It is exactly 30
years since Robert Mugabe became newly-created Zimbabwe's first prime
minister. What went wrong, asks Peta Thornycroft?
By Peta Thornycroft
in Harare Published: 7:30AM BST 18 Apr 2010
"If yesterday I
fought as an enemy, today you have become a friend. If yesterday you hated
me, today you cannot avoid the love that binds you to me, and me to
With these words, Robert Mugabe sought to reassure white and black
alike on the eve of his swearing-in as prime minister of the newly
independent and internationally recognised state of Zimbabwe, exactly 30
years ago today.
He broadcast his address to the nation, then drove to a
packed and carefully orchestrated ceremony in a football stadium in the
On a chilly autumn night a choir of mostly white
schoolchildren sang of the Rhodesia they loved - to the obvious
embarrassment of whites in the VIP box, who were hearing their country
praised like this for the last time. Then, with voices rising, the
youngsters eulogised the new Zimbabwe in the second verse, sending 25,000
blacks into prolonged and ecstatic applause.
Many feared Mr Mugabe,
particularly whites, and with the benefit of three decades' hindsight -
after murders, expropriations, starvation and economic ruin of both blacks
and whites - they appear to have been right.
Yet many also fell for his
considerable charm that night. Were they duped, or did Mr Mugabe change?
This is the question that, as Mr Mugabe's cronies prepare to celebrate his
30 years of unineterrupted power today, Zimbabweans with long enough
memories still ask. How could a man who offered so much hope have presided
over so much chaos, repression and political murder?
In the days after
the new prime minister's conciliatory words, the anti-bomb blast tape was
taken down from windows and refugees and exiles came home. There was a new
mood of optimism after 15 bloody years of bush war.
Mr Mugabe made great
efforts to reassure white farmers - even appointing a British-born farmer as
his first agriculture minister.
Many whites left, but others stayed and
some went willingly to work for his new government. Among them was Costa
Pafitis, now 72, press secretary to the ousted white leader, Ian Smith, who
was asked by Mr Mugabe to stay on.
"I agreed, hoping it would help
confidence," Mr Pafitis said at his home in a suburb of Harare.
Mugabe mostly wrote his own speeches at that time, said Mr Pafitis,
recalling the former guerrilla fighter's promise to "turn guns into
Other assurances now seem even more bitterly ironic.
"Our majority rule could easily turn into inhuman rule if we oppressed,
persecuted or harassed those who do not look or think like the majority of
us," Mr Mugabe said then. "Democracy is never mob rule."
seems astonishing to a generation of young Zimbabweans that the aged and
vindictive tyrant who rules them now could have ever talked in such a
"He said that?" exclaimed an astonished 37-year-old, shown Mr
Mugabe's first speech to the nation. The man, who was too fearful of
repercussions to be named, lost his job as a post office technician 10 years
ago when he was discovered to be an activist for the Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC) opposition party. Fascinated, he wanted to read every
White Zimbabweans liked Mr Mugabe at first. He scrupulously
complied with the 1979 constitution, agreed in lengthy negotiations at
Lancaster House, and urged them to expand production. They did so happily,
until their exports were bringing in 40 per cent of the nation's foreign
Grateful foreign-owned companies and many farmers gave generous
donations towards a new headquarters for Zanu-PF, the party against which
they had fought for 15 bitter years.
I myself fell for Mr Mugabe's
charm, for a while. In 1981 I returned from South Africa, where I had been
working as a journalist, after he appealed for skilled expatriates to come
and build the new nation. I was born in Britain but my mother emigrated to
Rhodesia when I was 18 months old, and it where I considered to be
Yet within months Zanu-PF began taking control, telling newspaper
editors how to write stories, for example. A year later came a grim turning
point: Mr Mugabe ordered the mass murder of his black countrymen in
Matabeleland, the stronghold of the opposition party Zapu. His killers left
20,000 dead and wrecked the most significant potential challenge to his
Yet even this did not set the alarm bells ringing elsewhere.
Prospering white farmers turned a blind eye and it was not until Zimabwe's
20th anniversary approached that its descent into real chaos
With the economy in decline, Mr Mugabe - by now president - faced
a serious challenge from the new MDC, which many white farmers backed. The
killing began again, and this time it was the turn of the
The MDC still very nearly beat Zanu-PF in the 2000 general
election, and two years later Morgan Tsvangirai, a trades union leader
turned politician, challenged Mr Mugabe in a presidential poll but was
denied his victory by a combination of violence, threats and electoral
By then Zimbabwe was going badly wrong. The economy was in deep
trouble. Incompetence and corruption were on glaring display. Yet Mr
Mugabe's rhetoric had persuaded many Zimbabweans that he was personally
honest, lived on a modest salary and was uninterested in wealth.
August 2003, suspicions that he had in fact been enriching himself were
confirmed when my story in The Daily Telegraph revealed that builders were
putting the finishing touches to his new £6 million residence, the largest
ever built in either Rhodesia or Zimbabwe. With 25 bedrooms, spas and a
swimming pool, its roof clad with blue glazed tiles from Shanghai, it was as
luxurious as any to be built in the post-colonial Africa of corrupt "big
men" - and was three times the size of the president's official
Its cost far exceeded his earnings since he came to
In fact, Mr Mugabe had quietly taken control of four of Zimbabwe's
most profitable white-owned farms. They were secretly managed by state
employees with all the profits going to him, his second wife, Grace, and
their close relatives. Many believe that Mrs Mugabe's shopping addiction has
contributed to his increasingly greedy rule.
His charm could work its
spell at first because Mr Mugabe was unknown to most Zimbabweans in 1980,
thanks to Rhodesia's press censorship. They hadn't heard of the vicious
fights within the ranks of his Zanu-PF party during its exile in Mozambique.
