August 27, 2008
The MDC's triumph in capturing control of Parliament raises hopes for
For millions of Zimbabweans, that angry look was enough to send an
exhilarating message of hope. Robert Mugabe had been thwarted for the first
time in years. He had insisted on opening Parliament with traditional pomp
and his familiar denunciations of the West, despite a promise that he would
not do so unless a power-sharing agreement was reached with Morgan
Tsvangirai. Yesterday his hubris was answered - with jeers, catcalls and
slogans denouncing Zanu (PF) by jubilant MDC members. The 84-year-old
President raised his voice, glowered and raced through his final lines. His
humiliation was broadcast live on television, plain for all to see.
This may not have been Zimbabwe's Ceaucescu moment. The Romanian dictator
similarly was shocked and angry at being jeered as he delivered a speech to
the crowd in December 1989; within three days he had been forced out of
office and was shot dead. But it is clear that Mr Mugabe and his security
forces have been out-manoeuvred at last. Police tried to ensure that the
President's party would still control the legislature, despite the
Opposition's victory in the parliamentary election. They seized two MPs and
waited outside Parliament to arrest 17 more MDC supporters, to deny Mr
Tsvangirai a majority. But they forgot to bar the back door. Inside, Zanu
(PF) leaders also thought that they could count on the votes of a breakaway
MDC faction. But they did not realise that a secret ballot would protect all
those, including some of their own party, determined to respect the election
For the first time in 28 years, Mr Mugabe now has to contend with a hostile
Parliament. The Opposition has already spoken of repealing repressive
legislation, curbing state abuses and denying money for measures proposed by
the President. Mr Mugabe is unlikely to accept this setback. His instinct,
and that of his cronies who see their position threatened, will be to deploy
his bullyboys in a brutal new assault on those MPs who have had the temerity
to thwart him. He will also attempt to bypass Parliament, ruling by decree
and using the special powers that he has awarded to himself.
Nevertheless, the MDC's triumph in capturing control of Parliament is of
huge strategic and psychological importance. It will revive the MDC, which
has appeared unsure of how to exploit its electoral gains, and will bolster
Mr Tsvangirai's determination to hold out against attempts by Mr Mugabe to
force through a power-sharing agreement that leaves all the levers of power
in his own hands. It will also show a cowed country that Mr Mugabe can be
defied without recourse to violence. The political victory will do little to
alleviate the people's suffering, boost food supplies or cut into an
inflation rate now topping 11 million per cent. But it will lift the spirits
of Zimbabweans who despaired of seeing any change after their ballot box
rejection of Zanu (PF).
The Opposition's control of Parliament may also make it harder for Mr Mugabe
to avoid ceding some power in new talks, which Zimbabwe's neighbours still
see as the only way forward. South Africa, however, will find it harder to
deny that the election changed anything or that Mr Tsvangirai must have real
executive powers. The hope for the rest of the world is that the ground is
finally shaking under the old autocrat's feet.
I find it suprising that the opposition has not publicly denied that the
"sanctions are harming the country".
as best i know, the sanctions are largely against individuals, the only
sanctions harming the general populace are those of Mugabe and ZANU-PF
restricting the function of international aid.
Jim Mercer, Toronto, Canada
Moses Mudzwiti Published:Aug 27, 2008
The years of mindless adulation gone forever
ZIMBABWEAN president Robert Mugabe endured a torrent of abuse from Morgan
Tsvangirai's opposition Movement for Democratic Change when he opened
Zimbabwe's seventh parliament yesterday.
MPs from the main opposition, who now hold a one seat parliamentary
majority, broke into song while Mugabe was reading his speech. The
octogenarian struggled to ignore provocative chants from the opposition
a.. At times, Mugabe raised his eyes as if to stare down the opposition.
Mostly he focused on his speech, which he held in both hands.
The arch above Mugabe's chair, made from two elephant tusks, no longer
seemed as imposing as a year ago.
"Zanu yaora [Zanu is rotten]," the opposition members chanted.
At times, MDC MPs were able to drown out Mugabe's speech. But he ploughed on
resolutely to the end, speaking of his government's desire to have sanctions
lifted, the lack of reliable electricity and the country's failing health
and education systems.
He said a "foreign hand" had been detected behind the Zimbabwe dollar's
Earlier, when Mugabe mentioned stalled power-sharing talks between Zanu-PF
and Tsvangirai's MDC, the opposition jeered.
The 84-year-old president appealed to Tsvangirai to agree to power-sharing
proposals endorsed by the Southern African Development Community (SADC).
"Let me pay special tribute to President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa," said
He reiterated his sentiment that Mbeki, who is facilitating the talks, had
the patience of the biblical Job.
Mugabe urged parliamentarians to be non-partisan in their quest to pull
Zimbabwe out of the its economic morass. Inflation is at more than 11million
He said MPs should emulate the country's Olympic gold medalist, swimmer
But MDC MPs retorted: "Murungu, Murungu [She's white, she's white]".
They were pointing to Mugabe's double standards in using anti-white rhetoric
in his political speeches, but then praising a white Zimbabwean for her
success at the games.
Zanu-PF MPs did their best to support Mugabe, cheering and clapping as he
ploughed through his speech.
Throughout the rowdy affair, the new Speaker of the House, Lovemore Moyo,
who is also the MDC's national chair , did no t call the house to order.
Even as Mugabe arrived at parliament in his Rolls-Royce, escorted by his
usual entourage, he must have known things had changed. His grand entrance
was spoiled by opposition MPs who refused to stand when he entered.
On the other side of the House, Zanu-PF members stood to attention as a mark
of respect for the head of state.
