by Godfrey Marawanyika 2 hours, 37 minutes ago
HARARE (AFP) - Zimbabwe's opposition renewed a call Monday for regional
mediators to help break an impasse over a power-sharing deal with President
Robert Mugabe's ruling party, after weekend talks ended in deadlock.
The state-run Herald newspaper had reported that new talks would be held
Monday on how to allocate contentious cabinet posts under the deal, which
would keep Mugabe as president while naming opposition leader Morgan
Tsvangirai as prime minister.
But the spokesman for Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) said
that no new talks were scheduled for Monday, and again called for regional
mediators to step in to break the impasse with Mugabe's ZANU-PF.
The failure to reach an accord on the cabinet has delayed the formation of a
unity government since a historic power-sharing deal was signed in Harare on
"There is a deadlock on the allocation of all key ministries," MDC spokesman
Nelson Chamisa said in a statement.
"Considering the fact that it is now exactly 21 days after the signing of
the global agreement, the cabinet deadlock calls for the urgent help and
assistance from SADC and AU as guarantors of the deal to unfreeze the
The MDC last week had already called on the Southern African Development
Community (SADC) or the African Union to help break the impasse, but
Mugabe's party insisted that no outside mediation was needed.
The Herald said the parties still disagreed on who should control the
finance and home affairs ministries, but Chamisa said the entire cabinet
remained unsettled and accused Mugabe of seeking to control all important
Chamisa said because of the stalemate the country was "at a standstill and
people's patience is running out."
The power-sharing deal, brokered by former South African president Thabo
Mbeki, was hailed as a breakthrough in ending months of political deadlock
and long-term economic meltdown in a country that was once a breadbasket for
Under the deal, ZANU-PF takes 15 cabinet posts, Tsvangirai's MDC 13 while a
splinter MDC faction led by Arthur Mutambara gets three.
The parties have held a series of meetings but failed to agree on control of
key posts including home affairs, defence, finance and foreign affairs.
The latest meeting between Mugabe, Tsvangirai and Mutambara on Saturday
ended in a stalemate prompting them to refer the matter to their
ZANU-PF lost its parliamentary majority for the first time to the MDC in
March elections, while Tsvangirai failed to win presidential elections
However, Mugabe, 84, kept his job in June after Tsvangirai pulled out of a
run-off poll, saying his supporters were in danger from violent attacks
blamed on ZANU-PF.
Once one of Africa's most prosperous countries, Zimbabwe now suffers the
world's highest rate of inflation, last estimated at 11.2 million percent,
with millions dependent on food aid.
Monday, 06 October 2008 12:05
The MDC said no new talks on a unity government would be held Monday or this
week and called for regional mediation to resolve a dispute on how to divide
"As far as we are concerned, there are no talks lined up today," Nelson
Chamisa, spokesman for the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), said.
He denied a report in the state-run Herald newspaper, which said President
Robert Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF party and the MDC would meet Monday to
resolve their differences over control of the finance and home affairs
"Nothing has been concluded. ZANU-PF and Mugabe are trying to mislead the
world and the nation," Chamisa said.
"It is now time SADC and the AU come and assist in this matter," he added.
The MDC had called last week for the Southern African Development Community
(SADC) or the African Union to help break the impasse, but Mugabe's party
insisted that no outside mediation was needed.
But new talks Saturday among Mugabe, Tsvangirai and MDC splinter group
leader Arthur Mutambara failed to resolve their differences.
Chamisa said the MDC had proposed leaving Mugabe control of the defence
ministry, if the opposition were given home affairs.
"It's a deadlock," he said. "The country is at a standstill and people are
dying of hunger and yet ZANU-PF is not moving an inch to take this country
The two parties have been dealocked over the sharing of the cabinet talks
for almost a month now. While they are dealocked, the economic crisis
continues, with the inflation now estimated at over 312 billion percent.
Mugabe, ZANU-PF have been blamed for the causing the economic crisis after
they destroyed the agriculture sector.
Mon 6 Oct 2008, 10:10 GMT
By Cris Chinaka
HARARE, Oct 6 (Reuters) - Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe is expected to
meet opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai in the next two days in another
attempt to break a deadlock over cabinet posts, a senior ruling party
official said on Monday.
The ZANU-PF official suggested Mugabe's patience was running out and a
prolonged deadlock could endanger the negotiations. The two sides have been
unable to agree on sharing out cabinet posts since an outline power-sharing
deal on Sept. 15.
"The expectation is that there is going to be some agreement so that the
country moves forward, and it will be very unfortunate if there are people
who think this process, that these consultations, can go on forever," said
the official, who declined to be named.
The official would not say what action Mugabe may take if a deal was not
"We are negotiating in good faith but I don't think you can say the same
thing about ZANU-PF," said Nelson Chamisa, a spokesman for Tsvangirai's
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).
Mugabe will also meet Arthur Mutambara, leader of a smaller, breakaway
faction of the MDC.
Mugabe, Tsvangirai and Mutambara met on Saturday and failed to settle
differences over the finance and home affairs ministries in a new Zimbabwean
The opposition accuses Mugabe's party of trying to assign it a junior role
in government and says only mediation can break a deadlock in talks.
Under the outline agreement, Mugabe will retain the presidency and chair the
cabinet, while Tsvangirai heads a council of ministers supervising the
Without a breakthrough, Zimbabwe's economy could worsen still further. The
once-prosperous nation is crumbling under inflation of about 11 million
percent -- the highest in the world -- and chronic food shortages.
Some economists say Zimbabwe's inflation rate is now over 40 million
Zimbabweans have to queue for long hours, sometimes overnight, to withdraw
money from banks where withdrawal limits have been imposed by the central
bank. (Editing by Michael Georgy)
HARARE, ZIMBABWE Oct 06 2008 13:46
Zimbabwe's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) said no new talks on a unity
government would be held on Monday and called for regional mediation to
resolve a dispute on how to divide key ministries.
