International Herald Tribune
The Associated PressPublished: February 26, 2008
HARARE, Zimbabwe: The United States has expressed concern over "ominous
signs" Zimbabwe was unprepared to hold free and fair elections next month,
U.S. officials said Tuesday.
In an open letter released by the U.S. Embassy, Ambassador James McGee said
the U.S. government shared the concerns a wide variety of organizations have
expressed about the political environment surrounding the March 29
presidential, parliamentary and local council elections.
Inadequate preparation, voter confusion and evidence of registration
irregularities were evident, McGee said.
Also, "the violence of the past year will inevitably affect the campaign and
the election," he said.
"Despite all these ominous signs, however, we urge all Zimbabweans to vote,"
The government has not officially responded to McGee, but the state Herald
newspaper, a government mouthpiece, on Tuesday described his remarks as "an
unwarranted" and unwanted lecture.
Zimbabweans "do not need Uncle Sam's supervision. The days of master and
slave are long gone, or hadn't you noticed," said the paper.
In neighboring South Africa, the Zimbabwean ambassador accused critics of
his government, especially the U.S. and the United Kingdom, of funding the
opposition and crippling the country with sanctions.
"From the West's point of view, the electoral process in Zimbabwe can only
be free and fair if and as when President Mugabe and his ZANU-PF have been
removed from office," Ambassador Simon Khaya Moyo told journalists and
diplomats in Pretoria, South Africa. "They cannot be free and fair unless
London or Washington says so."
In Zimbabwe, the independent Zimbabwe Media Monitoring Project reported in
its latest bulletin in the past week the state broadcaster carried 72
positive reports on the ruling party and seven mostly critical reports on
the opposition Movement for Democratic Change.
Zimbabwe's sole broadcaster is state run and the only independent daily
newspaper and three independent weeklies have been shut down under sweeping
State television news reports devoted 52 minutes to the ruling party and
less than four minutes to the main opposition and two minutes to other
political groups, according to the media monitoring group.
Just over four weeks from the poll, independent election monitors said
boundaries of new voting districts remained unclear, official maps were not
widely available for inspection by candidates and chronic shortages of
money, gasoline, materials and logistical support hindered election
organizers and opposition campaigners.
The ruling party was favored in the distribution of gasoline by the state
fuel procurement monopoly, the National Oil Company, and openly used
government vehicles, other "public resources" and donations of plows and
other agricultural equipment paid for by the government in its campaigning,
said the independent Zimbabwe Election Support Network.
Monitors reported "chaotic" election preparations in some areas and
virtually no voter education or other election activities in several distant
But in the remote area of Honde valley in eastern Zimbabwe, ruling party
campaigners for Vice President Joyce Mujuru distributed scarce cooking oil,
salt, sugar and the corn meal staple to villagers in portions measured in
cups and small containers, witnesses said.
The ruling party raised 3 trillion Zimbabwe dollars (about US$250,000 or
€170,000 at the dominant black market exchange rate) for President Robert
Mugabe's 84th birthday party in southern Zimbabwe on Saturday.
Associated Press Writer Celean Jacobson contributed to this report from
Pretoria, South Africa.
Tue 26 Feb 2008, 17:06 GMT
By Paul Simao
PRETORIA (Reuters) - Zimbabwe's government accused Prime Minister Gordon
Brown on Tuesday of stoking political tensions ahead of its March 29 general
election to try to force "regime change" in the southern African country.
In a briefing in Pretoria, Zimbabwe's ambassador to South Africa presented
what he said was a letter from Brown to the Law Society in which he is said
to promise to continue funding Zimbabwean groups working for "democratic
"Clearly such effort is meant to fuel tensions towards the March 29
plebiscite in Zimbabwe," Ambassador Simon Khaya Moyo told South Africa's
Institute of Security Studies, an independent think-tank.
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe often accuses Western powers, especially
former colonial ruler Britain, of working with the opposition to bring him
down. Britain accuses him of human rights abuses and ruining a once
British Law Society spokesman Steve Rudaini confirmed Brown had written to
Andrew Holroyd, the group's president, concerning the situation in Zimbabwe.
Rudaini said the letter was no longer available and had been previously
published in error.
In London, the Foreign Office said Britain provided substantial resources to
support Zimbabweans especially in the areas of human rights and democratic
"We will continue to support them just as we will continue to make
representations to the government of Zimbabwe when those who advocate reform
are beaten and arrested by the state police," a Foreign Office spokeswoman
British officials indicated separately that the letter was authentic.
Moyo said Britain and the United States were trying to bring about "regime
change". He said Zimbabweans would not tolerate interference in their
The British and U.S. governments have been sharply critical of Mugabe, who
has ruled Zimbabwe for 28 years. They and other Western nations have imposed
sanctions on Mugabe and his top officials.
The 84-year-old Zimbabwean leader is running for another five-year term in
the elections next month. He has vowed to crush his rivals, including former
finance minister Simba Makoni and MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai.
Both Makoni and Tsvangirai have promised to rescue Zimbabwe's economy, which
has been devastated by annual inflation of over 100,000 percent,
unemployment of more than 80 percent and chronic food and fuel shortages.
But the failure of the opposition to form a united front has strengthened
Moyo said Mugabe's government would not contest the results of the election
if the MDC won the polls.
(Additional reporting by Adrian Croft; Editing by Matthew Tostevin)
Mail and Guardian
Carol Hills | Pretoria, South Africa
26 February 2008 03:49
There was no dictator in Zimbabwe, just unwelcome outside
interference, its ambassador to South Africa Simon Khaya Moyo said in
Pretoria on Tuesday.
Britain and the United States were backing the opposition
financially because they wanted President Robert Mugabe out of power over
his land reforms, Moyo told an Institute for Security Studies briefing ahead
of the country's presidential election on March 29.
He questioned to what extent this "external hand" was
influencing "unexplained, wayward behaviour" by the opposition.
"That is primarily the reason why the Zimbabwean people have for
long been decrying the death of patriotic opposition with the capacity to
come up with a national agenda and home-grown solutions to our problems," he
It was only the people of Zimbabwe who could, through the
ballot, tell the world whom they thought had their best interests at heart.
"The will of the people must manifest freely, uncontaminated by
From the outside, the picture being portrayed of Zimbabwe "is
one of a bad situation which should not be allowed to continue".
"The idea is to wage a massive media campaign against Zimbabwe
and with the economic hardships, the people would be expected to vote out
the president and Zanu-PF."
Moyo said Zimbabwe had a voter population of 5 612 464 on
December 4 last year. The voter's roll was still open and was being
inspected by the Zimbabwe Election Commission.
Four candidates, including Mugabe, are contesting the elections.
Moyo said security had been tightened ahead of the poll and that
the carrying of dangerous weapons, including machetes, knives and guns, had
Overall, the situation was "peaceful" except for minor
skirmishes "usually involving youth from either side of the political divide
who engage in acts of provocation", sometimes to attract publicity, he said,
adding that the perpetrators had been arrested.
Moyo praised President Thabo Mbeki's role in mediating between
Zanu-PF and its opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change to
bring about free and fair elections.
He dismissed as "some mischief intended to derail the elections"
an MDC charge that Mbeki had not been an honest broker.
"... We go along with the words of advice of the South African
government that the Zimbabwean side needs to talk more now than before."
Blaming the country's economic difficulties in the past seven
years on drought, a severe shortage of foreign currency and a
hyper-inflationary environment, he said this had created a hostile
environment to business operations with a resultant reduced export capacity.
Sanctions had cost the country access to "much needed lines of
"It is given that the powers that be with the muscle to do so,
would have wanted economics to be a factor in the elections, influencing
people to vote against the ruling party and [Mugabe]," he said.
However he was confident that "the people will not be hoodwinked
to turn against each other in a lethal manner".
Outside interference had to be "reduced and resisted" at all
Moyo gave the assurance that the ruling party would accept the
outcome of the elections even if it lost.
Asked whether the country would erupt into violence should the
ruling party lose, he said: "If Zimbabwe catches fire, everyone will burn,"
adding that this included people with United States dollars and British
pounds in their pockets.
He invited "interested media houses and organisations" to
observe the elections.
"We want to see a clean election. Observers must come and do a
thorough job, a professional job," he said. - Sapa
HARARE (AFP)--Zimbabwe's police chief Augustine Chihuri said Tuesday his
force was prepared to use firearms to stamp out violence during joint
presidential and legislative elections next month.
Chihuri said police could invoke the public order and security act which
allows an officer to use a firearm "if he finds other methods to be
ineffective or inappropriate."
Chihuri urged political parties to abide by the law to avoid clashes with
police in the run-up to joint presidential, parliamentary, senate and local
council polls March 29.
"In certain circumstances we are also empowered to use force including use
of firearms," he told journalists at police headquarters in the capital
In December, President Robert Mugabe urged his supporters to refrain from
violence in the polls and similar exhortations by opposition leader Morgan
Tsvangirai at the launch of his party's election campaign Saturday.
"There has been talk in some opposition circles and civic organizations of
street protests or Kenya-style riots if the ballot does not go in favor of
one's political party," police Chihuri said.
"Machetes, axes, bows and arrows cannot put anybody into office. We will
never allow that to happen in this country.
"We will nip it in the bud. We are adequately resourced to cover this
In Kenya, at least 1,500 people have died and tens of thousands have been
displaced since Dec. 27, when post-election violence erupted after
allegations of vote-rigging.
Zimbabwe's security forces have in recent years used brute force to break up
protests by Mugabe's opponents.
The country's last presidential elections in 2002, won by Mugabe amid claims
of vote rigging, were marred by widespread violence which left several
people dead and thousands injured.
Earlier this month police banned the carrying of dangerous weapons in public
to prevent violence.
(END) Dow Jones Newswires 02-26-080759ET
By Tererai Karimakwenda
27 February, 2008
The Zimbabwe Youth Network (ZYN) and the National Constitutional Assembly
(NCA) have announced that there will be a huge demonstration at the Zimbabwe
Consulate in Jo'burg on Wednesday, one day before another protest is due at
the same location on Thursday. The Wednesday protest is being supported by
numerous Zimbabwean groups, including the Crisis Coalition, Zimbabwe
Political Victims Organisation (Zipovo), Civil Service Organisations Forum
and both formations of the MDC.
There have been protests at the Zimbabwe Embassy in South Africa almost
every week this month. They are demanding that Zimbabweans in the diaspora
be allowed to vote and that the elections on March 29th be conducted under
conditions that are free and fair. There are also demands for a new people
driven Constitution and for a resolution of the economic crisis that has
forced many Zimbabweans to look for better opportunities outside the
Munjodzi Mutandiri of the Zimbabwe Youth Network, organisers of the
Wednesday event, said they plan to deliver a petition with 15 demands that
they want the Zimbabwe authorities to address in the next two weeks. He said
if the demands were not met their members and those from other supporting
organisations would carry out an action that will shut down the embassy.