Security men tried in vain to intimidate the opposition by pointing video
cameras at MDC MPs, but they continued their disruptive behaviour.
Zanu-PF lost its majority to the MDC in the March elections. Mugabe's party
has 99 seats; Tsvangirai's MDC has 100.
A breakaway MDC faction led by Arthur Mutambara has 10 seats.
Tsvangirai's MDC said three of its MPs were arrested for ''political reasons''
David Beresford in Johannesburg and agencies
Wednesday August 27 2008
President Robert Mugabe was greeted with boos, jeers and waving fists as he
rode to the opening of parliament in an open-top Rolls-Royce yesterday,
accompanied by troops with colonial-style pith helmets and lances.
Opposition MPs - who have protested that the Zimbabwe president was in
breach of an agreement that parliament would not sit until a power-sharing
deal had been brokered - refused to stand on his arrival.
Having to raise his voice to be heard over the jeering in his 30-minute
speech, Mugabe once again tried to recover his position by vilifying Britain
and the US - accusing them of using food as a "weapon" through sanctions.
International sanctions would not last a day longer, he said,"if we as
Zimbabweans speak against them in deafening unison".
Mugabe suffered a setback on Monday when a member of the opposition won the
speaker's chair in a secret ballot. Lovemore Moyo of the main opposition
Movement for Democratic Change was elected speaker by 110 votes to 98,
indicating that members of Mugabe's Zanu-PF had voted for the rebel MP.
If the opposition continues to win support from the splinter faction, it
would have the simple majority needed to block funds for government
ministries and projects. But if there was deadlock, Mugabe could dissolve
the assembly and rule by decree. It is unlikely the opposition could summon
the two-thirds majority needed to impeach Mugabe.
While the MDC is participating in parliament, it remains wary. A memorandum
signed by all the party's MPs described the opening of the parliament as "a
clear breach" of the agreement that led to power-sharing talks.
"The only person who can officially open parliament will be determined by
the outcome of the dialogue," the petition said, calling Mugabe "the
illegitimate usurper of the people's will".
August 26, 2008
Zimbabwe sailed into uncharted waters this week with only one thing certain:
President Mugabe's hand is still firmly on the rudder.
Although his ruling Zanu (PF) party lost the position of Speaker of
Parliament on Monday for the first time since independence in 1980, talk of
it being the endgame for the octogenarian's brutal rule is premature.
"We are back at square one, and Mugabe is on top," Professor Sipho Seepe, a
political analyst in neighbouring South Africa, said. "Mugabe has outwitted
the Opposition and the entire international community and there is no reason
to believe any concessions are on the way. From his perspective, why should
he make them?" Although Mr Mugabe was booed when he opened Parliament
yesterday, nothing can mask the fact that for all the international
condemnation and so-called "peace talks", he still controls all the main
levers of state power. The rowdy scenes may have been unimaginable only a
few years ago, but they do not indicate that Mr Mugabe's grip on power is
slipping. Indeed, the political deadlock could cause things to worsen.
"Mugabe may not control the Lower House but he still has the Senate and can
use that and his executive power to govern. Talk of constitutional reform or
even impeachment is misplaced," Chris Maroleng, an expert on Zimbabwe, said.
More violence could soon erupt and the police are continuing with their
efforts to detain opposition MPs. "When Mugabe is cornered he lashes out. He
has shown time and again that he has no qualms at all about using violence
to sort out political problems," Mr Maroleng added.
Talks between Zanu (PF) and Morgan Tsvangirai's MDC are likely to stay
deadlocked with an increasingly impotent President Mbeki, the official
mediator, unable to kickstart them again.
The Southern African Development Community, the other regional bloc with
influence, is hopelessly split and in a state of flux after the death this
month of President Mwanawasa of Zambia, one of Mr Mugabe's harshest African
Only one thing is clear. Zimbabwe's economic crisis, with inflation of 11
million per cent and unemployment at 80 per cent, is set to worsen. More
refugees will flood into neighbouring countries. The region will not be
allowed to forget the crisis on its doorstep nor its inability to solve the
Mr Mbeki and the international community have once again paid the price for
refusing to accept that Mr Mugabe himself is the problem.
"Everyone, every single organisation and monitoring group condemned the
polls and the result as not credible, but Mbeki still allowed Mugabe into
negotiations and by so doing gave him relevance," Professor Seepe said.
"He has taken advantage of it and while the leaders continue to fight and
wrangle ordinary Zimbabweans will suffer even more."
Tuesday, Aug. 26, 2008 By ALEX PERRY
With Zimbabwe's economy in ruins, millions of its people living as refugees
abroad and its security forces beating, torturing and killing dissenters to
Robert Mugabe's regime on a daily basis, Zimbabwe's opposition could be
forgiven for having a few things to get off their chests. On Tuesday, they
did. For the first time in living memory, 84-year-old Mugabe, who has ruled
Zimbabwe with an iron fist for 28 years, was heckled and drowned out in
parliament. As Mugabe tried to deliver a keynote speech opening a new
session of parliament, opposition members - who now form a majority in the
assembly and reject Mugabe's authority to call them together - broke out in
whistles, shouts and even song. From the opposition benches, where the MPs
refused to stand, a chorus of "Zanu Yaora" rang out, meaning 'Zanu is
rotten.' (Zanu is the shortened acronym for Mugabe's party, the Zanu-PF or
Zimbabwean African Union-Patriotic Front.) Mugabe tried to ignore the noise
and continued to speak but many of his words were lost.
