17 November 2008
STRASBOURG - Zimbabwe opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai warned yesterday
that negotiations on a power-sharing government with President Robert Mugabe
must not be allowed to run on indefinitely.
"It can't be forever," Tsvangirai said in Strasbourg, northern France,
during a rare visit to Europe. Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC) faction said on Friday it would join the government only once a
constitutional amendment was passed to comply with all the terms of the
power-sharing deal signed two months ago.
"Neither Robert Mugabe nor Zanu (PF) has the legitimacy of forming any
government or running this country in the absence of the consummation of the
global power-sharing agreement," MDC deputy leader Thokozani Khupe said
after a party meeting.
Citing an alleged assassination plot against the MDC leadership and renewed
violence, the party accused the ruling party of an "obstructionist approach,
lack of paradigm shift and (an) entrenched power retention agenda".
Mugabe has vowed to form a new government soon, after regional leaders
proposed last weekend that the political rivals share the contentious home
affairs portfolio. The proposal was rejected by the opposition.
Under the deal signed on September 15, Mugabe would remain president while
Tsvangirai would be prime minister. But parliament must approve an amendment
to establish the office of the prime minister and define its powers. Khupe
said the MDC would not join the government until the amendment was in place.
Former United Nations secretary-general Kofi Annan and former US president
Jimmy Carter are to visit Zimbabwe. They would travel with rights activist
Graça Machel on November 22-23 , Annan said.
Borrie La Grange Published:Nov 17, 2008
ZIMBABWEAN war veterans have blasted President Kgalema Motlanthe and the
South African Development Community over their inability to resolve the
stand-off between Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe and the Movement for
a.. "It is kindergarten stuff for SADC. If you call children to solve this,
they will come up with a better solution than these leaders. It is simple.
We want an answer from Motlanthe. We want him to condemn Mugabe. We would
have liked him to be more forthright. If the chairperson [of SADC] is not
willing to reign in someone, how can you call him a leader?" Wilfred Mhanda,
secretary of the Zimbabwe Liberation Veterans Forum, told The Times.
The forum, consisting of fighters who restarted the Zimbabwean independence
war in 1975, met in Pretoria at the weekend at Idasa.
Mhanda said South Africans will not be convinced of Motlanthe's leadership
abilities if he cannot hold a SADC member to account.
Last week Motlanthe talked tough when he chaired an extraordinary SADC
summit in Sandton, but despite slating Mugabe and the MDC's Morgan
Tsvangirai for political immaturity, they were no closer to forming a unity
Disagreement over the allocation of ministries, especially over control of
the important ministry of home affairs, has scuppered progress towards
forming a national unity government, as agreed in the September 15
power-sharing deal brokered by former president Thabo Mbeki.
[Both want the Home Affairs ministry because it controls Zimbabwe's police
and intelligence services.]
"We as liberation fighters and senior commanders feel the ideals we fought
for have been betrayed by people like Robert Mugabe. We had hoped our
colleagues, who fought for liberation in South Africa, Namibia and
Mozambique, would hold Mugabe to account. But he is trying to wriggle out of
the [September 15 power sharing] agreement and the guarantors of that
agreement, SADC and the African union, just stand by with their arms
folded - cowed into submission by Mugabe. Why?" Mhanda wanted to know.
"There was a free and fair election on March 29, which the MDC won. And now
you find that spineless leaders are siding with the loser. What was the
struggle for? To support someone who is killing his people? It is a shame on
the whole of humanity."
Happyson Nenji, member of the forum, said that while the collapse of state
services in Zimbabwe is now virtually complete, SADC was negating its own
principals by not denouncing Mugabe's intransigence. "SADC should enforce
the principals as they did after the June 27 one-man election. All it takes
is their voice. We are not asking for soldiers to be sent to Zimbabwe. It is
simple. SADC must condemn Mugabe first, like with the election and then seek
the solution. But why are they afraid of him? Where in the world have you
seen people share a ministry? You are asking the winner to surrender to the
loser," Nenji said.
Mhanda and Augustus Mudzwingwa warned South Africans that not holding heads
of state and SADC to account would invariably lead to the Zimbabwean crisis
repeating itself in neighbouring states in the future: "Zimbabwe does not
exist in a vacuum. South Africa and the rest of the reason are not immune to
the fall-out. You will be the next victims. In the end you will loose
everything if you do not act out of self interest and for the greater good,
in demanding respect for democratic principals. Once you abandon those
principals you become vulnerable too. You sacrifice your freedom," Mhanda
Mudzwingwa said: Our freedom was usurped. The behaviour of the leaders of
SADC surprises us. Do they not realise this may actually happen in South
Africa or Mozambique? People have to open their eyes. Demand that your
leaders learn from the Zimbabwean situation. You are being forewarned and
November 16, 2008
By Geoffrey Nyarota
IT'S ZANU-PF National People's Conference time again and this time around it's
scheduled for Bindura in Mashonaland Central.
As usual, the party's secretary for finance, David Karimanzira, has launched
an appeal to all and sundry, including party members, for donations "in cash
or kind to ensure the success of the congress".
If Zanu-PF is aware that the majority of its dwindling members are starving
like most other Zimbabweans or that in many cases they only survive through
donations from benefactors outside the country, that stark realisation is
not reflected in the proposed grandeur of the forthcoming reunion.
