October 19, 2008, 18:45
Analysts say pressure is mounting on SADC to resolve the power-sharing
stalemate since former president Thabo Mbeki brokered the agreement between
the warring Zanu-PFand MDC last month. A SADC Troika meeting which consists
of Mozambique, Angola and Swaziland will take place tomorrow in Swaziland,
in a latest bid to break the impasse. South Africa will also attend as the
current chair of SADC.
Relief and hope for a new Zimbabwe are fast dissipating as the ruling
Zanu-PF and the opposition MDC fail to agree on the redistribution of
cabinet ministries. Since the power-sharing agreement last month, there has
been little progress. Analysts believe it's time SADC exert pressure,
especially on Zanu-PF.
President Robert Mugabe, Morgan Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara who leads
the smaller MDC faction, will join the three-way meeting of the heads of
state of Angola, Mozambique and Swaziland. President Kgalema Motlanthe, the
current chairperson of SADC, will also attend.
Robert Mugabe's allies have warned regional leaders that they will be unable
to impose a solution that would break the deadlock over the allocation of
By Peta Thornycroft in Harare and Sebastien Berger
Last Updated: 5:27PM BST 19 Oct 2008
Mr Mugabe has allocated all key posts, including home affairs, to his
Zanu-PF party, leading the MDC to call for the Southern African Development
Community to intervene amid a growing humanitarian crisis. SADC ministers
will now meet in Swaziland, after negotiations in Harare deadlocked.
President Robert Mugabe and the leader of the opposition Morgan Tsvangirai,
who is slated to become prime minister under the deal, have failed to settle
the allocation of ministries despite the intervention of the former South
African president Thabo Mbeki.
Mr Tsvangirai told a rally of supporters yesterday: "This issue should be
finalised there. This time we won't fail. The sooner we put finality to this
stupid debate about the allocation of power the better."
But Zanu-PF's chief negotiator in the talks, Patrick Chinamasa, signalled it
would not bow to pressure, telling the state-owned Sunday Mail: "They can't
impose anything on us, especially on such a small thing as the allocation of
ministries." A blanket of depression has settled over many urban Zimbabweans
as the power-sharing arrangement stumbles towards collapse.
"There is a general feeling, especially among teachers, that we are being
taken for a ride," said Raymond Majongwe, secretary-general of the
Progressive Teachers' Union. "We don't have any option other than this deal,
and pressure has to be put on Mugabe to make serious compromises as the
welfare of the whole nation is at stake." Of 130 000 teachers five years
ago, less than 80 000 are still employed and few of them can afford to go to
work on a salary of about US$3 a month. He estimates only about seven per
cent of the three million school-age children in the country are being
Mr Majongwe, like many others fear that if the heads of state of Angola,
Tanzania and Swaziland and new South African president Kgalema Motlanthe,
are unable to wrench a fair allocation of ministries from Mr Mugabe,
Zimbabweans will face five more years of Zanu-PF rule.
"We don't know what strategies Zanu-PF is planning, and it may be more
violence against the people, so it is a very dangerous situation," he said.
A leading Harare businessman who asked not to be identified said that his
colleagues never expected the agreement to survive: "Most businessmen owe
their wealth to Zanu-PF so they believe that Mugabe will survive and are
busy telling themselves that if it fails the South African government will
rescue Zimbabwe." Mr Tsvangirai's spokesman Nelson Chamisa blamed Mr Mbeki
for partisan mediation saying he had unfairly favoured Mr Mugabe during four
hard and long days of negotiations for an "inclusive" cabinet in Harare last
"I suppose that Mbeki seems to be more inclined to appreciate the
circumstances from the Zanu-PF point of view than from the MDC point of
view," he said.
Sun Oct 19, 2008 9:13am EDT
By Michael Saburi
MASVINGO, Zimbabwe (Reuters) - MDC opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai said
on Sunday that Zimbabwe's rival parties were expected to finalize a
power-sharing deal at a summit of the SADC regional group in Swaziland on
"Lets go to SADC... We said this issue should be finalized there. This time
we won't fail," he told supporters at a rally.
Hours earlier MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa said the parties "were miles
behind" in implementing the agreement as some regional leaders prepared to
hold the summit aimed at breaking a deadlock over allocation of cabinet
The power-sharing deal, mediated by former South African president Thabo
Mbeki, is seen as Zimbabwe's best hope for rescuing an economy where fuel
and food are scarce and inflation stands at 231 million percent, the world's
Tsvangirai threatened to pull out of talks a week ago after Mugabe allocated
powerful ministries such as defense, finance and home affairs to his own
"The sooner we put finality to this stupid debate about the allocation of
power the better," Tsvangirai told supporters at the rally in Masvingo, 300
km (186 miles) southeast of Harare.
ZANU-PF's chief negotiator in the talks, Patrick Chinamasa, played down that
issue and reiterated that the party would not bow to any pressure from the
SADC, which has become increasingly frustrated by Zimbabwe's political
"They cant impose anything on us, especially on such a small thing as the
allocation of ministries," he told the state-run Sunday Mail newspaper.
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara, head of
the smaller MDC faction, will join the three-way meeting of the heads of
state of Angola, Mozambique and Swaziland.
President Kgalema Motlanthe of economic powerhouse South Africa, the current
chair of SADC, will lead a delegation to Swaziland, the Foreign Ministry
said. Mbeki is expected to brief the meeting on efforts to form a new
government in Zimbabwe, it added in a statement.
Mbeki said on Friday a deal was still possible despite another round of
inconclusive talks. However, his effectiveness has been thrown into doubt
since South Africa's ruling ANC party forced him to resign.
The MDC has accused him of favoring Mugabe, an issue that Chamisa raised
"I suppose that Mbeki seems to be more inclined to appreciate the
circumstances from the ZANU-PF point of view than from the MDC point of
view," Chamisa told South Africa's SAfm radio.
"That is the situation and we are hoping that when we go to the troika our
side is going to be heard," he added.
Tsvangirai beat Mugabe in a March 29 presidential election but with too few
votes to avoid a June run-off, which was won by Mugabe unopposed after
Tsvangirai pulled out, citing violence and intimidation against his
Mugabe's victory in the run-off was condemned around the world and prompted
tougher sanctions from Western countries whose support is vital to revive
Zimbabwe's ruined economy.
(Writing by Michael Georgy; Editing by Sami Aboudi)
The Associated PressPublished: October 19, 2008
HARARE, Zimbabwe: Zimbabwe will not bow to pressure but will seek advice
from other African leaders on how it should form a power-sharing government,
the chief negotiator for President Robert Mugabe's party was quoted Sunday
Patrick Chinamasa said Mugabe and opposition leaders are to meet Monday with
the presidents of Angola, Mozambique and Swaziland in Mbabane, Swaziland.
The three nations represent the Southern Africa Development Community, which
has supported former South African President Thabo Mbeki's efforts to
mediate Zimbabwe's political crisis.
A power-sharing deal signed Sept. 15 is deadlocked over which party gets
control of the country's 31 ministries. The opposition Movement for
Democratic Change narrowly won the March parliamentary elections and the
June presidential runoff Mugabe claims to have won was derided by
international observers as a sham.
"They can't impose anything on us, especially on such a small matter as the
allocation of ministries," Chinamasa, who is also the justice minister, was
quoted as saying by the state-run Sunday Mail newspaper.
The opposition has accused Mugabe of trying to hold onto too many key posts.
In a widely condemned power-grab, Mugabe a week ago unilaterally claimed the
most powerful posts for his own party, including defense and foreign
Mbeki left Harare early Saturday after four days of talks failed to resolve
which 15 ministries Mugabe's ZANU party should get. Mbeki was to submit a
report on the stalled negotiations to the three regional nations.
"All the principals and their negotiating teams are going. Delegations from
the three parties will be called upon to clarify any issues. After this, the
troika will guide us on the way forward," Chinamasa was quoted as saying.
Under the power-sharing deal, 13 Cabinet posts are to go to opposition
leader Morgan Tsvangirai's party and three others to a smaller opposition
party led by Arthur Mutambara.
The Sunday Mail quoted Chinamasa saying Tsvangirai insisted on taking
control of the home affairs ministry in charge of the police.
In its editorial comment, the newspaper said the breakdown of the talks was
marked by disappointment, noting that Zimbabwe has spent seven months since
the disputed elections in March without a functional government.
"Everything is in a state of paralysis," it said.
Zimbabwe is staggering amid the world's worst inflation, a looming
humanitarian emergency and worsening shortages of food, gasoline and most
basic goods. Inflation is at 231 million percent and the U.N. estimates that
45 percent of Zimbabwe's population, or 5.1 million people, will need food
help by early 2009.
Tsvangirai said Saturday he was still determined to reach a power-sharing
"Our objective is to bring this government, Mugabe in particular, to the
negotiating table ... shouting and screaming but coming to the negotiating
table," Tsvangirai told thousands of supporters in the country's
second-largest city of Bulawayo.
"The biggest challenge we have is what has been left in this country. There
is nothing. Zero," Tsvangirai said.
October 19 2008 at 10:21AM
By Peta Thornycroft
Former President Thabo Mbeki now faces the collapse of Zimbabwe's
power-sharing agreement he facilitated last month.
A month after the pact was signed, with Zanu-PF regularly violating
many of its clauses, Zimbabweans face an even bleaker future: no food and
another failed agricultural season with no time to import and distribute
seed and fertiliser.
Both President Robert Mugabe, who emerged from the power-sharing deal
on September 15 with all his executive powers intact, and majority party
leader Morgan Tsvangirai, the powerless Prime Minister-designate, walked
away from the deal late on Friday.
The three days of intense negotiations were for a power-sharing
cabinet in which Mugabe had already jumped the gun and declared positions he
would take, including all three security ministries.
In yesterday's Zanu-PF daily, The Herald, the head of the discredited
Zimbabwe Election Commission, George Chiweshe, said he was preparing for
by-elections, even though they had been suspended for a year in terms of the
"It is a pathetic agreement and it was only a question of time before
it collapsed, as Zanu-PF has no intention of abiding by any of its
conditions," a Western diplomat said this week.
The West has made it clear to Tsvangirai that even if he had been able
to negotiate a balance of power in the cabinet this week, no aid would be
forthcoming unless non-governmental organisations could move food to the
people immediately and continuously and Governor Gideon Gono made way for a
professional, independent banker to run the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe.
