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Zimbabwe Should Brace For More Power Outages

10/04/2010 11:42:00

Bulawayo - Zimbabwe will face serious power shortages in the next six weeks
as the country's power utility, the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority
(ZESA), carries out maintenance at Kariba.

This is coming at a time when Hwange Power Station is facing a generation

"The Kariba plant will be undergoing a maintenance programme and as a result
we will have a reduced output from Kariba power station and all this is in
preparation of the World Cup," ZESA spokesman Fullard Gwasira told Radio

"The maintenance programme will be done starting on April 16 and ending of
May 21".

Gwasira said the maintenance is done in preparation for the June, Soccer
World Cup in South Africa .

ZESA is understood to be in need of  US$383 million to import power and
improve electricity generation amid reports that the utility is owed US$347
million in unpaid bills. The debt has ballooned from US$230 million reported
last year.

In 2008 ZESA entered into a US$15 million deal with ZIMASCO a local mining
firm to refurbish Hwange Power Station unit number five and six.

At the same time when Zimbabwean households and industry are experiencing
persistent power cuts of up to 20 hours daily, Zimbabwe is exporting power
to Namibia at a discounted tariff to meet requirements of a US$50 million
deal which has worsened the power crisis.

Under the deal signed in March 2007, Namibia , which provided Zimbabwe with
loan of US$50 million, is supposed to receive 180 megawatts for a minimum of
five years as part of a power purchasing agreement between Zesa and Namibia
's power utility, Nampower.

The US$50 million was meant to refurbish and expand Hwange Power Station to
levels that would have resulted in a "significant" reduction in power-cuts
throughout energy-crisis-hit Zimbabwe.

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Red tape stalls Byo power project

Written by The Zimbabwean
Friday, 09 April 2010 16:15

HARARE - The joint venture project between the Zimbabwe Electricity
Authority (ZESA) and Botswana Power Corporation (BPC) to revive Bulawayo's
thermal power station is hanging in the balance amid reports that Harare is
yet to give the nod for the development.

With less than two months to go before the June deadline for work to
commence as agreed when the deal was signed last October, ZESA sources say
bureaucracy within the Harare establishment is stalling progress.
The sources said Power Development Minister Elias Mudzuri was becoming
impatient about the lack of progress on the project which was expected to
see the mothballed 90 megawatt Bulawayo thermal power plant restarted by the
end of June with help from BPC.

Refurbishment of the power station should have commenced in November last
year but has been delayed by red tape by the Zimbabwean government.

"Work should have started long back but government bureaucracy is stalling
progress. We were told by the minister that he was still waiting for Cabinet
go-ahead before we can proceed with the implementation of the deal," said a
source privy to developments at ZESA.

He said the agreement was currently being scrutinised by the Cabinet
committee on legislation.

Mudzuri could not be reached for comment last week.

Under the deal, BPC is supposed to finance the revival of the generation
units, in return for 50 percent of the power produced over a period of time.

BPC agreed to inject US$8 million to revive the mothballed Bulawayo thermal
power station, which has not produced electricity for nearly a decade.

The deal is similar to one agreed in 2008 with Namibia's utility NamPower,
which allowed the Windhoek-based company to invest US$45 million to
rehabilitate Hwange in exchange for electricity.

Zimbabwe is currently producing 1 100MW against a peak demand of 2 000MW and
imports between 300-500MW, mostly from Mozambique and Zambia.

Zimbabwe has over the years failed to attract independent power producers
despite having several power projects on the cards, which if implemented
would make the country a net exporter of electricity.

But an unstable political environment and lack of policies that encourage
private sector investment in the sector has kept potential investors away.

A unity coalition formed last year between rivals President Robert Mugabe
and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has raised investors' hopes.

ZESA has struggled to raise revenue from customers since the introduction of
multi-currencies last year as part of reforms to lift the southern African
country from a deep economic crisis.

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S.Africa's Zuma slams firebrand youth leader

Sat Apr 10, 2010 1:59pm GMT

JOHANNESBURG, April 10 (Reuters) - South African President Jacob Zuma on
Saturday told the head of the ANC youth wing, who has stirred controversy
with a series of racially tinged outbursts, that he must obey the ruling
party's discipline.

Youth leader Julius Malema has angered critics with his calls for
nationalisation of South Africa's mines and backing for Zimbabwean President
Robert Mugabe. This week he ejected a white journalist from a news
conference with a barrage a racial abuse.

Zuma castigated Malema on issues ranging from Zimbabwe, treatment of the
media and his refusal to stop singing a song containing the words "Kill the
Boer" that has been banned by the courts.

Zuma said Malema's conduct and statements were totally alien to the culture
of the African National Congress.

"The ANC Youth League is not an independent body. It exists within the
umbrella policy and discipline of the ANC," Zuma told a media briefing in

Malema has no policy-making role but has become prominent through his racial
rhetoric and has a loyal following within the ANC Youth League and among
some black South Africans who feel the end of apartheid should have
delivered more.

Zuma rejected Malema's comments that the Youth League would support
President Robert Mugabe to win the next elections in Zimbabwe, where Zuma
has been trying to mediate an end to a ruinous political crisis.

"We cannot and will not side with any one of the parties to the exclusion of
others," Zuma said, adding that he would continue to facilitate a resolution
in Zimbabwe and to treat all parties with respect.

The ANC had already told Malema, 29, to avoid inflammatory language after
the murder of white supremacist Eugene Terre'blanche stoked racial tensions.
But Malema made clear on Thursday he would not be silenced. [ID:nLDE63804I]

"We reiterate that leaders should think before they speak, as their
utterances have wider implications for the country," Zuma said, adding that
Malema should respect the high court ruling banning the "Kill the Boer"

"The dignity and decorum of the institution (court) must always be protected
and defended," he said.

Zuma also criticised Malema for expelling a British Broadcasting Corporation
journalist from a news conference on Thursday. On camera, Malema called the
reporter a bastard and "bloody agent" with a "white tendency".

Zuma said the manner in which the BBC journalist was treated was regrettable
and unacceptable, regardless of any provocation on his part.

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ANC Disassociates Itself Form Malema's Views On Zimbabwe

10/04/2010 11:52:00

Harare, April 10, 2010 - South Africa's ruling African National Congress
(ANC)says it does not support President Robert Mugabe and his Zanu PF party
saying they would rather remain neutral in Zimbabwe's cagey political

 statement slamming ANC Youth President Julius Malema, for abusing a
journalist at a press conference in Johannesburg on Thursday and for
attacking the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), the main ANC wing said
Malema's outbursts were unfortunate and had tarnished the name of the ANC.

Malema abused a BBC journalist in front of the cameras and called him a
bastard soon after he pointed out to the fiery ANC youth leader that he also
stayed in the plush Sandton area. He had accused the MDC of being a
 "popcorn" party which was making noise from the luxury of Sandton.

Malema then ejected the BBC reporter.

He then went on to say the ANC supported Mugabe and his Zanu PF party and
said they would help them win elections next year. This statement is said to
have sent panic in the ANC leadership who are supposed to be neutral in
Zimbabwe's political affairs as they are mediating in the country's
political impasse brought about by Mugabe's refusal to fully implement the
Global Political Agreement (GPA).

During his Easter visit to Zimbabwe, Malema also repeatedly said the ANC
would make sure they supported and assisted Zanu PF to win the next
elections. He described the MDC as agents of imperialism and shouted "down
with MDC and Morgan Tsvangirai" slogans.

"The ANC would also like to strongly disagree and distance itself from
utterances by the ANC YL at their press conference yesterday (Thursday) that
they will support President Robert Mugabe and his Zanu PF to win the
forthcoming general elections in Zimbabwe.

"The ANC stance on the Zimbabwe issue is that we fully support the mediation
process that is currently underway, which is led and facilitated by
President Jacob Zuma.

"The ANC together with its government would like to see all political
parties in Zimbabwe (the two MDC's and Zanu PF) implementing the spirit and
the letter of the Global Political Agreement. It is therefore our view that
the ANC YL's expression of support for one party in Zimbabwe goes against
our country's and President Zuma's mediation efforts in that country," read
part of the statement.

