Photo: International Federation
Tue 8 November 2005
HARARE - Zimbabwe police on Tuesday arrested the country's labour
leaders and about 150 workers for marching in Harare to protest against
worsening economic hardships.
Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) president Lovemore Matombo
told ZimOnline by phone from police cells that the police had not yet
pressed any charges against the union leaders and workers.
"They are still questioning us and taking down initial details," was
all Matombo could say.
Also detained with Matombo are ZCTU secretary general Wellington
Chibhebhe and former parliamentarian and labour activist, Munyaradzi Gwisai.
Chairman of the National Constitutional Assembly civic alliance
leader, Lovemore Madhuku, was also arrested today after his group staged
demonstrations in all major urban centres to protest against senate
elections at the month-end and to demand a new and democratic constitution
Before the Harare arrests, the police had late last night swooped on
labour leaders in the second largest city of Bulawayo, arresting ZCTU
chairman in the city, Percy Ncijo and other top labour officials Reason
Ngwenya and Dzavamwe Shambare in a bid to thwart demonstrations by workers
Police spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena was not immediately available for
comment on the arrest of the labour leaders and workers or what charges the
police would prefer against them.
Zimbabwe has tough laws prohibiting holding of political meetings or
public demonstrations without first seeking permission from the police.
The public demonstrations still went ahead both in Harare and Bulawayo
as well as in other major cities even after labour leaders were detained by
Workers in Harare and in Bulawayo handed petitions to representatives
of the Ministries of Labour and of Finance demanding that the government
acts to end Zimbabwe's six-year economic crisis that they say has made their
Zimbabwe is grappling its worst ever economic crisis that has seen
inflation shooting beyond 300 percent while food, fuel, electricity, clean
water, essential medical drugs and just about every basic survival commodity
in critical short supply.
The ZCTU and the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change party
blame Zimbabwe' economic ruin on mismanagement and repression by President
Robert Mugabe's government.
Mugabe, in power since Zimbabwe's independence 25 years ago, denies
mismanaging the country's once vibrant economy. The veteran President
instead blames Zimbabwe's problems on economic sabotage by Britain and its
Western allies out to punish his government for seizing land from whites and
giving it over to landless blacks. - ZimOnline
Mail and Guardian
08 November 2005 06:21
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe on Tuesday said the United
States ambassador to the country, Christopher Dell, accused by Harare of
"undiplomatic behaviour" could end up in hell, a state news agency reported.
"Tell him [Dell] that I can't spell 'Dell' but 'hell'," the New
Ziana news agency quoted Mugabe as saying.
"That's what I know and that he might be there one of these
"Mr Dell, go to hell," state radio quoted Mugabe as saying.
Mugabe was replying to remarks by Dell last week that the
deteriorating economic situation in Zimbabwe was a result of mismanagement
and corrupt rule.
The state-run Herald newspaper reported on Monday that Dell
risked being expelled "for his continued meddling in the internal affairs of
"Alternatively, Mr Dell could be put under open surveillance as
was done to former British ambassador Mr Brian Donnelly in June 2002 for
continually meddling in the affairs of Zimbabwe and being involved in
activities to undermine the government," the paper said.
Dell, who has been in Zimbabwe since 2003, last week angered
Harare when he said its deteriorating economic situation was not the result
of drought or economic sanctions, which Mugabe's government often blames for
the crisis in the country.
"The Zimbabwe government's own gross mismanagement of the
economy and its corrupt rule has brought on the crisis," said Dell.
"Neither drought nor sanctions are the root of Zimbabwe's
decline," he said at a lecture held at the Africa University in the
Zimbabwe's economy has been on a downturn in the past five years
characterised by triple-digit inflation, high unemployment and chronic
shortages of fuel, cooking oil and sugar.
The government blames the crisis on targeted sanctions imposed
on Mugabe and members of his inner circle by European Union member states
and the United States.
Last month Dell was detained by a special presidential army unit
after he entered a restricted area in the botanical gardens in Harare near
Mugabe's high-security residence.
Zimbabwe's foreign ministry accused Dell of deliberately
entering the zone in a bid to spark an "unwarranted diplomatic incident".
Court quashes suspension
Meanwhile, the country's high court on Tuesday nullified the
suspension of an opposition lawmaker who claimed his party received
$2,5-million in illegal funding from three foreign nations, his lawyer said.
"The high court judge president has nullified the suspension so
Mr [Job] Sikhala is free to conduct his duties both as an MP and party
official," said Charles Chikore.
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai
suspended Sikhala late last month for "bringing the party into disrepute".
"The suspension was in breach of both the MDC Constitution and
the Constitution of Zimbabwe," Chikore said, adding that Tsvangirai
sanctioned the vocal lawmaker without conducting a hearing.
Sikhala alleged two weeks ago that the MDC had received funding
from Ghana, Nigeria and Taiwan. The three countries have denied bankrolling
the opposition party's operations.
Sikhala made an about-turn, saying he was speculating on the
cause of a bitter feud rocking the party when he raised the issue of money.
But the country's police said it would still proceed with
investigations into the MDC's funding.
Zimbabwe's laws prohibit external funding of local political
The MDC however has denied ever receiving foreign funding. The
leading opposition party has in recent weeks been rocked by divisions over
participation in next month's senatorial polls.
More than two dozen party members defied Tsvangirai's calls to
boycott the November 26 elections to the new upper house of Parliament and
registered as candidates. - Sapa-AFP
08 Nov 2005 15:00:00 GMTSource: NGO latest
by Tapiwa Gomo in Harare, Zimbabwe
[ Any views expressed in this article are those of the writer and not of Reuters. ]
Sokwanele Report : 8 November 2005
In Zimbabwe today the politicization of the police has proceeded so far as to create, in all but name, two different classes of citizens. The upper class consists of the ZANU PF ruling elite and those who enjoy their patronage and protection. They stand effectively above the law so that the law enforcement agencies will protect their interests as necessary yet without holding them accountable even when they infringe the rights of others in the most gross and obvious way. The vast underclass on the other hand consists of those who are excluded from this favoured circle. If the enforcement of their human rights involves even the slightest inconvenience to the favoured ones, the police are likely to refuse to act, leaving them without legal redress. But even the slightest transgression on their part will likely bring down upon them the full weight of the law. Effectively one law for those enjoying the favour of the dictator, and another for those who do not. Such is the extent to which the once professional police force has allowed itself to be prostituted by a regime so arrogant as to assume it has the right to decide whether, and when, to respect the most basic human rights and freedoms of Zimbabweans.
Take the case of Charles Lunga for example. He lives in Majiji in Matabeleland North, a little village accessible only by a rough track, and situated some 100 kilometres north of Bulawayo. Lunga is a humble man who has never had the benefit of a decent education. Yet, a devout Christian, he knows his own mind and will not allow others to deflect him from a path of honest living. He happens also to be an avid supporter of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) which he sees as being the vehicle for much-needed change in his community. As it happens the MDC enjoys massive support in the area in which Lunga lives, where memories of Gukurahundi atrocities have left deep, and still raw, scars on the community. Unfortunately for Lunga however most of his local, fellow MDC supporters prefer to keep their political allegiance to themselves. They remain silent supporters of the national resistance to Mugabe tyranny, having made the not unreasonable strategic decision to reveal their true allegiance only at election time and in the privacy of the polling booth. The net result has been that Lunga stands out rather conspicuously as an unashamed MDC member, and thereby attracts the unwelcome attentions of an extremely intolerant and habitually violent party - ZANU PF. His relatively high profile as a representative of an alternative model of non-violent political discourse has cost him dearly.
In mid September one of Charles Lunga's huts was torched in a night raid. He and his wife were away at the time attending a funeral, but his eight children, the youngest of whom is just a year old, were in the hut. Providentially they were not asleep at the time. The children made good their escape and even managed to douse the flames before they had consumed the whole structure. On that occasion one of the villagers fell under suspicion for the attack but Lunga did not have the evidence so he decided not to report the incident to the police.
Some five weeks later, on the night of 22 October another attack was made on Lunga's property, this time targeting his main home. There was no one in it at the time, but it did contain all the family's food, clothing and other valuables. Lunga and his family were sleeping in another hut nearby. By the time the alarm was raised the home and all its contents had been reduced to ashes. Lunga lost not only a valuable dwelling but many irreplaceable items, representing a huge loss to his family.
The morning after the second attack there was found among the ashes a hand-written note. Clearly the note had been planted there after the fire had ended or it would have been burnt to ashes along with everything else destroyed in the conflagration. Curiously there was scrawled on the scrap of paper retrieved from the ashes the words, "I Nkesewa Ndlovu, burnt this hut". The young man who identified himself thus was the same as the suspect in the first attack.
Nkesewa was duly summoned before a meeting of kraal heads and elders investigating the second arson attack. He who had drawn attention to himself as if to expiate some of the guilt, immediately pointed the accusing finger at another powerful family in the village. The Khoza family are relative newcomers to the community, yet by virtue of their close links with ZANU PF they enjoy both wealth and power at the village level. Douglas Khoza, the family head, rejoices in he title "Councillor" which few in the village think he deserves. But even fewer dare to challenge his authority. It was therefore, if nothing else, a brave thing for Nkesewa to accuse this powerful family of direct complicity in the crime. (Subsequently in a very noisy altercation in the Khoza family home Nkesewa was overheard to say, "I don't care what you do to me now . I have told the truth")
The village elders decided that Nkesewa should be sent to the police station at Siganda, together with his confession note, at least to answer for his part in the crime. All 13 of the elders who had interrogated the young man signed a statement confirming their findings. Nkesewa was to be accompanied by a small delegation of three of their number together with the complainant, Charles Lunga.
Unfortunately for Lunga and for the cause of justice, his brother, Sotsha Lunga, is a local village head and another local ZANU PF functionary. As such he automatically takes upon himself certain "rights", including in this case the right to accompany the little delegation to the police station. Furthermore on arrival at the ZRP office and before the traditional leaders could set out the case against Nkesewa and the accusation concerning the Khoza family, Sotsha Lunga saw fit to advise the member-in-charge that, in his view, it was a "political" matter involving a "respected" ZANU PF Councillor.
The reaction on the part of the police was as swift as it was sadly predictable. The member-in-charge told the little group they should go home as they were wasting their time. Thereupon he jumped into his ZRP vehicle and drove off at speed. The more junior police officers were just as uncooperative. They refused to hear anything more of the matter, or even to read the confession note or the findings of the village elders. The delegation could get no one to even consider their complaint, let alone open a docket on the case. They returned home angry, frustrated and empty-handed.
