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Zimbabwe Opposition Leader Insists Any Deal Give Him Real Power

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/17/world/africa/17zimbabwe.html?ref=world

By CELIA W. DUGGER
Published: August 16, 2008
JOHANNESBURG - The leader of Zimbabwe's opposition - in a feisty and jovial
mood - said on Saturday in his first interview since he began power-sharing
talks with President Robert Mugabe almost a month ago that he will not agree
to any deal that does not give him the authority to effectively govern his
economically ruined homeland.

"It's better not to have a deal than to have a bad deal," said Morgan
Tsvangirai, the former trade union leader who has been Mr. Mugabe's nemesis
for almost a decade.

Mr. Tsvangirai was clearly sending a forceful message to both Mr. Mugabe and
President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa, the mediator of the talks, about the
limits of his willingness to compromise. After three days of intensive
negotiations that adjourned on Tuesday, the protagonists have again begun
conferring with Mr. Mbeki here on the sidelines of a meeting of southern
African leaders about how to get talks moving again.

Mr. Mugabe, whose re-election in a June runoff after 28 years in power was
widely seen as a sham, took his place this morning on a dais crowded with
other heads of state, but he did not receive his usual adulatory welcome.
Dignitaries from across the region were silent, even somber, as the
presidents strode into the hall.

Mr. Mbeki told the assembled leaders that he is trying to engineer a final
agreement this weekend. And the pressure on him to deliver a deal is
evident. Just outside the convention hall where the Southern African
Development Community had gathered, there was a raucous anti-Mugabe
demonstration of trade unionists allied with Mr. Mbeki's own governing
party.

But Mr. Tsvangirai, seen by some African leaders and Western diplomats as
having the only legitimate claim on the presidency after besting Mr. Mugabe
in a credible March election, said the most basic issue of how he and Mr.
Mugabe would share power remains unsettled.

George Charamba, Mr. Mugabe's press secretary, said in an interview Thursday
that in any power-sharing government Mr. Mugabe would remain as head of the
government and in charge of the cabinet - conditions Mr. Tsvangirai said
were untenable.

Mr. Tsvangirai said it was acceptable to him if Mr. Mugabe retained the
title of president with a role in overseeing the government. And Mr.
Tsvangirai is willing to split the cabinet posts between his and the
governing party. But all the cabinet ministers would need to report to him,
he said. Only a coherent governing structure would enable Zimbabwe to
attract the aid from international donors that is essential to rebuilding
Zimbabwe's shattered economy, he said.

"Who is in charge of the cabinet?" Mr. Tsvangirai asked. "To whom do all
these ministers report? Can you dismiss them if they breach? It's
fundamental."

After years in which Mr. Mugabe, 84, and Mr. Tsvangirai, 56, never met, they
have spent a lot of time together recently.

Mr. Tsvangirai described Mr. Mugabe as physically frail, mentally sharp -
and paranoid about the intentions of the British in particular and the West
in general to bring him down in "conspiracies that do not exist," as Mr.
Tsvangirai put it.

"I've joked with him," said Mr. Tsvangirai. "I've talked to him. I've tried
to put sense to him. But he is adamant. I've even suggested to him that
perhaps it's time for him to give up - straight in the face."

Mr. Tsvangirai is not alone in wishing Mr. Mugabe would let go of power. Mr.
Mugabe's two harshest critics in the region were absent at the meeting
Saturday. Botswana's president, Seretse Khama Ian Khama, boycotted it on
grounds that Mr. Mugabe's presence there would endow him with a legitimacy
he did not deserve. And President Levy Mwanawasa of Zambia was still in a
Paris hospital after suffering a stroke.

But Zambia's foreign minister, Kabinga J. Pande, in a speech on his
president's behalf, suggested the integrity of the regional body of southern
African leaders itself was at stake in the Zimbabwe crisis. Mr. Pande
described events in Zimbabwe as "a serious blot on the culture of democracy
in our subregion."

Zimbabwean authorities on Thursday temporarily blocked Mr. Tsvangirai from
boarding a flight to Johannesburg, saying he did not have proper travel
documents. Officials in Mr. Mugabe's party accused Mr. Tsvangirai of taking
his marching orders from American and European diplomats in the talks.

Mr. Tsvangirai's party, in turn, accused governing party officials and
intelligence agents of trying to recruit opposition members of Parliament
and released a roll call of more than 100 of its supporters who it said were
killed in state-sponsored violence during the election season.

Asked Saturday what he would say to Mr. Mugabe if he was sitting next to
him, Mr. Tsvangirai patted the couch in his hotel room and said: "I'll say,
'Old man, you're out of touch. You're out of place. Look around you. Who of
your age is around?' "


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SADC leaders urged to nullify Zimbabwe's elections

http://www.afriquenligne.fr

Lusaka, Zambia - The Southern African Development Community (SADC) Council
of Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) have urged SADC leaders, meeting in
Johannesburg, South Africa, for a two-day summit to declare the 27 June
Zimbabwe Presidential run-off election and its outcome "illegitimate and
unacceptable".

The NGOs which also comprises the Southern African Trade Union Coordinating
Council and Fellowship of Christian Councils in Southern Africa said they
supported the stand taken by member states like Botswana.

Botswana leader is staying away from the meeting in protest against the
attendance of Robert Mugabe.

The NGOs said there was no legitimate Executive Authority in Zimbabwe and
theref ore was opposed to the participation of Zimbabwe in the SADC summit.

Acknowledging the SADC mediation efforts led by South African President
Thabo Mb eki and the Memorandum of Understanding that has been signed, the
NGOs said the process lacked sensitivity to gender equity and balance,
transparency and account a bility processes and that it was undermined by a
continued militarization of the country.

"There have been inordinate delays in the negotiation process against the
time frame provided for in the MOU and the recent stalemate has further
aggravated the situation," the NGOs said in a statement issued Saturday.

"We believe that human rights, democracy, the rule of law and good
governance, being the principles upon which SADC is founded, should be
strongly protected and that SADC Member States have an obligation to their
citizens and the region to guarantee and protect these fundamental rights.

Both Zimbabwe and Swaziland have failed to fulfill the fundamental
principles of SADC," the NGOs said.

On Swaziland, the NGOs demanded that the government of Swaziland and King
Mswati should call off the elections planned for September because they
would be undemocratic due to the flawed processes and hostile political
environment in Swaziland.

The continued denial of political space, particularly the ban on multiparty
politics and the right to participate in public institutions of
decision-making, remains a denial of a core tenet of democracy and therefore
is against the principles and guidelines governing democratic elections, the
statement said.

"In view of the issues raised, we the representatives of workers, churches
and NGOs in the region hereby call for the restructuring and democratis
ation of SADC in order to respond appropriately and adequately to the
challenges in the region," they said.

