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Nationwide power cuts in Zambia, Zimbabwe

Mail and Guardian

Angus Shaw | Harare, Zimbabwe

20 January 2008 06:33

††††††Nationwide power failures shut down basic services across Zambia
and Zimbabwe for hours on Saturday and Sunday as anger mounted in South
Africa over power cuts that have wreaked havoc in the continent's economic
hub.

††††††There was no immediate explanation for Saturday night's
blackout, which hit Zambia and neighbouring Zimbabwe almost simultaneously
in the early evening, and it was unclear whether there was any connection.

††††††Power was restored in Zambia about eight hours later, but
long-suffering Zimbabweans remained without electricity, water, telephones
and traffic signals for much of Sunday.

††††††Power and water failures occur daily in Zimbabwe's crumbling
economy, but not on a national scale. Zimbabwe state radio, running on
generators, reported the failure was caused by a major breakdown but did not
elaborate. The state power utility gave no explanation as power returned in
some areas on Sunday afternoon.

††††††In one apartment district in central Harare, cheering erupted
when the electricity came back on, replaced by jeering and catcalling when
it went off again a few minutes later.

††††††The failure shut down automated teller machines and cash
registers at stores and pharmacies, forcing some to close their doors an
hour after opening on Sunday. Check and local credit-card transactions could
not be processed.

††††††Harassed officials in Harare said a fault "tripped" the national
power grid, plunging the entire country into darkness on Saturday night.

††††††Unofficial reports in Zambia -- which relies on
hydroelectricity -- said there appeared to be turbine problems at one of the
country's dams.

††††††Both countries have been hit by exceptionally heavy seasonal
rains, which is affecting equipment.

††††††Power and water failures have worsened in Zimbabwe dramatically
in recent weeks. The Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority said earlier this
month it had no hard currency for imported spare parts to repair equipment
dating back up to 40 years.

†††††† Zimbabwe imports about 40% of its power from regional neighbours
and is in arrears in hard currency for most of the imports. It is suffering
chronic shortages of hard currency, local money, food, petrol and most basic
goods.

††††††South Africa, one of its main suppliers, is having its own acute
problems with large parts of the country suffering power failures often
lasting several hours. State utility company Eskom says demand is simply too
high for it to keep up with, but there is mounting fury that the power cuts
are unpredictable and causing unnecessary economic losses and personal
misery.

††††††Outraged commuters set fire to six trains near Pretoria on
Friday evening after being delayed for two hours due to power outages.

††††††Eskom has now been forced to slash power supplies to
neighbouring countries in a desperate bid to meet local demand, Business
Report said on Sunday.

††††††The beleaguered utility, which generates 95% of its electricity
for local use, exports surplus power to Botswana, Namibia and Zimbabwe --†
countries that will now no longer be fed from South Africa's troubled grid,
the report said.

††††††Lesotho, Mozambique and Swaziland, which are also supplied by
the parastatal, face partial cuts in their supply as the power company tries
to alleviate the effect on South African consumers.

††††††The opposition Democratic Alliance said on Sunday that Eskom
should cancel supply contracts with its neighbours while its domestic market
is in such turmoil.

††††††"Regardless of our contractual obligations, there can simply be
no reason for South Africa to supply Namibia, Zimbabwe and Mozambique when
there is such a desperate lack of reserve capacity in our domestic market,"
it said.

†††††† Veteran Zimbabwean journalist Peta Thornycroft, who is now based
in South Africa, expressed surprise that South Africans should be so upset
about "only six power cuts in the last five or six days, and none longer
than five hours", compared with the eight years of disruption in Zimbabwe.

††††††She had words of advice in the Sunday Independent newspaper for
suffering South Africans, such as installing solar panels on the roof
connected to a large car battery, buying paraffin fridges and switching to
gas.

††††††"Want to know how to cope in this time of gloom?" she said. "Ask
a Zimbabwean." -- Sapa, Sapa-AP

†††††† Associated Press writers Clare Nullis in Cape Town, South
Africa, and Joseph Schatz in Lusaka, Zambia, contributed to this article


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MDC to march,says no to poll

Zim Standard

† By Walter Marwizi and Vusumuzi Sifile

"Freedom March for a New Zimbabwe" planned by the Morgan
Tsvangirai-led MDC will go ahead in Harare on Wednesday after the police
gave the organisers the greenlight.

The march comes shortly after talks brokered by South African
President Thabo Mbeki collapsed in Harare on Thursday.

The march, expected to attract thousands in one of the party’s
strongholds, will be staged to exert pressure on the government to agree on
a new constitution before the elections..

President Robert Mugabe has ruled out a new constitution before
elections are held in less than two months.

In what appears to be a last-ditch effort to save the talks, Mbeki
flew into Harare last week to meet Mugabe and leaders of the opposition
party but returned to South Africa "empty-handed and frustrated".

He failed to convince Mugabe to accept a new constitution as well as
to delay the polls.

Organisers of the "Freedom March" said yesterday there was no way the
opposition would participate in the polls after Mugabe had reneged on a
number of promises made during the talks.

On the basis of the promise for a new constitution, the MDC had agreed
to support the 18th Amendment which paved the way for the harmonised polls.

"The march is part of the pressure that has to be exerted on the
government if we are to get a new constitution before the elections," said a
senior MDC official yesterday.

"Talks have failed and Plan B should be these protests."

A copy of a letter signed by Chief Superintendent I.M Tayengwa
authorising the procession shows the march will start at Harare Gardens
11:45 AM.

Under the old Public Order and Security Act (POSA), the organisers
have to seek clearance from the police before holding any marches or
processions.

The police clearance allows the political formation to pile pressure
on the government which has rejected a plan to allow a transitional
constitution to take effect before the elections.

The MDC president, Morgan Tsvangirai and other leaders are expected to
lead the "Freedom March" when demonstrators march in central Harare before
heading to the Glamis Arena where speeches will be made.

The police have set strict conditions that have to be met for them to
allow the proceedings to go ahead.

Meanwhile, the faction led by Arthur Mutambara is set to meet to work
out a strategy to respond to Mugabe’s refusal to have a new constitution
before the elections..

Although the dates of the meeting were not immediately available
yesterday, Welshman Ncube, the secretary general of the formation, said
there was no way Zimbabweans could go for elections when the agreements made
under their talks have not been implemented.

"The talks are still at a deadlock," said Ncube. "We should be given
time to fully implement the agreements we made in terms of the elections,
the constitution and media laws. As a party, we are saying NO, we cannot go
to the elections before the agreement is met. The purpose of dialogue was to
ensure that elections are held in a conducive environment."

If the elections are held before the implementation of the Pretoria
agreements, Ncube said "we will have a disputed election, and the current
crisis will continue".

Last year, the two MDC formations agreed with Zanu PF to sign into law
the Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment No. 18 as an attempt to speed up the
negotiations. It is this law that harmonises presidential, parliamentary and
local government elections. The deal sparked an outcry from Zimbabweans from
all corners, but Ncube said the move was necessary to resolve the crisis.

He said it was "our attempt to find each other". At the time, MDC
leaders expressed hope that Zanu PF would reciprocate by co-operating on a
number of issues.

But critics warned that the opposition were being taken for a ride by
the ruling party.


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Delimitation exercise dismissed as a fraud

Zim Standard

† BY CAIPHAS CHIMHETE AND BERTHA
SHOKO

THE Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) says new constituencies have
been demarcated in a way that favours the ruling Zanu PF.

Commenting on the demarcation of 210 constituencies to be contested in
the harmonised polls set for March, the MDC anti-Senate formation secretary
for elections, Ian Makone said from the outset the whole delimitation method
was "fraudulent" because it was based on a "flawed" process.

He said the delimitation was based on a flawed voters’ roll, which had
thousands of ghost voters, some of them long since deceased, while others
had moved from their original constituencies.

