The Times-Picayune Self-delusion in Zimbabwe Saturday, May 29,
2004 When a dictator like Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe surrounds himself
with sycophants, intimidates his opponents, steals elections and
stifles independent news coverage, he never has to face the unpleasant truth:
that his subjects dislike him intensely and just want him to go
Mr. Mugabe said in an interview broadcast on British TV Monday that
he does not plan to seek re-election when his term ends in 2008. But he also
said he will remain in office as long as the people of Zimbabwe want him
But all evidence suggests that they don't want him
Mr. Mugabe, who took office in 1980, is the only leader Zimbabwe has
ever had. Despite early hopes that he would bring democracy to his country,
his rule has grown more erratic and repressive with every passing year. In
2002, he was re-elected only through repression and vote fraud. Last year,
he alienated former allies for no reason when he accused the presidents
of South Africa, Nigeria and Malawi of acting as "British
Under his leadership the country, once an exporter of food, has
fallen into economic chaos and come to rely on international food relief. And
while Mr. Mugabe insisted in Monday's interview that the latest harvest will
be plentiful, the United Nations has predicted otherwise.
Mr. Mugabe seems to gain more leverage over his citizens the worse Zimbabwe's
economy performs. According to the Associated Press, opposition figures and
human-rights groups say Mr. Mugabe plans to use his control over the
distribution of food to further his own political ends in elections next
Unfortunately, Zimbabwe is cursed with a leader who, despite his
obvious failures as a statesman and economic manager, somehow clings to
power. If he were truly interested in everyday citizens' wishes, he would
have quit years ago.
HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) -- Summary
executions, torture and mortar bombs exploded in the mouths of captured
fighters were among the horrors described to a Zimbabwe court that officially
declared dead 47 soldiers who disappeared in Congo's savage five-year
The hearing Thursday in the Harare Magistrate's Court, a necessary
step before the victims' families can claim state benefits, gave a rare
and graphic insight into the fighting that claimed an estimated 3
million lives -- most through war-induced hunger and disease. The court
transcripts were obtained Friday by the Associated Press.
long been criticized for sending 11,000 troops to fight alongside Congolese
government forces against rebels backed by Rwanda and Uganda when the war
started in 1998.
President Robert Mugabe likened the operation to helping
a neighbor whose house was on fire.
His opponents claimed senior
military and ruling party officials were more interested in exploiting
Congo's vast mineral riches. They said the costly deployment in distant
central Africa contributed to Zimbabwe's spiraling economic
Congolese rebels claimed to have killed hundreds of Zimbabwean
troops before the country withdrew its forces in 2002. But the Zimbabwe
Defense Ministry has repeatedly refused to reveal details of its
Court records of the hearing convened under Zimbabwe's
missing persons law identified 47 soldiers whose remains were never returned
home. Many more are still unaccounted for.
Only fragments remained of
some of those identified Thursday. Others could not be retrieved because of
heavy fighting, military commanders testified.
Fellow soldiers saw some
of them beaten, tortured and executed, as they retreated. Two were killed by
having mortar bombs rammed down their throats and exploded, according to
testimony. Another was found decapitated, dismembered, his genitals severed
and his torso torched.
Others were abandoned in the thick of battle. An
evacuation helicopter was forced to leave five of them behind when it came
under rebel fire, or risk being shot down, court records showed.
missing also included two men who were recently revealed to be
suicides. Military officers reported "trauma" among some of their troops,
saying "sometimes men get deranged" after close-quarter combat and seeing
high numbers of casualties, the records said.
Officials at the Defense
Ministry were not available to comment Friday on the testimony.
past, they have acknowledged that without morgue facilities, officers were
obliged to bury some casualties in the bush in remote parts of the
vast central African country.