Although Tsvangirai had tentatively agreed on all cabinet positions
bar finance and home affairs prior to Mbeki's arrival, he was influenced by
his negotiators in the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) to re-examine
some of the other portfolios.
Zanu-PF allowed Tsvangirai to take the finance portfolio for several
reasons. It knows Zimbabwe cannot get Western aid with Zanu-PF in control of
finance and the currency cannot be stabilised while Gono is in charge of
printing money and controlling the black market.
However, the appointment of the central bank governor remains in
Mugabe's power within the executive presidency, and it is not clear even now
whether the central bank appointment had been agreed during Mbeki's
Home affairs was a key ministry given that it controls the police and
much-abused voters roll.
Mugabe was determined to hang on to the most powerful ministries and
nothing in the agreement could stop him, even though Morgan Tsvangirai and
his MDC won the March elections.
A combination of violence and the MDC's narrow victories at the polls
forced Tsvangirai to accept a power-sharing deal in which Mugabe would
retain his executive presidency, in which is vested the most extraordinary
range of control over all aspects of government.
Now the failure of round one of the power-sharing agreement moves on
to the SADC's troika, chaired by King Mswati of Swaziland tomorrow,
supported by Angola and Tanzania.
"They won't get anything much out of that," said one diplomat in
Harare yesterday. "Tsvangirai then wants the African Union and/or the United
Nations to get involved instead of Mbeki, and how long will that take to set
up, even if Mugabe agrees to their involvement?
"So we could be looking at Zanu-PF cabinet ministers being sworn into
power over the next week or two and business as usual for the next five
years," said a source close to last week's negotiations.
"The problem is the power-sharing agreement is really bad, but there
is nothing else. It is full of holes and it is pro-Mugabe, but it is the
only thing there is apart from five more years of Mugabe."
Idasa issued a preliminary critique of the power-sharing agreement on
Friday, saying the document had imprecise language, was vague and contained
guarantees by the UN and AU, but did not spell out how those would work.
"The MDC had a legitimate claim to be the governing party in
Zimbabwe," following the March 29 election results, but, the Idasa paper
said, "Mugabe remains in the dominant position . . . even the preamble to
the document places more emphasis on concerns of Zanu-PF than of the MDC."
This article was originally published on page 2 of Tribune on October
October 19 2008 at 02:50PM
In Harare, outwardly little has changed over the past 20 years. Only
the queues give a clue - for the taxis, for fuel, for visas to South Africa
and Britain and, longest of all, to withdraw the daily allowance of $3
(about R30) at the banks.
The city still has the same wide, jacaranda-lined avenues, and
downtown is bustling - until the evening that is. At night, the city is
shrouded in darkness, with few street lamps functional and very little
But this sign of decay understates the extreme failure of the inner
workings and the consequent extent of the socioeconomic crisis.
First, the country is nearing starvation. Estimates put the number of
"food insecure" in the country at nearly 6 million by April next year.
Second, Zimbabwe is bankrupt. The statistics about levels of annual
inflation (officially 231 million percent, but estimated to be more than 1
billion percent) give an indication of the challenge of surviving there.
Although the fat cats with political access continue to cream it,
those at the bottom of the socioeconomic pile are struggling. For some
pensioners, the value of the cheque in the mail is now less than the stamp
on the envelope.
Cash in Zimbabwe has a premium, given its scarcity, hence the queues
outside the banks. But firms now pay their staff not in foreign exchange
(which it remains illegal to do) but in foodstuffs and fuel coupons
redeemable in United States dollars.
The bourse has attained record profits in this environment as its
remains the best and, apart from the burgeoning real estate sector, only
hedge against inflation. Typically, a manager will "park" his revenue in
shares at the beginning of each month and sell only as he needs the cash for
wages and bills.
It has made Zimbabwean managers exceptionally skilled and numerate,
but increasingly demoralised as they see little prospect of relief ahead.
As one property chief executive put it: "Can you imagine that I should
spend so much time getting toilet paper? Since the manufacturer closed down
and my tenants expect it, I have to spend much energy trying to find and
Rentals are now adjusted monthly and likely fortnightly if current
Although some businesses can apply for a licence to trade in foreign
exchange, known as a Foliwar, inflation has priced goods beyond the means of
most, not least given the factoring in of the high cost of the licence and
15 percent turnover tax levied by the government. One US dollar might buy a
small packet of meat or a bar of soap.
Third, the country is no longer at work. Those Zimbabwean industries
that remain (about a quarter of the number at the start of the decade) are
probably running at about 5 percent capacity. Teachers are paid little more
than $3 a month, yet the 200 000-strong civil service continues to function,
or at least go to work.
What hope for political change and economic recovery?
Many observers believe that the ruling Zanu-PF is not ready for
change, that the ongoing negotiations are a stalling tactic to regroup or an
attempt to co-opt the opposition. But eventually the economy will force
change peacefully - or the regime will change itself through a palace or
military coup - and a new dispensation will emerge.
In the minds of most seasoned observers, the country has reached a
tipping point and change is imminent, though possibly not without further
violence and upheaval.
Presuming a legitimate government emerges in the short term, what
might recovery involve?
First, the currency has to be stabilised and inflation brought under
control. This can be done through dollarisation, as is happening already, or
through a currency board limiting money supply to economic production.
Second, get the traditional economic drivers reinstated. The farming
sector is a priority. If things don't change, many Zimbabweans will remain
vulnerable, and the rest of industry cannot recover.
The debate has become fixated on compensating the 4 000 white
commercial farmers who had their land seized. It might ultimately be
necessary to reinstate the rule of law and the rights necessary for the
collateralisation of property, but it is not the first step. That is to get
the farms working again, producing food and ensuring the crisis does not
worsen. That depends on removing price controls, improving farming
production techniques and providing the banking sector with the finance
needed to lend to farmers.
Once a maize exporter with a peak production of 2 million tons,
Zimbabwe's production this year was little over one quarter of this figure.
At present, communal farming yields an average of 270kg per hectare (down
from about 800kg at independence in 1980), compared to intensive farming
sectors touching four tons.
The best way to improve yields is through private-sector linkages and
logistics, providing seeds, financing, fertiliser and knowledge to
smallholder farmers. This will never happen when the government price
offered for maize is effectively $1 per ton, offering little incentive to
produce more than the immediate family's needs.
The third step is to invest in neglected basic services, notably power
And the fourth, and medium-term step, is for Zimbabwe to make the
far-reaching reforms necessary (but never carried out) in the mid-1990s, to
liberalise the economy and bring it onto a competitive footing. This
includes reform of the bureaucracy, lowering and streamlining of tax and
tariff regimes, and the exiting of the state from business.
The bill for the above is likely to be more than $1 billion annually.
Many Zimbabweans seem to believe that the international community is lining
up to assist, though they may be underestimating donor caution about the
pace and extent of political reform.
Despite the decay, Zimbabwe still has a number of tremendous
advantages, notably in the top-class education system and the fact that it
once had a well-functioning economy.
But the next six months are crucial. If planting does not happen
before mid-November many people will be at risk. But to get the necessary
finance and skills to stay or return more than cosmetic changes are
As Tendai Biti, the secretary-general of the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change argues: "We are at a moment like Ian Smith in 1978 with
the Rhodesia-Zimbabwe 'settlement'. You can put make-up and mascara on a
Frankenstein, but few men will give it whistles. There has to be a ready
paradigm for change."
*Greg Mills heads the Johannesburg-based Brenthurst Foundation
This article was originally published on page 8 of Sunday Independent
on October 19, 2008
While former president Thabo Mbeki has always made allowances for Zimbabwean
president Robert Mugabe, things may well take a dramatic turn for the worse
for the old man when the South African delegation arrives in Swaziland on
Monday. President Kgalema Motlanthe leads a local delegation and will be
joined by two other members of the SADC - to be briefed by Mbeki - on the
deadlock in the power-sharing negotiations.
The meeting and indeed the current impasse is, as I said yesterday, coming
at a very dangerous time for Zanu-PF.
South Africans are angry at the cost of the Zanu-PF to South Africa in terms
of playing babysitter to millions of exiles, running into tens of billions
of rands, in order for them to continue ignoring the results of the election
and making ridiculous unilateral decisions.
The power-sharing deal negotiated by Mbeki was a heaven-sent opportunity for
Zanu-PF to regroup in a friendly environment. Their refusal to cede ground
in order to improve their position will occasion their total demise.
Motlanthe and ANC president Jacob Zuma are staring down the barrel of
wholesale defections from the party prior to the next elections. Alongside
Aids, the question of Zimbabwe ranks, in every sense of the word, as the
biggest failing of the party.
While the battle for the centre ground begins the ANC would achieve enormous
credit by sending Mugabe and the Zanu-PF into oblivion. Indeed, they might
even point out that the breakaway faction is the one that had the pro-Mugabe
stance while the SACP, Cosatu, ANCYL and other ANC members were hostile.
In light thereof I note with interest Mugabe's spokesperson advising
delegates to Swaziland that SADC can't tell him what to do.
I'm afraid his timing could not be worse and if we are to avoid landing up
with another one-party state in Zimbabwe I suggest that the Zanu-PF leaders,
if only in the interests of self preservation, move very quickly to appoint
the Cabinet expected by the African and international communities.
Your time is up.
This entry was posted on Sunday, October 19th, 2008 at 12:50 pm
By Alex Perry and Simba Rushwaya / Harare Saturday, Oct. 18, 2008
Any immediate hope of a resolution to Zimbabwe's political crisis ended late
Friday, as opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai announced that power-sharing
negotiations with President Robert Mugabe's regime had failed. This week's
crisis talks had been mediated by former South African President Thabo Mbeki
on behalf of Zimbabwe's African neighbors, and Tsvangirai appealed to those
neighbors to revive the search for a political compromise. "Regretably,
after four days of intense negotiations, we have failed to agree ... [and]
therefore a deadlock has been declared," said the leader of the Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) outside the talks venue in Harare. "There is an
attempt to reduce the MDC to a meaningless position," he added, referring to
the fact that Mugabe had claimed the key cabinet posts for his own party,
and said this was "not acceptable to the MDC and the people of Zimbabwe." As
far as Tsvangirai was concerned, that put the ball back in the hands of the
African mediators: "We call upon the S.A.D.C. [the Southern African
Development Community, who had mandated Mbeki to mediate] and the African
Union, as guarantors to the political settlement, to use their collective
wisdom to assist Zimbabwe in crafting a sustainable way forward for our
Before speeding away from the venue in his motorcade, Mugabe told
journalists outside then venue,"It went well - in the wrong direction." He
promised a full statement later.
