August 11, 2008
For millions of desperate Zimbabweans there were rising hopes last night
that President Mugabe could finally be on the brink of surrendering if not
his office then at least his monopoly on power.
Throughout yesterday, President Mbeki of South Africa chaired talks in a
Harare hotel between Mr Mugabeand Morgan Tsvangirai, the opposition leader
who won the presidential election in March but was excluded from office by
vote rigging, violence and intimidation.
Mr Mugabe's demise has been predicted many times during his 28-year rule,
but all parties appeared to agree yesterday that some sort of deal requiring
him to share power with Mr Tsvangirai was within reach.
Zimbabwe's state-run media reported that in secret talks over the past week
the two sides had reached a "common position" on key issues, including land
Tendai Biti, the secretary-general of Mr Tsvangirai's Movement for
Democratic Change, told reporters: "There is progress...keep on praying."
Other sources were quoted as saying that a deal was just "one or two
sticking points away".
Arthur Mutambara, the leader of a breakaway MDC faction who was also
participating in the talks, said that a compromise agreement was close
which, for all its limitations, "offered the best temporary measure to
extricate the country from its worst situation".
Speculation centred on an arrangement whereby Mr Mugabe would retain the
presidency, which would give him immunity from prosecution for alleged
crimes against humanity, but surrender much of his power to Mr Tsvangirai,
who would become prime minister. The MDC and Mr Mugabe's Zanu (PF) party
would both have a deputy prime minister, with one controlling the military,
the other the police.
Mr Mugabe, 84, is a supremely cunning politician who has repeatedly
outwitted Mr Tsvangirai in the past, and it remains to be seen whether this
is just another ruse to buy time and keep Mr Mbeki on side.
Mr Mugabe's military and security chiefs would also have to approve any deal
and they, too, would demand immunity from prosecution over years of brutal
repression. But it is just conceivable that Mr Mugabe, whose country is
collapsing around him, is suing for the best possible deal while he still
has the authority to do so.
For Zimbabwe to recover from its desperate economic situation, however, he
would have to cede enough power to secure the lifting of sanctions and a
massive infusion of international aid. MDC officials have said that Mr
Tsvangirai will accept nothing less than full executive power.
Zimbabwe's official inflation rate is 2.2 million per cent - the unofficial
rate is higher - and the regime is struggling to pay the security forces on
which it depends for its survival. It no longer has the hard currency to
import fuel, food or paper and ink required to print enough new money.
Zimbabwe's most basic services have all but collapsed. A third of the
population, including most of the best-educated and productive citizens,
Once the breadbasket of Africa, Zimbabwe is now a country where millions
survive on barely a bowl of sadza - mealie-meal porridge - a day, thanks to
Mr Mugabe's seizure of 4,000 white-owned farms. Farms have reverted to
vegetable patches, the electric bulb has given way to the oil lamp, and the
wheel to the foot as the most common form of transport.
Even the doctored results of the March presidential election showed that Mr
Tsvangirai beat Mr Mugabe, but with just under the 50 per cent of the vote
required to win outright.
The MDC leader withdrew before the second round on June 27 after a sustained
campaign of violence against MDC supporters left scores dead and thousands
Mr Tsvangirai has said that he is prepared to work with moderate members of
Zanu (PF) and grant Mr Mugabe immunity if that is the price of prising him
On July 21 he and Mr Mugabe met face to face for the first time in a decade
and agreed a framework for negotiations. Last week their deputies held
talks. On Thursday the regime and the MDC issued a rare joint statement
urging their supporters to refrain from violence.
Mr Mbeki flew to Harare on Saturday night and yesterday met Mr Mugabe, Mr
Tsvangirai and Mr Mutambara separately before bringing them together. At one
point flowers and chairs were taken into the hotel ballroom, suggesting some
sort of ceremony might be imminent.
A power-sharing deal would represent vindication for Mr Mbeki, who has faced
mounting international criticism for his failure to take a tougher line with
a man whom he has long considered a father figure.