And there the matter rests. Law enforcement ZANU PF style. Mr Lunga has had one dwelling seriously damaged and another reduced to ashes, along with all the family valuables. Today his family are left in the cloths they stand up in. They are fortunate to be alive and to have escaped serious injury themselves. Meanwhile the self-confessed perpetrator walks free, while the real culprits to whom all the evidence points as instigators of the crimes, are effectively protected by a shield of political immunity which bars the community leaders from even interrogating them.
It is an outrage of course against every notion of natural justice and a mockery of the rule of law. Yet, tragically, Charles Lunga's experience of a perverted legal system is by no means unique. Indeed similar experiences of legal oppression under a politicized police force, driven by ZANU PF patronage have become commonplace across Zimbabwe. What is unique however, or at least extremely rare, in this case is the courage of the victim in coming forward to report his grievance. Most choose to suffer in silence and prefer anonymity for fear of further reprisal. When he was interviewed Lunga was offered this option. Would he prefer to speak under the safety of a pseudonym, his precise location perhaps being obscured in order to afford him some protection from a corrupt regime that is also vengeful ? "Not a bit of it", was his ready answer. "This is the truth and I am not afraid to tell it."
Charles Lunga, we salute you as a Christian gentleman, a person of integrity and great courage. And we offer this observation, that if there were just a couple of hundred men and women of such steady resolve, ready to confront ZANU PF tyranny with the simple truth, this nation would not now be suffering such a perversion of justice. Indeed we would have rid ourselves of these corrupt, self-serving rulers and their cowardly underlings a long time ago.
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Tue Nov 8, 2005 10:05 AM GMT
HARARE (Reuters) - President Robert Mugabe's government deployed riot police
with batons and dogs on Tuesday before a protest march called by Zimbabwe's
main labour union against rising poverty in the southern African country.
Witnesses said police, who have used force to quash demonstrations in recent
years, also mounted roadblocks on streets leading into the central business
district of the capital Harare.
The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) has urged workers to stage
processions country-wide at midday (10:00 a.m.) "to remind government and
employers that workers are hungry, angry and tired".
The ZCTU is a key ally of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change,
which has offered the stiffest challenge to Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF as the
country grapples with an economic crisis widely blamed on government
Zimbabwe's workers have borne the brunt of the economic meltdown, marked by
chronic shortages of food, fuel and foreign currency. Prices of basic
commodities are rising almost daily while wages remain stagnant.
"The ZCTU demands ... a living wage for all workers ... reduction of income
tax ... and free access to anti retrovirals," a statement said, referring to
drugs to combat HIV/AIDS, said to kill more than 2,500 Zimbabweans a week.
The government, which has used tough security laws to stamp down on protests
in the last five years, slammed Tuesday's marches as a political gimmick to
further the agenda of the MDC, most of whose support comes from disenchanted
"The demonstration... is about political mileage on the part of the ZCTU
leadership, which wants to join mainstream opposition politics," Labour and
Social Welfare Minister Nicholas Goche said in a statement to the official
Mugabe, in power since independence from Britain in 1980, denies
responsibility for the crisis in Zimbabwe's economy, once the envy of the
Instead, he blames sabotage by foreign and domestic opponents of his land
reforms, under which white-owned farms have been seized for reallocation to
From William Sparks Newsletter
. First, the inflation is making life almost impossible. It is true that
prices of some goods double from one week to the next - or much more. In
July an air ticket to Harare from Bulawayo was about $2 million. Two weeks
ago it was over $6 million, while now it is over $20 million. There is such
variation and inconsistency that you never know what you can afford. I
could give many other examples of enormous price increases - washing powder
from $60,000 to $180,000 since last week, if you can find it - an apple from
$16,000 each to $25,000 - mosquito coils from $62,000 to $110,000. And the
coils are needed, because the City Council hasn't sprayed for several years
and mosquitos are
more plentiful than they used to be.
Aside from the inflation, there is the collapse of services. Water is off
with great frequency but great irregularity in most parts of Bulawayo now.
Some suburbs have not had water for three months. There used to be bowsers,
but not regularly any more; people must go to friends in neighbouring
suburbs and carry water, which they may have had to purchase. There is
rationing, and each litre over the ration (600 l per month per household) is
penalised at a rate of $68,000. In some places people are regularly using
the open spaces and bushes between residential areas as toilets, even
marking areas for men and for women. The areas not receiving water are
extending; now there are parts of the low-density suburbs that haven't had
water for several weeks; in other areas it's off and on. Similarly with
electicity - there are cuts from time to time. Garbage in most areas has
not been collected on a regular basis for many months, but it used to be
possible to get a collection after two or three weeks. Now no one ever
knows whether the garbage will be collected and people have been told to
burn it. Water, sewage and refuse disposal are major responsibilities of
local government in most urban areas throughout the world. In Zimbabwe the
combination of lack of revenue and deliberate frustration of council
activities by central government is destroying the capacity of the councils
to deliver. The water problem is not just a question of supply dams drying
up. There is still water, but the pumping capacity is inadequate because of
inability to pay for repairs (no forex) and to upgrade the whole system.
Health services are deplorable, and everybody knows people who have died
because they cannot be treated - either because they can't afford the
exhorbitant cost of medical services and drugs or because they simply aren't
available. There are still some hospitals functioning, and even doctors, and
some people do benefit from them, but there are increasing numbers who
can't. When costs are going up so rapidly, food is the first priority.
Nothing is kept for an emergency. Worse still is the cost of burial once
the person dies. While bodies rot in the overflowing mortuaries, families
scrounge to pay for a coffin before their relative is unrecognisable.
Civil servants like teachers and medical workers, and even police have not
had an increment since January. It is obvious that they are in a desperate
situation and simply cannot feed their families. Many cannot afford to go
to work, and increasingly in schools teachers are absent at least one day a
week, or more likely two. But the absentee rate affects all sectors, as
people try to save on transport costs; of course this makes every service
more inefficient. In a major bank on the last day of October, only 4
tellers were serving the long queues of clients withdrawing and depositing
And I haven't even mentioned anything about fuel! In Bulawayo it's
available, if you have a connection to someone who is importing, but you
have to make an arrangement, organise a drum or containers, and appropriate
transport, keep the drum dangerously close to your house, or if you can bear
the thought, brave the trip to Botswana and the lengthy queues at the border
in the sweltering heat - provided, of course, that you can "source" the
forex. And the fuel is extremely expensive - 20 litres will cost $2 million
which is more than half the monthly salary of an average teacher.
What I'm describing is what affects those who have jobs and homes. How much
worse is the life of those chased by Murambatsvina, huddling under bits of
building material, scrounging the dumps for scraps of food or anything that
can be sold (but remember there's precious little garbage collection, so
even the dumps yield much less than they used to). Twice this week I have
witnessed young men arrested in supermarkets for picking up something to
Will all this deterioration produce any political change? Nobody knows of
course, but as people flood across the border into South Africa, as the
coming rains threaten to produce major uncontrolled disease outbreaks, and
the increasing prices of food make it inevitable that many more will succumb
to malnutrition-related illnesses, there is a feeling that it simply can't
go on too much longer without something cracking. Rumours abound of what is
being plotted, most of it surely wishful thinking. It all provides gossip
but little hope. And now, the chance that MDC might be part of the
much-longed for change is receding by the day. Depressing....
From William Sparks Newsletter
ZIMBABWE SENATE ELECTIONS INTERNATIONAL OBSERVERS INVITATION:
Andrew M Manyevere.
The last twenty five years of an independent Zimbabwe has redefined
independence and offered people political poverty that has given a few
privileged citizens a false sense of material security, when the rest of the
country swims in abject poverty. Typical of political poverty it invites its
sisters, corruption and human and people rights abuse, and walks its journey
with brother poor governance. As inanimate tools grown from the inefficient
and incapable administrators who without a track record of thinking and
performance ability, consider corruption, human and people rights abuse
together with poor governance as incentive to hung on to power with or
without people vote approval.
In 1980 as we come back from the exiles Diaspora, the atrocities of the war
of liberation, its revenge spirited killings which went unchecked and
unaccounted for, partly faced people with a choice to die or to stay alive.
To face death if these senseless brutal killings of innocent without justice
were revealed, to stay alive as concealment ruled the order of the day. Yes
Zanu and Zapu had done their part in fighting for freedom for the people of
Zimbabwe. Here is where the wrong beginning started and still lives with us
twenty five years later.
It will be mature common sense to accept that any sacrifice done by the
selfless for the country is for the benefit of both the involved, if they
live to see the end, as it is for those supportive administrative and
otherwise and the coming generation. It is assumed that those to take over
from where sacrificial lambs leave will cherish the moral values for which
the war of sacrifice was done are uphold the same. Again I underscore the
selfless spirit based on the knowledge that we are all equal and that every
one has recourse to justice, whether or not those champions to the sacrifice
for freedom cause are on the forefront.
It appears that dictator heroes have had to cook their bread and eat it
alone, except when death pays them unexpected visit and they die. The issue
of succession in dictatorship is not a favored subject and will often be
avoided. Cases for consideration are those involving corrupt amassing of
power and wealth towards the dictator, strongly backed by beneficiary
History has shown that dictators have a system when their relations surround
them in secure positions of economy and political influence. Typically what
is happening in 2005 when Robert Mugabe the president of Zimbabwe's cousins
and nephews surround him together with his sister? Sabina Mugabe and his two
sons, Leo and Zhuwahu are all members of parliament and one is a cabinet
In contrast we look at Nicolae Ceasescu of Romania who swept into power in
1965 through the ruthless eliminations of potential challengers within the
Romanian Communist Party (RCP). History will remember people like the secret
police chief Alexandre Draghici killed by ceasescu in 1967 and Maurer in
Think and see how Grace Mugabe has amassed wealth and were she capable, how
she would have taken control of government by now. Robert Mugabe just like
Nicolae Ceasescu, posing as a populist nationalist built up a ludicrous
personality cult perpetuated by the securitate and bureaucracy of adulation
berefit of competence and courage. Unlike Ceasescu who in 1970s installed
his wife Elena as second in command, Mugabe has failed to do that mainly due
to childish age of the wife he married and lack of mature craft. Nicolae
Ceasescu, also a very close friend to Robert Mugabe and the first lady
Sally, had groomed his son Nicu for succession and dozen of relatives
occupied important government posts. One could not discount the chances of
Mugabe's son taking over the army since he is always donned in military
attire on important national celebrations.
These are the friends of Robert Gabriel Mugabe the president of Zimbabwe and
First Secretary of the Communist Zanu Pf. Today Mangistu Mariem of Ethiopia
has a safe haven in Zimbabwe when it become embarrassing giving him shelter
to African leaders after a military coup in the late 1990s.
I only draw these parallels to show the ugly growth of dictatorship and its
association with birds of the same farther. Hitler of German, Bokasa of
central Africa, Fidel Castro of Cuba and Idi Amin of Uganda, are all cases
of past and present tyranny and despotism when constitution is rarely
honored except for its being figure of symbols.