The NGOs have also opposed the assumption of the position of Chairman of the
Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation by Swaziland and
Angola's continued membership of the Organ's Troika, for their failure to
adhere to the SADC pr i nciples and guidelines on democratic elections.

Lusaka - 16/08/2008

Pana


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Still no Zimbabwe deal at summit

Reuters

Sat Aug 16, 2008 3:58pm EDT
By Stella Mapenzauswa

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - Southern African leaders held lengthy discussions
on Saturday on a power-sharing agreement to end Zimbabwe's post-election
political crisis.

A diplomatic source close to the talks, which were seeking to bring together
President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF party and the opposition MDC, led by
Morgan Tsvangirai, said a deal had not yet been agreed on.

"It is highly unlikely that there will be anything today. We will see
tomorrow," the diplomat said as summit proceedings in Johannesburg broke off
for the day.

Leaders of the 14-member Southern African Development Community had
discussed the draft agreement during a closed session of nearly five hours.
Diplomats said both Mugabe and Tsvangirai had taken part.

Another diplomatic source close to the talks said progress had been made,
and that an agreement could be signed soon.

South African President Thabo Mbeki, chief mediator in the Zimbabwe talks,
said millions of Zimbabweans were awaiting a positive outcome "with great
expectations and high hopes".

Mbeki, who met participants in the talks on Friday, has been widely
criticised for not taking a tough line with Mugabe. He would score a
political coup if an agreement were reached during the meeting.

MDC Secretary-General Tendai Biti, asked how optimistic he was that the
talks would succeed, replied: "Fifty-fifty."

REGIONAL PRESSURE

Botswana President Seretse Khama Ian Khama's decision to boycott the summit
was a sign of growing pressure from regional leaders on both the MDC and
ZANU-PF.

All Zimbabwe's neighbours fear the consequences if its political stalemate
and economic decline lead to total meltdown.

Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa, recovering from a stroke in France, said
in a statement read on his behalf that events in Zimbabwe were "a serious
blot on the culture of democracy in our sub-region".

Millions of Zimbabweans have fled across the borders to escape the world's
highest inflation rate -- over 2 million percent -- as well as massive
unemployment and shortages of food and fuel.

Power-sharing negotiations began last month after Mugabe's was re-elected
unopposed in June, in a vote condemned throughout the world and boycotted by
Tsvangirai because of attacks on his supporters.

Tsvangirai has said Zimbabwe's post-election government should be based on
the result of the first-round presidential election on March 29, which he
won but without an absolute majority.

Mugabe, Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara, leader of a breakaway MDC faction,
held three days of marathon discussions earlier this week without reaching a
deal.

The South African labour federation COSATU held a protest at the start of
the SADC summit. Demonstrators carried placards reading "SADC stop Mugabe's
madness" and "Zimbabwe bleeds while SADC sleeps".

(Additional reporting by Serena Chaudhry and Muchena Zigomo; Writing by
Marius Bosch; Editing by Kevin Liffey)


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"It's better no deal than a bad deal" - Tsvangirai

http://www.zimbabwemetro.com/news/prime-minister-must-have-full-control-over-his-ministerstsvangirai/

August 16, 2008 | By Staff |
"Who is in charge of the cabinet?" Tsvangirai asked. "To whom do all these
ministers report? Can you dismiss them if they breach? It's fundamental."

Tsvangirai said as he outlined his proposal for resolving the contentious
issue of who would lead any unity government in a speech to SADC Cabinet
ministers gathered on the eve of a Southern African Development Community
summit.

"We have agreed that Mr. Mugabe will be president whilst I become prime
minister," he told the SADC ministers. "We envisage that the prime minister
must chair the Cabinet and be responsible for the formulation, execution and
administration of government business including appointing and dismissing
his ministers .. A prime minister cannot be given responsibility without
authority and be expected to deliver."

In his speech to southern African leaders Friday, Tsvangirai said the two
sides remained unable to agree on how powers would be divided between him
and Mugabe,he said compromise was necessary
Tsvangirai, because Zimbabweans would reject a deal "if any party is
ágreedy."

The MDC won the most seats in parliament in March elections and proposed
that the president have no power to veto laws. The opposition also proposes
that the president "shall be commander in chief of the defense forces of
Zimbabwe," but exercise that power on the advice of the prime minister.

Botswana President Seretse Ian Khama refused to attend the summit to protest
Mugabe's welcome as a head of state.

President Levy Mwanawasa of Zambia,remained hospitalized in Paris but in
speech read aloud by his foreign minister, called the events in Zimbabwe a
"serious blot on the culture of democracy in our subregion," singling out
for criticism the June presidential runoff.

Asked Saturday by reporters what he would say to Mugabe if he was sitting
next to him, Tsvangirai patted the couch in his hotel room and said: "I'll
say, 'Old man, you're out of touch. You're out of place. Look around you.
Who of your age is around?' "

In the streets of Johannesburg, several hundred protesters marched
peacefully outside the summit, some holding up red soccer penalty cards
reading: "Mugabe must go."

Additional Reporting by AFP


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Civil Society Demands More From Talks

http://www.ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=43582
á

By Stanley Kwenda

JOHANNESBURG, Aug 16 (IPS) - A barrage of banners denouncing Zimbabwe president Robert Mugabe greeted passersby in the well-manicured gardens of Johannesburg's Sandton Convention Centre, where that country's political crisis is high on the agenda of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) summit.

"Mugabe must go. Red card for Mugabe. The world stands with Zimbabwe's people," read some of the banners carried by protesters who swarmed the environs of the convention centre on Friday before marching through the streets of Sandton.

The march was meant to send a message to SADC leaders that they must act decisively on the Zimbabwean crisis which has pushed several million Zimbabweans to seek sanctuary in neighbouring countries. As many as 3 million fleeing state violence and a collapsing economy are believed to have sought refuge in South Africa alone.

The march, organised by the Congress of South African Trade Unions, was attended by hundreds of Zimbabweans living in Johannesburg and others who came in busloads from other South African cities. But it was the huge army of Zimbabwean civil society organisations at the march which was most striking.

"We are here to let the SADC leaders know that any negotiations without the wishes of the people will not succeed and that's what we are here for," Jenni Williams, the leader of the Women of Zimbabwe Arise told IPS. "We don't want elite talks aimed at parceling out power we want talks that will benefit all the people and as women we are pushing for our recognition, it's not too late."

Zimbabwean civil society organizations have been pushing to be included in the SADC-mediated talks between the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) party and the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). Talks were deadlocked last week, the sticking point believed to be disagreements over power-sharing.

