The ZIMBABWE Situation
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Zimbabwe minister arrested as cabinet sworn in
The future of Zimbabwe's power-sharing government
was thrown into doubt even before it was sworn in yesterday when a senior MDC
leader who was a designated deputy minister was arrested.
After several hours' delay, a ceremony was held for
the new cabinet, with members of both the Movement for Democratic Change and
Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF taking their oaths of office.
The MDC accused Mr Mugabe of unilaterally trying to
give Zanu-PF seven extra ministerial posts, which could destroy the slim
one-seat cabinet majority the then opposition had been granted under the power-
The move, and the arrest of Roy Bennett who was due
to become deputy agriculture minister, cast an immediate pall over the prospects
of the unity government succeeding and call into question Mr Mugabe's sincerity
and that of his party.
Mr Mugabe said: "When I say, I am committed I mean
it. When I say I want to work with you sincerely and honestly, I mean it. I want
to believe when my colleagues say the same, I should believe it."
Hardliners within Zanu-PF are said to be adamantly
opposed to the formation of the coalition government, insisting that the MDC
must continue to be excluded from power, amid fears that the former opposition
will be sidelined from within the new authority.
Mr Mugabe said he will work "sincerely and honestly"
with members of the national unity government, including those of the
Ever since Mr Mugabe lost the first round of the
presidential poll last March the Joint Operations Command, which brings together
the heads of all branches of the military, has been said to have taken over
Zanu-PF's reins behind the scenes. They will have been infuriated by the sight
of Morgan Tsvangirai, the MDC leader, being sworn in as prime minister earlier
this week – and were conspicuous by their absence from the ceremony.
"The arrest mirrors divisions among the top brass of
the long-ruling party who are not happy about losing power," said Daniel Makina,
a Zimbabwe analyst at the University of South Africa. "Some of them are against
the change." Mr Bennett, the MDC's treasurer-general and a white Zimbabwean
whose coffee farm was seized by a Robert Mugabe loyalist in 2003, had been named
as the deputy minister of agriculture.
When he was told that deputy ministers would be sworn
in at a later date he decided to return to his home in South Africa, where he
has been exiled for the last three years. His aircraft was about to fly out of
Prince Charles airport, a small airfield near Harare, when the pilot was ordered
to return to the terminal.
"Police from Law and Order [a unit notorious for
human rights abuses] Harare took him off the aircraft and have taken him away,"
said an eyewitness.
He was later said to have been taken to Mutare, in
It was not clear what accusations he faced, but there
are outstanding charges of illegally leaving the country against him relating to
his flight into exile.
"It is very disturbing. I don't understand the
rationale," said Innocent Gonese, MDC's chief whip in parliament. "It undermines
confidence in the all-inclusive government." Mr Mugabe has had to try to balance
the factions in Zanu-PF with his cabinet appointments, in which he was forced to
sack or demote several figures. But he put staunch hardliners into the defence,
home affairs, and national security ministry, indicating defiance within
Emmerson Mnangagwa, the architect of the Gukuruhundi
massacres of the 1980s and a putative successor to Mr Mugabe, was given the
defence portfolio, which will give him influence with the military.
But Didymus Mutasa, who as lands minister oversaw the
thin veneer of legality Mr Mugabe sought to throw over the land seizure
programme, was demoted to minister of state.
Today's events suggest that despite the formation of
the unity government, alleviating the suffering of ordinary Zimbabweans, who
face a shattered economy, a worthless currency, and a cholera epidemic, remains
"The arrest bodes badly for the new order," said
Sphamandla Zondi, of the Institute of Global Dialogue in Pretoria.
Mr Tsvangirai, though, was more optimistic before the
detention, arguing that Zimbabwe was moving beyond Mr Mugabe.
"Unfortunately people are preoccupied with Mugabe as
a person," he told The Guardian. "They need to get over it. This has gone beyond
"People need to stop talking about him as the only
issue. Mugabe is part of the problem but he is also part of the solution. He is
not the obstacle we are now facing," he said.
Roy Bennett Arrested (updated 21:30)
February 13th, 2009
* Latest update at the top:
Update - Media Statement released by the MDC: 21:30
Roy Bennett must be released unconditionally and unharmed immediately. All
state institutions must respect the rule of law, human rights, the spirit and
letter of the Global Political Agreement and conduct themselves in such a manner
that gives confidence to the inclusive government, so that all parties may be
able to attend to the real issues of uplifting the lives of the people of
Zimbabwe. The restoration of people’s freedoms, human rights and democratisation
are some of the basic deliverables of the Inclusive government. This theatre of
absurdity must end.
Update from the MDC: 20:44
Hundreds of MDC members and supporters have surrounded Mutare police station,
where MDC Treasurer General and Deputy Minister of Agriculture designate is
being held. There is heavily armed police. Police have charged Roy Bennett with
attempting to leave the country illegally. However they keep back tracking and
are incoherently inconsistent on what they intend to do and charge him with.
Clearly desperate and clucthing at straws. Three lawyers are now in attendance
to represent Roy Bennett.
A second MDC release that came in soon after the one above
Police have started firing live ammunition in the air and have brought dogs
in an attempt to disperse hundreds of MDC supporters that had surrounded Mutare
police station in support and demanding the release of Roy Bennett. Police
intend to remove Roy Bennett from the police station to a place they have
refused to disclose. The two vehicles that were used by the police to carry Roy
Bennett from Prince Charles airport to Marondera and to Mutare police station
are back at Mutare police station, this time without registration
Update from the MDC: 19:05
MDC Treasurer General, and Deputy Minister of Agriculture designate, Roy
Bennett is now in Mutare at Mutare police station. Police attempted to take Roy
Bennett to an inaccessible rural police station. About 200 MDC Manicaland
Provincial Executive and members barricaded the road and demanded the release of
Roy Bennett. Lawyer representing Roy Bennett Mr. Trust Maanda negotiated with
the MDC members and police returned to Mutare police station. The police station
is surrounded by heavily armed police police. Police have denied Mr. Maanda
access to Roy Bennett insisting that they want to interrogate him alone. MDC
Mayor for Mutare Brian James is also at the police station.
Roy Bennett is now in Mutare. Apparently his movements are being monitored by
MDC supporters and the general public. We’ve been told that crowd is growing in
Mutare - we assume at the police station.
The passengers who were travelling on the same plane that Bennett was about
to leave on before he was arrested have now been allowed to leave Zimbabwe and
are on their way to Lanseria, South Africa. Meanwhile, Reuben Barwe has been on
the ZBC (state controlled media) talking about the wonderful new cabinet
(essentially the same one Mugabe described as the ‘worst in history’ last year).
Not a word mentioned to the people of our country about the fact that a
designated Deputy Minister has been arrested and whisked away by state
Update from the MDC: 17:13
Silver Hilax carrying abducted MDC Treasurer General and Deputy Minister of
Agriculture designate with registration number ABD3595 is currently refueling at
Marondera police station and is about to go to Mutare.
Update on SWRadio Africa: 16:52
MDC Treasurer General and Deputy Minister of Agriculture designate who was
abducted just after 1500hr at Prince Charles airport was last seen being
transfered from a Toyata truck with registration number AAP4851 which picked him
from the airport into a silver Hilax twin cab with registration number ABD3595
and the car is driving towards Goromonzi which is also a notorious base for
torture and interogation. (Note: We received this information too but have since
been told its not the case. There’s a lot of confusion.)
Roy Bennett is being taken to Marondera, not Goromonzi.
One of the sources mentioned above just sms’d that he believes that Bennett
has been taken to Goromonzi. We assume a police station there.
We’re still anticipating he should be released, given the information that
orders to that effect have been issued by top-dogs.
