The ZIMBABWE Situation
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January 23, 2009
HARARE - Embattled President Robert Mugabe, buffeted by
fresh problems after
staying the tabling of Constitution Amendment No. 19
Bill in Parliament in a
standoff with the MDC, is heading for further
trouble at the SADC emergency
summit in South Africa Monday.
meeting is likely to be a critical turning point in SADC leaders' ways
tackling the Zimbabwe crisis, currently the focus of a watching world as
September 15 power-sharing deal teeters on the verge of collapse.
chairperson and South Africa President Kgalema Motlanthe said the
meeting was called for because of the "deepening problems" in the
SADC executive secretary Tomaz Salamao said Motlanthe would
table a report
on the consultations made in Harare on Monday.
leaders are said to be geared to confront Mugabe over the power-sharing
this time after their persistent failure to do so in the past.
sources said Mugabe will travel to Pretoria with a detailed
seek the SADC mandate to form a new government without MDC
Tsvangirai who he claims is reluctant to join his government.
said the dossier contains Mugabe's appeal for fresh elections in
and the alleged prejudice the people are suffering as the MDC
withholds implementation of the power-sharing deal.
The dossier also
contains a series of bound intelligence reports on alleged
terrorism acts by the MDC. The report seeks to buttress claims
that MDC was
training bandits in neighbouring Botswana to destabilise the
claim that has already been rubbished by the SADC chair.
tabling it regardless of this.
The dossier also claims that the United
States ' State Department and other
Western governments, as well as donors,
were involved in the alleged foiling
of the power-sharing deal to ensure
Mugabe was removed as head of State.
To counter what the MDC describes as
a web of deceit, Tsvangirai on Friday
launched a regional diplomatic
offensive ahead of Monday's summit to ensure
that SADC leaders are not taken
in by Harare's explanations.
At home Tsvangirai has called a report back
rally in Chitungwiza on Sunday.
Tsvangirai was expected to meet with
Motlanthe and probably with Zambia's
President Rupiah Banda. An
authoritative source in the MDC said the entire
standing committee had been
dispatched in the region to explain and mobilise
SADC leaders to persuade
Mugabe to share power and allow a transition to
diplomatic trips, where the party is expected to present its
are expected to give Mugabe a hard time in Pretoria.
position paper stratifies 10 most important ministries; he
suggests that his
party takes control of half of the "key ministries," Home
Information, Agriculture and Local Government ministries.
already been rejected by Mugabe, who says he is only prepared to
MDC the Finance ministry and share control of the Home Affairs
suggested by SADC at the last emergency summit on November 9.
position paper proposes that Mugabe, among the 10 key ministries
control of the Defence, National Security, Justice, Foreign Affairs
Tsvangirai has also asked for equitable sharing of the 10
governors. Mugabe wants to retain control of all the 10
Political detainees must also be
The MDC has categorically stated it will not back the
No. 19 Bill in Parliament, set to give legal and
constitutional force to the
new government, if these issues are not
Outgoing justice minister Patrick Chinamasa, realising that the
hit a brick-wall if tabled when Parliament resumed sitting
the tabling of the Bill in the House pending the
determination of the SADC
emergency summit Monday.
The crucial bill
was not even on Parliament's order paper or agenda on
Diplomatic sources said SADC leaders would be under pressure
to resolve the
issues before the African Union summit in Addis Ababa this
African leaders meet in the Ethiopian capital from January 26 to
for the organisation's 12th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of
State and Government.
The AU has been robust in its handling
of the Zimbabwe issue, and is
expected to handle the issue if SADC fails,
much to the excitement of the
MDC, which believes it has many key allies in
the continental bloc.
Southern African leaders have been heavily
criticised over their traditional
reluctance to criticise Mugabe, seen as
having presided over his country's
economic demise during his 29-year rule,
which began with independence in
Tsvangirai said he hopes
that if SADC leaders approach the problem with an
objective point of view,
they should be able to resolve the matter.
"I am anxious that we resolve
these issues and form the government,"
Tsvangirai told reporters after
touring a cholera treatment centre in a
Harare suburb Thursday.
sure that everyone who is looking at this dispute may conclude that the
is obstructionist. No, we're not."
"The issues that we keep on insisting
on must be resolved, have to be
resolved. We have a compelling case for the
resolution of the two remaining
There are calls from human
rights organisations such as Human Rights Watch
on the AU to suspend
Zimbabwe from the continental bloc over continuing
rights abuses such as
enforced disappearances, torture and the breakdown in
the rule of
SADC leaders will be under pressure to come out with a deal so as to
something to present as progress at the AU summit.
have refused to budge, maintaining their entrenched positions.
It is said
Mugabe is under pressure from hardliners around him, including
security service chiefs, to hang on to power. The diehards want him to
on to block Tsvangirai from taking over but at the expense of an
Tsvangirai in private meeting
Posted to the web: 23/01/2009
ZIMBABWEAN President Robert Mugabe met opposition rival Morgan
a private meeting on Thursday, just four days after the two
to agree on a power sharing government during a meeting with
leaders, New Zimbabwe.com has learnt.
summit of the regional trade bloc SADC has been called for
South Africa on
Monday during which regional leaders will make one more
attempt to push the
two leaders to implement a September 15 power sharing
agreement which has
stalled over disagreements on cabinet posts.
Sources say the two leaders
met at the behest of Tsvangirai, the leader of
one of two Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) formations. Arthur
Mutambara, who leads a smaller
faction of the MDC, was not at the meeting.
Mugabe, sources say,
initially refused to meet Tsvangirai citing their sharp
Monday's meeting in which the two remained entrenched in
leading Mutambara to say their positions are "untenable".
sources said, only became possible after Mugabe was asked by
President Kgalema Montlanthe to relent.
It was not immediately clear what
the outcome of the meeting was, although
major concessions will have to be
made by Mugabe to reconcile his
differences with Tsvangirai.
of note," a source told this website, "is the fact that in the past
they have met for private meetings, they barely last 20 minutes owing
their sharp differences. The exception was perhaps their first private
meeting soon after the signing of the power sharing agreement. On Thursday
they met for more than an hour which shows how much ground they must have
covered between themselves."