The government has promised to try to
bring their remains home for traditional burials as stipulated by customary
Under a colonial-era law, families of the missing cannot claim
pensions and other state benefits until a court formally declares their
Congo's war drew in the armies of half a dozen African
nations. A 2002 peace deal brokered in South Africa paved the way for a
transitional government, which took office in July 2003, bringing former
rebel leaders to the capital to take up posts in a power-sharing
Nhambura DEMAND for cremation among Zimbabweans is on a steady rise as people
turn away from cultural values and appreciate that the country is running out
of burial space, statistics indicate.
With prices of burying a loved
one shooting through the roof, cremation has also emerged a quicker and
cheaper option to dispose of the dead.
The cheapest coffin is going for
around $150 000, while transport costs on average cost about $300 000 to
ferry a body to a rural area, depending on the distance.
such figures, more people now find it cheaper to have their relatives
According to statistics gathered from the Harare's leading
funeral parlours, the city crematorium handles two corpses everyday
translating to around 60 bodies a month.
Before 2000, it was generally
regarded as taboo for someone to opt for cremation as a way of burial.
Attitudes are however changing fast and people can now discuss the option
without fear of being considered social outcasts in the society.
practice is, however, not alien to whites as close to 90 percent of them are
cremated. Fifty years ago, the figure was one percent of the
Records show that only one black body was cremated
in 2001 but the trend has continued to grow over the past
Homage Funeral Home recorded three cremations in 2002 alone, five
in 2003 and have so far this year cremated seven. Though Moonlight Funeral
Services could not give a breakdown of their figures, they were in agreement
with other parlours offering internment services.
believe that when one dies he or she has to be buried at their rural home.
This however is fast changing.
Doves' public relations manager Ms Charity
Chanetsa concurred that the number of people seeking cremation had gone
Ms Chanetsa said Doves had processed 10 bodies of black people for
cremation this year alone.
"Most of the cremations that we have
handled as a parlour are mainly blacks who have been working abroad in Europe
and America who have been exposed to such practices," Chanetsa
"The composition of the people who have sought the services
includes some black Zimbabweans and we are glad that people are being exposed
to different forms of disposing of the dead.
"Apart from it being a
quicker method of disposing of the dead, cremation is also environmentally
friendly," Ms Chanetsa said.
Mr Isaiah Muchuchu, the general manager of
Homage Funeral Services, said most people have discarded the traditional
method of burial and now want to be cremated.
"People no longer care
what type a funeral one is accorded as long as one is given a dignified
However Chief Fortune Charumbira expressed disgust at Zimbabweans
who are adopting other people's cultures at the expense of their
"Most people, when they get educated, do not want to uphold their
own traditional rituals, but are are happy to embrace foreign cultures,"
Chief Charumbira said.
The Zimbabwe National Traditional Healers
Association (ZINATHA) president, Professor Gordon Chavhunduka has said
cremation would destroy the spirit mediums.
Contacted for comment, the
Harare City Council Spokesperson Mr Leslie Gwindi confirmed the increase but
could not give figures.
Mr Mike Galiao an undertaker with Moonlight
Funeral Services said there is a big difference between expenses incurred in
cremation for those resident in Zimbabwe who have to pay around a million
dollars which is more or less the same for a conventional burial.
think it is more a matter of choice than a cost effective measure since it
even costs more than a burial that is going for less than half a
million dollars ", Galiao said.
Those who were in support of cremation
argued that cremation should now be an option because land is fast becoming
scarce and dear.
The Harare City Council last year approached its parent
ministry seeking money to buy gas that is used in cremation of the
Masvingo Bureau Great
Zimbabwe University, embroiled in a row with law students over the quality of
its law degree, was recently thrown a lifeline after a Masvingo magistrate
overturned a provisional order issued by the same court earlier to freeze the
institution's tuition account with the Jewel Bank.
Mberewere lifted the order after the institution's acting vice chancellor Dr
Hilda Matarira filed an opposing affidavit saying the complainant was not
legally constituted to file a litigation against the university.
three weeks ago, the GZU account with the Jewel Bank was frozen after some
students, through the Students Representative Council vice president Mr Simon
Chaduka successfully filed litigation at the Masvingo civil court.
were arguing that the university was not entitled to use their tuition fees
after the invalidation of the institution's law degree programme by
the Council for Legal Education.