"The differences are irreparable, both parties want power but they are not prepared to share it. We now have to take the matter away from politicians and establish a government of national unity to run the country for two years then we can have fresh elections," said Lovemore Madhuku, from Zimbabwe's National Constitutional Assembly.

He said Zimbabwe does not need the SADC-mandated talks but an inclusive solution that can only come through a change of the governance system. "SADC and AU must put a timeline to these talks, they cannot drag on like this, if they fail then a transitional authority headed by neither Mugabe nor Tsvangirai should be put in place."

But Elinor Sisulu, the head of the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition office in South Africa, said it was encouraging that the talks are taking place.

"Yes, the talks have been problematic, but we have to acknowledge that they are offering an alternative. The only problem is that they are being held in secrecy and they are elitist. They are sort of alienating political leaders from their constituencies. The people's voice is not visible," Sisulu told IPS. She added that any outcome of the talks should reflect the will of the people and recognise the results of the March 29 election which is widely believed to have been won by the MDC.

"If this is not the case the MDC should return to its constituency and consult the people on further action," Sisulu said.

Thomas Deve, policy analyst for Africa at the United Nations Millennium Campaign office in Nairobi, Kenya, was in agreement with Sisulu, saying that despite the failure to reach an agreement so far the talks have provided a relief for the suffering masses in Zimbabwe.

"The most important thing is that the talks have offered ordinary Zimbabweans a chance to breathe after being choked by violence and given political parties time to reflect on what is going wrong in Zimbabwe."

He said SADC should not be satisfied merely by the fact that the rival political parties are talking.

"It's time for SADC to rein in Mugabe because democracy is being subverted when the person with the least votes determines how the talks should go. It's a fraud. If they are failing to agree then they should try something (else). A transitional authority is the way to go," said Deve.

Despite divergent opinions on the way forward among the Zimbabwean civil society groups, they seem to be in agreement on one point: the formation of a transitional authority.

"We would rather prefer a transitional authority for two years at most. We will not be under any illusion that SADC will provide an answer to the Zimbabwean crisis, the deal that SADC is negotiating for is elitist for us its aluta continua," Munyaradzi Gwisai, the leader of the Zimbabwe Socialist Movement, told IPS.

Meanwhile, power sharing talks between Zimbabwe's political rivals continued on the sidelines of the summit with rumours that a deal is on the horizon. All parties attended the SADC summit with Mugabe taking his place among regional leaders while the two MDC leaders sat in the observer gallery.

South African president Thabo Mbeki, mandated by SADC to mediate talks, said he was confident of a deal and urged other regional leaders to help Zimbabwe achieve stability as he assumed the chairmanship of regional body. Sources close to the negotiations told IPS that SADC leaders have proposed that the two political parties should share power equally.

But by the time the regional leaders sat down for the heads of state dinner at the Sandton Convention Centre on Saturday night, no deal had been inked.


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African leaders must pressure Mugabe or lose their credibility

http://www.sundayherald.com

August 16, 2008 Est 1999

REALPOLITIK: Trevor Royle

IT WAS perhaps inevitable that the subject of Zimbabwe would overshadow this
weekend's summit of the South African Development Community (SADC). By any
standards it's the only show in town, a fact that was neatly underlined by
South Africa's foreign affairs minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma at the
Council of Ministers' opening ceremony. She intended to thank Zambia for
holding the chair last year but somehow something went wrong between thought
and execution and the other Z country was thanked. Cue polite nervous
laughter.

Normally an SADC summit sees the 14 members discussing subjects such as
economic growth, regional development, poverty eradication, the sustainable
utilisation of natural resources - the kind of worthy but dry topics which
politicians turn to as the moth to the flame when they get together for an
international beano. Things promise to be rather different in Johannesburg
this weekend for the very good reason that there can't be any political or
economic progress in southern Africa until there is some prompt lancing of
the nasty little boil that is Robert Mugabe's Zimbabwe.

A few weeks ago most observers - myself included - thought that a
power-sharing deal was in the offing and that it was only a matter of time
before Africa found an African solution to a hugely embarrassing African
problem. After much stalling and prevarication Mugabe finally agreed to sit
down and talk to Morgan Tsvangirai, the much-put-upon leader of the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). Then everything went
pear-shaped following a postponement last Tuesday to allow Tsvangirai to
regroup and take soundings from his principal lieutenants.

At that point the omens were not good and Mugabe seemed to have cemented his
position by entering into separate discussions with Arthur Mutambara, an
opposition faction leader who had agreed to get into bed with Zanu-PF. As
Mutambara is not exactly enamoured of Tsvangirai - that is putting it
mildly - the coalition would have given Mugabe a nine-seat lead over the MDC
and that would have been that. Mugabe's Zanu-PF would have remained in power
in spite of the fact that it lost the last election and the rest of the
world would have responded by withholding millions of pounds in aid. It
would have been a good result for Bob, but a wretched one for the people of
Zimbabwe.

But Tsvangirai seems to have held his nerve and, following some adroit
international manoeuvring, he's managed to get to Johannesburg where he'll
have talks with Mugabe and South Africa's president, Thabo Mbeki. After
weeks of stalemate, which saw Mugabe hijack the presidency, this really is
the last-chance saloon for Zimbabwe and the options are stark. If a
power-sharing agreement cannot be brokered or if Mugabe insists on hanging
on to power by allowing Tsvangirai to become prime minister while denying
him legislative authority - both are distinct possibilities - there is
little chance of a solution that will stick.

One of the problems is that Tsvangirai has banked his hopes on the West
putting economic pressure on Zanu-PF, but that means nothing to Mugabe, who
cares not a jot what the world and its mother thinks. The other difficulty
is that Tsvangirai has no local levers of power. Fearing for their futures,
senior commanders in the army and the security forces have thrown their
weight behind Mugabe and are unlikely to change their minds. Turkeys don't
vote for Christmas; these men neither want to lose their perks, nor do they
want to find themselves in the dock if a new regime comes to power.

The best solution would be for Mugabe to remain as president while Tsvngirai
becomes prime minister with the powers of selecting his own cabinet and
bringing in a new generation of politicians unsullied by the past. That
would provide the West with an outcome which will allow much-needed aid to
flow into the country and, provided that it got through to the people, it
would alleviate some of the horrendous suffering which has been visited on
this blighted country. It would not be the end of the matter, but at least
it could be the beginning of the end.

More than anything else, the country needs to work within the democratic
process. Otherwise it looks as if Mugabe and his henchmen are calling all
the shots and that can't be good for a new generation of Zimbabweans who
must be tiring of the 28 years of unproductive rule and for whom the
liberation struggle is becoming distant history.