Karimanzira says without batting an eyelid that contributions can be made in
the form of livestock, maize and other basic goods.
"Does any one know where I can buy a bag of maize?"
The significance of this question that Zimbabweans, even far out here in the
Diaspora, now routinely ask in desperation appears totally lost on the
While the conference has been provisionally set to run from December 10 to
14 at the Bindura University of Science Education, Karimanzira says his
office has not yet received a quotation from Mashonaland East Province's
celebrated institution of higher learning.
"If we get them now," Karimanzira laments in reference to the quotations,
"they would not be the same by the time we go to Bindura because of
Karimanzira sounds as if inflation is something that, like the proverbial
manna, just drops from heaven. In any case, it's not as if Zanu-PF ever pays
for the venues that it hires for its National People's Conferences or for
the ZUPCO and other buses that it hires to transport delegates to its
The Herald dutifully reports that a high-ranking "ruling party" delegation
toured the venue at Bindura back in October. The delegation apparently
comprised Zanu-PF national chairman, John Nkomo, my clansman and secretary
for administration, Didymus Mutasa, the deputy information secretary,
Ephraim Masawi and the secretary for women's affairs, Oppah Muchinguri.
Meanwhile Masawi revealed to The Herald that 124 cattle, 81 goats and 18
pigs have already been donated towards the consumption of the 5 000
delegates expected at the conference.
Even if no more beasts are donated 124 herd of cattle is an inordinately
large quantity of beef. Five thousand party delegates consuming 124 whole
cattle during one congress works out to 40 delegates per bovine over four
days - that is not to mention the pork, the goat, the maize-meal, the rice,
among other basic foodstuffs currently in acute shortage throughout
This truly is incredible, especially in a country where millions of
impoverished souls are starving, some to death. I have attended weddings
where 300 to 400 guests were fed on only one or two beasts.
And, out of genuine curiosity, what exactly will the citizens of Zimbabwe
get in return for this huge investment on their part in the further
nourishment of the overfed Zanu-PF leadership? A tightening of their belts
that is in inverse proportion to the increase in the ample girth of the
Zanu-PF politicians, no doubt.
I hope Mutasa and Muchinguri will spare a thought for the starving masses of
Manicaland as they gorge themselves full at Bindura State University.
As for Karimanzira, he was really a wonderful person, a true revolutionary,
at the University of Rhodesia (now UZ) back in the early 70s. I have never
stopped wondering what could have become of him after 1980.
. The Pan African Parliament was apparently persuaded to abort, at the
last minute, a proposed fact-finding mission to investigate the humanitarian
and political situation in Zimbabwe after the intervention of a
parliamentary delegation from Zimbabwe last week.
The Herald reports that the delegation from Zimbabwe "presented to the
continental body the correct state of affairs prevailing in the country".
Readers may remember that the Pan African Parliament (PAP) deployed
observers around Zimbabwe during the run-up to the presidential election in
June. The PAP issued a three-page report that stated in no uncertain terms
that the election had been far from free or fair. It condemned pre-election
violence and called Zimbabwe's political environment "tense, hostile and
volatile", and marred by high levels of "intimidation, violence,
displacement of people, abductions, and loss of life".
On departure from Harare several of the PAP observers stated point-blank
that they were glad to be leaving Zimbabwe at the end of their assignment
because they feared for their own safety.
The Herald reports that a delegate from Cameroon, one Njingum Musa, had
moved a motion during the session last week to send a mission to Zimbabwe as
a follow-up to the negative reports issued by PAP in respect of both the
March and the June elections.
But the head of Zimbabwe delegation at the meeting Joram Gumbo, who is the
Zanu-PF Chief Whip, had apparently informed the session that both Zanu-PF
and the two MDC parties had agreed in the Memorandum of Understanding they
signed in July that all the political parties were to blame for the
political violence that occurred in the run-up to the second presidential
election in June.
The three parties had presumably agreed to let sleeping political dogs lie
and there was, therefore, no need for any follow-up mission to Zimbabwe.
For good measure, Gumbo also told the meeting that the deteriorating
economic situation in the country had been caused, not by the economic
mismanagement of the party he represents, as assumed by the majority of
people who voted against the party in the said elections, but by the illegal
sanctions imposed by Britain and her western allies.
"He said the illegal sanctions had caused the unnecessary suffering of
ordinary persons and urged PAP to condemn them," The Herald reported.
Gumbo's delegation to Senegal apparently included Council of Chiefs
president, Fortune Charumbira, Mufakose MP, Paurina Mpariwa (MDC) Bikita
Senator Kokerai Rugara (MDC) and Gwanda Central MP, Patrick Dube
It appears the citizens of Zimbabwe live in two distinct worlds - the world
of the ordinary and long-suffering citizens and the world of Gumbo and the
well-heeled that he represents and who will gather in Bindura in a month's
If the MDC leadership genuinely believes that after SADC they will be a more
even-handed treatment by the African Union of the controversial
power-sharing agreement they signed on September 15 with Zanu-PF, they are
novices at pan-African politics.
As the saying goes, ornithological specimens of identical plumage
perambulate in close proximity. Or, as a Chinese proverb would say, "SADC
and AU, two sides, one coin."