"As far as we are concerned, there are no talks lined up today [Monday],"
Nelson Chamisa, spokesperson for the MDC, said.
He denied a report in the state-run Herald newspaper, which said President
Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF party and the MDC would meet Monday to resolve their
differences over control of the finance and home affairs ministries.
"Nothing has been concluded. Zanu-PF and Mugabe are trying to mislead the
world and the nation," Chamisa said.
"It is now time the Southern African Development Community [SADC] and the
African Union come and assist in this matter," he added.
The MDC had called last week for SADC or the AU to help break the impasse,
but Mugabe's party insisted that no outside mediation was needed.
But new talks on Saturday among Mugabe, Tsvangirai and MDC splinter group
leader Arthur Mutambara failed to resolve differences.
Chamisa said the MDC had proposed leaving Mugabe control of the Defence
Ministry, if the opposition were given home affairs.
"It's a deadlock," he said. "The country is at a standstill and people are
dying of hunger and yet Zanu-PF is not moving an inch to take this country
The South African government said on Friday that former president Thabo
Mbeki, who brokered the power-sharing deal, had agreed to resume his
mediation to resolve the crisis.
"We will issue a statement when he does go," Mbeki's spokesperson Mukoni
Ratshitanga said on Saturday.
Under the South African-brokered deal, Mugabe will remain as head of state
after nearly three decades in power while Tsvangirai is to take up a new
post of prime minister and Mutambara will be a deputy prime minister.
The deal was heralded as an historic initiative to resolve Zimbabwe's
political deadlock and economic meltdown.
Once one of Africa's most-prosperous countries, Zimbabwe now suffers the
world's highest rate of inflation, last estimated at 11,2-million percent,
with millions dependent on food aid.
Meanwhile, six months after elections, Zimbabwe still lacks a functioning
government and is on the verge of a humanitarian catastrophe.
Following the worst wheat harvest since the independence war, bread has run
out and sugar supplies are set to follow. USAid, the American government
humanitarian agency, is warning that the country could run out of maize, the
staple food, by next month.
Farming officials say the government's stated aim of producing maize on 500
000 hectares this season is unattainable.
"We are in serious trouble," said Jabulani Gwaringa, of the Zimbabwe
Farmers' Union (ZFU), which represents small-scale operators. "There is no
seed, fertiliser and crop chemicals on the market. Banks are not offering
farmers any credit. In July we had produced about 25 000 metric tonnes of
seed maize. We are down to 9 000 because farmers opted to eat their hybrid
seed or sell it to millers." -- AFP, guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and
Media Limited 2008
By Peta Thornycroft
06 October 2008
President Robert Mugabe is holding out against losing control of the police
to prime-minister designate Morgan Tsvangirai. Peta Thornycroft reports for
VOA that power-sharing negotiations have reached such a critical stage there
are fears the agreement signed three weeks ago will become null and void.
According to a long-standing legislative watchdog, Veritas, the constitution
allows the president, who will continue to be Robert Mugabe in the new
government, to appoint the top policeman - the commissioner general.
The present commissioner general Augustine Chihuri, along with all other
service chiefs, has said he will not serve under nor salute prime
Mr. Tsvangirai says he needs to run the home affairs ministry in a new power
sharing government. He has already agreed to Mr. Mugabe having control of
the army and the central-intelligence organization.
Mr. Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change won a narrow parliamentary
majority in March 29 elections. Mr. Mugabe's government declared he was the
winner of the disputed second round presidential vote.
Veritas also noted that the central-bank governorship is also under control
of the president.
The term of bank governor Gideon Gono ends this year. He is accused by the
MDC and many businessmen of causing massive inflation by printing money. The
U.S.-based Cato Institute estimates present inflation is at more than 500
billion percent, a world record.
Gono has canceled electronic money transfers between banks and between banks
and account holders.
Human-rights organizations say Zimbabweans are suffering because of
restrictions on withdrawing their own money from banks. People are not
allowed to withdraw enough from their own accounts to buy a single meal, or
even a loaf of bread.
Veritas says under Zimbabwe law the central-bank governor is obliged to
consult the minister of finance, but does not have to follow any advice.
In recent years, Veritas says, the central bank has taken over many
traditional functions and responsibilities of the finance ministry, which
has allowed the government to bypass constitutional requirements for
legislative control of public money.
Western donors have made it clear that no rescue package will come
Zimbabwe's way unless there is a new independent central-bank governor and
the institution reverts to its traditional role.
Negotiations for the cabinet will continue this week, but some analysts
predict there could be such a serious deadlock that the power sharing
agreement will fail unless Mr. Mugabe relents on the police portfolio.
By Alex Bell
06 October 2008
Former South African President Thabo Mbeki is expected to return to Harare
this week - despite an obvious reluctance to re-enter Zimbabwe's political
fray once again.
The ousted leader joked at the signing of the long awaited power sharing
deal that he hoped not to return to Zimbabwe again - after battling to
facilitate a deal as the Southern African Development Community appointed
mediator in the political crisis.
Mbeki's forced resignation as South Africa's President raised questions over
his continued role as the mediator but SADC officials, not long after
issuing their support for Mbeki to continue, have confirmed he is headed
back to Harare this week. His mediation efforts, although widely criticised,
have again been called for after Robert Mugabe and the leader of the MDC,
Morgan Tsvangirai once again failed to agree on the distribution of cabinet
posts - resulting in yet another political stalemate.
Despite the ongoing impasse that has left millions of Zimbabweans facing an
increasingly desperate situation, SADC and Mbeki himself have appeared
passive and seemingly reluctant to re-renter Zimbabwe's political fight. The
confusion that reigned over Mbeki's continued role and SADC's inability to
take charge and clarify the situation, has done little to help resolve the
crisis that threatens any hope of a better future.
Human rights activist and chair of the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition, Elinor
Sisulu told Newsreel on Monday that it would appear that SADC is "at a loss
as what to do," and explained that "Mbeki in his current siutation does not
have the power he once had as head of state." Sisulu continued by saying
that Mbeki will also be reluctant to step back from his widely criticised
appraoch of quiet diplomacy, and argued that SADC now needs to bring a
different dynamic to the table as "the point of negotitions is over."
