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Hope is on the way



Dear Friends,

I have just finished celebrating the inauguration of President Barack Obama
by watching it on television with my family. On a day when there is so much
gloom in my beloved Zimbabwe - the legacy of decades of oppression - I found
the entire occasion uplifting and inspiring. Today offers a beacon of hope
for those of us throughout the world who are struggling against tyranny.

I was privileged to be present at the Democratic Convention in Boston in
2004 when Barack Obama first came to the attention of the international
community. He delivered a stirring speech which had the refrain "Hope is on
the way" repeated throughout. I was so inspired by that speech that I kept
one of the placards handed out during the speech which bore that phrase and
to this day it adorns the door of my study. It has served as a constant
reminder to me during the last 4 bleak years that hope is indeed on the way.
The events of today are a powerful confirmation of that promise.

Almost 45 years ago one of my most revered heroes Martin Luther King Jr. in
his "I have a dream" speech delivered from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial
said:

"With this faith we will be able to we will be able to hew out of the
mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to
transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of
brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray
together, to struggle together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing
that we will be free one day".

Zimbabweans identify with those words - for Martin Luther King's dream is
our dream.  Our nation has been in a state of extreme despair and pessimism
for many years. We all long for a radical transformation of our great
Nation - we long that fear, repression, intolerance, hate, callousness and
suffering will be replaced by joy, liberty, tolerance, respect, compassion
and hope.

The events of today before a Capitol Building constructed by slaves are a
reminder that our merciful Lord is a God of truth, justice and compassion -
that the Lord desires precisely the same things Martin Luther King dreamed
about all those years ago.  The sacrifice and struggle of faithful men and
women struggling against tyranny using non violent means for what is just
has not been in vain. God has honoured the dedicated and constant commitment
of those people to the principles so eloquently enunciated by President
Obama as follows:

"As for our common defence, we reject as false the choice between our safety
and our ideals. Our founding fathers, faced with perils we can scarcely
imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man,
a charter expanded by the blood of generations. Those ideals still light the
world, and we will not give them up for expedience's sake. And so to all
other peoples and governments who are watching today, from the grandest
capitals to the small village where my father was born: know that America is
a friend of each nation and every man, woman, and child who seeks a future
of peace and dignity, and that we are ready to lead once more.

Recall that earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just
with missiles and tanks, but with sturdy alliances and enduring convictions.
They understood that our power alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle
us to do as we please. Instead, they knew that our power grows through its
prudent use; our security emanates from the justness of our cause, the force
of our example, the tempering qualities of humility and restraint."

This was timely reminder not only to those who are able to wield great
physical power but also to those of us in Zimbabwe who have to oppose a
regime that wields that power against us to frustrate our legitimate
aspirations for freedom. It is a reminder that our strength does not lie in
our ability to confront violence with violence; our strength lies more in
our commitment to "enduring convictions". And there is in these words the
massive encouragement that there is a President in the White House who is at
his heart a human rights lawyer, who understands why respecting the rule of
law and human rights is so important if the world is to progress from
dictatorship, war and chaos to global peace, harmony, sustainable economic
development and prosperity. We do indeed have a friend in the White House
who understands what we are struggling for and why it is important that we
continue to use the non violent means we have chosen to achieve that goal.

Finally we in Zimbabwe take great encouragement from the following words so
clearly directed in our minds at Robert Mugabe and his brutal regime:

"To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict, or blame their
society's ills on the West - know that your people will judge you on what
you can build, not what you destroy. To those who cling to power through
corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the
wrong side of history; but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to
unclench your fist."

We in Zimbabwe know all about "the fist" because it has been waved against
us for almost 3 decades. We know all about a leadership that blames the
catastrophic destruction of our Nation on the West but which in fact is
itself responsible for the decay of our wonderful land because of their
corruption, deceit and ready use of violence.

It is somewhat ironic that it is through this new American President, who is
so deeply committed to respecting human rights, that some way out is offered
to those who are on the wrong side of history. The offer to "extend a hand"
to those who will "unclench the fist" is a timely reminder to Zanu PF even
on this day  which is as depressing in Zimbabwe as it is joyful in the
United States of America. The reminder must surely be that it is not too
late for this regime to stop it s brutality; to stop its torture, to release
the unjustly accused, to negotiate genuinely so the Global Political
Agreement is implemented in its true spirit.

But there is also in these words a warning that if the fist remains clenched
this President will act. That is not to say that other world leaders,
including President Bush, have idly stood by. What however will make the
actions of President Obama so effective is that they cannot be dismissed as
racist. So we can take heart that Robert Mugabe's regime has been served a
powerful warning today that whilst there is a window of opportunity open it
must be grasped quickly and in good faith.

Hope is indeed on the way.

Senator David Coltart
Bulawayo, Zimbabwe
20th January 2009

----------------------------

Here is a link to Obama's inaugural speech

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/obama_inauguration/7840646.stm


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FULL TEXT: MDC response to SADC position paper

http://www.zimonline.co.za/
 
Tuesday 20 January 2009

MDC RESPONSE TO THE DRAFT AGREEMENT PREPARED BY H.E. PRESIDENT MOTLANTHE AND H.E. PRESIDENT GUEBUZA ON THE 19TH OF JANUARY 2009

1. The MDC has received the above draft and thoroughly reflected on the same.

2. We note that the essence and substance of the same is to immediately form a government via a process of immediately swearing the Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Ministers and the postponement of the resolution of other key issues to the future.

3. There are matters that were outstanding on the date of the signing of the Agreement as pronounced by the Facilitator in the presence of other SADC Heads of State and Government present on the 15th of September 2008.

4. Our position on the outstanding issues has been clear and consistent. It is that the inclusive government should only come into being upon the resolution of the following issues:

a. the equitable distribution of ministerial portfolios

b. the enactment of a law establishing the National Security Council

c. the appointment of Governors and other senior appointments

d. the secession of and reversal of all breaches to the MoU and the GPA

e. the enactment of Constitutional Amendment No. 19

Considering all the above, our counter proposal for the inclusive government is as per attached (below) draft Agreement-

AGREEMENT AMONG THE ZIMBABWE POLITICAL LEADERS ON THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE AGREEMENT BETWEEN THE ZIMBABWE NATIONAL UNION PATRIOTIC FRONT (ZANU PF) AND THE TWO MOVEMENTS FOR DEMOCRATIC CHANGE (MDC FORMATIONS ON RESOLVING THE CHALLENGES FACING ZIMBABWE. HEREINAFTER REFERRED TO AS THE AGREEMENT

After consultations held in Harare, Zimbabwe on the 19th of January 2009, the Principals hereby agree to the following:

1. Provincial Governors

1.1 New Provincial Governors shall be appointed on the 26th of January 2009 on the following basis and ratio;

MDC-T  Zanu PF                             MDC-M

Manicaland       Mashonaland Central         Matebeleland South

Masvingo          Mashonaland East        

Matebeleland North Mashonaland West   

Bulawayo                Midlands   

Harare       

1.2 The Parties shall submit the names of their Governors by the 24th of January 2009.

2. Portfolio Allocations

2.1 The ministerial allocations shall be allocated as follows:

MDC-T                                 ZANU-PF

1. Home Affairs                    1. Defence

2. Finance                           2. National Security

3. Media, Information & Publicity  3. Foreign Affairs

4. Local Govt, Rural & Urban Dev   4. Justice & Legal Affairs

5. Agriculture                           5. Lands & Land Resettlement

6. Economic Planning & Investment Promotion   6. Small &                        Medium Enterprises & Cooperative Development

7. Constitutional & Parliamentary Affairs   7. Mines & Mining Development

8. Environment, Natural Resources & Tourism  8. Youth, indigenisation & Empowerment

9. Women, Gender & Community Development   9. Transport

10. Information & Communications Technology   10. Higher & Tertiary Education

11. Health & Child Welfare    11. State Enterprises & Parastatal Management

12. Labour & Social Welfare   12. Energy & Energy Development

13. Public Service13. Science & Technology

                          14. Water Resources Development & Management

                        15. Public Works

                          16. National Housing

Ministry Allocations for MDC-M

1. Industry & Commerce,

2. Regional Integration & International Trade

3. Education, Sport & Culture

2.2 All Parties shall submit the names of individuals taking up and occupying ministerial positions by 24 January 2009.

3. National Security Council

3.1 A Bill regulating State Security Organs to be known as the National Security Council Bill shall be tabled in Parliament by the 22nd of January 2009 and shall be enacted by the 24th of January 2009.

