International Herald Tribune
By Michael Wines Published: August 1, 2007
BULAWAYO, Zimbabwe: Robert Mugabe has ruled over this benighted country, his
every wish endorsed by Parliament and implemented by the police and
military, for more than 27 years. It appears, however, that not even an
unchallenged autocrat can repeal the laws of supply and demand.
One month after Mugabe decreed just that, commanding merchants nationwide to
counter 10,000-percent-a-year hyperinflation by slashing prices by half and
more, Zimbabwe's economy is at a halt.
Essentials like bread, sugar and cornmeal, staples of every Zimbabwean's
diet, have vanished, seized by mobs of bargain-hunters who denuded stores
like locusts in wheat fields. Meat is nonexistent. Gasoline is nearly
unobtainable. Hospital patients are dying for lack of basic medical
supplies. Power blackouts and water cutoffs are endemic.
Manufacturing has slowed to a crawl, because few businesses can produce
goods for less than their 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.
Zimbabwe's economy has been shrinking since 2000, buffeted by political
turmoil, capital flight and mismanagement. Never has it been in a more dire
state than now, business executives say.
"The last seven years, I haven't panicked at all. I always figured that
where there's a will, there's a way, and I'd make some sort of plan," said
one Bulawayo clothing manufacturer who, like most people, refused to be
identified for fear of retaliation by the government. "Now I'm not so sure.
I think there's a real collapse coming."
Zimbabwe's vast underclass, the majority of its 10 or 11 million people, is
perhaps less affected by this latest economic shock, simply because it has
long been unable to afford most food anyway. The rural poor survive on
whatever they can grow. Urban and rural poor alike stay afloat with food and
money sent by the two million or more Zimbabweans who have fled abroad.
Remittances are so vital that in some rural areas, the South African rand
has replaced Zimbabwe's worthless dollar as the currency of choice.
Rather, it is the middle class, which had muddled through the last seven
years of decline, that is likely to feel the brunt. Factory layoffs and
slowdowns are bringing new poverty to the 15 percent or 20 percent of adult
Zimbabweans who still have jobs. Pensioners, whose fixed incomes already
have been gutted by hyperinflation, now find that no amount of money can
purchase some staples.
Private doctors said in interviews that diseases of poverty, including
tuberculosis and malnutrition, are starting to appear among their patients,
including the minority whites who once comprised the wealthy class.
"Considerations of color have begun to blur very much," said one Bulawayo
doctor whose average patient is a white business manager. "White people will
tell you, a little embarrassed and shy, that they're eating nothing but
sadza," or corn meal porridge, the doctor said. "They've been reduced to the
diet of the rural poor."
Bulawayo, whose 700,000 or more people make it Zimbabwe's second-largest
city, painfully reflects the impact both of Zimbabwe's long economic descent
and of the latest price-slashing. Most of the goods available on store
shelves this week were those that people did not need or could not afford -
dog biscuits; ketchup; toilet paper, which has become a luxury here; gin;
At city-center and suburban locations of TM, a major supermarket chain,
aisles of meat coolers were empty save a few plastic bags of dog meat.
Flour, sugar, cooking oil, corn meal and other basics were not to be found.
A long line hugged the rear of one store, waiting for a delivery of the few
loaves of bread that a baker provided to stay in compliance with the price
Amid the chaos, the government remains resolute. Mugabe has cast the price
cuts as a strike not against hyperinflation, but against profiteering
businesses who, he says, are part of a Western conspiracy to re-impose
colonial rule. In that view, hyperinflation is part of their strategy; price
rollbacks are the government's countermeasure.
Mugabe's June 26 decree, much of which was later enacted into law, was
draconian: businesses were ordered to reduce their prices to the levels
existing on June 18, generally by about 50 percent. Shop owners who refused
to comply would be jailed. Stores that closed or refused to restock goods
would be taken over by the government.
"We are at war. We will not allow shelves to be empty," one of Mugabe's vice
presidents, Joseph Msika, said in a July 18 speech.
Since then, gangs of price inspectors have patrolled shops and factories,
imposing sometimes-arbitrary price reductions, and as many as 4,000
businesspeople have been arrested, fined or jailed. State-run newspapers
publish lists of telephone numbers on their front pages daily, exhorting
citizens to report merchants whose prices exceed dictates.
Ordinary citizens initially greeted the price cuts with a euphoric - and
short-lived - shopping spree. However, merchants and the government's many
critics say that much of the cut-rate merchandise has not been snapped up by
ordinary citizens, but by the police, soldiers and members of Mugabe's
ruling party who have been tipped off to the price inspectors' rounds.
In Plumtree, a hamlet near the border with Botswana, a line of shoppers
gathered outside a shoe store last week even before opening hours, the
area's member of Parliament, Moses Mzila-Ndlovu, said this week. As the
store opened, government inspectors appeared - and the throng followed them
in, buying up stock as it was marked down.
"It's theft, outright theft," Mzila said. "Some of them had big cars, shiny,
sparkling double-cabs, and they filled them up with shoes and just drove
By Peta Thornycroft
01 August 2007
The U.N. World Food Program says hundreds of thousands of Zimbabweans are
starting to run out of food and made an urgent funding appeal to donor
countries. Peta Thornycroft reports for VOA that the WFP normally reduces
its food assistance to Zimbabwe at this time because there is usually enough
food available from the recent harvest.
The World Food Program says it has to urgently begin feeding up to 3.3
million Zimbabweans and is seeking $118 million to expand its aid program.
The statement says hundreds of thousands of Zimbabweans have begun to run
out of food and that several million more will be reliant on food aid by the
end of the year.
The WFP regional director for southern Africa, Amir Abdulla, says WFP plans
to feed more than 10 times the current number of beneficiaries during the
next eight months to avert the threat of widespread hunger.
Without donations, the agency says its food stocks will begin to run dry
Since independence from Britain in 1980, Zimbabwe only needed one short
burst of food aid during a catastrophic regional drought in 1992. After
President Robert Mugabe began seizing about four-thousand white-owned
commercial farms in 2000, Zimbabwe has continuously needed western food aid.
The World Food Program is aware that many of those now suffering from hunger
are people in urban areas where essential foods have disappeared from
supermarkets following President Mugabe's campaign of slashing retail prices
of food and other services by about 50 percent.
Zimbabwe's economy has been in free fall for more than five years. But
recently hyperinflation and an almost worthless local currency has inflicted
unprecedented suffering on Zimbabweans.
The United States, Britain, and the European Union have been the largest
donors of humanitarian assistance to Zimbabwe since the crisis began with
the confiscation of productive farms. This year the United States has
donated almost $46 million.
The World Food Program says it and other partners will feed about four
million people, a third of the population, before the next harvest in April.
Donors say they will not be surprised if this figure also increases.
HARARE (AFP) - Zimbabwe's opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai found himself
between bare shelves when he toured shops in Harare on Wednesday after a
six-week government crackdown on businesses accused of profiteering.
Tsvangirai invited the media to witness his tour of supermarkets in central
Harare and the suburbs of Mufakose and Glen View but it was cut short and a
planned press conference was cancelled when he became involved in a
confrontation with the wife of army chief Constatine Chiwenga.
Witnesses said Jocelyn Chiwenga flew into a rage when opposition officials
met her shopping at a wholesaler and she called the opposition members
"detractors" seeking to bring back white rule.
"The tour has confirmed there are no basic commodities in the shops and this
is evidence of the collapse of governance in Zimbabwe," Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) spokesman Nelson Chamisa told AFP after the tour.
"The effects of the crackdown are all negative. People are spending their
valuable time queuing for scarce commodities."
Zimbabwe's Industry Minister Obert Mpofu ordered businesses to halve the
prices of their goods and services claiming some businesses were colluding
with veteran President Robert Mugabe's foes in the West to plot his
Retailers and manufacturers, grappling to cope with an inflation rate now
believed to be well over 5,000 percent, had been raising their prices
several times a day until the government ordered prices to be cut in half on
Several thousand retailers and manufacturers have been arrested since the
launch of the blitz on June 26, most of whom have been slapped with fines.
Manufacturers have said the government-imposed prices mean they are unable
to cover their costs and stores are fast running out of supplies, while the
black market is prospering as a result.
By Sheila Ochi
HARARE - Jocelyn Chiwenga, who once beat up the former Daily News lawyer,
Gugulethu Moyo, was at it again yesterday, slapping award-winning
photojournalist, Tsvangirai Mukwazhi for allegedly being an agent of
imperialism being used by the British and the West to tarnish Zimbabwe's
Mukwazhi, a photographer with the international news agency, AP, once worked
for the banned Daily News and met similar hostility on a daily basis.
Chiwenga is the ruthless wife of the Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA) Commander,
General Constantine Chiwenga.
On this particular occasion, Mukwazhi, who in March was arrested with
opposition leaders, including Morgan Tsvangirai, and beaten up by the
Zimbabwe police while attempting to cover the Save Zimbabwe Campaign, was
slapped on the face by the aggressive Chiwenga as he took pictures at the
South African-owned Makro wholesale shop in Harare.
He was one of the journalists accompanying, Tsvangirai, who is not a
relation of his, on a tour of the empty shops in Harare. The MDC leader
found himself between bare shelves when he toured shops in the capital
following the government's six-week old crackdown on businesses accused of
Tsvangirai had invited the media to witness his tour of supermarkets in
central Harare, Mufakose and Glen View but the incident with his namesake
journalist and confrontation from Chiwenga cut it short.
Chiwenga, who was at Makro shopping with the help of soldiers from the army,
who are being offered first preference to buy in all the shops, was incensed
by the journalists takings pictures and accompanying the opposition leader,
whom he chastised and accused of being a "sellout".
"What is Tsvangirai doing here after leading his masters to impose sanctions
on Zimbabwe? He is a sellout, get out!," bellowed Constantine Chiwenga's
wife. Tsvangirai and his guards quickly retreated as they avoided an
unavoided scuffle with Chiwenga.
The visibly angry Chiwenga towered above Mukwazhi as he was locked inside
Makro as Tsvangirai's team and journalists retreated as Chiwenga barked. She
demanded to see his Media and Information Commission (MIC) card, which he
sheepishly produced but this did not keep him out of trouble. The
journalist, who has taken award-winning pictures of the Zimbabwean crisis
over the past seven years, leading him to win the CNN's Africa
photojournalist of the year award in 2002, was then at the received end as
Chiwenga slapped him quickly.
The Association of Zimbabwe Journalists quickly condemned Chiwenga's actions
saying they put the lives of journalists in danger.
"We are tired of Jocelyn Chiwenga going out of her way to mete Zanu PF
justice on our colleagues. Such barbaric behaviour proves the Zanu PF
government has done nothing in the past few years to improve journalists
working conditions in the country but worsen them. It is sad that because
she is the army commander's wife, she thinks she own Zimbabwe and can do
what she wants with its people. One day the cocks will come home to roost,"
the association said in a statement.
Contacted for comment, Chiwenga was so blunt and unrepentant. "You can write
what you want. Yes I slapped him, so what. He is being used to take and
create negative images of Zimbabwe. Go ahead and write what you want and
leave me alone," she said.
Since marrying the army general of the armed forces in Zimbabwe, Chiwenga
has turned up not to be a woman to be taken lightly. The ruthless Chiwenga
has earned a reputation in her own right as a vicious enforcer for President
Robert Mugabe and his ruling Zanu PF.
In April 2002 she reportedly showed up at a farm outside Harare with an
armed gang and ordered the farm's white owner to turn over his property to
her or be killed, according to documents filed in a Zimbabwean court.
One year later, Chiwenga accosted Gugulethu Moyo and beat her so severely
that she had to seek medical attention. "Your paper wants to encourage
anarchy in this country," the ambitious Chiwenga shouted as she punched and
slapped the 28-year-old lawyer on a Harare street.
Chiwenga is on the United States of America list of 128 Zimbabweans aligned
to Zanu PF and the government banned from travelling to the US.
Meanwhile Tsvangirai said his tour had confirmed there were no basic
commodities in the shops, showing further evidence of the collapse of
governance in Zimbabwe.
"All we found were toilet paper only. We wonder what people are expected to
do with toilet paper when there is no food in the supermarkets. Shop after
shop, all we saw where empty shelves. Can you imagine how the poor ordinary
person is surviving," said Tsvangirai.
August 01, 2007, 18:00
The department of home affairs says Zimbabweans streaming into South Africa
cannot be classified as refugees, as they are not facing persecution in
their home country. The department maintains that no special arrangements
need to be made for the influx of Zimbabweans. The UN High Commission for
Refugees concurs, saying there is no crisis.
However, churches say they are being inundated with Zimbabweans and are
desperate for help. The Methodist church in Johannesburg has opened its
doors to Zimbabweans that have made their way across the border. It is not
an official refugee centre, but refugees from across the southern African
region are streaming in. The majority are Zimbabweans.
