Thu 7 Feb 2008, 18:16 GMT
By Nelson Banya
HARARE, Feb 7 (Reuters) - A senior Zimbabwe ruling party official who is
mounting a rare internal challenge to President Robert Mugabe has urged
ZANU-PF members backing him not to bow to intimidation by the veteran
Simba Makoni, a former finance minister and senior ZANU-PF official who will
compete with Mugabe for the state presidency on March 29, said on Thursday
he was confident of victory. He told journalists he was leading "a movement"
in a bid to end nearly three decades of Mugabe's rule.
"Let me encourage those others in ZANU-PF who have been, and are still
working with us in this project for national renewal, to remain steadfast
and not be intimidated ... for the dawn of a new beginning is upon us,"
Makoni insisted he was still a member of ZANU-PF, despite party
announcements on Wednesday that he had effectively "expelled himself" from
the party by challenging Mugabe.
"Which section or article of ZANU-PF's constitution provides for
self-expulsion? I haven't seen it," Makoni said, adding he would continue in
his position as a member of the party's top policy-making body, the
"I plan to continue my functions as a member of the party until I'm expelled
by due process. I don't take a TV announcement or newspaper write-ups as due
process under the constitution of ZANU-PF."
Makoni dismissed allegations -- mainly in the state media -- that his move
to challenge Mugabe was funded by the West.
Mugabe brands the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change, his most
serious challengers to date, puppets in a British attempt to oust him for
seizing white-owned farms for blacks. "Any different ideas are regarded as
antagonistic and foreign," Makoni said, dismissing suggestions that his
campaign was a ploy by ZANU-PF to confuse the electorate and split the
opposition's predominantly urban vote.
"I declare here I am genuine, I am honest, I am nobody's tool or agent. I am
Makoni -- regarded as a reform-minded technocrat -- has for years been
touted as a possible successor to Mugabe, although critics say he lacks a
political base of his own.
Mugabe says he will run for another term to shame his detractors, who accuse
him of ruining what was once one of Africa's brightest economic hopes but is
now saddled with the highest inflation rate in the world, more than 26,000
percent. (Editing by Phumza Macanda and Andrew Roche)
HARARE, Feb 7 (AFP)
Zimbabwe's former finance minister and presidential aspirant Simba Makoni on
Thursday scoffed at claims he is a stooge of western governments and that he
has been expelled from the ruling party.
Makoni said he had received "overwhelming support from Zimbabweans across
the board" since he announced his plans on Tuesday to challenge veteran
ruler Robert Mugabe for the presidency at national elections on March 29.
During a news conference in the capital Harare, Makoni said he was saddened
by "misrepresentations" that followed his announcement.
"The first misrepresentation is that this is an externally-induced move by
hostile western governments," Makoni said.
"I am saddened by our lack of ability to handle diversity of ideas and
views. I am saddened that by the fact that we characterise any different
ideas from ours and their holders as as antagonistic and foreign.
"This attempt to present this effort on our part as not original, not
indigenous and not ours is typical and characteristic of the way the
leadership of our country has failed to handle diversity."
"Let me declare here that I am genuine, I am honest, I am nobody's tool or
agent. I am Simba Makoni, have always been and will forever be the same."
He also denied suggestions that he was a ZANU-PF agent deployed to divide
the opposition vote and a claim by a cabinet minister that he had
effectively expelled himself from the ruling party.
Makoni urged fellow members of the Zimbabwe African National Union -
Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) not to be intimidated.
"I plan to continue my function as a member of the party until I am excluded
by due process," he said.
"I also want to urge those many others in ZANU-PF who have been and are
still working with us to remain steadfast and not be intimidated."
Makoni, a key member of Mugabe's ruling party, said he decided to stand for
the presidency "following very extensive and intensive consultations with
party members and activists countrywide and also with others outside the
Mugabe, who has ruled the former British colony since independence in 1980,
is hoping to secure a sixth term at a time when Zimbabwe is struggling with
an annual inflation rate of around 26,000 percent, the higehest in the
Feb 7th 2008 | JOHANNESBURG
From The Economist print edition
President Robert Mugabe faces a serious new opponent
THE presidential election scheduled for March 29th may not be the expected
shoo-in for Robert Mugabe after all. On February 5th, Simba Makoni, a former
finance minister and until this week still a member of the ruling ZANU-PF's
politburo, announced he would run for the top job, blaming the “national
leadership” for the country's “extreme hardships”. This may be the toughest
challenge yet to Mr Mugabe, whom his party endorsed in December despite
rising dissatisfaction in ZANU-PF ranks. Mr Makoni's bold move may convince
the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), which has once again
failed to heal its own divisions, to join forces to defeat the incumbent.
Mr Makoni, a respected technocrat, has at least a chance. He is untainted by
corruption allegations and was considered a reformist in his own party; as
finance minister, he clashed with Mr Mugabe over economic policy. His appeal
goes beyond ZANU-PF, from which he has now resigned. He will run as an
Mr Makoni may not yet enjoy much grassroots support but he says that his
candidacy is backed by some national and local ZANU-PF heavyweights. None
has openly joined him yet, but he may get the nod from Solomon Mujuru, a
powerful former army chief who is married to the country's vice-president.
If Mr Mujuru were to back Mr Makoni, he would deliver big chunks of the
ZANU-PF electorate and bring some of the party machinery and security forces
onto his side.
Still, defeating the 83-year-old Mr Mugabe will be hard. He has crushed,
divided and co-opted opponents since he won power as a liberation hero in
the election that heralded independence in 1980.
ZANU-PF and Mr Makoni apart, the official opposition is weaker than ever.
The MDC has failed to mend its split. After months of discussions, the two
factions' leaders, Morgan Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara, agreed on a
common platform for the elections and on Mr Tsvangirai as the presidential
candidate. But the two sides then fell out over the distribution of seats in
Matabeleland, in the west, and now say they will run separately in both
presidential and parliamentary polls.
Mr Makoni's move offers new chances to the quarrelling opposition. One or
both MDC factions could team up with him; both have welcomed his candidacy.
There are rumours that he and Mr Mutambara may link up. But Mr Mugabe's
assorted opponents will have to close ranks fast if they are to have a
chance of winning on a playing field that is still bound to be tilted
steeply in the incumbent's favour.
7th Feb 2008 18:05 GMT
By a Correspondent
HARARE - Fifteen members of Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) were arrested
this afternoon in Africa Unity Square in Harare while waiting to check into
their hotel accommodation for their People’s Convention.
The members from Bulawayo were booked into Meikles Hotel but due to
processing delays, had not been able to check in and were waiting in the
vicinity, the organisation revealed today.
"Having been told to wait in Africa Unity Square by hotel security, the
group was promptly approached by riot police and had their bags searched.
Despite informing police that they were in Harare to attend the People’s
Convention, which has police clearance, the group was
arrested and taken to Harare Central Police Station. It is not clear on what
grounds they were arrested," read a statement from WOZA.
WOZA members from all over the country are in Harare to attend the People’s
Convention, the aim of which is to provide a platform for the people of
Zimbabwe to discuss what they want and expect from a democratic dispensation
and to provide guidelines and frameworks
for all of the critical issues affecting Zimbabwe.
At least 4,000 people are expected to attend the Convention which starts
tomorrow and ends Friday.
House of Lords
Wednesday, 6 February 2008
Lord Blaker asked Her Majesty’s Government what is their assessment of the prospects for a resolution of the political, economic and human problems in Zimbabwe.
The noble Lord said: My Lords, we can see now why Robert Mugabe’s representatives at the series of talks arranged by President Mbeki following the SADC meeting in March 2007 were so often late in arriving or said that they were unable to attend at all. It has been Mugabe’s objective right through the nine months of the infrequent talks to make the proceedings last as long as possible so that the new constitution which was eventually agreed would not come into force before the elections. That has now been achieved by Mugabe. The elections will take place at three levels and will now be held on 29 March this year.
The registration of candidates was originally to be completed this week; now it has been extended to next week. The new constitution has been initialled but not signed. ZANU-PF has clearly not been taken by surprise. It has been accumulating supplies of food, which Mugabe has for a long time been using for political purposes and which are said to be intended to amount to a few trillions of Zimbabwe dollars. ZANU-PF has, of course, had warning of the impending elections. In a cynical ploy to buy votes the regime has announced that it will over coming weeks open people’s shops across the country to provide the basic commodities that are generally unavailable in Zimbabwe.
Developments as recently as today show that Mugabe’s control of events is faltering. The postponement of the nomination day for a week seems to have been taken more in panic in ZANU-PF than with a sudden concern for the democratic process. The emergence yesterday of Simba Makoni from within ZANU-PF as a challenger for the presidency shows Mugabe’s increasing isolation. This suggests that the political landscape of Zimbabwe could alter dramatically with new alliances and formations. Mugabe’s fightback could be vicious. Makoni is reckoned by many to have prevaricated and supped with the devil for too long. Both he and Arthur Mutambara are widely claimed to lack grassroots support, while Morgan Tsvangirai has courageously led the mainstream MDC since its foundation and has won both scars and voter recognition for his efforts.
The rising anger against Mugabe was expressed recently by the president of ZINASU—the Zimbabwe National Students Union. In a letter to Mugabe he writes:
“ZINASU is disappointed by your conduct, lack of seriousness and urgency in the purported on-going SADC mediation process meant to resolve the current multi-faceted crisis our country finds itself in. Your attitude towards the initiative facilitated by the President of South Africa, Thabo Mbeki, leaves a lot to be desired, especially considering the fact that you proceeded to announce the election dates before the conclusion of the mediation process.
We further put to you that the students of Zimbabwe will not accept an election outcome from a flawed election process. We strongly and unequivocally warn you and your cronies that the country will be ungovernable if you steal the people’s vote”.
Mugabe clearly fears that the students mean business and are capable of becoming a focus for dissent. He has ordered all state-run universities and colleges to stay closed until after elections on 29 March.
The Zimbabwean economy is in a state of collapse. The shops, including food shops, have bare shelves because of Mugabe’s decree that all shops must reduce the price of goods by 50 per cent. The first people to get to the shops after that decree, before the shelves were empty, were the police and the military. Other people have had to scavenge for food in waste bins.
What can be done? The mandate given to President Mbeki last March, at the urgently called conference of SADC heads of government in Tanzania, following a brutally disrupted prayer meeting, was simply to facilitate negotiation between ZANU-PF and the MDC. Before negotiations began instructions were given to the MDC by the police to avoid violence, even though the MDC is entirely peaceful. No such instructions were given to ZANU-PF.
One of the most urgent things which must be done is to renew the European Union-targeted measures against 131 of Mugabe’s cronies limiting their travel, which expire this month. I would be grateful for the Minister’s assurance that they will be renewed on time. Last year there were signs of backsliding by some EU members, which were halted by urgent action. These travel restrictions have been exaggerated by Mugabe’s constantly describing them as savage economic sanctions, when of course they are nothing of the kind. African Union and SADC leaders peddle the same line. It is not known from what source these falsehoods come—possibly somewhere not far removed from SADC headquarters—but they seem to be given credence by a number of the SADC leaders. I should be glad to know what Her Majesty’s Government are doing to refute these lies. Mugabe is a formidable practitioner of spin, but we may now have an opportunity to take our revenge against him.
Zimbabwe, like other SADC countries, is a signatory of the treaties for the African Union, SADC and NePAD. Those contain undertakings to observe human rights, good governance and the rule of law and to accept peer review. If Zimbabwe has not yet agreed to this last point it should be pressed by other SADC countries to do so. The promise was that these treaties were to be adhered to as part of a bargain with the developed world, which was the subject of a passionate speech by Tony Blair in 2001. The promise by the developed world was to increase the amount of aid, which has largely been done. I shall be glad to know also whether Her Majesty’s Government have given thought to the implications of the substantial aid which is given to the SADC countries by the EU and by this country in particular. According to a Written Answer given to me on 10 October 2007, in col. WA 17, aid given by the United Kingdom in the year 2005 to the Southern African Development Community as a whole and to its member nations plus the UK's imputed share of multilateral aid to SADC member nations was over £750 million. That is a formidable figure.
The issue of Zimbabwe was discussed in Addis Ababa at the meeting of SADC countries a few days ago, on the sidelines of the African Union summit. President Mbeki reported that Mugabe’s intransigence, and his reneging on agreements made early in the talks, had moved the mediation process to deadlock and failure. Eight nations supported President Mbeki’s call for censure but three—Swaziland, Namibia and Angola—backed Mugabe and, surprisingly to me, that was deemed an insufficient basis for a consensual decision. Will Her Majesty’s Government reconsider grants of development aid to these three countries to bring home to them the implications for our aid budget of their policy of supporting Mugabe? The Department for International Development will undoubtedly wish to consider aid holistically to SADC. By prolonging the crisis in Zimbabwe, these countries are adding to the massive sums that will be required for reconstruction when ZANU-PF eventually goes and undermining the development of the region as a whole.
Lord Morris of Handsworth: My Lords, I thank the noble Lord, Lord Blaker, for his tenacity and determination in ensuring that the plight and suffering of the people of Zimbabwe continue to command the attention of your Lordships’ House. We need an election in Zimbabwe but we do not need Mugabe as a candidate. Zimbabwe has gone through a number of stages; it has gone from bad to worse and now to disaster. It is no wonder that thousands have left the country. For the unfortunate ones who have stayed, the rewards are quite clear: the abuse of their human rights, the destruction of their democratic rights and processes, and, of course, the suppression of their liberties.
As we have heard, the economy is not just on the verge of collapse but, as many would say, has collapsed. Seventy per cent are now unemployed; inflation figures are no longer believable. One in five is now living with HIV/AIDS and more than 1 million children have been orphaned and made vulnerable by the pandemic. One doctor described Zimbabwe in the following terms. He said:
“Zimbabwe once offered the most comprehensive medical service in Africa, but it has now become a textbook of medical horror”.
Zimbabwe long ago lost most of its skilled people, the doctors, teachers, engineers and agricultural workers. Now all that it exports is its poverty.
