Sat 8 Mar 2008, 17:13 GMT
By Cris Chinaka
HARARE, March 8 (Reuters) - Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe handed out tractors and
fuel on Saturday as he courted votes ahead of elections this month, and a
leading opponent urged the veteran president to end decades of misrule and
Mugabe handed out the farm equipment to blacks given land seized from
whites, a reform his critics say has helped plunge Zimbabwe into economic
crisis, and predicted an overwhelming victory that would confound Britain
and other critics.
The 84-year-old Mugabe is seeking to extend his 28-year hold on power in
presidential, parliamentary and local council polls set for March 29, and
has blamed the West for Zimbabwe's economic crisis.
At a ceremony in the capital Harare, Mugabe provided farm equipment worth
millions of dollars to thousands of new black farmers, machinery for women
and youths to establish small businesses and buses to try to ease public
He also gave traditional chiefs at the same ceremony thousands of litres of
fuel, also in short supply.
"When the government embarked on the land reform programme, the dark forces
of imperialism sought to strangle our agro-based economy through the
spiteful closure of financial loans and grants to us," he told thousands at
the equipment distribution.
"This hate programme by Britain and her fellow racists imposed unjustified
sanctions on Zimbabwe in futile attempts to frighten us off our land. But we
shall never retreat, never, never," he said in what has become a ritual
attack on Zimbabwe's former colonial master.
Mugabe faces a tough challenge from rebel former finance minister, Simba
Makoni, and long time opposition rival Morgan Tsvangirai, who narrowly lost
the disputed 2002 election to Mugabe.
"It's time Mugabe went for a retirement package...Mugabe should be ashamed
to be seeking re-election after almost 30 years of misrule," Tsvangirai told
a cheering crowd in a packed stadium in the southern city of Bulawayo.
Tsvangirai said his Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) would speed up
economic development in the region and compensate victims of a military
crackdown on a five-year Matabeleland insurgency in the 1980s that left
The region has long been an opposition stronghold.
"We're going to set up a Matabeleland Reparations Fund to respond to those
who were unfortunate to lose their dear ones, to make sure they are able to
restore their lives again and be part of this society," Tsvangirai said.
The opposition leader, who says his government would make constitutional
reforms a top priority, also promised greater autonomy for the country's
provinces, but said this would not take the form of a federal
administration. (For full Reuters Africa coverage and to have your say on
the top issues, visit: http://africa.reuters.com/ )
(Additional reporting by MacDonald Dzirutwe; Editing by Jon Boyle)
March 8, 2008
Jan Raath in Harare
Britain, continental countries and others critical of Mr Mugabe will be
banned from sending monitors to oversee the freedom and fairness of the
poll. Sudan and Libya have been chosen "on the basis of objectivity and
impartiality in their relationship with Zimbabwe", Simbarashe Mumbengegwi,
the Foreign Minister, said.
"Clearly, those who believe that the only free and fair election is where
the Opposition wins, have been excluded since the ruling party is poised to
score yet another triumph," he said.
Among the observer nations are Ethiopia, Nigeria, China, Iran, Venezuela and
Kenya, where allegations of vote rigging sparked deadly ethnic violence in
Mr Mumbengegwi said that there was "one European nation" among the list of
invited countries, and named Russia, where there are concerns over the
election of Dmitri Medvedev, President Putin's successor, as president last
The presidential, parliamentary and local government elections on March 29
present Mr Mugabe, 84, with his most severe test as he stands for another
term against Simba Makoni, the former Finance Minister, and Morgan
Tsvangirai, the veteran pro-democracy opposition leader.
The campaign is taking place amid economic chaos, with inflation at 100,000
per cent, famine and the collapse of a once-sophisticated government
Mr Mumbengegwi advised Western ambassadors in Harare on Thursday that they
would be allowed to deploy accredited members of staff already based here as
observers. Yesterday a note dispatched from the Foreign Ministry added that
only ten officials would be allowed per embassy. "It's the coalition of the
compliant," said an envoy, who asked not to be named.
SETTING AN EXAMPLE
President Bashir of Sudan, who came to power after a coup in 1989, was
re-elected in deeply flawed elections in 2000. Abuses included torture,
beatings, rape, infringement on citizens' freedoms of speech, press,
assembly, association, religion and movement
Colonel Gaddafi heads the Great Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya -
a "state of the masses". Reported torture, arbitrary arrest and detention
remain problems. The Government restricts freedoms of speech, press,
assembly and association
Source: US State Department human rights reports
Takavafira Zhou is a teacher who was tortured in Zimbabwe. Now he is in
London for a rally demanding change. By Emily Dugan
Saturday, 8 March 2008
One of Zimbabwe's leading human rights campaigners has issued the world with
a startling reminder of the horrific abuse and torture being suffered under
Robert Mugabe's regime ahead of the country's elections in three weeks'
Takavafira Zhou, a trade union activist, was seized by government police two
weeks ago and, while imprisoned, did not know if he would make it out of the
torture chamber alive. Beaten to within an inch of his life, Mr Zhou was
told to repeat the slogan "Robert Mugabe is always right", and now he has
come to Britain to preach the reverse.
Still bearing the scars that are a testament to President Mugabe's brutal
rule, Mr Zhou is to defy his oppressors by telling protesters today at the
Action for Southern Africa (Actsa) pro-democracy rally in Trafalgar Square
of the human rights violations taking place in his country. From there he
and his trade union colleagues will go to Brussels to lobby the EU
commissioner for Human Rights to take action against the dictator.
Mr Zhou says the time to act is now. "The suffering in Zimbabwe cannot
continue for another day," he said, on arrival in London yesterday.
"International leaders are complicit in human rights abuses in Zimbabwe by
their failure to provide a solution or to induce a solution in Zimbabwe. We
really wonder why Zimbabwe has taken so long to get international help. In
Kenya it did not take so long. Why?"
Three weeks from today, Zimbabweans will be going to the polls, but Mr Zhou
is not hopeful that the elections on 29 March will be democratic. "There
will be no free and fair elections in Zimbabwe", he said. "And anyone who
says there can be is daydreaming."
At the end of the month, the 84-year-old President will face two of his
strongest opponents yet: his former finance minister Simba Makoni, 57,
backed by ruling party rebels, and Morgan Tsvangirai, 55, the leader of the
Movement for Democratic Change.
But many believe that even these strong candidates do not stand a chance
against the closely guarded regime of Mr Mugabe and Zanu-PF. Outside
electoral observers are being brought in, but opposition party members say
that these will be taken entirely from countries that Mr Mugabe perceives as
"friendly" to the regime.
Russia is the only European country to have been invited to monitor the
elections while the majority of remaining observers will be from the
Southern African Development Community (SADC) - a body which has already
been criticised for dealing too leniently with Mr Mugabe.
Zimbabwe's Foreign Minister, Simbarashe Mumbengegwi, openly admitted
yesterday that countries which had opposed Mr Mugabe would not be invited to
monitor elections. "Clearly, those who believe that the only free and fair
election is where the opposition wins, have been excluded since the ruling
party, Zanu-PF, is poised to score yet another triumph," Mr Mumbengegwi
said. But another Mugabe win would be far from a triumph for the Zimbabwean
people, according to Lucia Matibenga, the vice-president of the Zimbabwe
Congress of Trade Unions, and an electoral candidate for the MDC in Harare.
She has also seen the catastrophic effects of Mr Mugabe's tight grip of
power, and will stand alongside Mr Zhou in Trafalgar Square today.
"I don't see that we are preparing for free and fair elections given that
violence is now institutionalised," said Ms Matibenga. "I think particularly
in the rural areas people will find it very difficult to vote against
Zanu-PF because of the threats made against them. Chiefs are paid by Robert
Mugabe to use any means possible to ensure that their people vote for him."
For Mr Zhou, the reasons for a democratic challenge to Mr Mugabe are
compelling. The 40-year-old university lecturer and president of the
Progressive Teachers Union has witnessed first-hand how the President's
clampdown on free speech has penalised innocent protesters.
Two weeks ago the human rights activist was leading a group of teachers
handing out leaflets in Harare to campaign against the country's crippled
education system when he was taken by Zanu-PF militia. The leafleting had
taken place dangerously close to the party's headquarters, and within
minutes of being discovered all the teachers were dragged into an
underground cellar. Teams of 15 men used logs and iron bars to beat them. Mr
Zhou and his fellow campaigners were battered - and some of the women
sexually abused - with the iron rods, until they were left motionless on the
"It was so terrible. I've never seen such thuggery; I've never seen such
brutality," said Mr Zhou. When the beatings became so bad that three of his
fellow-protesters passed out, the police became afraid and took them to
hospital, where they remained under police guard for four days.
Now the police are trying to charge them with criminal nuisance, but Mr Zhou
says such a charge would be a gross injustice. "I don't see what is criminal
or what is a nuisance about trying to save the collapsing education system",
he said. Last month, he lost his job as a history lecturer at Great Zimbabwe
University after submitting an anti-government paper. But Zimbabwe's
universities have been closed anyway for several weeks now, as a jittery Mr
Mugabe tightens his control on anti-government sentiment ahead of the
When Mr Mugabe - a former school teacher himself - first became leader,
there was hope that he would usher in a new era for education in Zimbabwe.
But now, amid crippling inflation and government control, the schools lie
empty and dilapidated; 25,000 teachers abandoned their posts last year, and
a further 8,000 have left in this year already.
The few teachers who remain have been on strike since January over poor pay
and the introduction of untrained militia as teaching staff. "This
militarisation is what happened in Nazi Germany or with Mussolini's youth
militia", warned Mr Zhou, who says that the teacher Mugabe of the 1960s
would not have let such atrocities occur.
"The old Mugabe only wants his voice to be heard, but the young Mugabe
wanted to hear the voices of the oppressed," he said. Teachers now have a
salary of just four million Zimbabwean dollars, enough for little more than
eight bottles of cooking oil. Mr Mugabe's soldiers, meanwhile are paid 2.3bn
Zimbabwean dollars. "When Mugabe was 28, he said: 'If the government touch a
cent of my salary I'll box them,'" said Mr Zhou. "We don't want to box
Robert Mugabe; we're saying teachers have legitimate demands that should be
met by the government."
It is unclear what horrors will await Mr Zhou on his return to Zimbabwe next
week but he says he will not be gagged in his attempts to hold back the
dictator's lust for power. "I am not afraid of going back," he said. "I take
casualties as part of the struggle and part of leadership. Zimbabweans must
note that they can't afford to stand on the touchline to watch a game they
should be playing. Dictators do not willingly give up power, they need to be
8th Mar 2008 00:31 GMT
By Rhoda Mashavave
WITH only three weeks left before the long-awaited elections are held,
Zimbabwean women mark the international women's day with no illusion of what
their future holds.
International women's day is commemorated by women worldwide. It is a day
women celebrate their womanhood, emancipation, achievements and agonies.
For most women in Zimbabwe this day is just going to be like another
ordinary day with many in queues for food, water, money and many other basic
"The day is no longer celebrated as before because of police brutality, if
we demonstrate against shortages of food, sanitary pads or high cost of
living. We are called MDC sympathisers or politicians.
It is difficult to ignore the economy pressures women face daily in
Zimbabwe ," said Memory Bure, a struggling Harare mother.
Another woman concurred with Bure's views.
"I am not going to celebrate the day or vote in the coming elections. I
have not been impressed by the candidates. Even if I vote there won't be
much differences. In 2002 I braved the long queue and sweltering heat to
vote for my favourite candidate. I never made it because of the harassment I
received from the policemen manning the queue. We were accused of voting
twice and many people were beaten. I would rather stay home and watch people
voting," lamented the woman who refused to be named.
She added: "Even if I decide to vote will it make a difference? We have a
winner before the actual elections. I would rather join a food queue and
stock up cooking oil, mealie meal and sugar in my home. I am sure the
prices will rise sharply soon after the elections. Plus there are few women
candidates who care about our problems."
Male candidates continue to dominate the Zimbabwean political landscape even
though women constitute 52 percent of the population.
Organisations like Women in Politics Support Unit have been on the
fore-front fighting for the participation of women in politics and decision
Another woman interviewed had a different opinion on the upcoming
"I am going to exercise my right to vote even though I am not optimistic
about the future after the elections. My vote will make a difference
somehow. My choice is my secret. There is no need to talk about the person I
am going to vote for," said Muchaneta Dube.
"Women suffer most during elections because they are subjected to all forms
of violence from the police, ruling and opposition parties. Its better to
just not talk about the candidate you are going to vote for," said Dube.
In the past people perceived to be supporting the opposition have been
harassed, beaten up and even killed by the ruling party supporters. Some
women have been even been raped because of their political beliefs.
It is yet to be seen if the upcoming elections are going to ease the lives
of many women who continue to suffer under the current government. Many
hope somehow for a miracle to end the woes blighting the lives of many an
ordinary woman and the girl child in Zimbabwe.
And as they commemorate international women's day, many would be thinking of
the good old days that they yearn to return to. Their current situation is
so bad and continues to get worse by the day.
By Blessing Zulu
07 March 2008
Zimbabweans were set to observe International Women's Day on Saturday amidst
a deepening national crisis that has increased the burden on mothers of
families ahead of national elections that under the best of circumstances
will only mark the start of a difficult process of recovery from severe
economic and social dislocations.
Organizers of the international event noted that this year's observations
will fall on the 100th anniversary of a march by 15,000 women in New York
City demanding a cut in working hours, higher pay and the right to vote.
International Women's Day as such was launched March 8, 1911, by Clara
Zetkin, a German social democrat.
Marking the event in Zimbabwe this year has not been easy - police in Gweru,
capital of Midlands Province, initially refused to give the Zimbabwe
Congress of Trade Unions permission to hold a gathering but the ZCTU
successfully sought court relief.
With presidential, parliamentary and local elections set for March 29,
political parties of every stripe are claiming to have made progress in
For a look at whether such claims are justified, reporter Blessing Zulu of
VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe turned to political analysts Theresa Mugadza and
Grace Kwinje, who said not much has been done for women in the country
despite many promises.
Published: March 7, 2008 at 5:12 PM
BULAWAYO, Zimbabwe, March 7 (UPI) -- The two factions of Zimbabwe's main
opposition party claim the country's police have been harassing their
candidates for the March 29 elections.
Both factions of the split Movement for Democratic Change party said police
have arrested, abducted or beaten their candidates while the ruling ZANU-PF
party allegedly masterminded acts of violence against opposition supporters,
Nehanda Radio reported Friday.
"The police are acting in a partisan manner, banning our candidates and
their supporters from conducting door-to-door campaigns, especially in the
city," said Nelson Chamisa, spokesman for the MDC faction led by Morgan
Marvelous Khumalo, an MDC candidate for the parliament, was arrested Feb. 29
along with 11 supporters during a campaign stop in the township of
Chitungiza. The candidate remained in custody Friday.
Police Commissioner Gen. Augustine Chihuri denied the arrests were partisan.
He said Khumalo and his supporters were arrested for violent behavior.
"Those people were arrested for a crime they know -- they were carrying
weapons and campaigning aggressively. The police are simply doing their job
of maintaining law and order," he said.
© 2008 United Press International. All Rights Reserved.
This material may not be reproduced, redistributed, or manipulated in any
By Irwin Chifera and Carole Gombakomba
07 March 2008
Politically motivated violence and police arrests of Zimbabwean opposition
candidates and supporters have been rising as the country's March 29
In the eastern province of Manicaland, sources said the home of a local
leader of war veterans, Misheck Masukume, was burned Wednesday by unknown
A Mutare police officer told VOA said the blaze was under investigation.
Masukume, a staunch supporter of the ruling ZANU-PF party, had been
implicated in an assault on opposition activist Pishai Muchauraya by alleged
ZANU-PF supporters who were said to have been riding in Masukume's truck at
In the Mashonaland West town of Karoi, 18 opposition members including
Timothy Mutsunge, a candidate for parliament for the Magunje constituency,
were arrested on Monday and charged with violating the Public Order and
Mutsunge and two others were released Thursday on bail of Z$100 million
apiece. An MDC source said 15 others remained in custody on Friday because
it had not been possible to raise the Z$100 million (US$3) bail for all of
An MDC circular on the incident alleged that the police officer in charge
for Magunje, a certain Ruzungunde, was working with ZANU-PF candidate Franco
Ndambakuwa to block the opposition challenge for the parliamentary seat.
The much criticized law underwent amendment early this year in the context
of the now-defunct crisis resolution talks between the ruling party and
opposition, but that has not stopped police around the country from citing
it in making such arrests.
