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

New Mayor Promises New Era For Harare

Zim Standard

Local
Saturday, 05 July 2008 18:11
FOLLOWING the recent appointment of lawyer, sportsperson and business
leader Muchadeyi Masunda (MM) as mayor of Harare Standard reporter Bertha
Shoko (BS) last week interviewed him on his new role and plans in office.

BS: Do you have any idea how your name came up as the councillors were
discussing who should be mayor of Harare and were you consulted?

MM: I have no idea but it's obvious it must have come from the
councillors belonging to the party that won the 45 wards. Out of 46
councillors 45 are from the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and there
is only one Zanu PF councillor from Harare South.

I was approached on Tuesday(1 July), less than two hours before the
swearing in ceremony started and told that my name had come up for
consideration for this position and asked if I would like to consider it. I
said why not because it's a civic duty that has to be taken up.

BS: Why did you not think twice about taking this huge responsibility?

MM: We keep whingeing about things and there are not many people who
are ready to roll up their sleeves and get their hands dirty to sort out a
problem. I have never been that sort of person to shy away from
responsibilities. I am under no illusion about the monumental task that is
at hand but it has to be done and I think it's important for some of us, who
have the good fortune of benefiting from this country's educational system
and other things, to help those that for whatever reason may not have the
capacity to do certain things. So we have the obligation to help so that
they become aware of what good governance is all about.

BS: Are you well-placed for this position as Mayor?

MM: As fate would have it, I am well-placed to galvanise and mobilise
the business houses because of the long association I have had with many of
them either as their lawyer over the years or as director and more recently
as chairman of many of these companies. So I am well-placed and fortunately
I have a track record that speaks for itself of things that I have done in
the past that are primarily aimed at serving the people of Zimbabwe. I am
not driven by mercenary considerations. You know I was involved in the
inaugural sports commission which was established in 1991. I was
vice-chairperson of what is now the Competition and Tariffs Commissions that
was established in 1996. I set up the Commercial Arbitration Centre which is
not just the best in Africa but possibly in the world, and there are many
other examples that I can give. The things that drive me are service to the
people. I hate to see things that don't work. One must not aspire for public
office to make a career, which is sadly the case in Zimbabwe and much of the
developing world.

BS: What do you think are the main problems facing Harare as a city
and how do you propose to sort them out. What is your strategy?

MM: I think everyone who lives in Harare knows what the problems are.
The basic problem is simply that the infrastructure of the city like other
cities in the whole of Zimbabwe was meant to serve a given population. What
has not happened, even before Independence, was for the infrastructure to be
expanded to cope with the growing population. Within Greater Harare there
must be at least 4,5 million people and how many water reservoirs have we
got? We still have the likes of Darwendale, Lake Manyame, Chivero and Harava
Dam.

Are these reservoirs enough to cater for the needs of the population
that is now close to five million? The answer is no! There are also plans
that have been on the drawing board to build this Kunzvi dam and nothing has
happened so that's just the first example I can give. Then, of course, the
water reticulation system, the sewerage and all those things. The reason why
we have these problems is that the infrastructure is bursting because it can't
cope with the sheer numbers. So those are some of the harder issues that
need urgent attention.

BS: Any other issues that are problematic?

MM: There are softer issues that need immediate attention and these
have to do with keeping our city clean. This doesn't require much effort. As
a lawyer, I can tell you that it's through the grace of God that the City of
Harare has not been lumbered with huge claims for damages because the
pavements are lifting and for you ladies your stiletto heels can be stuck
and you can twist your ankle. You know there was a plethora of case laws in
South Africa in the early days in the 1900s where female plaintiffs used to
sue the local authorities big time because of damages sustained in twisted
ankles and broken legs and what have you. So now you look at some of the
things that need attention and they don't require much effort.

BS: Where do you think funding for these will come from?

MM: We can't go to the government to ask for money and you can't
expect to get money from ratepayers to undertake all the work. An easier way
of doing it is to take all the tenants of all these buildings, the
owners-cum-tenants of all these buildings in the CBD to take responsibility
and we are not asking for too much, we are just saying that take control of
the immediate vicinity of where you do business, clean it up. If that
happens the city of Harare will then be left with the bigger issues to deal
with - water reticulation, sewerage, public lighting, the roads and all
those things.

The areas that need urgent attention are the high-density suburbs
because these are the people who have borne the brunt of the socio-economic
meltdown in our country and we will appeal to more able members of the
community, preferably business, to subsidize the poorer suburbs. We are
looking at a tiered system of levying rates and see if we can get more out
of property owners and improve services in the high-density suburb.

BS: You were part of the Harare Inner City Partnership Project (HICP),
an initiative by private sector to clean up the city, will you be using some
of the strategies you used back then to clean up Harare?

MM: Yes, in 1998 I was one of the driving forces behind the
establishment of the HICP, which was a private-sector and city of Harare
partnership to spruce up the Central Business District and the most notable
example that we achieved was the sprucing up of Africa Unity Square and you
know how we did it? We just got hold of all the property owners or anchor
tenants of all those properties that face Africa Unity Square and they took
it upon themselves to tone up the place and make it look as good as it looks
now. When I stepped down in 2006 as founding chairman of the HICP we had
achieved quite a lot.

BS: Given previous interference from government, the issue of mayor
Elias Mudzuri for example, do you think your work as mayor will be easy?

MM: As I said right at the beginning, I am under no illusionabout the
matters that have to be achieved and attended to and it's a question of all
of us constructively engaging each other towards one goal and that is to
make our city work. I would like to reiterate something I said in my
acceptance speech on Tuesday; that is we should not get bogged down in party
political issues because they are peripheral issues and the basic issues
that need to be attended to in the city, like the provision of services be
it water and other public utility things for people to get their money's
worth, that's all there is to it. It's unfortunate that civic duties have
been unnecessarily politicised, even long before Independence.

BS: On a closing note what other plans do you have for Harare?

MM: There are not many cities in the world that have as many
competitive advantages as Harare. Within a 30-km radius of Greater Harare we
have 13 golf courses. There is an opportunity there for the city in
conjunction with other cities to develop golf tourism and generate
much-needed foreign currency. There is a huge potential for a symbiotic
relationship to be nurtured between the City of Harare, golf clubs, Air
Zimbabwe and the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority. We have been plying the
oriental routes so why can't we have plane-loads of golfers come here
because the Asians are very keen on their golf and they will pay a king's
ransom to play golf so they can come here where we have world-class golf
facilities.


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Hungry Zanu PF Militias Poach Wildlife To Survive

Zim Standard

Local
Saturday, 05 July 2008 18:09
An environmental catastrophe is looming in most wildlife protected
areas in Matabeleland North due to an upsurge in poaching activities by Zanu
PF militias camped at bases throughout the province, it has been learnt.

This has prompted warnings by a prominent conservationist that cases
of poaching, which skyrocketed following the chaotic land reform programme,
will result in most wildlife species becoming extinct if left unchecked.