The scenes were an unprecedented public show of defiance from the opposition
Movement for Democratic Change (M.D.C.). The party won a parliamentary
majority in the first round of a general election on March 29, and its
leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, bested Mugabe in the presidential election,
without winning an outright majority. That was the cue for the security
forces and their allied militias to unleash a wave of repression which Human
Rights Watch says resulted in the deaths of 166 opposition supporters and
activists, more than 5,000 injured and tens of thousands of Zimbabweans
displaced. Three months of that was enough to persuade Tsvangirai to
withdraw, and Mugabe "won" a second round of the presidential election
unopposed in late June. But so blatant was the regime's conduct that Mugabe
drew unprecedented criticism from within Africa - something that appeared to
have persuaded him to open power-sharing talks with the M.D.C. Now a month
old, those talks have stalled and, perhaps in an attempt to continue his
one-man rule, Mugabe announced last week that he would appoint ministers and
regional governors and convene parliament. If that was his intent, it
backfired. On Monday, M.D.C. MPs elected one of their own as speaker of the
house. Tuesday's scenes were perhaps even more humiliating for the
The day began badly for Mugabe when, displaying scant regard for the poverty
of his people, he arrived at parliament in a Rolls Royce, his chief
adjutants trailing in Mercedes. "No wonder why these people don't want to
relinquish power," an onlooker shouted at massed police lines guarding the
building. "Who would want to leave such high life? The cost of these cars
alone would pull Zimbabwe out of its mess!"
Nearby, queues formed outside a bank as Zimbabweans waited to withdraw
remittances sent from abroad by relatives. When a 21-gun salute sounded in
Mugabe's honor, people scattered, as though they expected reprisals. The
mood of rebellion seemed to infect the ranks of Harare's political analysts
too. Though few could hear him, Mugabe vowed in his speech to tackle
corruption and provide food. Political analyst Fred Musayengana dismissed
the address as lacking substance. "There is really nothing to talk about in
the President's speech," he says. "It is hollow. It does not address
fundamental issues like employment, increased production and how Zimbabwe
might become self-sufficient." With reporting by correspondents inside
International Herald Tribune
The Associated PressPublished: August 26, 2008
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa: Images of torture victims and police beating
protesters along with the words of human rights activists are part of a new
exhibit that Amnesty International hopes will inspire citizens across Africa
to press their governments for action in Zimbabwe.
Albie Sachs, who fought white rule and now sits on post-apartheid South
Africa's highest court, opened the exhibit Tuesday, saying its strongest
images weren't the most gruesome, often taken hurriedly by photographers who
risked arrest for portraying Zimbabwe in a bad light.
Sachs pointed instead to formal portraits of Zimbabweans like lawyer
Beatrice Mtetwa, renowned for her defense of opposition politicians,
journalists and human rights campaigners, who joined him at the opening.
The portraits show "that spirit of what the people of the country can
achieve despite all the difficulties," Sachs said.
Then he embraced Mtetwa, who said: "It's the first time I've been hugged by
Sachs responded: "If you can't hug a judge, become a judge."
Sachs's hug was awkward - his right arm was blown off in an apartheid-era
car bomb explosion blamed on the white government's intelligence agencies.
Tuesday, he was a metaphor for transformation - hoped for or realized. So
was the setting, a jail where Nelson Mandela and other anti-apartheid
activists were once held that, after apartheid ended in 1994, became the
headquarters of the highest tribunal, the Constitutional Court.
Over the next month, the Amnesty International exhibit titled "My Rights My
Struggle" is scheduled to travel to countries including Tanzania, whose
president currently chairs the African Union; and Botswana and Senegal,
whose governments have been unusually critical of Zimbabwean President
Robert Mugabe, who is accused of trampling human rights and ruining his
country's economy to stay in power.
Amnesty International urged visitors to the exhibit in Johannesburg to send
post cards expressing their concern about Zimbabwe to South African
President Thabo Mbeki, who is mediating power-sharing talks between Mugabe
and his opposition. Mbeki also is the current chair of the Southern African
Development Community, which includes Zimbabwe and is the key regional bloc.
SADC has been diverted from its economic agenda by the political troubles in
The exhibit included a video and a short play by a Zimbabwean street theater
group that was to be performed daily, depicting Zimbabweans declaring their
refusal "to live in constant fear." The portraits were accompanied by taped
testimonials, such as one from trade union activist Lucia Gladys Matibenga.
She described being beaten at a workers' rights rally in 2006. Her arm was
broken and her ear drum ruptured.
"I would ask the whole world for just one minute to pray for Zimbabwe,"
Matibenga says. "To pray for a new Zimbabwe."
Wed 27 Aug 2008, 5:32 GMT
HARARE (Reuters) - Zimbabwe's power-sharing talks are still taking place,
the country's new parliamentary speaker said on Wednesday.
"The talks are on," Speaker Lovemore Moyo told South Africa's Talk Radio
702. Asked if parliament will continue to meet during the negotiations, he
August 27, 2008 | By Philip Mangena
It never rains but pours for the MDC faction leadership of Welshman Ncube
and Arthur Mutambara,and if last night's revelations by two MDC MPs are
anything to go by tough times lie ahead for the duo.
An MDC MP has revealed that the MDC national council meeting held in Harare
last week was chaotic and volatile and MDC MPs were furious when Mutambara
and Ncube, allegedly accused the MPs of compromising their negotiating
powers by constantly backing Tsvangirai.
"The national council meeting was dedicated to attacking us and Tsvangirai,
but there is no way we can distance ourselves from our colleagues in the
Tsvangirai led formation. It is surprising that our leaders now want to back
Zanu PF and President Robert Mugabe," said one MP, who spoke on condition
that he is not named.
