The ZIMBABWE Situation
An extensive and up-to-date website containing news, views and links related to ZIMBABWE - a country in crisis
Return to INDEX page
Please note: You need to have 'Active content' enabled in your IE browser in order to see the index of articles on this webpage

Mugabe's recycling of deadwood will not rescue economy

Zim Online

Thursday 08 February 2007

HARARE - There is nothing to suggest that a new-look Cabinet announced by
President Robert Mugabe on Tuesday will offer any new ideas to extricate
Zimbabwe from a seven-year old economic mire as Mugabe had merely recycled
dead wood, analysts have warned.

Mugabe wielded the axe on Finance Minister Herbert Murerwa and handed over
the key finance position to veteran educationist, Samuel Mumbengegwi.

The reshuffle also saw Rugare Gumbo - former Minister of Economic
Development - moving to the agriculture portfolio and taking over from
Joseph Made, who becomes Minister of Agricultural Engineering and
Mechanisation.

Sikhanyiso Ndlovu, who was Deputy Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education,
took over the hot seat at the Ministry of Information and Publicity while
Sylvester Nguni was appointed Minister of Economic Development.

Until his promotion, Nguni was Deputy Minister of Agriculture.

Wellington Chibhebhe, the secretary general of the Zimbabwe Congress of
Trade Unions said the labour union was "dismayed" by the Cabinet reshuffle
as Mugabe had merely recycled dead wood.

"What new ideas can 'tried and failed' people like Sikhanyiso Ndlovu bring
to the Information Ministry?

"He has been rejected time and again by the people of Bulawayo and the
President rewards him by appointing him to an even higher office," said
Chibebe.

"Is the President serious when he appoints Samuel Mumbengegwi to the
position of Minister of Finance?" added Chibebe.

The ZCTU secretary general said the "new-look" Cabinet did not have any
fresh ideas to offer to the people of Zimbabwe.

Analysts say sharp differences between Murerwa and central bank chief Gideon
Gono on how to run Zimbabwe's embattled economy might have influenced
Mugabe's decision to accept Murerwa's resignation from the government.

Murerwa is understood to have tendered his resignation letter in January in
what the analysts said was a victory for Gono.

The analysts said Mugabe had no choice but to accept the resignation and
bring in new faces in the finance ministry to complement the Reserve Bank of
Zimbabwe (RBZ)'s "transitional" economic recovery package.

"It was a strategic move for him (Mugabe) to bring in someone not trained as
an economist to run such a key portfolio as the Ministry of Finance because
he was trying to build a strong team to steer the movement towards a social
contract as indicated by Gono," said an investment analyst with a
Harare-based financial institution who could not be named for professional
reasons.

Gono's transitional economic recovery programme, announced on January 31,
pins hope on the creation of a binding pact between government, business,
labour and civil society.

The RBZ chief had clashed with Murerwa over the direction of the country's
economic revival programme, and has since his appointment in December 2003
tended to overshadow his former boss.

When announcing his monetary policy statement last month, Gono betrayed a
veiled frustration with the lack of support from his superiors and said he
was not going to prescribe any new measures until there is mutual consent on
how to turn around the economy.

It is this frustration that could have forced Mugabe - who is known for
recycling the same faces in his Cabinet - to accept Murerwa's resignation
and assign such a crucial ministry to an educationist.

The analysts said Mumbengegwi's elevation - and that of Walter Mzembi -
could have been Mugabe's reward for the resurgence of support for the ruling
ZANU PF party in the key Masvingo province.

An agriculturist, Mzembi came in as Deputy Minister for Water Resources and
Infrastructure Development.

Faction-ridden Masvingo has been stable in the past few years since
Mumbengegwi took over as provincial chairman of the party.

"I am persuaded that political considerations loomed larger than management
issues which require selecting those that are best at delivering on
assignments," said University of Zimbabwe political science lecturer Eldred
Masunungure.

Masunungure noted that Mugabe, who turns 83 this month, appeared to reward
those provinces that supported his quest to move presidential elections to
2010 and punished those that refused to support the plan.

At least eight out of 10 ZANU PF provinces endorsed a plan to extend
Mugabe's term by a further two years, with only Mashonaland Central and
Mashonaland East objecting to the plan.

A spokesperson in the Morgan Tsvangirai-led Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC) faction, Nelson Chamisa, was forthright in his criticism of Mugabe's
Cabinet reshuffle.

"Expecting tired and recycled ideas to change the nation's economic fortunes
is like giving cafenol to a patient in the intensive care unit.

"Mugabe has retained the same corrupt sharks in his government and no amount
of shuffling of chairs will change the nature and character of ZANU PF's
corrupt persona," he said.

Zimbabwe is in the grip of a biting economic crisis, which has been marked
by runaway inflation of more than 1 280 percent, shortages of foreign
currency and raw materials, and the inability of the beleaguered country to
meet its foreign obligations. - ZimOnline


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Breadline shoots to Z$460 000 a month

Zim Online

†††††

†††††††††† Thursday 08 February 2007

By Wayne Mafaro

HARARE - Zimbabwe's consumer rights watchdog says an average of family of
five in the country now needs a staggering Z$460 000 a month to survive, up
from $250 000 recorded last December as a seven-year old economic crisis
showed no signs of easing up.

The majority of Zimbabwe's workers earn average salaries of below Z$150 000
a month.

In a statement released on Tuesday, the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe (CCZ)
said it was concerned with the huge increase in the prices of basic
commodities.

"Prices of most basic commodities have increased by worrying margins, a
situation which has brought untold suffering to most consumers whose
salaries have lagged behind whilst prices skyrocketed," said the CCZ.

The CCZ said the rise in the family basket reflected an 86.8 percentage rise
in the cost of living.

"Notable increases were recorded in education which rose by 261.9 percent,
white sugar by 255.6 percent, roller meal by 235.6 percent, transport by
190.9 percent, bread by 179.7 percent, clothing and footwear by 119.4
percent, vegetables by 131.3 percent and cooking oil 91.3 percent," said the
CCZ.

Zimbabwe is in the grip of a severe seven-year old economic crisis that has
manifested itself in the world's highest inflation rate of over 1 200
percent and shortages of almost all basic survival commodities.

The main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party and major
Western governments blame the crisis on mismanagement by President Robert
Mugabe in power since the country's independence from Britain 27 years
ago. - ZimOnline


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Mugabe buys army's loyalty with food rations

Zim Online

Thursday 08 February 2007

By Brian Ncube

BULAWAYO - The Zimbabwean government has begun giving junior members of the
uniformed forces food rations to supplement their meagre salaries amid
widespread fears of revolt by disgruntled junior security officers,
ZimOnline has learnt.

In a move highlighting that all was not well within the security forces, the
government is said to have begun giving out the food rations last Friday to
contain rising discontent within the army and police over poor salaries.

The lowest paid junior officer in the army and police earns about Z$75 000
per month, an amount that is way below the Z$460 000 that the Consumer
Council of Zimbabwe says a family of five needs per month to survive.

Army commander Constantine Chiwenga and Police Commissioner Augustine
Chihuri last year told President Robert Mugabe to hike salaries for security
forces ten-fold to boost morale among security forces and stop poorly paid
junior officers from deserting to look for jobs elsewhere.

A soldier based at Imbizo Barracks in Bulawayo confirmed to ZimOnline
yesterday that the government was giving them food rations to complement
their meager salaries.

"Each junior officer received a 10kg bag of maize, a two litre gallon of
cooking oil, a 1kg packet of fish and a 1kg bag of sugar beans. The soldiers
have already received their ratios for the month," he said.

Junior police officers will also receive their food rations by mid-February
following delays in compiling names of beneficiaries.

"They (junior police officers) were supposed to get their rations at the end
of January but due to a delay in compiling their names, we had to push the
arrangement to mid-month.

"They will start receiving their rations probably starting on the 15th of
this month," said a senior police inspector based in Harare.

The move to hand out food rations to junior police officers follows a memo
written by Police Commissioner Augustine Chihuri early last month, a copy of
which was seen by ZimOnline, advising police commanders to compile names of
junior police officers before January 17.

The police signal, reference number MM123/07, titled, "Nominal Rolls for
Food Rations," and was dated January 9 2007 read in part: "Nominal rolls
should include the member's full name and EC (Employment Code) number, date
attested and date to station. This should be done before January 17."

A junior police officer who refused to be named, described the move to give
them food rations as an insult given the hard work they were doing to
protect "an unpopular regime."

The police officers said Mugabe should give them enough money instead of
food rations.

"We came here to work for money and not food. I think the old man is not
serious at all," said the officer.

Contacted for comment yesterday, Defence Minister Sydney Sekeramayi
confirmed that the government was handing out food rations to soldiers.

He said: "This is just one of the many efforts we are putting in to make
sure that members of the security forces are well catered for.

"The issue of their salaries is also being looked into and will be addressed
as soon as funds are made available," he said.

Police spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena said the move to hand out the rations was
meant to alleviate some of the suffering among junior police officers.

"The junior officers will receive the rations as a way of alleviating their
financial problems. The government realises that the money they are getting
is not enough.

"I cannot say if police officers are happy or not with the move but it will
benefit them," said Bvudzijena.

Zimbabwe is in its seventh straight year of economic recession which has
seen the government struggle to pay its workers.

Mugabe, has increasingly relied on the security forces to crush dissension
against his 27-year rule amid a deteriorating economic meltdown, hunger and
poverty. - ZimOnline


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Mugabe reshuffles cabinet but deadwood remains



By Lance Guma
07 February 2007

A cabinet reshuffle Tuesday deepened confusion over whether finance minister
Herbert Murerwa had resigned or was fired by Mugabe. Online publication Zim
Daily reported that Murerwa was last seen in his office last year and had
already resigned his post because the Reserve Bank was usurping his powers
as finance minister. Central Bank governor Gideon Gono is said to have had a
public row with Murerwa in December last year. This infuriated Murerwa who
considered Gono his junior both in terms of political stature and position
in government. Former Minister of State for Indigenisation, Samuel
Mumbengegwi takes over the job.

The reshuffle itself offered nothing new. The same old ministers were
retained but moved around to different ministries. Former deputy minister of
education Sikhanyiso Ndlovu becomes the new minister of information, while
Paul Mangwana who previously held that position becomes Minister of State
for Indigenisation and Empowerment. Sidney Sekeramayi remains Defence
Minister, Didymus Mutasa- Security Minister and Ignatius Chombo- Local
Government Minister. Agriculture minister Joseph Made has been shifted to
the new Agriculture Engineering and Mechanisation ministry while his former
deputy Sylvester Nguni has been put in charge of the Economic Development
ministry.