Sisulu said: "Mbeki needs to recuse himself from the mediation efforts
because it is clear that Zimbabwe has entered a new stage in the poltiical
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
October 06 2008 at 11:32AM
By Stanley Gama & Hans Pienaar
Pressure is mounting on the Movement for Democratic Change to pull out
of Zimbabwe's power-sharing deal unless the Southern African Development
Community manages to persuade Robert Mugabe to soften his stance on the
allocation of ministries.
MDC leader and prime minister-designate Morgan Tsvangirai and Mugabe
have, on three different occasions, failed to come to an agreement - with
Mugabe said to be demanding all 15 top ministries. Now senior MDC officials
are considering pulling out of the power-sharing deal.
Mugabe's chief spokesperson, George Charamba, said on Saturday that
disagreements were left on only two ministries - home affairs and finance.
But MDC spokesperson Nelson Chamisa insisted that the principals had not yet
agreed on all the ministries.
"That's being dishonest on the part of Charamba to claim that the
dispute remains on two ministries. Nothing has been agreed on and we are
dis- appointed because people are dying of hunger. People need a new
government so that we stop this suffering.
"As far as we are concerned, internal consultations are continuing,
but there are disagreements all over. If consultations locally fail, we will
have no option but go to the SADC, which is a guarantor of the power-sharing
"We are not even sure when the principals will meet again, but
certainly it has to be early because the people can't wait any longer.
Actually, we are now not sure if they will meet, or whether the concerned
parties will just decide to go the SADC way," said Chamisa.
Mugabe is said to be under pressure from Zanu-PF hardliners not to
give any top ministries - especially home affairs - to the MDC, as this
would allow the MDC to have Zanu-PF members arrested.
With Mugabe not moving an inch, sources said, the MDC is likely to
call for an emergency party meeting this week, where they will deliberate
whether to stay in the deal.
A highly placed source said consultations were already proceeding over
a national council meeting.
"There is growing pressure from within the party that we must pull out
and let Mugabe continue running the country until elections are held.
But these elections have to be run by an organisation like the African
Union or SADC, and monitored by international observers.
"People are saying this is no longer power-sharing when Mugabe is
demanding everything. But the party will give SADC a chance and, if they
fail, pulling out will be the only option left," said the official.
Chamisa said the MDC had not yet reached the stage of pulling out.
"We are still hopeful that domestic consultations will help resolve
the deadlock. If that fails, surely the SADC would be able to resolve the
differences," he said.
The deadlock has meant that Zimbabwe's government has yet to turn its
attention to the nation's crisis.
The mission head of a large relief organisation says the situation
could get worse. While political violence has abated, he says, more and more
victims of Zanu-PF's post-election crackdown are emerging from hiding to
This article was originally published on page 2 of The Mercury on
October 06, 2008
October 6, 2008
By Mxolisi Ncube
JOHANNESBURG - The current haggling over the sharing of cabinet posts would
have been avoided if Movement for Democratic Change leader, Morgan
Tsvangirai had been listened to, sources have revealed.
Three weeks after President Robert Mugabe and opposition leaders signed a
Southern African Development Community (SADC)-brokered power-sharing
agreement Zimbabwe's government of national unity has still not taken off,
as the leaders continue to wrangle over key ministries.
The deal, described by political analysts as a "blank cheque", does not
specify which ministries should go to which party, between Mugabe's Zanu-PF
party, Tsvangirai's MDC and its smaller faction led by Arthur Mutambara.
This has led to the current deadlock, as each party seeks to secure a stake
in the powerful ministries in order to remain relevant in the day-to-day
running of the new government.
Answering questions on why the parties signed the deal without first
addressing this critical issue, despite Tsvangirai's earlier comment that he
would rather opt for no deal than a "bad deal", sources from all three
parties said that the MDC leader nearly refused to sign the deal a few hours
before the ceremony, held on September 15.
"Tsvangirai made it clear that he did not trust Mugabe and insisted that
this key issue should be put into black and white first and vowed he would
not sign the deal if this condition was not met," said a source who
negotiated for Tsvangirai's party. "Mugabe had promised that all the parties
would have a key ministry and even suggested that he would retain Defence
and Agriculture, while Tsvangirai would be allocated Home Affairs and
Information. Mutambara was supposed to get Justice and Youth."
However, former South African President, Thabo Mbeki, the SADC-appointed
mediator in the negotiations, is said to have lambasted the MDC leader,
after Mugabe had declared his commitment in making the deal a success.
"Mbeki told him, 'Heads of states are already here for the signing of this
deal and you say you cannot sign' and Tsvangirai had no option," said
another source also privy to the negotiations.
Mbeki had held private talks with Tsvangirai the previous Tuesday as the
power-sharing deal remained deadlocked.
The sources say that on the day of the signing, Mugabe, defeated by the
opposition in both the Presidential and Parliamentary elections for the
first time since 1980 on March 29, had seemed eager to share power with
Tsvangirai and Mutambara.
Insiders in Mugabe's Zanu-PF party say his attitude had only changed a few
days after the signing, after Mugabe held meetings with the security chiefs
and his party's powerful Politburo and Central Committee.
"The security chiefs told him that he had made a mistake and vowed that they
would not serve under either Tsvangirai or Mutambara. They also advised him
to keep key ministries so that he remains in control in coming elections.
The party also told the President that handing over key ministries was just
as good as handing over power to the opposition," said a Zanu-PF source.
The source added that if the security chiefs and Zanu-PF had their way,
Mugabe will not hand over the powerful ministries and the deal might be
The MDC also complained that the 84-year-old leader seemed to be looking for
an easy way out of the deal.
"Mugabe is not willing to let us in and we cannot accept a weaker role than
him. We are sharing, but Mugabe wants to give ministries that will render us
irrelevant," said Nelson Chamisa, spokesman of Tsvangirai's MDC.