Mutandiri would not specify what this action would be. He simply said: "The
action is already drafted on paper and we have started mobilising the people
because we know how this government has acted in the past, very dishonestly.
We've had enough. It's time to break the silence."
This is the same threat and demands that were delivered to the Zimbabwean
ambassador to South Africa, Simon Khaya Moyo, by the Zimbabwe Revolutionary
Youth Movement, organisers of the Thursday protest.
The Wednesday protest at the Zimbabwe Embassy will be from 10:00 a.m. until
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
By Tichaona Sibanda
26 February 2008
There are reports that 'angry' protesters who are against Zanu-PF's
continued misrule in the country are pulling down Robert Mugabe's posters
and banners in most urban areas.
The ruling party has accused the MDC of conspiring with residents to pull
down posters bearing Mugabe's face, but the opposition party has denied any
Our Harare correspondent Simon Muchemwa said he has witnessed many defaced
ruling party election posters around the capital. He said angry residents
have told him it is an insult by Zanu-PF to put up posters and banners when
the city has no water and electricity.
'They are saying to Zanu-PF bring back water and electricity before wasting
money on material for their election campaign. There is growing resentment
against Zanu-PF in most urban areas and people are saying they get incensed
when they see their posters put up in trees and on lamp posts,' Muchemwa
He said police have recently increased their foot patrols to try and prevent
people from pulling down election posters. Muchemwa also reiterated fears
that next month's harmonised elections would be marred by serious logistical
problems, amid reports the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission are completely
failing to perform their duties.
With a month to go to elections many questions are still being raised about
the ability of ZEC to prepare and fully inform voters, because of lack of
resources, especially funding.
'Up to now new constituency and ward boundaries are still to be made public.
As you are aware, the ZEC introduced a localised voters' roll, requiring
voters to cast their votes at prescribed voting stations but the electoral
body has yet to publish a full list of the polling stations,' Muchemwa said.
'Its now weeks before the crucial poll, but there isn't anything on the
ground to suggest Zimbabweans are going to vote on the 29th of next month.
There is no voter education, no one knows were to go and cast their votes
and worse still nobody knows how people will use the ballot papers, voting
for four different candidates at once,' Muchemwa said.
The Zimbabwe Electoral Support Network, the country's largest independent
observer group, has been highly critical of ZEC. Two weeks ago they released
a report detailing serious deficiencies in preparations so far. ZESN argued
that weeks after voter registration ended, the ZEC has yet to provide a
final report on how many people are registered.
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
By Dr Alex T. Magaisa
Last updated: 02/27/2008 05:19:10
A WEEK ago, the MDC Treasurer General, Roy Bennett, gave an interview to
Violet Gonda on SW Radio Africa's informative 'Hot Seat Programme'.
One salient aspect of the fascinating exchange was Bennett's indication of
clear displeasure at what he saw as the 'imposition' of Simba Makoni on the
electorate by what he referred to as 'the diplomatic community'.
Of Tsvangirai, Bennett is quoted as saying, "he is going to shock the world,
shock the chattering class, shock the Diplomatic Community that all try to
impose people of their choice rather than listening to the grassroots of
Zimbabwe and the people of Zimbabwe".
On being asked who the diplomatic community is trying to impose, he stated,
"They are trying to impose Simba Makoni".
Whether or not this is correct, it indicates that there is a perception
within the MDC leadership that the 'diplomatic community' is interfering in
opposition politics and trying to impose its will on the people of Zimbabwe.
This raises many questions: Why would they be trying to impose Makoni? Do
they have the power or leverage over the MDC to impose Makoni? Have they, in
the past, played a role in selecting opposition leaders? Why would the
opinion of the 'diplomatic community' cause any worries to the MDC
leadership which is confident of its local support base? Or is there a
deeper relationship here that has taken a wrong turn and if so, why?
There is, plainly, no easy answer to these questions, but one senses that
there is tension building up between the MDC and its traditional base of
external sympathisers. And that makes victory on March 29 even more
imperative given the diplomatic fallout that seems to be brewing.
It is easy to overlook the fact that this line of thought now advocated by
the MDC is not new. The reason Mugabe has been steadfast in his refusal to
allow space to the MDC is that he perceives them as puppets of the West. The
run-ins between the government and the US, UK and lately Swedish diplomatic
missions indicate the public face of this animosity and accusations.
Could these be the same powers whose diplomats the MDC alleges to be now
favouring Makoni in place of Tsvangirai? Gonda did not go further to ask
specification on the identity of these diplomats leaving the audience to
speculate on the specificities of this amorphous 'diplomatic community'.
There is, plainly, a sense of betrayal, perhaps frustration within the MDC
leadership over the intentions and activities of this undefined diplomatic
community. For a party that has enjoyed visible support from the diplomatic
community, these latest allegations reveal simmering tensions and mistrust.
But, importantly, the allegations do raise shades of a Mugabesque approach
to opponents, except that Bennett does not use the same derogatory language
often employed by Mugabe whose choice of descriptions of adversaries ranges
from puppets to prostitutes and lately frogs.
But Bennett's comments which effectively characterise Makoni as someone who
is being imposed on the electorate by the 'diplomatic community', will no
doubt find resonance, in the state media, which has been carrying similar
attacks in much the same way that it has treated Tsvangirai over the years.
There is here the irony of a so-called stooge now turning and calling
another a stooge on precisely the same basis. That being the case, it seems
to be one of those rare instances when the MDC and Zanu PF seem to be in
But in the eyes of Zanu PF, this does not exonerate the MDC from the same
charges. It simply provides further ammunition to its arsenal, arguing
perhaps that the MDC is simply acting like the petulant child who cries on
seeing his slice of the cake being given to a new sibling.
But if there is any substance in these comments, they do raise serious
concerns about the character of opposition politics in Zimbabwe. The
question that has dogged every serious opposition leader for the last decade
is whether one can actually claim to be his own man.
Zanu PF has always suggested the problem to be the opposition's lack of
independence, it being a tool to further the interests of the West. Crude
though it might be, it has been an effective method, especially among the
uninformed sections of society. It has also been effective in the community
of African leaders who, plainly, believe that Mugabe is a victim of Western
It also explains in part, why Tsvangirai has never quite found the favour he
sought from the likes of President Thabo Mbeki and fellow African leaders in
Southern Africa. It is interesting therefore, that the MDC would now resort
to the same line of argument in respect of a fellow challenger. That might
well be interpreted to its disadvantage, it being taken by its perennial
detractors to give credence to Mugabe's usual rhetoric.
The MDC may well be right about its apprehensions. But when it is trying to
manoeuvre in this treacherous terrain, it seems to make sense to also retain
a measure of diplomacy in its dealings. Bennett's comments came hardly two
weeks after another diplomatic faux pas in South Africa, when the MDC
President Morgan Tsvangirai was reported to have publicly criticised South
African leader Thabo Mbeki for not being 'a little brave' in handling
Mugabe. He may be right, but it is not helpful to appear to be humiliating a
host, to whom one is likely to return in future.
The MDC is right to say that the decision-makers are the Zimbabwean voters
and that they may well post a surprise on March 29. But surely, they have
been in the trenches long enough to know that local support needs to be
augmented by external understanding and backing. There will be a time when
they will be needed just as their material largesse has sustained the
organisational needs of the opposition and civil society groups. A lesson
learnt perhaps, would be that there is nothing like a free lunch in this
world. If there is indeed some pressure on the MDC leadership, it is perhaps
the price they are paying - a consequence of investment in a relationship
that has up to now been appeared safe and comforting.
It brings to mind the old lesson that there are no permanent friends in the
world of politics. Rather, it is only the pursuit of interests that is
permanent. It is easy to forget that although by the time he went to the
gallows Saddam Hussein was a sworn enemy, it was not always so. Even America's
most wanted, Osama Bin Laden, he too, was not always a bad apple.
There is, however, a risk here for the MDC -- one of burning bridges. Legend
has it that 'burning bridges' is a phrase that goes way back to the Roman
times. It is said that the generals of the Roman army took the practice of
burning bridges once their soldiers had crossed on their way to battle.
This, supposedly, took away any ideas of retreating that the soldiers might
otherwise have entertained. Today, it is a phrase that means that those who
burn bridges tend to place themselves in positions from which there might be
no return. This comes at great cost.
The opposition now finds itself facing more challenges, not just Mugabe but
also the simmering doubts within the traditionally friendly 'diplomatic
community'. Is there something more that the public should know? No doubt
this is only the tip of the iceberg. Sooner or later, it shall manifest.
Alex Magaisa is based at Kent Law School, UK and can be contacted at
By Fikile Mapala
Last updated: 02/26/2008 20:52:53
ZIMBABWE'S civil servants are up in arms against the government for
selectively awarding hefty pay rises to the military while excluding the
rest of its workers who are earning salaries that are far below the poverty
Union leaders threatened industrial action if their members are not awarded
salary increases similar to those received by soldiers.
President Robert Mugabe' bankrupt government this month awarded hefty pay
increases to disgruntled soldiers in an apparent move to buy their loyalty
ahead of crucial joint elections on March 29.
A survey by New Zimbabwe.com showed that soldiers got windfalls of between
$1 billion and $3 billion in salaries depending on the rank this month,
while teachers got $500 million on average, with other government workers
getting much less.
The government which employees all civil servants is also responsible for
paying the salaries of soldiers, police officers and Central Intelligence
Organization (CIO) operatives through its various employment commissions.
Government sources say CIO agents who did not receive the windfalls that
were received by soldiers this February are bitter and have sent a
delegation to approach CIO director general Happiton Bonyongwe with their
Bonyongwe has been linked with Zanu PF factional fighting, with strong
suggestions he is associated with former finance minister Simba Makoni who
has launched a bid for the country's presidency. It is believed that Mugabe
now prefers working with Bonyongwe's deputies and trusted army brigadiers on
all matters of state security. Bonyongwe, Finance Minister Samuel
Mumbengegwi and Rtd Major Kudzai Mbudzi, one of Makoni's top advisers, are
all married to sisters.
The leader of the pro-government Zimbabwe Teachers Association (ZIMTA)
Tendai Chikowore warned that teachers will embark on a full-scale industrial
action if the government does not urgently undertake to review their
salaries in line with what was awarded to soldiers.
Chikowore said: "Our members are now very impatient. We are consulting all
provinces this week and I must say we are under pressure to call for
"Our members now suspect that the employer is deliberately choosing to
underpay teachers while other government employees are smiling all the way
to the bank every month."