The opposition meanwhile described the reshuffle as an attempt at
'rearranging the deck of a sinking titanic.' Nelson Chamisa the spokesman
for the Tsvangirai MDC says the new cabinet has merely assembled the same
'corrupt barons, racketeers and deadwood.' He said the fact that the last
three finance ministers from Nkosana Moyo, Simba Makoni and now Herbert
Murerwa had all resigned showed a clear frustration with Mugabe's policies.
'Merely transferring faces from one ministry to the other will not resolve
the country's political and economic crisis,' Chamisa said. The MDC says
what is needed is to address fundamental issues to do with institutions and
structures running the country and this included crafting a political
solution.

SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

WOZA detained over night & students released in Bulawayo



By Violet Gonda
7 February 2007

The pressure group Women of Zimbabwe Arise reports that 11 members were
arrested in Nketa Bulawayo on Tuesday. WOZA coordinator Jenni Williams said
eight women, three men and two babies were arrested by police who had
disrupted their meeting just as it started. She said the mothers and babies
were released into the custody of their lawyer for the night but nine
remained in custody. They were all released Wednesday morning when the two
mothers went to report to the police.

The group says since Monday there has been an incredible amount of
surveillance by police details at their meetings. Commenting on Tuesday's
arrests, Williams said: "We were due to have a meeting to discuss the issue
of school fees for our members when plain clothes police officers came. We
decided to dispense with the meeting and these people were actually arrested
some blocks away from the venue after riot police came from the Tshabalala
station."

Meanwhile most of the students who were arrested in Bulawayo on Tuesday have
been released. A statement by the Zimbabwe National Students Union said 76
students were released on Wednesday after paying fines but 2 student leaders
are still in police custody.

ZINASU reports that some of the students sustained serious injuries after
the police beat them.

The group said the police were still holding Blessing Vava, the Bulawayo
Poly SRC President and Lawrence Mashungu, the National Chairperson of
Zimbabwe Student Christian Movement, who is also the ZINASU regional
Chairperson. Reasons for their continued detention were not given.

SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Jail threat for Zimbabwe profiteers

Yahoo News

2 hours, 45 minutes ago

HARARE (AFP) - Zimbabwe has warned it will jail retailers who have made
massive price hikes for essential goods after the cost of living for a
family of six in urban areas shot up by 87 percent last month.

"The government is concerned about the recent spate of speculative increases
by business and will not stand by and watch the already overburdened
consumers being subjected to further unjustified price hikes," the ministry
of industry and international trade said in a statement.
The ministry said retailers who effected price hikes after the Reserve Bank
announced a new monetary policy last week could be fined or imprisoned.

"Charging more than the price set by the price stabilisation committee for
controlled and monitored goods will attract a fine or a prison sentence,"
the ministry said.

A price survey conducted by the central bank showed that the cost of some
foodstuffs, alcohol, clothes, rent and furniture shot up by 400 percent in
one week before the monetary policy was unveiled.

The ministry said unjustified price hikes could force the government to
review the list of controlled goods.

Parliament will debate a national incomes and pricing commission bill, which
seeks to provide for stiffer penalties for price control violations.

The country's consumer watchdog has meanwhile said the cost of living for an
urban family of six galloped by 87 percent from 345,661 Zimbabwe dollars
(1,383 US dollars) in December to 458,986 dollars.

"Prices of basic commodities have increased by worrying margins, a situation
which has brought untold suffering to most consumers whose salaries have
lagged behind whilst prices skyrocketed," the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe
said.

The price of a loaf of bread, the most common meal for the average
Zimbabwean, went up from 300 dollars early December to 850 by the month's
end while the price of cooking oil also went up nearly two-fold.

The average monthly salary for an urban worker is 65,000 dollars and most
families often resort to skipping some meals while workers walk or cycle up
to 30 kilometres to work in order to stretch their income to the next pay
day.

Some workers supplement their salaries by selling goods like clothes at
workplaces while others double as cross-border traders and street vendors
during weekends and holidays.

For most families ingredients like milk for tea and margarine or jam have
become luxuries they have struck off their list of groceries, while a square
meal is rare.


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Mugabe hints at crackdown on opposition protests

Reuters

††††† Wed Feb 7, 2007 5:17 PM GMT

HARARE (Reuters) - Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe suggested on Wednesday
his government would not tolerate protests against plans to extend his rule,
saying such actions were being spearheaded by "deranged" people.

Mugabe spoke to journalists soon after swearing in new ministers following
an overnight mini reshuffle in which he dropped Finance Minister Herbert
Murerwa.

When asked to comment on opposition threats to mount peaceful
anti-government protests Mugabe said: "The deranged ones? ... they are in
the wilderness. We will not allow that."

Mugabe, Zimbabwe's sole ruler since independence from Britain in 1980 and
who turns 83 on Feb 21, has previously said the army would "pull the
trigger" against opponents planning to protest against his controversial
policies.

His ruling ZANU-PF last December "noted and adopted" a resolution to defer
presidential elections due next year to 2010, effectively extending Mugabe's
term in office.

A splinter group of the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change said
on Tuesday it would roll out a countrywide mass protest program against the
plan and to push for a new constitution.

Political analysts say increasing hardships, and not a fragmented
opposition, now pose a serious threat to Mugabe's long rule.

Zimbabwe is gripped by its worst economic crisis dramatised by inflation of
over 1,200 percent, shortages of foreign currency, food and fuel and
unemployment above 80 percent.

Mugabe denies mismanaging the economy and accuses the West of sabotage as
punishment for his policy of seizing white farms to resettle landless
blacks.


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

The economy has become the government's main opposition

[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]

HARARE , 7 Feb 2007 (IRIN) - A wave of strikes in Zimbabwe is making the threat of a "crippling" general strike by the country's largest union federation largely academic, as current industrial action or threats of more to come are already bringing the scenario to pass.

The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU), which has often been in the vanguard of protest against President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF government, is taking a back seat, while a whole swathe of society, including doctors, nurses, teachers, university lecturers and tobacco industry workers have embarked on strike action, and miners, government employees and students are on the brink of doing so.

Although previous calls for general strikes by the ZCTU have largely gone unheeded, the federation's president, Lovemore Matombo, has set a 23 February deadline for government to improve working and living conditions, or face industrial action. University students said they would boycott lectures next week, but many are already not attending classes because lecturers are on strike.

Wage negotiations between miners and the Zimbabwe Chamber of Mines (ZCM) deadlocked in late January, and Tinago Ruzive, chairman of the Associated Mine Workers Union, said the union was now considering the way forward. The mining industry is the country's second biggest employer after the agricultural sector.

Ad hoc strikes, such as a recent one-day walkout by employees of the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA) for better pay, are an illustration of the high levels of dissatisfaction among the national workforce as a consequence of the world's highest inflation level, now at 1,281 percent.

Record inflation

While inflation soars, wages remain static. According to the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe's most recent report on the monthly budget of the average low-income urban earner, the cost of living has increased two-fold in a month. In January the council put the required budget for a family of six at US$92, up from the previous month's requirement of US$49.

In recent years, the formal economy has shrunk by 65 percent, agricultural production has declined by 50 percent, unemployment has been running at nearly 80 percent and shortages of food, fuel, electricity, medicines and foreign currency have become commonplace.

"The strike by ZESA, tobacco workers, medical practitioners and teachers is for a worthy cause," Matombo said. "With the average minimum wage currently pegged at Z$90,000 (US$18 at the parallel market rate*) and an average family needing Z$459,000 (US$92) to meet basic monthly requirements, and inflation at more than 1,200 percent per month, the nation must brace itself for more serious strikes as workers fail to make ends meet."

Although the ZCTU, an ally of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party, has been a fervent critic of Mugabe, disillusionment with the ZANU-PF government's handling of the economy is spreading among government employees.

Edmore Tichareva, executive secretary of the Public Service Association (PSA), commented that "The PSA, having noted with great concern that the salaries that were awarded civil servants in January 2007 had been eroded by inflation long before they were earned, has resolved to engage the government with a view to have this matter addressed."

The association has not ruled out the possibility of strike action. "In the meantime, the provincial structures of the PSA have been requested to hold meetings with members to plan for the way forward in the event that we do not get the relief we are seeking," Tichareva said.

Tendai Chikowore, president of the Zimbabwe Teachers' Association, (ZIMTA) said the association's members were becoming worn down by the government's failure to put inflation in check and were "being short-changed, and thus heavily paying for their understanding, patience and resilience." ZIMTA is widely regarded as a pro-government body.

Go Figure
_____________

$92† cost of monthly basics

$30 average teacher salary

$18 minimum wage

_______________


"Although teachers were awarded an increment in salaries and allowances with effect from January 2007, failure by the government to bring down inflation and stabilise prices of goods and services has rendered these increments a non-event. Low remuneration has further reduced the status and image of teachers, who cannot afford to buy decent clothing in order to conform to the professional dress code," he said.

The secretary-general of the Progressive Teachers' Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ), Raymond Majongwe, told IRIN that his members had been on strike since the beginning of 2007 and were demanding a monthly salary of Z$650,000 (US$130) instead of their current salary of Z$150,000 (US$30). He said about 5,000 teachers were leaving the country annually to seek employment elsewhere.

"Our members are going to school but are not teaching. We demand that all children of teachers should also be exempted from paying school fees as a benefit similar to that offered to war veterans."

War veterans were the catalyst for Mugabe's fast-track land reform programme, launched in 2000, which saw white farmland redistributed to landless blacks, an event widely seen as the departure point for the country's economic meltdown after the government failed to provide agricultural inputs to the new farmers.

Promise Mkhwananzi, president of the Zimbabwe National Students' Union, (ZINASU) said students were preparing for strike action because the tuition fees of Z$560,000 (US$112) a semester had become unaffordable. "ZINASU shall embark on an indefinite lecture boycott from February 14 if the government fails to address our plight."

Leadership question

A faction of the divided MDC opposition party, led by Prof Arthur Mutambara, was planning street protests over the "untold hardships" of ordinary Zimbabweans. "The 'No' campaign is about demanding, mobilising, organising and collectively engaging in resistance for the restoration of democracy, political freedoms and our dignity as a people," he said.

Mugabe's former spindoctor, Jonathan Moyo, recently dismissed the MDC as an ineffective agent of change and said the real opposition to government in Zimbabwe had become the economy and the race to succeed Mugabe as president.

"If there is one unified truth among otherwise divided Zimbabweans, a truth now also ringing true within key governmental and nongovernmental centres of regional, continental and international opinion, it is that the country's seven-year-old economic recession will worsen ... unless and until there is a far-reaching political settlement of the five-year-old Zimbabwean leadership question."

