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Zim media reform still pie in the sky

by Edith Kaseke Thursday 15 April 2010

HARARE - Reforms to open up Zimbabwe's media are likely to take much longer
despite a new press body being in place because of administrative problems
and reluctance by President Robert Mugabe's allies to allow private
newspapers to publish.

Members of the Zimbabwe Media Commission (ZMC), a constitutional body, were
named last year in December and their names gazetted in February. The
commission immediately said it would soon start licensing private newspapers
but is yet to consider several applications from prospective publishers.

Zimbabweans are desperate for alternative newspapers, having been forced to
rely on one national state daily, The Herald, whose editors are picked by
the Ministry of Information and accused of openly supporting ZANU PF.

But efforts to licence other newspapers are likely to take much longer, with
the ZMC still to have offices of its own and yet to be allocated funds,
amounting to only $40,000 set out in the 2010 national budget.

The commission does not have a secretariat and is believed to be seeking
legal advise from the Attorney General on a number of issues, which critics
say is part of delaying tactics by ZANU PF.

The complex that used to house the old Tafataona Mahoso-led media commission
has now been occupied by the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ),
leaving the new commission without offices.

Mahoso was controversially appointed to chair BAZ but Prime Minister Morgan
Tsvangirai has said the appointments were null and avoid.

"The expectation of a quick licencing of newspapers and opening up the
airwaves was just euphoria, ZANU PF will make the whole process difficult,
they don't want to open the media space," John Makumbe, a veteran political
commentator and critic of Mugabe's policies said.

Mugabe and long time rival formed a unity government last year following a
dispute over general elections in March 2008 and have promised a raft of
reforms, including freeing up the media by allowing more players.

But more than a year after the coalition was formed, state newspapers and
sole government broadcaster ZBC still dominate the country's media.

Mugabe's previous administration had since 2002 used stringent media laws to
police the newspaper industry, forcing several titles, including the popular
Daily News to close in 2003. Zimbabwe currently has three major private
weekly newspapers but no private daily.

BAZ has in its history never licenced a private television or radio station,
forcing several radio stations to broadcast into Zimbabwe from Europe or
United States.

But ZBC will launch a second television channel this month, underlining its
dominance of the airwaves.

Western donors, whose aid is essential to Zimbabwe's economic recovery from
a decade-long downturn, have demanded broad political reforms before funding
the unity government, which says it needs at least $10 billion for

The power-sharing government has been held back by frequent disputes over
the pace of reforms, senior state appointments such as those of central bank
governor and attorney-general, and sanctions imposed by Western governments
on Mugabe and his inner circle.

The southern African state has been urged to scarp legislation that bars
foreign journalists from working long-term in the country. - ZimOnline

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Govt committees to address civil service plight

by Patricia Mpofu Thursday 15 April 2010

HARARE - Zimbabwe's Cabinet has set up two ministerial committees to address
the plight of the country's poorly paid civil servants, a top government
official said on Wednesday.

Gorden Moyo, the Minister of State in Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's
office told delegates to the 29th annual conference of the Zimbabwe Teachers
Association (ZIMTA) that Cabinet has come up with a Resource Mobilisation
Committee (RMC) and a Cost Drivers Committee (CDC).

Moyo disclosed that the government was looking at taping into the country's
mineral resources, such as diamonds in Chiadzwa field that are also known as
Marange to meet some of the demands of the civil servants.

He said Deputy Prime Minister Thokozani Khupe had been tasked to find out
how the revenue generated from the mining activities in Chiadzwa could be
utilised to fund civil servants' salaries.

"Deputy Prime Minister Khupe is in Chiadzwa today on a fact-finding
 mission," said Moyo, adding that this was part of the mandate of the RMC.

He said the CDC would look at how the government could force state entities
to reduce utilities bills.

"All this is being done to cushion civil servants," he added.

The country's civil servants, including teachers presently earn an average
US170 monthly salary. In February the government employees downed tools
demanding that the cash-strapped government increase their monthly salary to
at least US$600 for the lowest paid worker.

The industrial action, however, fizzled out after indications the government
was technically broke. - ZimOnline

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Zimbabwe PM Tsvangirai Says Government Committed to the Welfare of Teachers

Zimbabwe Teachers Association Acting Chief Executive Officer Sifiso Ndlovu
said Prime Minister Tsvangirai's statement was constructive, but he said it
is unfortunate that the government has not set a definite time frame for
raising salaries

Jonga Kandemiiri | Washington 14 April 2010

Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai told members of the Zimbabwe Teachers
Association on Wednesday in a statement read by a spokesman at the group's
annual meeting that the government is committed to ensuring that teacher
salaries reflect their profession's critical role and their key place in
national development.

Speaking on behalf of Mr. Tsvangirai, Minister of State Gorden Moyo declared
that there "is no more important priority for this or any government than
the education of our children."

Mr. Tsvangirai said in his statement that Zimbabwe's natural resources form
the basis of government revenues if they are exploited in a proper and
transparent way. This appeared to be a reference to the development of the
Marange diamond field in Manicaland province which has been cloaked in
secrecy - and which state workers see as a potential source of revenues to
enable the state to increase their marginal salaries.

ZIMTA Acting Chief Executive Officer Sifiso Ndlovu told VOA Studio 7
reporter Jonga Kandemiiri that the teachers welcomed Mr. Tsvangirai's
message to the conference, which he said was constructive. But he bemoaned
the government's inability to commit itself to a specific time frame for
increasing salaries.

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Longman wins tender to print 13m textbooks

15/04/2010 00:00:00
by Lebo Nkatazo

THIRTEEN million textbooks for Zimbabwe's primary schools will be printed by
the end of the year, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai said Wednesday.

The tender for the printing of the books has already been awarded to book
publisher Longman Zimbabwe, following the availing of funds by donors
through the Education Transition Fund.

Addressing the Zimbabwe Teachers Association's annual congress, Tsvangirai
said books in the so-called minority indigenous languages would also be
availed for the first time.

"Government has set up the Educational Transition Fund that has so far
clinched deals to produce 13 million textbooks by the end of the year for
our primary schools, focusing on four core areas, English, Mathematics,
Environmental Science and indigenous languages, including Kalanga, Nambya,
Venda and Tonga," said Tsvangirai.

Tsvangirai thanked teachers "the essential role" that they played "under the
most difficult conditions over the past years."

He added: "Your government and your country recognises your commitment and
your patriotism and assures you of our continued appreciation and support in
the years to come."

Tsvangirai said teachers have an enormous responsibility as guardians of the
futures of Zimbabwe's children, "but too often, this responsibility has not
been met with adequate acknowledgement or support from government."

