By CELIA W. DUGGER
Published: November 9, 2008
JOHANNESBURG - Southern African leaders called Monday for political rivals
in Zimbabwe to share control of the crucial ministry that oversees the
police and to form a joint government immediately, but the opposition flatly
rejected the proposal as unworkable and unfair.
Impatient with a crisis that has dragged on for more than seven months since
disputed elections in March, the regional leaders sought to force a
resolution of the deadlocked power-sharing talks between Zimbabwe's
president, Robert Mugabe, and the opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, in a
marathon day of jawboning on Sunday.
"We cannot afford to postpone the formation of an inclusive government
because there is a dispute over who gets the Ministry of Home Affairs," said
Tomaz A. Salomão, executive secretary of the Southern African Development
Community, or S.A.D.C., a 15-nation regional bloc, at a midnight news
But if regional leaders had hoped to press Mr. Tsvangirai to settle for
shared control of the Home Ministry and a police force that human rights
groups say turned a blind eye to vicious attacks on his supporters, it did
Mr. Tsvangirai, who surpassed Mr. Mugabe in the March elections and quit a
runoff because of state-sponsored attacks on his supporters, accused the
regional leaders of lacking the courage to look Mr. Mugabe in the eye and
insist on an equitable sharing of ministries.
Mr. Tsvangirai, who seemed somber and discouraged, said his party, the
Movement for Democratic Change, "is shocked and saddened that the S.A.D.C.
summit has failed to tackle these issues."
There is now no obvious next step to end the political crisis in Zimbabwe, a
country afflicted by worsening hunger and one of the most extreme cases of
hyperinflation in world history.
Mr. Tsvangirai said he would turn to the African Union for further help, but
it had asked the southern African regional bloc to take the lead in
mediation. The southern African leaders sought to resolve the crisis on
Sunday in a marathon of talking. After rejecting their unequivocal directive
on the crisis, Mr. Tsvangirai is likely to find himself increasingly
Mr. Mugabe left the summit meeting without commenting, but Mr. Salomão said
he had agreed to the bloc's proposal. The group's insistence on the
immediate formation of a government, and Mr. Tsvangirai's refusal to accept
its terms, may embolden Mr. Mugabe, who has held power for the past 28
years, to go ahead and form a government on his own.
A communiqué released by the group after the meeting directed that an
"inclusive government be formed forthwith in Zimbabwe."
But a government that excluded Mr. Tsvangirai would not win the infusion of
foreign aid and investment that economists and political analysts say is
essential to rebuilding Zimbabwe's shattered economy.
Arthur Mutambara, who leads a small opposition faction that was also part of
the talks, said Monday morning at a news conference that the deal S.A.D.C.
offered was the best the opposition would get. He warned, "This is the end
of the road if we're not careful."
Zimbabwe's neighbours have swung behind Robert Mugabe in the struggle for
control of the country's key home affairs ministry, which has held up
putting its unity government into office.
By Sebastien Berger And Peta Thornycroft in Johannesburg
Last Updated: 12:03AM GMT 10 Nov 2008
The opposition Movement for Democratic Change has insisted that it must have
sole control of the ministry, which brings with it authority over the
police, if power-sharing is to be meaningful.
But around 14 hours after talks started at a Southern African Development
Community summit in Johannesburg, the organisation's secretary-general Tomaz
Salamao emerged to say: "Summit decided that the inclusive government be
formed forthwith [and] the ministry of home affairs be co-managed between
Zanu-PF and MDC-Tsvangirai."
Mr Mugabe had earlier proposed the joint ministers concept himself, and
agreed to the proposal, but Mr Tsvangirai's MDC rejected it.
A source inside the meeting described Mr Mugabe as "extremely contemptuous"
of Mr Tsvangirai, interrupting him during his presentation. When the MDC
leader said he had won the March 29 election, in which he came first, Mr
Mugabe shouted "You didn't! You didn't!"
"Our situation is not a domestic issue, it is a foreign issue," Mr Mugabe
told the heads of state, expounding on his anti-Western mindset. "Home
affairs is part of security and I as president have greater
Afterwards, Mr Tsvangirai declared: "The concept of co-ministering cannot
work." With two competing ministers Mr Mugabe's Zanu-PF party would be in a
position to sideline the MDC, as the upper levels of the bureaucracy are its
own members, and it would also threaten the MDC's one-vote majority in
cabinet under the political agreement.
Mr Tsvangirai said: "Perversely, pressure was brought to bear on the MDC, a
party that won an election but has shown compromise and political maturity
in these negotiations rather than the party that lost an election and has
flouted the spirit and substance of the agreement, namely Zanu PF.