A number of Zimbabwe National Parks and Wildlife Management Authority
(NPWMA) officials speaking on condition of anonymity raised alarm last week
saying the illegal hunting of game had gone out of hand.

They said elephants and buffaloes at conservancies, national parks and
Communal Areas Management Programme for Indigenous Resources Programme
(CAMPFIRE) areas were the most affected.

"Each ward has a base of not less than 10 people who have been camped
there since sometime in April and these people have been feeding on game
meat," said a senior ZNPWMA official. "In areas like Lupane, at least an
elephant and a buffalo are killed every week and here we are not talking
about the small game."

War veterans and Zanu PF youths set up bases soon after President
Robert Mugabe lost the first round of the presidential election to Movement
for Democratic Change (MDC) leader, Morgan Tsvangirai.

The ruling party militias have been accused of extorting food from
hungry villagers. In some areas young girls were reportedly recruited to
cook food extorted from companies at the bases.

There are reports that the bases have not been dismantled even after
President Mugabe won the 27 June one-man presidential election run-off as
Tsvangirai pulled out citing mounting violence against his supporters.

"There is a serious danger of over-hunting, especially in the Gwayi
Conservancy, where new farmers are being forced to regularly send game meat
to the bases," said another source.

"Although the hunting season is on, the quantities of meat being
demanded by these people are just too much to be sustained by the low number
of hunting quotas that have been issued this season."

Some new farmers in the Gwayi Conservancy complained that they were no
longer able to supply their workers game meat, which they usually get from
trophy hunters during the hunting season.

"If you fail to comply with their demands you become an enemy of the
ruling party," complained a farmer who requested anonymity. "This is forcing
some of our colleagues to over-hunt and it is not good for the environment,
something needs to be done to stop this."

Johnny Rodrigues, a prominent environmentalist and chairman of the
Zimbabwe Conservation Taskforce said recent research showed that the problem
was country-wide, with elephants being the most hunted.

"If it goes on like this within a year Zimbabwe will run out of
wildlife," he said. "Poaching levels have actually doubled in the last few
months and we have been to the ground to see for ourselves the extent of
these problems."

NPWMA spokesman, Edward Mbewe, could not be reached for comment on the
latest developments.

By Kholwani Nyathi


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Police Station Turns Into 'people's shop'
Local

Zim Standard

Saturday, 05 July 2008 18:06
GWERU Central Police Station was turned into a retail shop on Monday
as hundreds of desperate consumers besieged the station to buy basic
commodities.

Baton-wielding police beat up and dispersed dozens of desperate people
who had besieged the police station to buy scarce commodities that police
put up for sale after they had confiscated them from retail shops that were
reportedly overcharging.

Hundreds of consumers started gathering outside the police station
around mid-morning after they heard that sugar and cooking oil would be on
sale. The police initially sold a 2kg packet of sugar at $600 million
dollars, then raised it to $25 billion.

Cooking oil was selling at $2-billion for two litres. However, the
current price of a 2kg packet of sugar is $30 billion, while that of a
two-litre bottle of cooking oil is $150 billion. Consumers who spoke to The
Standard accused the police of raising the prices after they had helped
themselves.

One of the consumers, who only identified himself as Banda told The
Standard: "They have raised the price of sugar to $25 billion for a 2kg but
most of the police officers bought the sugar at $600 million a packet."

Some of the people who formed long and winding queues outside the
police station were able to buy some of the commodities before chaos broke
out around 4pm as some of the people started jostling for a chance to buy.

The police beat up people in order to disperse them, and then later
closed the station's gates. Some of the police officers, speaking on
condition of anonymity confirmed to The Standard that while consumers were
told that the commodities were sold out, several tonnes of the confiscated
goods were still at the station, and some people did not disperse, hoping
they would get a chance to buy some of the scarce goods.

On Tuesday more people turned up at the station nicknaming it "the
people's shop", again hoping to buy what had been left over from Monday but
the gates remained closed with reports that there would no longer be
anything for sale. Scores of people spent the whole day milling around the
station desperately hoping to be among the first in the queues if anything
came up. But they returned home empty-handed. However, The Standard observed
that several Mahindra brand vehicles visited the station, with the visitors
coming out with cartons of sugar.

Police in Gweru have also forced bakeries and retail shops to sell
bread for $3 billion - resulting in resurfacing of bread queues and
shortages of the commodity. Most consumers complained that shop attendants
had started displaying favouritism by selling bread to selected individuals
with the same bread resurfacing on the parallel market where a loaf sells
for between $12 billion and $20 billion.

While some consumers expressed satisfaction at the police's move to
enforce price controls on basic commodities, others said this would worsen
the availability of the goods as retailers would withhold them.

Others also said it was not clear how the police would handle the
goods or the proceeds from the sale of confiscated goods. They expressed
fears that the police were likely to abuse their powers and convert the
goods to their own use. Police in Gweru referred all queries to Police
General Headquarters in Harare.

With the continued shortage of basics and rising inflation, government
has established the National Incomes and Pricing Commission to try and
control the situation, but to no avail. Every time the government enforces
price controls, devastating results of shops "selling shelves" have become a
common sight.

By Rutendo Mawere


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Starving Villagers Swap Livestock To Stay Afloat

Zim Standard

Local
Saturday, 05 July 2008 18:03
Faced with starvation after a dismal harvest, some small-scale farmers
in the Midlands region are exchanging their cattle for maize, sparking fears
there will be a crisis of draught power for the next farming season.

Farmer Takudzwa Muringisi said that during a good season, he harvests
an average of 15 tonnes of maize at his farm, situated in Vungu in Lower
Gweru.

Muringisi, an award-winning farmer who has hosted numerous field days
at his homestead said during this time of the year his homestead should be
surrounded by stacks of maize stalks, to feed his cattle. This year,
however, the fields are bare - testimony to the past season's failure.

A distraught Muringisi says the incessant rains in December and
January made it impossible to plant. When the downpours eventually stopped
in February they went for good, resulting in the few plants he had
withering.

Muringisi says he counts himself among the lucky few who still have
maize surplus carried over from the previous season. This is what his family
survives on.

However, he is fretful as the supplies are running out fast. Muringisi
acknowledges he is clueless about how he is going to provide for his family
until the next farming season.

Although he has money with which to buy the grain or maize-meal, which
is now being commonly referred to as "gold" or "gunpowder" respectively in
the Midlands province, it's not readily available. He is considering
swapping some of his cattle for the staple grain, adding he has heard
certain individuals are eager "to do such a deal".

In rural Shurugwi, desperate farmers have already exchanged their
cattle for maize.

Taking advantage of the situation, those who have maize are swapping
10 bags of maize (the equivalent of one tonne) for a single beast. Those
compelled to enter into the deal say they realise it is not a bargain, but
point out the alternative would be starvation. At the moment, focus is on
the need to feed their families.

