On April 3, we carried a story copied from www.newzimbabwe.com. We have now
removed this story at the request of Annabel Hughes, and print her statement
Statement from Annabel Hughes, President of Annabel Hughes Communications,
On Monday, April 3, 2006 www.newzimbabwe.com carried a story under the
heading "E. Guinea tyrant buys Mugabe critic" claiming that Annabel Hughes
of Annabel Hughes Communications Inc. (AHC) is "now doing public relations
for Equatorial Guinea dictator, Obiang Nguema Masogo." This story is not
only false, but slanderous.
These are the facts:
Annabel Hughes, president of AHC, was hired in December 2004 by Ambassador
Rick Burt (former U.S. ambassador to Germany), an affiliate of leading
Washington lobby firm Barbour, Griffith & Rogers, on behalf of Milestone
International Partners LLC (Milestone), an investment firm with offices in
New York City and Washington, D.C.
Milestone was exploring the possibility of setting up a "Fund for the
Future" out of Equatoguinean oil revenue, similar to those funds set up in
Kuwait and Norway-where a percentage of the revenue from oil investments is
returned to the citizens of the country through social development projects.
Milestone set up this project under the name Farragut Advisors EG.
As an Africa specialist with extensive contacts in Washington, D.C., Annabel
Hughes was asked by Ambassador Burt on behalf of Milestone [Farragut
Advisors] to undertake a risk assessment and perception analysis about
Equatorial Guinea among the United States Government, international
institutions, human rights organizations, and private companies.
From January to March 2005 Annabel Hughes conducted research on behalf of
Milestone [Farragut Advisors]. Perceptions were not favorable, and by May
2005 it became clear that the feasibility of setting up a "Fund for the
Future" was unlikely. Annabel Hughes terminated her contract with Milestone
[Farragut Advisors] in August 2005, after returning from an extended trip to
Africa. At the same time Annabel Hughes deregistered with the Foreign
Agents' Registration Act (FARA), stating: "Activities ceased on 01/21/05,
the date registered. The agreement never materialized and the activities
performed were only information gathering activities." This statement is on
record at the U.S. Department of Justice.
Note: Since September 11, 2001 strict anti-terrorism laws in the United
States demand that any affiliation with a foreign entity-no matter how
ambiguous-has to be registered with FARA. Because Milestone [Farragut
Advisors] was intending to negotiate with the Equatoguinean government to
set up a "Fund for the Future" on its behalf, Annabel Hughes was advised to
register with FARA. Contracted alongside Barbour, Griffith & Rogers, both
companies were advised by Milestone's legal counsel on how to fill out the
FARA form. At no time has Annabel Hughes ever been directly contracted by
the Equatoguinean government.
Tuesday, April 11 2006 @ 12:05 AM BST
Contributed by: correspondent
The introduction of the $10 000 note planned for June could be
jeorpadised following revelations that government is failing to raise six
million Euros to pay the German printing firm that will produce the notes.
According to government sources, the German firm Giesecke & Devrient has
asked for the six million Euro as down-payment to print the notes. The total
printing cost is estimated to cost about 30 million Euros.
Zimdaily heard the Zimbabwean government last month engaged
Giesecke & Devrient to print the new $10 000 note, the highest denomination,
as a measure to deal with the current crisis. The government says it also
intends to phase out of circulation the current $500 note, which is too
expensive to print, and replace it with a new one. The Reserve Bank of
Zimbabwe (RBZ) has already introduced bearer cheques as it battles to deal
with the crisis that has crippled operations in commerce and industry.
Official sources told Zimdaily that commercial banks enlisted by
the RBZ to hunt for the foreign currency in United States dollars to pay
the German firm had only so far raised US$4 million. "They have
failed to raise that money. They have only raised US$4 million against US$6
million," said a source. Giesecke & Devrient are a respected money printer
and also a leading supplier of banknote paper and banknote ink.
Finance Minister Herbert Murerwa referred Zimdaily to his
permanent secretary and the Reserve Bank governor when reached for comment.
Analysts said the government continued to face difficulties to
raise hard currency. The foreign currency market has remained tight, with
inflows for March amounting to a meagre US$25,3 million compared to outflows
of US$27,7 million. The analysts said most of the foreign currency proceeds
were going towards meeting Zimbabwe's huge import bill that includes fuel,
electricity, salaries for embassy staff and food imports to mitigate
starvation affecting up to six million people. "Energy needs have not been
satisfied yet and this continues to have a bearing on the limited currency
circulating in the official market," said one analyst. Money market sources
said government's raid on the parallel market for the American greenback to
pay the German firm was behind the firming of the US dollar against the
Tuesday, April 11 2006 @ 12:04 AM BST
Contributed by: correspondent
President Robert Mugabe is secretly negotiating immunity from
prosecution for crimes committed during his 26-year rule. According to
sources close to both his Zanu-PF party and the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC), he has been forced to manoeuvre for a peaceful exit
from power by the country's deteriorating economic and humanitarian
conditions and intensifying international pressure.