Mugabe assumed the presidency in 1980, when the country achieved independence from Britain, and was expected to step down in 2008, but is proposing to stay in office until 2010.

"If Mugabe has become so self-serving that he cannot do what everyone can see is the right thing, or if his security men have become so irresponsible that they want him to remain as their hostage while the country is bleeding, then the people of Zimbabwe, including those in ZANU-PF, should do the right thing by rising up to the challenge to save the country," Moyo said. "There is just no other option. Otherwise, chaos is looming."

* Official exchange rate†Z$250 to US$1


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

SW Radio Africa Hotseat Transcript - Margaret Dongo

On the Programme ĎHot Seatí Journalist Violet Gonda speaks to politician Margaret Dongo

Broadcast 06 February†2007

Violet Gonda: Our guest on the programme Hot Seat today is Margaret Dongo a former freedom fighter, politician, and social commentator. She went to fight in the war of liberation when she was 15 years old. After independence she worked in government for a number of years before leaving the ruling party and running as an independent candidate in 1995. Margaret Dongo is the first person to successfully challenge an election result in court, becoming the first independent MP in Zimbabwe. Mrs Dongo served in parliament until 2000 as President of the Zimbabwe Union of Democrats.

I started by asking her what she was doing now and whether she is still an active politician?


Margaret Dongo: Yes I am but it depends on how people determine oneís participation in politics, because what happens here normally in Zimbabwe is that one has to make noise in order to be heard so that thatís how they can gauge a person who is in active politics. But, let me say, you know, politics, itís a question of how you define politics. Politics as far as Iím concerned is that ability to bring about a change into the well being of the entire society. You can do it in a different way. Politics is not all about holding an office, but there are a lot of contributions that one can do outside office, which is still politics. So, Iím doing a lot of things, which are in line with the politics as well, and Iím still in politics, as I said, today.

Violet: What was it like being in ZANU PF and why did you break away from the party?

Margaret Dongo: Have a look, when we talk about my experience in ZANU PF I think itís important to share with other people. Iíve no regrets for being in ZANU PF anyway, I started in ZANU PF when I was fifteen years of age. But have a look, we should agree to disagree when things are going wrong, and I think thatís the starting point. And, what I think went wrong, as one of the former freedom fighters, I felt betrayed because I felt that the ideals of the liberation struggle were beginning to be betrayed as early as 1990 when I was actually making a lot of controversy and people could not agree with me and at times people ended up abusing me and thinking that how can a woman challenge these issues.

So, I felt betrayed in the sense that you know, we were not fighting to be as poor as what we are today, we were not fighting to live in abject poverty. We were not fighting for us to live like destitutes. We were not fighting to actually get in the shoes of the former as well. So what we were fighting for we thought we were going to bring an independent Zimbabwe. But, if you look round you find a situation where today you can even ask yourself when you go to certain parts of the country, especially in the rural areas, you ask yourself whether these people have had independence, whether they are in an independent Zimbabwe.

So, for me, I felt betrayed because we were not able to deliver the goods and because a lot of things were beginning to crop up like corruption, nepotism and everything, which helped to destroy the economy and the politics of this country. And this is why I left ZANU PF and those things have not yet been corrected and Iíve no dream of going back because it doesnít make any sense, Iím a principled person. For as long as the system is still as evil as before then why, because we were not fighting Smith as in colour, but we were fighting the discriminatory tendencies, all the law, the problems that we experienced during the colonial regime. And, those problems are even surfacing in a greater volume in a different situation, which is even worse. So, thatís why Iím saying the reason is thatís not what we were fighting for and thatís why I left.

Violet: And you served in Parliament until 2000, now why was it difficult to break through as an Independent?

Margaret Dongo: Let me tell you, you know you canít fight a lone battle. Thereís no way you can fight a lone battle and win a strong system like ZANU PF. ZANU PF is deep rooted. Itís a party that started as early as 1960ís and it came through the liberation struggle and the majority of the people, especially the rural, they still have that experience of the liberation struggle and they still have that in their mind. And, itís not easy to change people over night, so itís a process. So, it wouldnít be easy.

In fact, for me, I made a greater achievement as I have said, I am one of the proud persons that we can talk about because out of my strength, out of my position to be independent, it actually bore very good fruits which are sweet today because it has developed a lot of opposition from there. Because, if people could say Ďif Margaret can challenge as an Independent, why not men like us do the same way?í And, this is how, if you look at the history of our opposition political parties, they started from the 1990ís, even though we had other political parties operating before, but, Iím telling you, the most effective one actually mushroomed from the 1998 to date, before there wasnít. But, itís because of a mere challenge. If someone can challenge and other people can say ĎOK, if Margaret can challenge and nothing happened to her, why donít we come in?í

But, the problems that we have which I want to mention, as Zimbabweans, is that we have no unity. Our approach at times bears this tendency of undermining each other. You know we have bred brilliant leaders in this country but my worry is that they canít come together. They canít come together and share their ideas so as to win the system. As it is right now, for instance, if you look at the opposition movement, people are dismantled because they donít know exactly kuti what agenda does our opposition have, including even myself who is in opposition. Thatís why people are asking where is Margaret? Why? Because our people have been dismantled economically, politically and socially. They are busy running around trying to find bread and butter and they are busy running around trying to see how they can earn a living, and, right now, people donít know exactly, they have lost confidence, they donít know which way to take and this is why you find kuti Ö

Violet: Iíll come back to get your thoughts on the opposition movement in the country. But, I just wanted to go back to another issue, that the MDC became the biggest challenge to ZANU PF in 2000, now that was round the time that you left active politics. Was there no wisdom in you joining the MDC while you were an Independent?

Margaret Dongo: Have a look, there was but have a look, they never approached me, I want to be honest with you and Iím a bit disappointed because a lot of politics was played by using my name in any case. I only discover at times when Iím outside abroad or outside in the countries when Iím making a presentation or Iím at Conferences and so forth and get people to ask me. You know, Iíve never had a situation where we sat at a table and have people say ĎOK, Margaret, can we have your experience, can we share your ideas?

You know, this is a problem that we have in this country. People Ö and worse off, Iím a woman. I remember the one article I only read which I bought in South Africa, I was on my way back home, in which Morgan Tsvangirai was interviewed by one white lady from South Africa, and she said, and I quote, Ďoh, by the way, Margaret has been fighting a lone battle for a long time, why donít you tap her experience?í And, I think he said he has enough experience and enough people and he doesnít need anyone, and he never lifts up his phone and phone me. You know, when I looked at it, I looked at it from a gender perspective and I said Ďthatís typical of African mení. But anyway, itís not an issue as far as Iím concerned.

The issue is I also believe in multi party democracy and I also believe in unity of purpose. Itís not just a question of just saying Ďletís come togetherí, because if you mix rotten peas they will mess up others. You know, when you are in politics you have to work like a family; it has to be a family, it has to be a team, it has to be a marriage because itís a sacrifice. You want to take a sacrifice, this is a different challenge that you are taking, itís not like running a private company or whatever. You are talking about the welfare of the people, the well being of the people, you are going to carry a lot of lives on board. So you need to work as a team and you need to understand each other.

Fine, we come from different environments, we cannot click 100%, but politically, one way or the other you have to agree in terms of ideology and so forth. And, the other thing that one has to do is there has to be tolerance. People have to agree to agree, agree to disagree and agree to compromise. What we donít have in this country is that a leader always feels that his ideas are the best and for as long as we have that attitude, we are not going to get anywhere.

So, the issue is not about Margaret wanting to go it alone. Iíve seen it, Iíve had the experience. The Nationalists were so united in the Ď60ís and this is what is also attracted us to join them. And, even today, some of them, they are not happy with the current affairs, the current situation, but look at it, they are there lying idle and theyíve got a lot of ideas and a lot of experience that can be tapped and build a very strong opposition movement. But, itís the mentality of those that are in the forefront. The mentality that if X comes in will steal the show, if X comes in he or she is a former ZANU PF and may be a sell out. We havenít come together and say we want to solve the problem once and for all. Thereís no one individual that can conquer ZANU PF. We would need even people that are within ZANU PF. We would need even people that are in ZANU PF today.

I will give you a very good example Violet, which probably you might think that Iím diverting from your question. Look at the harmonisation debate, which is going on. Iím telling you, the best persons to stop that harmonisation are the ZANU PF people. Because, we have already made a mistake as an opposition. One, we donít have the majority in the Senate, we donít have the majority in the House of Assembly which I want to say and I want you to get to the public. We donít have the majority in those two Houses, and, any Government, which has the majority, would take an advantage of such opportunity and they can play around with the Constitution.

Even in South Africa when they had the two-thirds majority they were able to change their Constitution. If Blair would have the same situation, he would use the same you know. So, what we need to do is now to say ĎOK, fine, this is the problem that we have, what is the way forward and how can we go about it?í And, I would advise; the opposition should stop behaving like individuals and I think what they need to do is they should have respect. You know, I hate people who undermine people who have played a role in the liberation struggle. Fine, you can call them names, but it was a stepping-stone, you are coming from somewhere, the history is coming. You know whatever history comes up, it will still remain and what we forget is that history repeats itself. Iím telling you today we have a problem of the factions that have arisen from MDC factions Part One Tsvangirai and the Mutambara. Itís not new as far as we are concerned as former combatants. This has happened on several times in the Liberation Struggle but the question is Ďhow did ZANU PF manage to contain it?íÖ

Violet: Amai Dongo, I tell you what, I will ask you that question later on, before I forget let me just go back to what you said earlier on. You said you were not invited to join the MDC. Now, what about reports that said the MDC approached you just before the 2000 Parliamentary Election to stand on an MDC ticket for the Sunningdale Parliamentary seat but you allegedly refused because you wanted to stand as the President of the Opposition Party? Can you comment on that?

Margaret Dongo: Iím actually happy to comment on that because I want to give an end to that distortion. You know, people try to make mileage out of other people. Iíve never had a chance to talk to them even when I wasÖ, in fact they said to me that theyíve had enough support in terms of resources and ideas. Have a look, the people that I groomed in my party are some of the people who ended up in MDC; the (Fidelis) Mhashuís the Priscillaís (Misihairabwi), the majority, even the youth, you know it very well, are the ones that were groomed from the time I became an Independent. How then can I refuse? Iím a democrat; Iím a true democrat and Iíve told you, Iím prepared, even right now, Iím actually disappointed with the current situation and I donít know how I can make a contribution. Right now, I feel bad because honestly I say to myself ĎI should be making a contribution towards thisí, but how to, because the point of intervention, if you look at the politics, which is being played in this country, itís still very immature as far as Iím concerned.