Three of the party's ten MPs, were quizzed at the tense meeting and ordered
to stop talking to the media and associating with MPs aligned to the
One MP charged that Ncube and some members of the national executive members
are on the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) and Zanu PF payroll.
"The allegations raised by the MPs were not responded to, everyone went
quiet when the allegations were raised but the exchange which took place at
the national council meeting is worrying as it shows that the majority of
the party's ten MPs will not support any Mutambara decision in parliament,"
said the source.
Another MP revealed that the party was now disillusioned with the leadership
after a dismal performance in the March election in which the entire
national executive was wiped out. To compound matters the official also said
there now more questions than answeres on the financial position of the
"Ncube flies from Pretoria to Harare and makes a stop over in Bulawayo
en-route to Harare and orders Fletcher Dulini-Ncube to sign cheques for
Harare hotel bills for meetings they have not attended and for dodgy payment
expense claims by the likes of Sikhala."
The MP revealed that the party's operations were now concentrated on a small
kitchen cabinet composed of Mutambara,Mushonga,Sikhala and Ncube and party
meetings are now held in South Africa and Harare.
The abuse of the party's funds has reportedly angered Sen.David Coltart who
is faction's top fund-raiser. Coltart is the faction's only candidate who
won a senate seat in Bulawayo,the second largest city.
"Coltart is soft-spoken and will never explode like some of us but he is
burning inside and frustrated" , the MP added.
Nine of the ten Members of Parliament defied the party leadership to back
its election director ,Paul Themba Nyathi's nomination for the speaker
position and backed Tsvangirai led MDC's National Chairman Lovemore Moyo.
On Saturday Mugabe's spokesman George Charamba wrote in The Herald that if
the MDC faction's MPs defy their party leadership in parliament they will
encourage Ncube to expel them.
'While a tripartite agreement is certainly welcome, MDC-Mutambara will
decide in a political environment where it may not yet be available. Or even
possible.they cannot worry about an internal split arising from this
question. Their rebel MPs, if any do exist, would have to face a series of
by-elections in which MDC-M and Zanu-PF will be collaborating against MDC-T,
presumably the new home for those rebels. Not a single seat will come back
to those rebels and MDC-T', wrote Charamba.
Tuesday, 26 August 2008 20:28
Zanu PF has embarked on a witch hunt to sniff out its Members of Parliament
(MPs) who voted for the Tsvangirai led Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC's) Lovemore Moyo, to the position of speaker of parliament, in
violation of the party's arrangement to back Paul Themba Nyathi of the
Arthur Mutambara led MDC, it has emerged.
Party sources said Zanu PF was further incensed by a congratulatory message
issued by the Mutambara faction, which alleged that some Zanu-PF MPs
solicited votes for Moyo.
"There is serious tension in Zanu PF, everyone is not certain what will
happen as the Mutambara faction has also fuelled speculation by alleging
that none of its MPs voted for Moyo, and what that means is that over ten
Zanu-PF MPs voted for Moyo," said the source.
The Mutambara faction on Tuesday morning issued a press statement
congratulating Lovemore Moyo, of the MDC-T faction for winning the speaker
of parliament position.
However the MDC-M faction said the outcome of the elections showed that
parliamentarians voted across party lines and further alleges that Zanu PF
MPs' drummed up support for Lovemore Moyo.
The MDC named Nkayi North MP Sithembiso Nyoni as one of the people who
campaigned for Moyo.
"The MDC wishes to congratulate Lovemore Moyo of the (MDC-T) and Nomalanga
Khumalo (MDC) for being elected as Speaker and Deputy Speaker of the
"The outcome of this election clearly shows that parliamentarians voted
across party-lines. We are aware that Zanu PF parliamentarians, particularly
the Sithembiso Nyoni group, were canvassing and voted for Lovemore Moyo. We
are more than certain that our MPs voted for our candidate," read the MDC's
congratulatory message signed by party spokesperson, Edwin Mushoriwa.
Nyoni is mother in law to Lovemore Moyo, who married her daughter in 2005.
Zanu PF sources said the claims by the MDC could lead to some senior
politicians losing out on cabinet appointments when President Mugabe
announces his cabinet in the near future.
Zanu PF spokesperson, Patrick Chinamasa refused to comment on the matter
saying Zanu PF would issue a statement after the official opening of
by Mutumwa Mawere Wednesday 27 August 2008
OPINION: The political leaders who negotiated the Lancaster House agreement
were clear on what was at stake and the change they sought to effect.
A few of the signatories of the agreement from the liberation movements had
extensive political experience in colonial and state government. Equally the
majority were financially challenged with financial resources that ranged
from nothing to poor. On the whole they were less wealthy than the colonial
The founding fathers had strong educational backgrounds and some had largely
been self-taught while in detention. Others had attended or graduated from
colleges in the West. For the most part, the delegates were a well-educated
Religion played a critical role in moulding the consciousness of the
founding fathers' concept of national morality.
The majority of the founding fathers did not trust the market system as a
rational mechanism for allocating resources, if anything; they believed that
they through the state had a central role to directing the change agenda.
It was clear at Lancaster that any change that would have resulted in anyone
sympathetic to the Rhodesia Front's worldview would not be believable. In
framing the issues for discussion at Lancaster, it was clear that power
transfer was the fundamental objective irrespective of the outcome of the
Zimbabwe needed to turn a new leaf in 1980 and executive power in the
post-colonial state had to be placed in the hands of the founding fathers
not least because anything short of that would have been credible but it
represented the will of the people.
The values, principles and approach to nation-building of the founding
fathers were diametrically opposed to those held by the incumbents.
