By Peter Clottey
20 August 2007
The International Crisis Group says the political impasse in Zimbabwe,
believed to be the cause of the country's deepening economic woes is not
exaggerated. This followed a statement by Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa
that the crisis in Zimbabwe is overblown. Political analysts have criticized
leaders of the just ended Southern African Development Community (SADC)
meeting in the Zambian capital, Lusaka, for failing to take action against
Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe due to his inability to resolve the
political and economic crisis in his country.
Sydney Masamvu is a Zimbabwean senior analyst with the International Crisis
Group in South Africa. From Pretoria, he tells reporter Peter Clottey that
the crisis in Zimbabwe needs to urgently be resolved.
"We are seeing a lot of diplomacy at play. I do not want to read too much
into what President Mwanawasa said, but one could just see that SADC is just
trying to present some semblance of homogeneity in terms of their approach
to the Zimbabwe situation. And given President Mwanawasa's earlier comments
on Zimbabwe where he likened the state of affairs to that of a sinking
titanic, one could see that this time around he is the incoming chair of
SADC and taking over at a time where for the worst or for the best a
decisive move has to be made on Zimbabwe during his tenure as the SADC
chair," Masamvu noted.
He said all political and economic indicators point to a very distasteful
situation in Zimbabwe.
"The economy has been shrinking for the last six seven years, in the
negative growth, all the social indicators are in the negative. So really
you cannot exaggerate the suffering of the people," he said.
Masamvu said although the problems of Zimbabwe should be solved by its
people, there is the need for past president's in the region to lend a hand.
"Indeed it's correct! You need Zimbabweans to sort out their problems
themselves, but secondly, you need even African solution to African
problems. No wonder why everyone is lauding the SADC initiative, for it puts
African leaders to tackle one of their own, and over and above as what the
Zambian minister is saying that he needs the retired African statesmen. It's
actually correct, that's the take two approach, which SADC should take on
board to capacitate in the SADC mediation process," Masamvu pointed out.
He said retired statesmen like Nelson Mandela should be called upon to be
part of the mediation process initiated by SADC.
"When you look at the current crop of SADC leaders, you get the thinking
that Mugabe stands head and shoulders above the current crop of Africa
leaders, especially in SADC. As such, the track two diplomatic approach,
which should be engaged on Zimbabwe, is to rope in retired presidents who
fall in the same political league Mugabe like the former President Kaunda,
President Mandela. those are the people who can be used to give leverage to
the SADC mediation process to help President Mbeki," he said.
Masamvu said it was highly unlikely for Zimbabwe to have a completely new
constitution as is being advocated by the opposition Movement for Democratic
"I think the compromise which would happen is that the proposed
constitutional amendment Number 18, which is being pushed by ZANU-PF would
be used to front load every constitutional reform which needs to be done. So
we are actually going to see all the parties compromising on constitutional
amendment number 18 and taking that as a vehicle to effect some
constitutional reforms. Indeed I need to state from the onset that we are
not going to see a new constitution, but rather we are going to see a
constitutional review, which would be done under constitutional amendment
18," Masamvu noted.
Monday 20 August 2007
By Farisai Gonye
HARARE - Zimbabwe's ruling party is moving people from rural areas to
register as urban voters for next year's planned joint presidential and
parliamentary polls to strengthen its chances of wrestling urban
constituencies from the opposition.
The Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN), a coalition of
non-governmental organisations whose mandate is to promote free and fair
elections, accused the ruling ZANU PF party of busing its supporters from
its rural strongholds to beef up its thin urban voter base.
In an update released last week on Zimbabwe's voter registration
exercise which ended on Saturday, ZESN said ZANU PF was using housing
cooperatives made up mostly of its supporters to provide letters to rural
voters so they could pose as Harare residents.
According to the elections advocacy body, some of the ZANU PF
supporters are coming from as far as Gokwe to register as Harare voters.
Gokwe is a ruling party stronghold located about 170km north-west of
ZESN said its teams assessing the just-ended voter registration
exercise came across the scam in Harare North constituency where hundreds of
ZANU PF supporters were using letters from the Ernest Kadungure Housing
Co-operative as proof of residence.
Construction of houses is yet to start at the housing co-operative and
is expected to take place well after the March 2008 elections.
"One wonders how many hundreds of people have been registered against
these stands. What is, however clear is that for every stand, a minimum of
six people get registered in a constituency they do not reside," ZESN
director Rindai Chipfunde said.
The Registrar-General's Office, which is responsible for voter
registration, requires letters from landlords or water and electricity bills
as proof that those seeking to register as voters reside in the
constituencies where they want to vote.
"What this means is that we have a situation where people are being
registered in a constituency where they do not belong simply because they
have been allocated stands in the particular constituency," said Chipfunde.
ZANU PF has since 2005 been parceling out housing stands under the
banner of housing co-operatives at various urban farms to its supporters.
Most of the housing stands have remained unoccupied because of
non-existent service provision.
ZESN said beneficiaries of the housing stands were now being asked to
provide five additional people who were also registered in the urban
constituencies against a single stand number.
This has enabled ZANU PF to register rural people in urban
constituencies, hoping to boost its dwindling urban support base. Additional
inquiries by ZimOnline indicated that the exercise was rampant and
widespread throughout the country.
ZANU PF has systematically bused rural supporters to register in urban
areas such as Mutare, Kadoma, Chegutu, Gweru, and Masvingo since the voter
registration exercise began on June 18.
In one case in Mutare Central, 12 people from outside the constituency
used the same address to register as voters.
"Sometimes we have like 10 people using a single water bill to
register in the constituency. ZANU-PF officials simply accompany these
people and we cannot ask questions in such intimidating circumstances," a
Registrar General Office official told ZimOnline.
It was not possible to get a comment from the Registrar-General
Tobaiwa Mudede, who has in the past denied assisting President Robert Mugabe
rig past elections.
Home Affairs Minister Kembo Mohadi, under whose ministry Mudede falls,
refused to take questions on the matter.