Violet: And you mentioned earlier that as a war veteran you noticed how the Nationalists managed to contain rebellion or how people have said that ZANU PF may be hit by serious in fighting but that the ZANU PF house will remain in tact. What keeps them together? As a war veteran and as a person who was in ZANU PF can you shed some light into this?

Margaret Dongo: Have a look, thereís a lot of sacrifice that has been made by those Nationalists. When it comes to hardships they stick together and theyíve got a bond and whenever they had an agenda they will make sure kuti they will get, they will sail through. You know, itís different from the current opposition, when we want to have a demonstration or when we want to show our presence we will go to the youth and we will ask the youth to do it and to be the frontiers, we will go to the women and ask the women to be the frontiers. You look at the national leaders and ask yourself - where are they? Some of them have flown out to South Africa because they donít want to be affected by the labour unrest or the strikes, some of them are in Nyanga,

As for the Nationalists that I am talking about, they could stay in the camps, they could stay with the people in the rural areas, they could live in abject poverty for as long as they know what they are fighting for. Our people today, our opposition today, you cannot tell them to go and stay in the rural and to start conscientising the people, being part of the rural folk, there is nothing Violet. I am now living a rural life, Iím running projects in Manicaland, in Chimanimani and in Mhondoro, I spend most of my time in the rurals. And Iím telling you unless and until the opposition changes its strategy they will never win the rural areas. They will never win the rural areas because they are behaving like ZANU PF after independence. They go for election campaigns, when they win the seat they go to bed only to come to the surface during the national days when they come in as political tourists and display themselves; 21 st February Movement, this and that, thatís what brings them back to the people. Then, six months before the elections the Ruling Party is up. The Opposition is up, new parties are being formed and so forth, and what has been happening for the past five years? You dump the youth, you dump the women, you dump the rural people, you never took an advantage of that to say ĎOK, now we have lost, we learn our mistakes through this, letís go back, you do a post-mortem. By now the opposition should be able to identify their weaknesses in the rural areas.

And the other problem, which I need to mention is this, in politics I have learnt, I have made my own mistakes and I accept you should also learn to listen. That is the greatest challenge in politics. If you donít listen and you think Iím a leader, what I say goes, then you will never even taste the power. Because, at the end of the day, rural people; people undermine them a lot but I have discovered that they are very intelligent. You know I was in Mhondoro and I said Ďbut why you people are like what you are?í You know, I got a question, they said ĎOK fine, if we remove Mugabe who are we going to put in his place, weíve never seen anyone here?í

Some of the people whoíve been tortured during the elections who supported the opposition, theyíve actually gone in without support. Some of them have died and no one has visited them, no one has come back to find out to say what has happened to you. At the same time at the same token, I am in a constituency where I come from in Chipinge, this constituency was owned, was run by Ndabaningi Sithole for twenty five years and ZANU PF couldnít get hold of it until Ndabaningi was dead and then the MDC got the constituency. And guess what, and now that same constituency has gone back to ZANU PF and if you look back you will find out all the majority of the rural constituents which had been taken over, which the MDC had managed to break through are now going back to ZANU PF and you ask yourself to say have a look where have we gone wrong as the opposition, where have we gone wrong?

OK, accept to go back on the drawing board and say OK where have we gone wrong, what experience do we want to take from others, how can we go about it. How, Violet, can you take an urban person, turn an urban person to go and mobilise people in the rural? Why do you undermine their intelligence, why donít you go there and train the rural people and let the rural people, who speak the same language, develop each other. Why do you want to have the mentality that you come from Harare you go and campaign them and tell them that bread is very expensive in Harare. Itís the urban people who are worried about bread. The rural people are not worried about bread, they want to know if they will have sadza, they will have their maize, if there is drought they want to know how they are going to get their handouts.

Violet: But is it not also the case that there is no work by the opposition in the rural areas because there are limitations. The rural areas have been sealed off by the ruling party and any work done there has to be done by ZANU PF who have Chiefs and Headmen who are Pro-ZANU PF?

Margaret Dongo: No not at all, not in the areas that I have been to including Mataga, Zvishavane. No, these people, letís not mix things; politics and development. Some people know exactly what development is all about. Letís not mix politics and development. I think thatís where we have our problem because I donít think, if you look at the poverty which is in the rurals today, and anyone would actually chose to say I will get these handouts because they are from ZANU or I will get these handouts because they are from MDC or I will get these handouts because they are from party X. There is nothing like that. People want to develop themselves, people want to be empowered. Because they are not well empowered they are manipulated by the ruling party, this is what people should know. They are manipulated heavily by the ruling party. But if there are people who are attached to them who will orientate them, who will explain to them, who teach them, who talk to them everyday, who mix with them and study their behaviour, honestly the opposition would be able to sail through because people in the rural areas have also had enough. They have had enough of it but, have a look, there is no one else who comes in. Itís either ZANU PF, they come in, like now of course, we are going to have drought in a number of areas, the rains are not consistent. They know very well that those are the people who are coming back. We can still educate them that theyíve got a right to that food.

You know whatís important with rural people is if you show your presence theyíve respect for you. It doesnít have to be Morgan (Tsvangirai) to go to a rural, but if he has structures, the structures like for ZANU PF, those structures can operate with or without him. Mugabe doesnít have to be everywhere. You know, the way ZANU PF has built its structures this is why it has become difficult for people to uproot those structures and I think this is what the opposition is required to do. You know, after every election, if you lose you need to go back, consolidate your structure, start again and find out where you went wrong and thatís what we need to do.

Violet: No, thatís what I wanted to ask you that you know the Tsvangirai MDC says it will soon launch a campaign for the 2008 elections, now I was going to ask that do you see the MDC being able to break through the rural population in time for next yearís election - if the elections are held in 2008?

Margaret Dongo: They will soon launch an election for the rural campaign, where were they since 2000? I want you to answer me, where were they since 2000? Where were they since 2002 when the last Presidential election ended? You should learn from even the region. Look at Zambia, when we had the elections when the contestant was beaten by was it Mwanawasa, you have to find the correct record. You know, the President who was trailing behind the current President, you know what he did? A week after the elections there was already an issue that he had launched his Presidential campaign for the next election. Isnít it too bad, how do you feel about that? That person knows that it takes time to win the peopleís minds isnít it? Already after the vote count, a week after the vote count he had already launched his Presidential elections, he didnít even know when the elections are! Because he wanted to keep together, to keep the momentum with the people, thatís what he wanted to do.

And he (Tsvangirai MDC) was saying, OK, we are going to launch our campaign for the rural areas 2007 because we want elections 2008. Whatís the difference between you and ZANU PF? By today, by right now, we should be working flat out, all opposition, even if we have differences, we should be working flat out in the rural areas saying OK identify, by now we should have had a team doing research seeing what are the needs, what are the requirements, where have we gone wrong. So that now Parties have to come up with policies and we give them direction, we direct them to say this is how, these are the requirements of the rural folk.

Violet Gonda: Join us next Tuesday for the final segment with Margaret Dongo where we ask what sort of strategy t he pro democracy elements can come up with to attract and motivate people in the rural areas? Many groups in Zimbabwe have gone on strike demanding better working conditions while attempts by the opposition to organise peaceful demonstrations against the Mugabe regime have failed. Is it now up to angry workers to trigger street protests?

Audio interview can be heard on SW Radio Africa ís Hot Seat programme (Tues 6 February 2007). Comments and feedback can be emailed to violet@swradioafrica.com


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Cost of living up again

The Herald

By Joseph Madzimure

THE cost of living for a family of six for the month of January has surged
to $458 986,17 from $245 661,79 in December 2006 reflecting an 86,8 percent
increase.

In its monthly report, the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe said significant
increases were recorded in the cost of education which rose 261,9 percent,
white sugar 255,6 percent, roller meal 235,6 percent, transport 190,9
percent, bread 179 percent, clothing and footwear 119 percent, vegetables
131 percent and cooking oil by 91 percent.

Recent increases in both primary and secondary school fees throughout the
country made education the major mover.

CCZ observed, however, that all fee increases were within parameters set by
the Ministry of Education, Sport and Culture.

The consumer watchdog expressed dismay at the increase in the prices of
basic commodities in

the period between December 2006 and January this year.

"Prices of most basic commodities have increased by worrying margins, a
situation which has brought untold suffering to most consumers whose
salaries have lagged behind while prices skyrocketed," said the consumer
watchdog.

According to the CCZ, most of the price increases had been effected soon
after Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor Dr Gideon Gono unveiled his 2006
end-of-year monetary policy review statement last week.

The consumer watchdog blamed the recent prices on speculative behaviour in
anticipation of devaluation, explaining that some of the increases were
motivated by greed or profiteering.

"CCZ does not condemn all price increases but calls on business people to
properly and justifiably effect price increases and not to rip off consumers
in the hope of making super profits. Increases should be based on factors of
production," it said.

CCZ said the National Incomes and Pricing Commission was the only hope for
addressing the current mismatch between prices and incomes.

The consumer watchdog also welcomed calls made by Dr Gono for a social
contract embracing labour, business and Government as a step in the right
direction.

"The resumption of the Tripartite Negotiating Forum will pave way for the
social dialogue. Therefore, it will be a welcome move," added CCZ.

CCZ noted with concern the continued unavailability of basic commodities
such as cooking oil, sugar, maize meal and flour on the formal market.

Although these products have been disappearing from the formal market since
last December, they are readily available at above the gazetted prices on
the illegal informal market.

CCZ said although bread supplies had improved significantly following a
price increase granted by Government on December 21 last year, the consumer
watchdog was concerned with the quality of bread on offer.

Recent surveys conducted by the CCZ in conjunction with the Trade Measures
Department, revealed shocking cases of underweight bread, weighing 430g
instead of the recommended 700g.

While the modalities of the social contract were being worked out, consumers
were urged to be vigilant to avoid being ripped off by unscrupulous business
people bent on profiteering.

The social contract is expected to come into effect on March 1.


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Electricity regulatory body in bid to up tariffs

The Herald

Business Reporters

THE Zimbabwe Electricity Regulatory Commission is holding stakeholder
meetings to seek approval for a tariff increase that will enable them to
offer affordable and reliable services.

The meetings are meant to appraise the players in industry, domestic and
commercial consumers on the need to charge economic rates that would permit
Zesa Holdings to operate competitively.

In an interview, ZERC Commissioner-General Dr Mavis Chidzonga said the power
utility needed to charge viable tariffs if it was to attract investors and
continue to provide power to consumers.

"We are currently holding meetings with different stakeholders to find a way
through which we can charge economic rates without burdening our consumers.

"While we feel it is imperative that power remains affordable to consumers,
as a power commission we recognise the importance of charging sustainable
tariffs.