Next weekend he is due to host a summit of the increasingly restive Southern
African Development Community, which appointed him as mediator more than a
The struggle for reform
1997 Morgan Tsvangirai organises a series of nationwide strikes against tax
rises, provoking an attempt on his life by a group of war veterans loyal to
Robert Mugabe, below
1999 Mr Tsvangirai forms the Movement for Democratic Change. Within months
the MDC secures victory in a referendum to reject a draft constitution put
up by Mr Mugabe
2000 Mr Mugabe's Zanu (PF) party narrowly clinches victory in parliamentary
elections after squatters seize hundreds of white-owned farms
2002 Mr Tsvangirai is charged with high treason after being accused of
plotting to assassinate Mr Mugabe. He is acquitted, but not before Mr Mugabe
sweeps to victory in elections condemned as seriously flawed by the
opposition and foreign observers
2005 Zanu (PF) wins two thirds of the votes in parliamentary polls that the
MDC says are rigged. Later in the year Zanu (PF) wins a majority of seats in
the newly created Senate after the MDC boycotts the poll
2007 Mr Tsvangirai suffers a suspected fractured skull, brain injury and
internal bleeding after being arrested
2008 Mr Tsvangirai and the MDC claim victory after Zimbabweans go to the
polls in March. When the election goes to a run-off, Mr Tsvangirai pulls
out, branding it "a violent, illegitimate sham"
June 29 Mr Mugabe is declared winner and sworn in for five-year term. Three
weeks later, Mr Mugabe and Mr Tsvangirai sign deal for formal talks
Sources: Times database, agencies
Zimbabwe's political rivals were locked in talks late into the night as
deadlock loomed over negotiations for a government of national unity.
By Peta Thornycroft in Harare and Sebastien Berger
Last Updated: 9:03PM BST 10 Aug 2008
The meeting between Robert Mugabe, the 84-year-old who has been in office
for 28 years, and Morgan Tsvangirai, who won the first round of the
presidential election in March as leader of the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change, had been touted as heralding a breakthrough.
Thabo Mbeki, the South African president who has been mediating the talks,
was with them on the 16th floor of a hotel in the capital, as was Arthur
Mutambara, leader of a smaller MDC faction.
Speculation of a deal to end the country's political crisis, triggered when
Mr Tsvangirai pulled out of a presidential run-off in the face of a campaign
of sustained violence by Mr Mugabe's supporters, had been high.
But the key question of who would wield the most executive power in the new
government remained unresolved.
Over the decades, Mr Mugabe has used every possible tactic to retain power,
from out-negotiating his opponents to massacring them, and he and his
Zanu-PF party are thought unlikely to simply give up now.
For his part, Mr Tsvangirai has insisted he is Zimbabwe's rightful leader
and if he accepts a settlement that leaves him the weaker partner, he will
be accused of betraying his people and the investment in the country
promised by the West will not be forthcoming.
Agreement is believed to be close, or have been achieved, on several other
issues, including the time frame for a new government and a new
constitution, but will be meaningless without settling the question of
The MDC's secretary-general Tendai Biti, who is its chief negotiator, nodded
when asked if progress had been made. "I think we all need to pray," he
Initially the atmosphere at the hotel had been cordial, but as the day wore
on it began to worsen, with even Zimbabwe's loyal state press realising that
the "deal" they had predicted was further away than they thought.
The building, down the road from Zanu-PF's headquarters, was surrounded by
members of Mr Mugabe's Presidential Guard, and swarming with intelligence
operatives and ministers, many of whom face the end of their careers in a
transitional cabinet of mixed political hues.
But if no deal is reached Mr Mugabe will be left presiding over an economy
racked by hyperinflation and unravelling daily.
Doubts about the negotiations began to emerge on the streets of the capital.
A street trader and mother of four, who asked not to be named, said: "I am
not happy because we think the agreement will leave Mugabe in control. I
would prefer Morgan to be president and Mugabe will go to jail."
At the Road Port international bus terminal a black-market currency dealer
said: "I am not pleased because my family has sacrificed a lot. My uncle was
killed in Chipinge after the March 29 elections. I am worried that if Morgan
and Mugabe are in government together they will do a deal so that
perpetrators have amnesty."
By Blessing Zulu
Harare & Washington
10 August 2008
Discussions between Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe and opposition leader
Morgan Tsvangirai over their respective roles in a proposed power-sharing
government continued late Sunday amid reports Mr. Mugabe was unwilling to
cede significant powers to Tsvangirai, who stands to become prime minister
if the two men can reach final agreement.