"I can't respond to that. You want to tarnish an exercise going on
smoothly," he said before switching off his phone.
The ruling party has since 2000 played second fiddle to the opposition
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party in urban constituencies.
Zimbabwe is set to hold joint parliamentary and presidential elections
next year. - ZimOnline
Monday 20 August 2007
By Justin Muponda
HARARE - President Robert Mugabe is seen intensifying a crackdown on
opponents to consolidate power in national elections expected next March
after escaping censure from regional leaders who backed his controversial
policies at a summit in Zambia last week, analysts said.
A Southern African Development Leaders (SADC) meeting in Lusaka that ended
on Friday failed to pressure Mugabe to account for his human rights record
but instead pledged to help his government ride through a debilitating
eight-year economic crisis that has left the country on political knife
Human rights groups have chronicled thousands of cases of human rights
violations but Mugabe, 83, and in power since independence in 1980,
routinely dismisses accusations that his government violates human rights,
accusing former colonial master Britain of masterminding a hostile
propaganda campaign to end his rule.
"We did not expect SADC to speak against Mugabe's excesses but by showing
solidarity it gives him the drive to bash his opponents as it were," John
Makumbe, a University of Zimbabwe senior political science lecturer said.
"He will come hard on the opposition, civil society and all the democratic
forces with renewed vigour, fully aware that the region is behind him and
that's really tragic," Makumbe added.
The opposition and civic groups had expected SADC leaders to take a tough
line against the longest serving leader in the region by urging him to end a
harsh clampdown on opponents, including the media, address concerns on human
rights violations and ease tough security laws that have fractured
The opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party charges that
Mugabe has used violence and intimidation tactics against its supporters
since 2000, manipulated the voters' roll and rigged the ballot to remain in
In March, police beat up and injured MDC and civic society leaders -
including Morgan Tsvangirai - after they attempted to attend a banned prayer
vigil in Highfield, a move which drew international condemnation against
Mugabe and forced SADC leaders to convene an emergency summit in Tanzania to
resolve the crisis.
But SADC leaders last week stood by Mugabe, endorsing his policies and
analysts saw the veteran leader walking with a new spring in his step as he
pushes ahead with amendments to the constitution, a major sticking point
within the ongoing Thabo Mbeki-led talks initiative between the ruling ZANU
PF party and the MDC.
The amendments will, among other things, enlarge both Houses of Parliament
and empower Parliament to pick Mugabe's successor if he decided to leave
Analysts said unlike the current provision in the constitution where a
presidential vote is required within 90 days of an incumbent leaving office
before the end of his term, the new amendment would give Mugabe leeway to
choose a successor to allow a dignified exit since he has a hold on ZANU-PF
legislators and his party is likely to continue dominating both Houses of
Mugabe's ZANU-PF will also table an Indigenisation Bill to transfer all
majority business ownership into local hands, which economic commentators
say the veteran leader will use to strengthen his system of patronage
despite its impact on an already tottering economy.
The World Bank says Zimbabwe's economy is the fastest shrinking outside
countries at war, with official inflation the world's highest at nearly 5
000 percent last May, shortages of basic commodities and foreign currency
and rising poverty levels.
SADC leaders have however pledged to end the economic meltdown with an
undisclosed rescue package.
Economic analysts said this could prove difficult without resolving the
political crisis and without government commitment to respect private
property rights, cut excess spending, curb rampant graft and end price
distortions in the economy.
"These are the issues that have to be addresses but they are amenable to the
government as already shown by the ill-advised price freeze which has had a
devastating effect on the economy," consultant economist John Robertson
Robertson was referring to a price cut enforced in June to tame galloping
inflation, which has paralysed businesses as production of all commodities
has nosedived with manufacturers fearing heavy losses.
Political analysts said Zimbabwe's neighbours could pay heavy price for
failing to rein in Mugabe as already shown by thousands of illegal and
desperate Zimbabweans flocking mainly to South Africa, Botswana and Namibia
in search of better jobs.
Communities in these countries and lower level authorities have often blamed
the influx of locals for escalating crime rates. Pretoria, despite its quiet
diplomacy stance on Harare, has continued to tighten entry requirements into
that country for Zimbabwean nationals.
"What some of these leaders have failed to grasp is that the Zimbabwe mess
will also mess them up because they are the ones with better economies and
attract multitudes of our people there. I am not sure they will be able to
cope," Makumbe said.
Mugabe has consistently accused Western powers of punishing his government
for his seizures of white-owned commercial farms, which has accelerated the
collapse of Zimbabwe's agriculture-driven economy. - ZimOnline
Monday 20 August 2007
By Taruona Dhewa
HARARE - For 34-year-old Mary Masvosva, last week's Heroes' Day holiday was
a holiday to forget.
Masvosva, like thousands of other Zimbabweans, struggled for two long days
at Mbare Musika long distance bus terminus in Harare to catch a bus to her
rural home in Rusape, some 200km east of the capital Harare.
On the third day, tired and hungry, she gave up.
In Chivhu, Gamuchirai Kamocha spent two days stranded at the bus terminus
where she wanted to catch a bus to Zaka, some 120km away, to attend her late
mother's memorial service.
"By the time I got transport on a haulage truck, I had used on food part of
the bus fare for my return journey," said Kamocha.
Apart from Christmas, Zimbabweans generally travel to their rural homes
during the Heroes Day holiday in August on a day dedicated to honoring
veterans of the country's 1970s anti-settler war.
For most Zimbabweans battling a severe eight-year economic crisis, the
holiday was a big yawn, what with the transport crisis that has grounded
most buses around the country and food shortages worsened by an ongoing
government crackdown on prices.
Zimbabwe's transport operators have over the past eight years struggled to
maintain their fleet on the roads due to a serious fuel crisis as well as a
shortage of spare parts.