The ANC went on to say that the outbursts by Malema did not only reflect
negatively on him, but also reflected negatively on the ANC YL, the entire
ANC family, their alliance partners as well as South Africa in the eyes of
the international community.

The MDC has expressed anger with Malema not only for his outbursts at the
Johannesburg press conference but for his attacks on the party during his
Easter weekend meetings with his colleagues in Zanu PF and a group of
business sharks in Harare.

The MDC will officially complain to Zuma next week about Malema's conduct.
Radio VOP has it on good authority that Malema's trip to Zimbabwe had
already caused tensions within the ANC before he even left that Zuma had to
hold a meeting with the controversial youth leader to try and reign him in.

Malema is loose cannon in the ANC and they were fears that his raw speeches
would inflame divisions in Zimbabwe's already shaky unity government and
would compromise Zuma's mediation efforts.

While Malema might have declared his love for Zanu PF it is generally
believed that the main ANC has never been friends with Mugabe and his party.
During their liberation struggle ANC was closer to the late Joshua Nkomo's
ZAPU while Zanu PF was close to the Pan Africanist Congress (PAC).

When Mugabe lost presidential elections in March 2008, the ANC was the most
vocal of the ruling political parties in the region demanding through Zuma
that the Zimbabwean strongman had to hand over power to the winner.

Zuma, who was not president of South Africa then also, put pressure on
Mugabe to release the presidential elections which had been delayed for a

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Ahmadinejad invitation sparks protests

April 9, 2010

By Raymond Maingire

HARARE - President Robert Mugabe has invited controversial Iranian President
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to come and officially open this year's Zimbabwe
International Trade Fair in Bulawayo on April 23.

"President Ahmadinejad will open the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair this
year on April 23," Mugabe's spokesperson George Charamba told the state
media on Thursday.

It would be the first time that a leader from both the Persian Gulf and
outside Africa has been to Zimbabwe to officially open the annual premier
trade showcase.

Meanwhile, local human rights and journalist organisations have expressed
strong resentment over the impending visit by the Islamic leader who is know
for rights abuses and muzzling the press in his own country.

The Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) condemned the decision by
Mugabe's government to invite Ahmadinejad, who viewed worldwide as an
incorrigible dictator.

"We see the visit by the Iranian leader as part of the exchange of notes
between the Zimbabwean government and the Iranian dictator," ZLHR
spokesperson Kumbirai Mafunda said.

"We are really worried that our government is still interested in making
friendships with repressive regime at a time it should be closing ranks with
progressive governments."

Similarly, ZimRights director Okay Machisa said his organization would not
recognize Ahmadinejad saying his track record of rights abuses was well
documented and unacceptable.

"The big question is who invited him?" said Machisa, "Was there any
consensus within the coalition government? Ahmadinejad continues to
see issues of human rights as minor and peripheral.

"We have more credible people who have been denied entry into Zimbabwe
and these are the likes of The Elders and the visitors from the UN Human
Rights Commission.

"If we had our own choice, we should have denied this person entry
into Zimbabwe."

Just like President Mugabe's re-election in 2008, Ahmadinejad was re-elected
in June last year in an election marred by massive political violence.

The two leaders have largely been ostracised by the progressive world for
their authoritarian leadership.

"Birds of the same further fly together," said Machisa, when asked what
could have occasioned the invitation of the Iranian leader by Mugabe.

Thousands were arrested and dozens killed after Ahmadinejad's disputed

The violence was said to be the largest street protests since the 1979
Islamic Revolution.

Dozens were given jail terms while many as five people were slapped with
death sentences over their alleged role in the demonstrations.

Press freedom group Reporters Without Borders has also reported that the
situation for journalists in Iran was "getting worse by the day.

Journalists who have chosen not to the leave the country are being
constantly threatened or summoned by the intelligence services, including
the intelligence service of the Revolutionary Guards.

Some have been given long prison sentences at the end of completely illegal
judicial proceedings.

Ahmadinejad's Islamic government has also opened a new front in its drive to
stifle domestic political dissent and combat the influence of western
culture - by banning high-speed internet links while mobile phone
connections have routinely been disabled.

The Zimbabwe Union of Journalists (ZUJ) also condemned Ahmadinejad's
invitation to Zimbabwe.

"His visit from a journalism perspective is no cause for journalists
especially in Zimbabwe to celebrate especially as his country and Zimbabwe
are viewed as serious violators of press freedom," said ZUJ secretary
general Foster Dongozi.

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MDC-M Harare Province distances itself from its leader

10 April, 2010 02:13:00

STATEMENT - The heaping of praises on President Robert Mugabe of ZANU-PF by
our president Professor Arthur Mutambara at the recent Women's World Day
Commemorations does not represent the view of the party.

The statements which he is reported to have said are his personal views.

We are a party that endeavours to provide alternative leadership compared to
the ZANU-PF one, which has ruined our economy and certainly we see no reason
of hero-worshipping someone who has presided over the destruction of our

Kurauone Chihwayi

MDC-M information and publicity secretary, Harare province

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SA envoy: US must 'engage, assist' in Zimbabwe

Speaking to a New York audience about South Africa on March 25, Johnny Moloto, the deputy chief of mission to the US in Washington DC, described South Africa as a 16-year-old teenager, experiencing substantial growing pains. Charged with "telling the South African story", Moloto spoke to the Mail & Guardian in Manhattan the following day about South Africa's diplomatic relationship with the United States.

Mail & Guardian: Last night you described your job as is telling the story of South Africa. What is the most common misconception that people you've encountered have about the country?
Johnny Moloto: The people that I've met are people that, they've done Africa, they've done South Africa ... those that have not visited the country ... they're interested in learning about it, visiting. But there are still those with misconceptions -- it's disease-infested, a poor country. Yes, there is poverty anywhere in the world. Even in the most sophisticated society, there's always poverty.

There's also the misconception that whatever you read becomes your reality. So no matter what crackpot will have written about the country, people believe it and it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. I understand when people say: "Oh well, we read this, you are from South Africa, what is your take on this? Is there any truth to this?" But it's when people say: "Well, we are concerned about what's happening in your country!" Wait a minute, have you been there? Why don't you ask me first if there's any credence to the story, and let me put it in perspective for you.

M&G:The ambassador post in the DC embassy has been vacant since November, when Welile Nhlapo completed his tour and returned to serve as national security special advisor to President Zuma. Does the government have someone in mind for the post? What kind of criteria are they using for the post and when will it be filled?
JM:I'm sure they will find someone. We've always had very high profile people come here, people of substance, like we do in any other country where we have an embassy. I haven't heard anything [yet]. When it does happen I'm sure it's a choice that we South Africans will be proud of, and similarly the Americans ... as anything, good things come to those who wait. But I know the government is quite anxious that we get somebody and fairly quickly.

'Vibrant relationship'
M&G: You've said your position involves ensuring the strategic goals of the South African government are achieved here. What are the primary goals for US-SA relations for this year?
JM: In the main, it's our bilateral relations [with] a new administration. Our minister has established a very good relationship with her counterpart, Secretary [of State] Clinton. It's a very vibrant relationship.

We're looking to establish a strategic dialogue. Our two principals have already identified clear areas where they want to collaborate, which are important for both countries. We were one of the few countries in Copenhagen that supported the US when President Obama needed support, when it mattered the most. We, together with other developing countries, were willing to share in that vision.

The one thing that we constantly want to encourage [is that] government only establishes the possibility of partnerships, but it's the people-to-people exchanges and contacts that are very important. Because those are the people that ultimately make the relationship a reality.