Opposition sources said Mutsunge and the others were putting up campaign
posters for Morgan Tsvangirai, presidential candidate for his grouping of
the Movement for Democratic Change. Police said they were gathering without
Elsewhere, members of Tsvangirai's opposition formation were said to be
fearing the worst following the abduction of a local council candidate late
The party's parliamentary candidate for the Rushinga constituency of
Mashonaland Central, Samuel Ndaradzi, said he and other MDC activists fear
Edson Mumwengwa was abducted by ZANU-PF militants as he previously had
received death threats.
Ndaradzi said the man's whereabouts were unknown and police did not seem
keen to investigate the matter despite three reports on the disappearance to
Correspondent Irwin Chifera for VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe reported.
Senior Political Analyst Sydney Masamvu of the International Crisis Group's
Southern African office told reporter Carole Gombakomba of that the rise in
violence and arrests of opposition members reflect a buildup in momentum
towards the elections.
As the election tension increases, so do the threats from Mugabe's thugs.
This is one man's story of what is happening to his loved ones.
I met up with my friend Benjamin in Bulawayo this week, and asked after his
family. His mother and three sisters live in the Umguza district, where his
mother grows fields of crops and the three girls go to school.
"You can ask them yourself," he replied. "They're all here in Bulawayo with
me. They've had to abandon their life in Umguza, leave everything. It was a
case of run - or be slaughtered."
He then told me the details of what had happened. This is his story:
"My mother knew she had to do something. For some weeks she has realised it
is not safe for her even to move around the locality. She is known to be a
supporter of the MDC (Zimbabwe's Movement for Democratic Change, the
opposition party), and she realised that fingers had been pointed at her.
There was a definite threat in the air.
"Things came to a head last Friday. My two little sisters are in primary
school. They're only 11 and 13. But outside school they were confronted by a
gang of men armed with axes and clubs. The men told them that they would be
killed, and their bodies burned to ashes.
"Terrified, they ran home. My mother was trying to calm them down when my
older sister, who is in Form Four, came in, just as upset. The same men had
confronted her, waving their axes in her face and threatening to kill her on
"They told her that anyone who belonged to the MDC faced death if they
didn't run away.
"Next morning a group of men confronted my mother herself. She knew them.
They are her neighbours. She trusted them. But they told her that if she
stayed they would burn her home down during the night, and kill everyone in
"I myself went home. While I was there I listened to our local MP, Obert
Mpofu, addressing his supporters. He told them, in my hearing, that
'sell-outs', as he called MDC supporters, must be driven out before the
election, to stop them voting.
"So it's clear the threats of violence have official backing. And I don't
need reminding that this is where Gloria Olds and her son were slain in cold
blood by war veterans at the heigh of the land seizures in 2000.
"So I made my decision. I brought my mother and sisters into town, to be
with me. Okay, it's not safe here, either. But if we are to die, then we die
That's Benjamin's story. His family's experience is being repeated, in one
form or another, all over Zimbabwe today.
Posted on Thursday, 06 March 2008
Globe and Mail, Canada
Michael Valpy does not recognize Zimbabwe today. The country he once called
home is a place of derelict shops, 80-per-cent unemployment, defunct
hospitals, stench-filled streets. This month's election shows no hope for
From Saturday's Globe and Mail
March 7, 2008 at 11:06 PM EST
HARARE - It's a shock, entering Robert Mugabe's decaying, crumbling capital.
The former urban gem of Africa, once prissy in its orderly efficiency, now
sinking into a rank detritus of uncollected garbage, potholes, broken
traffic lights, collapsing public services, paint-flaked, gloomy, empty
stores and abandoned factories.
Harare, the Sunshine City of the tourist brochures, sparkled as recently as
a decade ago. A bracing, healthy 1,500 metres above sea level on the
stunning highveld, it was an intentional, sturdy metropolis of commerce and
finance, trade, manufacturing, government, upmarket shops and professional
The sun remains but the shine is gone. Harare stinks.
Sunshine City turned sewage farm, as Zimbabwe's Financial Times, one of the
country's very few independent news media voices, put it. Although sewage
farming is just not the right wording.
There's a theft pandemic of sewer, telephone, electrical and water-supply
equipment. The public nuts and bolts, the cables and pipes, of this city of
nearly three million people are literally vanishing alongside the flawed
management of what infrastructure remains. Think about this: People selling
phone wires for food.
Electrical and water supply is erratic (although the reservoirs are full).
Elevators in downtown buildings and gas stations are becoming artifacts of a
past existence. Public servants in the city parked their cars years ago: no
fuel affordable; no fuel to be found.
Officially inflation is 100,580 per cent. Unofficially (and probably more
accurately) it is more than 150,000 per cent. In any event, there are too
few retail commodities to make any kind of measurement accurate.
All surgery at Harare's Parirenyatwa Hospital, the biggest in the country,
has ceased because of a shortage of anesthetic, functioning equipment and
medical specialists. Nurses and other workers refuse to come to work because
their bus transportation costs are greater than their salaries. With the
Zimbabwean currency this week falling to a record low of $25-million for a
single U.S. dollar, bus fares can change on a single trip.
The University of Zimbabwe's faculty is melting away across the country's
borders, joining an estimated 3.5 million of their fellow citizens who have
emigrated or fled. Industry - what industry that still exists - is operating
at 20 per cent capacity.
The orderly market has simply dematerialized. The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe
borrows hard currency from shadowy traders in the black market to pay for
food and drug imports, essential vehicle fuel and electricity from
Zimbabwe's neighbours, further contributing to inflation.
Two professionals, a husband and wife, tell me their combined monthly income
is $57-million. "That buys four loaves of bread," says the wife. When bread
can be found.
Life in Harare has been described as an existential struggle.
I lived here two decades ago as The Globe and Mail's Africa correspondent. I
have come back for a look at the country as its March 29 election campaign
gets under way. Because foreign journalists at the moment are unwelcome -
it's been four years since the government last gave The Globe permission to
report in the country - I have entered as a teacher of religion.
My driver, John, who meets me at the airport, says he needs to buy cooking
oil. (I have omitted his last name to protect him from any repercussions for
ferrying me around.)
When we get into the city, he passes a shop I remember as a fashionable
outlet for women's clothes. One rack with three dated and ugly dresses sits
in the window. The rest of the store is bare and dark. Its neighbours are
barred and padlocked, as are many shops on adjacent streets.
Only in Harare's opulent suburb of Borrowdale - home to diplomats, business
and political elites, staff of international NGOs paid in foreign currency -
are the Van Heusen dress shirts surreally advertised along the road from the
airport likely to be found in Chinese- and South African-owned private shops
located alongside new-car dealerships, nightclubs, international fast-food
outlets and grocery stores filled with goods deliberately displayed without
price tags in testament to Zimbabwe's inflation.
"Borrowdale," says the wife with the $57-million family income, as if she's
mentioning a dirty word. "Two different countries inside one country."
A few kilometres but an economic light year from Borrowdale, John drives
into a derelict, rusted-out factory yard and stops the car. He immediately
is surrounded by black-market hawkers selling goods from bakkies - pick-up
trucks - parked just out of sight in alleyways.
He negotiates a price of $61-million for a litre of cooking oil, paying for
it with the country's newly issued $10-million notes.
"It's the sanctions," John says.
When he refuses to pay $70-million for a three-kilo bag of potatoes, he says
again: "It's the sanctions." And when his new, four-wheel drive Isuzu
repeatedly stalls because of water in the fuel line, and he says he can't
get filters to remedy the problem, he repeats: "It's the sanctions." The
Eighty-four-year-old President Mugabe and his Zimbabwe African National
Union-Patriotic Front government, the country's rulers since independence in
1980, say it is sanctions imposed by Western countries that are to blame for
Zimbabwe's economic chaos. Sanctions, and not the destruction of the
agriculture industry - the country's economic backbone - brought about by
the government's decision to seize commercial (mostly white) farmers'
properties beginning in 2000 and redistribute them to black farmers lacking
the technical knowledge to operate them.
Economic mismanagement along with flagrant human-rights abuses and past
election fraud are the issues in the election manifestos of Mr. Mugabe's
presidential opponents - former finance minister Simba Makoni and Morgan
Tsvangirai, leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change.
"Does she feel sad?" I asked the young man acting as my interpreter. He
smiled, and put my question in ChiShona to Ms. Muzhira, who also smiled
before speaking a single sentence to a silly question from an alien murungu
(white person). What is the notion of sad when there is only living? And
dying. Average life expectancy in Zimbabwe in the past 30 years has dropped
from 56 to 37. A Zimbabwean woman's life expectancy is the lowest in the
"She says she feels okay," said the young man.
I met the three Nyakudya sisters, Kezai, 46, Sekai, 39, and Harugumi, 37.
Sekai has AIDS, Harugumi has advanced cerebral palsy and cannot talk or move
beyond lifting a claw of a hand to take a visitor's. The men in the family,
the brothers and husbands, are all dead of AIDS-related illness. A nearby
hospital some months back gave the women a few chickens so they could sell
eggs to earn cash. There is no sign of the chickens.
Child malnutrition in the village is rife.
I met a British NGO nurse running an AIDS orphanage who said all the workers
in her local government child welfare office had quit that day because their
salaries hadn't been paid.
I met an AIDS orphan who was a nuisance at a rural medical clinic, a girl
eight or nine years old, following the staff around, pestering them for
clothes, food, attention. No one knew where she slept at night, somewhere in
the clinic compound. There were shiny new cars in the clinic's parking lot,
owned by people from Harare who had come for AIDS and TB drugs and
ambulatory surgery they couldn't get in city hospitals.
In conversations with Zimbabweans in both rural and urban parts of the
country, I was told repeatedly how much people want Mr. Mugabe to go, how
corrupt, oppressive and incompetent his government is. At a big birthday
party thrown for him last month in the town of Beitbridge near the South
African border, protesters daringly hoisted a helium balloon bearing the
message, "You've had your cake. Now beat it." But I found no optimism that
the election would result in Mr. Mugabe's defeat.
The nursing student whose studies have been halted by the exodus of his
instructors lamented that Mr. Makoni's 11th-hour entry into the campaign
would only split the opposition vote.
A recently retired air force officer said he had no doubt the election
outcome would be rigged (as the last outcome is widely believed to have
been), citing the army generals who are close to Mr. Mugabe and sit on the
Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, and the opportunities to tamper with ballot
boxes that will be flown by armed forces helicopters to central locations
And the reality is, whether fraudulently holding office or not, Mr. Mugabe
maintains a genuine popularity.
His re-election posters - he is running for a sixth term - say, "Vote
Comrade Robert Gabriel Mugabe. Defending our land and sovereignty." A clever
slogan, pushing hot buttons. Mr. Mugabe has branded his political opponents
as Western agents who would reduce Zimbabwe to colonial status and return it
to a fief of white-settler farmers who treated their black workers worse
than animals and committed unspeakable atrocities during the liberation war
in what was then Rhodesia.
A health-care professional in her 40s, buying three onions for $10-million
at a roadside market and two pints of oil for her car from a man who
magically appeared from behind a butcher shop, explained it like this: "I
saw my grandfather shot dead in front of me [by Rhodesian troops]. I saw
seven men in my village ordered to put on poisoned clothes and run around a
house until they worked up a sweat that triggered the poison which entered
their pores. I saw all the pregnant women in my village gagged and told to
lie on the ground while water was forced up their nostrils to make them talk
about where the guerrillas were.
"Most whites were very cruel. People know Mugabe rescued them from this.
Every adult Zimbabwean knows he rescued them from this, and many, many
believe that to vote for the opposition is to vote to go back to what Mugabe
rescued them from." On the road from the village back to Harare, I passed
broken-down trucks and a magnificent gleaming-white mansion on a hill
overlooking a posh roadhouse called the Sweet Valley Restaurant.
The mansion, said my driver, had been built for a Rhodesian general. The
restaurant, now closed, had been owned by a businessman rumoured to have
wisely fled after he was discovered being too chummy with President Mugabe's
On my South African Airways flight back to Johannesburg, the captain began
his chat with the passengers by saying, "As we taxi toward takeoff, trying
to avoid the worst of the potholes ..."
But the prime victims here are truth and this ruined country's 12 million
Sanctions, such as they are, target arms imports and the international
travels of Zimbabwe's rulers, not its economy. And the commercial farmers
lost their land largely as a result of their own doing, their refusal to
share holdings - 70 per cent of arable land held by 1 per cent of the
population - conferred on them by Zimbabwe's before-independence, racist
How people are surviving in this city, in this country, is simply baffling.
The inflation. The 80 per cent unemployment. The 21 per cent HIV infection
rate (with the country now virtually bereft of anti-retroviral drugs). The
exodus of Zimbabwe's best and brightest (I had a long conversation with a
student trying to figure out how to complete his bachelor of science degree
in nursing with all his instructors suddenly having emigrated). And now a
cataclysmic looming food shortage as a result of horrendous rains that
devastated the planting of maize, Zimbabwe's staple food crop.
A health-care official told me that, without massive food aid, there will be
an explosion in the coming months of young women working as prostitutes,
leading to more HIV infections and more AIDS orphans, and more children
dying of malnutrition - already a commonplace diagnosis in the country's
hospitals and clinics along with widespread diarrhea and typhoid from
contaminated urban water supplies.
The news is not all bad.
Some commercial farmers have been invited to reapply to the government for
land. Others are working as behind-the-scenes managers of farms
redistributed to blacks. I saw a number of productive, well-run farms and
drove past an agricultural estate owned by a Zimbabwean cabinet minister
with a sign at the gate advertising eggs for sale.
A substantial portion of the population is being supported by remittances
from about one million Zimbabweans abroad - estimated to be as much as
$1-billion (U.S.) a year, by far the largest inflow of cash into the
country. And the rains that ruined maize planting created lush grazing
pastures: In a few months there will be meat from now-skinny cows and goats
(if anyone can afford it).
But in a village two hours north of Harare one sunny afternoon, I watched
laughing, joy-filled children race each other home from school along a
I wondered how many short years were left to them before their joy was lost
forever in the face of the realities of Zimbabwean life.
That afternoon, I sat with women with AIDS and HIV-related tuberculosis in
thatched-roof rondavels. They were too ill to walk, and too poor to afford
bus fare - $5-million - to the nearest clinic to get what drugs and
treatment remain available.
I met Shelly Muzhira, 43, lying on the floor. Her husband died two years ago
of TB. All but one of her brothers and all the husbands of her sisters died
of AIDS or TB. She was diagnosed with AIDS and congestive heart disease. She
barely has breath to talk. She's too ill to work. Her two children, Perpetua
and Elvis, tend a tiny vegetable garden, the family's only source of food.
She could go live with her surviving brother but would not be welcomed by
her sister-in-law because she is unproductive. The family's sole source of
income is through the generosity of an aunt who raises chickens for sale.
Friday, 07 March 2008 15:02
INDEPENDENT presidential election candidate Simba Makoni's camp is
expecting more phased resignations of Zanu PF "big hitters" in the next two
weeks in a bid to destabilise President Robert Mugabe, already unnerved by
the defection of senior party members.
The hidden strategy to win the forthcoming election was laid open to
the elements this week as political campaigns intensify.
Informed sources said Makoni's strategy included well-timed
resignations by senior Zanu PF members who are part of an internal bid to
dislodge Mugabe from power. The surge in resignations was calculated to
shake Zanu PF to its foundations.
Mugabe was quoted yesterday in the state media as saying he did not
know where defections from his party would lead to, showing he feared more
politburo members would quit.
The Makoni strategy also includes roping in state security agents -
especially army officers known as the "Boys on Leave" - who are currently
deployed in districts, constituencies and wards around the country to
mobilise support for Zanu PF.
"Boys on Leave", accused of rigging, are usually deployed six months
before elections on behalf of Zanu PF. They were key in Mugabe's 2002
controversial victory, which was basically run by the military. Brigadier
Douglas Nyikayaramba played a leading role, while other senior army officers
The sources said the state security agents are all over the country to
do dirty work for Zanu PF. This, coupled with grave flaws in the electoral
process and technical shortcomings, would almost certainly ensure that the
elections are not free and fair. For instance, the voters' roll remains a
shambles while gerrymandering through new constituency boundaries is said to
be prevalent. A non-existent constituency, Tsholotsho East, is referred to
in the delimitation report.