The antagonism between Mr Mugabe and his former wartime allies in the late
Joshua Nkomo's Zapu was also little understood. Few realised that during the
liberation war Mr Mugabe had jailed scores of youthful militants in
horrendous conditions in Mozambique.
And he could put on a good show of
being a moderate. While still in Marxist Mozambique, Mr Mugabe met a
visiting US Congressman who had come to get his measure to brief the then
secretary of state, Henry Kissinger. The evaluation, made public only
recently after a freedom of information request, is revealing.
years of detention (in Rhodesia) have not dulled Mugabe," wrote the
Congressman, Stephen Solarz. "He is an impressive, articulate and extremely
confident individual. His philosophical approach to problems and his well
reasoned arguments remind one of Julius Nyerere, a man Mugabe obviously
That comparison was reassuring. Mr Nyerere, Tanzania's
first president, was a socialist but also a democrat, and one of the few
post-colonial leaders to step down peacefully from power without looting his
Mr Mugabe reassured in other respects. "Mozambique is a
military state and we do not want military rule, we want a civilian
government democratically elected," he assured the US politician. "We will
follow English common law."
Yet there was also a glimpse of ruthlessness.
Asked what he would do if he met Ian Smith, Rhodesia's white leader, Mr
Mugabe grinned and said: "Shoot him."
To those close to Mr Mugabe's
government in the 1980s - but not to others - it was quickly obvious that
his rule was going wrong. Mr Pafitis worked loyally as his press secretary
for three years, and then quit.
"There was an Africanisation programme in
the civil service and people wanted my job," he said. "At the end of the day
I couldn't separate the party (Zanu-PF) from the government. It was clear we
were moving towards a one-party state, and unless I became Zanu-PF I had to
Many white farmers came to regret their public support for the
MDC because of the trouble that brought them. "We were naive, we should have
done what we did underground," said one ex-farmer, who has lived in Harare
since being violently evicted from his property in 2001.
farm invasions were a hard story to cover and extremely dangerous. Every day
there was violence somewhere. Since 2000 around 1,000 people, mostly MDC
supporters, have been killed, thousands injured and tens of thousands
So were Mr Mugabe's words at Zimbabwe's creation merely a cover
for his personal ambition?
To many Zimbabweans it now seems like
that. Zanu-PF now controls nine out of 10 once white-owned farms, and wants
to take controlling stakes in white-controlled foreign and local companies.
Zimbabwe's mine owners are worried. And still waiting to be seized are the
prizes of white-owned homes in the cities.
To rule like this Mr
Mugabe needs a subservient population, dependant on him for favours. He
needs land and resources to dispense to supporters. And he must respond with
violence to anyone brave enough to stand up to him.
Yet a majority
rejected him in the 2008 presidential election, when former Zanu-PF
supporters took real risks to vote for Mr Tsvangirai. Many were desperate at
the state of the economy: hyperinflation had soared so high that prices
doubled and redoubled over a single day. Life expectancy for women had
fallen to 34 - half that of 1980 - and of men to 37.
Four thousand white
farmers had been pushed off their land, and many times that number of black
farmworkers were reduced to living in dreadful poverty.
But Mr Mugabe
again refused to cede power and Mr Tsvangerai was forced to join a tenuous
unity government - knowing that the president is plotting to oust him again
entirely at the next election.
And so there will be no hopeful ceremony
uniting Zimbabweans today, no echoes of that uplifting moment 30 years ago.
The official "celebration" will be dominated by Mr Mugabe's henchmen, with a
sprinkling of MDC figures who feel obliged to attend.
remains all but bankrupt and isolated internationally, and life for most
Zimbabweans remains paralysed.
What does Mr Mugabe want now, in his 87th
year, as he celebrates three decades in power? He is convinced that he has
righted a historic wrong by taking back land for blacks. Extraordinary
though it may sound, he desperately wants a more favourable legacy by which
to be remembered.
And, in the hope of achieving this, he will hang on.
Most Zimbabweans are sure of this: we will be stuck with Robert Mugabe until
he dies in office.
Zimbabwe's child cadets paraded with guns in Harare on Sunday as the country
celebrated the 30th anniversary of its independence from Britain.
Published: 6:27PM BST 18 Apr 2010
cadets on parade during the celebrations of 30 years of independence from
President Robert Mugabe joined thousands at the National Sports Stadium,
where he inspected a guard of honour before giving a keynote speech.
Mr Mugabe issued a rare appeal for an end to politically-driven violence,
saying: "As Zimbabweans, we need to foster an environment of tolerance and
treating each other with dignity and respect irrespective of age, gender, race,
ethnicity, tribe, political or religious affiliation."
Many people arrived in buses hired by government to ferry residents of poor
suburbs to the festivities, while others walked to the Chinese-built
For the second year running, leaders of Zimbabwe's three main political
parties attended the event, which had previously been dominated by Mr Mugabe's
Morgan Tsvangirai, the prime minister, and his deputy Arthur Mutambara, Mr
Mugabe's partners in the troubled power-sharing government, were among notable
The commemorations come as Zimbabwe battles to ease political tensions that
threaten its stability and to revive an economy ravaged by nearly a decade of
Mr Mugabe and Mr Tsvangirai's MDC party are trying to make an accord so that
elections can be held this year or next.
April 18, 2010 - Zimbabwe's three main political parties, Zanu (PF), the two
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) factions and 60 000 people might have
joined hands to celebrate the country's 30 years of independence at the
National Sports Stadium on Sunday, but questions still lingered if this was
Three decades after independence, Zimbabweans are still
crying out for real freedom - human rights are still being violated with
impunity, unemployment is hovering around 90 percent, preventable diseases
are killing thousands, people are dying of hunger, poverty has worsened and
corruption among top government officials is still
Zimbabweans are saying yes we have achieved independence but
where is the freedom and justice we fought for?