Their marathon negotiations at Harare's Rainbow Towers Hotel capped nearly
three weeks of talks by senior officials of Mr. Mugabe's Zimbabwe African
National Union-Patriotic Front and both formations of the Movement for
Democratic Change. Tsvangirai, MDC founder, heads the dominant grouping
while Arthur Mutambara leaders the smaller formation.
Sources close to the talks said they were hanging in the balance after more
than nine hours because Mr. Mugabe was refusing to make concessions handing
over a significant portion of his powers to Tsvangirai. Mr. Mugabe claimed
victory in a June 27 presidential runoff ballot, but that vote was widely
denounced as illegitimate because Tsvangirai, leader in a first-round
presidential March 29, had refused to participate over violence targeting
South African President Thabo Mbeki was working to bridge the gap between
the two leaders in his capacity as mediator for the Southern African
Sources said Mr. Mbeki was urging Mr. Mugabe to accept genuine
power-sharing, which meant devolving significant powers to Mr. Tsvangirai as
prime minister in what those close to the talks describe as a French-style
balance of presidential and prime ministerial powers.
ZANU-PF sources told VOA that President Mugabe was prepared to work with
Tsvangirai as prime minister, but refused to agree to give him executive
powers to go with the post.
Sources said Tsvangirai and his MDC negotiating team were demanding
significant powers as a condition of agreeing to a government of the normal
five-year duration, failing which they would only agree to a transitional
government of no more than 30 months duration.
Sharp disagreement led to the adjournment of the talks for an hour Sunday
Critical issues on the table include the shape of the power-sharing
government and how long it would last, as well the question of whether a new
constitution would be required.
Correspondent Thomas Chiripasi of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe reported from
Harare that the talks had been dragging on for hours with no end in sight.
Director Gordon Moyo of the Bulawayo Agenda, a civic group, cautioned that
any pact which retains President Mugabe as executive head of state would
negate any prospect of political and economic reform, and told reporter
Ntungamili Nkomo that Zimbabweans would be "dismayed" if Tsvangirai were
left playing second fiddle to Mr. Mugabe.
Aug 10, 2008, 15:01 GMT
Harare/Johannesburg - Intense negotiations were underway in Zimbabwe Sunday
on the details of a powersharing deal aimed at ending the country's
political and economic woes.
South African President Thabo Mbeki was mediating talks between President
Robert Mugabe, opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan
Tsvangirai and the leader of a smaller MDC faction, Arthur Mutambara, on the
proposed government of national unity.
After more than four hours of discussions in a hotel in Harare, the leaders
had yet to emerge to announce a pact.
The venue for Sunday's talks was the Rainbow Towers hotel, where Mugabe and
Tsvangirai met face-to-face for the first time in ten years on July 21, also
under Mbeki's stewardship.
Mbeki, the Southern African Development Community's (SADC) mediator in
Zimbabwe, is thought to be anxious to clinch a deal to show off at a SADC
summit in South Africa next week.
The South African leader was met on arrival in Harare international airport
Saturday evening by Mugabe. The two were rumoured to have held one-on-one
talks during the night before meeting again Sunday morning. Mbeki also held
private talks Sunday morning with Tsvangirai and his chief negotiator Tendai
Mbeki's visit to Zimbabwe has sparked speculation that a powersharing deal
between Mugabe's Zanu-PF and the two MDC factions is close at hand.
The three parties have been holding talks on a unity government in South
Africa since July 24.
Mugabe, Zimbabwe's president of 28 years and who was recently inaugurated as
leader for another five years after a controversial election he alone
contested, grudgingly entered the talks at the bidding of the African Union.
Western powers, such as Britain and the United States, are standing by to
plough money into rebuilding Zimbabwe, but only, they say, if the MDC and
Tsvangirai are given the senior role in the new dispensation.
Reports circulating in South African media have variously suggested
Tsvangirai would be made executive prime minister or prime minister with
limited powers under Mugabe as president.
A senior Zanu-PF source told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa Friday the parties
had agreed that Mugabe would be president, Tsvangirai prime minister and
that the two would share control of government ministries.
The term of the government - whether a transitional two-year authority as
sought by the MDC or a full-term five-year government as sought by Zanu-PF -
was a key sticking point, the source said.