The church offers accommodation and food to everyone in need. Men, women and
children squeeze into any space they can find. "It's overcrowded and basic
hygiene is poor but the refugees prefer this to home," said Bishop Paul
Hope for a positive outcome
Many do not have legal documents but they are willing to take the risk for a
better life. The home affairs department believes they do not qualify for
refugee status. The UN High Commission for Refugees has visited South
Africa's border with Zimbabwe and it does not believe the situation is
Meanwhile, South Africa and its neighbours are optimistic that President
Thabo Mbeki's mediation efforts will yield positive results. The department
of foreign affairs says Mbeki is expected to present a progress report on
the ZANU (PF)/MDC talks at next week's Southern African Development
Community summit in Zambia.
International Herald Tribune
The Associated PressPublished: August 1, 2007
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa: South African police said Wednesday that farmers
on the northern border should stop their vigilante campaign against
Zimbabweans crossing illegally into the country.
South Africa's Human Rights Commission has also raised concerns about the
treatment of those caught by the farmers, who claim they have been forced to
take action because police have failed to stem the tide of illegal
immigrants fleeing Zimbabwe's economic collapse.
Photographers and television news crews have captured dramatic images of
farmers in vehicles used for game spotting patrolling border fences and
hunting down those who sneak through the many man-made holes.
Footage shows farmers rounding up men and women and cuffing them with cable
ties before handing them over to police.
Police commissioner for Limpopo province Calvin Sengani said, "There is no
truth in the allegations ... that farmers have taken control of the
borderlines in the province.
"Members of the public cannot be allowed to patrol borderlines and public
roads and arrest illegal foreigners entering the country, as crossing the
borderline is not a criminal offense that justifies harsh action," he said,
the South African Press Association reported.
Farmers could only carry out a citizens arrest if they found a person
cutting through their fence or suspected they were guilty of theft or other
"But then they must call the police. They cannot take the law into their own
hands and assault or tie people up. Then they are resorting to vigilantism,"
provincial police spokeswoman Superintendent Ronel Otto said.
Official figures for the number of people crossing legally or illegally are
not available but an estimated 2 million to 3 million Zimbabweans have
immigrated to South Africa since the downturn began seven years ago.
More recently, reports say that about 4,000 Zimbabweans are illegally
crossing every night and about 6,000 are deported every week from the border
town of Musina.
After meeting with police involved in border operations, Sengani denied that
there was a crisis and said police were in control of the situation.
"No significant increase of the influx of illegal foreigners, compared to
previous years, could be detected," he said, adding that in some places
there was a decrease.
However, Chris van Zyl, manager of safety and security for the Transvaal
Agriculture Union, said farmers were trying to protect their property and
help stabilize the situation.
"What must these guys do? Just sit back and do nothing, where in that kind
of rural area there is no police presence," he said.
He said there had been a noticeable increase in illegal immigrants as well
as reports of thefts of stock, game and private property.
"There are many hungry people coming from Zimbabwe and when you have got
hungry people who are put in tight spot, property is not secure," he said.
Van Zyl said the union had taken legal advice and did not believe any of
their members were acting against the law.
However, the head of the South African Human Rights Commission, Jody
Kollapen, welcomed police efforts to deal with those engaged in
"South Africa is facing quite a crisis with Zimbabwe migration," he said.
By Tererai Karimakwenda
01 August, 2007
A coalition of groups in South Africa has organised a protest March in
Johannesburg on Thursday, to demand better human rights for Zimbabwean
refugees who have fled the crisis next door. The South Africa Women's
Institute for Migration Affairs (SAWIMA), the Methodist Church and the
Congress of South African Non-Governmental Organisations have drafted a
petition with several demands that will be handed over to the Premier of
Gauteng Province, for final delivery to President Thabo Mbeki.
The protest march begins with a brief service for Zimbabwe at the Central
Methodist Church next to the High Court in Johannesburg Thursday morning.
One of the speakers at the office of the Premier of Gauteng will be Bishop
Paul Verryn, who has been sheltering Zimbabwean refugees at his church for
years now and assisting them with asylum applications and other legal
matters. The Bishop said he does not believe Zimbabweans are being treated
fairly in South Africa. And he explained that the demands they are bringing
to President Mbeki are fundamentally human rights that should be extended to
everyone, not just Zimbabweans.
The demands are:
- Stop the arrests of Zimbabwean asylum seekers immediately
- Police accept temporary permits from refugees awaiting asylum decisions
- Free health for the refugees, even for those without permits
- Political and economic asylum seekers be treated as one
- The relaxation of visa requirements for both South Africans and
- South African government quicken the issuing of asylum and other
travelling documents for exiles.
- South African government to put pressure on Zanu PF and MDC to speed up
talks and keep the public informed about the progress.
Explaining further, Bishop Verryn said: "Clearly something is wrong in
Zimbabwe. No right-thinking individual would leave a decent life, abandon
normalcy and choose to come here where they have nothing and are treated so
badly." The Bishop added that many of the refugees he speaks to are highly
qualified, highly skilled people that can contribute greatly to any society.
He described the petition as a moment of great privilege and an opportunity.
Asked what he would say to President Thabo Mbeki, Bishop Verryn said:
"I would ask him to tell us what we can do better to help the refugees and
show who we really are. I would urge him to keep reminding South Africans
not to close the door."
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
The First Post
August 01, 2007
The much-publicised endorsement in March of Mugabe as the Zanu-PF party's
Presidential candidate for next year's elections never happened. Newly
leaked minutes of the critical party meeting indicate that no endorsement
was made - and observers believe that whoever is the next President of
Zimbabwe it will not be Robert Mugabe.
The minutes of the meeting, held between 1pm and 4.35pm on March 30, at
Zanu-PF headquarters in Harare, have been leaked by one of the two major
factions struggling for power within the party.
This faction is led by retired army supremo Solomon Mujuru, whose wife,
Joyce, is one of Zimbabwe's two vice-presidents.
Opposing the Mujuru faction is one headed by Emmerson Mnangagwa and Patrick
Chinamasa, who, together with Mugabe, let it be generally thought that
Mugabe had been endorsed as the Zanu-PF candidate for the joint presidential
and parliamentary elections to be held next year. I recorded that as a fact
in my column on March 31.
In fact, as the leaked minutes now prove, no such decision was taken, The
Mugabe faction tried to push it through at the meeting, but met stiffer
opposition than they expected, especially from the powerful Youth League.
Observers believe that the Mnangagwa faction's plan was to enable the
president, after being nominated and even elected, to then retire gracefully
and - more important - safely, putting Emmerson Mnangagwa in his place as
the new president.
But the Mujuru faction are having none of it. They point out that Mnangagwa
is a highly unsuitable candidate for President. He is known to have been
heavily involved in the infamous Gukurahundi massacres, when 25,000 Ndebeles
were killed. And he is hated by many in the party for his corrupt and brutal
Mujuru himself, a formidable character who can boast the support of the
army, is not personally interested in the presidency.
At one time it was thought that he would support his wife Joyce (right) in a
bid for the top office. But it now appears that Simba Makoni, a former
finance minister, is his choice. Makoni is a man with relatively clean
hands - plus he is good-looking, charismatic, and highly popular within the
To win the struggle without an actual bloodbath, Mujuru needs to persuade
Mugabe to abandon Mnangagwa, and accept the Mujuru choice of successor. To
do this, Mujuru is working on a retirement plan for Mugabe which will leave
him personally secure and immune from any prosecution. The stumbling block
will be a matter of location. Mugabe wants to remain in Zimbabwe in
retirement. Mujuru would like him out of the country. A compromise has to be
With all this in mind, it is possible now to predict the future scenario for
the Zimbabwe government: Presidential and Parliamentary elections will be
delayed until 2010. President Mugabe will resign sooner rather than later,
possibly as early as this autumn. The new leader of Zanu-PF, and de facto
President of Zimbabwe, will be Simba Makoni, backed by the brooding Solomon
Remember, you read it here first.
FIRST POSTED AUGUST 1, 2007
By Tonderai Kwidini
HARARE - Taps in the Zimbabwean capital, Harare, are
running dry even though the city's main supply dams are more than 60 percent
full, according to figures from the Zimbabwe National Water Authority
With more than half of Harare's three million inhabitants
now experiencing water shortages, residents are resorting to desperate
measures to find supplies.
Carrying a large bucket to work has become a daily task
for Tedious Marembo, employed as a cleaner at a block of government offices
in the city. This building is never without water, because it houses three
government ministries. So Marembo fills his bucket at work to provide water
for his wife and two children who live in Kuwadzana, a poor suburb in the
south-west of Harare.
"My wife has to walk a long distance to get water at a
church in my neighbourhood where a borehole was sunk, (and) she has to pay
Zim50,000 dollars for a bucket. The only way I can help her cope with
household chores is to carry with me a 20-litre bucket to bring water from
my work place," he said.
At the official exchange rate, Zim50,000 dollars is worth
US200; at the black-market rate, however, it would only buy 36 US cents at
the time of writing.
On average, civil servants earn four million Zimbabwe
dollars -- a little over US22 dollars per month, at unofficial rates.
Harare has experienced intermittent water shortages for
about two years, due mainly to poor management and ageing infrastructure.
Water experts from a Scandinavian development agency who preferred to remain
anonymous claimed ZINWA management was inadequate because the water
authority was not run by professionals, but rather by political appointees
hired by Water Resources and Infrastructural Development Minister Munacho
The experts believe the capital's water distribution
system, built long before independence in 1980, has gone without proper
maintenance for many years. Critically important pumps that have an expected
lifespan of between 15 and 20 years had not been replaced since they were
Sanitation has gone the way of water provision, as members
of the Mashapa household -- also in Kuwadzana -- can attest. A blocked pipe
caused a fetid pool of sewage to build up around their house, and this
outflow now slowly winds its way through the suburb to a nearby stream.
"We are locking children in the house. They can no longer
play outside because of the danger of contracting diseases. Cholera is right
in our midst; we have reported to ZINWA and they came but as soon as they
left the problem started (again); we now don't even know what to do and who
to tell," said Olivia Mashapa, mother of the family.
While the Mashapa children may be kept away from the
sewage, others are not: primary school children who use a path alongside the
Mashapa home are obliged to pick their way through waste matter, while other
children play in the effluent -- and are exposed to water borne diseases.
At the far end of the suburb, still more residents are at
risk, as they buy vegetables from vendors who sell their wares right next to
open sewage. Many toilets in this area are blocked and can no longer be
"I did not bath today; I have been up and down the suburbs
looking for water. Sometimes we get the water from the main local authority
office, but today they are refusing to let us into their premises to fetch
water, although we are still paying our water bills in full," said Memory
Mucherahowa, an elderly street vendor.
For the fortunate few who can afford membership for the
city centre gym, visits there have become a necessity -- not only for
exercise, but also for a shower.
The frequency of service delivery problems increased
significantly after the management of Harare's water system was transferred
earlier this year from the City Council to ZINWA. Opposition party members
believe the transfer was based more on political considerations than
Two reports tabled recently in Zimbabwe's House of
Assembly by the parliamentary portfolio committee on local government made
it clear that ZINWA, a parastatal, lacked funds, equipment and above all,
the expertise to run the city's water affairs.
"Although ZINWA reiterates that it has the capacity to
take over the entirety of water and sewerage services in the country's urban
areas, local authorities and the public feel that ZINWA is not able to
undertake this task," one of the reports stated.
"In view of the evidence gathered, the committee
recommends that the cabinet reconsider the directive as the takeover of the
services from the city of Harare has proved that ZINWA has no capacity."
Government has however not implemented recommendations for
the city's water management to be returned to the council, and ZINWA is in
the process of extending its reach to other cities and towns including the
country's second largest city, Bulawayo.
IPS was not able to get comment from ZINWA about the
complaints made against it.
The water shortages constitute just one of many
difficulties confronting Harare, and Zimbabwe as a whole. Runaway inflation
and high unemployment have driven many into poverty -- and the United
Nations World Food Programme (WFP) estimates that just over two million of
the country's approximately 13 million citizens will experience food
shortages "as early as the third quarter of 2007".
This figure "will rise to 4.1 million at the peak of the
crisis in the months before the next main harvest in April 2008," the WFP
website goes on to say.
Economic difficulties are paralleled by a political crisis
that has resulted in a number of disputed elections, and widespread human
rights abuses. - Sapa-IPS.
SW Radio Africa Transcript
Broadcast 30 July
Elections are expected next year and already complaints of irregularities are beginning to emerge. Last week an opposition official was arrested for taking pictures of chaos at a voter registration center in Harare . The opposition and independent electoral bodies have criticized the way the registration exercise has been conducted and it is feared that the slow pace and inadequate publicity given to this exercise will exclude many people from voting. This is one of the ways that elections are rigged in Zimbabwe .