It's a tense moment. Too much exertion of diplomatic or economic leverage
and Mugabe will be playing the post-colonial card; too little and Tsvangirai
is left with a weakened hand. In the end it could boil down to Mbeki, who
has to deliver the goods if the SADC is to retain any influence. Or it could
just be a case of who blinks first.

Comment

Posted by: Vote for Scotlands Future, Vote for the SNP on 10:40pm today
What do you mean "... or lose their credibility". They lost that at the last
SADC meeting where they gave Mugabe a standing ovation. As for Mbeki, he
lost all credibility years ago.
What do you mean "... or lose their credibility". They lost that at the last
SADC meeting where they gave Mugabe a standing ovation. As for Mbeki, he
lost all credibility years ago.


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Mr. Mugabe's maneuvers

Japan Times

Sunday, Aug. 17, 2008

EDITORIAL

Never count Mr. Robert Mugabe out. That is surely the lesson of events of
the last few months. Despite losing presidential and parliamentary
elections, facing regional and international criticism and potential
isolation, Zimbabwe's president remains determined to maintain his grip on
power.

In his latest maneuver, he apparently has split the main opposition party,
tempting a faction head to join Mr. Mugabe's ZANU-PF party in a ruling
coalition, a move that undercuts opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai and
keeps Mr. Mugabe in office and in power. It is a political sleight of hand
that offers Mr. Mugabe the veneer of legitimacy, while the problems that
plague his country and threaten the region only get worse. It is not
solution to Zimbabwe's ills.

Mr. Mugabe considers Zimbabwe his by right. After leading the guerrilla
movement that battled the white-dominated Rhodesian government, Mr. Mugabe
has served as president of Zimbabwe since the state was created in 1980.
When attempts to rewrite the constitution to consolidate his power were
defeated a few years ago, he embraced radical policies that redistributed
land, drove white farmers from the country, and bankrupted what was once the
breadbasket of Africa. The decimation of the economy strengthened the
opposition, which in turn triggered a cycle of repression, international
criticism and further retrenchment by the government.

In parliamentary elections held last year, the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC), led by Mr. Tsvangirai, won a majority, despite
legal challenges (and a judiciary that is under the government's thumb).
More surprising still, Mr. Tsvangirai bested Mr. Mugabe in a presidential
ballot, but was unable to win enough votes to claim victory outright.

Prior to the runoff, Mr. Mugabe's security forces unleashed a vicious
campaign of violence against MDC supporters. Human rights groups estimate
that at least 163 people have been killed and more than 5,000 others beaten
and tortured since the March elections. The violence forced Mr. Tsvangirai
to withdraw from the vote. Mr. Mugabe, running unopposed, won re-election.

It is tempting to say that Mr. Mugabe is president in name only. There is
virtual unanimity that the vote was a sham, the economy remains on the
ropes, and the country is increasingly isolated. But, most significant, he
retains the loyalty of the country's security forces and can continue to
rule by brute force. Indeed, a key question now, as Mr. Mugabe discusses a
power-sharing deal with the opposition, is whether his backers in the
military and security forces are prepared to compromise, to give up their
perks and risk being held responsible for their past actions. There have
been indications that Mr. Mugabe's ability to deal may be limited - even if
he is so inclined.

To head off any possibility of losing power, Mr. Mugabe appears to have
reached agreement with Mr. Arthur Mutambara, who heads a small faction
within the MDC. Mr. Mutambara can deliver 10 parliamentary seats to the
ZANU-PF party, which would give Mr. Mugabe a majority in the legislature and
the ability to form a government. The power-sharing talks, brokered by South
African President Thabo Mbeki, have taken a break while Mr. Tsvangirai
reflects on the discussions. Mr. Mutambara denies that he cut a deal with
Mr. Mugabe, but the president is reportedly prepared to pocket his new
majority, pick a Cabinet and seat Parliament members, effectively sidelining
Mr. Tsvangirai and completing his end run around the parliamentary and
presidential ballots.

Mr. Tsvangirai wants any deal to reflect "the will of the people." That
means the MDC must have power in the new government. Mr. Tsvangirai is
prepared to work with moderates from the ZANU-PF, but not Mr. Mugabe. The
opposition has said it can accept Mr. Mugabe in a visible but only
ceremonial post.

A deal with Mr. Mutambara will not end Zimbabwe's woes. Mr. Mugabe's failed
and flawed policies will remain in place. Investor confidence will remain
low if it exists at all. The repression of dissent and opposition will
continue, which means the criticism and ostracism will continue as well.
Sanctions will remain in place and are likely to intensify.

Significantly, Mr. Mugabe's fellow African leaders are losing patience with
him and are pressing him to step down. They are unlikely to be mollified by
this sham deal. While it may preserve a vestige of legitimacy for Mr.
Mugabe's continued rule, those leaders, and his neighbors in particular, are
most concerned with the deteriorating economic situation that sends refugees
into their countries - 2 million are estimated to have already fled - and
threatens to destabilize the region.

It will take more than desperate political maneuverings to end Zimbabwe's
troubles. Mr. Mugabe should do what is best for his country - give up power.


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WOZA demands transformation in Zimbabwe's security


http://www.afriquenligne.fr

Dakar, Senegal - One of Zimbabwe's leading pressure group, Women of Zimbabwe
Arise (WOZA), has demanded a radical change in the country's security
settings, according to WOZA press communique' received by PANA here
Saturday.

"It is our view that unless there is an audit and transformation of the
police and army, there can be no healing and restoration of human rights in
Zimbabwe," the pressure group stressed.

The body further condemned the recent arrest and detention of its members,
saying the move "is further proof that Zanu PF may have called for an end to
violence in word but not in deeds".

It said: "WOZA wishes to make it clear that the arrest of our members is a
further violation of the Memorandum of understanding signed by Zanu PF and
the two MD C parties as part of the SADC-led Dialogue."

The pressure group also threatened to stage a protest march with South
Africa labour groups and civic society Saturday "to deliver its demands to
SADC leaders".

"We will continue with our grafitti road writing our messages until the
politicians hear us loud and clear," WOZA members added.

Meanwhile, WOZA members have been running into troubles with the Zimbabwean
authorities lately.

Scores of them continue to embark on protest rallies and other activities
which have been deemed illegal by the Zimbabwean government.

Dakar - 16/08/2008

Pana


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Economic Hardships Worsen In Rural Areas

http://www.thezimbabwestandard.com/


Saturday, 16 August 2008 20:44
"I never thought I could do it. I walked the entire 70km on an empty
stomach."

This is how Johannes Munyikwa summed up his long walk on the bumpy
gravel road from Mpandawana growth point to Chin'ai township in Gutu East.

Munyikwa, who had spent two months without getting his salary got
stranded at the growth point last month when he found that his savings had
been wiped out by bank charges. He could not raise the bus fare to go back
to his school.