Our Government have until recently been somewhat diffident in speaking up and speaking out against Mugabe’s vile regime, but the time has come for us to confront the myth that our colonial past is somehow responsible for the current misery—nothing could be further from the truth. To succeed in helping the people of Zimbabwe in their liberation struggle from Mugabe, we must take a proactive stance. I was proud that our Prime Minister declined to attend the EU-Africa summit in Lisbon because he did not wish to be in the same room as Mugabe. That was a good start. But if the Prime Minister does not want to be in the same room as Mugabe, is it right to expect our sportsmen and women to be on the same field of play as representatives of that regime? John Howard, as Prime Minister of Australia, gave a clear lead. He said that Australian cricketers would not play against Zimbabwe. If that is good enough for Australia, it should be good enough for the United Kingdom.
A sporting, cultural and economic boycott would hasten the collapse of the regime and relieve the suffering of the people. We must give that lead. The Commonwealth, Europe and the United States would follow. I see the collapse of the regime not as an “if” but as a “when”. We should pause and reflect on how best we can help the people in order that we can ensure their liberation. During the apartheid regime in South Africa, Governments in many parts of the world trained and prepared members of the black population for leadership in that country, to enable them to make the transition from prison to power seamlessly and without violence. I therefore ask the Minister: what preparation is being made in that respect and more generally to help the people of Zimbabwe when that time comes? Protestation and whingeing is not enough. We must back our words with action and the time is now.
Lord Alderdice: My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Blaker, has shown a consistent commitment to the welfare of the people of Zimbabwe and all of us who share that concern are grateful to the noble Lord for having obtained this debate at such an apposite time, in the run-up to elections in Zimbabwe. Sadly, if the experience of Zimbabwe under Mr Mugabe in the past, or Kenya under Mr Kibaki in the present, are anything to go by, we can expect not only a rigged election, but violence afterwards.
As the noble Lord, Lord Morris, has already said, there is already a profound humanitarian crisis in Zimbabwe. With an unprecedented convergence of AIDS, poverty and malnutrition, and some 3,500 people dying every week, Zimbabwe now has the lowest life expectancy in the region. If loss of life, as well as historic relationships and responsibility, are important criteria in determining the rankings on the United Kingdom’s foreign policy agenda, Zimbabwe certainly deserves to be higher up. There is now a critical shortage of basic foods. How are Her Majesty’s Government and the European Union stepping up their efforts to meet the shortfall and to ensure that basic human needs are met in full to help create better conditions for the up-coming elections and for people’s lives?
Our South African friends have made an effort to obtain the conditions for a decent poll. However, President Mbeki has failed to move Mr Mugabe, who is flatly refusing to dismantle the structures that he has created over the past decade to manage elections and dictate the outcome. Unfortunately, as the noble Lord, Lord Blaker, said, when President Mbeki took the issue back to an extraordinary summit of SADC in Addis Ababa, not only did Mr Mugabe refuse to implement the reforms agreed and required, but he was backed by a number of the other African leaders, which is most disappointing.
As a result, these elections are simply not going to be free and fair by international standards. The opposition have no exposure in the state-controlled media, they cannot campaign freely and many activists are refugees in South Africa and elsewhere. The voters roll is completely distorted by years of manipulation and any fair control of the poll is going to be difficult—some would say impossible. The decision of the split opposition MDC to fight on a divided ticket is tragic. Whatever the short-term problems of agreement between Morgan Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara, the long-term consequences for the country are likely to be savage.
Mr Mugabe and Zanu-PF are now so unpopular that I suppose an upset is just possible, but only if what happened in Kenya can be stopped. Prevention of a rigged election and count depends almost entirely on the presence of observer missions and the ability of local NGOs and the political parties to supervise the vote and the count and ensure that it is reported accurately and properly. How are HMG pressing African leaders to make that a possibility? I focus on African leaders because it is just not possible for this to be dealt with simply as an issue for Europe or European states. However, Her Majesty’s Government should maintain their position that:
“It will only recognise an outcome that reflects the will of the people and only in that context would stand ready to help the new government to get back onto its feet”.
On the other hand, if the election is, as we expect, rigged, there may be value in making it clear in advance that recognition of the new Government could be withheld. Certainly, we must find a way of doing more than simply wringing our hands.
Now that the Mbeki initiative has failed, the UK Government along with other Governments need to engage in proactive multilateral diplomacy. Can we find a common position with South Africa, Botswana, Zambia and Mozambique? Does the Minister think that his right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary will go to South Africa to help build consensus that could bring about an end to the extreme suffering of so many millions of Zimbabweans?
Lord Sheikh: My Lords, I thank my noble friend Lord Blaker for initiating this debate. What we have witnessed in Zimbabwe over the past few years has been absolutely horrific, and, while we can all rehearse the depressingly familiar statistics, we need to recognise that this is, first and foremost, a human tragedy. Effectively, the Government of Zimbabwe have declared war on their own people. The cruelty that has been inflicted under Mugabe’s regime will take a long time to heal: and the hurt continues. Fifty-six per cent of the population in Zimbabwe lives on less than $1 dollar a day and around 80 per cent lives on less than $2 dollars a day. In economic terms, Mugabe has managed to transform one of Africa’s most successful economies into a complete disaster. Inflation is rampant and some economists count the figure as above 11,000 per cent. There is a shortage of food and the basic necessities of life.
Mugabe’s hold on power appears strong. He continues to be declared the winner of elections, despite these being considered as seriously flawed by the opposition and foreign observers. In the 2005 elections, Zanu-PF won more than two-thirds of the votes in parliamentary elections said by the opposition Movement for Democratic Change to be fraudulent. But, as my noble friend Lord Blaker acknowledged in the Motion for this debate, the damage extends well beyond economics and politics. Around 3,000 people die in Zimbabwe every week of HIV/AIDS, with an estimated 1.8 million Zimbabweans infected with the disease. When some people stand up and proclaim the wonders of their assistance in tackling this human tragedy, they measure their contribution in terms of money spent. We should focus attention on the number of infections prevented and on the number of treatments, rather than the crude measurement of finance injected.
To focus our minds, life expectancy has fallen below 35 years, and there are an estimated 1.3 million orphans. I am appalled that other African countries have not shown more leadership and initiative: their approach has been supine. I hope that the Minister will take the opportunity in his response to this debate to update the House on the actions of the British High Commissioner in South Africa to ensure that Mugabe is placed under maximum pressure. I appreciate that the British Government have to overcome sensitivities, given our colonial history with Zimbabwe, but it must be possible to do more.
Zimbabwe stands as testament to the truth that although the power, even of a good Government, to do good, is not infinite, the power of a bad one knows no limit. I hope that other African leaders will change course and live up to their responsibility for the disaster that keeps deteriorating in Zimbabwe. Mugabe has done his country no favours, and the sooner he is out of office the better. It is imperative that the country returns to true democracy, and that opposition leaders are respected and protected. Other African countries need to support this.
In conclusion, it is not the removal of Mr Mugabe that is necessary; the country needs humanitarian aid, the building of institutions, the restoration of democracy on a proper basis, and considerable investment by foreign countries.
The Lord Bishop of Southwark: My Lords, I, too, am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Blaker, for the opportunity for your Lordships’ House once again to debate Zimbabwe, in which the church has a deep, abiding and ongoing interest. My diocese has companion links with three dioceses in Zimbabwe. Members of our parishes pay occasional visits there, and we encourage our link bishops, from time to time, to come here for consultations. One returned to Zimbabwe last week after such discussions. He gave us a first-hand account of the dire situation in his country and what the churches are doing to try to alleviate suffering.
Given the scale of suffering in Zimbabwe, and the total collapse of the economy, it seems incomprehensible that it has been impossible for Her Majesty’s Government to achieve more international support for their efforts to bring pressure to bear on the Mugabe Government. President Mugabe’s apparent ability to act decisively on land reform has impressed many in Africa. We know that the short cuts taken to land reform through violent farm seizures were disastrous, involving the transfer of land to ZANU-PF supporters, regardless of their ability to farm, and often on the basis of cronyism. Agriculture has been devastated, which, along with poor harvests and drought, has turned the bread basket of Africa into an unproductive wasteland. With elections on the horizon and the knowledge of the political capital that President Mugabe has made from land reform, it is most important that the British Government re-emphasises their commitment to helping a legitimate Zimbabwean Government to achieve land reform that is equitable for all Zimbabwean citizens.
In Zimbabwe, the place where the people most often go to keep their sense of identity is the local church. More than that, when there is little cause for economic or political hope, it is in the churches that people find the most essential human quality—hope for the future. I do not want to mislead noble Lords. Because the church is often the most extensive and deeply rooted community-based network, it also reflects the tensions and divisions of the world in which it is set. Recently in the diocese of Harare, there has been a tremendous battle for the soul of the church, with a close political ally of President Mugabe, Bishop Kononga, driving out clergy who oppose him. The province acted and removed him from office. On Sunday, a new bishop was installed, with more than 700 people worshipping with him at short notice. The good news is that this demonstrates how the brave people of Zimbabwe, given the opportunity, are more than ready to take responsibility for governance. What can happen at the heart of the church can happen at the heart of Government. Please, God, may it do so before too long.
Viscount Goschen: My Lords, as we have heard this evening, the world has stood by and watched the systematic destruction of a once great country. Whatever the merits of the policies pursued by Her Majesty’s Government, the UN, the European Union, the Commonwealth and, indeed, the SADC states, they have all, without doubt, failed miserably. The country is broken, the majority of the people are utterly destitute, society has broken down and the rule of law has gone. This is entirely a man-made tragedy, the blame for which lies squarely with Robert Mugabe, his ZANU-PF henchmen, and those political leaders in the region who have appeased him.
In my four minutes this evening, I wish to develop only one point. Previous debates have covered a lot of detail, and the House knows very well the depth of the tragedy in the country: the lack of water, the lack of electricity, the misery and the destruction of human rights. We know those bitter facts. We now need to look beyond the current regime. It will not last for that much longer. There are those with power and influence in the country who realise this. We now need to concentrate on what happens after Mugabe goes, as he inevitably will, in, one hopes, the not too distant future.
The infrastructure is now in a terrible state, but it can be rebuilt with help from the developed world. Now is the time to start talking in concrete terms about this reconstruction process, by putting together a coalition of funders, including Governments, multilateral development and funding agencies, including the World Bank, and corporate—and even private—donors. With funding pledges on the table and a reconstruction plan standing by, the prospects for rebuilding the country, stabilising the economy, starting to tackle the desperate healthcare situation and restoring power become more tangible. The prospect of a successful transition from a disastrous dictatorship to a benevolent peaceful regime must be attractive to those with the potential to influence events from within the country.
I am, perhaps, surprisingly optimistic about the prospects for Zimbabwe in the medium term. Many of the productive emigrants, including farmers, teachers and engineers, would come back and work with the brave people who have stayed in that country to rebuild it. Zimbabwe will get worse before it gets better, but hope may not be too far away. We can influence this process with a constructive contribution, as well as maintaining political pressure on Zimbabwe and its influential neighbour in the south, which surely has the key to accelerating this process.
Lord St John of Bletso: My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Blaker, for his tenacity in giving us this opportunity, again, to debate the many challenges facing Zimbabwe. I entirely agree with the noble Lord, Lord Morris of Handsworth, that the situation has gone from bad to worse to disastrous. Despite the heavy rains over the past month, most of the farms remain deserted, with very few new crops being grown, facing the inevitability of yet another year of starvation, this time even worse than last year. This will lead, inevitably, to an ever-larger number of Zimbabweans attempting to get across the border into South Africa.
While I support all the measures that can be exerted by the international community to bring pressure to bear on Zimbabwe, I have always advocated that there need to be African solutions for African problems. To this end, while President Thabo Mbeki has had reasonable success as the SADC facilitator in his mediations with Mugabe and the MDC, these efforts, as has already been mentioned, have been aborted by President Mugabe calling a snap election for 29 March. This leaves no time for an agreement to be reached on the new constitution, or the repeal of the tough and very draconian security laws. There is unlikely to be any material change in Zimbabwe, as we all know, until there is a change in leadership. To this end, I certainly welcome the recent news that Simba Makoni will be standing against Mugabe in the presidential elections.
Mugabe clearly saw the opportunity to call a snap election with the opposition MDC being totally disorganised and failing to form a unified front. While that is unlikely to happen, the hope is that Morgan Tsvangarai and Arthur Mutambara will make way for Simba Makoni’s challenge for the presidency. Having the backing of Solomon Mujuru, the ex-head of the armed forces, and several other senior ZANU-PF leaders, should add weight to his campaign. However, like the noble Lord, Lord Blaker, I fear the backlash of Mugabe’s support base against Simba Makoni.
There is no doubt that Mugabe manipulated the ZANU-PF December congress to ensure that he was the only candidate standing on behalf of the party for the presidency, which was totally wrong. Whatever the outcome of the presidential election, should Mugabe win, the general view is that at the age of 84 he will seek to hand over power soon after being re-elected to his chosen successor. The fear of many Zimbabweans is that this will be Mr Mnangagwa.
There have been many calls for South Africa to do more to put pressure to bear on there being a change in leadership in Zimbabwe. The recent move by Eskom to cut off the electricity supply to Zimbabwe due to electricity shortages in South Africa has shown the huge dependence that Zimbabwe has on South Africa. However, it is unlikely that South Africa will seek to take these measures intentionally to force political change in Zimbabwe. What is more interesting is whether President Mbeki’s successor, who is likely to be Jacob Zuma, will take a stronger line on forcing changes in Zimbabwe. I believe that he would take a stronger line, but it is unlikely that he will come to power before the middle of next year, and that depends on the outcome of the criminal case against him. It is anticipated that President Mbeki will elaborate on his strategy on Zimbabwe in his state of the nation speech this Friday.
My time is almost up. I would have liked to speak on the alleged illegal extradition of Simon Mann to Equatorial Guinea; perhaps the Minister could comment on that. I would also have liked to elaborate on the point made by the noble Viscount, Lord Goschen, as to what measures have been taken by the international community to offer some form of Marshall Aid package to promote change but, more importantly, expedite the reconstruction of the country once there has been a long-awaited change in leadership in Zimbabwe.
The Earl of Caithness: My Lords, we have been here before. In the past eight years we have had a number of debates on Zimbabwe. The only thing that has changed is that, although we never think the situation is going to get worse, by the subsequent debate it has become a great deal worse. That is the case today. Particularly in the past two weeks, there has been another rapid decline in the fortunes of Zimbabwe.
