Aug 11, 2008, 19:10 GMT
Harare - Crucial talks between Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe and
opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai on sharing power were adjourned for the
second time Monday amid assurances by Mugabe that the main hurdles had been
On leaving the talks, being mediated by South African President Thabo Mbeki
in a city-centre hotel, Mugabe told reporters: 'We will meet tomorrow and
Asked about 'sticking points' he had mentioned earlier in the day, he said
these had been 'overcome.'
Tsvangirai said the negotiations had been adjourned until Tuesday. 'You'll
be advised on the progress,' he said.
Mugabe, Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara, leader of a breakaway faction of
Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change had just resumed talks a few
hours earlier, after a first 14-hour session ended in the early hours of
Monday without an agreement.
August 11, 2008
It is slightly better for Zimbabweans that Robert Mugabe has agreed to talk
to the opposition, rather than sending his supporters to harass, arrest and
kill its members. But while he is still president - and his officials at the
talks have declared that this is non-negotiable - it is hard to see any plan
emerging which will rescue the country from the disaster of the last decade
of his rule.
The power-sharing talks, which broke up over the weekend, resumed yesterday.
Thabo Mbeki, South Africa's President, who is chairing them, has rightly
been the target of scathing attacks internationally for declining to
criticise Mugabe openly. He would find it a useful rebuttal to extract a
deal from these talks before the regional summit which he hosts in South
Africa on August 16.
But the talks appear to have stalled, unsurprisingly, on the question of
exactly how to share power between Mugabe, as President, and leader of Zanu
(PF), and Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC), who boycotted the June elections after attacks on his supporters.
Tsvangirai's strongest card, apart from international support, is that his
party won most seats in parliament in the first round of the elections in
April, despite widespread intimidation and violence.
But even though the talks have sketched out a crude framework of Mugabe as
president, with Tsvangirai as prime minister, the dispute is over the extent
to which Mugabe would be simply a figurehead, and would concede real
executive power to Tsvangirai. The deal means little without that, and yet
it is hard to imagine - given the uncompromising remarks from the Mugabe
camp - that he will contemplate this.
Zimbabwe is hardly the only country facing that impossible division. In
Pakistan, the impeachment proceedings against President Pervez Musharraf
which began yesterday are triggered by precisely that point: his
unwillingness to cede authority to the government elected early this year.
Kenya is the example that gives apparent encouragement. The power-sharing
agreement between President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga, of
the opposition Orange Democratic Movement, was reached after elections last
year that were marred by the deaths of more than 1,000 people, the
displacement of more than half a million, and blatant ballot-rigging. Odinga
handled with restraint the sharing of power after an election that many
thought he had properly won. Since then, he has emerged as an impressive
advocate and symbol of the possibility of negotiated solutions, although not
one to Mugabe's taste. Odinga has called Mugabe "an embarrassment to the
African continent" and said that the goal of talks should be to secure him a
But Zimbabwe is not Kenya. The comparison is cruel. Of course, the
bitterness and violence of the Kenyan elections, and the potential for
explosive conflict, was fuelled by ethnic conflicts which the government had
exacerbated. But there was an impressive recent history of growing
prosperity, which had made it one of Africa's success stories, and of
comparatively good government - except when it came to the final test of
being prepared to surrender power. There was no equivalent of Mugabe or his
systematic attempt to annihilate the opposition, apparently indifferent to
the destruction of one of Africa's most successful economies.
Talk of power-sharing implies that Mugabe can be constrained by the terms of
such a deal - or even, as Odinga hopes, persuade to leave quietly. But this
is a leader who has been indifferent to the suffering he has brought, almost
revelling in the measurements of economic collapse in his eagerness to blame
Britain and other supposed oppressors. The only encouraging point is that
Mugabe would not be talking at all if he didn't recognise that the country's
disintegration is undermining his support. But international investors and
other governments are not going to pour in the cash Zimbabwe needs for
reconstruction until he has gone. A plausible deal which might lead to
Zimbabwe's rebirth does not have room in it for Robert Mugabe.
President Robert Mugabe warned the Zimbabwean opposition not to be "used by
enemies", immediately before sitting down to renewed talks with the Movement
for Democratic Change.
By Peta Thornycroft in Harare and Sebastien Berger
Last Updated: 5:20PM BST 11 Aug 2008
Mr Mugabe's comments on Heroes' Day, which commemorates those who died in
the guerrilla war against Ian Smith's regime, did not augur well for the
negotiations over a government of national unity, which began again after
having broken up in the early hours after a marathon session failed to find
"Let's not hand over the country to the enemy," said the octogenarian leader
at Heroes' Acre, a national shrine in the shape of an AK47 assault rifle,
designed for Mr Mugabe by North Korean architects.
"If you are on the enemy's side or you are being used by enemies, stop it.
It cannot just be unity in vain - a hollow unity. It must be unity guided by
basic principles. Principles that will solidify us, strengthen us."
He did not name Morgan Tsvangirai, the MDC leader who beat him into second
place in the first round of presidential elections in March. But after years
of denouncing the opposition as "puppets" of the West, his audience would
have had no doubts to whom he was referring.
Zimbabwe was "not for sale", Mr Mugabe said, and "would never be a colony
He has used his role in the independence war time and again to justify his
dictatorship, and his words indicated that he still believes he is the only
appropriate leader for Zimbabwe.
In a possible sign of splits between factions of the MDC, the leader of a
smaller opposition grouping, Arthur Mutambara, attended Mr Mugabe's speech
at Heroes' Acre. "Divide and rule" is one of many tactics Mr Mugabe has used
over the decades to stymie his opponents.
Later in the afternoon the negotiations, which include Mr Mutambara,
restarted, again mediated by the South African president Thabo Mbeki, but
despite the optimism of earlier days hopes of a breakthrough were not high.
The talks have been deadlocked over whether Mr Mugabe as president or Mr
Tsvangirai as prime minister would chair a new cabinet. The key question is
whether Mr Mugabe is willing to cede meaningful executive power to Mr
Tsvangirai, and the fact that the cabinet chairmanship is still being
debated indicates the post of prime minister would not have full executive
The question of cabinet posts has also had to be reopened, after Mr Mugabe
rejected an agreement made earlier by lower-level negotiators, and the
balance between the three parties has yet to be settled.
"It doesn't look good, perhaps we are not going to get a deal," said one
exhausted source close to the 14-hour negotiation session of the previous
Another added: "The major hold-up is the refusal by Mugabe to cede his
executive powers. He is only agreeing to a nominal prime minister post for
"They [Zanu-PF] are also insisting that Mutambara becomes one of the deputy
prime ministers. Obviously that is not acceptable to us".
Depression over the talks is beginning to set in among ordinary Zimbabweans.
A woman trudging along a major highway to her home in an impoverished
township said: "We are going to suffer even more now, and we are hungry and
worried and maybe Mugabe is going to stay on for ever, until he dies."
SW Radio Africa (London)
11 August 2008
Posted to the web 11 August 2008
The credibility of Arthur Mutambara's role in the power-sharing talks is
being questioned, as the leader of the second MDC faction taking part in the
talks appears to be aligning himself closely with Robert Mugabe.
The latest sign of Mutambara's suspected cross-allegiance came after he
launched a scathing attack on the West in his Heroes Day message on Monday.
The message, titled "Exalting the Heroic Revolution" spends pages
criticising the West in a truly Mugabe-like style. In the message, Mutambara
first recognises the significant role the West will play in Zimbabwe's
future by saying: "We appreciate the moral, diplomatic and material support
our democratic forces and organizations have received from Western
institutions and governments."
But the message then continues with Mutambara saying, "we take exception to
the irritating ignorance, political insensitivity, double standards, and
patronizing arrogance that characterize Western diplomacy". Mutambara's
message also takes aim at the Western criticism of the ongoing politically
motivated violence in the country, labeling it "moralising nonsense". He
also lashed out at Western governments, saying they have "undermined our
legitimacy, strengthened our opponents, removed our moral authority, and
ruined our effectiveness and standing among Africans".
Mutambara's tirade strongly echoes Robert Mugabe's long time hatred of the
West. The growing suspicion of Mutambara's role in the power sharing deal
between the MDC and ZANU-PF has been further fuelled by speculation that he
is set to cross over to ZANU-PF - along with his members. The future of the
MDC majority stake in parliament is therefore being questioned - as
Mutambara holds the key to that majority. It would now appear as if
Mutambara is slowly but surely affiliating himself and his MDC faction more
closely to Mugabe. His warm welcome by Mugabe at Heroes Acre on Monday adds
more fuel to the fire, as the welcome is far cry from Mutambara's actions
last month, when he suspended the party's spokesman Gabriel Chaibva for
attending Mugabe's inauguration.
Political analyst Dr John Makumbe from the University of Zimbabwe told
Newsreel on Monday that Mutambara is clearly "ingratiating himself to
Mugabe" and that the chance of a political crossover to ZANU-PF is a "real
possibility". Makumbe said the MDC leader is "desperate to get into power"
and will align himself with whichever party is most likely to help him
achieve this end. He said Mutambara is putting the MDC in a "fragile
position" and that it would appear that Mutambara believes he is in a better
position in ZANU-PF, if the talks break down.
August 11, 2008
By Our Correspondents
HARARE - President Robert Mugabe seized on the occasion of the Heroes' Day
celebrations Monday to lambast MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai, while showering
Professor Arthur Mutambara, leader of a breakaway faction of the opposition
party, with praise.
Speaking in a speech delivered at Heroes' Acre in Harare on the occasion of
the commemoration of Heroes' Day Mugabe referred to Mutambara an "astute
Mutambara was at hand to bask in the glory of Mugabe's praise. He attended
the Heroes Day celebrations while Tsvangirai who defeated Mugabe in
elections held on March 29 and has forced Mugabe to sit at the negotiating
table, was conspicuous by his absence.
Mutambara made a surprise appearance at Heroes' Acre accompanied by his
secretary for defence and security Job Sikhala. There was speculation on
Sunday that Tsvangirai would attend the ceremony in the aftermath of the
signing of the power-sharing agreement. The celebration of Heroes' Day has
over the years degenerated into a highly politicized Zanu-PF affair.
Harare's Mayor Muchadeyi Masunda, who was elected on a ticket of the
mainstream MDC of Tsvangirai, attended the ceremony.
Home Affairs Minister Kembo Mohadi, who was the master of ceremony, publicly
acknowledged Mutambara's presence as he introduced guests of honour.
Mugabe said he and Mutambara had lost their patience with Tsvangirai during
the record 14-hour meeting yesterday. Mugabe sounded as if he and Mutambara
were on the same side against Tsvangirai.
"We had a long night negotiating on some little hurdles and I thought I
should raise my fist but he (facilitator Thabo Mbeki) remained cool and
said: 'Let us continue talking'. Even the astute young professor was also
losing his patience. So I said, 'Let's remain cool, the facilitator is cool',"
Mugabe spoke only hours after the marathon meeting with the two MDC leaders
that ended after midnight. The meeting was expected to continue this Monday
As the leaders emerged from the meeting at the Rainbow Towers Hotel only
Mutambara wore a radiant expression on his face. Both Mugabe and Tsvangirai,
who are essentially the protagonists at the talks, wore sullen faces as
aides helped them negotiate their way through a throng of journalists who
mobbed them in quest of information on the progress of the talks.
At Heroes' Acre hours later, Mugabe once more warned his nemesis,
Tsvangirai, that he must cut ties with the foreign critics of the Zanu-PF
Playing to the gallery once more Mugabe dismissed the mainstream MDC of
Tsvangirai as puppets of former colonial power Britain and other critics of
his government's policies, particularly the seizure of white-owned
commercial farms for redistribution among landless blacks.
The MDC denies the charge.
Mugabe, however, said that a deal between the two leaders to end the country's
political and economic crises was almost done.
"A new dispensation was ushered in by the signing of the Memorandum of
Understanding in the aftermath of the June 27 presidential run off
election," Mugabe said.
"This auspicious development paved the way for full scale negotiations that
are now paving way for a people's government which will be people-centred."
Mugabe paid tribute to Mbeki, who is facilitating the talks.