November 16, 2008
By Our Correspondent
STRASBOURG - The Mayor of Harare, Muchadeyi Masunda, has expressed fears of
a total collapse of Zimbabwe's economy with the looming prospects of reduced
remittances by Zimbabweans living abroad following a world financial crisis
that has triggered a recession in Western countries.
There are widespread fears that development aid to Africa will dry up as
donor countries battle to reconfigure their economies to avoid worsening the
recession much to the disadvantage of the continent's development progress.
"We stand to lose a lot in terms of remittances which have been propping up
our economy. These remittances from an estimated 3 million Zimbabweans
abroad have been driving the economy for some time because the country
itself can generate very little hard currency because of the economic
meltdown," Masunda told delegates to a European Development Day discussion
session in Strasbourg, France, Saturday.
"We are hoping that when we have a substantive government in place it will
be easier to meet MDGs (Millennium Development Goals). The politicisation of
local government structures has stifled progress towards service delivery as
well," he added.
The EU is shifting focus and proposing decentralised democratic governance
as a major issue in the realization of MDGs which it says has become central
to its policy for development and cooperation.
It envisages decentralised participation, transparency and responsibility as
being key to democratic governance and making local public institutions more
efficient in responding better to the citizens needs.
Masunda said local authorities in Zimbabwe risked missing MDG targets
because of government interference that has stifled the efficiency in the
running of municipalities and councils.
Already former local government minister Ignatius Chombo has lost a court
case in Bulawayo where he had appointed losing Zanu-PF candidates as special
He said Zimbabwe had made strides in meeting some of the MDGs set goals on
the back of inheriting a robust education and health systems but these had
been jeopardized by the current economic meltdown.
The two sectors are on the verge of collapse owing to government economic
mismanagement that has spawned both a flight of skills and suffers from
critical drug shortages and shortages of reading material. Although Zimbabwe
had managed to reduce HIV/Aids prevalence rates from 29 percent to about
19 percent there was still need to address the politicise of the country,
He said although the some of the councillors elected on an Movement for
Democratic Change ticket were educationally challenged he admired their
courage in standing up and presenting themselves as candidates when others
dared not contest the local government elections because of fear.
by Jameson Mombe Monday 17 November 2008
JOHANNESBURG - Journalism in Zimbabwe remains a risky and dangerous
operation inviting criminal prosecution except for a privileged few who work
for government-owned media, according to the independent Media Monitoring
Project of Zimbabwe (MMPZ).
The MMPZ told the ongoing 44th sessions of the African Commission on
Human and People's Rights (ACHPR) that Zimbabwe's media landscape remains
severely restricted despite the Commission's long standing recommendations
to President Robert Mugabe's government to scrap all restrictions on freedom
A power-sharing agreement between Mugabe's ruling ZANU PF party and
the opposition MDC - while acknowledging the need for a free and diverse
media environment - had done little to improve the situation and was silent
on the need to repeal repressive government media laws, the MMPZ said.
"Journalists continue to be harassed, arrested and prosecuted under
the country's repressive media laws . . . in short, journalism in Zimbabwe
remains a dangerous and risky occupation, inviting criminal prosecution
except for the privileged few," the MMPZ told the Commission meeting in
The MMPZ is an independent Trust that seeks to promote the ideals of
freedom of expression and responsible journalistic practice in Zimbabwe. It
holds official observer status at the ACHPR.
The group said restrictions on alternative news sources coupled with
the closure of the country's largest privately owned daily newspaper five
years ago has "given rise to a media "wasteland" overwhelmingly dominated by
government-controlled propaganda outlets."
Government Information Minister Sikhanyiso Ndlovu was not immediately
available for comment on the issues raised by the MMPZ.
Zimbabwe has for a long time been regarded as one of the most
difficult and dangerous countries in the world to operate as a journalist,
with a raft of regulations and laws designed to stifle dissent and criticism
of Mugabe's government in the face of a deepening political and economic
For example, under the government's controversial Access to
Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA) journalists are required
to register with the government's Media and Information Commission in order
to practise in Zimbabwe.
The media commission can de-register journalists who refuse to toe the
line while those caught practicing journalism without being registered are
liable to imprisonment under AIPPA.
In addition to requiring journalists to register, the AIPPA also
requires newspaper companies to register with the state commission with
those failing to do so facing closure and seizure of their equipment by the
The Zimbabwean government has used the laws selectively to punish
journalists and newspapers seen as critical of official policies.
At least four independent newspapers, including the country's biggest
circulating daily, The Daily News, were shutdown over the past five years
for breaching the government's media laws. Close to 100 journalists were
also arrested by the police over the same period.
Mugabe's government also continues to block access to foreign media
seeking to cover the Zimbabwean story, especially those it regards as
hostile, such as the BBC, CNN and South Africa's e-TV.
There are no independent broadcasters in Zimbabwe.
The state-owned Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) runs the
country's only television and radio stations, all tightly controlled by
Mugabe's government, which has the final say on senior editorial and
Studio 7 - a special news programme on Zimbabwe broadcast by the Voice
of America - and two radio stations run by exiled Zimbabwean journalists and
broadcasting into the country from foreign territory are Zimbabweans' only
alternatives to ZBC.
However, these do not have the same reach as the ZBC while Mugabe's
government has frequently jammed the foreign-based stations.