He said in the first decade of the country's independence, government
committed 20 to 22 percent of the national budget towards education, but 20
years on it pays "literally nothing towards the schools per capita grant".

"In the 1980's, at most two pupils shared a textbook while today many
schools have no textbooks at all. Today, teachers' allowances are not
sufficient to represent suitable remuneration. Worse still, the job of a
teacher has become a high risk occupation in the rural areas due to the
prevalence of political persecution," he said to applause.

"Let me assure you that this government is committed to correcting this
situation and placing teachers at the forefront of our national development.
We are committed to ensuring that teachers receive the support necessary for
you to undertake your essential role in such a manner that society
recognises the essential part you play and accords you appropriate respect."

The formation of a power sharing government a year ago has eased Zimbabwe's
education crisis and the government hopes the new textbooks will cut the
ratio of textbook per child from the current 1:16 to 1:1.

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Council says Chunga must vacate academy stand

April 14, 2010

By Our Correspondent

HARARE - A report compiled by Harare City Council special committee has
recommended that former Zimbabwe national team and Dynamos captain Moses
Chunga be ordered to vacate a stand he acquired for a sports academy because
he does not have an agreement with authorities to occupy it.

According to the council report, Chunga occupies council land in Waterfalls
for use by his football academy under what the councillors say are
questionable circumstances.

The councillors have recommended further investigation.

The report has so far named Local Government Minister Ignatius Chombo,
Zanu-PF Women's League chairperson Oppah Muchinguri and businessman Phillip
Chiyangwa as some of the individuals who acquired council land under
irregular circumstances.

In reference to stand 137 BIiddle in Waterfalls partly occupied by Chunga,
the report says; "The special committee visited the site with assistance of
the local councillor and noted that the stand was subdivided. Remainder of
137 is being leased by F. Zawa as a sports club and the leasee was not
paying any rentals to council.

"The other part was leased by Moses Chunga academy and there were no
activities taking place. The committee expressed the need for the relevant
committee to further investigate the issue since there is nothing in black
and white to confirm Chunga' occupation.

"Recommendations for stand number 137 Biddle (1): the illegal occupants on
the above stand must vacate the premises as soon as possible. Proper lease
agreement must be entered into with serious investors."

This week Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai summoned co-ministers of Home
Affairs Giles Mutsekwa and Kembo Mohadi over the arrest of the councillors
by the police over the report.

In an interview, Mutsekwa said the Premier was baffled why culprits
mentioned in the report had not been apprehended.

The councillors were arrested after Chiyangwa filed a criminal defamation
case against the City Fathers, charging that the allegations against him
were unfounded.

In an affidavit submitted to the police, Chiyangwa claimed Section 96 of the
Criminal Code had been violated and wanted the councillors charged for
alleged criminal defamation.

However, the councillors are standing by the findings of their
investigation. The council has since pressed charged against the business

Last Friday, the MDC described the arrest of its councillors as an attempt
to silence them. It labelled Chombo and Chiyangwa as alleged criminals.

"The MDC condemns the arrest and harassment of eight Harare City councillors
on Thursday on spurious criminal defamation charges after exposing Zanu-PF
officials for illegally acquiring council land," said the party

The councillors, who are all from the MDC, were arrested for carrying out a
special council investigation that unearthed illegal acquisition of prime
council land by corrupt Zanu-PF officials."

"An investigation needs to be instituted on Ignatius Chombo and Philip
Chiyangwa," said the MDC. "The MDC views the reprehensible arrests as
politically motivated. There is no way the police can arrest innocent people
at the behest of (alleged) criminals who should in fact be the ones to be

The MDC said it calls upon the police to be non-partisan and to carry-out
proper investigations over the illegal acquisition of council land by senior
Zanu-PF officials and bring all the culprits to book.

"As a party of excellence, the MDC condemns any form of corruption and calls
for an immediate end to the ceaseless harassment of its officials," the
statement said.

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Chronology of Mugabe’s insane policy decisions


Published: Thursday April 15, 2010
ZIMBABWE-HARARE-As the desire for black empowerment rages on, with the
opposition Zanu PF sticking out its nose, there exists lingering political
doubts over the broader motives - based on our realities and our national

Mugabe’s erratic policy decisions never cease to amaze Zimbabweans. In
1984,he pushed through a raft of measures at Zanu PF’s Second Congress
threatening his top lieutenants with the chop for engaging in greed and
avarice and exhorted them to adopt a leadership code which, among other
things, restricted their property sizes to 50 acres.

At the time, he was already a proud owner of a vast farm near Norton with an
income directed straight into his personal bank account but generated by
state-supported workers, machinery from a state-assisted company and managed
by officials on a state payroll.

The “leadership code” was largely ignored, corruption flourished and senior
officials went about their daily business undaunted. The trend continued
until a judicial enquiry into the procurement of vehicles at Willowvale
Motor Industries, not the “leadership code”, claimed the scalps of the top
brass in his administration.

The Willowvale scandal, it seems, never shamed Mugabe’s cronies. The trend
continued, leading to a quiet desertion from the lofty 1984 document and
Zanu PF’s socialist ideology, then based on the principles of

Thereafter, the 1990s turned the political field into a highway to wealth
accumulation, starting with the 1992 farm-land leases, the VIP housing
fraud, the plunder of the War Victims Compensation Fund, the black November
Day, the collapse of Roger Boka’s United Merchant Bank and the shenanigans
in the Congo.

Zimbabweans watched all the tomfoolery from the terraces until they were
finally pushed to put together the initial building blocks towards the
formation of the MDC in 1997/98.

Little did we know then that the worst was in the offing. The entire country
was overrun, overnight, reducing our envied nation to a scrap-heap, a donor’s
burden and a place where nearly all of us sought to flee from. Mugabe’s
behaviour, in the past 30 years, forms the undisputed reality of our past.
This is our ground experience with Mugabe’s economic vision for Zimbabwe.

As a political leader, it is unworthy to debate Mugabe’s intolerance,
starting with Matabeleland, and later the onslaught on the entire nation
after the first challenge from civil society and a four-month-old MDC party
in February 2000.

The record should undoubtedly remove any notion or sensible talk about
wholesale black empowerment from Mugabe and Zanu PF’s lips. A new approach
from a completely new set of players may, perhaps, stimulate meaningful

Mugabe’s irrational thinking and intemperance over resource management and
our national destiny can hardly be given another chance.

Universal trends in the arena of general empowerment have moved with the
times. Unbridled nationalism has failed a basic foundation test as a viable
tool to tackle poverty.