With such strong background of comparative political study should we seek
justification of putting national funds to waste by calling sugar coated
elections for the Zimbabwe Senate in November 2005, deserving of
A quick preview of the events leading to all elections conducted by Robert
Mugabe and his regime are systematically clothed in the regalia of violence
forcefully dressed in brutality, arrests and trumped up charges of
ironically breaking of law and order in the country.
Violence is the political tool used in all elections coupled with an
unforgiving judiciary fraternity schooled into Mugabe's way of thinking and
seeing things or face death and dismissal together since choice is limited
to cooperation or dying. After Clean Up Dirty program run by Robert Mugabe
in May 2005 against the moral fiber of Zimbabwe society and the affirmation
by the United Nations into Zanu Pf chicanery and duplicity, should we be
thinking of another trial and error on a regime so callously bend on doing
and bringing harm upon its citizens?
The intentions, morally and otherwise, of Zanu Pf and its leadership have
shown insatiable desire for national decay and destruction, and the need for
redemption of the innocent is overdue. Which organization apart from wishing
to waste world funds that is better put to poverty alleviation, in part by
putting such dictatorship out of power, would still go and send observers
into Zimbabwe for faked House of Senate with fake representation?
People want to normalize an abnormal situation by wishing everything was
well for want of legitimizing Mugabe's political games at the cost of life.
Life is at risk and wasted in Zimbabwe each day Robert Mugabe and Zanu Pf
are allowed to live on through naked deception to the world.
A fake Senate with fake elections cannot guarantee freedom for any country,
why does the world expect miracles in this crude game of power chasing at
human and people life waste?
Sent: Tuesday, November 08, 2005 9:04 PM
Well, we are still breathing, that's one good thing! I have just been to
the local OK. The ZCTU strike/mass action seems to be in effect. There
were two till operators in a 20 till shop, and only about 5 customers. The
car park was empty, only about five vehicles including mine. The whole of
Greencroft shopping centre was a ghost town. I was able to look at prices
freely and long enough that I could do some mental comparisons with my last
visit. It appears that, averaging it out, prices on any particular item are
rising between $10,000.00 and $30,000.00 a DAY now. The daily rise seems to
be dependant on the nature of the article...meat seems to be the worst. Two
pork chops now cost the same as an entire 3kg pork roast did two weeks ago.
When it is available, a litre of Coke is $68,000.00. I cannot remember the
last time I had a Coke. We drink water only, and this is cut off every day
now. Empty plastic 2 litre milk bottles are not trashed in this
house-hold...they are used to hold water! They stand like rows of soldiers
in the kitchen.
Don't know how much longer we can hold things together quite frankly.
I WISH TO HEREBY COMMENT ON Simon Khaya Moyo's (Zimbabwean Ambassador
ALL MY COMMENTS ARE IN CAPITAL LETTERS
Zimbabwe welcomes UN aid
The letter, Mugabe must accept UN help (November 4), by Joe Seremane of
The Democratic Alliance, is pathetic and lamentable.
Seremane must not disgrace himself by pretending to be a friend of Zimbabwe
when his party is regarded negatively by all patriotic people of Zimbabwe.
WHO ARE ALL THE PATRIOTIC PEOPLE OF ZIMBABWE? THE ONES WHO MANAGED IN 5
YEARS TO TRANSFORM ZIMBABWE FROM A BREAD BASKET TO A BASKET CASE?
He and his party represent the past and it would do him good to wake up
THE PAST WILL ALWAYS BE PART OF A COUNTRYS' HISTORY AND WRONGS SHOULD ALWAYS
BE KEPT IN MIND. IF WHITES AGAINST BLACKS ARE CALLED RACIALISTS, HOW WOULD
YOU CALL THE CONTRARY?
Apartheid is dead and buried. We live in a new era. For the record, the
Zimbabwe government has never taken a decision to reject humanitarian
assistance from the United Nations. Such a decision exists only in
ISN'T IT SAD THAT ZIMBABWE HAS TO RESORT TO HUMANITARIAN ASSISTANCE!!!!
WHO IS RESPONSIBLE FOR THAT.. OH SORRY I FORGOT: BLAIR AND BUSH .. WHAT A
JOKE!!!! SOME BROTHERS ARE STARTING TO SAY THAT AT LEAST UNDER SMITH YOU
COULD HAVE THREE MEALS A DAY, NOW YOU ONLY EAT ONCE (IF YOU'RE LUCKY) AND
YOU ARE STILL NOT FREE!
President Robert Mugabe and Kofi Annan met recently at the UN world
Summit in New York and agreed that a humanitarian co-ordinator from Annan's
Office would be sent this month to Zimbabwe to assess the clean-up operation
Restore Order and its aftermath. The UN humanitarian co-ordinator was
supposed to come to Zimbabwe and report back to Annan before he himself
visits Zimbabwe. The person has not yet arrived.
ISN'T IT BECAUSE OF THE SENATE ELECTIONS? WHO CARES OF ALL THE BLA'BLA'BLA'
ANYWAY! ZIMBABWE NEEDS NEW POLICIES IN ORDER TO FEND FOR ITSELF. IT WON'T
BE THE CURRENT APOLOGIZERS OF THEIR GOVERNMENT'S MISTAKES (SUCH AS YOURSELF)
THAT WILL MAKE THE DIFFERENCE. ENOUGH WITH HIPOCRISY, WE NEED PEOPLE OF
PRINCIPLES WHO REALLY REALLY CARE FOR THE PEOPLE OF ZIMBABWE.
After Operation Restore Order, the Zimbabwe government embarked on
Massive construction of houses throughout the country under Operation
Garikai/Hlalani Kuhle to accommodate those who were affected by
Operation Restore Order and others. These houses are permanent structures,
I, TO THIS DAY, STILL SEE PEOPLE BY THE ROAD WITH THEIR BELONGINGS WAITING
TO BE TRANSPORTED TO THEIR HOME LANDS. THESE ARE PEOPLE WHOSE SOULS HAVE
BEEN EMPTIED, THESE ARE PEOPLE WHO ARE COMPLETELY LOST THANKS TO THE WELL
THINKING OF THEIR GOVERNMENT, WHO COULD NOT CARE LESS IF THEIR OWN BROTHERS
DIED OF HUNGER, LET ALONE LIVE IN PROPER HOMES!
.. WHAT MASSIVE CONSTRUCTION OF HOUSES ARE YOU RELATING TO? MAYBE MUGABE'S
MANSION? ONLY THE WALLS AROUND IT WOULD HAVE BEEN ENOUGH TO HAVE CONSTRUCTED
HOUSES TO ACCOMMODATE 200 FAMILIES!
If the UN is keen to assist, government welcomes it to direct its resources
to constructing permanent structures, which is government policy anyway
and the reason temporary, unplanned structures had been destroyed.
MANY OF THE HOUSES THAT HAVE BEEN DESTROYED HAD PLANS! THE PEOPLE WERE
LITERALLY KICKED OUT OF THEIR OWN HOMES WHICH WERE DESTROYED IN FRONT OF
THEIR OWN EYES (KILLING SOME KIDS IN THE PROCESS) WITH NO ALTERNATIVE
WHATSOEVER, THIS IS THE REALITY, I'M AFRAID!
Our people deserve no less. Hundreds of houses have been built already.
The beneficiaries are already on various sites, a clear demonstration of
government commitment to housing delivery.
WHERE DO YOU LIVE? BEFORE YOU TALK YOU SHOULD GO ON A TOUR TO ONE OF THE
TOWNSHIPS, OR MAYBE GO TO MBARE MSIKA, AND YOU'LL UNDERSTAND WHAT IS GOING
I am aware that when Joe Seremane last visited Zimbabwe, he ended up at
Harare Airport. I understand his bitterness, but that must not obscure his
mind to live in a world of falsehoods and fiction. Zimbabwe shall never
be a colony again.
A GOVERNMENT WHO HAS NOTHING TO HIDE SHOULD NOT HAVE TO RESORT TO AIPPA AND
POSA, A GOVERNMENT WITH A CLEAR CONSCIENCE SHOULD NOT BE PARANOID AND SCARED
AND - MOST OF ALL - ZIMBABWEANS WOULD NOT HAVE LEFT IN THEIR MILLIONS JUST
BECAUSE OF FOREIGN PROPAGANDA.
LAST, BUT NOT LEAST, WHO WOULD WANT ZIMBABWE AS A COLONY? ... MAYBE THE
Statement by the Presidency on behalf of the European Union on government of
Zimbabwe's rejection of an humanitarian assistance
The European Union notes the statement issued by the UN Secretary-General on
31 October on Zimbabwe.
The European Union shares the UN's concerns over the grave humanitarian
situation in Zimbabwe caused by the Operation Murambatsvina ("Drive out
Trash") evictions. Like the UN Secretary-General, it is dismayed that the
Government of Zimbabwe has not accepted the urgent humanitarian needs set
out in the report of the Secretary-General's Special Envoy, and has declined
aid for those Zimbabweans left homeless and destitute by recent events.
The European Union calls on the Government of Zimbabwe to work with the UN
and the international community to get aid and shelter to those in need as a
result of Operation Murambatsvina. It urges the Government of Zimbabwe to
implement all the recommendations of the Special Envoy's report. The
European Union reiterates its call on Zimbabwe to respect human rights, in
particular as expressed in the report of the Secretary-General's Special
Envoy on Human Settlement Issues in Zimbabwe.
The Acceding Countries Bulgaria and Romania, the Candidate Countries Turkey
and Croatia*, the Countries of the Stabilisation and Association Process and
potential candidates Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the former Yugoslav
Republic of Macedonia, Serbia and Montenegro, EFTA countries Iceland,
Liechtenstein and Norway, members of the European Economic Area, as well as
Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova align themselves with this declaration.
* Croatia continues to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.
Police on Tuesday detained the entire leadership of Zimbabwe's trade union
umbrella organization to muzzle protests against worsening economic
conditions, union officials said. News of the arrests of all the top leaders
of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trades Unions, representing 30 worker
organizations with 1 million members, came in a statement expressing "utter
shock and dismay" by the trade union congress in neighboring South Africa.
The Zimbabwe Congress of Trades Unions had scheduled a midday march to
"remind government and employers that workers are hungry, angry and tired."
The South African statement said that those arrested included the president
of the congress, Lovemore Matombo and his secretary-general, Wellington
"Reports we have now is that at least 200 people have been arrested in
Harare alone and they are held at the Harare Central Police Station," the
Ahead of the planned march, police mounted roadblocks on all routes into
Harare, stopping any vehicle having more than one passenger. Paramilitaries
with dogs, shields and batons were conspicuous on most street corners and in
the city's central Unity Square Gardens outside Parliament.