Talkmore Mazhande from Nhema village in Shurugwi, who only managed to
get one bucket of maize from his garden, said so far he has exchanged two
beasts for 20 bags of maize and is likely to exchange more.

"While I know and believe that cattle are assets worth much more, I
have been forced into the arrangement because I have no maize to feed my
family with and I cannot watch them dying of hunger," Mazhande bared his
heart.

"Those that have the grain do not want to sell for money. But who can
blame them considering our useless currency? They would rather have cattle
than the ever deteriorating dollar."

Mazhande, who has a small herd of cattle, is worried the prolonged
food shortages may force many like him to dispose of most of their cattle.
But this would mean they will have no draught power when the next farming
season begins.

Maize shortages are also forcing residents of districts including
Chirumhanzu and Chiundura to travel long distances, mostly on foot, in
search of grain.

In Chirumhanzu, the situation is worse. Even during good seasons, many
residents record poor harvests because of the area's poor soils.

As a result, Chirumhanzu villagers have often relied on supplementary
relief food from humanitarian organisations. This is why groups like CARE
and Oxfam have consistently implemented relief efforts in the areas.

But government has now pulled the plug on their programmes by banning
all field operations, leaving locals in dire straits.

Sources said the situation has become so extreme, with villagers
eating roots, fruits and leaves in an attempt to survive. Most villagers in
most parts of the Midlands region have resorted to a wild fruit known as,
chakata/hacha . Some of the villagers from Shurugwi told this reporter that
besides eating the fruit they also pound it to produce a powder which is
then used to make sadza (pap) while some of the more innovative ones are
actually using the powder from the fruit for baking.

The United Nations Country Team recently announced that about four
million Zimbabweans need food aid. It also called on Harare to immediately
lift the ban, in order to enable NGOs to assist those in need.

By Rutendo Mawere


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Police Hound Journalist For 'not publishing'

Zim Standard

Local
Saturday, 05 July 2008 18:14
MOST journalists live in fear after their stories are published, but
our ever alert police last week brought in a totally new dimension: you can
now get into trouble for not publishing a story.

Sergeant Mudenda from Plumtree police's Law and Order section last
week called The Standard journalist, Kholwani Nyathi at the Bulawayo bureau,
inviting him to the border town - 100km south-west of the country's second
largest city.

Nyathi immediately called the head office in Harare to say he had been
summoned to Plumtree.

Davison Maruziva the Editor of The Standard contacted Mudenda to
establish what the problem was. Mudenda said Nyathi had been to the area
sometime before the 27 June presidential election run-off investigating a
story. The people who were interviewed wondered what had happened because
the story had not been published, he said.

Mudenda then said there was concern among the community, whose members
were interviewed that the journalist could have misrepresented himself.

Maruziva confirmed that Nyathi worked for The Standard and was
accredited with the Media and Information Commission. Details of Nyathi's
accreditation and when it expires were given to Mudenda, including all the
Harare telephone numbers of the Commission in case Plumtree police were
interested in independently verifying the information.

Mudenda then said they wanted to see Nyathi's ID, but Maruziva
suggested that given the ever escalating cost of travel, Nyathi could show
these details to Law and Order section in Bulawayo, which in turn could
confirm these to Plumtree. The phone went dead.

The details were nevertheless texted to Mudenda, but by Friday the
request had become a threat with Mudenda's boss, Detective Assistant
Inspector Sifelani demanding Nyathi present himself at Plumtree police.

Plumtree has led a campaign against journalists, with two journalists
from neighbouring Botswana being arrested early this year for operating in
Zimbabwe without accreditation. The Editor of The Worker, a newspaper
published by the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions was also arrested by
Plumtree police.

Maruziva said the actions by Plumtree police amounted to downright
harassment and intimidation of journalists going about their lawful work.


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Public Confusion Over GNU

Zim Standard

Local
Saturday, 05 July 2008 18:23
MEMBERS of the public view the much touted power-sharing deal that
could result in a government of national unity (GNU) between Zanu PF and the
MDC with a mixture of hope, suspicion and in some instances, disappointment,
The Standard can report.

Some believe the only way out of the current crisis lies in a
power-sharing agreement between the two parties, but others think the
arrangement will only benefit Zanu PF.

Although agreeing in principle that there is need for dialogue, both
Zanu PF and the MDC also appear to differ on some issues regarding the GNU.

Before and after the widely disputed 27 June presidential election
run-off, which had President Robert Mugabe as the only candidate following
opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai's withdrawal, Southern African leaders
and the international community called for a GNU.

Speaking at his inauguration, Mugabe invited the opposition to
negotiations to end the country's crisis. He repeated the call on Friday on
his return from the 11th

session of the African Union summit in Egypt, saying the opposition
should "disabuse" themselves of their claim to power and invited them to
dialogue instead.

At the summit, African leaders supported a Kenya-style deal between
Zanu PF and the MDC, saying this would promote "peace, stability, democracy
and the reconciliation of the Zimbabwean people . "

But in random interviews, residents of Harare said a GNU would not
solve the current economic and political crisis. They feared this could see
representatives of the different political formations pushing the agendas of
their parties, or individuals positioning themselves, which could worsen the
political impasse. What the country needs, some said, is a transitional
arrangement with a limited lifespan.

Some said they feared Mugabe would cow the opposition into silence,
allowing him to continue presiding over the ongoing political and economic
crisis.

"People have not forgotten how Mugabe cheated (the late Vice-President
Joshua) Nkomo under the guise of a Unity Accord," said Bryant Mdhara of
Dzivaresekwa high-density suburb. "Although people choose not to talk about
it, they are aware that Mugabe assumed total control of the country after
rendering Nkomo powerless through that pact. Nothing can stop him doing to
the MDC what he did to PF Zapu."

There have also been calls for fresh polls, under a new constitution.

"We cannot be talking of a GNU after that controversial run-off," said
Oripa Mwaita from Warren Park. "Most people would agree that we need fresh
polls which will be free and fair, and then we can start charting the
way-forward."

This call has been supported by civil society organisations.

Others urged Tsvangirai to continue fighting saying the only way out
is a complete change of government.

Petros Chaumba also of Warren Park said: "Mugabe has failed the
country and should just give way to new minds. Tsvangirai should disregard
this talk about unity and continue lobbying the international community for
help so we can conduct fresh polls. This would allow us to freely decide the
fate of our country, rather than have a few individuals making some costly
compromises."

The deputy secretary general in the MDC Mutambara faction, Priscilla
Misihairabwi-Mushonga, said dialogue would be the best solution to the
current impasse.

"Dialogue is the only solution to the country's problems," she said.

"We need a national solution that is acceptable to all parties and the
generality of the people of Zimbabwe. Whether that solution would be a
government of national unity or whatever arrangements are issues of
dialogue. We want to seek a national solution."

She would however not be drawn into indicating whether her party,
which boycotted Mugabe's inauguration last Sunday, would take up any offers
of positions in government.