The breakdown of the crisis talks poses a dilemma for Southern African
governments which had hoped to see a power-sharing compromise to resolve the
political crisis that has roiled Zimbabwe since A March 29 election in which
Tsvangirai won a greater share of the vote than Mugabe.Resolving the power
struggle is an essential precondition for restoring the international aid
and investment necessary to rescue an economy in free fall, with
unemployment at 80% and inflation out of control. Although Mbeki had managed
to persuade the two leaders to share power in a Sept. 15 deal, once the
discussion moved on to allocating ministries in a unity government - and
taking some of the key levers of power out of the hands of Mugabe's Zanu-PF
party - the process broke down. Mbeki flew back to Harare last week, hoping
to save the deal, although his own authority had been reduced somewhat by
the fact that he had, in the interim, been forced out of the presidency of
his own country in a humiliating defeat.
Mugabe, under pressure from party cronies to hold the key cabinet positions
for Zanu-PF, may also be betting that with more immediate concerns
distracting the international community, he can push back against the power
sharing without suffering too much pressure from his neighbors. Zimbabwe's
only president since independence in 1980, Mugabe has taken wildly different
positions since the March elections, in which the MDC won control of
parliament and Tsvangirai finished first in the presidential race, although
without an absolute majority. At the time, Mugabe said Zimbabweans had made
a "mistake," and his security forces unleashed a wave of repression that
left close to 200 M.D.C. supporters dead. The violence prompted Tsvangirai
to withdraw from a second round of presidential elections, which Mugabe
won - only to announce on his inauguration that he wanted to share power
with the MDC. He then appeared to back-track on that promise before the
September deal. Now, he appears to be once again stalling on sharing power.
The politicking continues against a backdrop of economic devastation -
millions of Zimbabweans have fled the country in search of a livelihood, and
aid agencies are warning of a severe food shortage, even starvation, over
Christmas. Responding to those concerns, Tsvangirai said Friday: "We are
mindful of the suffering of the people of Zimbabwe and the collapse of the
economy as a result of decades of dictatorship, corruption and
mismanagement. However, we are conscious that the people of Zimbabwe will
not accept window-dressing and an empty politcal settlement that will not
guarantee food, jobs, medicines, freedom and prosperity." But Mugabe appears
to have other ideas about what the people of Zimbabwe, and their neighbors,
will be prepared to accept.
October 19, 2008
By Chenjerai Hove
THE SCENE is in a luxury hotel, somewhere in Harare, not far from the two
major hospitals where people are dying of the most curable diseases; where
nurses and doctors are helpless. All they can do is stare at their
professions being rubbished. What is a doctor or nurse without medicine to
give to save a life? He or she is like a cow without an udder.
As far as I can see, it seems the elder gentleman is no longer able to make
decisions which will be respected by his lieutenants. They don't trust him.
Age has taken its toll on him. And wealth has taken its toll on them. They
have no time to recognize that they, indeed, lost the election and are now a
minority in a Parliament they had always taken as their preserve.
With power in their hands for 28 years, the imagination tends to shrink
also. Most of them are career ministers, not because of effective
performance, but simply because they are endowed with the power to worship
Mugabe. They no longer know anything about their original professions. There
are medical doctors in there who no longer know how to prescribe simple
medicines. There are engineers who have no idea how a bridge looks like
structurally. There are lawyers whom you cannot even trust to defend you
after you steal a chicken. There are many without the imagination to think
that the country is not a democracy where the will of the people prevails.
The ruling party has a history of swallowing. They swallow the economy while
everyone starves. They swallow public posts while the qualified of the
nation escape to other countries where their talents are respected. They
swallow power and think that since they are the only ones with throats, no
one else should be allowed to swallow.
Their last political swallowing was when Jongwe swallowed the Bull, Joshua
Nkomo, humiliating him to the whole nation and making him look like he was
never Robert Mugabe's political mentor. Ndabaningi Sithole, another Mugabe
mentor, was treated like a destitute, and died like one.
Their only reason for swallowing everybody - we liberated you and we have
the right to rule you and do what we want with you until donkeys grow horns.
Mugabe once said, "I will rule until I am 100 years old."
People sitting near me laughed. I did not. It was not a joke. He meant it.
That is where the negotiations are now. He loses an election, and then
demands to take the whole loaf while the winners get a mere slice.
The old men and women who have been his hangers-on do not know if their
ill-acquired wealth will be safe in other hands. For, they have looted and
plundered our country for 28 years and Mugabe never asked them to account
for that wealth.
Mugabe and his clique are not interested in this power-sharing deal. All
they plan to do is to ensure that they drag these talks for as long as
possible so as to frustrate the MDC parties. If the MDC walks out of the
talks, there will be huge parties of celebration in Zanu-PF centres. Panofa
mujoni, matsotsi anoita mabiko.(When the chief policeman dies, thieves and
crooks throw a big party). This is the tool which Zanu PF is trying to use.
So, the MDC, being young generally, might get into the excitement of leaving
the talks. This would be butter on Mugabe and his cronies' bread. The
Zimbabwean economy has collapsed, but African economies do not collapse
until there is no food in State House. Everyone else can die, but as long as
His Excellency, The President and First Secretary of the Party,
Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, The Cockerel of the Nation, is
alive, the nation is healthy, according the Zanu-PF doctrine.
Zanu-PF has vowed not to give away the Home Affairs ministry at all cost.
They have turned the police into a party instrument for winning elections
through torture, intimidation, imprisonment and murder.
On one occasion my technical equipment for writing books was stolen. The
police did not have any transport to come over over, so I sent a driver to
collect the three policemen. As they started their work, one policeman
looked at me in the light of dawn and asked: "Are you the writer?" And when
I said, "Yes", you should have seen how they all dropped their pens and
"It is political," said the chief of the group. Case closed.
A once effective and respectable police force was reduced by Zanu-PF to a
sloganeering force which addresses rallies and tells the citizens who they
should vote for. Soldiers too, have stopped being defenders of the nation.
They are defenders of Mugabe's party. As for the secret police, they are
reportedly paid according to how many victims they have decimated in defence
of Mugabe's party.
The militia are another tragic story. Youngsters are paid to perform the
most brutal and vulgar acts which I suspect will end a lot of them in
The security ministries are not for the security of the State. They are for
the security of Mugabe's party. The party leaders must continue to get fat
as the people get thinner and thinner before death. They enjoy it, looking
at once-proud citizens reduced to beggars and paupers. Despite being
professed socialists, their philosophy is simple: "What is the meaning of
wealth if everyone has it. Some have to be poor so we can enjoy the plenty
when others have nothing."
I don't know how to describe it, but I think Zanu-PF rule should be called
arrogantocracy - rule through arrogance. This has turned their eyes from
the suffering around them: children dying, the sick without medicines in
hospitals, schools without any education taking place there, workers walking
long distances to work on empty bellies. And most of Zanu- PF have higher
The power-sharing deal was signed in haste. Kumhanya handi kusvika. (To rush
is not to arrive). The MDC ran, and forgot that the important thing is to
arrive at the finishing point. Meanwhile, the old foxes of power had taken
away the finishing point markers.
Mbeki, being an experienced politician, I am not sure about his negotiating
skills, should have make it mandatory that the three parties sit down one
afternoon and divide the ministries into categories:
category 1, security ministries
category 2 legal/law ministries
category 3 administrative ministries
category 4 social services ministries
category 5 technical ministries.
And then as wise men and women are supposed to do, he would have said: okay,
50/50 in each category, step by step. The logjam we are in would not have
occurred. And Mr Mbeki, poor man after being ousted by his own, would have
come out clean on these issues without giving Mugabe a blank check in that
poorly crafted so-called agreement.
In the end, we have to understand Mugabe's psychology. He is simply the
old-fashioned school-teacher who whipped students for asking questions and
punished them by making them memorize the whole Alfred Best's "Student
Companion". Those teachers were more qualified in flogging students than in
teaching them anything. The Mugabe generation of teachers of the 1950s never
imagined there were some students more brilliant than them in their class.
I remember in the mid-1960s, my old teacher asking me a hygiene question:
'When should you take a bath,' he said.
'Whenever I am dirty,' I said. Then I was subjected to a thorough public
flogging in front of the whole class. The old English hygiene book said,
'take a bath every day,' and the teacher felt insulted that I had not read
and respected the book.
The teacher was a master, and the master's knowledge was never to be
disputed. That is Mugabe, a man who thinks that he is the most brilliant
person Zimbabwe has ever produced.
I do not put much faith in this political experiment of power-sharing. Most
experiments fail, but if this one succeeds, I will have cause to celebrate
and restore my hope in my country's political system with all its strengths
But for now, I think there are more weaknesses than strengths, more greed
for power and wealth than compassion for the patient people who are willing
to die and afraid to throw even a little pebble at those who cause them to
die unnecessary deaths.
(Chenjerai Hove is an award-winning Zimbabwean writer living in exile.)
October 16, 2008
Posted: 1343 GMT
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa — I recently returned from Zimbabwe on an
assignment that could have seen me behind bars if Robert Mugabe’s government
got wind of the fact that I, a CNN correspondent, was in the country. CNN
and other news agencies are banned from operating in Zimbabwe and those who
violate this ban face arrest. When you are inside Zimbabwe you realise why
Mugabe does not want the world to see what is going on.
Zimbabweans are dying on a daily basis because they lack basic things. Going
into the hospitals was a horrifying experience. I visited two of the country’s
largest public hospitals and found people lying on stretchers with no
doctors available to attend to them. Doctors and nurses have left the
country’s collapsing public health care system in droves and those who have
stayed behind lack the most basic resources such as gloves, drugs and
syringes. Machines cannot be repaired and life-saving operations are
A notice in a visitors room said it all: Please remember to collect your
relative’s belongings after they die. Zimbabweans are dying of treatable and
preventable diseases on a daily basis. In the 15 minutes that I was in a
ward at Harare hospital someone died of AIDS, one of the leading killers in
Zimbabwe. Doctors say with anti-retroviral drugs he could have lived longer
but the ones provided by aid organizations are not enough to go around.
The desperate wailing of one of this man’s family members will remain with
me forever. It echoed in the empty hospital passages laden with helplessness
and utter frustration.
Another patient died two days after my visit, he had meningitis and
pneumonia. In his case doctors did not even have antibiotics to give him.