M&G:An issue that the South African government is trying to persuade people to get on board with is permanent African representation on the UN Security Council. South Africa has just been endorsed by the AU to appear once again for a non-permanent Security Council seat, possibly in 2011. How seriously is permanent representation being considered by the US, and what is the government trying to do to get this proposal to be constituted?
JM:I think in the main they are [serious]. This is going to be a serious political shift in the way the UN does its work. This is one of the things we don't bring into the public domain. It's primarily the Security Council we want to see change, but the UN generally [as well]. In other structures we've managed. The Human Rights Commission has been transformed, the Human Rights Council. There are changes in the system that we're seeing, within the broader UN system, but the concern is mainly with the Security Council. It stood for maintaining international peace and security. The world has changed from what it was in 1945.

If you read Kofi Annan's In Larger Freedom -- it enlarged the type of security we are talking about. People should be free from hunger, free from threats to physical harm. [In 1945] we were looking broadly at state-to-state security, not at an individual or human level. Looking at one state being harmed by another; geographical attacks basically. It's changed quite a bit from what it was then. And this is the mental shift that you want, essentially, from the UN.

M&G: The US abstained from voting on Eskom's application to the World Bank for a loan to complete construction on a new coal plant, largely due to pressure from environmental groups. Last night you said that a lot of the environmental groups don't appreciate the argument that the loan has developmental implications and has been done from a developmental perspective. Has the US, in their conversations with the embassy, expressed an appreciation for this argument?
JM:This is not about the bilateral relationship between South Africa and the US. It could've been any other country. The key issue is that they have a concern with an institution, or institutions, where they are shareholders or invest; how American tax dollars are being used to facilitate or fund the transition from fossil fuels to renewables. In 1989, the current speaker [Nancy Pelosi], who was then just a Congress person, initiated what was then called the "Pelosi Amendment" which spoke to the very issue -- that multilateral development banks should desist from funding fossil-fuel projects. The World Bank is one of those; the US is a [majority] investor in the World Bank.
We appreciate that. But the US, as a developed country, has an obligation to ensure that developing countries such as South Africa, that have made serious commitments to clean technology, to renewable sources of energy, should be supported. [President Zuma is] very clear that we want to move towards green and clear technologies, to create more jobs within the clean technology sector, we want to make that transition from non-renewable sources. There's an ideal situation we want to reach, and then there's our reality as a developing country, and there's that gap. This gap is actually the real debate around climate change.

The way the argument has been presented ... it's as if it's argued in absolutes. It's either you do this, or that. This is the be-all and end-all. But in reality things don't happen like that. Development is much more nuanced than just absolutes. It's as if we were to wake up tomorrow and suddenly use solar technology, or use wind technology, all of our developmental problems would be addressed. There are a number of constellations to be dealt with.

Giving Zimbabwe a chance
M&G: Arguments being looked at in absolutes -- that's common of every political debate. It's easier to speak in absolutes than to describe the complexities of a situation. And another area where that happens is Zimbabwe. The South African government wants targeted sanctions to be lifted, and the US wants to see some kind of development within the unity government, proof that it's working. What is the embassy doing to ease relations, and what is the US message to you in this situation?
JM: We are very appreciative that the US administration is concerned about what is happening in Zimbabwe. But we want that appreciation to translate into a real positive engagement, not just a critical position from a distance. This is what made us to be the nation we are today, we are always prepared to engage in dialogue. And I think it wouldn't be beneath the US to look at the possibility of engaging, assisting. We said: "This is a Zimbabwe problem, and only Zimbabweans can come up with solutions." Let's give a chance to the Zimbabweans to have dialogue. We were given that opportunity, when we had Codesa. We were given that opportunity by the international community as South Africans [to find a] South African solution.

If powerful countries like the US and UK could give [their] voice of support behind such a dialogue ... rather than being divisive and seeing it in absolute terms, saying that the opposition party is doing the right thing ... it's not helpful, it polarises society, it polarises nations.

M&G: What do you think the US wants to see? They seem to support dialogue, and they support a unity government working together, but what is it they want to see happening before they lift sanctions?
JM: I'm not sure to be honest. But if we take their pronouncements as commitments to assisting ... I think it would make a dramatic change to hear them say, "What can we do to assist?" For a change, not to impose.

M&G: But you don't want them to get involved in the talks, which are supported by SADC?
JM: It's not that we don't want them to get involved. Look, in our case, we invited the international community to assist ...during the struggle for apartheid, that's why you [had] people from all over the world lobbying. But in so doing, you also want those countries to say: "What can we do to help?" That's very much different than saying, "We want to see this change in Zimbabwe". What do the Zimbabweans want? Hear it from them, and then ask. "We want to hear that side of the story -- what can we do to assist?" That would be a very refreshing voice, a very different take on what has been happening so far, you know, it's always, conditional on this. "You must do this." That's regime change, that's imposing regime change on a nation. And I don't think that as South Africa, that's the space we want to play in. As South Africa, we always want to work with nations in partnership with them, to find common solutions to common problems, rather than imposing them from outside. I believe that the US is a major player in this debate.
And they have so much to contribute.

To be quite honest, I've been very encouraged by President Obama's approach to doing things. He's been very conciliatory with the Iraq situation. The way he's approached it, he's been very open-minded. I wish the same could happen with the Zimbabwean situation. We also want to see change there, we want to see a meaningful transformation and dialogue. [We want the people of Zimbabwe] to take their rightful place as a wonderful powerhouse in the region. It's not helpful for us that we're sitting with an estimated four-million Zimbabweans in South Africa; we can't sustain that in the long-term. So I think it's quite important that we get support from powerful countries such as the US. [The US is] still a superpower. That's why it does concern us when they take a particular position that we feel is likely to influence the world in a particular way.

'Anti-Bono' economist
M&G:The US allocates a lot of money to aid in South Africa and in Africa. The Zambian economist Dambisa Moyo, who is sometimes referred to as the "anti-Bono", argues that foreign aid in Africa is a bad thing, that it encourages dependency, corruption and perpetuates poverty. That's an extreme perspective, but what is your opinion about the amount of foreign aid allocated? You've remarked that a lot is allocated to NGOs and to developmental aid and not necessarily to infrastructure and government. What's your take on Moyo's view?
JM: [Foreign] aid will still play a very important role, particularly when it's in an area like HIV/Aids, if it's supportive of government programmes. In any given situation you can never have all the resources that you want to do things.
I would take a different point of view from [Moyo's] and say that developmental aid for developing countries is very important. It's not something that you can just brush away and say that it creates dependency, but just as long as ... it creates the commitment to assist the countries come out of that dependence. It must be an enabler, not something is going to be a permanent feature of how you run your country. There are programmes that are, by their very nature, so important to the independence ... and sovereignty ... of the nation, that you cannot dare tamper with that.

For me, it's neither here nor there. I don't see any problem with any foreign assistance, any country would need that type of assistance, and as developing countries we would need that to assist us to a different level of development. But, I wouldn't take such a radical view of saying ultimately, in the long term, it creates dependency. Probably it creates interdependency, this is the world that we are living in. In a highly globalised world, nations are becoming much more inter-dependent.

  • Jackie Bischof is a part-time editorial research assistant and freelance journalist based in NYC. A graduate of the Wits and Columbia University schools of journalism, she has written for Women's eNews, the Huffington Post, Time Out New York and The Media Online.

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    Province Bars Zimbabwe NGO From Organizing Meetings on New Constitution

    Mashonaland Central Governor Martin Ndinha was said to have told local
    officials to prohibit meetings called by the Zimbabwe Election Support
    Network related to the ongoing national process of constitutional revision

    Sandra Nyaira | Washington 09 April 2010

    Zimbabwe's on-again, off-again constitutional revision took a step forward
    on Friday as 210 rapporteurs for the public outreach phase that might begin
    later this month completed two days of training in Harare.

    But a new controversy cropped up in Mashonaland Central province whose
    governor was said to have told local officials to prohibit meetings on the
    constitution called by the Zimbabwe Election Support Network.

    Meetings scheduled this week in the province were canceled though police had
    earlier cleared them.

    Provincial Governor Martin Dinha was said to have instructed local officials
    to bar such programs, which the election support group had organized ahead
    of the official outreach drive yet to begin. VOA could not reach Dinha for
    comment on those reports.