On Wednesday, Tsvangirai - who has agreed to negotiate with Zanu PF if
certain conditions are met - said "a GNU does not address the problems of
Zimbabwe or acknowledge the will of the Zimbabwean people". He called for
negotiations that will lead to a "transitional agreement".

"Our commitment to a negotiated settlement is not about power sharing
or power deals but democracy, freedom and justice," Tsvangirai said. "The
principle is a transition, but it must be a transition that is going to
soft-land this crisis leading to elections . for us it's very simple, either
they engage in negotiation or there is no engagement. They have elected
themselves, they have inaugurated themselves, and they can as well run the
country."

But constitutional lawyer, Lovemore Madhuku said there was no way
Tsvangirai could say he is rejecting a GNU but call for a transitional
government.

"Any transitional government can also be a government of national
unity. What makes it transitional is the purpose and lifespan. It is
transitional because it has to lead us into something else within a given
period, in this case the writing of a new constitution, by the people,"
Madhuku said.

He said once established, the transitional arrangement should guide
the writing of a new constitution leading to a referendum and fresh
elections.

"That can be done perfectly under the current constitution. Whatever
format they take, they should not abandon the principle that the
constitution has to be written by the people," Madhuku said.

Before the 29 March elections, Madhuku encouraged the MDC to take part
in the elections on condition that they would support the campaign for a
new, people-driven constitution that would lead to "fresh elections before
the end of this year".

There are however some who felt the two parties should reconcile their
differences for the sake of ordinary Zimbabweans.

"Whatever happens, talk of sanctions or a continuation of the
prevailing economic and political hardships, affects us the ordinary people
and not them," Tariro Gomo said. "They should work together for our
sake...Tsvangirai has to compromise and enter the pact, Mugabe may be
cheating him but he has to do it for us...If he pulled out of the run-off to
save the people's lives, why not agree to a fake marriage to save the same
people?"

Before he was fired from his position as a spokesperson of the MDC
Mutambara, Gabriel Chaibva told The Standard "dialogue is the only way out".

"The way forward is to be realistic and face the facts as they are.
There is no way out of dialogue. The MDC should realize their point of
weakness, which is that the seat of government is now owned by Zanu PF,"
said Chaibva, who performed dismally in his last two bids for a seat in the
House of Assembly.

"It is impossible for Zanu PF to continue governing this country
without the opposition," he said.

"The way forward is: we have to talk. The people of Zimbabwe are
suffering. It is time for the opposition to show leadership than to depend
on international goodwill. There is no alternative to dialogue."

By Vusumuzi Sifile


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

'Women Share Underwear In Our Jails'

Zim Standard

Local
Saturday, 05 July 2008 18:18
FEW women would ever imagine the prospect of sharing underwear with
friends, let alone strangers.

But the astounding reality, Jenni Williams, a pro-democracy and women's
activist, found recently, is that there are many women who are desperate to
lay their hands on used panties.

Williams, the leader of a pressure group that has been a thorn in
government's side, Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) returned from Chikurubi
maximum prison on Thursday to tell a shocking story about how jailed women
were living in Zimbabwe's prisons.

For 37 days, Williams, who has courted the wrath of the police after
leading countless street protests, remained in the filthy and crowded jail,
as the state fiercely opposed granting her bail.

But what she saw inside the high walls of Chikurubi made her realise
how bad the prison conditions had become for women.

"There are women living in terrible conditions," she said, a day after
Human Rights lawyer Harrison Nkomo secured her release. "Jailed women face
serious challenges when it comes to hygienic issues. They struggle to lead
normal lives."

For example, she met several women who had not put on panties for a
long time. One of the women she met in Chikurubi last wore a pair two years
ago.

And when Williams and other women were leaving the prison on Thursday,
they left behind their used clothing after a request from remaining inmates.

"It's not easy to give your used underwear to someone else, but when
you stay in Chikurubi, you realise this is the right thing to do," she said.

And turning to sanitary ware, Williams said prison officials were
providing inmates with "stuff made from fluffy old fashioned blankets".

While this was helpful considering supplies of proper sanitary ware
had dried up, Williams said the main problem was lack of soap which made it
impossible for women to maintain required hygienic standards.

"Without any detergent, you can't wash these kind of materials, you
can only dry them and then re-use them again," she said.

Without soap, it was impossible for the women to take proper baths,
she said.

Williams said the inmates were facing starvation. "For breakfast, we
were served with porridge without salt or sugar. A proper meal is two
teaspoons of cabbage or rape, and half a glass of water and sadza. This food
was hardly enough for the inmates," she said.

Williams said she witnessed guards beating up a seven-month pregnant
woman who had complained that she had been given less sadza than every one
else.

"They beat her under the feet. It was bad," she said.

Under international law, beating one's soles is classified as a form
of torture.

But that was not the only human rights violations she came across.

"There are several people who are failing to access justice," she
said. "I saw someone who has been at Chikurubi since 2004. They just sit
there wearing green uniforms, they are not taken to court."

And many more women involved in opposition political activities can
expect to end up exposed to those conditions after government announced an
amnesty to create space for political prisoners.

Williams, who plans to take a TB test after suffering from persistent
flu, landed herself in prison after she led women during a street protest in
Harare. The members of WOZA petitioned the United Nations and SADC asking
for an end to violence. Before they reached the Zambian embassy, police
pounced on the women, arresting 400 of them.

Williams and Magodonga Mahlangu, who was also released on Thursday,
were denied bail after the court accepted that she could organise "violent
Kenya-style demonstrations" if released before the presidential election
run-off.

By Walter Marwizi


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Sanctions, Last Straw For Zim Fragile Economy

Zim Standard

Business
Saturday, 05 July 2008 18:00
ZIMBABWE began counting the costs of the sham one-man presidential
election run-off as the world reacted by imposing sanctions in a move
analysts say will force Zanu PF to the negotiating table with the
opposition.

Tesco, the world's third largest supermarket announced on Tuesday it
will stop sourcing fresh produce worth 1 million a year from Zimbabwe due
to international concern over the current political climate.

Tesco's pull-out follows a call by Lord Mark Malloch Brown, Britain's
junior Foreign Office minister warning firms with interests in Zimbabwe that
their activities could become more difficult as economic and other sanctions
tighten.

In another development, a German firm, Giesecke & Devrient, which had
regularly supplied Zimbabwe with bank note paper for 40 years, announced on
Tuesday that it was stopping deliveries to the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe
(RBZ).

"Our decision is a reaction to the political tension in Zimbabwe,
which is mounting significantly rather than easing as expected, and takes
account of the critical evaluation by the international community, German
government and general public," said Dr. Karsten Ottenberg, Chairman of the
Management Board and CEO of Giesecke & Devrient.

Analysts say moves by the German firm and Tesco, signal the first
signs of economic sanctions, an indication that pressure is piling up to
force Zanu PF to a negotiated settlement with the opposition.