ZIMTA which is now threatening to go on strike has in the past distanced
itself from strike action spearheaded by its rival, the PTUZ, claiming it
The militant Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) accuses the Zanu
PF government of being "insensitive and discriminatory" by giving soldiers
hefty salaries while "impoverished teachers and other civil servants get
peanuts every month."
PTUZ secretary general Raymond Majongwe said President Robert Mugabe's
government was using salaries as an electioneering tool to buy the loyalty
of other employees and punishing others.
Majongwe said: "What is happening in the public service is very sad. We have
a situation were Mugabe is giving soldiers a lot of money ahead of everyone
else as a way of buying their allegiance in the event that the forthcoming
elections are disputed."
He added: "We are aware that Mugabe is planning to rig the elections in
March because he must win at all costs. On the other hand he believes that
teachers do not deserve salaries because they are agents of regime change.
That is ridiculous."
Majongwe who was hospitalised last Tuesday after he was brutally assaulted
by Zanu PF youth militias in Harare said it was "tragic" that teachers were
being viewed and treated like enemies of the state by the government.
He said he hoped leaders of other public service workers unions would soon
see the light and join the PTUZ call for confrontation with the government.
Public Service Association (PSA) boss Cecilia Alexander-Khowa said members
of her association were bitter after being sidelined in the pay review.
Khowa said: "Our members are very bitter because they are saying the
employer is showing favouritism when dealing with the employees. We under
extreme pressure to reach an agreement with government and the issue
requires urgent attention."
She added: "We are members of the same family and for the past 28 or so
years we have always been treated the same with the uniformed forces. We can
not rule out anything because government employees are very angry to say the
The PSA represents the rest of the government employees outside the
uniformed forces and teachers.
Teachers are now pushing for a gross salary of $1.7 billion from $520
million given earlier this month. PTUZ officials have justified the new
salary demands by teachers saying they believe these demands are reasonable
in the context of the current hyperinflationary environment and the
escalating cost of living.
Nurses, doctors and other professionals are leaving Zimbabwe in large
numbers in search of better paying jobs in Botswana, South Africa, Britain,
Australia and the United States among other countries.
Tuesday 26 February 2008, by Bruce Sibanda
Zanu PF, desparate to win the March 29 election at all costs has
resorted to its tried and tested tactic of using food to buy votes. With the
Southern African nation facing another drought, despite a good rainfall
season, it is importing tonnes and tonnes of grain from neigbouring
Malawi is one of them together with Zambia and South Africa. But instead of
the grian being distributed to all needy Zimbabweans, Robert Mugabe's Zanu
PF is using grain as a political tool to woo voters. Maize from Malawi is
such a tool for Zanu PF. Withholding food from opponents is nothing new for
the Zanu PF.
About 350 000 tonnes of maize imported from Malawi is been kept at Grain
Marketing Board (GMB) depots around the country. Six haulage trucks came
through the Nyamapanda border post at the weekend from Malawi.
Tendai Biti, Secretary General, Morgan Tsvangirai, of the Movement for
Democratic Change faction says maize from Malawi is being distributed to
Zanu PF supporters only instead to all Zimbabweans. "Maize sold by the
Malawi government to Zimbabwe has not helped the people of the country
fairly. It is being abused by distributing to the electorate countrywide.
"As opposition, if we take over power, we will have difficulties to pay the
Malawi government because they have played part in the political aggression
by Mugabe and ZANU-PF. Malawi, itself is running short of maize and is
rationing the grain nation-wide, exported 300 000 metric tonnes of maize to
Zimbabwe and is yet to fulfil a 100,000 metric tonnes export to cover the
required 400,000 Mt.
Senior officials at the GMB depot in Harare confirm that close to 200,000
tonnes of maize is ready to be dispatched for Mugabe's campaign. It has also
been established that depots in Karoi, Murehwa, Bindura, Chegutu and
Marondera have been hoarding stocks.
However, defiant Mugabe told his supporters on Saturday that his party would
win the elections "resoundingly" and he was ready for a fight with those who
criticised his presidency.
Malawi leader Bingu Mutharika who has Bineth, a personal farm in Zimbabwe,
signed the contractual agreement with the Zimbabwe Government that offered a
US$10 million line of credit. In Karoi, John Mafa, a senior ruling ZANU PF
party politician has directed GMB to sell maize-meal through councillors.
All are members of his party.
Mafa, a chairman of ZANU PF in Mashonaland West province under which Karoi
falls and is also provincial GMB manager, confirmed ordering the company to
sell the staple food through ward councillors. He said the move was not
meant to buy support for ZANU PF but rather to ensure that all hungry people
got a chance to buy cheaper priced maize-meal from the GMB.
''Councillors have well known structures so that undeserving elements in the
wards cannot take advantage of our sincerity. We have many people who are
just cropping up in these wards but councillors know who is who there and
who deserves what,'' he said.
Mafa, insists that everyone would get a chance to buy maize-meal regardless
of which party they supported. MDC officials in Karoi say ZANU PF councilors
are busy compiling lists of people to receive maize-meal during campaign
meetings of the ruling party, leaving supporters of the opposition in the
cold. MDC provincial treasurer Biggie Haurobi said ''Our members are being
denied maize-meal by ruling party councillors as the lists are drawn up
during their ward party rallies."
From The Guardian (UK), 26 February
Anglican split deepens after Mugabe's security forces back renegade
Chris McGreal in Harare
The Rev Christopher Tapera laid his altar on a wooden table outside the
granite walls of Harare's Anglican cathedral and told the assembled
worshippers that if they wanted to find the devil they only needed to look
toward the locked and barred church. "The bishop is the devil in disguise.
He has been sent by the devil to destroy the church. The devil is living in
the cathedral," said the priest. The worshippers locked out of the cathedral
for Sunday's service generally agreed that it was Satan's work. But the
devil many had in mind was Robert Mugabe, as a politically driven battle for
control of Zimbabwe's Anglican church mirrors the country's history with its
own unilateral declaration of independence, land grabs and a stolen
election. The Anglican church, the second largest denomination in Zimbabwe,
has split after the bishop of Harare, Nolbert Kunonga, declared an
independent diocese, ostensibly in a stand against the tolerance of
homosexuality by Anglicans in Britain and the US. But the clash is more
widely seen as a struggle over the church's efforts to rid itself of
Kunonga, 58, who has called for the killing of Mugabe's opponents, taken
over a white-owned farm and inaugurated unqualified priests and bishops who
had led a campaign of violence against dissenting congregations. Last month,
the Church of the Province of Central Africa dismissed Kunonga as bishop.
But the sacked clergyman refused to relinquish control of the cathedral or
the accounts and has launched flying attacks on services at churches that
refuse to recognise his authority.
The new bishop of Harare, Sebastian Bakare, was installed at a ceremony in a
sports centre because access to the cathedral was blocked by heavily built
men who described themselves as Kunonga's bodyguards. The police refused to
act on a high court order giving Bakare access to the church. "The same
methods used to invade the farms is the method used by Kunonga to invade our
cathedral," said Bakare. "It's very much politically driven. Political
involvement is clear in the way that Kunonga promised to deliver the diocese
to Zanu PF [the ruling party]. His protection from arrest is telling, even
though he is defying high court orders left and right." In contrast, the
police last week did arrest the high court's deputy sheriff as he arrived
with bolt-cutters to enforce a writ permitting Bakare to hold a service in
the cathedral. The police then baton-charged and detained the congregation.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Right Rev Rowan Williams, waded into the
affair by calling on Kunonga to "look into his soul" and condemning "the use
of state machinery to intimidate opponents of the deposed bishop of Harare".
But Kunonga defended his alignment with Mugabe by saying the Anglican
authorities were a colonial relic defending the interests of whites whose
farms were confiscated. "The west should stop demonising Mr Mugabe. He is a
man who was democratically elected and redistributed land which the white
man had taken away," he said.
Kunonga was appointed bishop of Harare seven years ago after a disputed
election saw him beat a popular white critic of Mugabe's human rights
abuses. He promptly used his new position to eulogise Zimbabwe's president
and purge the church of more than half its trained priests, some of whom
were driven into exile in England. In their place he ordained men with
little theological training, including Zanu PF officials, two cabinet
ministers and students expelled from the Roman Catholic seminary. As
hostility to Kunonga grew, he became the first Anglican priest in Africa for
a century to be hauled before a special ecclesiastical court to answer
accusations, almost all from black parishioners, of inciting violence
against Mugabe's opponents, intimidating critics and misusing church funds.
The court adjourned in disarray after Kunonga's legal team lodged 17 pages
of technical complaints. A Malawian supreme court judge hearing the case,
James Kalaile, resigned, saying: "I have not in my years as a judge in
Malawi or elsewhere heard anything like this dispute. I will contact the
archbishop and ask him to appoint another judge." The court did not sit
again. Kunonga was rewarded for his loyalty with a sprawling white-owned
farm near Harare, from which he promptly evicted 40 black workers and their
families. But realising that a growing tide of hostility within the church
threatened his position, Kunonga unilaterally declared the Harare diocese
independent and began laying the ground for his elevation to archbishop of a
breakaway Anglican church.
As the two Anglican factions battled for control of church property, a high
court judge, Rita Makarau, last month ordered Kunonga to give Bakare and the
majority of Anglicans who support him access to all churches in Harare. In
her ruling she said the legal fight "gives the impression that the church
has lost its focus, and instead of fighting the good fight and seeking the
kingdom of God first, church members are fighting each other and are seeking
earthly power and control of church assets". But Harare's chief police
officer, Fortune Zengeni, sent a letter to Anglican churches ordering that
only priests aligned with Kunonga be permitted to hold services. He said he
did so on the orders of the country's police commissioner, Augustine
Chihuri, a close ally of Mugabe. State security agents and riot police broke
up services by priests opposed to Kunonga. In December, a group of Kunonga
supporters, including three priests, descended on St Andrew's parish church,
beat up parishioners holding a meeting, and told the priest, also a Kunonga
backer, he was no longer wanted and confiscated the keys to the church
residence and car. The divisions are starkly illustrated at St Luke's
parish, where the rector and the curate, who support rival camps, both live
within the church grounds. The Kunonga-supporting curate, Barnabas
Machingauta, holds Sunday services attended only by his wife, children and
maid. The rector, Thomas Madeyi, preaches two hours later to a full house.
