bank governor Dr Gideon
Gono, their corporate fate lies in the fidgety hands of a man who at this
stage wields more authority than the four ministries of defence, finance,
economic planning and home affairs combined. Nevertheless, intellectuals,
academics and we analysts owe it upon the future of our country to expose
the evil of a totalitarian policy environment for what it is and the first
step in this noble call to duty is to demand the restoration of RBZ's core
business as a regulatory, rather than a commandist authority. End.
3 April, 2008
China has invested heavily in its resource-rich African ally, Zimbabwe. It
is Zimbabwe's most important trading partner and has been the biggest
beneficiary of President Robert Mugabe's anti-western 'look east' policy.
But last year, reports emerged that Beijing was having second thoughts about
Mr Mugabe and was abandoning Zimbabwe except humanitarian aid.
Speaker: Dr David Dorwood, former head of the Africa Studies Institute at La
Trobe University in Melbourne.
LAM: David Dorwood China's relations with President Mugave hark back to the
1970s war of independence. What do you make of reports that Beijing has cut
Mr Mugabe adrift?
DORWOOD: Well I think that's probably overstating it. What Mugabe was hoping
for was continuing flow of untied aid to Zimbabwe to prop up his government,
and that the Chinese have not given carte blanche on. Zimbabwe was in
arrears to the IMF and had, has all kinds of financial problems and it was
hoping for a Chinese bail-out. On the other hand the Chinese are still very
active in the resource market in Zimbabwe.
LAM: Nevertheless though are there indications that perhaps Zimbabwe may be
more trouble than its worth for the Chinese?
DORWOOD: Oh yes, I mean I think the Chinese aren't so much pulling out as
taking a lower profile in the expectation that it's only really a matter of
time before Robert Mugabe goes and they want to secure their resources with
new administration and therefore are sort of taking less of an active role
in propping up the ZANU-PF and Robert Mugabe.
LAM: And Dr Dorwood with an economy as dysfunctional as Zimbabwe's doesn't
it become increasingly difficult to do any meaningful business with
Zimbabwe. So what does this give the Chinese?
DORWOOD: Well you see Zimbabwe is a major producer of things like platinum
and platinum is a catalyst in the refracting of oil. China has an energy
problem, it wants to you know process its own oil therefore it has to have a
secure source for platinum. China has strategic investments in Zimbabwe,
those are going to persist irrespective of the government.
LAM: Well the question which arises now of course is that if there were to
be a change of government in Zimbabwe and Morgan Tsvangarai does replace
Robert Mugabe what are the implications for Beijing because already they've
been reports of anti-Chinese sentiments among ordinary Zimbabweans?
DORWOOD: The anti-Chinese sentiments are found throughout sort of a lot of
that part of central Africa because China has encouraged small businessmen
to go in and they're often seen as being exploitative, as being less than
honest, there's been anti-Chinese feelings in Zambia, Malawi as well as
Zimbabwe. Yes, that's a bit different, I think small shopkeepers and Chinese
small businessmen in that part of Africa may find it's time to reconsider
you know locating somewhere else. But in terms of the big mining interest,
that's a different scale altogether and the new administration if it comes
in under Morgan Tsvangarai is still going to have to deal with the Chinese.
And it's desperate for investment and employment and therefore it's not
going to sort of rock the boat too much.
LAM: So really for pragmatic reasons the new government if it is a new
government of Morgan Tsvangarai it won't try to punish China for being close
to the Mugabe regime?
DORWOOD: No it'll make pragmatic decisions I expect. As I say that isn't
going to protect sort of Chinese shopkeepers from irate mobs necessarily.
LAM: But might there be greater involvement from Beijing if there were to be
a new government because the new government might offer better
administration for the future?
DORWOOD: Yes and I think the other thing about it is that Zimbabwe has
become really quite dysfunctional. The Chinese need to have reliable
infrastructure as well as you know a steady sort of basically more honest
government to deal with.