Update - unconfirmed: 15:45
Two different sources have told us that they believe the instruction to
release Bennett was issued by Robert Mugabe. This is
Update via SW
Radio Africa: 15:23
We believe arrest warrants have been issued for election expert Topper
Whitehead and MDC MP for Marondera, Ian Kay. We also believe the leaders of the
three political parties are in an emergency meeting and the swearing in of the
Cabinet is delayed.
We’ve been advised by a reliable source that Manangagwa has issued an order
for Bennett’s immediate release.
Update from the MDC : 15:06
Roy Bennett, MDC Treasurer General and Deputy Minister of Agriculture
designate has just been abducted up by Police from the Law and Order section at
Prince Charles airport just outside Harare. The police were led by one Assistant
Commissioner Nyongwe. He was taken in a white Toyota with registration number is
AAP 4851. We understand that they are taking him to Marondera, where there is
notorious torture and interogation base, the same place MDC Secretary General,
Tendai Biti was taken upon his return from South Africa. (Press
This very short Press Release received from the MDC:
Roy Benett, MDC Treasurer General and Deputy Minister of Agriculture
designate has just been arrested by state agents - details to
fire in air to disperse protest
Senior opposition official
By MacDonald Dzirutwe, ReutersFebruary 13, 2009 2:31
HARARE - Zimbabwean police fired live ammunition in the air to
hundreds of opposition MDC supporters who had surrounded a police
where a party leader was being held, the MDC said on
Zimbabwean security agents had earlier arrested Roy Bennett
ahead of a
swearing-in ceremony for a new unity cabinet in which he was due
to take a
post, the party said. There was no immediate comment from
The arrest is likely to increase tensions between President
and new Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, from the MDC, after
months of deadlock over a power-sharing deal designed to rescue
The Movement for Democratic Change said in
a statement that Roy Bennett,
nominated by Tsvangirai as deputy minister of
agriculture, had been arrested
at the airport and was held at a police
station in Mutare in the east of the
started firing live ammunition in the air and have brought dogs
attempt to disperse hundreds of MDC supporters that had surrounded
police station in support and demanding the release of Roy Bennett,"
"Police intend to remove Roy Bennett from the police station
to a place they
have refused to disclose."
The MDC said police
had charged Bennett with trying to leave the country
illegally but later
gave conflicting information on his case.
Bennett has been living in
exile in South Africa after fleeing the country
about two years ago because
police wanted to question him in connection with
the discovery of an arms
cache in eastern Zimbabwe.
Foreign investors and Western donors want
concrete signs of stability in
Zimbabwe. They have made it clear that funds
will not flow to the southern
African country until a democratic government
is created and economic
reforms are made.
in delayed as Mugabe tries to increase number of ministers
13 February 2009
The swearing in ceremony of cabinet ministers
to the inclusive government
was delayed by almost five hours on Friday in
Harare, after Robert Mugabe
attempted to increase the number of ministers
from his ZANU PF party.
According to the Global Political Agreement, signed
by all parties in
September last year, ZANU PF was to have 15 cabinet
portfolios, MDC-T 13 and
the MDC three, to reflect the distribution of the
popular vote in last year's
But when the ceremony
eventually took place an extra minister for ZANU PF
was sworn in. Mugabe had
initially tried to have 22 sworn in. 13 from MDC-T
were also sworn in along
with three from MDC-M. The co-sharing Home Affairs
Minister from MDC-T,
Giles Mutsekwa, will be sworn in next week when he gets
back home from a
business trip outside Zimbabwe. 15 deputy ministers will be
sworn in next
week, eight from ZANU PF, six from MDC-T and one from MDC-M
spokesman, Nelson Chamisa explained that ZANU PF got an extra minister
state, in return for the MDC getting 5 governorships, to ZANU PF's 4. The
GPA agreement was modified by the appointment of one minister each from ZANU
PF and MDC-T, to share the running of the Ministry of Home Affairs. In
addition, each party was expected to appoint a minister of state.
cabinet list released by ZANU PF on Thursday night contained 22 names,
giving Mugabe an extra six ministers. This was when the trouble began. An
MDC MP who was present at the ceremony on Friday.said the process was
completely disorganized and that guests were kept waiting for hours without
being told what was happening.
Joseph Mugnai, Morgan Tsvangirai
spokesman, said Mugabe arrived for Friday's
ceremony with plans to swear-in
seven ZANU-PF members as junior ministers,
Eventually it was agreed that Mugabe drop five ministers from
Those dropped included David Parirenyatwa, former Health minister,
Nguni, Paul Mangwana, Flora Bhuka and John Nkomo.
had brought four nominees but only three; Welshman Ncube, David
Priscilla Misihairambwi-Mushonga were sworn in. Deputy party
Gibson Sibanda was not sworn in. No one could explain why.
told us the situation reflected what was to be expected in the
government, 'mistrust and confusion.'
'We sat there for hours and we
sensed there were disagreements because
officials kept coming and going
outside the offices of the State House. This
is a bad start to this
government, I pray it works because from what I saw
today, I see disaster
ahead,' the MP said.
A report received late in the day said South African
Motlanthe had to get involved and was the one who
suggested the compromise
which allowed Mugabe to swear in an extra minister
Professor Welshman Ncube said: "President Motlanthe suggested that
parties should use the weekend to resolve the dispute and reach a
before Monday when the deputy ministers are sworn in. The
that the Ministers of State who were not sworn in today will
be sworn in
together with the deputy ministers."
mars swearing-in ceremony
February 13, 2009
HARARE (BBC) - The
swearing-in of Zimbabwe's new power-sharing cabinet has
been marred by the
arrest of one minister and a dispute over several others.
the MDC's choice to become deputy agriculture minister, was
seized near a Harare airport just before the ceremony.
Zanu-PF ministers of state then turned up to be sworn in.
The issue was
only resolved after intense closed-door negotiations - and
nearly a year
after disputed polls.
The new cabinet was sworn into office by President
Robert Mugabe two and a
half hours behind schedule.
One MDC official
was quoted as saying that the additional Zanu-PF officials
ministers, who are due to be sworn in next week.
Under the power-sharing
agreement, Mr Mugabe's Zanu-PF is to have 15 posts
and the two factions of
the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) 16, under
Prime Minister Morgan
MDC spokesman Ian Makone said Mr Bennett was arrested at the
Prince airport, north-west of the capital, Harare.
Thursday, Mr Bennett told the BBC that he was in hiding as the security
services had issued an arrest warrant for him.
The former MP has long
been a controversial figure.
A white farmer who lost his property under
Mr Mugabe's land reform
programme, he was in prison from October 2004 to
The sentence was imposed by other MPs after he pushed a
during an argument in parliament over land
He has only recently returned to Zimbabwe after more than two
years in South
Africa, where he fled after police sought his arrest in
connection with an
alleged plot against Mr Mugabe.
A western diplomat
described his arrest as a deliberate provocation by Mr
Mugabe and a supreme
act of bad faith and contempt, reports the BBC's Andrew
Harding, who is in
Zimbabwe despite a ban on the BBC reporting there.
experiment in power sharing is, as expected, getting off to
a bumpy start,
our correspondent says.
Before the swearing-in ceremony, MDC leader Mr
Tsvangirai told the BBC the
country was "on its knees".
He said the
humanitarian situation needed to be tackled, schools re-opened
cholera epidemic which has killed some 3,400 people ended.
"We have to
find a solution to the country's crisis," he said. "Mugabe may
be part of
the problem, but he's also part of the solution. I am sure the
also apply to me from their side."
Morgan Tsvangirai: 'The country is on
its knees, but we cannot solve
The economy is in
meltdown, with the local currency virtually worthless and
some 90 percent.