Like he has done for
the past 30 years in which he has been ruler of Zimbabwe, President Robert
Mugabe, monopolised Independence celebrations as he was the main speaker.
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, a long time rival of the 86-year-old
leader, but now in government played, no official role. He was seen chatting
away with other senior government officials.
There were reports during
the week that Mugabe and Tsvangirai had argued over the role the Prime
Minister would play on Independence Day.
MDC officials had advocated for
boycotting the celebrations but Tsvangirai whipped them into line and
ordered them to attend the event at the National Sports Stadium.
the observers everything looked rosy between Mugabe and Tsvangirai but those
in the know, said the two were just working together for convenience
otherwise rifts still exist.
Tsvangirai spent most of his time
talking to Vice-presidents John Nkomo and at times Joice
However, each time Tsvangirai's picture appeared on the big
screen in the stadium or his name was mentioned, the huge crowd roared in
approval. This did not deter Mugabe as he went on to give one of his most
sober speeches in a long time where he preached peace and
Mugabe promised the crowd a better future, he gave them hope
for a better life and gave them hope that a new constitution will be in
While acknowledging that Zimbabwe has been and is facing
problems, he mostly decided to dwell on the positives.
generality of the population is still not convinced that this is the
Zimbabwe they want. They are still pondering on when they will reach the
In Zimbabwe, most people have no voice due to the
fact that media space is limited. . The Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP),
which is headed by Jestina Mukoko, who was arrested and tortured for
defending human rights, doubts the relevance of independence when violations
are still rampant.
"The previous years were marred by violations which
included murder, torture, assaults, sexual abuses, harassment and
intimidation, abductions, disappearances, arbitrary arrests, and unlawful
detentions, displacements, and evictions in all the provinces of
"Many Zimbabweans were maimed, arrested, displaced and lost
their lives mostly during election periods, mainly for claiming their
freedom to associate, choose and assemble," said ZPP in a
Justice for Children Trust says while things were better soon
after independence - the situation is now a disaster 30 years
"Despite the existence of both international and domestic laws,
little has been done in the last 10 years to fully promote and protect
children's rights. The State's failure to enshrine children's human rights
in the constitution has further compromised the respect, promotion and
protection of children's rights.
"Since the year 2000, Zimbabwe has
experienced a myriad of challenges which worsened the vulnerability of
children. The health care and delivery system has rapidly crumbled. Children
are at the midst of the crisis as they are victims of HIV and AIDS, high
child mortality rates, cholera and measles.
"Many children with HIV and
AIDS require constant supply of medication which is expensive and
inaccessible to those in remote areas," says Justice for Children
Zimbabwean leader President Robert Mugabe during the 30th
Independence celebrations in Harare, 18 April 2010
President Robert Mugabe has appealed for an end to
political violence in Zimbabwe as the country marks 30 years of
Addressing a ceremony in Harare Sunday, Mr. Mugabe said
Zimbabwe's government wants people to "desist from any acts of violence that
will cause harm to others and become a blight on our society."
did not mention any names or parties, but human rights groups have long accused
his ZANU-PF party of beating, torturing, and killing supporters of the longtime
opposition Movement for Democratic Change.
The parties are now in a unity
government formed after the disputed and violence-plagued 2008
The sides remain at odds over multiple issues, including a law
that would require all businesses in Zimbabwe to hand over a majority stake to
Mr. Mugabe said Sunday that the program would remain in
place. He said the program and the controversial land seizures of the past
decade are examples of "empowerment" designed to fix historic imbalances in the
Mr. Mugabe was a leader in the guerilla war that resulted in
Zimbabwe winning independence from Britain on April 18, 1980.
once hailed as one of Africa's most progressive leaders, but has seen his
popularity wane since 2000 when his government began a land-redistribution
campaign. Mr. Mugabe's widely-condemned seizures of land from white farmers
triggered a sharp drop in food production and severely damaged the country's
The 86-year-old president is Africa's oldest head of state.
Despite his age and political setbacks, Mr. Mugabe has said he will seek
re-election in 2013 if he has his party's support.
Some information for this report was
provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.
Thirty years ago today, Zimbabwe declared its
independence and Robert Mugabe became its first president. But the dreams of
the emerging nation were short-lived, writes Justin Kilcullen
have abundant mineral, agricultural and human resources to exploit and
develop, for which we need perfect peace. Given such peace, our endeavours
to transform our society and raise our standard of living are bound to
succeed." - Robert Mugabe on the eve of independence in Zimbabwe, 17 April
In 1980, as President Mugabe noted in his speech to the
blossoming nation, Zimbabwe was a land of great prosperity, especially
compared to its neighbours. It was a country of proud industry and giant
agricultural outputs. Its education system was renowned as the best in
Africa. It was a time of great joy and optimism, with the promise of
equality, freedom and an end to mass poverty finally within
Thirty years later, the situation, in contrast, is stark.
Inflation stood at 231 million percent when it stopped being measured in
late 2008. The Zimbabwe dollar was suspended four months later and goods are
now being sold in US dollars and South African rand. This means that those
without access to hard currency are unable to afford many basic items as
fuel and medicines. Unemployment stands at 94%. The education system, once
such a source of pride, has all but collapsed.
Between 1990 and 2008,
average life expectancy fell from 61 to 44. Infant mortality climbed from 53
to 81 per 1,000 births in the same period. One-third of all Zimbabwean
children suffer from stunting due to under-nourishment. Among its other
work, Trócaire is providing life-saving food packs including maize and beans
every month for 2,000 vulnerable families and daily meals for over 24,000
hungry school children and orphans.