Mugabe,82, cannot come up with solutions to he hunger and
poverty gripping Zimbabwe, and his regime's network of repression is
stretched to breaking point - as even his militia cannot get adequate food
for their families. Mugabe is looking for an exit plan that will allow him
to step down with dignity and keep him from standing trial for a variety of
charges, including the Matabeleland massacres of the mid-1980s and the more
recent torture and killings of MDC supporters.
Mugabe is now talking to church leaders and other intermediaries
about constitutional reform that would grant him immunity and allow a
transition to free and fair elections. If talks make progress in the coming
months, Mugabe would retire as chairman of Zanu-PF at the party's annual
conference in December. Zanu-PF and the MDC would then negotiate a new
constitution, which would be ratified by parliament and pave the way for
parliamentary and presidential elections.
The deadline for elections emerged after US President George W.
Bush met South African President Thabo Mbeki in Pretoria recently. Bush put
Mbeki in charge of finding a resolution to the Zimbabwean crisis, and it is
understood that he gave the South African leader a year to achieve positive
results. Zimbabwean civic leaders believe Mugabe's efforts to extricate
himself from responsibility are so advanced that they issued an call for all
perpetrators of human rights abuses to be held accountable.
The leaders of Zimbabwean women's groups, churches, teachers'
unions, lawyers' and doctors' organ isations and other professional bodies
demanded that the Mugabe government put 'an immediate end to political
violence and intimidation' when they met in South Africa. The UN was urged
to send a special rapporteur to Zimbabwe to assess the human rights
environment. The African Commission on Human and People's Rights was asked
to release the report on its mission to Zimbabwe last year.
A co-ordinator of the Crisis in Zimbabwe coalition, said the
pressure for change came externally 'from South Africa and Nigeria because
they must prove there is concrete progress. But the most potent pressure is
the growing poverty, hunger and starvation on the ground in Zimbabwe.' The
pressure on Mugabe from continuing hunger was highlighted by new estimates
from the UN World Food Programme that 3.3 million Zimbabweans are currently
in urgent need of food aid. WFP expects the number to increase to 5.5
million by June.
"People are so desperate for food that, at some distribution
sites, beneficiaries have been seen opening and eating uncooked rations on
the spot,' said a WFP official. "Some reportedly lack the strength to even
carry their food home."
Tuesday, April 11 2006 @ 12:03 AM BST
Contributed by: correspondent
President Robert Mugabe has pegged his pension benefits to
almost the same level as the salary of a sitting president, Zimdaily heard
yesterday. But the main opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC), said it would scrap the decision that Mugabe is set to sign into law
as soon as it gained power. The MDC said considering the damage Mugabe's
policies had done to the Zimbabwean economy, he should have volunteered to
forfeit his pension and rely on the wealth that he and his cronies had
looted from Zimbabwe and stashed abroad.
In a move to guarantee his comfort when he leaves office, Mugabe
is set to sign into law legislation that pegs his pension benefits to at
least 75% of the salary and benefits of any sitting president. Officials in
the justice ministry confirmed the pension plan. One said: "The decision ...
is naturally meant to cushion Mugabe from any fluctuations in the inflation
rate." The wording of the new law is such that only Mugabe and his family
qualify for the generous pension benefits. It disqualifies his predecessor,
the late Canaan Banana, who served as president until 1987 before Mugabe
ousted him and combined the offices of president and prime minister.
The move comes after Mugabe awarded himself a series of pay
hikes amounting to more than 1 000% in the past year. The move has reignited
speculation that Mugabe intends to step down soon, but the MDC and civic
groups said it rather showed that he, like other African tyrants, only cared
for his own comfort. Mugabe's wife Grace and their children will also get
generous payments as part of the pension plan.
The Herald (Harare)
April 10, 2006
Posted to the web April 10, 2006
CASH-STRAPPED Air Zimbabwe is now being bailed out by the Reserve Bank of
Zimbabwe amid reports that the airline is generating only 35 percent of its
required revenue as it continues to lose billions of dollars through the
transit visa system and other operation-related problems.
The visa system requires the airline to foot accommodation and other related
costs for foreign passengers in the event of a cancellation of scheduled
flights. This was revealed last week by Air Zimbabwe acting chief executive
Captain Oscar Madombwe when he presented oral evidence before the
parliamentary portfolio committee on Mines, Environment and Tourism on the
challenges facing the airline.