"There were very glaring anomalies in the voters’ roll," said Makone,
"and we pointed that out, but they proceeded against our sound advice. We
are therefore not confident in the constituency boundaries."

Asked what the MDC would do about the alleged anomaly, Makone said:
"We are still in the struggle for conditions that enable free and fair
elections. We have a protest march next week (this week) and we are still
negotiating. The trick is to apply a bit of pressure."

The comments followed the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC)’s
presentation of a report on the delimitation of constituency and ward
boundaries for the harmonised elections to President Robert Mugabe before it
is tabled in Parliament.

According to the delimitation report, there are now 210 House of
Assembly constituencies, 60 elective Senatorial constituencies and 1 958
local authority wards.

The party claimed the delimitation report was being deliberately made
inaccessible so that both MPs and their electorate remain in the dark about
the constituencies until the last minute.

Last Friday, legislators, journalists and voters jostled to take a
look at the only copy that officials at Parliament said they had.

Most of them left the building frustrated after failing to obtain a
copy which would enable them to analyse the report.

But those that did get a glimpse of the report were not very pleased
either..

The MDC said some urban areas had been attached to rural areas or been
split in a bid to neutralise the opposition party’s urban dominance.

They said this pattern was most pronounced in Mutare, Harare and
Bulawayo.

Kambuzuma MDC MP Willias Madzimure said his constituency had been
split and believed Zanu PF was trying to "disable" the party’s support in
the area.

Madzimure said Rugare suburb has been merged with Mbare and now formed
Southerton constituency.

Meanwhile Kambuzuma has been extended to parts of Mufakose and New
Marimba.

"Kambuzuma’s voting pattern has been very strong and well-coordinated
over the years. In fact, it is one of our strongest areas in Harare and by
splitting the constituency all they wanted was to destabilise our
strongholds," said Madzimure.

"I just don’t get the logic they used to merge these constituencies.
Rugare is much closer to Kambuzuma than it is to Mbare. In fact, not many
people know that Rugare is not in Kambuzuma."

The party’s provincial organising secretary for Manicaland, Prosper
Mutseyami, complained that Mutare district, the most populous district in
the province, got only one additional constituency while the smaller Makoni
district got two more.

Apart from that, several suburban areas of Mutare have been attached
to nearby rural areas in a bid to "dilute" the MDC’s urban influence.

The leafy suburbs of Murambi, Fan Valley, Yeovil and Greenside have
now been linked to rural areas, he said.

"This is daylight robbery by Zanu PF. They have created constituencies
to suit their desires in order to rob us of our guaranteed victory," said
Mutseyami.

In Harare, constituencies have been heavily split and the MDC claims
this was done deliberately to weaken the party in the harmonised polls.

But ZEC deputy chief elections officer (operations) Utloile Silaigwana
on Saturday dismissed the allegations as "baseless".

"If you take a critical look, you will notice that urban centres have
the highest number of constituencies. Harare has the highest number of
constituencies. Why are they complaining?" said Silaigwana.

He asked The Standard to fax questions to his office so he could
provide a detailed response. But Silaigwana had not responded by the time of
going to print yesterday.

The Zimbabwe Election Support Network (Zesn), a coalition of
non-governmental organisations (NGOs) formed to co-ordinate activities
pertaining to elections, said it could not comment because it had not seen
the report.

"We went to Parliament but there was only one copy for everyone. It is
impossible to make an informed comment because we have not analysed the
report," said a Zesn official.


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Gono could get more than he bargained for

Zim Standard

† BY WALTER MARWIZI

RESERVE Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) Governor Gideon Gono faces tough
questions tomorrow when he appears before a parliamentary committee where he
is expected to "name and shame" the cash barons he has blamed for a cash
crisis that has condemned urban Zimbabweans to life in bank queues.

Barring any mishaps, Gono is scheduled to appear before the
Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Budget, Finance and Economic
Development at 2:00 PM tomorrow.

Zhombe MP Daniel Mackenzie Ncube confirmed on Friday they had summoned
Gono to appear before the committee.

"The governor said he wanted the committee to invite him anytime," he
said, "even at midnight. But we want him to appear before us in broad
daylight. We are meeting him with open minds. We have questions that need to
be answered and we want to see how we can solve this together."

In December, Gono said he was willing to name and shame government
officials before the parliamentary committee.

But David Butau, the then chairperson of the committee threw cold
water on his proposal before fleeing to the United Kingdom.

Though there is deep-seated scepticism about the existence of cash
barons, Gono’s appearance before the committee has been eagerly awaited. All
victims of the cash crisis are keen to know the identities of the government
officials who could have contributed to their misery.

So far, a female "street runner" and a scrawny-looking young
man —hardly the portrait of a baron — are the only people arrested for the
offence.

Indications are that Gono might get more than he bargained for when he
appears before the committee. Although Mackenzie Ncube would not disclose
the exact thrust of their questions, parliamentary sources said the MPs were
keen to get to the bottom of Gono’s serious allegations, and also unearth
the central bank’s role in the murky world of the black market.

The alleged role of the central bank in secret dealings was exposed in
the magistrate’s court in the past few weeks for the first time, prompting a
senior prosecutor to urge an economic crimes court to issue an order to
compel the police and the Anti Corruption Committee to probe the RBZ. The
trillions were given to shelf companies contracted to source forex needed to
buy tractors under the Farm Mechanisation programme. Investigators say the
state has so far been prejudiced of $1 310 813 254 000.

For the Portfolio Committee, such evidence presented in a court of
law, points to "something serious that has to be explained by the RBZ
chief".

"We want to get to the bottom of these secret transactions," said the
committee chairman.

The Standard was told the committee was anxious to know from Gono how
newly printed bearer cheques found their way onto the parallel market.

When he launched Sunrise 11 Gono said the cash crisis would end soon,
but last Friday, he introduced $1 million, $5 million and $10 million bearer
cheques amid signs that the crisis was far from over.

There were "mothers of all queues" in town yesterday after thousands
of people turned out at banks hoping they could finally get their cash
following the introduction of higher denomination notes.

Many went home empty-handed and disappointed.

"Before and during the festive period, people have failed to get their
cash, even now. We want to know if Gono has any tangible plans to solve this
problem," said a committee member.

It emerged yesterday the committee had planned to summon the Minister
of Finance, Samuel Mumbengegwi to appear at the same time as Gono.

"Bringing the two together would have shown the seriousness with which
we are treating this issue. But we decided Gono would not be free to talk to
us in the presence of the minister," he said.


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Zim not ready for poll -US envoy

Zim Standard

† BY OUR STAFF

BULAWAYO — The United States yesterday said it doubted Zimbabwe was
ready to hold successful harmonised elections in March because most of the
"logistics" were not in place.

US ambassador to Zimbabwe, James McGee, speaking in Bulawayo
yesterday, also spelt out the conditions for the restoration of normal ties
between the two countries in the post-election era.

"We are ready to re-establish full contact with the Zimbabwe
government," he said "provided that our conditions of good governance, a
return to the rule of law and the respect for citizens’ right to freedom of
expression are respected."

McGee said the "watershed polls" were a very important process that
would determine the future of Zimbabwe.

He said in Madagascar, where he served as the US ambassador before
being assigned to this country, the government approached embassies and
donors nine months before their last election, seeking US$96 billion for
their communication systems which was in a bad state.

"They had already done their homework and although we did not have
that kind of money, they eventually got some assistance. It takes a long
time to get things in place because it is a very expensive thing to run, an
election. I have not seen any request in that regard from Zimbabwe," he
said.

The government has set aside $208 trillion for the elections but the
funds were likely to be eroded by rampaging inflation now estimated at over
15 000 percent.

McGee said the government of Zimbabwe was failing to engage him in
dialogue, two months into his posting.

Zimbabwe has accused the US of sponsoring what it terms "regime
change" agents. These include the opposition MDC, pirate radio stations and
civil society. But McGee labelled the allegations "rubbish" and urged the
government to provide proof to back up its claims. The American "under-cover
political agents" referred to in the government press turned out last week
to be election monitors.