"We are charging sub-economic tariffs. The electricity bills customers are
paying are sub-economic, compared to other sources of fuel such as firewood,
candles and diesel. The tariffs are too low to sustain effective
operations," she noted.

She added that it did not make economic sense for Zesa to charge $5 for a
kilowatt when it costs the utility $90 to produce it.

"This has been compounded by the fact that we are importing almost half the
country's power needs at a cost of US$0,02 per kilowatt and selling it at
far less.

"This means Zimbabwe as a country is not the only one providing the cheapest
electricity in the region but is actually subsidising consumers," she said.

Dr Chidzonga said after gathering stakeholders' views ZERC would then lobby
the Government to approve the proposed increases.

Last month, acting Zesa chairman Professor Christopher Chetsanga told
journalists the power utility was in the red and required US$2,5 billion to
implement projects such as the Batoka hydro plant, Gokwe North power thermal
plant and the Lupane gas project.

In 2006, the parastatal spent $66 billion against revenue of $26 billion,
incurring a deficit of $34 billion, which has since ballooned to $105
billion due to interest charges.


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Central bank plans to fortify defense of Zimbabwean dollar

People's Daily

The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) this year plans to fortify its defense of
the Zimbabwean dollar in view of continued losses against major trading
currencies, with economists throwing their weight behind the no-devaluation
position adopted in the latest monetary policy statement, The Herald
reported on Tuesday.

According to the apex bank, exchange rate stability is one of the key
factors in containing high inflation expectations, as the economy seeks to
return to normalcy.

The newspaper quoted the RBZ as saying that current price disequilibrium
between supply and demand had had a destabilizing effect on the exchange
rate on the official market.

The parallel market was driven by speculation, the apex bank noted, brushing
aside calls for devaluation by the business community, the newspaper said.

The exchange rate is currently pegged at 250 Zimbabwean dollars against the
greenback compared with over 4,500 Zimbabwean dollars on the parallel
market.

Meanwhile, some economic commentators have welcomed the RBZ's stance, saying
the country could not afford to adjust its currency further against the U.S.
dollar, at least for now, particularly in the absence of substantial foreign
currency inflows.

Source: Xinhua


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

A new type of dissident

The Zimbabwean

BY EDDIE CROSS
KADOMA - Pius Wakatama, a good friend for many years and one of Zimbabwe's
foremost thinkers and intellectuals as well as a writer, is one of the
Christian leaders arrested. He was separated from the majority and taken to
the central police station where he found himself locked up with 30 others
in a cell designed for four. Standing room only.
My wife was locked up under similar circumstances last year - she was with
23 others in a cell and said they could not all lie down at night at one
time.
Pius led the entire cell population in prayers and in singing well-known
hymns and after 24 hours in the cell, he asked to be moved to another cell.
"Why?" The police asked, "All those in my present cell have become
Christians and now support the Alliance. I need a new congregation to work
with!" Pius responded.
This time the Mugabe regime better sit up and take note, they are now
dealing with a new type of dissident!


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

How economic regulation yields poverty

WorldNetDaily

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Posted: February 7, 2007
1:00 a.m. Eastern

If you're looking for a map of world poverty, check out the "2007 Index of
Economic Freedom" jointly published by the Heritage Foundation and the Wall
Street Journal. You might think that's a strangely titled source for a
poverty map.

The 13th edition of the "Index of Economic Freedom" examines 10 economic
characteristics of 157 countries. Among those characteristics are property
rights, monetary stability, and freedom from government, trade restrictions,
business regulations and government corruption. Using these measures of
economic freedom, countries are ranked.

Hong Kong and Singapore, as they have for 13 years, rank as the world's two
economically freest countries, with freedom scores of 89 and 86 percent
free. Rounding out the top 10 freest economies are Australia (83), United
States (82), New Zealand (82), United Kingdom (82), Ireland (81), Luxembourg
(79), Switzerland (79) and Canada (79).

At the other end of the list are the least free countries. Ranking 157th,
North Korea, with a freedom score of 3 percent, is the world's least free
country. Ranking 156th is Cuba, 30 percent free, and in ascending order are:
Libya (34) Zimbabwe (36), Burma (40), Turkmenistan (42), Congo (43), Iran
(43), Angola (43), and Guinea-Bassau (45).

The "2007 Index of Economic Freedom" displays a color-coded map showing
countries that are free, mostly free, moderately free, mostly unfree and
repressed. Guess where one finds the world's most miserably poor people? If
you guessed the mostly unfree and repressed countries, you guessed
correctly.

Some people claim that some countries are rich because of abundant natural
resources. That's nonsense! Africa and South America are probably the
richest continents in natural resources, but are home to some of the world's
poorest people. By contrast, countries like England, Japan and Hong Kong are
poor in natural resources, but their people are among the world's
wealthiest. Hong Kong even has to import its food and water. Some people use
the history of colonialism as an excuse for poverty. That's also nonsense.
The United States was a colony. So were Canada, Australia, New Zealand and
Hong Kong, but they're rich countries.

The reason some countries are rich while others are poor is best explained
by the amount of economic freedom its peoples enjoy and the extent of
government control over economic matters. Don't make the mistake of equating
economic freedom with democracy. After all, India, politically, is a
democracy, but economically it is mostly unfree and poor, ranking 104th in
economic freedom. There are countries on the economic freedom index that do
not have much of a history of democracy, such as Chile, ranking 11th, and
Taiwan, 26th, and yet these countries are far wealthier than some of their
more democratic counterparts. Why? It's because their economic systems are
free or mostly free, which is not guaranteed by a democratic political
system.

The economic development lesson is clear: Have a system of economic freedom
and grow rich. Extensive government control, weak property rights and
government corruption almost guarantee poverty. A country's institutional
infrastructure is critical to its economic growth and the well-being of its
citizens. The most critical are protection of private property, enforcement
of contracts and rule of law.

To help our fellow man around the world, we must convince him to create the
institutional infrastructure for wealth creation. Foreign aid, International
Monetary Fund bailouts and other handouts are not substitutes. They just
make political survival possible for the elite whose self-serving policies
keep a nation poor. Except for immediate disaster relief, foreign aid is
probably the worst thing the West can do for poor countries. After all, how
much foreign aid is necessary for a country to create the foundations for
growth: rule of law, enforcement of contracts and private property rights
protection?


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Report on Civil Society Participation in AU Summit as 'Observers'