Correspondents say Friday's hitches show how difficult
it will be for the
coalition to work.
Many of the Zanu-PF ministers
have served in cabinet since Mr Mugabe was
first elected in
Several MDC ministers have been beaten or arrested for their
Zanu-PF's Emmerson Mnangagwa, the new
defence minister, has long been seen
as a potential successor to Mr Mugabe
and was accused of links to the 2008
election violence against the
Sydney Sekeramayi, a former defence minister, takes the state
ministry which controls the feared Central Intelligence
MDC Secretary General Tendai Biti takes on the enormous
finance, while as Health Minister Henry Madzorera is now in
tackling the cholera outbreak.
The formation of the
government has also gone ahead despite MDC concern
about the fate of
The MDC says more than 30 people, including
72-year-old man Fidelis
Charamba, are still being held after being abducted
and illegally detained.
They have been accused of subversion and
recruiting fighters to overthrow Mr
Mugabe - charges denied by the MDC.
evidence of power sharing deal heading for collapse
By Lance Guma
There was ample evidence Friday that the shaky power
sharing deal signed
between ZANU PF and the MDC is headed for collapse. On
the day a new cabinet
was sworn in, chaos was the order of the day. Analysts
say hardliners within
ZANU PF are determined to torpedo the deal and the
arrest of the newly
appointed Deputy Agriculture Minister Roy Bennet was
part of those moves.
Mugabe showed the internal pressure he is facing
from within his own party
by trying to increase his allocation of ministers.
The subsequent heated
debates delayed the swearing in ceremony by about 5
hours, begging the
question of how the political parties will ever work
More chaos is also being reported on farms countrywide, as
police and ZANU PF officials loot and plunder what is left of
remaining and thriving farms. The question on everyone's lips is,
Tsvangirai got himself into? Under the power share deal ZANU PF
key ministries of defence, state security and information, while
the MDC are
saddled with the more complex finance, health and social service
There can be no doubting the good intentions of the MDC in
better for the people, but a growing number of their supporters
increasingly frustrated by the bullying tactics of ZANU PF.
failure to release political prisoners, some whom have spent over 3
in custody, is also not helping matters. Although the new Prime
visited the prisoners on his first day at work on Thursday, many
the prisoners release to be a pre-condition before joining Mugabe
Tsvangirai meanwhile has been forced to re-shuffle his
cabinet, two days
after announcing it. Apparently his appointment of Nkayi
North MP Abednico
Bhebhe, from the Mutambara MDC as Water Resources
Minister, violated the
political agreement between the parties. According to
Welshman Ncube, from
Bhebhe's party, the MP would have had to resign his
seat in parliament if he
was to take up the appointment. Tsvangirai has now
replaced Bhebhe with his
own MP, Joel Gabbuza from Binga.
pressure was heaped on Tsvangirai after constituents in Matabeleland
had marginalized them in the cabinet appointments. The recently
Minister of State Enterprise and Parastatals, Eddie Cross, was
the changes made to appease them. Former Daily News Chief
Sipepa Nkomo replaced Cross. The MDC simply said Cross had
're-assigned' but some felt it was sad that tribal considerations were
more prominence than perhaps the abilities of the people chosen into
unity government nearly still-born
February 13, 2009
HARARE - Zimbabwe's new unity government suffered a
near still-birth when
mainstream Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
ministerial nominees openly
refused to take part in the swearing-in ceremony
at State House in Harare on
The MDC members protested after
Zanu-PF had apparently attempted to trick
the MDC by swearing into office
five more state ministers without reaching
an agreement with their partners
in the coalition as agreed in terms of the
As a result the ceremony was delayed for close to three hours
much to the
chagrin of the hundreds of guests who thronged the State House
witness the historic ceremony.
The event was supposed to
start at about 12 noon but onlly kicked off
sometime after 4 pm after Zanu
PF had agreed to remove from the list the
five extra ministers and agreed
that MDC appoint one Minister of State while
it admit two.
hushed process the leaders of the three political leaders held a
meeting in the State House dining room with Southern African
Community (SADC) Chairman Kgalema Monthlathe and mediator Thabo
President Robert Mugabe's Chief of Protocol, Samuel Kajese was
literally begging MDC MPs to join Zanu-PF MPs in the ceremonial
MDC MPs openly refused to barge until the three principals had
"If we have no agreement then we will
not go there for the swearing in. We
have counted one by one and why do you
have many ministers than the ones
agreed under GPA. Why can't we first
agree," said MDC's Tendai Biti who was
later sworn in as the Minister of
"How many are your Ministers, we will count again if they are
more than the
agreed we will not go in there."
But Kajese who was
visibly at pains to just have things push through later
"Please, please lets get on with the business, there are
state ministers to
be sworn in today."
Mugabe later on swore into office the Zanu PF,
mainstream MDC and MDC-M
Notable appointments from Zanu-PF
are Minister of Information, Webster
Shamhu, of State Security, Sydney
Sekeramayi and Kembo Mohadi who retained
Home Affairs that he will now share
with Giles Mutswekwa of the MDC.
Emmerson Mnangangwa, long regarded as
having presidential ambitions was
moved up from Rural Housing to
The five ministers who lost out following the drama that was
State House are Former Speaker of Parliament and Zanu PF
Nkomo, Health Minister David Parirenyatwa, Deputy Agriculture
Sylvester Nguni, Acting Minister of Information, Paul Mangwana and
of State, Flora Bhuka.
They had participated in rehearsals
for the event, only to be left out at
the last minute.
In an open
expression of disappointment, Mangwana stood with his wife in the
House car park while the event was still taking place.
"I am not a (full)
minister for now unless something changes," said Mngwana
for a comment.
The eventful past 48 hours also saw the mainstream MDC
axing two of its
ministerial nominees Eddie Cross and Abednico Bhebhe who
had earlier been
announced as part of the party's cabinet
The two were replaced by Human Rights activist and former
Executive Director, Gordon Moyo and Binga MP, Joel Gabuza
Speculation was rife that the two could have been sacrificed to
dissenting voices from Matebeleland region who had complained
region had very few representatives in the new
The appointment of Shamu to the Ministry of Information put
widespread speculation that a previous encumbent, Prof Jonathan Moyo
his actions and utterances, gearing for re-appointment to the
he controversially devastatingly managed until he was booted
out in 2005.
Moyo is the Member of Parliament for Tsholotsho North and is
with master-minding Mugabe's controversial re-election in
June 2008 in an
electyion in which he was the only candidate.
swearing-in ceremony revealed the extent to which Mugabe had gone to
the Zanu PF old guard. He kept his trusted and hardworking
Patrick Chinamasa, in the crucial ministry of Justice and
The Ministry of State for National Security in the President's
to former Defence Minister, Sydney Sekeramayi while Herbert
Murerwa, who was
fired by Mugabe as Finance Minister two years ago, bounced
back to take over
the Lands and Rural Resettlement Ministry.
Mumbengegwi retained the Foreign Affairs Ministry while Joseph Made,
manages Mugabe's multiple farms, was strategically redeployed in the
Agriculture, Mechanization and Irrigation Development
Former Minister of Industry and International Trade, Obert
redeployed at Mines and Mining Development while Ignatius Chombo
his Local Government, Urban and Rural Development
Shurugwi North legislator, Francis Nhema is the Minister of
Natural Resources Management while Nicholas Goche, one of
the two Zanu-PF
negotiators who brokered the power-sharing deal was rewarded
Transport and Infrastructural Development ministry.