"Sanctions are meant to work towards a negotiated settlement and are
an incentive for policy change," said Dr Daniel Ndlela, an independent
economist.

While RBZ put a brave face last week insisting that move by the German
firm will not affect the transacting public including companies and ordinary
Zimbabweans, analysts warned of a severe cash crisis. Last week queues were
evident at most banks as Zimbabweans grapple to get their hard-earned
salaries.

RBZ governor Gideon Gono said on Wednesday the central bank would
continue to innovate and try to plough around all obstacles placed in its
way. Information gathered by Standardbusiness showed that the RBZ had two
options: either recycle old bearer notes or sanction unofficial
dollarisation in the likely event that they fail to find an alternative
supplier.

Dr Ndlela says while cash shortages were a deterrent to price
increases, they had brought in unofficial dollarisation.

"People are charging in foreign currency because the local currency is
not there," he said.

He says charging in foreign currency is the only way out of the cash
crisis. Told that the foreign currency is not adequate without lines of
credit from multilateral financial institutions, Ndlela said curtly: "The
nation was promised 100% empowerment."

In the run up to 27 June presidential election run-off President
Robert Mugabe's campaign message promised Zimbabweans 100% empowerment if
they re-elected him.

Analysts draw parallel of the sanctions to those that prevailed after
the late Ian Douglas Smith's Unilateral Declaration of Independence in 1965.
While Smith's government prevailed due to unfettered support from apartheid
South Africa, analysts say Zimbabwe's southern neighbour will not
wholeheartedly support the country.

"South Africa does not have the impunity they had in 1965. While South
African government can support Mugabe, Zuma (Jacob) and Cosatu will not
support Mugabe," an analyst said on Friday. As if to prove this, COSATU last
week threatened to blockade the Beitbridge Border Post which has acted as a
vital link in the importation of goods from South Africa to Zimbabwe.

Observers say Zimbabwe will not weather the storm from the sanctions
as it has become an importer of virtually everything. While a decade ago,
the import list was only confined to drugs and fuel, the list has been
extended to include maize and wheat imports following the disastrous
agricultural seasons since the 2000 land reform programme.

With world record inflation of over 9 million percent and unemployment
of 80%, President Mugabe faces an invidious position to skirt around the
problem, analysts say.

"The economic environment obtaining in the country and the new wave of
sanctions will be the last straw to break President Mugabe's government," a
bank economist said on Friday.

By Ndamu Sandu


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Another Record For Zimbabwe

Zim Standard

Business
Saturday, 05 July 2008 17:59
CRISIS-HIT Zimbabweans are the unhappiest people in the world, a new
survey by the National Economic Foundation shows.

According to the World Values Survey, Zimbabwe is the lowest ranked of
the 97 countries surveyed with a mean of -1.92 followed by Armenia and
Moldova with -1.80 and -1.74 respectively.

The World Values Survey is the work of a global network of social
scientists who perform periodic surveys addressing a number of issues.
Researchers said that wealth is important for happiness.

"Not surprisingly, three of the world's poorer countries with long
histories of repressive governments - Moldova, Armenia and Zimbabwe - are at
the bottom of the happiness list. Virtually all of the lowest ranking
nations struggle with legacies of authoritarian rule and widespread
poverty," the survey said. Zimbabwe's neighbours South Africa and Zambia
fared better and were ranked 59 and 71 respectively.

Analysts say the latest ranking is reflective of what is obtaining on
the ground as Zimbabweans grapple with a man-made economic crisis. With
unemployment of over 80% and world beating inflation, the situation in
Zimbabwe is unprecedented in a country outside a war zone.

Researchers from the University of Michigan's Institute for Social
Research (ISR) in Ann Arbor, say the overall rise in reported happiness "is
due to greater economic growth, democratization and social tolerance".

Denmark tops the list of surveyed nations, along with Puerto Rico and
Colombia.

Researchers measured happiness by simply asking people how happy they
were, and how satisfied they were with their lives as a whole. Ninety-seven
percent of respondents gave answers that strongly correlated with how
satisfied they were with various aspects of life such as gender equality and
tolerance of minorities.

"The relative importance of economic prosperity to happiness changes
as societies get richer," says Ronald Inglehart, a political scientist at
the university who directed the study.

"In low-income countries, one's economic situation has a huge impact
on happiness. But among more prosperous countries, political freedom and
social tolerance play a greater role in determining how happy people are."

Inglehart argues that improving economic conditions and rising
political and social freedom can improve satisfaction within whole
societies, long term.

The World Values Survey has measured happiness since 1981. Its
researchers have interviewed more than 350 000 people.


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

After Zanuslide, Beware Of Zanu PF Bearing Gifts

Zim Standard

Opinion
Saturday, 05 July 2008 16:47
THERE was a certain irony in the headline of the state-owned Herald
newspaper, on Monday 30 June 2008.

'It's a landslide!' bellowed the headline. A landslide, indeed, is
what had just engulfed Zimbabwe in the aftermath of Robert Mugabe's
one-horse race for the presidential office after MDC'S Morgan Tsvangirai had
withdrawn.

Some communities live in constant fear of landslides; when Nature
shows the unkind side of her character. In Zimbabwe, people live in constant
fear of a man-made landslide that comes regularly through the medium of an
election. So regular has this phenomenon become, it has a uniquely
Zimbabwean character, it must, surely, be given a distinctly Zimbabwean
name: 'It's a Zanuslide!' might have been a more apt headline.

The instalment of Mugabe as President was short, sharp and swift as
predicted in these pages in the weeks leading to the 27 June one-man race.
The collective effect of the reports of the observer missions is that the
elections were neither free nor fair and failed, therefore, to reflect the
will of the people. The credibility of that race was dealt a further blow
when the African Union issued a resolution calling for the establishment of
a Government of National Unity (GNU).

Mugabe and Zanu PF have appeared receptive to this idea. That is
hardly surprising as it was always part of the plan. A day before the
election Mugabe had himself stated that the doors were open for talks with
the opposition. They were never serious about the election and even they
recognise the paucity of legitimacy. The election was designed to confer one
important thing: leverage in negotiations. Having lost in the March
election, Zanu PF was keen to regain its legal leverage in terms of a
foothold on state power.

The AU has not helped matters a great deal. It has simply bought into
the Zanu PF plan because a GNU was always on its cards, contrary to public
posturing. Indeed, GNU model is a tried and tested model of dealing with
political opponents, using a combination of coercion and baits - the bait
being an invitation to join the gravy train after a demonstration of the
violent impact of force. That indeed is the path travelled by PF Zapu, until
it was swallowed by Zanu PF.

In considering the path of negotiation, the MDC may wish to take heed
of the old saying, "Beware of Greeks bearing gifts". This of course derives
from the story of the most famous of Greek gifts, the Trojan Horse.