"Mr Mugabe is not the President of Zimbabwe without this agreement," he
added, saying that the MDC "hope and pray that the guarantors of the
agreement, in particular progressive members of SADC and the African Union,
will now move very quickly to try and salvage this agreement".
Zanu-PF has already overseen the destruction of Zimbabwe's economy and the
killing of almost 200 opposition supporters over the election season earlier
The summit decision leaves the entire process on the verge of collapse. Mr
Salamao said: "SADC was asked to rule and SADC took a decision, that's the
position of SADC. It's up to the parties to implement." It is also a
demonstration, yet again, of Mr Mugabe's extraordinary skills as a political
operator, having convinced his colleagues, who are the guarantors of the
power-sharing agreement, to force Mr Tsvangirai into a corner.
Mon Nov 10, 2008 3:56am GMT
By Rebecca Harrison
JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - Southern African leaders said on Sunday that
Zimbabwe's political rivals must split the leadership of a key ministry, a
move rejected by the opposition in a further sign that power-sharing talks
The 15-nation Southern African Development Community (SADC) said in a
resolution Zimbabwe's squabbling political parties should form a unity
government immediately to end a stalemate over the allocation of ministries.
But opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai said he was "shocked and saddened"
by the outcome of a summit, which brought together leaders and ministers of
SADC countries for more than 12 hours of talks on Zimbabwe's political
impasse and the violence in eastern Congo.
"The MDC is shocked and saddened that SADC summit has failed to tackle these
key issues ... a great opportunity has been missed by SADC to bring an end
to the Zimbabwean crisis," Tsvangirai said at a post-summit news conference.
SADC said Tsvangirai did not agree with SADC's call for his Movement for
Democratic Change to co-manage Zimbabwe's Home Affairs Ministry with
President Robert Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF.
The resolution calling for joint control of the ministry -- which controls
Zimbabwe's police and is the main sticking point in the talks -- was backed
by all 15 members of SADC, said Arthur Mutambara, leader of a breakaway MDC
The SADC said a unity government must be formed.
"We need to form an inclusive government, today or tomorrow," SADC Executive
Secretary Tomaz Salamao told reporters late on Sunday night after the summit
in South Africa.
"... SADC was asked to rule and SADC took a decision and that's the position
of SADC. Now it's up to the parties to implement," he said.
Mugabe, in power since 1980, appeared optimistic that an agreement could be
reached but Tsvangirai warned of regional instability if the ruling party
refused to loosen what he called its illegitimate grip on power.
The old foes have been deadlocked over allocation of important cabinet
positions since the September 15 deal, which Zimbabweans hoped would produce
a united leadership to revive the ruined economy in the country where
inflation is the world's highest and food and fuel shortages widespread.
Control of the Home Affairs Ministry has been one of the main sticking
points in implementing the power-sharing deal.
Tsvangirai said co-managing the ministry with the ruling party was
unworkable, citing the party's contempt for the MDC.
He said SADC lacked the "courage and decency to look Robert Mugabe in the
eyes" and tell him his position was wrong.
Highlighting growing regional impatience, South African President Kgalema
Motlanthe said earlier on Sunday the deal offered the only hope for Zimbabwe
to ease the economic crisis.
Past SADC meetings have failed to produce a breakthrough.
Although some leaders have taken a tough line on Mugabe, political analysts
say SADC does not have the resolve to impose tough measures, such as
sanctions, to force an agreement.
The heads of state of Botswana and Zambia, the most outspoken regional
critics of Mugabe, did not attend the summit.
Tsvangirai, who would become prime minister under the power-sharing deal,
has accused Mugabe's ZANU-PF of trying to seize the lion's share of
important ministries and relegating the MDC to the role of junior partner.
Zimbabwe's economic crisis has forced millions of its citizens to flee the
country, many of them moving to neighbouring South Africa, Africa's biggest
Zimbabwean state media reported that Mugabe's government would not change
its stance on key cabinet positions and the opposition should accept joint
control of the interior ministry.
(Additional reporting by Phumza Macanda; Writing by Marius Bosch; Editing by
10 November 2008
Hopewell Radebe and Dumisani Muleya
IN SPITE of SA saying it would take a tough line in a weekend summit to
salvage Zimbabwe's power-sharing negotiations, the parties failed to put
aside their differences at heated talks in Sandton last night.
President Kgalema Motlanthe opened yesterday's proceedings expressing his
"disappointment" at the lack of progress, yet the parties still failed to
make any breakthroughs on the vexed question of the division of cabinet
SA was hosting the make-or-break summit of the Southern African Development
Community (SADC) leaders in its capacity as chair of SADC.