People in the rural areas are
suffering through what has become known as 'the hungry season' - the period
between harvests when food stocks run dry. It is estimated that almost three
million people are dependent on food aid right now. This is more than a
fifth of the population in a country once known as the bread basket of
Africa. Last year the country suffered through one of the worst cholera
epidemics Africa has ever known, infecting over 90,000 people all over the
country and killing more than 4,000 by March 2009. As the sanitation system
has almost completely collapsed and the country's health structures are
practically non-existent, disease remains a serious concern.
what seemed like years of watching Zimbabwe descend further into the abyss
(with the violent elections of spring 2008 a particular lowlight), last
February Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangirai of the Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC) finally agreed on a power-sharing agreement that would see fresh
elections within two years.
The formation of this government was welcomed
with relief by many Zimbabweans and the international community at large,
including Trócaire, which has worked in Zimbabwe for almost 40 years. Some
work of the administration has been encouraging, although it is almost
entirely overshadowed by Mugabe's continual undermining of the executive
power of Tsvangirai, the prime minister. For its part, the MDC has failed to
stem the human rights abuses perpetrated by state agents, nor has it managed
to curtail the gross corruption which further undermines the economic
recovery of Zimbabwe.
Sadly, election violence and gross human rights
abuses have been hallmarks of Zimbabwean elections since independence. With
growing indications that fresh elections will be held in early 2011, there
are reports of a resurgence of politically-motivated violence throughout the
country. Trócaire is working with people around the country to help break
this cycle of violence and destruction. This work is critically important
Recently, young women in a community in the rural area of
Masvingo in southern Zimbabwe told Trócaire staff that they believed they
should be able to "live in peace in our communities". This basic human right
? this true independence ? is what Trócaire and our local partners are
trying to defend and protect.
We have had successes and we have seen
people continue to suffer. But as the high turnout for the 2008 elections
showed, the people of Zimbabwe will not give in to tyranny and oppression.
The road ahead is fraught with risk for Zimbabweans but there is also hope
for a better future. There is a vibrancy and energy in Zimbabwe today which
is best seen in the light of its activists - those who have consistently
stood up for what is right in the face of oppression.
One of the
best-known is Jestina Mukoko, director of the Zimbabwe Peace Project.
Trócaire has funded her work for many years and we are proud to know her. In
December 2008 she was abducted from in front of her child by government
agents, held in an undisclosed location for three weeks and eventually put
in front of a court charged with spurious crimes such as treason. Her crime?
Documenting human rights abuses that occurred in the aftermath of that
year's sham election.
Last month Jestina was awarded an International
Women of Courage award by Hillary Clinton and Michelle Obama in Washington.
In her acceptance speech, Jestina said: "We do not want to be passive
bystanders, and it is such recognition that ensures that we do not tire
until we reach the finish line and pass the baton to the next
In Jestina, and others like her, we see the hope of a new
Zimbabwe gaining independence seems a lifetime
In our series of viewpoints from African journalists, Zimbabwean filmmaker
and columnist Farai Sevenzo asks what a nation does at 30, after times of
Zimbabwe, the House of Stone, is 30 years old. April 18 1980 seems a lifetime
The righting of colonial wrongs can take up to 30 years to
complete and do more harm to those a revolution seeks to protect
This nation's tale has constantly divided opinion and people, creating new
histories and revisionist ones that say I told you so - but the umbilical
cord for Zimbabweans remains attached and pulsing.
At 30 a man or a woman may be feeling broody, that it is time to have some
children, set down some roots, leave a legacy.
What does a nation do?
I have no old men memories of the liberation struggle to offer you - like
crossing into Mozambique to fight, dismantling Rhodesia's apartheid, educating a
country, forging a peace and moving from prime minister to president and holding
on as those around me die off.
Instead, my own personal memories are filled with ghosts - the kind of ghosts
only a reporter would bother to give head space to.
For just over a decade now I have been reporting on Zimbabwe on camera,
radio, print and on the internet; and my ghosts are the kind of characters only
people like me get to meet.
And, unlike many a reporter whose reports are prefaced with, "the BBC is
banned from reporting in Zimbabwe," I have never suffered those restrictions.
House of Stone refers to the ruins of Great Zimbabwe, one of the
most famous ancinet stone structures in southern Africa
Meanwhile the land, famed for its stunning beauty and green acres, was
shrinking and wilting like the skin of a dying man.
It is the drought, cried the politicians, we cannot farm when there is no
And no-one mentioned the departed farmers but everything was done to help the
new ones - free fertiliser, brand new tractors - and still this fertile land
failed to yield its once bountiful produce to previous levels.
Then came the Age of Inflation,
when billion dollar banknotes mingled with waste on rubbish dumps
and those scouring for food preferred to pick up anything but those notes.
The pain has been relentless at times during Zimbabwe's 30-year
The gap between the rich and the poor is wider than the Victoria
But who will benefit?
Will the ministers who took the farms also take the mines?
Meanwhile, the gap between the rich and the poor is wider than the Victoria
Falls; houses being built in affluent suburbs are large and feature imported
Italian marble; and I for one miss the cafe society feel of Harare with its many
restaurants and excellent bars.
And it is easy to spend an entire weekend at The Stones in Highfield township
watching football and eating grilled intestines at the Jambalaya Inn.
But the poor out in the villages are finding it increasingly difficult to get
their hands on a US dollar; the country still needs food aid and the citizens of
this flame lily of a nation have been leaving in droves, tucking away their
education to bolster the economies of other lands, other cities, other lives.
But wherever I am I still feel the pull of that umbilical cord and think I
should really have taken up Dr Hunzvi's offer of land.