Violet Gonda: My guest on the programme Hot Seat is Topper Whitehead, an elections expert. He was illegally deported from Zimbabwe in 2006 after exposing how the Mugabe government had blatantly rigged the 2002 presidential election and subsequent elections. His investigations took 3 years, 7 court cases and 2 situations of contempt of court on behalf of the Registrar General Tobiawa Mudede. In 2005 and 2006, state security agents confiscated equipment designed for the first time, to expose how the 2002 presidential election was rigged. Although he lives in exile in South Africa Topper is a key witness in the 2002 Presidential challenge with a detailed affidavit in the high court proving the rigging.
Violet: Welcome on the programme Topper.
Topper Whitehead: Good Afternoon, it’s afternoon time here.
Violet: Now, you were deported at gun-point on the 13 th June last year. What reason did they give for expelling you?
Topper Whitehead: Well, the reasons were; the verbal reasons were; that I was no longer a Zimbabwe citizen, which is completely absurd because I was born in Zimbabwe , my mother was born in Zimbabwe and my grandmother. And, I had done what was necessary in terms of renouncing any connections with South Africa earlier and Mudede (Registrar General) said that I hadn’t done that and I was no longer a citizen.
Violet: And, what do you think was the motive behind that. Do you think that it had anything to do with the work you did on the voters roll and rigging methods used by the Registrar General to foster Mugabe’s interests?
Topper Whitehead: Oh absolutely, and, coming back to just after the Presidential elections, I was a key witness in the initial affidavit and from then on I had tirelessly tried to expose how the election was rigged. And, it took us a long time; many, many court cases, a lot of harassment, and eventually, we managed to get access to the voting residue in the High Court, and, I did a lot of work there and they knew what I was doing. For example, I was working in the High Court going through the residue and I had 18 young men and women helping me to sift through all the data and we had up to 38 CIO operatives watching us while we were doing this, I mean there was more than one on one.
Violet: Were you doing this manually or …? This is the voters roll we are talking about?
Topper Whitehead: Well, no, this is the voters roll which was marked off in terms of how they do it in the election. So, we had the voters’ rolls that were actually used at the Presidential election and we were going through that manually, taking the data off it manually and then converting that into electronically so that I could use my database to pinpoint the anomalies.
Violet: Was this voter’s roll available to all contesting political parties?
Topper Whitehead: No never ever, OK. We never got the voters roll and after persistently trying to obtain the roll we didn’t do it. It was only after all these court cases that we were then allowed access; under very strict control in the High Court to look at the voting residue, of which the voters roll is one of them. Now, I had to then convert that back into digital format to be able to analyse it.
Violet: But how did you manage to get it when the political parties were not able to, are you able to tell us?
Topper Whitehead: No we got access to it through the High Court and I was then acting on behalf of the political party, the MDC. I was their agent as it were, doing the work for them on their behalf.
Violet: And what about the anomalies, what sort of evidence did you have, or did you see to be able to show that the election had been rigged? We are talking about the 2002 presidential election.
Topper Whitehead: Well, just to go back a little bit, straight after the 2002 election I managed to personally purchase four voters rolls, OK. That were allegedly used; that was the Presidential roll; before Mudede clamped down and said ‘no,’ we couldn’t buy any more. And then, it took us another seven court cases to get access to the residue, of which, the voters roll is a main constituent. And then, having got that through the MDC, I was tasked with the task of going through the residue and trying to pinpoint the anomalies that everybody knew that it was rigged, and I was trying to prove it.
Violet: And so what were your findings?
Topper Whitehead: Well, the findings were horrific and we submitted a report, which is technically still sub judice . It was a 150page report with more than 1000 photo capstated copies of the evidence that we managed to get from the voting residue. And, the bottom line is unequivocally conclusive, that if we extrapolate - bearing in mind that we spent a lot of time as it was all manual. What we managed to do was to do a complete study on 12 constituencies. There are 120 constituencies in Zimbabwe at the time so we did 10%. Now if we extrapolate our findings, it is absolutely clear that there was more than half a million illegal votes.
Violet: In the 12 constituencies?
Topper Whitehead: If we extrapolate that up, there was more than half a million over the 120 constituencies, which would then give Morgan Tsvangirai a clear lead in the Presidential elections.
Violet: Can you still remember what the margin was when the results were announced?
Topper Whitehead: Well, the official margin that came out from Mudede was that Morgan Tsvangirai lost by more than four hundred and something odd thousand votes. And, we believe that there was; conservatively; half a million, five hundred thousand votes that were fraudulent. And that doesn’t exclude the tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands of voters within the urban areas that were denied the vote because they couldn’t get there in time and that constituted the third day. Even then, there were people turned away because of lack of time.
Violet: But how can you prove this? Can you give us more details on how you came up with these statistics?
Topper Whitehead: Well, if we can take, for example, the constituency of Chimanimani. Now Chimanimani was a very sensitive constituency because the candidate there was Roy Bennett, OK? Roy Bennett, we all know his history, having been ZANU PF and crossed the floor. He was number one hated person on Mugabe’s list. So, we looked at his constituency and we found that there were absolutely horrific figures. It’s all in the report, but there were more than 1 700 people in that constituency who voted more than once. Now, I can’t tell you who they voted for, but the fact that there are more than 1 700 people voting more than once, and that I can prove by going through the residue. I can show from the voters’ rolls that were used by the Registrar at any election that on this roll, that person has been struck off - that means he’s voted. On another roll in a different polling station he was also struck off and another roll in another polling station also.
Violet: Were there ghost voters?
Topper Whitehead: I can’t tell you whether there were ghost voters because we didn’t have that means to find out whether there were ghost voters, but, in certain instances, we picked up a voter who had voted, OK, from the record, but yet he is known to have died. So, therefore, you can say that that person was a ghost voter. And, we can prove that by going and saying this person was struck off, and he died, there’s his death certificate, he died well before the election.
Violet: But he voted after he had died?
Topper Whitehead: He is recorded ashaving voted.
Violet: Did you have many cases of that?
Topper Whitehead: Well, those are very difficult to identify because we don’t have a complete list of all deceased people, but, there were a number that we actually managed to identify because of that. So, the answer to the question is there weren’t many that we could find, but, we know that there were because – but, we couldn’t find them. It’s like finding a needle in a haystack.
Violet: In one of your reports you said that in one of the areas that you investigated, you took names and addresses of those proved to have voted more than once and you actually visited their areas, where you found that 87% of those checked were staunch ZANU PF office bearers in their respective constituencies. Can you explain?
Topper Whitehead: Yes, what we did there, those people that we can prove unequivocally that they voted more than once, we then took their name and ID number, and their address from the voters roll. We did a follow up, a ground search, going back to the constituency, making enquiries to find out who these people were, OK? And, as you say, in over 87% of the cases that we were able to get information on, they were known to be staunch ZANU PF office bearers or supporters. In fact, some of them were even members, not members, district office bearers.
Violet: Can you give examples of some of the areas where you found these anomalies?
Topper Whitehead: Well, I don’t have all those records. Remember that the report is a 150-page report and it’s attached to more than a thousand pages of that sort of evidence where we have the name and ID number of them. I’ve got all that on a computer data base which I have copies of and that’s what was confiscated from me, and, when it was given back it had been completely destroyed, but, I had copies outside. So the actual examples that I have now are attached to the report, but they are absolutely definite. And, this is one of the reasons why I’m so anxious to get to court so that we can get to court - so that we can expose it.
Violet: Can you still get your evidence to court?
Topper Whitehead: I’ve got all the evidence, yes. If we could get to court, OK, if we could get to court it would be as clear as daylight. I would be able to show the Judge, or the panel of Judges, or the jury or whatever, OK, that this, there, all filed, referenced, this is what happened there, this is the name of the person, he voted at such and such a polling station and was recorded at such and such a polling station and recorded as voting at another polling station. I can’t tell you the time but it’s recorded, and I can’t tell you who he voted for, but, the fact that he voted more than once is absolutely clear.
Violet: So what is holding you up and what has happened to the other election petitions?
Topper Whitehead: Well, the hold up is; a) the first thing they did, they came and took all my evidence away and destroyed it, it’s computer evidence but I had a copy in Jo’burg and I had another copy in London, right? So, I managed to get my, the proof back. And, the other is the judicial system, right? We cannot get to court. I mean it took us; it took us a mandamus to get the first stage done, OK? And, from there -
Violet: That was in 2002?
Topper Whitehead: No, in 2003 is the first time we managed to get to court, and the Judge heard Part One. Then, from that, we’ve been trying to get back to court. And court cases cost a lot of money and we can’t get in there, so the recommendations of the report said the Supreme Court must, without delay, hear the appeal against the Justice Hlatswayo’s dismissal of the first part, I mean he dismissed it; there was no reason for that. He gave obscure reasons. And his final judgment handed down on the 28th November 2005 . The First Part had been argued two years previously, in November 2003, that was the first time we managed to get to court. Now, we’ve got all this evidence and we can’t get back to court; a) because I am the key witness, I have all the information and I’ve been deported, right? That was the reason why they deported me; I’m absolutely convinced of it; that they wanted me out of the way because they deported me completely illegally.
Violet: And, I understand you also had video footage showing how potential voters were denied the opportunity to vote and that the government denied that there had been long queues but you went on a helicopter trip around the polling stations, together with the Justice Minister, Patrick Chinamasa. Can you tell us more about this?
Topper Whitehead: Ya, what happened there, during day two of the Presidential election it became evident that people; particularly in the urban areas; were not going to be able to vote because of long queues. So an application was made through the lawyers, BryantElliott being the forerunner in it, and, the Judge at the time said ‘let’s go and see that your case is valid. This is when an application was to allow for an additional voting day was applied for. And, part of that investigation was two army helicopters took the Judge, I forget who he was, Patrick Chinamasa, up, myself, Bryant Elliott and a ZESN observer to go and observe these. And, at the first polling station we came to, which was Highlands School , there were huge queues of people waiting. Now, this was late on the Sunday and as we landed, we said ‘right, there we are, these are the queues of people that are trying to vote’. And, that is when (Minister) Chinamasa said ‘no, no, these aren’t queues for voting, these are people come to watch the helicopters’ which was an absolutely ridiculous and absurd statement.
And then we went on to another six or seven polling stations; I’ve got the film of it all; which will be used in the court case, showing these unprecedented queues of people trying to vote. And then, at the end of the voting they were chased away. Tear gas was used at a number of polling stations, they were chased away. Our application to have a third day was granted but some of the polling stations only opened at 10.00 or 11.00 o’clock , OK? Again; because its state controlled; very slow and, at the end of that day then there were still huge queues of people trying to vote that were never allowed to vote. And, if we take those statistics, within Harare , the actual end of the day only had a turn out of 47% voting, actual, that voted. You take an urban area, I mean, a rural area such as UMP (Uzumba Maramba Pfungwa). UMP had a voting of 89%. You know, it’s absurd, over two days, the numbers just don’t add up. So that’s when we went back and we looked at the voting residue and we found that in UMP, for example, there were 2 700 additional voters that shouldn’t have been there. Whereas, in the urban areas, particularly in Harare , the people didn’t get that chance.
Violet: Right, so what about what is happening now? You know, elections are expected next year and Opposition Leader, Morgan Tsvangirai said, on this programme, that a new electoral management system, you know, will ensure that the vote is free and fair. With what you have seen in the past, do you agree with this?
Topper Whitehead: Absolutely, absolutely. The reason for doing all this work is to expose the misdemeanors and the fraud of the past. So, if we could get to court we would expose that and then it would be blatantly clear for anybody; South Africa , Mbeki, anybody, to see that there has to be an overhaul of the system. Tobaiwa Mudede has control of a very important function and, I’m quite categoric that he abuses his position to favour his master. And, that’s why there has to be an overhaul. And, any person who goes to another election under the same rules as they are at present, and with Tobaiwa Mudede in control of the electoral system, because basically he’s the one who’s in control, forget about the Electoral Supervisory Commission and everything; they are just toothless bulldogs; the person who controls it is Mudede. And, to go to an election under those rules is just being, taking a lamb to the slaughter table.
Violet: But what about the time factor? You know, as you mentioned before that election petitions take a long time to be determined.
Topper Whitehead: Well, this is the problem. It’s now five years after the petition was lodged and it’s still sitting on the court’s desk because the judiciary is biased and has no interest in bringing it to court. And, if Robert Mugabe had any knowledge or any conviction that he had won it, he would be pressing it and saying ‘right, come to court and let’s sort it out’ OK? But, he’s the one who’s delaying it because he knows he’s guilty.
Violet: And you know, your investigations into how Mugabe rigged the elections, do they also look into the issues of free media, freedom of association or freedom of assembly or it was just -
Topper Whitehead: Negative. You know, those are subjective aspects. And, how they influence the vote you cannot quantify that. We all know that it is a factor but whether it’s 10%, 5%, 100% you cannot say. What I have done is absolute categoric proof, you cannot dispute it, you cannot deny it any way. I’ve got the name of such and such a man, his ID number, he voted at this polling station, he also voted at that polling station. What I’m talking of is absolute unequivocal proof, not the subjective issues like intimidation, voting access, media access and all that. Those add on to this, alright?