"My gratitude goes to President Mbeki, and he is still here, for his
patience and statesmanship stewardship," he said.
Mbeki is determined to have a power-sharing deal between Mugabe and
Tsvangirai in place before the SADC Heads of State and government summit to
be held in Midrand, South Africa, on Saturday.
Mugabe on Monday did not appear overly enthusiastic about the prospect of
political compromise with his nemesis.
"We must be truly Zimbabwean first," he said. "Zimbabwe is not for sale.
Zimbabwe will never be a colony again.
"If you were working with our erstwhile colonizers, stop it now. We must
close ranks and advance national interests. We must strengthen and
consolidate our oneness. But first, we must cherish our sovereignty, our
land, our freedom and our independence."
The Memorandum of Agreement signed by Mugabe, Tsvangirai and Mutambara on
July 22 states in Clause 10.2: "The parties shall refrain from using abusive
language that may incite hostility, political intolerance and ethnic hatred
or undermine each other."
The Press Association
22 minutes ago
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has given a downcast assessment of
Asked as he left the session whether the negotiations were going well,
Mugabe said: "Not exactly." But he added that more talks were planned.
Mugabe, his rivals and South African President Thabo Mbeki, who is
mediating, have been holding talks at a Harare hotel.
Both Mugabe and chief opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai claim to be
The factions differ on what role, if any, Mugabe would have in a coalition.
Mr Tsvangirai has said he could work with moderates from Mugabe's Zanu-PF
party, but not with Mugabe. Zanu-PF has insisted Mugabe remain president.
7:12pm UK, Monday August 11, 2008
Emma Hurd, Africa correspondent
Zimbabwe is on the brink of an historic power-sharing deal, but instead of
excitement the prevailing mood seems to be one of unease.
There are fears that MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai may be ready to make a
disastrous compromise in the negotiations - one which would leave Robert
Mugabe still holding significant power.
When the MDC entered the negotiations their position was clear - Mr
Tsvangirai should lead the country as prime minister, while Mr Mugabe could
stay on as president, but only in a ceremonial role.
But now things seem to be shifting and they appear to be going the
Leaks from the talks, being conducted under a media blackout, suggest that
Mr Mugabe wants to keep hold of at least some of his executive powers.
Key among them is control of the security forces - the same forces which
helped to crush the opposition during the elections.
For most in the MDC this is a thin red line and there is growing concern
within the party that Mr Tsvangirai may be about to cross it.
One mooted solution would leave Mr Mugabe in charge of the military, while
the MDC takes control of the more politicised police force and intelligence
It could be argued that the army is likely to remain loyal to the government
in Zimbabwe, and that government would be led by Mr Tsvangirai, but it would
still give Mr Mugabe much more than a 'ceremonial' role.
The other crucial issue is the carve up of the ministries.
In a coalition government, the MDC and Mr Mugabe's Zanu-PF will both have
cabinet posts, with a small number going to a breakaway opposition faction
led by Arthur Mutambara.
The MDC will be pushing for the most critical, including the finance
ministry, but Zanu-PF will be running others, again giving Mr Mugabe
How much power will be the critical question for the international
community, particularly the European Union, which is ready to pour money
into Zimbabwe but only if the country's Mr Mugabe is no longer in charge.
There is growing pressure to reach a deal quickly.
South Africa's President Thabo Mbeki is anxious to salvage his reputation as
mediator and Zimbabwe is edging close to total economic collapse by the day.
But all the haste could result in a bad deal - a fudge which will betray the
sacrifices of all those opposition activists who lost their lives.
The MDC could end up leading the government but still be battling Mr Mugabe
and his allies for control.
Mr Mugabe has neutered his opponents by luring them into coalition
Perhaps this time will be different and Zimbabwe is about to draw a line
under more than a decade of political turmoil and economic hardship.
But the unease in the country is borne of bitter experience. Mr Mugabe is,
after all, the man who warned that only God would remove him from power.
August 11, 2008, 20:15
Power-sharing talks between Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe and
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai
were in danger of failing this evening, a ruling Zanu-PF official said.
"It looks like we have reached some kind of stalemate which is threatening
the whole dialogue. Tsvangirai is moving goalposts, forcing us to negotiate
issues which we had already agreed upon," said the official on condition of
Both sides are under pressure to reach a deal that could end a post-election
political crisis and increase the chances of economic recovery.
The source said Tsvangirai was asking to reopen talks on the issue of Mugabe
leading a new unity government, which Zanu-PF says is not open to
"This is an issue that we had settled and he (Tsvangirai) is also suggesting
that he must be given full authority to appoint any new government."
MDC officials were not immediately available for comment. - Reuters
SW Radio Africa (London)
11 August 2008
Posted to the web 11 August 2008
The Tsvangirai MDC has threatened to walk out of the power-sharing talks,
citing the length of time it has taken to find a solution to the country's
crisis, sources said on Monday.
'The talks cannot go on for ever. The MDC has made it known to Thabo Mbeki
that they are not happy with the time it has taken to resolve the crisis,'
said the source from Harare.
It is believed the MDC negotiators, including Morgan Tsvangirai, were ready
to throw an ultimatum at Mbeki that after Monday they would walk out of the
talks if all parties fail to agree to a common position.
Political analyst Glen Mpani told us the issue of security guarantees for
Mugabe and his henchmen is proving to be one of the sticking points at the
"This is why you see Zanu-PF saying the issue of Mugabe's position is none
negotiable. Everything happening at the talks is about Mugabe's survival and
not about resolving the crisis. This is why it has taken this long for the
two sides to agree on the way forward," Mpani said
Negotiations have reportedly included proposals for Mugabe to take on a
ceremonial role as President, in exchange for amnesty from prosecution, with
Tsvangirai as executive prime minister. It is believed however that Mugabe
is having none of this and is demanding that he leads the government.
"Mbeki needs to come out with a balancing act that would be acceptable to
all parties and to Zimbabweans in general. But the feeling all around is
that based on the 27th March results Morgan Tsvangirai should lead a new
government in Zimbabwe, otherwise any other deal will be viewed with
suspicion even among his own supporters and the international community,"
Mon Aug 11, 7:19 AM ET
HARARE (AFP) - Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe said on Monday his country
"was not for sale" and "will never be a colony again", while warning the
opposition not to be "used by enemies."
"Let's not hand over the country to the enemy," Mugabe said in a national
address for Heroes' Day and ahead of a new round of power-sharing talks with
his political rivals.
"If you are on the enemy's side or you are being used by enemies, stop it
... It cannot just be unity in vain -- a hollow unity," the 84-year-old
leader said, addressing the audience in both Shona and English.
"It must be unity guided by basic principles. Principles that will solidify
us, strengthen us."
He added in the address in honour of those who died in the guerrilla war
that led to the country's independence: "Zimbabwe is not for sale and
Zimbabwe will never be a colony again."
Mugabe has often sought to portray opposition Movement for Democratic Change
leader Morgan Tsvangirai as a stooge of former colonial power Britain,
though his rhetoric has cooled in recent weeks with the two sides engaged in
He said "when somebody makes you turn against each other, you don't say we
are no longer family members."
Mugabe, himself a hero of the independence struggle, also declared "we will
die for our legacy."
"Fighting in self-defence is not a sin. So we fight to protect our legacy."
The country's political rivals held marathon power-sharing talks that broke
up in the early hours of Monday in a bid to end a crisis that intensified
after Mugabe's widely condemned re-election in June.
The talks have been mediated by South African President Thabo Mbeki, who
remained in Zimbabwe on Monday.
Mugabe "congratulated all the parties to the negotiations for exhibiting
this sense of collective and shared responsibility," while thanking Mbeki,
calling him "a very patient man."
"We spent all night yesterday in discussions and some of the things that
were holding back, at times I nearly raised my fist, but he remained cool."
Mbeki held meetings beginning on Sunday morning with Mugabe, Tsvangirai and
Arthur Mutambara, the leader of a smaller opposition faction.
The talks were to resume later Monday after Heroes' Day commemorations.
The deal that is likely to be sealed soon between President Mugabe and the
Movement for Democratic Change will not please everyone
William M Gumede
Monday August 11 2008 17:00 BST
Just the idea that the Zimbabwean tyrant Robert Mugabe will remain in power
for even longer is terribly unjust. Yet this is what will happen under a
deal supervised by South African president Thabo Mbeki, between Mugabe's
Zanu-PF and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change that will be
sealed quite soon now. However, the urgency to get the country out of its
morass demanded that negotiations take place, no matter how morally
repugnant it is to sit down with a man who bears ultimate responsibility for
Another flaw of these negotiations is that Zimbabwe's civil society groups,
whose feisty opposition helped to push the unwilling Mugabe and Zanu-PF to
negotiate with the opposition, have not been included in the talks. The
final deal that will be sealed soon between Mugabe and the Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) is unlikely to please everyone. The big stumbling
block from the beginning was Mugabe's insistence that he should be
recognised as the official president and should retain the widespread powers
he had enjoyed before.
The MDC wanted the presidency to be a largely ceremonial position. The final
outcome goes just about halfway: a presidency with downgraded powers.
Agreeing to that meant Tsvangirai had implicitly accepted the results of the
phoney June 27 presidential election in which there was only candidate:
Mugabe. Mugabe has compromised on limiting the powers of the presidency.
Tsvangirai has accepted the position as prime minister, with significant
powers, but without "full" executive control - which the MDC argued was fair
given the fact that it won the internationally accepted March 29 elections.
Mugabe had initially insisted on a meaningless vice-president position.
Ultimately, in the long term, Tsvangirai - and ordinary Zimbabweans - could
still win big if he can pin down Mugabe to make parliament the ultimate
power-broker in the transitional period. Until now Mugabe has over-ruled
But parliament's role's should be strengthened. The MDC has a parliamentary
majority - and in combination with the other opposition parties, may have an
even a larger one. The MDC must insist on parliamentary and civilian
oversight over all the security forces. Furthermore, the MDC must push for
at least split control of the security departments.
Zimbabwe is run by a junta. Tsvangirai and the MDC should insist on running
the economy, if not fully, then jointly. But an integral part of the
agreements must also be an independent judiciary and electoral commission,
with appointments to oversight bodies taken out of the hands of the
Tsvangirai should insist on bringing in direct democracy through
referendums - which will also bring democracy closer to the people while
helping to circumventi personal rule by the president. An agreement that
sees power widely dispersed is the only way to make co-governance with the
prickly Mugabe and Zanu-PF remotely tolerable. Part of the deal must be to
put solid mechanisms in place to stop corruption, human rights abuses and to
restore the rule of law, and bring some accountability to the Zimbabwean
political system. Ultimately, the best deal for the MDC is to have the
transition over as quickly as possible, within less then 30 months, and then
go for fresh elections. Mugabe, not surprisingly, insists on a full
Mugabe has not taken instructions from anyone since taking power. Governing
jointly is going to be a bumpy and frustrating one for Tsvangirai. The MDC
has negotiated with its hands bound behind its back. Ordinary Zimbabweans
are facing the brunt of Zimbabwe's crisis: starvation, human rights abuses,
arbitrary violence and homelessness. Mugabe and Zanu-PF do not really care:
they are cold-heartedly prepared to sacrifice ordinary people to stay in
It is a no-win situation: the longer Tsvangirai holds out, the worse it gets
for ordinary Zimbabweans. In the midst of the negotiations, the Mugabe
regime and its proxies have continued unleashing violence against ordinary
Zimbabweans to pressure the MDC negotiators to concede more. But the Mugabe
regime is also feeling the heat. Zimbabwe's continuing financial meltdown -
and the possibility of crippling sanctions if there is no satisfactory
deal - means that Mugabe would be running out of hard cash to maintain his
opulent lifestyle and his ability to pork-barrel his supporters. Britain and
the US could now play a constructive role upon agreement of a deal by giving
the money promised (but not given) at independence for land reform, by
scrapping some of the country's debts and by providing assistance without
conditions, except transparency ones.
SW Radio Africa (London)
11 August 2008
Posted to the web 11 August 2008
The main political parties have been locked in negotiations over the weekend
to try and thrash out a power sharing deal. Brokered by South African
President Thabo Mbeki the leaders of ZANU PF and MDC spent 14 hours on
Sunday debating how to share government. The rivals were back at the
negotiating table on Monday and as usual speculation is rife that the
parties are squabbling over positions.