It is said that during the Trojan Wars, the Greeks had laid siege on
the city of Troy for a decade. When they decided to leave, they built a very
large wooden horse as a sign of peace and an offering to the gods. As they
retreated, they left the large wooden horse at the gates of Troy. When the
citizens of Troy opened their gates for the first time since the siege, they
received the gift, which appeared harmless. But when it was brought inside
the city, Greek soldiers who were hidden within the wooden structure came
out and destroyed the city of Troy. The Trojans had been warned against
accepting the gift.

Likewise, the MDC has been under siege from Zanu PF. Suddenly, Zanu PF
has changed and is talking peace and unity. The MDC has reason to fear that
this may be no more than Zanu PF's Trojan Horse; that once it comes in,
gains a foothold and re-organises, it could well carry out destruction of
the dream from within.

There can be no doubt that Zanu PF is in dire need of negotiations.
They have the power but not much to use it for given the paucity of
legitimacy and increasing disquiet across Africa. So what should the MDC do
in these circumstances?

The MDC is right to be sceptical, first about the genuineness of its
rival and second about the intended outcome of those talks and the effect of
any governmental structure that will emerge. Is Zanu PF serious about the
talks or is it simply trying to buy the legitimacy that it sorely lacks? And
more importantly, what would be the effect on the broader democratic
movement of any unity government that is likely to arise? Will it, for
instance, derail the greater struggle to rid the country of a hostile,
corrupt, anti-democratic culture that has flourished under Zanu PF rule?

Zimbabwe's problems will not simply be solved by a GNU - at least, the
lessons of 1987 Unity Accord are clear. The country faces both immediately
visible and deep-rooted problems. Zanu PF's approach may be to regain some
legitimacy, proceed on a business-as-usual basis and hope that the economic
challenges can be easily rectified. This approach overlooks the deep-seated
deficiencies in the system of government, which is affected by a culture of
corruption, greed, intolerance and above all, the supremacy of fist over the
hand of the law. It is arguable, therefore, that a simple GNU will not work
to the desired effect.

hat is more plausible, however, is a temporary transitional
arrangement on the basis that this can stabilise the social, political and
economic conditions in the country in the short term, ushering a reformed
order in which a more permanent electoral solution can be constructed.

It is arguable that entering into any arrangement with Zanu PF,
however temporary, would be tantamount to giving in and sacrificing the MDC's
democratic principles. There is a risk that once they have joined the
proverbial gravy train, Zimbabwe's greatest hope of achieving a democratic
environment will be jettisoned.

Yet, one must also consider that the MDC's Achilles Heel has been its
inability to influence matters within government structures or more
pointedly, its lack of power otherwise derived from control of institutions
of the state. That is because it has not had a foothold in the structures of
power. Zanu PF has for long been able to use its monopoly of state power to
the detriment of its opponents. The MDC might therefore wish to consider
whether this could, therefore, be an occasion for drawing power from Zanu PF's
traditional sources?

One can see that remaining outside the strictures of the state will
deprive Mugabe of the much needed legitimacy but it will not necessarily
bring him down in the short-term. Instead, he and his comrades are likely to
dig in, retaining their comforts despite the sanctions, whilst the general
citizens continue to bear the brunt of the economic collapse. The question
that arises therefore is, whether, in this likely long-drawn process towards
democratisation, it can create some space for itself and gain a foothold
that would enable it to have some measure of influence in those structures
where power is held, for example the security structure that includes the
military.

At the end of the day, whether under Zanu PF or the MDC, the key for
Zimbabwe's political governance is to create a new environment in which a
more credible election can be held. This means that a big priority of the
transitional authority will be to create a new democratic Constitution. That
could be the principal product of any transitional arrangement, which will
then pave the way for new and proper elections. Meanwhile, by then, through
the transitional arrangement Mugabe will, surely have found a way out.

Tsvangirai is right when he says that the struggle is not simply for
power but about democracy. But as we have seen, that environment cannot be
achieved without power. Those who are in control of state power are the
primary determinants of the political and economic environment. In the case
of Zanu PF, this has been a disaster; a man-made Zanuslide that has engulfed
the whole nation. If the MDC is to create a democratic environment it has to
gain power; therefore power is, indeed, what they are fighting for. It is
achieving this power that has proved to be a very difficult problem. That
way will probably be opened through some form of transitional arrangement.
But in negotiating, the MDC does need to "beware of Zanu PF bearing gifts".
Because, one still has to fear Zanu PF, even when it is offering gifts.

*Alex T. Magaisa is based at Kent Law School, The University of Kent
at Canterbury and can be contacted at a.t.magaisa@yahoo.ca.uk or wamagaisa
@yahoo.co.uk


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

The Emergency Of Now: Suggestions On The Way Forward

Zim Standard

Opinion
Saturday, 05 July 2008 16:45
There are two things that characterise President Robert Mugabe's
legacy; these are poverty and violence. This is the double tragedy is what I
will call the urgency of now.

When he took over in 1980, the average life expectancy was 65 years.
Now it is 34 years for women and 37 for men. As I write I am only two years
away!

Our economy can become functional again in a relatively short space of
time. We all know what needs to be done on the farms. Our nine-year-old
disaster on the farms is proof enough that farming is a specialized
activity.

Our industrial infrastructure is still there, and with repairs and
refurbishments it will become functional in a much shorter period. Add to
that fiscal discipline, foreign capital injection and recalling
professionals who are economic refugees all over the world then we will be
on the path to recovery.

The most difficult task is dismantling institutionalized violence and
impunity that have destroyed the social fabric of our people. In Mugabe's
time politics is war, and what makes the situation worse is that everything
has been politicized. To get food aid one needsto produce Zanu PF party
card. To travel to one's rural home one needs a Zanu PF party card.

It is important to note that there are many very poor countries in
Africa and the world. In fact, most countries in Africa are poor, but they
are relatively peaceful in terms of direct violence. I can give examples of
Zambia, Malawi, Namibia and Tanzania. They are not at war with themselves.
Our communities have become war zones, with Mugabe's youth militia not only
going as far as spying on their parents and relatives, but perpetrating
preposterous violence against anyone suspected to be a member of the
opposition.

Homes have been burnt down, women have been raped, people have been
beaten up and tortured, and scores are dying in the name of protecting the
leader. What makes the situation unbearable is the fact that the national
security forces not only condone these dastardly acts, but they directly
participate in the violence. We have many cases in which the victims went to
report to the police, only to find themselves being arrested for provoking
"peace-loving Zimbabweans" defending the gains of our revolution. We have in
our communities people who get angry on behalf of Mugabe. As a result,
thousands have been internally displaced.

As we enter the period of transition, we have many people who bear the
scars of Mugabe's madness. And the greatest danger of our time is that many
people will seek revenge. Many believe with a new government it will be
their turn. This is very real because we have many people who took their
personal differences with relatives and neighbours and branded them in the
violent political realm which Mugabe's government not only created and
supported, but would pardon anyone arrested for heinous crime as long as he
or she mentioned his name.