However, the SADC leaders failed to come up with a solution, except to
support a suggestion of having two home affairs ministers to break the
deadlock, which the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
The outcome of the meeting was bound to determine the fate of the faltering
agreement between Zanu (PF) and two opposition MDC factions signed on
The parties have been fighting over the distribution of ministries and other
matters related to the implementation of the deal ever since.
The leaders wanted the parties to agree on ministries and go back home to
form a government and address outstanding issues later.
Motlanthe set the ball rolling with a strong opening address, a departure
from the usually indirect and mild approach by SADC leaders.
Motlanthe said it was "disappointing" to realise Zimbabweans leaders were
still haggling over ministries and other issues two months after the signing
of the agreement.
"The historic power-sharing agreement signed on September 15 remains the
vehicle to help extricate Zimbabwe from her socioeconomic challenges," he
"It is, however, disappointing that it is now two months since the signing
of the agreement and the parties have not yet been able to conclude the
discussions on the formation of an inclusive government."
Indirectly attacking President Robert Mugabe, MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai
and the other smaller MDC faction leader, Arthur Mutambara, Motlanthe said
the leaders needed to show "political maturity" to resolve the issue.
"The political leadership in Zimbabwe owe it to the people of Zimbabwe and
the region to show political maturity by putting the interest of Zimbabwe
first," he said.
"We urge the three parties to build on the achievement made thus far and
reach an agreement on the outstanding issues, including the ministry of home
Apart from ministries, there was still the issue of sharing 10 provincial
governors' positions, the appointment of ambassadors and permanent
secretaries, the role, function and composition of the national security
council, the amendment of the constitution to facilitate the agreement, and
the arbitrary changing of the original agreement by Zanu (PF) under Mugabe's
Mugabe is said to have insisted on his position of having two home affairs
ministers shared between his Zanu (PF) and the MDC.
But Tsvangirai rejected this, saying he wanted "fair and equitable"
allocation of ministries based on "clusters and functions" of the
It is said Mugabe shook his head when Tsvangirai was making his
presentation, prompting SADC leaders to urge him to show respect to his
Mugabe argued he would not give home affairs to the MDC because the party
was allegedly training militias in Botswana to destabilise Zimbabwe.
Several MDC activists were arrested and detained last week in connection
with the issue, which the opposition says is a fabrication to divert
attention from real issues.
November 10 2008 at 06:09AM
By Independent foreign Service
Southern African leaders were battling on Sunday night to get Zimbabwe's
political leaders to nail down a deal that would allow a still-born,
two-month-old power-sharing deal to come into effect.
Six leaders and other representatives of the 15-nation Southern African
Development Community (SADC) were determined to take as long as necessary to
persuade President Robert Mugabe and Movement for Democratic Change leader
Morgan Tsvangirai to agree, essentially, on who should get the contested
Home Affairs Ministry.
SADC's failure, after several summits and meetings, to get a Zimbabwean deal
has evidently become an embarrassment to the organisation. Chairperson,
South African President Kgalema Motlanthe, chastised the rival Zimbabwean
leaders at the start of the summit by telling them they owed it "to the
people of Zimbabwe and the region to show political maturity, by putting the
interest of Zimbabwe first."
He said it was "disappointing" that two months after Mugabe, Tsvangirai and
leader of a smaller MDC faction Arthur Mutambara, had signed a power-sharing
agreement on September 15, they had not been able to conclude negotiations
on establishing an inclusive government.
Motlanthe also noted that the rainy season had started in Zimbabwe, adding
to the challenges of helping Zimbabweans to feed themselves. This referred
to SA's offer of R300-million to help Zimbabweans to get food crops planted
this season - provided they first established an inclusive government.
Former president Thabo Mbeki briefed the leaders on his efforts, as SADC
mediator, to secure a Zimbabwe deal. While his successor Motlanthe addressed
the summit, Mbeki sat in the audience between Tsvangirai and Mutambara.
Motlanthe noted that the summit would address the outbreak of serious
fighting in the eastern DRC.
DRC President Joseph Kabila briefed the summit on the outcome of a summit of
Great Lakes leaders in Nairobi on Friday, held to seek a solution to the
renewed fighting between his government troops and those of renegade Tutsi
general Laurent Nkunda.
Motlanthe echoed the findings of the Nairobi summit when he said SADC was
calling "for an immediate ceasefire to allow humanitarian assistance to the
He said SADC was also calling for the full implementation of the November
2007 Nairobi communiqué and the January Goma agreement as well as the Amani
processes relating to the eastern DRC conflict calling for the disarming and
demobilisation of all militias and rebel groups fighting in the area and
Despite the avowed importance of Sunday's summit, only six of SADC's 15
heads of state or government attended, the rest leaving it to their
ministers. Apart from Motlanthe, Kabila and Mugabe, others present were
Hifikepunye Pohambo of Namibia, Armando Guebuza of Mozambique and Lesotho
Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili.