One would expect politicians and their advisors to see the folly of a narrow
focus on feeble attempts to redress historical economic and social
inequality as a means of granting sustainable freedom to the previously

When Mugabe soothed the war veterans with unbudgeted lump sum payments in
1997, he thought he was addressing their state-generated poverty.

No thought was ever put on their capacity and capability to sustain
themselves beyond these huge pay-outs. Predictably, the nation bore the
brunt of such policy ineptitude and carelessness.

When hordes of Zanu PF supporters were driven out of their homes to plunder
commercial agriculture, no feeling was ever allowed room to make Mugabe and
Zanu PF see the inherent risks to Zimbabwe.

Respected economics professor Prof Amartya Sen, in a March 2010 public
lecture in London, cautioned against flimsy poverty alleviation attempts
which concentrate on addressing what he called the earning
handicap of an individual, but fails to cause a total conversion of the
unfortunate individual.

In other words, any poverty relief system becomes fundamentally flawed and
wholly inadequate if fails to help the poor to develop a capability to
pursue a better life beyond the initial attempt to redress a person’s weak
historical base.

The 1997 windfalls temporarily handled the pathetic poverty levels of war
veterans but went no further.

The 2000 invasion of commercial agriculture temporarily succeeded in giving
a false hope onto desperate thousands, but plunged the nation into famine
and hopelessness.

Julius Malema, the African National Congress leader of South Africa, was
hardly into puberty when Pretoria became a democracy in 1994.

For Mugabe and Zanu PF to associate his views with Zimbabwe’s long cherished
dream of greater economic freedom and equity is, to say the least, very

To hire Malema as a modern-day “empowerment” Samurai with ideas to pull us
out of the current morass is as misguided as it is politically reckless.

Malema has no clue as to what we went through under a Zanu PF dictatorship;
Malema needs a basic history lesson to understand that our life expectancy
is now 34, down from about 60 at Independence in 1980.

According to Prof Sen, in the lives that different people lead, the relevant
aspects of freedom can be captured better by a fuller assessment of the
actual opportunities open to individuals in their own societies and beyond.

Such an assessment is only possible when it is nurtured in a non-emotional,
patriotic and even-handed manner.

From our experience, we should ask ourselves whether our people are ready at
this stage to reverse the neglect from which we suffered – both under
colonialism and during Mugabe’s unacceptable legacy.

If we waited, patiently, for more than a century to shape our destiny why
are we suddenly being pushed to rush through our struggle for total freedom
by a political party that has outlived its usefulness? Zanu PF, Mugabe and
Kasukuwere must tell Malema that only yesterday they turned us all into
world’s poorest trillionaires – thanks to their empowerment model.

They must tell Malema that they told investors, especially those from
Western countries, to keep the “filthy lucre” while they looked East to
Iran, Burma and Somalia for a new lease of life.

When nothing came out of it, as the nation expected, Zanu PF and Mugabe
blamed the West for “sanctions.” They must tell Malema that when challenged
in any form, they are quick to turn to violence, murder, rape and looting to
force themselves onto the people.

We refuse to be fooled by those who soiled our inheritance through racism;
by distorting history; and disfiguring our sovereignty. We feel humbled that
the nation is fully behind us despite three decades of abuse.

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Zimbabwe Election Support Network ballot update

Thursday 15 April 2010

Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) Ballot Update, Issue No.12, March


The month of March saw a number of developments on the political scene that
have a bearing on electoral issues in Zimbabwe. This update comes at a time
when political principals have hinted at the possibility of an election in
2011. As one of the principals of the GPA highlighted that elections will be
held with or without a new constitution, ZESN provides an analysis of the
implications of elections held under these conditions.

This update comes at a time when the cracks in the GPA are widening and
threatening to break the moribund unity. This impasse on outstanding issues
saw the coming in of the SADC mediator, South African President Jacob Zuma
to have discussions with the Principals on "outstanding issues."

The assignment of ministerial responsibilities is an issue that raised the
ire between the political formations as some MDC (T) and MDC (M) ministers
were left without any Acts to implement. MDC (T) and MDC (M) felt that these
actions were arbitrary and were meant to weaken them in government. The rift
between these parties was set widen.

ZESN has noted that the issue of sanctions has received increased public
media attention as the MDC (T) has been challenged to call for the removal
of sanctions and MDC (T) has also retaliated by calling for the
investigation of political violence. These are the two themes that the two
parties seem to be drawing battle ground on among other issues they do not
agree on.

The Zimbabwe Election Support Network remains dedicated to promotion of
democratic elections in Zimbabwe. In this vein the organisation continues to
analyse the national political environment and 45 rural constituencies that
have been systematically selected. The criteria for selection has been to
identify areas with pending by-elections, areas that have experienced
inordinately high levels of political violence as well as constituencies in
which a candidate succeeded by a notably small margins. This update is
informed by observations from the chosen constituencies and broadly captures
national political developments in March 2010.


Elections 2011

The President of Zimbabwe proclaimed that elections will be held in 2011
with or without a new constitution. The Prime Minister responded by calling
for SADC and International Peace Keepers should there be elections in 2011,
a move many are sceptical will be acceptable to all parties. This has raised
concern as the call for elections has the potential to change the nation's
priorities from the constitution making process to elections. In response to
this pronouncement, ZESN issued a statement in which the organisation
provided a catalogue of anomalies that need to be dealt with for the country
to have free and fair elections. The main concern being that elections held
under the current conditions will not be free and fair. ZESN has observed
that the prevailing conditions in the country such as the recent increases
in politically motivated violence and the crack down on human rights
defenders does not instil confidence about the possibility of a poll with
integrity and free from violence and intimidation.

Electoral Reforms

ZESN is concerned about the calls for elections without putting in place the
necessary electoral reforms that would ensure the integrity of the ballot.
In light of this, ZESN has come up with a gourmet of fundamental electoral
reforms needed to protect the integrity of the ballot. Amongst these is the
need for an election management body that is truly independent, with the
human and material resources to conduct election. In addition, ZESN has also
called for an audit of the voters roll which has resulted in the
disenfranchisement of some voters in the past as well as a bio-metric voters'
roll which minimises the suspicions of electoral fraud.

While Zimbabwe is party to international protocols such as the international
covenant on civil and political rights and at regional level, the SADC
Principles and Guidelines Governing Democratic Elections, very little
progress has been done to implement the spirit of these instruments.
Zimbabwe is also encouraged to ratify the African Charter on Democracy,
Elections and Governance which amongst other things advocates for
establishment of independent and impartial electoral bodies, equitable
access by all parties to the media and the creation of a code of conduct for
all stakeholders and political parties in an election. ZESN encourages the
Zimbabwean government to domesticate these protocols in their legislation in
order to increase accountability and transparency to the electorate.