The continuous haggling, which has seen the country's comatose economy
weakening even further, is likely to further scare away foreign investors
and diminish chances of international aid coming into the country.
By Tichaona Sibanda
6 October 2008
Robert Mugabe is reported to have admitted to the leaders of the two MDC's,
Morgan Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara that the country is in a state of
A source close to the round table meeting the three leaders held on Saturday
in Harare said despite failing to agree on the formation of an inclusive
government, the three leaders at least agreed the economic situation was
very serious and needed to be dealt with urgently.
So far, Mugabe and Tsvangirai have held three rounds of talks but have
failed to agree on the distribution of key ministries, including Finance and
Political analyst Isaac Dziya said it is disheartening that while the
country is burning, the government seems disinterested in dealing with the
situation. He said the power-sharing agreement signed almost three weeks ago
brought hope that political stability could reverse the country's economic
'The government is now paralysed and has become ineffective. Instead of
dealing with the cabinet issue urgently, ZANU PF is still fighting to have
control of the key ministries they have held for the past 28 years. It does
not make sense at all. What have they got to show for them to refuse to let
go?' asked Dziya.
The political analyst said Zimbabweans are now disturbed and distressed
about the crisis, as the longer it takes to resolve, the higher are the
chances of mass disturbances.
'People and mainly children are dying, mostly because of malnutrition, lack
of clean water and a shortage of medicine. These are things that a
functioning government can deal with urgently but not Mugabe's regime. This
is a government that does not have people at heart, except think about
fattening their own pockets,' Dziya added.
Reports on Monday indicated MDC officials were fast running out of patience
and that a prolonged deadlock could endanger the negotiations. The MDC's
decision making body is expected to meet this week to decide whether or not
to pull out of the deal.
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
October 6, 2008
By Our Correspondent
HARARE - The Upper House of Zimbabwe's 7th Parliament convenes tomorrow,
Tuesday, amid a deadlock over the allocation of Cabinet posts almost three
weeks since a power-sharing deal was struck to end a political and economic
crisis that have plunged the country into chaos.
Not much is expected from the Senate, where the only item on the order paper
or agenda is the debate on the President's Speech at the opening of
Parliament in which he outlined Parliamentary business for this session.
President Robert Mugabe was heckled and jeered by MDC backbenchers as he
read his keynote address during the official opening of Parliament on August
26. Debate on the conduct of MDC legislators is expected to fire up the
Upper House tomorrow - where Zanu-PF enjoys a majority of 63 in the 93-seat
The Constitutional Amendment No 19 Bill (CA 19) - expected to give legal
force to the all-inclusive government established through the power-sharing
deal signed between Zimbabwe's main political parties on September 15 in
Harare - is also conspicuously absent from the Senate order paper.
CA 19 would have to be tabled in parliament first but the bill is also not
on the order paper for the House of Assembly, expected to reconvene on
The Senators, who include 60 elected officials and 33 presidential
appointees, a record here - were widely expected to begin the difficult work
of executing the much-anticipated but awkward power-sharing deal. But it is
now clear the new government will only come into force sometime in November
even if the Constitutional Amendment Bill No 19 is fast tracked through
There is still a deadlock in the sharing of cabinet posts, with President
Mugabe's spokesman, George Charamba, saying in a statement issued in Harare
Saturday that President Mugabe and MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai had narrowed
to two the number of disputed ministerial positions following a meeting they
held at State House on Saturday.
The ministries still to be allocated between Mugabe's Zanu PF and the MDC
are those of Finance and Home Affairs, Charamba said.
Zanu-PF claims it cannot surrender the Home Affairs ministry to the MDC
because it would be tantamount to the repudiation of the 1987 Unity Accord
where an undertaking was apparently made that the Home Affairs portfolio
would be reserved for a former PF-Zapu cadre after a similar power-sharing
pact that year. Zanu-PF claims all successive Home Affairs ministers, from
Dumiso Dabengwa, to John Nkomo and Kembo Mohadi were all originally from
There is a widespread assumption that Zanu-PF is afraid of losing control of
the police force if the MDC gets the Ministry of Home Affairs.
But that will not necessarily be the case, say legal experts, because the
President appoints the Commissioner-General of Police under the Constitution
and has the power under the Police Act to set policy and to give general
directions for the ZRP which will override any conflicting policy and
directions given by the Minister.
"Even the Minister's power to make regulations on police matters is limited
by being subject to the approval of the Commissioner-General who reports
directly to the President," said legal expert Val Ingham Thorpe of legal
service Veritas. "The Minister is, however, responsible for formulating the
police budget and defending it in Parliament."
The deadlock over the Finance and Home Affairs ministries has scuttled the
deal expected to bring back peace and economic respite to Zimbabwe, which
plunged into chaos after a presidential election that saw Mugabe lose an
election to the opposition, including control of Parliament, for the first
time since independence in 1980.
On Monday, MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa urged Parliament to demand the swift
conclusion of the sharing of ministries and the subsequent passage of
legislation needed to turn the political agreement into law.
Lawmakers on both sides have predicted more skirmishes over the next few
days as they negotiate how cabinet positions are reassigned.
Tsvangirai has outlined a short-term and comprehensive ambitious program of
economic change, covering everything from economic reconstruction, to food,
jobs and better housing for the millions of Zimbabweans reeling from the
deepening economic crisis sparked by the flawed presidential run-off vote.
Zimbabwe slid into chaos in April after the March 29 general election that
saw Mugabe and his Zanu-PF party both lose to the opposition. The
controversy set off a fierce crackdown on supporters of the MDC across the
country, and stirred up long-festering political and economic grievances
against Mugabe and Zanu-PF.
More than 131 people were killed and thousands fled the State-backed
crackdown on the opposition.