In a sign the two sides were overcoming their differences, the MDC on Friday
issued a statement promising not to reverse Mugabe's controversial land
While recognizing that the seizure of thousands of white-owned farms by
Zanu-PF members and allies since 2000 had been 'chaotic and outside the rule
of law,' the MDC reiterated previous promises to 'not return to the pre-2000
On the issue of compensation for dispossessed farmers, the MDC said it would
ask multilateral institutions and countries 'inextricably connected to the
Zimbabwe crisis' to pick up the tab, because the state did not have the
In South Africa, the Congress of South African Trade Unions, at a meeting
with its Zimbabwe and Swaziland counterparts, called for civil society and
labour to form an integral part of any political solution in Zimbabwe.
A powersharing deal would be a triumph for Mbeki on the eve of his
retirement as president in 2009.
After being pilloried for years of fruitless 'quiet diplomacy' in Zimbabwe,
Mbeki won plaudits for getting Mugabe and Tsvangirai to the negotiating
Internatioanl Herald Tribune
Reuters, The Associated PressPublished: August 10, 2008
HARARE, Zimbabwe: Trying to bridge the huge divide in Zimbabwe's troubled
politics, President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa met separately Sunday with
the Zimbabwean president and the main opposition leader.
State media reported that the two sides had achieved a breakthrough in their
negotiations, reaching a "common position" that would allow Zimbabwe's
longtime leader, Robert Mugabe, to remain president.
The discussions were the clearest sign yet that an agreement, which could
end the post-election political crisis and increase the chances of recovery
from an economic catastrophe, was within reach.
Mbeki brokered talks between Mugabe and the opposition leader, Morgan
Tsvangirai, after a contested presidential election in March triggered waves
of violence across the country and led to Mugabe and Tsvangirai both
claiming to be the legitimate leader of the country.
Reporters saw Mbeki and Tsvangirai head into private meetings at a hotel
here. After that meeting, which lasted about an hour and a half, Mbeki and
Mugabe held talks.
Mbeki was also expected to meet Arthur Mutambara, leader of a smaller,
breakaway opposition group.
The Sunday Mail, a state-run newspaper, reported that a major obstacle had
been cleared, saying "a common position" had been reached that would allow
Mugabe to remain president. But opposition officials, citing a news blackout
imposed by Mbeki, refused to confirm or deny the Mail report.
A deal could mean that Mugabe has survived elections that posed the biggest
challenge to his rule but could also remove some of the power that has
allowed him to govern with an iron hand.
Both sides are under pressure for a deal.
Zimbabweans and neighboring countries hope an agreement can end years of
political turmoil and revive an economy whose collapse has spilled millions
of people across Zimbabwe's borders.
The political crisis in Zimbabwe began even before the elections in March.
Tsvangirai won the first round, but then withdrew from the runoff against
Mugabe because of government-sponsored attacks on his supporters.
Tsvangirai has said that while he could work with moderates in the
president's party, he would not share power with Mugabe.
Mugabe and Tsvangirai met face to face for the first time in a decade after
they signed a memorandum of understanding July 21, which set a framework for
meetings between Mugabe's ZANU-PF party and the two groupings of the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change.
The talks broke down July 28, with officials saying that the problem was
Mugabe's insistence that he be the president of any new government. But
talks resumed a week ago and within days produced an indication that both
sides were determined to work together toward a solution: Both ZANU-PF and
the opposition issued their first joint communiqué condemning political
violence in the country.
A possible compromise could involve Mugabe being named a largely ceremonial
president, with few powers but with immunity from prosecution for his
alleged human rights abuses.
The recent talks have chiefly involved top deputies of the party leaders and
have been held at an undisclosed location in the South African capital,
Mbeki is under pressure to show results before hosting a summit meeting this
weekend of the Southern African Development Community, which appointed him
August 10, 2008 | By Philip Mangena |
Failure to agree on how to divvy up cabinet posts delayed the signing of a
deal between Robert Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangirai, a person close to the
negotiations said Sunday evening.
On Sunday, the two sides continued to bicker over cabinet posts. ZANU-PF is
adamant that the MDC should take over the ministries of finance and trade
and the opposition is declining the offer. MDC also wants to take local
government,foreign affairs but ZANU PF insists on holding on to those.
The MDC also wants the Central Intelligence Organisation to be reformed
before they take office in an all-inclusive government arguing that its
structure and operations as they are now will seriously impede the smooth
day to day business of the government
The MDC has already conceded on that the security ministries, Defence and
State Security are left to ZANU PF after insistence by the Joint Operation
Commands but they will be deputized by the MDC. However the MDC will take
over home affairs and justice.