4. Breaches to the MoU and the GPA

4.1 All persons being held in custody after having been unlawfully abducted from September 2008 shall be released unconditionally by the 24th of January 2009.

4.2 The President designate in consultation with the Prime Minister designate shall agree on the appointment of a new Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) Governor by the 24th of January 2009.

4.3 The President designate in consultation with the Prime Minister designate shall agree on the appointment a new Attorney General by the 24th of January 2009.

5. Constitutional Amendment No. 19

Constitutional Amendment No. 19, with the support of all Parties, shall be enacted into law by the 29th of January 2009.

6. Inclusive Government

The President, Vice Presidents, Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Ministers and the Portfolio Ministers of the inclusive government shall be sworn in on the 30th of January 2009

Done and signed at Harare on this 19th day of January 2009 – ZimOnline


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Zimbabwe Opposition Rejects Blame Over Power-Sharing Negotiations Collapse

http://www.voanews.com

     

      By Peter Clottey
      Washington, D.C
      21 January 2009

Zimbabwe's opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) is dismissing as
hogwash accusation that it is to be blamed for the collapse of Monday's
power-sharing negotiations with the ruling ZANU-PF party. President Robert
Mugabe's government accused opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai of backing
away from a solution proposed by South Africa's President Kgalema Motlanthe.
It also accused the MDC of being manipulated by Western Powers, which it
claims is preventing the progress of forming a unity government talks. This
comes after the ruling party announced acting finance minister Patrick
Chinamasa would be presenting the 2009 budget to parliament tomorrow
(Thursday). The presentation of the budget was postponed in anticipation of
the formation of a unity government. George Mkwananzi is a political
analyst. He tells reporter Peter Clottey that President Mugabe and his
cohorts blame the country's woes on everybody except themselves.

"This is not surprising coming from Robert Mugabe and the ZANU-PF because
they have never accepted frankly their role in the destruction of the
country. They have never accepted a single thing in terms of the current
crisis; they have always blamed the MDC and western countries. Now, as we
face this kind of scenario, it would mean that Zimbabwe is taken back to
square one because there is nothing really optimistic that the nation can
look forward to," Mkwananzi pointed out.

He described as an unfortunate the ruling ZANU-PF's decision to leave the
opposition out of the new government announced recently by President and
which is supposed to be in place next month.

"If Mugabe decides to go it alone without the MDC that only goes to confirm
that he is a fool. Only a fool in this context in the deterioration and
decay of the conditions in Zimbabwe will decide to go it alone. We know that
the Robert Mugabe regime has lost all solutions that were put in place in
order to salvage the nation or the country Zimbabwe. So, if they decide to
go it alone, it means it is doom for the country and if only somebody can
advise them against such a foolish way of self destruction," he said.

Mkwananzi said opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai seems to be more
concerned about the suffering or ever worsening plight of the ordinary
Zimbabwean.

"You can see that this is a statement of someone who is honestly and frankly
concerned about the lives of the people in his country. He does not make it
appear as if he pulled a diplomatic victory or anything on Robert Mugabe.
You could see that he was committed to seeing this inclusive deal working,
but unfortunately on the other side of the table the negotiators seem not to
have the interest of the people of Zimbabwe at heart," Mkwananzi pointed
out.

He said the opposition demands are not anything extraordinary that should
prevent the peace negotiations from being finally concluded.

"You just have to look at the demands that the MDC put on the table. They
are very reasonable and asking Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF to put into the open
as to which posts would go to MDC in terms of ministries, in terms of
diplomatic missions, and in terms of the senior civil service that is a very
reasonable demand, which one would have expected any reasonable negotiator
on the other side to accept," he said.

The ruling ZANU-PF party blamed opposition MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai for
the breakdown of Monday night's power-sharing discussions mediated by South
African and Mozambican leaders, adding that the opposition is being
inherently manipulated by Western powers. But the ruling party also said it
would continue to hold discussions with the opposition to find ways of
ending the stalemate and form a unity government.

Meanwhile Zimbabwe's budget which is traditionally presented in November,
was agreed to be postponed ahead of the formation of an inclusive government
between the ruling ZANU-PF and the opposition MDC.

The budget is presented in the form of a Finance Bill and an Appropriation
Bill, which usually addresses different fiscal measures that the government
plans to introduce. It includes among others issues such as how government
intends to collect tax and other financial measures aimed at raising money
for the government's developmental agenda.


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Mugabe: Crime or incompetence?

http://www.dispatch.co.za

      Jan 21 2009 7:11AM

INSIGHT

Lester Venter

WHEN, in regard to Robert Mugabe, Gordon Brown says
"enough is enough", and Nicolas Sarkozy says "he must go", as do the rest of
the European Union's leaders, there is a sub-text. It is: "Here we have yet
another bungling African despot making a grand stuff-up of the nation he is
meant to uplift."

The idea of the inept and cruel tyrant has become an
archetype in the West's narrative of Africa. As such, it is prejudice; and
one of the many things wrong with prejudice, even when it seems to produce
an accurate picture, is that it is lazy thinking. It relies on ready-baked
concepts than can be slapped onto any more-or-less suitable reality.

And that's the trouble here. The convenience of seeing
Mugabe as a stock- standard incompetent may be blinding the world to
something far more sinister: criminal liability.

The difference between an incompetent whose actions harm
others and an outright criminal is a problematic one. This is because an
incompetent does not necessarily intend harm to come from his actions. The
bungler might even mean well. By contrast, a criminal is thought of as
someone who is aware of, or is capable of being aware of, the wrongness of
his actions.

The difference matters a lot because society tends to
shrug off incompetents in politics as part of the sorry story of human
folly. Criminals, however, awaken very different emotions in us. We want
revenge, even if we call it justice.

The question is: which charge fits Mugabe? Unquestionably,
great harm has come to Zimbabwe under his rule. Is he to be held accountable
for mere incompetence ... or criminal liability?

It's important to get it right, because to get it wrong
may mean justice denied. That would be justice denied on a grand scale,
something for which the world has a rapidly-decreasing tolerance. A good
answer is not easy to come by. It involves recognition that this is a
difficulty that does not begin with Mugabe; it has bedevilled human history.
And it involves proof.

The problem was first dealt with by Plato, when he caused
Socrates to ask: when a good man kills an evil-doer, of what crime is the
good man culpable, and in what measure ? Twenty-four centuries later, the
problem pulls the historiography of Hitler in different directions: Ron
Rosenbaum contrasts, in Explaining Hitler, the differing views of historian
Hugh Trevor-Roper, among the first to penetrate Hitler's bunker and the mind
of its occupant, and the philosopher and holocaust scholar Berel Lang.
Trevor-Roper avers that Hitler was "convinced of his own rectitude". He did
evil while believing he was doing good. Lang, on the other hand, insists
that the Nazi leader was "deeply aware of his own criminality".