Tsvangirai said Wednesday that he was
hopeful that Monday's summit will
broker an agreement, although political
commentators say that appears
unlikely. They agree, however, that if the
summit fails to get the parties
to share power, Mugabe may seek SADC
approval to go ahead and form a
Talk, But Uncertainty, As Zimbabwe Parties Face Power-Sharing
By Blessing Zulu
The ruling ZANU-PF party of Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe
formation of the Movement for Democratic Change led by Morgan
were hardening their positions on Friday with an extraordinary
summit of the
Southern African Development Community on tap Monday, but
as to what happens if the power-sharing process
Political sources said it will be up to the SADC leaders gathering
Pretoria, South Africa, to unblock the stalemate between Mr. Mugabe and
Tsvangirai over the terms on which they might form a government of national
unity to address the country's deep crisis.
Politicians on both sides
of the divide said they did not know where the
country would go next if the
two leaders cannot overcome their differences
with SADC's help.
Zimbabwe Independent newspaper reported that Mr. Mugabe has declared
his main purpose in going to the summit is to ask Southern African
to give him a green light to form a government without the
Tsvangirai's MDC formation.
ZANU-PF chief negotiator Patrick Chinamasa
told VOA that this was mere
speculation. But he reiterated that the longtime
ruling party, which lost
control of parliament in March elections, would not
meet the demands
Tsvangirai has insisted must be met in order for his MDC
formation to join a
government - especially the equitable distribution of
The rival MDC formation of Arthur Mutambara has said it would
without Tsvangirai - but Mutambara has blasted both Tsvangirai and
Mugabe for what he characterized as their irresponsibility for failing
form a government given the country's parlous state.
million people depend on international food distributions to fend
hunger, cholera has claimed more than 2,750 lives and continues to
and hyperinflation is running at an annual percentage rate estimated
economists in the quintillions. The state health and school systems
collapsed along with public water supplies.
Spokesman Nelson Chamisa of
Tsvangirai's MDC formation told reporter
Blessing Zulu of VOA's Studio 7 for
Zimbabwe that the party remains
optimistic ahead of the summit - but warned
that the unilateral formation of
a government would have grave
ZANU-PF Chief Parliamentary Whip Joram Gumbo said his party
has adopted no
position on what it will do next if talks on the margins of
summit should fail - but he added that the talks must be
brought to a
conclusion without further delay.
Some analysts say the
definitive collapse of the power-sharing process would
mean a new round of
elections - but many in Zimbabwe dread such an outcome
given the trauma of
the last round of balloting which ushered in months of
service faces total collapse
January 23, 2009
HARARE - Zimbabwe's ailing public service system now faces total
following reports that government has refused to fully commit
paying civil servants in foreign currency.
estimated 150 000-strong civil service has demanded foreign
salaries in line with the near dollarization of the country's
It has emerged that the APEX Council, the negotiating arm of
public service failed to secure concrete pledges on Friday from
biggest employer that civil servants would start receiving
their salaries in
The APEX Council is made up of
the Zimbabwe Teachers Association (ZIMTA)
which represents teachers and
Public Service Association (PSA), which
represents the rest of the civil
There are five affiliate groups which operate under the PSA
Government Workers Association (GWA); Administrative and
Association (ADEX); Government Officers Association
(GOA); Civil Service
Employees Association (CSEA); and the Professional and
In a statement, APEX Council
national chairperson, Tendai Chikowore, said
her organization met government
representatives Friday to receive feedback
on their demands that all civil
servants be paid in hard currency with
effect from January I,
"We wish to advise our members that nothing concrete has been
offered by the
employer, except the acceptance in principle of paying civil
foreign currency," said Chikowore.
conditions that have incapacitated the workers from
delivering service as
expected continue to affect our members. The workers
have neither the
financial resources to travel to work or sustain
against the above background that workers will continue to fail to
for duty due to circumstances emanating from incapacitation."
however emerged that the Public Service Commission does not want to
itself fully to the demands before the presentation of the national
Speculation is rife that the Budget would be quoted in South
Civil servants are demanding a minimum salary of US$604
for the least paid
worker while teachers affiliated to ZIMTA a minimum
salary of US$2 200. The
amounts include transport and housing
Friday's meeting was a last ditch effort by teachers to know
structures before schools open on Tuesday next
Zimbabwe's civil service is in near paralysis following the
most of its experienced personnel for greener pastures
unrealistic salaries and poor working
Those who have chosen to remain at work are now surviving on
of petty businesses and open corruption to sustain
Chikowore refused to disclose what course of action they
would pursue if
government does not meet their demands.
Alexander, vice chairperson of APEX Council said the civil
service was no
longer operational as most workers only went to work to
conduct their own
"Most of the civil servants are not coming to work and
the employer knows
that," she said.
"Civil servants that you always
see boarding buses are just coming into town
to do their own
She said they had received reports from all over the country
majority of civil servants in Zimbabwe had since stopped going to
Railways - Strike paralyses service
January 24, 2009
strike by National Railways of Zimbabwe employees is still underway,
disruptions to passenger and freight train movement.
In an interview, a
member of one of the unions representing workers at the
workers were pressing on with their industrial action until
NRZ public relations manager Mr Fanuel Masikati also confirmed that
strike was still on, saying negotiations were in progress.
workers' representative said they were demanding a cushion allowance of
US$200 per month, payable fortnightly and a US$40 transport
"We are aware that our salaries need parliamentary approval so we
concentrating on the allowances for the time being.
"Our employer is
charging in foreign currency, so we also want the forex
because you can
hardly find anything being sold in local currency these
"To prove that most things are now sold in forex, we challenged our
management to accompany us into town so that we could shop together and see
what we could get in Zimbabwean dollars.
"We went with our acting Area
Manager, Mr Ntini and we struggled to get
anything in local currency, which
was proof that our demands were
He said since August last
year, workers had been struggling to get their
money from banks resulting in
their families going without basics.
"Of course, we appreciate that they have
got buses to transport us to and
from work, but we feel that the free
transport is meant to enslave us by
ensuring that we provide our labour for
ZSE - Govt loses out, dollarisation imminent
23 January 2009 12:11
GOVERNMENT has lost revenue estimated at US$ 300
million owing to the
Zimbabwe Stock Exchange (ZSE)'s failure to trade since
November 21 2008.