Reconnecting the New Zimbabwe Processes for Change with Africa at the
African Union (AU) Summit - Addis Ababa Ė Ethiopia.
Late Thursday evening on 25 January we landed at Addis Ababa Airport with
other SADC AU Summit guests. Our tall white-haired host held up the ĎAUí
placard for disembarking passengers and called out at us, now standing on
the tarmac in front of him, ĎGraca Machelí looking at Grace Kwinjeh there.
Together passengers laughed humorously. He joined us as we pointed out the
group on the tarmac where the gracious Ms Graca Machel stood with her
delegation, awaiting hosts to facilitate their visit. We were in Africaís
home base chosen by OAU Founders! Our welcome began in a happy, jovial,
serious, dignified environment, where respect for others, remains one of the
key shared values among Africaís diverse peoples.
Our host led us to the VIP lounge where arriving guests gathered in
comfortable seats. We took ours and awaited instructions. Our passports were
taken from us, returned stamped a few minutes later. As we relaxed one
Foreign Affairs official called out, ĎHarareí giving us a surprise. A group
at the end of the VIP lounge got on its feet. That call was for Foreign
Minister Simbarashe Mbengegwiís government delegation in the room. Their
luggage and transport were ready. Well-coordinated and efficient officials
took guests without confirmed accommodation, and negotiated rooms for them
in hotels, booked out in the whole city.
Registration
We missed our pre AU Summit Gender event, which ended the day we arrived. We
went to AU offices in time to register for the 13th Ordinary Session of the
PRC, the 10th Ordinary Session of the Executive Council, 22 Ė 26 January,
the Foreign Ministersí meeting. We mingled as we saw fit. It was so for the
rest of Summit!
With our invitations we registered as ĎObserversí for the Ď8th Ordinary
Session of the Assembly 29-30 January 2007í read our badges for the Heads of
State Summit.† Rushing to the venue, we bumped into old colleagues who were
surprised we came.
The Science and Technology Exhibition
To get into the ECA building, where Heads of State met, one walked through
the Science and Technology Exhibition first, held in line with the 2007 AU
theme. Zimbabwe was well represented, with Dr Sam Muchenaís stand of the
ĎAfrican Fertilizer Development Centerí in Harare with his ĎDwarfí Seed
Maize discovery for dry regions of the world, at the beginning of the
stands. We viewed his work and othersí. As we moved to the Nigerian stand,
one in full traditional regalia asked to be photographed with my African
hairstyle! Luck it was. Welcomes came from all we met. We collected the
leaflets on ĎFootballí, ĎClimate Changeí. It was inspirational!
Purpose of Participation
A number of well-considered objectives led to the Partyís decision to
participate in the AU Summit. The International Affairs Department was key.
In line with the ongoing Party Policy updating process, Dr Eliphas
Mukonoweshuro, Secretary for International Affairs and his Committee, like
all departments, produced their Policy blueprint. Based on that they mapped
out this yearís exciting program. The AU Summit was an opportunity to
publicize our 2007 ĎZimbabwe Broad Allianceí activities in the ĎSave
Zimbabwe Campaigní now rolling on the ground at home, hence our registering
as NGOs, instead of fighting new frontiers as opposition party.
Another objective for attending arose from the Policy and Research
department tasked by the President to among other tasks develop ways to
reverse the brain drain in Zimbabwe as well as attract back Zimbabwean
expertise abroad. The department has slowly organized some methodologies to
finally implement the project. The AU and ECA environments were seen as
ideal starting points to further brainstorm with Zimbabwean experts, how
such a project might get off the ground here in Africa.
It was inappropriate given our objectives that we speak to media while in
the middle of difficult attempts to understand how best to participate in
the AU process, to maximize our gains on all fronts. We carried messages
from our President Morgan Tsvangirai to delegates, to his colleagues and
from Dr Mukonoweshuro to his counterparts. He could not attend. He was
marking Doctoral theses at his old University in the UK. There are
encouraging responses to both.
The People of Ethiopia
I have visited Ethiopia before but with other NGO activists around MDCís
launch. I had not been exposed to its historical uniqueness in Africa before
this visit. I was sad that the Meles government had locked up Opposition and
civil society leaders. We†† went ahead with our mission to face whatever
fate we met with there!
What hit me was the impressive welcome team at Addis Ababa airport. The
hotel, our transport coordinator and officials were excellent. There was
poverty.† Positive was that government policy led to intensive modern
reconstruction everywhere. In our Zimbabwe, by government policy, law
officers who must protect citizens are used to mass destroy, even solid
utilizable structures, peopleís homes and businesses. Shanties in Addis
Ababa center are being removed, as new complexes on its outskirts are
completed. There is visible planned destruction, as new housing, businesses
premises and services become available. People moved! Diaspora money is
pouring into the city to build up modern skyscrapers. Ethiopia is on the
move!
President Meles, we read, lost EU support over his governmentís treatment of
the opposition and NGOs. With diaspora contributions, he is decentralizing
and investing solid money into communities in Ethiopiaís hinterland,
neglected for long by his predecessors. We watched tv as he and his team met
these on ĎPastoralistsí Dayí where serious discussions on their development
plans, with central government funding were held. The new policy and process
is in all parts of the country we read.
Zimbabweans in Addis Ababa
There is still a living spirit of Zimbabwe. We all carry it wherever we go.
We carried this with us to Ethiopia. Each time we met Zimbabweans, I felt it
in all of us as our expatriate country people came to quiz us mercilessly
about what progress we as the Opposition and civil society were making to
bring change and transformation for everyone to return home. We were just
happy that we met. I told them that we want Zimbabweans whatever their
political stance to organize themselves now to participate in the countryís
massive urgent reconstruction! We went onto to detail all the current
developments on the ground and left them in better spirits each time.
There is a small population of Zimbabweans in Addis that includes the worldís
top class experts in a variety of specialized fields, some of who for years
have held permanent senior posts in international organizations. As
consultants in many areas they were doing remarkable work in Environment,
Human Rights, Policy, Population, Labor, Gender, Communications, Posts and
Telecommunications, HIV AIDS and many other specialized fields, we were told
by some of their colleagues. It was encouraging for us that there was a fair
proportion of our best women professionals doing outstanding work, in the
areas mentioned above, we heard. I was proud that even with our tragedy at
home, our talent was serving Africa, and the world!† My task as Secretary
for Policy was how to get them home to reconstruct.
NGOs Ė The Backdrop
The World Social Forum just ended in Nairobi when we arrived in Addis. Some
activists went from that to the AU Summit. There were signs of intensive NGO
activity printed all over Addis Ababa wherever we went. We nearly caught up
with some NGO activity at one of the hotels where there was an NGO Press
Conference, which would have been one of their closing events, just before
the Foreign Ministers began their deliberations. I was inspired by that they
had just put Peoples demands for an inclusive AU. We, I am sure, benefited
from that NGO campaign.
The AU Process Today
Complex ongoing AU processes unfolded as Zimbabwe was overshadowed by
events in Somalia and Darfur. Many hoped that Zimbabweans would unite to
allow for dialogue to solve the crisis. SADC could only support a consensus
solution by Zimbabweans. People were fully informed and sad about Zimbabwe
and had visited that country to meet solid, welcoming, hard working and
serious people!
Zimbabwe Government Delegation
After we bumped into the government delegation on arrival at Addis airport
VIP lounge we met some at each of the events held. Not once did we exchange
greetings, an appalling situation, no doubt noticed by those who know our
story. We were faced each time we moved around by vicious Zimbabwe
government propaganda about us. The countryís civil society and Opposition
is mud in Africa. For the first time we from Zimbabwe were present to put
our side of the story. We did so politely and focused our responses on
providing factual and historical data, which properly related to Africa, is
enough ammunition to win our war with our people. It worked.
Many, including Zimbabweans, succumbed to our ruling Party propaganda, and
in each conversation, many made the following key points below:
∑††††††† Zimbabweans aligned to the ruling Party and civil society and
Opposition speak like day and night about home. The country is heavily
polarized.
∑††††††† Concern in Africa is that civil society and Opposition MDC seem not
to understand/respect Liberation Movement legacies.
∑††††††† The failure to crack the Mugabe regime in-spite of his excesses may
stem from the Opposition and civil societyís underestimating him through
their lack of appreciation of themselves today, as the inheritors building
on and continuing the legacy of Liberation and its achievements, now so
distorted by Mugabe.
∑††††††† MDC did not offer a credible alternative for several reasons stated
below:
∑††††††† MDC must learn that solutions come from honest in-depth discussions
between parties, away from media for lasting solutions. MDC does business in
the press to destroy prospects for resolving conflict.
∑††††††† Civil society and Opposition have failed to manage white members in
ranks of both parties. A 2007 Summit example was given.
∑††††††† October 12, 2005 split confirmed doubts about MDC leadershipís lack
of grasp of their role as liberators in a failed state. The split was a huge
backward step.
∑††††††† MDC messages on what we stand for remain unclear.
∑††††††† Continued exclusion of qualified, able women from leadership in
both MDCs demonstrates that both groups have failed to comply with AU policy
of equal gender representation at all levels in organizations.
Response
We responded in detail to all observations above arrived at without our
input. In the first place we pointed out the current programs rolling out on
the ground by different civil society groups and the actions for change
ongoing activities by MDC throughout the country. This new atmosphere is
broadening the shrinking democratic space. We demonstrated the seriousness
and MDC principles, which mark the real differences between the politics of
the ruling Party and MDC today.
MDC President is President in All Zimbabwe
We showed how our President Morgan Tsvangirai is the worldís best messenger
of Peace. He has refused to allow anyone in our Party to even bring up the
suggestion of violence/armed struggle, as the tool for change in Zimbabwe.
He has held to Peaceful Change as our winning strategy both short and long
term. This Ďvalueí in our President is overlooked. We explained that in all
parts of the country, it is President Morgan Tsvangirai who is the symbol of
Unity, Peace and Stability in the present chaos experienced by all at home.
President Tsvangirai is the unifying force. This is reality. The largest
hurdle to liberation has been overcome by Zimbabweans. We have an elected
leader most agree upon, to take us into our transition to build the
transformation foundations for the New Zimbabwe! Tsvangirai we said is our
person.
The AU Summit
The AU Commission has 10 distinguished people from Africa, a 5 women and 5
men team, complying with gender and regional equity AU requirements. At the
helm now is distinguished scholar and politician, Malian Professor Alpha
Oumar Konare and his Deputy, Rwandese liberation stalwart and distinguished
diplomat Patrick Mazimhaka. They defined the mood of the Summit in their
final year. This July a new team is elected to take over for 4 years. This
was empowering. Lucia Matibenga and I were the delegation in Maputo when
this team took over some four years ago.
The Mood
The Summit was formal. But in Africa even such events are laced with humor,
to capture rare precious moments when we are together, to build. The tempo
is electric. The desire is to drive forward through dialogue, include every
side in disputes, with mediators behind closed doors, to conflict resolve
together. The dress, mannerisms, expressions and coolness amidst such
volatile situations in their diversity, had an air of determination and
clarity of purpose. The decision to deny Sudanís President this yearís AU
Presidency is an example of this iron determination and clarity of purpose.
Rwandaís ĎGachachaí Program for Healing the Whole Society
One example of the African approach is embodied in Rwandaís President Paul
Kagameís unique ĎGachachaí Traditional Legal System, for Conflict
Resolution, an integral part of Rwandaís post genocide policy for internal
healing of that society. Africa wants to recreate its own methods to get the
continent back on its feet such as ĎGachachaí practiced in Rwanda for a
decade now. It is to quicken and smooth Ďjustice processesí at grassroots
too. AU provides an opportunity to Africaís women and men from all parts, to
contribute to our reconstruction, in stipulated time frames and relevant
people driven programs.
The Diaspora Ė Present Too!
Africans in the diaspora came too, some for the first time to witness,
participate, others to be energized by being home! The mix was spectacular
and for me, healing!
The New United Nations (UN) Secretary Generalís Press Conference
I attended the New UN Secretary Generalís Press Conference without
expectations and came away strengthened by his outline. He arrived with his
impressive team of women and men of all races and ages. Confidently he took
his place at the front of the room and addressed the room packed with press.
The center of his delivery was that poverty in Africa is slow to eradicate.
Its MDGs are the slowest among all countries to yield concrete sustainable
results. This had to change. His plan was through women and youth programs
to hope change this situation to bring Africa onto a par with the rest of
the world. Questions followed. He responded. The session ended and he left.
What more could one ask for?
The International Community Ė Present
There was full diplomatic presence of the Embassies based in Ethiopia. As
well as them were for most countries senior politicians and policymakers
from around the world who came to attend. We spoke to those we could.
Lobbying in the Corridors During Breaks
Much work was done in informal settings outside meetings. The Presidentsí
closed sessions were lengthy but produced concrete executable resolutions
for problems outlined. The AU remains in solidarity with OAU founding
principles to Unite Africa, underlying their decision to locate their
headquarters in Ethiopia. Whatever pushed them to act rubbed on me as it did
on many others at this Summit. Africa I concluded is slowly but surely on
the Move!
Delegation Achievements
Achievements made include that we got to Ethiopia, successfully registered,
attended the Summit as Observers, mingled with everyone we could, but most
important is that this time around, South Africa did not organize to get our
delegation removed from the Summit, as has consistently happened in the past
in international gatherings. The best of all was to see that who-ever we
spoke with, many were just happy to witness that MDC and civil society were
still up and running around, when they heard what we had to say to their
hard questioning!
I was sad, it was time to say goodbye to relatives, to old and new friends,
to Addis Ababa. I am grateful to our International Affairs Department, NGOs
and Partners who worked hard to get us there to experience this, for the
rare opportunity to attend the AU Summit again. We arrived home safely to
anxious families, happy to have us back in good health. It was time to
confidently report to colleagues at home, and to join everyone on the ground
in our many activities for change in 2007!
Sekai Holland,
Harare.
February 6, 2007.


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Cash woes force Zimbabwe to cancel soccer match

Reuters

††††† Wed Feb 7, 2007 4:41 PM GMT

HARARE (Reuters) - Zimbabwe have been forced to cancel a planned friendly
against Lesotho on Wednesday because they could not raise the money for the
trip, the state-run Herald newspaper reported on Wednesday.

The Zimbabwe Football Association were unable to find a sponsor for the
$33,480 needed for the trip to Maseru.

Zimbabwe had hoped to field a full-strength side, including their Portsmouth
striker Benjani Mwaruwari, in a warm-up game before an African Nations Cup
qualifier against Morocco in Harare next month.

"This means we will only have basically three days of full training before
we play Morocco and this leaves us with a mountain to climb if we are to be
really prepared," coach Charles Mhlauri told the newspaper.


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Mutasa ranting again

Sent: Wednesday, February 07, 2007 7:02 PM
Subject: Mutasa



From 4000 odd productive farmers and ranchers we are down to about 600 still
living on their farms, many of which are not farming but just live in their
homes because they have no where else to go.