In its recommendations to the ACHPR, the MMPZ urged the continental
rights watchdog to: "Impress upon the (Zimbabwean) authorities of the need
to respect internationally accepted human rights standards, especially those
governing freedom of expression."
The MMPZ also urged any future government of national unity to
"embrace the spirit of the power-sharing agreement that envisages a free and
diverse media environment by abolishing all those laws abridging freedom of
expression and the right to be informed".
Zimbabweans had hoped that a unity government established under a
September 15 power-sharing deal would help ease the political situation and
allow the country to focus on tackling an economic crisis marked by the
world's highest inflation rate of 231 million percent, severe shortages of
food and basic commodities.
But the power-sharing agreement looks all but dead after the main MDC
formation led by Morgan Tsvangirai said last Friday it would not join any
new government in the country before outstanding issues in power-sharing
talks with Mugabe are resolved. - ZimOnline
|Monday 17 November 2008|
MMPZ statement on the occasion of the 44th Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights, Abuja, Nigeria – November 7th to 24th 2008
Presented by Buhlebenkosi Moyo
Madam Chairperson and Commissioners, MMPZ is disappointed that Zimbabwe’s restricted media landscape has remained unchanged since the last session in Swaziland despite this Commission’s long-standing recommendations to the Government of Zimbabwe to ensure that its citizens are not restricted in their enjoyment of their constitutionally guaranteed rights to freedom of expression.
Despite the fact that Article 19 of the power-sharing agreement signed in September by Zimbabwe’s major political parties acknowledges the need for a free and diverse media environment, it remains silent on repealing repressive media laws, such as the notorious Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA), which continue to be selectively applied against dissenting voices.
The clause also actually promotes the restriction of media diversity by recommending that local radio broadcasters operating from abroad stop their activities and be repatriated while the draconian laws that led to the creation of these ‘exiled’ stations remain in place.
While Article 19 acknowledges that the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe should register new broadcasters, it gives no deadline for when this should happen nor suggests how this can be achieved under the present restrictive media laws governing broadcasting.
Furthermore, The Daily News and its sister Sunday paper, which served as important alternative sources of information for Zimbabweans and were clearly the country’s most popular newspapers, remain banned from operating to this day.
In addition to severely restricting local media practice, Madam Chairperson, the authorities also continue to block access to foreign media seeking to cover the Zimbabwean story, especially those they deem to be hostile, such as the BBC, CNN and E-TV, thus depriving Zimbabweans of a wide selection of sources of information.
Journalists also continue to be harassed, arrested and prosecuted under the country’s repressive media laws, and the government-appointed Media Commission that approves those who practice journalism continues to operate despite the fact that it is no longer legally constituted.
In short, Madam Chair, journalism in Zimbabwe remains a dangerous and risky occupation inviting criminal prosecution except for the privileged few.
Such an environment has given rise to a media “wasteland” overwhelmingly dominated by government-controlled propaganda outlets.
For example, there is no independent alternative source of information to the government’s two daily newspapers.
MMPZ notes with singular concern
that these papers (those given to the people of Zimbabwe by the Nigerian
government at Zimbabwe’s independence) continue to be used as messengers of hate
language, particularly against the political opposition, even at this time when
the country anxiously awaits the conclusion of inter-party talks that are
supposed to usher in a new, cooperative era of government.
Madam Chair, freedom of expression (and the right to be informed) are basic human rights that continue to be severely curtailed in our country because the authorities lack the political will to implement the recommendations of this Commission.
As we speak, ordinary citizens continue to be excluded from providing any input into negotiations to form a new government, and because of the restrictive media environment, they have been unable to express their opinions freely about the course of events unfolding in our country that, no doubt, will have profound effects on our destiny.
MMPZ urges the Commission to impress upon the prevailing authorities of the need to respect internationally accepted human rights standards, especially those governing freedom of expression.
For without true media reform in Zimbabwe – and particularly one that leads to an end to the abuse of the media under government’s control – there can be no chance that Zimbabweans’ most fervent hope for a fair, just and compassionate society under a government of national unity will ever be fulfilled.
In conclusion Madam Chair, we recommend that:
1) The Commission condemns in the strongest terms the ongoing abuse of the public media by the present authorities;
2) The Commission urges any new government emerging from the present negotiations to implement the recommendations of this Commission’s 2002 fact-finding mission to Zimbabwe with the utmost urgency.
3) The Commission recommends that the new government wholeheartedly embrace the spirit of the power-sharing agreement that envisages a free and diverse media environment by abolishing all those laws abridging freedom of expression and the right to be informed.
4) Specifically, the Commission recommends the repeal of AIPPA in its entirety and those sections of the Public Order and Security Act that unreasonably constrain freedom of association and assembly.
5) The Commission urges the new government to remove the restrictive provisions of the Broadcasting Services Act and to establish, as a matter of urgency, an independent, representative Broadcasting Authority responsible for the issuing of broadcasting licences to regulate the airwaves fairly and without political interference.
6) The Commission urges the complete reform of the public service broadcaster and its re-establishment under an independent, representative body that will safeguard its editorial independence and ensure that it fulfills its public mandate to report events accurately and impartially and reflect fairly the opinions of all sections of Zimbabwean society.