On the 1st of April, the new commissioners to the Zimbabwe Electoral
commission (ZEC) were sworn into office. Justice Mtambanengwe is currently
based in Namibia serving as acting Chief Justice in the Namibian Supreme
Court. He is aged 77. Mrs Kazembe was Deputy Chairperson of the previous
electoral commission, and has again been appointed as the new Deputy
Chairperson of the Commission. Theophileus Gambe is a lawyer by profession
and was also a Commissioner in the previous ZEC. Appointed to the commission
were a number of women such as Dr Petty Makoni and Sibongile Ndlovu. Bessie
Fadzai Nhandara is an Educationist and the former Director Legal Services &
Discipline amongst other high ranking posts in the Ministry of Education,
Sports & Culture. A former Commissioner in the Anti-Corruption Commission of
Zimbabwe (ACCZ) of 2006, Daniel Chigaru, is the General Manager for the
Zimbabwe International Trade Fair. Professor Geoff Feltoe, is a Professor of
Public Law at the University of Zimbabwe. He is an academic, researcher and
author who has written extensively and researched on a number of election
related topics. Mukhuli Nyati is a lawyer by profession and is a member of
the Law Society of Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights and a human
rights activist. He is an award winner for the Law Society of Zimbabwe
awards for human rights.

ZESN hopes that the new commission will be able to restore the confidence of
the electorate in Zimbabwe's electoral system.

ZEC and the management of democratic elections

While ZESN welcomes the swearing in of the new ZEC commissioners there are a
number of issues that need to be addressed in order to enhance the
independence of ZEC. While the term independence is not easily defined,
independence of ZEC will be measured by how separate ZEC is from any
political party and sitting government that is the executive.

The commissioners have a number of powers such as those of creating
regulations for elections and accepting donations, however there are
claw-back clauses that limit these powers as all these are subject to the
approval of the Minister of Justice and Legal Affairs who is responsible for
the Electoral Act. Thus while there have some powers, there is executive
control over these powers and if the minister does not approve then all the
regulations made are nullified.

While the commissioners may be "new brooms", they will be bringing new ideas
to an institution that has not inspired the confidence of the electorate.

Stripping the powers of MDC (T) Ministries

The month also saw some MDC (T) and MDC (M) ministers being left with no
Acts to implement. These ministries include the Science and Technology
Development, State Enterprises and Parastatals, Information Communication
Technology and Regional Integration and International Cooperation. Tendai
Biti of the MDC (T) argued that stripping of powers was tantamount to
"castrating" the ministries and this weakens the power of MDC formations in
government. This has raised the ire of these two parties and threatens to
weaken the already fragile unity government. ZESN also noted with concern
that the Ministry of Justice and Legal Affairs has 94 Acts of Parliament to
implement which include the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission Act, the Zimbabwe
Human Rights Act, The Political Parties Finance Act and the Electoral Act
among many others. This has implications for the conduct of elections and
past experience have shown the sensitive nature of electoral issues as
reforms have been piecemeal and not fully implemented.

Recalling of the SADC mediator

While Zimbabwe welcomed the signing of the GPA in 2008 and its subsequent
implementation, the agreement has been riddled by a number of problems which
threaten its implementation. A number of "outstanding issues" have resulted
in snail pace implementation, which led to the recalling of the SADC
Mediator, South African President Jacob Zuma to iron out issues and have
dialogue with parties to come up with an implementation plan. Parties are
still deadlocked over the  number of issues which include the appointment of
Roy Bennett as the Deputy Minister of Agriculture, the issue of sanctions,
the status of the Reserve Bank Governor and the Attorney General. While the
visit was a welcome development, the issues parties agreed on were not made
public except that the mediator had discussions with all stakeholders. State
owned media has reported that one of parties to the agreement has maintained
their position and will not implement the mediator's conditions until these
issues have been resolved. These sentiments have dampened the hopes of many
Zimbabweans on the workability of this agreement. The media, both state
owned and independent gave contradicting statements regarding the progress
in resolving outstanding issues, with some media houses reporting that the
negotiating parties have disagreed on most issues except electoral reforms
(The Zimbabwe Independent, 01-08 April 2010) President Zuma gave the parties
until the end of March to have agreed on these outstanding issues. However,
ZESN is concerned that the mediator also alluded to the holding of elections
if the deadlock continues without speaking to the fundamental reforms that
would be needed for the holding of democratic elections.

While the GPA concerns all Zimbabwe, ZESN has noted that the process has
been shrouded in secrecy and citizens have been left to speculate on the
issues that were agreed on.

The indigenisation and Empowerment Act

The Indigenisation and Empowerment Regulations which raised a number of
issues sailed through Parliament. The gazetting of these regulations has
raised a lot of debate in Zimbabwe as its implications are analysed. The
Indigenisation Act stipulates that all foreign owned companies have to cede
51 percent of their shares to locals. A number of issues have been raised
regarding the timing and the manner of implementation. There are fears that
the implementation of these regulations could work to reduce investor
confidence thus driving out existing investment and repel new investment,
which Zimbabwe needs desperately at the moment particularly in the
implementation of the Short Term Emergency Recovery Programme (STERP). ZESN
waits to see the manner in which the act will be implemented and hope that
investor confidence will be maintained and that Zimbabwe will be seen as a
safe destination for investment. ZESN also noted that this Act has seen key
personalities such as the Reserve Bank Governor Gideon Gono and the Minister
of Youth Development, Indigenisation and Empowerment, Saviour Kasukuwere
clash over its implications regarding foreign direct investment and the
health of the Zimbabwean economy.


Progress on the constitution making process

The constitution making process has seen a number of false starts and ZESN
is concerned about the delays given that the constitution making process is
time consuming and laborious process. The government programme for the
constitutional outreach which was scheduled to start in January, shifted to
February then March has been rescheduled again to begin in April 2010. ZESN
notes with concern that delays in the constitution making process have
implications for a democratic processes such as elections, an issue that has
gained momentum as principals have alluded to the possibility of an election
in 2011. While the government outreach process has not started, ZESN
observers have noted that civic organisations and political parties have
been undertaking public meetings and other outreach programmes related to
the constitution making process in the different parts of the country. ZESN
observers have noted that in some areas, people are threatened and
discouraged from expressing themselves as there will be retribution if their
views are not aligned to a particular party position.