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'Sleeping in' by Kingtons workers finally pays off

Zim Standard


BY OUR STAFF

REPRESENTATIVES of Kingstons Limited staff who staged a "sleep-in" on
the booksellers’ premises last year have been victimised by management, the
workers have alleged.

The workers, recently awarded a 300 percent salary increment after the
sleep-in, said their representatives were being victimised by management for
leading the unusual industrial action.

Monica Makumbe and Tendai Tigere are facing disciplinary action while
workers’ chairman, Wilfred Nyamukuwa, was exonerated of wrongdoing at a
hearing held last Friday.

Nyamukuwa was accused of disclosing "confidential" company salary
matters to The Standard and failing to carry out his superiors’
instructions.

But the hearing, attended by the Commercial Workers’ Union of Zimbabwe
(CWUZ) and Kingstons management, concluded that Nyamukuwa had not committed
any offence as he was the chairperson of workers’ committee.

The workers slept at the company’s premises for three weeks because
they could not afford to commute to work on their salaries and allowances.

Following the pay hikes, the least paid worker now earns $34 million a
month, up from about $10 million. Last week, the workers said the salaries
were still too low.

"We cannot survive on this and apart from that they refused to review
our transport allowances upwards," said one worker.

Kingstons Limited general manager, Dunmore Mazonde could not be
reached for comment.

Kingstons is a quasi-government company involved in the selling of
stationery, books and music.


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Bulawayo council broke

Zim Standard

† By Kholwani Nyathi

BULAWAYO — The council was last week contemplating "drastic" measures,
including reducing the working week for its employees and cutting back on
essential service delivery to contain a financial crisis, reportedly
spiralling out of control, confidential information at hand reveals.

The council, considered to be one of the best performing urban
councils in the country until a controversial government price freeze last
year, might also fail to pay its workers at the end of this month

According to a report presented to councillors during a joint meeting
of the Executive and Finance committees on Thursday evening by the city
treasurer, Middleton Nyoni, the council estimated that its bank balance
would be a mere $141,8 billion by the end of last week, against commitments
of $646,2 billion.

The financial crisis has been blamed on the delays in the approval of
council’s supplementary budget in the middle of last year and the
non-approval of this year’s $27,7 trillion, which is still with the National
Incomes and Pricing Commission (NIPC).

"The fact that the council cannot implement its tariffs and charges
without the NIPC’s approval means that it is providing and billing for
whatever services it can still provide at prices way below cost recovery,"
Nyoni said. "What is worse is that payments are never in full. This has left
the council cash strapped."

The wage bill for this month alone is estimated at $160 billion and a
further $163 billion is needed for the purchase of water treatment
chemicals. Council also has to pay another $347 billion to water treatment
chemicals’ suppliers who have already delivered the products by the end of
this month, the report said.

Other measures proposed by Nyoni included freezing the payment of
goods and services in advance, suspending the issuing of requisitions, staff
loans — except for bereavements — contracts with limited exceptions,
delaying salary payments, conversion of December salary arrears for staff to
days-off and staggering salary payments.

But councillors reportedly advised against adopting any of the
proposals for the time being, saying the government had to be made aware of
the situation first.

A delegation comprising the Deputy Mayor, Phil Lamola and the acting
town clerk, Gilbert Dube, as well as councilors, will now be sent to Harare
to meet the Minister of Local Government, Public Works and Urban Development
over the delayed budget, sources said.

"In anticipation of further deterioration resulting from the late
approval of tariff increases, measures are being put in place in an attempt
to contain the situation," Nyoni said in the report. "These include the
introduction of a water levy to raise funds for the procurement of
chemicals, the suggestions to have bills collected at district offices and
to revert to quarterly billing."

Charles Mpofu, one of the longest serving councillors in the city,
described the situation as "pathetic" and blamed the government for
"pursuing ruinous policies."

"It is certainly not Bulawayo alone, which is in this situation," he
said. "This is the outcome of an accumulation of government policy blunders
since last year. What are we going to do about the plight of our workers now
that we are even considering reducing the working week?"

The council is owed $414 billion by residents in rates and tariffs and
a further $9,3 billion by government departments.

A number of local authorities are reportedly in the same dilemma due
to the economic crisis characterised by inflation of well over 15 000%.


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Pressure group to stage 'Gukurahundi' marches

Zim Standard

† By Nqobani Ndlovu

BULAWAYO — A local pressure group says it will today hold marches in
the city in a bid to force government to compensate survivors of the
Gukurahundi massacres, in which an estimated 20 000 civilians in
Matabeleland and Midlands were killed by government soldiers.

Ibhetshu Likazulu has been holding church services in memory of the
massacre victims and survivors since 2004.

Last week, it announced plans to take to the streets this year because
the government was "not serious" with its earlier pledge to pay compensation
to the victims and their surviving relatives.

"The government has neglected families, children and survivors of the
operation," the group’s spokesperson, Qhubekani Dube said on Friday, "and on
Sunday we will be marching, demanding urgent compensation."

Although President Robert Mugabe admitted at the burial of the late
Vice-President Joshua Nkomo in 1999 that the killings were a "moment of
madness", the government has not acted on its promise of compensation.

Gukurahundi, in Shona the storm that washes away all the chaff before
the major rains, was a government-sanctioned campaign against so-called
former Zipra combatants who had turned against the government.

Officially, the government referred to them as dissidents or bandits
and unleashed the North Korean-trained 5 Brigade against them.

But the operation was seen as an attack on Mugabe’s political
opposition as the region had voted overwhelmingly for Joshua Nkomo’s PF Zapu
in the 1980 poll.

On the eve of Unity Day last year, former Home Affairs minister Dumiso
Dabengwa, jailed by Mugabe’s government on trumped up treason charges during
the disturbances, told journalists the compensation was long overdue.

Ibhetshu Likazulu’s Dube said: "We are holding a peaceful march to say
Mugabe is responsible for the atrocities in Matabeleland and he should
compensate the victims. As a way of reminding people of this heinous crime,
we will also distribute pamphlets with information on what really took
place."

He said they had not sought police clearance to hold the demonstration
because they knew they would not be allowed to go ahead.

Last year, the former Information and Publicity minister, Jonathan
Moyo said he was pushing for a Private Members’ Gukurahundi Memorial Bill to
establish a fund to compensate the victims of the atrocities.

But this is unlikely to happen soon as Mugabe is expected to dissolve
Parliament soon to pave way for the harmonised elections in March.


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Chihuri blasts NIPC

Zim Standard

† by Sandra Mandizvidza

POLICE Commssioner Augustine Chihuri has blasted the National Incomes
and Pricing Commission (NIPC) for failing to consider the welfare of
low-income workers when approving price increases.

He also attacked the cash crisis, saying it resulted in Zimbabweans
spending their "worst Christmas" in years.

Chihuri spoke soon after the NIPC allowed private schools to increase
school fees by 600 percent on last term’s approved fees.

The increases will see many children from poor families dropping out
of school.

Chihuri spoke at a send-off ceremony for 66 officers for United
Nations missions in East Timor, Sudan and Kosovo.

Chihuri said the prices, approved by the NIPC, were outrageous. The
commission is chaired by Goodwills Masimirembwa, whose suitability for the
job has been questioned by some in the legal fraternity.

Chihuri said the prices were beyond the reach of ordinary workers,
including those in the police force.

"Prices are skyrocketing on a daily basis," he said. "I think we have
to do more than just talking in the press. My hope is that the NIPC will
look seriously at both the incomes and prices."

Chihuri said most workers earned far below the poverty datum line
(PDL) but the NIPC had not addressed the matter.

The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) estimates that a family
of six now requires about $75 million a month to sustain life.