Violet: And so, do you think the MDC should participate in elections next year which, as you said before, are already pre-determined?
Topper Whitehead: Negative. They cannot go to the polls under the current electoral rules and particularly with Tobaiwa Mudede in control, because, they will lose, because he is a past master at proving it. Let me get to court and call, bring up my evidence. There is no judge, not even the most biased judge that Mugabe has on his bench, would be able to dispute the facts that I have got. There is no judge, no-one, not even the most biased judge, that is why they cannot afford to go to court, alright? Everybody knows that it is rigged, even Mugabe himself knows. But, I can prove it.
Once I can prove it to SADC or anybody who is in this process of trying to solve this mess that has such a terrible humanitarian ripple effect, convince them that it is necessary to re-vamp the system so that a free and fair election can be held. At the moment, they believe that elections are free and fair, because nobody has proved it. Everybody knows it but have no proof. I’ve got the proof. The absolute need to control power by Mugabe has led to this absolute manipulation of the voters system, and that is denying everybody their democratic right. All he wants is power, and, he knows that he has to remain power because without that power, he’s going to go to jail for the other atrocities that he’s committed and allowed to have been committed.
Violet: And Topper I understand that this is not the first time that you have exposed irregularities in the government? I understand that you once worked for the government in the early ‘90’s where you were appointed by the government as Managing Director of a mining parastatal. Can you tell our listeners why you resigned?
Topper Whitehead: Well yes. I was appointed by Mugabe as the President of the state, which was necessary, as Managing Director of Mhangura Copper Mines. Now, Mhangura Mines at the time was the biggest copper mine in Zimbabwe and it had all the copper smelting facilities. So, it was a big organization. I was appointed, with the approval of the President, as Managing Director of Mhangura Copper Mines. I had not been there very long and, when I started to see huge stripping of assets is the word that people use now. And, the then Secretary for Industry; Commerce and Industry was Chris Ushemekunze, and Chris Ushemekunze was also Chairman of ZMDC; Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation.
Violet: Chris Ushewekunze?
Topper Whitehead: Chris Ushewekunze, ya.So, technically, I was working under Chris Ushewekunze, even though he was the Secretary for Commerce and Industry, I think it was, but he was also Chairman of ZMDC of which MhanguraCopper Mines was a major part of ZMDC. And, we started working together and we saw the strippings of assets - of a state resource OK. We had been working on it for about three or four months when suddenly Ushewekunze was killed in a road accident. He had an accident with an Army truck. Now, it’s common knowledge that that was because he was getting too big for his boots. The day after he was, um assassinated, as I call it, or he had his untimely death with an Army truck, the day after that, CIO operatives visited me and they said, and almost the exact words were ‘Chris Ushewekunze is dead if you don’t drop this investigation of yours, you will be dead as well’, and they left me at that. I lay low for quite some time after that thinking, ‘you know, what’s the good of dying for whatever’. But, it was a stark reminder. Then, when the MDC came to, to… and then I resigned, I then resigned from Mhangura Copper Mines and I wrote a letter saying that ‘I’m not going to be party to any of this asset stripping and mis-management’ so I resigned’.
Violet : Did you know who was behind this huge stripping of assets?
Topper Whitehead: Well, it all went down the line, you know. Its part of how the copper is a valuable commodity. Where it goes down the line, I can give you all, that was a long time ago, I’ve got all my notes on that I put to bed when Chris was killed. It was just going that I know, as Manager of a big parastatal, that the government influence on corporations that is not in the best interests of the company. And it’s for personal gain up the line. Where it actually goes to, I wouldn’t know, but it’s certainly not to where it should go.
Violet : Right.
Topper Whitehead: And, the proof is there, Mhangura Copper Mines is now defunct.
Violet Gonda : Unfortunately I have to end here but perhaps we will call at a later time and discuss some more about this other aspect.
Topper Whitehead: Ya, we can do that.
Violet Gonda: Thank you very much.
Topper Whitehead: Thank you Violet, OK, bye.
Comments and feedback can be emailed to email@example.com
By Lance Guma
01 August 2007.
Daniel Molokela, the chairman of the Zimbabwe Civic Society Forum based in
South Africa has urged Zimbabweans in the diaspora to initiate a global
response to the crisis back home. Several weeks after the grouping secured
concessions for Zimbabwean teachers and lawyers to register and work in
South Africa, Molokela paid tribute to the work of several groups trying to
better the lives of Zimbabweans. The latest victory he said showed the
benefits of good organisational capacity within civic groups and how this
produces results. He said there was a tendency to focus on humanitarian
issues while ignoring policy and lobby issues. The latter he said also had
the ability to improve the lives of those facing difficulty.
Molokela admitted that because exiled Zimbabweans were disenfranchised by
repressive laws in the country and could not vote, this has made them feel
powerless and lose interest in events back home. He painted a gloomy picture
for exiled populations saying it was not true to suggest they were
comfortable and unwilling to help solve the crisis. 'Most are struggling and
do not have papers.' This he said made them unwilling to risk being rounded
up and thrown into immigration detention centres like Lindela in South
Africa. He said people were willing to participate in protests and other
activities but as long as their status remained unresolved, the numbers, he
said, will continue to disappoint.
Others chose to differ. Speaking on our Reporters Forum programme Wednesday,
Dennis Tapfuma a promoter who put together the 'Get Up Stand Up' charity
event at a London church, believes Zimbabweans have become complacent.
'People would rather not put themselves on the line and do something,'
preferring rather to flock in their hundreds to things like boat parties
instead. 'We have become very capitalistic and the reality is people just
want to make money.' Tapfuma conceded that a culture of oppression that has
gone on for a long time has resulted in people not realising how an
individual can make a difference. 'For most people they don't see things
changing,' he added.
While the feeling is that Zimbabweans in South Africa have a much harder
environment to survive those in the United Kingdom face criticism for
exploiting political circumstances to claim asylum only to later shun
activism when the process is complete. Observers say it would be foolhardy
to assume the diaspora is a homogenous group that all supports the
opposition. Many benefit from the crisis and would like the status quo to
remain the same.
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
United States Agency for International Development (USAID)
Date: 31 Jul 2007
Conditions for the majority of Zimbabweans continue to deteriorate due to the country's collapsing economy, declining access to basic social services, and the effects of HIV/AIDS. Detrimental Government of Zimbabwe (GOZ) policies and the poor 2006/2007 agricultural growing season are exacerbating the humanitarian situation. Following seven consecutive years of economic decline, which have been characterized by hyperinflation and high unemployment rates, Zimbabwe is increasingly unable to maintain the infrastructure necessary for agricultural production, water and sanitation services, power facilities, and fuel. Commercial land redistribution policies have resulted in a dramatic decline in domestic food production.
Internal displacement and urban vulnerability substantially increased in 2005 as a result of Operation Murambatsvina, a GOZ campaign to destroy thousands of informal homes and businesses in urban areas. According to the U.N., the operation displaced nearly 700,000 people and indirectly affected 2.4 million others. The operation, as well as displacement due to the GOZ's land redistribution policies, has resulted in widespread loss of housing and livelihoods, increasing Zimbabweans' vulnerability and poverty. New displacements continue to periodically occur due to GOZ operations and policies.
On October 6, 2006, U.S. Ambassador Christopher W. Dell reissued a disaster declaration in Zimbabwe due to the ongoing complex emergency. On June 11, 2007, U.S. Ambassador Dell declared a second disaster for Zimbabwe due to drought. In FY 2007, USAID/OFDA has contributed more than $2.6 million to provide assistance in the sectors of agriculture and food security, protection, relief commodities, humanitarian coordination and information management, and water, sanitation, and hygiene.
Numbers at a glance
|Population that will Require Food Assistance||
|FAO and WFP(1) – June 2007|
FY 2007 HUMANITARIAN FUNDING PROVIDED TO DATE
USAID/OFDA Assistance to Zimbabwe: $2,649,094
USAID/FFP(2) Assistance to Zimbabwe: $171,000,000
Total USAID Humanitarian Assistance to Zimbabwe: $173,649,094
(1) U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization and U.N. World Food Program
(2) USAID's Office of Food for Peace
Poor rains and drought conditions during the October 2006 to March 2007 agricultural growing season,
combined with limited agricultural input availability, have resulted in widespread crop failure and severe yield shortfalls in southern Zimbabwe, particularly in Matebeleland North, Matebeleland South, Midlands, Masvingo, and Manicaland provinces. FAO and WFP estimate that the number of Zimbabweans in need of food assistance will peak at 4.1 million—more than a third of Zimbabwe's estimated total population—at the height of the hunger season between January and March 2008.
Recent GOZ policies to control inflation and cross-border imports are exacerbating the already existing shortages of food, basic commodities, and fuel. On June 26, in an attempt to curb profiteering related to inflation, the GOZ ordered manufacturers and retailers to reduce the price of goods by 50 percent. As a result of the price cuts, staple foods and basic commodities have become scarce, and the production and import of commodities have slowed down. The lack of food commodities for purchase has adversely affected the food security of urban households.
While current reports indicate that the GOZ will not enforce announced policies to restrict cross-border food imports, Zimbabweans continue to face an uncertain future. Any stoppage of informal cross-border imports from neighboring countries, on which many families rely given recent price cuts and hoarding, could potentially worsen food availability and access throughout the country.
Food Security and Agriculture
The June 5 joint FAO and WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission (CFSAM) report estimated Zimbabwe's 2006/2007 crop production at 800,000 metric tons (MT), leaving between one-third and one-half of the country's food requirements unmet. USAID's Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET) reported a 45 percent decrease in national production of maize, sorghum, and millet compared to last year. To reduce the food gap, the GOZ has announced plans to import 400,000 MT of maize and 239,000 MT of wheat and rice from neighboring countries. Ongoing foreign currency and fuel deficits raise questions about the GOZ's capacity to purchase and transport these commodities.
To date in FY 2007, USAID/OFDA has contributed more than $1.8 million through multiple non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to provide assistance in agriculture and food security. Program activities will benefit more than 58,000 drought-affected individuals.
In addition, to date in FY 2007, USAID/FFP has provided 175,590 MT of P.L. 480 Title II emergency
food assistance, valued at more than $171 million, through WFP and the Consortium for Southern Africa Food Security Emergency (C-SAFE), an emergency food assistance program that comprises several NGOs. This contribution will meet an estimated one-third of the assessed food deficit through the next harvest in April 2008 and feed more than 500,000 people for six months.
Zimbabweans continue to suffer due to the effects of high levels of unemployment and inflation, Operation Murambatsvina, and ongoing displacement resulting from OZ land redistribution policies. Since FY 2003, SAID/OFDA has provided funding to support multi-sectoral activities for vulnerable populations throughout Zimbabwe. In FY 2006 and 2007, USAID/OFDA has Provided more than $1.1 million to support a multi-donor, multi-sectoral program that enhances food distribution and provides basic household commodities and emergency relief supplies to households displaced in urban and rural areas.
In FY 2006 and 2007, USAID/OFDA, together with other international donors, has also contributed more than $720,000 to support a consortium of seven NGOs to provide livelihood support, improve economic capacity, and reduce food insecurity for 12,000 urban and periurban households in five provinces.
Health and Nutrition
According to the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), worker strikes in the health care sector have continued throughout 2007, resulting in the disruption of basic services and lack of access to health professionals. In addition, high inflation and volatile economic conditions have resulted in shortages of medical supplies such as essential drugs.
The 2006 GOZ Food and Nutrition Council report indicated that although severe and global acute malnutrition remained below emergency thresholds, chronic malnutrition rose from 28 percent in 2005 to more than 31 percent in 2006.
The 2005/2006 Zimbabwe Demographic and Health Survey (DHS) reported a decline in the national adult HIV/AIDS prevalence rate from 20.1 percent in 2004 to 18.1 percent in 2005 and 2006. Despite the decline, more than 1 million people are infected with HIV/AIDS in the country, exacerbating household vulnerability and food insecurity. According to the DHS, HIV/AIDS kills nearly 3,000 people per week in Zimbabwe.
In FY 2006 and 2007, USAID/OFDA has contributed funding to support the creation of community health volunteer networks, mobile outreach services for health care assistance, and the implementation of a disease surveillance database and early warning system.
Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene
Water, sanitation, and hygiene conditions remain a critical challenge throughout Zimbabwe, particularly in Bulawayo, the country's second largest city. On July 18 and 19, Bulawayo authorities decommissioned four of the city's water dams, leaving one dam to supply water to an estimated 1 million residents, according to field reports. The country's lack of foreign currency has drastically limited the import of raw materials, such as water treatment chemicals and materials for water systems infrastructure.