    ZESN says some of those who were intending to take part in the meetings were

    ZESN Outreach Officer Emma Chiseya in Bindura said the governor's action
    reflected the level of intolerance that still prevails in some parts of
    Zimbabwe and also violates the 2008 Global Political Agreement under which
    the unity government operates.

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    The man playing South Africa's death card

    As white supremacist Eugene Terreblanche is buried, the dangerously
    charismatic Julius Malema threatens the country's future, says Rian Malan.

    By Rian Malan
    Published: 11:41PM BST 09 Apr 2010

    We are not here to mourn the white supremacist Eugene Terreblanche, whose
    funeral took place yesterday, but since his name is on the world's lips,
    let's face the truth: the saddest thing about his murder last weekend is
    that it obscured an event that casts an infinitely darker shadow.

    The event took place in Zimbabwe, and involved, as fate would have it,
    Julius Malema, the ANC Youth League leader whose repeated singing of an old
    struggle song about shooting Boers is viewed by many Afrikaners as an
    incitement towards precisely the sort of violence that claimed
    Terreblanche's life. Even as an iron bar shattered the old right-winger's
    skull, Malema was in Harare, feasting with Robert Mugabe and picking up tips
    on how best to destroy the teetering remnants of Western influence here in
    South Africa. Terreblanche's murder was an individual tragedy. Malema's
    actions threaten to destroy an entire subcontinent.

    Julius Malema is a chubby man-child who rose to prominence as Jacob Zuma's
    attack dog, threatening violence against anyone who sought to block the Zulu
    patriarch's rise to the state presidency. When Zuma emerged triumphant,
    Malema found himself in the pound seats. A poorly educated 28-year-old, he
    mysteriously acquired two posh houses, a fleet of cars and an obscenely
    expensive Breitling watch - curious accessories for a man who positions
    himself as champion of the poor.

    Malema openly professes dislike for "children of the colonialists", a term
    he insists is not synonymous with white people. At other times, he says he
    doesn't hate white people, just the quality of "whiteness". In Malema's
    circle, this sort of juvenile wordplay passes as intellectuality. His
    utterances are often buffoonish, his politics a mix of crude populism and
    sinister racial demagoguery.

    Malema is the vulgarian who dismissed the woman who laid a rape charge
    against Zuma as a slut, arguing that any female who stays for breakfast in
    rape's aftermath "clearly enjoyed herself". He levelled similar slurs at
    Opposition leader Helen Zille, calling her "a racist little girl" who slept
    with all her male colleagues. In every case, he seemed to relish the
    resulting outrage, especially if it came from whites. But this was a
    sideshow. In South Africa, the real struggle is the struggle between rival
    ANC factions, eager for power and its spoils. It is in this arena that
    Malema's behaviour acquires a disturbing cast.

    When Jacob Zuma came to power a year ago, most observers were expecting a
    sharp turn Leftward, but the Zulu patriarch was at pains to allay such
    concerns. He toured the UK and Europe, assuring financiers that their
    investments were safe in South Africa. A few months later, Malema begged to
    differ: nationalisation is very much on the cards, he said. Zuma's minister
    of mines, Susan Shabangu, issued a stern reprimand, saying that South
    Africa's minerals would never be nationalised "in my lifetime". Malema just
    laughed, accusing Shabangu of "sucking up to monopoly capital" and hinting
    she would soon be out of a job.

    In African culture, it is shameful to address one's elders in this manner,
    but Malema got away with it. Emboldened, he took to excoriating his
    superiors for placing key economic ministries in the hands of whites and
    Indians. Then he picked a fight with cabinet minister Jeremy Cronin, South
    Africa's most visible white Communist, who had dared to opine that his
    enthusiasm for nationalisation had much to do with a fondness for bling and
    nothing to do with the plight of the poor. In response, Malema reportedly
    sent Cronin a threatening SMS: "Wait to see what's coming to you."

    Alarm was mounting, but Malema appeared untouchable. Two weeks ago, he made
    an extraordinary speech at the wedding of Robert Gumede, an IT entrepreneur
    grown rich off government contracts. Grinning malevolently, Malema warned
    Gumede that the masses were coming to take his money away. Billionaire
    Patrice Motsepe and ANC treasurer Mathews Phosa were told to expect a
    similar fate. Zola Skweyiya, South Africa's high commissioner in the UK, was
    mocked as a coward who had become "scared" of foreign capitalists. "Skweyiya
    is telling investors in London that nationalisation of mines will not
    happen," said Malema. The youth leader clearly had other ideas.

    Insulting a man of Skweyiya's stature is an unspeakable violation of African
    etiquette. Malema's utterances were also an outrageous violation of his
    party's standing policy on nationalisation. I assumed the ANC's elders now
    had no choice other than to put him firmly in his place. I was wrong. No one
    said a word.

    It was against this backdrop that Malema set forth for Zimbabwe last
    weekend. In the past, he has always hewed to the ANC line: Mugabe's
    disastrous policies will not be emulated in South Africa. The rule of law
    will be upheld, the constitution respected. There will be no land invasions,
    no nationalisation of mines or businesses.

    But something has clearly changed. On his trip to Harare, Malema was met at
    the airport by a clutch of notorious profiteers whose connection to the
    great dictator enabled them to grow rich even as their country died. These
    "vultures" are said to be slavering at the prospect of another killing as
    Mugabe moves to dismember Zimbabwe's last surviving businesses and mines in
    the name of "indigenisation".

    By all accounts, Malema was thrilled to make their acquaintance. They
    organised a crowd to sing his controversial song about shooting Boers. Then
    they whisked him off in a presidential Mercedes Benz and put him up in
    Harare's most expensive hotel. In return, Malema expressed his unqualified
    admiration for the policies that have ruined Zimbabwe and vowed to press for
    their adoption south of the Limpopo River.

    "In South Africa, we are just starting," said Malema. "Here you are already
    very far. We are very happy today that you can account for more than 300,000
    new farmers, against the 4,000 who used to dominate agriculture. We hear you
    are now going straight to the mines. That's what we are going to be doing in
    South Africa. We want the mines. They have been exploiting our minerals for
    a long time. Now it's our turn also to enjoy from those minerals."

    On Thursday, Malema reiterated these sentiments at a press conference marked
    by an ugly racial attack on a BBC reporter. There has been no repudiation.
    The silence says something truly ominous: Malema has protection. Someone in
    the ANC - either the president himself, or an awesomely powerful faction
    inside the party - is encouraging him to rally the masses for a
    Zimbabwe-style obliteration of Africa's only viable economy and last
    surviving hope.

    I thought that only the South African Communist Party (SACP) was capable of
    irrationality on such a dumbfounding scale. I was wrong. Malema is not a
    tool of the SACP. In fact, he's at constant odds with the SACP's leadership.
    The other day he even resurrected Pretoria's old Red Menace theory, accusing
    "yellow Communists" - a veiled reference to Indians in the party's
    leadership - of plotting to control the ANC by secret means. Anyone who
    voices such painful truths cannot possibly be an ally of the SACP.

    Besides, the Reds are fairly sophisticated, whereas Malema's every utterance
    is a cringe-inducing embarrassment. Listen to him in Harare last Saturday:
    "They are so bright, so colourful, we refer to them as white people. Maybe
    their colour came as a result of exploiting our minerals and perhaps if some
    of us get opportunities in these minerals we can develop a nice colour like
    them." This is not a coldly scientific Marxist-Leninist. It's Pere Ubu or
    Idi Amin.

    It could be that President Zuma has simply lost control of the ANC, or that
    Malema is the puppet he uses to mouth ideas too radical to emerge from the
    presidency. If you ask me, Malema is the point-man for a powerful ANC
    faction whose motive is greed and whose chosen weapon is racial demagoguery
    of the most primitive kind.