Capt Madombwe told the committee that foreign travellers were required to
pay US$100 for the transit visa and in the event of cancellation or delay in
the flight the airline would be responsible for looking after the passengers
and this was costing Air Zimbabwe billions of dollars. "The transit visa
system is something that is killing us, especially in relation to the
cancellation of flights," he said.
The acting Air Zimbabwe boss said flights could be disrupted due to various
reasons, among them go-slows by engineers and pilots. However, chief
immigration officer Mr Elasto Mugwadi, wh o also presented oral evidence
before the committee, said the transit visa system was not applied to all
foreigners who pass through Zimbabwe.
He said the system was applied on a reciprocal basis, meaning that it
applied to those foreign travellers from countries where Zimbabwean
travellers were required to apply for transit visas. "There are some country
nationals who don't pay transit visas. The British make us buy transit visas
when passing through their country en route to another country so they
(also) have to buy transit visas here," he said.
Turning to some of the challenges facing Air Zimbabwe, Capt Madombwe said
the airline was operating at a loss as it was generating 35 percent revenue
of its total costs. "We are operating in a very difficult environment as we
are suffering from revenue reduction. We are being supported by the Reserve
Bank of Zimbabwe," he said.
Capt Madombwe said only a very few routes that were being plied by the
national airline were generating significant revenue with the
Harare-Johannesburg route having become the cash cow. The airline's woes had
been worsened by the fact that it was procuring Jet A1 fuel at a much higher
price than its competitors that included South African Airways, he said.
Air Zimbabwe was buying Jet A1 fuel at US$0,86 a litre while South African
Airways was buying the same litre at US$0,55. Capt Madombwe attributed the
poor passenger care and attention by some of the national airline's staff to
adverse working conditions. "At the airport we used to be the best, but
things have slowed down. That friendly hospitality is no longer there. Yes,
we have done some training, but the results are not yielding what we want,"
he said. "In the case of Air Zimbabwe, it is not a case of not being
innovative, but going back to the basics.
We can get the newest and best aeroplanes, but we can still lose business to
our competitors if there is no hospitality." Negative perceptions about the
safety of flying A ir Zimbabwe coupled with problems the airline is facing,
have led to a drastic decrease in the number of passengers from one million
annually in 1999 to 230 000 last year. The parastatal plans to buy five
additional cargo and passenger planes with a view of replacing some of its
ageing fleet. Currently, the airline has a fleet of eight cargo and
passenger planes, three of which are MA60 planes acquired from China last
UK Invests £22 Million to Improve the Lives of Zimbabwe's Orphans and
NEW YORK / LONDON / HARARE, 11 April 2006 - The UK's Department for
International Development (DFID) has given £22 million to the UN Children's
Fund (UNICEF) in Zimbabwe in a bid to improve the plight of orphans and
vulnerable children across the country.
"Almost one in three children in Zimbabwe, 1.6 million, are now orphaned,
having lost at least one parent, and this number is growing," UNICEF
Executive Director Ann M. Veneman said. "HIV and AIDS have dramatically
increased children's vulnerability in recent years."
The funding from DFID - the largest ever to UNICEF in Zimbabwe - will help
deliver a national plan of action for orphans and vulnerable children.
"This generous contribution will help us achieve one of the four main goals
of the "Unite for Children, Unite Against AIDS" global campaign - to protect
and support children affected by HIV/AIDS," Veneman said.
UNICEF convened "Unite for Children, Unite against AIDS" to highlight and
address the effects of HIV/AIDS pandemic on children and to work towards
Millennium Development Goal (MDG) 6 - to halt and begin to reverse the
spread of the disease by 2015. In addition to protecting and supporting
children who have lost parents to the disease, the campaign aims to prevent
mother-to-child HIV transmission, provide paediatric treatment and prevent
infection among adolescents and young people.
As part of Zimbabwe's National Plan of Action (NPA) for orphans and
vulnerable children, UNICEF is embarking on a massive programme to improve
the health, education, protection and nutrition of the country's orphans and
vulnerable children. The National Plan has the support of the highest levels
of government, as well as the United Nations and civil society in Zimbabwe.
The funds from DFID will go towards:
. Increasing school enrolment of orphans and vulnerable children
. Family and community support
. School nutrition programmes
. Increasing the number of children with birth certificates
. Increasing access to food, health services, water and sanitation
. Reducing the number of children living outside a family environment.
. Reducing physical abuse of orphans
UK Secretary of State for International Development Hilary Benn said, "New
data shows that the number of orphans in Zimbabwe will rise even after the
number of adults infected with HIV starts to decline. It's now essential to
put programmes in place to ensure these children have somewhere to live,
enough to eat, healthcare and education. Today's funding from the UK
Government will help UNICEF reach these most vulnerable of children."