ZESN observers have also reported that, in some areas people have been told
that they are being recorded and they will face retribution like that which
took place in the run up to the presidential runoff in June 2008. This has
been noted in Mudzi North were specific people have been selected to speak
during consultations, with explicit instructions on what to say. In other
areas villagers have been instructed that only the Kraal head and headman
will be allowed to speak on behalf of the people.

ZESN observers in Matebeleland North have also noted that people are being
forced to attend political rallies against their will. ZESN observers have
also noted with concern that in some areas villagers need the councillor or
headman's consent before they can attend outreach meetings organised by
civic groups. This has instilled fear to participate in this process before
it has begun in earnest. Villagers have also been instructed to support the
positions of the selected people and to jeer if different views are
expressed. This situation paralyses free debate and encourages
self-censorship among the citizens. ZESN encourages all stakeholders to
ensure respect for freedom of speech and other freedoms to ensure that the
constitution making process is inclusive and meaningful for Zimbabweans.


ZESN has noted with concerns the arrests of journalists that took place in
the month of March which stifles media freedom and freedom of association.
The continued arrest of journalists such as the recent arrest of freelance
journalist, Stanley Gama do not provide for free media space as this stifles
the role of journalists in the creation of a democratic order. However, ZESN
welcomes the comments by Minister of Media, Information and Publicity,
Webster Shamu that arrests of journalists should stop and allow for more
media freedom. The media is a critical element in all democratic processes
and ZESN urges the newly constituted Zimbabwe Media Commission to register
new media houses in order to broaden media pluralism. There are a number of
media reforms that need to be effected if the GPA is to be successfully


International Women's Day (IWD)

ZESN observed the successful celebrations of International Women's Day that
took place in all parts of Zimbabwe. This year's theme is equal rights,
equal opportunities, progress for all which is in line with women's position
of 50/50 representation in the new constitution. Women from all walks of
life were urged to celebrate their strengths and capabilities. ZESN urges
women to participate fully in the constitution making process and lobby for
an electoral system which enhances their ability to gain access to power.
International Women's Day is a time to celebrate women's social, economic
and political achievements in the past, present and future and as such ZESN
urges women to take a stance in political issues and engage more in
electoral issues as these have  a bearing in their lives and the quality of
their lives.

Arrest of human rights defenders

ZESN has noted with concern the arrest of human rights defenders such as the
Director of ZIMRIGHTS, Mr Okay Machisa and the targeting of the Secretary
General of General Agriculture and Plantation Workers Union of Zimbabwe
(GAPWUZ) Ms Gertrude Hambira over the publication of a report that documents
farm workers testimonies of human rights violations that took place on
farms. ZESN believes that everyone has rights individually and collectively
to promote and strive for the protection and realization of human rights in
their country. Human rights defenders play an important role in exposing
society's human rights violations. Thus human rights defenders play an
important role in helping governments protect human rights; therefore they
should be able to undertake their work in safety. ZESN condemns attacks on
human rights defenders and envisages an environment where human rights
defenders carry out their work in a free environment.

Targeting of human rights organisations

ZESN noted with concern the article in the Herald of 30/03/2010 that alleged
that ZPP Director and ZESN are interlocked with western groups that are
"anti-Mugabe." The specific mention of a ZESN board member as part of an
"anti-Mugabe" group raises concerns on the security of human rights
defenders and human rights organizations. It is with concern that we note
that defending human rights is viewed as being anti-the government of the
day. The role of civil society is to act as a watch dog and safe guard the
rights of people.

Curtailing of freedoms in the various constituencies

ZESN observers report incidences where people's freedoms have been
curtailed. In many cases they have noted that freedom of expression has been
violated as many people especially in rural constituencies are still fearful
to freely express themselves. These experiences are more common in areas
that experienced the most violence during the run up to the presidential

ZESN observers have also noted that some political parties have not been
allowed to conduct their meetings as freely as others and this curtails
freedom of association. This was prevalent mostly in constituencies in
Mashonaland Central. ZESN observers in Mbire have reported that people are
not able to read independent newspapers in this area. ZESN observers in
Mashonaland Central have noted that while there is a sense of calm in the
environment, there are underlying tensions that are simmering, hence the
need to have effective violence early warning systems.

ZESN observers in Guruve South have reported that in some areas, NGO
activities on civic education on the constitution making process have been
barred. This constitutes an infringement of the peoples' rights to
information. In addition, ZESN observers have reported that in some cases,
NGOs that have come to these areas have been interrogated regarding their
sources of funding and the addresses of their directors. Villagers in these
areas have also been warned against attending meetings conducted by civic
groupings and they have been told they are being recorded. ZESN was also
barred from conducting two public outreach meetings in Mbire despite having
police clearance for the meetings.

ZESN observers have noted a dearth in information on the constitution making
process and the various talking points that have been agreed on. ZESN
encourages more information dissemination to citizens on the constitution
making process in order to encourage meaningful participation in the
process. - ZimOnline

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Tenth Anniversary of the Murder of Tichaona Chiminya and Talent Mabika

Sanderson N Makombe


It is ten years today, 15 April 2010, since my MDC colleagues Tichaona Chiminya and Talent Mabika were torched alive and burnt to death by a ZANU PF mob led by Joseph Mwale just outside Murambinda Growth point in Buhera in 2000 .The perpetrators of this ignomorous callous act remain free with Joseph Mwale still drawing a wage officially as a government employee. Such is the classical impunity enjoyed by ZANU PF agents which has become its legacy.

Zimbabwe celebrates 30 years of post colonial rule on 18 April, three days from today. The struggle for independence was driven by the desire for self government achieved through democratic elections among other motives. Sadly the current political impasse strikes through the heart of this cherished goal of independence, the ‘free one man one vote’ concept. Precisely the principle Tichaona Chiminya and Talent were excising when they were brutally murdered in cold blood by those barbaric cretins on that fateful day. On 21 April 2010, it is reported PM Tsvangirai is to lead a delegation of the GNU to Brussels to plead for the easing of travel sanctions and other restrictive measures imposed on ZANU PF individuals at the height of their orgies of violence in February 2002 by the EU.The PM himself, is a prominent victim, having been brutally assaulted in police custody last year together with Lovemore Madhuku of the NCA.Surely the irony will not be lost here: the victim will be pleading for the offender.