Soap and other basic hygiene supplies are increasingly beyond the purchasing power of many poor Zimbabweans, who struggle to purchase enough food to eat. Reduced access to safe water and adequate sanitation makes Zimbabweans susceptible to water- and sanitation-related diarrheal diseases, particularly given the collapse of the health system. According to international media reports, diarrhea has killed 34 people in the town of Kadoma, Mashonaland West Province, since June 2007. As part of the multi-sectoral initiatives in FY 2006 and 2007, USAID/OFDA is supporting increased access to potable water and sanitation facilities and the management of solid waste disposal for vulnerable populations throughout the country.
Humanitarian Coordination and Information Management
Humanitarian coordination and information management remain integral in strengthening relief efforts in Zimbabwe. OCHA plays an important role in coordinating efforts among numerous relief agencies in Zimbabwe. In FY 2007, USAID/OFDA has contributed $100,000 to OCHA to support humanitarian coordination in Zimbabwe.
USAID/OFDA ASSISTANCE (1)
|Multiple||Agriculture and Food Security, Relief Commodities, Shelter and Settlements||Countrywide||
||Livelihood Assistance to Vulnerable Urban Populations||Bulawayo, Harare, Manicaland,
||Agriculture and Food Security||Masvingo, Mashonaland East,
South, Midlands provinces
|OCHA||Humanitarian Coordination and Information Management||Countrywide||
USAID/FFP ASSISTANCE (2)
|C-SAFE||88,930 MT of P.L. 480 Title II Emergency Food Assistance||Countrywide||
|WFP||86,660 MT of P.L. 480 Title II Emergency Food Assistance||Countrywide||
|TOTAL USG HUMANITARIAN ASSISTANCE TO ZIMBABWE IN FY 2007||
(1) USAID/OFDA funding represents anticipated or actual obligated amounts as of July 31, 2007.
(2) Estimated value of food assistance.
Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance
August 01, 2007 Edition 1
Muchena Zigomo and Bate Felix
His name is "Average" and the story of his desperate flight from the
wreckage of Zimbabwe is an increasingly common one.
The tall 34-year-old, slouching exhausted in a church in Johannesburg that
has become a de facto transit camp, is one man in a tide of migrants washing
up in South Africa.
"There is nothing for me in our country any more. I had no job and I could
not afford anything. Even when I was working life was tough," he said.
"It's hard for everyone ... I thought it was better for me here," said the
former store clerk, whose dusty jeans and boots tell of a long and difficult
The tale told by Average is depressingly familiar to a people who have
watched their once prosperous land spiral into economic disaster.
When Robert Mugabe's government, facing inflation of close to 5 000%,
ordered companies to halve the prices of basic goods and services a month
ago - effectively demanding that they operate at a loss - Average lost his
job as the supermarket chain he worked for cut staff.
Facing the prospect of homelessness and hunger in his own country, Average
scraped together his last salary, some money he made from trading sugar
bought at a discount from the supermarket where he worked, and funds
borrowed from friends to secure a visitor's visa and a bus ticket to
A friend who was to meet him on arrival failed to show up, leaving him
stranded without a place to sleep.
This week he walked into the Central Methodist Church in downtown
Johannesburg and joined a long queue of people waiting for shelter and food.
The church's homeless shelter has become a virtual refugee camp for 800 to
900 Zimbabweans and a smaller number of migrants from other countries.
"Over the past three years, and more so over the past couple of months, I
have noted an exponential increase in the number of people we have from
Zimbabwe," Bishop Paul Verryn said.
Outside his office the line of people waiting for help grew.
Many of the new arrivals were asleep in their seats.
At sunset the refugees crowd into the building.
Walter Rusike (27), of Harare, said: "People just sleep anywhere they can
find a space to sleep.
"Some people sleep on the steps and in the corridors, and others in the
foyer and in the meeting rooms."
Rusike, a commerce graduate, and his wife and two children share a meeting
room with other families and have been at the shelter for four months.
Average said he hoped to get accommodation for a few days until he found his
friend, work or both.
"I have a diploma in store management and store control, a certificate in
security and a driver's licence. I think maybe I will be able to find some
work with my qualifications. Anything will be better than the situation I
Wed 1 Aug 2007, 14:56 GMT
By Nelson Banya
HARARE (Reuters) - Zimbabwe's main opposition leader said on Wednesday a
government price freeze was unsustainable and had left inflation-battered
consumers worse off.
Zimbabweans have struggled to buy basic commodities since President Robert
Mugabe's government ordered businesses to cut their prices to mid-June
levels in a bid to rein in inflation that is running close to 5,000 percent.
The move, enforced by police in the past month, has prompted many businesses
to shut their doors or stop stocking goods.
"It is evident that this price blitz has failed and is unsustainable,"
Morgan Tsvangirai, who heads the Movement for Democratic Change, told
reporters after touring shops in the capital Harare. Many of the shops had
"The people are worse off than they were before ... it is evident basic
commodities are no longer available," he said. Tsvangirai, a former trade
union leader who lost to Mugabe in a disputed 2002 presidential election,
was mobbed by shoppers.
Residents in one opposition stronghold chanted MDC slogans and spoke of
their inability to find food.
"All we find in the shops are biscuits and salt, not bread and meat. What
are we supposed to do with that?" one resident told Tsvangirai, who was
accompanied by opposition legislators.
Mugabe has defended the price freeze, which has led to more than 6,000
business people and companies being arrested and fined for overcharging, as
necessary to protect consumers from the daily price hikes.
The 83-year-old leader, who has been in power since Zimbabwe's independence
from Britain in 1980, has accused some businesses of pushing through
unjustified price increases as part of a wider foreign-backed plot to oust
Zimbabwe's government frequently blames economic problems on sabotage by
Britain and its allies, whom it says are angry over the seizure of thousands
of white-owned commercial farms.
The International Monetary Fund predicted on Tuesday that Zimbabwe's
inflation rate could top 100,000 percent by the end of 2007.
Economic analysts say most businesses are in a position of having to choose
between cutting production, operating at a loss or closing down altogether.
A thriving black market has replaced regular commerce in many parts of the
"Government has to be responsible for the mess they've created ... this
crisis has been authored by ZANU-PF and Mugabe," Tsvangirai said.
"Unless the productive sectors are allowed to produce goods and services,
the situation is going to get worse."
1st Aug 2007 17:44 GMT
By Trudy Stevenson
It is a common misunderstanding in Zimbabwe that local government is "under"
central government, and specifically that the Ministry of Local Government
is in charge of all councils, both rural and urban. Sadly our Urban and
Rural Councils Acts reflect this misconception by legislating for control by
A basic tenet of democracy is that people choose who they want to represent
them by voting. Having voted councilors, mayors etc into office, citizens
expect their representatives to be answerable to them. Their
representatives are not supposed to be answerable to central government.
They are expected to concentrate on issues at local level, and to be
instruments for the devolution of power which is also part of the democratic
Nor should central government have the power to interfere in the affairs of
local councils unless there is a very serious crisis. It is the citizens
themselves who should have the power to intervene if there is a problem, not
central government, in a functioning democracy.
These basic principles of democratic local government have been enunciated
over and over again by residents, yet central government has remained
unheeding. Little wonder, then, that the just-ended ZILGA Congress revealed
what residents associations long suspected that the new "united" Association
of Urban and Rural Councils is intended as a vehicle to support the ruling
party and central government, and to remove the independence displayed in
recent years by the Urban Councils Association of Zimbabwe (UCAZ).
Many who watched the ZBC coverage of the ZILGA Congress were outraged to
hear ZILGA blatantly voice its support for the ruling party for the
forthcoming elections in January and March next year. So much for local
government being non-political, or for ZILGA being a non-partisan
organization! ZILGA is clearly and unashamedly a Zanu-PF organization -
delegates even did the slogan "Pamberi neZanu PF"!
Zanu-PF parrots the slogan "MDC are puppets of Bush and Blair" ad nauseam,
but here we can see clearly that Zimbabwean local government is a puppet of
ZANU-PF and central government. Under an MDC government, local government
will be free from control or interference by central government. The
people's right to choose the representatives they want will be respected,
and their representatives will be answerable to them, not to central
We are a very long way from having democracy at grassroots level in
Zimbabwe, as long as Zanu-PF remains in power.
Trudy Stevenson, Shadow Minister of Local Government and Housing, MDC
Report of the 41st Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples'
Accra International Conference Centre,
16th to 30th May 2007
41st NGO Forum Session
Coconut Groove Hotel
12th May to the 14th May 2007
The 41st session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights
(hereinafter referred to as the Commission) began in earnest on the 16th of
May 2007 to the 30th May 2007. As is the tradition, the NGO Forum preceded
the session of the Commission. The NGO forum session began on the 12th to
the 14th of May 2007. This report aims to cover proceedings from both
meetings and also to give a brief of the press conference on Zimbabwe which
was held on the 15th of May 2007.
The delegation from the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum comprised of the
following, Tafadzwa Mapfumo-Muvingi, Brian Penduka, Arnold Tsunga and Tor
Hugne Olsen. The civil society delegation comprised of Blessing Chimhini,
Solomon Sacco both from SAHRIT, Dzimbabwe Chibga, Irene Petras, and Otto
Saki from ZLHR , Abel Chikomo from MMPZ , Wilbert Mandinde from MISA , Jacob
Mafume and Itai Zimunya from Crisis Coalition in Zimbabwe, Xolani Zitha from
the Bulawayo Agenda, Primrose Matambanadzo from Zimbabwe Doctors for Human
Rights, Masimba Nyamanhindi and Promise Mukwananzi both from the Students
Solidarity Trust, Gabriel Shumba, Allison and Michel Majuru from the
Zimbabwe Exiles Forum and Obert Chinhamo UNDP Uganda. The Government of
Zimbabwe (GoZ) delegation, which the Honourable Minister of Justice, legal
and Parliamentary Affairs noted was the largest ever, comprised of 11
members, including the Honourable Minister of Justice and his Permanent
Secretary Mr. D Mangota, Margaret Chiduku, Jill Makarati, Mr. Lawrence
Murasi from the Ministry of Justice, Messrs. Tapfumaneyi and Stewart
Nyakotyo from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the ambassador of Zimbabwe to
Ghana and most notably the spokesperson for the Zimbabwe Republic Police,
Assistant Commissioner Wayne Bvudzijena. The Minister in the private hearing
on Zimbabwe justified the size of delegation stating that he needed them to
aid him in responding to queries by the Commission on the State Party Report
later was being considered at this session.
2. REPORT ON THE FORUM OF PARTICIPANTS OF NGOS IN THE 41ST ORDINARY SESSION
OF THE AFRICAN COMMISSION ON HUMAN AND PEOPLES' RIGHTS
The N.G.O forum which is the traditional curtain raiser to the Commission
began on the 12th of May 2007 with an opening ceremony graced by the
Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Ghana Mr. Joe Ghartey. In his
address the Minister confessed his bias to NGOs, noting that he still
considered himself a member of civil society having presented the first
shadow report on Ghana. He further emphasised the importance of ratifying
the continent's Protocol on the Rights of Women and gave his assurance that
his country had made advanced steps in doing the same.
A copy of the programme for the opening ceremony is attached hereto and
marked annexure "A" for ease of reference. Marked annexure "B" is the
programme for the rest of the day. Important to note on Annexure "B" in the
section-marked "discussants", is the update on the Human rights situation in
Southern Africa, focusing on Zimbabwe. Despite the large delegation of
Zimbabweans at the forum the organisers felt it appropriate to have a South
African NGO present on the human rights situation on Zimbabwe. In her
presentation Clare Doube from CIVICUS highlighted some of the human rights
abuses that took place in Zimbabwe from the beginning of the year, including
the 11th March 2007 events and the subsequent assault on members of civic
society, opposition leaders and supporters. Her presentation gave the
impression that the information that it was relaying on was from secondary
sources and lacked accuracy in the figures. However the fact that the
organisers of the Forum had put on the agenda a specific agenda item on
Zimbabwe speaks volumes. It is an acknowledgement by African NGOs that they
were human rights abuses in Zimbabwe and that there was a need for
information on the situation to be disseminated.
On the second day the forum participants were divided into working groups.
Our Mr. Brian Penduka joined the working group on torture and Ms Tafadzwa
Mapfumo-Muvingi took part in the working group on economic social and
2.1 Meeting with the Chairperson of the Working Group on the Robben Island
The working group on torture was chaired by Commissioner Sanji Monangeng,
the chairperson on the working group on the Robben Island Guidelines. This
presented an opportunity for us to brief her on the situation in Zimbabwe
with regards torture. Mr. Penduka managed to show the Commissioner a click
of A Criminal State, a DVD by Solidarity Peace Trust. The DVD, which was
also aired at a press conference on Zimbabwe, highlights events on the 11th
of March and the weeks that followed. Further Mr. Penduka presented a
detailed account on torture from the beginning of the year. This turned out
to be the only opportunity for the statement to be made due to the strategic
decision by the NGOs from Zimbabwe not to make statements following the
statement by the Minister of Justice to the African Commission, during the
public session. The Commissioner made suggestions on what to include as
recommendations to the Commission on the situation in Zimbabwe. The
recommendations included that;-
1. The Commission follow-ups on letters of appeal it has written to the
Government of Zimbabwe, to ensure that the letters were received and to push
for a response. This we later discussed and realised we could not do as we
were not privy to the letters.