Kunonga attempted to take over St Luke's last month. As the service began he
threw the religious artefacts from the altar to the floor, sat on a chair in
front of it and harangued the congregation. Madeyi could not believe what he
"The police arrived and Kunonga told them to arrest me for defying him as
bishop for refusing to hand over the church keys," he said. "The police said
we had to stop everything. If you are not for Kunonga you cannot pray in the
church. So we moved to the church hall and started praying there. Kunonga
called the police back and they arrested me for disturbing the peace because
I wouldn't cooperate with Kunonga." Kunonga says the confrontations will end
because he claims total authority over the churches no matter what the high
court says. "After the several meetings that we had, the skirmishes will be
a thing of the past," he said. "No unlicensed priest will go and conduct a
church service at any parish. No parallel services will be allowed in the
parishes." But with almost every congregation in Harare against him, Kunonga
installed a clutch of new bishops at the weekend. They include Morris Brown
Gwedegwe, whom Kunonga sacked several years ago for misusing church funds,
and Alfred Munyani, a lay preacher who became a priest less than two years
ago. Just a week earlier, Munyani had been one of those accused of
assaulting worshippers who had tried to pray at the cathedral.
Mail and Guardian
Johannesburg, South Africa
26 February 2008 08:42
There is a higher recruitment drive in Zimbabwe's engineering
and related sectors due to skills flight than in any other sector, the
state-controlled Herald reported on Tuesday.
The newspaper's survey showed that since the beginning of the
year, the engineering field has accounted for 47% of job advertisements in
the press, while safety, health and environment has accounted for 20%,
education for 12%, the medical field for 3%, finance and marketing for 11%
and secretarial and administration for 7%.
Mining firms accounted for the highest number of ads for the
engineering sector "because of the development taking place in the sector
and generally the replacement of lost skills".
Peter Kipps of Kipps Employment Agency told the Herald that
companies across all sectors were losing people all the time, but artisans
were emigrating to South Africa where there are big construction
opportunities because of the 2010 Soccer World Cup.
"Obviously the main reason would be that some of these countries
are offering better conditions, but the major drawback is that local
companies cannot afford to increase salaries in light of the rising
production cost base."
Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company
managing director Ernest Muchayi said that Zimbabwe's state-run power
company, Zesa Holdings, as a whole had been hit by a flight of engineers to
neighbouring and overseas countries.
The new global economy is being built around talented people
with special knowledge and skills and measures taken to offset existing
incentives for skilled or highly educated people to emigrate have
unfortunately had an almost zero success rate because of the weak currency,
the Herald said.
Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries president Callisto Jokonya
said that there was "too much brain drain to the extent that policymakers
cannot ignore such a phenomenon".
"We are losing even the science teachers who train technicians,"
he said. -- Sapa
MISA-Zimbabwe notes the confusion that has arisen on the legality of the
recent announcement by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) pertaining to
the accreditation of journalists and observers ahead of the general
elections slated for 29 March 2008.
In its public notice, ZEC is demanding that it will only process the
accreditation of journalists that are accredited with the state-controlled
Media and Information Commission. Therein lies the source of the confusion
that has left several journalists lost on how best to proceed against that
conundrum as the MIC has since been stripped of such powers. In fact, the
MIC ceased to exist on 11 January 2008 when President Robert Mugabe signed
the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Amendment Act No. 20 of
The MIC is a creation of the repressive Access to Information and Protection
of Privacy Act (AIPPA) which was promulgated in 2002. However the recent
amendments to AIPPA did away with the MIC. In its place will be the Zimbabwe
Media Commission (ZMC) which will be composed of nine members who shall all
be appointed by the President from a list of not fewer than 12 nominees
submitted by the Parliamentary Committee on Standing Rules and Orders.
The ZMC which is empowered with the accreditation of journalists is still to
It is therefore MISA-Zimbabwe's considered view that ZEC's position
concerning the accreditation of journalists is of no legal force as it is
improper, unprocedural and unnecessary in the circumstances for the
. According to the extra-ordinary gazette of 11 January 2008, President
Robert Mugabe signed into law the Access to Information and Protection of
Privacy Amendment Act No. 20 of 2007. It is that amendment which did away
with the MIC. Therefore anything purportedly done by the MIC after 11
January 2008 should be declared null and void.
. The effect of the coming into operation of the AIPPA Amendment is to bring
in the Zimbabwe Media Commission (ZMC). However the ZMC has not yet been
constituted because parliament has taken a recess awaiting dissolution on 28
March 2008. There is no accrediting authority in place to issue the
accreditation cards being demanded by ZEC to facilitate the coverage of the
elections by journalists.
. MISA-Zimbabwe further notes that journalists who were accredited before 11
January 2008 are privileged under AIPPA to cover national events. An
election, in our view, is one such national event which does not need
further accreditation by ZEC or any other body. ZEC's demands for the
production of MIC accreditation cards can only be viewed as attempts to
curtail scrutiny of the election process by restricting media freedom to
cover the 29 March 2008 general elections.
MISA-Zimbabwe reiterates its position that the amendments made to AIPPA by
the ruling ZANU PF and the two factions of the opposition MDC did not in
anyway democratise the offending law in question. The amendments were not
only cosmetic but retained the same repressive clauses that give the state
the power to determine who can and cannot work as a journalist in Zimbabwe.
A number of journalists, both local and foreign, will fail to cover the
elections. This is compounded by ZEC's failure to decentralise the
accreditation of journalists which is only restricted to Harare and
Bulawayo. The failure of the media to operate freely will in turn mean that
the coming elections will not be free and fair as access to receive and
impart information is an integral element in the conduct of free and fair
elections. MISA-Zimbabwe reiterates that elections are not an event but a
process that begins with the preparations and the electoral campaigns that
should be covered by the media.
It is therefore not the act of casting the ballot alone that determines the
outcome of an election but whether citizens were afforded an opportunity to
receive different messages pertaining to the elections. These illegal
actions by both the MIC and ZEC are a clear indication that the March 2008
elections will not be free and fair.
The continued existence of the Tafataona Mahoso led Media and Information
Commission is not only illegal but an affront to media and freedom of
For any questions, enquiries and comments on this please contact
MISA-Zimbabwe phone 00 263 4 77 61 65, 746 838, email@example.com ,
By Tichaona Sibanda
26 February 2008
An MDC government led by Morgan Tsvangirai would add the word 'Service' to
the name of the police, to restore public confidence and a sense of security
from a restructured Zimbabwe Republic Police Service.
In its election manifesto launched on Saturday in Mutare, the MDC said once
elected into power, they would immediately provide a comprehensive national
police service to ensure safety and security of person and property.
The architect of this policy document, Sam Sipepa Nkomo the MDC secretary
for Home Affairs, told Newsreel they would get rid of the word 'force' from
the police in a new Zimbabwe. He said a new government would entrust them to
provide 'service' and not 'force' to the peace loving people in Zimbabwe.
'The Zimbabwe Republic Police has a proud record of service and achievement
and has in the past been recognised as one of the best police services in
Africa. Today an insidious process of politicization, low pay and poor
working conditions, as well as a decline in both training and the provision
of essential support services, are spoiling this record,' Nkomo said. He
said their party manifesto noted that as a consequence, community support -
so crucial to an effective policing system - had broken down and crime was
not being tackled effectively.
On leadership and senior staff appointments, the manifesto says it is
critical for the restoration of the police service that it is apolitical and
that all promotions should be on merit only. It has lost two thirds of its
experienced and properly trained officers in the past five years and a
massive recruitment and training programme is required to bring it to full
'Such a programme would be achieved by seeking a special relationship with
police services in countries with similar historical and legal background.
It may also be necessary to recall retired police officers to active duty
and to request the assignment of senior staff from other police services
elsewhere in the world,' added Nkomo.
Nkomo is the MDC parliamentary candidate for Lobengula in Bulawayo.
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
Tuesday, 26 February 2008 15:14
Ten years ago, South Africa's President Thabo Mbeki attracted the
world's attention when he announced the arrival of the African Renaissance,
writes Moeletsi Mbeki in the Sunday Standard, Botswana.
But when the much-heralded renaissance actually arrived in Zimbabwe
two years later, in February 2000, and threatened the power of Zanu-PF,
South Africa's leaders took fright and became paralysed as President Robert
Mugabe set out to extinguish by force the nascent Renaissance.
This paralysis eventually acquired a name: it became known as South
Africa's "quiet diplomacy". Meanwhile, Mugabe went about systematically
terrorising the supporters of the opposition, the agents of the African
Renaissance and wrecked his country's economy, with predictable results. A
quarter of Zimbabwe's people fled to neighbouring countries, that is,
Zambia, Malawi, Mozambique, Botswana, but especially to its bigger and
richer neighbour, South Africa.
The South African government estimates that between two and
three-million Zimbabweans now live in SA, mainly as illegal immigrants. Let
us imagine that as a result of certain actions by a Chinese government,
100-million Chinese took flight to India, another 100-million poured into
Russia and a further 100-million into Japan. If this were to happen between
China and its three neighbours, the outcome would be predictable. Japan,
India and Russia would form a military alliance and in no time their armies
would force out the offending regime in Beijing.
Proportionally, the 300-million Chinese referred to equates to the
size of the population that has fled Zimbabwe's economic and political
crises and taken refuge in the neighbouring countries. Far from the
governments of Zimbabwe's neighbouring states calling the Zanu-PF government
to order, they take every available occasion to wine and dine Zimbabwe's
president, Robert Mugabe. They even go so far as to demand that the rest of
the world must also wine and dine him. Southern African governments recently
demanded that Mugabe be invited by Portugal to the Europe-Africa Summit in
Lisbon last year (December 8-9) despite the travel ban to Europe by the
European Union on Mugabe and his cronies. Why are Zimbabwe's neighbours
mollycoddling the very man who is destabilising the Southern African region?
The simple answer is shortsighted leadership in Southern Africa, coupled
with fear of emerging more democratic political forces in Zimbabwe. As
Zimbabwean society became increasingly more sophisticated, its citizens
became better educated and more prosperous; they also demanded a greater say
in how their country was run.
The emergence of these new, well-organised, cosmopolitan and vocal
constituencies that were no longer interested in the politics of race, but
in the accountability of governance, has struck fear in the hearts of
established rulers, not only in Zimbabwe, but in the whole of Southern
It is this fear of fundamental social and political change that
explains Southern African governments' solidarity with Zanu-PF and Mugabe.
Southern Africa is unique in Africa in that most of its countries are
still ruled by nationalist parties that fought against colonialism. These
ruling parties: Zanu-PF in Zimbabwe; MPLA in Angola; CCM in Tanzania;
Frelimo in Mozambique; BDP in Botswana; ANC in SA; or Swapo in Namibia,
consider themselves to be entitled to rule their countries forever by virtue
of having struggled against colonialism. Their attitude to the mass of the
people is paternalistic and they do not accept that they should be
accountable to them. The new ANC president, Jacob Zuma, recently prophesied
the ANC would rule South Africa at least until the Second Coming of Jesus
Christ. All this is, of course, shortsighted and largely futile. Nationalist
parties and their governments in Southern Africa can no more stop the march
of progress and history any more than the colonialists before them could.