Independence Day Protest – Zimbabwe Vigil Diary – 17th April 2010
First group leaves
Zim EmbassyArriving at the SA High CommissionCandles on
Mugabe outside the SA
High CommissionLovemore Matombo and Gabriel Shumba
Mugabe drinks to another 30 years, Zim EmbassyLovemore Matombo addresses the VigilEphraim Tapa and Gabriel
ash from Iceland 1,000 miles to the north
dropped gently on the Vigil as we marked Zimbabwe’s
30th anniversary of Independence. Despite this it was a lovely
sunny day and there was a big attendance at our anniversary demonstration during
which we left thirty candles at the nearby South African High Commission to
remind them of their obligation to help us achieve true independence. People
left the Zimbabwe Embassy in small groups carrying banners and candles and left
them on the steps of South Africa House around the corner on Trafalgar Square.
glad to be joined by two champions of Zimbabwean freedom: Lovemore Matombo of
the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions and Gabriel Shumba of the Zimbabwe Exiles
Lovemore Matombo said that despite the earlier
progress after independence there was still a lack of freedom in
Zimbabwe. The MDC seemed to have been
lulled into submission and had become a continuation of the Mugabe regime. They
had betrayed the people but the ZCTU would not give up the struggle. He said
Zimbabwe was a rich country which had
been plundered for the benefit of the few. He added that Zimbabwe’s
diamonds alone were enough to get the economy on track. Mr Matombo lamented what
he called the fragmentation of civil society in Zimbabwe.
part Gabriel Shumba advised the diaspora that there must be rule of law in
Zimbabwe before they could safely go
home – so they would be free from harassment, torture and intimidation. He said
people in the diaspora must be given the right to vote and dual citizenship
should be allowed. He insisted there should be international observers on the
ground during any election. Mr Shumba stressed the need for transitional
justice. He said that people could not go home to Zimbabwe to find
the perpetrators of the violence against them were still in place. He added that
another demand was that South
Africa must protect Zimbabweans against
xenophobic violence. He said he feared a resurgence of this after the World Cup.
visitor to the Vigil was Mr Mugabe (alias Reginald Gwasira in our Mugabe
mask).He joined us at the South African
High Commission with a placard reading ‘Thanks Comrade Malema’.He reappeared later outside the Zimbabwe
Embassy with a bottle of wine and large glass and a placard reading ’Here’s to
another 30 years’.
Matombo renewed acquaintance with his fellow trade unionist and one of the Vigil
founders Ephraim Tapa (previously head of the civil service union). Lovemore
told Vigil supporters of the severe torture Ephraim suffered in 2002 and how the
ZCTU looked after him and arranged his escape.He said Ephraim was barely alive when he was found.
first time ever one of our petitions has been signed by a pigeon. He unloaded
his bowels on our demand that the UK should not lift sanctions against
Mugabe. It must have been a stool pigeon.
all delighted by the beautiful singing of a pair of songbirds in our maple trees
completely oblivious to the hubbub below them. Also oblivious to reality is the
Zimbabwean coalition government which has apparently decided ‘that all key
stakeholders interested or involved in addressing the debt crisis in Zimbabwe,
in particular the IFIs (international financial institutions, World Bank,
International Monetary Fund and African Development Bank) and western countries
"must overtly acknowledge that Zimbabwe is operating under economic sanctions”.’
Presumably if they don’t Zimbabwe will refuse their food to
feed the starving or their medicines to save the sick . . .
impossible to say how many people attended the Vigil – certainly many more than
signed the register. The sound of the drums thundered down the Strand.
good to be joined by Violet of SW Radio Africa, Mark and Tony of ACTSA and Tor
and Wiz of the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum.
·On a very
busy afternoon our thanks go to those who made our ‘Lights for Freedom’ protest
possible: Jonathan Kariwoh who looked after back table throughout and sacrificed
his chance to attend the activities at the SA High Commission, Luka Phiri who
ran between the Embassy and the High Commission taking the Vigil photos and Dumi
Tutani who stage managed the scenario at the South African High
·ROHR South East London general
meeting. Saturday 24th April from 1 – 3 pm. Venue: 16 Sydenham Road,
SE24 5QW. Contact P Chitsinde 07897000075, C Chiromo 07894586005 or
·ROHR Leeds general
meeting. Saturday 24th April from 1.30 – 4 pm. Venue: Dock Green
Inn, Leeds LS9 7AB. Contact: Wonder M Mubaiwa
07958758568, Donna Mugoni (Chair Northern Region) 07748828913, Prosper
Mudamvanji 07846621050, Beauty Sikosana 07940181761, David Munemo 07963708923 or
P Mapfumo 07915926323/07932216070
·ROHR Leicester general meeting. Saturday24th
April from 1.30 – 5.30. Venue: St Aiden Parish Church Hall, The Vicarage,
Road, New Parks, Leicester LE3 6RJ. Refreshments will be served. Contact C
Ndoro 07833022167, D Sibanda 07901742649, P Mapfumo 07915926323/
·ROHR Glasgow relaunchmeeting. Saturday
1st May from 1.30-5.30. Venue: Woodside Hall, 36 Glendarg Street, Glasgow, G20
7QE. ROHR Executive present to talk about the
current issues in Zimbabwe and the UK.Contact Kuda Mupunga 07940254328, Gugu Ncube
07534574763, Rugare Chifungo(Northern Coordinator) 07795070609, P Mapfumo
·ROHR Woking Branch1st Anniversary Party.
Saturday 8th May from 3 – 10 pm. Venue: St Pauls Church Hall,
Road, Woking GU22 7BD. Raffle for two hampers to be
won. Tickets £6 adults £3.00 kids which includes entry and meal. Contact: Mr
Mudzamiri 07774044873, Jermaine 07908522992, Sithokozile 07886203113 or P
fundraising event. Saturday
22nd May from 4 – 10 pm. Venue: Arbury Community Centre, Campkin
Road, Cambridge CB4 2LD. African music, food and drinks hobho. Entrance fee £10
including food. Contact: Jospheth Hapazari 07782398725, Locadia Mugari
07501304116, Sibusisiwe Bafana 07765268622, Percy Marimba 07894670271 or P
Bromwich Branch fundraising event. Saturday
29th May from 1 – 11pm. Venue: St Peters Church Hall, Whitehall Rd, West
Bromwich B70 0HF. Admission £8.00 including food and drink. Contact: Pamela
Dunduru 07958386718, Diana Mtendereki 07768682961, Peter Nkomo
07817096594, Godwin Kativu 07576994816 or P Chibanguza 07908406069
Northampton General Meeting. Saturday
5th June at 2 pm. Venue: CareyMemorialBaptistChurch,
Kettering, Northants, NN16 8QL. ROHR executive members present
and guest speakers. Contact:
Marshall Rusike 07833787775,WadzanayiMpandawana 07717795574, Gladys Milanzi 07846 448 711, Norian Chindowa 07954379426, Sherry Ngaseke 07869295544 Or P Mapfumo 07915 926 323 / 07932 216 070.