The GZU, Dr Matarira and the Jewel
Bank branch manager were cited as respondents in the litigation.
overturning the order with costs, Mr Mberewere conceded that his court had no
jurisdiction to entertain matters involving the amount of money that was at
He also ruled that Chaduka's litigation was null and void as he
had not yet registered to be a GZU student in conformity with the regulations
of the university that require students to register every
The ruling by Mr Mberewere came after Dr Matarira, who was
instructed by Mr Cossam Chuma of Chuma, Gurajena and Partners, had in her
opposing affidavit argued that Mr Chabuka was not yet registered as a GZU
Dr Matarira also argued that in terms of the Students
Representative Council constitution, only the president of the students body
was empowered to file litigation.
She also admitted that the frozen
account had money paid by other students from other faculties and that they
were being disadvantaged by the freezing of the account.
State committed to construction of Midlands State University:
From Arnold Mutemi in GWERU GOVERNMENT is committed to the
construction of the new Midlands State University campus and has allocated an
additional $2 billion to funds already allocated in the 2004 budget,
President Mugabe said yesterday.
Speaking at a groundbreaking ceremony to
mark the start of the first phase of construction, the President said the
construction programme was long overdue.
The groundbreaking preceded
an emotional graduation ceremony where the late Vice President Muzenda was
posthumously awarded a Doctor of Letters degree for being a cultural icon and
his selfless contribution to the freedom of the country.
was received by his widow Cde Maud Muzenda after which, members of the
Muzenda family present congregated near the stage and sang a song Tinotenda,
which touched the heart of many.
"As Government, we are aware that you
are embarking on a costly and challenging endeavour. At the outset, I would
like to assure you of our unwavering commitment in ensuring the success if
"The Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education Dr Herbert
Murerwa and the Vice Chancellor, Professor Ngwabi Bhebhe, are aware that as
Chancellor of the university, I will always look forward to receiving updates
of progress on the construction," he said.
Cde Mugabe said he was
pleased with the progress at the new site since his last visit in November
when he expressed concern over the slow take-off of the construction
"I went to the extent of promising to rear my pigs on this
piece of ground should I have observed that no progress was being made. I
have found some progress in a sense. There are dungeons being dug, perhaps to
frighten me not to bring my pigs! I will accept that progress has started
being made," he said.
The university was originally allocated about $3
billion for construction of an administration block but the amount was
increased after representations by the authorities.
urged all stakeholders to come together to help the MSU achieve its
He said the university was an institution full of vision and
remained on course to blossoming into a great university.
Mugabe said Zimbabwe should sustain its reputation as the leader in education
and production of highly skilled manpower in Africa.
"No-one can deny
this. I urge everyone to sustain this reputation. We are self-made men. The
resources are there and should be exploited for the development of this
country," he said.
Prof Bhebhe said the university decided to confer an
honorary doctorate on Cde Muzenda because he was one of the sons of Zimbabwe
who dedicated and scarified his entire life for the freedom of the
He said Cde Muzenda's life was inextricably intertwined with the
struggle, starting in the 1950s when he joined Benjamin Burombo's Voice
Association to fight for the rights of the down trodden.
incarceration could not dissuade him from political activism. Muzenda
developed a firm and passionate commitment to the armed struggle. He gave
direction to thousands of cadres in Mozambique, Zambia and Tanzania," he said
in a citation.
At Independence, he continued to support indigenisation of
Cde Muzenda's daughter, Cde Tsitsi Muzenda, in an acceptance
speech on behalf of the family, said they had been humbled by the
"We accept his award with heartfelt humility and gratitude. It is
most heartening to note that our father's death has not stifled the MSU
from recognising the critical role he played in the country," she said.
Prof Bhebhe said the capping of the first class of graduands at the
university was a momentous occasion.