Procedures were also not followed in announcing the dates of
nomination of candidates. Problems over polling stations and supply of
ballot papers, especially in towns, remain. The supervising and monitoring
of the elections is still a contentious issue. Opposition parties are still
not getting access to the public media. All these problems violate the Sadc
Makoni's camp says it is mobilising voters through a "military
strategy" and this should deliver to them 70% of the vote. It is said Makoni's
group was using the "Boys on Leave" taskforces on the ground to coordinate
The "whispering campaign" by soldiers involves telling voters to cast
their ballots for Zanu PF candidates in council, national assembly and
senate elections, but not for Mugabe. People are told to vote for Makoni as
president. This has been confirmed privately by Makoni's strategists.
The architects of the plan - basically a Zanu PF succession fight to
get rid of Mugabe - include top members of the ruling party faction led by
retired army commander General Solomon Mujuru. Makoni is not only supported
by the Mujuru faction, but also by other party members who are anti-Mugabe
in the battle for the heart and soul of Zanu PF.
Makoni and his allies, it is said, want to seize the Zanu PF
leadership through an external process after they failed to achieve it
internally, mainly at the party's extraordinary congress in December last
Sources said the plan was for Makoni to leave Zanu PF just before the
nomination deadline to file papers to stand as an independent candidate
rooted in the Zanu PF structures. Makoni and others would insist that they
remain Zanu PF to ensure they did not alienate the ruling party's support
base. Makoni's camp is currently using Zanu PF structures informally and
newly-created committees to drum up support for him.
Makoni's move would be followed by politburo member Dumiso Dabengwa,
it was planned. It is understood the next politburo member to follow was
expected to be retired army commander General Vitalis Zvinavashe. Mujuru
would follow just a few days before the elections.
His wife Vice-President Joice Mujuru - who since last week has been
speaking in support of Zanu PF and Mugabe - would remain inside to sell
Mugabe a dummy. She would however leave after the polls if
Makoni won to become Makoni's co-vice president with Dabengwa. In
between there would be other critical resignations.
Mujuru, Dabengwa and Zvinavashe - veterans of the liberation
struggle - were reportedly the brains behind the Makoni initiative. The plan
was hatched after Mugabe manipulated his way back to the helm of the party
in December through unprocedural means.
Dabengwa, who has now publicly confirmed the issue first reported in
the Zimbabwe Independent last December, tried to raise the matter at a
politburo meeting in November but did not get backing from his timid
colleagues. Mujuru's camp wanted Joice Mujuru or Dabengwa to take over from
Mugabe, but the plan was countered by their rival Emmerson Mnangagwa and war
veterans' leader Jabulani Sibanda. After December Makoni became the
The involvement of Sibanda fuelled tensions between Mugabe and his
opponents, particularly former PF Zapu leaders. Vice-President Joseph Msika
and chairman John Nkomo almost walked out of the December congress due to
the Sibanda incident. After congress, Dabengwa confronted Mugabe at the
first politburo meeting of the year in January over the Sibanda issue.
Makoni has said there was huge disappointment when Mugabe retained his
position as party leader last year.
Dabengwa said last week widespread consultations were made before the
Makoni project was launched on February 5. He revealed Justice minister
Patrick Chinamasa was also involved. It is said a large number of Zanu PF
officials, including Msika, Joice Mujuru and Nkomo, are sympathetic to
Makoni. Although senior Zanu PF officials have been making loud public
protestations of loyalty to Mugabe, it is said behind-the-scenes the same
officials are backing Makoni. --Dumisani Muleya
Friday, 07 March 2008 14:18
ZIMBABAWE'S education system was paralysed this week as a teachers'
strike for better working conditions and remuneration intensified with no
immediate solution in sight.
The teachers embarked on industrial action last week to press for a
monthly salary of $1,7 billion and improved working conditions.
According to information at hand, only headmasters and their deputies
reported for duty.
The country's largest teachers' union, Zimbabwe Teachers Association
(Zimta), told the Zimbabwe Independent that the strike would continue until
the government meets their demands.
Peter Mabhande, the chief executive officer of Zimta, ruled out an
immediate engagement with the government to end the strike.
"The nation must know the truth, the strike is going to continue until
our demands are met as teachers are finding it difficult to go to work
because of the poor salaries they are getting," Mabhande said. "We are not
negotiating with the government. They will have to consult among themselves
as our employers and come up with a solution to this crisis."
The Zimta boss said it was "unfortunate and regrettable" that pupils
and parents were being made to suffer as a result of the industrial action.
"Students and parents are suffering as a result of this strike, but as
teachers we cannot continue to subsidise government. We can't afford to send
our children to school," Mabhande said.
The Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe's international affairs
secretary, Themba Sithole, said the strike was
justified as teachers could no longer make ends meet on a monthly
salary of $400 million.
"A teacher's salary of $400 million is not enough to make ends meet
considering that one needs to buy food, clothes, pay school fees and commute
to work from that salary," Sithole said.
Sithole said teachers were also not happy because they were not
benefiting from the Aids levy they contribute to monthly.
"Most of our members have no access to antiretroviral drugs yet month
after month they contribute to the fund," he said.
The strike by teachers is the worst since Independence as students
have not had normal classes since the term started seven weeks ago.
Schools are scheduled to close on March 19 to make way for the Easter
holiday and the historic polls on March 29.
The strike is also expected to affect the smooth running of the
election as in the past the government has recruited teachers as polling
The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, sources said, would be forced to
recruit polling officers from other departments of the civil service.
Education Minister Aeneas Chigwedere could not be reached for comment
at the time of going to press, but President Mugabe on Wednesday said his
government would address the teachers' concerns.--Lucia Makamure
Friday, 07 March 2008 14:16
THE Morgan Tsvangirai-led MDC has accused the country's national
broadcaster, the ZBC, of biased coverage of the March 29 election campaign.
In a letter dated February 28 to ZBC chief executive officer Henry
Muradzikwa, MDC information director Luke Tamborinyoka told the broadcaster
that as a publicly-funded corporation it must be impartial in its coverage
of the election process.
He accused the ZBC of not adhering to Sadc guidelines on the conduct
of free and fair polls.
"As MDC, we are dissatisfied with the blackout of our activities,
especially the launch of our campaign at Sakubva Stadium in Mutare on
Saturday 23 February 2008," wrote Tamborinyoka. "Despite being invited, your
corporation snubbed the event and instead spent hours covering President
Robert Mugabe's birthday in Beitbridge."
The MDC complained that the ZBC recently granted Mugabe an exclusive
interview to mark his 84th birthday and used the opportunity to malign the
reputation of his opponents in the March polls.
"Mugabe also used an exclusive birthday interview that you granted him
to attack other candidates in the presidential elections who are never given
a chance to respond through the same medium," Tamborinyoka said. "It is our
view that the ZBC has abused its privilege to give unfair advantage to Zanu
PF and its candidate even though as a publicly-funded broadcaster you are
expected to give equal coverage to all political players."
Mugabe attacked Tsvangirai for allegedly being backed by the West to
reverse the gains of the liberation struggle and described the leader of the
other faction of the MDC, Arthur Mutambara, as a coward for chickening out
of the presidential race.
Apart from granting Mugabe several hours of broadcast time on his
birthday celebrations in February, last Friday ZBC devoted more than four
hours of live radio and television coverage to Zanu PF's election campaign
launch where the octogenarian leader taunted his opponents. The MDC told
Muradzikwa that Sadc guidelines on the conduct of free and fair elections
demand that all political parties should receive equal coverage in the
"At that historic (Sadc) meeting in Mauritius in August 2004,
President Mugabe committed himself to these guidelines," Tamborinyoka said.
"You have a part to play in making sure that Zimbabweans truly express their
legitimate will in this watershed election."
The opposition said its candidates were not being accorded an
opportunity to "tell their stories" through the ZBC, while the ruling Zanu
PF election campaign continued to receive "prime-time" coverage.
"The media plays an important role in either building or destroying a
nation through the promotion of hate speech against other political players
who are never given the chance to respond," Tamborinyoka said. "It is our
hope that in future the ZBC will change this unfortunate behaviour which
deprives voters of critical information that enables them to make informed
At the time of going to press yesterday, Muradzikwa was yet to reply
to the MDC letter.
The Media Monitoring Project Zimbabwe (MMPZ) last week described
programming by the ZBC as propagandist and against the Sadc principles.
"This week the public media continued to violate domestic and regional
guidelines on fair and equitable election reporting by giving massive
publicity to Zanu PF than all its opponents combined," said the MMPZ in its
weekly report. "The extent to which programming has virtually collapsed at
the ZBC was aptly demonstrated by the saturation of the airwaves with Zanu
PF propaganda during President Mugabe 84th birthday celebrations."--Bernard
Friday, 07 March 2008 14:08
FORMER Information and Publicity minister Jonathan Moyo this week
claimed that Simba Makoni's presidential bid was part of a protracted Zanu
PF succession battle that has been nationalised.
Speaking to journalists in the capital on Wednesday, Moyo said both
President Robert Mugabe and Makoni wanted to resolve the Zanu PF succession
debate through the March 29 synchronised elections.
He alleged that Mugabe pushed for harmonised polls through
Constitutional Amendment No18 to ensure that Zanu PF parliamentary hopefuls
would campaign on his behalf, while Makoni opted to contest as an
independent after his faction, reportedly led by retired army general
Solomon Mujuru, failed to dislodge the 84-year-old leader through internal
Moyo claimed that Makoni and his faction wanted Zimbabweans to resolve
an internal Zanu PF issue.
"It is now our business to deal with the Zanu PF succession issue," he
said. "We are now faced with an amazing succession drama which we have not
witnessed anywhere else in Africa."
Moyo, the independent lawmaker for Tsholotsho, said after the November
2004 Tsholotsho Declaration to re-arrange the party's presidium, Mugabe gave
the impression that he had anointed his deputy, Joice Mujuru, as his
The Tsholotsho debacle, of which Moyo and Rural Housing and Social
Amenities minister Emmerson Mnangagwa were the architects, resulted in the
suspension of six provincial chairpersons.
Moyo said after the elevation of Mujuru to the party's vice-presidency
at the 2004 congress, she started behaving like a successor and went around
the country donating pigs, chickens and eggs.
He said it came as a surprise in Zanu PF last January when Mugabe
announced while in Namibia that he would accept the ruling party's
nomination to contest the 2008 presidential poll.
Moyo said Mugabe took that route after he failed to put in place a
proper succession plan.
This, Moyo said, angered the Mujuru faction that started strategising
on how to get rid of Mugabe through the formal process, but they failed.
The legislator said there were two responses to Mugabe's decision, the
formal and the informal one.
Under the formal process, Moyo said the Mujuru faction at the
Goromonzi conference in December 2006 blocked Mugabe's bid to have
harmonised elections in 2010 and also managed to push for an extraordinary
congress a year later in the hope they could use it to oust Mugabe.
Mugabe's strategists, Moyo said, hit back and tried to mislead the
country that he had been endorsed as the party's presidential candidate by
the Zanu PF central committee on March 31.
"The faction opposed to Mugabe pushed for an extraordinary congress in
the hope that the congress would deal with the succession issue," Moyo said.
"Through manipulation, the congress was hijacked to endorse Mugabe when it
had no mandate to do so. It is the annual people's conference (which has) a
mandate to endorse the party's president as the state's presidential
Moyo said the endorsement of Mugabe forced the other faction in the
party to come up with the informal response - the Makoni strategy.
"Zanu PF has practically two presidential candidates, one formally
endorsed and the other informally.They (the Makoni faction) are not
presenting themselves as a real alternative, but an alternative to replace
Mugabe," the lawmaker said.
He added: "From February 5 when he announced his presidential bid,
Makoni said he was standing as an independent although he wanted to stand on
behalf of Zanu PF. Makoni is Zanu PF B and Mugabe Zanu PF A."
Moyo said Makoni had rejected efforts to work with other democratic
forces as a united front to dislodge Mugabe from power. He said the refusal
deepened political polarisation in the country.
"If Makoni had agreed to a united front we would have witnessed a
similar wave to that when the MDC was formed in 1999," the political science
professor said. "Given Makoni's reputation, calibre and abilities we would
have had a fantastic candidate, but it is unfortunate that this opportunity
is being squandered."
Moyo described the Makoni strategy as "fanciful medicine" that would
kill the patient.
"The right way to go is a third way, not a third force. A third force
is shadowy," the former Zanu PF politburo member said. "I am glad that
Makoni in an interview with the Standard admitted that he was a third force.
A third force is more interested in grabbing power."
Moyo wondered how Makoni would win an election when he did not have
either a party or structures to drum up support for him.
He said he had heard that Makoni was using a "military" strategy to
Moyo said the Makoni campaign lacked deep ideological roots and was
"Makoni's group is shadowy. Some of its members are in the open, some
are not. Its programmes are not clear and you would not be able to define
them," he claimed. "If this succeeds, it will make history because it will
be succeeding for the first time."
Moyo dismissed as nonsense claims by Makoni that he was in alliance
with the people of Zimbabwe
"Political history shows that it is the language of dictators so as to
run way from accountability when they fail. That is very dangerous," he
said. "What Makoni is proposing is equal to asking the people to sign a pact
with the devil - a Faustian bargain."
On the likely outcome of the elections, Moyo said they might be a
cliffhanger. He said it might not produce a conclusive result, leading to a
Moyo said the run-off was likely to be between Mugabe and either MDC
leader Morgan Tsvangirai or Makoni.
He said in the run-off he expected Mugabe to lose either to Makoni or
Tsvangirai, as he fights the election alone.
If Makoni wins, he argued, the former Finance minister would go back
to Zanu PF and assume its leadership.
Moyo predicted the elections would be chaotic as a result of what he
termed administrative shortcomings. He said the government should have
postponed the polls for at least six months to allow for adequate
preparations as it was a very costly exercise.--Constantine Chimakure
Friday, 07 March 2008 14:04
WHEN Zimbabwe attained Independence in 1980 Prime Minister Robert
Mugabe promised people universal access to healthcare.
Twenty-eight years later millions of Zimbabweans have been reduced to
paupers and can no longer afford basic healthcare, even at public
institutions because of the high cost of treatment.
Foreign currency shortages have resulted in the Ministry of Health and
Child Welfare not being able to provide essential drugs to clinics and
public hospitals, which in the past used to cater for people in the
More than a dozen babies are born in each district of the country on a
daily basis, but maternity care is no longer easily accessible as a result
of the spiralling cost of living that has pushed clinic and hospital fees
beyond the reach of many.
Consultation fees at public hospitals are $10 million while for
maternity, a normal delivery now costs between $200 million and $300
A caesarian section, which is birth by surgery, costs between $2
billion and $3 billion depending on the time you spend in the hospital after
Private hospitals are charging $3 billion for a caesarian, $1,2
billion for a normal delivery after paying a registration fee of $400
million and these are "top-up" fees for those on medical aid.
Many women of childbearing age are finding themselves in the same
predicament as Juliet Nhamo, a young expecting mother who had registered to
deliver at a clinic in Highfield.
Nhamo thought she was going to have a normal birth, but things did not
go according to her plan as she went into labour two days before the due
Upon arrival at the clinic, she was told there were complications with
her pregnancy and she had to be rushed to Harare hospital.
The staff at the clinic informed Nhamo that there was no ambulance to
take her to the hospital and since there was no time to waste it would be
wise for her husband to hire a cab.
To her horror, upon arrival at Harare hospital she was told that the
only doctor qualified to operate on her only does caesarians on Thursdays.
She was admitted but told that some of the medication she required was
not available and she would have to buy it from a private pharmacy.
Her husband did not have the money after paying $150 million for the
car he hired to ferry his wife to the hospital.
While she lay in hospital waiting for the doctor her husband would
have to raise the hospital bill which would probably be above $2 billion.
Such is the ugly picture of what many Zimbabweans are being forced to
go through every time they have to seek healthcare.
To buy a drip from a private pharmacy one has to fork out $60 million
while a packet of 10 painkillers costs between $15 million and $30 million
depending on the brand.
For those on HIV treatment the cheapest brand of anti- retroviral
drugs, Stalanev, which is locally manufactured, is now $300 million per
course and only covers 30 days.
A local surgeon who specialises in male reproductive health who was
contacted by the Zimbabwe Independent last week said he was charging more
than $20 billion to perform corrective surgery.
It is not only the cost of healthcare which is a cause of concern but
also the shortage of equipment and human resources.
Stacks of unserviceable beds, electronic equipment, leaking pipes,
crumbling walls and bare dispensary shelves are a common sight at government
hospitals across the country.