While Mugabe may not be Hitler, and while contributing
circumstances and factors may differ in case to case, at the heart lies the
question of the awareness of wrong-doing. And it is just there that the
difficulty of proof comes in.

At the end of last year there was, in the case of Mugabe,
an interesting development. At a breakfast for journalists, African National
Congress secretary-general Gwede Mantashe disclosed that the ANC's national
executive committee (NEC) had discussed "Mugabe's fears if he were to
relinquish power". Mantashe went on to make two profoundly interesting
revelations . He said the NEC's view was: Mugabe's fears were "real". They
centred on the example of Charles Taylor, the former leader of Liberia
currently being held in The Hague on charges of war crimes and crimes
against humanity.

Mugabe could not be given guarantees he would not suffer a
similar fate.

Let us now make some deductions from these disclosures.

The first is that the ANC leadership, more than anyone
beyond Mugabe's immediate circle, knows his thoughts. The contacts between
the two have been frequent, and direct. So Mantashe's revelations may be
taken as reliable indicators to the dictator's state of mind.

The second is that if Mugabe is likening himself to
Charles Taylor ... and is quailing in fear of international justice ... he
must be fully aware of the wrong he has been doing. He must know that his
rule has outraged the civilised norms embedded in international institutions
of justice.

The prosecution may not be able quite yet to rest its
case. But it seems that there are good reasons to conclude that Mugabe is
guilty - in the mind of Mugabe himself. In which case, should the world be
far behind?

Why, however, would Mantashe have made these startling
revelations? Could he be so dull-witted as to not appreciate their import?
No, he is not. The answer is in what he said - or, rather, in the way he
reportedly said it: "The Hague has taken a number of African people. Mugabe
can't be given any guarantees for his safety in retirement."

These sentences reveal a great gulf of perception between
what one might call a Western view and Mantashe's presumably African one.
The first of the two sentences reveals Africans' sense of victimhood at the
machinations of the West, and, more worryingly, a deep- seated difference in
perception of good and evil. After all, the Africans "taken" by The Hague
have not been snatched on some whim. (Since its inception in 2002 the
International Criminal Court has indicted 12 persons, all African.)

The second sentence in the statement attributed to
Mantashe suggests, especially when read in conjunction with the first, that
Mugabe would otherwise deserve guarantees of his "safety" (meaning immunity
from prosecution) in retirement.

The overriding implication, then, is that Mugabe is
clinging to power not from some lofty, though perverted, sense of mission,
nor from a perverse love of power, so much as a means of ducking the law.

His overt haste to deny the extent of cholera, even to
claim it has been quelled, becomes a ploy to keep the West off his patch at
all costs.

There is one, final, strand of inference that might guide
thinking in apprehending Mugabe's wrongdoing . It may be spurious, but it
does tantalise. Of all the world figures who have recently called for Mugabe
to go, the two who have expressly said that the Zimbabwean should face
international justice are African themselves: Archbishop Desmond Tutu and
the Ugandan-born Archbishop of York, John Sentamu. They appear to be under
no illusions about the charge that Mugabe deserves to face. Nor why.

Lester Venter is an author and journalist. This article
first appeared on politicsweb.co.za


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'Poverty, diesease force over 38 000 to flee Zim for SA'

http://www.zimonline.co.za/

by Cuthbert Nzou Wednesday 21 January 2009

HARARE - More than 38 000 people have fled Zimbabwe for South Africa in the
past four months seeking asylum, health care and better job opportunities,
Human Rights Watch (HRW) said on Tuesday.

The HRW attributed the mass exodus to the country's worsening social,
economic and political crisis characterised by acute food shortages, the
cholera epidemic and little prospects for earning a livelihood.

Bill Frelick, refugee policy director for HRW, said in a statement: "What we
are seeing is significant numbers of Zimbabweans who are crossing into South
Africa at the Musina crossing, in particular.

"The numbers being registered are far in excess there of what we saw in the
last year, and people are in bad shape. Food and medicines have all been
markedly reduced as a result of the combination of the economic implosion in
Zimbabwe, which is traced to the political repression in the country."

The procedural obstacles that expatriates find on the other side of the
border often result in deportations - more than 250 000 people are sent back
annually.

HRW said that many of these deportations of Zimbabweans fleeing political
violence, forced evictions and economic destitution are avoidable.

It said Pretoria's asylum policy needlessly subjects applicants to stringent
legal interpretations, and that considering the victims for temporary status
rather than full-fledged political sanctuary would free up the system to
help rescue those in dire need.

"We are calling upon the South African government, which has already a
pretty dysfunctional asylum system in terms of doing individual refugee
status determinations, to basically say that this is a situation that calls
for a temporary status that would basically put into effect a
non-deportation policy for Zimbabweans and give them work authorisation,"
Frelick said.

HRW claimed that South Africa absorption system was backlogged because of an
inflexible approach to defining refugee status, which it said placed too
much weight on Zimbabweans having to justify their flight in terms of
political persecution.

Frelick said a more pragmatic approach would help unclog the pipeline and
enable the migrants to find help.

Zimbabwe is in the throes of a political crisis and efforts by the Southern
African Development Community (SADC) to push for a government of national
unity between President Robert Mugabe and main political rival Morgan
Tsvangirai of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) seem to be hitting a
brickwall.

Mugabe, Tsvangirai and the leader of a breakaway MDC faction - Arthur
Mutambara - signed a power-sharing deal last September. The pact ran into
serious problems as Tsvangirai and Mugabe haggled over sharing of
ministerial portfolios and other key government post.

Efforts to break the impasse on Monday by SADC chairperson Kgalema
Motlanthe, Mozambique President Amando Guebeza and talks facilitator Thabo
Mbeki failed.

An extraordinary SADC summit will now take place on January 26 in either
Botswana or South Africa to tray and break the deadlock between Mugabe and
Tsvangirai. - ZimOnline


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Mugabe 'losing support of Zimbabwean army'

http://www.viewlondon.co.uk/

21 January 2009

Robert Mugabe's grip on Zimbabwe could be fading along with worsening levels
of support from within the country's army, inthenews.co.uk has discovered.

In the latest example of army disenfranchisement, a farm owned by Zimbabwe's
central bank governor, Gideon Gono, has been raided by armed soldiers who
forcibly took away livestock in yet another riotous conduct by the country's
poorly paid military personnel.

The soldiers, who blamed Mr Gono for pursuing ill-advised economic policies
that have pushed them into the deep end of poverty, said the chickens they
had stolen went some way towards the money the central bank owed them.

Last month, soldiers staged an unprecedented strike action in the capital
Harare, looting shops and supermarkets in frustration after failing to get
their money from the banks due to cash shortages.

Mr Gono is blamed for the cash shortages after he imposed a tight lid on
weekly cash withdrawal limits for individuals and companies despite
rampaging inflation that has rendered the local currency worthless.

Individuals are only allowed to withdraw ten billion Zimbabwe dollars
($0.10) once a week, a figure enough to buy one banana.

Police records show that ten soldiers stormed Mr Gono's New Donnington farm
in Norton, about 40km from Harare on Thursday afternoon and forced the farm
manager, Philip Musvuri, to load the central bank governor's chickens, at
gunpoint, to an arm truck they were driving.

Police records add that the soldiers told the manager that they would not
pay for the chickens because Mr Gono owed them money since their money is
locked at the banks because of the governors' tight lid on cash withdrawal
limits.

"They explained that they were hungry and said it was only fair that they
take the governor's chickens because it was Mr Gono's financial
mismanagement that had led to the soldiers starving at the barracks," Mr
Gono's farm manager is quoted saying in a police statement after reporting
the case on Thursday.