During 1998-99, the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU), with the
support of many non-profit civil society organisations, established the
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), a new political party. MDC's key
objectives were to fight for a more democratic constitution, to combat
corruption and to re-organise the grossly mismanaged national economy. The
new party received support from many prominent Zimbabweans in the
professions, trade, industry, media and agriculture. ZCTU seconded two of
its leaders to the party - its general secretary, Morgan Tsvangirai, became
MDC president and Gibson Sibanda, its president, became MDC's deputy
president. The rise of the MDC illustrated, more than anything to date, the
arrival of the African Renaissance.
Twenty eight years ago, when Zimbabwe became independent, its social
structure was simple: its social classes were defined by race. At the apex
of the social pyramid were the whites, who controlled the economy, the
professions, and the mass media in an alliance between public and private
sectors. Below that were an intermediate stratum, barely differentiated,
made up of wage earners, many of them peasant migrant workers, with a
sprinkle of semi-professions and professionals who acted as teachers,
nurses, a few doctors and lawyers, shopkeepers, salespeople etc. At the
bottom of the pyramid was a vast mass of undifferentiated peasants who eked
a living off the land. Twenty years after independence in 1980, Zimbabwe had
become a transformed society with a rich and complex social structure. New
black players were prominent in business, the mass media, and other
professions, organised labour and civil society in general.
In this fast changing and dynamic environment it was the ruling party,
Zanu-PF, that remained unchanged. In fact, the opposite had happened, it had
fossilised. It was estimated that no Zimbabwean below 35 supports Zanu-PF.
Within one year of its establishment, MDC,with the support of its
civil society allies, in February 2000 defeated Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF in a
referendum to adopt a new, more democratic constitution. The new
constitution would have drastically reduced presidential powers and would
have abolished the 30 unelected members of parliament appointed by the
president. This was what caused panic among the rulers of Southern Africa. A
new type of party had emerged in the region that had been created by the
people and was therefore not controlled by the African elites.
Nationalism in Africa has always paraded itself as a movement of
people fighting for their liberation. Reality was rather different. African
nationalism was a movement of a small, Westernised black elite that emerged
under colonialism. Its fight was always for its inclusion into the colonial
system so it, too, could benefit from the spoils of colonialism.
This was why independence did not bring about economic transformation
in Africa as it did in Asia; if anything, independence entrenched the
economic inequalities inherited from colonialism. The new black elites
merely replaced the former white colonial elites, but the exploitation of
the black masses continued as before as did the exploitation of Africa's
natural resources, which were exported to the rest of the world. It is this
that explains the fear of new age parties such as the MDC by
nationalist-ruled Southern African governments.
They fear that new age, people-created parties, will destroy the
neo-colonial system that the nationalist elites live off. This also explains
the support for the Mugabe regime by SADC states despite the havoc Mugabe's
actions cause in neighbouring countries.
Moeletsi Mbeki is deputy chairperson of the South African Institute of
International Affairs, an independent think tank based at Witwatersrand
University in Johannesburg
Institute for War & Peace Reporting
Some say opposition has lost valuable campaigning time by vainly trying to
get the election date changed.
By Meshack Ndodana in Harare (AR No. 158, 26-Feb-08)
In the wake of failed talks between the opposition Movement for Democratic
Change, MDC, and the ruling ZANU-PF, the former has been criticised for
expending so much energy on attempts to delay national elections until
political reforms are in place.
At a February 21 press conference in Johannesburg, both factions of the MDC
made it clear the mediation process, led by South African president Thabo
Mbeki on behalf of the Southern African Development Community, SADC, had
died a death because of the Zimbabwean government's preemptive move to call
elections before measures to ensure they were free and fair could be put in
Although the timing of the election was the subject of the SADC-led
negotiations, President Robert Mugabe on January 25 unilaterally proclaimed
March 29 as the date for presidential, parliamentary and local ballot.
The negotiations were initiated by the SADC in March last year to ease
political tensions between ZANU-PF and the MDC and to try to reverse
Zimbabwe's eight-year economic decline.
The secretary-generals of the two MDC factions, Welshman Ncube and Tendai
Biti, who led their respective delegations in the negotiations, said in a
joint statement that the election date "lay at the heart of the deadlock" in
the talks with ZANU-PF.
The MDC said ZANU-PF had "reneged" on a number of transitional mechanisms
that had been agreed at the talks, while Mugabe's announcement of a firm
date was a sign the party had "repudiated the principles and the spirit of
"At the core of the deadlock were issues of the date of the election, the
time-frame for the implementation of the agreed reforms, and the process and
manner of the making and enactment of a new constitution," said the
During the talks, the two sides had reached agreement on amendments to
electoral, security and media laws, a draft constitution, and issues to do
with violence, sanctions, land, and food aid. The MDC had called for the
elections to be put off to a later date to allow these arrangements to take
root and gain public acceptance.
This view stands in stark contrast to Mbeki's claim that the date was a
peripheral procedural matter. In the opposition's view, the timing of the
election and the reforms that should precede it were "not matters of
procedure but of substance", as holding the vote too early would prevent
other agreements being implemented, and consequently "the dialogue would
therefore not have resulted in the resolution of the Zimbabwe crisis".
The request for a delay was brushed aside by Mugabe, who said the MDC had
known as early as last year that the elections were scheduled for March. He
said the opposition was preoccupied with internal rivalries, and was seeking
to shift the blame for its lack of preparedness onto the government.
The MDC said Mbeki met Mugabe in Zimbabwe as late as January 15 to try to
break the deadlock over the election date, including a proposal to push back
the elections to as late as 2010. Mugabe is said to have rejected this,
insisting the election date was "non-negotiable". He also rejected the idea
of a new constitution, which the MDC had said should be in place before the
elections to level the playing field.
The statement made clear that the MDC would participate in the elections,
but only under protest, and concluded by warning, "Tragically, the results
of the. elections will be contested."
The MDC's scathing comments came as the Zimbabwe Christian Alliance, ZCA, a
network of church and civic bodies, announced that it had lost hope in the
The ZCA blamed the failure of the talks on what it called "a lack of clear
objectives and accountability on the part of those involved. The SADC talks
failed to produce tangible results in terms of creating a conducive
atmosphere for free and fair elections".
Political analysts who spoke to IWPR criticised the MDC for expending so
much energy on matters that were already impossible to change, such as the
One commentator based at the University of Zimbabwe said the opposition
needed to get into gear and prepare for the elections.
"The best they can do for themselves is to mount a vigorous campaign for
their supporters to vote," said the analyst, who did not want to be named.
He said it would be "suicidal" for the MDC to contemplate a boycott this
late in the day, pointed out that "there are already other smaller parties
and individuals ready to take the MDC's place".
Another political analyst said the MDC should be focusing on the electoral
process and specifically the "command centre" in charge of running the
"This is where the results will be decided," he said. "The MDC is wasting
time focusing on dates and talks which have already failed. The voting will
be done in Zimbabwe and that is where rigging will take place if the
opposition loses its focus."
The two MDC factions had, he said, "weakened their position and squandered
public sympathy by failing to unite to fight a single common enemy".
Meshack Ndodana is the pseudonym of an IWPR journalist in Harare.
By Taffy Nyawanza
Last updated: 02/27/2008 05:51:53
THE euphoria and hype surrounding Simba Makoni's entry into the Zimbabwean
presidential race is understandable. Makoni is a former government minister
and until February 5, he was a member of the Zanu PF politburo.
He broke ranks and defied the ageing Mugabe by formally announcing his bid
for high office. He is widely considered to present the most credible and
viable alternative to the current rot and decay. He is also a candidate who
might legitimately be able to claim that he would be ready to govern from
Will he win though? Too many obstacles seem to stand in his way. He does not
have the luxury of time, the requisite grassroots alliances and many doubt
whether he is made of the sterner stuff necessary to conduct business in the
political cauldron and rough and tumble that is Zimbabwe. But the enduring
seduction of the political theatre is its unpredictability, the possibility
of the impossible.
I am not about to turn this column into another discourse on the politics in
Zimbabwe. Plenty others do a fine job already. My brief is to discuss the
implications of Makoni's win for the thousands of Zimbabwean refugees
resident in the UK.
If Makoni wins the election, and the current regime is finally pushed out of
office, that would arguably amount to a significant change of circumstances
which may trigger a review of refugee status. 'Significant change' is a
technical concept in UK refugee law which became prominent with the key
changes that occurred in 2005.
With effect from August 30, 2005, refugee leave (whether granted at initial
decision or following an allowed appeal), is now granted for 5 years. Before
that, of course, refugees obtained Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR)
immediately. Similarly, Humanitarian Protection is now granted for 5 years.
Humanitarian Protection is the status granted to those who are not refugees;
but are recognised to be at risk of torture or inhuman or degrading
treatment in their home country.
When these changes were introduced, the justification was that the new
policy would ensure that permanent settlement is granted only to those
refugees who, after five years, are still eligible to remain in the UK. It
was argued that this was is in line with the Refugee Convention which
provides that the protection of the Convention will cease to apply in
specified circumstances where there is no longer a need for it.
These changes came about as a result of the new five-year plan on asylum and
immigration entitled 'Controlling our borders: Making migration work for
Britain' which the UK government announced in February 2005. It was part of
the UK government's so-called 'New Asylum Model' (NAM) which provides that
most categories of immigrants, including refugees, should be subject to a
minimum five year residency requirement before becoming eligible for
At the end of the 5 years, a person with refugee status or HP may apply for
ILR. Both refugee and HP status are dealt with, or reviewed in the same way
(so please read refugee status to include HP for review purposes).
At application for ILR, there should ordinarily not be a full review of the
individual's continued entitlement to refugee status. The Home Office says
that there are circumstances, however, in which a person's entitlement to
refugee status may be reviewed. These may be:
(i) where the actions of the individual indicate that he is no longer
entitled to refugee status, such as returning to visit, or live in the
country he came from;
(ii) where a significant and non-temporary change in the country of his
origin causes ministers to order a review of the grants of refugee leave to
persons from that country; and
(iii) where a person fails to apply for ILR before his refugee leave
expired, there will be a review of whether the individual still requires
(iv) Where it is discovered that the individual deceived the authorities in
order to be recognised as a refugee;
(v) Where it is discovered that the individual committed certain serious
crimes before applying for asylum; or
(vi) Where there is reason to believe that the individual is a danger to the
security of the United Kingdom or has been convicted of a particularly
Apart from this, and perhaps more importantly in view of what could happen
on March 29, 2008, in Zimbabwe, the Home Office position is that a review
need not wait until the 5 years are up; a review of refugee status may be
triggered where, among other reasons, there has been a significant and
non-temporary change in the conditions in a particular country.