Year after year, bids by the Ministry of Health for more funding have
been cut to basics.
This has resulted in staff from public health institutions leaving the
country for greener pastures.
Recent statistics from the parliamentary portfolio show that the
public health sector has a vacancy level of more than 40%. The current
doctor to patient ratio is 1:12 000 while the ideal ratio should be around
In rural areas most district and mission hospitals are being run by
nurse aids without doctors.
Only 738 doctors are still practising in the country out of an
establishment of 1 590 and less than 50 of them offer specialised care at
There are only 37 registered obstetricians and gynaecologists in
Zimbabwe yet there are more than four million women of childbearing age.
Harare and Bulawayo account for 60% and 30% respectively of all
public-sector doctors and nurses. The rest of the smaller cities and towns
share the remainder but serve larger populations as general hospitals and
provincial referral centres.
The president of the Hospital Doctors Association, Amon Severegi, told
the Independent this week that government should prioritise the health
sector in its budget as many lives are being lost due to lack of resources
at public hospitals.
"We feel as doctors working in the public sector that it is important
that our health delivery systems are well resourced in terms of drugs, human
resources and consumables," said Severegi.
"These are our expectations as professionals as well as the general
public," he added.
"We hope the responsible authorities will be able to come in and
assist hospitals to get drugs as it's costing patients more to buy drugs
from private pharmacies than it would cost them if they got them at
hospitals," said Severegi.
Efforts to get comment from the Ministry of Health were fruitless.
The chief executive of Parirenyatwa Hospital, the county's largest
referral centre, Thomas Zigora, said he could not comment on the condition
of the hospital in terms of services.
"At the moment I cannot comment as we are still working on a statement
addressing the issues that have been in the media concerning our operations
that will be issued early next week," Zigora said.
Zigora said that there had been many falsehoods about Parirenyatwa
Hospital that have been peddled by people who have not made an effort to
seek his office's comment.
A state weekly newspaper two weeks ago reported that Parirenyatwa
Hospital had suspended all surgical operations as a result of lack of
anaesthetic, general equipment breakdowns and a shortage of painkillers used
to ease pain after surgery.
An orderly at one of the hospitals said: "The situation at our public
hospitals is scary, there are no drugs, some of the machines are not working
and doctors are not always there. It is becoming difficult for us to bring
our relatives to such hospitals which have very little to offer," she
Friday, 07 March 2008 14:06
VETERAN nationalist and former Zipra commander Dumiso Dabengwa's
defection over the weekend to support former Zanu PF politburo member Simba
Makoni's presidential bid could put a strain on the shaky 21-year-old Unity
Accord between Zanu PF and PF-Zapu.
Dabengwa's defection, which Zanu PF has been trying to dismiss as a
non-event, is in fact a grand parade of the discontent inherent in the party
and a signal demonstration against President Robert Mugabe's continued stay
Dabengwa on Tuesday revealed in an interview his disappointment with
the implementation of the Unity Accord and the growing rift between him and
Mugabe over fundamental political issues.
Dabengwa has differed with the president on the execution of the land
reform programme, the composition and functions of the politburo, and the
exploitation of natural resources - especially diamonds in Manicaland.
He has crossed swords with Mugabe over the role of Jabulani Sibanda
last year as campaign co-ordinator for the president's endorsement by Zanu
PF to stand for another term. Dabengwa does not believe that Mugabe should
stand for another term as president.
Dabengwa on Tuesday tried to downplay the differences, saying he had
"no problems with President Mugabe" but only his continued stay in office.
His illustrious career as a liberator was this week put on the coals
by opponents in Zanu PF who have branded him a traitor and a sellout. But
Vice-president Joseph Msika just a day before Dabengwa's defection had tried
to give the impression that the former Home Affairs minister was not part of
the Makoni project. Msika, purportedly speaking on behalf of Dabengwa and
other former PF-Zapu cadres, denied links with Makoni, but he was made to
eat humble pie the next day.
Party chairman John Nkomo was on Tuesday quoted in the press
denouncing Dabengwa and calling his defection "good riddance". Other
lightweights like Bulawayo metropolitan governor Cain Mathema denounced
Dabengwa as a tribalist and traitor.
"How does Mathema attack me and call me a traitor," said Dabengwa.
"You are called a traitor simply because you want the leadership to retire?"
Dabengwa revealed in the interview that former senior Zapu leaders
were aware of the undercurrents of discontent stemming from the half-hearted
implementation of the Unity Accord.
Does this then mean that they share his grief and are party to the
Makoni project? "We have support from the cell level (in Zanu PF) right up
to the top," said Dabengwa. Asked how high the support for Makoni went in
the party, he said: "Look at me, I am an example", suggesting that the
support went as far as the politburo.
Makoni has since been axed from the party and until Wednesday this
week there had not been any formal communication from the party on Dabengwa's
involvement. But he knows what is coming his way.
Asked if he would attend politburo meetings, he said he would if
"I am normally invited when there is a politburo meeting. If I am in
Bulawayo, I am sent a ticket. I do not expect one," he said.
Dabengwa said he is exiting the party not only to support Makoni, but
also to register protest with what he feels is Mugabe's subjugation of
PF-Zapu through the Unity Accord. He however believes the need for
leadership renewal in the party is a more compelling reason to break the
mould and support Makoni.
"This is not about any individual or political party. This is about
the country. This is about leadership renewal," he said.
Dabengwa's opponents in Zanu PF are likely to use his assault on the
Unity Accord as a platform to attack him as a tribalist. Tension between him
and his Zapu colleagues heightened last year when he publicly denounced the
accord while addressing the Bulawayo Press Club.
"To a larger extent, unity was achieved in an unbalanced and forced
manner, given that the government had failed to crush the dissident
activities that were spreading all over the Matabeleland region."
On Tuesday Dabengwa said the accord was fundamentally flawed.
"It was discussed under pressure and people were being killed," he
said. "Very unfortunate compromises were made (by PF-Zapu) to avoid further
suffering of our people."
He said the two parties (PF-Zapu and Zanu PF) should put into force
the accord agreed just before the Lancaster House Conference.
"We need to go back to the real unity accord signed in blood in
Mozambique," he said.
Zanla and Zipra commanders at the time went around guerilla camps in
Mozambique, Zambia and Tanzania seeking a mandate to form the Patriotic
Front. He said the two forces should have gone into the 1980 poll as a
united Patriotic Front, but this was not to be.
Dabengwa said although he was party to the 1987 agreement; there were
still areas that the PF-Zapu leaders were not happy about. Areas of
contention included the names that were to be retained by both parties after
the signing of the unity accord. For instance, Zanu-PF was to retain its
name, Zanu-PF, while Zapu was to be rechristened PF only, describing this as
a "senseless arrangement that smacked of belittlement".
"The Zanu PF headquarters still bears the cockerel, but this should
have been removed. The agreement was that we use the Great Zimbabwe motif
He also believes that the appointment of officials to key government
positions still favours Zanu PF members and not former PF Zapu cadres.
Dabengwa sees the involvement of Sibanda in campaigning for Mugabe as
an attempt to sanitise the Unity Accord. At the Bulawayo Press Club last
year he opined: "The recent efforts by some elements to bring back Jabulani
Sibanda into the picture are nothing but efforts to try and paint a picture
to the claim that there is still unity within Zanu PF. These are not really
serious efforts because some of us do not recognise Jabulani."
Dabengwa this week said he together with retired army general Solomon
Mujuru had in January confronted Msika on the Sibanda issue and the
re-organisation of the war veterans. He said after Mugabe mandated him and
Mujuru to head a board to re-organise the war veterans, recommendations were
then sent to the politburo detailing the envisaged new leadership structure.
"We asked Vice-President Msika when he was acting president in January
what had happened to the recommendations that we sent to the party and the
Ministry of Defence in August last year. We said we now looked like
untrustworthy people. He (Msika) said 'can we arrange a meeting with the
president'. Until now there has been no feedback," he said.
There have also been sharp differences between him and Mugabe on the
size and composition of the politburo that he felt was too large. He said
just before the party's Chinhoyi conference he and Mujuru had raised concern
at the rapid expansion of the politburo.
He said the expansion of the politburo stemmed from Mugabe's fear of
criticism. The expansion of the politburo was an attempt to stifle debate at
the highest level by bringing in cheerleaders.
Dabengwa said after he had raised concern over the size of the
politburo which had been expanded from about 15 members to 45, a committee
led by Nkomo was set up to deal with the issue. He said recommendations of
the committee to reduce the size of the politburo were never taken on board
"and the politburo has remained what it is today".
As early as 2000, he had already started to take Mugabe head-on. When
war veterans invaded farms in 2000, Dabengwa, supported by Msika, ordered
the former combatants off the farms with "immediate effect". He ordered
police to take action within 24 hours. But the war veterans stayed put
saying they "don't take instructions from police".
Dabengwa refused to discuss his clash with Mugabe over the
exploitation of diamonds in Marange. Last year Mugabe in a televised
interview to mark his birthday, attacked party officials whom he accused of
corruption and amassing wealth illegally. He denounced party officials who
had joined hands with whites to try and exploit diamonds in Marange.
This was in reference to Dabengwa who is a shareholder in ACR, the
company that eventually lost its rights to mine diamonds in Marange.
Dabengwa does not deny his shareholding in ACR. The issue however came up
for discussion in the politburo with members from Manicaland questioning why
"Dabengwa from Matabeleland" was interested in a mining venture in Marange.
Dabengwa is said to have defended himself saying there was nothing amiss in
him owning shares in ACR.
The Marange claim is currently being exploited by government through
the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation despite strong objections from
central bank governor Gideon Gono who has described the mining as
"mechanised panning".--Vincent Kahiya
Friday, 07 March 2008 14:00
INDEPENDENT presidential candidate Simba Makoni on Saturday launched
his election campaign in Bulawayo as cracks in Zanu PF widened with the
defection of politburo member Dumiso Dabengwa to back the former Finance
Apart from Dabengwa, former parliamentary speaker Cyril Ndebele joined
Makoni at White City Stadium to announce his support for the expelled former
Earlier on Dabengwa and Ndebele had flanked Makoni when he met the
business community at Large City Hall and outlined his election manifesto
Makoni's convoy entered the stadium to a n enthusiastic reception with
supporters chanting his slogan - "Simba Kuvanhu", "Amandla Ebantwini" and
"Simba to the People".
Accompanied by his wife Chipo, Makoni returned the gesture of the
clasped hands raised above the head to the cheering crowd.
But the focus of the crowd later turned to Dabengwa.
He told the 6 000-plus crowd that he chose to dump Zanu PF after
President Robert Mugabe resisted leadership renewal and a smooth transition
of power in the party.
"For a very long time we had tried to work with fellow politburo
members to facilitate a smooth transition of power after realising that the
Zanu PF leadership was getting old but Mugabe betrayed us and made a u-turn
on his pledges to retire," Dabengwa told the crowd.
He said their intention was not regime change, but leadership renewal.
Dabengwa said party faithfuls had hoped Mugabe would open up the
presidential selection process at last December's special congress, but that
did not happen.
"We were defeated and ended up with a presidential candidate we felt
should be replaced," Dabengwa said.
"We came up with this rescue operation (of bringing in Makoni) to say
we could not have our leadership failing to the likes of (the MDC's Morgan)
Tsvangirai, which will see us going back to the Zambian situation where out
of desperation they replaced Kenneth Kaunda with Frederick Chiluba."
In his address, Makoni said his movement would pursue a national
re-engagement and create an enabling environment for Zimbabwe to begin its
road to recovery.
"This is a response to the failure of national leadership. We want
renewal and re-engagement," he said.
The former Finance minister said he appreciated the backing he
received from the MDC's Arthur Mutambara faction in his presidential bid.
"We have welcomed and appreciated the Professor Arthur Mutambara MDC's
endorsement of our candidature and we are appealing to those in Zanu PF and
Tsvangirai's MDC who have not done so to support the independent candidate,"
He added that he enjoyed support from many people in Zanu PF and the
"All these people have realised the need for concerted effort in
achieving the goal of national reintegration that I have been talking
about," Makoni said.
He denied being used by Zanu PF to split the opposition vote.
"There are those that believe that I am being used by so and so to
further certain agendas. I again state that I am Simba Makoni and shall
always remain Simba Makoni," he said. "I will not be used by someone to
further their political agendas because I believe that I have a role to play
in determining the destiny of this country."
The following day, Makoni took his campaign to Harare where he told
over 7 000 people who gathered at Zimbabwe Grounds, Highfield, that the time
was nigh to remove Mugabe from power.
"The status quo has abandoned the policy of working for the people.
They are now following corrupt and self-centered policies," Makoni told the
"Our country is in a serious crisis. We live in fear. Fear has been
instilled in our people and those who differ from Mugabe's point of view are
labelled enemies and sellouts. We need to reclaim our power and have a new
Speaking in the vernacular, the former Sadc secretary-general said
Zimbabwe was now a basket case despite that in the late 1980s the country
could feed its people and export surplus food to the region.
He said poor policies and lack of zeal to implement robust programmes
resulted in the collapse of the country's agricultural sector.
"What we now see on the farms is sora (grass) beans," Makoni said. "It
is difficult to imagine because by 1986 we were able to feed ourselves and
export excess food."
Makoni said if he is elected he would implement prudent land reforms
that would see multiple farm owners and lazy farmers removed from farms.
He decried the general deterioration of the country's infrastructure
and also bemoaned the slump in the health and education systems.
"We want to reclaim the people's power. Zimbabwe must work again and
that is why we appeal to you to vote for me," Makoni said.
"We are going to be servants of the people, not the other way round.
You should elect leaders who work for you, not suppress you."
He said he decided to challenge Mugabe after it became apparent that
he had lost the spirit and the principles of the liberation struggle.
"In 1980, Mugabe made a great statement of reconciliation, but is he
adhering to that principle? Are we still following our liberation struggle
principles?" Makoni questioned amid cheers and ululation from the crowd.
Makoni was stopped from continuing with his address after police
officer commanding Harare South District, Chief Superintendent Thomsen
Jangara, went up to the podium and told him that his time was up.
The police ordered Makoni to hold his rally between 9am and
mid-afternoon as they intended to deploy their officers to monitor the
international soccer match between Dynamos and Royal Leopards of Swaziland.
He told supporters to disperse in an orderly fashion.
Speaking at the same rally, former Zanu PF secretary general Edgar
Tekere said he had been appointed Makoni's principal campaigner to remove
Mugabe because "we do not want leaders who want to die in power".
Meanwhile, the Mutambara faction launched its election campaign and
manifesto at a rally held at White City Stadium the same day.
About 3 000 people attended the rally that was addressed by Mutambara
and vice-president Gibson Sibanda, among others.
Mutambara in his address spoke on the land issue in the country and
his party's association with Makoni.
"Because we want to give an opportunity to deliver change, we agreed
to work with Makoni, that is why we tried to reunite with the Tsvangirai
side, but he made it impossible for that to happen," Mutambara said.
On the land issue, Mutambara said there would be no land that will be
repossessed from blacks to whites if his party wins the elections.--Loughty
Friday, 07 March 2008 14:22
JUSTICE minister Patrick Chinamasa was part of the Simba Makoni plot
to wrestle power from President Robert Mugabe, ruling party politburo member
Dumiso Dabengwa confirmed at the weekend.
Dabengwa, who on Saturday joined Makoni's presidential bid, said
Chinamasa attended meetings in Cape Town and Pretoria late last year where
it was agreed that there was need for leadership renewal in Zanu PF.
President Thabo Mbeki first used the expression "leadership renewal"
five years ago.
Apart from Chinamasa and Dabengwa, Makoni also attended the meetings.
Addressing a star rally for Makoni at White City Stadium where he
announced his decision to dump Zanu PF, Dabengwa revealed that there were
many senior ruling party cadres who were involved in the breakaway of the
former deputy secretary of finance.
"We held very wide consultations on this issue with a number of
people," Dabengwa said. "A number of people whom we consulted agreed to the
(breakaway) idea and that is when we reached the agreement that Makoni be
supported through and through," he said. "Chinamasa and Makoni would come to
my hotel room in Pretoria and we would discuss the groundwork that had been
covered and we agreed on what was supposed to be done next. This happened
for quite some time, up until we ended up with Makoni submitting his papers
as the presidential candidate."
Dabengwa claimed that Chinamasa embraced the idea of Makoni
challenging Mugabe when they met in separate meetings in Cape Town and
Pretoria where the strategy was drawn up.