Sources said Mugabe was making a major issue of his government's
accusation - at a SADC defence ministers' meeting last week - that Botswana
was training MDC youth to destabilise Zimbabwe.
Botswana has strongly denied the accusation and demanded proof.
Tensions have been rising between the two governments since Botswana's new
president Ian Khama - who was not at Sunday's summit because of a prior
engagement in the US - began strongly criticising Mugabe, refusing to
recognise him or his government since his re-election in a June 27 poll
which even SADC rejected as flawed.
Outside the summit venue, two groups of protestors hurled insults, pamphlets
and stones at each other. The larger group comprised MDC supporters plus
opponents of Kabila and the Rwandan government's alleged military incursions
into the eastern DRC in support of Nkunda's rebels. Across the road was a
much smaller group comprising Mugabe and Kabila supporters.
This article was originally published on page 3 of Pretoria News on November
November 9, 2008
IMAGINE a group of men - or males who call themselves men - standing up with
legs in their trousers, on their own two feet, and declaring, each with his
own two lips, that one party which has usurped all power, and another which
has none, must establish two home affairs ministers, "one appointed by
Zanu-PF, one by the MDC".
Just imagine that!
"The SADC was asked to rule and SADC took a decision and that's the position
of SADC. Now it's up to the parties to implement". So says someone who is
supposed to be the secretary-general of this organization of pathetic
leaders, who cannot stand up to Mugabe and tell him a home truth that will
free a nation of 12 million!
Over the past few days, we have heard some sabre-rattling coming from south
of the Limpopo River.
"This is becoming a matter of extreme concern to us and we will be taking
quite a hard stance to make sure that agreement is reached," cabinet
spokesperson Themba Maseko told reporters.
"We believe that South Africa and the region cannot be held to ransom by
three parties that are failing to reach agreement on the allocation of
cabinet posts", he said, going further to suggest nobody would leave SA soil
without a deal.
The world, the suffering masses of Zimbabwe, and even the trees heaved a
collective sigh of relief: at last Pretoria was ready to confront a tyrant.
Skeptics held their peace. Could it be that the ANC was now ready to put
pressure on the MDC instead of capitulating to Mugabe?
Now we know.
Surely, SADC must think that the people of Zimbabwe are fools. They must
surely think that we do not see what is naked before us: that, for some
reason, the struggle for freedom in Zimbabwe is just about cosmetic power.
Do they really know that power is a means to the people's freedom?
Well, we regret to inform SADC that their attempt to play power games using
Zimbabwe as a toy, with the people as a rope in this tug-of-war game, will
not be acceptable. If all these males who congregated in South Africa do not
realize it already, this latest act of treachery against the people of
Zimbabwe will attract economic consequences. Most of Zimbabwe's neighbors
have a choice between blind solidarity and pragmatism. If they choose to
sink with Mugabe, the world will be more than willing to grant their wish.
SADC is inviting its own collapse, because it is now clear that it is in the
pocket of a party rejected by the people of Zimbabwe.
We do not expect charity from SADC; all we ask is for the region to do what
is right. For a very long time the region has formed a cabal of tyrants
blocking every path we have chosen to pursue a peaceful, democratic change.
We have never asked anything other than neutrality for us to confront our
tyrant; instead SADC has become the 12th player in the opposition team.
Politicians - males who are simply not man enough to confront their
tyrannical neighbor - have defied the commonsense of their citizens, who
understand and empathize with the plight of Zimbabweans. They think we must
be insane to turn against a liberator, even as they realize that even the
debris of liberation has been eaten by the tyrant's rage.
To whom now do we turn?
We cannot count on our neighbors, because even if ordinary citizens in those
countries feel for us, their political leaders are paling around with our
We cannot count on the goodwill of our African leadership, half of whom
tremble in the presence of our tyrant.
We cannot count on the sanctity of the ballot because our tyrant believes
that the gun is supreme over elections. To whom now, tell me? Whom?
Who would not want to emulate Barack Obama and become president at 47?
Who among us would run away from the power of knowing they can bring change
through the ballot and elect a government of their choice?
Who among us would not want a square meal for his children, his wife, her
husband, or parents?
Who among us deserves to die like a fly, squashed flat against the wall and
levelled to nothingness by those whose only qualification is the gun barrel?
Are we not also human beings?
Tell me, Comrade Mothlanthe, Comrade Armando Guebuza, Comrade Jakaya
Kikwete, Comrade Bingu wa Mutarika, Comrade Rupiah Banda, Comrade Eduardo
dos Santos, Comrade Hafikepunye Pohamba, Comrade Joseph Kabila. Tell me.