What is sad about this is that, as my noble friend Lord Goschen said, the government policy on Africa is in tatters. Under the NePAD agreement, many African states have taken all the extra money we said that we would give them but they have given nothing back in increased civil rights, better protection for their citizens or democracy. That is a major failing. The situation, as we see it from this country, is not helped by the situation internationally. The EU is what I would term peely-wally with regard to Zimbabwe. The UN does not take much interest in it and there does not seem to be much agreement. China is sneaking in through the back door whenever it can to disrupt the situation and is planning its future in terms of all the mineral and other assets that Africa has.
One unique and extraordinary thing about Zimbabwe is that despite the past eight years it has not resorted to violence. That is an amazing fact. If it had resorted to violence, perhaps something might have happened. The French are very quick to protect their interests in Chad, and Kofi Annan, former head of the UN, quickly went to sort out the situation in Kenya. Those countries are getting all the help that can possibly be given. The poor Zimbabweans have been the good guys in this and have not fought. The MDC has resisted every temptation and every encouragement to fight, and it has come worst off. It is a sad tale of human beings in the current world that the bad guys get the help and seem to come out better off than the good guys.
Mugabe continues to run rings around Mbeki. I differ on this, as I always have, with the noble Lord, Lord St. John of Bletso. Mugabe knew exactly what he was doing; he was running the talks with Mbeki to the last possible minute, knowing that if there was no agreement the MDC would split, making his rigging of the election that much easier. That is exactly what has happened. I give no credit at all to Mbeki. He should have stood up to the other African states and been much stronger with Mugabe right at the beginning. He should have said, “These are the terms. Come on, Robert, sign up. We have been old friends long enough”. But he let it run right to the end and Mugabe ran circles round him.
I cannot predict what is going to happen in the next month until the election. All one knows is that Mugabe is going to cause severe mayhem with all the opposition candidates, including Makoni. The postponement of the nomination panel gives him a very good chance, as he has a week to screen out all the Makoni supporters and make the election a safer bet. What will happen to poor Zimbabwe? Can the Minister tell us what plans there are for the future? If he is going to get a Marshall Aid package or something like that, what strings will be attached? We cannot afford to let Africa get away with another NePAD, where we give it money and it gives us nothing back in return. I am talking about “us” in the wider sense of the citizens of Africa and of the world. They should give us back democracy and civil rights.
Lord Avebury: My Lords, the Minister may reflect on the remarkable contrast between the huge international efforts made to resolve the crisis between the Government and the opposition in Kenya, which we debated earlier this afternoon, involving the UN, the AU and many states, and the puny attempt by President Thabo Mbeki on his own to ward off the far greater catastrophe that is engulfing the people of Zimbabwe, including endemic unilateral violence by the Government against anyone they think may be against them. That includes not only the official opposition but the 2.5 million shantytown dwellers in Operation Murambatsvina, and now university students and teachers. The plight of those people and of the 4.5 million people who flooded across the border, mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord St. John of Bletso, is in stark contrast, as it remains completely unremedied after the eight years of discussions that the noble Earl, Lord Caithness, just mentioned. He may like to reflect on the statement that was attributed to an Irishman in the 19th century that, “Violence is the only way of securing a hearing for the voices of moderation”.
There was no mention of Zimbabwe at the AU summit which ended last Sunday. SADC got a report from Mr Mbeki in the margins, but it has said nothing about the reforms that will be necessary for even a partial approximation of free and fair elections on 29 March. The signs are ominous, with opposition rallies being prohibited, activists beaten up, and the police chief being given a grand new title and new car and making public threats against what he calls “those bent on exploiting the economic situation”. We can expect to see violent attacks against candidates and supporters who campaign against the policies that are beggaring the nation while handing new privileges to the army, the police and the so-called war vets.
It is a tragedy, as my noble friend Lord Alderdice said, that the two wings of the MDC failed to reach an agreement on joint presidential and parliamentary candidates, but with ZANU-PF and Mugabe universally hated by the people, there could still be a sporting chance that Mugabe could be defeated. There are splits within the ruling party, with Simba Makoni, the former finance Minister, deciding to contest the presidential election. Apart from him, there are several incumbent ZANU-PF Ministers and former MPs being sidelined in the selection of candidates. No one imagines that there will be a free and fair election, but if the presence of well-resourced observers over the next seven weeks could make a difference—and I believe that it could—what efforts are we making to see that observer teams are properly resourced and financed?
Could we perhaps ask the SADC countries to sound out the Commonwealth about possible technical help that it might be able to give not only to the SADC observers but also against the possibility, as has been mentioned, that Zimbabwe will need substantial reconstruction after the election? The observer team might have something to contribute to that.
The regime has said that it will relax the restrictions on foreign journalists, who can play a crucial part in monitoring conditions in the run-up period. I would like to mention the intrepid Sue Lloyd-Roberts, who last autumn got in to show people starving and disease rampant; and, just the other day, John Simpson, who exposed the divisions within ZANU-PF. The free media, particularly journalists from SADC countries, can do more than politicians to ensure that Zimbabwe does not wake on 30 March to a disputed result, with consequences that could be even more disastrous than the horrors we have seen in Kenya.
Lord Howell of Guildford: My Lords, it is of course impossible in the few minutes available to me from this Dispatch Box to summarise or do justice to this excellent little debate. I am grateful to my noble friend Lord Blaker for once again returning to the issue.
Looking back on our endless debates on this subject, I find that we were told again and again that quiet diplomacy was the best course and would work. I gather that the Minister has just been touring parts of Africa, and I hope that he found out for himself what some of us have long argued. While we obviously could play no direct and confrontational part in the unfolding Zimbabwean tragedy, we could and should have been much tougher from the start on sanctions against individuals, companies and interests that were enriching themselves while supporting the regime, and on doubters at the UN who persistently blocked attempts to bring the horrors of Zimbabwe to the Security Council. We could and should have pressed Mr Mbeki and South Africa to be more robust and creative. We could and should have urged China sooner to stop sending aid and succour to Mugabe—as my right honourable friend David Cameron has now rightly done. This is not the fault of the present Minister, as he was not in place, but the Government did not do any of those things. Instead we were constantly and repeatedly told that quiet diplomacy would do the trick.
Now where have we got to? We have inflation touching anything between 13,000 and 100,000 per cent—somewhere between the two. We have unemployment at 80 per cent, a quarter of the population relying on food aid, refugees streaming over the borders and the rule of law collapsing. To repeat the noble Lord, Lord St John of Bletso: it would be interesting to know about British subject Simon Mann and why all his legal rights seem to have been ignored in his illegal extradition to Equatorial Guinea.
This is a disastrous scene in which, in the words of the noble Lord, Lord Malloch-Brown—I think that I have them right—we have an aid and development policy in Africa but not a foreign policy. That has been the trouble. When one looks at the huge imbalances between the resources available to DfID and those available to diplomacy and the Foreign Office, it is only too obvious what has happened. In the new Comprehensive Spending Review up to 2011, the FCO gets a 0.2 per cent reduction each year, and DfID—which already has a budget four times larger—gets an 11 per cent increase. This is a dangerous imbalance. Instead of having a foreign policy alongside our aid policy, we have been left to drift along with spineless international policy on Zimbabwe and, just somehow, to hope for miracles.
Maybe a few small miracles could be about to happen, but I do not know. We have heard about Simba Makoni, who has had the enormous courage to emerge to challenge Mugabe in the elections. We know that the Government are now being forced to take back farms that were parcelled out to cronies and officials because they have produced nothing, and that they will now be put in more competent managerial hands. While the MDC opposition is sadly split, so now is ZANU-PF, and that must be good.
What more can we do now, on top of the long list of things that we have urged should have happened but have not? I believe that the Commonwealth could play a forward role, even if Zimbabwe is not at the moment a member. I would like to see a Commonwealth working committee drawn from both African and other member state personnel to explore real land reform options, to encourage donors to re-engage and to plan an effective recovery strategy post Mugabe in that once rich country. I am sure that point has not yet been reached, and maybe things are going to get worse before they get better. We can only pray that, when it comes, there will be recovery and prosperity. Again, it ought to prosper and it ought to be free—and it is not.
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Malloch-Brown) : My Lords, let me echo the noble Lord’s last words. We can indeed pray for that outcome and I hope we will achieve it. I join all those who have congratulated the noble Lord, Lord Blaker, on having tabled this debate on Zimbabwe. We all respect his continued commitment to raising the crisis in Zimbabwe at every possible opportunity. He has shown himself a real friend of the people of Zimbabwe if not of its president.
We all support the view that our primary focus must be on helping ordinary Zimbabweans. The UK is the second largest bilateral donor, giving £45 million in the current year and some £173 million since 2000. As we have frequently reassured this House, this aid is distributed via third parties—the UN and NGOs—and not via the Government. As many noble Lords said, the indications, on every indicator, are that the country faces worse times ahead. The harvest will be poor. We are spending £10 million a year tackling the HIV/AIDS crisis. As the noble Lord, Lord Sheikh, said, that does not do justice to the fact that this money is not achieving the results we would wish. Life expectancy is now a catastrophic 35 years.
We continue to spend money to support democratic change, supporting civil society as well as lawyers to try and improve the climate for free and fair elections. We have ensured that EU-targeted measures are in place to punish President Mugabe and the elite and not the ordinary people of Zimbabwe. I reassure the noble Lord, Lord Blaker, that we are confident that those targeted measures will be renewed again later this month.
We speak regularly with other countries in the region, in particular South Africa and other SADC countries, to encourage them to resolve the crisis. But I take the point about quiet diplomacy. I myself met with the South African Foreign Minister at the end of last week, in the margins of the AU summit. We also have word of the briefings that the South Africans made to the other SADC member states. I am not quite as well informed as the noble Lord, Lord Blaker, on how the countries are divided on the issue, but we are seeing a disappointing failure of the neighbours to stand up for the kind of change that we must see in Zimbabwe.
I do not agree that withholding aid from other SADC members is the way to achieve change there. Angola, which the noble Lord mentioned, is an oil-rich country that is in no way dependent on aid and with its own strong point of view on these issues. SADC contains a number of countries whose development and performance of democracy and respect for it is admirable in its own right. We just wish that they would be as vigorous in applying the same standards to their neighbour Zimbabwe as they are brave enough to apply them at home.
President Mbeki’s efforts to mediate have essentially now expired. The election has been declared by President Mugabe and he has not accepted the MDC’s demands for delays. By so doing he has negated the few conditions that had been negotiated, all of which depended on time for implementation to allow for a freer and fairer election.
President Mugabe has stated that there will be no amendment to the constitution until after the elections. One must therefore assume that the conditions for genuinely free and fair elections remain far away. The electoral roll is incomplete and inaccurate. It seems that millions of those outside the country have no prospect of being able to vote. The many new constituency boundaries introduced under the negotiations have been introduced in a rush and essentially amount to gerrymandering, favouring ZANU-PF. To this day, the opposition is unable to hold rallies freely or complain without harassment and is not being given equal access to the media. The military and the police continue to crawl all over the election management process.
On the point about international election observers, it is very unlikely that credible international teams will be allowed to monitor the elections. I therefore use this debate in the House tonight to appeal to the SADC Heads of State and Government who have established very good principles of electoral conduct for their sub-region to insist that those principles be applied in Zimbabwe, and to be the first to declare that they have not been met if indeed they are not met.
I turn to the issue of cricket, raised by my noble friend Lord Morris. There are no sporting sanctions on Zimbabwe, but the Foreign Secretary and others in this Government have made it clear that we do not encourage the England and Wales Cricket Board to allow Zimbabwe to tour England in 2009 or England to tour Zimbabwe in 2012 if the situation in the country is as it is now. We continue to speak to the ECB about these issues but it remains a decision for the board. We have decided that the Government can make their position clear, but that it is not for us to intervene directly in this matter.
I shall say a word about Simon Mann. Before his appeals process had exhausted itself, and therefore completely in contravention of Zimbabwe’s own legal standards and system, he was removed from the country and sent to Equatorial Guinea. We have sought consular access to him there without success to this point. We are pressing both there and here in London for Simon Mann’s rights to be met. We are extremely concerned about the situation given the history of what has happened to prisoners before in that country. We shall certainly press fully for Mr Mann to enjoy his full legal rights.
A number of noble Lords including the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Southwark raised questions on the future situation in Zimbabwe. My right honourable friend the Prime Minister said in another place that we stand ready to assist in the economic recovery of Zimbabwe once our benchmarks for change in that country have been met; once there is a Government who are genuinely committed to economic and political reform and to the restoration of the rights of its citizens; and once there is a Government who enjoy the support of their people. At that point Britain will be generous in its support to economic recovery. I can assure noble Lords that we are already preparing for that day. We have been working with international institutions such as the World Bank, about which the noble Viscount, Lord Goschen, inquired. We are looking at the cost of recovery. We are planning for it and talking to international partners. I agree entirely that recovery must deal with the issue of land, which remains at the heart of so much of the dispute in that unhappy country.
I share the views of those who contrasted the international attention given to Kenya and that given to Zimbabwe. I hope it does not prove the point that several noble Lords made, that the international community will be stirred into action only if there is violence. We all devoutly hope that that will not happen in Zimbabwe, although we all also recognise that a very high level of state violence is already being applied to the citizens of that country.
Zimbabwe is the guilty secret of Africa and the international community. There is a terrible double standard. There has been a failure to point the finger publicly and to declare what a terrible crime is occurring against the citizens of that country. We hope that this election will enable those who run against President Mugabe to champion that point of view. We wish them all the best in the election. To go any further than that would be to undermine their own standing. Even these words will be passed on by President Mugabe and his propaganda sidekicks in an attempt to suggest that one or other or all three of them are British stooges and the British candidates to replace him.
We hope, as others have said, that there is a glimmer of hope; that, even in a snap election conducted under impossibly unfair conditions, with all the levers, advantages and cards in hands of government, God and good fortune will smile on that unhappy country, and that perhaps out of these elections will emerge a surprising electoral upset. In order to try to ensure the possibility of such an outcome we will insist—and impress on Europe, the region, the UN and the rest of the international community the need to insist—that the right standards of freeness and openness are met in that election to allow the country to return to democracy and prosperity. Zimbabwe has the world’s highest inflation rate, lowest life expectancy and, as has been pointed out, an ever-growing number of HIV/AIDS orphans. It is clear to everyone that the solution to this crisis cannot come soon enough.