Kasukuwere, otherwise the youngest minister in the Zanu PF line up,
Youth Development, Indigenization and Empowerment Minister, with the
Affairs, Gender and Community Development ministry for Mutoko
Despite her legendary failure to win any parliamentary
seat in the
opposition dominated Matebeleland region, Stembiso Nyoni was
to retain her Small and Medium Enterprises and Cooperative
Stan Mudenge, one of the longest serving
ministers in Mugabe's cabinet, will
retain his Higher and Tertiary Education
Ministry while Masvingo South
legislator, while Walter Muzembi takes over
Didymus Mutasa, who retains the State Security Minister,
completes the Zanu
PF list of substantive ministers.
Ministers of State are Paul Mangwana, Sylvester Nguni, Flora Bhuka,
Nkomo and David Parirenyatwa.
Professor Welshman Ncube, secretary general
in the Arthur Mutambara led MDC
is now Industry and Commerce Energy minister
while his deputy and partner in
the protracted unity talks, Priscilla
Misihairabwi-Mushonga becomes Regional
Integration and International
Khumalo Senator David Coltart, the only elected
official in the Mutambara
led MDC, is now the new Minister of Education,
Sports and Culture.
Tendai Biti, who led the list of ministerial nominees
in the Morgan
Tsvangirai-led MDC was sworn is as Finance Minister, while
Mudzuri was confirmed as Energy and Power Development
Theresa Makone was sworn-in as Public Works minister while
Newspapers of Zimbabwe CEO, Samuel Sipepa Nkomo took over
Resources and Development ministry which had initially been
Nkayi West legislator Abednico Bhebhe of the Mutambara
Kwekwe senator, Henry Madzorera was confirmed as Health and Child
minister while Eliphas Mukonoweshuro becomes Public Service
Other confirmed ministers in the mainstream MDC include Elton
(Economic Planning and Development), Professor Henry Dzinotyiwei
and Technology), Fidelis Mhashu (Housing and Social Amenities),
Eric Matinenga (Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs), Nelson
(Information Communication Technology), Pauline Mpariwa (Labour and
Welfare) and Joel Gabuza (State Enterprises and Parastatals).
conditions for lifting Zimbabwe sanctions
Fri Feb 13, 2009 5:20pm
LONDON, Feb 13 (Reuters) - Britain is ready to lift sanctions on
the new unity government releases political prisoners and pushes
economic reforms, Foreign Secretary David Miliband said on
Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai was sworn in as prime
Wednesday by Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe following months
wrangling since they agreed last September to share power.
Western governments have taken a cautious approach, waiting to see if
new government will bring about real change in a country suffering an
Asked if Britain was prepared to offer to lift
sanctions and end Zimbabwe's
international isolation, Miliband said: "We are
prepared to offer that on
the basis that there is clear evidence in the
actions of the government in
respect of political prisoners, in respect of
"The government needs to be judged by its actions and
its deeds ... That's
the basis for the international community to engage,"
he told BBC World's
"Hard Talk" programme.
Zimbabwean security agents
arrested a leader of the opposition MDC on Friday
ahead of a swearing-in
ceremony for the new unity cabinet in which he was
due to take a post, the
Britain, together with the rest of the European Union, has
imposed a travel
ban on a list of Zimbabweans and frozen the assets of a
number of people and
A British government official said last
year that Britain, Zimbabwe's former
colonial ruler, was working with the
United States, EU, World Bank and
International Monetary Fund on a recovery
plan for Zimbabwe, that was
estimated to cost more than $1 billion a
Prime Minister Gordon Brown said on Thursday that Britain could not
Zimbabwe as an "ordinary country" for now, saying he feared that
has ruled Zimbabwe since independence in 1980, would stand in
the way of
Britain has been a fierce critics of Mugabe,
accusing him of destroying the
country's economy and using militias to
suppress opposition. Mugabe's
government in turn blames Britain and other
Western nations for Zimbabwe's
Zimbabwe is suffering
unemployment above 90 percent, prices double every
day, half the 12 million
population need food aid and a cholera epidemic has
killed nearly 3,500
people. (Reporting by Adrian Croft)
Zimbabwe's unchecked cholera carried in rivers: WHO
GENEVA (AFP) - Cholera is being carried by rivers and streams in
fuelling the uncontrolled outbreak that has now infected 73,585
left 3,525 dead, the World Health Organisation said
The latest figures for the outbreak that has thrived since August
especially in the country's impoverished, undernourished and neglected
areas, were dated February 12, the UN health agency said.
the beginning of the week, the WHO and the Zimbabwean Health Ministry had
recorded 69,553 cases including 3,400 deaths.
"Cholera is still not
under control," said WHO spokeswoman Fadela Chaib.
However, she revealed
that an onsite survey by the central cholera control
team in several
districts found that waterways and wells are infected with
Chaib said they "confirmed that shallow wells, rivers
and streams were the
most likely source of infection."
That made it
essential to distribute water purification tablets, clean water
and soap directly to families and households to stop them getting
when they washed, cooked or drank water, she added.
The WHO also
reiterated fears that floods in the rainy season would hamper
both health workers and of people seeking treatment.
"There's also the
lack of transport, the scarcity of food and the fact that
health workers are
paid very little if they are at all," Chaib told
However, the WHO spokeswoman said it was unclear to what
degree the outbreak
in Zimbabwe was fuelling those in neighbouring
countries, where cholera was
often already endemic.
floods may propel Zimbabwe cholera-WHO
Fri Feb 13, 2009 12:46pm GMT
GENEVA, Feb 13 (Reuters) - Rainy season floods could make
it even harder to
stop Zimbabwe's epidemic of cholera that appears to be
southern Africa, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said
Some 73,385 Zimbabweans have been infected with water-borne
disease since August and 3,524 have died, in Africa's deadliest
outbreak in 15 years.
WHO spokeswoman Fadela Chaib said that
the countries sharing borders with
Zimbabwe have all reported cholera
infections that could be related to the
"There is believed to be a link between the Zimbabwe outbreak
Africa, and possibly with Mozambique, Botswana and Zambia," she
told a news
briefing in Geneva, where the United Nations agency is based.
population are likely the source of infection and
The wet season stands to propel cholera-contaminated water in
rivers and wells, and floods may keep aid workers from
water purification tablets, rehydration salts, and soap
in rural areas,
according to the WHO spokswoman.
"Cholera is not yet
under control, far from it," she said.
In normal conditions, cholera is
preventable and treatable.
The outbreak in Zimbabwe is tied to an
economic crisis that has left 8 in 10
people out of work and caused the
health system to collapse, with unpaid
doctors and nurses among those
reliant on food aid and struggling with an
inflation rate estimated at more
than 231 million percent.
To tackle Zimbabwe's cholera crisis and other
looming health risks, Chaib
said Harare's new unity government must work to
fix critical shortages of
health workers, and improve disease monitoring and
rates across the country.
"The challenges ahead
are enormous," she said.
Outside Zimbawbe's borders, the largest current
cholera in the region is in
South Africa, which has reported 4,859 cases and
34 deaths from mid-November
to end-January, Chaib said.
has reported 3,592 cases and 25 deaths, Zambia has reported 3,035
43 deaths, and Angola, to Zambia's west, has had 273 cases and 1
Because cholera is endemic in those countries, which have
stopped the disease, Chaib said: "It is hard to say if all cases
to the Zimbabwe outbreak."
"Botswana is not endemic for
cholera and it has only had a small number of
cases, 8 cases that were
clearly linked to Zimbabwe," she said.
The WHO is not recommending travel
restrictions in the area. Because
Zimbabwe's neighbours have stronger and
more functional health systems, they
are expected to be able to prevent and
treat cholera much more effectively.