*MMPZ is an independent trust that seeks to promote the ideals of freedom of expression and responsible journalistic practice in Zimbabwe. It holds official observer status at the African Commission for Human and People’s Rights. – ZimOnline
With so much going on, the crisis in Zimbabwe hardly rates attention. But in
the midst of an electrifying election in the USA, the global meltdown in
financial and stock markets and the fast changing situation in South Africa,
we must be reasonably satisfied that we are not forgotten.
By and large events have strengthened the hands of those who seek a solution
to the Zimbabwe crisis. The new leadership in South Africa is more amenable
to democratic change in Zimbabwe and there is no doubt that the Obama
administration will continue the policies of the Bush administration in
Africa. If anything pressure from Obama will be more difficult for the
regime in Harare to handle.
In the context of the global financial crisis it also seems that
international donors remain committed to the stabilisation and
reconstruction of the Zimbabwe economy, once we demonstrate that we are
implementing new policies that will deliver change and growth with respect
for the rule of law and the norms of good governance.
The failure of the SADC leadership to resolve the crisis is a disappointment
but it¹s by no means the end of the road. The response by the MDC gives
regional leaders a chance to support the implementation of the Global
Agreement in a way that makes it possible to start the process of
stabilisation and recovery. Initial reaction to the MDC position is
positive it looks as if Zanu PF and Mutambara will not be able to go ahead
with a new government until the demands of the MDC are met.
How quickly those demands can be satisfied is entirely in the hands of the
local leaders. A draft of the required legislation exists, Parliament is on
stand by to meet to debate the draft and then vote it into effect. All
Parties are then ready to nominate their candidates for the many positions
that must be filled to bring a new administration into existence.
Once the new government takes over from the Junta it can then begin meeting
the laid down benchmarks that have been decided we must satisfy to qualify
for aid. These are not onerous and this should be achieved quite quickly. As
they are satisfied the volume of aid will gradually escalate until it is
able to meet our essential needs.
But time is not on our side, the situation in Zimbabwe is deteriorating
rapidly. Most children of school going age are no longer in school, 2008 has
been almost a complete failure, pass rates in public examinations are
expected to fall to 3 per cent. We now have outbreaks of Cholera in many
centres in Harare it is out of control with hundreds being affected.
The food crisis is spiralling out of hand hundreds of thousands of our
people are facing starvation. People are collapsing in queues, children are
dying of malnutrition and hunger. Deaths from disease now outnumber deaths
from aging by a wide margin perhaps 3 to 1.
But perhaps most seriously is the rapid reduction in our capacity to recover
from the crisis once its roots are torn out. Government departments are
perhaps most affected nearly all are shadows of their recent past. Skilled
and experienced civil servants are fleeing in droves. In my last letter I
mentioned that a recent survey had said that 53 per cent of all Zimbabweans
had considered emigration in 2008. In fact I have seen the survey now and
the actual figure was 43 per cent of all Zimbabweans having attempted to
leave the country since 2000. This was in a sample of those who still live
here it shows just how widespread and substantial the flight of our human
capital has been,
Estimates of our current population are as low as 7 million. I do not think
it is as small as that but it could be 8 million. If that is so then
Zimbabweans in the Diaspora must be approaching 5 million. That assumes that
3 million have died since 1997 as a consequence of rising death rates from a
myriad of ailments.
In the private sector many executives and owners have hung on hoping that
change would come in time to save what was left of their enterprise. Even
the most determined are now giving up the struggle to keep their businesses
running. A long time ago they lost many of the skills they needed to run
their enterprise properly but what is happening now will make it very
difficult to resurrect the business network that essentially have kept
Zimbabwe on its feet through the crisis.
As one of the ³change brigade², I have always striven to encourage people to
hold on and fight to maintain their homes and enterprise in the belief that
eventually we would get change. But I never thought that this struggle would
last 10 years. But it has and I still think that the end is in sight even
though it¹s hard to see that at present.
So where does this put us? Well first of all, I think our struggle to
establish the conditions needed to put Zimbabwe back on its feet has been
worth all the sacrifice we have all given up a great deal to stay and see
this thing through. We are not wavering in the struggle not for one
minute. We are right; we have chosen the difficult but principled route and
will stay the course for as long as it takes.
But it is becoming very difficult to persuade others to stay the course with
us in these terrible conditions. But to those who choose to stay the course,
I want to say a special thank you for your courage and commitment. I respect
the decision of those who feel that the price of staying is too high and
decide to go. You go with our blessings and wishes that wherever you land
you will make a home and will not forget those of us who chose to stay and
But all of you can help us love our neighbours we need your help, wherever
you are, to try and meet the immediate needs of those who live around us.
About US$25 a month will feed a family for a month. We need to keep people
alive while we fight for their rights and our future. So much of official
aid and commercial supplies controlled by the Junta are denied to millions
you can help us defeat this tyranny by standing with us in this way. If you
want to know how, just drop me a line.
Bulawayo, 15th November 2008
HARARE, November 17 2008 - Trade Unions have blamed the government for
the impending indefinite shutdowns announced by the few remaining companies
prior to the festive holiday.
In an interview with RadioVOP, trade unionist Takavafira Zhou said the
decision by some companies to shut down indefinitely after the festive
period was unfair and in violation of Zimbabwe's labour laws.
"The message is very clear that in terms of labour laws, it is unfair
and unjust for an employer to tell an employee at the eleventh hour that
they are going to shut down and that their future is uncertain.