But the transport crisis took a turn for the worst last June after President
Robert Mugabe, whom critics say is the author of Zimbabwe's misery, ordered
transport operators to reduce bus fares as part of a general crackdown on
prices of basic commodities.
The government crackdown, code-named Operation Dzikisa Mutengo (Operation
Reduce Prices) has seen Zimbabweans take advantage of the bargains to hoard
basic goods leaving most shop shelves empty.
Transport operators have responded to the price blitz by withdrawing their
buses from the roads in protest over the directive, leaving thousands of
Zimbabweans stranded on the roads.
"I just gave up as I could no longer keep on waiting at Mbare for transport.
I also could not go and board the train to Mutare as it was fully booked
throughout the holiday period," said Masvosva.
In Zimuto area in Masvingo, some people walked some 60km to catch buses at
Mpandawana rural service centre to travel to major cities and towns.
Regis Munhenzva, a bus operator in Harare, blamed the transport crisis on
inadequate fuel supplies.
"The government only allocated us some 500 litres per bus during the
four-day-long holiday to cover distances totaling more than 800km a trip.
This was just not enough," said Munhenzva.
Another rural bus operator, who declined to be named, said Zimbabwe's
economic crisis was slowly taking its toll on transport operators.
He said apart from the usual shortage of fuel and spares, the rural road
network was in a serious state of disrepair.
"Our family buses have been plying rural routes for generations but now we
can hardly manage to let a bus go on a long-distance route because the roads
out there are nearly impassable.
"Moreover, if a bus breaks down hundreds of kilometers away, towing it back
is very expensive," he said.
Zimbabwe's economic crisis, described by the World Bank as unprecedented for
a country not at war, has manifested itself in the world's highest inflation
rate of over 4 500 percent last May.
The Harare authorities, embarrassed over the shocking statistics, have since
ordered a blanket ban on the release of inflation figures.
The economic crisis has also manifested itself in the general deterioration
of infrastructure, with Harare residents, for example, being forced to live
with constant burst sewer pipes, shortages of water as well as electricity.
The main opposition Movement for Democratic Change party and major Western
governments blame the crisis on mismanagement by Mugabe, the only ruler
Zimbabweans have known since independence from Britain 27 years ago.
But Mugabe denies the charge, saying the economic crisis is a result of
sabotage by Britain and her Western allies who he says are unhappy over his
land reform programme.
"I don't want to imagine what the situation will be like in December during
the Christmas season if the government does not act soon to address this
crisis," said one bus operator who spoke to ZimOnline. - ZimOnline
Monday 20 August 2007
By Nqobizitha Khumalo
BULAWAYO - Industries and companies based in Zimbabwe's second largest city
of Bulawayo face closure after the local authority announced at the weekend
that it was immediately extending water rationing to industries due to
critical water shortages.
The city has with immediate effect ordered that industry and the city centre
be without water supplies for three consecutive days in a week.
The council also widened the cut-off periods for residential areas.
High-density areas will now be forced to go for up to four days without any
water supplies as part of the new water rationing regime announced by the
Bulawayo City Council last Friday.
Previously, the longest period that residential areas have gone without
water was two days.
The move to ration water in industrial areas and the city centre would
affect large manufacturing concerns that use a lot of water.
Bulawayo City Council spokesman Phathisa Nyathi said the city had with
immediate effect stopped supplying 24-hour water service to the city centre
and the industrial area.
"Due to falling water levels, the situation has suddenly gone critical and
we are left with no option but to be forced to widen water rationing to
include industry and the city centre," said Nyathi.
No industrial area would be spared from the water cuts, he said.
He however said the city centre would be without water during the off-peak
periods while industries would be rationed during normal working hours.
"The water shedding times for the city centre will be 6pm and for industrial
areas it will be on Thursday, Friday and Saturday," Nyathi said.
Bulawayo is experiencing serious water shortages as a result of poor
rainfall, which affected water levels at the five dams supplying the city.
This has forced the city council to de-commission three supply dams -
Umzingwane, and Lower and Upper Ncema - leaving only Inyankuni and Insiza
dams to supply water to the more than one million residents.
The situation has seen people in the city's high-density areas resort to
queuing for water from boreholes sunk by international aid agencies.
The water crisis has decimated Bulawayo's previously strong manufacturing
The city used to be the country's industrial hub but most companies
relocated from the region when the water shortages started in the 1990s.
Bulawayo council last June warned residents of a possible outbreak of
disease as a result of the water shortages.
The water shortage has been ascribed to drought, a burgeoning population and
the lack of cooperation between the city fathers and the Zimbabwe National
Water Authority, a parastatal now in charge of the country's water delivery
The government's reluctance to implement the Matabeleland Zambezi Water
Project (MZWT) and the Mtshabezi pipeline has worsened the city's plight. -
Monday 20 August 2007
By Regerai Marwezu
MASVINGO - The ruling ZANU PF provincial executive in Masvingo province is
pushing for the sacking of former governor Josaya Hungwe from the party for
allegedly receiving bribes from white farmers during Zimbabwe's chaotic land
reforms seven years ago.
Hungwe has been languishing in political wilderness since 2004 after he was
dropped from the government for backing Emmerson Mnangagwa's political
ambitions for the vice-presidency.
The former governor was part of a group of ZANU PF officials who drew Mugabe's
ire for daring to block his choice of Joice Mujuru for the vice-presidency
of ZANU PF and the country.
Two rival factions of ZANU PF, one led by Mnangagwa and the other by Mujuru's
husband and former army commander, Solomon, are battling for political
supremacy to succeed Mugabe.
In what observers say is the continuation of the bitter faction fights in
ZANU PF, the Masvingo provincial executive that is backs Mujuru, wrote a
letter to the party's national chairman John Nkomo demanding the sacking of
The party's provincial spokesperson Retired Major Kudzai Mbudzi confirmed
the plans to kick out Hungwe from the party following charges that the
former governor had received kickbacks from former white farmers.
Hungwe, as governor of Masvingo, chaired the provincial land allocation
committee that identified and recommended white properties that were to be
spared from compulsory acquisition by government during the land reforms.