We still believe that that solution must first and foremost be an African solution supported by the region and the wider international community. We will continue to explore and support all efforts to deliver that solution. In the mean time, to ease the suffering of Zimbabweans at the hands of their leadership, we will continue to provide crucial humanitarian assistance to ordinary Zimbabweans, to try to ease their suffering amidst all the pain and pressures they endure in their everyday lives.
Lord Blaker: My Lords, I thank everyone who has spoken in the debate. It has been a particularly good one.
International Herald Tribune
The Associated PressPublished: February 7, 2008
MALABO, Equatorial Guinea: A British mercenary accused of attempting to
stage a coup in this small African nation was paraded on national TV on
Thursday, a week after he was handed over by the government of Zimbabwe.
Simon Mann, in handcuffs, was made to walk in front of the camera wearing a
gray prison jumpsuit during a TV broadcast in which a government spokesman
announced he will be tried here for a 2004 coup plot.
The broadcast marked the government's first acknowledgment that the Mann,
54, had returned to Equatorial Guinea. He was secretly extradited from
Zimbabwe one week ago without his lawyer's knowledge.
Mann, a British special forces agent, was arrested along with 70 others,
mostly former soldiers, when their plane arrived in Zimbabwe to collect
weapons bought from the Zimbabwe state arms maker. They were found with
uniforms identical to those of Equatorial Guinea's President Teodoro Obiang
Ngeuma's presidential guard.
Equatorial Guinea alleges that Mann's friend Mark Thatcher, the son of
former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, commissioned the bid to
overthrow Obiang's 29-year regime and install an opposition politician. The
country is Africa's No. 3 oil producer.
In the televised statement, government spokesman Santiago Efuman said Mann
had been handed over to Equatorial Guinea Feb. 2 by Zimbabwe "so that he
could be tried."
Efuman said the government "has proof showing Simon Mann was the hand
guiding the actions of the mercenaries against Equatorial Guinea."
Mann has denied that he was preparing a coup, saying the planeload of
soldiers were headed to Congo to guard a mining operation there.
Thatcher pleaded guilty in a South African court in 2005 to unwittingly
helping to bankroll the botched coup. Mann received a four-year sentence on
weapons charges and was incarcerated in Zimbabwe's harsh Chikurubi maximum
security prison. He was released early for good behavior, but detained again
last May, when a judge ordered his extradition to Equatorial Guinea.
Authorities in Zimbabwe had said Mann would be given seven days notice
before being extradited, but instead he was spirited out of the Zimbabwe
prison last Thursday at 1:20 a.m. and flown to Malabo. His lawyer only
realized he was gone the next day when he arrived at the prison to see his
The televised image released by the government late Wednesday and repeated
throughout the day Thursday, showed Mann at the country's notorious Black
Beach prison, where the alleged coup plot leader, South African arms dealer
Nick Du Toit, is being held. Du Toit was sentenced to 34 years in prison,
though he has since said a confession he made that was key to the case
against him is false.
Mann, with several days of stubble on his chin, was shown cuffed at the
wrists and ankles. He was made to walk in front of the camera, while
security forces walked behind with their machine guns pointed at him.
Mail and Guardian
James Macharia | Cape Town, South Africa
07 February 2008 01:56
Zimbabwe's draft mining Bill will not force firms to give a
stake to the government for free as previously feared, and will be debated
by Parliament after elections next month, a senior official said on
The government of President Robert Mugabe, who is running for
another five-year term, published the Bill last November.
It was said to contain a requirement that mining firms transfer
a majority stake to locals, including giving the Zimbabwe government a free
The Bill spooked mining firms and analysts warned it could
backfire and hurt the mining sector, now the country's leading
foreign-currency earner, worsening an economic crisis that has devastated
the Southern African state's economy, leaving it with the highest inflation
rate in the world.
They fear the Mines and Minerals Amendment Bill could hurt
foreign investment in a nation that has the world's second-biggest platinum
Zimbabwe is grappling with a severe economic crisis blamed on
Mugabe's controversial policies, such as the seizure of white-owned farms to
resettle landless black Zimbabweans.
"The Bill will be tabled in Parliament after the elections,
after the new Parliament sits," said a top official in Zimbabwe's Mines
Ministry, who declined to be identified.
"The government is not going to grab the shareholding as people
have been saying, the government will pay fair value," the official, who
said he had seen the Bill, told Reuters.
"For companies that are listed, the government will pay a market
value and for those that are privately owned, the government will hire
consultants to verify the value."
About half of Zimbabwe's mining firms are foreign owned.
The world's second biggest platinum producer, Impala Platinum
(Implats), is the foreign mining firm with the most operations in Zimbabwe.
Rio Tinto has diamond interests and the world's top platinum producer, Anglo
Platinum, is developing a mine in the country.
The proposed mines Bill follows the passing in September of a
general Bill giving 51% stakes in foreign-owned firms to Zimbabweans. That
Bill did not include a provision for a 25% government shareholding.
The official said it was likely the government would "buy a 20%
and not a 25% stake in the mining firms".
He said the Bill would take into account credits towards the 51%
local-ownership requirement for any mining firms that gave up some unused
mining claims and committed to social spending such as building roads, power
and other infrastructure.
Implats has already said it has agreements in place that it
expects will meet the requirements of the general Bill that seeks to grant
majority ownership to locals, and that, in principle, it supports the aims
of localisation. Implats has withheld public comment on the new mining Bill.
The Zimbabwean official said the government would also only take
a stake on investments in excess of $100-million.
But under the law, Zimbabwe's government could take control of
strategic uranium, coal and methane projects, he said.
"Zimbabwe is open for business," the official said when asked if
the new mines law could hurt investment in the same way the land-seizure law
undermined the country's economy.
"There are many companies that are prospecting and operating
mines there. Many others still want to come in."
Mugabe, the veteran ruler, in power since independence from
Britain in 1980, denies mismanaging the economy, blaming sabotage by Western
nations plotting to undermine his rule. -- Reuters
February 07, 2008, 09:15
By Frank Nxumalo
The Supreme Court of Zimbabwe has defied a ruling by the SADC (Southern
African Development Community) Tribunal and found in favour of the
government of Zimbabwe in a strongly contested land dispute. According to
Mike Campbell of the Trade Law Centre for Southern Africa (Tralac), a
company registered in Zimbabwe had applied for an interim measure at the
Tribunal to interdict the Zimbabwean government from evicting it and
expropriating its land.
At the same time, the matter was also pending in the Supreme Court of
Zimbabwe. The company argued at the Tribunal that the expropriation of the
land would infringe on its property rights. Justice Luis Antonio Mondlane,
the president of the SADC Tribunal which is based in Windhoek, Namibia,
ruled in favour of the applicant. The Tribunal’s favourable decision is
known as an interlocutory relief in municipal law.
Meanwhile in the Supreme Court of Zimbabwe, the Zimbabwean government
challenged the interlocutory relief, arguing that Mike Campbell had failed
to exhaust local remedies before running to the SADC Tribunal. However
Justice Mondlane rejected the local remedies argument pointing out that it
was not relevant at the interlocutory juncture in terms of SADC Protocol.
The Zimbabwean government has indicated that it intends proceeding with the
seizure of Mike Campbell’s land. “This flies in the face of an undertaking
given on behalf of the government of Zimbabwe before the SADC Tribunal and
against Zimbabwe’s own international obligations,” Gerhard Erasmus, a senior
researcher at Tralac said. “It raises the issue of the effectiveness and
enforcement of Tribunal decisions and the relationship between municipal and
Erasmus added that the matter went to the heart of the future role and
success of the SADC Tribunal as a regional dispute resolution mechanism.
“The region’s history with respect to rules-based structures, dispute
resolution and respect for the rule of law is not inspiring. For the
development of the region, its integration into the global economy, its
attractiveness to investors and its own governance, it is vital that we get
By Lindie Whiz
Last updated: 02/08/2008 02:46:57
A JUDGE has delayed delivering judgment in Professor Jonathan Moyo’s Z$100
billion defamation case after requesting to see a copy of the Zanu PF
constitution, New Zimbabwe.com was told Wednesday.
Moyo, the sitting Tsholotsho MP and former information minister, is suing
Zanu PF national chairman John Nkomo for defamation.
Closing arguments in the case were heard in September last year, and
judgment was expected in December. However, Nkomo’s lawyer delayed
submitting his written arguments, forcing Justice Francis Bere, sitting at
the Bulawayo High Court, to postpone judgment to January.
Moyo is represented by Bulawayo lawyer, Job Sibanda, while Nkomo’s defence
team is led by Harare lawyer, Francis Chirimuuta.
Moyo, who won the Tsholotsho seat as a independent after being suspended by
Zanu PF, filed a Z$2 billion lawsuit against Nkomo, and former defence
minister Dumiso Dabengwa, claiming defamation over statements the two
politicians made during a Tsholotsho district Zanu PF meeting in February
Moyo later dropped his action against Dabengwa, and revised the suit against
Nkomo to Z$100 billion in view of inflation.
In the original summons filed at the Bulawayo High Court, Moyo charged that
Dabengwa and Nkomo had told Zanu PF supporters that he plotted a coup
against President Robert Mugabe. Moyo insists that was a lie.
The summons stated: "On the 12th of January 2005, both defendants addressed
a public meeting in Tsholotsho where both Nkomo and Dabengwa said of and
concerning Prof Moyo words to the following effect:
"That Prof Moyo had instigated, funded and led the hatching of a coup plot
against President Robert Mugabe and others in the top leadership of the Zanu
PF party, with the view of removing the national leadership of the
Moyo also says that the two officials had alleged the existence of a
document now referred to as the Tsholotsho Declaration, and that Moyo had
sourced money from unfriendly foreign governments which he was now
distributing in Zimbabwe.
"The statements by Nkomo and Dabengwa of and concerning Prof Moyo were
false, wrongful, unlawful and highly defamatory of Prof Moyo," the summons
In their defence, Nkomo and Dabengwa denied having said the defamatory
words, thus putting Prof Moyo to the proof of his allegations.
Moyo’s lawyers argued that Nkomo and Dabengwa may not deny and avoid as to
do so, as they did, was "clearly improper".
Sibanda further averred that if the court held that Nkomo and Dabengwa had
uttered the words, which they deny, then the words complained of were true
and for public benefit.
Nkomo’s lawyer insists that apart from not making the said allegations, the
meeting was not “public”.
Sibanda said: "A meeting does not cease to be public merely or only because
the attendants belong to the same party. Members of the same party
constitute a section of the public. Where they congregate in a hall, such as
is the case, to discuss party issues, they are in fact doing a private thing
Sibanda said Nkomo did not impress as a witness adding that in general, he
was belligerent and hostile towards Prof Moyo for no apparent reason.
7th Feb 2008 12:12 GMT
By Ian Nhuka
BULAWAYO - The chaos marking Zanu PF’s selection of candidates for the March
29 elections has escalated in Bulawayo after an aspiring candidate,
disqualified from contesting primaries, appealed to the courts to have the
process declared null.
Charlon Madeya Siziba an aspiring candidate, who was barred from standing in
the party’s primary elections, approached the High Court in Bulawayo Monday,
seeking the outcome of the internal election in Insiza South constituency to
be declared null and void.
Siziba had sought to participate in the House of Assembly primary
election for Insiza South constituency on Sunday this week, but was
summarily disqualified without any reasons given on polling day.
While scores of party members and activists including Makonde legislator and
president Robert Mugabe’s relative, Leo Mugabe have complained of
irregularities in the primary elections, they have sought to have their
grievances resolved through the party structures.
But Siziba, Zanu PF’s secretary for administration for Insiza district in
Matabeleland South province, war veteran and former army officer decided to
adopt a two-pronged approach – using the court and the
internal party processes.
He said in court papers filed Monday that he worked in the district for more
than a decade for more than 10 years. He cites a Robson Tshuma, as the first
respondent, Zanu PF Matabeleland South provincial election directorate, Zanu
PF Matabeleland South Provincial Co-ordinating Committee as the first second
and third respondents respectively.
The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) is also listed as a respondent and
Siziba wants the body to postpone the nomination court in the constituency
until the matter is finalised. Siziba also wants his disqualification to be
declared null and void as, according to him; the procedures used in the
process are contrary to the principles of natural justice. In addition he
contends that Tshuma disqualified him from running in the primary election
without the authority from the party provincial leadership.
“The decision to disqualify applicant from contesting in the primary
election without a hearing or furnishing reasons be and is hereby declared
null and void for want of compliance with the principles of natural
justice,” said Siziba who is being represented by Munyaradzi Nzarayapenga,
a local lawyer.
The court case comes in a dramatic week for ZANU - PF as elections approach.
On Monday, scores of ruling party supporters from various parts of the
country converged at the party’s national headquarters
in Harare, protesting against irregularities in the primary elections. They
only dispersed Tuesday after national political commissar, Elliot Manyika,
In addition, President Robert Mugabe’s re-election bid has been severely
jolted after ruling party politburo member and former Finance minister,
Simba Makoni said Tuesday that he would challenge the veteran leader in the
presidential election. Several other ZANU –PF are expected to follow suit as
the nomination courts, postponed by a week from February 8 approaches.
Siziba said in his papers that on February 1 last week, his application to
contest in the party’s primary elections was approved, two days before the
election date. “On the polling day, I arrived at the party’s Insiza district
office at about 7 am and found Patrick Hove present,” said Siziba. “Tshuma
arrived late at about 9 am and voting could not start as per schedule. We
proceeded to the first polling station and the voting started at about 10
am. The voting was by secret ballot. I must hasten to add that when the
voting started, I was a contestant in the elections.”
Isau Moyo, another respondent who is also a provincial secretary for
administration Matabeleland South, arrived later and had a brief one-on-one
meeting with Tshuma “I was shortly called by Tshuma who advised me that he
had got a message from Moyo that I was disqualified from contesting in the
primary elections. No reasons were given,” Siziba said.
The matter is yet to be set down and the respondents were yet to file
their papers by late yesterday.
February 7, 2008
A landmark case is on the verge of collapse because Equatorial Guinea will
not let the alleged coup plotter see his lawyers
A landmark case collapsed in unprecedented fashion today as the House of
Lords refused to continue hearing a claim brought by Equatorial Guinea
against the alleged plotters of a failed coup because it will not allow one
of the defendants to meet with his lawyers.