Are we the proverbial sacrificial lambs; pests at the very least, to be
killed with pesticides as if governance is pest control?
Meals at the tyrant's most charitable, to be roasted and then eaten even
while our next door neighbors watch.
Rope in the tug-of-war game of politicians like you, who care for nothing
but power and money.
For far too long, Zimbabweans have conducted a civil discourse, determined
not to take the path of the gun. Harsh critics say it's an excuse for
cowardice. Now your friend, our tyrant, arrests brave mothers fighting with
plates, pots and spoons on the streets of Harare, while asking for nothing
but food in the shops and money at the banks, their own money, to feed their
Tell me, SADC presidents, what happens when people's backs are against the
wall, when the very same people who must guarantee whether they live or die
the next day turn out to be their predator's company?
Because, quite frankly, if what you mean by talks is to force a man who was
elected by the majority to submit to a tyrant the people overwhelmingly
rejected, there can be no worse betrayal than that.
When desperation creeps in tomorrow, SADC better take full responsibility
for the consequences. We have lost many relatives already to HIV/AIDS simply
because donor money was embezzled by the same regime you protect.
Is it worth it to be complicit to genocide, to the deaths of entire families
due to lack of drugs, simply to protect one 84-year old tyrant? To whom do
those who have lost their relatives, who are now orphans and who have lost
so many siblings, ask for help if an entire region connives against 12
million citizens to protect a single tyrant?
For whom is SADC if it is not for citizens? It boggles the mind for several
males to congregate and declare that they will send a peacekeeping force to
faraway Congo, even as a crisis is brewing right on their borders that may
actually trigger a war to destabilize an entire region.
That is what is at stake in forcing Mugabe to compromise, not Tsvangirai.
SADC is barking up the wrong tree.
By Daniel Howden, Africa correspodent
Monday, 10 November 2008
Zimbabwe's opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai issued a stark warning to
regional heads of government yesterday, telling them that one million of his
countrymen would "starve to death" unless a new government was formed
The man who won March's presidential election, told regional leaders at an
emergency summit in Johannesburg that president Robert Mugabe's refusal to
honour the power sharing deal signed up to two months ago was killing the
southern African country. The former union leader who was forced out of the
second round of voting by a murderous campaign targeting his supporters,
told the five heads of that they must set a deadline for a real
"Only a genuine power-sharing arrangement will allow the MDC to join a new
government because that is our mandate from the people of Zimbabwe and we
cannot and will not betray their hopes and dreams for a better future," he
said in the speech, a copy of which was seen by Reuters.
Mr Tsvangirai, who would be prime minister under the mooted deal, cited
inflation running at more than 200 trillion percent and mounting
malnutrition, blaming the ruling party's stubborn determination to hold on
to power at all costs.
"The people of Zimbabwe are suffering and they need immediate salvation.
Frustration and anger is setting in and I hope and trust that the leadership
in this room will be equal to the task that history has imposed on you," he
The stalemate has been cast by the ruling party as a petty squabble over
ministerial positions but analysts point out that Zanu-PF lost both the
parliamentary and presidential vote in March, and has opted to let their
people starve rather than share power with the former opposition Movement
for Democratic Change.
There is growing regional impatience over the stalemate and South Africa's
new President Kgalema Motlanthe - who took over from Mugabe sympathiser
Thabo Mbeki -- said the power-sharing deal offered the only hope for
Zimbabwe to rescue its collapsed economy. However, the regional grouping,
SADC, has a disappointing record on taking tough measures, such as
sanctions, to force an agreement over cabinet posts.
After the historic photo opportunity where he shook hands with Mr
Tsavangirai on 15 September, Mr Mugabe has returned to his traditional,
intransigent tactics behind closed doors and attempted to deny his new
governmental partners any meaningful authority. The ruling party continues
to insist that it holds onto executive power and total control over the
security apparatus that is has used ruthlessly on its own population in
months of serious political intimidation.
The MDC general secretary and lead negotiator Tendai Biti said that
prospects for a workable deal were remote but could not be abandoned.
"We have to keep the faith. We have people dying of cholera in tents. The
hospitals are empty and closing down. There is no clean water and no food on
Mr Biti also rubbished claims from Zanu's Patrick Chinamasa that the MDC had
been offered joint control over the interior ministry.
Diplomats warned that the ruling party - concerned at possible indictments
and loss of plundered assets -- would stall for up to three months rather
than give away any authority.