JOC members also wanted assurances that the MDC will not take away farms
that were distributed by the government in the chaotic land reforms and the
MDC had to release a statement affirming that it will not reverse the land
An “MDC government would ask the international community and multilateral
lenders to help compensate farmers whose farms were confiscated by Mugabe’s
government since 2000″, the MDC said in an e-mailed statement on Friday.
In a related development Metro has established from sources in the Mutambara
led MDC faction which controls the crucial 10 seats in Parliament that the
party’s secretary general Welshman Ncube will likely take up a single
cabinet post offered to them in the government not the leader of the
formation Arthur Mutambara.
The faction will have two posts in the inclusive government one in the
cabinet and another deputising another key ministry and Bulilima MP Moses
Mzila Ndlovu has already been earmarked for it.
There was a flurry of activity at the Rainbow towers where the MOU was
signed two weeks ago as Mbeki met Tsvangirai and Mugabe separately.
Meetings were earlier held at state house and at the South African embassy
with the expanded mediation team and the principals met Mbeki in the
afternoon until this evening.
There are unconfirmed reports that invitations have already been sent out to
diplomats and other guests who should attend the ceremony when the
power-sharing deal is signed.
Sunday, 10 August 2008 16:14
By Chief Reporter
HARARE - Donor countries on Friday warned Zimbabwe government
ministers that they would be held personally liable for any humanitarian
crisis arising from the refusal to lift the ban on relief agencies.
The Governments of Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan,
Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, United Kingdom, the United States of America,
and the European Commission, said the June 4 suspension of humanitarian
operations by Social Welfare minister Nicholas Goche has affected more than
1.5 million Zimbabweans already.
The donor countries warned that steps must be taken now in order for
food to be available to those in need in future months.
"Timing is critical," warned the donor countries in a joint statement
issued in Harare Friday. "Moreover, resources currently identified for
Zimbabwe are also needed elsewhere, and they cannot be reserved
indefinitely. We feel a sense of responsibility to sound the warning about
the coming emergency."
The donor countries said the Zimbabwe Government had not responded to
a July 29 diplomatic appeal for full, safe and unhindered humanitarian
access, and said they felt they must now raise the profile of this issue
While global condemnation of Mugabe's ban on aid agencies was growing,
a spokesman for a coalition of aid agencies in Harare , Fambai Ngirande
immediately appealed to the donors not to punish the people of the southern
African country for the actions of its government.
The government ban, coupled with political conflict has combined to
threaten as many as 5 million poor and needy across Zimbabwe with
starvation, famine or food shortages, Ngirande said.
"This year's poor harvest means that 5 million Zimbabweans will face a
severe food crisis if the ban is not lifted," said the donors. "Without the
immediate resumption of food aid across the country, widespread hunger and
worsening malnutrition are unavoidable.
"The magnitude of the humanitarian crisis requires the immediate and
unconditional lifting of the suspension on all NGO field operations.
Harassment of NGOs must cease immediately, and protection for humanitarian
workers must be guaranteed. Full, safe and unhindered humanitarian access is
our overriding concern."
The donor countries noted that despite the ongoing peace talks in
South Africa between President Mugabe's Zanu-PF party and the MDC, no
concrete steps had been taken to lift the ban despite commitments to ensure
this is done.
A Memorandum of Understanding signed in Harare on July 21 between
Mugabe, MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai and leader of a breakaway MDC faction,
Prof Arthur Mutambara in Harare states that they "will work together to
ensure .that humanitarian and social welfare organisations are enabled to
render such assistance as might be required."
The donor countries said they were concerned that more than two weeks
after the signing of the MoU, and despite diplomatic appeals, "we have seen
no concrete steps taken to carry out this commitment."
"In the absence of any positive response to this issue, and given the
failings of the Government to protect vulnerable groups, including IDPs
(Internally Displaced Persons), the international community holds Zimbabwean
ministers and officials responsible," said the donor countries.
Aid agencies, including the U.N.'s World Food Programme (WFP) - the
main food aid agency that has also been banned from operating in Zimbabwe
ostensibly because they were using food to campaign for the MDC - say the
hungry are stretched to the limit and some are already being forced to seek
out roots and leaves to eat.