Mugabe, who has been in Parliament since Zimbabwe's independence in 1980,
said that his party would work hard to resolve the sticking issues in the
division of Cabinet posts. He had promised to have a new Cabinet before the
close of last week. Observers say the cause of the delay is the fierce
opposition to the deal among his loyalists, who stand to lose their
positions and could face transitional justice.
The deadlock, in the meantime, is fueling anxiety in a restive nation which
sees the power-sharing deal as the last vestige of hope to prevent further
precipitous economic decline.
Originally published 12:32 p.m., October 6, 2008, updated 12:15 p.m.,
October 6, 2008
LONDON (AP) - Britain's foreign secretary says European Union sanctions
against Zimbabwe will be maintained until a new power-sharing government is
Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe has yet to reach a deal with opposition
rivals on forming a Cabinet.
British Foreign Secretary David Miliband says that optimism following the
initial power-sharing deal is "fast evaporating."
Miliband says in a statement released Monday that EU sanctions will not be
lifted until Mugabe and the opposition agree on a new administration. He
says he will discuss the issue with other EU foreign ministers next week.
The EU imposed a travel ban and assets freeze on Mugabe and 171 people and
four companies tied to his old regime.
6th Oct 2008 15:08 GMT
By Chenjerai Chitsaru
THERE has always been a disturbing likelihood of Robert Mugabe's regime
settling on a reckless challenge to all who oppose its retention of any role
in the future of this country, regardless of the state of the economy.
Some have detected all the elements of a scorched earth policy, one in which
the regime deliberately sets out to strip the economy of every vestige of
economic fundamentals until there is virtually nothing left.
A desolate, empty and seemingly bottomless hole would be left, with a very
slim chance of it being filled to the extent of rejoining the international
economic community as a respected member.
Others have seen this as the regime's only chance of forcing the
international community to abandon all strong-arm attempts to drag them to
unconditional talks with the opposition.
This is a measure of the regime's desperation to bring this stalemate to a
speedy end without losing face. They want to avoid the unpleasant, even
dangerous chore of having to inform Robert Mugabe that he has lost the war
against the so-called imperialists.
The messengers of such tragic news might be fortunate to escape with their
Mugabe and his people have always hinted that if the so-called sanctions
were not lifted they would not budge on any concessions to the opposition.
They have called on the MDC to campaign publicly for the lifting of the
This would serve the double-barrelled purpose of placing the blame for the
imposition of economic sanctions squarely on the opposition and curse them
with the guilt of having tied this albatross around the nation's neck.
Last week, we saw vivid evidence of this last throw of the dice from none
other than Gideon Gono himself. The governor of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe
was quoted as saying he would continue to print useless money as long as the
sanctions were not lifted.
Unless he was misquoted, Gono was in effect telling the West that the
economic crisis would deepen if they didn't lift their foot off the
sanctions pedal. There has not been an accurate estimate of how heavily the
country has been hit by these so-called sanctions.
Most economic analysts of the Adam Smith persuasion tend to look at what
Zimbabwe has been able to export to earn foreign currency since 2000, after
the bottom fell off the agricultural industry, undoubtedly the lynch pin of
Without the balance of payments support of the International Monetary Fund,
which it long forfeited after reneging on repayments, the government has
struggled to import everything, from food, fuel and vital inputs for
industry and commerce.
Gono himself, once a disciple of the strict code of economic
self-sufficiency based on the equitable balancing of exports and imports,
now wanders in a wilderness where the traditional formula for economic
prudence has been replaced by the quack, toxic concoctions of the Zanu PF
mandarins, peering into their cauldrons of vile, dark-coloured substances,
in dimly-lit underground dens at Shake Shake building...
As it is now, the economy is in such a state of decay most people wonder how
the average Zimbabwean is surviving from day to day. It is true that since
2000 and perhaps even before that ordinary people have devised new methods
of surviving the worst economic problems unleashed on them by a corrupt,
self-absorbed regime preoccupied with its retention of power at any cost.
It is no longer an idle theory that most of the Zanu PF leaders are
frightened of the consequences of a clear loss of power by their party. They
have benefited so much from the patronage of their leaders they have
acquired unimaginable wealth, most of it illegally.
Not only will Zimbabweans themselves demand they account for their filthy
lucre, but even foreigners all over the world will be keen to know what
drove intelligent, educated people like Mugabe and his cohorts to strip
their own people of, not only their dignity, but also of their hard-won
Recently, there were reports in the government media of two powerful
vehicles assigned to serving and former serving Zanu PF luminaries having
been reportedly used in armed robberies in different parts of the country.
Both men professed ignorance of the use to which their vehicles had been put
by people who could not have been in possession of them unless the VIPs knew
There have been widespread reports of the people in powerful positions - and
they can only acquire that status through a close link with Zanu PF - being
involved in money laundering, illicit foreign currency dealing and other
crimes involving high finance. Such people have reportedly made huge
fortunes and have escaped punishment because they can afford to "buy"
powerful political muscle.
A recklessness has crept in, founded on the premise that if the Western
sanctions were designed to punish top government and party figures, then
they must resort to other methods to maintain their lavish lifestyles.
Some of the lengths to which these people have gone to keep their expensive
cars, houses, mistresses and farms running, have reportedly involved being
granted favours at the highest level of government.
All of this is justified on the basis that they must beat the sanctions, as
the people at the top of the Ian Smith regime did in the years Rhodesia was
placed under United Nations economic sanctions.
There is no doubt that the development of the country after UDI owed much to
the ruthless use of illicit methods of business by people at the top of the
illegal government. They received massive economic assistance from apartheid
South Africa , which propped up its defence forces with equipment and arms
until the United States threatened to pull the rug from under Prime Minister
Johannes Balthazar Vorster's feet if he didn't tell Smith the rebellion had
to be ended.
For a while, after Thabo Mbeki took over the presidency from Nelson Mandela,
there was SA economic assistance almost guaranteed to the Mugabe regime.