The state collects revenue from the ZSE through stamp
duty, Value Added Tax
and commissions. The three revenue heads constitute
seven percent of the
trade on the ZSE.
Government has been unable to
collect revenue from the exchange since
November 21 when the new rules meant
to rein in on unscrupulous traders and
slowdown monstrous inflation that was
being worsened by the paper wealth
created on the ZSE forced members to
Independent estimates which could not be verified
immediately suggest that
government might have, in United States dollar
terms, lost US$ 300 million
in revenue over the past nine
Various interest groups on the ZSE, particularly stockbrokers and
were this week pressing for the dollarisation of the stock market
the way for the resumption of trade.
Dollarisation refers to
the use of another country's currency as an
acceptable medium of
It emerged on Friday last week that ZSE stakeholders, including
had agreed in principle to dollarise the bourse subject to the
a wide range of issues.
Emmanuel Munyukwi, the ZSE
chief executive, confirmed this understanding in
a memorandum to
stockbrokers dated January 15 2009.
Munyukwi wrote: "Agreement has been
reached in principle to dollarise trades
at the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange.
There are issues, which need to be addressed
before dollarisation and these
include the following: Stockbrokers to lodge
United States dollar deposits
with their bankers or the central bank;
valuation of the listed companies to
ascertain floor prices; opening of
Foreign Currency Accounts and their
administration; effectiveness of the
banking sector as settlement
intermediaries; settlement procedures;
compliance with the Securities Act
& Members Rules; exchange control issues;
accounting matters; systems
upgrades for dollarisation; compilation of new
indices; review of commission
and taxes and viability of members."
At Friday's meeting, stockbrokers
haggled over which currency should be used
on the ZSE and the exchange rate
that should apply to trades and valuation
of the listed
Government has been digging its heels in over the use of the
Implied Rate (OMIR) as the basis for currency conversion. There
is now a
strong push for the use of the United Nations rate which is lower
parallel market exchange rate to placate government fears over the
the OMIR, which is viewed as a strong driver of inflation.
few stockbrokers still grappling with obligations in Zimbabwe dollars had
advocated for the dual trading of shares but their suggestion was shot down
by the majority of ZSE members who felt it would complicate matters on the
Stockbrokers told The Financial Gazette this week that the
dollarisation of the ZSE hinged on realigning exchange control,
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) central to the
Cognizant of the fact that the country had little stock of
in circulation to sustain trades on the ZSE, stockbrokers
would want the RBZ
to relax exchange control in order to attract foreign
investors on the local
While volumes were quite high in
Zimbabwe dollar terms before the suspension
of trade on the ZSE last
November, stockbrokers fear that the numbers could
come down crashing once
the exchange is dollarised, causing serious
viability problems to
Analysts have however, warned that caution needed to be
tinkering with exchange control to avoid a situation where
are pushed out of the ZSE by deep pocketed foreign
Treatment Centers Around Zimbabwe Short On Supplies, Staff
The cholera epidemic wracking Zimbabwe has not been
brought under control,
said the United Nations Office for the Coordination
of Humanitarian Affairs
in a situation report issued Friday.
World Health Organization, meanwhile, said the total number of deaths
cholera was 2,773 as of Thursday while the number of cases since August
The report from the U.N. Humanitarian Affairs Office
noted that the fatality
rate continued to rise to 5.7% compared with the
international norm of about
OCHA said many of the cholera
treatment centers that have been established
around the country lack food,
medicines and equipment, and are short on
staff. International agencies are
finding it hard to deliver relief because
of logistical obstacles - among
others fuel is in critically short supply in
Zimbabwe and communications are
The report said "concerns are mounting" over the risk of
flooding due to
heavier than usual rains and forecasts of more to come, as
worsen the epidemic.
For a closer look at the
situation on the ground one area hit by cholera,
Mhlanga-Nyahuye of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe spoke
with a recovering
cholera patient in Kadoma, Mashonaland West, who voiced
concern about the
hygienic conditions at a cholera treatment center in
Rimuka which was packed
and its staff overwhelmed.
Bau Nkala said he witnessed patients vomiting
and lying in their own waste
because there were not enough clinic staff to
help them, and witnessed
people die around him.
Nkala recovered from
his bout with the water-borne disease but said he is
worried about his
mother who has also contracted cholera, for which he
blames the lack of safe
drinking water in Kadoma exacerbated by leaks from
the deteriorating sewage
Banks raise red flag
Friday, 23 January 2009 11:16 Richard
BANKS this month raised the red flag, pleading with the
authorities to dollarise the sector in line with the rest of the
avoid the systemic collapse of the industry, The Financial
Executives in the banking sector said the
financial intermediaries, through
the Bankers Association of Zimbabwe (BAZ),
had taken their case to the
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ), highlighting the
deteriorating state in the
They said the financial
sector, which was one of the few remaining bright
spots in Zimbabwe's
economy, had suffered a heavy knock as a result of the
challenges gripping the country's economy.
Bank executives fear the going
concern status for a number of banks might
come under serious threat if
nothing is done to rescue the sector.
"The only way out of this situation is
to dollarise the sector," said one
BAZ executive. "We have highlighted our
concerns to the RBZ and I am sure
something is being done about it," he
BAZ president, John Mangudya, was not available for comment at the
going to print.
Bank workers have virtually been on go slow,
demanding to be paid in foreign
currency to enable them cope with the rigors
of Zimbabwe life where every
product and service is now being sold in
The owners of the buildings housing most of the banks are
rentals in foreign currency in contravention of Zimbabwe's
These pressures come at a time when banks are struggling to source the
foreign currency needed to pay fees for their IT software. Industry players
are also under pressure to comply with the central bank's new capital
requirements that now require industry players to maintain their capital
levels in hard currency.
For example, the minimum capital levels for
commercial banks is pegged at
US$12,5 million; US$10 million for merchant
banks and building societies and
US$7,5 million for discount houses.
insiders said banks were caught between a rock and a hard place. While
costs are now in United States dollars their revenues remain in the
Zimbabwean unit, which has been rendered worthless by
Banks earn much of their income from charging reasonable
interest on loans.