At independence Zimbabwe had the second largest economy in sub-Saharan
Africa and produced enough food to feed the region. After 28 years of Mugabe
rule it has the lowest life expectancy in the world and its population is
fed by a combination of remittances from the millions who have fled the
country, and the World Food Programme.
The meeting adjourned last night to consider both parties' presentations.
South Africa had promised before the meeting to take a new tough stance in
sharp contrast to the "quiet diplomacy" of former president Mr Mbeki.
Botswana has risked a breakdown in its relations with Mr Mugabe's
administration by openly calling for fresh elections in Zimbabwe. Both
countries have been overwhelmed with refugees fleeing the meltdown in
Zimbabwe, with South Africa thought to be sheltering as many as 3 million
people from its northern neighbour.
Published:Nov 10, 2008
THE letter "Please Motlanthe, ditch Mugabe" by Ryan van Heerden ( November
6) refers. While I agree with the sentiments expressed on many matters,
South Africans seem to suffer from collective amnesia.
It was Kgalema Motlanthe who, as head of the South African observer mission
to the massively rigged Zimbabwean elections in 2002, declared that poll
"free, fair and credible".
He immediately lost any respect I might have had for him. - Dr Denis Venter,
10 November 2008
ZIMBABWE's remaining whites may make up only less than 1% of the population,
but most of them are as concerned about their country's future as their
The fact that many of them have some ties with SA is not the only reason why
they closely followed this weekend's Southern African Development Community
heads of state emergency talks about Zimbabwe in Johannesburg - most see
Zimbabwe as their only home.
South African-born Jean Simon is such a person. At her smallholding 120km
outside Harare, she is pleased at having been reunited with the last of her
former farm managers. "If you could only see him, he was all skin and bone,"
Simon lost two farms at the height of Zimbabwe's political crisis; she has
just about managed to start all over, acquiring the smallholding that now
employs 120 people.
White Zimbabweans' approach to political involvement may be instructive to
white South Africans. Simon has not kept away from politics, an enterprise
that many among Zimbabwe's white minority brush away, at least publicly. She
is an active member of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). "If you
choose to live here you have to be involved in public life," she says.
A chartered accountant and Wits University graduate, Simon warns against the
common refrain among local whites who deny all interest in politics.
"Be careful if a farmer says he won't be involved in politics," she says.
"If it was smoke and mirrors, why did Robert Mugabe feel threatened?",
referring to white farmers' support of the MDC, which is believed to have
precipitated the land invasions in 1999.
Former MP Trudy Stevenson blames whites' disengagement on the "fallacy" that
this was part of a deal struck at independence which constituted a
precondition for them to be left alone. "A lot of them believe that and
Robert Mugabe himself believes it; that's why he was so angry when they got
involved with the MDC," she says.
Despite being savagely beaten in a politically motivated ambush in 2006,
Stevenson is as relentless as ever. She is the national secretary for policy
and research in the smaller MDC faction headed by Arthur Mutambara. That
alliance cost her seat in Harare during the March 29 election. "I've had two
terms and quite honestly it was time for a change," she says.
Her energy is undiminished, however. She says the deadlock over the
power-sharing deal was no surprise, given that a similar problem in Kenya
took about two months to resolve.
She is dismayed, however, at the ousting of former president Thabo Mbeki
"especially because (former local government minister Sydney) Mufamadi, who
is the chair of the actual mediation committee, has also resigned".
As a white politician in what at times is a racially charged environment,
what Stevenson has in common with Mike Davies - who has just finished a
second term as chairman of the Combined Harare Residents' Association - is
that they do not suffer from past guilt. Stevenson was born in the US and
became a Zimbabwean citizen in 1990. Davis did not participate in the
Rhodesian bush war.
Davis has been at the forefront of demanding service delivery improvements,
as well as resisting the government's ejection of an elected MDC executive.
Since the opposition won support in the running of most cities, they have
also suffered the same onslaught. "The problem with local government in this
country is that it is seen as an extension of central government or its
implementing arm," he says.
The MDC said recently that Local Government Minister Ignatius Chombo, "a
legendary enemy of democracy", has again threatened Brian James, the elected
mayor of the eastern city of Mutare, for refusing to install losing Zanu-PF
stalwarts as special interest councillors.
"Chombo phoned the mayor and threatened him and the 11 democratically
elected councillors with dismissal if they did not install Zanu-PF bigwigs
Esau Mupfumi and Misheck Mugadza as councillors," said MDC spokesman Nelson
James is a businessman whose farm was taken over in 2003. He says other
whites often warn him of involvement in "African politics", which is in
reality opposition politics.
His own participation was motivated by the MDC's acceptance of diversity.
"They don't look at us anything other than Zimbabweans," he says.