He also said MSU had packaged its
degree programmes to prepare students to challenges they would face in their
working lives. Chairman of the university council, Mr Canaan Dube, said the
groundbreaking and graduation ceremonies were defining moments for the
He said to augment government funding, the university would
approach organisations such as the Local Government Pension Fund to fund
some projects while the Reserve Bank would be asked to provide soft
Reporter A special representative of Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Gadaffi on
African affairs, Dr Ali Treiki met President Mugabe yesterday at Zimbabwe
House to discuss ways to strengthen bilateral relations between the two
Dr Treiki told journalists after the meeting that they had
also discussed the African Union, focusing on how to improve the continent's
economy and security issues.
"We have discussed how to strengthen
bilateral relations between our two countries and how to strengthen the
African Union and the need for an African army to defend the continent," he
"On the economic side, we discussed about wheat and maize
production and as Africa, we should have a policy on trade because we can not
stand competition from the bigger countries."
Dr Treiki paid tribute
to Zimbabwe and Namibia for playing a leading role in bringing peace in the
Democratic Republic of Congo.
Zimbabwe and Namibia sent troops to the DRC
in August 1998 to assist the government to repel rebels that were being
supported by Rwanda and Uganda.
Commenting on the shift by Libya to
reconcile with some Western countries, Dr Treiki said this would not affect
the country's foreign policy on Africa.
"I do not think that agreement
with the Western countries has something to do with Africa. We will never
forget what Africa did for us and there will be no change in the African
policy," he said.
The Libyan delegation has also been to Zambia and
Lesotho and it will travel to South Africa.
send any material for publication in the Open Letter Forum to email@example.com with "For Open Letter
Forum" in the subject
271 --------------------------------------------------------------------------- THOUGHT
FOR THE DAY
"In democratic ages men rarely sacrifice themselves for
another, but they show a general compassion for all the human race. One never
sees them inflict pointless suffering, and they are glad to relieve the
sorrows of others when they can do so without much trouble to themselves.
They are not disinterested, but they are gentle."
I see my
friend Colleen describes me as an enraged terrier! For your interest, I sent
out information on the Sentry disgrace to about 10,000 subscribers to one of
my cartoon lists. I had some excellent response in that people wrote to
Sentry expressing disgust that they are swapping grain for tobacco very, very
surreptitiously so that ZanuPF can control the distribution to their
supporters. I note that grain is also being imported into Zimbabwe from
sources in South Africa and await details.
I have recently met Paul
Andrianatos. Paul is the pastor who conducted the funeral service of Martin
Olds and also that of his mother Gloria when she was murdered in
Paul was effectively deported from Zimbabwe having worked as
a Presbyterian minister in the country for nine years. The reason for his
deportation was that as a church minister he publicly cursed the Government
for their behaviour. It would appear that Paul's words were heard - and yet
he is the most gentle man who is at peace with his words.
interesting to note that just as Paul was deported, so Ben Freeth was also
dismissed over a similar incident.
Is it unreasonable to assume that
Zimbabweans are not ready for change until such time as those who deported
Paul, and those who dismissed Ben acknowledge their mistakes and behave like
Moral Big Boys?
Mr. Msika has indicated that he might know the difference
between Moral Big Boys and Immoral Little Boys, but who else knows? Perhaps
"Still Farming Shona" could assist us.
Re: Skynews TV coverage - Mugabe interview
Well. I thought our Leader gave a sterling performance in his
tirade against Labor, and Blair in particular. The sad news is that Skynews
TV only carried (selected) parts of the interview (deliberately excluding
the parts about the snivelly Labor Party reneging on the Lancaster
House promises for funding land reform made by the Conservatives in 1980).
They obviously have their own little 'Sky Moyo' diligently manipulating the
flow of information to the British public. Seems the poor guilt
ridden politically correct folk in their little red brick terrace houses out
in pudding TV land just aren't quite ready to stomach the full truth
about their colonial shambles in Zimbabwe. Not just after Eastenders and
over take-out doner kebabs anyway.