It does appear, however, that the decision to review refugee leave is not
one that will be taken lightly, judging by the apparent in-built safeguards.
Firstly, it would have to be shown that a country has improved sufficiently
to justify the review of the status of those refugees potentially affected
by that change. The change must be non-temporary. A regime change without
more might not suffice.
Secondly, the decision is an executive decision (taken by ministers) but
will be communicated to Parliament, ostensibly to be scrutinised in open
Thirdly, the decision will be taken only after consultation with the United
Nations' specialist organ for refugees, the UNHCR.
Fourthly, even with all of the above, the Home Office will still be obliged
to conduct reviews of refugee status within the scope of the ministerial
statement on a case by case basis.
In addition, when the decision to actively review a case is made, the
individual will be written to and given the reasons for the decision. He
will be entitled to explain reasons why he believes that he should be
allowed to stay in the United Kingdom. A right of appeal should also be
available to allow an independent assessment by the judiciary.
Conceivably, and I could be wrong, if Makoni wins the plebiscite, a whole
lot of Zimbabweans would at least consider returning home to build up what
Mugabe has destroyed. But there will be many others who have thrown in their
lot with the British and now consider this their home.
What would be their options if their refugee status was revoked?
Many will have acquired an education, or still be in college, or got
married. It should be possible to make an application to remain in the UK in
those other immigration capacities. The Home Office specifically accept that
where, following review, a person no longer requires, or is no longer
entitled to, protection in the UK, the refugee status will be withdrawn and
leave curtailed under the Immigration Rules, unless he qualifies for leave
on another basis, in which case leave may be varied. Note the use of 'may'
Family life and /or a private life may also be viable routes. The argument
would be that in the period that the individual has been in the UK, he has
so established and socialised himself and his family in UK life that to
return him to his country of origin would be unreasonable.
Finally, with respect to the looming election, it is important to remember
that case-law accepts as a fact that there is what is called an 'election
cycle' with respect to Zimbabwe asylum cases. The Tribunal in SM (Zimbabwe)
accepted that there is a heightened risk during election periods and their
immediate aftermath and confirms that this is a pattern which has been
followed since 2000. It states that before an election there is intimidation
of real or perceived opposition supporters particularly teachers and civil
servants. It also confirms that following an election the phenomenon of
post-election retribution is well documented. This is a key argument that
can be deployed in ongoing Zimbabwean asylum claims.
Whichever way one looks at it, the forthcoming elections will be interesting
for a variety of reasons.
Taffy Nyawanza works for Bake & Co Solicitors of Birmingham. He can be
contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org, ph. 0121 616 5025 or visit Bake & Co
Solicitors' website at www.bakesolicitors.co.uk.
Disclaimer: This article only provides general information and guidance on
immigration law. It is not intended to replace the advice or services of a
solicitor. The specific facts that apply to your matter may make the outcome
different than would be anticipated by you. The writer will not accept any
liability for any claims or inconvenience as a result of the use of this
By Mary Revesai
Last updated: 02/27/2008 05:19:09
THE formal apology issued by the Australian government last month to that
country's 450 000 aborigines for past wrongs and injustices focuses
attention on other atrocities throughout the world for which atonement has
yet to be made.
When, for example, will former British Prime Minister Tony Blair and
American President George Bush express regret for their blunders in Iraq?
While their intentions may have been noble at the beginning, there is no
denying that the situation has spiraled out of control, resulting in the
unnecessary and continuing loss of human life.
As a Zimbabwean, the news of the Australian government's gesture reminded me
of crimes against humanity perpetrated in my own country for which regret is
yet to be expressed.
Specifically,I recall with horror, the butchering of 20 000 Zimbabweans
during the Gukurahundi massacres in Matabeleland and the Midlands about 20
years ago and wonder whether President Mugabe, who turned 84 this month,
will ever apologise for those atrocities.
South African cleric, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, has pointed out that it takes
"bigness" to say sorry and the problem for Mugabe, who is known for his
intransigence over less grave issues, could be his usual disdain towards the
people who have suffered anguish and injustice at his hands.
Tutu has been quoted as saying: "How wonderful if politicians could bring
themselves to admit they are only fallible human creatures and not God and
thus by definition can make mistakes. Unfortunately they seem to think that
such an admission is a sign of weakness. Weak and insecure people hardly
ever say 'I am sorry'."
A number of leaders have earned, not lost, respect throughout the world for
expressing regret for various wrongs and injustices. During his reign, Pope
John Paul II asked for forgiveness for Roman Catholic sins against the
Orthodox faith. In 1998, the Pontiff apologised for injustices, including
sexual abuse, committed by Roman Catholic clergy in the Pacific nations.
Likewise, during his presidency, Bill Clinton apologised for slavery and
Tony Blair followed suit during a state visit to Britain last year by
Ghanaian President John Kufuor.
In 2001, the European Union apologised for slavery and colonialism in the
final declaration of the World Conference Against Racism held in Durban,
While expressions of regret for historic injustices are mostly symbolic, it
has been shown, however, how potent an apology can be in changing the
dynamics of a situation.
The announcement by Australia's Indigenous Affairs Minister Jenny Macklin of
a formal apology to Aborigines on February 13, must have taken the wind out
of the sails of Zimbabwe's propaganda machine .Over the past few years,
government apologists never missed an opportunity to accuse former
Australian Prime Minister, John Howard, of hypocrisy when he took an
uncompromising stance against President Mugabe's repressive governance,
persecution of political opponents and human rights abuses.
They regularly denounced Australia, which towards the end of last year
expelled the offspring of Zimbabwean officials who were studying in
universities there, saying it had no moral authority to lecture anyone on
human rights abuses because it discriminated against the Aborigines.
The spin doctors went as far as insisting that the people of Australia were
criminals because their ancestors, who began settling there in 1788, were
mostly British convicts and soldiers. But now that new Prime Minister Kevin
Rudd, whose Labour Party was swept into power in November, has successfully
campaigned for a formal apology, Zimbabwean government spin doctors and
sycophants have been deprived of a favourite hobby horse.
A debate had been underway in Australia for almost a decade on how best to
acknowledge the atrocities perpetrated against Aborigines who suffered
injustices, particularly in the last century.
It is estimated that between 1910 and the 1970s, about 100 000 Aboriginal
children of mixed blood were forcibly separated from their parents on the
premise of saving them from certain doom.
The apology made on behalf of the Australian government did not attribute
guilt to the current generation of Australians but signaled the beginning of
a new relationship, the authorities have said.
The Australian development should prick the consciences of those in the
Zimbabwean government, which is also guilty of large-scale displacement of
people and the creation of a 'lost generation' through the massacres
perpetrated by the Fifth Brigade in Matabeleland. A few years ago, Mugabe
acknowledged the injustices and atrocities perpetrated against the people of
the region during the so-called dissident era when he described the episode
as "a moment of madness."
However, since that admission, he has steadfastly ignored calls for the
matter to be officially addressed either by compensating the victims or
setting up a truth commission to bring culprits to justice and facilitate
healing and reconciliation. Most importantly, the aim of such a process
should have been to get to the bottom of what happened so as to ensure that
such horrors would never be allowed to happen again.
South Africa did this under its Truth and Reconciliation Commission and
President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf has announced the setting up of a similar
body in Liberia.
Mugabe should have been big enough to realise that the genocide his
government perpetrated in Matabeleland was not something that could be swept
under the carpet and forgotten. But in the absence of any commitment on his
part to deal with that dark period in the country's history, many people
will, therefore, have welcomed the announcement by the Morgan Tsvangirai
faction of the Movement for Democratic Change that it will set up a Truth
and Justice Commission to bring perpetrators of those atrocities to justice
if it wins next month's elections.
Things could have been handled differently if Mugabe had signed the 1987
Unity -- Accord that officially ended the atrocities --- in good faith but
events on the ground continue to show this was not the case. Matabeleland
has continued to be marginalised in terms of development and allocation of
resources. This proves that over and above the genocide, the people of the
region continue to pay a high price for their ethnicity.
Mary Revesai is a New Zimbabwe.com columnist and writes from Harare
26th Feb 2008 10:10 GMT
By Mutumwa Mawere
The land question has provided an eloquent and visible injury to a
beleagured regime that has regrettably transformed a dyanmic and forward
looking population into a fearful, cynical and angry people. Even on the
eve of a historic and defining election the majority of the population
remains suffocated by a veil of impossibility particularly in so far as
changing of the guard at the Presidential level is concerned.
The problem in Zimbabwe is now beyond the leadership issue but has grown
like a terminal cancer and now the governed appear to be more confused than
the governors. It is evident also that the problem confronting Zimbabwe is
that people want change and yet it appears that they would like to do the
same things with the same players for more time. Any change while desirable
is not trusted to an extent that people would rather sit back and allow fate
to shape their future.
Even in this day and age, partisanship carries a lot of weight in Zimbabwean
politics. The doors of government remain closed to the Zimbabwean people.
The majority have accepted that ZANU-PF is invincible forgeting that if they
can't fight the state machinery directly given its brutal nature, the
reality is that citizens can vote to remove the cause of their suffering.
It is true that fundamental change is never easy and yet the country cannot
afford one extra day without making the hard and painful decisions about its
The President who is the father of the nation in many respects has made it a
habit to use the same tired arguments that he used at independence and as a
result over the last 28 years time has passed by leaving the majority
hopelessly stuck in the colonial past. People have lost hope and feel
powerless against a party that they purportedly helped put into office.
The real point is that even President Mugabe is acutely conscious that
Zimbabwe needs change, hope, reconciliation, substance and above all a new
value system to begin to restore its standard in Africa and connect with the
governments that have turned away from the country as a consequence of
controversial and suicidal economic policies.
The country needs a new outlook and attitude. The need for the country to
get back to a point where people can listen and respect each other cannot be
overstated. In the unique circumstance that Zimbabwe finds itself it is
important for people to think about what kind of leadership they require.
It is my humble submission that a flexible, creative, intelligent and a
person willing to compromise is the kind of leadership required. Among the
four that are on the menu, citizens will have to apply their minds
critically against what the country requires.
In view of the state of the economy, the cause of President Mugabe and his
competitors ought to be the same. This is a moment in Zimbabwe's history
where citizens should not settle for less and should roll up their sleeves
and get to work. The election should not be about the four personalities
but about the future of the country and what they country needs.