Journalists waiting outside the Rainbow Towers Hotel in Harare on Monday
said the politicians are tightlipped and no information was forthcoming.
Associated Press correspondent Angus Shaw said a table had been set up at
the hotel for the signing ceremony, just in case agreement was reached.
"They are clearly anticipating there will be some signing, however we do
understand that the principal sticking point is the sharing of powers and
what powers Mr Mugabe will retain; what will be his executive role and what
will be Morgan Tsvangirai's executive role."
No one apart from the leaders of the political parties actually knows what
the details are and some analysts believe the media is being used to make it
look as if progress is being made, when in actual fact there is no
agreement, on any issue. Some MDC officials outside the negotiations have
also said they don't see any signs of a breakthrough. They also feel that
Mugabe and Mbeki would like to make it look as if Tsvangirai is the problem.
The only leader who made a public statement today was Robert Mugabe when he
delivered a speech at Heroes Acre on Monday morning. The 84 year old
dictator gave his usual criticism of the West and the 'sanctions' saying
this was the inhibiting factor to talks and to Zimbabweans sorting out their
As usual he issued a warning in his speech: "If you are on the enemy's side
or you are being used by enemies, stop it, that's it." He declared Zimbabwe
"was not for sale" and "will never be a colony again." Thabo Mbeki did not
attend the Heroes Day parade nor did Tsvangirai but the leader of the one
MDC formation, Arthur Mutambara, was in attendance, and was warmly welcomed
Meanwhile the Chairman of the National Constitutional Assembly, Dr Lovemore
Madhuku, was quoted in the South African press saying: "Without full
control, the full 100 percent of executive power in Morgan's hands, it is
worthless, the MDC should be very careful what they accept now, because they
will find out in due course that there is little they will be able to do
with anything less in political partnership with Mugabe."
Anti apartheid activist Allan Boesak is quoted in the South African Sunday
Tribune, accusing Mbeki of using the continuing violence in Zimbabwe to
blackmail the MDC into talks. Boesak asked: "It raises the fundamental
question, why is the violence still continuing? Why is Mbeki not getting
Mugabe to stop the violence? How can a real, honest settlement be achieved
while violence is being perpetrated on people?"
International aid agencies are also very concerned about the humanitarian
situation in Zimbabwe, but there is no evidence of goodwill being shown by
the Mugabe regime or an pressure coming from the South African facilitator.
Mugabe has not stuck to the agreements of the Memorandum of Understanding,
especially on the issue of allowing food aid and stopping the violence.
There are also questions as to why Tsvangirai has not raised these issues -
as an end to violence was a prerequisite for the talks.
Monday, 11 August 2008
By John Chuuru
The story of Robert Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangirai is one uniquely Zimbabwean
tale. Added to the tale is anchored in the historic handshake of the two,
which is more of a mystery than magic.
It is true the fruits of tyranny are bitter and only the people of Zimbabwe
can attest to that after having spent a better part of the 28 years yoked
under an undemocratic dispensation after independence from former colonial
masters, the British. Deep in their hearts, the people of Zimbabwe want a
new order to take shape in the country and the cards, it seems are held by
the protagonists to the talks in South Africa, Mugabe, Tsvangirai, and one
Arthur Mutambara. But it seems history might as well repeat itself because
Mugabe might not be prepared to relinquish power any time soon. It happened
before in the 1980s when a similar pact was signed between Mugabe and Joshua
Nkomo, and in the end Mugabe stole the day and came out the smiling one.
After the historic handshake paving the way for power-sharing talks by the
three protagonists, the horizon is still imbued with doubts whether the
talks will come up with any tangible changes. Commentators say it is
premature to pat Mbeki on the back for getting the warring parties in
Zimbabwe to the negotiating table. "Having seen Robert Mugabes's behaviour
over the past few yeaRs it's hard to believe that he will agree to anything
that does not give him total power. Even his wife Grace has said Morgan
Tsvangirai will never move into state house, how will Mugabe appease his
wife?" said Kim Huskisson. To begin with, Mugabe was known to resist calls
to step down, he had at some point dismissed a South African initiative for
the formation of a transitional government of national unity as what had
happened in Kenya after a disputed election and the subsequent violence.
"Kenya is Kenya, Zimbabwe is Zimbabwe. We have our own way of evolving
political impasses the Zimbabwean way, and the Zimbabwean way, not the Kenya
way. Not at all," government spokesperson, George Charamba, told reporters
last month. Once, a British journalist accused Mugabe of stealing the vote,
Mugabe shouted him down saying: "When will the British stop colonising us.
I'm the president of Zimbabwe whether you like it or not." Such remarks are
not the hallmark of a man who is prepared to leave office any day.
Despite the defiance by Mugabe's corner during the power-sharing talks, the
people of Zimbabwe want a fresh start, an opportunity to reshape the
country. During the first decade of independence, Zimbabwe was regarded as
the beacon of hope for Africa. These people who are agitating for change in
Zimbabwe are not the politicians and their political parties. They are
individuals, a cross-section of civil society organisations, human rights
groups, trade unions, professional groups, student groups and many more.
Despite the historic handshake that waited 10 years to take place between
Tsvangirai and Mugabe, regards the wishes of the Zimbabwean people as mere
phantasm. He is largely phlegmatic to give a wink to such wishful thinking.
Only his will would win the day.
Few more fear the 'Zanufication' of the MDC as happened to PF-ZAPU
"Tsvangirai needs lessons in the dangers of dealing with Mugabe they say."
But Gordon Moyo from the Bulawayo Agenda says the MDC boss is aware of such
machinations. While the leaders in South Africa bicker about who should be
what in terms of control, most people in the country do not vouch for a
particular candidate. Much as Tsvangirai will end up the protZgZ in the
negotiation, which his camp is against at the negotiating table. The people
say they want respect for democracy and the rule of law, an end to violence
and an opportunity to begin economic reconstruction that will be fruitful to
the majority of the Zimbabweans. Recent reports say the MDC will not accept
any deal that denies Tsvangirai executive powers. "The talks would rather
collapse or not move forward unless Mugabe is offered a ceremonial post or
forced to retire," says Sam Sipepa Moyo, an MDC executive member.
As Mbeki tries to pall a volatile negotiation by saying the talks are
"progressing well", reports point to some contention in the talks. These
border on four main issues, namely who will wield real power, the duration
of the transitional period, the constitutional amendments to allow the
transitional government and finally the commission of enquiry to probe
atrocities under Mugabe. ZANU-PF hardliners are resisting that Tsvangirai be
made prime minister saying 'we will not accept anything other than that
president Mugabe remain the executive president'. On the other hand the MDC
sees it as a mockery of the whole deal to give their leader the third vice
presidency post. Even as more and more African governments are turning their
backs on the Mugabe government, Harare does not seem to care.
The new Liberian president in a speech at the Mandela 90th birthday
celebration made her voice heard when she said it was her duty to "express
my solidarity with the people of Zimbabwe as they search for solutions to
the crisis in their country." She added that Liberia held a "sham election
that was endorsed by Africa and the whole world." When Botswana voiced her
unhappiness with the elections, which it says did not come fairly, the
Zimbabwean minister of information and publicity retorted saying Botswana
was not SADC. "We appreciate positive criticism from anyone including our
neighbour Botswana. But Botswana did not go to war to liberate themselves
from colonisation and so we feel that we as Zimbabweans experience Western
machinations more than they. "Botswana is not SADC, we listen to the
collective voice from SADC, and SADC has not voiced Botswana's claims."
This is not new. Mugabe has been known to indicate left and then suddenly
turn right. Could this be an exception this time around? If he thinks the
country cannot be taken at the stroke of the pen but only through the barrel
of the gun, why waste time sitting around the table to sign agreements to
hand the country to puppets of the British? As John L. Mason has said, "What
good is an aim if you don't pull the trigger?" only time will tell how the
talks will go.
Aug 11, 2008, 11:30 GMT
Harare - Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe talked up a power-sharing deal
with opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai at a rally on Monday, hours after
marathon negotiations between the two on a government of national unity were
adjourned in Harare.
'Today's commemoration occurs against the backdrop of a new dispensation,'
he told around 3,000 people attending annual Heroes' Day commemorations at a
burial ground in the capital.
Referring to his 14 hours of talks with Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
party leader Tsvangirai mediated by South African President Thabo Mbeki that
went early into Monday morning, Mugabe admitted: 'There was a time I'd feel
like raising my fist.'
'All of us would lose patience but we'd say why lose patience when the
facilitor remains calm,' he said in praise of Mbeki.
The talks at a city-centre hotel are set to resume later Monday to iron out
remaining 'sticking points' mentioned by Mugabe.
Mbeki has been in Harare since Saturday to try to push Zimbabwe's leaders
the final mile towards a deal after nearly two weeks of talks between
Mugabe's Zanu-PF and the two MDC factions in South Africa.
For steering the arch-foes towards a deal that Zimbabweans hope will
kickstart the country's reconstruction, Mbeki was covered in praise Monday.
'Long live President Mbeki,' read one placard waved in the crowd of mostly
soldiers and police at Heroes Acre burial ground, where fallen stalwarts of
the country's liberation war against Britain, of which Mugabe is a veteran,
In a sign of a softening of his stance towards Tsvangirai, whom he has
previously derided as a Western 'puppet', Mugabe that the time had come to
sit down and talk as a family.
'After a fight, the family sits down. That's where we are,' he said,
referring to a state-backed campaign of violence against MDC supporters
since March elections that has claimed at least 120 lives.
While 'God doesn't want violence,' Mugabe said, 'it's not a sin to defend
ourselves protecting our legacy.'
In another break with the past the placards waved by the crowd did not take
aim at MDC 'sellouts.'
It was the West, another traditional punching bag of Mugabe's, that came in
'Down with sanctions,' one placard read, referring to European Union and
United States sanctions on Zimbabwe's ruling elite, including Mugabe, which
he blames for the country's economic crisis.
'Stop meddling in our affairs,' read another, also apparently aimed at
Western powers such as Britain, who have threatened to withhold big aid
packages unless Tsvangirai and the MDC lead the next government.
Speculation had been rife before the weekend that Tsvangirai would attend
this year's Heroes Day ceremonies but he was absent. MDC minority faction
leader, Arthur Mutambara, also a party to the power-sharing talks, did
All reports emanating from the talks thus far suggest Tsvangirai will be
made prime minister in the new government.
The division of powers between Mugabe as president and Tsvangirai and prime
minister are believed to be among the remaining stumbling blocks.
Zimbabweans are hoping a negotiated settlement will deliver them from a
decade of biting hardship wrought by Mugabe's populist policies.
Analysts say the dire straits of Zimbabwe's economy, characterized by
inflation of over 2 million per cent and critical food shortages, ultimately
convinced Zimbabwe's leader of 28 years he will have to cede some of his
A while ago a friend asked me why I had remained an activist for so long, and suggested I was wasting my time, and that it wouldn’t be long before I was arrested “or something” (the or something, at a time when the Zanu regime was viciously assaulting people around the country, struck me as being far more ominous than the idea of arrest).
I responded honestly by saying that I didn’t seriously think there was much risk to me at all, and that the Zanu regime had their hands full chasing down the many brave people in our country who have stood so publically and strongly in defence of democracy and human rights.
She replied sternly: “You’re in denial”.
I explained carefully that I fully understood the risks, and that the images and harassment spoke for itself, that I had weighed and evaluated potential issues, and that I took great care to be sensible - to the point of being paranoid. With complete sincerity, which totally discounts any notion of heroics or deep rooted bravery on my part, I told her that if I genuinely believed there could be a day when I’d be hauled off to jail by shabbily dressed policemen on the back of a bukkie, that I would probably accumulate supplies and take up permanent residence under my bed.
She said, “Yes, but [Hope], everything you’re saying, that’s the denial part. You’ve rationalised away the risk and you think it won’t happen to you. That’s the thing about denial”.