I saw people looking after their own sick because there just aren’t enough
nurses in the hospitals, a family gathered around their dying loved one
because doctors could do nothing more for him.
There is now an outbreak of cholera in the country because Mugabe’s
government says it does not have enough chemicals to clean water so they
have simply stopped providing it, even in parts of the capital Harare. I
went to Chitungwiza, a township just outside the capital. People there told
me that they have not had running water since October of last year. Sewage
pipes have burst all over the capital and surrounding areas. This raw sewage
is contaminating wells and streams where many are now getting water. And
people are getting sick and even dying from consuming dirty water.
I met a family of seven that has lost its sole provider to cholera. Joy
Kabade was 29, and had recently been promoted to senior lecturer at the
University of Zimbabwe. He was in the process of building his family a new
home and planned to get married the day I visited his family. They were
devastated and angry. Kabade had little brothers and sisters who depended on
him to pay for their school fees and to feed them. He was the only person
employed in that household. A promising life prematurely ended and a family
shattered because a government that seems determined to rule Zimbabwe
forever is unable to provide the very citizens it wants to govern with bare
After every long day speaking to people who are suffering with no indication
things will get better anytime soon, I would wonder how Mugabe sleeps at
night knowing that his policies are destroying lives on a daily basis.
Mugabe keeps blaming Britain and the United States for the country’s woes
but Zimbabweans have had him as a leader for nearly three decades and it is
him they expected to create an environment for them to prosper and succeed,
not Britain and the United States.
At the moment the average Zimbabwean survives on one meal a day if anything
at all. The United Nations estimates that nearly half the population will
need food assistance by early next year.
Zimbabwe used to have the highest literacy on the continent, today getting
an education is almost impossible. Teachers earn so little many of them have
downed tools, refusing to teach. As a result the majority of the country’s
pupils will not be ready to write exams this year and will have to stay in
the same grade next year. Those who want their children educated have to pay
for private lessons in U.S. dollars.
With the highest inflation rate in the world, now officially sitting at over
200 million percent, the Zimbabwean dollar has become so worthless that
professionals are being paid in food and fuel. “If you get paid in money and
not fuel you will not be able to drive yourself to work everyday,” a private
school teacher told me, because fuel is indexed in foreign currency.
The day before I left Zimbabwe I gave a waiter a U.S. $20 tip. The man
started crying he had been saving up every cent he made to get a passport. A
passport costs U.S. $220 in Zimbabwe, way out of reach for ordinary people
(A doctor earns the equivalent of under U.S. $5 a month) This man said my
tip had brought him closer to realizing his dream of leaving Zimbabwe.
The very government that presided over the collapse of the economy and the
currency does not want its own money and expects Zimbabweans to pay for
passports in U.S. dollars. This waiter asked for my email address and said
he wants to stay in touch with me and keep me updated on his new life
Yes I was happy to have helped him but depressed that not only is life hell
in that country, Mugabe has his citizens trapped because they don’t have the
foreign currency he demands of them to get out.
Despite the risk, I will definitely be going back to Zimbabwe because the
world needs to know the truth Mugabe is so determined to hide.
Posted by: CNN Correspondent, Nkepile Mabuse
Filed under: General
Ronald October 16th, 2008 1431 GMT
Horrible just horrible, but is not like you can expect less from a
person like Robert Mugabe.
The ideological problem here is how can we help them… the world
economy is not doing so well this days, I don’t know if I will be able to
donate a cent since I am jobless and still have to pay for my college
credits and crap…
Robert October 16th, 2008 1452 GMT
A courageous story, Nkepile and please, continue. The good thing about
the whole business around this crook of a Mugabe is perhaps that there is a
limit to Mugabe’s own life and that he is not very far from it.
Mukasa Andrew October 16th, 2008 1453 GMT
This is really horrible!! I actually have been watching your report
and i was greatly suddened that such things are happening to our own African
brothers and sisters.However,lets forge a way forward to see how we can find
an end to all this.Is there anyway,we can donate some money to help
out??Please everyone out there,in which ever way you can help,please come
out and lets save innocents lives.
Allan G, Canada October 16th, 2008 1459 GMT
Robert Mugabe’s backwards economic policies, particularly regarding
land reform, has turned Zimbabwe - once called the breadbasket of Africa -
into a humanitarian crisis.
His most recent “re-election” was far from legitimate; full of fraud,
and intimidation of opposition party supporters.
With the global economic downturn, I fear that aid to LDCs (lesser
developed countries) will further decline, despite upward inflationary
pressure for food, oil and other daily necessities.
I implore all citizens of developed nation-states, Canadians included,
to realize that any economic hardship we will face during this upcoming
recession will pail in comparison to the experiences of people living in
Sarah October 16th, 2008 1509 GMT
Thank goodness! At last someone has seen fit to actually put a story
about Zimbabwe on this site. As a former nurse from the UK, Ilived and
worked in Bulawayo for a number of years, and saw firsthand, the violence
and terrible poverty, hunger, and decay, these beautiful people have to
endure every day. I had to leave because of the election and my safety was
extremely compromised. Luckily for me, I could jump on a plane, if only it
were that easy for my Zimbabwean brothers and sisters. I pray for them
daily. The atrocious Mugabe regime should be headline news DAILY. The world
needs to know what is going on there and intervene NOW!
Pam October 16th, 2008 1523 GMT
thank you for your commitment to truth. zimbabwe must recover. please
keep on reporting!
Mike October 16th, 2008 1523 GMT
If the world cannot support the people of Zimbabwe then how can any
one single person do anything, they went and destroyed Iraq for alot less
the only difference there that the people where technically white and of
course the masses of oil in the country !! people in Zimbabwe are face far
worse things and the world sits and watchs and chooses to do nothing about
May our father in heaven forgive us for this grave sin.
Brian October 16th, 2008 1536 GMT
We it is hardly surprising that nothing has come of the negotiations
brokered by Mbeki. I seem to recall that mugabe did the same trick before -
agreeing to work together with an opponent and then did his level best to
When oh when is Africa going to do something about this murderous man?
Fred October 16th, 2008 1547 GMT
This was at one time under different leadership a wealthy and
prosperous nation. The old leaders should not have been forced to relinquish
their leadership until those who were taking over could be properly trained
to do so.
Their are numerous examples of countries falling apart after the
country that had colonized them handed over power to the locals. Why?
Because it was done without thinking through the process. The hand over
should have been planned and with over sight from neutral parties the people
who were taking over should have been trained to do so.
You cannot hand the governing of a nation over to people who have
never done it and expect success unless those people have had the proper
education and training to take over.
In the interest of fairness and doing the right thing, the wrong thing
Tammy October 16th, 2008 1556 GMT
Three Decades!!! Zimbabweans needs change!!
We don’t need more stories, the people need a solution.
cheryl October 16th, 2008 1557 GMT
What a sad story. I viisted Zim in the early 90″s. what a wonderful
country, the natura l land and the people were so very hospitable. to think
a country could be so devastated so fast. this country once fed all the
surrounding countries with their crops, mostly corn and the money came in
frome growing tobacco. Now their own people can not even get corn, the major
staple. What a shame
johnstone October 16th, 2008 1641 GMT
Look at Somalia today. Zimbabweans are better off. No government in
somalia. War lords rule the day. Should that not be a priority if human
rights is a genuine concern.
look at South Osetia. Russia invaded Georgia and took a part of
Georgia away. No one say anything. As long as it is not Mugabe. The UK
nationalised banks. Let Mugabe do the same and the world will cry. You
expect justice using an unjust measuring rod. how on earth will you come out
Marc Bernhardt October 16th, 2008 1739 GMT
What a horrible situation. It makes me absolutely furious that the
despot Mugabe is killing innocent people by the second. What goes on in his
mind? I wish I could make him disappear.
R. H. Murehwa October 16th, 2008 1739 GMT
So sad to see a country held hostage by very few people who are living
high on the hogs from plundering the economy. The reason Mugabe wants to
retain the Ministry of Finance in the national unity government is to ensure
that he and his cohorts. For a poor country with no chemicals to treat
drinking water, Mugabe and an entourage of 50 went to New York for the UN
general assembly to deliver a 15-minute speech! A more pragmatic leader
would have used the $5 million splurged on this trip to buy enough water
treatment chemicals to last a whole year, and fend off the cholera epidemic
already gripping the country. This man is absolutely shameless, and it is
difficult to imagine that 40 % of Zimbabweand, as evidenced by the March 29
elections, actually believe in him!!!!
Moses Odhiambo October 16th, 2008 1747 GMT
It is sad that the many organisations out there have failed such as
the AU…it really doesn’t make sense….they all continue to have meetings as
if nothing has happened…If Zimbabwe was part of the EU such a thing would
never have happened….
I’ve never wished anyone harm…but someday…he’ll die too just like his
people are…and Zimbabwe will pick itself up….
selina October 16th, 2008 1749 GMT
One wish I have, if it were possible, I would take every Zimbabwean
out of Zimbabwea and live Mugabe, (including anything/anyone that has
something to do with Mugabe) behind and blow Zimbabwe away. One thing that
the world need to understand is that our good God is still in control. I am
asking the whole world to just hung in there. Robert Gabriel Mugabe, (if
indeed that is your real name - and by the way, where is your father? As far
as we know, Mugabe is your mother’s last name - Bona (was her name) if you
are reading this, just wait and see.
Peter Schulze October 16th, 2008 1752 GMT
Europeans have been the force behind getting these democraticly
elected dictators in power all over Africa, these so called Presidents have
devastated and demolished some of the most prosperous countries in Africa.
Is is always said that Africa is been exploited, but who allows this
exploitation and souly benefits from it? Only the so called “democratic”
governments. Now Europe has turned away leaving us with these demons.
Africans can only fight these demons if there is democracy, not when
socialism, comminisim and dectatorship rules the continent. This story is
the true reflection of what is going on and Africa needs help by means of
forced involvement not just talk and sanctions.
Keti October 16th, 2008 1801 GMT
The African Union had the chance to condem the illegal election
results and to demand that Mugabe step down but as usual, Africa stood by
and did nothing either - it was only the late Zambian President Levy P.
Mwanawasa who had the courage to speak out for our brothers and sisters in
Zimbabwe. We can look to the West for solutions but only real and lasting
change will come once the people of Zimbabwe - and Africa as a whole - stop
treating each other like second class citizens of the world and start
putting our own money where our mouth is. We need help from the
international community, but as long as our own people are prepared to stand
by and watch these atrocities going on under our noses, how can we point
fingers at those from across the seas who we think should be doing more?