2. The Commission takes cognizance of the fact that they have been cases of
torture in Zimbabwe and to continue to monitor the situation. The
commissioner indicated that the best way to achieve this was to provide her
with accurate, up-to-date information on the situation in Zimbabwe with
regards torture cases, which our Mr. Penduka undertook to do.
3. Follow up on the implementation of the recommendations of the fact
finding mission to Zimbabwe, and
4. She also recommended that we organised a workshop or event and invite her
into the country preferably after June as she was tired up with other
commitments until July 2007. She also noted that she was unlikely to get an
invite from the Government of Zimbabwe so the onus was on civic society to
initiate a visit.
2.2 Meeting with Special Rappoteur on Prisons
Ms Tafadzwa Mapfumo-Muvingi participated in the group on Economic Social and
Cultural Rights. This was necessitated by the fact that the group on prisons
failed to constitute a quorum. However the Special Rappoteur on prisons and
prison conditions, Mumba Malila was reminded of the state of prisons in
Zimbabwe and how those conditions now constitute inhuman and degrading
punishment. Some of the information shared was used by the Commissioner in
formulating questions on prisons and prison conditions that were posed to
the state during the examination of the state party report.
2.3 Resolution on Zimbabwe
The NGOs at the Forum also adopted a resolution on Zimbabwe. This despite
efforts by an NGO led by a Sierra Leonean Minister, urging the Forum to side
with government of Zimbabwe. The Forum condemned the Zimbabwean police's
brutality after receiving the report of the abduction and murder of
freelance camera person Edward Chikomba and the arrest, torture and
harassment of opposition political leaders and supporters as well as lawyers
"(We) call upon the government of Zimbabwe to desist from harassing,
intimidating, assaulting, arresting and detaining human rights defenders,
including members of the legal profession who protect and promote the rights
of human right defenders," read part of the resolution.
A resolution on the situation of Freedom of Expression in Africa was also
adopted. In that resolution, African NGOs expressed concern over the
situation of journalists and freedom of expression activists in Africa
especially in Zimbabwe, Eritrea, the Gambia, Ethiopia, Sierra Leone and
Somalia and called upon these and various other African states to respect
provisions in the African Charter, the Declaration of Principles on Freedom
of Expression in Africa and their various constitutions on the right to
freedom of expression.
3. Press Conference on the human rights situation in Zimbabwe held at the
Accra International Press Conference on the 15th of May 2007.
The NGO Forum being scheduled to end on the 14th of May 2007 and the session
of the Commission to start on the 16th of the same month, nothing was
scheduled for the 15th of May 2007. Given the opportunity created by the
schedule, the Forum with the help of Symposium of Episcopal Catholic Bishops
for Africa (SECAM), organised a press conference whose intention was to give
the media and the people for Ghana a first hand experience of the situation
in Zimbabwe and to launch the shadow report.
All of the civic society organisations from Zimbabwe were there present. In
addition thereto they were 17 individuals from the different newspapers and
newsrooms in Accra. The press conference kicked off by showing click of the
DVD by the Solidarity Peace Trust of the events of the 11th of March 2007.
Thereafter they were presentations from Otto Saki on the current human right
situation in Zimbabwe and then Tafadzwa Mapfumo-Muvingi launched the
Zimbabwean shadow report. The panel for the press conference also included
Primerose Matambanadzo and Abel Chikomo. The questions from the participants
showed some understanding of the human rights situation with most of the
reporters being aware of the events of the 11th of March 2007. The major
difference in the questions asked by the reporters there was in perspective
due to the source of the information with trace in some of the questions on
the land and colonial regime issues made popular by the government to excuse
the human rights violations in Zimbabwe.
4. Public Sessions of the African Commission
The 41st session of the African Commission kicked off at the Accra
International Conference Centre in Ghana on the 16th of May 2007. In a rich
opening ceremony punctuated by cultural presentations and a brass band, what
was of importance were two presentations highlighted below. In her speech
made on behalf of African NGOs, Hannah Fosters emphasised that although
strides had been made in the promotion and protection of human rights,
certain situations in many African states remained of concern. She mentioned
the situation of human rights in Zimbabwe, in particular the right to
assemble and associate the freedom of the media and violations against human
rights defenders. A fuller statement is attached as annexure "D".
The Minister of Justice Legal and Parliamentary Affairs the Honourable
Patrick Chinamasa was given the opportunity to speak into the Human rights
Situation in Africa on behalf of the AU members of State. A copy of the
statement is attached hereto and marked annexure "E". He began his
presentation by noting the strides that the continent had made in the
promotion of human rights since the last session of the Commission,
particularly in the areas of children's and women's rights.
The Honourable Minister went on to note that there was need to support the
work and indeed the Commission itself. Further that there was need to be
wary of the fact that the universality of human rights is a process not and
event and that the process was being hampered by a lack of funds. This lack
of funds he further noted was forcing player to resort to foreign funds. In
his view a generation of NGOs had emerged which is western sponsored, which
has a western ideology. In concluding, he urged the Commission to act in an
impartial manner and to separate fact from fiction.
4.1 Human Rights Situation; Presentation by the Minister of Justice, Legal
and Parliamentary Affairs.
Speaking under agenda 4, the Minister of Justice Legal and Parliamentary
Affairs gave a declaration on the human rights situation in Zimbabwe. The
Minister's speech was strong and abrasive and had a chilling effect, not
only on Zimbabwe civil society but on other NGOs participating in the Public
Sessions. In it, he mentioned that the story of Zimbabwe is distorted by the
NGOs who work in cahoots with Britain, USA and the opposition MDC to effect
an illegal regime change in Zimbabwe.
He stated that the Zimbabwean story has been misrepresented and most
misunderstood. He said that human rights had to be taken in a context and
for Zimbabwe that meant taking it in context of the land reform question. He
stated that the West was opposed to the Land reform thus founded and funded
the MDC and further created NGOs who were now unwitting tools for the regime
change agenda. He said that the human rights abuses in Zimbabwe where
exaggerated, so much that when one person died in Zimbabwe it becomes an
international issue whereas elsewhere many die and not equally loud noise is
made about it.
He stated that all they wanted was objective assessment and the separation
of fact from fiction. He then stated appropriate force would be used to deal
with those involved in acts of illegal regime change. After this speech,
NGOs then decided not to make statements. However various NGOs made
interventions on Zimbabwe that assisted in deliberations on Zimbabwe. In
particular, Civil Liberties of Nigeria made a plea to the African Commission
to ensure that the safety of human rights defenders participating in the
sessions was guaranteed. This appeal was repeated by the African Commission
during the examination of the State Party Report.
4.2 Statements by NGOs
Statements by various NGOs spoke to the situation of human rights in
Zimbabwe and statements by HURISA, FIDH, Liga Mocambicana dos Directos
Humanos (LDH), OMCT, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, Equality
Now, Centre for Housing Rights Ghana. All of these are attached as
annextures F 1-8. (LDH)- in its statement noted that
"Zimbabwe is also very important issue both for Mozambique and Angola as
long it is in the region. The human rights situation of Zimbabwe is causing
problems in our countries. Samora Machel once said that SADC will never be
free if the people of Zimbabwe are not free. Under this voice of command we
struggled for independence of Zimbabwe and for South Africa against
apartheid. We fought for freedom in Zimbabwe and South Africa. We fought for
peacelove, peace and justice in Zimbabwe. We would like to say to this
commission that we and the people of Zimbabwe didn't fight for what is
happening today in Zimbabwe. Because of that the number of Zimbabwean
refugees in the region is increasing day by day. Our sisters from Zimbabwe
serve as prostitutes in Machipanda, in Tete, Malawi and South Africa,
criminality and vulnerability involving our brothers from Zimbabwe is there.
We also can not stand by and say nothing when ordinary Zimbabweans are being
openly tortured, beaten, harassed, forcibly displaced from their homes and
denied their right to assemble and speak out for change."
4.3 Reply by GoZ
In his response to the statements from NGOs, Minister Chinamasa restated
that the question of Zimbabwe is a colonial one. He restated that NGOs were
being used as unwitting forces in the regime change agenda. He stated that
NGOs were invited to participate in the State Report. He said those who
wanted were threatened with withdrawal of donor funds by U.S Ambassador
Christopher Dell and these included, NGO Forum, Crisis Coalition, ZESN among
On questions of torture, he said that Zimbabwe does not condone torture and
where torturers are identified, they are punished. He accused NGOs of making
generalised allegations. He stated that none of those alleging torture had
given the names of the perpetrators to the police for prosecution. This ran
contrary to principle that the police have the mandate to investigate and
bring to court perpetrators of human rights violations. He reiterated that
they were in the process of ratifying CAT. He further advised that the ZRP
had established an internal Unit whose mandate is to investigate torture
cases. He noted that ZRP was a disciplined force, which participates in UN
and AU peacekeeping missions.
As for the economic woes, he said these were a result of declared and
undeclared sanctions. He noted that this siege is meant to cause
disaffection and those sanctions were one of the arsenal for regime change.
On the displacement of 3 million Zimbabweans, he said these cross boarder
traders are not basket cases but go to South Africa and Botswana as traders.
He said Zimbabweans in USA, Canada, Ireland and other countries go there
using Zimbabwean resources and sent remittances home. On the question of
letters of appeal from the Commission, he said they were in the process of
responding and would file responses in due course. He dismissed fears of
Human Rights Defenders as unfounded and stated that NGOs participating in
the 41st Session were interacting well with the Government delegation.
5. Cooperation and Relationship with National Human Rights Institutions and
Of note was the granting of Observer Status to ZADHAR, and Zimbabwe Exiles
Forum. The latter is working on Zimbabwe while its headquartered in South
Africa. Four other NGOs were granted observer status bringing the number of
NGOs with observer status to 366. NGOs were exhorted to file their activity
reports according to the requirements of the African Commission.
6. Private Session on Zimbabwe
Invitation to the private hearing was extended to the Government of Zimbabwe
and to NGOs with observer status by the African Commission. As this was
private meeting a general overview of the meeting will be given without
going into detail. In her introductory remarks Chairperson Madam Salamata
Sawadogo advised attendees that the hearing had been called in the interest
of promoting dialogue and in accordance with the promotional mandate of the
African Commission espoused in article 46 of the African Charter and rule 71
and 72 of the Rules of Procedure. Commissioner Rappoteur for Zimbabwe,
Commissioner Bitaye introduced the discussions by noting that the meeting
was called to break impasse between NGOs and Government.
Minister Chinamasa stated that his delegation was the largest ever to grace
the Commission for the reasons indicated in the introduction. He stated that
he was surprised that the Commission had scheduled a meeting. The
Chairperson asked if Zimbabwe had received the draft agenda and the Minister
stated that it had been sent together with a letter on the 7th of May 2007.
He further stated that the notification for the meeting was sent to an
officer in his Ministry by email and had not followed the correct procedure,
which requires that the notice be sent to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
He further noted that he was reluctant to take part in the proceedings as it
was ultra vires the Rules of Procedure of the Commission which require more
notice than that given to the GoZ by the Commission. The Minister insisted
on his position despite efforts by the Commissioners to facilitate dialogue.
At some stage the Honourable Minister threatened to walk out of the meeting
if the Commission insisted on having the meeting.
The Chairperson was left with no other choice but to adjourn the meeting.
However members of the civic society delegation was asked to wait outside
the auditorium where the meeting was held. After a short private meeting by
the Commissioners the civil society delegation was asked back into the
The Chairperson indicated that despite the action taken by the GoZ they were
still willing to hear the position of Civic Society. Arnold Tsunga, on
behalf of members of civic society gave a presentation on issue which we as
civic society were pertinent, a copy of which is attached hereto.
Further to the discussion by Arnold Tsunga, the Commissioners asked a few
questions, on the of over-politicisation of the HR situation in Zimbabwe,
the divisions in the opposition and the impacted on human rights, whether
NGOs have regime change agenda and whether they were being used by the
British, the petrol bombs vis-a-vis the March 11 violence and the state
claims that the opposition was targeting police stations, and whether there
are any local remedies for violations suffered.