She may have a point, and it certainly changed future conversations; now, when she says “You’re crazy!” I airily reply, “No I’m not; I’m in denial”.
The truth is I think she has a point. Zimbabweans need an emotional barrier between themselves and the miseries they contend with daily in order to survive living in our country - a cultivated veneer of self-preservation.
Another person I know - someone who is in the frontline dealing regularly with the most awful consequences of violence - gets through her days through what she calls ‘compartmentalisation’.
“I deal with violence in this part of my brain, and I don’t allow it to come anywhere near the other things I have to do every day. When I’m thinking about what to cook for supper, I don’t let myself think about the torture”.
A third person I know has managed, God knows how, to keep a business shuddering along when he should have closed it years ago.
Five months ago he said to me “I’m just going to keep going until elections, then I’ll know if we have a future or not and I can make a decision”.
Three days ago he was exhausted and depressed: “A few more days” he sighed, “and then we’ll know. I can keep it together until then”.
I know he won’t shut down. I know that no matter what the outcome, he’ll still battle to survive because that’s what he’s done for seven years now and he doesn’t know what else to do. But he needs the moving benchmarks to keep himself going, just as my colleague needs compartmentalisation and I need to rationalise away the risk.
I’m telling you this because I don’t know what to write about during this interregnum of confidence-crushing misinformation, rumour and idle speculation while the talks drag on and on, and I’m telling you this because I think the enormity of the talks is eating away at my carefully cultivated walls of denial and quite possibly driving me nuts.
A couple of nights ago I had a nightmare of mega-proportions - the kind when you wake up physically trembling, limbs twitching and heart racing. I woke up to the sound of someone panting in my room, only to realise it was me, hyperventilating with my night-terror.
I don’t normally talk to people about my dreams, but the day after this nightmare I spent about thirty minutes pouring over the morbid details with a friend who, bless him, was so fascinated by the twisted evil narrative my subconscious had conjured up that he managed to not get bored: “You’ve been reading too many witness testimonies”, he said, referring to the work done compiling the political violence map. “But why now?” I asked “Why have nightmares now at this time and not then?”
One of the many scary parts of my nightmare was a bone-shivering perception that I was alone in a house with all the doors and windows open, on a very dark night, and there was evil in the yard outside, circling and re-circling the building, watching me through the open windows and doors, monitoring my movements but choosing not to come in.
“I’m not talking about a robber lurking with a crowbar behind the bushes,” I clarified for my friend, “this was pure evil! You actually have no idea how lucky I am to be sitting here with you today, because I swear I was this close to being scoffed by Satan”.
So last night, with the memory that one of Satan’s acolytes had malevolently prowled the yard for hours the night before, I carefully locked all the doors and made sure there were no cracks in the curtains before I hurdled my aging self into bed from the safe distance of the bedroom door (just in case he had snuck in before and was already under there).
I lay in my bed and ran through a mental check of doors, windows, keys etc, before a heavy realisation settled on me that a creature as evil as Satan could probably ooze in through a keyhole: there was nothing I could do to keep him out.
“OK, get a grip,” I ordered myself. “Compartmentalise immediately”.
So I switched my thoughts to local politics and tried to think about the fact that our poll was revealing an undeniable lack of confidence in the talks. It was only then that it dawned on me that the talks held the core of my stress, and that they were quite possibly the root of my nightmare.
I feel powerless in the face of the vacuum of information around the talks. I feel as if our nation is sitting on a massive bomb timed to go off very soon while the diffusers debate which wire to cut first. All of them have trembling hands and one of them doesn’t give a damn whether the bomb blows or not.
I am very worried that concessions piled on concessions will end up producing a benign statement that entrenches the status quo.
Above all I am very frightened of what Zimbabweans will have to try and deal with if the talks fail - famine, murder, poverty and more. I feel terrified and paralysed by a very uncertain future and no idea at this point what the next stage of the battle will bring to all our doorsteps.
It all got a bit worse when I checked my email a little while ago and found this in my inbox - it’s an article from the AFP and it quotes Robert Mugabe ranting at a Heroes Day speech today just before the talks re-started:
Speaking during commemorations in honour of fighters who died in the liberation war against white minority rule, Mugabe said Zimbabwe “was not for sale” and “will never be a colony again”.
“Let’s not hand over the country to the enemy,” the 84-year-old leader said, addressing the audience in both Shona and English.
“If you are on the enemy’s side or you are being used by enemies, stop it.”
Mugabe has often sought to portray opposition Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai as a stooge of former colonial power Britain, though his rhetoric has cooled in recent weeks with the two sides engaged in talks.
He said “when somebody makes you turn against each other, you don’t say we are no longer family members.”
Mugabe, himself a hero of the independence struggle, also declared “we will die for our legacy.”
“Fighting in self-defence is not a sin.”
That sense of prowling ever-present evil looms again.
OK, maybe it’s time to call the friend who goes on about me being in denial and tell her I am now stocking up on supplies and preparing to take up residence underneath my bed. I will ask if she would be so kind as to come over and check that Satan’s acolyte hasn’t moved in there first before I do so!
Monday, 11 August 2008 14:07
We never said it would be easy - yesterday and 14 hours of intense
negotiation and still no agreement.
The talks resumed this morning and it is quite clear that Morgan
Tsvangirai is holding the line on the demand that the MDC emerge from these
talks with a mandate to form the next government and to control the State
with effect from the 1st of September.
In the final analysis this is a straight fight between Thabo Mbeki and
Zanu PF - the former has to secure an agreement that is acceptable to the
MDC and also to the international community. The MDC has to accept the deal
if it is to secure the approval of the general population and the latter if
the international community is to then agree to fund the stabilisation and
recovery of the Zimbabwe economy.
The position of Zanu PF has always been quite clear - if they accept
such a deal it means two years of working with the MDC in a junior
capacity - with the MDC holding the reins of power and then at the end of
the transitional period facing an election under free and fair conditions
with a free press, no violence or intimidation, an independent election
commission and international observers.
In such an electoral process it is likely that Zanu PF would cease to
exist as a political party - at least in the House of Assembly and perhaps
in all local government Councils. Like the National Party in South Africa at
best they would end up as a minor player. More immediately and of great
concern to all of their leadership and many hundreds of others, they would
face a independent Judicial system and possible prosecution for either human
rights abuse, political violence and murder or corruption.
When viewed like that this always was going to be a power game. After
all that is politics. We will know today what the outcome has been and I
remain convinced that Mr. Mbeki will have to get a deal - he simply cannot
go back to South Africa without agreement and must therefore use his very
considerable power as President of South Africa, to force Zanu PF to accept
What happens if he fails? That has always been a possibility - many
have said a probability. Those skeptics have argued that he simply does not
have what it takes to exercise power at this level. That he does not have
the moral authority or the leverage to force compliance. I disagree - he has
always had the power to do so and has chosen not to use it up to now. I
agree with Tony Leon when he said on SA television this morning that this
thing could have been fixed 8 years ago and the long nightmare of the past
decade avoided. But that is easier said than done. Right now its high noon
on Main Street.
If he fails this test then what happens to the rest of us? If I was on
the Zanu side I would not come out of this with any optimism - if anything I
would be tempted to start to pack my bags and leave. If they do not sign
today, Zanu PF is really finished. They have no legitimacy; their
administration will not be accepted by anybody of significance. The SADC and
possibly the AU will ostracize them. Sanctions will be further tightened on
their leadership and the collapse of the economy will continue - eventually
making it nearly impossible to live here.
Millions will flee to other countries - 80 per cent to South Africa
where they will destabilize a fragile social system and security. The local
security forces will disintegrate, eventually threatening the security of
what remains of the regime. Capital will flee the country and little or no
investment will come in to replace it and starvation and hunger will haunt
what remains of the local population.
Most commentators would predict that the regime could not last more
than a few months under such conditions. I am inclined to agree but we could
simply slide into anarchy and chaos with Zimbabwe becoming a pitiful failed
State of the worst kind - unable to feed or care for the majority of the
people and only a small minority remaining at home.
What are the chances of a violent end to the regime - in this country
I think minimal. We do not have any neighbors who might allow bases for an
armed rebellion, we have no arms and even if the armed forces took matters
into their own hands the result would not be recognised or accepted. It
would be futile. Biti was about right when he was asked what MDC would do if
they could not get what they wanted - he replied "we would let them stew in
their own juices".
What if Mbeki does put his foot down and gets a deal? Then I would
expect the leaders to clear the deal with their respective parties and then
a final agreement to be prepared and ready for signing in South Africa at
the SADC summit on Saturday. After that we would have the opening of
Parliament on the following Wednesday followed by the House voting on the
legislation to give effect to the agreement and then the new Government
being appointed by the 1st of September.
If the transitional arrangements are acceptable to the international
community then I would expect things to happen quite fast - by the end of
September the basic outline of things to come would be in place - the
Reserve Bank would have acted to start to stabilize the economic and
monetary system, the emergency programme to get recovery under way would be
in place and people should begin to see real things happening on the ground.
In six months I would expect inflation to be down to single digits and
the economy should start to exhibit real growth for the first time since
1998. The dollar will strengthen and exports begin to recover. Investment
inflows would be positive - again for the first time in a decade and tourism
would begin. The contrast between these two scenarios is so great that I
find it difficult to believe that Mr. Mbeki can do anything behind those
closed doors in Harare except tell the Zanu delegation that their future is
sealed and they have no option but to sign.
Bulawayo, 11the August 2008
Even if Zimbabwe's government and opposition reach a power-sharing
deal soon, real progress in rebuilding the shattered economy will depend on
agreement from both security chiefs and Western powers.
Although there is no confirmation of press reports saying President
Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF party and the opposition MDC could sign a deal,
there are signs an agreement may be close.
South African President Thabo Mbeki, who has mediated the
negotiations, is expected in Harare, apparently in the hope of overseeing a
But analysts say such an agreement would not turn around the ruined
economy unless Western powers threw massive financial backing behind it and
the powerful "securocrats" supporting Mugabe were also on board.
The army and police chiefs are widely believed to have strengthened
Mugabe's resolve after he lost a first round presidential vote on March 29.
Analysts believe they will not support a power-sharing deal unless they are
given immunity from international justice.
Human rights groups and the opposition accuse them of leading a
violent campaign to ensure Mugabe's re-election in a widely condemned second
round on June 27 that was boycotted by MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai because
of the violence.
Although no details of the power-sharing talks have been disclosed,
several Zimbabwe analysts believe Mugabe is only ready to surrender some
executive powers and will try to retain control of crucial state organs.
"I think those who expected Tsvangirai to be heading the government,
those who want Mugabe out of the scene altogether will not be happy with a
situation in which Mugabe retains significant power," said political analyst
"I think quite a number of Western countries will want time to assess
and review the outcome before committing themselves, and will not simply
listen to ZANU-PF or the MDC's versions of events," he said.
"If they come on board and give the process a chance, that will be
good for the economy, but if they don't, Zimbabwe will still face problems
internationally," said Masunungure, a political science professor at the
University of Zimbabwe.
Key Western powers, led by the United States and Zimbabwe's former
colonial master Britain, have frozen financial aid and imposed sanctions on
Mugabe's closest allies because of alleged human rights abuses and
vote-rigging. Analysts say assistance from these countries, and from the IMF
and World Bank, is crucial to reversing years of economic decline in a
country battling with the world's highest inflation of over 2.2 million
percent, a crumbling infrastructure, massive unemployment and food
Mugabe blames the economic meltdown -- which has forced a quarter of
Zimbabwe's 13 million people abroad and left the rest struggling with
chronic shortages of food, fuel and foreign currency -- on opponents trying
to oust his government.
Mugabe's party ring-fenced as "non-negotiable" a number of issues
ahead of the talks, including his presidency, his land reforms and what it
called Zimbabwe's political sovereignty.
Analysts say this was a clear pointer that Mugabe was not going to
give up control over agriculture and the security forces, crucial to his
hold on power.
John Makumbe, a political commentator and Mugabe critic, said a
political deal that left Mugabe with key powers could split the opposition.
"Mugabe has been the problem, and if he is allowed to have
overwhelming power and allowed to dominate, there may be others in the MDC
who will find that unacceptable and will break away (from Tsvangirai's
leadership)," he said.