"I only managed to withdraw $80 billion ($8 revalued), the conductor
demanded $500 billion ($50 revalued) from me," he said.

A distressed Munyikwa, realising he could not do anything about it,
teamed up with other teachers and walked for two days back to their
stations.

"It was an unpleasant experience. I had blisters all over my feet," he
said.

"In an independent Zimbabwe, I did not anticipate that a professional
like myself would be reduced to a long distance footer," he said, shaking
his head.

Munyikwa still walks with a limp but nobody at his school seems to
notice.

His story is just but one of the many that are being told by villagers
in the province where living standards are fast deteriorating due to the
economic hardships besetting the country.

Villagers fear their lives now bear striking resemblance to that of
pre-historic men who relied on stone tools for survival.

Apart from walking long distances, the villagers are starting to rely
once again on the pestle and mortar and the grinding stone, among other
traditional instruments that had been abandoned after Independence ushered
in a new era of diesel and electric-powered grinding mills.

"Everybody seems to be going back to the past," said a 70-year-old
Taurai Manomano, who is making money selling pestle and mortar and grinding
stones.

"I know of course many young people find it hard to use this thing,
but surely if you don't use them, you will starve," Manomano said.

Manomano's skills, perfected in the 60s, have suddenly become useful
after the local grinding mill at Mushwayi business centre was rendered
useless by prolonged power cuts. Several other grinding mills in the area
that used diesel were shut down a long time ago when the fuel crisis
surfaced.

Faced with shortages of commodities and price controls, general
dealers closed shop, leaving many rural business centres resembling ghost
towns. This meant that villagers had nowhere to buy goods needed for daily
use.

But what worries villagers most are the acute food shortages that have
hit hard vulnerable people, mainly the old men and women and child-headed
families.

Just four months ago these people did not have any reason to worry as
the international aid agency, CARE operated in the area, providing them with
enough groceries for their upkeep.

But CARE, like the other agencies stopped operations in June after
government banned their relief programmes in the run up the Presidential
election run off. Ironically, this ban which affected over 110 000 people,
was announced as President Mugabe attended the UN World Food Security
conference in Rome.

The move left many threatened with starvation. Some of these people
are surviving on wild fruits.

Concerned villagers bemoan the fact that government has prevented
relief agencies from helping them.

They now suspect that for political reasons, government wants to fill
the void by the introduction of Basic Commodity Supply Side Intervention
(Bacossi).

But they say the programme is not inclusive and doubt if it can be
relied upon as they did with CARE.

"They (Bacossi officials) only came once last month, and we never saw
them again. They left out many villages and there is no reason for us to
think they are coming back again," said Musomari Mushangwe.

Villagers have had to struggle to raise the $100 billion needed to buy
the Bacossi package that includes cooking oil, sanitary pads, bath and
laundry soap, 2kg rice, flour, candles, toothpaste and Vaseline.

"People think the $100 billion needed is easy to get. Where does one
get such kind of money here?" one old woman asked.

These days whenever there is a funeral or memorial service, villagers
see a chance to get a proper meal. Before they leave, some scramble for
left-overs.

"Judging by the way things are now, we shudder to think how our lives
will be like at the end of the year. We can only hope these talks between
MDC and Zanu PF can succeed," said Mushangwe.

By Walter Marwizi


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Cosatu To Block Goods Destined For Zim, Swaziland

http://www.thezimbabwestandard.com/


Wednesday, 13 August 2008 12:02
A week-long boycott of goods destined for Zimbabwe and Swaziland will
be launched next month throughout the Southern African region, Congress of
South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi said
on Tuesday.

"We commit ourselves to the creation of an effective momentum for
sustained boycotts of goods destined for the two countries, throughout the
region, with the trade-union movement taking an active lead," said Vavi,
addressing the media in Braamfontein, Johannesburg.

He said Cosatu is planning a one-week long boycott in September during
which all workers will refuse to touch goods destined for these countries,
in a bid to put pressure on their leaders.

"All workers must refuse to serve President Robert Mugabe and King
Mswati III, as well as their close associates and collaborators, anywhere in
the region, so as to ensure that they indeed feel the heat of isolation."

Vavi said specific dates for the boycott will be announced at a later
stage, but Cosatu is hoping to hold it near Swaziland's 40/40 independence
celebration, planned for September, which marks the 40th anniversary of
Swaziland's independence from Britain.

The government's response will be evaluated after a week. If nothing
transpires, Cosatu may extend the boycott to a second week.

The boycott action was one of the resolutions taken at the Zimbabwe
and Swaziland "Solidarity Conference", which ended in Johannesburg on
Monday. The conference also called for a halt to Zimbabwe's political
violence that followed the March 29 elections.

"All the structures which have been perpetrating and directing attacks
must be immediately dismantled and international monitors should be invited
to Zimbabwe to assist," the conference said.

Another call was for a lift of the ban in Zimbabwe on aid groups and
civil society organisations, so that they could attend to victims of the
humanitarian disaster.

The conference declared there is a need for multiparty democratic
elections in Swaziland.

"The continued denial of political space, particularly the ban on
multiparty politics and the right to participate in public institutions of
decision making, remains a denial of a core tenet of democracy," it said. --á
Sapa,M&G


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Zambia Says No To Zim Laws Over Mawere Assets

http://www.thezimbabwestandard.com/


Saturday, 16 August 2008 20:41
IN a landmark ruling, the Zambian Supreme Court has said Zimbabwe's
Reconstruction laws used to take over companies owned by Mutumwa Mawere
cannot be applied across the Zambezi, deflating government's efforts to
seize assets belonging to the acquisitive businessman.

The judgment was delivered in favour of Africa Resources Limited
(ARL), a company wholly owned by Mawere, and others in an appeal against an
order granted by the High Court of Zambia.

The court had ruled that by virtue of the expropriation decrees
promulgated by President Robert Mugabe in September 2004, TAP Building
Products Limited (TAP) a company wholly owned by ARL, be deemed to be a
company under the control and management of an administrator, Arafas
Gwaradzimba.

Gwaradzimba had been appointed an administrator by Justice Minister
Patrick Chinamasa pursuant to the operation of the controversial legislation
that permitted the Government of Zimbabwe to take over the control and
management of Mawere's companies without the involvement of the judiciary.

ARL had also appealed against an order granted by the High Court
setting aside the appointment of new directors to the TAP board.

But the Supreme Court ruled that if TAP was insolvent, necessary
action could be taken within the ambit and spirit of the Zambian law. It
ruled that the Zambian laws do not provide for what is described as
"Associate Company" under the Zimbabwean laws. It said Zambia was a
sovereign state with its own laws and as such Zimbabwean laws do not apply
in Zambia.