Witnesses said about 10 trades unionists were arrested and swiftly hustled
away by police in downtown Harare at lunchtime as they prepared to deliver a
petition to the Labor Ministry, demanding new minimum wages, improved
conditions, and free treatment for millions of HIV/AIDS sufferers.
Demonstrators included people who had worked as vendors and were by a
government campaign to demolish shacks and clamp down on street traders.
Union officials said police swooped overnight on leading activists in
several parts of the country and detained them even though the union had
notified police of the marches, as required under draconian new security
Nicholas Goche, minister of labor and social welfare, had denounced the
protest as "a political gimmick" but stopped short of declaring an outright
ban, the AP reports.
For the past five years police have moved without warning to break up any
critical demonstrations, with 30 arrests on Saturday when placard-waving
lobbyists for a reformed constitution sprinted through downtown Harare,
pursued by paramilitary riot squads.
Zimbabwe's economy has been in a tailspin since the government in 2000 began
confiscating formerly white-owned farms. This has decimated agricultural
production in what used to be southern Africa's breadbasket.
Emigration has become a way of life in Zimbabwe - so much so that the
International Organisation for Migration has started a campaign specifically to
advise and help those considering to migrate.
So where are all the people going?
Figures published by the IOM suggest that the largest group of legal
emigrants - 36.8% of the total - go to the United Kingdom, while only 4.8% go to
These figures represent the numbers of people who have emigrated from
Zimbabwe using official channels since 1990. In total, the figures suggest about
500,000 have left in 15 years.
But anecdotal evidence and common sense indicate that these figures for legal
migration give a skewed idea of the whole picture.
The Zimbabwe Central Bank said 1.2 million Zimbabweans had gone to South
Africa since 1990.
A South African government minister recently said there were two million
Zimbabweans living in South Africa - Joyce Dube of the South African Women's
Institute for Migration Affairs estimates the figure to be even higher, around
Other observers cast doubt on these figures - after all, South Africa's
population is around 40 million, so two million Zimbabweans would mean five
percent of those people were actually Zimbabweans.
Still others prefer not to fix a number.
"We'd hate to quantify, because of the xenophobia caused by talk of opening
the floodgates of immigration," says Abeda Bhamjee, a refugee lawyer at the
University of the Witwatersrand Law Clinic in Johannesburg.
However unclear the numbers, what is clear is that Zimbabweans who go to
South Africa or neighbouring Botswana are much more likely to disappear from the
Rather than seeking a work permit and getting on a flight to Europe or North
America, they simply slip across the border - often doing so again and again
after being caught by the South African authorities.
"They are deported, then the next day they are back," Joyce Dube says.
"Deportation is a waste of money."
Why are Zimbabweans leaving in such numbers?
Until recently, one important reason has been that there is more money to be
Skilled public servants in Zimbabwe have seen their wages rendered almost
worthless by runaway inflation.
The Southern African Migration Project (SAMP) did a study on health
professionals leaving Zimbabwe in 2002, and found that economic factors were
cited by the greatest number of migrants (54% of the interviewees) as their
reason for leaving Zimbabwe.
Around 30% pointed to professional reasons such as inadequate working
conditions, and a similar number said political considerations had been a factor
in prompting them to leave Zimbabwe.
Since 2000, a further economically important group of migrants has been white
farmers - government policy changes led to the seizure of 4,000 white-owned
farms, and many who lost land sought new opportunities elsewhere in Africa or
But far greater numbers of Zimbabweans felt the heavy hand of government with
the launch this year of Operation Murambatsvina, the urban clean-up that the UN
says left 500,000 people homeless.
Joyce Dube confirms that Murambatsvina has been a further reason for
Zimbabweans to flee to South Africa - and she believes that these days, around
80% of the Zimbabweans who come to South Africa are leaving their country for
While these neighbouring countries have absorbed a number of Zimbabwean
professionals, the majority of cross-border migrants are unskilled labourers.
"The official policy is that no one should be denied the opportunity to apply
for asylum," Abeda Bhamjee points out, but adds that there are "internal and
external pressures" on South African officialdom to keep Zimbabweans out.
The ease of access from Zimbabwe to South Africa makes officials wary of
setting a precedent in granting asylum to Zimbabweans.
Moreover, acknowledging that Zimbabwe's internal problems warranted granting
asylum to its citizens would contradict President Thabo Mbeki's policy of "quiet
diplomacy" towards his northern neighbour.
The result: more Zimbabweans invisible to the official statistics.
Attempts to number the new arrivals are further complicated by the fact that,
as far back as colonial times, there has always been a flow of people between
Zimbabwe and its neighbours.
"Zimbabweans have always been part of South African life."
Will the Zimbabwean diaspora ever go back? SAMP's research indicates that
Zimbabweans are reluctant to cut ties with their homeland.
A study of final year students in Zimbabwe revealed that while many were
considering seeking employment abroad, less than one-third would give up their
homes in Zimbabwe, and barely a quarter would be prepared to renounce their
Those who fail to secure legal status and decent employment abroad are most
likely to return to Zimbabwe as soon as circumstances there improve.
Those who have already established themselves professionally seem more
"I want to retire in my early 50s - when I am still strong enough to go back
and reintegrate into society," one Zimbabwean health professional, now working
in the United Kingdom, told the BBC News website.
"Until then we will continue to go home on holiday every two years, to keep
the ties alive and so that we remain recognisable to those we left behind," he
But for those who have legalised themselves in other countries, the longer
they stay, the more entrenched they will become in their adoptive homes.
"There's nothing compared to being back at home but for now it is the last
place I could think of being," says Constantine Mkinya, a lawyer who has settled
in the United States.
"I'm very happy with my life here in America."
The BBC News website has
been speaking to Zimbabweans who have left the country in recent years about
their reasons and the risks they took. Justin Pearce looks at the reality behind
the emigration figures.
Emigration has become a way of life in Zimbabwe - so much so that the International Organisation for Migration has started a campaign specifically to advise and help those considering to migrate.
So where are all the people going?
Figures published by the IOM suggest that the largest group of legal emigrants - 36.8% of the total - go to the United Kingdom, while only 4.8% go to South Africa.
These figures represent the numbers of people who have emigrated from Zimbabwe using official channels since 1990. In total, the figures suggest about 500,000 have left in 15 years.
But anecdotal evidence and common sense indicate that these figures for legal migration give a skewed idea of the whole picture.
The Zimbabwe Central Bank said 1.2 million Zimbabweans had gone to South Africa since 1990.
A South African government minister recently said there were two million Zimbabweans living in South Africa - Joyce Dube of the South African Women's Institute for Migration Affairs estimates the figure to be even higher, around three million.
Other observers cast doubt on these figures - after all, South Africa's population is around 40 million, so two million Zimbabweans would mean five percent of those people were actually Zimbabweans.
Still others prefer not to fix a number.
"We'd hate to quantify, because of the xenophobia caused by talk of opening the floodgates of immigration," says Abeda Bhamjee, a refugee lawyer at the University of the Witwatersrand Law Clinic in Johannesburg.
However unclear the numbers, what is clear is that Zimbabweans who go to South Africa or neighbouring Botswana are much more likely to disappear from the official statistics.
Rather than seeking a work permit and getting on a flight to Europe or North America, they simply slip across the border - often doing so again and again after being caught by the South African authorities.
"They are deported, then the next day they are back," Joyce Dube says. "Deportation is a waste of money."
Why are Zimbabweans leaving in such numbers?
Until recently, one important reason has been that there is more money to be made elsewhere.
Skilled public servants in Zimbabwe have seen their wages rendered almost worthless by runaway inflation.
The Southern African Migration Project (SAMP) did a study on health professionals leaving Zimbabwe in 2002, and found that economic factors were cited by the greatest number of migrants (54% of the interviewees) as their reason for leaving Zimbabwe.
Around 30% pointed to professional reasons such as inadequate working conditions, and a similar number said political considerations had been a factor in prompting them to leave Zimbabwe.
Since 2000, a further economically important group of migrants has been white farmers - government policy changes led to the seizure of 4,000 white-owned farms, and many who lost land sought new opportunities elsewhere in Africa or overseas.
But far greater numbers of Zimbabweans felt the heavy hand of government with the launch this year of Operation Murambatsvina, the urban clean-up that the UN says left 500,000 people homeless.
Joyce Dube confirms that Murambatsvina has been a further reason for Zimbabweans to flee to South Africa - and she believes that these days, around 80% of the Zimbabweans who come to South Africa are leaving their country for political reasons.
While these neighbouring countries have absorbed a number of Zimbabwean professionals, the majority of cross-border migrants are unskilled labourers.
"The official policy is that no one should be denied the opportunity to apply for asylum," Abeda Bhamjee points out, but adds that there are "internal and external pressures" on South African officialdom to keep Zimbabweans out.
The ease of access from Zimbabwe to South Africa makes officials wary of setting a precedent in granting asylum to Zimbabweans.
Moreover, acknowledging that Zimbabwe's internal problems warranted granting asylum to its citizens would contradict President Thabo Mbeki's policy of "quiet diplomacy" towards his northern neighbour.
The result: more Zimbabweans invisible to the official statistics.
Attempts to number the new arrivals are further complicated by the fact that, as far back as colonial times, there has always been a flow of people between Zimbabwe and its neighbours.
"Zimbabweans have always been part of South African life."
Will the Zimbabwean diaspora ever go back? SAMP's research indicates that Zimbabweans are reluctant to cut ties with their homeland.
A study of final year students in Zimbabwe revealed that while many were considering seeking employment abroad, less than one-third would give up their homes in Zimbabwe, and barely a quarter would be prepared to renounce their Zimbabwean citizenship.
Those who fail to secure legal status and decent employment abroad are most likely to return to Zimbabwe as soon as circumstances there improve.
Those who have already established themselves professionally seem more ambivalent.
"I want to retire in my early 50s - when I am still strong enough to go back and reintegrate into society," one Zimbabwean health professional, now working in the United Kingdom, told the BBC News website.
"Until then we will continue to go home on holiday every two years, to keep the ties alive and so that we remain recognisable to those we left behind," he added.
But for those who have legalised themselves in other countries, the longer they stay, the more entrenched they will become in their adoptive homes.
"There's nothing compared to being back at home but for now it is the last place I could think of being," says Constantine Mkinya, a lawyer who has settled in the United States.
"I'm very happy with my life here in America."
November 08 2005 at 12:44PM
Harare - Zimbabwe's High Court on Tuesday nullified the suspension of
an opposition lawmaker who claimed his party received $2,5-million (about
R16,5-million) in illegal funding from three foreign nations, his lawyer
"The high court judge president has nullified the suspension so Mr
(Job) Sikhala is free to conduct his duties both as an MP and party
official," said Charles Chikore.