But, while Vorster had all the Afrikaners backing him in his campaign to
prop up the Smith regime, Mbeki found there were among his colleagues in the
leadership of the ANC and the Congress of South African Trade Unions
(COSATU), those who felt utter revulsion at supporting a black regime
treating its black population with almost the same barbarism as Smith's
white supremacists treated blacks throughout UDI.
.But Mbeki had other lapses of concentration in his period at the top. Many
analysts in South Africa and abroad, Africans and non-Africans were outraged
beyond belief with Mbeki's state of denial over HIV and Aids. Some have
calculated that perhaps hundreds of thousands died as a direct result of
Mbeki's snail's pace reaction to the pandemic.
What possible political damage could have been inflicted on his stature if
he had reacted as speedily as Uganda 's Yowerri Museveni did?
In fact, is it not just possible that his entire presidency might have
performed more creditably and even more admirably had he allowed it to show
the kind of understanding of, sympathy for and dedication to the victims of
HIV and Aids that many thought absolutely urgent?
As it is, there is no doubt that the ANC delegates who rejected him in
favour of Jacob Zuma at Polokwane might have had second thoughts if his
record on the fight against that scourge had been recognized nationwide as
In a way, it is Mbeki's handling of the dialogue between Zanu PF and the MDC
which sowed the seeds of Zanu PF's obstinacy throughout the talks. He took
the position that Mugabe was the senior partner who could dictate the terms
and pace of the dialogue. Even after the 29 March presidential election
results, he did not exert pressure on Mugabe to accept the fact he was,
appropriately, entitled to play only second fiddle to Morgan Tsvangirai, and
not even to lead the orchestra, which he did.
Assuming he is given another opportunity to be involved in concluding the
process, let Mbeki be warned that the sanctions card Zanu PF seems keen on
throwing on the table could doom the talks, and bring him more notoriety
than he could survive.
By Tendai Maphosa
06 October 2008
The Zimbabwean government has licensed some merchants to sell goods in U.S.
dollars, in an attempt to address the chronic shortage of basic consumer
items. Tendai Maphosa visited some of shops in Harare and filed this report
For years, if Zimbabweans wanted to see full supermarket shelves they would
have to travel outside the country. That changed last week, when some
supermarkets with licenses to sell goods in U.S. dollars stocked up. Now,
customers used to buying basic food items such as sugar, cooking oil, flour
and rice on the black market or in neighboring countries are busy filling up
their shopping carts.
One happy shopper who spoke to VOA said the government should have
authorized these shops earlier. He said he would rather pay higher prices at
home than travel to South Africa where prices are lower.
"For the sake of convenience it's easier to buy using U.S. dollars it saves
you time, it saves you the fuel and a lot of Zimbabweans have U.S. dollars,"
He also noted that even when goods were available at Zimbabwean dollar
prices it was difficult to pay for them due to the money shortage the
country is experiencing.
"The maximum that you can get is 20,000 but I checked in the shop, there's
stuff going for 400,000 Zim dollars," said another customer. "You have to go
to the bank for 20 days without spending a cent then you buy one item. So
U.S. dollar is the way to go at the moment."
Another shopper, while happy that he could buy his basics locally and from
under one roof had misgivings about the idea because it excludes the
majority of Zimbabweans.
"For the average man in the street, the man in the rural areas where people
are dying because there is no food, I think nothing has been done,"
explained another shopper. "It's about time where people looked at the
majority of the people in Zimbabwe; this does not help them in any way. It's
just the fewer the richer who have access to the US dollars who can manage
to buy in these shops."
He also pointed out that most of the imported goods in the supermarket, such
as butter, detergents, toothpaste, sodas and even milk, used to be
manufactured in Zimbabwe.
"We are importing 95 percent of the stuff now, there is no industry in
Zimbabwe," he continued. "What's left is just the infrastructure and
hopefully should things change [it] should not take too long to get back
into production. Now we are supporting South African industry."
While it is illegal to do business in foreign currency without a license,
many businesses have been accepting U.S. dollars, South African rand and
Botswana pula for a long time. Landlords are also charging rentals in
foreign currency, a practice that is illegal under current Zimbabwean law.
Zimbabwe boasts the highest inflation rate in the world. Critics of
President Robert Mugabe's government blame its economic crisis on
mismanagement. He denies the charge, saying all Zimbabwe's ills are the
result of sanctions imposed by the west. Mr. Mugabe says the sanctions are
meant to punish Zimbabwe for taking farmland from white farmers for the
resettlement of landless blacks.
By Lance Guma
06 October 2008
The banning of electronic bank transfers, otherwise known as Real Time Gross
Settlement (RTGS) services, has thrown the operations of many companies,
including Innscor, into turmoil. Our Harare correspondent Simon Muchemwa
reports that most branches of Bakers Inn, Creamy Inn, Chicken Inn and
Nandos, all owned by Innscor, were closed Monday. Workers could be seen
hanging around the companies premises while the doors were locked to members
of the public.
The take-away giant relies mainly on customers who pay for their food using
swipe cards and adding to Innscor's problems is that it also relies on the
RTGS system to pay its suppliers. Muchemwa reported Monday that Innscor
officials were awaiting word from the central bank on what to do, now that
their operations had come to a stand still.
The business sector was thrown into chaos Friday after Central Bank Governor
Gideon Gono announced a ban on electronic money transfers. Gono claimed; 'We
have no option but to take this drastic measure in order to maintain sanity
in the financial system.' He further claimed the electronic transfers were,
'being used for illicit foreign exchange deals' and by businesses 'to
overprice their goods and services.'
Thousands of jobs are on the line as different companies struggle to operate
under the new monetary rules. Chronic cash shortages mean people spend many
hours in queues at the bank to get near worthless money.
The ever falling value of the Zimbabwe dollar had forced people to turn to
foreign currency and electronic transfers had become a means to buy that
forex. Muchemwa said people were still using bank cheques to buy forex and
it remained to be seen if Gono would ban these as well.
There is general confusion over what is allowed and what is not, in the
banking sector. Banks are still unsure whether internal transfers within the
same bank are allowed or whether internet banking is banned or not. Those
using cheques know the 5 or so days they take to clear, wipes out the value
given the fact that the country has the world's highest inflation ever.