In their comfortable home in Harare's Mount Pleasant suburb, Mike and Noma
Frudd are preparing for a family reunion. Their two daughters have just come
from SA and the US where they are now married.
Frudd is involved with the community "but not in politics". A retired
accountant and a director of several companies, he says three broad
categories define members of the white community in Zimbabwe.
There are the young people who are "entrepreneurial and are doing very well".
Then there are old people left behind by their families and the group in the
middle - "people like us who believe that this country has a great future
and hope to live long enough to enjoy it," he says with no hint of irony.
But he finds it incredulous that the power-sharing deal did not also specify
the allocation of ministries to the three parties. "That shattered me," he
Nonetheless, Frudd believes the crisis in Zimbabwe has brought the races
For instance, he shares his bore-hole water with neighbours because
municipal water is available only once in three weeks.
"We're in it together and trying to help each other. It's probably done a
lot for race relations," he says.
Last month it was NetOne shutting down the cheque door and today it is
Econet & Zesa
Zesa rejects cheque payments
BR. The Herald Monday, November 10, 2008
SCORES of customers stormed Zesa offices at Megawatt HOuse along Samora
Machel Avenue on Friday demanding to see the management after they were
denied the use of cheques to settle their bills.
The power utility had since last Wednesday banned the payment of bills using
bank certified and personal cheques as the parastatal struggles for survival
in the volatile hyperinflationary environment.
When the Herald Business crew arrived at the scene, there was a stampede as
hundreds of disgruntled clients jostled to get through the main entrance to
the building, as they demanded to see the manager.
Security guards manning the entrance had a tough time controlling the crowd,
which only appeared to calm down after a senior official came down to
The official, however, drew the ire of the crowd when he asked them to wait
patiently for the manager who was said to be in a long meeting.
The official, who spoke to Herald Business on condition of anonymity, said
the parastatal had no choice but to ask for payment in cash as lately it had
become unviable for it to continue accepting cheques.
"Our position is clear. At the moment the group has no cash for its
day-to-day running and the continued use of cheques would stall everything.
"Accepting cash payment is a survival strategy we have adopted for us to
keep operational," said the official.
The official added that they were facing challenges in meeting payments for
critical expenses such as vehicle maintenance as their service providers
were demanding cash or charging a premium on cheque payments. "As a
parastatal our pricing structure does not allow us to charge premiums on
cheques and as such when we collect money using cheques we are shooting
ourselves in the foot as we get so little from this mode of payment," he
November 9, 2008
Yes, we can also do it in Zimbabwe
FORTY-THREE years ago, the United States of America signed into law, the
National Voting Rights Act of 1965. This Act outlawed discriminatory voting
practices that had long disenfranchised African-Americans from participating
in the country's electoral process.
On November 4, 2008, the United States elected an African-American to become
its 44th President. President-elect Barack Obama's victory was delivered
to him based on his promise of change for the better, for a once nation that
was sliding away from that world famous image of greatness. Today the US
once again stands as a shining beacon, casting a bright new light of hope
that has been jubilantly received by the entire world community.
Obama's challenger in his hard-fought quest for the US presidency was a
highly respected, elderly statesman. Senator John McCain, despite running
what had been condemned as a largely negative campaign, is highly respected,
both for his character and for his service to his country.
Yet in his loss McCain was not too proud to congratulate his much younger
former rival, now the President-elect.
In a most gracious concession speech, delivered within minutes after the
declaration of the Obama victory and, no doubt, his best speech of the
long-fought campaign for theUS presidency, McCain not only pledged his
support for the new President, he also urged his loyal and heart-broken
supporters to stand behind the newly elected Obama. The eye of millions
around the world who watched these dramatic events were filled with tears.
They were moved, just as were Jesse Jackson and the thousands that gathered
with tears streaming down their cheeks at Grant Park in Chicago, as they
witnessed the historic event of improbable odds that were unfolding before
Zimbabweans were moved, however, more by thoughts about their own country,
which, eight months after its own presidential elections, continues to stand
on uncertain ground as the incumbent resist any effort to persuade him to
give up a significant amount of power, despite the clear voice with which
Zimbabwe spoke in March.
A day after Obama was elected as next US President, the sitting president,
George Bush congratulated his successor, a candidate of the rival Democratic
Party. He went a step further to invite him to the White House, so that they
could start the process of transitioning power in a way that would best
serve the country.
Former Secretary of State, General Collin Powell of the Republican Party,
endorsed Obama, then a candidate of the rival Democratic Party, as his
candidate of choice for the 44th Presidency of the USA. He stated then,
that his endorsement of Obama was not based on their shared racial
background, but that he was crossing party lines to ensure that the right
leader was elected who would best serve the country.