Add to this the prevalence of youth militia and war veterans' bases
scattered in the rural areas then you have the best ingredients for a civil
war.

In light of this, I propose several points as a strategy that will
lead to the re-construction of Zimbabwe's social fabric.

*We must start by dismantling torture centres established shortly
after the announcement that Mugabe lost the first round of elections on 29
March 2008 to MDC's Morgan Tsvangirai.

*Immediate steps must be taken to disband the youth militia. There
should therefore be a re-integration process for these youths so that they
return to proper civilian life.

*The tens of thousands of displaced and severely traumatized people
need to be put through a process of rehabilitation and healing before they
are assisted to go back to their homes. A package of resources, financial
and otherwise, should be made available to help them re-start their lives.

*It is also important the Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA), the Zimbabwe
Republic Police (ZRP), the Zimbabwe Prison Services (ZPS) and the Central
Intelligence Office (CIO) are made more professional with most of the senior
officers retired. The "war veterans" who have now become Mugabe's terror
machine, should be re-organised into a civilian organization.

* Finally, there is need to demilitarize economic and public
institutions. Most parastatals and public institutions/companies are led by
retired senior army or police officers.

This was done to ensure smooth looting of resources. Professionalism
has been abandoned and more often than not, the people heading these vital
institutions are incompetent.

. Establishing a justice, truth and reconciliation process. This is
probably the bedrock on which the Zimbabwe we want is going to be built
upon. We are a society that has never known peace. All those that led us to
where we are today, directly and indirectly, should be called to account for
their actions.

A truth and reconciliation commission along the lines of what happened
in South Africa a decade ago, with the necessary improvements, would be
ideal. This can be led by eminent citizens, the Churches, traditional
leaders and civil society, and should be as broad as can be possible, with
the capacity to influence policy and building of a peaceful society. It
should also build into the education curriculum and other key state
institutions.

These ideas are not at all exhaustive. But they could provide a
starting point as we get to battle to find our soul again. Unless this
transitional period is supported by the international community, especially
fellow African governments, we are at the brink of another failed
opportunity. Here is arguably our best chance to move from the Zimbabwe we
don't want to the Zimbabwe we want.


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Scandalous Double Standards

Zim Standard

Opinion
Saturday, 05 July 2008 16:43
THERE was no doubt that Zimbabwe's ambassador to Sudan, the late Lloyd
Gundu, who died in Harare 10 days ago, deserved burial at the national
shrine.

The speed and process with which the decision was arrived at should be
standard practice.

Gundu was a member of the first group of seven freedom fighters to
receive training in guerrilla tactics in China between 1962 and 1963,
alongside Emmerson Mnangagwa, the Minister of Rural Housing and Social
Amenities.

It was Mnangagwa and Didymus Mutasa, the Minister of State for
National Security, Lands, Land Reform and Resettlement, who announced
conferment of Hero status on Gundu's family.

Similarly, when Retired Lieutenant-General Amoth Nobert Chingombe died
early in June, those who had worked with him and had witnessed him
overseeing the integration of Zanla, Zipra and the Rhodesian Forces, were
able to vouch for his record.

Clearly Mnangagwa, who had trained with Gundu, was able to inform the
Zanu PF hierarchy about the heroic exploits of Gundu and thus persuade them
to honour him with burial at the national shrine.

But several cases involving freedom fighters who belonged to PF Zapu
and whose exclusion from Heroes' Acre have been questionable suggest either
a deliberate de-emphasis of the role played by these cadres during the
struggle for Independence or that those of their surviving colleagues are
betraying them by not speaking up for them.

For example, the late Isaac Nyathi, who died in December last year was
only granted hero status minutes before his burial at Lady Stanley Cemetery
and not at Heroes' Acre in Harare. Nyathi had been a senior PF Zapu leader
during his time.

At Lady Stanley Cemetery, Nyathi joined other PF Zapu luminaries from
the liberation struggle, among them the late Zipra commander Lookout Masuku
and Masala Sibanda. Sibanda was declared a national hero long after burial.

Masuku, Nyathi and Sibanda have one thing in common with former Home
Affairs minister, Dumiso Dabengwa: they were arrested after the alleged
discovery of arms caches on properties owned by former Zipra combatants
during the early 1980s. It was the beginning of a government purge of the
leadership and cadres of PF Zapu. Perhaps they have never been forgiven,
hence the fear among surviving colleagues to come out openly arguing their
case for burial at Heroes' Acre.

In one of the cases, the country was told that the delays in
recognising the contribution of these former PF Zapu leaders was due to
telephone network problems. No one in their right mind would accept such
inane explanations.

Unfortunately such actions do nothing to deflect charges of Zanu PF
selective application of the criteria in conferring hero's status on those
who made an invaluable contribution before and after Independence.

Those who were in PF Zapu but are still alive shoulder the blame for
the shoddy treatment of their colleagues who are being overlooked for the
liberation war honours. Ironically, by not speaking out for their
colleagues, surviving former PF Zapu members could find themselves being
ignored and their records during the struggle being trivialised.

The one significant lesson from these regrettable cases is that it's
time we had a proper record of who did what during the struggle. PF Zapu and
the old Zanu PF need to come up with such a list because memories are fading
and those who know much about the struggle period are dying. Valuable
knowledge is being lost.

Few individuals, Dabengwa, Enos Nkala and Nathan Shamuyarira have
promised to write definitive works about the struggle. It's time they put
pen to paper so that we see an end to these shocking double standards.


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Zim Crisis Deserves Top Billing

Zim Standard

Opinion
Saturday, 05 July 2008 16:40
AT the oldest English university, Oxford, a group of Zimbabweans -
some in exile, others formerly citizens and others still, legally resident
in the country - gathered to discuss researching and reporting on their
country.

For me, it was a crowning achievement: in the 1970s, I had been to
Cambridge. Now, I was a confirmed "Oxbridge" person.

Just a slight detail: at neither of the universities was I studying.
At Cambridge, I had gone to see David Bonavia, a Reuters correspondent
studying Chinese in preparation for his new assignment in Hong Kong.

We had worked together in Zambia, where I was the Reuters stringer and
he the resident correspondent.

We had become close and on my visit to the UK, he invited me to visit
him at his "digs" at Cambridge, where we chewed the fat and compared notes
on the state of the world.

David died young of complications from diabetes a few years later. At
Oxford, I was reunited with another old acquaintance, Terence Ranger. We
first met in 1960 or thereabouts at the Harare community centre in what is
now Mbare.

He was a lecturer at the University of Rhodesia and Nyasaland and I
was a reporter on The African Daily News. In 1963, he was deported from
Southern Rhodesia. He did return after independence.

Incidentally, in 1964, I was declared a prohibited immigrant from
Malawi, but returned a free man after Kamuzu Banda lost an election. The
professor and I had a lot to talk about at Oxford.

But one thing struck me about our lively discussions on the state of
Zimbabwe.