William October 16th, 2008 1801 GMT
André Kruger October 16th, 2008 1806 GMT
You should sympathise with Robert Mogabe.
The world told him he had to destroy the economy of Rhodesia (the
wheatbasket of Africa) in order to get power. The Communists advised and
supported him. When eventually he came to power, they were no longer there
to tell him he may now stop. How on earth was he to know?
How can the world now turn on this hero who is still doing exactly
what they gave him an honorory knighthood for?
joe October 16th, 2008 1816 GMT
bob October 16th, 2008 1841 GMT
Good work Nkepile . Just dont risk your life in going back there to
report on zimbabwe .. I used to live in zambia in the 90’s . At that time
Zimbabwe was like a dream place to visit , even comparable to South Africa .
Hope this terrible regime will come to an end soon !
John Flaskamper October 16th, 2008 1853 GMT
If my memory serves me, Robert Mugabe was a hero to the people of
Zimbabwe; he freed them from oppression and gave his people hope for a
better life in their beautiful country. Was that really all a lie? Is he
just another greedy despot right from day one? Everything that he did was
just for him, to Hell with “MY People”, is that what we have here. I would
love to tell him how great he would feel if his REAL motive was to serve the
people of Zimbabwe and how well he would be treated if let the world in to
help. Instead, he has to hide for fear of being assasinated. Is there any
hope; can one sick man really do this much damage - I guess so!
oma October 16th, 2008 1936 GMT
that chimp sure got everything rolling for him. hmm making his own
people hungry so they can’t rebel against him, what a clever but idiotic
Emmerentia October 16th, 2008 2039 GMT
What a sickening, sad story! Even as someone living in South Africa
(next to Zimbabwe) I cannot believe the suffering these people are going
through and yet, nothing is done!! Just talk, talk, talk.. When will it
stop? When will action be taken and why oh why, was this mad man even
allowed to speak at the United Nations? He lost the election, engineered a
re-election and then started murdering and victimising the opposition!! And
yet the United Nations allows him on stage and gives him a voice to the
world!! Sickening!! And yes, Mike you are so right. If there was oil in
Zimbabwe, America would have been there boots and all to “liberate” the poor
On the other hand - why have the Zimbabweans kept this man in power
for almost 30 years? One gets the government one deserves - through voting.
Your vote is your only weapon. If you do not use it (take note honourable
Desmond Tutu) you are strengthening evil and weakening chance and hope!! How
do our own government here in South Africa allow this to go on on our
doorstep?? We have thousands of Zimbabweans in our country, destitute and
desperate for a place of hope and what do we do? We persecute them in the
townships what a terrible thing to do to people who tried to escape from
desperate situations. It is time that the leadership of Africa take decisive
steps against this madness. Enough is enough!!
David October 16th, 2008 2040 GMT
They voted for Mugabe despite the warnings.
They happily murdered, raped and chased white farmers from their
They slaughtered the cattle, destroyed the crops, and burned down the
farmhouses, clinics and schools.
And now we are supposed to feel sorry for them.
May their souls rot in hell.
warren smith October 16th, 2008 2058 GMT
now that we know whats going on over there what are we going to do
what can i do
warren October 16th, 2008 2110 GMT
USA and Britain have blood on their hands too. Mugabe might be racist
and may have been a party war crimes over 23 years ago. but its the
sanctions by the UK and USA that is starving Zimbabwe.
The compulsory acquasition of land that was stolen by colonial whites
from the Africans generations ago may have been wrong. But so is burning the
seeds that could have fed Zimbabwe on your way out like Iraq lit the oil
fields in Kuwait.
whats even worse is that people can condone sanctions by these rich
countries that prevent Zimbabwe from getting the adequate aid and loans from
the IMF and the World Bank that will save a few Africans.
Its the same old attitude, they are just africans!
collin October 16th, 2008 2130 GMT
And If I may ask, Where is the world police (USA) or the UN when this
is going on. Everytime when Mugabe intimidates them they show their fear for
him. They got rid of Saddam why can’t they do the same to Mugabe
Christiaan October 16th, 2008 2143 GMT
The biggest irony is that while Mugabe rants and raves about the evil
colonial powers Britain and the USA - food aid from these same colonial
powers are feeding his people on a daily basis.
Guru X October 16th, 2008 2150 GMT
A real African hero gone bad, very bad indeed. Lesson for America?
macdisser October 16th, 2008 2219 GMT
Here is an interesting saying those who vote dont count for anything.
Those who COUNT the votes decide everything. I keep reading they voted him
in but everyone fails to realize those were the most crookedly dishonest
elections ever(even more so than the two bush elections). If these citizens
could vote him out they would.
Cherri October 16th, 2008 2223 GMT
Mugabe is doomed sooner or later , looking at the dire conditions of
Chuck October 16th, 2008 2246 GMT
warren says: “Mugabe might be racist and may have been a party war
crimes over 23 years ago. but its the sanctions by the UK and USA that is
This is one of Africa’s biggest problems: Blaming the west for its own
blatant, internal high-level corruption. Everybody was criticising US and UK
for not doing anything about this nutcase, then they impose sanctions, and
now “warren” blames all the problems in Zim on the US and UK.
Where is the truth in all this slandering? Do the uneducated masses
really believe these insinuations because it links with the demonization
classifications that they were raised with?
Timothy Guile October 16th, 2008 2331 GMT
How can I help desperate Zimbabweans?
arkady October 16th, 2008 2337 GMT
The same here in Cracow. No money for extra donations. Studies, no
time for job and a lot of bills.
Wilberforce Majaji October 17th, 2008 011 GMT
It is true that some Zimbabweans are suffering. However i’m sure if I
go into any country expecially here in Detroit the situation is the same. I
have never heard any of these journalists report on poverty in other
countries. If she is so concerned about the plight of Zimbabweans, what of
the Detroiters, those in Cleveland that have lost their homes, Katrina, and
Ike victims? How about those in Iraq, Somalia, Rwanda, DRC where there is
real war. The reason she will go back to Zimbabwe is because this is one of
the most hospitable and peaceful nation in the world. Better than her native
South Africa where it is the most dangerous place outside a warzone, The
irony is she does not report on Zimbabwe’s successes. It has the most
educated professionals. South Africa is leteraly being run by Zimbabwean
business people. Those who have been recently to Zimbabwe know that we are a
peace loving people, who are enteprenuers. I hope she starts reporting on
the poverty in her uneducated South Africa!!!
Valery Forchu October 17th, 2008 036 GMT
It is hard to believe that Mugabe sees his country languish in such a
nightmare, yet he still sticks to power. Mugabe must go. Enough is enough
race October 17th, 2008 057 GMT
If nothing else, this article - a most excellent article, by the way -
shows beyond doubt that it is time for the rest of the world to take a
direct hand in the affairs of Zimbabwe. Obviously, Mugabe and his thugs care
nothing about the people they oppress, and unless this tyrant and his
murerous creatures are physically thrown out of office, tens of thousands
(at least) of people face starvation, desease and death. This simply must be
done; and if other nations protest such an action, then they should be
ignored, for they are as guilty of negligence, corruption and murder as
Mugabe and his foul underlings.
ikey October 17th, 2008 506 GMT
And the worst is yet to come. unless he goes. n’way blame all
zimbabwians for this. they all encouraged Bob to keep cheating them with
unorthordox,primitive kind of rule.Chuck him out.
Kay (RSA) October 17th, 2008 721 GMT
yeah, he wasnt always a bad pres or at least the country was once
fairly stable. i went there on holiday in the mid 90’s, what a great
country. no one runs a country into the ground for nothing. im sure he had a
plan, obviously a plan that didnt work.
ive been saying this for years now: south africa and maybe botswana
should get the ok from the UN and annex zimbabwe as peacefully as possible.
after they take the country they can just split it. 99.99% of zimbabweans
would approve. millions of zimbabweans live in south africa anyway.
this is one of the rare times i’d say lets pull an ‘america’. lets go
in and ‘liberate’.
ndebele October 17th, 2008 1213 GMT
anyone making money in zimbabwe these days is in the business of
transporting food aid from one part of the country to the other. make people
poor and you can be seen as the saviour.zimbabwe failed to repay its loans
it was not sanctions . most people especially in zanu pf have a foreign
account thereby meaning all aid money would have ended in the Cayman or
switzerland. this is a challenge for Africa do they want to be a basket case
or embody democracy. i have got no feeling for mbeki i wish he dies first
Mpho Mkhalipi October 17th, 2008 1349 GMT
Once again i would like to applaud Nkepile for this courageous
coverage of our neighbour state, judging from what is currently happenning
in Emnzansi Afrika could this been the same reason why Thabo Mbeki wanted a
term term in office under the tutorial of Pres.Mugabe.
Cherisa October 17th, 2008 1436 GMT
What a grave risk taken, to share this story. The leaders in Africa
had the opportunity to rid Zimbabwe of Mugabe and they wasted it. It’s the
same tragedy we see in the US and around the world - no one wants to
intervene or hold leaders accountable while the people continue to suffer.
I’ve turned to sites like africaaction.org to find ways to help. The
appeals are few and far between but there are opportunities for individuals
to do something. CNN should do its part to keep these stories visible, not
buried inside the website.
Donald October 17th, 2008 1528 GMT
There is only one way to address the injustices of people like Robert
Mugabe. Armed Struggle. People like him won’t be wished away by a bunch of
peacenicks who want to “raise awareness”
His infrastructure and his army are so weak, they would collapse
Dan October 17th, 2008 1536 GMT
I agree with Kay. We need to send in the troops, topple this clown and
set up a real government, put them under some form of a Marshall Plan and
kickstart the economy again. Just a few years ago this country fed much of
the continent. If Zimbabwe would reform it’s legal system and show that it
respected things like the rule of law and private property rights, then I’m
sure many of the displaced farmers would come back and put this country back
on it’s feet.
