|The ZIMBABWE Situation||Our
thoughts and prayers are with Zimbabwe |
- may peace, truth and justice prevail.
Crisis talks between Zimbabwe's governing party and the main opposition could collapse if the opposition peddles "falsehoods" about post-electoral political violence, a ruling party spokesman said.
Jonathan Moyo, spokesman for the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union - Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) and information minister, told the state-run daily The Herald that the talks were also threatened by an opposition legal challenge to the outcome of last month's recent presidential elections.
The paper reported today that Moyo said the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) was perpetuating "criminal falsehood" by declaring that political violence was ongoing in the wake of the poll won by President Robert Mugabe in March.
Moyo cited the example of a claim by the MDC last week that one of its sympathisers was decapitated last weekend in front of her two daughters by ZANU-PF militias.
The claim was false, according to the police and state and private media.
"They (MDC) should not expect us to talk to them under the clouds of these falsehoods," Moyo was quoted as saying in The Herald.
MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai last week said the talks were threatened by violence.
"In light of the state-sponsored violence and campaign of retribution being waged and sustained by ZANU-PF, we now find it difficult to resume talks under a climate of banditry, lawlessness, and terror which is being left to flourish," Tsvangirai told the independent weekly Financial Gazette.
The opposition has also launched a legal suit challenging the March 9-11 election results. The MDC wants a new poll on the grounds that the last one was characterised by fraud and violence, an opinion shared by Commonwealth and some other observers.
Political violence has since January 1 claimed 55 lives, mostly those of opposition supporters, according to the Human Rights Forum grouping several Zimbabwean and international non-governmental organisations (NGOs).
From The Zimbabwe Standard, 28 April
Workers forced to join ZFTU
The vice-president of the Zimbabwe Federation of Trade Unions (ZFTU), Joseph Brown Chinotimba, has intensified raids on firms suspected of having links with the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, The Standard has learnt. Sources within ZFTU told The Standard last week that the trade union, believed to be an affiliate of Zanu PF, was forcing workers to obtain stop order forms so they could pay subscriptions to the union ahead of the May Day celebrations. Said the sources: "The ZFTU is targeting companies affiliated to the Zimbabwe Chemicals and Plastics and Allied Workers Union. The ZFTU has so far stormed more than five companies, which include Barco Chemicals in Mutare, Plastic Industries, Marine Center, Surgimed Trading and Omni Fertilizers. They harassed anyone not complying with their demand to sign stop order forms for affiliation with the ZFTU," said one worker from Marine Centre who refused to be named. Workers from other affected companies also confirmed that they had been harassed by officials of the ZFTU.
Contacted for comment on Friday, Chinotimba confirmed that his union was forcing the signing of stop orders by those workers who were "failing to understand that the ZFTU is now the only trade union capable of representing them". Added Chinotimba: "We were given the mandate to do so by government. I want to tell you, we are the current government. We have to talk to the workers but if they stand in our way we will be forced to make them dance to our tune. If they want to remain with the ZCTU then they should go to other countries and not stay in Zimbabwe. They should wake up and realise that we are the only recognised trade union in this country." The MDC was borne out of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, whose secretary-general was MDC president, Morgan Tsvangirai. Sources close to the union told The Standard last week that the ZFTU, widely believed to be an off-shoot of Zanu PF, had been attacking mostly privately-owned companies. An executive with the Zimbabwe Chemicals and Papers Allied Workers Union also confirmed recent visits by ZFTU. "I can confirm that we have been receiving complaints from our workers. They are going around with stop order forms and threatening to beat anyone not wanting to sign," said the official who declined to be named for fear of victimisation.
From The Zimbabwe Standard, 28 April
Tuku Sends London Fans Wild
It can be described as the London - Great Zimbabwe get together. They converged at Stratford, London, last Saturday from almost every city - Leeds, Manchester, Birmingham - just to watch Oliver Mtukudzi perform. They started gathering as early as ten in the morning and by 2pm, there were hundreds of revellers eager to see the superstar who was on his way to the United States, where he was to perform at the Let Freedom Sing! benefit concert whose objective, among others, is to help set up a fund for the families of Zimbabwean musicians who died of Aids. By six, the numbers had swelled such that the venue could not accommodate any more people. Those who, including me, could not get inside were not very disappointed because we could hear the music, and we danced the night away.
Oliver came on stage around nine. And for four hours, he churned out his golden oldies which are still liked by most people here. His Wasakara is still a gem which is capable of sending people wild. However, his new album,Vhunze/Moto, did not quite impress the people who were hearing it for the first time. Mtukudzi's shows in London are always well attended with people coming from all over the United Kingdom. Most of the time he stages one show, something which Zimbabweans here say is not enough, and that more shows should be staged in other cities. A sister from Manchester said that she had travelled all the way only to hear him from a distance. "I wanted to be in there, man," she said, adding that Tuku's organisers should make every effort to cater for every Zimbabwean in the United Kingdom. Another Zimbabwean from Leeds, who said that he had not seen Oliver performing before, was impressed by the way Oliver danced and sang. "He is a real entertainer," he said. Mtukudzi is scheduled to stage 23 shows in New York and various other cities from April 24 to 27 May.