Simon Mann, a British former SAS officer accused of instigating the plot, is
being held at the notorious Black Beach prison after being secretly
extradited to the tiny West African nation from Zimbabwe last week. He has
been prevented from meeting with either his lawyers or British consular
Equatorial Guinea's stance so angered nine law lords hearing a damages claim
the oil-rich government brought against Mr Mann that this morning they
abruptly adjourned the proceedings indefinitely.
Lawyers involved said they could not remember such an important case ending
so spectacularly. Joanna Kennedy, a solicitor at Collyer Bristow who is
representing another defendant in the case, described Equatorial Guinea's
actions as "extremely cavalier".
She said: “It's trying to invoke the jurisdiction of the English courts
while completely flouting the rule of law itself."
The law lords described the situation as "highly regrettable".
Equatorial Guinea sued Mr Mann and five others for damages after the failed
coup in 2004 plunged the country into "mayhem", and pursued its case all the
way to Britain's highest court.
The legal issues in question were considered so important that the appeal
was being heard by nine law lords instead of five — the first time so many
had sat together since the challenge to the Hunting Act in 2005.
If the appeal succeeded, it would have overturned a longstanding precedent
of British judges refusing to intervene in the affairs of other states.
Equatorial Guinea will now have to pay the legal costs of both sides —
likely to be hundreds of thousands of pounds — even if it backs down and
allows Mr Mann to talk to his lawyers.
The oil-rich West African nation claims it lost millions from increased
security costs, delays to civil engineering projects and loss of foreign
investment in the aftermath of the attempted coup.
In October 2006, the Court of Appeal ruled that it could not sue for damages
in the British courts because the losses were not from damage to private
property but decisions it made to protect its state and citizens.
Opening the appeal on Monday, Sir Sydney Kentridge, QC, for Equatorial
Guinea, told the law lords that the defendants had set out to seize control
of the country's substantial oil and gas reserves for their own enrichment
and in doing so meant to "kill or severely injure" the President.
It is alleged that between March 2003 and March 2004, Mr Mann and others
hatched a plan to overthrow President Ngeuma — who came to power in a
violent coup in 1979 — with a force of around 70 former Special Forces
soldiers armed with assault rifles, grenade launchers and mortars.
On March 7, 2004, Mr Mann and several others were captured in Zimbabwe while
waiting for their plane to take off. Mr Mann claimed the arms were intended
for a private security company guarding diamond mines in the Democratic
Republic of Congo; however, he was convicted on firearms and immigration
charges and sentenced to four years in prison. In South Africa, Sir Mark
Thatcher, the son of Baroness Thatcher, later admitted financing part of the
plot and was fined £265,000 and released with a suspended sentence.
Last night, in a debate in the House of Lords, Lord Malloch-Brown, the
Minister for Africa, said the British Government was concerned for Mr Mann's
safety. He said: “We are extremely concerned about the situation given the
history of what has happened to prisoners before in that country. We shall
certainly press fully for Mr Mann to enjoy his full legal rights.”
James Sturcke and David Pallister
Thursday February 7, 2008
The former SAS officer Simon Mann is to go on trial in Equatorial Guinea,
charged with plotting to overthrow the president, Teodoro Obiang Nguema
Mbasogo, the country's government said today.
In its first official acknowledgement of the mercenary's extradition
transfer from Zimbabwe last week, the government said Mann would be tried
for his "abortive mercenary coup attempt against the regime and democratic
institutions of Equatorial Guinea in 2004".
The news came as the law lords in London refused to continue hearing a case
brought by the west African country against Mann because lawyers were not
being allowed access to him.
Nine law lords adjourned the case indefinitely unless the oil-rich state
agreed to abide by assurances given yesterday that Mann's lawyers would have
Mann is a respondent in the case in which Equatorial Guinea is appealing to
the House of Lords over a refusal by the courts to allow it to bring a
damages action over a failed coup attempt in 2004.
Mann, the alleged leader of the aborted coup, was secretly flown out of
Harare on Friday evening after his appeal against extradition was refused,
before he could lodge a final appeal with the supreme court.
A spokesman for the judicial office at the House of Lords said: "The appeal
has been adjourned indefinitely. It is now up to the parties to tell us how
they wish to proceed."
The government was urged today in the Commons to take tough, immediate
A succession of Tories warned quiet diplomacy had failed and asked the
foreign secretary, David Miliband, to take a stand by recalling UK diplomats
from the country.
Raising his plight in the Commons, Mann's MP, the Tory frontbencher Julian
Lewis, said: "He has completed his jail sentence in Zimbabwe but has been
transferred by the Mugabe regime to a potentially terrible fate in
Lewis said the appeal processes were incomplete and contradicted assurances
given to the British ambassador.
Conservative MP John Whittingdale said: "Whatever Simon Mann may have done
or not done, he is entitled to reasonable treatment and fair legal
representation and there is real concern he is going to get neither of those
in Equatorial Guinea."
Mann was visited in prison yesterday by the US ambassador and his deputy.
They told the Foreign Office he was "shocked but physically OK".
The diplomats, David Johnson and Anton Smith, were given access to Black
Beach prison after the government refused entry to the British consul who
arrived in the country from Nigeria on Monday.
Smith later spoke by telephone to Mann's wife, Amanda, and his sister in
Mann's lawyers accused the Zimbabwean authorities of a criminal conspiracy.
The Foreign Office endorsed that interpretation. A spokeswoman said: "We
understand that the appeals process was still ongoing at the time of his
removal from Zimbabwe. We have serious concerns about the legality of this
under domestic and international law. We have made representations to the
Zimbabwean authorities to this effect."
Mann was arrested in Harare in 2004 as his plane, carrying 67 South African
mercenaries, landed to pick up weapons. He served four years in prison in
Zimbabwe and was immediately rearrested upon his release last year over the
extradition warrant from Equatorial Guinea.
During his appeal, lawyers argued he could face torture if he was extradited
because of Equatorial Guinea's poor human rights record.
Equatorial Guinea insists he will not be mistreated and the death penalty
will not be sought.
To avoid allegations of judicial partiality, the government promised his
trial would be conducted by a judge chosen by the head of the African Union,
currently the Tanzanian president, Jakaya Kikwete.
Mann is expected to be visited shortly by members of the International Red
Cross based in Cameroon.
Thursday, 07 February 2008 09:54
HARARE - - The opposition Movement for Democratic Change’s staunch civil
ally, Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition, has slammed the weekend collapse of
unity talks between the two MDC factions.
“As the country’s leading political opposition, where a substantial part of
the country’s population has put their hope in the quest to resolve the twin
crises of legitimacy and governance that the country has been grappling with
for the past eight years, the MDC has a national duty not to betray its
constituency,” CZC spokesman McDonald Lewanika said. “In the Coalition’s
view, the national good demands that the leadership of the MDC should desist
from pursuing parochial party interests and get united in order to confront
Zimbabwe’s dictatorship as a united front.”
A bid by the two MDC factions to present a united challenge to President
Robert Mugabe in elections on March 29 collapsed Sunday, with leaders from
two of the main factions blaming each other for making unreasonable demands.
Both MDC leaders Morgan Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara however said they
would not boycott the vote but would field rival candidates, severely
weakening their presidential bid.
Tsvangirai said talks had collapsed over differences about how many
candidates to field in the Matabeleland province - a stronghold of the
But Mutambara said talks had broken because Tsvangirai's group had made
unreasonable demands and refused to sign the unity pact.
Lewanika said the failure by the two parties to unite was not in the
national interest because it was premised on individual agendas to get posts
rather than the need to rescue the country from the current political and
“This parochial agenda will not benefit either formation of the MDC because
the ruling party will simply use the divisive situation in the opposition
camp to manipulate the electoral process and outcome,” Lewanika said. “In
this regard, the opposition should desist from assisting the status quo from
continuing with its destructive national policies.”
He said the leadership of the two formations of the MDC should seriously
examine their failure to focus on the national interest and its consequences
on the lives of the suffering majority of Zimbabweans. Lewanika added that
it was not too late for the MDC to put its house in order.
“The MDC should also go back to its history and learn from its past
achievements in order to appreciate the need and urgency for unity,”
Lewanika said. “For instance, when the MDC was united in the run-up to the
2000 elections they won 57 seats of the 120 contested ones despite the
violence against its supporters by state agents. Its presidential candidate
Morgan Tsvangirai got more than 1.2 million votes against President Robert
Mugabe’s controversial 1.6 million votes. This was largely a result of unity
in the opposition group and a sense of national focus which made Zimbabweans
support the MDC.”
by Farisai Gonye Friday 08 February 2008
HARARE – Zimbabwe’s ruling ZANU PF party is re-vetting candidates for next
months’ elections to ensure that only those “totally loyal” to President
Robert Mugabe will stand on the party’s ticket, secretary for administration
Didymus Mutasa said on Thursday.
Mutasa, a top confidante of Mugabe and is also intelligence and land reform
minister, said ZANU PF would in the coming days intensify a campaign to weed
out rebels linked to former finance minister Simba Makoni who this week
announced he will stand against Mugabe in next months’ presidential poll.
"We have rebels in the party and we will have to look at who is who,” Mutasa
told ZimOnline. “More importantly (we) want to ensure that whoever is
representing ZANU-PF has total loyalty to President Mugabe. We are at a time
when we have to redouble our vigilance. We are re-looking at who goes on our
Makoni shook Zimbabwe’s ruling establishment to its foundations last Tuesday
when he announced his mutiny against Mugabe, clearly stating he was not
alone but working with many more like-minded people from the government and
Mugabe has not yet commented in public about Makoni’s rebellion while ZANU
PF legal secretary Emmerson Mnangagwa’s comment was to only repeat a party
constitutional provision that members who stand as independents are
Earlier this week, Mugabe postponed nomination of electoral candidates from
tomorrow to February 15, a move government officials and state media claimed
was because of a request by ZANU PF and the opposition MDC party for more
time to select candidates.
However, authoritative sources in Mugabe’s office told ZimOnline the
postponement was because the veteran leader wanted time to re-organise his
party in the wake of Makoni’s rebellion.
Mugabe, normally a combative and cunning political fox, also on Wednesday
cancelled a scheduled meeting of ZANU PF’s inner politburo cabinet, which
had been expected to discuss Makoni’s rebellion. He did not give reasons.
However, Mutasa dismissed any suggestions of turmoil in ZANU PF, insisting
the party that has been in power since Zimbabwe’s 1980 independence from
Britain was still in control and would crush Makoni and his fellow rebels
come election day on March 29.
He said: "Generally as a party we are in control. The election will come and
ZANU-PF will win comfortably and that will be the end of Makoni and his
group. This media hype will die down."
Zimbabwe is in the grip of an acute economic recession critics blame on
mismanagement by Mugabe and seen in the world’s highest inflation rate of
more than 26 000 percent, 80 percent unemployment and shortages of food,
fuel and foreign currency.
Announcing his decision to challenge Mugabe, Makoni said Zimbabwe’s problems
were chiefly a result of leadership failure, a thinly veiled attack on
Mugabe, who at once boasted that no one could have run Zimbabwe’s economy
better than him, denies ruining the country and has promised a landslide
victory in March to once again prove he has the backing of ordinary
Zimbabweans. - ZimOnline
by Farisai Gonye Friday 08 February 2008
HARARE – An ambitious plan by the Zimbabwe government to recruit thousands
of new police officers ahead of next month’s elections has virtually
collapsed after it found no takers among hordes of school leavers roaming
the streets, ZimOnline has learnt.
The police force, hit hard by massive resignations and desertions over poor
pay and working conditions over the past eight years, is struggling to
maintain adequate staff levels.
Sources said despite an aggressive recruitment drive launched late last
year, the law enforcement agency failed to meet a target of 27 000 new
“We are still losing more people. So instead of increasing the number of
officers as per our plan, we are actually down to fewer men. We might be
down to as much as 20 000 men by the time of the election,” said a senior
officer in the police human resources department.
Police officers, who numbered about 25 000 last year, are among the lowest
paid civil servants with the lowest ranked officer earning about Z$200
million per month.
The sources said because of the very low response to job adverts, police
authorities now planned to lower the entry educational requirements to
attract more recruits.
The police require a minimum five passes at Ordinary Level including
Mathematics and English for one to qualify for training.
Police spokesman, Oliver Mandipaka yesterday confirmed that recruitment of
new officers had been slow but insisted “various ways” were being worked out
to ensure adequate officers were available during next month’s elections.
Mandipaka said: “We are working on ensuring that we have adequate officers
for the election. There are various ways of achieving this without
necessarily compromising quality.
“Graduates of the national training service have always had first
preference. Those who don’t have adequate requirements join as volunteers,
while those who qualify will join as regular recruits.”
Zimbabwe holds local government, parliamentary and presidential elections on
Zimbabwe’s elections have since the 1999 emergence of the opposition
Movement for Democratic Change party been accompanied by widespread
politically motivated violence, lawlessness and human rights abuses, largely
blamed on militant supporters of the ruling ZANU PF party. - ZimOnline
by Maggie Makanza Friday 08 February 2008
CAPE TOWN - I know my vote is my secret that is if ZANU PF does not steal
it. I am one of those Zimbabweans who was undecided whether to vote in the
I have been pondering on what the March elections mean to an ordinary
Zimbabwean suffering from cash shortages, lack of electricity, water,
transport, housing, food shortages.
An economy that has been taken five centuries back with a collapsed health
and education delivery system reducing every Zimbabwean into destitution and
sending many into exile.
The catalogue of tragedies suffered by Zimbabweans is endless. I had
therefore come to the conclusion that, a contest between a split MDC and
ZANU PF was an exercise in futility and that the outcome of the elections
The elections will come and go and the suffering of Zimbabweans will
continue unabated. This time stolen votes or not, after hearing that Dr
Simba Makoni has thrown himself into the race, I have decided that I am
going to vote.
But the decision of who I vote for like any other Zimbabwean has to be a
very well considered position based on facts and devoid of the emotional
political rhetoric that characterise most discourse on Zimbabwe.
That Zimbabweans do not want ZANU PF or more specifically Mugabe, is not a
point of contention or discussion.
However, there are mixed emotions on the vote for the MDC which has largely
been a vote against ZANU PF.