The transfer of power was effected in 1980 and the delegates who attended
the Lancaster House Conference represented a cross-section of Zimbabwean
leadership and almost all of them were well-educated.
To the extent that many of the founding fathers were prominent in national
affairs, there was a rational expectation that the future was brighter.
Regrettably there was nothing specific in terms of what lay ahead.
The March 29 election was supposed to be a referendum on President Robert
Mugabe's reign and after five months with the help of SADC it has now turned
into a referendum on Morgan Tsvangirai.
The elections were held against a background of an unprecedented economic
and social crisis whose root cause continues to be a contentious subject
with ZANU PF maintaining that it was a child of sanctions imposed by the
West to effect a regime change.
When Zimbabwe's post-colonial history is properly analysed it would be
obvious that the ideological foundation of the post-colonial state was
faulty. The real question is whether Mugabe has the capacity to lead
Zimbabwe in a better and prosperous direction.
The focus of the negotiations as communicated to the public has been on
power-sharing or power transfer rather than on the kind of changes that the
However, the real stakes are less to do with Mugabe or Tsvangirai but what
kind of future they can offer to Zimbabweans.
The kind of politics represented by the two politicians ought to be the
subject of discussion. Mugabe has been at the helm for 28 years and yet his
political thinking has not changed in the face of a failed state.
One would have expected Mugabe to change or review his thinking on how an
economy should be managed. It is important to ask whether he is sufficiently
worried about the future of the country to compel him to change.
Even after the collapse of the negotiations last week, Mugabe has not
changed his thinking and there can be no better expression of the dangers of
him continuing to hold executive powers than what he said on Friday, August
22 when he addressed pilots at a ceremony at Thornhill Air Base in Gweru.
Mugabe applauded the Air Force of Zimbabwe for its endeavour and
determination to achieve self-sufficiency in manpower development on the
road to achieving "Total Empowerment" in the servicing and operation of
aircraft. He said: "The defence of our motherland cannot be delegated to any
other people as it is our own responsibility. Thankfully, our people now
know the real enemy of our progress and we should regard the challenges we
are facing as a passing phase."
Mugabe is not convinced that the real enemy are wrong policies and
programmes rather than external parties. It is already evident that there
was never a basis to negotiate an arrangement for either power-sharing or
power transfer given the ideological differences between the contesting
With one government and principally two parties sharing a different value
set, it was never going to be easy to negotiate a way forward.
Presidential spokesman George Charamba in his weekly column published by the
Herald on Saturday, August 23 2008, had this to say: "We need Government, a
strong Government, which will take bold decisions without flinching.
Globally, developments pitting Russia against Nato present real
opportunities. Back home, the mature realisation that the enemy within needs
to be handled conclusively, will help. Structures of war - economic war -
are needed and will come shortly. As will leadership. In the few months it
will become apparent whether or not the revolution can or cannot defend
itself. By any means necessary."
The role of the state in nation-building ought to have been a central
feature of the negotiations but regrettably the actions of the RBZ on the
eve of the opening of a hung parliament suggests that Mugabe and Gideon Gono
have no intention of changing their modus operandi.
On Friday, August 22, RBZ Governor, Gono announced the increase of the
producer price of maize from Z$8.2 to Z$4,500 per tonne as part of a dubious
grain mop-up programme. One has to ask whether Mugabe is serious about the
future of the country.
The continued role of the RBZ in the economy undermines the democratic
Does Mugabe have a plan for the country? What would be different if he
continues to be at the helm? The focus should be on Mugabe and policies that
he has in store for the country. - ZimOnline
August 27, 2008
By Blessing-Miles Tendi
YESTERDAY the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) attacked the
Southern African Development Community's (SADC) seeming support of Robert
Last week, documents leaked to the media showed that SADC backed a
power-sharing agreement that would have guaranteed Mugabe's tenure as head
of state and head of government. Allegations are that SADC pressurised
Morgan Tsvangirai to acquiesce to this agreement during the SADC summit
earlier this month and it sanctioned Mugabe's convening of the Zimbabwe
Parliament following Tsvangirai's refusal to put pen to paper.
It is difficult to fault COSATU's claims. Indeed SADC's role in resolving
the Zimbabwe crisis was questionable from the beginning.
Since 2000 Zimbabwe has degenerated from a strong and functioning state to
its present weak and dysfunctional state under SADC's watch.
The recent SADC summit in South Africa came and went with no solution to the
Zimbabwe crisis in sight.
Botswana President Ian Khama boycotted the summit because "Botswana does not
accept the result of the June 27 run-off election in Zimbabwe as it violated
the core principles of SADC, the African Union and the United Nations." The
mainstream MDC leader Tsvangirai was invited only as an observer to the
summit and Mugabe as head of state. Mugabe received a standing ovation at
last year's SADC summit in Zambia. There was no standing ovation for him in
Johannesburg. Nonetheless, Mugabe entered the summit with the other heads of
southern African nations - a disconcerting legitimisation by SADC ofan
illegitimately elected leader.
The efforts of civil society groups in pressuring SADC to resolve the
Zimbabwe crisis is commendable. COSATU and other groups staged a march
against Mugabe's illegitimacy at the recent SADC summit, for instance. This
solidarity points to the growing bottom-up transmission of pressure for
democratization in Southern Africa by regional civil society groups.
But while it deserves commendation it still falls short of the need to
change the political calculus of SADC leaders.
Politicians respond to factors that can win or lose elections. If there is
no domestic electoral price to pay politicians can simply ignore or be
indecisive about perceived foreign problems. This has been the case with the
Zimbabwe crisis. No SADC leader has lost an election because they did not
resolve the Zimbabwe crisis.