The last time South Africa had a
large outbreak of cholera was in 2001 and
2002, when the country's
southeastern region had 166,000 cases. The fatality
rate of that outbreak
was below 1 percent, compared to the 4.8 percent now
Teachers dig their heels in over dollars
BULAWAYO, 13 February 2009 (IRIN) - Zimbabwe's
striking teachers have rejected an appeal by new Prime Minister Morgan
Tsvangirai that they return to work, demanding negotiations on their salary
scales in foreign currency as promised.
"Teachers want money in their
pockets, not promises," said Sifiso Ndlovu, acting head of the Zimbabwe Teachers
Association. "He [Tsvangirai] should explain how much we are going to be paid,
and the mode of payment."
Tsvangirai told a rally on 11 February, the
day he was sworn in as part of a new power-sharing government, that public
workers would all be paid in foreign currency, and urged those on strike to
report for duty on 16 February.
"Tsvangirai has to consult President
[Robert] Mugabe and cabinet on the payment of salaries in foreign currency, and
once he has done that, then he should table a figure that he will discuss with
us teachers," Ndlovu said.
Zimbabwe's teachers, on strike since
September last year, are demanding salaries starting at US$2,200 as a result of
the semi-official dollarisation of the economy.
The United Nations
Children's Fund (UNICEF) last week reported that about 94 percent of rural schools failed to open
at the start of the 2009 academic year.
A broke Zimbabwe is in the grip
of an unprecedented economic and humanitarian crisis marked by the world's highest inflation
rate, food shortages, and a cholera epidemic that has infected more than 70,000
people and killed over 3,500.
Tsvangirai, leader of the Movement for
Democratic Change party, which is now part of a unity government with Mugabe's
rival ZANU-PF, has admitted he does not yet know where the foreign exchange will
come from to pay public workers at the end of the month.
"But I have
made a commitment, and we have to find the money to pay them. But how much, it
still hasn't been decided," he said. "We must find something to alleviate the
plight of our people who have been receiving worthless currency."
militant Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe said almost half the country's
teachers have crossed the border to South Africa, Botswana or further abroad
looking for work, even if they are menial jobs.
[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United
Mugabe appoints a war cabinet.......excludes youth
Friday the 13th ,
Mugabe appoints a war cabinet.......excludes youth.
Mugabe has retained a
war cabinet despite his earlier utterance, that it has
been the worst
cabinet in his reign, in an interview, on the eve of his
birthday last year.
Majority of his ministers have been at war with the
opposition MDC since its
birth, hence there is reasonable suspicion that he
wants to continue with
his war path with his 'former' rival. Taking new
blood on board would have
distorted the rhythm of the struggle which has
been temporarily disturbed as
a result of pressure from the international
community to work with MDC,
which for the entirety of its existence has been
referred as a Western
oriented party. The speed with which the economy was
forced the regime to compromise. The solution was only
left in the hands of
MDC, especially the T one. It is therefore crystal
clear that Mugabe and his
party were raped into this 'agreement'.
The appointed ministers are
cognisant of the fact that they have been
rewarded for their persistence in
fighting the 'West in its bid to effect
regime change'. Bearing this in mind
the only logical thing to do in terms
of protecting their mercs is to
maintain the status core, the main agenda
being to 'pressurise Morgan to
call for the lifting of sanctions and work
hard for the party'.
mammoth task is to revive the party, considering that elections are at
These ministers boast of having wealth experience in tackling their
and it is most likely going to be difficult for them to accept new
from the new blood which has been injected on MDC tickets hence
more likely than not. Considering the irreconcilable differences
parties in government, it will be the greatest miracle in world
them to just accept or tolerate each other.
Some are basking in the March
29 glory whilst others are convinced that June
27 did the job, whilst others
do not give significance to any of the two.
The only common thing to the
three parties is to maintain power till the
next election scheduled for two
years from now.
From a political point of view if this government
thrives, credit will go to
MDC T given the fact that it was their entrance
which would have ushered in
the much awaited change; it will therefore be
the most difficult thing for
ZANU PF to just watch their power vanish into
thin air. That is the reason
why it is normally suggested that a
transitional government must not be run
Further to these anomalies The Youth Forum is greatly concerned
seclusion of youths in cabinet. This shows that from the onset the
have not been considered to be decision makers, they are some who
experience to do so on their behalf. Such thinking is
discouraging and disgracing to youth's meaningful
empowerment. This shows that the youths are only
rubberstampers of decisions made on their
Information and Publicity Department
Break out the
Comment from ZWNEWS, 13 February
They must have broken into the birthday Bollinger at State
Wednesday. The Zanu PF bigwigs did not attend the celebrations in
Stadium, but they must have heard very rapidly from their watchers -
in shiny suits and contraband Raybans - after Morgan Tsvangirai
the first blunder of his premiership. Tsvangirai, in what appears
been unscripted remarks, promised to pay government employees in
currency. What does he know that the rest of us
The problem with the government (apart from the
intolerance, violence and theft) is that it is living
beyond the ability of
the country to support it. This was the case even in
1999, before Zanu PF
devoted their full attention to really trashing the
economy. The state
apparatus is even bigger now than it was then, and the
economy is much, much
smaller. The only way this imbalance could be kept
going was for the Reserve
Bank to print money on a monumental scale, and the
result is the
world-league inflation from which Zimbabwe currently suffers.
denominate government spending in Z$, US$, rand or conch shells,
remains the same: there are too many ministers and civil
servants, and not
If Tsvangirai intends to pay
government employees in foreign currency, he
has a number of options. He
could drastically cut the number of ministers
and civil servants, but this
is unlikely to have been what he was thinking
yesterday. He could pay
salaries in foreign currency, but make the payments
so small as to be
derisory. Again, this is unlikely to be the plan. Has
Tsvangirai been told
by his new finance minister that there are vast lakes
of foreign currency
sloshing around in government bank accounts? It is
doubtful whether Tendai
Biti has even put his feet under his new government
desk yet, let alone
trawled through the public accounts. Tsvangirai can't
even count on the
income from the platinum and diamond mines. That ministry
is controlled by
His only other option is to bet on enormous inflows of money
from abroad to
pay the bills. And those inflows need to arrive very soon:
government workforce will be expecting salary payments in forex
by the end
of this month - two weeks away. Has Tsvangirai perhaps received
from the EU, US, or UN promising to foot the bill? The transfer
of such vast
amounts of cash would take weeks, if not months, to approve,
even if they
were willing to stump up, so this also seems unlikely. His only
is that the South Africans have offered to print - and keep
sufficient rands to bankroll the oversized Zimbabwe government.
of course, be suicidal for the South African economy, and it is
imagine the South African government agreeing to such a plan.
that, these are the same people who think you can prevent AIDS
beetroot, so anything is possible.)
We stand very willing
to be corrected, but, on the face of it, there does
not seem to be any way
in which Tsvangirai's can deliver on his promise. By
printing such vast
amounts of Z$ over recent years, Gideon Gono was able to
confidence trick on the public, disguising to some extent the
problem underlying the government's finances. By promising to
servants in foreign currency, Tsvangirai has left himself with
hide. Mugabe's henchmen are probably already hard at work in
drawing up plans to exploit this gaffe.
Lance Guma speaks to Dr Simba Makoni
Broadcast 12 February
This week on Behind the Headlines Lance Guma speaks to
former Finance Minister Dr Simba Makoni in a wide-ranging interview. Lance asks
Dr Makoni for his views on the unity government currently being put in place and
whether he thinks they can deliver. Does he feel bitter that he was excluded
from the process despite coming third in presidential elections last year? Does
Makoni agree with Dumiso Dabengwa’s claims that he acted as a spoiler in last
years elections to create conditions for a run-off? Makoni is also questioned on
allegations by his colleagues in the Mavambo Movement who claim he still has
links to ZANU PF and that he misused party funds.