Government has reacted with introducing the BACOSSI (Basic Commodities
Supply Side Intervention) facility, a scheme where villagers are given food
hampers for a song. But the scheme is only benefiting card-carrying Zanu-PF
Friday, 08 August 2008
TANONOKA JOSEPH WHANDE
It is reported that dictator, Robert Mugabe, has reached an agreement with
the now very suspect, Morgan Tsvangirai.
Under normal circumstances, I would have cheered that, finally, my country
was on the brink of greater things. But I dare say that I am not amused by
this clear sell-out of an arrangement.
To start with, the MDC won the election, but now we hear that, like Raila
Odinga in Kenya, Tsvangirai has accepted being 'Executive Prime Minister'
and leave the presidency in the hands of the losing candidate, Robert
Tsvangirai will say he accepted in order to save Zimbabwe, but that is not
true. The reason is that, for him, it's better than nothing, dead people be
Secondly, how will the people feel to see ZANU-PF people, including Mugabe,
still wielding power and running ministries and making decisions that affect
them? Will the people cheer at such betrayal? Many people were prepared to
die for change, and they did, because they did not want anything to do with
Mugabe and ZANU-PF after 28 years of murderers, abuse, plunder and misrule.
So did the people go through all this misery in support of the MDC to get
this in the end?
It gets worse.
If reports are to be believed, there are many appalling concessions made by
the MDC. Not only did they agree to employ Mugabe as President, ceremonial
as it is expected to be, but they offered Mugabe and his murdering
underlings blanket amnesty.
Now that is one issue that I would take up as a personal crusade against the
What authority does the MDC have in pardoning "each and every Zimbabwean
who, in the course of upholding or opposing the aims and policies of the
government of Zimbabwe, ZANU-PF or either formation of the MDC, may have
committed crimes within Zimbabwe..."?
More than 97 percent of political murders were perpetrated by ZANU-PF thugs
against the defenseless MDC supporters so ZANU-PF comes out the winner,
thanks to the MDC.
Wasn't it the MDC itself that asked all Zimbabweans to record names, places
and incidences of violence committed by ZANU-PF functionaries for later
Now we should throw away the lists because they have united at our expense?
Curiously, they are both quiet on the Midlands and Matabeleland atrocities.
And I don't like it one bit.
Surely, the MDC cannot pardon crimes committed even before its own
formation! Besides, is this the kind of closure the people want?
Is it possible to forget all the many people who were killed by Mugabe and
I am not forgetting people who were killed by Mugabe and ZANU-PF even before
And the MDC considers itself all forgiving and goes on to forgive people who
wronged other people. Think again, I ain't buying this even if it means
launching a campaign for Tsvangirai, along with Thabo Mbeki, to be summoned
to The Hague for harbouring and aiding mass murderers.
Tsvangirai will appoint two deputy prime ministers, one from his own party
and the other from ZANU-PF, who will both preside over the ministries of
Defence and that of Home Affairs? Why? Are they ganging up on the people
Mugabe, however, is expected to keep control of the Defence ministry. Why?
It is further reported that a number of ministries, including Finance and
Investment, Justice, Land, Resettlement Implementation, Agriculture and
State Enterprises, "would reside independently of either party chief..."
Aaah! The MDC accepted responsibility without authority; I thought all along
they were fighting to acquire the authority to change things around? Chinja
And given the fact that the majority of the ministries will not be under the
transitional government, who would be blamed if something went wrong? If the
agreement comes out in this reported way, then God have mercy because we
have clearly been sold out.
People are being asked to stomach the sight of those murderers and to
continue yielding to their authority.
There are thousands of people amongst us whose names are not synonymous with
amnesty. Do these people expect me to rub shoulders with Joseph Chinotimba
"in a new and democratic Zimbabwe"?
Do they expect me do hug and cheer alongside Joseph Mwale at a soccer match?
Am I expected to forget the sight of a law abiding farmer, whose farm had
been violently seized, lying dead in his shorts on his doorstep with his
petrified mutt sitting bolt-upright, as if guarding its master's corpse?
Are we being asked to forget Tsvangirai's puffed up face as he was
humiliated in front of a court? And some people cried for him.
What about our daughters and sons?
People are not given the opportunity to arrive at some sort of closure for
all their murdered relatives.