The ZANU PF provincial executive says Hungwe used his political muscle to
spare some white properties during the land reform programme in return for
personal financial gains.
"It is true that we have asked the national executive to fire Hungwe.
Several former white farmers have complained that they paid bribes to Hungwe
to have their properties spared during the land reforms," said Mbudzi.
Contacted for comment, Hungwe scoffed at the charges, saying they were part
of the factional fighting in ZANU PF.
"I am not surprised that some people are trying to 'finish me off'
politically," said Hungwe.
"I am sure you are aware of the bitter factional wars in the province and
these are just the products of our infighting. But I am ready to defend
myself," said Hungwe.
Nkomo said he had not yet received the letter from the Masvingo executive
but stressed that party members were free to bring the matter for discussion
at the party's annual conference in December.
"I have not seen any letter from Masvingo to that effect. But we want to go
into the congress with an open mind and all burning issues from the
provinces should be brought forward," said Nkomo. - ZimOnline
August 20, 2007, 06:00
Zambian finance minister Ng'andu Magande wants retired statesmen like former
SA president Nelson Mandela to influence Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe.
He says a little pressure from Mandela and ex-Zambian president Kenneth
Kaunda could lead to a different approach in solving Zimbabwe's problems.
Magande's comments follow a SADC summit in Lusaka. President Thabo Mbeki
told delegates that progress has been made in talks between Zimbabwe's
government and opposition factions.
Meanwhile, the United Nations' refugee agency (UNHCR) has made a contingency
plan in anticipation of thousands of Zimbabwean refugees fleeing their
country's worsening political and economic situation.
The agency's commissioner Antonio Guterres says the plan has been developed
in readiness for any major influx of refugees to neighbouring countries. He
says more than three-million Zimbabweans have so far left their country and
most of them are in need of humanitarian assistance.
Government has rejected pleas to set up refugee camps on its border with
August 20, 2007 Edition 1
Amid predictions that the Zimbabwean economy could collapse within four
months, President Robert Mugabe's neighbours have offered him a lifeline in
the form of an economic rescue package.
The leaders of the neighbouring countries, meeting at the Southern African
Development Community (SADC) summit in Lusaka on Friday, agreed to implement
a bailout proposed by SADC executive secretary Tomaz Salamao.
But they are not divulging details of the plan until SADC finance ministers
have examined it. Then another, extraordinary summit may be held to approve
the details of the plan.
However, it is doubtful that Zimbabwe has that much time.
Western officials are warning that "probably within months, by year-end,
we'll see the formal economy cease to work". They fear that if Mugabe clung
to power much longer, the country could descend from authoritarianism to
anarchy, and that Congo-style warlords could take control.
SADC and SA officials remained tight-lipped about Salamao's bailout plan
yesterday, fuelling speculation about its contents and terms.
Some Zimbabwean media reports have suggested that the rescue package will
only be offered if Mugabe agrees to economic and political reforms.
These would include co-operating with President Thabo Mbeki's mediation of
negotiations between Mugabe's Zanu-PF and the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) to ensure free and fair polls next year.
But Mbeki dismissed this in a briefing to SA journalists after the summit,
saying there would be "no conditionalities" attached to the Salamao bailout.
He said it was an emergency plan which had to be implemented swiftly to get
the country back on its feet again so that free and fair elections could be
held next year.
Mbeki received his mediation mandate and Salamao his mandate to draw up an
economic rescue plan at the same special SADC summit on Zimbabwe on March 29
Salamao gave a brief glimpse into his report at the summit when he said that
he had made key findings.
These included that Zimbabwe still had a viable economy, but that it was
labouring under sanctions - a fact that was not being recognised by
Zimbawe's critics, and that its politics and its economy could not be
The last point seemed to contradict Mbeki's assertion that the bailout plan
and his own facilitation of talks between the main parties were separate
problems. The Lusaka summit commended Mbeki for the progress he had made in
his mediation between Zanu-PF and the MDC.
By Ralph R. Reiland
Monday, August 20, 2007
Readers of The New York Times got a front-page example recently of
what F.A. Hayek called "the fatal conceit" -- the idea that some great mind
or committee can do a better job than the private market in organizing and
directing an economy.
Hayek argued that the market automatically coordinates the millions of
individual activities in an economy by way of "natural, spontaneous and
self-ordering processes of adaptation to a greater number of particular
facts than any one mind can perceive or even conceive."
The record of the past century shows that the system that delivers the
goods, reduces scarcity and improves living standards is the "spontaneous
human order created by a competitive market," said Hayek, not the
"deliberate arrangement of human interaction by central authority based on
the collective command over available resources."
What works, in short, is freedom and capitalism, not statism and
The Times article that supports Hayek's line of reasoning -- "Caps on
Prices Only Deepen Zimbabweans' Misery" by Michael Wines -- provides a
perfect illustration of how the "fatal conceit" of government can turn a
difficulty into a catastrophe.
"Robert G. Mugabe has ruled over this battered nation, his every wish
endorsed by Parliament and enforced by the police and soldiers, for more
than 27 years," explained Wines. "It appears, however, that not even an
unchallenged autocrat can repeal the laws of supply and demand."
With prices doubling weekly, Mugabe's attempt to revoke the laws of
economics came via an anti-inflationary order, "Operation Slash Prices," on
June 25, ordering merchants to cut their prices by 50 percent.
"One month after Mr. Mugabe decreed just that, commanding merchants
nationwide to counter 10,000-percent-a-year hyperinflation by slashing
prices in half and more, Zimbabwe's economy is at a halt," reported Wines.
Most students with a passing grade in Economics 101 could have
predicted that Mugabe's decree would produce shortages. Cut the price of
gasoline by law to a dollar per gallon, and there'll be less supply and more
demand -- the formula for a shortage. Cut the price to 50 cents and we'll be
It's the same with supply in the labor market. Cap the salaries of
brain surgeons at $100,000 and there'll be a shortage of brain surgeons.