Certainly, the likes of Thabo Mbeki have been re-elected with a wide
majority while the crisis has escalated under their 'mediation'. Southern
African opposition parties and civil society need to make the resolution of
regional crises election issues - only then will incumbent SADC politicians
be motivated to act decisively sooner rather than later.
The lack of authentic democrats amongst SADC leaders has also prevented
resolution of the Zimbabwe crisis. Talks between Mugabe, Tsvangirai and the
Arthur Mutambara MDC continued on the sidelines of the SADC summit. The
opposition leaders also addressed the troika of SADC's security and politics
organ. No workable deal was reached, as we all now know, and in hindsight
this is unsurprising because the troika consisted of Angolan president Jose
dos Santos, King Mswati of Swaziland and Tanzanian leader Jaya Kikwete. Of
the three, only Kikwete has some democratic credentials.
The other two are highly undemocratic, kleptocratic and human rights abusing
leaders. Dos Santos, who chaired the troika and is a longtime Mugabe ally,
runs a country where even the staging of sham elections such as the one
conducted by Mugabe in June is non-existent. Elections are just not staged
SADC lacks the institutional capacity to deal effectively with the Zimbabwe
crisis. The organisation was originally created as a regional economic
development body - not a political community. While SADC has declared
democratic norms and standards in recent years there are no punitive
measures in place to guarantee that they are respected.
Zambian Foreign Minister Kabinga Pande, standing in for the now late
President Levy Mwanawasa, articulated SADC's predicament best. Events in
Zimbabwe "brought into question in some quarters the integrity of SADC as an
institution capable of promoting the rule of law and democratic governance".
Pande's critique stood in stark contrast to Mbeki's comments at the summit
that SADC and its member states would not act as a "super-power" with the
right to annex Zimbabweans' right to sovereignty and self-determination, "as
imperial Britain did".
Such idolatry of sovereignty and an unfailing filtering of the political
present through the sieve of Africa's colonial past cripple SADC. An
internal solution to the Zimbabwe crisis is unlikely and the seeming
incapability of the region to resolve the crisis makes Zimbabwe's future
ever more bleak.
WHY DO WE CALL THIS A
Anyone who has turned on the news recently is aware of the hardship of Zimbabweans at home. However, some may not be aware that in the Diaspora, Zimbabweans are pulling together through music and dance to build a unified community and help back home.
What Makes Zimfest Special?
It would be difficult to find a festival scene that showcases as wide a variety of music as that of charity WEZIMBABWE's Zimfest. This diversity reflects the variety of Zimbabweans society abroad and how the festival unifies Zimbabweans abroad.
What's on Offer?
From the Chimurenga and Mbaqanga infused beat of Zimbabwe's music legend, Oliver Mtukudzi, to the fist pumping Indie sound of Zim-born rockers Mann Friday. Plus the powerful Ndebele vocal group Siyaya, who played Glastonbury 2008 and opened this year's Womad, Zimfest has something for everyone. The music from both headliners and supporting acts is both modern and traditional.
diversity reflects the philosophy of the charity.
For seven years the team at WEZIMBABWE has steadfastly celebrated everything about Zimbabwe, a country currently torn apart by economic, social and political strife.
"From our very first Zimfest we organised seven years ago, we put the fact that we were celebrating everything Zimbabwean at the forefront" says Trustee Hilton Mendelsohn.
"Our Charity was built by a diverse group of people united by a passion for our country and for our people."
How to stay
together in difficult times
"We celebrate Zimbabwe without the politics," says Phil Chikwiramakomo the Zimfest Project Manager. Zimfest is still however a passionate appeal for unity amongst our people both in the UK and at home."
"It is a protest against the people who have tried to tear us apart and we are protesting the way we always have, with a smile on our face and a song in our hearts."
Zimfest – The Miracle Festival is held at Prince Georges Playing Fields in Raynes Park, London. Tickets are available online or at various outlets throughout London. Visit www.wezimbabwe.org (See below for more details).
Glossary of Musical
Chimurenga Music - Chimurenga music is a Zimbabwean popular music genre coined by and popularised by Thomas Mapfumo. Chimurenga is a Shona language word for struggle. The word's modern interpretation has been extended to describe a struggle for human rights, political dignity and social justice. Mapfumo developed a style of music based on traditional Shona mbira music, but played with modern electric instrumentation, with lyrics characterized by social and political commentary. – Wikipedia.
Mbaqanga – This is a style of South African music with rural Zulu roots that continues to influence musicians worldwide today. The style was originated in the early 1960s. – Wikipedia. The music is characterised by a very danceable swinging rhythm and layered, funky guitar picking.
Tuku Music – On the streets of Harare, Oliver Mtukudzi is almost better known than most politicians. His unique sound is a combination of Mbaqanga, driving Mbira based guitar and Oliver's deep soulful gravelly vocals.
• Date: 30 August 2008. All day from 12 noon – 10 pm.
• Venue: Prince George's Playing Fields, Bushey Rd, Raynes Pk, London SW20.
• Tickets: £20 Advance: Online and over the counter (see http://www.wezimbabwe.org/tickets.aspx for more details) £30 at the gate.
• Acts: Oliver Mtukudzi, Mann Friday, Siyaya Arts, Rina Mushonga, Harare, BKAY n Kazz, Mashasha Dhindindi, plus a few more surprises and rotational DJs! See: http://www.wezimbabwe.org/lineup.aspx for links to artists' pages.