It must be remembered that only the courts can issue an eviction order and
this only after the farmer has been convicted, this means that some 3600 odd
farmers were illegally evicted from their farms, many violently. This has
constituted a gross human rights abuse to these farmers and their workers
who have suffered probably most of all.

The one thing that I would like to straighten with the world media is the
misconception that Mugabe has taken the land for the landless.
Any investigation into what has happened in the last seven years and even
before that, the Gukurahundi (Matabeleland massacres), Murambatsvina
(destruction of the shanty towns etc.) and how he has beaten down with force
any opposition to his will. Who has all the most productive farms anyway? It
's the elite, the Generals, his ministers and even important people who are
not Zimbabweans. He has put the very same people in charge of all the
Parastatals. (Government owned businesses) Mugabe had to have something to
give all his followers so to keep them loyal and the land was the only thing
he had left. He is desperate to stay in power until he dies, because he
faces genocide, and many other human rights charges, as did Hussein,
Mengistu and Charles Taylor. No! he did not take the land from the white
farmers to give to the landless; he took the land to keep himself in power.
Several times the Commercial Farmers Union in Zimbabwe offered to assist the
Government with a legitimate redistribution of land, there were still
thousands of hectares of land available for this and many farmers were
willing to sell land for this exercise.

We ask reporters to investigate this and report the land issue correctly, as
it is the truth and important to the criminalized and traumatized farmers
and their workers.

Regards
Gerry Whitehead

From Zim Online (SA), 6 February
Harare says will arrest defiant white farmers
Harare - The Zimbabwean government says it will soon arrest white farmers
who failed to meet a weekend deadline to move out of their properties to
make way for newly resettled black farmers. State Security Minister Didymus
Mutasa, who is also in charge of land reforms, told Zim Online on Monday
that the police will swoop on the defiant white farmers who ignored the 3
February deadline to quit their farms. Under the government's Gazetted Farms
(Consequential Provisions) Act, white farmers had until last Saturday to
move out of the properties or face arrest. At least 150 out of the remaining
600 white farmers were issued with eviction notices last year under the new
Act. The main white farmer representative body, the Commercial Farmers Union
(CFU) at the weekend advised its members to defy the directive to move out
saying arrests were the only way their case could be heard. "We are still
assessing who is gone and who has refused. Those who are clever have already
left their farms as required by law. "Those that are saying they will defy
the law will soon find out that they are not clever at all when the police
start doing their job. They will be arrested," said Mutasa.

Mutasa is a close confidante of President Robert Mugabe. The security
minister last month caused a stir when he said that the government was going
ahead with plans to weed out all the remaining white farmers with only a
"few lucky ones" to remain on their properties. "We want to bring finality
to the land issue and those who stubbornly stand in our way will face the
music. We have enough laws, enough jails for anyone who compromises
government policies by deliberately breaking the law. We are not afraid of
white farmers, and our history shows that," added Mutasa. Between 400 and
600 white farmers remain on the land out of the about 4 000 who were farming
in Zimbabwe before the government launched its chaotic and often violent
land redistribution exercise seven years ago. Zimbabwe, which is grappling
with its worst ever economic recession, has since 2000 relied on food
imports and handouts from international food agencies because the new black
farmers failed to maintain production on the former white farms.

Several other issues must be borne in mind about these tragic events.

1. This is a racial programme - a form of racial cleansing just as savage as
anything carried out by the Apartheid regime in South Africa with their
forced removals that are now being reversed by the South African government.

2. The people affected own their farms and their homes - over 80 per cent
had permission from the Mugabe regime to buy their properties after
independence in 1980 when it was compulsory for farms to be offered to the
State for land resettlement if it was being sold.

3. These land owners are protected by the past and present constitution.
They have broken no laws and have in good faith, planted crops that are now
maturing.

4. No compensation of any kind is being offered and what has been put on the
table represents a tiny part of the value of these assets.

5. Nearly all the farms taken over by force in the past 7 years are now
derelict and unproductive.

This is insanity and we will have every right to lock Mutasa and his cohorts
up in a mental asylum for what they are doing.

Eddie Cross


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Mugabe's reshuffle: rearranging the deck of a sinking Titanic



Robert Mugabe's much-vaunted Cabinet reshuffle confirms that the Zanu PF
regime has finally crash-landed as evidenced by the assemblage of yet
another coterie of corruption barons,† racketeers and dead-wood.

Impeccable sources in Mugabe's inner circle say Finance Minister Hebert
Murerwa had already resigned two weeks ago following frustration over Mugabe's
backing of Reserve Bank Governor Gideon Gono's quasi-fiscal activities,
which have increased money supply and resulted in a world-record inflation
rate of over 1 000 percent. Murerwa may be gone, but one log less from a
pile of dead-wood will not substantively change the nature and composition
of Mugabe's wooden Cabinet.

In any case, Mugabe's finance ministers, starting from Nkosana Moyo, Simba
Makoni and now Murerwa, have all resigned after the Zanu PF sharks at the
feeding trough refused to listen to economic logic.

As usual, the so-called reshuffle was simply a rearrangement of the deck of
a sinking Titanic. No amount of window-dressing will mitigate the fate of
the Zanu PF ship that is definitely destined for the iceberg. Merely
transferring faces from one ministry to the other will not resolve the
country's political and economic crisis. What is simply needed is a change
of government. Only a new and legitimate government, with the full mandate
and support of the people of Zimbabwe, will put the country back on the
rails.

Expecting tired and recycled ideas to change the nation's economic fortunes
is like giving cafenol to a patient in the intensive care unit. Mugabe has
retained the same corrupt sharks in his government and no amount of
shuffling of chairs will change the nature and character of Zanu PF's
corrupt persona. Mugabe and his regime. should simply bite the bullet and
set free the people of Zimbabwe.

The MDC believes that the solution to the Zimbabwean question lies in
addressing the fundamental institutional and structural issues to resolve
the crisis of governance. Confidence-building measures to reconstruct this
economy can only begin when all stakeholders in the country agree to address
the national question through the crafting of an inclusive political
solution. We believe the nation needs a people-driven Constitution, free and
fair elections under international supervision, a period of national healing
and a comprehensive stabilisation and reconstruction programme in a
post-transitional era. Setting new ground rules and values for ourselves,
and not reshuffling old ideas, is the only road to a new Zimbabwe. We owe a
better Zimbabwe to ourselves and our children.We need to save our country. A
new Zimbabwe is our mandate.
.

Nelson Chamisa, MP
Secretary for Information and Publicity



Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

A journey home leaves me uneasy and troubled

New Zimbabwe

By Chido Makunike
Last updated: 02/08/2007 01:55:32
I HAD a good trip home to Harare in December. I had been away for only 15
months but I was homesick and looked forward to being back home.

Dakar has a small airport but it was fairly busy in mid-December. Nairobi's
much bigger airport was bustling with tourists and business travellers. The
first reminder of Zimbabwe's reality of being isolated from so much of the
world was the deserted look of the Harare airport. The neat modernistic look
of the fairly new airport seemed to be mocked by how much of a white
elephant it seems with so few travellers using it.

Having a store at an international airport is a prized concession in almost
any country. It seems to be generally accepted that these stores are allowed
to charge outrageous prices for goods that can be had for much less a few
kilometres away. Not so at Harare airport. Most of the stores had been
closed, with one or two car rental companies continuing to hold on.

Being based in dry, Sahelian Senegal and getting to Zimbabwe during the rain
season, I was overpowered by the sense of physical beauty of my homeland. It
could be argued that any place looks its best when things are lush and
green, but for me there was an emotional quality to the thought that such a
naturally well-endowed country should be so troubled.

I have been privileged to see a good swathe of Africa across various
regions. A thought that came to mind is that with all its tensions, its
oppression and the awful economic hardships in Zimbabwe, it is still a
country that remains orderly and functional in a way that many other
countries have never even experienced. Our decline is still most accurately
measured by how much lower we are than we were five or ten years ago. It is
an indictment of the overall state of Africa to realise that despite our
having to adjust to ever declining social and economic standards, there are
still many ways in which Zimbabwe remains miles ahead.

This is no consolation to the Zimbabwean just trying to make ends meet. S/he
has little interest in how s/he is doing compared to somebody somewhere
else. All they are concerned about is that despite their best efforts, the
economic environment no longer makes it possible for them to easily feed
their families and enjoy the quality of life many of us had begun to take
for granted.

Harare city centre had a neat but sterile look. I had been reading a lot
about issues with uncollected baggage but I saw no signs of this in the city
centre. But for an African city, the "neatness" caused by the forced
banishment of street traders and the destruction of their whole livelihoods
seemed odd. When I compare the western-style political "neatness" of Harare
city centre with the cacophonous, chaotic street-trading scenes of just
about any west African city, I find myself no longer able to say Harare is
"better" in that regard. Easier on the eye certainly, but that is
counter-acted by the dispirited mood of the people in this neat city. The
street trading in many parts of Africa goes to the opposite extreme, but the
boisterousness and the joy of the people must surely count for something.

Our African cities are not and cannot be neat and tidy like those of wealthy
European cities. Survival imperatives are what force people to engage in the
messy habit of trading on the streets, with the associated ill-effects on
sanitation, public health, the environment and so forth. So when people
increasingly resort to trying to make a living on the streets because the
range of their options is decreasing by the day, that is a socio-economic
imperative at play. It is pedantic in the worst colonialist tradition to pay
more attention to municipal neatness than to the economic causes of its
absence. With its cruel murambatsvina campaign, the regime of Mugabe merely
flexed its military muscles to attempt to hide the symptoms of all the
economic decline we have suffered.

These are the thoughts that went through my head as I walked the neat
streets of my hometown. I am afraid that having extensively walked the
not-so-neat, but more vibrant and happier streets of other African cities, I
found myself unable to really find any joy at the neatness, knowing the high
cost at which it had been implemented.

I was only home for three weeks, much too short, and neither had the time
nor the inclination to spend too much time discussing politics. But one does
not have to prompt political discussion : it is all in the air. Widespread
disillusionment with the Mugabe regime needs no mentioning. But I was struck
at how little faith there remains in the opposition parties as well. My
sense was that people are no longer just disillusioned with the ruling
authority, but with the whole political process.

I found this interesting because this lack of faith in politicians in
general is common in most of the African countries I have visited. Whereas
these older countries have had different flavours of governments and found
them to be little different from each other, in Zimbabwe we have reached
this level of cynicism without any opposition party having had a chance at
the feeding trough of power!