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For once, let’s have free, fair elections

Zim Standard

†Comment

BY the calculations of most neutral observers, preparations for the
harmonised elections are so behind schedule, it is unrealistic — and
undemocratic — for them to go ahead in March

If they do, then there are likely to be so many glitches the results
may not be a true reflection of the voters’ wishes.

Only Zanu PF could benefit from a March election. The party can move
swiftly into action once the electoral procedures are switched into motion.

This is because, as the ruling party, it controls most of the levers
of the election process. Some of the provisions may have been amended to
give them a semblance of independence. But no-one should be under any
illusion that Zanu PF could accept vital procedures which denied it an
upperhand.

The two formations of the MDC are still griping about entering
elections under the old Constitution. SA President Thabo Mbeki’s visit last
week appears to have hit a dead-end: Zanu Pf is not interested in a new
Constutition.

That much-amended document, even with Amendment No.18, is still more
Zanu PF-friendly than anything else

For the opposition, a home-grown Constitution is vital for the obvious
reason that, like other people with the experience of dealing with Zanu PF,
they don’t trust the ruling party.

Some critics of the opposition scoff at their threat of a boycott.
They insist the divisions in the opposition are so deep-seated they know
they would still lose if the elections were postponed to June, however level
the playing field may be.

Zanu PF has always preferred to have no competition in an election, a
hangover from the days of the one-party system of the 1980s.

For once, we urge the party to think outside the box — the box of
self-interest, self-glorification and self-absorption.

Let the leaders think of their country, and not the party, first, for
a change. If the party is as popular as they keep claiming it is, then there
should be no legitimate reason not to accept a free and fair contest.

We say this even bearing in mind President Mugabe’s retort to earlier
appeals for a postponement: if anybody is not ready for a March poll, tough
luck. This is not consistent with a party genuinely committed to democracy.

Clearly, Zanu PF is aware its political platform for these elections
is hardly spectacular.

Inflation is the highest in the world, unemployment is among the
highest in the world, life expectancy, at 34, is among the lowest in the
world.

The cash crisis has brought misery to many ordinary people. What they
must view as the government’s uncaring attitude was the reluctance to
confront the naked truth: the economy needs massive reform if we are to
return to the good old days of a vibrant export-oriented currency much
admired even by some developed countries.

The "cry-baby" syndrome, blaming almost everything on alleged Western
sanctions, no longer impresses most citizens. They see all around them vivid
evidence of official corruption, seen in the ostentatious lifestyles of the
ruling elite. They know who to blame.

Most voters would cringe at the prospect of returning to power a party
with such a terrible record of failure and corruption. They will be anxious
to give someone else a chance to try their policies.

Zanu PF will never lose its status as a liberation movement.

But the party has failed to give the people the good life it promised
them in 1980. It should allow the voters to decide in a free and fair
election if another party/parties can improve their lives.


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What if everybody gave up?

Zim Standard

† IN the 1980s, there were two bloody incidents in
two countries thousands of kilometres apart, but with a common ideology:
Marxism-Leninism.

In Zimbabwe, more than 20 000 citizens, including women and children,
were killed in a massacre now notoriously known as Gukurahundi.

In 1989, in the People’s Republic of China, whose communist party had
mentored Zanu in the liberatioin war, 7 000 were mowed down by soldiers and
20 000 wounded in Tiananmen Square in Beijing.

Students and workers were demanding democratic reforms.

In Zimbabwe, the slaughter sent shivers down the spines of all
citizens contemplating the same challenge as that of the people whose action
led to the bloodshed.

The violence in the two countries had one objective: to show people
the government would not tolerate opposition and dissension.

Today, in Zimbabwe more than in China, citizens still thumb their
noses at the government.

By 1999, opposition to the government had blossomed into a thriving
political party, galvanising the workers’ and students’ union movements, and
the intelligentsia into a cohesive group.

In China, some of the shackles with which the Communist Party had
imprisoned free enterprise, freedom of speech, assembly and association were
loosened.

China has mushroomed into a formidable economic powerhouse. The
prediction, even by the United States, is that the world’s most populous
nation might end up as its No. 1 economic power.

Not many have proclaimed with prophetic doom "And God help us all if
that happens!" But privately fears are being expressed of a world dominated
by an economic giant with an equally robust appetite for world conquest
under the banner of the Communist Party.

China is under a new leadership so unlike the mandarins under Mao the
Great Helmsman himself must be in a permanent state of apoplexy — wherever
he is.

Neither the people of China nor those of Zimbabwe have given up trying
to expand the frontiers of freedom in their countries. Even the restrictions
on the Internet may not be enough to eliminate the champions of a new, freer
China, as dynamic economically and politically as their old archenemy,
Japan.

In Zimbabwe, there is now no going back: the days of the one-party
state of the period immediately after independence are long gone, never to
return.

This is not to treat lightly Zanu PF’s determination to make the price
of challenging the regime as deadly as it was in the 1980s. March 11 2007 in
Highfield provided massive evidence that Zanu PF and the government were not
about to let opposition elements settle comfortably into their routine.

They would be reminded constantly and with their own blood that the
price was going to be high — all the time.

For that reason, there are elements in society wondering if it is at
all worth it to keep the opposition fires burning. Zanu PF, these elements
seem convinced, will never cede power voluntarily.

In a twisted way, only over its dead body would the party give up
power. How this might actually happen must be left to the imagination.

Zanu PF will, one day, lose power — just as UNIP in Zambia and the
Malawi Congress Party did in Malawi. Robert Mugabe will one day retire from
politics — whether in disgrace will depend on how he prefers to make his
exit, but retire he must. The man is mortal, contrary to what some of his
supporters seem to believe.

If more people are of a mind to give up the campaign to change things,
they have to be reminded that there won’t be a picnic at the end of that.

Life could be even more horrid than it is today. None of the solutions
implemented by the government so far have ameliorated our economic
situation: the prospects look distinctly bleak from all fronts.

Take the election, for a start. It is one which Zanu PF cannot
conceivably win on its immediate past record. But some people have already
given up, and not because of the division in the opposition, but because
Zanu PF has rigged the polls already — a fait accompli.

What might turn out to be the catalyst could be the grassroots
reaction, not only to how much they feel betrayed by the political parties,
but to how the elite has trashed them. They are the worst victims of the
cash crisis. For that trauma, they might seek an outlet for their pent-up
emotions.

You could have Kenya all over again.

l saidib@standard.co.zw


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Problem with African democracy: voting for individuals

Zim Standard

† CONTINUED FROM LAST
WEEK

Sunday view by Brilliant Mhlanga

GHANA for now serves as a strong island of peace in West Africa, as
you know that Liberia is enjoying relative peace. Cote d’Ivoire is in a
rotational state of collapse and promise as rebels are always threatening
President Laurent Gbagbo, day-in-day-out. We all know that the rebels
rejected President Thabo Mbeki as a dishonest arbiter.

I am not sure whether today Mbeki will be an honest one in the
Zimbabwe’s Sadc-initiated talks. And also given Jacob Zuma’s challenge,
Mbeki might emerge as a seriously bruised arbiter. The other compounding
factor now being that he has lost the ANC presidency to Jacob Zuma. Only
time will tell! Cote d’Ivoire, another interesting African country is a
place where you see French soldiers roaming around the streets in their
armoured tanks. You only get to be reminded by the black market women that
you are still in Africa. Such is the state of shadow colonialism in most
Francophone countries, maybe with the exception of Algeria.

Nigeria is quite peaceful as well. But it depends on one’s
understanding of peace, as crime rate is soaring and gangs continue to
kidnap any white face around them and start phoning mining companies hunting
for ransom. At least, President Yar’Adua has pledged to handle the situation
once and for all. His record for the last eight months in office, after a
disputed election, is proving to be impressive. With the situation in
Nigeria, a regional political competitor to Ghana it means that the latter
is comparatively peaceful and helping her economy as most countries are no
longer trade routes.