Chinamasa, Dabengwa claimed, had agreed to be part of a think-tank to
help Makoni strategise on how to dislodge Mugabe.
Repeated efforts yesterday to obtain comment from Chinamasa and
national party chairperson John Nkomo were in vain.
However, Chinamasa has been executing his party duties since Makoni
announced his presidential ambitions on February 5.
This is not the first time that Chinamasa has been implicated in
manoeuvres in Zanu PF to unseat Mugabe. In November 2004 Chinamasa was part
of the famous Tsholotsho Declaration that wanted to re-arrange the ruling
party's presidium and lay the ground for Mugabe's smooth succession.
Vice-President Joseph Msika at the launch of Zanu PF's election
campaign last Friday vehemently denied any links to Makoni and went further
to exonerate Nkomo, Vice-President Joice Mujuru and Dabengwa.
But 24 hours later, Msika was forced to eat humble pie after Dabengwa
confirmed that he was backing Makoni. --Loughty Dube
Saturday, 08 March 2008 13:34
ZEC. Bars Journalits From The Private Media
The impartiality of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) was in
doubt on Tuesday, when officials from the body barred journalists from the
private media from attending an election-reporting workshop.
The one-day training workshop, held at the Bulawayo Rainbow Hotel, was
titled The Role of the Media during Elections and was led by Kenya-born
Ngugi wa Mirii.
It was attended by 15 journalists from the State media, including
reporters from The Chronicle, Sunday News, New Ziana and the Zimbabwe
Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC).
However, when journalists from The Zimbabwean and The Standard
attempted to attend, ZEC officials said they were not welcome because the
publications had been writing negative stories about the Commission's
preparations for the March 29 elections.
State journalists who attended the workshop said wa Mirii had urged
attendees to be patriotic towards the Robert Mugabe-led Government.
"He also said the Zimbabwean private media falsely claim that there is
no press freedom to seek foreign funding, among other incentives, from the
western world," said one journalist.
The ZEC was instrumental in shutting down five independent newspapers
over the past three years, including the Daily News and the Daily News on
Last week, The Zimbawean reported that ZEC voter educators, wearing
Commission jackets, were touring the Queenspark Suburb of Bulawayo telling
to vote wisely by voting for President Mugabe.
No comment could be obtained from ZEC spokesperson Shupikai Mashereni.
Saturday, 08 March 2008 13:12
No Passports Until After Elections
Passport-processing has stopped until after the election because of a
lack of funds, The Zimbabwean on Sunday learnt this week.
Staff at the Bulawayo passport office revealed that the office, which
stopped the processing of new ordinary passports last year, has now extended
that measure to even urgent passports, due to a shortage of funds for buying
"We used to process urgent passports only, but we have since been told
that even applications for those should not be accepted until after the
elections. We also no longer accept top-up fees from those people that are
on the passport waiting list," said an official on Wednesday.
The staff said that, for around four weeks, they have been allowed to
accept only applications for Emergency Travel Documents (ETDs), which are
printed on bond paper and signed at provincial passport offices. But, only
those who have applied for passports can easily apply for the ETDs, as they
need to satisfy the authorities about why an ETD is needed.
An ETD, which can be obtained in 48 hours, is valid for a maximum
period of six months and can only be used when travelling to selected
countries in the Southern African region.
Meanwhile, the Registrar-General's office has failed to catch up with
a serious backlog of people awaiting new passports, despite the
Registrar-General, Tobaiwa Mudede, promising speedy processing of the
documents last year.
When announcing the "temporary" suspension of new applications, Mudede
said his office would first deal with outstanding applications. At the
Bulawayo office, however, only passports applied for in January 2006 are now
ready for collection.
Normally, a Zimbabwean passport should take six months from the
receipt of the application.
Some workers at the passport collection counter have used this as an
opportunity to make money by charging foreign currency for delivering
documents to those waiting for them.
"I was charged R200 for my document to come through, by a member of
staff who claimed to be bringing it from Harare, but it later turned out
that the document was already here and the member just wanted my money, as
they are reluctant to release the passports for free," said Thulani Moyo.
Demand for passports and ETDs has been growing as more Zimbabweans
leave their country to seek better conditions elsewhere.
Some have even abandoned the length and bureaucratic process and cross
the border into South Africa and Botswana illegally. Others simply overstay
their permitted time rather than apply for documents.
Saturday, 08 March 2008 13:05
HARARE - The Zimbabwe National Water Authority (ZINWA) is pumping into the
system for Harare and its metropolitan centres water that is 50% below ideal
standards of cleanliness and purity due to lack of adequate chemicals, an
expert has said.
Engineer Lovemore Makada used to work in the then Harare City Council water
treatment department but resigned and is now in private practice. He told
The Zimbabwean on Sunday about his findings after doing laboratory tests on
many samples of water being consumed in homes and industries around Harare,
Chitungwiza, Ruwa and Norton.
The beleaguered water utility has even resorted to doing without some vital
chemicals in the water treatment.
"The tests have shown that the quality and standard of water is below 50% of
the levels safe for human consumption, meaning exposing the consumers to
serious health risks," Makada said. "The assessments done at various stages
show that almost all the vital chemicals are lacking from time to time and
probably place to place."
Makada did the tests and assessment as part of a private project on behalf
of some organization but agreed to disclose the findings to this paper.
Among the vital chemicals required for water treatment are algicides,
chlorine, clarifiers, filter cleansers, muriatric acids and sodium
bicarbonate, most of which ZINWA has to import.
"Some of the chemicals used to be produced locally, but the manufacturers
have either closed down or are not managing due to their own problems," a
senior ZINWA official said on condition of anonymity. "The major problem is
lack of foreign currency for importing these chemicals and indeed at most
times the treatment process is done with little quantities and at times
Makada said his test showed that algicides seem to be the most problematic
chemicals because of the green, smelly qualities that the water from ZINWA
usually has. "An algicide is a chemical which when added to water kills
algae and blue-green algae," he said.
He added that the water being consumed contained "serious levels of sewage
products that escape the treatment process most obviously due to lack or
inadequacy of chemicals".
Added to that, aged equipment at water treatment plants is often breaking
down, worsening the situation as ZINWA would have to use what an insider
described as "makeshift processes just to ensure there is some water to pump
into the system.
Harare residents from places such as Mabvuku and Tafara have on several
occasions suffered outbreaks of diarrhea and dysentery owing to the
consumption of water from ZINWA coupled with the fact that these places
experience persistent water shortages forcing them to fetch from unhealthy
Minister of Water and Infrastructure Development Munacho Mutezo admitted
that "shortages of foreign currency are affecting the processes of water
treatment because of the shortage of chemicals".
Former Harare mayor, MDC executive member Elias Mudzuri said the quality of
water being processed by ZINWA has reached "scandalous levels" and is now a
by Chenai Maramba Saturday 08 March 2008
KAROI - A Zimbabwe opposition candidate, Timothy Mutsunge, who was arrested
on Tuesday for holding an illegal political meeting in Karoi town, about
200km north of Harare, was yesterday set free after paying Z$100 million
Seventeen other Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party supporters who
were arrested with Mutsunge in the small farming town were also released
yesterday after they paid Z$100 million bail each.
State prosecutor, Edison Machinjike, told the court that Mutsunge and the
MDC supporters, all loyal to Morgan Tsvangirai, had violated a section of
the tough Public Order and Security Act (POSA) after they held an
unsanctioned political meeting at Magunjue rural service centre on Monday.
"The accused persons violated a section of the POSA when they were hooting,
whistling and chanting party slogans, breaching the peace at Magunje on 4
"Furthermore, they had not notified the regulating authority that they were
to hold a political gathering," said Machinjike.
Under the amended POSA, Zimbabweans are required to first notify the police
before gathering in groups of more than three people to discuss politics.
The MDC has in the past complained that President Robert Mugabe's government
was using the law to stifle legitimate political activity and that the
police were applying the law selectively to cripple the opposition.
Karoi magistrate, Elisha Singano, yesterday granted bail to the MDC
activists after their lawyer, Abel Murisi, argued that the accused would not
interfere with investigations by the state.
"Bail is granted on condition that you deposit $100 million each for the
accused and that you appear in court on 26 March 2008," ruled Singano.
Two weeks ago, two other MDC candidates loyal to academic Arthur Mutambara
were also arrested while campaigning in Karoi. The police accused the two of
conducting an illegal political meeting in Chikangwe suburb.
Zimbabweans go to the polls on 29 March amid concerns from human rights
groups and the opposition that the electoral playing field was heavily
titled in President Robert Mugabe's favour.
Mugabe is facing his biggest electoral test from his former finance minister
Simba Makoni and Tsvangirai a popular opposition leader. - ZimOnline
My greatest fear for the past 18 months has been that we would not get to an
election. I have been afraid that Zanu PF would realize that they were in
all sorts of difficulty and would simply back away from the electoral
process and declare that they would rule by decree. In effect we have been
under some sort of military rule for some time now such an action would
simply have made the fact public.
But we have got there at last and not a minute too soon! We, as a country,
cannot take much more of the battering we are getting from the markets. The
economy is still intact but reeling from inflation at 150 000 percent per
annum and collapsing infrastructure and services. Food stores are empty.
Zanu PF is confident that they have done enough to yield a result in their
favor they have gerrymandered the constituencies weighting the rural
vote at two to one urban vote, they have maintained tight control of the
electoral process and given the opposition no room to maneuver we are
getting no exposure on any of the news services here and are being subjected
to a daily barrage of propaganda and harassment.
The campaign is now truly underway Mugabe launched his campaign in
Beitbridge with a birthday party that cost the country Z$3 trillion, MDC
launched in Mutare on the same day and this past weekend the Makoni and
Mutambara groups launched their campaigns in Bulawayo.
We did not see much of the birthday bash the theme seemed to be ³have your
cake and eat it² with about 10 000 guests transported into the tiny enclave
of Beitbridge. Our people in South Africa held a competing rally at the same
time and had a blip that said it all ³You have had your cake, now beat
The Makoni group began their campaign in White City Stadium in Bulawayo on
Saturday and I estimated the crowd as a maximum of 5 000 people. They then
went on to Harare and in the Zimbabwe grounds managed a crowd that was a lot
smaller that, in my view, was a disaster for them.
The Mutambara group kicked off their campaign with a rally at White City
using the same facilities as Makoni, but drew an even smaller crowd. I saw
no one on the stands and there were few people hanging around the outside.
This is not encouraging for these two groups. MDC will hold a Star rally at
White City this coming Saturday and it will be instructive to see what sort
of a crowd comes to the event. So far the MDC rural rallies have been very
The towns are slowly waking up to the fact that there is an election on
the poster war is in full swing and meetings are taking place in all sorts
of places. Flyers are being distributed and we even had reports of the Army
distributing Makoni flyers in Bulawayo at the weekend and during the week.
That is a most interesting development!
An election here is a bit like a medieval battle thousands of men and
women line up behind their leaders and then at a given signal, rush onto the
battlefields and do hand to hand combat. For a long time it is impossible to
see what is happening as the struggle for ascendancy washes back and forth,
but gradually a sense of the way things are going to go becomes apparent
perhaps in one section of the battlefield and then it widens until one side
breaks and runs.
We are in the early stages and it is impossible to see what is happening.
MDC is good at this sort of thing and I must say I am amazed at the energy
people are throwing into this scrap. My own crew is just about working me to
the bone! We cannot see how people will finally vote at this stage but it is
very exciting to see that democracy is alive and well on the streets if not
in our State House! It gives me real faith in the future to see and
experience how ordinary people are doing extraordinary things all so that
they can finally vote and perhaps make a change.
We are doing all we can to prevent the blatant vote rigging and
falsification of vote tabulations that took place in the past but if we
are not successful and Mugabe is again able to deliver a victory for himself
and perhaps his Party and if Africa does not stand up for the ordinary
people here; I for one will call for international condemnation and a
withdrawal of all forms of assistance to Africa.
Quite frankly, the attitude of the majority of African leaders to the antics
of people like Kibaki and Mugabe who have flagrantly abused the rights of
people to vote for the leaders of their choice is disgraceful. I said to a
number of others that Kibaki was not going to get away with his antics, but
apart from a minority of leaders and even fewer countries in Africa, he
would be allowed to get away with the fraudulent election results he is
claiming. Again it was left to outsiders Koffie Annan and Ms. Rice to
eventually force the Parties to the table my sympathies lie with the guys
who won the election and are now forced to share power with Kibaki. The role
of the new President of Tanzania and Chairman of the AU was however a breath
of fresh air.
Can you believe its three weeks to go! My own feeling is let¹s get this
thing over with and see what is left standing when the dust and smoke
clears. At least then we will know what we face in the remainder of the
year. We simply cannot go on as we are.
On Tuesday next week the MDC will launch its policies for a new Zimbabwe. I
think it is the most complete review of national policy that we have seen
since 1980. It constitutes a vision for a new Zimbabwe that is just and
inclusive and will respect our rights. When we win, this document will give
all Zimbabweans a vision for the future. It is slowly dawning on many
observers here that this might just happen!
Bulawayo, 8th March 2008
8th March 2008
I was teaching teachers at a remote training college a few years ago when I
first came across Zvido Zvevanhu, a small primary school right out in the
rural areas. The school was built shortly after Independence and its name
perfectly summed up all the hopes and dreams Zimbabweans had at the time:
zvido zvevanhu, the will of the people. I think of that little rural school
often and its name which had such profound resonance in the eighties and has
even more now in 2008 as we approach elections which are after all supposed
to reflect the true will of the people.
Zimbabweans are no different from people anywhere; wherever they live,
whatever their race or culture, what they all want from a government is a
better life with stability and economic security for themselves and hope for
their children's futures. People want to live in an ordered society which
respects their rights as individuals; they want to know that they have
equality before the law, that the police and the courts will treat them
fairly and accord them their rights and freedoms as enshrined in the
constitution. In return, the citizen will fulfil his/her obligations to the
state and obey the law. This is the deal citizens make with their government
in a democratic state. Robert Mugabe and his ministers frequently tell us
that Zimbabwe is a democracy so we are entitled to ask: is this what the
people want, is this the will of the people? Inflation at 100.000%,
unemployment at 85%, widespread poverty and hunger, raw sewage running
through the streets and into people's homes; endless power cuts, hospitals
without medication or anaesthetics, schools dilapidated and deserted as
teachers leave and pupils are too poor or too hungry to attend class. Is
this what the people want? It is certainly what they've got under Robert
Mugabe's leadership. The evidence is there for all to see - but not for all
to acknowledge apparently.
Simba Makoni, like his former master, wants us to draw a veil over the
disastrous failures of Zimbabwe 2008 and look back instead to the glories of
the past and Mugabe's role in the Liberation Struggle. Makoni is quoted in
the Mail and Guardian this week as saying that if he wins the presidential
election he will not seek retribution over Mugabe's deplorable human rights
record. 'President Mugabe is someone who has a very special place in our
history. We will accord them ( Mugabe and the late Joshua Nkomo) the due
respect of our African culture. We want President Mugabe to know that under
our New Dawn government they have the same rights as other citizens.'
It is the dreadful irony of the last eight words that immediately strike the
reader, 'they have the same rights as other citizens' One has to wonder
where Simba Makoni has been for the past ten years while those rights have
been steadily eroded by the government of which he was an integral part.
What citizens' rights is Mr Makoni referring to? The right to be beaten to a
pulp by Green Bombers or CIO operatives and thrown into a stinking gaol cell
by a corrupt and partial police force, the right to have one's home and
livelihood destroyed in a government sponsored operation designed to 'clear
away filth' or the right to be arrested for nothing more dangerous than
daring to hand out election literature in legitimate door-to-door
campaigning? Are those the 'rights' that will be accorded to President
Mugabe, his ministers and other assorted thugs when Makoni's bright 'New
Dawn' government comes to power?
The question of what will happen to President Mugabe when he finally leaves
office - by whatever means - is hardly an election issue. It is hardly a
question that is dominating people's minds as they stand in endless queues
at the bank or trudge home in the dark after a day spent in a fruitless
search for food or cash or petrol. It is surprising then that Simba Makoni
should find it necessary to reassure the President he hopes to topple that
his safety will be guaranteed should Makoni take his place in State House.