"We are grateful to DFID for their continued support of UNICEF's work," said
Veneman. "These funds will make possible programmes critical to the health
and well being of a growing population of children left on their own in
Despite the country's much-publicised economic collapse, Zimbabweans
continue to lead by example in their care for the country's orphans and
vulnerable children. More than 90 per cent of the country's orphans have
been absorbed by the extended family. Two in five households in the poorest
areas of rural Zimbabwe care for orphans and other vulnerable children. And
yet until now, less than half of all these rural households received any
form of free external support in the past year.
The NPA for orphans and vulnerable children now calls upon the private
sector and international donors to provide resources; community-based
organizations and traditional leaders to support Child Protection Committees
at the village, district and provincial level; and parents, teachers,
children and church members to work to educate their peers, colleagues and
congregations about the NPA, and then push for its success.
All money to Zimbabwe from the UK government goes through UN agencies and
Non-Governmental Organisations. The funds from DFID, in addition to £2m
given to UNICEF last year, will be distributed over four years. They come as
Zimbabwean children are faced with some of the worst hardships confronting
children anywhere in the world. These include:
. A child is orphaned every 20 minutes in Zimbabwe
. One in eight children now die before the age of five compared with one in
13 children 15 years ago
. Three infants become infected with HIV every hour
. Every 20 minutes a child dies of AIDS in Zimbabwe
Hilary Benn added: "Anyone who has seen the hardships of these orphans and
the resolve and determination of struggling Zimbabweans to assist them must
be moved to help. In UNICEF we have a partner who is reaching out to orphans
across the country. I hope others will now join us."
For 60 years UNICEF has been the world's leader for children, working on the
ground in 155 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive,
from early childhood through adolescence. The world's largest provider of
vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and
nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys
and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and
AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of
individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.
For further information, please contact:
James Elder, UNICEF Zimbabwe, 263 91 276120 firstname.lastname@example.org
Rhyddid Carter, DFID Press Office, London 44 (0)20 7023 0849 Fax: +44 (0)20
Susan Lagana, email@example.com, UNICEF Media, New York (1) 212 326 7516
By a Correspondent
LAST week we published an article with Chenjerai Hove, one of Zimbabwe's
most prolific writers. He now lives in exile in Norway. In the second of our
stories with some of Zimbabwe's prominent sons and daughters, we talk to
Bill Saidi, the Editor of the banned Daily News on Sunday and former
assistant editor at The Daily News. Since the forced closure of the
newspapers by the government in 2003, Saidi has effectively been out of a
job though he remained holding fort, hoping for that day when the Zimbabwean
authorities will hopefully agree to have the newspapers back on the streets.
Many within Zimbabwe who have no regular access to the worldwide web miss
his critical writing. Mr Saidi, a seasoned journalist, has worked in Zambia
and Zimbabwe. He remains in Zimbabwe facing up to the many challenges being
experienced by the ordinary person on the street. He urges all Zimbabwean
journalists around the world to rise up and fight for freedom of expression
in a country that has some of the most draconian pieces of legislation meant
to stop the journalists from reporting honestly on the situation obtaining
in the country. Mr Saidi, also now a social commentator on issues in
Zimbabwe and the southern African region, spoke with Sandra Nyaira.
SN: You have remained with the Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe
following the closure of The Daily News and The Daily News on Sunday. Can
you please tell us what plans you have in the near future?
BS: My future plans depend on what happens to the newspapers - The
Daily News and The Daily News on Sunday. If they are not to reappear, I
suppose I will take my chances with writing novels or short stories. Or look
for a newspaper which might be willing to employ someone of my age as a
sub-editor or columnist or something. In short, my plans for the future
depend, perhaps not on me, but on others.
SN: What are your aspirations and wishes as an ordinary Zimbabwean at
this moment when things seem to be getting worse in the country?
BS: My aspirations are related to freedom of _expression. As a
Zimbabwean I wish to be able to say my piece on any subject under the sun,
whether it is to criticize the government or to praise it. My aspirations
also relate to the prosperity of the country. I wish to be able to
contribute to this prosperity, in any way I can, but particularly by
advocating for freedom of _expression, which alone can ensure that all
citizens have an opportunity to fulfil their aspirations. In freedom,
everything is possible; even the citizen with the least ambitions has an
opportunity to achieve them. At the moment, there is an atmosphere which
allows only citizens with certain party affiliations to advance themselves.
Our society today is based on bootlicking for success. Many citizens with
grand ambitions cannot fulfil them because they are not members of Zanu PF.