"They said that they want all the chickens, about 175 of them that were
there at the time. After loading the chickens, they left without paying
saying that they do not have money because of Mr Gono."

Disgruntlement among members of the security forces has been mounting over
the past few months over poor pay and hunger at the barracks.

A leading private newspaper in Zimbabwe, the Zimbabwe Independent, reported
recently that gripping starvation at the barracks had forced army
authorities to cull elephants in order to feed the soldiers.

Zimbabwe army spokesperson, Colonel Solomon Tsatsi, told inthenews.co.uk
that a manhunt for the soldiers who raided Mr Gono's farm on Thursday is 'in
full swing.'

"The long arm of the law will soon catch up with the rogue soldiers who
stole the Governor's chickens," Colonel Tsatsi said in an interview.

Analysts say President Mugabe's near 29-year iron grip on the army loosened
last month after soldiers rioted in Harare in anger over grinding poverty
because of poor pay.

President Mugabe's government is reportedly failing to pay the soldiers who
are now demanding to be paid in foreign currency in a bid to hedge against
hyperinflation.

The army is long credited with ensuring President Mugabe's rule by always
descending on protestors to keep dissent in check. Analysts say a poorly
paid army spells doom for Mugabe.
© Adfero Ltd


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Hunger strikers demand end to suffering in Zimbabwe

http://edition.cnn.com
 
January 20, 2009 -- Updated 2206 GMT (0606 HKT)
 
By Hilary Whiteman
CNN
 

(CNN) -- Kumi Naidoo has only just decided what he'll eat for breakfast. It's an important decision; it will be his last meal in 21 days.

Kumi Naidoo, honorary president of CIVICUS, Zimbabwe, hunger strike, fast

Kumi Naidoo, honorary president of CIVICUS, will fast for 21 days as part of a "rolling" hunger strike.

"I think I'll probably have a mango and some orange juice," he said. "I don't buy my doctor's advice on just beefing up. I know the first three days is going to be really hard so I don't want to pig out."

Naidoo, the honorary president of civil society organization alliance CIVICUS, is one of up to 40 public figures in South Africa starting a hunger strike or fast this Wednesday to draw attention to the plight of millions of Zimbabweans who suffer severe food shortages every day.

Some have committed to fasting for ten days, some for just three. Others, such as Archbishop emeritus Desmond Tutu, have vowed to fast for one day a week until a series of demands are met.

It's the first offensive of a new campaign dubbed "Save Zimbabwe Now." Visitors to the Web site are invited to join the fast and sign a petition demanding action from South African President Kgalema Motlanthe.

It's envisaged the hunger strike and fast will last for three months or until a list of six demands are met. They include an appeal to the South African Development Community (SADC), the African Union (AU) and major political parties in the region to end their policy of quiet diplomacy on the issue of Zimbabwe.

The second demand calls for an urgent response by the United Nations and the international community to Zimbabwe's humanitarian crisis.

The third demands an immediate end to the "abductions, torture and other sinister forms of intimidation against civil society and political activists."

They want the SADC to grant refugee status to Zimbabweans fleeing their own country, and they're urging Zimbabwe to lift restrictions on freedoms of expression, association and assembly.

The sixth and final demand calls for the transitional authority to be installed if a power-sharing deal can't be reached in Zimbabwe by the end of February.

"The sad thing is that if you go through these demands most of them could be met very easily if there was a political will," Naidoo said.

He's under no illusion that the six demands will be met within 21 says, which is why the campaign has taken the form of a "rolling" strike, intended to build momentum along the way.

"The whole idea here is to actually encourage thousands of people -- around 100,000 -- to get involved and to keep it going," Naidoo said.

The hunger strike started quietly in early January when Pastor Ray Motsi from the Central Baptist Church in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe swore off food for 21 days.

His fast finishes on Sunday, by which time Kumi Naidoo will be over the worst of his initial hunger pains.

Naidoo will be slowly reintroduced to food from February 11, when Nomboniso Gasa, Chair of the South African Gender Commission, will pick up the baton and fast for another 21 days.

When her time is up, the idea is that someone else will join the campaign to keep it moving.

"Maybe I'm a bit naïve but I'm hoping that [there are] a lot of people who have been sitting on the sidelines and have felt really unhappy about what's happening and not knowing what to do," Naidoo said.

"The value of solidarity to people who are living under repression should never be underestimated. Just that sense that you're not alone is a powerful thing"

Naidoo is speaking from experience. He grew up in South Africa in the 1980s and as a black teenager attended too many of his friends' funerals.

He was expelled from school at the age of 15 for his anti-apartheid activities and fled South Africa in 1986, blaming continued police harassment.

He returned after Nelson Mandela's release from prison in 1990 when he helped to set up the African National Congress as a legal political party.

The idea for a hunger strike came about during a trip to Zimbabwe in the days leading up to Christmas, 2008.

Naidoo entered the country to film "Time 2 Act," a series of personal appeals from the Zimbabwean people for the government of South Africa and the SADC to alleviate their suffering.

"The little film we did opens with this young boy who we spoke to who said he had not eaten for eleven days and all he had was water. It was a few days before Christmas and he said 'I don't know if I'll have any food at Christmas,'" Naidoo said.

Naidoo doesn't think the "rolling" nature of the strike will dilute its message or make its demands any less urgent. On the contrary.

"I think it's more effective to have more people participate and more people to be engaged and more voices to be brought. And I think that has a good chance to shift the public momentum here in South Africa," he said.

"I do that the turning point has come -- it can't go on much more. This is a country that is not only putting its own people at risk, it's also putting an entire subcontinent at risk."


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Tutu to join hunger strike over Zim crisis

http://www.themercury.co.za

January 21, 2009 Edition 2

Sapa-AP-AFP

JOHANNESBURG: A number of high profile personalities, including Archbishop
Desmond Tutu, would embark on a hunger strike until a solution to the
Zimbabwean crisis was found, a solidarity group said last night.

"We have Mahatma Gandhi at the back of our minds as we embark on this hunger
strike," Save Zimbabwe Now said.

"Fasting has been chosen to symbolise the hunger and discomfort faced by
millions of Zimbabweans every day in varying forms of severity."

The president of the World Alliance for Citizen Participation, Kumi Naidoo,
and chairman of the SA Gender Commission, Nombuso Gasa, will go without
food, but with water, for 21 consecutive days.

They will stay at the Central Methodist Mission Church in Johannesburg
during the fast.

Tutu will be among those taking part in the fast every Wednesday for three
months.

In Harare, southern African leaders planned a new summit to break Zimbabwe's
political impasse, a day after Robert Mugabe and rival Morgan Tsvangirai
ended marathon talks without a deal.

After 12 hours of talks on Monday, Mugabe said he had accepted a proposal
from the Southern African Development Community that would have seen
Tsvangirai sworn in as prime minister on Saturday.

However, a bitter and angry Tsvangirai left the talks - mediated by
President Kgalema Motlanthe - refusing to accept the post until crucial
issues were resolved.

"Unfortunately, there's been no progress because the same outstanding issues
on the agenda are the issues that are creating this impasse," Tsvangirai
said. - Sapa-AP-AFP


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ZTV ignores world news event

http://www.thezimbabwetimes.com/?p=10174

January 20, 2009

By Our  Correspondent

HARARE - Zimbabwe's State owned ZTV completely ignored President Barack
Obama's inauguration in Washington DC Tuesday.

Instead they featured an old movie throughout the duration of the landmark
event.