There are two questions the PM will find very difficult to answer during his mission to Brussels. What has changed? And what concrete steps have been put in place to make sure there wont be a repeat of that orgy of violence?The travel sanctions were imposed  for gross human rights abuses  sanctioned by the state and ZANU PF’s drive to thwart democratic space for the opposition and civic society. European jurisprudence on human rights is very strict and adhering that even in the face of terrorism, the European Court of Human Rights has consistently found much in favour of civil liberties against national securites.Human rights is a cherished doctrine within the EU and not much favour, am afraid, will be dangled to those who wilfully deprive others their  suffrage and basic rights.

That ZANU PF is not a serious partner in national healing and reconciliation is aptly demonstrated by their MP’s walking out of a parliamentary session when a motion on political violence was being debated .The MDC went on to read the roll of honour of more than 278 MDC supporters killed by ZANU PF and its affiliated agents .No effort has been made to bring the perpetrators to justice despite there being abundant evidence. The Changing Times has started serialising all documented human rights violations perpetrated by ZANU PF towards the aborted presidential rerun. What is strikingly shocking is the manner in which sitting ZANU PF MPs and other top officials sanctioned and led in the attacks on opposition members. Notably Chinotimba is accused of rape, Biggie Matiza of murder among others.

Allegations of torture surface on regular basis and recently the PM officially launched Cries form Goromonzi...Inside Zimbabwe Torture Chambers, a report prepared by Crisis which catalogued many incidents of abductions and torture. There is no evidence that political victimisation is lessening. Contrary, waves of violence are sweeping across the country, notably in Murazabani.Guruve,Zaka,Chiredzi,Bikita and in farm lands in Rusape .The old state machinery is still in the game ,detaining opposition MPs and Councillors on flimsy charges, abduction and harassment of student leaders and human rights lawyers and selective application of law  Draconian laws like POSA and AIPPA haven’t been repealed. There is no evidence to suppose that the same level of violence and intimidation experienced before will not resurface during the next elections, with or without a new constitution in place.

The reforms envisaged in the GNU with regard to human rights violations and creating a conducive environment for democratic expression have been minimum. The only notable thing has been the swearing in of the Human Rights Commission. However we all know without tacit approval from the security forces, the commission will remain just good on paper. The same security forces remain heavily skewed in favour of ZANU PF in their modus operandi .The institutions of terror remain intact with militia mobs still terrorising people in rural areas.

The National Organ on Reconciliation aptly displays the lack of seriousness in redressing past atrocities. The leaders of the Organ continue holding meaningless talk show type meetings without any substance. The fact that they chose to operate without any enabling act of parliament highlights the absurdity of their assumptions. They don’t have a specific mandate to investigate past atrocities, to hear and record testimonies, to compel victims and offenders to own up, neither do they have a package of restitution and compensation as required by international law. As noted by the PM,’there can be no national healing without forgiveness and no forgiveness without truth and justice as both national healing and forgiveness do not exist in a vacuum’. The efforts of the National Organ will achieve neither reconciliation nor justice.

Therefore why should such unrepentent anarchists be allowed to come and mix with the developed west and enjoy its trappings? Do their actions abode with behaviour expected of the civilised world? Hell No. The EU is right in denying these sycophants opportunities to come and squander their ill-gotten health in their cities. As a matter of fact, travel restrictions are not peculiar to ZANU PF persons only, even nationals of other developed nations are restricted if they have offended serious laws.Registerd sex offenders cannot travel out of the UK without express permission. Anyone convicted of drugs offence will find it difficult to enter the USA, Japan and most EU countries. Mike Tyson was denied visa to Japan because he saved time in jail for rape. Recently rapper Snoopy Doggy was refused permission to enter the UK because of drugs issues. Singer Amy Winehouse  was denied visa to enter USA also because of drugs abuse. Now these are lesser crimes compared to those committed by ZANU PF.What more then about known murderers, rapists and arsonists?

On the other hand if the EU eases the restrictions, it could be an opportunity also for human rights defenders to try to bring known perpetrators to book using universal jurisdiction principles. The Pinochet case is a good example. The House of Lords ruled in Pinochet that ‘ it is implicit in the international crime of torture that diplomatic immunity as former head of state doctrine do not apply’. Government officials  accused of torture and other international crimes will find that easing of travelling sanctions is not to their advantage. Attempts were also made to have Detective Inspector Henry Dohwa arrested for torture when he was posted to Kosovo by the United Nations.


Probably its high time that Zimbabwe should make political parties and all registered associations vicariously liable for the actions of their supporters. This concept is used to regulate fans behaviour in the world of football and it works very well. The party will be fined and ordered to compensate victims of political violence perpetrated by their supporters. What the scheme requires is an impartial police force and a multi disciplinary agency that will be tasked to investigate and monitor all politically related violence related to both human and property. An Ad Hoc bench will also be created presided by a High Court ranked judge to preside over such crimes  without delay and set down the compensation and restitution. The offender will still be tried for their criminal conduct. If the party fails to pay, their properties will be attached.

I do hope the PM has not been backed into a corner by the prominent South African Gigolo masquarandering as an intermediator yet singing from ZANU PF’s hymn book. The responsibility to persuade the EU lies with ZANU PF itself by conforming to provisions of the GNU and reforming to a civilised political party not a mafia styled rebellious organisation.

‘Good friends we had and good friends we lost,

Along the way’ sang Bob Marley.The likes of Tonderai Ndira,Godfrey Kauzani,Beta Chorurama,Trymore Midzi,Edson Mukwasi and many more. RIP


The writer is former MDC National Youth Co-ordinator and can be contacted at


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Mugabe inflames the Afro-pessimists, but Zimbabwe's story is much deeper

For all the nightmarish events of the last decade, my country has much to
celebrate as we mark 30 years of independence

          o Petina Gappah
          o, Wednesday 14 April 2010 23.00 BST

Thirty years ago on Sunday the renegade British colony that had been
Rhodesia was born as Zimbabwe. In the nightmarish events of the last 10
years the euphoria of that day has been all but lost. Certainly, the
achievements of Zimbabwe in the last 30 years are in danger of drowning in
the mire of statistics about rampant inflation and unemployment, in images
of the political repression of a cowed populace - all taken as evidence by
those Thabo Mbeki calls the Afro-pessimists. For his part, President Mugabe
has certainly provided much grist to the mill of the brigade that believes
Africans cannot rule themselves and that independence has achieved nothing
worth celebrating.

As Zimbabwe turns 30, however, there are significant achievements to
celebrate. Independence itself was one, especially as it brought the end of
an apartheid-in-miniature that had allowed a small white minority to enjoy
benefits not available to the black majority. Rhodesia's segregationist
policy was grievously unjust; but children born in Zimbabwe would no longer
have their life paths determined simply because of the colour of their skin.