Braai, football tourney, sevens rugby, beer (cold and fast!), women's sports,
sadza, gochi gochi, stands, kiddies tent, marimba, drums, mbira other cool
There are so many stories to tell here, from the acts, to the survivors, to the growth of the festival over the last six years and how the money helps those at home.
Contact: Sinead Parsons at: firstname.lastname@example.org
or telephone: 020 7549 0355 - or 07879894762. (Or Sylvester Mutsigwa - 07958591338)
WEZIMBABWE is a registered charitable organisation
dedicated to the empowerment of Zimbabweans through the development of a strong
and united global Zimbabwean community and to the provision of access to formal
education and non-formal life skills training for children and young people
Press Angles - all angles and stories below are out of copyright. Use at will.
Zimfest – the Little Miracle in London
Every year about 5000 Zimbabweans and friends of Zimbabwe gather in a field to listen to great music, soak up the culture and have fun…but it goes deeper than that
Every year Zimfest is welcomed with fervour and loyalty that verge on the religious. There are two main reasons for this. Firstly, with Zimbabwe slipping further into hell, Zimfest is something solid and positive to hold onto. People come each year to be reminded of how it feels to be Zimbabwean ... that they actually belong somewhere that they may one day go back to. The second reason is the fantastic vibe of the festival itself. Every year, it is a zone of total fun and goodwill typical of Zimbabweans themselves. From 2003 onwards, Robert Mugabe in his desperate struggle to retain power, stirred up racial hatred in Zimbabwe after twenty years of white and black living and growing together. Zimfest is a reminder of those years. From the members of WEZIMBABWE, the charity that puts the festival on, to the range of music and entertainment available, Zimfest is self-consciously multiracial and multicultural.
Another aspect of the festival that gets buy in from Zimbabweans, is that fact that all the funds generated at Zimfest go towards helping people back in Zimbabwe
Last year they were able to continue their flagship school fees sponsorship programme which saw 3000 school children benefit in school fee support. They have also supported a non-formal educational scheme in Harare which has been helping children that have been excluded from the schooling as a direct result of the failing economy and being orphaned. WEZIMBABWE also help victims of the violence in the current situation where intimidation and terror are rife. They have provided support for hundreds of victims of the political violence who were either admitted to hospitals or had had their houses burnt.
This year the legendary Oliver Mtukudzi headlines the festival, so support looks to continue to increase and reach further afield in the Zimbabwean community and with people who love Zimbabwe. There is also a range of other brilliant musicians, from Siyaya who opened WOMAD this year to Mann Friday, a great favourite of our readers.
Coordinator of the festival Phillip Chikwiramakomo said:
"When you take into account that 90 percent of the work done on Zimfest is done by volunteers, it is easy to see why it is starting to be called 'Zimfest, The Miracle Festival."
For more: wwww.wezimbabwe.org
Pull quote: "When you take into account that 90 percent of the work done on Zimfest is done by volunteers, it is easy to see why it is starting to be called Zimfest, the 'Miracle Festival."
Why Zimbabweans Need Zimfest
Zimbabwe seems to be an endless quicksand of degradation. Once rock bottom is reached, the Zimbabwe situation reinvents rock bottom and sinks further. The emotional impact on Zimbabweans abroad cannot be measured. For this reason, every year Zimfest is welcomed with fervour and loyalty as something solid and positive. People come each year to be reminded of how it feels to be Zimbabwean ... that they come from somewhere they may one day be able to take themselves back to. WEZIMBABWE spend all the profits from the festival on helping those at home, mainly in the fields of education and community support. Learn more...www.wezimbabwe.org
Oliver Mtukudzi Plays Zimfest Charity Festival
This year Zimfest has come of age. The fact that the organisers have secured the Godfather of Zimbabwean music means this festival has made it...and, is here to connect all Zimbabweans overseas: the young, the old, black and white...anyone who deep down knows Zimbabwe is a country to be proud of. The WEZIMBABWE charity organising Zimfest spend all the profits from the festival on helping those at home, mainly in the fields of education and community support. Learn more...www.wezimbabwe.org
Zimfest More Representative This Year
WEZIMBABWE organisation was started by people from across the racial spectrum
from Zimbabwe, up until two years ago some people perceived it as a 'white'
festival. How Zimbabweans were conned into once again seeing themselves as
'white' or 'black' after ten years of reconciliation is something that Mugabe
will have to answer one day.
Nonetheless, in terms of acts, location and entertainment on offer each year, the festival has broadened its appeal and with he inclusion of Oliver Mtukudzi as headliner finally looks like it has broken that perception down, and that all who attend will be making a concerted effort to help those back home with the ticket contribution and on the day spend (WEZIMBABWE is a charity, ploughing all proceeds from Zimfest into helping those at home in the fields of education and community support).
Where the Zimfest Money is spent
Through support received by WEZIMBABWE at Zimfest we were able to continue our flagship school fees sponsorship programme. This has seen 3000 school children get school fees support over the last 18months. We have also supported a non-formal educational scheme in Harare which has been helping children that have been excluded from the formal schooling system in Zimbabwe due to the economic situation and being orphaned by HIV.
From March the 29th we also received increased reports of people suffering from horrendous violence; with many of them being displaced from their homes. Through the funds raised from Zimfest 2007 and the Victims of Violence appeal, we were able to:
1. Provide guaranteed shelter for 93 adult women and 27 children for two months on the outskirts of Harare.
2. Issue a short-term grant for the adults and children for supplementary food, sanitation and other basic essentials during their stay at a safe house.
3. Provide direct grants to another 100 victims of the political violence who were either admitted to hospitals, or had their houses burnt.