Having discussed the West African situation and generally some
situations elsewhere, I wish to conclude with a critical analysis of one
major factor which forms a serious oversight on our African democracy. It
seems as if in Africa as long as one political party stays in power and
there is leadership renewal that is democracy. Due to the nature of our
leaders, people end up being forced to vote for individuals being placed at
the helm of the party, instead of critically engaging political party
policies.

Examples include countries like Botswana; whose ruling party to this
day, Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) was first elected in 1965, and has
continued being elected at five-yearly intervals. Then Tanzania forms
another interesting case of TANU which got into power in 1961, then merged
with Zanzibar’s ruling party, Afro-Shirazi Party (ASP) in 1964, to form
Chama-cha-Mapinduzi (CCM). Since then they have stayed put and that is
considered a great mark of democracy. What a shame to democracy!

In Mozambique and South Africa, there are similar cases of liberation
winning political parties in power, Frelimo and ANC, respectively. These
parties undergo constant leadership renewal only at the apex with all the
structures remaining unchanged.

Zimbabwe also has Zanu PF, another case of a liberation winning party.
They claim to be civilian here and there, but are quick to engage their
liberation mode when seriously challenged. This also forms a major feature
of most of these liberation winning political parties in Africa. Be that as
it may, an array of questions arises: what has gone wrong with the African
leaders? Are we supposed to blame the leaders or the opposition political
parties in Africa that seem to fail to understand the same power game and
political tactics used now and again? Where is Africa going? Mad men are at
the helm of the AU and driving it wild.

Sadly, the recent developments in Kenya, a once promising democracy
are a serious cause for concern. The government has gone all out in full
military force and massacred innocent civilians who are complaining about a
stolen vote. Indeed, the vote has been stolen in the same African ludicrous
fashion, with the government showing no tinge of shame. Their only
response — instead of saving life — is to accuse Odinga of causing a
genocide. Most African scholars and social actionists have blamed Africa’s
problems on her colonial legacy. Much as this narrative is plausible what of
the actions of the third generational leaders like Mwai Kibaki of Kenya? Can
we also blame it on the fact Mwai Kibaki has in the past years been rubbing
shoulders with the old tired first generation leaders in the African Union
gallery? If it is that contagious then shame be on the future of Africa.

Following these observations one can glean that Africa’s cause for
leadership and political change hangs in the balance. The most saddening
thing is that very few lessons are there for the aspiring leaders to learn
from. One can even speculate that following the actions of our leaders even
the young and promising have nothing to build on; as a result the likelihood
is that people’s rights will be trampled on even more. At least our prayers
now are that the African ancestors save the almost imminent crisis in South
Africa.

The angling and framing of my contribution might be accused by some
overzealous Pan Africanists as some form of Afro-pessimism. It is not. In
fact, it is informed by the fact that too many mistakes continue to be made
wantonly by our leaders, as a result this has tended to far out weigh their
contributions to our lives. This forms the basis of my contribution and will
continue for as long as Africa’s leaders continue to hold the masses at
ransom. Otherwise failure to do that is tantamount to dressing oneself on
borrowed robes. Africa can not afford sweet talking anymore. All odds are
against us. Seemingly, the African ancestors are angry as well.


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Zim Standard Letters



†Kunonga's fall from grace was inevitable

ALLOW me space in your widely read paper to give a brief synopsis of
the fall of Kunonga. Thank you for covering Kunonga’s saga in last week’s
paper.

The "Zanu PF" Bishop is trying to confuse and mislead the world to
think that he is still in control of the Anglican Church Harare Diocese.

Below are the reasons why Kunonga is no longer the Bishop of Harare:
Bishop Kunonga withdrew himself from the Diocese of Harare and from the
Church Province of Central Africa (CPCA).

This means that the bishop is the one who withdrew from the province
and not the Harare Diocese. The properties belong to the CPCA and in this
case, all the churches showed their allegiance to CPCA by holding their
vestry meetings and voted to remain in the CPCA province.

But this implies that Bishop Kunonga should leave Church property
since he has no congregation in Harare Diocese, save for the hooligans whom
he hires to go and disrupt the church services around the diocese.

Believe me, visit any Anglican church and ask where they belong, and
they will tell you — the CPCA, unlike the lies that gobbles up huge space in
The Herald. After the bishop unilaterally withdrew from the province, all
the Bishops from the province accepted his resignation but concurred that
Harare Diocese remains in the Province. Likewise, the property belongs to
the province and the Diocese is the beneficiary, as agreed at Canterbury
(head office of Anglicans worldwide).

His licence was revoked, according to canon 16.2. The bishop failed to
get any one parish to vote for him in the entire Harare Diocese. Even in
those Churches with Priests who sympathise with him he failed to secure a
win.

The dictator bishop now turns to Zanu PF tactics in order to garner
support, which he is not going to get. In realising his imminent fall from
Anglican Community, it is alleged he mobilized hooligans to move from church
to church, beating up people and reports were made to the police. When he
realised that the strategy failed, he is now using the tyranny of the
police, who by Sunday two weeks ago, were moving from church to church,
barring people from holding services as they accused them of not supporting
Kunonga. St James’ Warren Park is one of the churches.

In Highlands, Borrowdale, Greendale and other suburbs in that
neighbourhood, when the police arrived the services were over. What pains
him most is the fact that even churches in Zanu PF areas disowned him. What
I know for sure is this fascist bishop might have the support of the CIO,
Zanu PF, and the police, as he is taking advantage of people’s ignorance
about the real issue and manipulating them. Kunonga should have asked why
all the bishops and priests in the world condemned him, including all the
bishops in Zimbabwe. He and The Herald are correct? For the record, the CPCA
does not condone homosexuals but prays for them to turn away from the
"unbiblical" behaviour, just like any other sinner.

The greatest supporter of Kunonga, Zanu PF, initiated his downfall by
rejecting him although he is found at every Zanu PF rally. Tsvangirai must
be the happiest person because when you see these things, you must know that
the end of the dictator is near.

The March elections belong to MDC, when one considers the mess in Zanu
PF.

Patriotic Zimbabwean

Harare

------------
†Sibanda's 'million-man march' exposes Zanu PF double standards

THE Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) has in the past called
for a stayaway in order to protest against the deterioration of workers’
living conditions. This has always been opposed by Zanu PF, the government
and State agents.

People were urged to ignore the ZCTU calls for a stayaway. They were
assured of police protection.

However, Jabulani Sibanda’s so-called "Million- man march" was a big
stayaway in disguise because Zanu PF thugs closed down shops and markets in
the city through the use of force.

As far as Zanu PF and the police are concerned this was very legal and
legitimate. But ZCTU’s calls for a stayaway are labelled illegal and are
always suppressed by the police.

What double standards and one-sided application of the law in this
country by this government!

P J Madondo

Mutare.

----------------
†Gono's bank rate blunder

DR Gideon Gono, the "artificial" bank rate you use serves to protect
no one. Take a look around: everybody is charging a very high premium for
all imported goods.

Not only do we have to pay this substantially higher price but the
country suffers through smuggling and other informal sector deals for which
the government gets "nothing".

Why don’t we make more efforts to liberalise the ZWD and boost our
exports?

Our products are preferred all across the SADC region, we have vast
mineral resources and an industry with much fortitude. No-one wants to
export for a pittance of the true value of their exports. Please, let’s
liberalise the ZWD, as we are short-changing ourselves.

Cml,

Harare

†---------------
†Why they run to the West

IT’S interesting to note that all those who stand
with The Great Uncle in castigating the West — strange enough — are the very
first to run to the West to seek refuge, when they have a fallout with The
Great Party.

That smells of hypocrisy. That is, the reason why they don’t want him
to relinguish his post, so that they can hide behind his back, doing their
evil deeds that kill our economy, while blaming it on the west.