I think this is absolutely terrible and anti-democratic. I doubt that the
people who died during the struggle would subscribe to this exclusivity. The
country is covered in a blanket of political terror - for anyone who doesn't
support Zanu PF and its Stalinist ways.
SN: You paint a very bleak picture of the situation in the country,
what do you think the future holds for the upcoming Zimbabwean journalist in
light of the oppressive media laws, lack of teaching materials, the Border
Gezi youth being pushed into journalism and other higher education classes
without enough qualifications?
BS: I think it's time for a head-on struggle against AIPPA, against
POSA, against government control of the media - Zimpapers, radio and
television. At every forum, journalists should speak out against the control
of the media by the government. It must be condemned, without reservations.
There should be marches and demonstrations against these laws. All
journalists must be activists in this fight for freedom of _expression. The
future of the freedom of _expression in this country will determine the
future of its political and economic progress.
SN: As a journalist who has been able to work during the colonial era
and in independent Zimbabwe, how do you feel about the treatment you have
received from a black government.
BS: I think it would not be an exaggeration to say most of us have
been treated, if not as carriers of a deadly virus known as freedom, then
like enemies of the State right from the beginning of independence. As I
said, if you were not with Zanu PF, you were against it. And were treated as
such. During the struggle, I wrote about the struggle, In fact, in many ways
some of us sacrificed objectivity in the cause of propagating the doctrine
of independence from colonialism. We were courted by the nationalists
because we were useful in articulating their aspirations, which happened to
be our own as well. After independence, the obsession with the control of
the media led the government to condemn every journalist who, even remotely,
criticized their policies. In 25 years I worked for The Herald (Zimpapers),
Modus, Horizon and lastly ANZ. Horizon is the only publication I left on my
own and without feeling that I was on the verge of being kicked out, for
political reasons. During colonialism, there was little freedom of
_expression, but The African Daily News on which I worked for four years
campaigned vigorously for independence and it was only under The Rhodesian
Front government that it got into hot water.
The saddest moment for me was the police raid on the ANZ offices in
2003. I think this sealed the freedom of the media in Zimbabwe.
SN: What do you think needs to be done to unite Zimbabwean journalists
who remain so polarised and divided over the crisis in the country?
BS: An effort must be made, through dialogue and seminars, to make the
government media journalists aware of what harm they are inflicting on their
country by reporting ONLY on the sunshine in the country, and not reporting
on the storms and hurricanes - in a manner of speaking. We must speak to
SN: Besides journalism, what else have you been doing in the past few
years - have you been blessed with any grandchildren, if so, how many do you
have now? Do you stay and play around with them or you are a grandfather who
concentrates on his work more than family?
BS: I have had three novels published in Zimbabwe. I have also had
short stories published in two anthologies. I have won a prize in a BBC
short story contest. I have six children and 11 grandchildren. My children
are scattered - there are only two still in Zimbabwe; two are in South
Africa and two more in the UK. The only time I play with the grandchildren
is when they are brought back to Zimbabwe by their parents. Otherwise we
play by remote control - on the telephone.
I have written an occasional article for The Zimbabwe Independent.
Also some Letters to the Editor. My views on the current situation in the
country are sought, once in a while by South African and British radio
stations, though not as regularly as when we were publishing. Most of the
time I am working on my novel.
This Day, Nigeria
From The Economist
Thabo Mbeki, South Afr-ica's president, has had a mixed record during his
seven years in power. But perhaps the best thing he has done for Africa is
to declare that he will call it a day after his second term in office, as
the constitution requires, and not seek re-election in 2009. His
predecessor, Nelson Mandela, resigned after just one term, in 1999, and now
lives in saintly retirement.
For many other African leaders, unfortunately, staying in power becomes an
all-consuming passion, always to the detriment of their own country and
people. That has been true of Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe for some time, of
course. But with the emergence of a new generation of leaders in the 1990s,
as part of what Mr Mbeki himself dubbed the "African renaissance", it was
hoped that the introduction of new constitutions with two-term limits on
power would consign the "big man" syndrome of African politics to history.
It has worked in South Africa and Tanzania. But in too many countries term
limits are failing to block the vaulting egos of leaders determined to cling
on. Yoweri Museveni has just won a third term as Uganda's president by using
his huge majority in parliament to push through a constitutional amendment
letting him run again. More worryingly, it looks as if Olusegun Obasanjo, a
mild success by Nigeria's kleptocratic standards, may try to do the same in
Africa's most populous country.
This prospect is already adding to instability. Militants in the River Niger
delta, seeking more of the money flowing from the oil wells there, have
stepped up their campaign of kidnapping foreign workers and attacking oil
installations. Violence between Muslims and Christians is rising.