At the time of going to press the second phase of disbursements to victims of political violence is taking place.
WEZIMBABWE is currently in the process of identifying properties in Zimbabwe to set up as day centres, where a variety of services will be provided for the development of Zimbabwean youth. For more information on WEZIMBABWE projects please visit http://www.wezimbabwe.org/programmes.aspx
August 27, 2008
Compared to Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini, two democratically-elected
politicians who later became dictators, Robert Mugabe is nothing but a
tyrant. The negative perception he has given to democracy in Zimbabwe,
coupled with recent spectres of rigged elections, particularly in Nigeria
and Kenya, should not give Africans cause for despair on the prospects for
attaining credible democracy in the continent. The democratic dream will
take generations to accomplish, not least because, what citizens of truly
democratic nations all over the world now take for granted, never came on a
platter of gold.
The United States of America gained independence from Britain in 1776.
However, Americans had to resist a system which compelled them to pay tax
without being represented in parliament. "No taxation without
representation" was the memorable war slogan and their declaration which
must guide democracy anywhere in the world is the assertion that "all men
and women are created equal". The determination to give effect to that
important declaration would later lead constitutionalists to prohibit
American citizens from bearing a title of nobility. The now problematic gun
culture - the right of the American citizens to possess a gun - was also
intended to achieve that end.
However, America is still democratising because, the assertion of equality
for all men and women excluded blacks for the great part of the nation's
history. The history of de jure acceptance of blacks as equal to whites is
only about 50 years old, coming into effect with the Civil Rights
legislation of the 1960s, while de facto acceptance of equality is still
evolving. However, things are looking good because, substantial progress has
Neither can Great Britain claim to have perfected its democracy. The nature
and extent of privileges enjoyed by the monarchy is an on-going debate. The
history of democracy in Britain has been the history of the ordinary citizen
challenging the Crown and the so-called "royal prerogative." It is also a
history of organised challenge to the assumptions of the aristocracy. The
British monarch is now a mere constitutional one courtesy of the revolt led
by Oliver Cromwell in the 17th century; while many other European countries
including France, Germany and Russia got rid of theirs in violent
revolutions. The emergence of a controversial king or queen could spell the
end of the monarchy in Britain.
Be that as it may, democracy and its institutions crept in gradually. The
right to vote did not come to many on a platter of gold. The requirements of
possessing property and education meant many were excluded from the
democratic process. Voting rights did not come to women until quite
recently. We refer to some societies as civilised, not least because their
citizens readily comply with rules and regulations, but such civility did
not come about easily. In Britain, for instance, there was once a time when
a relatively minor offence attracted severe punishment. Convicts were
ex-communicated and distant Australia became, more or less, Britain's prison
for such convicts.
The universal definition of democracy is that provided by the great Abraham
Lincoln as "the government of the people, for the people and by the people".
Democracy is not just an approach to political governance, but a culture
which touches on every facet of human life. The major problem of democracy
in some societies is that, it is a new value system in competition with
already established structures which are, at best, contradictory. The
authoritarian feudal structure of some societies derive its authenticity
from tradition and religion. Until the contradictions of state and society
have been resolved, our democracy will continue to be a mirage.
In Nigeria for instance, the traditional system co-exists with the modern
democratic system. There is nothing like a king or queen of Nigeria, but
traditional rulers exist as heads of cities, towns and villages. The British
approached political governance in Nigeria through the system of indirect
rule, making use of the chiefs. The politician seeking political power wants
to be in the good books of the traditional ruler and some might want to
parade a chieftaincy title of some sort. Traditional rulers are among the
most affluent in Nigerian society; those in big cities receive multiple
salaries from local government councils in their areas of jurisdiction. It
is hard to envisage a revolution that would end Nigeria's traditional
The electoral democracy to which we were introduced has been characterised
by failure. The rigging culture has become our electoral culture. The recent
events in Kenya are also an indication that election rigging is an African
malaise. The typical African leader does not believe in leaving office
voluntarily or in being defeated in the process of re-election. If the
Constitution stipulates two terms, the typical African leader interprets it
to mean a minimum of two terms in office. Mr Mwai Kibaki of Kenya is a most
recent example, while Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe has been one long term
mis-leader in that respect. The United States of America has been governed
by one Constitution since 1787, while Britain is not even guided by a
written one; but the typical African leader believes the Constitution could
be changed at every conceivable opportunity to suit his whims and caprices.
Is there a future for democracy in Africa? One likes to be optimistic and
therefore, say there is. One's optimism derives from the belief that
education can play a big part in the future of democracy in our continent.
Most of the current crop of African leaders belong to the first generation
of educated men and women in their respective families, while the percentage
of the educated in society itself is generally low. True, democracy belongs
to the future when a more assertive, refined and rational citizenry
dominates the political space. With successive generations of educated men
and women, the outlook on life will be a lot different from what it
currently is. A country like Britain can boast of more than a thousand years
of education - the University of Oxford is more than eight hundred years
old, while Nigeria's oldest university, the University of Ibadan is sixty.
The point one is trying to make here is that Africa is a very young
continent in some respects.
Future economic outlook will also bolster democracy. Africa is the poorest
continent in the world, and this implies that the quality of Africa's
democracy will improve considerably with improvements in the economic
circumstances of its peoples. Democracy itself should be seen as a learning
process. France stumbled through four failed republics before finally
finding its stability in the fifth. Democracy will eventually triumph in
Africa because, the majority of Africans believe in it. The Mugabes of
Africa will be consigned to the dustbin of history where they rightly
belong, as have been the Hitlers and Mussolinis of Europe
writes from Abuja