"This being the case we find no justification in the importation of
the Zimbabwean laws into this country when we have our own laws under which
the third defendant company was incorporated," it said.

It ruled that TAP, being a body corporate had its own rights under
Zambian laws like an individual natural person and cannot be subjected to
the laws of its foreign based shareholders.

"The reference to the Zimbabwean laws was uncalled for and there was
no need for their application beyond Zimbabwe's borders in a foreign
sovereign state," it said.

On the legality of the board meeting that was held to have new board
members, the Supreme Court said this was supposed to be challenged using
Zambia's provision of the law. It said that while there was reference to
Section 211 of the Companies Act Cap. 388 regarding the removal of
directors, the issue was brought in for the purpose of justifying the main
claim seeking TAP to be deemed an Associate Company of SMM which was subject
to reconstruction pursuant to the Reconstruction laws of Zimbabwe.

"The issue was therefore, not properly brought before the court. It
ought to have been challenged on its own merits and not with an extraneous
motive to give effect or legitimacy to a foreign statute.

ARL were the first defendant, Mawere the second defendant; TAP
Building Products Limited the third defendant; and Meanwood Holdings Limited
as fourth defendant.

Gwaradzimba suing in his capacity as Administrator of SMM Holdings
Private Company was the first respondent while SMM Holdings Private Limited
the second respondent.

In its argument the respondents said SMM Holdings had become indebted
to the Government of Zimbabwe and was having difficulties in repaying back.

As such the affairs of SMM were placed under an administrator. TAP
being an associate company of SMM was supposed to be put under Gwaradzimba
because only then would SMM through Gwaradzimba be able to dispose or deal
with the assets in TAP in accordance with Zimbabwean laws.

In opposing the application Mawere informed TAP board chairman of the
acquisition of 60% shareholding by Meanwood Holdings Limited in TAP. The
defendants argued that TAP was a company registered under Zambian law which
requires that its shareholders and equity holder be registered with the
Registrar of Companies.

Asked to comment on the judgment, Mawere said the ruling goes a long
way to show "that even in Africa, there are courts that can resist thuggish
laws designed to circumvent the constitution and undermine the rule of law".

"The mere fact that Gwaradzimba armed with powers derived from
draconian laws could seek to enforce such laws in a foreign state shows the
extent of the Zimbabwean crisis. What you have here is a classic example of
why things have gone fundamentally wrong in Zimbabwe," he said.

"If President Mwanawasa (Levy) knew about this case, one can
understand why he has a problem with the proposition that the kind of
thinking that would lead a government to manufacture laws that offend the
very foundation of the constitutional order must prevail and endorsed by
SADC."

Gwaradzimba was away and would be back in office tomorrow (Monday),
his office told Standardbusiness on Thursday.

By Ndamu Sandu


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Zimbabwe Crisis: Talks And Tears For Tarisai

http://www.thezimbabwestandard.com/


Saturday, 16 August 2008 19:25
SOMEWHERE in a village nestled in the bushes of Chikomba, there is a
young girl called Tarisai.

Every morning, Tarisai wakes up early to fetch water from the sandy
bed of the mighty Save River. The great river is dry in most parts, so in
its vast belly of sand, she digs and digs, until the precious liquid oozes
into the hole.

She spends a length of time scooping the dirt, to make way for what
passes for some clean, precious liquid. She fills her bucket and carefully
places it on her small head, climbing the cliffs and hills until she gets
home to Amai. She has already mastered the art that, perhaps, only African
women can, of balancing the large load on her head without the need to
support it with her hands.

Amai is unwell. She has been unwell for some time and she cannot carry
her fragile body anymore, let alone a load of water on her head. Tarisai is
eight. Father was called to another world a year ago - a result of the same
illness that has swept across the country and turned farms into graveyards.
The weight of the homestead is upon Tarisai's young shoulders.

Later in the day Tarisai will go to the woods, to pick the little
firewood she can find, to make a fire. She comes home and cooks for mama.
There is not much to cook, the few greens that she dried months ago, that
pass for relish and a bit of sadza. The good men and women who used to come
with supplements have long stopped coming. Someone higher up in Harare
stopped them, she heard.

This is Tarisai's routine. Every day comes and goes, the same way. But
even by her dire standards, things have got worse recently. And there is not
much she can do to make things better. Every day she prays, summoning God's
help - because she has learnt the hard way, that none of this world can do
much to help her.

Late at night she picks up the little wireless radio father brought
back from his days in the big city many years ago in the 1990s before his
employer told him they were "rationalising" and that his services were no
longer required. They gave him a tie and a few dollars to recognise his long
and loyal service.

Tarisai tries hard, very hard, to find a signal. She wants to listen
to the news; to know what the big men in Harare have decided for her life.
Sometimes, she catches a signal, sometimes, she does not. But whenever she
does, the announcers are always harbingers of bad news. Sometimes she does
not bother. She just waits. Like everyone else in the village and the many
villages scattered across Zimbabwe, she waits. It's like waiting for Godot.

She is a beautiful girl, Tarisai is. Little boys like to say she was
made in His happy hour. But her world, Tarisai's world, is a far cry from
the sophisticated world of the internet and 24-hour news channels. She is
far away from the "breaking news". She is never going to be an expert on her
life, even though none of the learned men will ever know what it means to be
Tarisai. But they are "Africa experts" nonetheless, experts on her life -
but what do they really know?

he has no voice in the vibrant universe of internet chat-rooms and
forums. Which may just be as well, for she will never see or hear the
expletives exchanged there; naked words that can hardly be repeated in these
pages; angry young men and women but at least they have choices. Tarisai
does not have much.

All she has heard is that there are big men and big women located at
some grand hotels in Harare and Pretoria, deliberating about her future. But
these deliberations are for the big men and big women only - she, whose
future is at stake; whose shoulders carry the dreams and burdens of those
whose interests the big men and big women are supposedly fighting to
enhance; she is an outsider; she is not supposed to know.

Tarisai is eight, but in those few years, she has lived the lives of
many old men and old women. She only saw the world when the dispute over
which these men and women are fighting began in earnest. She was on her
mother's back, sleeping, when they queued at Warikandwa Primary School to
cast their votes in the Constitutional Referendum. She has seen them return
to the polling stations, again and again, since then. Indeed, her life has
changed. It has simply got worse.

You have to wonder, when you read all the papers; when you watch the
big "breaking news"; when you hear the politicians at press conferences,
where is Tarisai's voice?