Independence came through a civil war in which tens of thousands died, and
many more people were displaced. Following this, Mugabe - then prime
minister - urged former combatants to turn their swords to ploughshares, and
white and black to work together to build a new nation. The reconciliation
policy at the time did much to allay fears of reprisals, and put Zimbabwe on
a path to stability and prosperity.

The chief achievement of the country's prosperous early years, one bearing
fruit even today, came from the massive investment in education. From free
primary education to adult literacy programmes, this investment made it the
sub-Saharan nation with the highest literacy rate. Poor Zimbabweans were
encouraged to see education as the only thing that stood between them and
their circumstances, and to use education as the means to get out of
poverty. Even now, taxi drivers and market-stall holders invest in extra
lessons for their children, and in the evenings in Harare adults make their
way towards colleges for further education and training. The Zimbabwean
diaspora of the last 10 years is evidence of the success of this education
policy: Zimbabweans have taken skills and education to the Commonwealth and
beyond, making it tragic that their skills should be used to benefit other
countries and not their own.

The government particularly encouraged the education of females. Achieving
equality for women was a key goal, which led to the overhauling of the
country's colonial laws to create legal equity between black men and women.
Under the settler regime, while white women and men could achieve legal
majority, black women to whom African customary law was applied were damned
to be forever minors and subject to the legal authority of male guardians.
The government bulldozed into operation the Legal Age of Majority Act, in
the face of opposition from traditionalists who predicted all manner of
calamitous events if women were allowed to make their own decisions about
their lives. On this edifice, and backed by an activist judiciary and a
flourishing women's rights movement, the government built a sophisticated
legal structure to guarantee women's equality, and ended retrograde cultural
practices such as the pledging of young girls to appease angry spirits. As
recently as 2008 it adopted a domestic violence law that is among the most
progressive in the world.

The other achievement, on a continent riven by ethnic conflict, has been the
forging of something that could be called a Zimbabwean identity. Unlike
African countries with multiple languages, Zimbabwe has the advantage of a
fairly integrated population, with virtually no ethnic conflict. (While the
perceived secessionist threat in the Matabeleland and Midlands areas in the
1980s met with disproportionate force from the Zimbabwe army, with about
20,000 lives lost, it was not a simple conflict or civil war between Shonas
and Ndebele.)

That there has been no such conflict may reflect the accommodation of ethnic
differences through a system of ethnic balance in all leadership structures.
The integration of the predominantly Ndebele Zapu PF into the predominantly
Shona Zanu PF and the formation of an urban-based opposition led by both
Shonas and Ndebeles means that political parties have avoided splitting
along tribal lines. With the right political will, Zimbabwe may yet avoid
all politically inspired ethnic clashes.

At the centre of Zimbabwe's flag are two bands of red running parallel to a
band of black. Children are taught that the black represents the black
majority, the red the blood shed during the independence struggle. The flag
is a reminder that the nation was born of pain. The real tragedy of Zimbabwe
is that the pain has continued after independence, and that its first and
only leader has been overseeing the destruction not only of what he
inherited at independence, but also of what he built.

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Zimbabwe’s Accidental Triumph

Published: April 14, 2010

IN the midst of a wave of post-election political violence in Zimbabwe in
2008, Brian James, a white farmer who had been evicted from his property
years earlier during President Robert Mugabe’s seizure of white-owned lands,
found himself surrounded by a throng of black Zimbabweans in downtown
Mutare, my hometown. The 50-strong crowd danced, sang and chanted political
slogans for more than 20 minutes before Mr. James was finally able to raise
his hand, thank them for their support and announce that he was honored to
have been elected mayor of the country’s third-largest city.

This Sunday is the 30th anniversary of Zimbabwe’s independence from white
rule and President Mugabe’s rise to power. Back then, Mr. Mugabe was hailed
as a liberator and conciliator. “If yesterday I fought you as an enemy,
today you have become a friend,” he told nervous whites at the time. For a
long while he was true to his word. By the mid-1990s, Zimbabwe had become
one of the most stable and prosperous countries in Africa.

But in 2000, within weeks of losing a constitutional referendum to entrench
his power, Mr. Mugabe began the catastrophic land invasions that resulted in
the eviction of almost all the country’s 4,500 white farmers and the ruin of
what was once a model post-colonial African country. Ever since, the
narrative of Zimbabwe has been one of race. Rare is the speech in which Mr.
Mugabe does not rail against whites, colonialists, imperialists or the West.
Members of his ZANU-PF party have spoken of a “Rwandan solution” for
Zimbabwe’s whites.

Westerners have simply accepted this narrative of blacks and whites pitted
against one another. But, in doing so, they have missed the inspiring story
of what has actually been happening in Zimbabwe over the past decade. After
years of mass unemployment, mutant inflation, chronic shortages and state
violence, Zimbabweans simply don’t care about skin color. In fact, Mr.
Mugabe has managed to achieve the exact opposite of what he set out to do in
2000: the forging of a postracial state.

Brian James’s story, taken in full, stands as proof of Mr. Mugabe’s
unwitting accomplishment. Mr. James was barely interested in politics before
losing his land in 2003 — “I just wanted to farm and play cricket on
weekends” — but afterward he joined the main opposition party, the Movement
for Democratic Change, quickly rose through the ranks and was elected mayor
by a virtually all-black constituency.

And Mr. James is not a singular example. One of the most popular politicians
in the country is Roy Bennett, another former farmer, known to his legion of
black supporters as Pachedu, “one of us.” When Mr. Bennett was arrested on
trumped-up treason charges last year, hundreds of black Zimbabweans
surrounded the prison so that intelligence agents would not be able to
smuggle him out to a more remote location where it was feared he might be

Then there is the inspiring sight of white farmers, who have been contesting
the legality of the land expropriations in a regional human rights tribunal,
marching into court arm in arm with their black lawyers, often dynamic women
who know the laws and Constitution of the land better than those sitting in
judgment. This belies Mr. Mugabe’s image of a country divided by race.

My parents, owners of a backpacker resort, are part of this new Zimbabwe.
Like most whites, they once steered clear of politics. But in 2002, when
their home came under siege, my father joined the M.D.C. By 2005, their
lodge had become a meeting place for black political dissidents who would
disguise themselves as priests to avoid detection by Mr. Mugabe’s militia.

In 2008, the lodge became a safe house for three black activists, Pishai
Muchauraya, Prosper Mutseyami and Misheck Kagurabadza, who had won seats in
Mugabe strongholds and were now on the run from government death squads. My
mother, as tough-as-nails a white African as any, still gets emotional when
she talks of the courage of her three “fugitives,” all of whom are now
friends and in Parliament, part of the fractious national unity government
set up between Mr. Mugabe and the M.D.C. in 2009.