But in bars across the capital, Harare, Zimbabweans watched the inauguration
of Obama in awe, struck by the magnitude of the event and the smooth
transfer of power that flew in the face of Mugabe's almost clandestine
swearing in at the beginning of his disputed sixth term of office.

Obama's inauguration gripped the imagination of a nation long denied
freedoms, with many following the inauguration from home, work and public
bars.

At the Eastgate Shopping Mall in the city centre dozens converged around a
big screen and closely followed the inauguration. Botswana's State BTV and
South Africa's SABC channels, on free-to-air satellite television, broadcast
the inauguration while better off members of society followed the
proceedings on international news channels such as CNN, BBC and SKY News on
DStv in the comfort of their homes and officies.

Quite incredibly, Zimbabwe's state-owned ZTV, the country only television
channel, completely ignored the inauguration of the son of an African
immigrant as the first black president of the world's most powerful nation.
ZTV screened an old movie instead.

Meanwhile, Zimbabweans watching the event on foreign television throughout
the capital city, Harare, were awestruck as Barack Hussein Obama took the
oath of office as the 44th president of the United States in a peaceful
transfer of power that was in stark contrast to President Robert Mugabe's
controversial and violence-ridden re-election last June.

With a hand on Abraham Lincoln's inaugural bible, and before a crowd
stretching across the National Mall toward where Martin Luther King Jr.
spoke of his dream of racial equality, the 47-year-old Obama was sworn in as
the first black American president by Chief Justice John Roberts in a
ceremony closely followed by Zimbabweans on television.

The transfer of power in the US was in stark contrast to Mugabe's farcical
swearing-in ceremony on June 29. He declared himself winner of an election
in which he was the only candidate.

Even before he took the oath, Mugabe had set in motion bloody recriminations
against those who worked against him prior to the election that saw the
murder of over 200 opposition supporters.

Mugabe, who turns 85 next month, carefully choreographed the ceremony just
like Obama's inauguration.

Hailing a hollow victory, Mugabe took the oath on the Bible.

The swearing-in ceremony at State House, where the former guerilla leader
was handed power by Ian Smith's white government in 1980, was planned even
before elections were held on June 27, 2008.

Mugabe sang the national anthem as his troops fired a volley of shots in a
tent erected on the lawn.

Amid unprecedented security for the inauguration, with soldiers patrolling
the streets and helicopters hovering overhead, Mugabe then took the oath for
his sixth term in office.

Only a carefully selected cabal of his loyalists witnessed his swearing
ceremony, in stark contract to almost 2 million who voluntarily thronged the
inauguration of Obama.

As Mugabe spoke, Chinese-built MIG fighter jets screamed overhead.

In an extraordinary act of brazen cheek, Mugabe invited Tsvangirai, the
leader of the MDC who beat him in an earlier March poll but withdrew from
the second poll citing violence, to the swearing-in ceremony.

Zimbabweans said there were awe-struck by the peaceful power-transfer that
the US had shown to the world.

"If it was in Zimbabwe, those people would have been street vendors
force-marched into idling ZUPCO buses to attend the inauguration," said
Mike, who followed the inauguration on the screen in a sports bar.

"This is wonderful," said a Mrs Mutepfa. "I hope our leaders learn something
from this. You could feel the presence of the Lord at Obama's inauguration."

While prayers at Obama's inauguration and the invocation were delivered by
men of God such as Reverend Rick Warren who moved many to tears, prayers at
Mugabe's inauguration were led by Nolbert Kunonga, a rebel Anglican
clergyman, an ally who broke away from the Anglican Church last year.

"We thank you Lord for this unique and miraculous day," dethroned Bishop
Kunonga recited as Mugabe stole another mandate. "You have not failed our
leader."

Mugabe waved a Bible as he intoned, "So help me God," to cheers from his
handful of cronies. Most ambassadors based in Harare were conspicuous by
their absence from the event in stark contrast to the massive diplomatic
presence at Obama's inauguration.

While Obama's inauguration provoked passions worldwide, the spectacle of
Mugabe being inaugurated as president prompted widespread revulsion, nowhere
more so than in Zimbabwe itself and in Africa.

Mugabe rushed with almost indecent haste from the inauguration ceremony in
Harare to the African Union summit in Egypt, where he brow-beat Africa's
leaders into accepting his sham victory.

"If Mugabe was watching, he must hang his head in shame," said one bemused
viewer who declined to be named.

"The way Bush boarded the helicopter with Obama bidding him farewell was a
poignant moment for me. Why can't Mugabe do that with Tsvangirai?"

After the ceremonies ended, former President George W Bush boarded a Marine
helicopter to Andrews Air Force. He later took a government plane, dubbed
"Special Air Mission 28000," to return to Texas, where he has a ranch in
Crawford and a home in Dallas to go into retirement.

The new president, charged with leading the US through the deepest financial
crisis in generations and wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, devoted much of his
address to the theme of restoring the US's standing in the world. He pledged
to renew efforts to fight foes, work with friends and help the world's poor.

On his inauguration, Mugabe spoke of "narrowing differences" with the
opposition which he had cheated through the one-man run off vote.

But seven months later a power-sharing deal he committed to is teetering on
the verge of collapse, with the iron-fisted leader refusing to cede control
of some of the 10 most powerful ministries.

SADC leaders who flew into Harare Monday for a last-ditch bid to save the
deal failed to convince Mugabe to accept Tsvangirai's conditions for joining
his government.

Mugabe rejected Tsvangirai's demands as unacceptable.

Tsvangirai had presented a position paper suggesting his MDC takes control
of the Home Affairs, Finance, Information, Agriculture and Local Government
ministries.

His position paper, which listed the 10 key ministries proposed that Mugabe
retain control of Defence, National Security, Justice, Foreign  Affairs and
Land - a suggestion thrown out by Mugabe.

A SADC summit scheduled for Monday next week is expected to break the logjam
over power-sharing which many say can happen if Mugabe took notes from the
US presidential inauguration.


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Magistrate set to rule on activists' application

http://www.zimonline.co.za/

by Wayne Mafaro Tuesday 20 January 2009

HARARE - A magistrate's court is today expected to make a ruling on an
application by a jailed human rights campaigner and an opposition MDC party
activist to have their case referred to the Supreme Court.

"Magistrate Gloria Takundwa will make a ruling on Tuesday on our application
to have Broderick Takawira and Audrey Zimbudzana's case referred to the
constitutional court," their lawyer Alec Muchadehama told ZimOnline.

Takawira a staffer at a human rights organisation - Zimbabwe Peace Project
(ZPP) - and MDC activist Zimbudzana are arguing that their abduction and
continued detention violated their constitutional rights and freedom and
have asked the magistrate for permission to take their case to the Supreme
Court, the country's highest court that hears constitutional matters.

"Our argument is that their constitutional rights and freedom were violated
through abduction and forced disappearance and their continued
incarceration," Muchdehama said.

Takawira and Zimbudzana are part of a group of about 40 human rights
defenders and opposition MDC activists accused of attempting to recruit
people for military training in neighbouring Botswana to overthrow President
Robert Mugabe and his ruling ZANU PF party.

The accused were abducted in November and December from various locations
and held incommunicado for weeks. Their lawyers say they were severely
tortured by state agents in a bid to force them to admit to the charges of
banditry.

Torture and other forms of inhuman punishment are illegal in Zimbabwe.

A former staffer at the state-owned Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation and
now ZPP director, Jestina Mukoko is also facing similar charges as the MDC
activists and was on Friday granted permission to take her case to the
Supreme Court.

If convicted the group faces the the death penalty. But the MDC and human
rights groups say the charges against the activists are part of a
well-orchestrated scheme by state agents to persecute human rights defenders
and government critics in a bid to scare them from highlighting deepening
crisis in Zimbabwe. - ZimOnline.