I believe it is for the Zimbabwean people themselves to decide what should
happen to the man who destroyed the country's economy and drove millions
into exile, the man who unleashed his violent war veterans onto the farms
and destroyed the lives of thousands of his own people, black and white; the
man who gave the orders for Gukurahundi which massacred twenty thousand
innocent Ndebele people and in an act of politically motivated destruction
set in motion Murambatsvina which left 700.000 people homeless, their rights
as citizens totally set aside by a President and government determined to
hang onto power at all cost. Ultimately, it will be for them, the victims of
Mugabe's brutality to decide on his fate - and the first step in that
process is to vote him out of power on March 29th.
Yours in the struggle. PH.
08 March 2008
Harare- MICHAEL Jeffrey Davies, the Chairman of the Combined Harare
Residents' Association (CHRA) has come under fire from disgruntled members
of the residents'organisation.
This happened after Davies wrote letters to individual leaders of the ward
structures, advising them of their suspension from the association because
of their alleged role in the opposition Movement for Democratic Change
This comes in the wake of renewed fears that the CHRA management has set its
sights on changing the CHRA constitution in order to retain the leadership
of the association.
The residents' body is scheduled to hold its crucial Annual General Meeting
(AGM) set for anytime in March.
The ward leaders immediately announced the formation of a parallel residents
group that will break the monopoly of the once powerful CHRA in representing
the residents of Harare, under the curse of long spells of water shortages,
mounts of uncollected garbage, lack of cooperation by the City of Harare and
deterioration of municipal and other services in the capital.
"The battle lines have been drawn," declared the former CHRA members at a
meeting held at a community hall in Glen View to mark the beginning of their
work in the high density suburbs, long thought to be neglected under a CHRA
"We have put in place mechanisms to reclaim our independence from a white
supremacist who still believes in the supremacy of another race over the
other," their spokesperson said to a deafening applause from the 40 plus
members in attendance.
The grouping denied being influential in the opposition but acknowledged
their desire to see the end of dictatorship in Zimbabwe, and suffering for
the citizens of Harare.
"We are first and foremost Zimbabweans and we have a right to participate in
the politics of Zimbabwe," one of them said. "CHRA is a voluntary
organisation that brings together people of different political beliefs
which must not be allowed to be dominant over others' beliefs.
Even if one supports the MDC, it does not stop them from being resident of
Davies is mainly accused of using CHRA resources and a vulnerable Chief
Executive Officer (CEO) to selectively apply rules and regulations governing
CHRA procedures manuals. For example, they cited the issue of the CHRA
vice-chairman Israel Mabhoo, a founding member of the MDC, and now an active
member of the Arthur-Mutambara-led MDC formation, as being protected by
When contacted for comment, Davies said that CHRA would continue with its
work without being influenced by anyone. He refused further discussion of
the matter. But CHRA members accused Davies of abusive management style,
mismanagement of CHRA resources, mainly sourced from named donors, biased
selection of members who travel to foreign trips, lack of concern for the
collapsed service provision by the City of Harare and CHRA's alleged failure
to positively respond to the crisis bedevilling Harare residents.
Saturday, 08 March 2008 12:52
Mugabe Gets New UZ$5 Million Chopper.
RARE - President Robert Mugabe has purchased another helicopter for
US$3 million after the crash of his previous chopper last year,
investigations by The Zimbabwean on Sunday have revealed.
Sources confirmed that the geriatric leader has taken delivery of the
new chopper from China, said to be model HM 036 manufactured by Shenzhen
We have established through leaked information from top government and
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) officials that after the crash last year
Mugabe's chopper was pronounced beyond repair. He then ordered his personal
banker and central back chief, Gideon Gono to make available US$3 million
for the purchase of a new one.
The country is suffering a critical shortage of foreign currency, and
economists say US$3 million could purchase food and drugs enough to meet the
needs of the whole country for three months.
Mugabe purchased a Chinese-manufactured chopper, white in colour and
took delivery of it early this year in time for the start of his election
campaign. He is already using the chopper, sources say, as he moves around
the country seeking re-election.
Our sources said he negotiated with the Chinese to make a down payment
of US$3 million for the chopper, whose price was US$5 million.
"He purchased the new helicopter from China, and the money was made
available by the RBZ late last year," a senior RBZ official said on
condition of anonymity.
"He was given a special condition and allowed to pay US$3 and will
have to pay the other US$2 million later."
Another source working in Mugabe's office confirmed that the new
helicopter, "arrived at the beginning of the year when Mugabe was away on
holiday and Gono visited China, most probably to settle the deal and arrange
for the delivery".
Questions sent to Gono's office two weeks ago were not responded to by
the time of going to press and emailed questions to Shenzhen Zhangyang
Technology were also not responded to. The secretary in Mugabe's spokesman,
George Charamba's office on Thursday said, "you people will not get any
comment from him on such things" before hanging up the phone.
Last April The Zimbabwean reported that Mugabe's European-made Cougar
helicopter crashed towards the end of February and was said by technicians
to have been damaged beyond repair.
Saturday, 08 March 2008 11:24
On The Homefront .Taona Moto
March 29 is not very far now. The day for the harmonised elections. Anything
could happen on this day. Anything. I am one of those who have been debating
with myself as to what would really happen in the event that a little
earthquake takes place on this small part of the world.and President Mugabe
Well, with the opposition fragmented as it is, the real chance of Mugabe
going would most likely come in the event of a poll run-off. In this case,
it will be a matter of people either going to vote for him or against him.
Like the historic 2000 referendum which was more or less a vote for or
against him, his chances of winning the poll would be slim.especially if he
would be squaring off against Morgan. (Because Morgan has proved in the past
that he has sympathisers at the grassroots throughout the country). Here you
would have a situation where more people would turn out to vote in the
droves.including those who would not have voted in the harmonized March 29
If Mugabe's future is at stake, it would be an election in which more
Zimbabweans would naturally want to have a say. Right now Zimbabweans don't
care who their Member of the House of Assembly is, or who their Senator
is.let alone who their ward councillor is. The only person who matter to
them is Mugabe.they see him as being responsible for whatever the situation
is, rich or poor. And for sure he is.
So those who see more benefits coming the traditional way, would want to
keep him while those who are thoroughly upset with him would see this
run-off poll as a chance to get rid of him good and proper.
It is quite obvious that in Zimbabwe today, there are more people angry with
Mugabe than those who are happy with him. The only reason why most people
would not openly express their views is fear. They know what could befall
them if they dare. So in the privacy of the polling booth-just like they do
when they write on the back of the doors of public toilets-nothing will stop
them from sending the man where he really belong.the junk-pile!
There are some things that appear to be unimaginable. Well, to some,
imagining Zimbabwe without Mugabe would be like imagining a day without
sunrise.he is to some what butter is to bread, if not one or the same.or
interchangeable! It could naturally feel so for many considering that here
we are talking about the only leader that some generations have known.after
28 years in power, some people who are now fathers and mothers were born
well after this man was already a tenant at State House.
Ever noticed that even some people who have stayed with abusive spouses for
say five, or 10 years, sometimes can't really function without those
abusers.they get so used to the abuse that they begin to view it not just as
part of quotidian existence, but as life itself. So imagine how some people
would feel after 28 years with the same person in their daily lives?
In the event that the unexpected happens, and for sure after all the
intimidation, the violence and wanton rigging, it still emerges that Mugabe
has lost the polls, what would happen?
Will he challenge the poll results in court? (...while in the meantime
remaining in office by force?) Or will he accept the result and congratulate
his vanquisher and hand over the reins of power like any other civilized
Knowing him as much as we do, this would be worse than expecting milk from a
Even if his opponent would win the election by 99 percent, I don't see a
scenario where Mugabe would admit that he had been defeated. That the
economy, the shortages, the corruption, the laziness on the farms (resulting
in the hunger), violence, his arrogance among the whole gamut of grievances
would have helped make him more unpopular than the British and the Americans
He is the handiende type and he has a lot of minions who have grown
shamefully fat on his patronage.these would try by all means to retain what
they can of their privileges.
While we don't know whether by then the country's army commanders would be
prepared to salute a leader who has no bush war background, what is certain
about is that the recent huge salary increases could do the trick. Already
Police Commissioner-General Augustine Chihuri has indicated that his force
will not hesitate to use force, including firearms, against some people who
might displease them in any way. So celebrating the defeat of a dictator
could be one way of inviting the wrath of the country's patriotic police
force, who knows?
As for the rambunctious war veterans who have over the past few years
arrogated lots of powers and lodes of featherbeddings to themselves, to
suddenly find themselves without these could have cathartic effects on their
lives.so it could be justifiably a matter of life and death.
When leaders who have stayed in power for too long are going into elections,
as in our case, it could be necessary to let them undergo some form of
counselling-like what happens at Voluntary Counselling & Testing Centres for
HIV-to prepare them to accept any of the two results that many come out.
Without this preparation, people could behave in any manner-you know the
denial moment-and they can do anything.anything.
Imagine the "Never-ever!" old man waking up to a mid-morning news bulletin:
" .the President Mr So & So has left for the UN general assembly summit in
Washington, blah, blah.He was accompanied by First Lady Madam So & So and
several members of the Cabinet and senior government officials". As far as
he is concerned, he is the only person who is capable-and has a God-given
right-to perform such duties.
In the case of our own Mugabe-a person who killed more that 20 000 people
without remorse-we cringe to imagine what would happen to my dear and
beloved country Zimbabwe!
Friday, 07 March 2008 09:17
A FUNDAMENTAL transformation in our mindset is called for. We need to
recognise that agriculture as practised in the 21st Century is a
professional enterprise that has to be entrusted to appropriately qualified
specialists in the same way that the practise of law, medicine and
engineering is recognised. With this in mind we have to accept that there is
more to it than the need to "correct historical imbalances".
On a related note, we need to recognise that this is NOT a profession
reserved for those "who have failed elsewhere", nor should we be made to
think that the profession is for the less intellectually gifted. We need to
acknowledge that NOT everyone who resides in the rural/communal areas is
necessarily a farmer: some in that community are n'angas/doctors; some are
hunters; while others are tradesmen of various disciplines!
For the uninitiated, it is vital to highlight some of the sterling
work achieved in science under the banner of agriculture such as the study
of genetics and related extensive breeding of animals and various crop
varieties. In contemporary science this has led to the phenomenal
achievements through genetic engineering. In Zimbabwe, the results of this
scientific work is there for all to see in the many varieties of maize,
wheat, soya beans, cotton, sunflowers and the many breeds of beef and dairy
cattle. The extensive range of various types of fertilisers and
agro-chemicals that have been developed for use on different crops and soils
is further testimony of the sophistication of the industry.
In 2000 it was estimated that the agricultural sector contributed 40%
of the export earnings; 18% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP); 26% of
those employed in the formal sector were engaged in commercial agriculture;
60% of industry was agro-based; and, the agricultural sector consumed 20% of
the total output of industry. It is of paramount importance that we
highlight the interdependence illustrated above as this explains the
predicament we now face due to the disruption of the agricultural sector
which has had a devastating impact on the rest of the economy. Given this
background, and the painful experience of the past 10 years it is now
imperative that we restore the viability of commercial agriculture as a
prerequisite to the resuscitation of the economy of Zimbabwe as a whole.
To restore the viability of the agricultural sector we need to go back
to basics. There is a wealth of knowledge that has been generated over the
years on the agro-ecological potential of various parts of the country. Over
the past few years, I have watched with great sadness as the "new farmers"
break their backs trying to grow a crop of maize on lands more suited for
cattle ranching in the Midlands, Masvingo and Matebeleland; thriving crops
of apples and coffee have been removed to make way for maize crops on the
acidic soils in Manicaland.
Add to that the constraints in availability of appropriate draft power
leading to the use of cattle or donkeys on the red soils in the Mashonaland
provinces, then you have a recipe for serious underutilisation of the prime
agricultural areas of Region I and II. In addition, misleading advice has
been dispensed liberally over the print and electronic media encouraging
farmers to continue planting crops beyond the scientifically recommended
dates in order to meet a predetermined target hectarage. A case in point is
the wheat crop with a recommended planting date of early May for the lowveld
and mid-May for the highveld. Delayed establishment of the crop is
automatically accompanied by yield reductions irrespective of the amount of
additional fertiliser that is applied.
Thanks to the efforts of the many professionals who have been involved
in the industry in the past, there are many existing plans and designs that
have been drawn-up that can be picked-up and used to attract investment into
the country. Examples include the following irrigation and dam projects:
Tokwe-Mukorsi in Masvingo, Marovanyati in Manicaland, Mhondoro "B"and Biri
in Mashonaland West and Silverstroom in Mashonaland Central. In additional
there is vast tracks of rich black soils in Matibi 2 and contiguous to
Chisumbanje (estimated at about 40 000ha) that could be developed into
irrigated lands for the production of cotton and or, sugar cane. All that is
required is for us to resolve our political problems, take three to six
months to revise the financial and economic analysis of these projects, then
we have a very attractive portfolio of potential projects that many serious
international investors would find difficult to ignore.
The implementation of these projects would make a direct contribution
to the myriad of problems that we are currently facing including: employment
creation; food production; availability of raw materials for our
manufacturing sector; and the generation of foreign currency.
If we take a hard look at what we want to achieve with the rich
resource base this country is endowed with and put in place the right policy
framework we should recover the past glory associated with this industry.
Clearly we need to depart from the mentality of "entitlement to a piece of
land for everyone". We need to recognise land as a comparative advantage
that we need to develop and exploit for the national good. A thorough review
of the land tenure framework applicable to the large tracks of communally
owned lands is called for to facilitate the process of unlocking value in
this sector as well as providing an incentive for long term investment. In
addition, we will need to provide adequate support towards research,
training, extension and infrastructure development and maintenance in order
to make effective use of the available resource.
In the absence of a serious change of attitudes towards this industry,
it does not matter how many turnaround strategies we compile and how much
money we throw to the "new farmers" through the various incentive packages,
very little if anything, will be achieved until there is recognition of the
professional nature of the practice of farming.
* Roy Maposa is Associate Director: Agriculture & Rural Development
Disclaimer: This publication contains information in summary form and
is therefore intended for guidance only. It is not intended to be a
substitute for detailed research or the exercise of professional judgement.
Neither PricewaterhouseCoopers Zimbabwe nor any other member of the global
PricewaterhouseCoopers organisations can accept any responsibility for loss
occasioned to any person acting or refraining from action as a result of any
material in this publication. For further information or comments please
contact Marketing on firstname.lastname@example.orgThis e-mail address is being
Saturday, 08 March 2008 11:18
"We have to look positively beyond Mugabe. Mugabe is history"
Charismatic opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai is mounting a formidable
challenge against President Robert Mugabe and is one of two leading
contenders for State House in the heated presidential race.
HARARE - An affable unionist, Tsvangirai rose through the ranks of a
once-tame trade union to become the first Zimbabwe opposition leader with a
credible chance of unseating the veteran iron-fisted ruler.
By the time he turns 56 on Monday, Tsvangirai, leader of the Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC), should have a sense of whether Zimbabwe's voters
are ready to dump the man who led them to liberation from Britain in 1980
and elect a younger man.
The few opinion polls published in Zimbabwe show Tsvangirai well ahead of
the 84-year-old Mugabe, with an online poll by The Zimbabwean revealing that
he would win a majority of 51,5 percent of popular vote, although the poll
was not truly representative. The outcome of the March 29 presidential
election, marred by a rising tide of political violence, intimidation and
judicial constraints on the opposition, is impossible to predict.
"Unless Mugabe rigs furiously, Tsvangirai together with Simba Makoni will
emerge with the biggest majority and are likely to go into a runoff,"
political commentator Ronald Shumba said.
In an echo of concerns voiced around the world, he added: "'Of course, there
is no reason to believe that the votes cast will be the result actually
The United States ambassador to Zimbabwe James McGee warned last week that
"ominous signs" of cheating by President Mugabe's government were already
present ahead of the crucial poll.
Tsvangirai's background could scarcely be more different to his rival's.
While Mugabe led the dominant military force in the long war against white
rule, Tsvangirai was home supporting his family.
While Mugabe boasts a string of university degrees, Tsvangirai, now a father
of six, is self-taught beyond a basic high school education. He is happily
married to Susan.
Tsvangirai, the son of a bricklayer, cut his political teeth in the labour
movement while working as a foreman at the Trojan Nickel Mine in rural
Bindura for 10 years.
In 1988, he became full-time secretary general of the Zimbabwe Congress of
Trade Unions, leading the federation from an alliance with Mugabe's dominant
Zanu (PF) to independence.
He was jailed by Mugabe's government for six weeks in 1989 on charges of
spying for South Africa and the MDC claims he has survived four
state-sponsored assassination attempts, including his brutal assult in
police custody on March 11 last year.