Saturdays from – 1 pm. Venue: Swazi High Commission, 20 Buckingham Gate,
6LB.Please support our Swazi friends.
Nearest stations: St James’s Park and Victoria. For more information check: www.swazilandvigil.co.uk.
Association’s Women’s Weekly Drop-in Centre. Fridays
10.30 am – 4 pm. Venue: The Fire Station Community and ICT Centre,84 Mayton
Street, London N7 6QT,
Tel: 020 7607 9764. Nearest underground: FinsburyPark. For more information contact the
Zimbabwe Association 020 7549 0355 (open Tuesdays and
The Vigil, outside the Zimbabwe Embassy, 429 Strand, London, takes place every Saturday from 14.00
to 18.00 to protest against gross violations of human rights in
Zimbabwe. The Vigil which started in
October 2002 will continue until internationally-monitored, free and fair
elections are held in Zimbabwe: http://www.zimvigil.co.uk.
Zimbabwe (AP) -- President Robert Mugabe pledged Sunday to move ahead with
plans to hand over 51 percent control of businesses to blacks under a
During ceremonies Sunday marking the 30th
anniversary of independence from colonial rule, Mugabe said the proposed
business take overs are a concrete example of policies followed over the
last three decades that enable locals to own the nation's
The so-called indigenization and empowerment act was passed in
2008, when parliament was still dominated by Mugabe's lawmakers. The law
came into force on March 1 and all businesses were given to April 15 to hand
in proposals as to how they'd hand over 51 percent of their company to
blacks. This included foreign and white-owned businesses.
of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, the former opposition leader who was
also present at the ceremonies Sunday, has opposed the program and said
Wednesday the law had been shelved to avoid deterring much-needed foreign
investment in the ailing economy.
Tsvangirai's party on Wednesday said a
meeting of the coalition cabinet chaired by Mugabe suspended the act, which
defined "indigenous" Zimbabweans as those who suffered under colonial-era
racial discrimination and their children born after independence in 1980,
effectively excluding the nation's 20,000 whites.
a minister from Mugabe's party in charge of empowerment policy, countered
this and said Wednesday the law will go ahead, but it had only been delayed
for more discussions.
The new so-called indigenization law "recognizes
our sovereign right of ownership," Mugabe told crowds at the 50,000 seat
Chinese-built sports stadium in Harare.
Mugabe said the nation,
governed by a yearlong coalition between his ZANU-PF party and Tsvangirai's
Movement for Democratic Change, faced continuing criticism from what he
called "unrepentant and incorrigible racist forces."
He said the
coalition was proceeding with national reconstruction despite outside
opposition from Western countries.
Seizures of white-owned farms and "now
the indigenization program serve as concrete and living examples of
empowerment ... designed chiefly to redress the historic imbalances in
ownership of the economy," Mugabe said.
Mugabe on Sunday did not
elaborate on any fresh deadlines under the law.
Coalition leaders watched
military displays at the stadium which was reopened this month after being
shut down for three years for structural repairs by Chinese engineers.
Crowds cheered and whistled for Tsvangirai when Mugabe formally welcomed him
to the celebrations.
Mugabe, 86, acknowledged a need for national healing
Sunday "following a period of polarization and hostilities between our
Years of political violence, much of it blamed on Mugabe
militants and state agents, and economic turmoil came with the often violent
seizures of white-owned farms that Mugabe ordered in 2000, disrupting the
agriculture-based economy in the former regional breadbasket and leading to
acute food shortages and world record inflation.
Human rights groups
say at least 600 people, mostly Tsvangirai supporters, died in the past
decade and tens of thousands of cases of torture, illegal arrests and other
rights violations were reported.
HARARE - Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe said Sunday he hopes his
country's tourism industry will get a boost from the football World Cup in
neighbouring South Africa.
"With the 2010 FIFA World Cup tournament,
it is government's hope that tourism will receive another boost for its
total recovery towards being a major contributor to the country's economic
growth," Mugabe told thousands of Zimbabweans gathered at the National
Sports Stadium for the country's 30th independence celebrations.
said Zimbabwe's tourism industry is showing signs of recovery.
the sector generated an estimated amount of 522 million dollars,
contributing 6.5 percent to the gross domestic product," Mugabe
The southern African country is expecting to host some 100,000
foreign nationals during the month-long World Cup, mostly South Africans
looking to escape the drama surrounding the tournament.
tourism industry has taken a beating as a result of the country's ongoing
political and economic woes.
Tourist arrivals plunged from 1.4 million in
2000 to 223,000 in 2008, as several countries in Asia and the West issued
travel warnings against going to Zimbabwe.
The Zimbabwean government
has said it hopes to cash in on South African visitors who have no interest
in sport and those who are renting their homes to foreign
South Africa is expecting hundreds of thousands of foreign
football fans for Africa's first World Cup, which runs from June 11 to July
Jenni Williams, Magodonga Mahlangu, Clara Manjengwa and
Celina Madukani will remain in custody until Tuesday 20th when they will be
taken to court. The four women have yet to be formally charged. Police
officers tried to force the activists to pay admission of guilt fines, which
they refused to do as no offence had been committed. (Pictured: Jenni
Williams & Magodonga Mahlangu) The continued detention of the women
is once again a clear indication that harassment of human rights defenders
continues unchecked under the government of national unity and makes a
mockery of the Independence celebrations that no doubt will be taking place
across Zimbabwe this weekend. There is very little to celebrate in the cold,
dark, filthy cells of Harare Central Police Station.