Not to be outdone, the "backfoot"
BBC (still banned indefinitely) also carried a 'coincidental' "special
report" on our plight all the way from a chilly Johannesburg, the same
evening. They entertained their worldwide TV audience with lengthy footage
from our Minister of Fantasy's famous bum-jiggling "our land is our
prosperity" ad. Complete with suitably defiant anti-colonial pelvic
thrusting, (you know the part, just next to that Massey Ferguson), taped
direct from ZBC-TV.
Anyhow - believe it or not, something has finally got
New Labor's attention. Is it compensation for theft of white owned farms? Is
it systemic violence, vote rigging, or rampant abuse of the
general population? Is it hell. It's: "Zimbabwe turns its back on western
We already know Labor and Blair couldn't give a rats buttock
for us embarrassing colonial white hangovers (thanks a bunch for that
compensation to us you promised Mugabe you'd provide at Lancaster House). I
really object to being called a hangover, it isn't too flattering. Our leader
even now considers that white Afrikaners are nicer than "British"! (that
part also chopped from the Sky TV interview). Hows THAT for the ultimate
BUT NOW - the pesky Mugabe is refusing precious British food aid.
Whoa. There goes the plan to keep all those bleeding heart doner kebab dinner
TV watching masses quiet because at least no poor blacks are starving
in Zimbabwe. The 'gay bandits' in the Foreign Office must have dropped a
wet one and spilt their tea on hearing that! Why? Simple, because some
awkward questions could now be bandied around about exactly why the
current appalling diplomatic relations between UK and Zim are just so lousy.
And the answer to that involves going all the way back to British
'diplomacy' at Lancaster, and their sniveling deceptions then, and since
then. (Read the full interview carefully because you won't see THAT part on
Sky TV News either)
They say that for the truth there is no time
limit. We certainly hope so!
One thing we can rely on: things are going
to get a lot more "interesting" toward the elections. The scene is
So, duly elected one - what's the plan now?
Has the Party
been 'siphoning' donor food over the last 3 years ("we had a drought",
remember). Been hoarding some to "prove" the land reform is a success
perhaps? (surely we do not offer bribery as a vote-getter
Or has Joyo, our very own talking head, finally managed
to deceive you, himself, Gono and the dinsosaurus Party faithful completely
with ever more joyful, happy news regarding the ongoing progress of 3rd
chimurenga. (If so, expect an interesting reality check in the near
Or, having carefully identified specific 'MDC areas', will the
selected districts simply be allowed to starve - being 'surplus to
requirements' (remember Didymus Mutasa's comment that "there are about 5
million people too many in Zimbabwe anyway")
I know which one my money
would be on, if I had any.
Poor old Thabo. His June deadline is nearly
up, and he didn't maak 'n plan after all. Having been well duped by 'more
experienced' politicians in Harare his posterior is now hanging out badly,
and in the middle of winter too. He must be wondering where to hide those
extra 5-7 million refugees streaming into his Limpopo Province shortly. And
lets not forget poor old Desmond Tutu. Ja boet, he always was a bit of a
wally but he did successfully run SA's very thorny Truth and Reconciliation
Commission. Now he gets raw sewage dumped on him during the Sky TV interview,
a tongue lashing from hell from Bob as an 'evil', 'unholy' basically useless
git. His resistence to the apartheid regime was apparently not up to
standard. Ag, shame man.
Blonde --------------------------------------------------------------------------- All
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Yesterday, The Herald
carried a prominent article describing how David Matsanga was last week
refused entry to Zimbabwe. It also made allegations against Matsanga
regarding his involvement with the Ugandan Lord's Resistance Army, and
charges brought against him in Uganda. Below is a press release received
yesterday from Matsanga:
For the last one month several articles
defaming and character assassinating me have appeared in the government paper
of Zimbabwe called Herald on the instructions of the owner the paper called
gay rant Jonathan Moyo. I have widely consulted with many real men of higher
offices in that country and I have been advised not to react impulsively to
the statements of gay rants. I have restrained my self for over a month from
attacking the author of this hurdy-gurdy ranting of the Herald, which have
been repeated several times with trash. I have been a humdinger for Zimbabwe
and if this is how Zimbabwe treats African patriots then time will tell. It
is said in Philosophy that "when a real man bites a dog it is news but when a
dog bites a man it is not news" Those who have followed the story of Matsanga
and Moyo will accept that he fears other people's brains.