Just as Mr Museveni did in Uganda, Mr Obasanjo is beginning to crack down on
the opposition-in his case, it seems, by using the government's vaunted
anti-corruption drive to knock opposition leaders out of contention. Worse,
many now suspect that Mr Obasanjo is fomenting some of the instability so
that, having got the constitution changed, he can then pose as a strong man
in next year's presidential election, securing his third term as the saviour
of a disintegrating country. For would-be dictators, this is the oldest ruse
in the book.
Term limits certainly place a restriction on democratic choice, which is one
reason why they are unwelcome in America's state legislatures.
But even the United States, whose system of checks and balances on the
executive is considerably more robust than Nigeria's, has been cautious
about granting too much power to the big man: presidents have been limited
to two terms since 1951. Several Latin American countries have swallowed
their previous doubts and allowed incumbent presidents to seek a second-but
not a third-consecutive term (usually with poor results). In countries where
institutional restraints on executive power are often weak, the risk is high
that even leaders who start out well end up undermining democracy by staying
on too long.
Mr Mbeki likes to practise what he calls "quiet diplomacy". He has failed
dismally in the case of Zimbabwe, but did help to talk Frederick Chiluba
into standing down when he became a liability to Zambia. Now would be a
good time to take Mr Obasanjo aside for a friendly chat on the virtues of
term limits. For the good of Nigeria and of Africa, Mr Obasanjo should be
persuaded to honour his own constitution and go.
By Selbin Kabote
AS the political unrest in Zimbabwe is continuing with no end in
sight, I have no doubt in my mind that the gross human rights violations
being perpetrated by the government led by Africa's intellectual dictator,
Robert Mugabe, has led to the mass exodus of Zimbabweans into neighboring
African countries. As powerless immigrants, Zimbabweans end up being victims
of xenophobia and hence are used as political footballs.
As a Zimbabwean who lived and worked as a journalist in South Africa
for many years, I witnessed how over the years the opinion that South Africa
and Botswana have become increasingly xenophobic. During my stay in South
Africa, I observed that the high levels of societal intolerance towards
non-citizens was largely due to the large of influx of Zimbabweans seeking
political asylum, and a place of rest after escaping political persecution
On arrival in South Africa, many of the Zimbabwean immigrants resort
to working on farms and do other low-paid jobs shunned by South Africans in
big cities like Johannesburg, Pretoria, Cape Town and Durban. The attacks on
foreigners by South African citizens deteriorated in the late 1990's to the
extent that the South African Human Rights Commission had to launch the
famous "Roll Back Xenophobia Campaign" on the 15th of October 1998 in
Braamfontein, Johannesburg. The campaign was aimed at finding solutions to
tackle the growing xenophobia in South Africa, which was targeted at other
African nationalities. The campaign was also intended to educate members of
the public and the Press about the importance of immigration in an effort to
curb the deep dislike of non-nationals by South African citizens.
I remember the challenges that I had to face during the times that I
had to use public transport like the popular minibuses in Johannesburg. In
order to avoid victimization, I had to know the basics of one of the local
languages, Zulu, to communicate with the minibus drivers especially when
inquiring about the fare and requesting to be dropped at my destination. I
had to learn basic Zulu because speaking in English in a minibus in South
Africa would be inviting hostility from the driver and fellow passengers,
who normally consider a black person speaking in English to be proud or
snobbish. At times I was at pains to explain to my brothers in South Africa
that I came from a neighboring African country just across the Limpopo
River, where other African languages were also spoken.
However, the truth of the matter is that the cruel system of apartheid
is to blame for the xenophobic mindset prevalent in certain sections of the
southern African community. During the pre-independence era, the architects
of the cruel system of apartheid launched a deliberate campaign that was
aimed at isolating black South Africans by making them believe that as South
Africans, they were not part of the global African community and had nothing
to do with Africans from other countries. It's very common today, to hear
some South Africans referring to immigrants from Zimbabwe, Malawi or
Mozambique as "Those people from Africa", as if South Africa is not part of
In a nutshell, I believe most of my South African brethren are not to
blame for xenophobia. The architects of apartheid like the late Daniel F.
Malan, who was the prime minister of South Africa from 1948 until 1954, are
to blame for planting among South Africans the xenophobic seed, which in my
opinion is the lowest common denominator of political appeal in Africa
today. I say this because some politicians in southern Africa capitalize on
xenophobia when campaigning for votes during elections. They attribute the
economic problems in their own countries to the influx of immigrants. The
controversial apartheid policy was introduced by Daniel F. Malan who was a
strong believer in a strict white supremacy and a very rigid hierarchal
In Botswana, another southern African country, Zimbabweans and
Mozambicans residing in the capital, Gaborone and other cities like Lobatse
are being rounded up by the police and deported for no clear reasons. Many
immigrants are being severely assaulted by some natives of the country, who
accuse them of taking their jobs, "stealing their wives" and spreading
HIV/AIDS. Despite the frequency of the xenophobic attacks on black
foreigners in Botswana, what I established during my frequent visits to that
country on tours of duty is that the authorities in that country give a
blind eye to the incidences. The United Nations has since attacked the
Botswana government for its treatment of Zimbabweans living in that country.