Debra T October 17th, 2008 1644 GMT
A truly heart wrenching story, makes you realize how lucky you are not
having to live like that. And it makes you feel helpless as well, what can
be done? More reporting like this, for one thing, but sadly, I think we in
the West tend to forget about the troubles in Africa as it so rarely gets
much press and t.v coverage over here in the States,
Thuthukani Mkhize October 17th, 2008 1733 GMT
SANCTIONS are hurting Zimbabwe more than Mugabe. We are not as
primitive as being shown by your journalists. The truth is how can a country
still be moving with such an inflation, which tells us that there is
something else in affecting Zimbabwe. Africans should read more than they
get told on televisions. The development of Zimbabwe is not based on America
or UK. Zimbabweans understand more than what the media is protraying, as the
west want War, but we know that there countries are broke, but they only
want to show their countries as if they alone are the best leaders. We know
that Europe is bankrupt and America is bankrupt as well, yet they want to
focus on Zimbabwe, when we know they are creating the environment through
Nan October 17th, 2008 2127 GMT
Mugabe is another Hitler. Thank you for your courage in reporting. The
world should know.
Unfortunately, unless the victim and the victimizer are different
skin-colors, it seems the American public is not interested in this kind of
story. What difference does skin color make? Nothing. We must fight evil
You are very brave.
Valery Forchu October 17th, 2008 2321 GMT
What a story. It is indeed a wake up call for Africa and the rest of
Meg October 17th, 2008 2357 GMT
The history of Zimbabwe is tragic.
For many long years, Mugabe ruled Zimbabwe and there was peace and
It wasn’t until the “Land Reforms” of the late 1990/early 2000s that
things started to change.
Large farms that had been successful were given to some of Mugabe’s
favorites. Other farms were turned over to people who didn’t know how to
farm or have the economies of scale to make it work. Cattle farms were
turned into small agricultural plots with no success.
I visited Botswana and Zambia in the 2001. There were people there who
realized then that Mugabe had to go. I spent one night in Victoria Falls.
There was no sense of desperation.
Its a shame to know what was once a great country fall to poverty. Its
a shame that Thabo Mbeki could not see how much Mugabe has changed and how
that has hurt Zimbabwe to the detriment of the rest of southern Africa.
ronald October 18th, 2008 336 GMT
We need the the US govt to give Zim citizens in the US some kind of
The US govt talks of being on the side of the ordinary Zimbabweans and
yet they have deportation proceedings on hardworking and educated
Zimbabweans in the US.
Nkepile Mabuse you have the power of journalistic exposure - you need
to explore and expose this nightmare….
Lakshman Dalpadado October 18th, 2008 1012 GMT
Zimbabawe maybe hell, but it’s their own hell created by their own
sweat and blood. When the white farmers were producing enough food and more,
the ordinary citzens - yes the the very same one who are crying, attacked
and killed them .
Face of Robert Mugabe is the face of the people. They supported and
nurtured him. Now they must have the courage to get rid of him
Dear Family and Friends,
This week the word being used to describe the government of national unity
is 'deadlocked' and it couldn't be more apt. We are locked in a death grip
and things are falling apart at a dramatic pace.
For the benefit of people not in Zimbabwe, let me put a face to deadlock.
This morning I went shopping and this is what I saw. In one locally owned
supermarket which has branches all over the country they are selling goods
in Zimbabwe dollars. On their shelves they had: light bulbs, cayenne pepper
and soya mince, a few vegetables which were distinctly past their best and a
few packets of meat which didn't look too safe. More than half of the
supermarket is completely empty and closed off with strings of white plastic
In another local supermarket which has branches all over the country they
are also operating in Zimbabwe dollars. Half of the shop is empty and
barricaded off. Spread out on a couple of shelves were the few goods they
had for sale: tea leaves, condoms, cabbages and onions. Against one wall
stood some crates of fizzy drinks and in a rack a handful of unaffordable
imported magazines gave colour to this most dismal scene.
For Zimbabweans who have no access to foreign currency, these two
supermarkets offer the full extent of food available to buy in our
deadlocked country. The vast majority of Zimbabweans do not have foreign
currency or if they do it is one single, precious note hidden away in a safe
place - not anywhere near enough to buy food with every week.
The third supermarket I visited has just started selling goods in US dollars
and there, if you have foreign bank notes, you can buy sugar, cooking oil,
biscuits, cereals, tea, coffee, pasta, tinned goods and a few toiletries. On
the wall near the check out tills is a poster announcing what the equivalent
of 1 US dollar is in South African Rand, British Pounds and Botswana Pula -
no mention of the dead Zimbabwe dollar.
Food shopping is the tip of the nightmare, then there are the bills. This
week I was advised that an account I have with an internet service has been
terminated for non payment of 1.4 million Zimbabwe dollars. Paying the bill
is almost impossible as Reserve Bank Governor Gideon Gono has banned inter
account and electronic transfers and limited cash withdrawals to 50 thousand
dollars a day. If I am to pay my bill of 1.4 million dollars in cash I must
queue for 2 - 3 hours a day for 28 days by which time the bill will have
gone up at a rate I cannot calculate as inflation stands at 231 million
percent. The internet provider have said I can pay the bill with a cheque,
but because of inflation the cheque should be for 6.5 BILLION dollars.
When Mr Gono banned electronic transfers and inter account transfers he
closed business down in one quick and deadly blow. The rich and connected
have got dramatically richer as they and their dealers have poured out onto
our streets to buy up all those preciously saved single notes at obscenely
low rates. People have had no choice but to sell because they cannot get
their own money out of the banks - thanks to Mr Gono's punitive policies and
When Mr Gono licensed some shops to sell in foreign currency his policy
wiped out Zimbabwe's own supermarkets in one quick and deadly blow - gone is
the great propaganda line of Zimbabwe for Zimbabweans. This is what deadlock
looks like seven months after we voted for a change in government.
Until next week, thanks for reading and thanks to my email service provider
for helping me tell this story for so long, love cathy.
19th October 2008
When we signed the deal on the 15th September we never thought it was going
to be easy. Subsequent events have shown how difficult it's going to be to
make this deal work for all of us. Problems arose almost before the ink was
Anyway, here we are a month later and another painstaking and tension filled
week with no progress on the formation of a new power sharing government. On
the surface it looks quite simple. All we have to do is allocate 31
Ministerial portfolios and 15 deputies. The agreement clearly established
the principles - this is a power sharing deal in which MDC has a slight
majority because of its victory in the March elections. But no, for 4 weeks
the negotiators have battled it out over the allocation, with Zanu PF
claiming that it is their right to hold all the senior cabinet posts. I have
yet to hear any rational explanation of why that is so, but then who said
politics was a rational game?
The MDC position is clear and logical - we want a fair allocation of the
more senior Ministerial posts and all other senior political appointments
(such as governors). We won 5 out of 10 provinces, 100 out of 210 seats in
Parliament (99 Zanu PF and 10 Mutambara and 1 independent) and we took over
half of all the votes cast.
After three weeks of argument (let's not call these "talks") we had got
nowhere. Several times MDC had requested SADC intervention and each time the
Zanu PF team had said "no, we can sort this out ourselves" and Mbeki had
continued to watch from the sidelines. Eventually Mr. Mugabe made another
mistake and error of judgment. He went ahead and published in the Government
Gazette a full list of the Ministries and to which Party they had been
allocated. This was a step too far and there was an immediate outcry with
MDC stating that they would never accept such an arrangement and accusing
Zanu PF of acting unilaterally and outside the letter and the spirit of the
It was enough to bring in the South Africans. Mbeki announced on Saturday
that he would fly to Harare on Monday and that his mediation would resume on
Tuesday. With the changes taking place in South Africa and in the ANC, this
was not a welcome development as far as Zanu PF was concerned. Mbeki arrived
late on Monday in a South African military jet and on Tuesday he sat down
with the negotiating teams to hear what the problem was. That afternoon he
met with the three Presidents and it was then that Mr. Mugabe simply
stonewalled any attempt to agree to a balanced and logical position.
This continued on Wednesday and eventually MDC tabled a written proposal,
which set out what they regarded as the 20 most senior cabinet portfolios
and proposed that these be equally shared between the MDC and Zanu PF. The
remaining 11 portfolios would go 4:4:3 between the three Parties. That
spurred a flurry of counter proposals - each more crazy than the next and
eventually Mr. Tsvangirai said to the mediator, "this is going nowhere, let's
take this to the SADC". He agreed and on Monday the SADC Troika on Politics
and Security will hold an emergency meeting in Swaziland to try and resolve
the matter. That was the last thing Zanu wanted but by playing hardball and
over reaching themselves they opened to door to regional intervention.
Morgan Tsvangirai has continued his programme to explain the situation to
our long-suffering supporters and yesterday he spent the day in Bulawayo.
His is a very punishing schedule - he went to bed on Friday after 23.00 hrs,
was up at 04.00 hrs for a 5 hour drive to Bulawayo and then went straight
into a breakfast meeting with the local business community. That went on to
10.30 when he met local MDC leaders, and then into the high density housing
suburbs for a "walk about", visiting a feeding scheme for the local
community and then a rally in White City Stadium. I would guess we had about
25 000 people there. Then after that closed down, a quick meal and then they
were off back to Harare to prepare for Swaziland.
But why is this issue so important and difficult to resolve? It's because
what is at stake is the transfer of power in Zimbabwe, from a
military/civilian Junta that has held power for at least a decade and has
made all key decisions in the past 5 years, to a Council of Ministers and
Cabinet drawn from a newly elected House of Assembly controlled by the MDC.
It is a return to democratic governance after 28 years of creeping autocracy
The Junta has everything at stake - the loss of power, the loss of
privilege, the withdrawal of protection from the law. In each sphere this
small coterie of individuals has been living the life of Riley in the midst
of economic collapse, unemployment, hunger and starvation. They have had
access to a life style that would be the envy of most hard currency
millionaires in other parts of the world - large luxury homes, every
appliance you can think of, the most expensive luxury cars, girl friends and
weekend retreats on farms or hunting lodges. Their orders have been
instantly obeyed and they have been able to arrange the murder and rape of
their critics and opponents.
Everywhere else in Africa this struggle for political power has eventually
been decided in the bush and on the streets with gunfire and physical
violence. In Zimbabwe, after many attempts to win power by democratic means
but always being frustrated by blatant rigging and cheating, the MDC has
finally won a famous victory and is now forcing its opponents to negotiate a
transfer of power. No matter how you dress it up - that is what is taking
Evidence that things are already changing is everywhere - yesterday there
were no police present - not one. Gone was the circle of roadblocks and
baton wielding riot police in trucks. In Parliament, the MDC is already in
charge - driving the agenda and determining the outcome. The majority, even
in Zanu PF, now wants the change and wants to help make this power sharing
arrangement work. So does the entire region. The Junta has simply run out of
places to hide and arguments to make against the tide of change.