The MDC, largely seen as the party that made the first serious challenge to
Mugabe’s power may have many sympathisers and have earned respect for the
many gallant fights that they have engaged with the ZANU PF government.
They have been bruised and battered and have wounds to show for the struggle
for democracy. However, the elections this March will be a test for the MDC’s
fitness for governance.
We have proof that ZANU PF is not fit to govern and every Zimbabwean can
testify to that. I am then going to soberly ask the question ‘Is the MDC fit
This may be seen as a highly unfair and emotive question. Of cause the MDC
has not been tested so how can we know if they are fit to govern? This is
not meant to be a tricky examination question by some learned professor but
a reality check.
It reminds me of a boy-girl relationship, head over heels in love, the girl
marries the boy against the better judgment of the elders. While the elders
saw it coming, she was too emotionally involved to see.
Such is the plight of many of us as Zimbabweans being knee deep into the
political saga, are all bruised and battered and emotionally charged to
Being the ‘scene’, it makes it difficult to be the ‘seer’. But the question
is how could the elders have known before the marriage was sanctified?
What where the signs and symptoms that allowed the ‘elders’ to see the
future and predict it with such accuracy. It will not last, they had warned
the girl. But of cause such advice had fallen on deaf ears.
If you were the political adviser on Zimbabwe, what would you be advising
ordinary Zimbabweans to do with regards to the upcoming elections?
Boycott elections or go and make their choices between the incumbent Robert
Mugabe, Tsvangirai (MDC1, Mutambara (MDC11), Simba Makoni et al in the mix.
It has been well argued that ZANU PF may have been effective as a liberation
movement but did not have the capacity to govern and rule a nation. I think
the same may apply to the MDC today.
While the MDC may have been at the fore front and championed the fight for
democracy, the question must still be asked, are they fit to govern? Are
they ready to govern?
The harsh reality is that while a grader may be allowed on the road to clear
the way, once the path is cleared and the road tarred, it is not allowed to
travel on the very same road that it charted.
Such may be the plight of the MDC in the upcoming elections.
The issue is not whether the MDC should participate in elections or not as
They are damned if they do, and damned if they don’t following a comedy of
tragic errors in the President Thabo Mbeki brokered negotiations with ZANU
PF and self-centredness shown through its recent failure to unite the
splintered factions over a mere 20 seats in parliament.
I also read elsewhere that sitting MPs in the Tsvangirai led faction will
retain their seats and not contest primary elections. Perhaps they do not
understand the very democracy that they are fighting for.
While Zimbabwe is burning, they haggle over 20 seats in parliament and are
interested in protecting their positions, so what is the difference with
For a Christian, I am quite unforgiving of behaviour that clearly puts self
interest ahead of common good.
I have warned you already about the need to be brutal with facts and not be
guided by emotions.
An analysis of the MDC’s comedy of errors reveals a party leadership that is
naïve, politically immature and obsessed with getting to State House as an
end in itself.
Lack of clear leadership and capacity to take advantage of the many
opportunities presenting in Zimbabwe for change have left me doubting the
MDC’s capacity not only to dislodge the ZANU PF regime from power but also
MDC has earned itself the description of ‘a popular but largely ineffective
opposition in Zimbabwe’.
The strategies employed to date to oust the Mugabe regime have left many
wondering when they will deliver the change promised two parliamentary
Ineffectiveness suggests use of inappropriate approaches, irrelevant tools
and methods (that may have worked in the past but are no longer effective)
coupled with poor analysis of the situation and lack of clear direction.
As the saying goes, if you continue to do the same thing, you will always
get what you have always gotten - in this case defeat. This requires changes
in tactics and approaches (zvinoda kuchinja maitiro) as the MDC saying goes.
The MDC and ZANU PF have failed to move the country beyond their differences
and judging by how conflicts have gone elsewhere in Africa, the stalemate
can last for decades while people on the ground are suffering.
In an earlier article, in August, 2006, titled’ The Anatomy of Zimbabwe’s
Problems’ I described Zimbabweans as a people caught between a rock and a
hard place; a brutal dictatorial regime and an ineffectual opposition’.
So the makonifactor as I call it, unlike any other third-force factors in
the form of small political parties, MDC 2, will give Zimbabweans something
to think about in the polling booth.
It is no longer an either MDC or ZANU PF situation in the presidential
choices. If we had to make an unemotional decision, who would you vote for
on the basis of capacity and potential to bring about real change?
Remembering my boy-girl scenario, if your life depended on it (of course it
depends on it), and you were asked to advise the people of Zimbabwe at these
crucial elections, what would you say?
If you are alone in bed (maybe with your spouse), without influence from
anyone, as things stand, who would you vote for to bring about a lasting
change to the political crisis in Zimbabwe.
What reasons would you advance for such a choice?
Most would vote with their hearts and not their minds in this instance and
choose to reward Tsvangirai for the long battle against Mugabe.
Much as we emotionally voted for ZANU PF for several years following
independence justifying to ourselves that since they had fought the war to
liberate us, they deserved our vote irrespective of clear signs of
We have arrived 27 years later, and realise the gravity of our mistake. The
same romantic relationship that the people had at independence with
ZANU/ZAPU PF has also been established between the people and the MDC.
Where we are justifying a vote for them because we believe they owe us the
vote by virtue of the fact that they struggled for democracy.
ZANU PF monopolised the struggle for independence and held the nation at
ransom and made us feel that we owed them for having liberated us. And that
it was their privilege to rule us.
Are we going to be repeating the same mistake despite clear signs of
dictatorship in the midst of the MDC? Shouldn’t we say no to dictatorship
now whether it is in ZANU PF or the MDC?
I think we are in danger of being trapped by the very nature of the
relationship that is developing within the MDC were the struggle for
democracy is being personalised and monopolised.
Will the MDC hold us to ransom and claim the right to rule? Makoni is
offering himself to the people of Zimbabwe. Are we going to simply reject
him on the basis that he has no scar to show for the struggle against
Are scars from the liberation war and now the struggle for democracy the
real and only qualification to rule? As the famous joke by Chinotimba ’I
died for this country’.
I am tired of playing the ZANU PF/MDC game in which all of us emerge as
losers. They have had their chance and now it is time for a new game, with
new actors. I am off to check my name on the voters’ roll.
Makoni will have my vote. He has taken a calculated risk and has the courage
to oppose Mugabe.
But more importantly, simply because of the person that he is. For him to
have remained ‘clean’ so to speak under a party that thrives on patronage
and initiation by corruption is for me something to marvel about.
He has national, regional and international experience in governance. I urge
you to pause and think soberly about the forthcoming elections and ask
yourself, as things stand, who has the qualification to rule.
History will judge us harshly should we miss this opportunity to usher to
Zimbabwe a new political era.
So, Beware the Ides of March.
* Maggie Makanza is a social commentator and writes from Cape Town, South
Africa. She would like your feedback on this article and can be contacted by
email on email@example.com
The following is a transcript of SW Radio Africa's Lance Guma talk with
respected Zimbabwean political commentator Brian Kagoro about Simba Makoni's
move to challenge President Robert Mugabe in the March 29 elections:
Last updated: 02/08/2008 06:58:50
Guma: I first asked Brian what he makes of Makoni’s entry into the political
Kagoro: I think its welcome,. The more the merrier. Expressing the intention
to stand in an election campaign is not the same as standing. Number two I
think Zimbabwean politics had become very inflexible because it was a
two-party horse race. The options even when the second parties, MDC split,
the option of building alliance across the floor of the parliamentary house
was often missed because there is a sense that we conduct our politics as
though we are going to a beauty contest.
Guma: Ok, but a lot of people are suspicious Mr Kagoro mainly from the fact
that Mr Makoni had a private meeting with Mr Mugabe two weeks ago in fact
and no-one is privy to what was discussed during that meeting and a lot of
people are throwing accusations that Makoni is a spoiler and is there to
take away the urban vote.
Kagoro: There is a huge assumption that that urban vote would go to
somewhere. The reality with this election, those of us who are trying to
monitor it scientifically, is that many urban voters are not happy with the
ruling party, they are unhappy with the opposition, if you just look at the
e-mail trail of the responses to the failure by the two factions of the MDC
to unite…there was no guarantee that that urban vote will go to the MDC. So
this approach to the elections in a very unscientific and speculative way is
But the reality though is whether or not he is a spoiler its not guarantee
that urban Zimbabweans are so gullible that they will just without hearing
what he has to offer vote his way. I think those people who are expressing
this are those people who fear for the leadership credentials of one leader
or the other.
I think people should welcome Makoni as competition, whether it’s
competition as proxy, as a proxy of Mugabe or as independent competition.
And also there is a real likelihood if they had that private meeting perhaps
it was a private meeting at which they failed to agree as happened to
Jonathan Moyo before he was ultimately fired, perhaps it is a private
meeting at which they agreed to disagree.
So in a sense the leadership mantle of Zimbabwe does not rest in Morgan
Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara and Robert Mugabe only. As many Zimbabweans
should take the bold step to volunteer to lead their country whether they be
in Zanu, in MDC or presently not affiliated to any political party. I think
for those of us who genuinely are concerned about Zimbabwe moving forward we
welcome this pitch, what we should be hearing is people in MDC or in Zanu
saying well let’s form alliances, we need a broader, strategic alliance to
dislodge the present dictatorship.
Guma: Now, in terms of the actual dynamics of Makoni’s entry is it not
problematic for him that he does not lead any particular party and he is
presenting himself as an independent candidate, how do you see him getting
over this obstacle as some would call it.
Kagoro: It’s not new in African politics, not to have a party, whether pre
or post election. You remember the Malawian guy, who went in under the
ticket of the ruling party, woke up decided he was unhappy with it and
suddenly a lot of Malawians thought oh Bingu wa Mutharika will be out
because he has no political party. The guy in Kenya, the President in Kenya,
until a few weeks before the election did not have a political party until a
loose coalition was put together for him called the Party of National Unity.
I am not alarmed; maybe perhaps I have observed elections across Africa,
where we have seen this highly unlikely. It’s candidates who think that they
can attract voters from across the party lines, voters…they think that there
is the equivalent, or what you would hear referred to as the swing voter,
the undecided voter who is unhappy with the status quo and perhaps unhappy
with what the opposition has to offer but who still wants change. And
frankly, there is no requirement that he should lead a political party.
Guma: OK, ok, he made his announcement 52 days before the poll; some are
also pointing that out as a problem, a leader who comes at the 11th hour and
says I offer my services. Is that a problem do you think?
Kagoro: People are very petty. The MDC was formed nine months before the
2000 election. That did not mean that prior to the nine months, September of
1999….huge consultation. So it may very well be that his claim that he has
been in extensive consultation is genuine, that there are people he has been
in consultation with, people who will ultimately come out in the open and
say they back him. He is not a new face, so it’s not new leadership offering
I think we should be asking more substantive questions, not questions about
timing, not questions about whether or not he is a proxy for Zanu but
questions about whether or not does this man, by way of leadership, by way
of national appeal, have anything to offer. If he doesn’t, let’s rest
assured the voters will reject him for being decadent. If he
Guma: A lot of people Brian are worried about his motives. Some are pointing
to the fact that he was barred from challenging Justice Minister Patrick
Chinamasa and that the only reason he has decided to go for the presidency
is that he has been frustrated in that particular arena. What would you say
then about his motive, is he bitter because he couldn’t contest for a
Kagoro: Frankly Lance, take the Mutambara faction for example. There could
be very many reasons why it emerged. Zanu itself was faction out of Zapu. If
we dismissed or accepted or judged parties purely on account of motive of
formation…politics is not a (inaudible word) game, it is not a game played
by people dressed in white. Politics by its very nature has many curious
motivations, and motives. I think we should stop using NGO judgment of
things to judge politicians. All politicians, including the ones we like,
are by their very nature decadent, by their very nature dishonest to a
certain extent, by their very nature motivated by a simple thing called
power. The business of politics is the conquest and retention of political
power, there are never any pure motives.
The question we should then ask if we accept that most politicians are
motivated, mostly, by the need to conquer and retain power, is which of
these are we able to contain; which of these are we able to align with;
which of these in terms of their political persuasion, their ideological
persuasion are we able to work with. We should be dismissing Simba Makoni or
accepting him on the basis of his ideological persuasion.
It would be a blessing to the opposition if there is someone who is so
disaffected in Zanu, either by Zanu’s politics of exclusion, its
undemocraticness who decides because of frustration as Edgar Tekere prior to
Makoni did, that he walking out. Nobody asked the question is Edgar really a
democrat, or simply forming a party because he was kicked out. Take Margaret
Dongo who was the mother of opposition politics as we know it now, Margaret
didn’t voluntarily walk out iof Zanu PF. Margaret was squeezed, even up to
the last hour she was trying to prove that she is Zanu, and when Zanu spit
her, she was forced to form the opposition which set path for the formation
of latter oppositions.
In my view I think the country will consume its time on useless debates, we
should get into the core of the matter. Is this next election going to be an
election of issues or on issues, if so what are the issues? Otherwise these
personality discussions, motivation discussions…frankly politicians are not
priests, they are not saints and one is unlikely to find a saint in that
game. So the best we can hope for is rational, logical or at least people
who have solutions and ideas to take our country out of its present morass.
Guma: Now some are saying if we work on the premise that for Zimbabwe to get
out of the current mess, Mugabe has to go. Now someone will say the current
situation has four serious candidates to talk about, and that having this
many candidates will benefit Mugabe. Do you agree with that?
Kagoro: Frankly there are only two candidates in this election: change or
Mugabe. And it is up to those who say they represent change to ask
themselves whether they are serious. If they are serious, they will
negotiate beyond their egos. It’s not the number of candidates, it’s the
size of the egos of Tsvangirai, even Makoni and Mutambara that has become a
problem. Why they cannot united around a single presidential candidate beats
me. Why they cannot get to a stage where they agree around a system, like
the Kenyans did, with all the problems of the Kenyans have had afterwards
and did have before, on a system of fielding candidates such that they
maximise on the number of seats they win beats me. So it seems to me that we
are in danger of even the change movement being made up of status quo
people, people who are happy with the mess that we are in because they are
not willing to do anymore about it than defend their egos, defend their
personality cults and their differences.
Guma: But the problem Brian is who steps aside for who? That is the problem.
Who has the right to ask so and so to step down in favour of someone else?