However, there is hardly any lending taking place now due
to a combination
of factors chief among them being the fact that potential
clients now find
it an exercise in futility to borrow Zimbabwe dollars when
capital or capital needs are now in United States
The sector has also been hemorrhaging due to the contagion from the
of industry and commerce. The economic recession has also seen
struggling to eke a living out of advisory services, which was another
important source of income for banks.
To survive, most banks have been
cutting costs, closing certain branches and
introducing a rotational system
to cut labour costs.
"We have now reached a situation where we cannot
continue to cut costs,"
said another BAZ source.
Desperate Children Flee Zimbabwe, for
Lives Just as Bleak
Joao Silva for The New York Times
Williad Fire, 16, crossed illegally into South Africa from
Zimbabwe with eight friends after the deaths of his parents and an uncle.
Near midnight, these Zimbabwean children can be found sleeping outside almost
anywhere in this border city. A 12-year-old girl named No Matter Hungwe, hunched
beneath the reassuring exterior light of the post office, said it was hunger
that had pushed her across the border alone.
Her father is dead, and she wanted to help her mother and younger brothers by
earning what she could here in South Africa — within certain limits, anyway.
“Some men — men with cars — want to sleep with me,” she said, considering the
upside against the down. “They have offered me 100 rand,” about $10.
With their nation in a prolonged sequence of crises, more unaccompanied
children and women than ever are joining the rush of desperate Zimbabweans
illegally crossing the frontier at the Limpopo River, according to the police,
local officials and aid workers.
What they are escaping is a broken country where half the people are going
hungry, most schools and hospitals are closed or dysfunctional and a cholera
epidemic has taken a toll in the thousands. Yet they are arriving in a place
where they are unwelcome and are resented as rivals for jobs. Last year,
Zimbabweans were part of the quarry in a spate of mob attacks against
For those in the know, crossing the border can be a simple chore, a bribe
paid on one side and a second bribe on the other. But for the uninitiated and
the destitute, the journey is as uncertain as the undercurrents of the Limpopo
and the appetites of the crocodiles.
Where is it best to enter the river? Where are the holes in the barbed fences
beyond? Where do the soldiers patrol? Perhaps the greatest risk is the gumagumas
— the swindlers, thieves and rapists who stalk the vulnerable as they wander in
Williad Fire, 16, who arrived here on Jan. 4, is one of nine boys who came
from Murimuka, a town in a mining region of central Zimbabwe.
His story is a fairly typical one of serial catastrophe. He was living with an
uncle after his parents died, but then the uncle died, too, stricken in November
with an illness that Williad described with a mystified shrug: “He was vomiting
The boy was hungry, and scrounging in South Africa seemed to hold more
promise than scrounging at home. To get train fare south, he sold his most
valuable possession, a secondhand pair of Puma sneakers two sizes too big. He
and eight friends then did odd jobs in Beitbridge, on the Zimbabwean side of the
border, until they had saved about $35.
From there, Williad’s story takes another dismal turn. When the boys neared
the river, they were confronted by the gumagumas, who pretended to be helpful,
then pounced. “They hit me in the forehead with a rock,” Williad said. “I was
carrying everyone’s money, so I was the one to beat.”
But they continued across the river, and here in Musina, the boys from
Murimuka slept in the streets for a while, as many other youngsters do. Then
they staked claim to a patch of sandy soil under the punishing sun at the
Showgrounds, an open athletic field that is the designated repository for
refugees. The population hovers around 2,000. Each day new people arrive, and
each day familiar faces depart.
The South African government issues temporary asylum papers to about 250 of
these refugees a day, entitling them to six months without worry of deportation.
Unaccompanied minors are ineligible for this status, though, leaving them in an
odd limbo, with no specified place in the bureaucratic shuffle.
Williad and his friends share a single blanket. They cook spaghetti over a
fire fed with twigs and cardboard. Cans and buckets fetched from the trash are
used as pots. Plastic bottles sliced open along one side serve as bowls.
Honest Mapiriyawo, a 13-year-old orphan, is the boys’ best beggar. Children
compete at the supermarkets to carry groceries for shoppers in exchange for
tips. Honest is tiny and winsome. People are drawn to his proper diction. “May I
assist you?” is the phrasing he prefers.
Another of the Murimuka boys is Diallo Butau, 15. He said his father is dead
and his mother had tuberculosis. He bears the guilt of abandoning her. “If I
could get some medicine, some pills, I would go back and cure her,” he said.
Georgina Matsaung runs a shelter for children at the Uniting Reformed Church.
“You’ll sometimes find boys sleeping in ditches and under bridges, but you won’t
find the girls,” she said with a regretful shake of her head. “The girls get
quickly taken by men who turn them into women.”
The Musina area has a population of about 57,000, with an additional 15,000
foreigners, overwhelmingly Zimbabweans, at any given time, according to Abram
Luruli, the municipal manager. “Many children are scattered in the street,” he
admitted, though it is plain enough for anyone to see. At night, they can be
found sleeping beneath sheets of plastic along the roadside, a few of them with
their minds meandering from ethers inhaled from a bottle of glue.
While the stories of the refugee children are troubling — with penury in
Zimbabwe being exchanged for penury here — many of the more horrifying stories
in the city involve the rapes of helpless women.
Leticia Shindi, a 39-year-old widow from the village of Madamombe, said she
left Zimbabwe on Jan. 4, hoping to get piecework so she could send money back to
her two daughters. She had never waded across a river before, and as she eyed
the muddy flow, she seized up with fear.
Two young men were preparing to lead others across, and she gratefully joined
them. The guides used poles to judge the hidden depths while the rest cautiously
held hands as they moved through the shoulder-deep water.
Once across, the two men robbed them all. Because Ms. Shindi had insufficient
money, payment was exacted otherwise. “Take off your underpants,” she recalled
one gumaguma saying. “Today I am going to be your husband.”
Chengetai Mapfuri, 29, left the outskirts of Harare, Zimbabwe’s capital, just
after Christmas, carrying her 20-month-old son, Willington. Two knife-wielding
gumagumas who raped her took turns, she said, one holding the toddler while the
other held her.