In Parliament this week one of our younger MDC Members of Parliament made
his maiden speech. In it he read out to the House a list of the names of
those killed in his constituency since the March elections, blaming young
thugs controlled and directed by military officers, for the crimes. He was
heard in total silence and I watched the faces of the Zanu PF members on the
opposition benches - they were silent and shamed. Later that day the MDC
tabled a motion for debate on the violence and called for a Parliamentary
inquiry. This evoked a strong response from the Zanu benches - MDC is being
"divisive" they argued. "This will not help the inclusive government", they
claimed. That might be true, but it does not alter the facts and that is
something they will all have to face eventually.
Bulawayo, 19th October 2008
The Vigil's petition to the EU has drawn much interest at a time when SADC
has been asked to break the political deadlock. The petition calls on the
EU to suspend government-to-government aid to SADC countries because of
their dereliction over Zimbabwe. We have even had a detailed enquiry from a
There was little confidence at the Vigil that the SADC security troika of
Swaziland, Angola and Mozambique would suddenly change their allegiance and
stand up to Mugabe.
We were joined by a Zimbabwean journalist based in South Africa who said he'd
been inspired by our petition to research the possibility of sueing SADC.
The organisation has already admitted it acted too hastily in recognising
the Mugabe regime after elections SADC's own observers said were seriously
People at the Vigil felt that pressure must be maintained on SADC until it
suspends Zimbabwe's membership and denies the Mugabe regime visas and
freezes their bank accounts.
Everyone was feeling pretty low because of the sad developments at home. But
we are encouraged by messages saying that we must keep going and how people
look to the Vigil as a beacon of hope. Talking about beacons of hope, we
were pleased to be invited to address a Caribbean group in London. This is a
first. Until now the Caribbean community has been unwilling to face the
reality of what Mugabe has done.
There were a number of good things today.
1. Jenatry, our exuberant dancer and singer and general inspiration,
has had his police tag taken off. The judge asked if he was a Zimbabwean
and said 'Of course you shouldn't be tagged'.
2. Sine Biba, a Vigil founder member, has decided that we should all
learn Ndebele and is going to give free lessons at the Vigil.
3. Thanks to Eunita Masolo who was so good at engaging people passing
by, handing them our leaflets and explaining why we were here.
4. Caroline from Devon reports that she has sold 500 of the Vigil
hessian bags and has ordered more. She has sent one to the Archbishop of
York, John Sentamu, who has taken a great interest in Zimbabwe.
Last week journalist Jeremy Kuper was with us. He interviewed several
supporters and his piece is on Guardian online. Check this link:
For latest Vigil pictures check:
FOR THE RECORD: 124 signed the register
FOR YOUR DIARY:
· Central London Zimbabwe Forum. Monday, 20th October, at 7.30 pm.
Trudy Stevenson, Secretary for Policy and Research of Mutambara MDC, will
update the forum about the elections, the appointment of the Speaker and the
ongoing power sharing talks. Venue: Downstairs at the Bell and Compass, 9-11
Villiers Street, London, WC2N 6NA, next to Charing Cross Station at the
corner of Villiers Street and John Adam Street.
· Next Glasgow Vigil. Saturday 25th October 2008, 2 - 6 pm. Venue:
Argyle Street Precinct. For more information contact: Patrick Dzimba, 07990
· ROHR meeeting in Wolverhampton. Saturday, 25th October 2008,
1.30 - 5.30 pm. Venue: Arrow, 182 Chervil Rise, Heath Town, Wolverhampton
WV10 0HR. Contact details: Colleen Maredza on 07733 394 648, Joana Zhira on
07845 896 347 and Paradzai Mapfumo 07932 216 070 or 07533 831 617.
· ROHR meeeting in Manchester. Saturday, 1st December 2008, 12.00 -
4.00 pm. Venue: Afewe Pub, Royce Road, Hulme, Manchester, M15 5TR. For
information call Moses Nyagotsi on 07778 547 971 or Paadzai Mapfumo 07932
216 070 or 07533 831 617.
· ROHR meeeting in Newcastle-upon-Tyne. Sunday, 2nd December 2008,
12.00 - 4.00 pm. Venue: Chervron Community Centre, Byker,
Newcastle-upon-Tyne, NE4 2HQ. For information call T Musariri on 07765 055
095, T Mauwa 07832 354 304 or P Mapfumo 07533 831 617 or 07932 216 070.
· Zimbabwe Association's Women's Weekly Drop-in Centre. Fridays
10.30 am - 4 pm. Venue: The Fire Station Community and ICT Centre, 84 Mayton
Street, London N7 6QT, Tel: 020 7607 9764. Nearest underground: Finsbury
Park. For more information contact the Zimbabwe Association 020 7549 0355
(open Tuesdays and Thursdays).
The Vigil, outside the Zimbabwe Embassy, 429 Strand, London, takes place
every Saturday from 14.00 to 18.00 to protest against gross violations of
human rights by the current regime in Zimbabwe. The Vigil which started in
October 2002 will continue until internationally-monitored, free and fair
elections are held in Zimbabwe. http://www.zimvigil.co.uk
October 20, 2008
GIVEN Robert Mugabe's long history of tyranny and brutality, it is no
surprise that Zimbabwe's prime minister-designate, Morgan Tsvangirai, has
found negotiating with him over their power-sharing arrangement "a dialogue
of the deaf".
The 84-year-old President has been alternating between a one-man monologue
and saying no. The fact that the two rivals, acting separately, have asked
neighbouring nations to help break their deadlock should be a trigger for
the Southern African Development Community of regional countries to force
changes inZimbabwe. With about 80 per cent of the nation's 12 million people
unemployed, inflation officially at 231 million per cent and unofficially in
the billions, and life expectancy the lowest in the world, time is running
out. More than 1.4 million people have HIV/AIDS. And despite Zimbabwe once
being the fertile and productive breadbasket of Africa, the UN is fighting a
losing battle against mass starvation, which is now threatening up to half
Unfortunately, the SADC has appointed former South African president Thabo
Mbeki, who steered the original power-sharing agreement, to mediate. Mr
Mbeki, who only brokered the agreement after months of stalling and who
failed to stand up to Mr Mugabe, will travel with the two Zimbabwean leaders
to Swaziland in an attempt to find a solution.
Should Mr Mbeki fail, which is likely given his track record and the fact he
has lost his clout after being forced to resign as leader of the region's
largest nation, he should move aside. Enough is enough. As The Economist
argued last week: "Mr Mbeki should step down as mediator and give way to
Jacob Zuma, South Africa's probable next president. And if Mr Zuma is unable
or unwilling to take on the job, the former UN secretary-general, Kofi
Annan, a proven negotiator, should be asked in to break the stalemate."
The Ghanaian-born Mr Annan, a Nobel Peace Prize winner in 2001, commands
greater respect than any other African leader. Mr Zuma, while less
experienced than Mr Mbeki, is more forceful and is perceived in southern
Africa as a man of the future. He would be more inclined to force
concessions from Mr Mugabe, who is supposed to have shared out cabinet posts
with Mr Tsvangirai. But predictably, he has commandeered the most important
portfolios for his own ZANU-PF party. He has conceded to give Mr
Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change the finance ministry - a
poisoned chalice, as the nation has reportedly run out of paper to print
more money. Mr Mugabe, however, has retained control of the armed forces,
police, the courts, foreign affairs and land resettlement. His control of
the critical Home Affairs Ministry means no action will be taken to
investigate his military henchmen, who were responsible for 100 deaths and
thousands of beatings among opposition supporters in the lead-up to the
March elections and the presidential run-off in June. Other matters, such as
Mr Mugabe's role during the slaughter of 20,000 members of an ethnic
minority in Matabeleland in the early 1980s will also remain closed.
Until a workable government is installed, the West be unable to step in with
sufficient support to save millions from starving, and begin rebuilding a
The Dominion Post | Monday, 20 October 2008
Zimbabwean opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai's frustrated description of
his talks with President Robert Mugabe as "a dialogue of the deaf" is
painfully accurate, The Dominion Post writes.
The deal the pair hammered out after Mr Mugabe's thugs beat and bullied his
opponents from the Movement for Democratic Change into submission and
handed him a sham election victory was always going to depend on both
behaving as honorable men.
Mr Mugabe is not an honorable man. He again showed that by seeking to
unilaterally appoint his Zanu PF cronies to key cabinet posts.
The failed negotiations of the last week, and the decision to seek the
intervention of the Southern African Development Community, simply underline
that Mr Mugabe is a man who will never voluntarily take his hands off the
levers of power. They will have to be prised loose.
He leads a brutal regime that has looted his country and turned what was the
breadbasket of Africa into a basket case.
Unemployment is at 80 per cent. Inflation has risen from an annual rate of
11 million per cent in June to 231 million per cent in July - and that is
according to the government's own statistics.
The United Nations has warned that nearly a third of Zimbabweans under five
are malnourished and that by next year nearly half of the population will
depend on food aid.
At the same time, aid agencies are finding it impossible to work in the
country because the Zimbabwean reserve bank has frozen up the banking system
in a bid to stop currency speculators.
Unsurprisingly, Zimbabwe's military leaders are worried about the prospect
of Mr Tsvangirai having the sort of power that would see them held to
account for their past actions.
It is their thuggery that has kept Mr Mugabe in power, and allowed him to
destroy his country.
Worried too are his political cronies who have profited mightily from the
rule of Mr Mugabe and fear that, in the words of one Zanu PF official,
"these MDC people are coming into this government with vindictiveness. They
are just coming to rob our gains".
That is partly why Mr Mugabe is going back on the deal to share power with
Mr Tsvangirai, and why Mr Tsvangirai described negotiations as a one-man
monologue. Mr Mugabe's only contribution, according to Mr Tsvangirai, being
to say no.
Mr Mugabe also believes that with the world's attention on the international
economic crisis he may be able to wheedle out of the commitments he gave in
the September 15 deal.
It is now up to the leaders of the SADC to make certain Mr Mugabe does not
succeed in that aim.
They must ensure that Mr Mugabe and his supporters understand that they are
not going to be let off to conduct business as usual, and that the aid and
investment that the country so desperately needs will not flow till there is
a satisfactory resolution of the power-sharing impasse.
Only when that has happened can the real work begin - rebuilding the
Zimbabwe that Mr Mugabe and his cronies have ruined.
Sunday, 19 October 2008 18:03
On Friday evening I had the opportunity to visit a former workmate of my
late father, Mr. Mupandawana who is a pensioner and resides in Harare's
Budiriro high density suburb.