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Missing from govt. payroll: Mwenezi District Teachers

http://www.hararetribune.com/

Wednesday, 21 January 2009 00:19 Radio Voice of the People

Over 150 teachers in Mwenezi district were shocked to discover they had been
struck from the government's pay roll and no reasons have been given.

The teachers, most whom had traveled all the way to Masvingo city, were
stranded as they failed to access cash to return to their homes.

"There is no official statement that has been issued so far to explain why
they were not given their salaries but we suspect that the teachers were not
given salaries because they were not at their stations for the better part
of last term. Everyone knows that teachers were not in a position to go to
work last term," said Munyaradzi Chauke, Progressive Teachers Union of
Zimbabwe Provincial Coordinator.

"We are very worried to learn that our members in Mwenezi have not been
receiving their salaries since December. The total number of teachers who
did not receive salaries is over 200. The number is increasing monthly. We
are preparing ourselves to fight the employer, be it in courts of law or in
any hearing."

Most banks such as the Commercial Bank of Zimbabwe (CBZ) and Zimbabwe Bank
(ZB) together with building societies were giving teachers not more than one
trillion dollars (less than 5 Rands).

"We are very angry because we were only given one trillion dollars at
Standard Chartered bank. The money is very useless because we can not use it
anywhere.

Meanwhile the teachers whose salaries reflected in their accounts were also
stranded as banks did not have enough cash.

It costs us more than 50 trillion dollars to go to Bikita using public
transport," said one teacher.


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Zanu-PF promotes foreign interests

http://www.thezimbabwetimes.com/?p=10191

January 20, 2009
Jupiter Punungwe

ONE of the hallmarks of Zimbabwe's political landscape is the strident
accusation levelled by Zanu-PF against the MDC - that they are puppets of
foreign powers.

However a closer look at the facts shows that, in terms of promoting foreign
interests, Zanu-PF are in fact much bigger sellouts than the MDC. The MDC
get money from foreigners, Zanu-PF give our money and business initiative to
foreigners, promote foreign businesses over local businesses and use the
power we gave them to do us down while seeking to hob-knob with and enjoy
themselves in foreign lands.

The one common trait between Zimbabwe's two major political parties is that
they are both outward looking and promoting the interests of foreigners. The
MDC is largely kept alive by foreign funds, and they appear to listen more
to foreign advisers than they do to local people.

Despite their protestations, the behaviour of Zanu-PF clearly indicates that
they also love all things foreign. Zanu-PF has rapaciously promoted foreign
interests. For example they promoted Chinese industry by buying fleets of
buses while letting Zimbabwean bus manufacturers collapse. They also
imported fleet upon fleet of foreign vehicles at the expense of local
assemblers and manufacturers.

The latest move in which Zanu-PF are unpatriotically promoting foreign
interests, is the shutting down of local manufacturers of basic goods
through senseless, larceny-like price controls, and then calling for foreign
goods to flood the market at uncontrolled prices. Why not just lift control
imposed on locally produced goods?

While discussing the recent shenanigans of the first family on holiday in
the Far East, one reader referred to Mugabe as a CEO entitled to spend "his
money". The reader didn't seem bothered that the extravagant CEO had
bankrupted the company.

Nobody would ever begrudge Barack his custom-made Obamobile. The American
economy is well run and it can afford it. Obama is incoming and hasn't had a
chance to go on holiday yet, but how many times have you heard of past
American first families going on month long holidays in foreign countries.
If ever an American president goes on retreat it's to Camp David which is in
the United States. Why can't our own president take a retreat at Kariba,
Nyanga or Victoria Falls?

Not only does it save money but it promotes the local tourism industry.

We have reason to be extremely worried when someone running a country which
can't pay teachers, nurses, soldiers and other civil servants basic living
wages goes on an extravagant holiday in foreign lands. That person is taking
money which could have been used to put medicines in clinics and hospitals
and giving it to foreigners.

In Zimbabwe people have to ferry relatives in wheel-barrows and scotch carts
to clinics. Even Gaza which has been under a cruel total embargo for ages
and has been razed several times by one of the world's mightiest armies,
still has functioning ambulances.

It is utterly disgusting when someone who has been living off the taxpayers'
money for the past 29 years, goes on an extravagant holiday leaving behind
the very same taxpayers dying like flies.

That those with imperial designs have gained significant influence in
Zimbabwe, is not the fault of the MDC. Blaming the MDC for that is like
blaming pus for being in a wound. What should be blamed is the knife that
made the wound in the first place. If you read my article here
<http://www.thezimbabwetimes.com/?p=487> you should have no illusions
afterwards that I firmly believe that selfish, unpatriotic and corrupt
actions by top Zanu-PF leadership is the knife that made the wound that the
pus is now occupying.

The reason for the pain that Zimbabwe is going through is not just the
actions of the MDC and their imperialist friends. The weapon that caused the
injury, is actions such as the recent activities of that first family of
going on extravagant and expensive excursion while people are dying like
flies, taking time off from relaxing only to box hapless journalists.

Such actions display an attitude of callous contempt towards the ordinary
people of Zimbabwe. That the welfare of the nation can be deemed secondary
to the personal enjoyment of a few people, is the hallmark of insensitivity
and total lack of care for Zimbabwean people.

Perhaps it is extremely revealing how out of touch he is, that our President
has never visited any cholera affected people, while the UNICEF director, a
foreigner, flew more than twenty thousand kilometers to come and see
suffering people at Budiriro treatment centre.

We need a leadership that cares about all things Zimbabwean. Leaders who
either hob-knob with foreigners or hob-knob in foreign lands, will never
have the true interest of Zimbabwe at heart.

The clearest sign yet that our leaders don't have Zimbabwe at heart, is
their failure to simply agree to run the country together and end the crisis
that is costing ordinary Zimbabweans their lives.


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Mbeki awarded Pinnacle Holdings shares by Mugabe

http://www.hararetribune.com/

Tuesday, 20 January 2009 22:56 Ivene Cheunga Jams

Mr "Quiet Diplomacy" Thabo Mbeki has acquired fifty-percent shares in
Pinnacle Holdings a company that is allegedly owned by maverick business
mogul Phillip Chiyangwa amid information leaks that in fact the ex-convict
on espionage charges is merely being used as a front also by affluent
investors that are based in Australia, Harare Tribune heard.

According to impeccable sources, Mbeki who has failed Zimbabwe with  yawning
stupidity due to his glaring soft spot for Robert Mugabe has major business
interests in Zimbabwe and other unconfirmed reports say he also has shares
in two major mining houses in Zimbabwe.

"Mbeki was apparently awarded shares by Mugabe in two local big mining
houses as a thank you for not allowing Morgan Tsvangirai to topple him
despite having won the ballot by a wider margin.

"Through his nephew Phillip Chiyangwa he also arranged for him to be given
fifty percent of the shares in Pinnacle Holdings a company that is into
property development," said a source close to the affluent club of Blah
Fidza, as he is known in some circles.

Sources say the Australian investors coupled with Mbeki's investment in
Pinnacle has given Chiyangwa massive impetus and his assertion that he has
degrees in common sense are hogwash as it is clear that his uncle "Bob" is
using him to play his dirty political tricks to yearn for political
survival.

Chiyangwa could neither deny nor confirm that he has Australians and Mbeki
in his now affluent business stable. Instead he said that many thinks had
been said before about him and he does not care anymore.

Recently, Chiyangwa colonised the media and slotted print and electronic
advertisements inviting home seekers to come and buy stands in various parts
of the country under Pinnacle properties.