The Tswana government has gone as far as canceling long-term work permits
for Zimbabweans saying they now have qualified people to fill their
positions. In Malawi, a country which is popularly referred to as the "Warm
heart of Africa", immigration laws have been tightened in recent months in
an effort to prevent immigrants from neighboring countries from entering the
However, the politics of xenophobia is not only common in southern
Africa, but also in countries like the Ivory Coast, where the issue resulted
in an uprising on the 19th of September in 2002. The fierce uprising
engulfed the former French colony into a state of chaos and panic. It was
xenophobia that gave birth to the Ivory Coast uprising which was a clash
between the Muslim northerners, who are mainly immigrants from neighboring
West African countries like Mali and Burkina Faso and the indigenous
population of the South. Scores of people died during the uprising.
The deep hatred among the people divided on ethnic lines was a result
of the policies of the late former president of Ivory Coast, Felix
Houphouet-Boigny, who with good intentions introduced a political phenomenon
that was to become increasingly significant in the multi-party era. He
encouraged millions of Africans from neighboring countries to settle,
inevitably handing over to them some of the country's economic power. These
immigrants are now the victims of xenophobia.
In my opinion, if the current immigration trends in southern Africa
continue, we cannot therefore overrule the possibility of an explosion of a
nationality time bomb caused by xenophobia in countries like South Africa
and Botswana. What happened in the Ivory Coast could happen in South Africa
and Botswana, since the citizens of these countries are now competing for
scarce resources and jobs with foreigners. South African farm workers are
currently reported to be very unhappy with the hard working Zimbabwean farm
workers, whom they blame for frustrating their negotiations with farm owners
for higher wages. As a result of desperation, the Zimbabweans are agreeing
to work for very low wages on the farms. If the problem of the deadly
politics of xenophobia is to be solved, I feel regional leaders like South
Africa's Thabo Mbeki have to refrain from quiet diplomacy and make an effort
to put pressure on President Mugabe to stop starving his own people, and to
put his house in order. For if President Thabo Mbeki continues with his
quiet diplomacy stance, he will therefore continue to have problems on his
It is my belief that if the gross human rights abuses continue in
Zimbabwe, the mass exodus of Zimbabweans into neighboring countries will
continue unabated. The strange irony which I am observing is that in the
early 1980's, Zimbabwe was a haven for asylum seekers from South Africa and
the Great Lakes region, but now the tables have been turned and the citizens
of this former great nation have been forced into exile and reduced to Stone
Age scavengers. President Mugabe, who was frequently arrested and tortured
at the height of nationalistic politics in Zimbabwe during the sixties and
seventies, is now the persecutor of journalists and political opponents. It
appears there will never be an end to paradoxes in the Zimbabwean politics
Sent: Tuesday, April 11, 2006 5:36 AM
A Gundwane in my pocket.
As I sat on the grass with about 12 000 other Zimbabweans at yesterdays
rally in White City Stadium I thought how do we explain just what has
happened to these ordinary, hardworking people just what has happened to
their spending power and standard of living? Then it occurred to me that
they might understand the example to all of us of a rat infestation.
Rats operate very largely in the dark. They leave few signs of their
presence - a bit of dung but mostly you see the evidence of the damage they
cause. It is like having a rat in your pocket - you receive your salary, put
it in your pocket and when you take it out it is not worth the same amount
as when you put it there! The rats of Zanu PF have been at it and stolen
what you earned with the sweat of your brow.
How do they do that? It's all a matter of modern economics. A hundred years
ago when we did not have reserve banks and Ministries of Finance with their
computers and when trade was paid for in gold or gold equivalents,
manipulation of the value of wealth was more difficult. We still had wealth
and poverty - but if you wanted to accumulate wealth or take more than your
fair share, you had to do so in the full light of day. Now an official in
the Reserve Bank can reach out in the still of the night and steal what is
yours while you sleep!
If we take export proceeds for example - hard currency earning generated by
workers in our mines and factories. Paid into our bank accounts by foreign
buyers. No sooner has it arrived than the Reserve Bank reaches out and takes
a bite - and gives you back a tenth of its real value in local promissory
notes. 90 per cent of the portion's taken real value goes into the rat's
nest where it is used to keep the rats warm and well fed.