"It will be a difficult scenario, but there are people who are wary
about being cheated by Mugabe," he added.
Critics accuse the 84-year-old former guerrilla leader of ruining the
once prosperous southern African state with policies including his seizures
of white-owned farms for redistribution to inexperienced black farmers
struggling to produce food.
But Mugabe -- who led the country to independence in 1980 after a
seven-year bush war -- says the land seizures and lately his plans to
nationalise foreign companies, including mines and banks, are part of a
drive to empower blacks impoverished by the white settler community.
John Robertson, a leading economic commentator, said Zimbabwe would be
in for more pain if the power-sharing deal failed to win international
"The economy is on its knees, and while a political deal is important,
the crucial question is, are we are going to see a change in the policies
that got us into this mess?" he said.
"That is the crux of the matter." (Reuters)
SW Radio Africa Transcript
Broadcast Friday 8 August 2008
Violet Gonda: My guests on the programme Hot seat are two journalists who
have been covering the Zimbabwe crisis talks extensively. Dumisani Muleya is
a correspondent for the Business Day in South Africa and is also the news
editor for the Zimbabwe Independent newspaper and Basildon Peta is the
Africa correspondent for the UK Independent newspaper group. He is based in
Johannesburg . Welcome on the programme..
Muleya & Peta: Thank you.
Gonda: Let me start with Dumisani. You covered a story saying negotiators
have gone back to Zimbabwe with a draft deal. What do you know? Can you give
us the latest?
Dumisani Muleya: Yes, basically our information is that the negotiators have
concluded the latest round of talks in Pretoria and some of them started
flying back to Harare in preparation for a weekend round of events including
some talks between President Robert Mugabe and Mr Morgan Tsvangirai on
Sunday - the two main principals. They will be looking at the draft
agreement that emerged out of Pretoria and they will be trying to find a
breakthrough on key issues that at the moment we can say stand unresolved
because they need to be dealt with by the party political leaders.
Gonda: And what are those key issues?
Muleya: One of them is the issue of the roles, powers and functions of
Mugabe and Tsvangirai in this new government. That's the first item and the
second is the transitional mechanisms - how do you implement the draft
agreement if the principals approve it. The other issues are issues around
the Speakership. All parties at the negotiating table have during the course
of the week been engaged in intense discussions about who gets the
Speakership. As you know, none of the three political parties have a
majority in parliament. They are delicately balanced in parliament and so we
have a hung parliament. None of the parties can be able on its own to
determine who the Speaker is. It is so delicately balanced to the extent
that even the smallest party determines who can be the Speaker and therefore
it has also been demanding that, "you two big parties if you can't agree on
who becomes the Speaker then give us the Speaker as a compromise."
Then the last thing is the issue of the Governors. The parties have been
debating on whether to share the Governors five each. In this case each
means five for ZANU PF and five for the MDC . There has not been any
agreement around that - as the information we have shows. And at one time in
the middle of negotiations ZANU PF suggested that, "if we can't agree let's
just scrap the post of Governors and increase the number of appointed
Senators in order to accommodate people who would need to be accommodated
from ZANU PF and the MDC ."
Gonda: And Basildon what have you been hearing there is South Africa . We
also understand that Thabo Mbeki is making plans to go to Zimbabwe on
Sunday, what are you hearing?
Basildon Peta: Well before I outline what I am hearing allow me to take this
opportunity to condemn the entire process in which these talks have been
conducted, the entire arrangement rather. I am extremely disappointed that
it has been difficult to get information about what is happening in these
talks when it is our future at stake. It is the future of our country at
stake. I cannot understand and I cannot comprehend why the MDC agreed to
this secretive surreptitious arrangement in which the future of our country
is discussed in a secluded place, where nobody has access. You may recall
that during the CODESA talks which brought this transition in South Africa -
the CODESA talks were being televised live on television. People had access
to air their views and to input into the talks. I covered the Sun City talks
that were mediated by Mbeki as well - that brought the transition to the DRC
and I can tell you it wasn't as difficult. We could meet and interview the
parties as they came out of the talks and they were telling us what the
sticking points were, what the problems were. But here we have this
arrangement which has sort of kept us in the dark. I just don't think it is
Anyway to answer your question, we hear that President Mbeki is going to
Zimbabwe at the weekend to try and mediate the last round of talks between
the principals - that is Mugabe, Mutambara and Morgan Tsvangirai. He was
scheduled to have been in Zimbabwe on Thursday - at least that's what many
reports here were saying but that didn't happen. I think he is going on
Sunday. I think Dumi has covered very well the sticking points, the
outstanding issues to be resolved. That's my understanding as well. I also
understand, I am authoritatively informed that the reports that were saying
"Mugabe will now be completely ceremonial" are totally wrong. If there is
going to be a deal, the deal will be modelled alongside the principles of
the French model of governance, in which you have an executive President and
an executive Prime Minister, sharing executive powers. I am told that
Mugabe - there is no way that he is going to accept being relegated to a
ceremonial drama queen. That is my understanding.
Gonda: If I can go back to your earlier comments about the effects of the
media blackout. You know many people agree with you that there should never
have been a situation where information is hidden from the people. And in
some cases the media has been deliberately fed lies by the political
parties. Dumisani what are your thoughts on that?
Muleya: Well I entirely agree with Peta on that one. That whereas we should
also accept that the negotiations could not be conducted in the full glare
of the media considering the sensitivities of the issues - in particular
issues of the role and the function of Mugabe in the new government. There
should have been a balance here. The negotiators and the mediators should
have said to themselves that, "whereas we want to keep these negotiations as
closely guarded as possible in order to safeguard the process from external
interference which may be unwarranted," they should have at the same time
considered that - since they are discussing the future of a whole lot of
people, at least 12 million - they should have had a process in which they
would also release information as they proceeded. Information that would not
endanger the talks and information that the media would need in order to
inform the public about this process. There should have been a degree of
transparency in order to make sure that this process does not degenerate
into some kind of a shadowy, murky deal cutting affair between the political
As we stand here we are relying on information that is just trickling out of
the talks. We do not know for sure that at the end of the day, that
factually and indeed in terms of the truth that this is exactly what is
going on. We may be having information that is closer to the truth but it
may not necessarily be the truth. So what this does is that it leaves room
for politicians to cut deals which may not be in the public interest at all,
which may end up becoming elite power sharing pacts that only accommodate
the interests of political elites. There should have been transparency in
There was a problem - if I may give a background about this - when the
political parties were talking last year we had a couple of run-ins with
some of the negotiators who were very angered by the systematic release of
information by their colleagues to the media. To the point that at my
publication we even received calls by some of the negotiators to say,
"tomorrow we know you are publishing the agenda of the talks, don't publish
this. If you do this you are going to endanger the talks." They approached
publishers to try and lobby for that, but we rejected that and argued that,
"no we need to release that information so that the people know what you are
talking about because otherwise the public interest is endangered by this
So this is the kind of situation that is undesirable to the public interest
and indeed it cannot be defended that the talks should be totally shrouded
Peta: And just to add to that if you don't mind Violet.
Gonda: No go ahead.
Peta: You know the way this entire process has bee structured is such that
even ordinary Zimbabweans like me who may want to input the talks with some
very specific matters of interest that are interests to my profession the
media, which you know has been emasculated by the Mugabe regime, the way
these talks are structured is such that we are totally kept away! Totally,
totally kept away. You know there are sectoral interests in Zimbabwe who
might want to input these talks - take for instance the civic society, the
business sector who are the people who are critical to any reconstruction of
the economy, assuming a deal is done. They might want to input the talks but
they are totally, totally kept away. You don't even know who you can call to
say, "guys when you discuss this issue on the agenda, for instance when you
discuss violence or when you discuss the media, we think this is the
framework. We want to contribute A,B,C." But there is no room. We as
Zimbabweans we are totally shut out from this entire process. It's like we
We have a few men and one woman I am told, maybe nicely dressed and sitting
somewhere in a secluded corner of the world of Cape Town -they were meeting
in Cape Town - discussing our future and they shield themselves away from
us. This is a joke to be honest with you. Unless these people produce a
transitional arrangement - a transitional arrangement in which they organise
their governmental structure and then start an entire process like we saw
during the ill-fated Constitutional Commission exercise where people were
widely consulted. We had an open system where the Constitutional
Commissioners - I was one of them then before I quit over some internal
differences with those people - we went out and consulted the people and
they told us what they wanted. The NCA which opposed the entire process or
which ran a parallel process of constitution making where involved in a wide
consultation process. People were meeting under trees and under different
conditions to discuss and to input to this process. Unless we are going to
an arrangement whereby as soon as they have shared power they kick start a
process of serious consultations with the Zimbabwean people so that at least
we have an input in whatever is finally agreed during this transition then
this entire process is going to be a joke. I cannot imagine how then it
cannot be labelled an elitist pact, something the MDC has been at pains to
explain that they won't agree to. I cannot see how we Zimbabwean then cannot
perceive this entire process as an elitist pact of some sort. I am hoping
and praying that whatever they agree will just be a mere transitional
arrangement not substantive issues that the people of Zimbabwe have been
kept away from inputting.
Gonda: You know because of this environment which is now full of speculation
and rumour where we hear on one hand that Mugabe was being offered a
ceremonial position as President while Morgan Tsvangirai was being offered a
role as executive Prime Minister. Now I understand it is not true as you
said earlier that this is fiction. We had also heard that they were offering
a 'blanket amnesty' on all Zimbabweans who had participated in human rights
abuses or political violence. What do you think Zimbabweans would do if this
arrangement is not acceptable to them?
Peta: I think it's very simple. If the agreement is not acceptable to the
people then it's an illegitimate document and the Zimbabwean crisis will
continue. Any agreement that is reached by these leaders without the input
and participation of the people is not binding on the people and so it is
not going to be worth the paper that it is written on. You know you
mentioned a very important issue - for instance this issue of amnesty. I don't
think this is an issue that Tendai Biti, Welshman Ncube, Priscilla
Misihairabwi Mushonga and Elton Mangoma can decide for us. You know four
people can just say, "ok, we will offer Mugabe a blanket amnesty." Mugabe is
a rogue dictator. His collection of monsters in ZANU PF at one stage or
another have to pay for their sins, for the crimes they have committed
against the people of Zimbabwe. And it's a matter that if ever there is
going to be amnesty, and the extent of that amnesty has to be thoroughly,
thoroughly inputted by the people. We have lots and lots of victims who have
suffered. Each and every one of us has a relative who has been a victim of
these monsters and for there to be just a blanket amnesty is an issue that
will be problematic and many people will not accept.
I don't know what obviously people will do if they disown the document, what
course of action they will then have to resort to. I cannot answer and I
cannot say that specifically but what is clear is that whatever would have
to be agreed and implemented by these people without the people's input,
without widespread consultation is illegitimate. Unless, unless of course
Tsvangirai sticks to his word and whatever is agreed at these particular
talks is just a transitional mechanism for a year or two, to allow this
consultative process among the people to get underway so that whatever is
the final arrangement is owned by the people of Zimbabwe.
Gonda: Dumisani can you first of all tell us what is your understanding of
this issue of 'blanket amnesty' because it was reported by the Star
newspaper saying the draft settlement had a clause talking about a 'blanket
amnesty' on all Zimbabweans?
Muleya: Yes, probably before I answer your question directly I have some
point to make. I have seen the report in different publications that
originated from South Africa about Mugabe going to be a ceremonial President
and Tsvangirai being an executive Prime Minister. Peta has already addressed
that but I just wanted to make a point that my understanding of that is;
that is not a draft agreement at all. That was a proposal by the MDC led by
Muleya: You would recall that in this situation the parties were making
their own proposals to the talks, saying that ideally this is what we would
want to get out of the talks. So each party started from its position in so
far as it is interested in protecting its interests. So you cannot imagine
an agreement out of a negotiated settlement in which power which is now
concentrated in the hands of Mugabe is all transferred into the hands of
Tsvangirai by way of that arrangement which results in Mugabe being a
ceremonial President and Tsvangirai being an executive Prime Minister. That
would be tantamount to just taking all Mugabe's powers depositing them into
Tsvangirai's hands and then Mugabe having already lost control of
parliament. This means that this agreement will all be about totally
sweeping ZANU PF out of power. It will be about ZANU PF totally negotiating
themselves out of power and honestly that does not make any sense.