Kagoro: It’s not a right. I think that it’s a simple question: which of the
three is most likely to carry the voters that you need to defeat Mugabe?
That’s number one. Number two, what then becomes structurally the
accommodation for the other two? As I said they are motivated by the pursuit
of and conquest of power. I think that it’s no magic if they asked for
independent opinion at this hour, if you even did a polling survey, if you
did a scientific poll that says which of these candidates is likely to be
the best man to stand against Mugabe in terms of policy, in terms of
articulation and in terms of wide appeal. We could get to a place where we
say our top two are these. Even if we tossed a coin, the fact of the matter
is we need one candidate who represents change, and it won’t be perfect
This is not a transformation election, this is, if you like, a succession
election. There is not sufficient time to culture an agenda for
transformation in the period between now and March 29, that’s point number
one. Point number two, there is not enough time to interrogate whether the
leadership we have which may have been good for various other things is
still good for taking the country – judging by the depths the country has
descended – out of the current morass. That’s why I think that there has to
be, beyond goodwill, there must be a willingness to bend over backwards,
where people say what is in the national interest?
We will never be able to negotiate a new day for Zimbabwe until we say let’s
get the old man to retire and rest like all his other age mates. Anyway, the
retirement age for the country is 65, some people are way beyond the age of
retirement. Let’s get those who are old to retire, and let’s agree a process
of transition that whoever wins will then put in place … (inaudible) this
system and right now favours everybody because … (inaudible) so they need
each other, so they literally need a coalition government.
Guma: If I may take this discussion Brian to another particular angle that I
would like you help us investigate, the Mujuru angle. A lot of people are
talking about this saying retired army general Solomon Mujuru is backing
Makoni and even the u-turn that he made he got assurances from Mujuru that
he will have his back and I link this with sentiments from [Vitalis]
Zvinavashe and retired major Kudzai Mbudzi. How much influence do these
former army guys have with this whole new set-up?
Kagoro: If you want to appreciate present politics of Zimbabwe and the
future, what is at stake for a political class of people, you must
appreciate who now owns Zimbabwe since the bulk of the settler white
interest seems to have been shaken. You must ask who owns the mining sector,
who owns the farming sector, you look at the major chunks of our economy
other than the foreign investor you realise that it’s not so much people
with links to the army, it’s people with links to the economy…a lot of these
people, both those who are pro-Mugabe and those who are seen as the new
black sheep in Mugabe’s camp and the opposition, these are defending
personal economic interests acquired openly, legally or illegally. So this
election is a contest of classes over ill-gotten wealth, over seized wealth
So, one of the analysis I am not hearing…I hear a lot of tribe, I hear a lot
of military, frankly the Zimbabwean military is not going to be a factor in
the ballot. What’s going to be a factor is the money that has been generated
through perpetrating the present crisis, the super inflationary conditions
that we are under…the people who are able to get whether it’s diamonds or
gold or whatever, within the various camps. I would be urging people to
analyse this by looking at where is the big money and which big money is
bankrolling who and what would be used to purchase the vote of peasants?
Yes, the ethnic alliances or regional alliances will come into play, but the
bigger fight here is the fight to control the national cake, the resources
and …(inaudible) the instrument of accumulation …(inaudible).
Guma: Brian what has changed? Some of the people you are talking about
accrued this wealth under Mugabe’s patronage system, they are beneficiaries.
So why would they be making a u-turn at this juncture?
Kagoro: I think they realise what happens with a system of patronage is that
it relies on those who are recipients of its largesse showing consistent
submission and subservience. But a system of patronage which is ill-managed
such as what has become of our economy soon becomes like a gangrene eating
into the very benefits that your super class, your new rich would have
accrued. And at some stage politicians forget that money controls a lot of
what they do, they begin to fight the economic interest using the state
machinery, so the battle for the soul of the state is a battle to control
the instruments of cohesion, the instruments that facilitate the expansion
of that wealth or the reduction of that wealth.
So what has changed for many is whether they still have the favour of those
that control the instruments of cohesion – the police – are their allies
being harassed and arrested, is the state machinery being used to hound
their people out of those particular spaces? So it’s that sort of thing,
some of the motivations may not be motivations for democracy, and in fact
the bulk of what’s going on in Zimbabwe right now very few people can
genuinely, even those that may have started purely committed to democracy,
very few people now can claim that they genuinely are fighting for a more
inclusive Zimbabwe, a broadly inclusive Zimbabwe and you can see this by the
failure to include each other even as small factions.
Guma: One final question for you Brian, some say it’s not about who votes
but the one who counts and we still have this lingering problem and I
believe the SADC mediation was trying to resolve this and create a free and
fair environment in which the political parties could contest. In your view
do you think we have that climate now to facilitate free and fair elections
or we are going into as contest whose outcome is pre-determined?
Kagoro: Let me answer that in a contradictory way. First, the conditions for
a free and fair election don’t exist in Zimbabwe, I think it takes no rocket
science to understand that. But there exists conditions and a yearning for
change that may surprise the establishment. I think the establishment
firstly wanted to create an element of surprise by this shotgun notice of
announcing an election date that does not give the opposition sufficient
time to campaign. If the opposition marshals its courage and its strategic
capacity to align across the different shapes that are emerging, even the
smaller ones – the Daniel Shumbas, the Siwelas and others, and then now this
Simba Makoni outfit. It may very well be the biggest upset in the history of
elections in Zimbabwe.
But please mark my words, it will not be because free and fair conditions
exist, it would simply be ….(inaudible) the state machinery that normally
would keep supervision and surveillance is not at its sharpest, it is not
the same level as it was before. The level of suffering and discontent even
within the rural sector, the peri-urban sector is much higher than it was in
So it means two things that could motivate, you either say we are not going
to elections because the conditions are not conducive or we won’t
go….(inaudible) will win, there would be fewer pro-change people going to
vote than there are pro-establishment, whether pro-establishment because
they have been induced through fear or induced through bribes. Or people may
say, well, let’s form an alliance of those who are committed to some form of
succession, of one order succeeding the other. It would not be genuine
transition because the economic policies of Simba Makoni or even some of our
colleagues in the opposition parties may not be any different from Zanu. It
may very well be that they will not grab farms and kill people, they would
not use violence but they would still want to rapidly advertise health care,
privatise education…the sort of things that have caused a lot of suffering
for students, for young people and stuff like that.
If you discounted those things, I think the biggest shock may not be for the
opposition but for the ruling party. But this requires some very hard
thinking [and] serious leadership on the part of the opposition. We know
that the hardliners in every camp would dissuade and discourage because they
stand to lose if their leaders form some compromise and they will hide
behind one …(inaudible) What may appear to be a victory for the hardliners
within their political parties, or victory of principle may be the greatest
defeat for the attempt to democratise the party. This matter is not going to
be a pure science. It is replete with many dangers and in thinking through
it, I think people should avoid simplistic characterisations whether of
Simba Makoni, Mutambara or Tsvangirai.
Then I say what would be the most basic condition that will set Zimbabwe on
a path of change? Is it for Robert Mugabe to win and anoint a successor and
we wait until five years later at these super inflationary conditions? Would
it be even for a weak coalition, in terms of weak ideologically, of the
opposition to come together, dislodge Robert Mugabe’s power to name his
successor and struggle over setting up a framework? In which case the forces
like the civic forces and others that have been talking about the reality of
change, the substance of change around constitutionalism, around new
policies, around pro-poor growth or pro-people growth and around looking at
the lower social classes, looking at the working class and peasantry and how
best to cushion them, and at the same time reindustrialising and having a
proper agrarian revolution and not a concocted one where black bands of
thieves steal farms that they are not even going to use.
In my view what we need is not a winner amongst the opposition, what we need
is leadership and that leadership I am sorry is a leadership that says
Zimbabwe first, we will settle the other things the morning after we have
dislodged the establishment. - New Zimbabwe.com
SW Radio Africa (London)
7 February 2008
Posted to the web 7 February 2008
The MDC led by Professor Arthur Mutambara is contemplating joining forces
with independent presidential candidate, Simba Makoni, a senior party
official has said.
Paul Themba-Nyathi, the director of elections for the faction told Newsreel
that Mutambara has however been endorsed as its presidential candidate after
the collapse of the unity talks with the Tsvangirai side last week.
'Professor Mutambara was endorsed as our candidate by the national council,
and it is the same body that can undo that and allow him to stand down,'
Reports indicate that the party is working on plan B to ensure they identify
a safe seat for Mutambara to contest should he agree not to contest the
presidential election. While he might face an uphill task to contest in
Harare, sources told us the party is busy trying to see if he could contest
in Bulawayo urban.
The election director said his party was disappointed by not having enough
women candidates for parliamentary and council elections, saying a number of
factors could be responsible for that.
'For starters, the Zimbabwe Election Commission is demanding that each
candidate pay Z$100 million registration fees. In terms of our economy this
is a huge amount for an ordinary person to raise,' he said.
Nyathi was however happy they had managed to field candidates in all 210
constituencies. He said they started their preparations last year, well
ahead of time because they knew there would be elections this year. All
their 20 sitting MPs have received the required two-thirds majority from
their constituents to stand unopposed in their areas.
7th Feb 2008 17:58 GMT
By Trust Matsilele
JOHANNESBURG - The Peace and Democracy Project (PDP), which is based here in
Johannesburg, yesterday successfully organised a meeting launching a
campaign calling on Zimbabweans outside the country to go home and
participate in the forthcoming elections.
The PDP launched its Get the Vote Campaign in Johannesburg's, Park station
were hundreds of Zimbabweans do their business on a daily basis. The park
station was a strategic venue since hundreds of Zimbabwean traders and
ordinary shoppers meet here on a daily basis. At least 600 attended the
Speaking at the campaign launch were Givemore Chari of Crisis in Zimbabwe
Coalition, Munjodzi Mutandiri of National Constitutional Assembly and
leading human rights activist Nixon Nyikadzino. They were all in agreement
that Zimbabweans need to participate in the harmonised polls but they
bemoaned the absence of a level playing field.
Representatives from Zimbabwe Solidarity Forum (a coalition of South African
organisations) among them Action for Conflict Transformation, COSATU, SACP
and the ANC reiterated that Africa was supposed to respect the will of the
people and halt vote rigging in all countries on the continent.
Sipho Theys of the Zimbabwe Solidarity Forum lamented the death of
institutions of democracy in SADC and Africa as w whole, saying it was high
time politicians woke up and started according citizens their rights.
"We as South Africans express our concerns in the way elections are being
conducted in the region. The situation in Kenya is a sad one which clearly
shows what happens when systems that promote free and fair elections are not
"As citizens of this continent we urge leaders to promote democratic
principles and if they are chosen through that democratic order it will be
the will of the people. We do not support any political formation in
Zimbabwe but calls for free and fair elections."
He continued: "We are therefore urging those in power and authority to value
democratic principles that guide undisputed elections to be put in place
before the 29 March election date like the access to media by both parties
and impartiality in registering observers."
The Peace and Democracy Project will in the next few weeks ahead of the poll
continue to camapign for Zimbabwean in South Africa to make sure they return
home to cast their vote. They also want to make sure that all registered
voters at least take the chance to check that their names are on the voters
The election voters roll has been in shambles for years resulting in court
challenges being launched to dispute poll results. There have also been
opposition claims that polls in the country have been rigged in favour of
the Zanu PF government over a long period of time now.
By Blessing Zulu
07 February 2008
Zimbabwe’s ruling ZANU-PF party is experiencing serious internal divisions
on its way to national elections at the end of March, obliging it to among
other things to consider extending the period for primary elections to
select its parliamentary candidates.
This week's announcement by former finance minister Simba Makoni that he
will run for president against incumbent Robert Mugabe has exacerbated the
ZANU-PF Political Commissar Elliot Manyika said the party is going to have
to repeat primaries in some constituencies. Sources say that the party’s
elections directorate has been inundated with complaints alleging
irregularities, including announcements saying candidates were unopposed
though primaries were still being organized.
A number of ZANU-PF ministers have lost in primaries to relative
ZANU-PF supporters gathered at the party's headquarters in Harare and in
Bindura, Mashonaland Central, Thursday to denounce the alleged imposition of
Party sources said tensions have been heightened by internal party efforts
to isolate those suspected of supporting Makoni, who has been expelled from
Political analyst Pedzisayi Ruhanya, a program manager for the Crisis in
Zimbabwe Coalition, told reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA’s Studio 7 for
Zimbabwe that the divisions in ZANU-PF show that President Mugabe's grip on
power is weakening.
As Hyperinflation Puts Even Bus Fare Out of Reach, One Man's Trek Embodies
Plight of Foot Commuters
By Craig Timberg
Washington Post Foreign Service
Thursday, February 7, 2008; Page A15
ON THE ROAD FROM EPWORTH TO HARARE, Zimbabwe
A slender moon shadow stretches out on the road before Willard Chitau as he
takes his first quick, purposeful steps toward his workplace. It is 4:27
a.m. Nine miles to go.
Buses have begun to stir, spewing their smoky diesel fumes into the
darkness. But like many Zimbabweans, Chitau can no longer afford the
ever-rising fares in a country where hyperinflation, estimated at more than
26,000 percent, is the world's worst. A single round trip to his job at a
lumber yard costs 10 million Zimbabwean dollars, nearly a week's salary.
"Five million this way," Chitau says as he points his slim left arm forward,
toward Harare, the crumbling economic heart of Zimbabwe. "Five million this
way," he says as he points backward, toward his one-room home in Epworth, a
sandy slum far beyond the city's tree-lined suburbs.
So Chitau, 33, desperate to support his wife and two young children, has
joined Zimbabwe's growing legions of foot commuters. They make journeys that
almost anywhere else would be epic. Here they are routine.
Along the way they trace the decline of a nation, passing clinics short of
drugs, schools short of teachers, stores short of food. They walk on
crumbling roads whose darkened streetlights are remnants of an era, just a
decade ago, when Zimbabwe was one of Africa's most prosperous nations
instead of one of its most troubled.
Chitau did not always live so far from work. During Operation
Murambatsvina -- President Robert Mugabe's 2005 slum clearance campaign,
which left 700,000 people homeless, jobless or both -- police forced Chitau
to tear down his house in a dense Harare neighborhood much closer to the
lumber yard, he said.