"At the same time i think the greatest blame must be put on Zanu PF
politicians who are enjoying when the rest of the people are suffering. I
think it is a challenge to the politicians to ensure that the will of the
people must be at the centre stage other than their power hungry nature,'
Some companies have indicated that they might fail to resume
operations after the festive period, owing to the economic decline.
Posted By Alex Magaisa on 17
Nov, 2008 at 5:23 am
FOR those of us old enough to remember, the date 14 November always carries
an ominous meaning. This was the day which eleven years ago was christened
It was so named because on that day two calamitous events happened: first
the Zimbabwe dollar crashed from 14 to 1 against the US dollar down to 26 to
1 - a huge shock to the system.
Second, the whole country was plunged into darkness by a nationwide power
failure. The blackout lasted eight hours. And so it was that it became known
as Black Friday. That was part of the beginning of Zimbabwe's slide into the
In an uncanny coincidence this year, the eleventh anniversary of Black
Friday fell on the same day, a Friday. And this year the day carried a heavy
weight of expectations. It was the day when the MDC National Council
convened to decide on the important matter of whether or not to participate
in the Mugabe-led Inclusive Government. So what happened?
They deliberated and came up with a weighty set of resolutions - Resolutions
of the 7th MDC National Council of 2008 (hereafter the 'Resolution'). And it
is this Resolution that is the subject of this note. What exactly does it
mean, beyond the media headlines?
A disappointing feature of much of the media coverage so far is the paucity
of critical reporting of the resolution and its implications. I do not know
why media organisations do not simply provide the primary documents for
readers to make their interpretations, especially when such documents as the
resolution itself are readily available. To their credit, New Zimbabwe.com
has at least provided the primary document - see:
MDC position on the Primary Issue
My own view of the Resolution, having carefully read it is that overall the
MDC has chosen the path to join the Inclusive Government or at the very
least left the path open to join it. They have, however, tried to package
the submission very carefully. They are politicians, after all. They were
never going to say, 'OK, you have cornered us, so now we will join'. No, you
do not do that in politics. If you are going to submit, after the acrimony
and jousting that has taken place until now, you have to do it in a manner
that does not diminish others' estimation of your standing.
Note that the MDC had a clear choice of rejecting the option of joining the
Inclusive Government but they did not take it expressly. The big story is
not whether or not they accepted the SADC Communique - it was already public
knowledge that they did not like it.
Rather the big story is the primary issue at stake, that is, the position of
the MDC in relation to the proposed Inclusive Government. This position as
stated in the resolution is that they will join, subject to certain
conditions. But we must lift the veil over these 'conditions' to see what
The MDC has been careful to say that they reject the two Communiqués issued
by the SADC Troika and the SADC Summit on October 28 and November 9
respectively. But to what extent have they actually 'rejected' them? And
more importantly, what is the significance of that rejection? For this,
consider what position the MDC takes as far as the key issue in question is
concerned - the Inclusive Government. Do they reject it? No, they do not.
The key is in paragraph 3 of the Resolution. It says:
"3. Given the lack of sincerity and lack of paradigm shift on the part of
Zanu PF, the MDC shall participate in a new government once Constitutional
Amendment No. 19 has been passed and effected into law".
Right, so what does this mean?
A Condition of Little Substance
The MDC does not say it 'may' join once Amendment 19 is passed into law. It
says that it 'shall' join - there is here the apparent use of mandatory
language; a statement of commitment, one might add. The condition it places
is that Amendment 19 must be passed into law. But wait a moment, is this
really significant? Not quite, as you will discover when you consider that
the passage of Amendment 19 was always a natural and necessary procedural
requirement in the so-called Global Political Agreement ('GPA') in the first
place. It is not a condition of substance; rather it follows naturally from
One must appreciate that all the positions that have been created under the
GPA were never going to be legally valid unless they were created under the
law. That is what Amendment 19 was always going to do in the first place. So
this condition has very little weight - it simply restates what was always
going to happen procedurally, though it might sound grand to the general
If President Mugabe wanted to appoint a government without Amendment 19 that
would be contrary to the letter and spirit of the GPA, so presumably he was
aware all along that he could not appoint a Prime Minister or Deputy Prime
Minister without that amendment. He could of course make cabinet
appointments under the current Constitution because it empowers him to do
so, but as I have said, that would be to defy the GPA and the Communiqué
which he is very pleased with.
Internalisation of the Battles
Nevertheless and notwithstanding the unnecessary posturing of using the
passage of Amendment 19 as a condition to joining, it does have a different
and independent significance in as far as the resolution of the Zimbabwean
problem is concerned.
By placing emphasis on Amendment 19, the MDC has shifted the battle from the
international scene to the local platform. Contrary to common perception,
the MDC has achieved very important results on the international scene,
notwithstanding the disappointment of last week.
Make no mistake about it, Mugabe has given far more that he ever thought he
would do this time last year. His colleagues around the world now see him in
lesser light that they did a year ago. He is a diminished leader holding on
to the last straws.
But now the MDC has done the right thing to re-focus the battle in
Parliament, where it holds a slim majority. By focussing on Amendment 19,
they have now decided to assert their parliamentary power, something that
this hand urged a few months ago.
To understand the MDC strategy at this point, you have to appreciate that a
constitutional amendment requires at least two-thirds parliamentary majority
for proper passage through parliament. This means that ZANU PF cannot pass
Amendment 19 on its terms without the support of the MDC.