make a lengthy statement in the nearby future as my lawyers in London Victor
Evans &co who handled the case with Uganda government in 1999
are preparing a statement. This will include the letter and
publication statement of the with draw of the so -called warrant. I did not
know that the Uganda government of Museveni to do its PR abroad had hired
the government of Zimbabwe. Ironically Zimbabwe can not even beam its ZBC
to Victoria Falls for tourists to see or the Herald to be read in
Tsolotsho where the infamous homosexual gay rant comes from. For now let me
make it clear that I was not a member of the LRA in 1997. When I was asked by
the Uganda opposition to assist the LRA, it was not proscribed as a
terrorist organisation. In actual sense if Moyo has any material left in his
ugly gay face he should know that it was proscribed as terrorist organisation
in 2003 four years after my quitting. I resigned from LRA and this matter
was announced to the whole world through BBC, CNN, Sky News and all Ugandan
and other international media in 1999.
I want to reiterate to the
whole World and to Zimbabweans in particular that it is clear the turncoat
and quisling junior Minister of State for Information and Publicity whose
department is bigger than President Mugabe's shoes has distorted all facts
and framed me regarding Sky News. He has used me as a scapegoat to fight
imaginary succession crusade .The Sky News matter should be directed to Dr.
Nathan Shamuyirira who is the boss of the minister in the party. I don't know
whether it is a ploy to fight an innocent man who only helped to remove the
isolation of Zimbabwe abroad. Because I respect the President of Zimbabwe I
will not react or do anything, which will harm the country at this hour. I
still have many friends in Zimbabwe who have valued my work. I will not let
them down because of a gay rant. But because of this provocation, I have
despatched my personal assistant Dr. Patricia Gwen-Ofwon to Nairobi to
research on the social behaviour and investigate Moyo's fraud case with the
Ford Foundation in 1990s. As a first precaution, from next week we shall
replay all speeches and tirades of Moyo against Mugabe from 1996 to enable
the world to judge. The world will see for themselves how the opportunist has
sapped the moral authority of a good African President.
I hope in
normal democracy the Herald should carry my reply but if it doesn't millions
in the world will receive a copy via other outlets.
companies help President Mugabe to finance secret food
President Robert Mugabe is staking his people's future on
false claims of a bumper harvest. Africa Confidential can reveal that
Mugabe's government has secured financial backing from at least two United
States' corporations, Sentry Financial International and Dimon Incorporated.
Dimon, the world's second largest tobacco-leaf trader, is a public
corporation quoted on the New York Stock Exchange. Its backing for Mugabe
goes well beyond the secret tobacco-for-maize swap first reported here. We
have obtained a letter confirming Sentry International's offer of credit
worth US$700 million, to fund Zimbabwe's imports of food and other goods.
This letter, dated 15 November 2003, is from Jewel Bank, addressed to the
Grain Marketing Board's Acting Director, Colonel Samuel Muhvuti. It begins:
'The Jewel Bank is pleased to extend to you an offer of US$80 million for the
importation of grains'. It goes on to explain that Sentry International is
arranging finance, with 'security being provided by tobacco merchants' as
part of the $700 mn. credit line.
'RBZ Managers Should Be Accountable for Past Actions'
May 28, 2004 Posted to the web May 28,
Glen Norah MP Ms Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga (MDC)
has said the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe board and senior management that were
at the helm of the institution during the period in which corruption thrived
in the financial sector should be held accountable and resign.
who were on the RBZ board, management and auditors including the Registrar of
Banks and those in the asset management department should do the honourable
and resign," she said.