Peta: Sorry Dumi I just wanted to back you on that one too and say there has
been a gross misunderstanding of this document. You are right in saying it
was a position paper of one of the parties to the negotiations.
Muleya: Yes one of the negotiating parties.
Peta: And obviously there was a misconstruction when it was regarded as a
draft agreement of what has been discussed. It is important to clarify that.
Gonda: But how do you know it was a proposal from the Tsvangirai MDC because
would the Tsvangirai MDC actually propose a 'blanket amnesty?' Does that
make any sense?
Muleya: Let me start by saying I have seen that document by the way but
unfortunately from the people that we were getting the information from I
could not report it by way of saying this is a proposal by one of the
parties because my understanding from the source at that time was that, "no
this will appear like some of the negotiating parties are giving away
documents that are supposed to be private and confidential." But it deals
more with the issue of Mugabe's amnesty rather than too much of blanket
amnesty. That if Mugabe was to accept being ceremonial President in exchange
for amnesty that would be a deal. And it also said that down the line that
if it got to a point where he needs amnesty for his people in order to get a
deal then that would be done. Then the MDC seems to have taken a position
that they may want to give this blanket amnesty in order to negotiate Mugabe
out of power. Whether that is a good deal or not definitely that is up to
Zimbabweans to comment. Already we heard Basildon Peta saying it is not a
good thing at all. I am sure many more Zimbabweans have other views probably
different views on it.
But I think we are very clear on one thing that it does not make sense to
say political parties are involved in power sharing talks in which you end
up with one of the negotiating parties with all the powers. So where is the
power sharing in that kind of arrangement?
On the issue of amnesty the political parties - according to a briefing that
I had - last week had a problem with one of the issues that they were
discussing in particular regarding the issue of violence. They confronted
that issue and they were divided on it - ZANU PF on one side the MDC on the
other. The MDC were arguing that people who were affected by political
violence before the March 29 th election and after going right until June 27
th, the run off - those people need to be compensated and those who
perpetrated the crimes need to be arraigned or brought to book. I am sure
you then saw the statement afterwards. Let me tell you what the statement
says. The statement in its import says, "all the negotiating parties accepts
responsibility for the violence," which was a compromise and then they
called for the arraignment of the perpetrators of that violence and then
further down the line also called for the compensation of the victims of
that violence. That is a compromised position because last week they were
too far apart on that issue. But then moving forward around that the
question then becomes; How then do you define the perpetrators and where do
you draw the line? Do you go back to January, do you start in February, do
you start in March? Where do you start and where do you end? And how do you
identify the perpetrators, how do you find the victims and where do you get
money for compensation? Those were the sort of questions they were battling
And it does seem like they really answered them because the statement then
clearly said whoever the perpetrators are they must be arraigned. Whoever
the victims are they must be compensated and then they said NGOs must then
be able to assist where they can. Can you see that looks like just an open
deal around that issue and which doesn't really have any specifics?
Gonda: And it also appears as if the MDC is also admitting to participating
in the violence, doesn't it?
Muleya: Yes! Obviously if you read that statement carefully they are
admitting collective responsibility for violence, the beatings and the
killings that went on during the elections. This means that ZANU PF rejected
suggestions by the MDC that it was the perpetrator. Of course many
Zimbabweans believe ZANU PF was but I think the MDC were put in a situation
in which they ended up compromising to the point of admitting that they were
participants in violence they were perpetrators and indeed that they
inflicted violence on some of the Zimbabweans. I think this was really a
weak position by the MDC because in the end that means that ZANU PF has
managed to wriggle out on the issue of violence and the killings that went
on during the elections. So that is a problem as far as I am concerned
because the MDC - I think for the sake of progress -are now saying, "let's
even accept crimes that we did not commit if this will guarantee us a deal,"
which is a problem.
Gonda: Basildon how do you view this - we also received that statement
Dumisani. When you read it out I remembered it but we didn't receive it from
the Tsvangirai MDC and when we tried to call all the Tsvangirai MDC
officials that we tried to get a comment from denied seeing that statement
or any knowledge. We have been having those problems where it appears the
MDC officials are no longer free to actually discuss or comment about such
issues. Are you also finding that problem there Basildon ?
Peta: Yes, yes Violet and I must say it is really tragic. I raised it with
Welshman Ncube and with Tendai Biti. Remember when they were involved in the
initial round of talks after the SADC summit, which I covered in
Dar-er-Salaam in March last year - the summit that kick started the entire
process of Mbeki's mediation? This thing happened again when the MDC and
ZANU PF were locked in those negotiations and the MDC re-fenced themselves.
You see as our fellow comrades in this struggle we expect to at least have
more access to the MDC than say to ZANU PF. You know if personally I had my
way and if it were not for a fact that in journalism you have to balance
things I actually would not want to talk to any monster from ZANU PF but
anyway that is besides the point.
Anyway since that process began in March up until the end of the year the
talks collapsed. As you know the entire talks that were meant to create the
conditions for a free and fair election and we now had this trading of
accusations between the MDC and Mbeki with Mbeki saying, "the talks didn't
fail" and the MDC saying "the talks failed." Then Welshman Ncube and Tendai
Biti came to Johannesburg - they called a joint press conference in which
they outlined why these talks had failed. And I said to them at that
particular point, "you know you gentlemen, when you were talking to these
people and we were trying to reach you to get an insight into what you were
discussing you were totally inaccessible. You re-fenced yourselves, you kept
yourselves away from us and now that the talks have collapsed you are now
running calling press conferences. You are after the media. You suddenly
have recognised the importance of the media because you want us to
communicate your side of the story and why the talks have failed. Why didn't
you keep us involved throughout the process?" And we had that exchange at
that press conference and many of my media colleagues backed me.
I thought the MDC had learnt a lesson unfortunately they haven't. Now we are
involved in this process and we understand that progress has been made but
as Dumi rightly pointed out there are still these sticking issues of how to
share power between Mugabe and it can also turn out that the entire talks
collapse and at that stage the MDC would now start coming after the media,
running and calling press conferences wanting to explain why things have
failed. But many people would have been put off by the entire process and
the international media will not bother to report on whatever they will be
saying. And this will work out to be at the disadvantage of the MDC and the
democratic forces in Zimbabwe .
Yes you are right we are having difficulties, severe difficulties in
accessing information and as I say and I repeat it, it's tragic to me. It's
very, very tragic because as the future of the country is at stake and the
future of 12 million people, as Dumisani Muleya has said, is at stake, we
saw agenda items that were agreed. There are many people who have a thing or
two to say. You know the Media Alliance for Zimbabwe for instance issued a
statement which concerns the media and what they would want to see as the
media's role is important in any transitional arrangement that will be put
in place, but they had difficulties. One of the officials had to look for me
to say, "look can you publish this story in the South African media since
these talks are happening in South Africa in the hope that maybe one of the
negotiators will read and know that these are our concerns as the media and
then raise these issues in the talks." Surely is that the way we should
operate as Zimbabweans? I tend to disagree.
Even if their views are not taken on board but you know that feeling that at
least I have said something that concerns me and it has been listened to or
rejected that is what democracy is all about. There ought to have been some
kind of accommodation of the various voices, the various sectorial interests
we have in Zimbabwe which hasn't been done. And as you rightly said the
MDC - the very people fighting and leading our struggle for democracy - have
been totally, totally been inaccessible.
So at the end of the day I repeat what I said that one hopes this is just a
temporary transitional pact that they will agree upon which will last for a
year and not more than two years and during that period we as Zimbabweans
get an opportunity to vigorously debate the future of our country, what we
want for our country and all the things that we think matter to our country.
Gonda: And let me end by asking Dumisani, you gave us a run down of what
could be in the draft settlement, how do we know you haven't been fed a
rumour to keep Zimbabweans going or from one particular group in the talks
so that people are not outraged?
Muleya: When we write stories we don't just speak to one person or one of
the negotiating parties. We try as much as possible to speak to all of them
and fortunately usually off the record we have access to ZANU PF and the two
MDC factions. So we compare notes, we take notes from ZANU PF, we take notes
from MDC led by Tsvangirai and we take notes from the MDC led by Mutambara
and then try to look at the commonalities in terms of the facts to say this
seems to be what is coming out from all the parties. And this is what has
happened here that after all the gruelling negotiations we seem to be having
a common position which says that basically in the key positions we will
have Mugabe still remaining as President and then Morgan Tsvangirai coming
in there as Prime Minister with some executive powers. That seems to be the
arrangement that we are likely to see at the end of the day if the talks
And maybe I just need to point out one thing before we go - that if you want
to understand how ZANU PF negotiates and I have said this to some MDC people
when we were exchanging notes on the issues that part of the problem is that
when they are negotiating they do not care to find out what ZANU PF is doing
or saying within its structures which affects the talks. I will give you a
very good example: last year when they were negotiating in particular on the
draft constitution; they negotiated and agreed on that constitution but ZANU
PF misled them by making them believe that the constitution will be
implemented before the elections and the elections will be conducted under a
new constitutional order. However we knew very well because we had the
minutes of the ZANU PF Politburo of September 5 last year and in those
minutes - which we reported continuously hoping that the MDC would pick a
thing or two out of that - ZANU PF had decided that they would not accept a
new constitution before the elections and we kept on drumming that issue
hoping that these guys will begin to understand that ZANU PF usually puts
out two faces in the negotiations. There is the real face which comes out in
the Politburo and the other one which comes out at the negotiating table.
The same thing is happening now, in the Politburo on July 23 ZANU PF decided
that the issue of Mugabe's executive President position is not negotiable.
They decided that whatever happens in the talks they would defend that
position and that position has to prevail by all means necessary. This is
what the MDC is missing here that ZANU PF when it comes to that issue they
are not going to move an inch on that, they will negotiate and agree on all
these other things and at the end of the day they will say, "here we are
Mugabe will remain executive President all other things can follow after
Peta: Which is why Dumi I think for the MDC , it would have been in their
interest to insist on some kind of transparent negotiations process so that
at least people can see this monstrous party called ZANU PF for what it is.
One does understand that - as you rightly said earlier on - not every detail
can be negotiated in public but there ought to have been some level of
transparency because that issue is going to remain a major issue. I don't
see those power hungry people just relinquishing power like that and saying,
"okay fair enough" as some media have been reporting and "Tsvangirai you are
now executive Prime Minister, Mugabe you will stay at State House hosting
parties and doing all the ceremonial stuff." It's problematic and until it
is done and there is an agreement there in black and white, I have some
serious doubts about the smoothness of this entire process and it would have
been more in the interests of MDC because of the very things you mentioned
to at least ensure that there would be some involvement by the people of
Zimbabwe, that there was some transparency or regular feedback to the people
so that at least we know.
And I think it is tragic that for the second time the MDC agreed to be
involved in a surreptitious, very secretive process that people don't know
about because at the end of the day ZANU PF is a dishonest party, a party of
dishonest individuals and it operates in a very funny manner and those
issues that will inform ZANU PF's position I think in my view will create
problems. And as you said these are positions that have been taken already
and positions which ZANU PF will likely stick to. Anyway we will see what
Comments and feedback can be emailed to: firstname.lastname@example.org
By Bronwen Dachs
Catholic News Service
CAPE TOWN, South Africa (CNS) -- As soon as a political solution is found in
Zimbabwe, work on reconciliation should begin immediately, said a U.S.
bishop who had just concluded a visit to the troubled country.
The Zimbabwean Catholic justice and peace commission is working with other
nongovernmental organizations on strategies to rebuild the deeply divided
country, said Bishop John H. Ricard of Pensacola-Tallahassee, Fla., in a
telephone interview from Johannesburg, South Africa, Aug. 9. Bishop Ricard
and a U.S. bishops' adviser on Africa visited Zimbabwe Aug. 6-9.