The MDC figures that it may, therefore, be able to extract concessions from
ZANU PF during the likely bitter debate on Amendment 19. In parliament, ZANU
PF is a wounded and weaker beast and the MDC now realises that this may be a
battleground in which it might have better chances. The question is whether
and to what extent they can use this power.
But more importantly, by re-focussing on Parliament, the MDC has gone back
to its roots. It has in effect re-internalised the matter, providing a
platform for internal mobilisation of the ordinary people; something that
has been missing whilst the MDC focussed on international efforts.
The net effect of the new strategy is that if Amendment 19 is not passed,
there will be no Inclusive Government. So the MDC now has reverted to the
power they could have used from day one of the GPA - to only have the
Inclusive Government by asserting their parliamentary power until their
conditions have been satisfied. That indeed is where the battle has shifted.
The rejection of the SADC communiqués is not the great story of 14 November
2008. It is that the MDC has now shifted the battle to parliament and will,
indeed, join the government if Amendment 19 is passed. We now wait to see if
Amendment 19 is passed -another chapter in the battles for power has only
Only time will tell if there is any meaning to the uncanny coincidence of
the MDC Resolution falling on the anniversary of Black Friday. Perhaps, it's
the beginning of a new era?
Friday, 14 November 2008
Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation minister, Phandu Skelemani,
has described as "ridiculous and absurd" President Robert Mugabe's
allegations that Botswana is training Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
youth to effect regime change in Zimbabwe.
Skelemani was briefing Parliament on the outcome of last week's Southern
African (SADC) Extra-Ordinary Summit held in Johannesburg, South Africa, to
try to find solutions to the Zimbabwean political crisis.
Even Parliamentarians could not hide their frustrations with Mugabe, saying
SADC should have told him that he is an embarrassment to the region and has
compromised its stability.
Others suggested that Botswana should cut diplomatic ties with Zimbabwe with
immediate effect and that SADC should invite other international bodies such
as the United Nations (UN) to intervene. He said that should cooperation
fail between Mugabe and Movement for Democratic Change president, Morgan
Tsvangirai for the next six months, Botswana government will "go back to
square one" by not recognising him as president.
He is still of the view that re-run of presidential elections is the only
solution to the Zimbabwean impasse.
Parliament learnt that Mugabe made the allegations at an extraordinary
summit of SADC Troika in Harare on October 27-28. "Consequent to this
allegation, Botswana was shocked by the baseless and absurd charges that
were levelled at Botswana by authorities in Zimbabwe at the extraordinary
meeting of the Interstate Defence and Security Committee of the Organ Troika
held in Maputo on November 5 2008.
"The allegations that the government of Botswana would wish to train foreign
nationals on its territory to effect regime change is ridiculous and all who
are aware of Botswana's longstanding commitment to the principles of good
neighbourliness, non-interference in the internal affairs of others, and
peaceful resolution of disputes in our region and elsewhere would no doubt
attest to this," the minister said.
Skelemani believes that the allegations were made to divert attention from
the real problematic issues in Zimbabwe. The ZANU-PF and MDC have not been
able to reach an agreement on who should be in charge of the Home Affairs
Ministry, which controls the police.
The summit recommended that the two parties should co-manage the ministry.
However, Tsvangirai told reporters at the end of the summit that home
affairs is not the only problem, co-management is impracticable, adding that
they do not accept the recommendation.
Although he also believes that co-management of a ministry is impracticable,
Skelemani remained hopeful that the warring parties will give it a try. He
sympathised with MDC in that they went to the SADC summit hoping to find a
resolution to the impasse only to be told to go back and do this and that.
He stated that the Botswana government is against any sanctions against
Zimbabwe, as they would hurt ordinary citizens on the streets.
On other regional matters, Skelemani said that Angola sending troops into
the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) was problematic because it was likely
to cause confusion. He called on the UN troops to "make peace" in the DRC
for them to keep it.
Friday, 14 November 2008
A1987 agreement marking the merger between President Robert Mugabe's
Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU) and the late Joshua Nkomo's Zimbabwe
African People's Union (ZAPU) handed control of that country's home affairs
ministry to ZAPU in perpetuity. Mugabe now wants to entrench this
arrangement in the proposed power-sharing government between his party and
Morgan Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) (Mail & Guardian 30
October-6 November 2008).
Hence the decision of the leaders of the Southern African Development
Community at their recent special summit that the said ministry should be
"co-managed" by ZANU-PF and the MDC. Mugabe regards this as a huge
concession by ZANU-PF to the MDC.
While this might have made sense had ZANU-PF won the recent parliamentary
and presidential elections in Zimbabwe and invited the MDC to join it in a
power-sharing government, it makes no sense under the present circumstances.
Earlier this year, Tsvangirai told the world that immediately following the
March elections; Mugabe's party sent a delegation to meet with the MDC.
According to Tsvangirai, the ZANU-PF delegation conceded that the MDC had
won both the parliamentary and the presidential elections.
WWIts purpose in meeting with the MDC was, therefore, to request the latter
party to invite ZANU-PF to join it in a power-sharing government in the
interests of the Zimbabwe nation.
The MDC told its ZANU-PF counterparts that as this had always been the
intention of the MDC, the party would be happy to comply.