So he sent most of his belongings to his family's rural village and settled
into the small, dark room in Epworth. There he sleeps with his wife,
4-year-old son and 3-month-old daughter on a concrete floor, a single wool
blanket beneath them. A warm morning bath, which would consume precious
firewood, is beyond their means. So is breakfast or even a cup of tea to cut
the early morning chill.
The economy has been in free fall since Mugabe encouraged the invasion of
white-owned commercial farms by landless black peasants in 2000. Although
many Zimbabweans say land redistribution was needed to right historic
wrongs, the way it happened was chaotic and often violent; it devastated
successful businesses while triggering hyperinflation and leaving many poor
blacks -- the supposed beneficiaries of the program -- without steady
paychecks. An estimated 3 million people have since fled the country.
Sometimes Chitau finds odd jobs for extra cash, or his wife helps by selling
vegetables. When there's enough money, he even takes the bus some mornings.
But today the monthly rent is due. Because prices go up here unevenly, it's
only 9 million Zimbabwean dollars, about $1.50 in U.S. currency, but that
still means a struggle for a man paid in local bills worth less than $9 a
"I need to search for money very hard so that I will survive," Chitau says,
his swift, smooth stride unbroken.
Cars pass. Buses pass. Cyclists wearing suits and ties pass. A barefoot man
who has broken into a jog passes, too. But mainly it is Chitau who overtakes
other pedestrians as the miles slip by.
The only thing that can slow him down is rain, he says. The shoes he wears
most days look as though they have sloshed through a hundred storms. The
brown leather is softened, largely detached from the rubber soles. The laces
But this morning is dry and clear, with a fat crescent moon and a spray of
stars twinkling overhead.
After nearly half an hour of walking, as the faintest light begins to warm
the eastern horizon, Chitau steps past Sophia Manjiva, 45, a single mother
clutching a closed umbrella who says she is pleased to have company. She has
heard many tales of robberies along this dark road.
Manjiva says her monthly pay as a maid in a private home is 20 million
Zimbabwean dollars -- less than $4 in U.S. currency. With that she feeds,
clothes and schools her two youngest children, ages 10 and 13.
As hyperinflation erodes her pay, making even staples like cooking oil and
cornmeal difficult to buy, Zimbabwe's deteriorating infrastructure
complicates her work. Chronic power blackouts and water shortages mean that
several times a day she must fetch water from a well near the house she
cleans, then carry full buckets back upstairs, she says. That's after
walking 2 1/2 hours to work and before walking 2 1/2 hours back home.
"I get tired, but there is nothing to do," Manjiva says as Chitau begins to
open up the distance between them.
At 5, the sky turns a soft blue, streaked by pinkish clouds, as a diffuse
pre-dawn glow lights the faces of rows of sunflowers gazing east.
White-robed members of Zimbabwe's popular Apostolic churches kneel in prayer
on the dewy grass. Birds begin chirping tunes that, under the circumstances,
sound improbably upbeat.
Yet the growing light reveals unmistakable signs of frustration with
Epworth's most singular natural feature -- stacks of rounded, beige
boulders -- bear snatches of spray-painted graffiti: "Vote MDC." The
initials refer to the Movement for Democratic Change, the fractured
opposition party that in March will seek, for the fourth time, to defeat
Mugabe's ruling party after 28 years of unbroken control.
But Chitau doesn't want to talk about politics when the feared Central
Intelligence Organization remains a well-funded marvel of efficiency amid
collapsing government services. Arrests, beatings and humiliating sting
operations are common tactics against those who complain too loudly.
"It's my country, but I'm afraid" to talk about Zimbabwe, he says.
Shortly before 6, Chitau reaches Harare's outskirts, where the names of the
suburbs -- Chadcombe, Cranborne, Queensdale -- echo the country's British
colonial past. Sand gives way to dark soil, shacks to large, tile-roofed
Chitau closes in on a group of women carrying empty bags and baskets. They,
too, are coming from Epworth, but their destination, the bustling Mbare
market near downtown Harare, is even farther than Chitau's lumber yard.
They earn the equivalent of two or three U.S. dollars a day, the women
explain, by buying vegetables at Mbare, then carrying them back to Epworth
to sell. The bus would cut their profits by half or more.
A few minutes later, Chitau indulges his one daily luxury, buying a
cigarette from a street vendor squatting by the side of the street. The cost
is 400,000 Zimbabwean dollars, or about 7 cents.
"By smoking, I can't feel as hungry," Chitau explains as he inhales deeply
from the cigarette and briefly slackens his pace.
A few steps later, he tosses the burned-out butt. Tea is still four hours
away. It will be seven hours until lunch, when a plate of sadza -- the
snow-white cornmeal mush that is southern Africa's staple food -- will be
his first meal since last night, he says. His pace quickens again.
The sun is up now, casting long shadows as Chitau passes the two-hour mark
in his journey. He crosses an intersection where the traffic light, like
most in Harare, is not working.
A passing van -- such vehicles are used almost universally as taxis here --
slows to let out a passenger. Its radio is tuned to the 7 a.m. newscast,
which like all radio and television reports in Zimbabwe carries only
government propaganda. The announcer complains that sanctions imposed on
Mugabe's government by the United States and European countries are
As the van pulls off, Chitau bears left from Chiremba Road onto Robert
Mugabe Road, a commercial strip where businesses are struggling to stay
open. Among the estimated 20 percent of Zimbabweans who have jobs, many have
simply stopped coming to work now that the value of their salaries has
fallen below the cost of commuting.
Chitau arrives at his lumber yard at 7:13 a.m., after 166 minutes of nearly
continuous walking. As often happens on rainless mornings such as this, he
is early. Chitau can savor the next 47 minutes until his workday begins.
He says, "Now I must rest."
By Peter Heinlein
07 February 2008
It used to be called "The Club of Dictators." The African Union (AU), and
before it the Organization of African Unity, lists among its alumni such
infamous characters as Idi Amin, Charles Taylor, Sane Abacha, Mengistu Haile
Mariam and Joseph Mobutu. But as VOA Correspondent Peter Heinlein found as
he chased African leaders through the AU summit halls in Addis Ababa last
week, the era of dictators is slowly fading, and giving way to a new breed
The African Union witnessed something rare last week. A
constitutionally-elected African leader making a farewell speech as he
stepped down in favor of his elected successor.
Botswana's departing President Festus Mogae used his moment at the podium to
warn that Africa must change its image as a continent of wars, political
turmoil, and dictators for life.
"Strife and upheavals will continue to come at a large cost to our
development and well-being, and deface the image of our continent," said Mr.
Reporters wondered whether the Botswanan leader's invitation to speak was a
subtle warning to his Southern African neighbor, Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe?
The 83-year-old strongman has clung to power since 1980, despite having
presided over the ruin of Zimbabwe's once vibrant economy.
But African leaders agreed not to include Zimbabwe on the summit agenda.
Instead, the issue is handled in secrecy on the sidelines, at a meeting of
the Southern African Development Community.
South Africa President Thabo Mbeki briefed SADC on his efforts to save talks
that are supposed to lead Zimbabwe to elections next month. But when asked
about the SADC meeting, Mr. Mbeki is careful not to violate the unwritten
rule: Leaders do not criticize each other in public.
Question: "Hello, Mr. Mbeki, can you tell us about your SADC meeting?"
Mr. Mbeki: "Ask the chairman of SADC. Ask the chair of SADC."
Question: "I guess it is a difficult issue. I guess that is why you are
reticent to talk?"
Mr. Mbeki: "No, I am not. Ask the chair of SADC."
The political turmoil in Kenya overshadowed the troubles in Darfur and
Somalia. Outgoing AU Commission Chairman Alpha Oumar Konare, speaking
through a translator, warns the assembled leaders of the need for urgent
" Today, if you look at Kenya, you see violence in the streets, and even
ethnic cleansing and yes, genocide," Konare said. "We cannot just sit, arms
But summit leaders chose not to take any action that would embarrass Kenya's
President Mwai Kibaki.
They rejected a request by Kenya's opposition for a hearing. Instead of
placing the item on the summit agenda, they assigned it to a subsidiary
group, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development, which Kenya leads.
Kenya's foreign minister briefed that group in a closed session, and the
matter was quietly moved out of public view.
When President Kibaki arrived, ignoring the advice of several countries that
he should stay home and try to quell the violence, he was spared public
debate. Reporters who tried to ask questions as he came and went from the
summit site were met with a stony silence.
Question: "Mr. Kibaki, are you going home today? …are you going home this
afternoon?" Mr. Kibaki, Your country is in trouble. Are you going home today
to take care of your country?"
With no briefings and no central clearinghouse for information at this
chaotic summit, even ambassadors were reduced to standing around the
hallways scrounging for scraps of information about closed sessions.
Portugal's ambassador to the African Union, Vera Maria Fernandes, expressed
the frustrations of many exasperated summit watchers.
"All rumors. Nothing concrete," said Amb. Fernandes. "I heard that most
probably there will be elections."
But there was the occasional payoff. Strolling through the hall in a flowing
bronze-colored robe is Libya's head of state for 39 years, Moammar Gadhafi,
one of Africa's longest-serving rulers. He is here promoting his
controversial proposal for creating a union government, which he calls the
United States of Africa.
Question: "Can we speak to you Mr. Gadhafi? Talk to you about the Union
Government of Africa? In English, can you tell us whether union government
is a possibility?"
Mr. Gadhafi: "Yes, It is possible. We formed a committee from the heads of
state, and put down how to make this union government, to achieve it as soon
as possible during the next summit."
Question: "During the next summit?"
Mr. Gadhafi: "Yes."
Question: "Do you think you are gaining ground. It is going to mean a big
change in this organization, isn't it?"
Mr. Gadhafi: "No, no, no. All Africa is moving forward."
Colonel Gadhafi delivered the closing address and posed a provocative
question: Is multi-party democracy right for Africa?
"Kenya is a country that is highly civilized, and now there are bloodbaths
and this is because of elections," he said. "What can we do for Kenya's
sake, for the Comoros, for Chad. We do not know what to do and this is
painful for us," he said. Under the eyes of the whole world as we kill each
other, and fight each other and demolish and destroy ... This is what the
application of multi-partyism has led to."
But despite the deference shown to the Gadhafis and the Mugabes and others
with questional democratic credentials, there are unmistakable signs that
the sun is setting on the day of the African dictator.
Almost unnoticed was the outright rejection of a bid by Sudan to take over
the rotating AU chairmanship. The post went to Tanzania, marking the third
straight year the organization's top job has been held by an elected head of
state from a stable African democracy.
But the question is; Did the summit accomplish anything substantive?
Sudan's outspoken Ambassador to the United Nations, Abdahmahmood
Abdalhaleem, says the gatherings only allow the heads of state to keep in
touch with each other.
"I do not want to be rhetorical and emotional to say it added a lot. It did
not add much," he said. "If we look now at the small question of what did
the summit do for Kenya, for example? Nothing. Nothing. There is nothing."
Meanwhile, the Sudanese diplomat acknowledges that these summits reflect the
monumental changes under way on the continent.
"It is a new era. A new era when the African Union is trying to adjust
itself more and more to the realities around it. Whether to have a union
government or to accelerate the existing institutions toward unity or
whatever," he said. "So it is a period of transformation, a period of great
change in Africa itself."
The pace of change is accelerating. Just in the past few weeks, once-stable
Kenya has erupted in what the U.S. and African Union officials call "ethnic
cleansing." There is new fighting in Chad.
The next AU summit is set for July in the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheik.
But will we see the same assortment of democrats and dictators? In Africa,
six months is a long time.
Thursday, 7 February 2008
His maize crop, spinach and rape are doing so well that Lovemore Shumba sees
himself buying another pick-up truck to boost his vegetable deliveries to
two supermarkets in Gaborone.
He currently makes deliveries twice a week, which he intends to increase to
four times. He sees himself making deliveries throughout the week by June.
"I have been in farming since 2006 after suffering much humiliation doing
piece jobs," Shumba says. "I was the proverbial 'jack-of-all-trades and
master of none'.
"My experience as a vegetable farmer and farm manager back home in Zimbabwe
has come in handy. I decided it was better to grow vegetables and sell them
to the people of Matebele here in Kgatleng East and to shops in town.
It has not been plain sailing though. Shumba explains. "The government does
not really want us foreigners going into farming. We play it safe by renting
the land from Batswana. "If the government gave temporary work permits to
Zimbabweans, it would enhance food production considerably.
"We also have problems with employing Batswana because they want to work on
a strict timetable like 8am to 5.30pm. But in farming, that is a
non-starter. When you try to explain a point or clear some misunderstanding
with them, they quickly call the police.
"When you pay them their wages, they can disappear for three to four days
spending the money while production suffers. Batswana are not comfortable
with the admittedly backbreaking job of weeding. But farming is
labour-intensive work. Hence we end up employing Zimbabweans, some of whom
often don't have proper papers."
Shumba says despite the current good rains, a number of fields lie fallow in
Odi and Matebele. This is a point out-going President Festus Mogae mentioned
when he addressed the people of Mahalapye as part of his countrywide tour to
bid Batswana farewell on January 22.
Shumba says some fields are actually overgrown with grass while others have
"But the labour problems I am talking about are perculiar to blacks
employing fellow blacks," Shumba points out. "Just go and see how
hard-working they are when employed by the likes of Musharaf, a Pakistani
farmer near here, or on the Chinese farms on the other side of the river in
The river separating Matebele and Oodi has been in flood for the past two
weeks, making it difficult for the likes of Norman Tagarira to attend to
their gardens, which are very close to the river.
"I learnt a lot from working with commercial white farmers back in
Zimbabwe," Tagarira says. "Land is the economy, the economy is land."
For Mashiri, who is a pig farmer, business is fairly good. But he also has
problems finding dedicated workers. "We need workers who are prepared to
stay on the farm because pigs need constant attention," he says.
The Motswana he works with basically handles paperwork. "I am not going to
teach him all I know about piggery because we have a gentleman's agreement
which doesn't cover that.
"I have some suggestions for the Botswana government," Mashiri offers.
"There are so many highly skilled Zimbabweans here wasting their talent
doing piece jobs and playing an endless cat-and-mouse game with the police.
Allow them to have work permits and short-term leases to work the land lying
"As fellow Africans, we should help each other. There is no point in
harassing us. After all, the situation in Zimbabwe cannot go on forever.
(Sila Press Agency)