Harare - Zimbabwe's tourism minister has appealed to activists in the
western provinces of Bulawayo to drop plans to protest against the North
Korean football team's scheduled camp in the country during the World
The presence of the team from the dictatorship of President Kim Jong
Il has stirred up strong emotions over the massacre in the early 80s of an
estimated 20 000 civilians of the Ndebele speaking people of western
Zimbabwe, carried out by soldiers of the Zimbabwe army's notorious Fifth
Brigade who were trained by North Korean instructors.
threatened to carry out protests against the team in the western city of
Bulawayo and in South Africa where over a million Zimbabwean exiles from
President Robert Mugabe's rule now live.
'We are totally against bringing
the team to Zimbabwe,' said Methuseli Moyo, spokesman for the Zimbabwe
African People's Union party. 'Having a team flying the North Korean flag is
The team is due in Harare on May 25 and is set to play
friendly matches against the Zimbabwe national team in the capital and in
Bulawayo, but activists have warned they would make Bulawayo's Barbourfields
stadium a centre of resistance against the North Koreans.
minister Walter Mzembi was quoted Sunday in the weekly Standard newspaper as
appealing to the groups not to mix politics with sport and to allow national
healing to take place.
'Sport must remain the bridge for people-to-people
contact, probably the only bridge that has remained standing even when
nation states are in a state of fall-out,' he said.
'I wouldn't want
to make this a political issue. It's purely a sports issue.'
he had extended invitations to the major teams in the World Cup, including
Brazil, England and the United States, but North Korea was the only team
that had responded.
The North Korean instructors were brought to Zimbabwe
in 1983 at the request President Robert Mugabe to form a new brigade of the
army, composed exclusively of Shona-speaking veterans of Mugabe's civil war
guerrilla army, to put down a limited insurgency against Mugabe's rule by
Ndebele-based guerrilla veterans.
The Fifth Brigade troops
immediately developed a reputation for savage brutality, butchering children
and pregnant women to deny the guerrillas support among the population of
rural areas where they operated.
Military experts say that the Fifth
Brigade's methods were starkly different from the rest of the country's
largely British-trained army.
Mugabe, held responsible for the massacres,
has only referred to the murderous period in the country's history as a
moment of madness. Demands for acknowledgement of the brutality are rising
round the country, but two weeks ago police forcibly closed down an art
exhibition portraying the suffering of the period, and arrested the artist.
(Reuters) - Zimbabwe marks 30 years of independance from Britain on
Here are some key dates in Zimbabwe's past:
Prime Minister Ian Smith cuts Rhodesia's ties with colonial master Britain,
unilaterally declaring independence under white-minority rule. The move
caused international outrage and United Nations economic sanctions.
- Guerrilla war breaks out against the Smith regime; Robert Mugabe becomes
leader of the liberation ZANU-PF movement in the mid-1970s.
Britain convenes all-party Rhodesia conference after escalation of
independence war, brokering a peace agreement and constitution for an
1980 - ZANU-PF party wins independence
elections. Mugabe takes office as prime minister on April 18.
Mugabe deploys North-Korean-trained Fifth Brigade to crush rebellion by
ex-ZAPU guerrillas. Government forces are accused of killing thousands of
civilians in the crackdown.
1987 - Mugabe and ZAPU's Joshua Nkomo
sign a unity accord, leading to the integration of PF-ZAPU and ZANU-PF.
Mugabe amends independence constitution, abolishes post of prime minister
and becomes executive president with sweeping powers.
1990 - ZANU-PF
and Mugabe win parliamentary and presidential elections.
1995 - ZANU-PF
wins parliamentary elections.
1996 - Mugabe re-elected
1998 - An economic crisis marked by high interest rates and
inflation provokes riots and increasing support for the Zimbabwean Congress
of Trade Unions led by Morgan Tsvangirai.
1999 - The opposition
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) is formed and Tsvangirai is appointed
2000 - Voters back the MDC and turn down a proposed
constitutional amendment which would have given the president more
-- Thousands of independence war veterans and their allies, backed
by the government, seize white-owned farms, saying the land was illegally
appropriated by white settlers.
2002 - Mugabe wins election pitting
him against Tsvangirai. Observers condemn poll as flawed and unfair.
Commonwealth suspends Zimbabwe.
2003 - IMF begins steps to expel Zimbabwe
over dues unpaid since 2001. Commonwealth summit agrees to continue
suspension, leading Mugabe to pull Zimbabwe out of the
2004 - High Court acquits Tsvangirai of plotting to
assassinate Mugabe and seize power, a ruling condemned by the government.
Remaining charges are dropped in August 2005.
2005 - ZANU-PF wins
parliamentary election, giving it the majority it needs to change the
-- About 700,000 people lose their homes or livelihoods in
the demolition of urban slums.
2007 - Tsvangirai says he was badly
beaten after he attempts to attend a banned protest rally, spurring
international condemnation of Mugabe's government.
Parliamentary election results in March show ZANU-PF has lost its majority
for the first time. MDC says its leader Tsvangirai also won presidential
election and calls on Mugabe to concede.
-- Police detain Tsvangirai five
times during campaigning for a June run-off vote.
-- Run-off goes
head despite calls for a postponement from Africa and the rest of the world.
Mugabe is declared the winner with over 85 percent after Tsvangirai pulls
out and is sworn in for a new five-year term.
-- Negotiators from the MDC
and ZANU-PF hold talks to end the deadlock over Mugabe's re-election,
eventually reaching a power-sharing deal in September.