7. Consideration of State Party Report
Minister Chinamasa presented the Zimbabwe state party report for the period
1996 to 2006. He again emphasised that violations in Zimbabwe have a
context. He blamed the usual countries for supposedly interfering. He even
mentioned that NGOs such as us, ZESN, Crisis Coalition among others, had not
participated in the drafting of the report because of pressure from
Ambassador Dell, who is alleged to have summoned the NGOs and threatened to
withdraw funding if they participated in the state party report drafting. On
the question of violations he alleged lack of objectivity where Zimbabwe was
He was questioned on violence against the opposition and indeed all
populace. He was also asked to answer to torture allegations. He was
questioned on Murambatvina particularly what figure does the government have
for those it displaced. He was asked on the independence of the bench
particularly his roles in the Gubbay and Blackie cases. In fact the bulk of
the questions in the Shadow report were used in questioning the human rights
record of Zimbabwe. His answers were all politics and politicking but failed
to answer to the violations averred. A list of some of the questions asked
is attached as annexure "G".
8. Meeting with the Ghanaian Minister of Interior Affairs
Civil Society members were also involved in a meeting with the Minister of
Interior. Discussions focused on the efforts by the AU to resolve the
situation in Zimbabwe. He noted that they supported the Mbeki Talks and
indeed all legal initiatives to assist the Zimbabwean issues. Civil Society
noted the need to ensure that the pervasive violence is stopped before the
upcoming elections. Emphasis was also made of the need to have a level
playing field before the upcoming elections. The need to find a lasting
solution to the issues and human rights violations were noted, including the
need to build national consensus on issues affecting all Zimbabweans as well
as remedial action against the perpetrators of violence.
9. Participation in the radio interview
We also participated in an independent radio interview where Minister
Chinamasa was the main interviewee. He basically scatted the questions on
human rights by averring the interference by the west, sanctions and regime
change agenda by NGOs, the opposition and its supporters. Various callers
were able to put questions during the live interview and the views were
varied with some supporting the view by the Ministers while others opposed.
Our input was made through calls and sending questions via the short
10.1 Communication 295/04
This Communication was scheduled to be argued on merits at this Session.
However we held a pre-appearance meeting with the Zimbabwe delegation and it
emerged that they had not submitted their arguments on the merits. Their
indications were that, they would file the same before or immediately after
the conclusion of the 41st Session. They further stated that we revert to
the system of serving documents upon each other as per the dictates of the
Rules of Procedure, particularly as they had taken this stands on the
service of the private hearing notification.
10.2 Nixon Nyikadzino Communication
The African Commission acknowledged receipt of this new Communication. It
was before the African Commission with and we were advised of the
possibility that the Commission was going to be seized of it.
11. Travel and Subsistence
Our travel was good. The route chosen was also comfortable. In respect of
subsistence, we got to Ghana and the hotel demanded payment upfront before
we could be accepted. This entailed hardship and embarrassment as we did not
have money to pay. We had to rely on friends' goodwill and a few from Mr
Penduka's personal funds. Similarly we had no money to pay for the NGO Forum
meeting, and had to endure the embarrassment of borrowing from friends. We
also did not have and per diems which were only received Sunday night having
arrived on a Friday.
An evaluation of the recommendations that have been given previous reports
have not been implemented. Examples include recommendations on per diems As
regards recommendations, many of the recommendations made in the report of
the 39th Session equally apply and are worth looking at with a view to
? The recommendations on travel and per diems remain uncertain and have to
be set once and for all so as to avoid confusion. The issue of
accommodations ought also to be reconsidered for instance the hotel
accommodation I had was very unsatisfactory. These factors are pertinent
especially when one is on a working trip as far as performance is concerned.
? The need to cultivate our relations with the UN Special on Torture is
necessary especially in light of his impending visit Zimbabwe. There is need
to keep him informed on the situation of human rights particularly
incidences of torture.
? There is need to prepare a lobbying document for the decision in
Communication 245/02 in anticipation of the outcome of the January AU
Summit. This document will consist of an executive summary, legal
implications and the unedited copy of 245 judgement.
? The PIU ought to have a Special Rappoteur desk, not just for the African
Commission but also for the UN, to utilise for the advocacy and lobby
strategy and its main task would be to inform the special mechanisms as
human rights situations arise.
? The Shadow Report should now be finalised and sent in time. It is even
prudent to have a copy translated into French for the French-speaking
? We further recommend that we follow-up on the recommendation by the
Chairperson on the Working Group of the Robben Island Guidelines and invite
her for a workshop which we can have in celebration or to mark our 10th
Sent: Wednesday, August 01, 2007 5:58 PM
Subject: Re: The problems that dog the opposition in Zimbabwe
Not often do you come across an objective piece of writing on
Zimbabwe political situation, but this article by Brian Kagoro is an
exception. Brian has blended his literary skills with humour to
convey a very seriuos message that should shame some of our self -
celebrated politicians not just in opposition but also those in the
ruling ZANU PF party. Their focus is no longer on national interest
(maybe it never was), but on self-preservation.
While it is true that the MDC lacked a political base at its
inception, it was not necessarily a bad thing as the urgency of the
situation demanded immediate action. However, this should not be an
excuse for the opposition to be where it is now notwithstanding the
difficulties of working backwards. Situations where this ought to
have been corrected have presented themselves but have been met with
suspicion or completely ignored. This is where I resonate with
Kagor's assertion of lack of political programming or forward
My main point in responding to this article is to try and take it to
the next level especially where it is suggested that while we cannot
do much about the political dynamics in MDC surely the civil society
can do more. There is a mamoth reconstruction and regeneration of
Zimbabwe that presents the greatest challenge to us all. I see the
role of civil society as working with foreign institutions,
businesses and governments in putting together a recovery programme
for Zimbabwe where Zimbabweans' skills and human capital will play a
central role. Most governments will find this approach more palatable
and in line with their interest especially where externalised skills
will be harnessed. Or is the civil society going to be accused of
lack of civil programming?
While I agree that the debate continues, action must begin or is it
long over due? Or perhaps we are putting forward our narrow selfish
Monsters and Critics
Aug 1, 2007, 8:19 GMT
Harare/Johannesburg - Police in the city of Bulawayo locked up a group of
bus drivers who refused to slash their prices, and then a magistrate handed
them hefty fines or jail sentences, reports said Wednesday.
At least 13 commuter bus drivers spent the weekend in police custody in
Bulawayo after police found they were charging 50,000 Zimbabwe dollars a
ride instead of the 20,000 dollars laid down by the government, the official
When the men finally appeared in court they were ordered to pay a
1-million-dollar fine per passenger or spend an equivalent number of weeks
That left the drivers facing fines of up to 18 million dollars (1,200 US
dollars at the official rate of exchange, 120 US at the black market rate)
or an 18-week-long jail sentence.
The Herald said the men got the shock of their lives.
The government ordered a controversial price slash in June, directing that
goods and services all be reduced by 50 per cent or more, after President
Robert Mugabe said businesses were engaged in dirty tricks in a bid to
While the price war was welcomed by the lucky few who managed to grab
bargains, many are now feeling the adverse effects.
Shops are bare of basic commodities like flour, meat and sugar, while
garages have run dry of fuel.
The government ordered that fuel be sold for 60,000 dollars per litre: on
the black market a litre fetches at least five times that price.
Many private transport operators have stopped services, forcing commuters to
walk to work or scramble for lifts on the back of lorries.
© 2007 dpa - Deutsche Presse-Agentur
The Herald (Harare) Published by the government of Zimbabwe
1 August 2007
Posted to the web 1 August 2007
Zimbabwe's biggest seed producer, Seed Co, said it might soon start
exporting maize seed as it had a surplus.
Seed Co managing director Mr Dennis Zaranyika said that the company had been
getting maize seed import enquiries from the Democratic Republic of Congo,
Benin and some countries in North Africa.
But he said Seed Co would only export seed if it got the green light from
"It's starting to happen," Mr Zaranyika said. "We have started to have
excess maize seed in some varieties and it is that seed that we want to
export so that we contribute in terms of foreign currency generation."
The Seed Co boss said some of the seeds had been on trial in some of the
countries, and had performed very well, prompting them to place orders.
Added Seed Co's sales and agronomy manager, Mr Beniah Nyakanda: "Last year,
the country had enough maize seed. This year we are going to have enough
maize seed so may be next year we might start exporting."
Mr Nyakanda concurred that the Government had to be assured of adequate
maize seed supplies for the local market before the company could start
He said Seed Co, which operates in such countries as Zambia, Mozambique,
Kenya and Tanzania, had increased maize seed production through training new
Maize seed production at Seed Co and other seed companies in the country
took a nose dive when Government embarked on the land reform programme in
2000, which resulted in many white seed farmers ceasing operations.
For the past five years, Zimbabwe has been facing maize seed shortages
which, however, have now been eradicated as many new farmers have mastered
the skills to produce quality seed.
Seed Co produces 85 percent of the country's maize seed requirements, which
stand at around 50 000 tonnes per year. -- New Ziana.
Daily Times, Malawi
BY BY HENRY MCHAZIME
17:10:51 - 01 August 2007
TRANSPORTERS ferrying maize to Zimbabwe have so far ferried about
105,000 metric tonnes out of the required 400,000 tonnes, Road Transporters
Association (RTOA) has said.
But that is not all. Demand for maize bags has soared, BNC Packaging
Limited said Tuesday adding that as of last month they had supplied 1.5
million bags on Zimbabwe deal.
Updating journalists Tuesday on the progress of transporting maize to
Zimbabwe RTOA president Shadreck Matsimbe said Malawian transporters had
proved they had capacity to handle big exports.
"With this opportunity [export business] we are not the only one
benefiting but the whole economy as forex is getting into the country
through us," Matsimbe said.
He said so far about US$ 34 million (K4.7 billion) was pumped in to
cover for transportation alone, but said there were other sectors that were
also benefiting from the Zimbabwe maize deal.
"It should be clear that the money is being paid to us but I will give
all the details on the cost of the whole contract after we have transported
all the required [400,000] tonnes," Matsimbe said.
BNC Packaging Limited sales representative Robert Msakambewa said the
company was working on an anticipated order of three million maize bags and
had so far supplied about 1.5 million bags.
"As accompany I would say we are benefiting in that people who are
exporting maize are coming to us for packaging materials," Msakambewa added.
Malawi Confederation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (MCCCI) says
traders exporting maize to Zimbabwe are not experiencing any problems adding
that the trade body would keep on monitoring the situation.
Last year some traders exporting to Zimbabwe complained that there
were not getting payment following massive foreign currency shortage in that
country but reports says the situation has now improved.
Malawi recorded a 1.2 million tonnes maize surplus and has sealed a
deal with Zimbabwe to export to the economically struggling 400,000 metric
Zimbabwe is this year experiencing food shortage after President
Robert Mugabe chased white farmers, a move condemned by the international
community. Mugabe denies mismanaging the economy.
Survey shows that Zimbabwe's mining sector, particularly gold, is not
benefiting from global price increases and lacks investment.
Author: Tawanda Karombo
Posted: Wednesday , 01 Aug 2007
While global prices of metals and minerals have been on the upward trend,
one would have expected Zimbabwe's gold mining companies to be happy, but
just like the proverbial watchman, these firms have just stood by and
watched - hamstrung by the country's economic crisis and resulting
Despite the booming Chinese economy having spurred growth in metals and
mineral sales and prices due to rising and increasing demand, Zimbabwean
miners have been reduced to "operationally constrained entities battling
viability concerns" as a result of the country's galloping inflation, whose
last released figures for May stand at an all-time-high of 4,500 percent,
notes Business Online's 4Cast which conducted a survey on the current and
future prospects of recovery for the country's gold mining sector.
"Mining companies should be deliriously happy," because of the high global
prices of minerals but the fact is "they are not".
Zimbabwe's gold output has shrunk to a record 8 metric tonnes, the lowest
level Zimbabwe has recorded since 1916.
Gold and other mineral miners have complained about, and been hamstrung by,
power outages and late payments for gold deliveries. Consequently,
investors, afraid of failing to get returns for their investment have shied
away from the country's mining sector, especially gold mining.
The recently ended first half of the year has presented mining companies
with a plethora of headaches, but ranking chief among them would be the
threat of nationalization of the country's mining sector by the Zimbabwe
Last week, on the occasion of the opening of Zimbabwe's third session of
parliament, President Mugabe reaffirmed the need and determination by the
government to assume full control of the precious metals and minerals mining
He said there was need "for the nation to assert control over, and maximize
benefits, from its mineral wealth".
Mugabe, in power since the country's independence in 1980, added that
following the discovery of alluvial diamonds at the Marange diamond fields,
"a Bill to amend the Precious Stones Trade Act (Chapter 21:06) together with
the Mines and Minerals Amendment Bill," would be tabled for consideration
and adoption by parliament
The cost of mining in Zimbabwe, the 4Cast survey says, has spiraled over the
past three years.
It adds "Commodity analysts say that though the increasing costs will limit
the downside potential, it will also squeeze margins. Energy costs have
increased with other commodity prices, which means miners are facing
increased costs that are trimming margins".