Reconciliation in Zimbabwe, which is experiencing severe political and
economic crises, is a "serious concern" of the country's bishops, said
Bishop Ricard, who is chairman of the U.S. bishops' Subcommittee on the
Pastoral Solidarity Fund for the Church in Africa.
Church leaders are "revisiting the way the church responded in the past" to
issues of justice and "much reflection is being done," he said.
He noted that Catholic supporters of longtime ruler Robert Mugabe "are
sitting side by side in the pews" with those who back the opposition
Movement for Democratic Change.
"Nobody (in Zimbabwe) was prepared for the violence that followed the March
elections, and they don't want to be caught unprepared again, for whatever
comes next," he said.
Human rights groups have said that, since the March elections, supporters of
the Movement for Democratic Change have been the targets of brutal
state-sponsored violence that left more than 80 dead and 200,000 displaced.
Bishop Ricard, who last visited Zimbabwe in 2006, said it is "clearly
evident" that churches in Zimbabwe are "working together in an ecumenical
manner and pooling their resources to advocate on the part of those
suffering" in the political and economic crises.
The country's church leaders "feel the suffering of their people and are
very aware that they need to be engaged and cannot stand idly by," he said,
noting that "it is clear that the country is in crisis, with widespread
Bishop Ricard said many homes he visited had been without electricity and
running water for more than six months, and he noted a "very definite
deterioration in infrastructure" in Zimbabwe since his last visit.
"There is a helplessness, an uncertainty" in the country, he said, with many
people showing a "sense of bewilderment, aware that they are at the brink of
change and that something needs to happen."
Zimbabwe has the world's highest inflation rate and severe shortages of
basic foods and fuel. The bishop said he visited parishes "where children
were obviously undernourished."
Many Zimbabweans are "completely preoccupied with making it through their
daily lives," Bishop Ricard said.
"They suffer enormous stress in feeding their children, getting water,
getting money. ... There's a lot of coping that's necessary just to
survive," he said.
Mugabe, 84, has ruled Zimbabwe for 28 years. He was sworn in for a sixth
term after a June 27 runoff election in which he was the only candidate.
Morgan Tsvangirai, who won the first round of the presidential poll in
March, boycotted the runoff, citing violence against his supporters.
South African President Thabo Mbeki met Aug. 10 with Mugabe and Tsvangirai
in Zimbabwe's capital, Harare, amid reports of an imminent power-sharing
deal. Mbeki is overseeing the negotiations that began in South Africa in
Meanwhile, the South African Council of Churches, of which the Southern
African Catholic Bishops' Conference is a member, said it is "concerned over
reports of persistently high levels of violence in Zimbabwe."
Unless the violence is curbed soon, it "will undermine the legitimacy of any
agreement in Zimbabwe," the council said in an Aug. 7 statement from
Johannesburg, noting its alarm at "increasingly frequent reports of
atrocities, including the hacking off of (ruling party) opponents' limbs."
While urging "leaders on both sides to appeal for peace and tolerance," the
council said Mugabe's government "has the primary responsibility to act
immediately and decisively to halt the violence."
"Political power-sharing must not be the be-all and end-all of the
Zimbabwean negotiations," the council said, noting that "negotiating
politicians may distribute positions and resources" among themselves, "but
it is the needs of the people of Zimbabwe that must be met above all
By Gilbert Muponda
Last updated: 08/12/2008 11:14:42
THE first part of Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono's Mid-Term Monetary
Policy commentary briefly mentioned the need to encourage and enhance
foreign currency remittances by Zimbabwe's non-resident citizens (NRC).
Millions of migrant workers send remittances to their families and
communities of origin. Worldwide, annual remittances may amount to more than
one hundred billion dollars, primarily sent from the industrial to the
The mid-term policy statement was disappointing in that it lacked any clear
plan on how to enhance contribution from NRC given that GMRI Capital
estimates indicate that every extended family in Zimbabwe has at least three
NRC who regularly remit foreign currency to support families in Zimbabwe.
The Zimbabwean Diaspora community now plays such a critical role in the
nation's financial well-being such that any meaningful policy review should
acknowledge this and seek ways to enhance this contribution.
Remittances are a good buffer against macro-economic volatility. Remittances
by NRC help improve balance of payment, balance of trade, and foreign
exchange shortfalls. Remittances are generally less affected by political
crisis or conflicts or even corruption. Transfer costs are lowest when
remittances are sent through regulated financial institutions, such as banks
and money transfer agencies such as Crown Exchange, Western Union and World
Link. Significantly, when financial institutions offer these services to
immigrants, they also sell other products.
In slightly better-off communities, improved consumption as well as
investment and employment created through remittance-led activities promote
significant economic growth.
In Mexico, for example, it is estimated that each $1 received in remittances
increases GDP by $3. Whilst this is on the higher side, there is nothing
that can stop Zimbabwe from matching such a multiplier effect.
During the Asian economic crisis in 1997-99, when foreign direct investment
(FDI) tumbled down, remittances actually increased and helped cushion the
impact of the crisis. Because people in the Diaspora feel special empathy
towards their relatives and friends in times of crisis in the home country,
they tend to be even more generous and forthcoming with remittances than in
During the various state sponsored operations (Dzikisa Mutengo,
Murambatsvina etc) a study by GMRI Capital revealed that many money transfer
agencies sending money to Zimbabwe experienced significantly higher volumes
Conservative estimates indicate that around 200 million people migrate
annually around the world. In many countries, the demand for foreign labour
has increased. Moreover, migration flows are not unidirectional, from the
South to the North.
For example, Greeks migrate to Germany and the United States, while
Albanians migrate to Greece. South Africans move to Australia and England,
while Malawians, Mozambicans, and Zimbabweans work in South African mines
and the service industry. This trend is not temporary and as such there is
need for clear policy to ensure mutual benefits for the NRC and the home
Ireland stands out as a clear shining example of economic success backed by
effective mobilisation of non-resident remittances and investments. Until
just over a decade ago, Ireland used to be one of the poorest countries in
Western Europe. To avoid poverty and to improve their lot, a large number of
Irish people migrated to the United States and other countries. This pattern
is very similar to what Zimbabwe has been experiencing over the last few
years as the economic and political environment became hostile.
As they became more prosperous, the Irish Diaspora started investing in
their home country. With the correct sets of consistent and progressive
policies and incentives, Ireland started prospering. Currently Ireland has a
booming economy and has joined the league of the richest countries in the
In addition, there have been positive impacts of remittances in national
development in countries ranging from Israel to Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey,
Mexico, the Philippines, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.
In terms of servicing the large and growing number of NRC, it is highly
desirable that Zimbabwe's diplomatic and consular services be restructured
and strengthened in countries and regions where there is a large
concentration of NRC with a clear aim to encourage their participation in
the national economy beyond just sending money. This has to be done in a
sustained manner and not as an election gimmick or quick fix solution to
As a supporting measure, there is an urgent need to review and amend
Zimbabwe's immigration regulations especially with regards to dual
citizenship. A significant number of Zimbabwean NRCs are now settled in
foreign lands and are unlikely to be interested in giving up their new
immigration status just for the sake of going back to Zimbabwe.
The Indian government recently introduced the "Overseas Citizenship of India
(OCI)" scheme in order to allow a limited form of dual citizenship to
Indians. This is a model that Zimbabwe could adopt with the necessary
adjustments. This can open channels to allow NRC to vote and possibly have
exclusive members of parliament representing non-resident Zimbabweans who
are in the Diaspora. This measure will go a long way in showing commitment
on the part of the authorities to incorporate policies which serve all
Zimbabweans, not just those in Zimbabwe.
It is clear that a quick make-over of the monetary policy will not deliver
the economic prosperity that Zimbabweans seek .There is need for more
comprehensive policy changes to usher a modern, progressive, more tolerant
democracy to build a just, prosperous, peaceful society where people's human
and property rights are respected. This is critical to build confidence
among the NRC and encourage investments by the NRCs.
Gilbert Muponda is a Zimbabwe-born entrepreneur. This article appears
courtesy of GMRI Capital. More articles at www.gmricapital.com
From The Daily News (Botswana), 11 August
Parliament - Botswana and Zambia have withdrawn from a Memorandum of
Understanding (MoU) that included Zimbabwe and signed a new one to undertake
the Kazungula Bridge Project on a bilateral basis. Briefing Parliament on
the delay regarding the construction of the bridge, the Minister of Works
and Transport, Mr Johnnie Swartz, said as part of the efforts to expedite
the project, Botswana and Zambia entered into a new MoU in July 2008.
"Further, the two countries have agreed to shift the alignment of the bridge
upstream along the Zambezi River to avoid traversing the area that had been
the subject of an unresolved border dispute between Botswana and Zimbabwe,"
said Mr Swartz. He added that the consultancy services contract has also
been amended to provide for Botswana and Zambia to be the signatories to the
contract with the consultant. He said it should be noted that the project is
still at feasibility and detailed design stage, which will start in
September 2008 and be completed in September 2009. Mr Swartz said it is
anticipated that the mobilisation of funds and tendering for construction of
the bridge will take a further nine to 12 months, adding that it is expected
that construction of the bridge would commence in late 2010. The minister
said the new agreement provides for the inclusion of a rail component in the
Kazungula Bridge project. He added that the two countries are now in the
process of consulting their respective railway authorities and the
consultant to bring the new component under the contract as additional scope
of feasibility and design work.
Mr Swartz said the signing of the initial contract was aborted at the last
minute because Zimbabwe objected to proceeding with the project due to the
fact that funds for the Zimbabwean border facilities had not been secured.
He added that Zambia and Botswana also felt that as the recipients of the
African Development Bank (ADB) grant for the project, they should be the
signatories to the consultancy services contract instead of the SADC
secretariat, as was provided in the contract. He noted that after
consultations, both ADB and the SADC secretariat had no objection to Zambia
and Botswana being signatories to the contract with the consultant. The
minister said the existing border crossing facilities at Kazungula are
considered a serious bottleneck to the smooth and efficient movement of
people and goods between Zambia and Botswana and beyond. He said a bridge
would reduce vehicle operating costs, eliminate vehicle detention times and
alleviate the capacity limitations that are currently being experienced. "My
ministry believes that a bridge at Kazungula would improve trade between
Botswana and Zambia and other countries in the region. I need not emphasize
the importance of trade for stimulating economic growth and employment
creation," he said. He said the bridge would also assist in stimulating
further development of tourism in the Chobe area and would consequently lead
to other economic activities being created to support the industry. The MP
for Chobe, Mr Duncan Mlazie, had asked the minister to give a full update on
the delay regarding the construction of the Kazungula Bridge and the
importance attached to the project. He also asked the minister what the
government is doing to speed up the project and when construction was likely
to commence. The Chobe MP also asked the minister whether there would be a
provision for a railway on the bridge to cater for future requirements.
From Radio VOP, 11 August
Bulawayo - Suspended MDC senior official Gabriel Chaibva was last Friday
forced to leave Botswana by the Government there. Chaibva revealed that he
was 'deported' after he was accompanied by a motorcade of security agents
from Gaborone to Plumtree border post. Chaibva said he had gone to Gaborone
to meet Botswana Government officials and ruling party and talk to them
about their 'negative' stance on the Zimbabwean government. "I had gone
there to meet some government officials to discuss a few issues among them
their negative stance about Zimbabwe. They are ill treating our people there
and their foreign policy on Zimbabwe is basically bad, but they would not
listen and accused me of being a government spy and their police accompanied
me all the way from Gaborone to Plumtree," he said. It was on the same day
that former Herald reporter Ceasar Zvai was deported from Botswana where he
had got employment as a univerisity lecturer. He was deported for being a
Zanu PF man and being on the sanctions list from Europe.
Mmegi/The Reporter (Gaborone)
11 August 2008
Posted to the web 11 August 2008
Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Phandu Skelemani,
has reaffirmed government's position that it does not recognise Robert
Mugabe as president of Zimbabwe and will not attend any African Union (AU)
or SADC meetings if he is invited.
Answering questions from Members of Parliament (MPs) on Friday after giving
a statement to the House, Skelemani said that Mugabe was not democratically
elected, hence his leadership is illegitimate. He, however, said the
government will recognise the outcome of the ongoing talks between Mugabe
and Morgan Tsvangirai's party on transitional government to solve the
country's economic and political crises.