2009 - Tsvangirai
is sworn in as prime minister by old enemy President Mugabe.
18 (Reuters) - Zimbabwe marks 30 years of independance from Britain on
Here are some facts on Zimbabwe:
Although a power-sharing government has managed to stabilise the
economy after 10 straight years of decline, the country is struggling to
restore productivity, feed itself and repair its ruined
Inflation reached 231 million percent a year in July 2008
before the country stopped announcing figures. The IMF estimated thaion
peaked at 500 billion percent in December 2008. Inflation was brought under
control with the adoption of the U.S. dollar and other foreign
Until 2008, GDP had fallen every year since 2000. The IMF
estimated that the economy shrank 14 percent in 2008 and 6.91 percent in
2007. The IMF said per capita GDP fell from $519 in 2000 to $268 in 2008. In
1990, per capita GDP was around $900.
The majority of the population
lives on less than a $1 a day. 85 percent of people live below the poverty
line and annual per capita income is less than $400.
breadbasket of southern Africa, Zimbabwe now needs to import maize. But the
power-sharing government has projected maize output of up to 2.5 million
tonnes next season, which would mark a return to food self-sufficiency.
About 7 million people -- over half the population -- relied on food aid
Unemployment has been estimated at over 90 percent. Well over
3 million Zimbabweans are thought to have fled, mostly to South Africa, in
search of work and food.
Zimbabwe has at least $6 billion of foreign
POPULATION: About 12.5 million, down from a
2007 level of 13.3 million. The prevalence of AIDS, falling life expectancy
and high infant death rates mean estimates are unreliable. About 3 million
have fled to South Africa.
ETHNICITY: Most are of Bantu-speaking Shona or
Ndebele origin. Other groups include the Venda, Shangaan, Tsonga and
RELIGION: African traditional religions 55 percent; Christianity 45
In the 1830s Ndebele people fleeing Zulu
violence and Boer migration in what is now South Africa moved north and
settled in what became known as Matabeleland. In the next half-century
European hunters, traders and missionaries explore the region from the
south. They include Cecil Rhodes.
In 1889 Rhodes' British South Africa
Company gains a British mandate to colonise what becomes Southern Rhodesia.
In the 1890s white settlers arrive and a Ndebele uprising is
In 1922 the British South Africa Company ends its administration
and the white minority opts for self-government. In the following years
black opposition to colonial rule grows. In the 1960s nationalist groups
emerge - the Zimbabwe African People's Union (ZAPU) and the Zimbabwe African
National Union (ZANU).
In 1963 the British-created Central African
Federation, made up of Southern Rhodesia (Zimbabwe), Northern Rhodesia
(Zambia) and Nyasaland (Malawi), breaks after Zambia and Malawi gain
Prime Minister Ian Smith unilaterally decared independence
for Rhodesia in 1965 causing international outrage and economic sanctions.
1979 British-brokered all-party talks lead to a peace agreement and new
In 1980 independence leader Robert Mugabe and his ZANU
party win British-supervised independence elections. Mugabe is named prime
minister. Independence on 18 April is internationally recognised.
before Zimbabwe's 30th anniversary of Independence I happened to get lost in
the vast urban sprawl that characterises the outskirts of the capital city,
Harare. A huge shanty town lay on both sides of the road and stretched as far
as the eye could see. Shacks and shelters made of tin and plastic were
surrounded by mounds of rotting garbage which had even been scraped into
contours in an attempt to demarcate little vegetable plots. Stinking streams
of sewage ran right outside people's shacks and children ran
barefoot through the waste and the filth. Hand painted signs were
everywhere, on pieces of battered, rusty tin and written in charcoal on
strips of warped cardboard: 'Floor polish,' 'Cement,' 'Tyres,' 'Abattoir.'
One sign said: 'Hot Recharge' and a line of people with cellphones
in their hands stood waiting for their turn to plug onto a car battery and
get a precious top up of electrical power into their telephones. A near naked
man with no legs was dragging himself by his hands along the road and I
looked away but his image has stayed with me. How can this be Zimbabwe 30
years after Independence, I keep asking myself.
Two months before
Zimbabwe's 30th anniversary of Independence I went to the local electricity
supply office to hand in an up to date reading of my electricity meter. I
needed to bring accuracy to the wild guesstimates they kept making on my
monthly bills and the even wilder amounts they were charging. The man at the
desk was eating a sausage and when I told him I had a reading I would like
entered into the computer record, he looked wildly around at the piles of
papers covering every inch of his desk. Eventually he chose one pile
and placed the sausage on top of the papers. He looked at his
greasy fingers for a moment, picked up a piece of paper from another pile
on his desk, wiped his fingers on the paper and entered my figures
into his computer. Can this really be Zimbabwe 30 years
Last month I went with a friend who needed to have
fingerprints taken at a government office. One by one each finger is squashed
into the black ink pad and the digit then rolled onto the paper record.
'Wait for your form,' the government official announces and you stare
at the filth on your hands and look around - no taps, no water, no cloth,
nowhere to remove the ink all over your hands. When you ask if there is a
public toilet you can use, the official mutters angrily that they are locked,
they don't work anymore. People wipe their inky hands in their hair or in the
sand. Can this be Zimbabwe 30 years after Independence?
Last week a
friend got a quote for a new garden tap but decided against installing it
because they get stolen so regularly. Stolen to be melted down and made into
coffin handles. Talking about coffins, I attended a funeral a few days ago
and was reminded that you have to dig your own graves now as municipal
workers don't, or won't do it anymore.
Can this really be Zimbabwe 30
years after Independence? Can this really be a free and independent country
when unarmed women are arrested and held in Police custody for handing out
yellow cards in protest over electricity prices. Happy birthday Zimbabwe.
Until next time, thanks for reading, love cathy.� Copyright cathy buckle
17th April 2010. www.cathybuckle.com