Tom,

Harare


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Truth and Fiction


Just what happened this past week? If you read the media (always dangerous)
you get reports that say diametrically opposite things - a "Deal" is done
says the Gazette, the "Talks a Failure" says the Independent and other South
African papers. As for the local State controlled press - well that is just
a sick joke. You are as likely to get the truth out of them as you are from
a used car salesman.But for all of that we have to try and sort out what
really went on from all
the nonsense being written and spoken. What we do know is the following: the
South African mediators met with the negotiating teams this past weekend, a
set of options were put before these decision makers, the MDC team accepted
two of the three options with slight variations whilst the Zanu PF team was
unable to come to any conclusion in the absence of Mr. Mugabe who was on
holiday in the Far East.Mr. Mugabe was visiting Hong Kong, Thailand and
Singapore with his entourage
and chief shopping aide, Grace Mugabe. We know that Mr. Mugabe was sent for,
dropped everything and hurriedly returned to Harare to take charge. After a
couple of days of consultations President Mbeki arrived with his team and
went straight into discussions with the Zanu PF leadership. After several
hours of discussion Mr. Mbeki saw the MDC leadership and then returned to
the discussions with the Zanu PF team before leaving the country to return
home.The only public part of this process was a brief meeting with the media
where the South African President said that the talks were continuing and
that progress had been made. Neither the MDC nor Zanu PF made any public
statement and the MDC leadership left the country for South Africa the
following day.The rest of us were just left in the dark with no clear
statement on what
had transpired.I slept on the issue and decided to come down on the side of
the view that
despite all the leaks - a deal was done. There is simply no way that the
President of South Africa, who has so much at stake in the process and for
whom, for the first time in 7 years, has all his ducks in a row on this
issue, would allow the talks to collapse and flounder. The question is
therefore what sort of deal?The rest of this note is conjecture - so you can
take it or leave it, as it
may not be accurate. My own view has been for some time that we are stuck
with a March election. My guess is that nomination day is the 7th of March
with the elections taking place 21 days later on the 28th of March. The
elections will be in one day and some 2000 seats are up for election. Urban
voters in the main centers may have 5 ballots to complete, in the other
areas, 4 ballots. At issue is nothing more or less than the future of
Zimbabwe as a State.The devil always lies with the detail. I would agree
with a senior diplomat
who said to me some weeks ago "there is no chance of holding a free and fair
election in Zimbabwe today, however we will watch the process carefully and
if the outcome is one that we feel represents the views of the majority, we
will accept it and move on from there". A sort of resigned acceptance that
SA has not achieved enough in the mediated talks but we have no choice but
to work with the outcome.Frankly I think the same thing applies to the MDC -
we have little choice
but to work with the gains made in nearly 8 months of tortuous and
painstaking negotiations with a group, who from the very beginning were in
no way sincere or committed to genuine change in the way our elections are
run.Change there has been - not enough to ensure a free and fair election,
but
is it enough to allow a free expression of the will of the people? Can we
prevent the sort of fraud that has characterised the elections in Zimbabwe
for many years and in Kenya just recently? Most would say no, but in my view
the changes negotiated and now being implemented must not be discounted.
They are significant in many ways.The questions that remain are many - can
we persuade eligible Zimbabweans
voters to come out on the 28th and vote? Can we then protect their voice and
make sure it is reported accurately and without manipulation to the national
tally and then finally, will our society and administration accept the
outcome? Those are big questions that only time will answer.But for me I
have always viewed this process as a struggle. It will remain a
struggle right through to the end. My main fear in the past 18 months has
been that we would not have an election. That the regime would simply back
into its shell and with the support of the armed forces and corrupt business
interests, administer the country via a military/Zanu Junta. Effectively a
coup in all but name. That has not happened and one of the main reasons has
been the continued belief that Zanu PF has done enough to win the
election.The other factor is simply pride. Mr. Mugabe wants to defeat Morgan
Tsvangirai in a straight electoral battle - make no mistake this is the
modern equivalent of a 16th Century Jousting competition. He wants to hold
an election that meets the minimum conditions that he can get away with and
then manage his own semi dignified exit from the stage before things get
completely out of hand.Just look at the constraints on Morgan in this
contest - he has been beaten
physically, denied funding for normal political activity, restricted in all
forms of normal political activity, the bookies are all Zanu PF lackeys and
the crowd in the stadium is loaded with Zanu PF supporters. Traditional
leaders who have been intimidated and bribed control the field, Morgan's
horse is denied food and water and his equipment is tampered with.No wonder
Mr. Mugabe is confident! But remember, this is still a contest to
be won and lost. At least we are going to get our chance on the field. It is
a risk, but one worth taking if this is all we have got. So my view is that
we are in for an election and it is up to every one of us to get off our
butts and make sure that this time, the real result is captured and
reported. We sure can live with the result; I am not sure Zanu PF can.

Eddie Cross
Bulawayo, 19th January 2008


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Mbeki's Failed Mission

The Zimbabwean

†Sunday, 20 January 2008 11:19

HARARE – South Africa President Thabo Mbeki on Friday sought the
intervention of the SADC troika on Politics, Defence and Security after his
round of shuttle diplomacy was rebuffed by President Robert Mugabe Thursday.

The SADC troika, chaired by Angolan President Eduardo dos Santos, was said
to be frantically moving to call an extra-ordinary congress to deal
specifically with Mugabe’s intransigence.
President Mugabe remained defiant after a visit by Mbeki to opposition calls
for a change in the election timetable and the introduction of a new
constitution before the election.
By refusing to accede to opposition demands, Mugabe effectively slammed the
door on any prospect of a talks breakthrough between the ruling party and
the opposition.
Mbeki had come to Harare hoping to persuade Mugabe to sit down with the
opposition leaders and compromise on the electoral dates and constitutional
logjam. But Mugabe said the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) would have
to recognize his clumsily stolen 2002 re-election and then call off targeted
sanctions against him and his cronies before he would speak with opposition
leaders, Morgan Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara.
Mbeki met with Mugabe at State House for almost four hours, then later with
Tsvangirai and Mutambara at the residence of South African ambassador to
Zimbabwe, Mlungisi Makhalima. Mbeki was accompanied by his top aides, South
African Local Government minister Sydney Mufamadi, Director-General in the
Presidency Reverend Frank Chikane, and his legal advisor Mujanku Gumbi.
The Zimbabwean heard that Zanu (PF) negotiators Patrick Chinamasa and
Nicholas Goche, were with Mugabe when he met Mbeki while the MDC delegates
to the talks, Prof Welshman Ncube and his opposite number Tendai Biti were
also at Makhalima’s residence although they were not allowed into meetings
held between Mbeki, Mutambara and Tsvangirai. Priscilla
Misihairabwi-Mushonga and Lovemore Moyo, both deputy secretary-generals of
the two MDC wings were also present.
Mbeki told reporters after the meetings that he was optimistic.
“We came to give a report to President Mugabe, Morgan Tsvangirai as well as
Arthur Mutambara on how far we have gone (with the talks). We have listened
to the leaders. We are going back to continue that process. It’s work in
progress and very good progress.”
Mbeki said he did not doubt the “commitment on the part of the Zimbabwe
government to solve problems the country is facing.”
But analysts were skeptical and said the talks had now effectively
collapsed.
“It’s the end of the road,” political analyst John Makumbe said. “The master
of deception, Zanu (PF), is leading the MDC up the garden path. It stands to
reason that all the MDC and Zanu (PF) have agreed upon through the mediation
talks is little more than efforts to hoodwink SADC.”
Tsvangirai’s MDC said the meetings were still deadlocked over Mugabe’s
refusal to postpone the election to June from March and introducing a new
constitution before the poll. Mugabe favours keeping the vote on schedule,
with a promise to implement the new constitution soon afterward. The
opposition is demanding that the constitution, with its new freedoms, be
implemented before any national vote.
“Having an election would just be a farce if they happen in March,” said
Nelson Chamisa, spokesman for the wing of the opposition party led by
Tsvangirai.
Mutambara also expressed the same position, issuing a statement saying his
MDC was ready for a roundtable with Mugabe without conditions.
Mugabe reportedly told Mbeki: “Do they recognize me? If they do, well, it
means they have to start acting like it.”
Zimbabwe is in the grip of political and economic chaos, caused in large
part by Mugabe’s increasingly autocratic rule and by his indigenisation
policies.