Aldah Mawuka, 17, is also from the Harare suburbs. She said the first
gumagumas she encountered on Jan. 7 only robbed her; it was the second ones who
demanded she pull down her jeans. The rapist was very direct and impatient, she
recalled: “If you don’t do it, I’ll kill you.”
South Africa’s national police force is exasperated by the crimes. Capt.
Sydney Ringane, seated in his office in Musina, said the surrounding wooded
terrain made it too hard to catch the gumagumas. Anyway, most victims do not
file complaints. After all, they are here illegally, unless remaining in the
Showgrounds. “Last week, I had 1,500 ready for deportation,” he said.
The captain stood up, walking over to a computer screen. “We keep photos of
the refugees killed near the border.”
He punched the keyboard and clicked with the mouse. “This woman was raped
before she was killed,” he said. “She wasn’t wearing underpants. She was
identified for us by some street kids.”
Mention of the children seemed to feed his exasperation. “Street kids, more
all the time,” he said. “They come in as if they are playing in a game.”
He asked, “What do we do about these kids?”
The great betrayal of the masses
23 January 2009 11:21
MONDAY, January 19 2009,
was indeed a sad and tragic day for Zimbabwe. The
vast majority of
despairing, suffering Zimbabweans had looked to this day
for salvation, but
it was not to be.
The much ballyhooed power-sharing deal between ZANU-PF
and the two Movement
for Democratic Change (MDC) formations, that has
virtually been in intensive
care since it was signed on September 15,
finally suffered a stillbirth and
now awaits burial so it seems. Its final
interment will probably be at the
proposed SADC emergency summit next week
where the regional leaders will get
an opportunity to say their eulogies and
deliver their condolences to
grieving Zimbabweans. Barring any miracles,
this is what is likely to
In the meantime, a palpable feeling
of profound disappointment has engulfed
foreboding apprehension and anxiety, even anger and a feeling of
cheated and betrayed by a small band of people, who because they are
themselves directly affected by the worsening economic crisis in the
country, see no urgency is its resolution.
Indeed, there is
disillusionment in the system and distrust for politicians
and their general
disposition towards the aspirations of those they purport
It is also extremely sad and something to be ashamed of that
independent from colonial rule for nearly 30 years, is now
relatively newer states like South Africa for guidance to
political squabbles. It is sad that President Robert Mugabe, who
next month, should really be the elder statesman setting examples
younger generation of leaders, is quite happy to endure the
adjudication by younger peers.
It also stands to
reason to assume that the patience of SADC and our
neighbour, South Africa,
has been stretched to breaking point by all the
dithering and prevaricating
of the Zimbabwean contenders to power. Is this
the depth to which we have
sunk as a nation?
That we cannot strive for something much higher than
our own personal and
State propaganda has
sought to blame MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai for the
collapse of the
power-sharing deal. Those of this school of thought are
Tsvangirai's demands for equitable sharing of cabinet
positions arguing that
whatever concerns he has could be addressed once he
is part of the
government. Many of these seem to be of the opinion that
Tsvangirai ought to
show "gratitude" for President Mugabe's "gracious
magnanimity" in agreeing
to a unity government with the MDC. Really?
All this is, of course
presented within the context of the ZANU-PF
propaganda that seeks to portray
Tsvangirai as an enemy of the state, a
puppet of the West who should be
regarded with suspicion and whose
association with Western "imperialists" is
responsible for the sanctions
causing the suffering of
Viewed from that perspective, it seems unlikely that a
arrangement between such diametrically oppo-sed and mutually
groups was ever going to work. With the benefit of hindsight,
patently naive of the MDC in both its formations, to believe that
Mugabe was genuinely interested in endorsing an arrangement that
his absolute stranglehold on state power diluted by the MDC. It
be clear to all and sundry that President Mugabe, like the
cunning old fox
that he is, only agreed to the power-sharing arrangement to
after his widely disputed June 27 re-election
position paper presented to the SADC trio of South African President
Motlanthe, Mozambican leader Armando Guebuza and official SADC
former South African President Thabo Mbeki, in Harare early this
help break the impasse, Tsvangirai chronicled a series of violations
letter and spirit of the Memorandum of Under-standing (MOU) which
basis of the power-sharing agreement. Among the issues he raised
unilateral appointment of provincial governors, permanent
ambassadors, Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor and the Attorney
The MDC leader also complained about the continued arrests,
detention of his followers at a time when there should be
on both sides of the divide. He, with some justification,
demanded that all
persons who were not properly arrested by the police and
acting Minister of
State Security in court be released
According to the MDC, to date, a total of 27 people have
been abducted by
the state security agents, 16 of whom have appeared in
court and have since
been remanded in custody. It is a moot point that the
continued remand and
detention of these individuals whose initial arrests
were unlawful is in
breach of their constitutional rights and the rule of
The MDC is also aggrieved that despite the fact that the political
stipulates that steps must be taken to ensure that the so-called
media provides balanced and fair coverage to all political parties
legitimate political activities, exactly the opposite is
the agreement further provides that both the public and
private media must
refrain from using abusive language that may incite
these provisions continue to be breached by the sole
and the sole daily newspaper, both of which are
controlled by ZANU-PF.
The state media has continued to provide partisan
coverage of political
events that is full of hate, malice and untruths and
completely biased in
favour of ZANU-PF. They carry many articles attacking
and abusing the MDC.
They give almost no coverage to statements and comments
made by the MDC.
Everything they publish and put on air is one-sided. In the
something is said about the MDC, it is invariable to put it in a
and bad light.
It is difficult to understand how, in the
face of the intense hostility
shown towards MDC-T at every turn, and the
egregious violations of the
letter and spirit of the power-sharing
agreement, the MDC hoped to enter
into a functional working relationship
under these inimical conditions. The
unpalatable reality that, as
Zimbabweans we must contend with, is that a
power-sharing pact between
ZANU-PF and the MDC was never going to work when
the ruling party
demonstrated un-ambiguously time and time again that it was
interested in sharing power with the MDC but nonetheless
opposition's signature to gain legitimacy and recognition after
the June 27
So, while ZANU-PF leadership will be beating their chests
celebrating having hoodwinked the MDC as they did PF-ZAPU before
endorsing President Mugabe's controversial presidency against their
judgement, it is worth noting that the sum total of this latest
is "power" for its own sake that has no effect on the parlous
Zimbabwe as a nation.