It doesn't rain but it pours for Zimbabweans struggling to survive, as on
Monday last week the maximum cash withdrawal was raised from Z$1000 to
Z$20000, but this immediately triggered a wave of massive price increases.
With no meaningful political or economic reforms, the central bank policies
remain nothing more than pointless fire-fighting strategies.
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
HARARE, October 6, 2008 - THE Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) governor,
Gideon Gono, has directed the country's banks to reduce what he described as
"excessive bank charges" or risk having their banking licences cancelled.
Gono, in a statement to the media, said the central bank had noted
with great concern the "astronomical and unjustifiable" increases in bank
charges by the banking institutions over the past few months.
Gono directed every banking to reimburse all customers who were, from
1 September 2008 to 4 October 2008, charged amounts in excess of the
"The charges levied by some banking institutions on their various
products and services, however, demonstrate unacceptable predatory
practices," said Gono. "At current levels, charges levied by banking
institutions are way above salaries earned by the majority of the banking
institutions customers, a phenomenon which is detrimental to banks' core
mandate of financial intermediation."
Banks have been charging between Zd 20 000 to Zd 50 000 for issuing
out statements to clients, among other levies. Charges for dishonoured
cheques ranged between Zd 100 and Zd 50 000.
"With immediate effect, all banking institutions are hereby directed
to review and reduce charges levied on their banking products and services
in line with the directed maximum charges," said Gono. "The RBZ shall also
institute appropriate corrective measures, including cancellation of a
banking licence, on institutions that are determined to be engaging in
undesirable methods of conducting business," he said.
Meanwhile the Restoration of Human Rights Zimbabwe (ROHR Zimbabwe) has
gone back to court over the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe's failure to review
bank withdrawal limits in line with the economic situation prevailing in
"The court action is in line with the organization's mission seeking
to promote a culture of human rights in Zimbabwe through community
mobilization and capacity building and active responses to human rights,"
said ROHRZ spokesperson in a statement to VOP.
"It is prudent to highlight that the untenable situation obtaining in
Zimbabwe where people have since last year, struggled to access their cash
from banks, is a serious infringement on the rights of the people of
Zimbabwe. While the situation was dire last year, it has become even more
risky this time around as people have resorted to spending nights in queues
to withdraw paltry amounts that are insignificant to meet their daily
The RBZ has set a daily cash limit of Zd 10 000 for individuals and Zd
20 000 for companies. However, with the daily escalation of prices of basic
commodities and fares, the daily limit is not enough to meet the demands of
most citizens after the same organisation had take in to court.
"We are sure that the High Court, despite the various goodies and
niceties that the central bank chief, Gideon Gono has splashed on members of
the judiciary, will remain objective and give a ruling that saves
Zimbabweans from further agony of queuing for what rightfully belongs to
them-the unlimited access to their cash," the ROHRZ spokesperson added.
Over the past few years, life in Zimbabwe has increasingly come to resemble an Ionesco drama. One ridiculous government policy follows another, each more unconscionable than the last. And somehow, the stated purpose of the legislation never seems to gel with what the policy actually accomplishes.
Take, for example, the latest genius move on the part of Reserve Bank Governor Gideon Gono. On Thursday he suspended the RTGS transfer payment scheme, because he had found that it had become “an active vehicle for illicit foreign exchange parallel market dealings, as well as a convenient excuse by sellers of goods and services to overprice their commodities.”
Never mind that it had also become an essential method of organising payments in an environment where bank queues take up literally hours of every working day. The RTGS and Internet banking set up enabled some people to perform transactions without having to join the bank queues – thus saving their own time, and keeping the queues a bit shorter than they otherwise would be.
Suspending RTGS to curb corruption is like using a machete to clean out the infection from your finger. In an economy where people can get to the bank at 6am and still be only number 3,478 in the queue, suspending RTGS makes the simple, basic, ordinary transactions of daily life and business impossible. To add insult to injury, it will put more people into the queues – the people in building societies like CABS, who don’t have cheque books and now need to get bank cheques drawn to pay their bills, and the people who need to deposit these cheques. Transactions at the bank near us had already begun to take longer than they used to – in part because the tellers are on go slow in the hopes that they can earn more overtime. Meanwhile, the kinds of people who were taking advantage of RTGS to profiteer off Zimbabwe’s crumbling economy will just find other corrupt ways in which to make their money - Your cash barons ye shall always have with you.
And yet, despite the outrage of it all, the Sunday Mail refers to the move as one to “bring sanity in the banking sector.” It also warns Zimbabweans that the Reserve Bank will be keeping tabs on everyone who is withdrawing money from the bank every day – to establish “what kind of business they are into.” With transport having gone up to $4,000 one way, bread costing $6,000 and the maximum daily withdrawal only $20,000, might it just be possible that people withdrawing money every day are just into the business of getting to work, having something to eat, and getting home again?
The East African (Nairobi)
5 October 2008
Posted to the web 6 October 2008
A day or two before he signed the power sharing agreement with Morgan
Tsvangrai and Arthur Mutambara, Robert Mugabe spoke to an assembly of
Zimbabwean chiefs, resplendent in their colonial-era red robes and white
helmets. He told them that Zanu/PF and the MDC were completely different
from each other -- as different as fire and water.
This, too, has been the insistence of commentators in the state press. An
agreement was easy to make in Kenya, they say, because Kenyan leaders are
like peas in the same neo-liberal pod. But Zanu/PF is a revolutionary party,
a party -- as its favourite song says -- of blood.
Mugabe complains that he has been humiliated and has had to allow the
traitorous milk-and-water MDC into the very heart of government.
This cannot be allowed for long. Zanu/PF must rebuild itself and sweep to
power in a new election, after which it can dispense with the MDC.
Meanwhile Tsvangirai has not been sworn in as prime minister; no Cabinet has
been appointed; "ministers" without mandate continue to hold office;
parliament, after a brief burst of raucous life, has been prorogued.