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai
suspended Sikhala late last month for "bringing the party into disrepute."
"The suspension was in breach of both the MDC constitution and the
constitution of Zimbabwe," Chikore said, adding that Tsvangirai sanctioned
the vocal lawmaker without conducting a hearing.
Sikhala alleged two weeks ago that the MDC had received funding from
Ghana, Nigeria and Taiwan. The three countries have denied bankrolling the
opposition party's operations.
Sikhala made an about-turn, saying he was speculating on the cause of
a bitter feud rocking the party when he raised the issue of money.
But the country's police said it would still proceed with
investigations into the MDC's funding.
Zimbabwe's laws prohibit external funding of local political parties.
The MDC however has denied ever receiving foreign funding.
The leading opposition party has in recent weeks been rocked by
divisions over participation in next month's senatorial polls.
More than two dozen party members defied Tsvangirai's calls to boycott
the November 26 elections to the new upper house of parliament and
registered as candidates. - Sapa-AFP
By Tererai Karimakwenda and Warren Moroka
8 November 2005
The leader of Botswana's main opposition party has called on Batswana
to remember that Zimbabwean illegal immigrants in that country are not petty
criminals but innocent people running away from the difficulties created by
the dictatorship of President Robert Mugabe.
Otswelese Moupo is the president of the Botswana National Front and a
newly elected Member of Parliament for the Gaborone-North-West constituency.
In his State of The Nation address last week, Moupo took a swipe at
the government of President Festus Mogae for pursuing what he called a
failing policy of quiet diplomacy towards Zimbabwe.
He said the situation in Zimbabwe required open criticism of the
government, which he said is pursuing destructive economic and political
policies. He said his party was guided by the need to rail against all forms
of oppression and would continue to speak out against the excesses of the
Moupo's remarks flew in the face of Foreign Affairs minister Momphati
Merafhe who praised Phekelezela Mphoko, Zimbabwe's outgoing ambassador to
Botswana, for doing a great job throughout his assignment.
Meanwhile security forces in Francistown this week carried on with a
crackdown on illegal immigrants. Many more Zimbabweans were netted in
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
By Tererai Karimakwenda
07 November 2005
The Crisis Zimbabwe Coalition in South Africa has initiated a campaign
to distribute clothing and food to Zimbabweans who are suffering away from
home. The materials they are giving away were donated to the South Africa
Council of Churches (SACC), and instead of sending them across the border,
they decided to give them away locally. This is because the last time they
sent aid to Zimbabwe they were put through the ringer by ZANU-PF officials
who put many obstacles in the way. The aid wound up sitting at the border
and in South Africa for over 8 weeks.
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
Introduction: The Three Zimbabwes
On stage, there are two young men discussing the merits and de-merits of
Zimbabwe's Look East Policy. "These Chinese products, it is all in the
packaging; otherwise they are the same things we have always had" one says.
And the discussion goes on to Chinese beauty products, wigs and cosmetics
petrol queues, inflation, foreign currency etc. The two comedians in a
downtown club in Harare were satirizing the influx of Chinese goods in
Zimbabwean stores since ZANU-PF's Look East Policy, an attempt to minimize
dependence on the West, took effect. This was in July of 2005, when I was in
Zimbabwe for the Zimbabwe International Book Fair where I had been invited
to present a paper on Pan-Africanism and Nationalism.
A few weeks after I returned from Zimbabwe, I was invited by Allen Ruff of
Madison's WORT for a radio interview on my first book, an Africa Awareness
Rally that I was helping organize, and my trip to Zimbabwe. In spite of it
being made abundantly clear several times by Ruff that I am a Kenyan, one
caller hoped "that it was safe for me to speak". She was under the
impression that Mugabe has secret agents in Madison, Wisconsin who are
willing to assassinate a Kenyan national for speaking about Zimbabwe or at
the very least monitoring the radio waves and would face the music if I was
ever back in Zimbabwe.
She was worried for my ability to speak freely thousands of miles from
Zimbabwe. Most of the other callers asked questions that were along this
vein and the other things that I had talked about such as the need for
thinking about Africa not as a humanitarian case but as a continent whose
resources are plundered were overshadowed by Zimbabwe.
I begin this article by giving the above seemingly inconsequential details
to hint at a discrepancy between a Zimbabwe that is not doing too well, has
its own share of fatal and even tragic flaws and the Zimbabwe of the Western
imagination of pure murder and mayhem arbitrated by black skin. There is the
Zimbabwe of land redistribution, Look East, petrol queues, Operation Clean
Up, the Congo War, of ZANU-PF, the MDC, Third Way etc. Depending on race,
nationality, class, gender, sexual orientation, political affiliation,
ideology etc, this Zimbabwe will have different meanings. This is the
Zimbabwe with its own sets of contradictions that I would like to term the
Zimbabwe on the Ground.
Then the Zimbabwe of the Western imagination, equally multi-layered and rife
with contradictions. Within it we find the racist view of the machete armed
African hacking away at civilization again, a historical guilt over slavery
and colonialism, a paternalism that excuses unjust practices under cultural
relativism, a fear of black liberation and a naturalized Western dominance
over Africa as point of reference and source of comfort. This view cannot
and does not desire to distinguish between a white dead body in the streets
of Somalia, Iraq or Zimbabwe. No matter its point in this scale, it remains
a Western imagination that sees the world through both a racialized and
But as if that is not enough, there is another Zimbabwe with its own sets of
facts and myths. This is the Zimbabwe that carries the hopes and
frustrations of Africa - Zimbabwe the symbol or more aptly the metaphor.
This is the Zimbabwe that symbolizes for the African that the dreams of
independence have not been fulfilled, can be fulfilled or can never be
fulfilled. This is the Zimbabwe that African leaders will not condemn for
fear of calling attention to betrayed dreams within their own national
This is the Zimbabwe that those in the Diaspora who are black nationalists,
progressives and radicals applaud or condemn for fulfilling liberation,
betraying liberation or not doing enough to see a true liberation through.
But the one constant of the Zimbabwe of Africa, Diaspora and Friends is that
Zimbabwe, and therefore Africa must not be returned to the round tables of
another Berlin Conference.
Before jumping into the article- a quick note. Since my return from
Zimbabwe, I have found that amongst my colleagues, I am expected to either
applaud or denounce Mugabe's Zimbabwe upon their asking what I found. Any
sign of hesitation has been dooming and fatal. No matter who is asking the
question, my hesitation seems to affirm the position he or she brought to
the table. Since for the most part no one has let me tell them what it is I
think I found, I offer them this essay as an elaboration of that hesitation
with the hope that we can re-open up a dialogue that does right by Zimbabwe.
Land Redistribution, Politics of Race and the Zimbabwe of Western
I would like to suggest that to get to the Zimbabwe on the ground and that
of Africa and Diaspora, we have to first go through the Zimbabwe of the
Western imagination for it is only then that we can genuinely have a
dialogue over what is happening in Zimbabwe and the role Africa and
Diaspora, the international community, and political activists can play. It
is only then that we can be left with the a Zimbabwe that is not distorted
by a view that from the very beginning de-legitimizes Africa's search for a
democracy that talks back to colonial legacies and a democracy that seeks
In Zimbabwe, during the land seizures ten white farmers were killed . By
contrast in South Africa, where even after the fall of apartheid whites
still own 80% of arable lands , over 1,500 white farmers have been killed
since 1994 according to the BBC . The South African government blames
criminal elements but given this high number, it is hard not to imagine that
the murders are tied to the history of apartheid. While the acts are
certainly criminal, the numbers are too high not to suggest that a history
of apartheid and a lack of redress have colluded. In Zimbabwe government
policy created the conditions in which ten white farmers were killed. In
South Africa lack of government policy has led to the conditions in which
1,500 whites farmers have been killed. It is in a sense part of the same
But in Zimbabwe, the infinitely much smaller number of white farmer deaths
has created uproar whereas the South African murders are not common
knowledge; international media does not report them and Western politicians
have turned their gaze elsewhere. A petition aptly titled "Help Save South
African Farmers" gathered 495 signatures . It is safe to speculate that
had the petition been for the Zimbabwean farmer, the signatures gathered
would have been in the thousands if not millions. While acknowledging that
there is no evidence that suggests the A.N.C government has sanctioned white
farmer murders, it is still worthwhile to look at the reason why there is
such a discrepancy in how the two situations have been received in the West.
The reason why the West has latched on 10 white murders in Zimbabwe and has
skated over South African 1,500 murders is complex - there is an
intersection of racial mythology, natural rights and entitlement, colonial
history and legacies, politics of reparation and redistribution and ideology
of private property.
In South Africa, the contradiction of a country with a black leadership that
protects a large body of white interests (who became apartheid's upper-class
because they are white) and a growing black elite (whose role in the words
of Kwame Ture is to give individual success the illusion of collective
success) have yet to come home to roost. True there are murmurs to be found
in the COSATU led strikes and the growing radicalization of those calling
for land reform  in South Africa, but they have as yet to rise to an
extent where they force the A.N.C. into taking radical measures that end
Therefore in South Africa, the myth of white skin, of a naturalized racial
hierarchy, where class and power find expression through race has not been
violated. And even though the murders are atrociously high, because the
A.N.C. government has not made it a matter of conscious policy to violate
this socio-economic order, the murders can be ignored. It is a paradox of
sorts. To put it badly and perhaps crudely, in South Africa, white lives are
being taken, but white property is not. The ideology of private property,
inheritance, an unspoken but understood natural order of things and the
ideologies of capitalism remain intact in spite of the murders.
Zimbabwe on the other hand has violated the myth that naturalizes racial
hierarchy. Blacks are not supposed to kick out whites from their farms and
their homes. They are a mass of faceless laborers who each morning file to
the factories and the farms looking for work. This black mass is not
supposed to do tribal chants at the same gates wielding machetes, making fun
of whites and showing such audacity by "forgetting their place". They are
not supposed to raise their hand and strike the white man in his home and
essentially treat him and his family the same way he has for years treated
the black man and his family. (As always, women remain a conversation
between men. In the rapes and counter-rapes - the actors are men in a
It seems to me, therefore, that Zimbabwe's original sin is indicating to a
world full of blacks and whites that there is nothing inviolable in the
myth. More than threaten the whites in their very own homes, in Zimbabwe
white natural right to vast land and property is being threatened as a
matter of governmental policy.
It is important to briefly note that Zimbabwe while threatening white
property and life has not violated the basic principles of capitalism. There
are no demands for state ownership of land or taking redistribution to the
factories and mines - rather, redistribution of land is attempting to
restore balance between races without disturbing the very principles of
capitalism. What has happened is simply a redistribution that targets white
people who accumulated the largest farms under colonialism. Capitalism in
general is well and alive ideologically. What has been threatened is white
monopoly but monopoly over the production of wealth remains alive and
Here it is also important to add farms were taken from farmers who had
several or had farms over 500 acres. There are still about two thousand
farmers left. The ones who left are those who refused to have smaller farms.