Powell endured heated criticism from some senior members of his own party
and from the party supporters alike for this bold move. The sitting US
Secretary of State, Dr. Condoleeza Rice, although not having endorsed Obama's
candidacy (at least not publicly), quickly came out in tears, to express her
support for the newly elected President, and her joy as an African-American
at the historic turn that her country had just taken.
Many in the international community had started to lose faith in the dream
that the United States once promised. On November 4 the US vindicated
itself, and instantaneously recast itself as the great nation that many once
knew and dreamt of visiting or living in. The air on November 5 was simply
filled with an almost tangible sense of renewal in the US.
Yet Zimbabweans could not ignore the pangs of sadness this new-found glory
of the USA brought to them.
They were left to wonder whether their own leaders in Harare lack the same
sense of love and patriotism, the same pride in the country they lead that
we see in America's leadership today.
The 2008 US presidential campaign was not a pretty affair, by any means. It
was a bitterly fought battle, with its share of mudslinging. However, there
was not a single report of election-related violence in this nation of more
than 300 million. There was not a single soul lost; not a single injury
sustained in the name of the presidential election. There was no doubt
that the candidates who ran in this race all had their sights set on the
White House, and each believed that they were the best suited to lead this
great country into the future.
But, ultimately, it is the people who made that decision. So on November 4,
after over 190 million votes were cast, the ballots were quickly counted,
and the victor, as elected by the people, was announced. The loser quickly
conceded and congratulated his rival, while offering him support.
As the winners shed tears of joy, those on the losing side cried tears of
pain, but nonetheless accepted the outcome as had been determined in a
predefined process. We are yet to hear of efforts by those who lost to try
and somehow work their way into the new government. Instead, the
Republicans have retreated to their drawing room, there to lick their wounds
while quietly searching their souls to better understand why they lost the
election, and how best they can win the trust and the vote of the electorate
in the future.
With this respect of the democratic systems that were developed to guide
this nation, the US has taken a turn from a path of self-destruction, to a
new path of self-renewal and optimism. By respecting its own predefined
democratic systems on that November Tuesday, the country has instantaneously
earned renewed respect, admiration and, perhaps, even envy from all corners
of the globe.
Meanwhile, Zimbabwe continues on its path of self-destruction, driven down
that lane, no doubt, by a lack of adequate love for country on the part of
those who proclaim themselves to be its stewards.
During the heated Democratic Party primary elections, as the former
President Bill Clinton campaigned in support of his wife's historical
candidature for the presidency, he once referred to Obama's presidential
candidacy as "the biggest fairytale ever". On Tuesday night, we watched a
fairytale become reality.
Surely, just as the Americans have done it, yes, we Zimbabweans can do it
too. This is especially true, now that the SADC leadership has demonstrated
finally and beyond any shadow of doubt that they lack both the commitment
and the will to help us resolve our current political conflict.
Zimbabweans must, of necessity, now play a more proactive role in addressing
all the crises facing their nation.
November 9, 2008
JOHANNESBURG (BBC) - A prominent South African Aids activist has told the
BBC former President Thabo Mbeki should be called to account for his
decision to block HIV medication.
A recent Harvard School of Public Health study says 330 000 deaths were
caused by Mbeki's 1999 decision to declare available drugs toxic and
Zackie Achmat now says Mbeki ignored existing scientific evidence.
Mbeki's spokesman referred media enquiries to the government, but no
spokesman was available to comment.
Achmat, who leads the Treatment Action Campaign, which successfully lobbied
for the eventual reversal of government policy, says Mbeki has "blood on his
He called for him to be summoned to a judicial inquiry or the Truth and
"The study, published on 20 October, said that as a result of Mr Mbeki's
policies, nearly 35 000 babies were also born HIV-positive between 2000 and
2005," Achmat says.
The former president had failed to roll out the drugs which could have
prevented mother-to-child transmission, say researchers.
The study, led by Dr Pride Chigwedere of Zimbabwe, accuses the South African
government of "acting as a major obstacle in the provision of medication to
patients with Aids".
The authors said that under the leadership of Mbeki, the government had
restricted use of donated anti-retroviral drugs and blocked funds for more
than a year from the Global Fund to Fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria.
To estimate the benefits they say were lost to South Africans because of the
failure to provide appropriate drugs between 2000 and 2005, the researchers
looked at a number of factors.
. the number of patients who died without receiving treatment
. the relative cost of the drugs and the resources available
. comparative treatment programmes in Namibia and Botswana.
Since the former president was replaced in September 2008 a new health
minister, Barbara Hogan, has been appointed and she has been praised by Aids
campaigners for tackling the HIV issue with determination.