Predictably, the results of Mugabe's decree were catastrophic.
"Bread, sugar and cornmeal, staples of every Zimbabwean's diet, have
vanished, seized by mobs who denuded stores like locusts in wheat fields,"
reported Wines. "Meat is virtually nonexistent, even for members of the
middle class who have money to buy it on the black market. Gasoline is
nearly unobtainable. Hospital patients are dying for lack of basic medical
supplies. Power blackouts and water cutoffs are endemic."
Similarly, the impact on manufacturing and jobs was ruinous:
"Manufacturing has slowed to a crawl because few businesses can produce
goods for less than the government-imposed sale prices. Raw materials are
drying up because suppliers are being forced to sell to factories at a loss.
Businesses are laying off workers or reducing their hours."
With three-fourths of Zimbabwe's labor force already jobless prior to
Mugabe's decree, the government's prescription for bringing down inflation
only worsened the nation's poverty crisis. "Factory layoffs and slowdowns,"
reported The Times, "are bringing new poverty to the 15 percent or 20
percent of adult Zimbabweans who still have jobs."
To keep critics in line, a new law gives Zimbabwe's security forces
the right to observe as many e-mails and tap as many phones as they see fit.
For noncompliance with Mugabe's edict, business owners are threatened
with jail and the nationalization of their companies. "We are at war,"
explained one of Mugabe's vice presidents, Joseph Msika. "We will not allow
shelves to be empty."
In other words, if supplies won't come forth voluntarily via the
market, the government will force the production.
"As many as 4,000 businesspeople have been arrested, fined or jailed,"
reported Wines, while "state-run newspapers publish lists of telephone
numbers on their front pages daily, exhorting citizens to report merchants
whose prices exceed the dictates."
In the Soviet Union, to keep things moving according to plan, the
government eventually killed 55 million of its own citizens. In China, 36
To kill in those numbers required the obedience of many. Said British
philosopher W.K. Clifford, "There is one thing more wicked in the world than
the desire to command, and that is the will to obey."
Ralph R. Reiland is an associate professor of economics at Robert
Morris University and a local restaurateur. E-mail him at email@example.com
The Sunday Telegraph
Published: August 19, 2007, 23:05
Robert Mugabe has splashed out on a fleet of luxury cars for each of his 34
ministers at a state-funded cost of around 3 million pounds (Dh22 million).
Each top-of-the-range Mercedes S350s is fitted with a powerful V6 engine,
infrared cameras, seat massagers and doors that suck themselves shut.
Critics expressed disbelief at such purchases amid the growing economic
Mugabe himself is believed have a modified version of the Mercedes S600L,
described by one reviewer as "the car of choice for up-and-coming dictators
of small African countries".
It boasts a 12-cylinder engine which can accelerate from 0 to 62 miles per
hour in 4.6 seconds and, with armour and modifications, costs around 700,000
Everyone was disgusted by the television pictures from Lusaka showing the
ignorant support for Mugabe at the opening of the SADC meeting. We are
bewildered that our African brothers and sisters cannot see what is really
happening in Zimbabwe, forcing so many people into exile. We had with us at
the Vigil today a young man who told us of the horrific situation of
Zimbabweans in South Africa -- of Zimbabweans there being driven to crime,
including soldiers who had deserted with their weapons. He spoke of the
exploitation of Zimbabweans fleeing across the border and said they were
referred to as ATMs (bank cash machines) because they are always having to
fork out bribes. Zimbabwean refugees are asked to pay more and more to jump
off trains the closer they get to Johannesburg. "They are very angry".
Asked about the vigilante farmers on the border, he said the problem would
disappear if the border farmers were persuaded to put in gates so the
refugees didn't have to cut the fences!
We again had brilliant attendance with an exuberant Dumi leading the
singing. Among those on the drums was Ephraim Tapa, Chair of the MDC UK. He
urged everyone to campaign for next year's elections. He said the diaspora
was sending money home and should also send back the demand for democratic
change. "We must claim back the mandate that we gave Mugabe in 1980". Mr
Tapa added that he was also sickened by the applause given to Mugabe at the
Lusaka summit and the message that Zimbabweans must remain calm and
peaceful. "They are asking the victim to apologise" he said.
Several supporters noted that the Portuguese deputy foreign minister
indicated at the Lusaka meeting that Mugabe would be invited to the AU / EU
Summit in Lisbon in December. It was agreed that the Vigil would write to
the British Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, asking him to stay away from this
summit if Mugabe attends. In the wake of the summit the Vigil also now
plans to go ahead with the presentation of one of its petitions: "A PETITION
TO EUROPEAN UNION GOVERNMENTS: We record our dismay at the failure of the
Southern African Development Community (SADC) to help the desperate people
of Zimbabwe at their time of trial. We urge the UK government and the
European Union in general to suspend government to government aid to all 14
SADC countries until they abide by their joint commitment to uphold human
rights in the region." After all, should European taxpayers' money be used
to underpin SADC aid to Mugabe's kleptocracy? The petition has been signed
by thousands of passers-by and we hope to get a well-known person to present
it to mark the Vigil's 5th anniversary on 12th October.
Francesca celebrated her 17th birthday at the Vigil today. She has been
keeping a diary since she first came. A year ago she wrote "this is the
last birthday I will celebrate at the Vigil" . . . . How many more? All day
had threatened yet another downpour in this wettest of summers. Rain held
off until the last 20 minutes. It was fairly light and we didn't think it
was worth putting up the tarpaulin so we shared our many emergency umbrellas
left behind over the last 5 years - about 10 in all!
For this week's Vigil pictures: http://www.flickr.com/photos/zimbabwevigil/
FOR THE RECORD: 103 signed the register. Supporters from Bedford,
Birmingham, Bolton, Coventry, Derby, Dudley, Leeds, Leicester, Manchester,
Northampton, Southampton, Stoke-on-Trent, a large group from Wolverhampton
and many from London and South East England.