Hello Zimbabwe and welcome to another edition of Behind the Headlines.
My guest this week is former finance minister and leader of the Mavambo Movement
Dr Simba Makoni. Dr Makoni thank you for joining us on SW Radio
It’s a pleasure, thank you good afternoon.
Right, starting point is we’ve had a new unity government put in place this
week. Morgan Tsvangirai was sworn in on Wednesday and as a prominent leader
yourself in Zimbabwe, the starting question has to be what is your view of
this recently installed government.
Well first we must place the facts on record and say the government is not yet
fully installed as you know cabinet ministers have not yet been appointed and
taken oath, but yes the leadership of the government in the sense of the
Presidency and the Premiership is now in place. We welcome it. We welcomed the
Global Political Agreement. It was and still is an imperfect agreement but it’s
the best on offer for the people of Zimbabwe at the moment and we wish that they will work well
together to serve the people of Zimbabwe.
those who have been very skeptical of this arrangement have pointed to the lack
of sincerity which they seem to be picking up from Zanu PF. Do you see this as a
major stumbling block? Are Zanu PF sincere in this
Well I think it is quite clear that all the partners in this arrangement are
there for convenience. There is no commitment, there is mistrust, there is
suspicion and so people are justified to be skeptical because the motivation is
not commitment to service and therefore we also have expressed our reservations
about what motivated the three of them to come together. But let’s be generous,
let’s be optimistic, let’s be forward looking and wish that they will work well
together for the sake of the people and the
it had been left up to you Dr Makoni, what would you have proposed as a way
forward in terms of? I mean you have just pointed out that this agreement is
imperfect. How would you have suggested a way forward for the
Well its not, how would I, you know that I was the first proponent of a
government of national unity at the time when I launched my presidential
campaign. I maintained that stance up to now. We would have offered a leadership
that was motivated to service and committed to serving the people rather than to
acquiring and spending power and control. The major misgiving we have about the
Global Political Agreement is that it was motivated by power and control and
that is why people set out in a country in dire straits as ours to set up a huge
administration. Six people in the Presidency and the Premiership, 31 ministers,
11 Deputy Ministers. We cannot afford that. And so we would have sought to set
up a compact, technocratic, competent based national authority that was
committed to taking Zimbabwe out of the crisis it is
do you think then given those hurdles that you are pointing out, can this
Well it can if they commit themselves. It’s not impossible for people of
different political persuasions to work together to a common purpose. A lot of
Europe is run by coalition governments from extreme right,
extreme left centers. So it’s not a new thing. But it depends on commitment,
honesty trustworthiness and those elements are not there in the parties to this
Last year in the presidential elections you came third and a lot of people were
rather surprised that you did not play a very prominent role in the negotiations
that followed those disputed elections. Are you some how disappointed you were
somehow excluded from this process?
Well I have two feelings and views about that. Yes indeed I was disappointed,
not just for myself, but more for the people who are committed to the vision and
mission that I set out to promote because we are confident that we would have
made a meaningful contribution to those negotiations. We would have influenced
the negotiations away from power control and command to service. So from that
point of view, we are disappointed. That I am not there personally, I am not
disappointed, because participating in this process that has led to this
imperfect outcome would have discredited and compromised some of our principles
Dr Makoni, do you see a role for yourself under the current set up, I mean have
you been approached about doing anything?
No, I haven’t been approached by anyone. I don’t see a role for myself in the
so-called inclusive government. But I do see a role for myself and for
colleagues in our movement and the population of
Zimbabwe that subscribes to the values and principles that we
stand for, in that with the creation of MDC T-F, we now become the sole voice of the people. We
will be watching this so-called inclusive government step by step. We will be
monitoring their every action. And we will be keeping them under close monitor
to ensure that what the people yearn for is voiced. And that voice now is
Some analysts had actually pointed that same fact you are talking about Dr
Makoni that the MDC which was the only credible opposition to date has now
joined the government and that has now created a vacuum were the likes of
Mavambo and maybe the recently re-launched ZAPU can take up space, so I mean
this is a bonus for you.
Well I wouldn’t say it is a bonus, it is what we created. When I moved in to
join the presidential race, we offered the people of
Zimbabwe an alternative to Mugabe and Tsvangirai. We offered the
people of Zimbabwe an alternative to Zanu PF and
MDC. And we are continuing to offer the people of
Zimbabwe that alternative, so is not a bonus, it’s our
Several weeks ago I interviewed former Home Affairs Minister Dumiso Dabengwa and
he said the decision and the project to support your presidential candidacy was
meant to stop an outright winner developing between Tsvangirai and Mugabe. Do
you subscribe to this summarization of the scenario that you basically acted as
Well I do not subscribe to it and I can tell you that is not what motivated me
to stand. I don’t know if Dumiso actually said that. I stood genuinely and
honestly to offer Zimbabweans an alternative leadership. I wanted to win in
order to serve the country, not to spoil for anyone. I was convinced so were
many Zimbabweans in Zanu PF, in MDC and those outside politics that neither Mugabe nor
Tsvangirai were the best leader for Zimbabwe at this time and I believe the
large majority of Zimbabweans still believe that to date. And I set out to offer
to Zimbabweans an alternative to Mugabe and Tsvangirai not to spoil for anyone.
Going to another issue Dr Makoni, much closer to your own movement. I believe
last Wednesday several members of the National Coordinating Committee of the
Mavambo Movement led by retired Major Kudzai Mbudzi, convened a press conference
at which they announced the decision that they had deposed you as leader of
Mavambo and several accusations were made. What is the current position
regarding the leadership of the Mavambo Movement?
Well I can tell you that I am talking to you from my office at our movement
offices. I am functioning normally, so are all the other colleagues who are
involved with us in leading the movement towards a political party. We’ve heard
of this political development but it has not affected our operation. The people
you mention are disaffected by the fact that they failed to achieve material
gains they set out to achieve in rallying behind me. Let me say that when I
announced my candidacy, all kinds of characters joined the movement with all
kinds of agenda’s, objectives and ambitions. Many of them have fallen by the way
side because they have realized that we are not mercenaries, we are not wicked,
we are not crooked, we are not criminals, we are not greedy, we are not
dishonest, and because they cant fit into an honest set up of integrity and
service they have decided to take their way and we say
interesting Major Kudzai Mbudzi pointed to one issue which a lot of people have
raised in various forums. He alleges that you still have strong links with Zanu
PF and that you still have clandestine meetings with several senior Zanu PF
officials. I don’t know if we can maybe talk about this. Is that a correct
representation of the situation?
it is not. Remember that one of my key platforms in the election campaign was I
was a unifier. I don’t want to divide the people of
Zimbabwe. I can confirm to you that I continue to relate to
people who are members of the MDC and some are members of Zanu PF, some are members of
other political parties some are not in any political party. I meet with all
those Zimbabweans as Zimbabweans not clandestinely but quite openly in broad
daylight. It is curious that Mbudzi decides to point to my relations with Zanu
PF members and not with MDC members, with members of the labour movement, with the
Christian leadership. I relate normally with all Zimbabweans because I quest for
unity and commitment to service. I am not a
me also touch on another issue. Mbudzi also claimed that you promoted the system
of patronage and division and ethnicity and he says out of a total 10 members of
the management committee 7 could be traced to your tribal roots and village of
origin. Would you maybe want to address those
think that kind of trash is belonging to Mbudzi, I do not discuss those terms, I
relate to Zimbabweans of all walks of life. I relate to Zimbabweans from all
stations of society, from all regions of the country. I am a national leader; I
am not a village leader.
maybe before I move on to another subject, one more claim that Mbudzi made were
he is saying you withheld donations that were made to the movement and the
figures quoted there are from US1,5 million to about US$3 million. The financial
issues, how was that laid out in terms of the movement, were these donations
that were made towards your presidential bid or to the movement?