In December 1997, Tsvangirai delivered his first serious challenge and
Mugabe's first significant political defeat.
He led a series of strikes against tax increases and twice forced Mugabe to
withdraw announced hikes. He also made Mugabe abandon a planned special tax
to fund grants to veterans of the liberation war against Britain.
Taking much of the labour movement with him, Tsvangirai helped to found the
MDC in 1999. In February 2000, the movement showed its strength by
engineering Mugabe's first poll defeat - the rejection in a national
referendum of proposed constitutional changes that would further have
entrenched Mugabe's power.
In June of that year, despite killings and intense police harassment, the
MDC stunned the ruling party by winning 57 of the 120 seats at stake in a
Now Tsvangirai is going for the big prize, but political analysts say policy
and detail is where the man who captivates the public with powerful speeches
His judgment has also been questioned in the wake of last month's failure by
his party to join forces with the rival Arthur Mutambara-led MDC to mount a
formidable challenge against Mugabe.
His party's decision to go along with Constitution Amendment No. 18 which
has helped Mugabe perpetuate his tyranny through the retention of biased
electoral systems has also courted the ire of civics.
"People say we were naive," Tsvangirai told The Zimbabwean. "But it was a
negotiation, you give and take."
If he wins the presidency despite intimidation and legal ploys to keep
opposition voters away from the polls, Tsvangirai should be able to use
presidential powers to appoint legislators and senators to take control of
the 210-seat parliament and the 93-member Senate.
His party's economic stabilisation and recovery plan, contained in the party's
33-page manifesto launched last week, includes a 100-day programme to halt
the country's plunge into deeper recession.
The programme includes commitments to most of the macro-economic mantras of
the globalising world - debt reduction, tightly controlled state
expenditure, liberalised foreign exchange controls and free market
It commits the party to a people-driven constitution making process,
restoration of the rule of law, continue land reform in a non-partisan way,
create jobs, expand infrastructure and tackle the massive domestic and
Tsvangirai has declined to commit himself on the future of Mugabe and the
country's current rulers if he wins.
"We have to look positively beyond Mugabe. Mugabe is history," he said in a
typical response to a question on whether he would prosecute the man who has
led Zimbabwe for 28 years.
Friday, 07 March 2008 14:49
POLITICAL pronouncements by the Commissioner of Prisons Paradzai
Zimondi and Information ministry permanent secretary George Charamba
undermine the electorate's confidence in public officials and is damaging to
democracy, analysts said this week.
The analysts said public officers should desist from taking political
sides and try to force their stance upon the electorate, especially when
elections are around the corner.
Zimondi, a retired army major-general, last Thursday said he would not
salute opposition presidential hopefuls Simba Makoni and Morgan Tsvangirai
should either of them emerge victorious in this month's poll.
Charamba on the other hand hijacked the leadership of the Zanu PF
information department from Nathan Shamuyarira last week and rubbished
Makoni and Tsvangirai's election manifestos as inspired by the Zimbabwe
Democracy and Economic Recovery Act (ZDERA) passed by the US Congress in
Noel Kututwa, the Zimbabwe Electoral Support Network (Zesn)
chairperson, said Zimondi and fellow service chiefs and public officials
should not dabble in politics.
"Service chiefs and public officials interested in politics must
resign and join parties of their choice," Kututwa said. "In a democracy,
service chiefs and public officials are there to serve the people, not an
individual as pronounced by Zimondi."
Political scientist Michael Mhike said statements by public officers
erode democracy and were meant to cow the electorate into voting for Mugabe
and Zanu PF in the March 29 elections.
"A dangerous precedent was set when service chiefs in 2002 made
remarks similar to that of Zimondi and nothing was done to them," Mhike
said. "Police commissioner-general (Augustine) Chihuri also declared that he
was a staunch supporter of Mugabe and Zanu PF and again nothing happened to
He said party functionaries should not run the country's civil service
and uniformed forces.
The Morgan Tsvangirai-led MDC reacted angrily to Zimondi's utterances
and described them as reckless.
"Any utterances that seek to undermine the people's will are an
assault on the fabric of democracy and the expression of free will," MDC
spokesperson Nelson Chamisa said. "Zimondi should resign as an individual
rather than try and coerce the entire disciplined force into a rebellion on
account of Mugabe's imminent and inevitable defeat on March 29."
Chamisa said it was shocking that Zimondi ordered his subordinates to
vote for Mugabe in defiance of the world norm that uniformed forces in a
democracy were guided by the "compass of the sovereign will of the people".
"Our uniformed forces should be loyal to the country's laws and its
people and not individuals," he said. "Reckless utterances like the one made
by Zimondi invite a forced exit from national service."
The party said it was an affront to the country's constitution for a
service chief to tell officers to vote for a particular candidate in an
"There is no shadow of doubt anymore that we have become a banana
republic where the collective will of the people is not respected.His
statement is a coup on the constitutional order. It is intended to
intimidate the people of Zimbabwe against voting for their preferred
candidate in this month's election. It confirms that there is no guarantee
to a free and fair election," Chamisa said.
Other analysts said politicisation of the uniformed forces and the
civil service should not be tolerated and must be proscribed.
On the eve of the 2002 presidential elections, retired army general
Vitalis Zvinavashe and other service chiefs told a press conference that
uniformed forces would not back anyone who did not have liberation war
The chiefs' view was seen as an attack on Tsvangirai who Mugabe and
his government accused of deserting from the war.
Zimondi made his pronouncement at a function in Harare to confer new
ranks on 14 senior prison officers promoted recently by Mugabe.
The prison boss said: "If the opposition wins the election, I will be
the first one to resign from my job and go back to defend my piece of land.
I will not let it go. We are going to the elections and you should vote for
He ordered officers to vote for Mugabe and Zanu PF.
"I am giving you an order to vote for the president. Do not be
distracted. The challenges we are facing are just a passing phase," Zimondi
said. "I will only support the leadership of President Mugabe. I will not
salute them (Makoni and Tsvangirai)."
Charamba said Makoni and Tsvangirai's manifestos were derived from
"Read ZDERA and you will know who the father of Tsvangirai and Makoni
is. Their land policies betray their parentage and are direct extracts from
Section 5 of ZDERA, word for word in many respects," Charamba said. "Both
(Tsvangirai and Makoni) are tantalised by the US$20 million waved by (US
President George W) Bush in 2001," he said.
He also attacked former Home Affairs minister Dumiso Dabengwa on
behalf of Zanu PF when the politburo member on Saturday in Bulawayo backed
Makoni's presidential aspirations.
"What is Dabengwa worth by way of supporters?" Charamba questioned.
"He brought none to Zanu PF, he takes none to the independent. The people of
Nkulumane had long (ago) rejected him anyway."
Writing in the Zimbabwe Independent in January, Kudzai Mbudzi - a
former Zanu PF Masvingo provincial information officer and now backing
Makoni's campaign strategy - accused Charamba of trying to be a "Lenin" of
Zimbabwe's revolution through the abuse of his official position and the
Mbudzi, urging Charamba to be ethical,
said his "position as a senior civil servant prohibits him from openly
bragging about his political orientation as he is required to be
He added: "He must be reminded that he is not a permanent secretary to
the revolution, but to cabinet, which tomorrow might change to include me."
Last Friday, Charamba was clad in Zanu PF regalia during the launch of
the party's 2008-election manifesto.
Friday, 07 March 2008 19:59
On Sunday the official press carried a statement by the ZEC saying it
had come to their notice that "information is circulating that ZEC will use
cardboard ballot boxes, that ZEC polling officers will demand proof of
residence from voters.and that ZRP officers would assist those voters who
requested to be assisted".
None of this is true, we now learn. And who was the source of all this
misleading information? The ZEC, it turns out.
"The information is contained in a pamphlet which ZEC has since
withdrawn because of these factual errors."
The ZEC will not use cardboard ballot boxes; it will use translucent
ballot boxes. No proof of residence is required and only the presiding
officer and two other electoral officers can assist voters.
So, as we can see, all geared up for the big day! We particularly
liked the way all this had "come to the attention of the ZEC" when they were
the source of the misleading information. How long did it take to come to
their attention? And were any other state agencies involved? After all, who
would benefit from all this confusion?
Muckraker will resist the temptation to reveal how the ZEC moved in on
an NGO's workshop planned for the same day last week. The NGO had to cancel
and withdraw when the ZEC invaded their space.
Speaking at the workshop, Kenyan author Ngugi wa Mirii claimed the
violence in Kenya was the fault of the press.
And there we were thinking it was the product of a suborned electoral
commission which did the bidding of the incumbent!
We were intrigued with Zanu PF's election advert that reminded readers
that Idi Amin had once been a waiter working in a restaurant.
This was in response to a statement by Morgan Tsvangirai that being a
waiter was not a bad definition of democracy - you give people what they
Zanu PF leapt on this to point out that Idi Amin was a former waiter
who mounted a coup and "gave Uganda a long brutal dictatorship".
We had difficulty working out the significance of this ad. Tsvangirai's
definition of democracy seemed reasonable enough. But why should Zanu PF
want to talk without irony about a "long brutal dictatorship"? They
obviously need to come clean on their own "long brutal dictatorship" first.
As for President Mugabe being the author of Makoni's success (another
full-page ad), we are delighted to hear that he takes responsibility for at
least some of his appointments. Perhaps he could tell us now if he is
"appraised" of the record of Didymus Mutasa, Christopher Mushohwe,
Sikhanyiso Ndlovu, Aeneas Chigwedere and other failures who have served him
so faithfully in office?
It was interesting to note that following Dumiso Dabengwa's defection
to the Makoni camp, all the Sunday Mail could offer were the comments of
lightweights like Ndlovu, George Charamba and Cain Mathema who are dependent
on Mugabe's patronage.
None of them come near to Dabengwa in terms of political stature and
they know it. Why does Mathema think that Dabengwa is a tribalist when he is
collaborating with Makoni?
What is interesting to note however is how their response betrays a
growing nervousness in the corridors of power. And have you noticed how
every time some party bigwig declares "we are all solidly behind President
Mugabe" there is another defection? Mugabe must be becoming increasingly
nervous of just who is "behind" him and what they are about to do from that
The Media and Information Commission (MIC) has banned award-winning
Zimbabwean journalist, Brian Hungwe, from practising journalism in the
country, a Misa statement reveals.
Hungwe was accused of violating a section of the Access to Information
and Protection of Privacy Act (Aippa) which requires that a representative
office of a foreign mass media service must obtain permission from the media
regulator before setting up in Zimbabwe.
Misa-Zimbabwe said Hungwe, a former correspondent with the South
African Broadcasting Corporation, was last month banned for one-year
following his appeal against the MIC's earlier decision banning him from
working as a freelance journalist.
According to Misa, the ban is illegal since the MIC ceased to exist on
January 11 when President Robert Mugabe signed an Aippa amendment.
"Misa-Zimbabwe condemns in the strongest terms the MIC's decision as
it is not only illegal but vindictively designed to curtail media freedom
and freedom of expression ahead of the March 29 elections," the media
Misa-Zimbabwe said Hungwe's story dates back to 2006 when he was
approached by the BBC to be their correspondent in Harare.
The MIC took their time to accredit him and later suspended him from
the roll of journalists for one year for allegedly contravening sections of
Aippa, Misa reported.
Hungwe appealed but in a letter dated Wednesday, February 26, the MIC
said he had failed to lodge an appeal within 28 days as required by the law
and must now serve the full ban.
A letter from the MIC said: "After due process of a hearing as
provided for by Section 52B (4) and (6) at a hearing conducted by the MIC on
20 August 2007, you were found guilty of violating Sections 90 and 79 (5) of
the Statutory Instrument 169C of 2002. You were suspended from the roll of
journalists for a one-year period, that is from 20 August 2007 to 19 August
"The MIC is not in a position to entertain your appeal as there is no
basis in law for such an appeal now."
Hungwe last week said the ban had robbed him of his source of
"I was born in Zimbabwe and this is where I will die. Journalism is my
source of livelihood and I cannot understand why this country would want to
ban journalists from reporting in their own countries. I have been patient
with the MIC for more than a year now because I did not want to be seen as
being confrontational, but this latest development leaves me with no option
but to seek recourse through the courts," Hungwe said.
Muckraker has reproduced this report in detail because impediments to
Zimbabwean voters making an informed choice at the ballot box need to be
President Thabo Mbeki continues to insist that apart from a few
procedural matters, both Zanu PF and the MDC are agreed on the holding of
elections on March 29. In fact that date was announced unilaterally by
President Mugabe and the election is being conducted along traditional
lines. Zanu PF has driven a coach and horses through the Sadc guidelines. We
have the police banning demonstrations, service chiefs instructing their
juniors on who to vote for, and the public media suborned to act as a
mouthpiece for the ruling party.
With the banning of Hungwe it is clear that journalists are being
obstructed in reporting the election, to the disadvantage of voters and the
The media community needs to draw attention to these abuses before the
election so the government's pledges to Mbeki can be compared with the
reality on the ground.
Among those congratulating the president on his 84th birthday last
month was "the Hon CC Mushohwe" who said his ministry would "continue to be
inspired by your blessed leadership and will always put the needs and
expectations of the people first".
Does that include people who have been without a working telephone for
months? Or the people who will have to foot Air Zimbabwe's bill for three
new Ilyushin-96 aircraft that the country can't afford?
And who is the minister responsible for the outbreak of potholes on
the nation's roads? It is now life-threatening to travel from Masvingo to
Beitbridge at night. If this country had been governed properly we would now
have dual carriageways connecting Harare to Beitbridge, Harare to Lusaka,
and Harare to Blantyre. Why, nearly 28 years after Independence, do we have
no motorways connecting us to the region's centres?
Meanwhile, Muckraker's "Mother of all Potholes" competition has had a
rash of new entries. Take a drive down Mazoe St to the National Blood
Transfusion Service and see the condition of the road there. You need a 4X4
to get across. How do the ambulances cope? Meanwhile, Suffolk Rd near the
junction with Kerry contains a pothole of gigantic proportions. Local
residents appear happy to have it there. Perhaps, like the salvagers of
yore, they are waiting to pounce upon victims of car-wrecks!
Muckraker was interested to note that postmen will soon be delivering
mail by motorbike. Thirty motorbikes have been acquired by Zimpost for
deliveries in Harare and Bulawayo.
But what will happen when the bikes break down? Zimpost already
provides a patchy service with Christmas card deliveries continuing to
arrive in March! That is because they are too busy perhaps pledging their
loyalty to President Mugabe on his birthday.
But at least bicycle delivery was fairly reliable in an old-fashioned
sort of way. Above all, the bicycles could be fairly easily fixed by their
riders. Now every systemic failure will be blamed on the motorbikes breaking
down and the parts being unavailable. Just as grass is not cut because
tractors have broken down. Before the tractors the city's grass verges and
public spaces were well-tended by municipal workers. Not any more.
Zimpost chefs are already preparing us for failure. Efficiency would
depend on the provision of fuel, we are told. Please let's stick to the
Still on the subject of inefficient parastatals, we had George Shire
lecturing us on Tuesday about the danger of allowing the public sector to
fall into the hands of greedy capitalists at the behest of Bretton Woods
institutions. This formed part of an attack on Makoni's and the MDC's
What Shire didn't mention was the huge cost of allowing those
parastatals to remain in the hands of a parasitic political elite which
treats them as their private piggy banks. Privatisation would represent an
acute form of dispossession, Shire argues. But what needs to be interrogated
is how Noczim, AirZim, Arda, TelOne and Zimpost add value to the nation when
they are dependent on handouts from the fiscus.
The answer is simple: they provide sheltered employment for Zanu PF's
legion of hangers-on. No wonder they oppose privatisation. They have
everything to lose from an efficient economy. And they dress up their
opposition to privatisation as a national crusade. "What tosh!" as Shire
"On March 29 I urge Zimbabweans to vote Zanu PF in large numbers and
peacefully simply because I love you." Shire concluded his editorial
epistle, warning against the agents of regime change.
But will he be amongst us on March 29 helping to shape the nation's
destiny? Or will he remain in the comfort of capitalist Britain from where
he writes, firmly declining to put his money where his mouth is?
Our thanks to Caesar Zvayi for explaining what that rooster is doing
on top of the Zanu PF headquarters. It "reposes proudly" at the apex of the
building to remind us that Zanu PF brought the dawn, he tells us.