Unfortunately, the ZANU-PF proposal was not implemented because hardliners
within the party chose to scupper the proposed deal and, instead, doctor the
presidential election ballots and reduce the margin of Tsvangirai's win to a
level where a run-off election would become necessary.
This was why the ballot boxes from the presidential election disappeared for
weeks, only to re-surface with the narrow-margin win for Tsvangirai that led
to the spurious run-off presidential election held in June.
Former president Thabo Mbeki has faced much criticism during his role as
mediator in SADC's effort to find an acceptable solution to the Zimbabwe
crisis. In my view, his total silence and seeming acquiescence during the
questionable disappearance of the presidential ballot boxes in June marked
one of his major failures.
As a mediator, he obviously needed to be careful about everything he openly
said about the negotiations.
But where any of the parties did anything that clearly violated the
principles or spirit of the negotiations (as was clearly the case with the
organised violence and intimidation against the opposition, and the gross
mishandling of the presidential ballot boxes in June by the Mugabe
government), Mbeki should have spoken out and strongly condemned such
Given the background outlined above, ZANU-PF has no right to impose any of
the terms and conditions of the old ZANU-ZAPU agreement on the MDC and
require it to play second fiddle in the proposed power-sharing arrangement.
The MDC and Tsvangirai were the winners in both the March and the June
elections, and ZANU-PF and Mugabe the losers. That the MDC agreed to
Mugabe's staying on as president of Zimbabwe was, therefore, a huge
concession to ZANU-PF and should not now be interpreted as according the
party the status of a senior partner in the proposed power-sharing
Therefore, Tsvangirai was right to reject SADC's timid acceptance of
Mugabe's view that the MDC and ZANU-PF should "co-manage" the ministry of
home affairs. Just how do any political parties "co-manage" a government
ministry, let alone parties as different as the MDC and ZANU-PF in terms of
their commitment to democratic processes?
Fortunately for the MDC, the SADC states can't rescue Zimbabwe from its
SADC played the principal role in building Mugabe into the disastrous leader
that he is today.
Thus SADC, which was envisaged by its founding fathers as a promoter and
defender of democracy not only in this sub-region but also beyond, is
largely responsible for promoting and defending Mugabe's brutal dictatorship
Its nefarious tactics have rightly been condemned throughout the democratic
world. It's therefore unlikely that any of the countries expected to help
re-build Zimbabwe will be fooled by SADC's pathetic attempt to undermine the
MDC further in favour of ZANU-PF.
Thus, Mugabe could go ahead and unilaterally establish a government of his
liking, but Zimbabwe's economic meltdown will continue until genuine
democracy is restored.
For its part, the MDC party should intensify its international campaign for
support against SADC and its favourite dictator. Although the party
correctly wants to make the African Union (AU) its next port of call, it's
doubtful that it will get much comfort from there.
AU leaders are more likely to go along with their SADC brothers than not.
This is the real meaning of "African brotherhood and solidarity" -
brotherhood and solidarity in defence of the selfish interests of leaders
rather than those of the down-trodden. Regarding SADC, sadly the enviable
credibility that it once enjoyed is no more.
The organisation is now such a laughing-stock that we might as well write it
Friday, 14 November 2008
FRANCISTOWN: Residents of Francistown are facing tough times as mealie-meal
is quickly disappearing from shelves at supermarkets and stores.
Supermarkets and wholesalers are doing roaring business as Zimbabweans
scramble for mealie-meal to export to their crisis-ridden country.
In every supermarket and wholesale, Zimbabweans are scrambling for
mealie-meal. After an eight year political and economic crisis, Zimbabwe is
facing acute shortages of maize due to a haphazardly implemented land reform
programme, a situation that has been made worse by recurring droughts.
Score Supermarket branch manager Sethata Ntswaneng said that they do not
have enough stock to satisfy demand from Zimbabwe. Sethata said that in one
morning, 400 bags of mealie-meal had been bought from his store.
"I tried to at least limit so that other customers would not be
disadvantaged but the Zimbabweans find ways to buy more than they are
allowed to. They send different people into the store to buy for them so our
plan was defeated," he stated. In addition, the Zimbabweans call suppliers
to get information when they will deliver stock to a supermarket so that
they can be on hand when the consignment arrives.
Sethata said that their suppliers are trying to satisfy all the customers by
"Right now, if you order 2,000 bags you'll get something like 400," he
stated. He said Bokomo mealie-meal sells fast because it is cheaper.
"At the moment they are buying White Star mealie-male at alarming rates
because of the acute shortages." Sethata said they are worried that by the
time Christmas comes, there will not be any mealie- meal on the shelves.
Choppies Supermarket manager Dhananjayan Chammencheny said that they are
facing problems because the suppliers are not able to fulfil orders. He said
that by next month, Francistown is likely to face shortages of maize flour.
He urged government to take steps to restrict or limit export of
"Last month we did not have a problem and it only started about end of
October," he stated.
Bokomo Milling sales manager in Francistown, Boga Madandi said they received
calls from individuals asking when they will deliver stock to supermarkets.
"They call me sometimes on the weekends and ask me if I have delivered to a
certain store because they want to buy," she stated. Madandi said they get
their mealie-meal from their plant in Gaborone. She said they feel the
pressure from their clients because of the high demand.