Now, of course, this game of fiery radical against watery liberal is an easy
one to play. On September 23, for instance, Munyaradzi Gwisai issued a
statement on behalf of the International Socialist Organisation of Zimbabwe,
in which he described the agreement as one made between "bourgeois elites,"
with fundamental interests in common.
The fire has to come from outside, from the radical rather than the rotten
elements of civil society, from workers and peasants. In his eyes the
signatories of the Zimbabwean agreement were indeed peas in a rotting pod.
But when one reads the agreement, it certainly does not sound as though the
parties are speaking a common language. One can see seams of fire and
rivulets of water running side by side, and hardly ever mingling, throughout
the whole document.
The fire is certainly not a Socialist fire. It is insurrectionary,
anti-colonial, "patriotic," focussed on sovereignty and isolationism. It
uses the familiar language of Mugabe-ism. Side by side with its runs the
universal language of democracy and human rights and development.
Before the current crisis of the African National Congress, its spokesmen
used to say that Zimbabwe's problem was that it had never had the Freedom
The Freedom Charter combined sovereignty and democracy into an indissoluble
whole. But, in Zimbabwe, sovereignty and democracy had broken apart, the
former owned by the regime and the latter by the opposition. If one were to
be very optimistic one might think that the September 15 agreement is
Zimbabwe's Freedom Charter, bringing them together again.
Yet it does not read like that. Instead of the forging of a new, powerful
common language, it sounds like two people speaking different languages in
the same room. There are moments when one discourse gains a precarious
triumph over the other.
Between the March and June elections, for example, the state media attacked
the stupidity of the one-person, one-vote system, by which a bribed
electorate could overthrow the revolution.
The bullet, they said, must if necessary shoot the ballot. So it is a sort
of victory for MDC language that Article V on the "Land Question" describes
the "primary objective of the liberation struggle" as "to win one man one
vote democracy and justice," only then adding that "the land question ...
was at the core of the liberation struggle."
There are many victories for Zanu/PF language too. Thus Article XV commits
the parties to "a national youth training programme which inculcates the
values of patriotism" without any indication that the existing patriotic
youth militia has been the major perpetrator of violence against the MDC.
(It is true that, as well as fiery patriotism, youth service will inculcate
"tolerance, non-violence, openness, democracy, equality, justice and
respect," a whole lot of watery words but hardly adequate to baptise the
Otherwise, some whole articles are Zanu/PF speak and some MDC speak. Article
IX, climaxing with "no outsiders have a right to call or campaign for regime
change in Zimbabwe," is pure Zanu.
It is immediately followed by Article X on "free political activity," which
is pure MDC. Article VIII, on respect for "Zimbabwe's national institutions,
symbols, national programmes and events" is a straight Zanu/PF paragraph.
Article XII, on the need for the police to be trained to appreciate the
right of freedom of assembly "and the proper interpretation, understanding
and application of the provisions of security legislation" is a straight MDC
Other articles uneasily combine without uniting the two languages. Article
XIX on "Freedom of Expression and Communication" begins with Zanu/PF's
hatred of "external radio stations broadcasting into Zimbabwe" while at the
same time calling for more broadcasting within it.
Article XVIII on "Violence" is hamstrung by the MDC's extraordinary
agreement to sign a statement accepting that all parties have been
responsible for it.
In the Preamble, one fiery sentence - "committed to act in a manner that
demonstrates loyalty to Zimbabwe, patriotism and commitment to Zimbabwe's
national purpose, core values, interests and aspirations" -- is preceded by
a watery one -- "recognising, accepting and acknowledging that the values of
justice, fairness, openness, tolerance, equality... are the bedrock of our
democracy and good governance" (Zanu/PF intellectuals hate the discourse of
On September 25, Peace Watch was relaunched in Zimbabwe in order to
encourage all citizens to participate in ensuring lasting peace. It deplored
the continuing confusions and disputes but insisted that the Preamble to the
agreement should be "used to resolve any ambiguity." It urged every
organisation in Zimbabwe to "print out the Preamble, which is clear and
unambiguous" so that politicians, police and militia could be held
accountable to it.
Alas, even the Preamble is very far from being unambiguous. What is its
theory of human rights? Does it accept that there have been human rights
abuses? Does it promise reparation?It says a fiery thing -- that the
liberation struggle was "the foundation of our sovereign independence,
freedoms and human rights" -- and it says a watery thing, demanding "respect
for democratic values of justice, fairness... and human rights." It does not
admit human-rights abuses and it does not promise reparation.
It is early days but so far Robert Mugabe seems to want to boil off the
water into steam -- he has made it clear in New York that organisations like
Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch are not welcome in the "new"
Zimbabwe; he is reported to be demanding not only control of the military
but also the police; Zanu/PF intellectuals reiterate that individual human
rights are a neo-liberal heresy. Can Tsvangirai water down Zanu/PF
Or is it still possible, if every organisation does indeed print out and
debate the Preamble, that a genuine Zimbabwean theory and practice of
individual and communal human rights can develop, the fire heating the water
to make a nourishing stew?
06 October 2008
The Combined Harare Residents Association is deeply concerned by the delay in the finalization of the appointment of the Cabinet. The economic crisis continues and this has negatively affected the livelihood of the ordinary citizens and the continued political stalemate is not helping matters.
The current political and socio-economic
problems require concrete and urgent policy reform, something that cannot be
achieved without a government that is able to make decisions for economic,
political and social change.
The political and economic impasse has worsened things in the local governance arena as local authorities are increasingly finding it difficult to keep abreast with the spiraling inflation that has almost brought municipal operations to a standstill. CHRA believes that the local governance system can only be resuscitated when the national governance crisis has been resolved. CHRA calls upon politicians to put the nation before self interest. If things are to change, the transitional government must be found on a balanced power sharing between the parties.
Exploration House, Third Floor
Landline: 00263- 4- 705114