Critics say such a development with Chiyangwa is only the beginning of a
major housing scandal as those unsuspecting customers will eventually end up
crying foul after the mogul has confiscated their stands on flimsy grounds.

Mbeki has since failed as a mediator between ZANU PF and the MDC-T as he
late last year wrote a salvo accusing Morgan Tsvangirai of not showing
respect to the integrity of SADC and the AU by complaining and suggesting
that their feud with Mugabe should be handed over to the United Nations for
successful mediation


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Gono's currency reform plans go up in smoke

http://www.hararetribune.com

Tuesday, 20 January 2009 22:53 Nomsa Moyo

South Africa has shunned a proposal by Zimbabwe to adopt its currency saying
the inflation in the neighbouring country will affect its economy.

According to authoritative sources in the Zanu-PF government, the president
Robert Mugabe regime had made representations to South Africa to be allowed
to use the Rand although it was in vain

"Our efforts to have the rand as an official currency in Zimbabwe hit a
brick wall because SA said they feared inflation will spread to their
country," said the source.

The source said the Zimbabwe government would attempt the United States
dollar. He said a delegation would be send to the USA to meet the Federal
Reserve officials.

"We think the Barrack Obama administration will have a soft stance on
Zimbabwe and thus we will send a team to talk to the Americans so that we
adopt the US dollar. The Zimbabwe dollar has lost its values and it can no
longer be used," said the source.

However, in his leaked draft economic reform programme dubbed the
Comprehensive Economic Reforms Needed to Turn Around the Economy, central
bank governor Gideon Gono has announced that the rand will be adopted
informally.

He said the move was meant to stabilise prices in the collapsed economy,
that was once the pride of Africa.

Zimbabweans are no longer using their valueless currency preferring to do
business in rands or American dollars.

"It is imperative that Zimbabwe informally adopts the rand alongside the
Zimbabwe dollar, to eliminate distortions associated with the use of
multiple currencies," said Gono in the draft document.

"The randfying of the Zimbabwean economy is envisaged to give substantial
impetus to current efforts geared at stabilising prices. This will lay a
solid foundation upon which successful economic recovery initiatives will be
anchored."

"The transformation process entails moving away from a regulated economy to
one where the interplay of market forces assumes a more central role in the
allocation of resources."

According to Gono's economic reform programme, the Zanu-PF government is
expecting to raise US$1.7 billion annually through customs duty, valued
added tax, corporate taxes and royalties from minerals.

The RBZ said the government required about US$350 million a month, which
translates to US4,2billion.

Once a prosperous nation, Zimbabwe has collapsed and is experiencing an
acute economic and humanitarian crisis that has earned the country a place
in the top 10 lists of the world's crisis nations.


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SADC indulgence will deepen crisis

http://www.thezimbabwetimes.com/?p=10168

January 20, 2009

By Tendai Dumbutsheana

PREDICTABLY last Monday's meeting on Zimbabwe chaired by South Africa's
President Kgalema Motlanthe failed to break the deadlock between Zanu-PF and
MDC. Both Robert Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangirai would not move from positions
taken by their respective parties.

Mozambique and South Africa are Zimbabwe's two most important neighbours
because they provide the landlocked country with access to their seaports.

These trade routes are the lifeblood of Zimbabwe's economy. No two countries
have, therefore, more leverage on Zimbabwe than South Africa and Mozambique.
The presence at the talks of Motlanthe and his Mozambican counterpart,
Armando Guebuza was a good opportunity for the two leaders to use that
leverage to get a positive outcome.  They failed because it goes against the
grain for the two of them to put pressure on Mugabe. Instead they expected
the MDC to cave in. If these two leaders could not bridge the gap between
the MDC and Zanu-PF there is no hope that a full SADC summit can achieve
this.

Yet this is where the issue is now being taken to on Monday January 26.

Zimbabweans are quite understandably fed up with SADC summits. Their
outcomes over the years have been depressingly similar. This one will be no
different. After the meeting a communiqué will be issued which will bring
Zimbabwe no closer to a solution. It will glibly call for the immediate
formation of an inclusive government and urge all parties to work together.
The MDC will reject such an outcome and the merry-go-round will continue.
The unwillingness of SADC to face the Zimbabwe issue squarely is the reason
why in nine years of the crisis the situation has deteriorated under its
watch. There is nothing in the horizon to suggest that these leaders are
prepared to change their approach.

There has to be an admission that for whatever reason the Global Political
Agreement is not workable. Its two major signatories - MDC and Zanu-PF -
cannot work together. The MDC must be commended for producing a paper which
clearly spells out issues to be addressed for the agreement to be
implemented. The party's demands are reasonable. If Zanu-PF were acting in
good faith it would have no difficulty in accepting these demands.

Given the results of the March 29 elections Zanu-PF and Mugabe cannot have
the lion's share of power. Ministries have to be fairly distributed. The
security forces and intelligence agencies have to be depoliticized and
placed under the joint control of all parties in the inclusive government.
Unilateral appointments to key positions such as Reserve Bank governor and
Attorney General go against the letter and spirit of the agreement.

Violence, abductions, arbitrary arrests, and trumped-up charges do nothing
but confirm that Mugabe has no interest in genuine power-sharing. There is
nothing unreasonable about the MDC's concerns. It says volumes about Mugabe's
real intentions that he is in no mood to compromise on any of these.

As he assured the party faithful he wants an inclusive government in which
Zanu-PF is in "the driver's seat."

Where to now? The prospect of involvement of the European Union, United
States or United Nations in Zimbabwe's issue causes great resentment among
African leaders.

This is their problem to solve, they argue. The Zimbabwe issue is a simple
and straightforward one which could have been solved a long time ago. As
stated in this column before, the unwillingness of SADC leaders to honestly
engage Mugabe has given outsiders reason and opportunity to offer their own
solutions. Resentful or not  this will happen if even at this late stage
SADC leaders do not face up to their responsibilities.

The crisis in Zimbabwe began in 2000 when faced for the first time with the
prospect of electoral defeat Zanu-PF used violence and fraud to deny people
the right to vote freely. This is the nub of the issue that any solution
must address. The GPA does not address it. On the contrary it circumvents
the will of the people by conferring power on an unelected leader. It
violates a core principle that those who govern must do so with the consent
of the governed.. It is obvious that the proposed SADC summit will not
bridge the gap between the MDC and Zanu-PF.

Only the people of Zimbabwe can and must break the deadlock through a free
and fair election. This is the only viable and desirable solution. If SADC
is serious about finding a lasting solution it must abandon the lie that GPA
is the answer. Even its main two protagonists are not happy with it. They
will be glad to see it collapse but for tactical reasons do not want to be
blamed for such an outcome.

There is no point, however, in having an election run by Zanu-PF. That much
is clear. The most constructive role SADC can play now is to put pressure on
Mugabe to accept an election run by the UN, SADC and AU. A neutral
transitional authority deriving its mandate from a UN Security Council
resolution would prepare the country for such an election. There is no
reason why the authority cannot complete its work within 12 months. It would
also be mandated to draft a new constitution, restore political and civil
liberties, stabilize the economy, and coordinate humanitarian assistance.
The election would yield a government of unquestionable legitimacy equipped
to tackle the huge challenge of economic reconstruction.

There is no reason why anyone with a genuine interest in a just and lasting
solution should oppose this route. Botswana suggested it a few months ago
when it became obvious that Mugabe was playing games. It would be helpful
for Botswana to table such a solution at next Monday's SADC summit. It
should at the very least be considered.

With the assistance from Thabo Mbeki, Mugabe will call for the immediate
formation of an inclusive government without addressing the MDC's concerns.
In other words he will seek a similar outcome to the last SADC summit in
November. But this time he will want implicit approval from SADC to go it
alone should the MDC not play ball.