    The trouble is that this card trumps all others. Our underclass is huge,
    poorly educated and desperately poor. They know what happened in Zimbabwe,
    but even so, the prospect of loot is irresistible, and that's Malema's bait.
    Mandela gave them free houses. Mbeki gave them welfare grants, leading to a
    situation where five million taxpayers support 13 million indigents, with
    the total rising far more rapidly than our ability to pay. Now Malema and
    the faceless vultures behind him are offering them the rest. They are
    playing the death card, the Ace of Spades.

    Te morituri salutant.

    Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

    Marine helps save couple after hippo attack

    Corporal: 'Any Marine would have done the same thing'
    By James K. Sanborn - Staff writer
    Posted : Saturday Apr 10, 2010 9:03:00 EDT

    Hippopotamus attacks aren't covered during standard Marine training, but
    that didn't stop one corporal from rushing to the aid of a married couple
    while on safari in Zimbabwe after their inflatable canoe was flipped and the
    husband mauled.

    Cpl. Justin Trinidad, 24, a Marine security guard at the U.S. embassy in
    Zimbabwe, was with his girlfriend, Kaylynn Hankey, when the hippo attacked
    their tour group on the Zambezi River in mid-March. About 30 minutes into
    the trip, the group - which included four canoes - asked for a break. As
    they headed for shore, tour guides spotted the hippo and yelled for the
    canoes to move away, but Javier and Patricia Franco didn't hear the warning.

    "I look back and all I see is Mr. and Mrs. Franco thrown up in the air a few
    meters," Trinidad told Marine Corps Times in a telephone interview from

    Patricia Franco was thrown clear of the hippo, but her husband came down
    almost on top of it. That's when the animal chomped down on his leg, nearly
    severing his foot, Trinidad said.

    "She was screaming 'Help us; he has no leg,' " he said.

    Despite his girlfriend's initial reluctance, Trinidad started to paddle
    toward the couple.

    "All I could think of was just, 'God watch over us, help us.' . We were
    expecting any time for the hippo to come under us and just launch us into
    the air," he said.

    Eventually, they reached the distraught couple, who clung to the canoe as
    Trinidad began rowing for land. However, a swift current threatened to carry
    them downstream into rapids.

    Hankey tried to stop them by grabbing a tree branch, but she was pulled from
    the canoe. Fortunately, with the help of a guide, she made it safely to

    Trinidad continued to fight the current and found a shallow spot where
    Patricia Franco was able wade to shore, but her husband was unable to stand
    and the canoe again spun out of control. It finally snagged on a rock, and
    Trinidad was able to pull Javier Franco into the craft and get him to shore.

    "That's when I realized his foot was hanging by a piece of skin. He started
    bleeding a lot and I could see bone. It was pretty gruesome," he said.

    Using a makeshift tourniquet, Trinidad stemmed the bleeding, but Franco was
    screaming in pain.

    "I was talking to him, trying to keep him from going into shock," he said.
    ". Then I remembered from the safety brief [the guides] said not to make
    loud crying noises because wildlife might think you are wounded prey and
    come over and eat you."

    A family fishing nearby transported them by truck to a nearby hospital where
    conditions were crude at best. Knowing that Franco's wounds required better
    medical attention, Trinidad called the U.S. embassy and arranged for air
    transport to Johannesburg, South Africa, more than 500 miles away.

    "He is still undergoing many surgeries," Trinidad said. "Doctors weren't
    able to save his foot, but his kids and wife are grateful that he is still
    alive, because he could have bled to death. They said he is very positive,
    and that he is going to get an artificial limb."

    Trinidad, whose father died when he was young, said he was happy to save
    somebody's mom and dad.

    "I was just in the right place at the right time," he said. "I'm no hero.
    Any Marine would have done the same thing."

    Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

    Food insecurity threatens rural villages

    Photo: Guy Oliver/IRIN
    Maize in short supply
    BULAWAYO, 9 April 2010 (IRIN) - The villagers of Nkalanje, in Zimbabwe's arid Matabeleland South Province, use bells tied around the necks of their livestock to track animals that roam ever greater distances in search of sparse tufts of grass as a dry spell tightens its grip in the already food insecure country. 
    Nicholas Ntepe, 40, told IRIN he often spent days away from home to find his livestock and bring them closer to home. "It is a tough life, because I have to divide my time between looking for my livestock and looking for food to feed my family."
    An assessment by at the beginning of April indicated that crops had failed in all seven districts of Matabeleland South, and an estimated 9,000 tons of maize would be required each month to mitigate the effects of the expected food shortages.

    The governor of the province, Angeline Masuku, told IRIN: "We have not yet had distress calls, possibly because some people are still surviving on produce such as pumpkins, but we expect to stock up maize so that we are found ready when the food shortages become more pronounced."

    Masuku said although the province had received occasional drizzle, which had improved pastures, most of the crops were a write-off and sparse pastures posed a serious threat to villagers' livestock.

    The province plans to introduce a scheme in which villagers undertake community improvement tasks, such as assisting clinics, schools and other public institutions, in return for food.

    A similar situation is unfolding in Midlands Province, where the harvest is projected to fail in most parts, with the districts of Mberengwa, Zvishavane, Shurugwi, Gweru and Mvuma hardest hit.
    About 2.4 million people received food assistance in the first quarter of 2010 and a recent UNICEF report noted that "approximately 78 percent of the population of Zimbabwe is absolutely poor, and 55 percent live below the food poverty line".

    People living below the food poverty line cannot meet any of their basic needs and suffer chronic hunger. The report said an estimated 6.6 million people, including 3.5 million children, were suffering this extreme form of deprivation. 

    'We need food aid as of yesterday'

    A report by the Famine Early Warning System Network (FEWSNET) said although most households in rural areas had come through the peak hunger season, adverse agricultural conditions were affecting Masvingo, Matabeleland South and Manicaland provinces, among other areas.

    ''It's another bad year for the province, as only three out of eight districts are likely to record meaningful harvests this year''
    "It's another bad year for the province, as only three out of eight districts are likely to record meaningful harvests this year," Jason Machaya, governor of Midlands, told IRIN. "The tonnage is far less than what we require to feed all the families that have run out of food, and there is urgent need to source more maize."

    Chief Ngungumbane, in Mberengwa district, Midlands, told IRIN: "People here have not harvested anything for the past two years. At the moment only one NGO [which he did not name] is assisting people under the food-for-work programme, but this is not enough because most families ran out of food last year."

    The people who were most vulnerable would slip through the net if they could not work. "Those living with HIV and AIDS, the aged and the disabled cannot benefit, yet they are the worst affected," Ngungumbane said.
    Nyasha Zindove, the administrator of Zaka district in Masvingo Province, said there was urgent need for food relief. "We need food aid as of yesterday - at least 100,000 villagers are vulnerable." 


    [This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]

    Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

    Skip the South of France. Try Zimbabwe

     April 7, 2010, 8:44 pm


    So what are the great places to visit in Africa? It surprises people to hear
    it, but Zimbabwe is very high on the list - and now that I've just returned
    from a week there with my family, I feel that more strongly than ever.

    True, President Robert Mugabe is a tyrant who has mismanaged the country,
    and his relations with the United States are deeply strained. But Zimbabwe
    has little crime and people are friendly, and the sights are simply
    astounding - with hardly any tourists around to admire them. It's also
    cheaper than other countries in the region. Especially if you're going to
    South Africa for the World Cup, make a side trip to Zimbabwe.

    My suggestion would be to start at Victoria Falls (you can fly to Vic Falls
    from Johannesburg, South Africa), where there are plenty of hotels begging
    for guests. The Victoria Falls Hotel is one of the legendary hotels of
    Africa, where the British royal family once stayed; you must at least have
    tea on the terrace. And the waterfalls are one of the world's most
    extraordinary natural sights. Think of Niagara Falls, cubed, and you begin
    to get the idea. Just be sure to see them from the Zambian side as well. You
    can walk over to the Zambian side without a visa to see them from that side.
    Or you can stay a day on the Zambian side, in a hotel like the Zambezi Sun
    (which is much more expensive than the Zimbabwe hotels).