It should not be about Tsvangirai, Mugabe or Makoni. For a change to take
place in the tone of Zimbabwean politics, a new direction is required. Real
progress on issues that mean something to Zimbabweans and their quality of
life can only be possible if citizens take ownership of the process and the
remaining days to the decision day.
Many of us are still talking at each other instead of talking to each other.
People who are concerned about the future of the country ought to do
something before it is too late. They need to get out and talk to friends,
family and even political enemies, get to writing letters and emails, get to
senting sms, and get to use the phone to reach out and communicate the
urgency of doing something now and more specifically on the 29th.
If you are so sick and tired of partisanship, then the choice ought to be
easy. We must agree that there is nothing uniquely ZANU-PF or MDC about a
respect for civil liberties. Zimbabweans need a government that can respect
their civil and economic rights.
If Zimbabweans need hope to sustain and define their lives then what are
they to make of the Chinese factor in the election? President Mugabe has
been vocal about the interference of foreign powers in Zimbabwean affairs
and yet he has easily embraced the Chinese. Are the Chinese not foreign?
At this defining hour in Zimbabwe's history, what is the agenda of the
Chinese in Zimbabwe? Are they neutral players or partisan investors? If
President Mugabe were to lose the elections, where would the Chinese stand?
As part of President Mugabe's 84th birthday, the Chinese through an opaque
deal involving a Zimbabwean company, Farmers World, provided a US$42m for
the farm mechanisation program. The linkage between the Chinese loan and
the elections is too obvious as is the fact that the state is now conducting
its business through front companies.
The Chinese loan was signed by central bank Governor Gideon Gono and Chinese
deputy Commerce Minister Gao Hucheng during a visit in Harare last week.
The timing of the loan and the role of Gono in furthering the political
exploits of his principal does not require any explanation but what is
significant is that President Mugabe would not take kindly to any foreign
government promising aid to Zimbabwe after the elections on a partisan basis
as is now typical for the Chinese.
The RBZ has now been converted into a political bank and facilities are now
being directed to targeted beneficiaries with a political bias. I have
written before about the political implications of Gono's quasi-fiscal
activities in destorting the politics of the country. President Mugabe
witnessed the signing ceremony and he no doubt got the political mileage
that is vital in confusing the masses.
Subsequent to the Chinese photo opportunity, Minister Made was in the media
confirming that the Chinese are not alone in helping ZANU-PF win the
elections. The Zimbabwean public was told that even the French, South
Koreans and the Middle East are not only friends of Zimbabwe but friends of
President Mugabe. It is significant that no mention was made of the fact
that France is part of the European Union and yet it is prepared to identify
with President Mugabe's government prior to the decision day.
What is clear is that friends of Mugabe (FOG) are never enemies of Zimbabwe
notwithstanding the fact that they may be responsible for undermining
national interest. It is also obvious that in the post colonial Mugabe era
anyone associated with Mugabe's political competitors is easily labelled a
puppet, prostitute and even a frog.
The tone of Zimbabwean politics has not changed and it would be an
understatement that Zimbabwe needs a President who can unify the nation and
who can elevate the politics of the country above labels and who is capable
of ending the politics of sniping. If the Chinese have discounted the
outcome of the forthcoming elections like many investors who would rather
side with the incumbent then they know something that many Zimbabweans do
not know i.e. that ZANU-PF will win.
Even if President Mugabe were to win, it is not clear whether the country's
future will be secure. The country needs a President that can bring
citizens into the political process than turning them off. The Chinese are
investing in distorting the politics of Zimbabwe for profit. I am not
convinced that the Chinese care about the quality of life for Zimbabweans.
It is a shared observation that Zimbabwe has come to a political standstill
over the last 8 years and the two principal political actors must take some
responsibility for this.
SW Radio Africa (London)
25 February 2008
Posted to the web 26 February 2008
Zimbabwe's biggest state-run hospital has stopped performing surgical
The situation at Parirenyatwa Hospital in Harare was confirmed by the Deputy
Health Minister Edwin Muguti, in a report in the state's Sunday Mail
newspaper. The chairman of the Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human
Rights (ZADHR) Dr. Douglas Gwatidzo, said there was a lack of anaesthetics,
general equipment breakdowns and a shortage of strong analgesia, used to
ease pain after surgery.
All patients requiring surgery are currently being referred to Harare
Central Hospital which Gwatidzo said is already suffering the same
shortages. He added: "If I remember well there are about 12 theatres at
Parirenyatwa so this means many patients will suffer. Imagine two big
hospitals having to use the few theatres that are there at Harare Hospital."
According to the Sunday Mail, Deputy Health Minister Edwin Muguti blamed the
shortages on what he described as the "western-imposed targeted sanctions".
He is quoted as saying: "These are results of western-imposed sanctions that
we are always talking about. We can't promise when the situation will return
to normal but we want to assure the nation that we are treating this as an
Dr Gwatidzo had a different take on the matter saying: "It all boils down to
what we've been saying. If the economy is poorly managed it cannot sustain
other services that depend on it. The medical sector is a consumer of money
It is no secret that all government run institutions have been riddled with
corruption and mismanagement. The country's annual inflation rate is
currently the highest in the world, officially over 100,000 percent. Experts
and analysts say the deterioration will continue until the broader political
crisis is resolved.
In the meantime many more people will die of treatable medical problems.
26 February 2008
In the absence of a reliable supply of other energy sources, the
Zimbawean Government has launched a programme to promote the use of solar
energy as an alternative source of energy for computers in schools around
the country, in conjunction with Mukonitronics Private Limited. The
programme to be spread to all the country's provinces is also being
implemented with the Zimbabwe Academic Research Network.
Officially launching the programme at Dzivaresekwa 2 High School
yesterday, the provincial education director for Harare, Tomax Doba said the
launch was in line with the ministry's efforts to make sure that all
graduates from the education system were computer literate.
"We are moving in to promote the use of solar power as an alternative
to hydro electricity supply that has been erratic in the country. The
ministry feels there should be no excuse for schools not to take lessons in
computers because of power outages when we can harness solar energy". Doba
said his ministry had started a programme to train more computer teachers so
as to curb the current shortages that has hit the country.
"Government has also made it a policy that all graduates leaving
teachers' colleges are computer literate. Now that the teachers are coming I
want to appeal to school development authorities, parents and school heads
to secure more computers so that all pupils have a chance to interact with
the machines," he said.
(Source: The Herald)
Friday, Feb. 22, 2008 By ALEX PERRY
As he celebrated his 84th birthday last week, Zimbabwe's president Robert
Mugabe may have joined millions of his countrymen reflecting on the single
question that has come to dominate his 27-year rule: How long can 'Uncle
Bob' go on? Democracy will not unseat him; the joint presidential and
parliamentary election scheduled for March 29 will be neither free nor fair.
The Zimbabwean army has orders to oversee the poll, while opposition
politicians remain at the mercy of the police, and journalists are still
subject to arrest. In fact, most Zimbabweans are too worried about finding
their next meal in a country where the official inflation rate has passed
100,000% to concern themselves with challenging one of Africa's most
enduring strongmen. Still, recent weeks have witnessed a series of events
that suggest Mugabe is facing a concerted challenge from what, to outsiders,
will seem an unexpected quarter: within his own Zanu PF party.
Earlier this month, former finance minister and Zanu PF stalwart Simba
Makoni announced he would stand against Mugabe in the poll. Makoni is an
unknown quantity: in office he had a reputation as a technocrat who tended
toward moderation and pragmatism, but one who was also a fully paid-up
member of the Mugabe machine. But the significance of Makoni lies less in
what he is than in what he represents - a split in the ruling party. "There
is a sense that this is a real opportunity," says Elizabeth Sidiropoulos,
national director of the South African Institute of International Affairs,
in Johannesburg, South Africa. "Mugabe's position is really being
threatened." Lack of transparency and of a free press inside Zimbabwe has
made it hard to pinpoint the direction of Zanu PF and, just as
significantly, which party power brokers might be backing Makoni, she says,
but "it appears as though a split is happening before our eyes."
Nor is Makoni's the only challenge to Mugabe. Sidiropoulos and Chris
Maroleng of the Institute for Security Studies, also in Johannesburg,
confirm reports from inside Zimbabwe that scores of Zanu PF members are
standing as independents against their party's official candidates. "With a
weak opposition, the best chance for change is a reconstituted Zanu PF,"
says Maroleng. "This election shows that there is significant indiscipline
and disarray with the party, and efforts being made to achieve precisely
Maroleng says he has been told that leading Zanu PF figures such as former
defense chief General Solomon Mujuru, former home minister Dumiso Dabengwa,
and General Vitalis Zvinavashe, who succeeded Mujuru, are backing Makoni and
the renegade Zanu PF candidates. (There has been no official announcement.)
Arthur Mutambara, leader of a faction of the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change (M.D.C.) has also endorsed Makoni's bid, while Mutambara's
M.D.C. rival Morgan Tsvangirai, who initially dismissed the former finance
minister as "old wine in a new bottle," will meet Makoni to discuss a
possible alliance, according to a report in the Harare-based Zimbabwe
Independent on Friday.
The reason for rising discontent inside Zanu PF is not hard to guess. Not
even their exalted status in Mugabe's machine can protect the Zanu PF
leaders from the ravages of an economy that is collapsing as fast as any in
history. Last week the government announced inflation had breached 100,000%,
up from 66,000% in December. Industry, agriculture and the service sector
have all but ceased to exist. Shops stock no food, and power cuts last for
days. Between a quarter and a third of Zimbabwe's original population of 13
million are believed to have fled the country, the majority for neighboring
South Africa. The only functioning part of the country is the security
apparatus, but, aside from Mugabe's bodyguards, even that is now
questionable, with consistent reports of no pay, sporadic mutinies and the
apparent allying of some heavyweight military figures against Mugabe. "These
guys have a bottom line," says Marengo, "and Mugabe is increasingly seen as
an economic liability."
Few, however, discount Mugabe's shrewdness or his capacity for survival
after 27 years in power. "With the implosion on his party," says Marengo,
"Mugabe will continue to rely on the security establishment to ensure all
decisions are done in his interest. He will resort to extra-legal measures.
And given his history, you have to say that it is highly unlikely that
Makoni will win." Nevertheless, the result will be keenly watched.