We thought it was because a bunch of ruling-party apparatchiks chose
to assert their authority over Zapu by refusing to replace it with the
jointly agreed Great Zimbabwe symbol in 1987. Perhaps Caesar could provide
details of that little altercation for posterity.
The Herald this week reported that Deputy Information minister Bright
Matonga had managed to get a Harare restaurant fined $10 million simply
because he wanted to pay less than the price of a copy of the state
newspaper at the time.
Harare's Amanzi Restaurant, which is allowed to charge tourists in
foreign currency, had asked Matonga to pay $9 711 000 for a "meal and
drinks" priced at US$97,11 on June 25 2007.
Whether it was a quarter-chicken and chips plus a Coke, it boggles the
mind how Matonga expected
to pay $24 277,50 for something good enough to be eaten by an
On the day in question, a copy of the Herald cost $25 000, cooking oil
was $250 000 for 2 litres, 2kg of salt cost $180 000, 1kg beef went for $355
000 and Mazoe Orange Crush was $600 000.
At times you wonder which planet our vatongi (rulers) are living on.
We were interested to hear Mugabe tell George Bush and Gordon Brown:
"Remember, the gold in the country is mine, and the land is also my land."
So, not much redistribution going on there!
Friday, 07 March 2008 09:44
IT must be evident now to even the most sanguine of observers that
Zimbabwe will not be getting the free and fair election it had hoped for
only two months ago.
Election already flawed
In early January it looked as if President Thabo Mbeki's diplomacy had
managed to secure agreement between the two main parties on electoral,
security and media laws that would pave the way for what appeared to be a
sea change in national politics.
Mbeki's lieutenants, in a remarkable feat of shuttle diplomacy, had
knocked heads together at meetings in Harare and Pretoria which resulted in
important amendments to the Electoral Law, the Public Order and Security Act
and the notorious Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act. These
would address glaring democratic deficiencies in the way elections were
conducted, the role of the police, and the right of journalists to practise
their profession without gratuitous interference by agencies of the state.
All that remained was the issue of the constitution and certain
modalities covering the elections themselves, such as the date. Even here
the two sides, Zanu PF and the MDC, had agreed on the outline of a new
constitution. Where they disagreed was over when it should be introduced.
The diplomacy itself was driven by Sadc's need for Zimbabwe to be seen
as conforming to the 2004 Mauritius guidelines on electoral conduct. That is
why a purportedly independent supervisory body, the Zimbabwe Electoral
Commission, was set up the following year. The matter was given increased
urgency by the outbreak of violence, most of it instigated by the state, in
March last year. Images of the savage beatings of opposition figures beamed
around the world were said to have shocked Mbeki and other Sadc leaders.
Hence the regional intervention.
But despite the gains on paper, Zimbabwe's electoral landscape remains
profoundly flawed. Police chiefs have sanctioned demonstrations by the
ruling party in the city centre while refusing permission for the opposition
to do the same. The public media has provided no space to the opposition and
continues to act as a platform for ruling-party apologists. Meanwhile,
senior politicians provide a shocking example of public behaviour to their
followers by denouncing the opposition in crude and abusive terms. Nowhere
is there enlightened leadership.
At the core of the electoral process is an electoral commission that
is clearly in deep difficulty. It put out a pamphlet recently on electoral
procedures which contained information so inaccurate that it had to
apologise for the "factual errors" and withdraw the material. It is
manifestly unable to conduct voter education itself but prevents others,
more qualified, from doing so. Most of its staff have come from government
backgrounds and therefore, like the police, have little experience in
interacting with the press or civil society.
Contributing to the uneven political playing field is the abuse of
public resources by the incumbent regime. Is Zanu PF paying for the
helicopters President Mugabe is using in his election campaign? Reports also
suggest the police have refused VIP protection to Simba Makoni and his
This is cavalier in the extreme. In the United States and Britain
leaders of the contending parties are immediately provided with security as
soon as the election campaigns are underway. The same goes in South Africa.
Makoni didn't "qualify" as a VIP, he was told. Last week we had a
service chief and the senior civil servant in the president's office making
partisan comments that reflect the immaturity of the country's institutions.
A lot will have to change if the impression of official delinquency
and abuse of resources is not to persist. But instead of getting better the
situation on the ground is getting worse.
The Zanu PF newspaper, The Voice, told its readers this week that MDC
spokesman Nelson Chamisa had "promised Zimbabweans that they would be killed
if they vote for President Mugabe". This was used to portray the MDC as the
party of violence.
Of course Chamisa had said no such thing. He had warned recently that
the Kenya situation was the product of popular outrage at the way the Kenya
Electoral Commission had ignored the will of voters.
The whole point of the regional intervention in Zimbabwe was to secure
political consensus on the electoral process precisely so there would be no
violence and to prevent a continuation of the political crisis that has
plagued the country since 2000. How that has been twisted by Zanu PF points
to the depth of the problems we face. As it stands, the election, with all
its complex procedures, is unlikely to command public confidence. And that
is something we should all worry about.
Friday, 07 March 2008 10:17
That was Matabeleland South governor Angeline Masuku protesting her
innocence which threatened to be sullied by those trying to link her to
"political prostitutes" who have joined Simba Makoni's brothel.
"I AM a seasoned politician. I am not a political prostitute."
It all started with President Mugabe attacking Makoni as worse than a
prostitute for challenging him in the presidential elections on March 29.
The protest was so pathetic and undignified one didn't know how to
react. The league of the political epithet now includes Nkomo, Mugabe and
Msika, all of whom should be enjoying their dotage in the backwaters of
Zimbabwean politics. What example are they setting for the youth by their
ignoble theatrics on national television?
Masuku's protest came after Zanu PP party chairman John Nkomo made
intemperate remarks about Dumiso Dabengwa's decision to support Makoni.
Nkomo said there were "infiltrators and sellouts" during the war but Zanu PF
had survived. He described Dabengwa's departure as "good riddance" for the
party. "It is now clear that we have infiltrators among us," he said. "We
would like to thank those who fought hard to bring about what is Zimbabwe
today, those who led us during the difficult times enduring subjugation in
order to bring about a new Zimbabwe."
Nkomo doesn't need reminding about revolutionaries and infiltrators or
saboteurs. He must feel unreal even to himself that he can call Dabengwa an
infiltrator or one who betrayed the liberation. I was reminded of President
Mugabe asking at Joshua Nkomo's burial at the Heroes' Acre that if Nkomo
didn't deserve to be buried there then who did? That was despite all what
happened to Nkomo up to the Unity Accord in 1987. The same can be said of
The trouble is that in the heat of trying to express loyalty to
Mugabe, our leaders get intoxicated with rhetoric, so much so that they don't
know when to stop. For to call Dabengwa a traitor is to subvert the entire
liberation war project and its ethos.
If the liberation struggle was about freedom, including freedom of
choice and association in a "New Zimbabwe", why should breaking away from
Zanu PF be equated with treachery? Why should support for President Mugabe
be equated to patriotism and anybody who disagrees with him be labelled a
People are bound to disagree and try to defend their turf in an
election period. But to resort to revolting language like traitor, sellout
and infiltrator is to go over the top and reflects more on the speaker than
the target of his diatribe.
On the other hand, Makoni's decision to enter the fray against
President Mugabe has helped not only add excitement to an otherwise drab
election but also expose how our democracy has failed to mature in almost
three decades of Independence. There is in fact growing intolerance for
dissent. An impression is still peddled that only Mugabe knows what is best
for Zimbabwe. There can be no alternative point of view.
This doesn't speak well of a country which boasts the highest literacy
rate on the continent. For if that literacy prepares us to only think and
behave like sheep, it is not worth boasting about. If Mugabe still fears
that a movement such as Zanu PF cannot defend his legacy, then it means that
legacy has no national appeal, it doesn't embody the national vision. For a
legacy to endure it must have people ready to sacrifice for it well after
its authors are gone; it must transcend the individual.
Makoni and Dabengwa's decision has also helped to expose the party's
deceit. We asked questions why, if Mugabe had already been endorsed at the
2004 people's conference, was Zanu PF calling for a "special" congress in
December. There was no convincing answer. At some point there was confusion
about the agenda of the special congress. Some said all the posts in the
politburo were up for grabs while others said the congress was about
endorsing what had already become law - Constitutional Amendment 18 Act.
There were others who obviously felt excluded from the presidential
race. For some reason someone expected somebody to raise the issue. In the
event, nobody did. Apart from the clash between John Nkomo and war veterans
aligned to Jabulani Sibanda, everything seemed perfectly stage-managed to
preclude dissenting voices. That is the problem which has come back to haunt
the Zanu PF leadership.
Not even attempts by Vice-President Joseph Msika to paper over the
cracks at the unveiling of the Zanu PF manifesto last week would do the
trick. There are calls for leadership renewal, a term first used by
President Thabo Mbeki. What is not clear is why "tribalists" in Zanu PF are
allowed to get away with the mendacity that Dabengwa's decision is a
revocation of the Unity Accord between PF-Zapu and Zanu PF. Does that mean
everyone else in Zanu PF is happy with the current Zanu PF leadership except
for former members of PF-Zapu?
Does it mean except for MDC followers, the rest of the people in
Mashonaland are perfectly happy with the state of the economy, the political
environment, the water and food crisis? To hear George Charamba talking of
Dabengwa being rejected by the people of Nkulumane, you would think he knew
nothing of the revulsion the Zanu PF tag evokes in some parts of the
country. Yet all senior Zanu PF leaders from Matabeleland have endured over
20 years of daily ridicule for the sake of national stability.
In any case, how many Zanu PF politburo members have seats in Harare?
Why are all its aspiring MPs scurrying for the bush and vice-versa for the
MDC? That's what I call hostage politics.-- By Joram Nyathi
Friday, 07 March 2008 19:35
THE overriding thought in the minds of almost all of Zimbabwe's
electorate, as the forthcoming elections approach, is centred upon the
country's distraught economy, and whether the elections will bring about any
Positive, negative future plans
An overwhelming majority of the population is starving, and cannot
forsee any prospects of positive change.
Since 1997 the politicians in power have given naught to the populace
other than promises of a utopian future, iced with endless disclaimers of
non-culpability for that future not materialising, fault for the continued
deprivation being wholly attributable to the diabolical and evil
machinations that the politicians falsely contend are the endless pursuit of
much of the developed, first world.
Those who have unceasingly promised an imminent paradise for all the
population, and have not only failed to deliver it, but have brought almost
all to the frontiers of hell, never-endingly pleaded that that is not their
fault, but that of mystical, non-existent, "illegal" international
sanctions. The reality is that it has been their ill-conceived, misguided,
and disastrously implemented political policies, compounded by megalomania
and paranoia that has brought Zimbabweans to the precipice of permanent
The electorate is no longer interested in hearing about who is, or is
alleged to be, the culprit for the miseries that confront it. Zimbabweans
are understandably and justifiably now only interested in being given
credible and meaningful assurances of real, positive and constructive
transformation of the economy.
The populace want an end to homelessness, to malnutrition, to
ill-health, to an inability to fund children's education, to unemployment,
and all the many other characteristics of their present abominably miserable
It is therefore most significant to note the total disparity between
the declared future policies of the present regime, and of those who aspire
to lead the future Zimbabwe. Speaking at his 84th birthday "celebrations" in
Beitbridge, President Mugabe dug deeply into the barrel of existing failed
policies and, to all intents and purposes, reiterated them. He said that his
government had "empowered" the populace "in the agriculture sector and it
does not matter what anyone else in Britain says and the fact is permanent
and the sooner the Britons learn it the better. They just have to learn to
Not only did the President demonstrate complete oblivion to the
failure of his government's agricultural policies, but he pretended they had
been a great success. The reality is that agricultural production today is
only about 35% of that which it was 10 years ago.
From producing 210 million kg of tobacco, Zimbabwe is now producing
only 55 million kg.
From producing enough maize and other grains to feed the entire
population, and to export to almost all the region, Zimbabwe now has to
import almost half of its requirements. The national herd is little more
than one-third of its size of a decade ago.
Numbers employed in agriculture are less than a fifth of those so
employed at the turn of the century. And none of this dismal destruction of
the jewel of the Zimbabwean economy is due to the actions of Britiain, USA,
European Union or other so-called enemies.
Nor is it due to negative climatic conditions to any material extent.
The fault lies almost wholly with the abysmal manner of seeking to attain
agricultural indigenisation and economic empowerment.
None can justly challenge that that was necessary, but pursuit of it
in disregard for international norms of justice, in contemptuous disregard
for merit, ability and resources, in pursuit of self-enrichment for the
favoured few, and in total failure to consider the national needs, produced
nothing but destruction, and that was what materialised.
However, that has not deterred presidential thinking to repeat that
which has already failed, for the president's reference on his birthday to
the agricultural policies was in the context of an intention to pursue
similar policies in the mining sector.
He said: "When you produce them (minerals), you produce them with a
view to enhance your own wealth and capacitate your own people and increase
your per capita capital and income, or are you producing them for others? At
the end of the day, who is the owner of the gold, the diamonds and the
platinum that we produce? That is why we have brought in a new law in the
mining sector with a view to empower our people in that sector."
President Mugabe made this statement in the context that he has no
intention to relent or reverse on his plans to promulgate legislation in
terms of which 51% of all mining companies must, at the least, be owned by
indigenous Zimbabweans (and, in fact, the proposed legislation entrenches a
25% holding for government itself, with a minimum of 26% to be held by other
This intent can not only preclude any future development and growth of
mining, but must bring about an immense contraction of that which already
It defies the wildest stretches of imagination to expect investors to
provide 100% of required investment capital, all necessary technology
transfer, access to markets, and much else, only to be deprived (without
compensation!) of at least 5l% of the venture they have brought into being.
What is more, not only are they to be so deprived, but the mining
operations are to pay ongoing taxes and immense royalties to the state, to
an extent that any investors who are non-indigenous Zimbabweans are reduced
to having a 49% holding of next to nothing - and that is supposed to attract
Zimbabwe has an immense potential wealth in mining, for it is rich in
resources of platinum, gold, nickel, coal, methane gas, diamonds, and very
But that wealth can only be realised by effective investment of
capital, and of mining technology and skills, and Zimbabwe does not have
sufficient of either of those resources, so it must interact with the
international investment community.
But, to be of interest to that community, Zimbabwe must offer a "fair
and square" deal, instead of the patronising, demanding, and economically
unrealistic path that it persists in following.
President Mugabe and the party that he leads are naïve in the extreme
if they believe that the electorate will satisfy its hunger pangs by
receiving promises which have as little prospect of fulfilment as the failed
promises of the past
It is therefore very intriguing to note the very different and
demonstrably realistic stance that is being taken by one of President Mugabe's
His one time Minister of Finance, well-known for having resigned out
of total frustration at the obstacles and hindrances erected in front of him
in trying constructively to fulfil his ministerial duties, Simba Makoni has,
in his election manifesto, undertaken to give immediate and urgent priority
to resolving the food, power, fuel, water and sanitation problems afflicting
Concurrently, it is his declared intent to remove the innumerable
structural economic distortions that pervade all sectors of the economy, to
deregulate that economy, to assure the independence of the central bank, and
to cease imposition upon that bank of unwanted, undesirable engagement in
Concurrently, Simba Makoni has pledged that he and his future
government will re-engage the international community, will interact
positively with bilateral and multi-lateral lenders in order to access
balance of payments support, and will motivate and stimulate both foreign
direct investment and domestic investment.
If, in the few remaining weeks before the elections, he can convince
the population of the genuineness of these intents, and provided that the
elections are genuinely free and fair, devoid of any rigging, and without
any intimidation, actual or implied, then undoubtedly the despairing
population will once again perceive a ray of real hope for the future.
For the first time in a decade, someone in the political environment
is speaking out with positive intents, instead of projecting further
national suicide, and therefore opening a window to gaze at a very bright
future economic horizon, albeit that inevitably that horizon is still far
away, because even the most constructive and vigorous economic policies
cannot instantaneously right the immense economic ills that government has
bestowed upon Zimbabwe over the last ten years.
The contrast between the economic policies of President Mugabe and
Makoni are striking in the extreme.
The former can yield nothing other than further deprivation,
malnutrition, ill-health, desperation and misery for almost all Zimbabweans,
with ongoing hyperinflation, scarcities, and all the other economic ills
that are presently suffered by Zimbabwe to a greater extent than almost any
other country in the world.
The latter has the potential and the promise for change for the
better, albeit that regrettably and unavoidably, that change will be long
and slow, for there is no quick fix for the harm that has been done to
Zimbabwe by the Zimbabweans that have ruled it.