    Then I would recommend renting a car and exploring a bit of Zimbabwe. There
    are so few cars that driving is pretty safe. Just don't hit an elephant, and
    be polite at police checkpoints. The roads tend to be pretty good, and
    gasoline is readily available. On my previous trip, everything had to be
    purchased on the black market, but now Zimbabwe has effectively switched to
    the United States dollar as currency, and so inflation has ended and goods
    are available if you have the dollars. Of course, nobody takes credit cards,
    so bring lots of cash.

    One itinerary would take you to the Hwange National Park, where you can stay
    at a place like the Hwange Safari Lodge or the Hwange Main Camp. The park is
    an incredible place, teeming with elephants and zebras and giraffes and
    other animals. Last year a lion was chasing a deer-like creature right in
    front of the safari lodge when the deer jumped for safety into the lodge
    garden where guests were having lunch. The lion jumped right after it.
    Guests scattered, suddenly realizing that the lion was between them and the
    hotel building. But the lion was more alarmed than the people, and quickly

    You might also drive over to Binga, where there are some lodges and plenty
    of wildlife. And of course, stop at villages and schools. If you bring pens
    and notebooks, schools will treat you as a hero. And teachers speak English,
    so you have a ready-provided interpreter. (Lots of Zimbabweans speak some
    English, but in the villages it can be hard to find someone who speaks well
    enough to have a real conversation).

    So don't be scared away by Zimbabwe's political problems. Yes, it's a mess,
    and Robert Mugabe is a thug. But it's still a lovely country, and a terrific
    place to visit.


    Readers' Comments
    New York, NY
    April 9th, 2010
    1:38 am
    Mugabe is a brutal, racist dictator whose blood thirsty army murdered or
    drove out most all of the white farmers in Zimbabwe. The country is starving
    (the country, not the friendly people in your tour book happily spending
    your money). Funny, if you are a country under a tyrannical dictator who
    murders Jews that would not rate high on the list of places to visit for Mr.
    Kristof, no matter how friendly the Third Reich was to him and his family.
    Sudan? Chad? Eh, maybe skip that. But a brutal regime that massacres white
    families? Book your flights now! How disgusting.
    Recommend Recommended by 2 Readers
    Chris H
    Sydney, Australia
    April 9th, 2010
    1:38 am
    Where's the punchline?

    This is like writing an article in the 1980's "Visit South Africa! Sure,
    don't go if you're black and apartheid is a bit thuggish, but it's a
    beautiful country!"

    Where's the 2008 Nicholas? I want him back.
    Recommend Recommended by 1 Readers
    Ishe Komborera
    April 9th, 2010
    1:39 am
    What an accurate depiction tourism in Zimbabwe. Yes it is a beautiful
    country that I miss. Sadly I am in exile in Colorado but yearn to go home to
    rebuild my country. Just waiting for some relief from the never-ending talks
    between MDC and ZANU-PF. Nicholas in your travels in Zimbabwe did you come
    across the CAMPFIRE project? Please look that up as I remember it to be a
    remarkable way for the indigenous people to conserve the environment and
    benefit from it. I am trying to organise a fundraising event and would love
    to know what became of it as I feel it is a worthy cause...that's if it is
    not corrupted by ZANU-PF officials etc.
    Recommend Recommended by 1 Readers
    Steve Garrison
    Bellingham, Wa
    April 9th, 2010
    1:39 am
    Mr Kristoff

    I, and many others (including Western Governments) have been lamenting the
    criminal Mugabe for years w/ nary a mention of all those "poor white
    farmers." Were you totally out to lunch during the last election when the
    primary challenger was forces to flee the country? Due to Western pressure
    (So Africa and other African States refuse to condemn a hero of the anti
    colonial movement) a worthless power sharing deal was struck--in effect
    Mugabe's right hand ended up sharing some power w/ his left.

    Zimbabwe could have been one of the jewels of Africa--maybe someday it will
    be. Your reporting in this article was one of the worst I've ever seen you
    do from Africa. Next article, instead of making an inaccurate statement
    about Western Powers focusing on those poor white folks (true, maybe 10
    years ago), perhaps you could focus on the sin of silence echoing across
    Africa from African States. And if you really must lament the non-blacks
    ousted by Mugabe's criminal regime, the asian professional, and small
    business class would not be a bad place to start.
    Recommend Recommended by 1 Readers
    April 9th, 2010
    1:39 am
    Thanks so much for this post. Zimbabwe is such an amazing country with so
    much potential. I am actually moving there later this summer, so I'm glad to
    hear a positive report from you! Thanks always for your posts.
    Recommend Recommended by 2 Readers
    Robert Henry Eller
    Milan, Italy
    April 9th, 2010
    1:39 am
    Mr. Kristof: Until you can be honest with yourself, and your readers, and
    say what must be said: "Robert Mugabe, and his henchmen, must die. If the
    United States is a moral country, it must kill him, and them." Until then,
    you, and the rest of us, regardless of our "beautiful" thoughts, are
    garbage. We Americans allow the murder of innocent people in our name, while
    we refuse to save the lives of innocents killed by the most despicable
    murderers. At the moment, we Americans, as a people, are morally bankrupt.
    Recommend Recommended by 0 Readers
    Jon Songwe
    Lilongwe, Malawi
    April 9th, 2010
    1:39 am
    Well, maybe Mr. Kristof has just discovered what we black Africans had known
    for years .. that the western press has grossly exaggerated the Zimbabwe
    situation. The exaggeration is so deep that even at the time when all
    Zimbabweans across the political divide are calling for lifting of sanction,
    the west still insists on them.

    So why has the Zimbabwe case been exaggerated? The main problem is that the
    western press has chosen to embed itself within the minority whites of South
    Africa. As a result the views and reports we normally see in the western
    press as those of white South Africans. As such news of Africa always tend
    to be negative. Studies have suggested that white South Africans generally
    hold a negative view of Africa.

    The western press usually prefer white South Africans as reporters or
    commentators on African affairs.

    So, its good that you finally took that trip to see for yourself. Most of
    Africa is not as reported in the press.
    Recommend Recommended by 4 Readers
    Montgomery, Alabama
    April 9th, 2010
    1:40 am
    Zim is an embarrassment to the entire Anglo-Saxon world, which led the
    imposition of sanctions which forced out the white minority government to be
    replaced by one more suitably "democratic".

    When Ian Smith stepped down as PM, he predicted disaster, which has come to
    pass. While the predations of the replacement regime are lamented, it will
    be a cold day in hell before any of those who agitated for "change" will
    take aboard any responsibility for their unswerving, blind faith in a
    principle of governance which cannot succeed in cultures where the tribe -- 
    not the state -- remains the traditional object of loyalty. Transitioning
    from one to the other is not simply a matter of holding "free and fair"
    elections, with peace and prosperity soon to follow as an inevitable result.

    It requires generations of direct experience with the peculiar tools of
    governance required for a nation state to operate effectively and to the
    benefit of its citizens. That experience does not immediately take effect by
    installing ballot boxes.
    Recommend Recommended by 1 Readers
    Sophie G.
    Paris, France
    April 9th, 2010
    1:40 am
    Thank you Nick, for your excellent article. Always enjoy reading what you
    have written even if the topic is sometimes hard to stomach.

    I found it really interesting that you suggest Zimbabwe as a place to
    travel. I have a friend who works there periodically and says that the
    country is increasingly difficult to travel in. Do you find that this was
    not your experience? How safe would you say it is for a woman to travel
    there? Did your kids feel safe?