FOR YOUR DIARY:
- Monday, 20th August 2007, 7.30 pm, Central London Zimbabwe Forum.
MDC-UK Secretary Julius Mutyambizi Dewa will update us on the MDC-UK's
plans. Upstairs at the Theodore Bullfrog pub, 28 John Adam Street, London
WC2 (cross the Strand from the Zimbabwe Embassy, go down a passageway to
John Adam Street, turn right and you will see the pub).
- Saturday, 1st September 2007, 12 noon - 10 pm. Zimfest 2007 (food,
sports, music). Venue: Prince Georges Playing Fields, Bushey Rd, Raynes
Park, London, SW20 9NB. For more information check; www.wezimbabwe.com
- Tuesday, 4th September, 12 - 1.30 pm. The International Liaison
Office of the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum will be hosting 'Zimbabwe's
Gukurahundi: Lessons from the 1980-1988 disturbances in Matabeleland and The
Midlands' at Chatham House in London. Further information on the Chatham
House website at: http://www.chathamhouse.org.uk/events/view/-/id/572/.
- Friday, 7th September 2007, 6.30 pm. Debate on human rights opened
by barrister James Keeley. Discussion on Zimbabwe by Albert Weidemann.
Venue: Ripon, North Yorkshire, Address: YMCA, Water Skellgate, HG4 1BQ. For
more information, contact: Albert Weidemann on 01765-607900 or mobile 0779
- Saturday, 8th September, 2 -6 pm. Special literature event at the
Vigil as part of a worldwide reading for Zimbabwe. Readings have been
chosen by the International Literature Festival of Berlin to be read and
broadcast around the world on 9th September. We have chosen the nearest
Vigil to do this. For details, check http://www.literaturfestival.com/.
- Monday, 10th September 2007. The Zimbabwe Solidarity Campaign, as
agreed with Ian Paisley Jnr, are presenting a petition to Stormont. They
plan to do a presentation to the assembly members in the long gallery and
then get as many members as possible to sign the petition in front of the
press. They are trying to get some high profile campaigners along to raise
the profile of the campaign.
- Saturday, 13th October, 2 - 6 pm. Zimbabwe Vigil's 5th Anniversary
commemoration followed by a social event. An early marker. Don't book
anything else for this date.
The Vigil, outside the Zimbabwe Embassy, 429 Strand, London, takes place
every Saturday from 14.00 to 18.00 to protest against gross violations of
human rights by the current regime in Zimbabwe. The Vigil which started in
October 2002 will continue until internationally-monitored, free and fair
elections are held in Zimbabwe. http://www.zimvigil.co.uk
August 20, 2007
Sir, Your report (August 16) describes a meeting of southern African
political leaders apparently in a state of complete denial. Dr Mugabe, who
has brought Zimbabwe to its knees, is applauded. Who now remembers the
praiseworthy principles of the New Economic Programme for African
Development, honoured since its inception in the breach rather than the
Surely it is time to reassess the amount and form of aid given to Africa.
Taxpayers are not unsympathetic to good causes, especially the victims of
natural disasters. There is no moral basis for paying taxes, as we do, to
support massive kleptocracy and wilful misgovernment. The indifference of
the South African Government to the catastrophe in Zimbabwe is now costing
South Africa itself a fortune. The longer the Zimbabwean tragedy is played
out, the greater the financial demands that will inevitably be made on donor
nations. Government-to-government aid must be made conditional on honest
politics, and no comfort should be given to those politicians who accept our
largesse only to squander it.
ANSELM KUHN, Stevenage, Herts
By Akwei Thompson
19 August 2007
These days there is little cause for optimism in Zimbabwe. Inflation is
running at 9,000 per cent and over 80 per cent of the 12 million people live
below the poverty line. In the words of an opposition spokesman, Zimbabwe is
now a country where everything is in short supply except misery. However, a
recent presentation by international crisis group (ICG) president, Gareth
Evans to the Royal Commonwealth Society shows all is not lost for Zimbabwe.
But what is the basis of this optimism. Sydney Masamvu, a senior analyst of
the ICG explains.
"I think you have to view it from two ends: besides the doom and gloom with
the issue of political paralysis, internal political paralysis and the
deteriorating economic conditions, one should also look at the SADC
(Southern African Development Community) mediation process. This should
involve looking at the effects of the paralysis or the economic implosion.
Can this actually accelerate the need for political change, as it were?.
" Masamvu felt, however, that Zimbabwe cannot hold free and fair elections
under the present political climate. "Nothing of substance has occurred that
would make one feel Zimbabwe can have what you call a credible election in
March 2008. No wonder why we are always calling for the leveraging of the
SADC liberation process to ensure that the conditions which will guarantee a
free and fair elections are on the ground." Masamvu said the March 2008 date
for the general election must not be cast in stone. He said there should be
some form of flexibility to ensure that whenever the election is held, it
will be a credible election that will yield a credible and a legitimate
On the issue of land resolution Masamvu said: " you know we have talked to
members of the British government establishment who are the key players in
this land reform process. They've really stated that they are ready to be
the key players in any trust fund to meet their obligations as outlined in
the Lancaster conference. But this will only happen when there is a
legitimate and an undisputed government in Zimbabwe.."
New York Times
By HOWARD W. FRENCH and LYDIA POLGREEN
Published: August 18, 2007
LILONGWE, Malawi - When Yang Jie left home at 18, he was doing what people
from China's hardscrabble Fujian Province have done for generations:
emigrating in search of a better living overseas.
This series explores China's deepening economic and political ties with
What set him apart was his destination. Instead of the traditional adopted
homelands like the United States and Europe, where Fujian people have
settled by the hundreds of thousands, he chose this small, landlocked
country in southern Africa.