A number of speakers suggested our "crisis" was being blown out of
proportion. There were far more serious upheavals in the world, deserving
far more attention than our "little domestic tiff" in which the West was
butting in, selfishly, needlessly.

But the piece de resistance for me had to be this: Robert Mugabe did
not deserve this incessant demonisation. He had clung resolutely to his
position on the land reform programme and for that he was being punished.

What about the killings of unarmed civilians? Well, there were African
leaders who had killed more people.

There were attacks on the Western media, focusing on their
"inordinately excessive" coverage of the Zimbabwe situation. There were far
more explosive political and economic stories in the world than the Zimbabwe
one, it was argued.

Later, as we watched coverage of the African Union summit in Sharm
el-Sheikh, we saw both the president and George Charamba robustly
reinforcing the "leave us alone" tone we had heard at Oxford.

That this demonstrates the government's state of denial is most
eloquently illustrated by the intemperate response to any questions relating
to free and fair elections and the murder of unarmed civilians.

All this cannot be justified with any bombastic rhetoric laced with
the customary conspiracy accusations against the Western media.

There may indeed be a regime change agenda, but it was never hatched
in the West.

The clearest indication of how close it came to fruition was the
outcome of the harmonised elections last March. If the "first past the post"
formula had been adopted for the presidential poll, Mugabe would no longer
be president.

The reason for the murderous campaign before the run-off presidential
poll was clearly to ensure voters were reminded how they ought to vote to
avoid being killed or maimed.

It was such a callous reminder of Zanu PF's capacity for brutality not
many outsiders would have hesitated to defend even the local media's
extensive coverage of the violence against civilians.

And what about the reports that a "hit list" of journalists had been
prepared by someone, either in Zanu PF or the war veterans? With the murder
of Edward Chikomba to back them up, why would journalists not conclude that
such a list did exist and that the chances of it being carried out were
plausible?

The world could keep its hands off Zimbabwe's affairs if there was any
tangible evidence that Zimbabweans themselves were in a conciliatory mood,
that there were as anxious as the rest of the world, to end the carnage
which has led some commentators to compare Mugabe with Idi Amin.

And what are even his supporters to make of his declaration that "only
God can remove me" from office? Yes, this could be an example of electoral
rhetoric, but those aware of Mugabe's past excesses are not persuaded: they
believe he means every word.

What leaves many Zimbabweans with only a faint hope of salvation from
the political catastrophe to which we seem inexorably destined is Mugabe's
and Zanu PF's incapacity to treat the opposition with even a semblance of
respect.

One day, it may dawn on the opposition to win the argument by adopting
Zanu PF's methods.

saidib@standard.co.zw


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Zim Standard Letters



100% Freedom To Go Hungry
Letters
Saturday, 05 July 2008 17:04
IT seems to Robert Mugabe, any criticism of the excesses of his
wayward government is interference in the internal affairs of Zimbabwe.

His idea of 100% freedom is for the world to stand aloof while he
starves and brutalizes his own people. What a shame!

'Starved '

Harare

-----------
Let's Boycott Chinese Shops Over Mugabe Support
Letters
Saturday, 05 July 2008 17:02
CHINA and Russia are among the United Nations Security Council members
that have steadfastly supported Zimbabwe and blocked any action by the world
body against those, who have caused so much suffering to the majority of
Zimbabweans.

Since the world body is hamstrung, the burden is on the suffering
people of this country to do something to show their displeasure. The one
powerful weapon that those who suffer have against those who support their
oppressors is withdrawal of their custom.

In this particular case, Zimbabweans who have suffered because of
Chinese support for the regime can make a very powerful point by organising
and implementing a nation-wide boycott of Chinese-owned shops and Chinese
products.

When Chinese nationals feel the impact of the boycott, they can talk
to their government and maybe Beijing will take us seriously.

Civil society organisations and the labour movement can mobilise
people into action. The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions will take part
because the influx of Chinese goods has cost us thousands and thousands of
jobs in Zimbabwean factories and impacted negatively on sectors such as the
textiles and the capacity of the country to produce for export markets and
consequently foreign currency revenue generation.

China was prepared to ship arms to Zimbabwe - it is in our interests
to show them that we disprove of such conduct that perpetuates the
suppression of lawful protest.

But we also have very short memories. During the 1980s, I recall a
Chinese xenophobic campaign against African students who had been sent to
that country by their governments.

Do we forget so soon when it comes to the ill-treatment of our people
by those from the East, but when it is the West we have long memories of how
our people were mistreated?

Tirivanhu Mhofu

Emerald Hill

Harare

---------------
After Poll Win, Can Zanu PF Now Resolve Economic Crisis?
Letters
Saturday, 05 July 2008 16:56
ZANU PF may have "won" the 27 June presidential election run-off, but
now the challenge is to show us what they are capable of delivering.

They put up beautiful expressions of intent about what they were going
to do for this country but what I am seeing within the first week of their
"return to power" suggests a frightening picture.

First were the bank queues for money. They grew even longer. But
scarier is that upon entering supermarkets in particular, the empty shelves
have become more pronounced. It is impossible to justify why the shops
should continue to operate when all they have in stock are soya mince,
kapenta, a few snacks occupying less than 20% of the floor space in any
given shop.

As I write this letter to the Editor, I am told that commuter fares
here in Bulawayo have gone up to $15 billion a trip.

If the shops are empty, the next thing we are going to hear - as has
happened to this city over the past decade - is that factories will begin to
wind down and the government has not been able to do anything about it.

An indication is that not even their own companies are supplying the
shops. If the supermarkets are empty, what is happening to the diversified
range of products from the Grain Marketing Board? At least we should be
seeing those in the shops, but can anyone?

Can the government tell us what State-run companies are producing and
why their goods are not seen and available for the public?

Equally, what has happened to the products from the Agricultural and
Rural Development Authority? Where is the grain that is being imported from
neighbouring countries, which was promised before the 29 March harmonised
elections?

Now that they have 100% total empowerment and independence, how do
they translate that into meeting the basic needs of our people? Can the
government tell us its programme for the next month and what difference it
is going to make within the next 100 days in office?

The truth as Zanu PF knows is that it had no plan beyond ensuring that
its candidate got into power by any means necessary.

I was stunned to hear the Ministry of Energy and Power Development
announcing a proposal for ethanol as if production had started, when this is
merely about what they intend to do. This is the ruse they sold us about the
winter maize crop project, where is it now - abandoned and forgotten just as
they did the Lowveld ethanol project they now seek to resuscitate.

What stunned me was that this announcement was being made without
reference to the Jatropha project, which the government promised would see
the construction of refinery plants in each of the country's provinces.

The government's failures continue to be unmasked, but this time
around it is on a scale none of them had ever anticipated. The longer it
delays in owning up and resolving the political crisis in the country the
worse the situation is going to get.

The rhetoric and threats are now over, where is the real 100%
empowerment and total independence?

Sizakunya

Lobengula

Bulawayo

Back to the Top
Back to Index