If SADC indulges Mugabe in this way the crisis in Zimbabwe will further
deepen. The economy will continue on its downward spiral with all the
horrendous consequences that are now evident. Western countries will impose
more sanctions. Faced with more years of the Mugabe regime Zimbabweans will
flee the country for foreign lands.

Such a calamity can be avoided if on January 26 SADC leaders get real. They
should not allow Mugabe to go it alone with their blessings. They should not
try to breathe life into a dead GPA. If they do they should not mourn when
other more powerful forces than them prescribe their own solutions.


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A rescue plan to serve a country and a continent 

http://www.businessday.co.za
 


Denis Worrall

HUMANITARIAN crises don’t have geographic boundaries; and what is happening in Zimbabwe is of legitimate concern to people all over the world. The fact that the United Nations (UN) Security Council is planning a meeting on Zimbabwe this month reflects this .

What is important is that African leaders, who regard Zimbabwe as primarily an African issue, should lead the UN response. And that is what this proposal for the reconstruction of Zimbabwe purports to do.

Since last year’s election in Zimbabwe, African and international involvement has focused on promoting political agreement between the major parties. The primary assumption underlying a political accommodation is that Zimbabwe’s problems can be resolved by Zimbabwean politicians.

The starting point of this proposed strategy is that the reconstruction of Zimbabwe’s society lies beyond politics. In addressing the country’s problems, it is essential to look beyond the current political stalemate.

Nick Dawes, an informed observer of the Zimbabwe scene, recently put it like this: “Zimbabwe has been dysfunctional for a long time now…. Since 2001 citizens have had to cope with the gradual ratcheting of oppression and of material privation, learning to cope as their salaries shrank along with their freedoms, or fleeing to SA, the UK or Botswana. For so long we have been saying Zimbabwe is ... ‘ on the verge’ of collapse. We must now acknowledge that it has tipped into the abyss, even as we watch in a kind of stunned quiescence.”

Driving home the point is the fact that Physicians for Human Rights has called for the Zimbabwe’s collapsed healthcare system to be placed under international receivership. At the same time, the security council should ask the prosecutors at International Criminal Court to start documenting evidence of human rights abuses.

This may not be a view African leaders are comfortable with , but then the African Union (AU) needs to respond in a way that answer s these concerns. That is what this proposal looks to achieve. African leaders have the opportunity to put forward a constructive strategy that is both to Zimbabwe’s and Africa’s credit and advantage .

The AU and the UN’s first and immediate concern must be the humanitarian crisis in Zimbabwe — expressed in terms of medical assistance, water and food. The reconstruction of Zimbabwe must go hand in hand with the realisation of a political settlement — assuming that, with the support of the AU and the Southern African Development Community , the security council is willing to promote this. This is because the reconstruction process necessarily involves certain internal political adjustments. We are assuming that this period would last no more than eight to 12 months.

The proposed programme , given its huge potential benefits for the Zimbabwean people, would undoubtedly enjoy their support.

This is what is proposed as part of the reconstruction programme:

  • That the AU, in consultation with the UN and its agencies, establish a reconstruction commission under the chairmanship preferably of a person from Africa, who will be the administrator of the programme. Names that spring to mind are former UN chief Kofi Annan, former South African presidents Thabo Mbeki and FW de Klerk, and former Kenyan leader Daniel arap Moi.
  • The commission will include internationally acknowledged authorities in their fields who as co-ordinators will formulate and manage suitable policies and programmes in areas of government requiring assistance.
  • Aside from appropriate Zimbabwe civil servants, each co-ordinator will be assisted by two Zimbabwean councillors elected by parliament.
  • The Zimbabwean constitution will be amended ( temporarily) to bring the commission into serious decision-making in the relevant areas of government; and decisions of the commission will be binding on all branches of government unless rejected by a two-thirds majority in parliament.
  • The representative in Zimbabwe of one of the top four auditing firms will be appointed to receive and manage the funding for the reconstruction programme. It would also be responsible for supervising and awarding any tenders the commission’s work may require.

    The following government sectors or departments of state need the appointment of co-ordinators.

  • Finance: key practical financial steps which must be taken are the following: abolishing exchange controls; adopting another currency for the recovery process; right-sizing the public service to the tax base; abolishing price controls; privatising state enterprises; the restoration of the rule of law; the restoration of property rights; compensation to the victims; reform of the police; reform and downsizing of the army.
  • Economic affairs: the collapse of the Zimbabwean economy has its roots in the mismanagement of monetary and fiscal policy. Government policy toward the commercial farming sector destroyed the tax base, and this was followed by monetary debasement to pay the public service. Hyperinflation was the result. The economic and policy landscape has to be completely reconstructed. It is thus essential that economic policy is driven by disinterested people so that best practice can be established. The productive need to be able to keep the fruits of their labour so that economic activity can be restored. Much damage can be reversed by stopping the harm. Besides reforms, it must also be realised that Zimbabwe has lost the ability to regenerate its economy and tax through its own internal resources. The capital base has been decimated. Foreign aid will be essential but will work only in a reconstructed and reformed environment.
  • Agriculture and food production: this sector, vital to poverty alleviation and foreign exchange earnings, needs to be stabilised as quickly as possible. The starting point will be a political agreement on land ownership. In fact, there should be a massive expansion of commercial farming. In agriculture, the emphasis should first be on the revival of key industries (tobacco, sugar) by focusing on the rehabilitation of production, processing and distribution infrastructure. The second (and no less important) task should be to get farm inputs into the hands of a wider spectrum of farmers.
  • Health, child and social welfare: bodies lie in mortuaries with nobody to pronounce people dead; hospitals are closed because they do not have water or sanitation; antiretroviral regimes are cut short when refills are not available. Medical staff cannot afford to get to work or buy food for themselves; the sick can’t afford to travel to the limited health care facilities available. Harare’s main river is so contaminated with sewage it has plants growing over its surface. Life expectancy has dropped to 36 years. Wells are contaminated with cholera; ageing water and sewerage pipes are leaking into each other, and tap water in Harare is undrinkable. Welfare payments and pensions are no longer paid. Schools are empty.
  • Infrastructure: the concern here is especially with infrastructure relating to health and living standards.
  • Mining: apparently, most of the mining groups who are still operating have strategies in place, and given the right circumstances, can quickly increase production . So the mining industry could be the first significant industry to start up again.
  • Ministry of Home Affairs (controls the police ): the ultimate goal is obviously to ensure security institutions are governed according to the principles of democratic control and accountability. In this way they maintain the confidence of civil society. This is not the case in Zimbabwe, where the police have become politicised . Restoring public confidence in the police will not be easy. But it is a task that must be undertaken.
  • State security and defence: a transforming Zimbabwe will need help recasting its role and structures as a politically neutral factor, especially given its party political role over the past 10 years.

    The timeframe and cost of this programme are necessarily speculative . But from the point of endorsing the reconstruction programme, we believe that no more than six weeks would be required to formulate the terms of reference of the commission and finalise the appointment and terms and conditions of service of its members; and we would expect the commission to complete its work in eight to 12 months. (Incidentally, at that point it would be appropriate for Zimbabwe to hold a nother general election.)

    It should be stressed that the commission’s task would be to identify problem areas and offer and implement suitable responses. Put differently, the reconstruction commission’s task would be to steer Zimbabwe back to normality; restore confidence in Zimbabwe among its people, both in and outside the country; and re-engage international business.

  • Worrall is chairman of Omega Investment Research. He has been an MP and chairman of the constitutional committee of the Presidents’ Council.
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