"Before I left China," said Mr. Yang, now 25, "I thought Africa was all one
big desert." So he figured that ice cream would be in high demand, and with
money pooled from relatives and friends, he created his own factory at the
edge of Lilongwe, Malawi's capital. The climate is in fact subtropical, but
that has not stopped his ice cream company from becoming the country's
Stories like this have become legion across Africa in the past five years or
so, as hundreds of thousands of Chinese have discovered the continent,
setting off to do business in a part of the world that had been terra
incognita. The Xinhua News Agency recently estimated that at least 750,000
Chinese were working or living for extended periods on the continent, a
reflection of deepening economic ties between China and Africa that reached
$55 billion in trade in 2006, compared with less than $10 million a
Even when Mr. Yang arrived here in 2001, he said, he could go weeks without
encountering another traveler from his homeland. But as surely as his
investments in the country have prospered, he said, an increasingly large
community of Chinese migrants has taken root, and now runs everything from
small factories to health care clinics and trading companies.
During the previous wave of Chinese interest in Africa in the 1960s and '70s,
an era of radical socialism and proclaimed third-world solidarity, European
and American companies held sway over economies in most of the continent.
Here and there, though, the Chinese made their presence felt, often in
drably dressed, state-run work brigades that built stadiums, railroads and
highways, crushing rocks and doing other labor by hand.
Today, in many of the countries where the new Chinese emigrants have
settled, like Chad, Chinese-owned pharmacies, massage parlors and
restaurants serving a variety of regional Chinese cuisines can be found; the
Western presence, once dominant, has steadily dwindled, and essentially
consists nowadays of relief experts working international agencies or oil
workers, living behind high walls in heavily guarded enclaves.
At first, this new Chinese exodus was driven largely by word of mouth, as
pioneers like Mr. Yang relayed news back home of abundant opportunities in a
part of the world where many economies lie undeveloped or in ruins, and
where even in the richer countries many things taken for granted in the
developed world await builders and investors.
Conditions like these often deter Western investors, but for many budding
Chinese entrepreneurs, Africa's emerging economies are inviting precisely
because they seem small and accessible. Competition is often weak or
nonexistent, and for African customers, the low price of many Chinese goods
and services make them more affordable than their Western counterparts.
You Xianwen sold his pipe-laying business in Chengdu, in southwest China,
this year to move to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia's capital, to join a startup
company with a Chinese partner he had met only online. "Back where I come
from we are pretty independent people," Mr. You, 55, said. "My brothers and
sisters all supported my decision to come here. In fact, they say that if
things really work out for me, they would like to move to Africa, too."
Mr. You said he had considered other African countries before settling on
Ethiopia, including Zambia. "Luckily I didn't decide to go there," he said,
explaining that he had been frightened by the recent anti-Chinese protests
in that country.
His new business, ABC Bioenergy, builds devices that generate combustible
gas from ordinary refuse, providing what Mr. You said would be an affordable
alternative source of energy in a country where electricity supplies are
erratic and prices high.
Mr. You's partner here, Mei Haijun, first came to Ethiopia a decade ago to
work at a Chinese-built textile factory and has since married an Ethiopian
woman, with whom he has a child. "When I first came here you could go two
months without seeing another Chinese person," he said. "But it is a
different era now. There's a flight to China every day."
The pickup in air traffic between China and countries like Ethiopia now has
Chinese companies scrambling to add new routes, as the Chinese government
and big Chinese companies increase their stake in Africa.
Much of that activity reflects an intense appetite for African oil and
mineral resources needed to fuel China's manufacturing sector, but big
Chinese companies have quickly become formidable competitors in other
sectors as well, particularly for big-ticket public works contracts. China
is building major new railroad lines in Nigeria and Angola, large dams in
Sudan, airports in several countries and new roads, it seems, almost
One of the largest road builders, China Road and Bridge Construction, has
picked up where the solidarity brigades of an earlier generation left off.
The company, which is owned by the Chinese government, has 29 projects in
Africa, many financed by the World Bank or other lenders, and it maintains
offices in 22 African countries.
On a recent Ethiopian Airlines flight from Addis Ababa to Beijing brimming
with Chinese contractors, workers from Road and Bridge and other companies
swapped notes on the grab bag of countries they work in, and debated about
the difficulties of learning Portuguese and French in places like Mozambique
and Ivory Coast.
Africans view the influx of Chinese with a mix of anticipation and dread.
Business leaders in Chad, a central African nation with deepening oil ties
to China, are bracing for what they suspect will be an army of Chinese
workers and investors.
"We expect a large influx of at least 40,000 Chinese in the coming years,"
said Renaud Dinguemnaial, director of Chad's Chamber of Commerce. "This
massive arrival could be a plus for the economy, but we are also worried.
When they arrive, will they bring their own workers, stay in their own
houses, send all their money home?"
In Zambia, where anti-Chinese sentiment has been building for several years,
merchants at the central market in Lusaka, the capital, said that if Chinese
people wanted to come to Africa, they should come as investors, building
factories, not as petty traders who compete for already scarce customers for
bottom-dollar items like flip-flops and T-shirts.
"The Chinese claim to come here as investors, but they are trading just like
us," said Dorothy Mainga, who sells knockoff Puma sneakers and Harley
Davidson T-shirts in the Kamwala Market in Lusaka. "They are selling the
same things we are selling at cheap prices. We pay duty and tax, but they
use their connections to avoid paying tax."
Although Chinese oil workers have been kidnapped in Nigeria and in Ethiopia,
where nine were killed by an armed separatist movement in May, the growing
Chinese presence around the continent has produced few serious incidents.
Misunderstandings are common, however, and resentments inevitably arise.
Africans in many countries complain that Chinese workers occupy jobs that
locals are either qualified for or could be easily trained to do. "We are
happy to have the Chinese here," said Dennis Phiri, 21, a Malawian
university student who is studying to become an engineer. "The problem with
the Chinese companies is that they reserve all the good jobs for their own
people. Africans are only hired in menial roles."
Another frequent criticism is that the Chinese are clannish, sticking among
themselves day and night.