There are few times in life, when one must yearn for a miraculous
transformation, to become, if only for a few hours, the fly that makes
uninvited entry into the four walls in which those big men and women are
discussing the future of Zimbabwe. And perch oneself in some corner far
enough to escape their attention and the possibility of a crushing blow but
close enough to hear their every word. It must, surely be in the thoughts of
those scribes who have spent days and nights lounging and gossiping in the
hotel lobby, for onward transmission to news agencies, for a small fee. It
must also, you have to think, be in the thoughts of little Tarisai, as she
makes her way to the riverbed of the mighty Save, to fetch the precious
liquid every morning.

But then you also ask, could there be just one journalist; at least
one scribe who might be tired of waiting for the big secrets from the
Rainbow Towers, and instead make way to that village in Chikomba; to spend
time with Tarisai and her fellow villagers and ask them what their thoughts
are; ask Tarisai if she has a message for the politicians discussing her
future at the Rainbow Towers. And perhaps write a story about Tarisai and
her fellow villagers, a story which will carry their views and expectations
to the decision makers. Perhaps the politicians could read these stories
and, who knows, perhaps their views might also guide them in their
thought-processes.

Because, you see, Tarisai will never come close to Rainbow Towers. She
has never been to Harare and, at this rate, she might never get the taste of
city life. And at eight, Tarisai has ten more years before she can exercise
her right to vote; never mind that she carries the responsibility of every
adult in her homestead; she is a child, but she is also the mother of her
mother. She makes decisions and carries out tasks to sustain her fragile
family. But the law says she is far too young to decide who can lead her and
her country, not even her ward or constituency.

hat is the democracy we are taught to believe in; the democracy we
have accepted as the answer to our troubles; a democracy that does not
recognise Tarisai as a responsible decision-maker in the electoral process
notwithstanding her role as the pivot of the modern African family. Those
important decisions are for men and women who spend time in bars; men who
return home and assault their wives to secure conjugal rights. But not for
Tarisai - the little girl who has abandoned school to look after mama.

Tarisai's hopes rest on the shoulders of the big men and women in
Harare, who are having secret deliberations. But how much do they think of
her as they deliberate?

Tarisai, "Please Sirs, look at me; look at the state of the country!",
she might be saying, for that indeed is her name.

If Tarisai's story does not turn something in the hearts and minds of
the big men and women in Harare, then, I suppose, nothing ever will. For
there are far too many Tarisais in the many scattered villages of Zimbabwe -
all looking up to Robert Mugabe, Morgan Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara all
in the hope of better news . . . for that is all she has left: Hope.

By Alex Magaisaá based at Kent Law School, The University of Kent. He
can be contacted at wamagaisa@yahoo.co.uk.á This piece was inspired by
Hopewell Chin'ono's film "Pain in my Heart", for which he won the CNN
Multi-Choice African Journalist of the Year 2008.


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Scandalising The Sadc Tribunal, A Real Test For Region's Leaders

http://www.thezimbabwestandard.com/


Saturday, 16 August 2008 19:22
THE Zimbabwean government is at it again and this time at the regional
level.

The executive officials and their appendages in this southern African
country have a history of subverting the rule of law by employing methods
designed to undermine the integrity and independence of the courts.

Since 2000 the executive in Zimbabwe have hounded independent judges
out of the courts and packed the judicial bench at the High Court and
Supreme Court with compliant judges. The methods used were brutal,
intimidating and demeaning.

In 2001 the notorious war veterans literally invaded the Supreme Court
demanding the elimination of the independent judges. The erstwhile Justice
Minister Chinamasa then issued an incredulous statement that the security of
the Chief Justice could no longer be guaranteed culminating in the
resignation of former Chief Justice Gubbay.

It was the same Patrick Chinamasa who, as Attorney General, was
convicted in 2002 of scandalizing the court for his public criticism of what
he perceived as a High Court judge's lenient sentencing of three American
citizens on charges of unlawfully possessing and transporting arms in an
aircraft.

The convicting judge ruled that Chinamasa's statements were intended
to bring into disrepute both the sentencing judge and the administration of
justice.

In December 2007 the SADC Tribunal ordered the Republic of Zimbabwe or
its agents not to evict or interfere with the peaceful residence on and
beneficial use of a commercial farm in Chegutu by the applicant Mike
Campbell, his family and employees.

Soon after the publication of this ruling the Minister of State for
National Security, Lands, Land Reform and Resettlement, Didymus Mutasa,
declared that the state would only be bound by its laws and decisions of its
superior courts.

This was after the Zimbabwe Supreme Court had dismissed an application
by Campbell challenging the seizure of his farm. On 29 June 2008, Gilbert
Moyo, a war veteran spearheading farm invasions and harassment of commercial
farmers in Chegutu, led a group of 20 men in the abduction and assault of
the applicant and his family.

This was in clear violation and disrespect of the SADC Tribunal's
December restraining order. The Tribunal confirmed this position when it
ruled that the applicants in the Campbell case had established failure by
the Zimbabwean government and its agents to comply with its decisions.

The applicant and 77 other farmers were forced to take their case to
the SADC Tribunal after the 17th amendment of the Zimbabwean constitution
ousted the jurisdiction of domestic courts to hear land disputes.

The violation of the rule of law in Zimbabwe through depriving
targeted individuals the right to have their cases heard in courts and the
total defiance of court orders is well documented.

The real crux of this matter is how the SADC Summit, which started
yesterday in South Africa, will handle the Tribunal's referral of violations
of its order by the Zimbabwean government. Senior lawyers representing
Zimbabwe walked out of the SADC Tribunal hearing on 16 July after the
applicants asked that the government be held in contempt for breaching the
restraining order.

In terms of its rules, the SADC Tribunal may refer to the summit a
member state that has failed to comply with its decisions. The summit should
then take appropriate action that may include the imposition of sanctions
against a member state that has persistently failed to fulfill its
obligations under the SADC Treaty.

With abundant evidence of Zimbabwe's failure to uphold the rule of
law, hold democratic elections and protect human rights in accordance with
SADC's principles one would expect the SADC Summit to impose sanctions on
the defaulting state.

SADC's leaders, however, are unlikely to surprise us given their past
performance. Rather than stand on principle SADC has preferred to bend the
rules of its protocols and adopt weak decisions motivated by political
expediency and based on consensus.

This failure by the SADC to protect the integrity and independence of
its institutions and regional principles has not helped efforts to promote
good governance and the rule of law in the southern African region.

The fact that one of its most promising institutions has been
scandalized by a recalcitrant state will regrettably, not deter the SADC
from letting Zimbabwe get away with no more than a tap on the wrist. I hope
to be proved wrong.

By Lloyd Kuveya, Project Lawyer, Southern Africa Litigation Centre,
073 990 2216.


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Negotiating While The Nation Faces Starvation

http://www.thezimbabwestandard.com/


Saturday, 16 August 2008 19:20
ZIMBABWEANS are starving while the government drags on with
negotiations designed to end the country's decade-long political crisis.