There are also some who left but now are now coming back after accepting the
new conditions. A recent US visitor to Zimbabwe told me that she has was
surprised to find whole sections of Harare town and suburbs that are
predominantly white. There is a way in which we are speaking about Zimbabwe
as if racial genocide against whites took place. But the reality on the
ground speaks to the contrary.
The United States and Standards of Democracy
Certainly, Western media and politicians have drummed up the
racial-nationalism that has been unleashed on Zimbabwe. President Bush,
Prime Minister Blair, the BBC and the New York Times are at the forefront of
the save Zimbabwe agenda. But a cursory glance reveals that neither
President Bush nor Blair have developed a sudden sense of fair play when it
comes to the African. As a result of war in the Congo, the Guardian in
December 2004 estimated the death toll to be at 3.8 million . The United
States supported both Rwanda and Uganda in the Congo wars even as they were
busy plundering the Congo.
The Washington Post reports that: In a recently published UN sponsored
report on the illegal exploitation of the DRC's natural resources and other
forms of wealth, it was estimated that up to 100 tons a month of tantalum
was exported by the Rwandan army. Likewise, Ugandan exports of the mineral
rose from 2.5 tons in 1997 just before the war, to nearly 70 tons in 1999
Now, this is not to say that other intervening countries like Angola,
Zimbabwe, Chad etc. were not also following the glitter of diamonds -
perhaps all involved in the Congo with an exception of the victims are
implicated and there should be calls for a United Nations investigation -
but the point is that if the U.S. cared about African lives, then it ought
to be slightly wary of Uganda. Instead, Uganda's Monitor reports that Uganda
continues to receive "millions of dollars from the United States . But
more telling is the question of Darfur where an estimated 400 people are
dying a day. The United States has not as yet taken the same economic
measures against Sudan that it has taken against Zimbabwe.
Does the United States meet the same democratic standards it sets for the
rest of the world? Political activist and poet Assata Shakur has been exiled
in Cuba since 1979. A bounty of 1,000, 000 dollars has been attached to her
head making her a walking scalp for bounty hunters. The United States as we
speak has political prisoners who were criminalized and jailed in judicial
processes so flawed that there is no other term for them other than Kangaroo
courts. Mumia Abu Jamal for agitating for African American freedom and
Leonard Peltier for agitating for Native American freedom were imprisoned
under circumstances that those in 'third world' countries would consider
suspicious at best if not outright criminal.
Even though, figures like Nelson Mandela and organizations like Amnesty
International have called for Mumia's retrial  and Peltier's release 
the American leadership has not responded to these calls or the massive
demonstrations that take place through out the year.
With the Patriot Act, President Bush has detained people without trial.
Those detained for justice can be turned over to military tribunals and
Guatanamo Bay has become an island of injustice away from a mainland of
injustice. President Bush has power that most dictators would eye jealously.
Internationally the United States recently conducted an illegal war and is
now occupying what was a sovereign country and was recognized as such by
international law. And the catalogue continues. The United States has not
declared Sanctions against Zimbabwe in order to save poor African lives (New
Orleans should point us to this if nothing else) or to restore democracy.
The United States needs to apply the same standards at home and restore
democracy. This is not say that an injustice by the US validates an
injustice by Zimbabwe, but it does suggest that the United States cannot be
the best protector and enforcer of justice in Zimbabwe - it has no moral
legitimacy. Civilizing missions never worked for the native in colonial
times, democratizing missions will not work in this age of globalization
while serving the same mercenary principle of conquest and domination.
Zimbabwe on the Ground
Operation Clean Up
With the above in mind, we can now turn our attention to the Zimbabwe on the
ground. Without a doubt, even amongst ZANU-PF supporters that I spoke to,
there was a general agreement that Operation Clean-Up was problematic at
best and tragic at worst. I heard numerous justifications for the project
from different people.
The first was that the Central Information Organization (CIO) got wind of
British attempts to create a mass Ukraine-type uprising. Britain I was
informed was giving money to the lumpen-proletariat around the cities of
Harare and Bulawayo with the hope that they would begin mass protests which
in turn would grow to such a level that ZANU-PF could only stay in power by
committing mass murders. But some of the people in Zimbabwe I spoke to
asked, "Why disperse whole communities? Why not identify those who are
guilty and bring them to justice?"
Also, even if we take it to be true and given all sorts of machinations that
have taken place in Africa it is possible, the predictable international
out-cry should have given the government enough pause to find another
solution. Internationally, the image of homelessness being created further
eroded already low support amongst natural allies in Africa and Diaspora and
for others only confirmed the worst and recommitted them to the defeat of
Another theory was that there was a rift in ZANU-PF. On one side, there was
a group that wanted to discredit Mugabe and hasten his downfall and on the
other a group that wanted to keep him at the helm. This argument suggested
that Operation Clean Up was instigated by the Mugabe detractors and done
without his approval. However it seems to me that an anti-Mugabe arm would
have had to be powerful enough to instigate a government policy that
undermines the President and his supporters and at the same time make it
impossible for him to retaliate. In any case, Mugabe did come out in full
favor of the operation. And more to the point, this argument takes the
responsibility away from the hands of the government.
Then there was the argument that the clean-up targeted MDC supporters. Most
MDC supporters are in the urban areas but a good number of those whose homes
were demolished were ZANU-PF supporters from what I gathered. If this was
the case, I think the government would have been more careful and disperse
the MDC supporters while at the same preserving its own power pockets. The
elections in which ZANU-PF was declared the winner had just taken place and
therefore, given the national and international fall-out from the clean-up,
the gains were outweighed by the losses. It seems to me more logical to
argue that in terms of illegal structures, the middle class suburbs were
spared while those most vulnerable were targeted. This position of targeting
MDC supporters also struck me as flawed.
The official government line was in its election, it had pledged to clean up
the city and that it while it targeted illegal structures it also targeted
the black market. But if this is the case it would have been more prudent
and first build the required number of houses as a way of protecting
innocent citizens. No matter the reasons for the clean-up one thing is
clear: it was a costly move in terms of legitimacy and I think history will
eventually judge it as heavy handed if not all together without
Outside the possible reasons that either wanted to exonerate or blame the
government, what was alarming to me was the ease with which the government
destroyed places people called home. In an Africa where our collective
memory includes constantly being up-rooted and forced into Bantustans such
careless action recalls this painful history. It recalls forced colonial
migration and dispersal. By forcefully moving an African people, collective
memory and the legacies of colonialism make it such that only an injustice
can come out of it.
But with the above said, there are still questions to be asked of our
response to the house demolitions in Zimbabwe. In a world where we have
become used to turning our backs on the dead and the dying, why were
Zimbabwe's actions greeted with a response that bordered on the hysterical?
Are Zimbabwe's actions any worse than let's say Nigeria's?
The Vanguard writes that: .More than 1 million people have been forcibly
evicted in Nigeria since 2000. In April 2005 some 3,000 residents were
forcibly evicted from their houses in the Makoko area of Lagos, on the basis
of a court order, issued in 2000, granting ownership of the land to a
private family. Houses, churches, and medical clinics were demolished as
part of the forced evictions and the officials involved kicked and beat
residents, including five young children.
The article goes on to give other eviction numbers: in Zimbabwe, 700,000, in
Kenya, 50,000, in Ghana, 30,000 etc. In Botswana, in an ongoing attempt to
clear land for diamond mining by DeBeers Company, the government is
forcefully evicting the Baswara people from their land. On this, CNN on
October 4th reports that, "An estimated 2,000 people have been relocated to
camps". The contending figures are between Zimbabwe and Nigeria; and
even though forced removal and dispersal in one place do not justify them in
another place, the question remains why our attention solely remains focused
Operation Stay Well
In my two weeks in Zimbabwe I went to several of the sites where houses had
been demolished and to some of the by-then empty holding camps where people
were herded together before being shipped to other destinations. Luckily
they were moved from the holding camps before the unsanitary conditions bred
diseases like cholera and my understanding of it was that it was purely a
matter of luck that no such outbreaks occurred.
The government has embarked on an ambitious project dubbed Operation Stay
Well for those it rendered homeless. Construction had begun at multiple
sites I visited around Harare and Bulawayo and some units were close to
completion by Mid-August. But there has been very little international media
coverage of the reconstruction. In fact, had I not been an eyewitness to the
houses being built, spoken with architects and workers in about five of the
sites that I visited, living outside of Zimbabwe I would not be aware of
such efforts. It seems to me that there is such a concerted effort by the
international media to completely vilify Zimbabwe, that even an acceptable
journalistic standard like weighing the reconstruction on its merits and
demerits are not being met.
However, as some government officials conceded the progress was being
hampered by a lack of petrol and building materials whose prices were
steadily climbing as the demand increased. Lack of petrol of course touches
all sectors but this is only a symptom of the larger problem - lack of
foreign currency. Without foreign currency the government cannot trade in
the international market and therefore cannot buy petrol and cannot import
goods from the international market. U.S. led sanctions have had the
consequence of scaring off potential investors and lenders.
And by all but declaring Zimbabwe a death-trap, tourism, formerly a major
foreign exchange earner is now down to a trickle. In addition to a four year
drought, land redistribution can only be one of the factors adversely
affecting Zimbabwe's economy. The world's reaction to the redistribution
itself is as much of a factor. It still remains to be seen whether the
declared and undeclared sanctions will cripple the rebuilding effort.
Zimbabwe and Contradictions
Some of the farms that I visited were so huge and demanded such a large
labor force that in addition to a school, some of them had a dispensary, a
small shopping center and a bar - all for the black workers courtesy of the
owner. It is this fact that shocked me the most. That one could have a farm
so large and indenture so many people that a primary school, a dispensary
and a small shopping center become a matter of course. The farm owners in
essence are running their own economy with one goal in mind - profit.
First the farm is far away from any town so that for the black family
whatever lacks in store literally lacks in their lives. The store mediates
between them and their needs and how much it will cost to meet them. The
store is eager to give credit to the black workers to keep them ensnared in
a vicious cycle of credit and debt. Each month's paycheck goes to clearing
the debt accumulated at the store which means that the worker had to borrow
more in order to survive till the next pay check. The dispensary patched up
injured farmers just well enough to see them working the following day. The
primary school ensures that the black child learns just enough maths to
count chickens coming home to roost and enough English to take instruction
from the owner. In short, it is slavery.
One of the redistributed farms that I visited was about an hour's drive from
Harare. This farm, or rather region, was formerly named Avoca after the
owner. The part of it that I visited has been renamed Mazikhana Farm which
translates to ladies/women's farm. It was redistributed to a woman. Mrs.