If anything, the economic situation
will deteriorate further, and more
people will die for lack of food and
medicines. The Zimbabwe dollar will
lose what little value it has left, and
the exodus into neighbouring
countries and further afield will
The question can indeed be asked: What is it that President
ZANU-PF find so difficult with the MDC position of sorting out,
passing in parliament the Constitutional Amendment Number 19
before the formation of an inclusive government?
and indeed to most Zimbabweans this is undeniably the reasonable and
thing to do. After all, such a step would give legal effect to
I smell a rat here. By their keenness in wanting to swear
in the prime
minister and deputy prime ministers before the legal processes
completed, President Mugabe clearly wants Tsvangirai to be subordinated
him. In a situation where power is equally shared, I would have thought
the prime minister is sworn-in not by the President but by the Chief
It is disingenuous on the part of President Mugabe to say he
obligation to consult Tsvangirai on the recent appointments as the
15 agreement and the proposed Constitutional Amendment Number 19
made room for the Head of State to work with the prime minister.
that Tsvangirai is not yet prime minister is neither here nor
there. In any
event, why not wait for the bill to become law before making
For me, this is the big question. ZANU chiwororo
One needs to be ahead of this party all the time. Otherwise you
In reality therefore, President Mugabe is marking yet another
victory" and incredibly seems oblivious to imperatives that forced
the negotiating table with the opposition in the first place. Rather
face up to the truth of its total governance failure and allow the
of fresh ideas and fresh approaches as provided for under the terms
power-sharing agreement, ZANU-PF has chosen the perilous scorched
route where it is either everything or nothing. Any negotiating
premised on the notion that might is right is doomed to fail
one side chooses to be uncooperative, intransigent or simply
for purely selfish reasons.
President Mugabe has shown
that he is prepared to let Zimbabwe "die",
because as far as he is
concerned, his word constitutes the law of the land.
He is prepared to stake
his reputation among other leaders and in the
African Union, SADC and
internationally, by feeding them the tired Western
conspiracy in the belief that this justifies his obstinate
President Mugabe appears convinced his sympathisers
among his African peers
are more likely to buy into his anti-Western
rhetoric than concern
themselves with Zimbabwe's internal
But perhaps, the most unfortunate aspect of all this for
Zimbabweans is the
real danger of exhausting the patience and tolerance of
our erstwhile allies
and people of goodwill in the international community.
With new conflicts
such as the war in Gaza, Afghanistan, Iraq, the
Democratic Republic of
Congo, Somalia, etc, Zimbabwe will soon disappear off
the radar of global
concern, leaving us on our own.
every reason to be concerned by the prospect of this
happening. With its
record of retributive attacks on opponents, it would not
be surprising to
see a fresh wave of state repression. I hope to God that
this will not be
But one thing for sure in this troubled country of ours,
whether we like it
or not, Tsvangirai holds the key to the resolution of the
There is no other way out for ZANU-PF. And if no solution
is found pretty
soon, things will come to a head in the not too distant
future. How and
exactly when is anybody's guess. Nobody can fight
Fighting Cholera on a Shoestring
Davison Makanga interviews FARID ABDULKADIR,
Zimbabwe head of operations,
International Federation of Red Cross and Red
HARARE, Jan 23 (IPS) - Nearly 50,000 cases of cholera have been
Zimbabwe by the World Health Organisation; the death toll stood
at 2,755 on
Jan. 21. International and regional humanitarian organisations
with Zimbabwean health care workers and volunteers to slow the
spread of the
epidemic, but human and financial resources are stretched to
Farid Abdulkadir, head of operations in Zimbabwe
for the International
Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent societies
told IPS that his
organisation's 9.2 million dollar Cholera Emergency
Appeal, launched at the
end of December 2008 has raised only 40 percent of
IPS: What are the latest casualty figures?
Abdulkadir: At the moment we are talking of over 2,700 people who have
of cholera in various parts of the country. There are also over 50,000
people affected by cholera. The pandemic is on the rise and the rains that
are being experienced in the country have also made the situation
IPS: What is the Red Cross doing to contain the
FA: So far we have mounted cholera operations composed of three
activities. The first one is hygiene promotion targeting people in
and markets on how to prevent and avoid being contact with cholera.
explaining] how to identify the signs of cholera and what to do when
We have also mounted an operation in terms of
supplying clean water through
purification. We have produced two million
litres of water in various parts
of the country through the emergency unit
which is purifying water with
chlorine and giving it to the
The final component is supporting the Ministry of Health with
drugs and increasing their bed capacity to be able to cope with
increased numbers of patients in hospitals.
IPS: What is expected
next as the epidemic develops: is it increasing
rapidly or is it being
brought under control?
FA: The truth is that cholera cases are on the
increase because of a health
system that has been overstretched, a water
system that has not been
functioning appropriately and the rains that are
As you know, Zimbabwe is facing a lot of economic problems and an
rate that has several zeros. You are talking of several factors
promoting cholera, which is a preventable and curable disease that
killing people more than it should.
IPS: Now, you mentioned you
are working with the Ministry of Health, tell us
more about your working
relationship with the government of Zimbabwe.
FA: I can tell you the
Ministry of Health staff is working round the clock
circumstances to deal with the cholera situation.
There are weaknesses in
the system due to the economic problems, but we are
working with them. We
gave them allowances to keep them moving and going.
They feel energised;
they feel that people are not leaving them alone in
this fight. There is
massive upscale of operations through both colleagues
that have come to
reinforce the system and the existing staff that are
working within the
Ministry of Health.
IPS: And what about support from other players in the
community. Are you receiving enough funding?
The truth is our funding level is very low. We have money to last us for
another month but the problem is that the resources that are coming in are
very minimal which will definitely slow down the operation.
to maintain the three components of the operation at the same time.
one that looks at prevention, ensuring that the disease is cured at
source and of course providing health services to the community because
need and require it. Our biggest problem has been the funding level
are currently experiencing, and we urge all communities and people
to help Zimbabwe fight cholera.