The MP said this on Wednesday while moving a
motion calling upon senior management at the central bank to be accountable
for their past actions.
"The very same board that messed up things in the
past is the same board that is still in existence and the Ministry of Finance
and Economic Development should give an explanation why the board did not do
the right thing," Ms Misihairabwi-Mushonga said.
The central bank, she
said, should be audited by the Comptroller and Auditor General since it was a
Ms Misihairabwi-Mushonga said it was no use having
internal and external auditors for the RBZ since they did nothing when things
were going wrong in the financial sector.
The legislator said the
Registrar of Banks should be held accountable and resign because most of the
asset management companies that were operating before the financial shake up
had not been properly registered.
She said since April this year only two
asset management companies had been registered while before the RBZ monetary
policy there were many such financial institutions and this indicated that
there was something wrong in the manner in which they were
"All those who were involved in this financial crisis should
be arrested and tried before the courts," she said.
motion, Bulawayo South MP Mr David Coltart (MDC) queried why there had not
been successful prosecutions of those who have been arrested in connection
with the corruption in the financial sector. He said an independent team
should be appointed to investigate the contribution of the RBZ to the
Languishing lion: African poverty hides traces of
Anthony Fensom Daily Yomiuri Staff Writer
Continent: Africa's Past, Present and Future By Robert Guest Macmillan,
280 pp, 27.50 dollars Africa, blessed with a wealth of human and natural
resources and geographic proximity to European markets, would seem to have
economic potential as stunning as the famed sunsets over Botswana's Okavango
delta. So why is it that in modern times, this home to 680 million people is
better known for wars, famines and pestilence? For it is no exaggeration
to say that sub-Saharan Africa is a mess. Calling it the Dark Continent may
no longer be politically correct, but the statistics are black indeed: half a
billion people living on less than 2 dollars a day, 30 million infected with
HIV, wars in two-fifths of its countries, and rulers whose actions make the
recent goings-on at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq look like a tea
party. Yet while the media and modern communications have made us well aware
of the various crises, their causes and potential solutions have not been
as frequently highlighted. It is to this end that British journalist
Robert Guest has penned The Shackled Continent: Africa's Past, Present and
Future, a clear and concise introductory guide to the political and economic
chains that are holding back the continent's development. As may be
expected for a journalist for The Economist--he is currently its Africa
editor--Guest puts a great deal of weight on the economic causes of Africa's
problems, but he also explores cultural and historical factors, burying quite
a few myths along the way. A major reason many give for Africa's ills is the
legacy of its European colonizers, who ruled the continent for more than a
century before departing, willingly or otherwise, mostly by the 1970s. While
Guest acknowledges the major social disruptions caused by slavery and
the divide-and-conquer policies of European rulers that exacerbated
ethnic tensions, he points out the need for Africans to take responsibility
for their own future rather than dwelling on past injustices. Noting that
more than 90 percent of Africans alive today were born after independence,
Guest writes: "If colonialism was what held Africa back, you would expect the
continent to have boomed when the settlers left. It didn't." Guest gives
similar short shrift to other explanations for Africa's problems, including
the tribal rivalries that supposedly make conflict inevitable. While he
describes the 1994 Rwandan genocide in which 800,000 Tutsis and moderate
Hutus were murdered in six weeks--"the swiftest genocide on record"--as an
example of tribal warfare, he points out that such warfare is rare in
Tanzania, which is home to 120 ethnic groups. Guest notes that tribal
conflicts are usually stirred up by unscrupulous politicians--something not
unknown in the Balkans in recent times. According to Guest, the biggest
problem facing Africa today is its predatory and incompetent postindependence
governments, which have "replaced the old colonial shackles with even heavier
ones." Despots such as former Ugandan dictator Idi Amin are not uncommon on a
continent that has had more than its share of military or quasi-military
governments. The general attitude of those in charge and the corruption that
blights the continent is summed up by a police officer whom the author meets
in Cameroon while traveling with a truck driver carrying a consignment of