    I've always been fascinated by the country but assumed that it was
    effectively off limits for tourists. Would you say that it is as safe as
    Vietnam for a woman to travel there?
    Recommend Recommended by 1 Readers
    Ls Vegas
    April 9th, 2010
    1:40 am

    Zimbabwe is another Jimmy Carter mess. What did we expect to happen when
    Ambassador Andrew Jackson shows up with a blank check. There are accounts of
    Zanu villagers burning there own school in order to get US money to build
    another. Zimbabwe has been a one party state since Mugabe beat Joshua Nkomo.
    The simple fact of the matter is that unqualified people were brought in to
    run trains, electrical power grids, water purification systems and a million
    other jobs in the name of political correctness. made
    your bed, now sleep in it!!
    Recommend Recommended by 1 Readers
    Yao S. Kudayah
    Harrison, NY
    April 9th, 2010
    1:41 am
    I applaud you for taking the trip to Zimbabwe with your family to see for
    yourselves the delporable living condition of the people in a once triving
    country. Most Western Journalists always describe what is gone wrong but
    never ask the question why. FACT: At the Lancaster Conference in 1989, the
    DEMAND of President Robert Mugabe and the liberation movement was that all
    farmers who were settled on Zimbabwe lands illegally should vacate such
    immediately. Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher appealed that the economy of
    Great Britain at that was too weak to absorb the repatriates. She asked for
    ten year grace period to allow for a gradual buy off of the farmers with
    money provided by the British Government. After she left office, Prime
    Minister John Major reneged on the agreement; so did Prime Minister Tony
    Blair. To add insult to injury, Tony Blair blamed Robert Mugabe for the
    disagreement between Great Britain and Zimbabwe and convinced the
    international community to put economic embargo on Zimbabwe to break the
    will of the people. The Liberation War was fought for the land and people in
    the developed world refuse to understand that. Starving the people of
    Zimbabwe through economic embargo and sabotage is the means through which
    the so-called international community wants to reverse history.
    Recommend Recommended by 1 Readers
    April 9th, 2010
    1:41 am
    Zimbabwe, even a few years ago, is the most stunning place I have ever
    visited. I would go back in a second. Also, the Mana Pools National Park is
    one of the most beautiful places in the world.
    Recommend Recommended by 1 Readers
    News Hound
    New York, NY
    April 9th, 2010
    3:20 am
    Kristof should have addressed the concerns that his stories inevitably
    raise: is there a contradiction between pleasure-seeking tourism and the
    needs of a country struggling against fierce government repression? And why
    does Kristof identify only Mugabe? Is it the power of only one man keeping
    an entire country in chains? What about his party? What about his
    international supporters? What about the Zimbabwean elites? The so-called
    veterans occupying farms? If Zimbabwe is a successful tourist destination,
    will it make the country more free?
    Recommend Recommended by 1 Readers
    New York
    April 9th, 2010
    3:20 am

    Good article! I've followed the Zimbabwe story for 20 years and took it upon
    myself to visit the country in 2009. I concluded that it is definitely a top
    notch tourist destination. The combination of friendly people, unparalleled
    weather conditions and sites that couldn't possibly be replicated anywhere
    makes this country truly unique. I went back there again in February of 2010
    to see the rest of the country. The people alone were worth the trip. It's
    undeniable that Mugabe has been an embarrassment to Africa. A tyrant of the
    worst kind. One who oppresses his own people just to stay in power. But I
    don't think we should punish the wonderful and already oppressed people of
    Zimbabwe for Mugabe's actions (The people of Zimbabwe have voted him out
    twice, but he has resorted to violence in order to stay in power)

    I would strongly recommend, Victoria Falls, Lake Kariba, Mana Pools,Inyanga
    Mountains, Great Zimbabwe and Matopos. I promise you that you won't regret
    the trip. In Sub-Saharan Africa , Zimbabwe's accommodation and hospitality
    is comparable only to South Africa. And it's probably the safest country in
    Africa. See it for yourself!

    Recommend Recommended by 4 Readers
    Fight or Flight
    No longer in South Africa
    April 9th, 2010
    3:20 am
    Yes, Zimbabwe is a beautiful country and I enjoyed doing river rafting on
    the Zambezi, and is probably safer than South Africa to travel to at the

    To Jon Songwe, the article is about Zimbabwe being a beautiful country to
    visit and they still agree that the country is in a mess because of Robert
    Mugabe. South Africa was at it strongest during times of sanctions and is
    now hiding behind an Afrikaans word "Aprtheid" that means to be seperateness
    and has nothing to do with hate. Zimbabwe is hiding behind "sanctions".
    Forcing people of land that were formerly rich with crops are now just rural
    areas. Maybe you should visit Zimbabwe. Also keep your racial comments for

    The American dollar is used as currency, for the Zimbabwian dollar is
    basically non-existing. It is cheaper to use Zim dollar notes for toilet
    paper than to use it to buy toilet paper.

    If you really need to see a country in Southern Africa and explore wildlife
    etc., rather visit Botswana.
    Recommend Recommended by 1 Readers
    portland, oregon
    April 9th, 2010
    5:57 am
    I think some computer hacker from Onion magazine has gotten control of your
    column's website. You could have at least had the decency to place this "Try
    Zimbabwe" piece in the Travel section of the Times where it belongs.
    I realize a lot of hardworking Americans feel they deserve a socially
    unconscious screw the politics and human rights...go anwhere that is cheap
    and beautiful vacation.
    But there are also a lot of hardworking Americans who forsake a regular
    vacation in order to spend their time on antipoverty and social justice
    projects around the world. These are the people that come to you for advice.
    After this column they will probably go to someone else for direction

    Recommend Recommended by 0 Readers
    April 9th, 2010
    11:57 am
    I lived in Zimbabwe for three years in the late 90's and can attest to the
    friendliness of the people and the beauty of the country. During our first
    year there in 1997, Zimbabwe was a net exporter of food. By 1999 it was
    already a net importer of food. The past ten years of Mugabe have been
    devastating as you pointed out. Zim can, once again, be Africa's breadbasket
    with the political change so many citizens desire but are fearful of the
    Zanu-PF thugs protecting their power and status.

    In 1998 I saw Ian Smith at a grocery store in Borrowdale and was amazed at
    the number of indigenous Zimbabweans that flocked around him in obvious
    admiration. That was an eye opening experience for me. Even then (a pretty
    good period) blacks were saying things were far better under Smith.
    Recommend Recommended by 1 Readers
    April 9th, 2010
    11:57 am
    I had the honor of living in Zimbabwe for 8 months and while there I lived
    with whites and blacks while I worked with schools, orphaneges, and the
    Zimbabwe Outward Bound school. That was in 1999, things were on the decline
    then. It is a terrible tragedy what has occured since then. I cannot speak
    for anyone but myself, but Mugabe and his party have ruined the country and
    killed millions - through terrible government. Anyone who could has left and
    those that are left are saints trying to save lives. What can be done? Could
    someone please trip Mugabe down a long flight of stairs.
    Recommend Recommended by 1 Readers
    Alan MacDonald
    Sanford, Maine
    April 9th, 2010
    11:57 am
    Nick, since my comment was censored from posts on your column today, I
    thought I would give the NYT censors another try here on your own personal
    blog --- which I assumed that you might have some direct control over.

    "Kristof reports awful conditions for the vast majority of the population,
    which augers for social unrest in the absence of repressive control

    However, the gross level of economic oppression is not the most accurate
    measure of civil oppression and angst.

    The CIA warns that it is rather the relative measure of economic inequality
    which most oppresses people and which is most enflaming of civil unrest.

    Economists 'gold standard' for measuring relative economic inequality in a
    society is the GINI Coefficient of Income Inequality, which is simple scale
    from 0 to 1, where 0 indicates totally egalitarian distribution of inomce
    and 1 indicates all income held by one person.

    Ironically, Kristof does not report that the US GINI Coefficient of Income
    Inequality (at 0.49 and growing fast) is closer to Zimbabwe's (0.53), and is
    off the charts compared to all other European and Japanese advanced (real)
    social democracies ranging from 0.23 to 0.32.

    Perhaps this year or next we can exceed Zimbabwe and proudly shout out that
    "We're #1" (IN INCOME INEQUALITY).

    Alan MacDonald
    Sanford, Maine
    Recommend Recommended by 2 Readers
    Elliot E.
    April 9th, 2010
    11:58 am
    Thanks for the article on Zimbabwe. FYI, I found the recorded course African
    Experience from Lucy to Mandela by Kenneth Vickery of NC State particularly
    instructive re Rhodesian history. Including the similarities with North
    Carolina (both had cities known as Salisbury).