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McGee on Zim land reforms

The Zimbabwean

†Sunday, 20 January 2008 11:47


BULAWAYO—THE US ambassador to Zimbabwe, James McGee, has said Zimbabwe’s
land distribution programme is a monumental failure that has led to
starvation of immense proportions nationwide. Ambassador McGee, addressing a
Press conference in Bulawayo yesterday (Saturday 19 Jan 2008), said the
infamous land redistribution programme had brought the Zimbabwean economy to
its knees.
He said the newly resettled farmers, hand-picked by Government on party
(Zanu PF) affiliation lines, were failing to produce enough food for the
country’s exports, let alone its domestic consumption.
The American ambassador gravely noted that because of the biased land
redistribution programme, Zimbabwe had quickly slumped from being a net food
exporter to a net food importer within a short space of time.
“The most complex issue we have in the country now is how do we get to where
the system was before?” Ambassador McGee said before an army of local
journalists at a city club.
“The old system did not work and what is on the table is not working. It is
making life more difficult for every Zimbabwean.”
He said Zimbabwe’s food security needs drastic improvements urgently.
He nevertheless said the way colonialists took land from indigenous
Zimbabweans was also bad.
“But two wrongs make no right…we understand the emotion on land but what I
am more concerned with is that Zimbabwe was a net exporter of food. The
World Food programme bought food from Zimbabwe to distribute in other
countries…Zimbabwe provided grain to feed other countries.
“In 2006 things changed. Zimbabwe is now a net importer of grain,”
Ambassador McGee said.
He reiterated that the country’s food security systems needed to improve but
again wondered how that could be done.
The ambassador said Zimbabwe could never go back to the old system—before
the land redistribution programme where it produced food in abundance.
He said this was especially made more difficult by the fact that the land
redistribution programme was irreversible.
“Just how do we get back to that?” he mused.
The ambassador denied it that it was sanctions imposed by his government and
other western countries that had brought the country’s economy to its knees.
“Sanctions? That is the most foolish thing I have ever heard. The US has no
sanctions against Zimbabwe. What we have are targeted sanctions, sanctions
against individuals, not Zimbabwe and its people,” he said.
Ambassador McGee said many American citizens visited Zimbabwe as tourists.
He said that would not be happening if the US had slapped sanctions on
Zimbabwe.
On the oncoming elections, the ambassador said the US government had no role
it could play in the elections but merely wanted the election results to
reflect the true opinions of Zimbabweans.
“Our position on Zimbabwe is very clear, we want good governance, human
rights and a return to the rule of law. Once we see these things being
addressed, we will be ready to reengage Zimbabwe,” he said.
He ruled out a repeat of the Kenyan carnage over election results saying
Zimbabweans were mature people who would not kill their relatives over
elections.
“We do not have much of a role in the oncoming elections. We are just out to
promote the democratic process…I do not think there will be a repeat of the
Kenyan situation in Zimbabwe. Here we have thoughtful people who would not
want to kill their brothers because of the elections.
“We hope the true reflections of the majority of the people will be the
result of the elections,” he said.
Ambassador McGee, recently posted to Harare by Washington, was on a
three-day familiarisation tour of US government-funded projects in Bulawayo
and to listen to the people’s concerns in the city.


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Ask a Zimbabwean for tips on power cuts

IOL

†††† January 20 2008 at 09:38AM

Peta Thornycroft, our Zimbabwe correspondent, reports from
Johannesburg on how to deal with power cuts...

What an incredible fuss you South Africans make about a few power
cuts.

I happened to lie down next to my battery-operated satellite radio for
a nap this week after the season's only two hours of summer whacked me out.

I heard the likeable David O'Sullivan sounding unlikeable. Okay. He
was in a rage, so angry he sounded as though he might burst an artery, or
the membrane holding his brain in place. About Eskom.

I couldn't believe my ears. As far as I can remember, in this past
week there were only about six cuts, and none longer than five hours.

Same thing at the pharmacy: moan, moan, moan. Then it struck me - for
the first time in my life I had really useful knowledge.

I do know about electricity cuts and what to do about them.

I know about boilers, paraffin fridges, wicks and lighting the lamps
by pumping them hard at 5.30pm.

Please, South African householders, unless you live on more than an
acre, don't get a generator.

There will be murder in the streets of Parkhurst, the Berea in Durban
and Obs in Cape Town if home owners on tiny bits of land all have generators
farting rhythmically through long days and dark nights.

Even small generators use 1 litre of diesel per hour. And they get
stolen easily unless cemented in and you need monster ones to do fridges and
stoves.

Leave generators to Raymond Ackerman and his ilk.

First rule for survival: get a solar panel on the roof, which is
connected to an especially large car battery in your house, which is then
attached to an inverter, which in turn has a switch that lights up the
world.

This system keeps a TV, DSTV encoder, DVD player, mobile and laptop
chargers going. And it costs nothing to run. The bigger the battery, the
more lights. (Ditch desktop computers today.) It doesn't do fridges (more
about fridges later) and it doesn't do electric stoves.

Go for gas. Mozambique has 300 years of gas, and the ANC government -
even though it chose to do the arms deal instead of electricity - did put in
a pipeline for gas from Mozambique.

If you live in the older suburbs of Johannesburg phone up the angels
(seriously) at eGoli Gas and they will look on the map to see if you have a
gas pipe in your street.

If you have, then get connected. Gas geysers also work at a fraction
of the cost of electricity if you don't go for solar-heated water.

Refrigerators are another thing altogether.

If you keep the doors shut, a tall one will keep food from going off
during a power cut of about 30 hours. A deep freeze lasts about 2,5 days if
you don't open it. Longer than that and the food goes off.

After all, you can shop daily in South Africa. Raymond Ackerman is
going to keep the generators running.

Most Zimbabwe-owned supermarkets shut down during power cuts. Only
foreign-connected ones such as Spar have generators, or those owned by
Zanu-PF chefs (political elite), as they get cheap fuel.

You must conserve power. You have a chance to do this because you
still do have commerce and industry. We lost our industry over the past few
years, so that sector can't really help much.

We have more or less given up mining. Except, except, and think about
this: your mining houses can buy power with foreign currency directly from
Cahora Bassa and pay in US dollars, as they are doing in Zimbabwe now. It is
a bit more expensive than Eskom, but it keeps the platinum pouring out.

We also don't have any robots left in our streets, and little traffic,
so we don't have the kind of traffic jams I saw along Jan Smuts Avenue in
Jo'burg on Thursday during a power cut.

We don't kill each other in fuel queues, and we don't have road rage
as our roads are mostly gone. Nor do we kill each other in banks, even when
there is no money there, or in supermarkets. Well, only very, very
occasionally, and only once, over sugar and that was in Bulawayo, which is
very far from town.

So bear up, improvise and go get the solar, inverter, battery
alternatives, and gas. And you will all survive until you have enough new
power sources within eight years, so I hear, and you are not going to be
nearly as short of foreign currency as Zim, so can import some power.

But Zimbabwe will recover sooner than South Africa, because our
population is in Hillbrow.

This article was originally published on page 1 of Sunday Independent
on January 20, 2008


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Is SADC serving any real purpose in the region?

Mmegi, Botswana
†Friday, 18 January 2008

*TANONOKA JOSEPH WHANDE

When nothing is happening it is quite interesting, isn't it? How long has
Thabo Mbeki been 'mediating' between Robert Mugabe's party, ZANU-PF, and the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change in Zimbabwe?

I can't say how much Mandela's mediation achieved in Burundi but I still
remain adamant that South Africans are the worst mediators in the world.

Mbeki and Desmond Tutu are my witnesses because, on this issue, their
failures speak volumes.