To millions of Zimbabweans, Mtukudzi's lyrics are nothing less than the teachings of a Shona prophet, and the inferences they draw are clear: Zimbabwe is burning and Mugabe and his ruling Zanu PF party will soon have to suffer the backlash. For Mtukudzi, though, there are no such simple interpretations. "I'm not a politician, I don't understand politics," he says. "My songs are about what I see around me, the happiness and sadness in my country. I don't believe in singing for a particular time. My songs should mean something yesterday, today and tomorrow." Mtukudzi never openly refers to politics in his work, nor does he openly criticise Zimbabwe's leadership. Instead, he uses Shona imagery and African parables to tell stories that his listeners can interpret for themselves.
On Yave Mbodza (What Kind of Rearing is That?) Mtukudzi asks why the ancient Shona practice of a parent chewing traditional root medicine and passing it on to a baby is no longer followed. On the surface, it is a simple morality tale. Look deeper, say his fans, and Tuku, as they like to call him, is singing about the corruption of the ageing generation of Zanu PF rulers who are keeping all the goodness of the country for themselves. "Oliver is an iron fist in a velvet glove," says John Matinde, a DJ on SW Radio Africa, a station set up in London last year to broadcast to Zimbabwe the music and independent news that state-owned radio no longer airs. "It is an open secret that he is referring to the political situation in Zimbabwe, but Oliver speaks in tongues. People can interpret him any way they wish."
The minstrel observing from the sidelines - it is a tactic that has served him well. Unlike his friend Thomas Mapfumo - Zimbabwe's only other bona fide international superstar - Mtukudzi has never allied himself with a political party, even in Zanu PF's heyday soon after independence. He is also the ultimate performer. He sings, plays guitar and dances throughout his shows often for four hours straight - although, at 49, he has stopped playing Pungwes, (traditional 12-hour concerts that would end at 6am). His nine-piece Black Spirits band (with three rousing backing singers) have been with him since the Eighties, and they contribute to his big-voice, gospel-blues sound, which merges Zimbabwean jiti and South African mbaqanga, while retaining a style of its own. In Zimbabwe, they even call the genre "Tuku music". What, though, of his fans in London? So many Zimbabweans now live in exile in the UK, that on the streets back home they refer to London as Harare North.
From The New York Times, 29 April
A rhythmic call for dignity
Oliver Mtukudzi, one of Zimbabwe's leading songwriters, was a fatherly figure when he performed last Monday and Tuesday nights at Joe's Pub. Tall and relaxed, with a low husky voice, he called for dignity, responsibility and respect among tribes and cultures. His songs judiciously blended styles from across southern Africa and beyond without submerging local traits. Playing an acoustic set on Monday night or leading his nine-member band, the Black Spirits, on Tuesday, Mr. Mtukudzi made the messages dance. His songs use the syncopated, hop-scotching modal patterns of traditional Zimbabwean music - originally plucked on mbira (thumb piano), now transferred to guitar and keyboard - along with soul-flavored urban South African styles like mbaqanga.
His voice took on a traditionalist quaver or a preacherly fullness, setting up a gospel-like call-and-response with three backup singers while he led them in strutting dance steps. Richard Matimba's keyboards could give the music an international pop gloss or mimic the mbira or the pennywhistle of South African kwela music. From the three-chord solidity of mbaqanga songs like "Hear Me Lord" (which Bonnie Raitt sings on her new album) to the dizzying nine-beat Zimbabwean rhythm in "Tsika Dedzu," the band made slower songs lilt and faster ones fly. Mr. Mtukudzi's own guitar parts support the songs the way a tightrope carries an aerialist. With the Black Spirits, his acoustic guitar was tucked into the polyphony of lead guitar and keyboards, yet on Monday night he didn't try to fill in for missing band members. He often plucked just sparse arpeggios, yet they were enough. As he meshed syncopations with Kenny Neshamba on congas and traded vocal lines with two female singers, Mary Bell and Mwendi Chibindi, he generated rhythmic bliss out of thin air.
Zimbabwe's opposition leader is expected to appear in a court in
Harare later today to face the treason charges levelled against him during last
year's disputed presidential election.
Morgan Tsvangirai has been accused of plotting to kill President Robert Mugabe.
The leader of Zimbabwe's opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has been ordered to appear in the Harare Magistrate's Court.
Mr Tsvangirai was formally charged with treason last month.
If found guilty, he could face the death penalty.
MDC secretary general Welshman Ncube and Shadow Agriculture Minister Renson Gasela have also been charged over their alleged involvement in a conspiracy to eliminate President Mugabe.
All three men say they are innocent, but the government says the charges are extremely serious and must be properly investigated.