Mr. Mupandawana worked for Zimbabwe's prison service for 26 solid years and
got out of the service on pension in 2003, a couple of years after Mugabe's
2000 - 2001 land grabs, with the economy in a crisis. The lump sum payment
that he got for his pension had already suffered the effects of the then
fast rising inflation and the money only sustained the family for less than
6 months before running out.
Having 7 children and a combined family of 9 members including the parents,
survival for the family increasingly became difficult as the economy
continued on its downward spiral and the 62 year old Mr. Mupandawana had no
choice but to search for employment. He secured a job as a security guard
and in Zimbabwe that is the most readily available job for former security
service men and is amongst the lowest paying the employment market has got
Last month his salary was an insulting ZW$16 000, less than US$1 using
Friday's exchange rate of US$1: ZW$180 000, an amount adequate to purchase
about 6 minutes of cell phone airtime. The monthly allowance he receives
from the government is ridiculously low to the extent the he no longer goes
to the bank to collect it since it is not even enough to cater for the
bank's monthly charges, which are adjusted at the end of every month in line
Mr. Mupandawana is forced to walk about 20 km everyday to work as he cant
afford to pay for transport which has increased over the last couple of days
to ZW$10 000. He only continues to go to work because he hopes and believes
that something tangible is going to come out of the ongoing consultations
between Zanu PF and the 2 MDCs on the sharing of cabinet posts and formation
of an inclusive government, which will is expected to eventually change the
ongoing economic decay and bring food to the people's tables.
6 of his children no longer go to school as the local government school
closed due to the strike action by the lowly paid teachers who taught
nothing significant to community's children all year.
To compound matters his home area, Budiriro has gone for the past 2 weeks
without running water and the area is plagued by daily power outages. Due to
the ongoing food crisis his family has had to contend with 2 meals every
day, porridge in the morning and the usual sadza ( a stiff maize meal
porridge) and vegetables for relish in the evenings. Meat is way beyond his
I believe that the political developments over the weekend have cast a
gloomy shadow on the futures of Mr Mupandawana and the rest of the ordinary
Zimbabwean populace, who unlike Mugabe and his cronies have to suffer day by
day to survive in the current economic environment. Mrs. Mupandawana had no
kind words for Mugabe, who she believed was no longer human because if he
was he would just let go of his mad grip on power and just let Zimbabwe be.
He does not care that people are suffering all over Zimbabwe, particularly
in the rural areas where some are surviving on fruit from wild trees and
roots. Her main concern was the welfare of her ailing 84 year old mother,
who resides in rural Gutu and whom she last visited early last year.
The ever rising costs of transport have presented her from visiting her
rural homestead but she believes that her mother is still alive because if
she had died of hunger or illness then word would have definitely reached
her. Such is the life in Zimbabwe, as the political squabbling and
greediness continue. God help us.
Published: Oct 19, 2008 12:30 AM
Driven from land in Zimbabwe, couple in their 50s seize opportunity in N.C
Matt Ehlers, Staff Writer
Comment on this story
AYDEN - In Zimbabwe, Wally Herbst would've left this kind of hard and dirty
work to his hired hands. But in North Carolina, stripped of his vast African
ranch and starting over at 58, his only hands are his own. So he bends to
his filthy task, the removal of a bloated, dead pig that weighs more than
200 pounds, its stink thickening in the humidity of the July afternoon. He
ties a simple knot with a piece of rope -- a "bit of African technology," he
says -- and pulls a loop tight around the pig's hind legs. Using a 4-foot
board as a ramp, Herbst yanks the carcass into the bed of a pickup.
In Africa, Herbst worked a 13,000-acre farm, part of which had been in his
family for generations. He grew paprika that was exported to Spain, ran a
successful safari business, raised cattle and employed more than 150 people
during the busy harvest seasons.
That life ended in 2002 when men armed with automatic weapons evicted the
Herbst family from its farm. In a land redistribution campaign overseen by
President Robert Mugabe, political loyalists seized thousands of white-owned
farms in Zimbabwe and turned them over to impoverished blacks.
The seizures wrecked the country's agricultural infrastructure, leading to
extensive food shortages and stratospheric inflation. The United Nations
estimates that 1 million people have lost their livelihoods and homes as a
result of the redistribution.
Herbst and his wife, Helen, are among them.
Theirs is a refugee story turned upside down. They were not poor political
dissidents, but successful farmers whose skin color and economic achievement
made them vulnerable in a violent, hostile environment.
At an age when most couples are spoiling their grandchildren and mapping
retirement plans, the Herbsts packed four suitcases for a chance at the
American dream. In Africa, the couple lived among giraffes and elephants,
and hunters from overseas paid big money for the right to hunt sable
antelope on their land.
In Ayden, south of Greenville, their first home was a one-bedroom apartment
across the street from a Piggly Wiggly.
Nearly broke when they arrived a year ago, the Herbsts need to save money so
they can eventually retire. Wally secured a visa and a job with a large hog
operation near Greenville. It's grunt work, but he does not complain.
As if to prove this, he finishes his gruesome chore, pulling another pig
that has succumbed to natural causes into the back of the pickup. It will be
taken to a compost bin.
"It keeps me young."
Wally is built like a middle linebacker, with a strong-willed attitude to
match. Helen, 53, has the red hair and fair complexion of her Irish
ancestors, and she is the chatty one. In an African accent that exudes its
British ancestry, she shares their story:
Wally and Helen, both born in Africa, were married in 1977 and have three
children. They lived and worked in rural Matabeleland, a region in
Wally employed about 30 permanent workers, who lived in traditional African
huts on the property. Their homestead was a three-bedroom, two-bath house
that, until 15 years ago, depended on generators for electricity.
Chaos and violence has defined Mugabe's 28-year presidential reign. In the
1980s, he dispatched troops to attack a rival tribe in a campaign that
became known as the Matabeleland atrocities.
It was during this time that Wally found a mass grave on the farm. The
police removed about 20 skulls, including those of children.
By 1997, Mugabe announced his plan to seize white farms and redistribute the
land. Five years later, Helen was home eating lunch when an employee rushed
to tell her that police were parked at the gate and wanted to speak with
Sitting at the kitchen table in the couple's apartment in Ayden, Helen
remembers vividly what happened next. Two Mazda pickups, bristling with
armed police, were waiting for her. Their leader snatched the gate's keys
from the employee and turned to Helen.
"This is no longer your property. You have 24 hours to get out," he told
her. If you don't, "we'll kill you or put you in jail, whichever you
It was not an idle threat. In 2000, war veterans killed a neighbor after he
refused to leave his farm.
The Herbsts prided themselves on the relationships they formed with their
black employees, many of whom worked with the family for years. The couple
had provided a pre-school on the property for workers' children, and a free
health clinic where mothers could take their babies. Wally had hoped that
his family's longstanding ties to the area would spare his farm from
In the end, it did not matter. With the help of neighbors and friends and
their vehicles, the Herbsts were forced to pack up as much as they could.
Police pilfered from the trucks as the woman who would be moving into their
home gave demands.
The Herbsts were barred from removing anything needed to run the farm,
including tractors. The farm would be turned over to a local politician, and
his wife wanted some things inside the home as well.
This irritated Helen, who picked up a pottery vase her daughter Pam had made
"I said, 'Do you want this?' and she said 'yes.' I drew my hand back, and I
turned around and smashed it on the floor."
She laughs about it now, but Wally and Helen haven't been back home since.
Pam, who lives less than 70 miles from the farm, hasn't returned, either.
"To be honest, I don't know if I'd want to go back," she says on the phone
from her home in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe. "I'd rather have these pictures in my
mind of how it looked when I left."
The Herbsts' son, John, returned soon after to tend to the cattle, only to
be kidnapped and held for ransom at the farm.
The kidnappers had gained access to the Herbsts' bank records. They demanded
exactly what the family had on deposit. Helen doesn't remember the precise
figure, but it was millions of Zimbabwe dollars. It took Helen five trips
with a suitcase to fill the back seat of her car with enough money to free
Although she can retell almost the entire story without becoming emotional,
Helen tears up when speaking of her three children, two of whom live in
Zimbabwe. She is not sure when she will see them, or her grandchild, again,
but Helen and Wally needed to leave.
It would not be fair, Helen says, to saddle the kids with parents who cannot
make a living for themselves.
The couple who helped bring the Herbsts to America, Tom and Bonnie Ellis of
Raleigh, first visited Zimbabwe in the late 1980s. Tom, an avid hunter who
has since retired from the state Department of Agriculture, had always
wanted to track game in Africa.
A travel agent sent them to the Herbsts, and he hunted sable on the family's
The Ellises and the Herbsts became fast friends.
Tom and Bonnie have returned to Africa many times. After Wally and Helen
were forced from their home, the Ellises treated the couple and their
daughter Kelly to a Christmas trip to North Carolina.
Work in Africa dried up for Wally. Inflation climbed astronomically. A loaf
of bread in Zimbabwe can cost more than $1 trillion Zimbabwe dollars.
The Herbsts decided to move abroad.
Says Wally: "Eventually, all our assets were gone, and we thought" --
clapping his hands for emphasis -- "let's try America."
October 20, 2008
CRICKET'S custodians seem intent on maintaining their head in the sand
approach to Zimbabwe, after International Cricket Council chief executive
Haroon Lorgat declared there was "no evidence" of impropriety in the
hopelessly compromised nation.
The ICC's latest effort to pay some attention to the state of cricket in
Zimbabwe has been to appoint a task team, headed by Dr Julian Hunte from the
West Indies, Sri Lankan Arjuna Ranatunga and Lorgat himself, which will
visit the country to examine the situation.
However, it appears unlikely that they will show up much if they take the
attitude Lorgat did when asked about the relationship between Zimbabwe
cricket and the regime of president Robert Mugabe. He and opposition leader
Morgan Tsvangirai are currently embroiled in talks over a "power-sharing
deal" following Tsvagirai's victory over Mugabe in elections earlier this
year, a result Mugabe refused to acknowledge.
"It's the ICC's policy not to interfere with the political situation in the
country, we want to focus on the game of cricket, and at this stage we have
no evidence of what you suggest, none of that's been reported, and we have
to deal with the game of cricket," Lorgat said.
"The task team will go down to Zimbabwe to look at exactly what's on the
playing field. I would like my focus to be not on the boardroom, but on
exactly what's going on on the playing field of cricket."