In Addis Ababa, in what is a typical arrangement for most large companies,
the 200 Chinese workers for the Road and Bridge Corporation live in a
communal compound, eating food prepared by cooks brought from China and
receiving basic health care from a Chinese doctor.
"After a day off you wonder what you're doing here, so we like to keep
working," said Cheng Qian, the country manager for the road-building company
in Ethiopia. He added that his family had never visited him during several
years of work here.
Sometimes, the Chinese approach has created serious frictions with African
workers. At a leading hotel here in Lilongwe, breakfast guests stared as an
agitated Chinese traveling salesman, sweating profusely, screamed at his
staff minutes before his pitch on nutritional supplements was set to begin.
"You say it is not your fault, but the way you are doing things is just
stupid, stupid," the man sputtered before a clutch of African assistants,
who looked humiliated. "You people are unbelievable."
When the salesman finally left the room, members of the restaurant staff
gathered near the door and vented their disgust. "We don't need people like
that to come here and colonize us again," one said.
After nearly seven years in Malawi, Yang Jie, the ice cream maker, seems to
have learned better. Greeting his workers at the ice cream factory, he
begins the day by asking, "How did you sleep last night?"
One quickly replied, "Very well," sounding a bit formal.
"Don't tell me a lie," Mr. Yang answered with a sly, friendly smile. "It's
O.K. to tell me your worries."
Howard W. French reported from Lilongwe and from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and
Lydia Polgreen from Lusaka, Zambia, and Dakar, Senegal.
[Opinion] Thabo Mbeki has an 'Us vs Them' mentality
Nicolas van der Leek
Published 2007-08-20 10:39 (KST)
South Africa's President Thabo Mbeki made a cardinal error when he fired his
Deputy-Minister of Health, Madlala-Routledge. In itself, he might have
thought he was entirely justified. On Saturday night's SABC news he was
interviewed saying, quite reasonably, that any person who works in
government commits themselves to serve, including, serving within
government. Any person who does not do that, must leave. Well said, Mr.
President, but how utterly ironic.
A colleague recently echoed Mbeki's sentiments, saying that any person who
slanders the company they work for should be fired, as they ought to be.
True. But in this case, the Deputy was unhappy about a government that
wasn't doing its job, and so in a sense, she was speaking 'for the people',
especially since what she said happened to be true.
What my colleague doesn't see is the fact that Mbeki's actions here, while
in the microcosm of the actual process they make sense, in the wider context
of government efficacy he has been exposed (at least in the eyes of the
populace) as a hypocrite.
The irony couldn't be more acute. At the same time that the Deputy-Minister
of Health, Madlala-Routledge was fired, the Health Minister (charged with
solving an AIDS epidemic that has infected more South Africans than any
other country on Earth) was undergoing surgery to replace an alcohol induced
Reports that the Minister (dubbed Dr. Beetroot for her unconventional advice
on AIDS treatments)
was abusive to staff in the Clinic where she was treated didn't help her
case. Neither did allegations that she had been drinking alcohol whilst in
Serious doubt has been cast not only on Health Minister Tshabalala-Msimang,
but on a President who has firmly supported her (despite obvious failings)
thus far. Meanwhile, the president has dismissed Deputy-Minister of Health,
Madlala-Routledge despite wide ranging reports that she was committed and
involved and doing solid service to the community, particularly in the area
of AIDS. Her work has been so effective in fact, that AIDS activists were
outraged at her dismissal, saying they now felt 'vulernable' and intended to
sue the government.
The President's response has been to point out legalistic details and brand
Madlala-Routledge a liar on his website, meanwhile Health Minister
Tshabalala-Msimang is taking to court the newspaper that published her
escapades in hospital.
Recently the Sunday Times published an article indicating
Tshabalala-Msimang, while working at a hospital in Botswana in the 70s, had
stolen personal items from patients (including a watch, shoes, linen etc).
Opposition Party leader (and mayor of Cape Town) Helen Zille has said: "In
any properly functioning democracy... Dr Tshabalala-Msimang would have been
removed from her position a long time ago. That she has not been, says more
about our President than about the health minister."(*)
The cardinal error the President has made is in underestimating the public's
resentment to almost perpetual government intransigence on a host of issues
in South Africa, from AIDS to Zimbabwe. At the recent SADC conference, the
leaders who gathered there decided the best course of action on Zimbabwe was
'to do nothing' and to 'wait for the election' to allow the problem to sort
The question must then be asked: what is a government actually for? The
answer is usually something like this: to serve the people. What happens is
citizens elect leaders, and then leaders effectively isolate themselves from
the voters, and attempt to fortify or defend their positions. To actually
answer to the electorate is so far beneath our leaders to be laughable. This
is obvious across the board, from Mugabe to Bush.
The result of this arrogant and narcissistic attitude towards the nation of
voters, is a schism between citizens and those ostensibly in place to govern
them. The average citizen knows that officials riding around in expensive
cars, living on inflated salaries (taxpayers money) etc. couldn't care less
about sorting out important civil problems, for example in less affluent
suburbs (or rural areas) because effectively, this is a world away from
where they live their lives in hardhearted comfort.
Our president's Us vs Them mentality is evidenced elsewhere in the world.
The dangerous result is a slow growth of subversion in communities. At first
it is harmless. A mass of people who simply doesn't trust its own
government, but tolerates it because it feels it is 'stuck' with it.
Populaces everywhere are free to enter the streets and as a form of popular
protest, vote their feelings. We don't do this probably because we have
better things to do, and anyway, how does a President influence us anyway?
We're not necessarily any better or worse off whatever we do.
But there are those who are less inclined to roll over. We call them
terrorists. Terrorists are also people who feel strongly about not wanting
to be ruled by people who ruthlessly impose their rule, despite having lost
the popular mandate to do so. So an attitude of disconnectedness from
government can inculcate a similar attitude from the most destitute, from
the most extreme segments of a community.
In that sense our leaders have a far greater responsibility towards us than