    Vickery reviews the long march of colonialism and makes the distinction
    between nations where Europeans came to trade, and those (SA and Rhodesia)
    where they came to settle.

    It is too simple to dismiss the European effects on Africa as evil, and
    emergence from colonialism as good. Life is never that simple. So sad that
    Rhodesia once the breadbasket of Africa and how obligated to import

    Life is not that simple. The course is here
    Recommend Recommended by 0 Readers
    Vancouver BC
    April 10th, 2010
    6:31 am
    Mr Kristof, having been raised in Rhodesia (it was not Zimbabwe till a
    decade after I left), I have a couple of comments about your article. Of
    course it's evident that the tragedy has struck the poor the worst, but you
    strain your credibility (to understate the matter considerably) by
    dismissing the travails of white farmers as 'white tribalism'. The violence
    against the enormously productive white farmers and seizures of their farms
    are a prime cause of the poverty and starvation in Zimbabwe. The seizures
    were not so as to allow black farmers to till the soil and feed the
    country - they were racist attacks, and the violence horrific! It was
    encouraged and permitted by the Mugabe regime to distract from their own
    corruption and incompetence, and as a sop to the so-called war veterans. The
    Mugabe regime is racist, corrupt, greedy, and cares nothing for the people
    of Zimbabwe, black or white. Why are you advocating visiting the country?
    The country is wracked with violence, racism, corruption, fear, and the
    press is gagged.. It's not only rural blacks who are suffering. Middle
    classes of all races have become poor. You should be advocating change, not

    How tragic that people long for the days of Ian Smith - on the other hand,
    as they said, there was food on the table...
    Recommend Recommended by 1 Readers
    T. Yossef
    San Francisco, CA
    April 10th, 2010
    6:31 am
    WOW!! Don't know where to start. First off, for the record, I am not a
    Mugabe apologist: he is a dictator, happens to be black and his country's
    liberation hero. But this blog entry, the Op-Ed piece and the many comments
    show clearly why Africa will end up being much closer to China than to the

    I am a black African, have lived in many parts of the World including many
    parts of Africa. True, we have not been endowed with many good leaders but
    Mugabe is no worse than many other African leaders today. It is just that
    the ones who are being oppressed in this case are white: the chosen race.
    One thing that Africans hate more than dictatorship is being lectured. So go
    on, get on your pedestal and preach but don't be surprised if we don't
    listen to you.

    Next trip for Mr. Kristof: reminiscing of the Apartheid years in South
    Africa followed by a bus tour of the deep South in the US, where slaves had
    it made.

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    Mugabe’s handiwork
    Written by Editor

    Friday, 09 April 2010 14:56

    The results of President Robert Mugabe’s handiwork were again on display
    last week, with two reports released by a United Nations agency and the
    US-based Food Early Warning System and Network (FEWSNET) detailing how the
    Zanu (PF) leader has driven to the ground a nation that was once one of the
    jewels in Africa’s crown. (Pictured: President Robert Mugabe)
    According to the UNICEF’s Child-Sensitive Social Protection in Zimbabwe
    report, an estimated 78 percent of Zimbabweans live in absolute poverty,
    while a burgeoning HIV/AIDS pandemic has killed many breadwinners to leave
    large numbers of child-headed families, most of who cannot meet any of their
    basic needs and suffer from chronic hunger.
    In a food security report, the FEWSNET said that more than three million
    Zimbabweans were in need of food aid between January and March and
    projections are that the 2009/10 agriculture harvest will again fall short
    of the country’s consumption needs.
    The Zanu (PF) merchants of hunger will no doubt be quick to remind us that
    Zimbabwe and southern Africa have suffered erratic rains for much of the
    past decade. They will hasten to refresh our memories about how the world
    financial crisis has hit every country hard. Hypocrites and liars! The
    undeniable truth is that Zimbabwe is in this sorry state solely because of
    the actions and policies of Mugabe and Zanu (PF). God is our witness.
    Their so-called land reforms and every call from them for black economic
    empowerment are nothing but cheap lies to cover their tracks and justify
    looting property from fellow citizens, starving innocent orphans and
    torturing those who oppose their vile ways. Just see how in the midst of all
    this poverty and suffering all we hear from them is endless moaning that
    Western countries should lift the travel and financial bans on Mugabe, his
    wife, family and close associates.
    How will a visa for Jocelyn Chiwenga or Grace Mugabe to go shopping in
    London or New York bring food to the thousands of child-headed families
    recorded by UNICEF? Of course, the vampires are too busy looting the riches
    of Marange to hear the cries of the poor and hungry.
    But what must be has to be. Justice is a must and every one of the looters
    and torturers shall one day have to account for their deeds. And let no one
    among them say they were never warned!

    Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP


    Dear Family and Friends,

    When you ask people how they've survived this dreadful decade in
    Zimbabwe, almost everyone mentions the name Gideon Gono (Governor of
    the Reserve Bank.) People say they would have been able to salvage
    something if it hadn't been for Gono's incessant printing of money -
    and bragging about it; for his inability and unwillingness to control
    government spending; for his looting of foreign currency from private
    bank accounts, and for his removal of zeroes from the currency: 3
    were taken off in 2006 and 10 in 2008. It's hard to understand how
    any of us survived really and inevitable that we will feel the
    repercussions for a very long time to come.

    For the first time in most people's lives we do not have savings to
    fall back on in case of accidents, illness or unemployment. Savings
    accounts we had in banks, post offices and investment centres have
    disappeared as each removal of zeroes literally stole our money away
    in front of our very eyes. You have to look at your bank balance,
    remove thirteen digits and then understand the state we are in here.
    Life insurance policies and pension funds have been similarly looted.

    Anyone who held their assets in cash and savings and not in immovable
    property, has lost everything. Anyone who held their assets in land,
    livestock, crops or anything to do with farms and agriculture, has
    lost everything.

    Trust funds established for disabled, sick and disadvantaged people
    have evaporated in the last decade. One friend told me how her
    parents had established a trust fund for their mentally handicapped
    son and built it up every month throughout their lives. When her
    parents died their assets were sold and also put into the Trust
    leaving enough money in the fund to support the disadvantaged man for
    the rest of his life. Thanks to the gross economic mismanagement of
    Zimbabwe, there is nothing left in the Trust Fund, in fact it ran dry
    four years ago and the handicapped man now lives entirely on charity
    in a dilapidated state institution.

    Pensioners are in an equally perilous position, life savings lost in
    hyperinflation, assets sold and cash lost in repeated currency
    devaluations and no way to replace anything as their age forces them
    into a retirement of virtual penury.

    Facing a future in such perilous conditions it brings little comfort
    to follow the ongoing seizure and auctioning of Reserve Bank assets.
    The Reserve Bank ordered and took possession of 60 tractors from
    Farmtec which they gave out to farmers in an attempt to persuade them
    to grow food on the farms seized by Zanu PF. Well, the food never got
    grown and the tractors never got paid for and now Farmtec want their
    money back - US 1,2 million dollars in fact! We follow the saga with
    interest as Reserve Bank assets get taken by Sherrifs and put up for
    auction. So far we've heard that some tractors have been repossessed
    along with chains, hoes, wheelbarrows, furniture, fridges and
    hundreds of generators. Hearing about the generators being auctioned
    brings back memories of Mr Mugabe dishing them out at every election
    rally in 2008 saying that every town would be electrified thanks to
    this Reserve Bank programme. Writing this letter by hand during
    another 16 hour power cut all I can say is : I don't think so!

    Now we wait, holding our breath, to see if enough money will be
    raised through the sale of these movable assets to pay the Farmtec
    debt or if some of the lavish properties we've heard so much about
    will be next. Maybe it is true that what goes around comes around
    after all, albeit very slowly.

    Until next time, thanks for reading, love Cathy � Copyright cathy
    buckle 10th April 2010

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