In both Dakar and Nairobi I had the pleasure of having a choice of many
daily newspapers, and many more weeklies and monthlies. Hungry for news of
all types at home, I was staggered by the realization of how limited our
reading choices have become. I was saddened by how further reduced in
stature as journals of news The Herald and The Sunday Mail have become. I
could always read them with the background knowledge of where they are
coming from. But they have so deteriorated in quality that one gets angry
that they do not even serve their propaganda function very well! One has the
sense of publications just stringing words together. One does not even have
any sense that the authors particularly believe what they write. Not only is
the attempted propaganda so crude as to be counter-productive, but there is
no signoff any passion or conviction in it.

Apart from issues of ideology in the state media, I was struck by the
low-brow nature of even the non-political stories. In any of the state
papers, stories of domestic violence, child rape, incest and all the worst
aspects of human behaviour are given pride of place. There seems to almost
be a pleasure at shocking readers with the depraved behaviour of a segment
of the society. As one reads these stories one can't help wondering if these
are realities of our lives to the extent that the Zimpapers titles
sickeningly, almost lovingly portray. I wondered if this was a subconscious,
unhealthy protest amongst the newspapers' staffers against turning out such
puerile, unenlightening drivel on the great issues facing Zimbabwe and
bastardizing the tenets of journalism.

It was an intensive, personally enjoyable visit. But on many levels I left
very uneasy and troubled about where we are headed as a society. The signs,
both the apparent and the not so obvious, are not encouraging.

Chido Makunike is a Zimbabwean writer. He writes from Dakar, Senegal.


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Book on Africa brings writer solace

Canada.com

By Jonathan Manthorpe, Book on Africa offers writer some solace
Published: Wednesday, February 07, 2007

VANCOUVER - Many people who have lived in Africa come away seething with
rage. It's the deep, heart-rending anger of being forced to watch impotently
while a loved one is defiled.
Robert Calderisi has that anger, but he holds it under admirable control as
he recounts infuriating tales from more than 30 years' experience of Africa
working for the Canadian International Development Agency, the World Bank
and the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development.
Yet his book, The Trouble With Africa: Why Foreign Aid Isn't Working
(Palgrave Macmillan/H.B. Fenn, 256 pages, $33.95), is clearly a cathartic
journey for him. The horror stories precede his 10-point prescription for
what non-African donor countries can do to try to reverse past failures of
their well-meaning but ill-judged generosity.
In recent years, prime ministers and pop stars have used all kinds of
performance art to try to draw the world's attention to Africa's plight, for
the standard of living in most of African countries is now much worse than
it was when the wind of decolonization began blowing over the continent in
1965.
Africa has 10 per cent of the world's population, but commands only one per
cent of international trade. The economy of the entire continent is about
the size of Argentina's, and most African countries bring in no more income
than any suburb of a major American city. The World Bank's headquarters in
Washington uses more electricity each year than does the whole of Chad.
Every 12 hours, 3,000 people die from HIV/AIDs in Africa. That plague is
devastating even the most successful countries, such as Botswana, where 25
per cent of adults have the infection.
But Calderisi turns sharply away from the doctrines of African victimhood
that have characterized public discourse for half a century and more. "This
book will argue that Africa is now responsible for most of its own problems
and that outsiders can help only if they are more direct and demanding in
their relations with the continent," he writes.
He sharply dismisses the legacies of the slave trade, colonialism, resource
exploitation, debt burdens and the downsides of globalization as false
diagnoses that mask the true nature of what ails Africa. And he quarrels
with the conviction that Africa needs more development aid; no it doesn't,
he says.
Africa would benefit from less aid, and it should be directed to the
countries where it can do the most good. Basket-case countries (he doesn't
name Zimbabwe, but he might have) where the ruling despot refuses to embrace
any aspect of civilized governance should be cut off, since the bounty would
only end up in his foreign bank account anyway.
After recounting some of his own experiences in Africa, Calderisi dives into
the perplexing question of why Africa has failed so conclusively while other
parts of the world that were in worse shape half a century ago, such as much
of Asia, have managed to pull themselves up.
The simple answer, he says, is that the continent has never experienced good
government. Men like Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe, Mobuto Sese Seko of Zaire,
Ahmed Sekou Toure of Guinea, Daniel arap Moi in Kenya and Jose Eduardo dos
Santos of Angola saw and see leadership as an opportunity to enrich
themselves, their families and loyal cronies.
Why is this so? And why do African people put up with the miserable lives
foisted on them by their corrupt and barbarous leaders?
In an age of tender sensibilities, it's always dangerous to try to explore
outcomes that stem from cultural characteristics. But, to his credit,
Calderisi doesn't shrink from addressing the aspects of African family,
social, philosophical and spiritual culture he thinks have made its leaders
susceptible to the corruption of power and its people woefully patient with
their lot when powerless.
It is sympathetically done and his respectful affection shines through, but
it's a fast gallop over heavy ground that could stand a more thorough
exploration.
Calderisi's prescription for Africa concentrates on the policies and
attitudes he thinks donor countries should adopt. At the top of his list is
relieving dictators of their ill-gotten gains and preventing future leaders
from pillaging their countries. This, he says, should be tackled with the
same vigour with which terrorist money-laundering networks are being
attacked.
He thinks African leaders should be required to lay open their personal
finances, and that any country refusing to accept this constraint should not
be given aid.
Countries that warrant donations should be allowed to plan and manage their
own development schemes.
All countries receiving aid should be required to meet minimum standards of
open political debate and fair, internationally supervised elections.
Countries that abuse the rule of law or freedom of speech should forfeit the
right to aid.
Calderisi further says that providing access to primary school for children
across Africa should be a priority. And he points out that a major reason
why Africa has slumped ever deeper into poverty in the last half-century is
governments' disregard for agriculture and trade. There is also a
debilitating disregard for the construction of roads, railways, ports and
other infrastructure.
He ends with a recommendation that looks odd in context but is obviously
deeply felt and born of painful experience. He believes the three main
agents of international development aid - the World Bank, the International
Monetary Fund and the United Nations Development Program - should be merged
into one body. He argues that this is the only way their jealousies,
rivalries and frequent conflicting objectives can be erased.


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Woman files Z$10 million suit against Police Commissioner

Zim Online

Thursday 08 February 2007

By Sebastian Nyamhangambiri

HARARE - A Zimbabwean woman is suing Police Commissioner Augustine Chihuri
for Z$10 million after she was brutally assaulted by the police last year
resulting in her suffering a miscarriage.

Ethel Kupinda, 25, who is based in Mvuri, about 100 kilometres north of
Harare, was last December arrested for allegedly selling food without a
medical certificate.

Kupinda is also suing Home Affairs Minister Kembo Mohadi and an Assistant
Inspector Maxwell Pfumo over the assault.

In papers filed at the High Court in Harare yesterday, case number 532/07,
Shepherd Mushonga, a lawyer representing Kupinda, wants the three to pay his
client Z$10 million in damages and also foot the legal bill.

"Kupinda was arrested on 29 November 2006 and detained before paying a fine.
During her detention, Pfumo entered the female holding cells and severely
assaulted her using clenched fists and booted feet," said Mushonga.

"As a direct result of the assault, Kupinda suffered the following injuries:
lost one tooth and another one was left shaking. Kupinda who was two months
pregnant at the time of the assault, lost the foetus as she suffered a
miscarriage.

"As a direct result of the assault, she also suffered humiliation and
degradation in front of other detainees she was assaulted with," said
Mushonga.

Several human rights groups and the main opposition Movement for Democratic
Change party have often accused the police of using excessive force against
civilians.

Last year, several Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Union leaders were also
brutally assaulted by the police after they attempted to demonstrate in
Harare over worsening economic hardships.

The labour leaders are suing the police for US$9 million. - ZimOnline


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Save Zimbabwe Campaign Overhauling 'Sounds of Freedom' Initiative

VOA

††††† By Patience Rusere
††††† Washington
††††† 07 February 2007

A spokesman for the Save Zimbabwe Campaign says the loose coalition of
opposition groups is determined to continue its "sounds of freedom" protests
in which citizens are asked to make noise with horns, whistles or other
means each Wednesday midday.

But organizers acknowledge that the protest has not drawn mass
participation.

This Wednesday, observers in Harare, Mutare, Chinhoyi and Gweru reported no
unusual noises, though a Bulawayo Save Zimbabwe Campaign coordinator said he
had heard whistling, banging and hooting of horns in the city center.

The noise protest was launched in late 2006, but since the turn of the year
opposition parties and groups have stepped up street marches and
demonstrations.

Save Zimbabwe spokesman Jonah Gokovah told reporter Patience Rusere of VOA's
Studio 7 for Zimbabwe earlier this week that his organization is still
honing the strategy and considers it viable despite the emergence of more
confrontational tactics.


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Student Leaders Say Zimbabwe Police Sought Suspension Of Protests

VOA

††††† By Patience Rusere
††††† Washington
††††† 07 February 2007

Two student leaders arrested on Tuesday and held overnight said they were
urged by police officials to set aside their plans for nationwide protests
over sharply increased tuition fees that have forced many students to
abandon higher education.

Bulawayo Polytechnic Student Council President Blessing Vava and Christian
Student Movement Chairman Lawrence Mashungu were detained overnight for
taking part in demonstrations in Bulawayo following a campus meeting Tuesday
morning.

Mashungu is also the regional chairman of the Zimbabwe National Students
Union.

A crowd of students was marching to the offices of Bulawayo Provincial
Governor Cain Mathema to demand a meeting when riot police broke up the
march and arrested 78 students. Seventy-six of them were released Tuesday
evening on their promise to return and pay a fine of Z$250, sources among
student activists said.

Vava and Mashungu were taken to Luveve police station where, they later
charged, police denied them food and withheld treatment for injuries.

Vava told reporter Patience Rusere of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that
further protests are expected across the country.


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Zimbabwe Hospital Dismisses Striking Doctors; Ministry Position Unclear

VOA

††††† By Carole Gombakomba
††††† Washington
††††† 07 February 2007

At least 10 doctors on strike at Harare Central Hospital received dismissal
letters from the institution's chief executive officer, sources at the
hospital said Wednesday.

The sources said CEO Julius Nderere personally handed the doctors the
letters of dismissal saying the residents had breached the country's health
services regulations stating that doctors cannot be absent from their duties
for more than 30 days.

But the state-controlled Herald newspaper quoted Health Minister David
Parirenyatwa as saying the physicians had not been fired. Efforts to reach
Dr. Parirenyatwa or another senior Health Ministry official for
clarification were unsuccessful.

A strike by residents at the four main public hospitals in Harare and
Bulawayo is in its seventh week. The doctors are demanding an increase in
their salaries to Z$5 million, improved housing and concessions related to
transportation.

Amon Siveregi, who has been representing striking junior residents, told
reporter Carole Gombakomba of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that the dismissal
letters should be welcome because they free the doctors to find work in
other countries.

Back to the Top
Back to Index