All I can say is that those who are in the movement, know how we are operating,
are not raising those questions and I won’t dignify Mbudzi by answering that
kind of question. The movement is functioning normally, openly, transparently
and genuine and committed activists of the movement are not asking Mbudzi’s
questions. Mbudzi was with us until September, left us of his own volition and
therefore it’s no longer of his interest since September when he bade us
farewell, to be raising those issues. But movement activists are working
normally to create the party that will work for the people of
Makoni when I interviewed Dumiso Dabengwa I asked him why he had in a sense left
the Mavambo Movement to reform PF ZAPU and asked whether you two had fallen out.
He sort of refused to answer the question. I don’t know if I can pose the same
question to you and say how are relations between yourself and Mr. Dabengwa and
did the two of you fall out that caused him maybe to leave the
Well our relations are normal. The last time I had a discussion with Dumiso it
was cordial, it was normal, it was rational. I have followed developments
involving him in the media and in public discourse. I haven’t had the
opportunity to discuss with him how he went that direction. But again that is
the essence of democracy. People choose associations of their own free will and
Dumiso is at liberty to do that, I don’t begrudge him and I wish him
final question to you Dr Makoni, you are obviously former finance minister,
Morgan Tsvangirai in his inauguration speech spoke about paying all civil
servants in foreign currency. We’ve also seen the appointment of Tendai Biti as
the country’s new finance minister, what do you make of those developments?
Firstly do you think its practical to pay all civil servants in foreign currency
and what do you make of Biti’s appointment as finance
Well I would like to say that it is not appropriate to assess an individual, I
would like to see the whole government team in place. So I am waiting with bated
breadth for the appointment and installation of ministers tomorrow (Friday).
When we see that total line up behind 3 Presidents and 3 Prime Ministers, which
is such a cumbersome and clumsy arrangement for a country like ours in its
current state we will then be able to make a read of whether that set up can
deliver or cannot deliver and so I would seek patience on your part, lets have
this conversation tomorrow (Friday) or the day after tomorrow when the full
government team is in place and we can begin to read the potential of its
delivery or non-delivery.
what about the issue of paying civil servants in foreign currency, what do you
make of that?
Well I actually haven’t seen the actual statement to read what the Prime
Minister is said to have said. But what it begs at face value is where will the
money come from? Because Zimbabwe under current circumstances I don’t believe is in any
position to pay all civil servants in foreign currency unless they are being
paid a pittance. So it is a very curious question, but Morgan Tsvangirai is now
the Prime Minister, probably he has a little pot of gold somewhere that he will
reveal to the nation.
That was Dr Simba Makoni, former finance minister and leader of the Mavambo
Movement joining us on Behind the Headlines. Dr Makoni thank you so much for
sparing us your time.
listen to the audio interview click here
SW Radio Africa
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A letter from the diaspora
Friday, 13 February 2009
sour-faced President Robert Mugabe at Prime Minister
inauguration, it was difficult to believe that anything good
would come out
of this botched up Government of National Unity. But then no
one seemed to
be smiling, it was rather like a shotgun wedding where both
sides knew that
there was no alternative. They had to go through this sham
of a wedding to
give their relationship legitimacy but no one really
believed that the
marriage would last.
It was a different matter at the 'reception' after
the ceremony. Lots
of smiling happy MDC faces and shouts of joy from the
thousands gathered in
Glamis Stadium to welcome the new Prime Minister. "We
used to be dead. Now
we are alive," said one observer." This is the start of
change." That's what
we all desperately want to believe that, we all want to
hope that Zimbabwe
has turned the corner at last but the signs are not good.
Right up to the
very last moment before Tsvangirai's inauguration we were
all longing to see
the activists released - but it did not happen. It would
have been a sign of
Mugabe's good faith, a sign that perhaps we could place
some reliance on him
to do the right thing. The Prime Minister referred
specifically to the
plight of the abducted activists but carefully did not
say what steps he
would take if they were not released. Then on Thursday,
the very day that
Morgan Tsvangiri became Prime Minister, three of the
abductees were taken to
the Avenues clinic for medical treatment. Jestina
Mukoko, Ghandi Mudzingwa
and Fidelis Chiramba were each seen by two sets of
doctors from the state
and private sector. The doctors all agreed that the
three were in urgent
need of hospitalization but according to reports they
were once again taken
back into custody at Chikurubi Maximum Security
Prison. So much for hope, so
much for placing any trust at all in Robert
Mugabe and his murderous regime.
Hope deferred again!
There was one
sign that Morgan Tsvangirai perhaps had some influence -
if not real power.
To his credit, one of his first calls as Prime Minister
was to Chikurubi to
visit the detainees. Despite the fact that the service
chiefs, including the
head of the Prison Service, have vowed never to salute
the guards on the prison gates apparently gave Tsvangirai
a snappy salute
and addressed him as Prime Minister. Perhaps that was a good
wondered, but if it was, then it was the last one. As I write on
13th February the BBC are reporting that Roy Bennet the Deputy
Agriculture in the new government has been arrested, allegedly
Prince Airport while attempting to board a flight to South
Zimbabwean this morning contained a heart-warming picture of Roy
arms round a smiling black man. There they were, their faces
beautiful smiles. It was surely a sign of hope for the new
Now Roy is again under arrest. I phoned home immediately.
true?' I asked and the news was confirmed. 'Pachedu' is indeed in
of the Law and Order department. The ZBC, I was told, is also
the new government has not yet been sworn in. The ceremony
was due to take
place at 10.OO Zim time. It is not hard to understand the
reason for the
delay; Roy Bennet was one of the MDC's cabinet nominees and
without him the
swearing in cannot take place. or can it?
to seem that nothing will halt the MDC's progress, if that's
what it is,
into government; not the violent abduction and imprisonment of
not the arrest of their own cabinet members and not the wholesale
infringement of human rights. The latest news is that the swearing in is
taking place even now - presumably without Roy Bennet. To those who have
been saying all week that it was all a terrible mistake getting into a
marriage of convenience with Robert Mugabe, I have to admit that it's
beginning to look as if they are right; hope and trust are just not in
Robert Mugabe's vocabulary. For the rest of us at home and in the diaspora,
hope is deferred yet again; none of us will be going home any time soon.
Profile: Zimbabwe's political farmer
Morgan Tsvangirai (r) wants Roy Bennett to be his deputy
Like many of Zimbabwe's former white farmers, Roy Bennett - the
opposition's nominee for deputy agricultural minister - is a little rough around
Since he entered politics nine years ago, winning a parliamentary seat for
the newly formed Movement for Democratic Change, he has been a controversial
Now he finds himself under arrest for a second time as the country's new
power-sharing cabinet takes office.
The coffee farmer-turned-politician, 51, has only recently returned to
Zimbabwe after more than two years in exile in South Africa.
He fled after police sought his arrest in connection with an alleged plot
against President Robert Mugabe.
But he is best known for losing his temper with Zanu-PF Justice Minister
Patrick Chinamasa in 2004 in a row over the land redistribution programme, which
saw most of the country's 4,000 white farmers lose their land.
Many were forced from their homes by mobs of Zanu-PF supporters.
Mr Chinamasa called Mr Bennett's forefathers "thieves and murderers", saying
he deserved to lose his farm after benefiting from a British colonial system
that robbed black Zimbabweans of their land.
In the heat of the argument, Mr Bennett pushed the minister to the ground.
If, Mr Bennett ever takes up his post, he will come face-to-face with Mr
Chinamasa again, as he has been named justice minister.