IPS: Can you explain what kind of support
FA: The support required is in terms of drugs, water
and hygiene promotion material. And in terms of
upkeep for the ministries of
Health and Water Resources to maintain the
tempo and energy in the fight
Friday, 23 January 2009 11:54
BULAWAYO - Francis
Tambanowako is a pensioner, Elphina a legal secretary and
Arnold Munaki a
businessman. But they all have one thing in common - they
have survived into
2009 but no one can explain how they are making ends meet
except to say it
is by the "grace of God".
With inflation at over 231 million percent as of
July last year and the
Zimbabwe dollar continuing to fall against the United
States dollar and the
South African rand, now the major currencies
Zimbabweans trade in, life has
become so tough that most people cannot
explain how they are surviving
especially since they are still earning
Tambanowako (67) says he last collected his pension in
January last year.
The cheque was for $750 000. He never cashed the cheque
and keeps it in his
"I have never gone back to NSSA (National
Social Security Authority) to
collect my monthly cheques because it had
become more expensive to go and
collect the cheque because I could not buy
anything with that cheque.
"I keep it in my Bible as a reminder because every
time I open my Bible I
see the cheque," he said.
Tambanowako says he is
surviving on the money that he is given by his two
children who are working
in the country and one who is abroad.
A marketing person by profession,
things had become so tough that he sought
work as a freelance sales
representative last year, but business was so low
that he gave up when he
ended up spending more money on fuel than he was
"I am fortunate
because I own my house so I do not have to pay rent. But
things are so tough
that sometimes I cannot even afford to buy a box of
matches let alone the
candle when lights go out," he said.
Elphina, a single mother, says she
cannot explain how she survives though
she has a full-time job.
say because I might upset or expose a lot of people. All I can say
is that I
survive by the grace of God."
She says she cannot afford a maid so she has to
leave her eight-year-old son
at home alone. She prepares enough food for him
for the day and goes to
"My company gives me a transport
allo-wance. It is adequate. At times I
think that all they are interested in
is getting me to come to work because
they still pay me in Zimbabwe dollars.
Today is my pay day and I have been
given $12 trillion. It is only worth R20
at today's rate. What do I buy with
The Consumer Council of
Zimbabwe says a family of six needs US$288 a month
just for basics. In South
Africa a family of the same size requires just
US$79 for the same
commodities. The basket was measured last year and has
The same applies to annual inflation. The latest figure available,
million percent, is that for July last year yet the rate of inflation
just be a month behind.
Elphina says she spends most of her time
thinking about how to get food for
"As a woman I need things
like perfume. I have to do my hair. But every time
I think about this, my
stomach complains, 'how about me', so I end up buying
whatever food I can
"As a mother, I need to bring something home for my son, a banana or
something. But now even my son understands.
"When I ask him before I
leave: 'What can I bring you?' He now says:
'Anything'. Schools are opening
next week, but I do not have the fees."
Schools were supposed to open on
January 13 but this was postponed to
January 27 ostensibly because Grade
Seven results were not yet out.
The real reason seems to be that teachers
were not willing to go back to
work. They want to be paid in foreign
currency and are demanding more than
US$2 000 a month. There is widespread
speculation that schools might not
open next week.
Elphina said she had
been hopeful that the power-sharing talks that began in
Harare on Monday
might come up with a solution but her hopes seem to have
was hoping that something would come out of the talks but it looks like
are getting nowhere.
"So I wonder whether I should blame my employer for my
or someone else."
Paul Chimhosva, writing in a South
African newspaper, said while there were
major points of disagreement
between ZANU-PF and the Movement for Democratic
Change, Zimbabwe's political
leaders were having it too nice to care about
the suffering of the
"There is a theory that says: President (Mugabe) is scared of jail
of income hence his reluctance to relinquish power, and, on the
the opposition politicians are used to donor income in hard
their reluctance to join the government to protect their
"One hopes for the sake of Zimbabwe this is not true," he
For Arnold Munaki it is a different ball game. He has three shops in
Bulawayo as well as two buses.
The shops were doing quite well up to 2007
when the government launched its
price blitz that left shops
"After the blitz, wholesalers had nothing to sell so we could not
our stocks. That business died down.
"I got some salvation from
the bus side because NOCZIM (Nat-ional Oil
Company of Zimbabwe) started
supplying us with diesel so that we could carry
diverted his buses from the rural areas to ply urban routes.
until September last year when NOCZIM suddenly stopped
supplying them with
"We started sourcing our own diesel, but we had to buy it in foreign
"Police would not allow us to charge economic rates or in
"This is ridiculous because our passengers now buy
everything in foreign
"They do not even have Zimbabwe dollars
yet police insist we must charge in
Zim dollars," Munaki said.
business was also down because most people were spending more money
rather than transport.
Some long distance buses from Harare, for example,
were having to park for
two or three days to make sure they had enough
passengers to go back to
"We are now totally grounded," Munaki
But some people, especially those with access to foreign currency, are
making a killing.
When robbers pou-nced on a shop in Magwegwe they walked
away with R108 000,
P16 000 and US$9.
A lot of people have left their
jobs to trade in one commodity or another.
politicians lose the bigger picture
Posted By Joram Nyathi on 23 Jan,
at 3:34 pm
THERE is one thing about America which President Barak Obama
can do nothing
to change: the White House establishment. He will have to fit
Most despicable about the System for us is
the agenda it has already set for
Obama - that America will not recognise a
political settlement in Zimbabwe
in which Robert Mugabe remains President.
This is not helped by locals who
repeat the fib about a decisive victory in
the March 29 elections, as if
ignorant of the legal position. Thus whatever
Obama's personal inclinations,
he will to a large extent depend on the
information the System feeds him to
judge the nature of the war in Zimbabwe.
The same System which led America
into Afghanistan and
Yet at another plane, systems do help resolve complex
problems. In Zimbabwe
negotiations for a political settlement have stalled
since September 15
because politicians refuse to see the bigger picture -
The Global Political Agreement signed on that day
envisaged the two MDC
formations and Zanu PF working together as or in a
system in a brief
transitional period. There would be room for adjustments
in response to
feedback while a holistic constitutional framework was being
Success or failure would depend on Zimbabweans taking full
From the looks of things,
there are people who pretend our problems can be
resolved by reducing
government from a system into tiny components to be
allocated to rival
political entities before it can function. So the nation
has been held to
ransom over frivolous arguments about which political party
ministries, ambassadors and provincial governors!
the sum total of its components which should be neither Zanu
PF nor MDC.