Mr. Mugabe knows exactly what he is doing in constantly invoking race-based
rhetoric. By framing the crisis in Zimbabwe as a struggle against the West —
against the white world — he escapes censure from other postcolonial African
leaders who understand their own countries’ histories in the same way. And
when the West allows Mr. Mugabe’s narrative to go unchallenged, it plays
right into his hands.

Overlooked in the racial invective are some basic and important facts. Mr.
Mugabe has accused white farmers of being colonial-era “settlers,” but about
70 percent of them actually purchased their land after independence, with
signed permission from Mr. Mugabe himself. And far from owning 70 percent of
the land in the country, as was widely believed, those white farmers owned
only half of our commercial land — just 14 percent of Zimbabwe’s total land.
With that land, however, they used to produce more than 60 percent of all
agricultural crops, and 50 percent of all foreign earnings. One only has to
look at the decline in food production and collapse of the economy since
2000 to appreciate how vital white farmers were to the well-being of the

All but ignored was the other major target of the land grabs: black farm
workers. Some 300,000 blacks were employed on white farms up until 2000 —
two million people, if one counts their dependents — and they overwhelmingly
supported the M.D.C. By destroying white farms, Mr. Mugabe wiped out a major
base of black opposition. It is hardly surprising, then, that black workers
often stood with white employers to resist Mr. Mugabe’s violent invaders.
When has that ever happened in post-colonial Africa?

I am often asked by friends in the United States if there is any hope for
Zimbabwe, and I always answer yes. Then I tell them a story about a funeral.

Not long before he was elected mayor, Brian James lost his wife, Sheelagh,
in a car crash in Mutare. Her funeral was held on the lawns of the local
golf club and 300 mourners turned up, among them white farmers, black
friends and an M.D.C. choir. The day before the funeral, my father was with
Pishai Muchauraya, the former M.D.C. fugitive and soon-to-be member of
Parliament, when he received a phone call from the leader of the choir. They
had a problem, they told Mr. Muchauraya: they had never been to the funeral
of a white woman before and did not know what to sing.

“What’s that got to do with it?” Mr. Muchauraya snapped. “Mrs. James was an
African just like you. Sing what you normally sing.” When he turned to
apologize for the interruption, he saw my father had tears in his eyes.

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Every (Wild) Dog Has Its Day

Published: April 14, 2010


We humans are suckers for certain kinds of wildlife, from lions to
elephants. I hadn't known I was a zebra fan until I drove my rented car into
a traffic jam of zebras here. My heart fluttered.

As for rhinos, they're so magnificent that they attract foreign aid. Women
here in rural Zimbabwe routinely die in childbirth for lack of ambulances or
other transport to hospitals, and they get no help. But rhinos in this park
get a helicopter to track their movements.

Then there are animals that don't attract much empathy. Aardvarks. Newts.
And, at the bottom tier, African wild dogs.

Wild dogs (which aren't actually wild dogs, but never mind that for now) are
a species that has become endangered without anyone raising an eyebrow.
Until, that is, a globe-trotting adventurer named Greg Rasmussen began
working with local villages to rebrand the dogs - and save them from

It's a tale that offers some useful lessons for do-gooders around the world,
in clever marketing and "branding," and in giving local people a stake in
conservation. For if it's possible to rescue a despised species with a
crummy name like "wild dogs," any cause can have legs.

Mr. Rasmussen was born in Britain but grew up partly in Zimbabwe. He bounced
around the world for years as a sailor, zookeeper and kennel owner,
surviving a charging elephant, a venomous 12-foot black mamba, a possibly
rabid mongoose and a coma from cerebral malaria.

Eventually, he ended up researching African wild dogs. He crashed his small
plane in the African bush (he was found a day and a half later, half-dead,
as he was being stalked by lions), and while learning to walk again he
earned a doctorate in zoology, emerging as one of the world's leading
specialists on wild dogs.

Once the African wild dog was found by the hundreds of thousands across
Africa, but today there are only a few thousand left, mostly in Zimbabwe,
Botswana, Tanzania and South Africa.

Wild dogs are not dogs, which split off from wolves only in the last 30,000
years. In contrast, wild dogs last shared a common ancestor with dogs or
wolves about 6 million years ago. They are the size of German shepherds and
look like dogs, but they don't bark and have different teeth and toes. And
although many have tried, they have not been domesticated.

"Chimpanzees and gorillas are closer to us humans than wolves are to painted
dogs," Mr. Rasmussen said.

Note that terminology: "painted dogs." Central to Mr. Rasmussen's effort to
save the dogs has been a struggle to rename them, so that they sound exotic
rather than feral.

Do-gooders usually have catastrophic marketing skills. Pepsi and Coke invest
fortunes to promote their products over their rivals, while humanitarians
aren't nearly as savvy about marketing causes with far higher stakes -
famine, disease, mass murder.

Mr. Rasmussen is an exception, and his effort to rebrand the species as
"painted dogs" caught on. The name works because the animals' spotted coats
suggest that they ran through an artist's studio.

Mr. Rasmussen runs the Painted Dog Conservation, a center that offers the
animals a refuge from poachers and rehabilitation when they are injured. But
most of all, he works with impoverished local villagers so that they feel a
stake in preserving painted dogs.

Conservation efforts around the world often involve tensions with local
people. But you can't save rainforests if their advocates are 5,000 miles
away, and conservationists increasingly are realizing that they can succeed
only if they partner with local people.

For Mr. Rasmussen, that has meant turning his conservation center into a
children's camp for school groups, sponsored by donors at $60 a child. Kids
learn that painted dogs don't attack humans or prey much on livestock.

"It makes a difference," Washington Moyo, a dog-keeper here, said of the
villagers' visits. "Once they come, they can differentiate between hyenas
and painted dogs. Because when livestock are taken, it is primarily by
hyenas, not painted dogs."

The conservation center has also started economic development programs for
nearby villages. The idea is for local people to benefit from the dogs'
presence and gain incomes so that they won't feel the need to poach

"What we're trying to achieve here is a model not just for painted dogs, but
something that applies for any species," Mr. Rasmussen said. "Conservation
has to be inclusive, and lots of people have to benefit."

If clever marketing and strategic thinking can take reviled varmints such as
"wild dogs" and resurrect them (quite justly) as exotic "painted dogs" to be
preserved, then no cause is hopeless.

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