"People will make their moves based on the result," says Marengo. One key
factor could be the degree to which the security services rig the vote, as
normal, or the countervailing influence of Makoni, Mujuru and others can
persuade them to stand aside. The London-based Zimbabwean newspaper even
published a front-page story on Thursday detailing what it said was Mugabe's
contingency plan to flee the country should his position become untenable
after the poll. But most analysts agree such reports are more wishful
thinking than fact. South African government and Zimbabwean opposition
sources claim it is true, however, that the question of Mugabe's
retirement - and a deal giving him immunity from prosecution for war crimes
and genocide over the Matabeleland massacres of the 1980s - has long been
high on the agenda of mediation talks, led by South African President Thabo
Mbeki, between Mugabe's regime and Zimbabwe's opposition. "It's been a long,
long beginning to the end," says Sidiropoulos, "and the lesson is: never
underestimate the power of fear in totalitarian regimes. But the point
remains: if you are able to remove Mugabe, however it happens, then that
creates an opening for a return to normality."
Institute for War & Peace Reporting
Extravagant birthday celebrations seen as emblematic of lack of care for the
By Mike Nyoni in Harare (AR No. 158, 26-Feb-08)
The greatest irony of President Robert Mugabe's birthday bash last week was
that few of the thousands of youths he regaled will reach his ripe old age
Under Mugabe's rule, life expectancy in Zimbabwe has declined from about 65
years at independence from Britain in 1980 to the current 36 years for men
and 34 years for women. The AIDS scourge has only added to the humanitarian
crisis in the country, which began eight years ago with Mugabe's decision to
expropriate white-owned commercial farms, ostensibly to give to landless
veterans of the independence war.
Observers say most of the productive farms went to Mugabe's cronies and
members of the military and police who have no idea about farming.
The economic collapse meant that a majority of the youths cheering Mugabe at
his birthday extravaganza had no job and would be returning to rural or
urban poverty as soon as the festivities were over.
Few of them have any illusions that they might reach half Mugabe's age. "We
have heard it said that life begins at 40 but that statement rings empty to
me," said a youth from the ruling ZANU-PF party who said he was going to the
birthday celebration in Beitbridge, on the South African border, for the
"Poverty, AIDS and stress are taking their toll. Most of us have no future
to look forward to. We have no jobs, we have no education to talk about and
that is very stressful."
Ironically, when Zimbabwe won its independence in 1980, it was regarded as
the "jewel of Africa". It was also considered the breadbasket of the region,
exporting the staple maize to neighbouring countries in years of deficit.
It has become a net importer since the destruction of agriculture,
considered the backbone of the economy. "To me the real irony is that Mugabe
wants to teach our children that he is a role model leader, when he has
deprived them of a secure future through his criminal policies," said Anna
Gonzo, a housewife in Harare.
"He is a very bad example of what a father should be like, let alone a
national leader. He doesn't have the authority to stand before our children
telling them about principles and morality when he has literally ruined
She said while Mugabe was happy to boast about the seven degrees he acquired
under the repressive colonial regime of Ian Smith, few young people can
afford a university education now because of astronomical costs and a lack
Zimbabwe has been in the grip of a political and economic crisis for the
past eight years, estimated by economists to have cut gross domestic product
to 1953 levels.
The unemployment rate has spiraled to 85 per cent while half the population
is estimated to subsist below the poverty line.
"Shameless as he is, Mugabe is happy to tell the youth that all their
problems are the result of western sanctions, not his own economic and
political failures," said Gonzo. "Fortunately few people still buy into this
Mugabe is almost the oldest active politician in the country, second only to
his vice-president, Joseph Msika, who is older by three months.
The similarities end there, however. Msika has on several occasions opposed
Mugabe's haphazard seizure of white-owned commercial farms and has been
critical of Mugabe's endorsement as the ruling party's presidential
candidate for next month's election.
The two nationalist leaders have been together since the 1987 Unity Accord
between ZANU-PF and the defunct ZAPU-PF, which was led by the late Joshua
Mugabe's birthday celebrations were characterised by extravagant feasting at
a time when nearly four million people are facing starvation or survive on
Analysts say it is emblematic of Mugabe's lack of care for the nation that
he should entertain his cronies and ministers in the midst of grinding
poverty. "Can you imagine how many people could have been fed from the
[funds] ZANU-PF raised for this personal junket?" said one analyst in the
"But it would be expecting too much to think that ZANU-PF would scrimp on
food just because a few people were starving next door."
Mike Nyoni is the pseudonym of an IWPR journalist in Zimbabwe.
Book: Mugabe - Power, Plunder and the Struggle for Zimbabwe
Author: Martim Meredith
Publisher: Jonathan Ball
Reviewer: Don Makatile
Mad Old Bob across the Limpopo hasn't been strictly bad news, after all.
The megalomaniacal Robert Mugabe has been a boon for the literary world,
especially for those writers with an interest in Zimbabwe, such as Andrew
Meldrum and Martin Meredith .
The antics of the 84-year-old Mugabe have been as much fodder for these
writers and their ilk as the indiscretions of Jacob Zuma have been material
for cartoonists here.
All Meredith has had to do was to sit and watch - and Mad Bob hasn't
Meredith wrote the first edition in 2002, then updated it the following
year. Thanks to Mugabe's senility and belligerence, this copy, the latest,
has had three chapters added - A Stolen Election (Chapter 14), Murambatsvina
(Chapter 15) and How Long The Night (Chapter 16).
You can bet your bottom dollar (preferably not the Zim currency) that if Bob
stays on much longer - he's already joked that he'll be in control until he's
a century old - Meredith, writing out of Oxford in England, will fatten his
Mugabe - Power, Plunder and the Struggle for Zimbabwe a lot further!
This is basically the story of a bookworm who, having qualified as a
teacher, left home for a vacancy in Ghana, where he'd meet his future wife,
Sally, the only living person who'd ever be able to tame his behavioural
What he sees in Kwame Nkrumah's land is paradise; it tells him the status
quo at home must not persist. He comes back to the then Rhodesia to take up
arms with the objective of setting up a Zimbabwe free from colonialism.
After 11 solid years in Ian Smith's jail, he emerges - unlike the
conciliatory Nelson Mandela down south, bitter, more determined to ensure
that those "with their pink noses do not meddle in our affairs".
Hailed as a hero, he inherits what the late Mwalimu Julius Nyerere would
describe as a jewel.
Some years down the line, the man who gallantly fought white rule alongside
Joshua Nkomo, of Zapu, would morph into a lunatic, turning a once-thriving
economy into a sorry basket case with, at a mad 100000 percent, the world's
highest inflation rate.
The land issue, the central theme of the volatile situation in Zimbabwe, is
handled satisfactorily here. The beauty of Meredith's writing is that he
tries - yes, he tries - to present both sides of the (land) story.
During the scramble for Africa, Britons came to Rhodesia to force the likes
of Chief Tangwena off their land, and now, in the 21st century, they want
the world to know that an injustice is being visited upon them - Mugabe
wants to take their land!
Meredith tries to camouflage the seriousness of the matter by choosing to
quote a comical Sabina Mugabe, the president's sister, saying indigenous
Zimbabweans will not pay a cent for white farms because the whites stole the
land in the first place.
Mugabe's viciousness on opponents is scary and spine-chilling. The people of
Matabeleland, victims of the notorious Five Brigade, know Mugabe's wrath
So does the MDC.
This is the same Mugabe, the educated freedom fighter who, with several
university degrees to his name, has been such a truculent sort that he
bragged in 2000 that he had a degree in violence!
This is all information in the public domain, but Meredith's titbits of
research make the book all the more worthy of attention.
The Age, Australia
February 27, 2008
A report being prepared by KPMG must lift the lid on the ZCU's corruption.
A LETTER arrived from a rising young cricketer in Zimbabwe, a well-educated
black player committed to the game and eager to serve his country. It is
also a letter from the betrayed, from a cricketer let down by greedy,
arrogant, hate-filled elders.
It was not the only correspondence to arrive from the ailing cricketers of
that country. Of course, it is idle to suppose that the opportunists running
Zimbabwean cricket might care about anything except themselves. But their
paymasters, the Board of Control for Cricket in India, ought to rethink a
close relationship that brings shame on their house. Perhaps, too, obedient
television commentators with international voices will remember that they
are part of the media and therefore responsible for confronting tyranny.
After apologising for a long silence caused by a lack of funds, the emerging
player went on to describe the state of the game in his country. He could
not attend any of the recent practice sessions because he had no transport
money, which was "a bit of a letdown".
Warming to his theme, he said he was "saddened by the way cricket is being
run". "The state of the fields is pathetic, the pitches are not getting
rolled, fields are not getting cut and ZCU cannot even provide umpires. A
lot of talent is been lost because the people running the game don't care
about the players. I hope I am not sounding like a complaining softie. I
just needed to get it out of my chest."
As much can be confirmed from a glance at the Cricinfo website, which has
become the most valuable voice in the game. In a recent series of articles
on the state of the game in Zimbabwe, Cricinfo published several pictures of
major club grounds. In most cases, outfield, nets and pitches were wildly
overgrown, with hip-high grass and no sign of rollers or mowers. Apart from
various school grounds maintained by well-organised institutions, and some
of the international grounds, cricket fields are in an abject state. The
Zimbabwe Cricket Union was given millions of dollars after the 2007 World
Nor is that all. Statisticians complain that scorers are not provided at
first-class matches, which makes it impossible to accurately record the
figures. Inevitably, declining standards off the field are reflected on it.
The national side has been humiliated in South Africa's domestic
competition. Zimbabwe's under-19 side was beaten by Malaysia at the recent
youth World Cup.
Far from welcoming the light shed on Zimbabwean cricket by the website, ZCU
authorities, fearing exposure and scared of the truth, have refused to
co-operate with it. Worse, they have spread rumours about its leading
figures. Now the game awaits the results of the recent and long-delayed
forensic audit carried out on ZCU by a reputable company. KPMG is due to
submit its conclusions to the next International Cricket Council meeting in
March. It will not want to risk its reputation by signing off on anything
slipshod. Presumably, senior officials have been co-operating. Rumours that
Ozias Bvute has been especially elusive must be mischievous, for he must be
eager to clear his name. Doubtless, the circumstances behind the buying of
houses in Harare and Cape Town have been investigated and satisfactory
explanations provided. Beyond argument, no official has made the mistake of
using ZCU funds or sponsors for private purposes.
Of course, KPMG was not called upon to consider the state of cricket
grounds, or nepotism at ZCU offices, or the inability to provide scorers or
what proportion of the World Cup money was given to players, and under what
circumstances. Nor was it empowered to look into threats to players, or the
way Bvute and Peter Chingoka stop players negotiating collectively. But KPMG
will follow the money trail and many stakeholders are relying on it to open
the can of worms. Make no mistake, Chingoka and Bvute are poisonous.
Meanwhile, President Robert Mugabe and his cronies fill their coffers and
the Bvute and Chingoka families live in luxury in New York and London. If
the KPMG report is damning or even curtailed, it will be up to the BCCI to
rid the game of these forces of destruction. Otherwise it, too, will shortly
have blood on its hands.