Mutumbwa, the owner, in a tone that carried pride and accomplishment, said
that she "worked for an international NGO for seventeen years and could not
even afford a car" but "Now I can". She pointed to her old BMW. She has
children who are studying abroad and has been able to visit them, something
that was unthinkable a few years ago. The farm has yielded tangible benefits
and she can point to them. But there are also intangible benefits. Able to
feed and clothe her family - she has the pride that comes with controlling
and deciding her life. Her choices at the very least are not hampered by
Mrs. Mutumbwa's farm was without a doubt a success and there were a lot more
farms like hers that saw. But I did hear of some instances where the new
owners instead of working on the land sold off equipment or simply let the
farm go to waste. In such cases the government has repossessed the land.
There have also been incidences of corruption involving government officials
whereby land was allocated to them or their friends illegally and the
government has confiscated such land from them. There is, as a general rule,
more to be learned and the government did at some point declare a moratorium
on land seizures.
There are questions to be asked however. For example, Mrs. Mutumbwa
"inherited" her workers from Mr. Avoca: but is the point not to eradicate
land classes and instead have a more egalitarian society? For the workers
themselves, does it matter whether the boss is black or white if they are
still living in poverty? And more than any other, the latter question is
more pertinent for in some ways the process of land redistribution might
mean more to new black farmers and less to underpaid black farm and
industrial workers. And overall, land redistribution should become a symbol
and metaphor of what is possible with other sectors of the economy. Land
redistribution should be pointing to what is possible for all of society.
And there are other ways in which Zimbabwe remains a country mired in
neocolonial contradictions. In spite of how it might seem, a quick glance at
who really controls the Zimbabwean economy will reveal this: its economy,
much like the rest of Africa, remains dependent on the West. The dependence
on foreign currency and the need for IMF and the World Bank loans (in spite
of the rhetoric on both sides) attest to this. I visited some of the rich
neighborhoods and the opulence on display was as bad as I have seen it in
Kenya or in the United States.
One massive house, right in a suburb in Harare, resembles a yacht. I was
shown another mansion owned by a man who on making it rich bought the
mansion where his mother used to work for the whites as a maid. He had it
demolished and built another in the place for her. And others who imported
marble, competed in buying expensive cars, taking expensive holidays etc.
This aspect of Zimbabwe recalled Fanon's caricature who on taking over the
master's house can only imitate and who in the end serves as the gate-keeper
for Western interests.
And then the little big things - Lake Victoria is still named Lake Victoria
and on visiting, a distressingly large statue of Dr. Livingstone welcomes
you and along the trails there are plaques that celebrate the likes of Cecil
Rhodes. Certainly a country on a revolutionary march or an anti-western
binge depending on the on-lookers political stand would have demolished
these emblems of colonialism. Unless of course they are still doing imperial
But not to worry. Lake Victoria is the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe.
The half on the Zambian side is named Lake Livingstone. And on crossing to
Zambia, you cannot buy anything using a Zimbabwean dollar and vice versa,
you need a U.S. dollar, pound, euro or yen. The two currencies cannot talk
to each other - they have to be mediated by Western currencies- thereby
becoming the perfect metaphor of Africa's relationship to Africa and to the
West. But the difference between Zambia and Zimbabwe, (and it is a big
difference) is that in Zimbabwe the questions of inequality, who owns and
doesn't own land and how historical imbalances and injustices can be
redressed are being asked. The answers given can be debated, but the
questions are being asked. As a consequence perhaps, tourism on the Zambian
side is flourishing.
Which Way Out: ZANU PF, MDC or Moyo's Third Way?
If ZANU PF has been hurt by the state of the economy and US led sanctions,
so has the MDC. The sanctions were called for by the MDC. However sanctions
work when most of the population is against the sitting government, when the
only solution envisaged is complete change, and when the people under that
government have nothing to lose. However, unlike apartheid South Africa,
these conditions did not exist in Zimbabwe at the point of the United States
passing the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act in 2001.
By calling for the sanctions  the MDC at best could only consolidate its
power base and alienate ZANU-PF supporters. Unless MDC was hoping for a US
intervention, it could not under the circumstances have amassed the critical
mass it needed to make Zimbabwe ungovernable thereby forcing ZANU-PF out
office. Such a move depended on alienating vast numbers of ZANU-PF
supporters from ZANU-PF but instead it succeeded only in strengthening their
loyalty to ZANU-PF.
In South Africa, the black majority had nothing more to lose and equally
important were supportive of the A.N.C. Even if some may have had doubts
regarding the call for sanctions, a long history of A.N.C. agitation and
sacrifices of life and limb on their behalf and behest had built enough
trust that when in doubt the maxim would have been to err on the A.N.C.
side. By contrast, MDC cannot pull ZANU-PF supporters into its camp and also
steel its supporters as they go through the hardships created by sanctions-
not enough trust has been built between the party and the people.
By MDC calling for sanctions without first assessing where it stands in
relation to Zimbabweans and their history of struggle while at the same time
having only the support of the urban segment of the population who unlike in
Apartheid South Africa have something to lose, the opposite of what it
intended has happened. The MDC Party is understood as having created the
conditions that are taking food away from the table of the urban worker and
have put the middle class in a precarious situation. As a result, the MDC
Party position has weakened to such an extent that it has been unable to
take advantage of the government's tragic follies like Operation Clean-Up -
an opportunity that any other party would have seized. The sanctions then
have buoyed ZANU-PF while proving to be divisive for the MDC Party. In short
calling for sanctions was a mistake.
The MDC Party is also plagued by image problems because of its close ties to
white farmers and the Bush and Blair governments. "We want regime change in
Zimbabwe. But we want regime change through the ballot, not the bullet,"
Morgan Tsvangirai is quoted as saying to a European crowd. The language of
regime change is borrowed from Blair and Bush. In fact, in a thinly veiled
invitation for the West to intervene that is highlighted by the Black
Commentator, Morgan Tsvangirai is quoted as saying that "Zimbabwe must be
seen as a test case for Africa, for the resolve of leaders and peoples to
deal with a rogue and illegitimate regime". The Black Commentator makes the
following observation: "The most damning charges concern the MDC's funding,
and on this count, the BC is in agreement, Tsvangirai has been corrupted by
the imperialists, and shamelessly so ".
In a country that saw independence only in 1980 and where memory of
colonialism is still alive, this close relationship to Blair and Bush at a
time when they are engaged in an illegal occupation of Iraq, only alienates
the MDC from would be supporters in Zimbabwe and outside. Iraq recalls
conquest, occupation and the implementation of indirect rule. MDC's close
tie to both Blair and Bush provides the platform for indirect rule in
colonial memory and remembrance.
In international media as well as in Zimbabwe there has been discussion and
even hope of a third way led by Jonathan Moyo. He is being promoted and has
cultivated himself as the messiah who will part the political sea of
Zimbabwe and lead the people into a Third Way. Jonathan Moyo was ZANU-PF's
Minister of Information and ostensibly broke party rules by running for a
Parliamentary seat as a way of retaliating against ZANU-PF after he felt
sidelined by Mugabe in the debate over the Vice-Presidency. He himself
argues that he simply got tired of the way ZANU-PF betrayed democratic
The Third Way understands itself as providing a break from Mugabe while
continuing with policies that pursue equality. On this very basis, it also
distinguishes itself from the MDC which it understands as representing white
farmer interests in Zimbabwe. The Third Way seeks to present itself as the
representing the best of both worlds.
But for having been a staunch supporter of Mugabe, Jonathan Moyo is viewed
with suspicion for having jumped ship by ZANU-PF and MDC supporters. As
Information Minister, he was very visible and recent memory of him is as a
staunch defender of ZANU-PF. For ZANU-PF supporters, he has shown he can be
disloyal. For MDC supporters, he is already compromised by his former
loyalty to ZANU-PF. But the only way he can create a third way is by
splitting the two parties. As one person put it to me, the problem is not
only that both parties stand on absolutes, but so do their followers.
As he put it, ZANU-PF supporters would die for Mugabe, and the MDC
supporters would kill Mugabe. Yet, Moyo needs to be able to get enough
supporters from both camps to form a viable party. Even if he does some
ZANU-PF supporters, he will not get enough of them to bring him to the
political table because ZANU-PF has its supporters in the rural areas that
have directly benefited from land redistribution - they will not abandon
ship. He will need to either discredit the MDC or form an alliance with it.
By trying to undo the MDC he will sound like ZANU-PF. By forming an
alliance, he will sound like MDC. Jonathan Moyo at this stage remains in the
ZANU-PF's support base is in the rural areas where people now have some land
and amongst war veterans. With the majority of the population in the rural
areas, even if we granted the MDC full support of the urban populations, the
result would be a near stalemate that slightly favors ZANU-PF. War Veterans
in any society are always a powerful group - they are the emblem of a
people's nationalism, national conscience and society prides itself to the
extent it recognizes their contribution.
Unlike countries like Kenya which attempted to bury its war for liberation
along with its national heroes like Dedan Kimaathi in unmarked graves with
the hope the betrayal of their struggle would remain buried with them,
Zimbabwe celebrates its freedom fighters. Each year, there is a
three-day-weekend celebration that features amongst other things an all
night musical celebration, a National Heroes Day, and a presidential visit
to an acre dedicated to those who died. The veterans community is not aged
Zimbabwe having won its independence in 1980. Their war has yet to be lost
to the lethargy of younger generations which tend to file away the
experiences of the older generation as they lose their immediacy. Given the
relative youth of the war veterans, they will be around for many more years
keeping both the government and the opposition in check in regards to how
dreams of independence are met.
ZANU-PF, Pre-emptive Sanctions and Public Opinion
If globalization has done anything, it has further blurred the lines between
boundaries of strong and the weak nations and the weaker nations are all the
more vulnerable. If we think of globalization as the next stage of an
imperialism that begins with slavery, if we think of globalization as once
and for all stamping the world America's backyard, it follows that US public
opinion weighs more than Zimbabwe's public opinion. What the United States
under Bush realized is that as long as US Citizens agreed or did not
interfere with its foreign policy, international opinion could not be an
After all who really controls the money that keeps the United Nations
afloat? Who really controls the World Bank, literally a bank that turns
millions of dollars in profit each year and is therefore in tune with its
Western sponsors? Therefore, through international funding organizations and
implied threat of direct military or economic action, Bush can ignore world
opinion. After all, what can they really do to stop him? Pre-emptive war or
economic action is the end result of an empire that is no longer
self-effacing, that no longer has illusions about what it must do in order
to fulfill an imperial destiny.
Traditionally sanctions were called upon by the majority voices of the
oppressed; now they have become a weapon of the strong against the weak.