Then a while later, they reach out and take the rest at half its value - it
too goes into the rats nest where it is also used to keep the rats warm and
But it does not end there - the bits of paper given back to you by the rats
as promissory notes have a certain value when they are issued to you. This
is because when they were issued to you there were only a set number -
divided to cover the real value of your work. But while we are sleeping
these rats - being devilishly clever, print more notes, so that when you
wake up and go to the store to convert your paper back into real things, you
suddenly find the rats have eaten another 25 per cent or more of what you
have in your pocket.
So the daddy rat - who else - gets fat and indolent and arrogant - these
simple peasants he thinks, they all work for my rats and me. Mommy rat just
loves to shop - does not think for one minute about where her wealth comes
from just knows that daddy rat keeps it coming. The rat's uncle - a rat
called Gono the Gundwane does it with a smile and every now and then he
calls all the suckers in to a meeting where he tells them what he is going
to do next to keep the flow of resources to the rats going.
You get a rat infestation when the conditions are right and the predators of
rats are few. When that happens you need an eradication team to clean house
and destroy the rats themselves. That is where we are today and nothing else
will stop the erosion of our living standards and economy.
By Netsai Mlilo & Chinedu Offor
Bulawayo & Washington
10 April 2006
The founding president of Zimbabwe's Movement for Democratic Change, Morgan
Tsvangirai, has urged President Robert Mugabe to step down and hand over
power to a transitional government to overhaul the constitution and hold new
Addressing about 7,000 people in Bulawayo on Sunday, Tsvangirai said that
despite official threats to crush any wave of mass protests, he is prepared
to die if necessary to free Zimbabwe from what he termed "misrule" by Mr.
Mugabe's ZANU-PF party.
Correspondent Netsai Mlilo of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe reported that
others who spoke at the rally warned the crowd to brace for confrontation
with the government.
Nelson Chamisa, a spokesman for Tsvangirai's faction of the divided MDC,
told VOA reporter Ashenafi Abedje that his call for the president's
resignation "captures the thinking and the attitudes in the country." He
says most Zimbabweans feel "we need a new government, we need a new
democratic dispensation, but for us to be able to achieve that, we need to
have a de-construction of the dictatorship."
Some skeptics have questioned whether Tsvangirai can rouse the population to
take on the Mugabe government, pointing to his party's so-called "final
push" in 2003 that proposed to unseat Mr. Mugabe but was quickly put down
by the government.
But National Constitutional Assembly Chairman Lovemore Madhuku, long an
advocate of direct popular action, told Studio 7 reporter Chinedu Offor that
the odds are better this time around because most Zimbabweans have nothing
left to lose.
Tuesday, April 11 2006 @ 12:03 AM BST
Contributed by: correspondent
By Govan Makwerekwere
This is an open letter directed to Thabo Mbeki, the South
African state President. Mr Mbeki, in local Shona parlance, we say: (Kandiro
kanopfumba kunobva kamwe.) This translates to a good turn deserves another.
Listen carefully, Mr President:
In your dark years under the yoke of apartheid, Zimbabwe gave
support to your party, the ANC, and the oppressed people of South Africa. We
sheltered your guerrillas, refugees and the asylum seekers. This irked your
oppressors. Look at what they did to us. They bombed Angwa House in Harare.
They trapped and killed Tsitsi Chiliza at Earls' Court. Why are we still
holding Phillip Conjwayo in our prisons? Again, in Shona we say: (Dindingwe
rinonaka richakweva, kana rokwevehwa roti mavara angu ozara ivhu.)
Paraphrased, it would mean that what's good for the goose, is
good for the gander. Despite all this, you restrict movement of our people
to your now free country. You have even come up with a name for us,
"makwerekwere". Most probably you know what this means -I don't. Our people
are groaning under a similar yoke, but under our liberators. We look up to
you, Mr President, for relief. But what do you do? You choose the "quiet
diplomacy." This is a very wrong and ineffectual strategy.
We have been denied the right to decide who to lead us now. We
do not have the means to reclaim our stolen presidency. But you, Mr
flex a little bit of muscle, can you not? Are you a man or a
mouse? We read and hear with regret that you, our southern neighbour always
insist that all is well in Zimbabwe. This Mr president is as dangerous as it
is unfair on us who are suffering. We urge you to emulate Festus Mogae of
Botswana, at least, he has guts to speak the truth.
Mr President, its time to show the geriatriac president that the
longer he hangs on as the President of Zimbabwe, the worse it will become,
not only for us Zimbabweans, but also for the Southern African region.
Everybody will suffer.
Remember what Samson did in the biblical story.
In our rich Shona, we say, (Ndambakuudzwa akaonekwa nembonje
pahuma.) He who ignores good advise will one day face the music. Mark my
words, Mr President.