There is no point in trying to fashion the finest model
agreement on paper
which will never have practical application in the human
world. It is one
thing to reject outright an agreement which is flawed in
substance and call
for fresh polls; it is dishonesty on the other hand for
filibuster to frustrate SADC and kill a deal to which they
lip-service to escape the charge of spoiler.
I was impressed by
Obama's inauguration. No foreign dignitaries invited.
Symbolically, this was
a purely American thing. Even Obama's address was
crafted to appeal chiefly
to American pride. He deftly used historical
references to reinforce this,
from the war and victory against Britain to
the Civil War and the end of
One could also not miss the powerful symbolism in Obama's choice
hero in Abraham Lincoln, the man who risked the Civil War in the
end slavery in the South. America was able to resolve this
contradiction and catapult a descendant of the slave race to the
America did not just win
political freedom from Britain. It also gained
economic independence some
220 years ago. Zimbabwe is in the second phase of
that war. There is no need
to apologise to anyone for seeking economic
emancipation by gaining total
control of our God-given natural resources.
This is a war which should make
historical sense to Obama if he understands
the resistance to the end of
slavery, and the roots of and opposition to the
civil rights movement in
In Zimbabwe, incidental deaths and infractions of the
law are being
overblown to overshadow and subvert the fundamental need for
implications of a successful land reform - Zimbabwe's economic
This, in an inverted microcosmic way in which the MDC can
conceive of an
inclusive government only in a fragmented form and not as a
system, is the
meaning of its rejection of "responsibility without
authority" while Zanu PF
tries to assert "total empowerment" from more
But the MDC's "responsibility" rests on a shaky
premise - political leverage
based on promises of financial aid from the
West to "jump-start" economic
recovery without a firm local foundation to
attain the same long-term goal.
We want our economy and politics to be like
America's by fiat - without the
pain and learning which America went
through! Obama himself warns in his
speech about the pitfalls of
"shortcuts", in business as in politics.
I also liked Obama's
positive affirmation of the spirit and values which won
America its freedom,
its fight for economic independence, scientific mastery
dominance. I envy the way African Americans have overcome
complex which locally still manifests itself in extreme
Just before Christmas, I attended a leadership course
in Tanzania sponsored
by the British Council. It included conflict
resolution and the concept of
ubuntu. Looking at the sparring between Zanu
PF and the MDC, it is evident
that you cannot conduct negotiations through
public recriminations nor can
you reach agreement by accentuating areas of
discord. This reduces serious
debate to showmanship.
is a fundamental concept of self-respect in Ndebele where we say
ngumuntu ngabantu". I am because you are because we are. Mutual
respect is a
key ingredient in negotiations. It calls for mutual and good
all, you need to be honest with each other. Our politicians
have let us down
big time and the nation is paying a heavy price.
Migrants face humanitarian crisis on South Africa's border with
Source: United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF)
Date: 22 Jan
By Shantha Bloemen
MUSINA, South Africa, 22 January 2009
- A humanitarian crisis is unfolding
in the South African border town of
Musina. Historically the transit point
for migrants seeking work in the
country's larger cities, it has now become
the entry point for many
desperate Zimbabweans fleeing the economic and
social collapse in their
UNICEF Executive Director Ann Veneman recently visited the area,
town's 'showgrounds', the first stop for many who cross the
asylum. With 300 permits granted a day, the facility has
become a makeshift
camp for thousands of waiting migrants.
visit we have been looking at the issue of people coming in from
waiting for their papers," Ms. Veneman said after being briefed by
authorities and speaking with asylum seekers. "We've had a chance
to talk to
many of the mothers who have children here about why they're
and it's looking for a better life."
With support from UNICEF, Save the
Children has set up a safe space in
Musina for mothers with young children.
It provides them with food, toys and
a place to wait while their papers are
processed by the Ministry of Home
Dangers for women and
Betty and her sister, both with young infants, saw no other
option than to
cross the border. They risked wading through the Limpopo
climbing under the electric fence that demarcates the
"In Zimbabwe, there is hunger. We can't support ourselves, and
that is why
we brought our babies here. There is no food, money is a
problem, work is a
problem, we can't find jobs," explained Betty, clutching
daughter, Brandy. Betty plans to travel to Pretoria, South
city, and stay with a friend until she can find
More and more unaccompanied children are also crossing the border.
been beaten, mugged or abused by the violent gangs that prey on
informally cross over. Many of the children are orphaned, hungry
extremely vulnerable. Most of them survive on small amounts of money
through piecemeal jobs, begging and stealing.
Zimbabwean children are unable to get asylum permits because
they are coming
in on their own," explained the Director of Programmes at
Save the Children
UK, Lynette Mudekunye. "Our estimate is that there are
children in this small little town and many more in the
Lack of basic services
As the northernmost town in South
Africa, Ms. Mudekunye explained, Musina
"is far away from big urban centres,
and it was in a homeland area during
apartheid, so services were generally
She continued: "When we started working in the district,
there was one
social worker for the whole municipality. Although that has
grown to five,
it is still very inadequate even for the South African
children in the
community. There are villages where children are walking 30
km to get to
Ms. Mudekunye added that Musina,
which is on a trucking route, is also in an
area that has been hit by HIV
No end of flight in sight
To cope with the numbers of
migrants, church groups and NGOs have set up
drop-in centres and shelters
During her visit, Ms. Veneman visited a shelter, housed in a
trailer on the outskirts of town, where 20 boys live together
and get three
meals a day. She heard from many of the boys that they were
continue learning and wanted to go back to school.
humanitarian conditions in Zimbabwe appear set to worsen, there is a
consensus that more and more people will seek refuge in South Africa. So it
will be critical to carry on and strengthen the work of protecting children,
and to ensure that opportunities for them to continue their education are in
UNICEF South Africa has appealed for $1.4 million to scale up
its response -
especially in the areas of water, sanitation, hygiene,
education and child
protection - for women and children in the border