In Zimbabwe, dictator Robert Mugabe is not giving away anything due to
Mbeki's partiality, with negotiations even currently having been put on hold
because Mugabe's chief negotiator is on leave. Is this an important and
urgent issue or is it an important and urgent issue?

Mbeki, Mugabe's chief apologist, offers nothing of substance to Zimbabweans.
He disguises his failure and ineptitude as 'quiet' or 'silent diplomacy.'

How long has it been since SADC tasked Mbeki with this mediation that came
on top of his barren, long-running quiet diplomacy?

It is such quiet diplomacy that the sufferers and intended beneficiaries are
still being killed, beaten up and arrested. And we are all expected to
remain quiet lest we mess up 'the progress' being made by the 'silent
diplomacy.'

Elections are still being rigged and thousands of Zimbabweans continue to
flee to South Africa, Botswana and other neighbouring countries and beyond.
Sshh...quiet diplomacy is at work!

Zimbabwe, a country that, apparently, SADC exempted from adhering to the
adopted SADC Principles and Guidelines Governing Democratic Elections, is
scheduled to hold yet another edition of meaningless elections in March this
year.

We Zimbabweans are not looking forward to it; thanks to both Thabo Mbeki,
SADC's impotence, both complemented by the opposition.

Zimbabwe has never before met the stipulated SADC requirements since their
adoption at the SADC Summit in Mauritius way back in 2004 and now we are
faced with yet another election with nobody saying anything about the
disadvantage that both democracy and free and fair elections face in
Zimbabwe. Not to mention the corpses, muggings and state-sponsored violence.

Where is Mbeki? We have only a few weeks to go to another fake election.
Perhaps Mbeki is busy congratulating Mwai Kibaki of Kenya, I presume. What
am I to say if African leaders give us a moronic stare-off as if Zimbabwe is
not part of their problems?

And my embarrassment knew no depths as I watched former presidents
pathetically and shamelessly stepping over each other to reach Kenya before
the other.

Ketumile Masire of Botswana, Kenneth Kaunda of Zambia and Joachim Chissano
of Mozambique, three of the four former presidents whose countries
proximately surround Zimbabwe, conveniently forgot their geography and flew
to Kenya to mediate between an election thief and a cheated opposition...the
very issue consuming Zimbabwe and its neighbours today.

Why should Kibaki listen to these three who have left their own houses on
fire to extinguish his? Why seek peace in foreign lands when your own border
is under siege?

This is the kind of mentality and behaviour that does not help Africa or the
sub region in any way. Kibaki should tell those former presidents to go back
home and deal with the devil in their midst before venturing far afield.

And poor Kofi Annan, scheduled to arrive in Kenya a couple of days ago, has
been suddenly taken ill and won't make it. We all know that he is not
welcome in Kenya.

Is he avoiding the magnitude of the task since he is not a renowned
negotiator or peacemaker? Nobel Peace Prize, my foot! Is he avoiding the
embarrassing presence of the former presidents who, we are told, were 'asked
to mediate'?

They were all 'asked' to mediate but we are not told by whom. The people
they are supposed to meet don't care not to see them.

Meanwhile, the world should also forgive us Zimbabweans. We have no
meaningful representatives in or outside Zimbabwe. The so-called opposition
is no opposition at all.

For example, why do they continue to show up at the useless talks with Thabo
Mbeki's representatives? Since these silly talks started last year, what can
they tell people about what they achieved? Any little achievement.

Instead, what we got was a sell-out 'compromise' that said something about
Mugabe getting 'authorization' to anoint his own successor.

The MDC is reported to be holding rallies now; do they have access to public
media? What safeguards do they have as far as monitoring the ballots is
concerned because that is where it's all at?

A brilliant white boy called David Coltart, a lawyer and parliamentarian of
the breakaway MDC faction led by Arthur Mutambara, wrote a nauseating piece
explaining what this nonsense was all about. He attempted to tell us what it
meant, urging us to accept it. He did not tell us what the Zimbabwean people
got out of this silly capitulation.

Perhaps Coltart should understand where his loyalties lie and who he is
representing in spite of the shredded political fall-out we are witnessing
today.

I have been in Botswana for more than three years now and at all the times
Morgan Tsvangirai came to this country, he did not meet with 'ordinary
people' legally resident here, choosing, instead, to meet a select few at
isolated private clubs.

It happened twice. A number of us were turned away at the exclusive
Phakalane Golf Estates 25 kilometers outside Gaborone and told that we had
to be in a car to enter the premises and talk to Tsvangirai.

I dare him to explain this behavior, especially after I had personally
gotten in touch with his spokesperson, William Bango, in Harare and gave
notice of our intention to meet with him.

Although I was instructed and given the number to contact a Professor
Mukonoweshuro, Tsvangirai's advisor accompanying him on that trip, we were
no match for the elite club where they were holed up and only for less than
two hours.

I persisted and was informed that he was holding yet another audience with
'people' at the Gaborone Sun, 10 minutes from my residence. I said 'to hell
with it.'

Tsvangirai was here again in late November and met with his chosen few in
Gaborone, which is fine. Some of us, ordinary as we are, have important
questions to ask him, especially now that he is exceedingly becoming
irrelevant and a liability. He is betraying the trust that people put in him
and has forgotten that people died and continue to be murdered in his and
the party's name.

He may continue to hide and, like Mugabe, surround himself with people who
need no explanations but, clearly, his leadership inabilities are slowly
being exposed. And he is doing himself a big disfavour.

I am, however, sorry to have wasted my time. SADC put Mbeki in charge of the
Zimbabwean problem in spite of his previous failures over the same
stand-off. He has, once again, failed and elections are looming.

For goodness sake, where is SADC? Does SADC accept its fellow member to
continuously violate or fail to meet SADC recommendations on elections? Of
course, some morons will tell us that 'they are only recommendations', not
requirements, and are not binding.

SADC should just disband.
It is a useless organization that protects and hides the excesses of
presidents of its member countries.

There is absolutely no reason why SADC should not have emphatically dealt
with problems in Lesotho, the DRC, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Swaziland, etc. If
they agree to 'non interference' when a member state violates SADC
membership rules and guidelines, what more can they say to us and the world?

They are cowards who even failed to capitalize on Zambia's Levy Mwanawasa's
accurate outbursts. Mwanawasa had to withdraw into a shell after none of the
SADC leaders supported him.

How much is SADC involved in the DRC problem? I still have to hear a
statement and see meaningful SADC efforts towards the deadly floods in
Mozambique, Zambia and, yes, Zimbabwe.

SADC is a charlatan organization fronting for people who appear not to be
serious about solving the region's problems.

Or, maybe, they may just want to itemize for us their successes and
achievements over the years vis-a-vis their expenses and annual budgets.

*Tanonoka Joseph Whande is a Botswana-based Zimbabwean journalist.


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Book Review

Extract from the London Sunday Times Culture Section 20.1.2008

Review of a book " SMALL WARS PERMITTING,Dispatches from Foreign Lands" by
Christina Lamb††† Harper Press £8.99 pp390.† Review by Patrick French.

The central focus of Small Wars Permitting is inevitably Iraq,Pakistan and
Afghanistan and the individuals who might help explain these countries.Yet
the shade of 9/11 is not the saddest thing here.As Lamb writes,"Zimbabwe is
the most heartbreaking story I have ever covered"† We meet activists who
have been tortured or raped,children whose parents have disappeared,and
people whose homes have been bulldozed.It is a disaster that has arisen not
out of war or atavistic social conflict,but from the whim of Robert
Mugabe."Zimbabwe once had the best-educated population in Africa," Lamb
observes."I remember on my first visit being impressed by all those neat
buildings and lines of children with freshly washed uniforms and rucksacks
of books."Now all that has gone.

Available at the Books First price of £8.54 (inc.p&p) on 0870 165 8585 and
timesonline.co.uk/booksfirst

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