South Africa during the anti-apartheid struggle appealed to the US citizenry
and eventually forced Reagan, who preferred strategic engagement which is to
say to do nothing but continue profitable relationships, to declare
sanctions. But because the US citizenry views Mugabe through the eyes of the
media and Bush, Zimbabwe through economic pressure can be stopped or
contained from infecting other poor nations with the disease of
In this instance, Zimbabwe sanctions, like the war on Iraq, are preemptive.
At the moment ZANU-PF forcefully took farms from white farmers, undermined
the basis of private property and naturalized white property rights,
whatever actions it took thereafter were going to be in opposition to the
ideology of Bush. Redistribute democratically or redistribute
autocratically, Bush and by extension the West was going to declare Zimbabwe
a rogue state.
But instead of realizing the amount of opposition it was going to face and
factor in Western public opinion as part of a necessary defense from Bush
and co., and therefore justify its actions rightly or wrongly, ZANU-PF came
out swinging. Anyone who raised a concern, legitimate or illegitimate was
dismissed off-hand. Long before the West had laid its siege, ZANU-PF by
turning its back on international public opinion had began its own siege.
ZANU-PF has lost so much support amongst people in the West that the
sanctions have hardly raised a murmur.
Perhaps the Look East Philosophy will at least buoy the Zimbabwean economy
though this will depend on whether the Chinese are going to invest in
Zimbabwe as friends or as venture capitalists. But as things stand the
Chinese presence can be felt in Harare. Some of the public buses are Chinese
are as the planes that fly to Victoria Falls. And the term, Look East has
become part of the everyday language. It is not clear how deeply the Chinese
are willing to get involved in Zimbabwe but at whatever level, as far as I
could tell, they are in for the long haul.
But whichever way Zimbabwe goes, the changes are irreversible and an attempt
to return Zimbabwe to pre-land redistribution days will be at great human
cost. If we agree that land redistribution is a necessary component of
democracy as a result of the stark inequalities that exist in countries like
Kenya, South Africa and Zimbabwe, perhaps our job is to make sure that
Zimbabwe thrives and that the process of land-redistribution benefits those
who were dispossessed by colonialism and neocolonialism. On a question of
reversibility that I put to Mrs. Mutumbwa, she had this to say "No one is
ever going to take my land from me again - I will die here, fighting if need
be". I found no cause to doubt her.
Zimbabwe, Africa and Diaspora and Democracy with Content
Whatever one chooses to think of Mugabe, ZANU PF, MDC and all the actors in
Zimbabwe, it is important to keep in mind that Zimbabwe also acts as a
metaphor for and of other African countries. Hence, as I said in the
introduction, the reluctance of African leaders who having sworn to defend
life and property (whose life? whose property?) are fearful that Zimbabwe
will trigger calls for land reform in their backyard. In this sense, perhaps
Zimbabwe recalls Cuba - it remains, rightly or wrongly, a symbol of the
search for a democracy with content, a democracy that contains within it
equality, universal health care, land and wealth redistribution - that
basically contains within it the seed that human societies can be arranged
in such a way that the elite do not thrive at the expense of a poor
Symbolizing a search for a democracy with content are crucial terms here.
Regardless of what is happening on the ground in Zimbabwe, the Zimbabwe of
Africa is one that questions what both colonial independence and
multi-partyism have done to better material conditions of the African
marginalized. Whatever happens in Zimbabwe, unless the questions of land and
freedom are addressed in a manner that is cognizant of colonial history, the
future remains bleak. In this sense Zimbabwe can be pushed to offer a
solution or it can be forced into becoming a symptom of mayhem to come in
the rest of Africa.
In Kenya, the fight for freedom was waged on two points - Land and Freedom.
At the point of independence, when it became clear that the wind of change
had ushered in neocolonialism, land became a metaphor for freedom. Land and
Freedom became one and the same thing. To regain land is to regain freedom
and to regain freedom is to regain land. What happens in Zimbabwe will have
an effect all over Africa. Zimbabwe has ignited debate about
(neo)-colonialism and redistribution of land in countries like Namibia,
South Africa and Kenya to name just a few.
Mugabe and ZANU-PF have lost a lot of support in the Diaspora. More than
anything that I discussed with various people in Zimbabwe, the one that
struck most alarm was this one. The organizations and activist leaders who
are speaking out against Mugabe have a long history of political activism
against United States domestic and foreign policies that globalize
marginalization. They have done their work by the African, the African
American and the marginalized in the Diaspora.
In 2003, an open letter  to Mugabe titled "Statement On Zimbabwe" was
written and signed by William Lucy, President, Coalition of Black Trade
Unionists Willie Baker, Executive Vice President, Coalition of Black Trade
Unionists, Salih Booker, Executive Director, Africa Action, Bill Fletcher,
Jr., President, TransAfrica Forum and organizations like Black Radical
Congress. The open letter in part states that the signatories "view the
political repression underway in Zimbabwe as intolerable and in complete
contradiction of the values and principles that were both the foundation of
your liberation struggle and of our solidarity with that struggle".
The waning support is not only amongst progressives in the Diaspora who have
impeccable records in their fight for human justice but also amongst
Africans albeit more slowly. Wole Soyinka, former prisoner of conscience and
Nobel Prize laureate recently said that "President Mugabe was typical of
"rogues and monsters" clinging to power in Africa " and called for
sanctions. So has Desmond Tutu.
In my view, there needs to be a dialogue about Zimbabwe between those of us
who in spite of the various positions taken on Zimbabwe remain unequivocally
opposed to the imperialist and racial instincts that are informing both Bush
and Blair and are committed to a society where economic and political
arrangements work for the majority and in which historical injustices are
addressed. In short those of us who are committed to a democracy with
content need to dialogue over Zimbabwe. In matters where meaning is
contested depending on one's situation, and where millions of lives depend
on whose meaning wins, dialogue should never be closed. This does not mean
that one abandons his or her point of view.
Rather it means viewing our different ideologies as starting points. If
Zimbabwe is not to be returned to the Berlin Conference, and Bush and Blair
are steadily pushing world opinion in a direction where this can be done
under the guise of democracy, we simply must return to our progressive
tables and re-open the dialogue.
Conclusion: Zimbabwe International Book Festival and Human Rights
Since I began with a story from my trip to Zimbabwe for Zimbabwe
International Book Fair, I will end with one. The festival was in two parts,
the Indaba to which I was specifically invited which was a conference of
sorts and the fair proper. The theme of the Indaba was "Human Rights in
Africa". In the Indaba very few of the participants focused on Zimbabwe
since the topic invited participants to move outside of Zimbabwe and look at
African philosophical systems and how the incorporated the idea of human
It was an exciting time since even though I have spend a lot of time on
African Philosophy, it is very rare that I have come across what can be
badly termed as Applied African Philosophy. Here was a problem, how does
African Philosophy, political or otherwise deal with it? One of the
presenters argued that while the equivalent term for human rights can not be
found in most African languages, the concept itself existed and was
conceptualized in the notion of umuntu - of humanity - certainly an
interesting idea. This was speaking to the same questions that plague
feminism, Marxism, socialism, questions of sexuality etc. in regards to what
is African and what is Western, really a question that in its search for
authentication forgets to look at the conceptual riches before it.
I therefore expected the sponsors, organizers, panelists and participants to
find the debate stimulating and useful. But to cut a long story short we
were informed, even before we left Zimbabwe, that the funding NGOs (most of
them Western) in a huff and a puff had threatened not to fund the next book
fair in 2006. They specifically asked that Abafour Ankomah, the editor of
New African, be banned from ever attending another book fair. The organizers
we were informed were being accused by the donors of having invited only
Now, there were two, three maybe even four papers that spoke to Zimbabwe and
came out in defense of ZANU-PF policies in the context of human rights. But
the overwhelming number of papers spoke to and debated the term Human Rights
as it applied to Africa. I would like to suggest that this is what worried
the donors most. Africans from different countries had gathered and were
speaking to one another - Zimbabwe simply provided the occasion.
Ankomah's closing remarks, part synthesis of the Indaba, rested mostly on
the betrayal of Kwame Nkrumah in Ghana and his Pan-Africanist dream in
relation to Zimbabwe. But, at the end of the day, there are ways in which
the questions of redistribution of land and justice precede Zimbabwe.
Africans have been questioning Western intrigues in Africa long before
Mugabe became the lightning rod for everything that is going bad in Africa.
Today the questions arise because colonialism has yet to atone for its
history and legacy of inequality by giving back what it took. So to me,
inherent in the questions that the Indaba was tackling was the question of
human rights and the means to practice them. As a friend of mine once put it
"I am tired of being told that I have human rights when I do not have the
economic means to practice them". At the Indaba, were we to pretend the
question of human rights and practice was peculiar to Zimbabwe? Were we to
talk about human rights within an empty democracy and outside a democracy
We were later told that, when the topic of Human Rights was suggested, the
donors congratulated the organizers because they were sure it would provide
a stage on which participants could attack the Zimbabwean government. And,
when that did not happen, and in spite of a debate that spoke to so many
necessary questions pertaining to Africa, the donor response was to threaten
shutting down the festival. The platform had already closed the debate long
before we got there. There is something wrong here.
The donors had an agenda of discrediting the Zimbabwean government through a
proxy war in which we the presenters were to be used as the infantry. When
that failed through the accident of human rights being an African and not
just a Zimbabwean question, they threatened to burn the whole place down.
This is horrifying and simply unacceptable. No matter who does it. It is an
illustration of what happens when we come to the conversation over Africa
with our ideas not as starting points but as the end. In our dialogue over
Zimbabwe, we have to do better than this and from the start declare an open
invitation and platform.
*Mukoma Wa Ngugi (firstname.lastname@example.org ) is the author of Conversing with
Africa: Politics of Change and the forthcoming A Malignant History: Looking
at America. He is also the coordinator for the Toward an Africa without
White farmer killed in Zimbabwe
SA 'to learn from' land seizures
South Africa's bloody battle for land - Clifford Bestall
S African white farm to be seized
"Congo death toll up to 3.8m" - Guardian
D.R. Congo: Gold Fuels Massive Human Rights Atrocities - Human Rights Watch
"Moment of Truth for the Government of Uganda" - Peter J. Quaranto & Michael
USA: Mumia Abu-Jamal -- Amnesty International calls for retrial
Appeal for the realease of Leonard Peltier - Amnesty International
Forced evictions are a human rights scandal - Vanguard
Botswana: Police fired on Bushmen
A bill to provide for a transition to democracy and to promote economic
recovery in Zimbabwe
14. The result of this bill and the so called smart sanctions employed by
the EU against Zimbabwe can be used to twist the arm of donor agencies in
regards to giving loans to Zimbabwe and have undermined investor confidence
The Debate on Zimbabwe will not be throttled.
Statement on Zimbabwe