"Gold mining companies' quarterly results suggest costs are rising,
associated with higher materials, labour costs and unfavourable exchange
rates" it adds.
Due to the embarrassing figures, against the backdrop of the country's
rampaging inflation, which figures government has stopped releasing, the
research team could not obtain the local costs of producing metals from the
Zimbabwe Chamber of Mines.
The survey adds: "It is also worth noting that labour mine costs are rising,
so it's not just the shortage of forex and price of fuel that will keep
Zimbabwe's mines in a cost crunch".
High staff turnover is also negatively affecting the sector with key staff
going down to South Africa while forex shortages add to the problems.
"The effect has been more pronounced in the gold sector crippling output,"
stresses the survey.
From The Star (SA), 1 August
In a daring attempt to break out of the Johannesburg Magistrate's Court,
four suspected hijackers allegedly attacked a police officer, throttled and
beat him before dashing out of the courtroom. Three of the men were
rearrested near the court and the fourth - who had cleverly hidden the
chains of his leg irons inside his pants - was caught moments before
escaping into the street. The court orderly was so traumatised after
escaping the clutches of his attackers and reportedly had to be sedated by
doctors in the parking lot of Milpark Hospital. The drama unfolded yesterday
during the court's mid-morning tea-break at courtroom 20. During a brief
appearance, four men accused of hijacking and being in possession of stolen
firearms had their case postponed to tomorrow. Their case was delayed to
allow the police more time to investigate.
Prosecutor Delwyn Benjamin, magistrate Lucas van der Schyff and the rest of
the court staff left the room when, during the short break, the police
sergeant went down to the holding cells below the courtroom. The court's
interpreter, who asked not to be named, told The Star that three women had
arrived to visit the suspects and bring them parcels. The women were waiting
on the stairs while the officer entered the cells. Inside, the suspects
pounced on the orderly and tied him up. They choked and punched him, then
stole the keys to the gate. At the same time the interpreter, who was
translating for the suspects, walked into the empty room to check if one of
her other cases had been called. "I heard someone breathing really hard,"
she said. "I ran to Court 21 to get help. I was shouting 'Escape! escape!' "
The four accused made a run for it, as did the three women who had came to
visit them. The accused - Jethro Mncube (18), Enos Ndlovu (32), Melusi
Ngwenya (28) and Sizwe Mlambo (26) - were arrested on March 30. All except
Mncube are from Zimbabwe.
Wednesday, August 1, 2007
By James Kirchick
Los Angeles Times
In early May, just a month before the Hamas takeover of the Gaza Strip,
South African Minister of Intelligence Ronnie Kasrils paid a visit to Ismail
Haniyeh, the Hamas leader and erstwhile Palestinian Authority prime
minister. Kasrils praised Hamas, which has been designated by the United
States as a terrorist organization, and invited Haniyeh to visit South
Africa. Several months earlier, Kasrils did similar PR work on behalf of
Hezbollah, another U.S.-designated terrorist group.
South Africa's chumminess with these two well-known terror organizations
might come as a shock to Americans, for whom South Africa probably conjures
up fuzzy images of Nelson Mandela, Oprah Winfrey opening a luxurious school
for disadvantaged girls and the heroic triumph of democracy and justice over
racism. But it shouldn't. It is part and parcel of a broader and troubling
trend in South African foreign policy, one that cozies up to tyrants and is
increasingly hostile to the West -- even at the cost of its self-proclaimed
principles of human rights and political freedom.
So why haven't you heard more about it? Why has post-apartheid South
Africa's easy relationship with dictatorships been downplayed for years?
That oversight seems to reflect a disinclination to report bad news about
the African National Congress -- Mandela's party, which led the fight
against apartheid -- and especially any news that might be perceived as
tarnishing the popular and comforting narrative surrounding the country's
triumphant emergence from apartheid.
Even as South Africa moves slowly into the anti-Western camp, few outsiders
are willing to criticize the ANC, partly out of a misguided sense of
solidarity and partly because the party cloaks itself in a shroud of moral
absolutism that not so subtly implicates its critics as racists, Western
stooges or apologists for apartheid. (To cite only one of many examples, in
February, the ANC government attacked the British Broadcasting Corp. for
supposedly alleging that ``Africans are less than human, or, at least,
genetically inferior'' in a documentary about out-of-control crime in
Johannesburg.) But scurrilous accusations shouldn't be allowed to deter
reasonable criticism. And just because the ANC's current leaders were once
imprisoned by white racists does not render them immune from censure today.
The reality is that, among democratic countries, none has been more
supportive of Iran's nuclear ambitions than South Africa. While the United
States and its European allies fret over what to do about the nuclear
program of this rogue, theocratic state, South Africa's ambassador to the
United Nations, displaying remarkable credulity, declared last year: ``We
will defend the right of countries to have nuclear technology for peaceful
uses. For instance, Iran.''
In March, after assuming a temporary two-year seat on the Security Council,
South Africa attempted to gut a resolution sanctioning Iran for defying
demands that it freeze uranium enrichment. (Although after the attempt
failed, South Africa joined the rest of the council in passing a unanimous
resolution.) South Africa also has wasted its opportunity to stand as a
clarion voice for human rights at the U.N. On the Security Council, it
regularly has sided with Russia and China -- the two powerful, veto-wielding
nations that are consistent obstacles to the defense of liberty. In its
first substantive vote on the council, South Africa sided with those two
states against a nonbinding resolution condemning the human-rights abuses of
the Myanmar military junta. Archbishop Desmond Tutu admitted that the vote
was ``a betrayal of our own noble past.''
Last week, the South African ambassador to the U.N. warned that any talk of
sanctions against Sudan for its actions in Darfur would be ``totally
unacceptable.'' How can the ANC, with a straight face, call sanctions
against a genocidal regime totally unacceptable when it demanded complete
and utter isolation of the white apartheid government in Pretoria?
Rounding out South Africa's disgraceful foreign policy is its stance toward
Zimbabwe, where President Robert Mugabe is inflicting what some have
referred to as a ``silent genocide'' against his own people through
starvation and the manipulation of food aid. Instead of threatening
sanctions or even lightly criticizing his regime, South Africa has kept
Mugabe afloat through vast economic aid and, in 2005, strengthened an
already dubious military alliance between the two governments. To the ANC,
Mugabe is a hero who defeated white colonialism, and even though his reign
is worse than the white government he overthrew, the ANC puts its stubborn
principle of liberation camaraderie ahead of common humanity.
Why would the ANC, which came to power with such worldwide respect and
goodwill, be willing to squander its moral authority so easily? A large part
of the explanation rests with Mandela himself. Although he is regarded as
perhaps the most inspirational figure in the world, the fact is that
throughout his life, Mandela has praised an unseemly crew of dictators --
including Fidel Castro (``Long live Comrade Fidel Castro!'' he said in
1991), Moammar Gadhafi (whom he visited in 1997 in defiance of U.S.
objections) and Yasser Arafat (``a comrade in arms'') -- for their support
of the ANC while it was in exile. And he has remained quiet about Mugabe
even though a strong rebuke might influence current African leaders to do
the same, and Mandela's reticence is a stain on his otherwise illustrious
The roots of the ANC's willingness to overlook totalitarianism go back to
its historic hostility toward the West, which solidified during the
apartheid years, when it was the Soviet Union that supplied the ANC and the
United States, Britain and Israel were unwilling to cut ties to the white
government in Pretoria. Regardless of what happened many years ago, previous
policies by the U.S. and other Western countries toward South Africa cannot
possibly justify the ANC's current friendliness toward Hamas, Hezbollah,
Mugabe, Khartoum and Tehran.
Yet the ANC refuses to change. Today, it still governs not by itself but as
part of a ``tripartite alliance'' with the country's trade union coalition
and the South African Communist Party. It's no surprise, then, that in a
recent weekly letter from South African President Thabo Mbeki recounting an
ANC delegation trip to Vietnam, he spoke, even all these years later, of
``the U.S. war of aggression against the Vietnamese people'' and lauded the
communist dictatorship's ``struggle for freedom and national independence.''
Mbeki and his ANC colleagues see South Africa as having inherited an
``anti-imperialist'' intellectual tradition heroically opposed to the
With the fall of apartheid, a window of opportunity emerged in which South
Africa could have come to the fore as an unrivaled advocate for human rights
around the world. Given its own struggle against injustice, the ANC is right
to regard itself as having a special duty to stand with the innocent against
authoritarianism, terrorism and privation. Regretfully, it appears that
South Africa -- at least under the rule of the massively popular ANC -- has
decided to cast its lot with the likes of Robert Mugabe, the mullahs in Iran
and the terrorists of Hamas and Hezbollah.
James Kirchick is assistant to the editor in chief of the New Republic.
01 August 2007
OVER drinks, the conversation had turned to the ominous developments in
Zimbabwe - the first farm invasions. It seems long ago, that heady time when
many blacks were pleased to see white farmers getting their comeuppance and
many whites were pleased to see that Africa conforming to type. A woman who
had taught in Botswana for 10 years, and was now head of a school in the UK,
tried to move the debate on: "The problem is there is no opposition in
Africa," she said. She might as well not have spoken. No one agreed with her
and no one disagreed. No one passed any comment at all. Talk bumped along in
the age-old ruts a little longer, then stalled. The teacher had raised not
SA's forbidden subject, but SA's non-subject. The one that is not mentioned
in public or private.
The non-subject is explained easily enough. Though profound societal changes
are under way in SA, the climate remains unfriendly to a new politics. Every
sensible person knows the African National Congress (ANC) is providing the
best government SA has ever had and, more important, could have at this
stage. To propose changing it seems pointless . Change it to what? From the
political centre, President Thabo Mbeki has reassured the faithful that the
party's sacred trust, the national democratic revolution, will be
"protracted"; from a make-believe left, Jacob Zuma has prophesied that the
ANC will rule till Jesus comes again. Either way, things are to be kept in
the family. Both predictions are agreeably indefinite and, in a country that
has arguably known only one useful change of government in its history, can
still be taken as a promise not a threat. If a few outsiders are uneasy
about the time frame, they keep it to themselves.
The course seems set, una rguable. As former French president Jacques Chirac
pointed out only recently, democracy is a culture, not a method, meaning it
is not a boxed set of rules and institutions that can be installed anywhere
to give a lifetime's trouble-free service. All the British left behind in
Africa were the paraphernalia of democracy - bewigged speakers of parliament
and maces, a tragicomedy of form transferred without content. No doubt many
sincere Americans believed they were bringing freedom to the peoples of
Saddam's Iraq and Taliban Afghanistan. What they have done is to make the
word "democracy" detested among them.
Despite ac-cepting that democracy can be home grown only in its own time,
doubts gnaw away. What kind of democracy is it that offers people no choice
of government? How long can one party go on representing people whose hopes
and needs must differ once the struggle that united them was won? What
penalties are risked by ignoring these questions? Democratic gains are not
True, commentary and analysis occasionally circumnavigate - if they do not
actually land on and explore - the non-subject: opposition is from time to
time said to be "important" to democracy, or a reference to the ANC's
"likely victory" at the next election comes with the daring hint of a sigh.
But such caution hardly broadens or deepens understanding.
Who chooses to argue that the problem in Zimbabwe has never been President
Robert Mugabe alone, but rather a lone Zanu (PF)? Who has maintained that
the years of Mbeki's denialism on AIDS, and the ANC's dutiful silence, could
not have drawn out as they did, had there been an opposition party that
people felt they could turn to for a different policy? By all means, dismiss
the idea as academic, even silly, at this juncture. Why should that rule out
talking about it?
Even now, as the South African Communist Party speaks out for what it claims
is its sole constituency, the poor, it hedges its bets about running
candidates independent of the ANC in elections. It keeps faith with the
non-subject by letting it appear that without Mbeki there would be no
quarrel over the direction of the tripartite alliance. It hopes to strike a
deal with the ruling party, using Zuma somehow, agreeing quotas perhaps, or
by infiltrating ANC branches - in other words, through some extra-electoral
means. Many commentators point out that this is a shrewd strategy, even one
to be congratulated. None points out that it is undemocratic.
Democratic institutions are the best means the world has discovered to
provide for peaceful change, and to enable all to live with our differences.
In SA, the proudly touted list includes a free press, independent judiciary,
a parliament of "we, the people". What is always missing is the dissenting
view that insists that opposition parties are not some supporting player, an
optional extra that can "streng-then" democracy - but that democracy is
opposition, understood as synonymous with it.
Until opposition steps out on the stage, convincingly led and organised, to
do battle on a platform that speaks anew to all South Africans, even if they
do not choose to vote for it, the best that can be done is to keep the idea
alive. The lingering fear about what the Botswana teacher said is that no
one in the room had ever thought of such a thing.
Whelan is a graduate in international history from The London School of
Economics & Political Science, and a freelance writer.