He said that the Botswana Embassy in Harare would remain operational since
"it does not only service the government there but also the ordinary
Zimbabweans". He said that government will screen all refugees entering
Botswana and those qualifying for political refuge status will be assisted
whilst economic refugees will be returned home.
In his statement, Skelemani said that the reasons for Botswana government
not recognising Mugabe are clear in that environment in the run-up to the
June 27 presidential run-off was not conducive for holding free and fair
elections. He said that despite international calls on Mugabe to halt the
elections until the environment was conducive to holding elections, he went
ahead and held a one-man show.
The minister regretted the fact that many people lost their lives; there was
damage to property and many people were displaced because of state-sponsored
violence against opposition supporters. He pleaded with Zimbabweans to take
advantage of South Africa President Thabo Mbeki's mediation efforts to find
a resolution to the political and economic crises in their country.
Meanwhile, the BOCISCOZ petitioned Mbeki through his High Commission here
saying they are against any government of national unity because Mugabe lost
the March 29 elections. South Africa is scheduled to host the SADC Summit
this week and Botswana has already indicated her intention not to attend if
Mugabe is invited.
Alfonso Dhlakama, head of the opposition Renamo party in Mozambique at
the weekend branded Robert Mugabe a "political criminal".
Monday 11 August 2008, by Bruce Sibanda, Theophilus O'Donkor
Weekend reports say Dhlakama said Mugabe used to be his hero but he
now consider him as a "political criminal to the Zimbabweans who were denied
the result of their choice in the recent elections,"
Mozambique is traditionally an ally of Mugabe, but the international
condemned June presidential run-off election that saw the 84 year old leader
snatch back power has seen many former allies turn their back his regime.
Dhlakama said the current power sharing negotiations "were done in bad
faith" and echoed the wide spread sentiment that the talks are "a bad
example to African and the whole world".
He said it "encourages African leaders who lose elections to resort to
robbing elections and rely on the solutions of their friends to continue to
cling to power".
Meanwhile, Crisis talks in Zimbabwe between the government and the
opposition, mediated by South African President Thabo Mbeki, broke down
early Monday morning, and were expected to resume later in the day.
The talks, to finalise a power-sharing deal to end the two sides'
long-running political stand-off, started around mid-day Sunday and dragged
on into the early hours of Monday.
A deal on power-sharing between the government and the opposition,
both of whom claim to have won the last presidential election two months
ago, was reported to have been reached before Sunday's three-way talks with
But last minute disagreements seem to have appeared, forcing Mbeki to
extend his two-day visit to Zimbabwe.
Officials were tight-lipped about the talks, which are focused on
power-sharing between President Robert Mugabe and his main political rival,
Morgan Tsvangirai of the Movement for Democratic Change.
The Zimbabwean leader, emerging from the talks at 1.34 am, told
reporters the negotiations would resume again later Monday.
He indicated that an agreement could be signed, replying 'why not' to
a reporter's question whether a deal could still be reached with the
Under a widely reported outline agreement, Mugabe would retain the
presidency, and Tsvangirai the premiership.
August 11, 2008
By Munyaradzi Mutizwa
JOHANNESBURG - South Africa labour federation Cosatu on Monday vowed it will
stage demonstrations to prevent Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe and King
Mswati III of Swaziland from attending the three-day SADC Heads of State
summit which kicks off in Midrand, South Africa, on Friday.
Speaking at the Zimbabwe-Swaziland Solidarity conference held in
Johannesburg Cosatu secretary general Zwelinzima Vavi said Mugabe and Mswati
should not be invited to the summit. He said if the two leaders were invited
COSATU would "make things as difficult as possible in South Africa and along
"Our message is clear Zimbabwe and Swaziland cannot continue to be islands
of dictatorship surrounded by a sea of democracy in our region," Vavi said.
"We demand freedom and democracy for citizens of both countries. In the
meantime we do not recognise Mugabe as the President of Zimbabwe. We insist
that he should not be invited to the SADC heads of state summit that takes
place in South Africa on 15-17 August, 2008.
"We shall accordingly protest his presence here and we call on COSATU
members in Gauteng, as well as all progressive civil society formations and
other freedom lovers to join us to register our disgust at his presence.
"We want a total isolation of Mugabe and his cronies and for the freedom of
workers in those countries we will fight until the last drop of blood in our
bodies is dried up."
Vavi said human rights abuses in Zimbabwe had scaled new heights as the
beatings of ordinary people, the burning down of their property, the
killings and torture continue as though the current negotiations meant
nothing to the illegal Mugabe regime.
Cosatu said the ongoing power-sharing talks between Zanu-PF and opposition
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) should not recognize Mugabe's June 27
re-election but should instead recognise the will expressed by Zimbabweans
in the March 29 election when MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai won hands down.
"The June elections were illegitimate and therefore the outcome must not be
recognised. Any settlement that does not recognise the will of the people as
expressed in the 29 March elections will not be acceptable. It will
represent an elite accord that can never enjoy legitimacy in the eyes of the
ordinary people of Zimbabwe," Vavi said
He said any government to be formed should be an interim government whose
main task should be limited to preparing for a fresh round of elections that
will strictly adhere to the SADC elections protocols.
Mugabe won the June 27 runoff election after Tsvangirai pulled out of the
race few days before, citing violence, intimidation and vote rigging.
11 August 2008
MUCH has been written about the failings of SA's policy of "quiet diplomacy"
in Zimbabwe, although the on-off Pretoria negotiations following the July 21
memorandum of understanding between the principal protagonists may partly
assuage criticism of President Thabo Mbeki's apparent bias.
What has never come to light, until recently, is exactly what this policy
entailed for those who were subject to it.
Crawford von Abo, a 75-year-old South African farmer, spent most of his life
creating a farming business in Zimbabwe, which he owned through a trust, of
which he was the sole beneficiary, as well as numerous
Zimbabwean-incorporated entities. From 1997 - and particularly 2000 -
onwards, his farms were expropriated over a 10-year period, without
compensation, by the Zimbabwean government, as well as occupied by "war
veterans", while Von Abo was arrested - and jailed - for trespass on what
was previously one of his principal farms. One farm was simply occupied,
without an eviction notice, by the governor of Mashonaland central province.
Although he successfully appealed the expropriation of his farming assets in
the Zimbabwean courts, court orders were routinely ignored and eviction
notices soon followed. According to facts which were not disputed in
proceedings in the Pretoria High Court instituted by Von Abo against the
South African government for effective diplomatic protection, Von Abo's
direct loss from these farm seizures was about $11,5m.
As the pace of farm invasions quickened after the sham presidential election
in Zimbabwe in 2002, Von Abo began a series of unsuccessful appeals to the
South African authorities to provide him with effective diplomatic
protection. In doing so, he wrote no fewer than 54 letters over a six-year
period to South African government officials from President Thabo Mbeki
downwards, appealing for assistance.
No substantive response was ever received, despite the fact that Von Abo
noted that effective diplomatic protection by the French, German, Danish and
Dutch embassies in Harare had prevented the invasion of their compatriots'
farms. In the words of the recent judgment in the Pretoria High Court, "the
(South African government was) simply stringing him along and never had any
serious intention to afford him proper protection. Their feeble efforts .
amounted to little more than quiet acquiescence in the conduct of their
Zimbabwean counterparts and their war veteran thugs."
Although the South African Foreign Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma
claimed in Parliament in June 2004 that the government had concluded a
bilateral investment treaty with Zimbabwe to protect South African
investments there from unlawful and uncompensated expropriation, and that
the treaty simply "awaited signature" by the relevant ministers, the Von Abo
judgment exposes this as untrue. According to the court, "the much-vaunted
(treaty) was never signed. No one ever saw (it). Repeated appeals by (Von
Abo) . to have sight of it, were turned down flat."
A second promise to Parliament in June 2004 by Dlamini- Zuma, that farms
belonging to nationals of the Southern African Development Community (SADC)
would be "delisted" by the Zimbabwean government, which would "reciprocate
and assist South African nationals in Zimbabwe", was similarly exposed as
According to the court, "no delisting, as promised, ever took place. There
was no explanation . by the (government), let alone the foreign minister,
for their abject failure . to bring about the reciprocity promised by
Besides exposing the sham of SA's "quiet diplomacy" in Zimbabwe - which
looks, from the court record, to be closer to acquiescence - the Von Abo
judgment is remarkable for being the first in SA's 14-year democratic
journey to order the government to provide one of its nationals with
effective diplomatic protection.
There is no duty, under customary international law, for states to exercise
diplomatic protection on their nationals' behalf, a fact recognised by the
International Law Commission in its 2006 draft articles on diplomatic
protection, now under consideration by the United Nations General Assembly.
The Constitutional Court found four years ago, in the Kaunda case - in which
69 applicants sought diplomatic protection from the government in the
Constitutional Court when they were detained at Harare airport after a
tip-off from intelligence about an imminent coup in Equatorial Guinea - that
not only was the issue of diplomatic protection justiciable, but that when a
South African national requested the government to provide diplomatic
protection to prevent the infringement by a foreign state of a human right
recognised under customary international law, the government was under an
obligation "to consider the request and deal with it consistently with the
According to the Constitutional Court, the court could order it to take
"appropriate action", although a majority refused to do so in this case.
This goes well beyond the approach in the UK, where the courts have been
reluctant to impose a similar duty on the foreign secretary, even where
British nationals are indefinitely detained at Guantanamo Bay.
The court, in the Von Abo case, has now given effect to this invitation, by
finding that the South African government had failed to "respond
appropriately" to Von Abo's pleas, and had acted in "bad faith" and
"irrationally". According to the court, the government did "absolutely
nothing" about the matter. "Their 'assistance', such as it is, was limited
to empty promises. They exhibited neither the will nor the ability to do
anything constructive to bring their northern neighbour to book."
As a result, the South African government has now been ordered to "take all
necessary steps" within the next 60 days "to have (Von Abo's) violation of
his rights by the government of Zimbabwe remedied". To give effect to this,
the government was ordered to report to the court, by way of affidavit,
within the same period, as to what steps it has taken.
The government's response so far has been one of (diplomatic) silence.
Whatever the ultimate outcome, the Von Abo judgment is a blow not only for
effective diplomatic protection, but exposes what really lies behind
Pretoria's "quiet diplomacy" in Harare.
.. Leon is a partner at Webber Wentzel Johannesburg.
The Herald (Harare) Published by the government of Zimbabwe
11 August 2008
Posted to the web 11 August 2008
THE National Parks and Wildlife Management Authority has given Mashonaland
Central Province seven elephants and a buffalo to slaughter for this year's
Heroes Day commemorations today.
The organising chairperson Mr Josphat Jaji last week confirmed the donation,
saying the beasts were part of their hunting quota.
He said all the animals were from Dande Safaris in Mbire district.
Mr Jaji, who is also the provincial administrator, said all seven
administrative districts in the province would benefit from the donation.
"Every district will get an elephant and a buffalo and the meat would be
shared among the eight districts," said Mr Jaji.
He said the provincial and Bindura district commemorations would be jointly
held at Chipadze Stadium as usual.
Large numbers are expected to attend the provincial ceremony and Mr Jaji
encouraged residents to assist each other with transport for the
celebrations to be a success.
Mashonaland Central Provincial Governor and Resident Minister Cde Ephraim
Masawi is expected to read the President's speech.
There was a radio program on zimbabwe this morning and the payment by the
European Union for farms and Australia's involvement there were discussed.
Here is an idea to get talks with the MDC and the government on track.
What about nationalising land that has already been expropriated? This could
allow white farmers to stay on for a while and train new farmers. If farmers
are allowed to stay on nationalised land for a long time they could accept a
lower price for their farms. This could get talks about the land issue
For some history on nationalised land consider the following: Conflict in
Africa continues, but there is one African country where there was terrible
conflict and there is now peace and that is Mozambique.
There the land was nationalised after all the warring and it has been
reported that people do not want land de-nationalised. As always they are
worried that land will end up in the hands of a few.
Farmers go there and apply for land and I have heard favourable reports from
many about the situation there.