"I am not proud of what happened. But I am human, I snapped after many years
of abuse and taunting," he said afterwards.
He told of how some
of his employees had been killed and many were severely assaulted when militants
took over his farm during the 2000 election campaign - the stress of which, he
said, caused his wife to miscarry.
Roy Bennett lost 30kg during his time in
Zanu-PF MPs, however, were outraged by the assault which they described as
"the worst attack on the dignity of the parliament".
They sentenced him to 15 months in prison - an experience he described as a
"I feel very sad for those that are left behind... because I should imagine
if one gets to hell, that is what you experience," he said, after serving eight
The former champion polo player lost 30kg during his ordeal.
He said he was made to stand naked in front of prison guards and was then
given a prison uniform covered with human excrement when he arrived in jail.
While Zanu-PF have sought to portray him as the embodiment of exploitative
colonialism, he has proved a charismatic politician in his Chimanimani
constituency - a beautiful mountainous region in eastern Zimbabwe which has long
been an opposition stronghold.
Patrick Chinamasa said Roy Bennett deserved to lose his
Fluent in the local Shona language, he is known by his nickname "Pachedu"
which means "between us" - a colloquial reference to childhood secrets.
In South Africa, where his family was granted asylum after he was accused of
trying to kill President Mugabe, Mr Bennett continued his role as national
treasurer for the MDC.
The alleged plot surrounded the discovery of an arms cache - and eight other
people, including another opposition MP, were also implicated.
They were later released and charges dropped, but Mr Bennett - it appears -
was still wanted by police.
He went into hiding when he heard police were still after him and was
arrested as he tried to fly out of the country from a small airfield north-west
of the capital, Harare.
He told the BBC beforehand that he felt it was part of an attempt by Zanu-PF
hardliners to scupper the new coalition government.
"They want us to walk away from this deal, he said. We've just got to be
smarter than them," he said.
Highfield clean-up campaign: Residents in action
13 February 2009
The residents in Highfield, in conjunction
with the Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA) conducted a clean up
campaign yesterday (the 12th of February) at Lusaka Social centre in
the Highfield. The popular action comes after the residents decided to remove
piles of refuse that have accumulated at most community centres in the suburb as
a result of the City of Harare’s failure to collect refuse since the beginning
of last year.
Highfield is one of the Harare suburbs that have been adversely affected by the
emergence of numerous informal dumping sites, a situation that has exposed the
health of residents to cholera outbreaks that have been worsened by the onset of
the rainy season. The waste management system in Harare deteriorated after the Makwavarara-led Commission
failed to collect refuse from Harare’s suburbs
during its term of office. The situation has not improved even after the newly
elected Council assumed office late last year. However, residents are cognizant
of the fact that the Council has a mammoth task to undo the damage that was done
by the Commission and restore quality municipal service delivery in Harare, a task that is not an overnight job. Residents
have, however, seen it fit to spearhead the restoration process through
community-based popular action campaigns.
More than 50 residents participated in the
campaign. Mr. Charles Beni, the CHRA
Secretary who is also the Coordinator for Highfield Ward 24, said that the
residents have also started community gardening where they grow different types
of herbs for use by the community. The refuse that was removed from the Lusaka
Social Centre where the clean-up campaign was carried out, was deposited in the
composts that have been built for the purposes of community gardening. Mr Beni
said that it is important for residents to explore ways of developing their
communities and act responsibly to tackle the service delivery challenges that
are being faced in their areas.
Residents received help from the Highfield
Ward 24 Councilor who provided them with one wheelbarrow, brooms, rakes, hoes
and shovels. CHRA provided a pick-up truck and some
The clean-up campaign is one of a series of
other campaigns of the same nature which are lined up for Machembere Community
Centre in Old Highfield, Zororo Centre and C J Hall in the same suburb.
Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA)
145 Robert Mugabe
Exploration House, Third Floor
Landline: 00263- 4-
Contacts: Mobile: 0912 653 074, 0913 042 981, 011862012 or email
Zimbabweans turn to hitchhiking, guerilla gardening and hopscotch
2009 15:04:00 GMT
Written by: Save the
Camilla Jones is visiting Zimbabwe as a child protection
trainee for Save
the Children UK.
Venture just 15 minutes out of
leafy, downtown Harare and you will find some
of the capital's oldest and
most neglected suburbs. Today they are home to
those displaced by Operation
Murambatsvina in 2005 and bear living testimony
to the real state the
country is in.
On the road out of Harare proper we pass swathes of people
walking out the
city. They stick their thumbs up for a lift as we pass. Due
inflation, finding local transport in Harare is about as
easy as finding a
bus in a London snowdrift. Cars are broken down, fuel is a
luxury and if you
catch a local bus the chances are you'll be getting out to
push every time
it stops - which from my experience of African buses will be
Apparently to catch a bus the short ride into town costs $1 for 2
you have to travel with a partner to make it worthwhile - that is
if you can
find yourself a dollar in the first place. It's really no wonder
people are trying to hitch a ride with us!
As we steam out
of town on the highway we enter lush countryside, picked out
famous rock formations. They look familiar and then I
realise that they also
grace the face of the 10 trillion dollar bill in my
pocket. We pass clusters
of small supermarkets and peering in I can see the
Since the government's approval for the use of foreign exchange,
is paid for in US dollars or South African rand. These precious
like gold dust and so for the smaller shop owners and poorer
foreign currency isn't making much
Unexpectedly, my first impressions of the suburb we're
visiting are quite
heart-warming: rows of neatly tended gardens, children
playing hopscotch in
the street and parents looking on watchfully as they
sit together and chat
in the afternoon sun. But things are not what they
The gardens and in fact every spare inch of earth around is crammed
maize, growing tall and green. Demand for maize (used to make sadza the
nation's staple dish - looks like porridge, tastes like mashed potato) is so
high that people have been trading their only cattle for just a few bags.
This impromptu and unbalanced bartering system is a result of the financial
crisis and constitutes an extreme coping strategy.
The children are
playing in the street because most have not returned to
school after their
extended Christmas holiday. Without proper wages many
have left the country. Those remaining are mostly too
busy surviving to
teach children that cannot afford to pay school fees in
Many parents I meet are unable to pay these fees or find enough
goods to pay
in kind with. As a result their children simply haven't been
able to resume
their education. For a nation whose education system was once
example in Africa, with 90 percent primary enrolment rate, this is
We paid a visit to a local school that we are
supporting with education
materials, training and an
early-childhood-development programme - something
the government has said
should be available in every school, but because of
the recent economic
disaster this initiative has received virtually no
zero classroom (as it's known) is characterised by bare walls,
appropriate furniture or anything resembling toys and games; the
supported teachers making the best of a desperate situation with
and songs - a far cry from the nursery education provided back in
I spoke to the head-teacher who is preparing for the best
but fearing the
worst. Her dynamic and positive nature is emulated in the
school motto -
"It's better to have a target and miss than to have no target
While we discussed our programme she tended to parents enquiring
ways that they could pay their child's fees. She told us about the
lack of toilets and broken borehole, which have made ensuring
a serious challenge in the face of the cholera
The cholera epidemic in Zimbabwe has now killed over 3,000
infected over 60,000. This is the worst outbreak in Africa for 15
is forecast to continue for the whole of 2009.
like this one don't receive support to bring the water and
up to scratch soon, serious risk could be posed to
teachers and students;
many schools are not even able to raise the funds for
mops, buckets and
In some areas public gatherings are banned because of cholera
fears and one
infected child in school could lead to a devastating outbreak;
is seen as vital by the local communities and so no one wants
the schools to
Like this head-teacher, every Zimbabwean I've
met has been extremely
determined, dedicated and optimistic about their
country. Perhaps people
feel that things can now surely only get better.