It is also apparently in no hurry to lift the ban on distribution of
humanitarian aid to vulnerable groups.

The hardest hit are families and communities affected by HIV/Aids, who
because of acute food shortages particularly in the rural areas and the high
food prices, are unable to feed their families properly.

Just before the March 29 harmonised elections President Robert Mugabe
reported that maize had been imported from Malawi and Zambia and when it
appeared there were delays, graduates from the national youth service
programme were despatched to go and expedite shipment of the grain.

However, from Matabeleland in the West to Manicaland in the East, a
common pattern is emerging. It is one of starvation. There is not a single
person working in government without relatives in the rural areas facing
shortages of food. This has led to unnecessary deaths, especially among
people who fall sick.

The government is fully aware of this and it is precisely because of
this that a scheme to put basic food stuffs within reach of the majority
poor has been launched. The tragedy is that the scheme is episodic.

In coming to the negotiating table, the political leaders claim they
are doing this for the good of the country, oblivious to the fact that the
people on whose behalf they are negotiating face death from starvation.

On June 4 the government banned non-governmental organisations from
conducting humanitarian aid work, which critically included provision of
both food and medical supplies to millions of Zimbabweans.

While the government has sought to backtrack from this position, it
has significantly failed to lift the ban so that assistance to those
desperately in need can resume. So we have humanitarian work stopped on the
one hand, and on the other food stocks which NGOs had ordered or received
expiring.

It is inconceivable that those sitting in government cannot see that
they are threatening genocide by neglect. One senior government minister,
Didymus Mutasa, once said he would be happy if Zimbabwe was only left with
supporters of Zanu PF. The spectre of starvation is threatening to fulfil
Mutasa's wish.

What is also tragic is that even faith-based groups, who are
witnessing this starvation, are scared to speak out, because they fear doing
so would upset the government. So the lives of citizens at risk of
starvation play second fiddle to political expediency.

The international community and the UN Secretary-General have called
the government's attention to a growing humanitarian crisis in the country.
In this insensitive and tardy response to a threat to its population, the
government shares an odious position with the military junta in Burma that
was preoccupied more with its own survival than the wellbeing of its own
people devastated by the worst floods in history.

The government must demonstrate its concern for its people and allow
humanitarian organisations to restart their invaluable work. After all, if
the government was properly executing its responsibility to its citizens
there would be no need for NGOs.

It is difficult not to conclude that the government is indifferent to
the starvation because the majority of those affected are internally
displaced people, supporters of the MDC formations who were largely victims
of state terrorism.

The government has abrogated its responsibility. It should allow for
resumption of aid work. The next months are critical. That is when most
households run out of food.

If the government fails its people, the international community should
bring this neglect before the world body. It should not wait until there are
corpses to prove the government does not care.


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So, Who Is On Cloud Cuckooland?

http://www.thezimbabwestandard.com/


Saturday, 16 August 2008 19:17
SOMEONE once said to be successful one must project a disposition of
success.

I know it wasn't Dale Carnegie, Chaminuka, Albert Einstein, Benjamin
Spock or Sigmund Freud.

Morever, there has been no evidence so far that this dispostion has
worked. I don't remember Bill Gates, Phillip Chiyangwa or Mutumwa Mawere
crediting their success solely to the projection of success before they
achieved it.

People with their feet firmly planted on the ground might argue that
this is no better than living on Cloud Cuckooland. This refers to "an
(unrealistically) idealistic state where everything is perfect".

Between Robert Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangirai, two men tussling for
political control of a country which everybody knows has real potential to
be a perfect model of success, who is on Cloud Cuckooland?

Mugabe recently warned the people "not to sell the country to the
enemy." There is no need to consult Socrates, Pericles, Aristotle, Plato,
Archbishop Makarios, Che Guevara, Vladimir Lenin, Groucho and Karl Marx,
John Foster Dulles, Ben Gurion or Masipula Sithole, as to which enemy is
being referred to.

svangirai has said many things too, but has stuck with the position
that the 29 March presidential election was overwhelmingly in his favour.
So, as far as he is concerned, handing this potentially wonderful country to
the enemy could not conceivably be a reference to the MDC.

By the way, being on Cloud Cuckooland "hints that the person referred
to is na´ve, unaware of reality or deranged in holding such an optimistic
belief".

An ancient play called The Birds by the Athenian playwright
Aristophanes is referred to as the origin of the expression.

If any readers mistake the author to be a contemporary of Zorba The
Greek, the film in which a non-Greek actor, Anthony Quinn, played the
leading role, then we must all say many Hail Marys for them.

Seasoned politicians like Mugabe must always embrace politics as the
art of the possible, which basically means that they will say anything if
they believe a majority of the people will trust they are not lying through
their teeth.

his is not a psychological attribute of men like Mugabe alone.
Entrepreneurs like Cecil John Rhodes and his band of capitalist, colonialist
adventurers, embraced this same philospphy. They invaded a small African
country in 1890 and gave it the name of the aforementioned gentleman.

The play referred to has Pisthetaiaros (Mr Trusting) and Euelphanes
(Mr Hopeful), with the help of Tereus, tired of the earth and Olympus,
deciding to erect a perfect city between the clouds, to be named Cloud
Cuckooland".

ou could say Mugabe, in refusing to believe he lost the 29 March
election and his charade of 27 June was a genuine show of support for his
presidency is living a lie.

Tsvangirai, in believing that Mugabe entered the talks with a genuine
desire to reverse the 27 June circus and cede real power to the former trade
unionist, could also be said to be the na´ve one.

Yet when you start to examine the backgrounds - political or
otherwise -of these two men, one fact seems inescapable: it is Mugabe who
has had to swallow his pride, eat humble pie or crow - if you are enamoured
of such foul language.

To put it very politely, Mugabe can only be living on Cloud Cuckooland
if he believes the world took his bombardistic sloganeering as the genuine
declaration of a man dedicated to the future prosperity of his country - and
not the wishful, geriatric rantings of a politician aware that the end of
his career is nigh.

Zimbabwe shall never be a colony again. In reality - and not on Cloud
Cuckooland - this would entail the return of the British as the rulers of
Zimbabwe. Even figuratively, it would mean the British controlling the
entire economy and shipping all the profits to the Motherland, with
Zimbabweans, as they did during colonialism, feeding on the crumbs from the
high tables of the colonisers.

There is something eeriely familiar here. Today, most people who voted
against Mugabe and Zanu PF last March, are wallowing in squalor unimaginable
under colonialism.

Believing they are ecstatic about this is cruel. It suggests they are
not just naive, but could be idiots as well.

By Bill Saidi

saidib@standard.co.zw

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