Guinness beer. When Guest challenges the police officer's confiscation of the
driver's license on the ground of a self-made rule, the officer replies: "Do
you have a gun? No. I have a gun, so I know the rules." Unfortunately for
the continent, it is the rule of the gun and not the rule of law that holds
sway, despite Africans' theoretical freedom to remove their political
overlords from office. Guest's harshest criticism is reserved for the regime
of Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, which he describes as "a tapeworm
infestation in Zimbabwe's stomach, feeding off the fruits of other people's
labor," accusing it of stealing the last two elections and bankrupting the
country through forced land appropriation and hyperinflation. But other
African leaders also are censured, including former Tanzanian President
Julius Nyerere, whom Guest accuses of crippling the country and wasting
considerable aid through socialist policies such as forcing two-thirds of the
rural population onto collective farms. Guest courts controversy when he
argues that the positive discrimination practiced by the current South
African government reduces growth. But while this argument does hold
water--the housing crisis is unlikely to be resolved by the government paying
an extra 10 percent to black-owned firms in public works projects--his
contention that Western firms doing business in Africa should be prepared to
deal with vicious regimes is on shakier ground, particularly since the
collapse of the apartheid regime has been largely attributed to trading
partners cutting off business ties. With firms increasingly under legal
liability to honor the same ethical standards at home as abroad, there is
even less reason to deal with despots. But it would be churlish simply to
dwell on Africa's problems, and Guest does not depress readers by doing so.
Instead, he suggests a number of economic solutions that require no big
handouts from donors--something that will be music to the ears of developed
countries that have cut foreign aid in recent years. Guest says that
lowering barriers to trade and slashing agricultural subsidies--currently
estimated at 1 billion dollars a day in developed countries, or more than the
entire gross domestic product of sub-Saharan Africa--would enable Africa to
trade its way out of poverty just as Japan did. According to the author, aid
equivalent to six Marshall Plans already has been provided to Africa--and
largely squandered. He also notes that growth could be boosted through the
exploitation of the dead capital represented by informal urban dwellings,
which has been estimated to total three times the continent's entire
GDP. The problem for Africa may well be that industrialized nations,
having reached into their collective pockets once too often to avert yet
another crisis, may become desensitized to the continent's plight. The
despair of many in the West is probably best expressed by American satirist
P.J. O'Rourke in his saying: "Man developed in Africa. He has not continued
to do so there." But while it may be easy to wash our hands of Africa, the
fact is that in an interconnected world, the continent's problems are our
problems, and if we neglect them much longer, we may have hordes of refugees
on our doorstep. But by raising its living standards, the continent could be
made a source of global growth rather than a leech on it. Guest does not
explain how the shackles imposed by the Big Men of Africa can be removed, but
his work does provide a good starting point on how Africa may begin the long,
slow climb out of poverty.
HARARE, May 29 (Xinhuanet) -- The Libyan
envoy Ali Treiki said Friday when meeting with the Zimbabwean President
Robert Mugabe, that Libya's African policy remain unchanged after its shift
to reconcile with some western countries.
"I do not think
that agreement with the western countries has something to do with Africa. We
will never forget what Africa did for us and there will be no change in the
African policy," he said.
Ali Treiki, the special
representative of Libyan leader ColonelMuammar Gadaffi on African affairs,
led the Libyan delegation hereat Zimbabwe House to discuss ways to strengthen
bilateral relations between the two countries.
reporters after the meeting "We have discussed how to strengthen bilateral
relations between our two countries and how to strengthen the African Union
and the need for an African army to defend the continent."
"On the economic side, we discussed about wheat and maize production and as
Africa, we should have a policy on trade becausewe can not stand competition
from the bigger countries," he added.
Treiki also paid tribute
to Zimbabwe and Namibia for playing a leading role in bringing peace in the
Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
Zimbabwe and Namibia
sent troops to the DRC in August 1998 to assist the government to repel
rebels that were being supported byRwanda and Uganda.
Libyan delegation has visited Zambia and Lesotho and it will travel to South