We should all just forget about our dead loved ones so that Tsvangirai,
Tendai Biti and all those MDC people can mingle, eat, drink and toast each
other as buddies while we are left out in the cold with all our tattered
feelings and rubbing our scars and tending to the graves of our murdered
I can no longer tell the MDC to be careful; they appear to be in too much of
a hurry to get on the gravy train.
Why did they not demand that all the service chiefs be retired by Mugabe
now, before this agreement goes into effect? The CIO hierarchy must all be
retired now by Mugabe.
There are people in both the military and the police who have individual
cases to answer but the MDC says they all deserve a blanket amnesty.
I thank both Mugabe and Tsvangirai for what they have done.
They have done their part and now they should publicise the terms and
conditions of the agreement and hold a referendum to give the people, on
whose behalf they negotiated, the opportunity to accept, reject or to fine
tune it, unless, of course, they were negotiating for themselves.
I don't suppose they intend to force whatever agreement they reach on the
people, do they? We are also mindful of our heavily panel-beaten
Constitution. We need a new constitution as a basis of all these maneuvers.
As Mbeki meets with the two leaders, Mugabe's violence continues on innocent
people. And you say these are the people who should be forgiven?
Mugabe and his service chiefs and all his functionaries must answer for the
crimes they committed in the motherland.
No, I declare, there will not be blanket amnesty.
I wanna bet, just this once?
Opposition leader threatens to walk away from a deal as President Mugabe
refuses to hand over majority control
By Fiona Forde in Harare
Sunday, 10 August 2008
Morgan Tsvangirai threatened to walk away from the negotiating table in
Harare yesterday as he demanded control of Zimbabwe's future government.
Under a final deal crafted by a team of negotiators in South Africa in
recent days, Robert Mugabe is set to remain as President, while Mr
Tsvangirai will be appointed Prime Minister in a new coalition.
But there remain fears that a final agreement is a long way off, since both
men are still claiming to be Zimbabwe's legitimate leader, and the
distribution of executive powers under the suggested coalition has yet to be
"With Mugabe holding 100 per cent of the executive power as it stands, it
now has to be decided what percentage of powers Tsvangirai will get," a
member of the talks has told The Independent on Sunday.
The 84-year-old President is unlikely to cede majority control, least of all
to his 56-year-old union-backed rival, Mr Tsvangirai. The spokesman for Mr
Mugabe, George Charamba, described the very suggestion of such a handover of
power as a "falsehood".
Others point to the bloody campaign of late June, which ensured Mr Mugabe's
victory in the disputed one-man presidential run-off. "He didn't kill more
than 300 people and terrorise the nation only to give it away for nothing to
this man after two weeks of talks," said one unnamed Harare-based
But while Mr Tsvangirai has suggested that he could work with members of Mr
Mugabe's Zanu-PF party, he does not want to share power with Mr Mugabe.
Mr Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change group has warned that its
leader "will walk away, with the mandate of his party, if he is offered
anything short of 'full executive power'". Should he take such a decision,
Mr Mugabe is likely to immediately form a government without him, and thus
banish Mr Tsvangirai to the political wilderness for the next five years.
However, if Mr Tsvangirai enters Mr Mugabe's government as a junior partner,
he makes things difficult for the international donor community, which has
said on repeated occasions that it will fund only a post-Mugabe Zimbabwe.
With the donor community his trump card - international aid is critical to
the bankrupt country - Mr Tsvangirai could choose to sit tight and let the
talks stall, rather than break off or see his party subsumed in government.
Even then, Mr Mugabe could still insist on the need to form an
administration, given that Zimbabwe has been without one for more than five
Talks had already broken down once before they resumed last Sunday. The MDC
has negotiated for a 30-month transitional government, but Zanu-PF wants it
to run for the full five-year term.
"Does it make sense to insist you will only agree to marriage if the
certificate includes the date of eventual divorce?" Mr Charamba wrote in
yesterday's edition of The Herald.
The parties are also divided on the size of the future coalition, with the
MDC pushing for 22 ministries while Zanu-PF demands 38. The talks began on
Friday when the South African President, Thabo Mbeki - the official mediator
between the two sides - flew to Harare and began a round of talks with each
of the party leaders before their joint session, which was scheduled for
Mr Mbeki is under pressure to show results before he hosts a Southern
African Development Community summit later this month. The SADC appointed
him to find a solution to a crisis that is undermining regional security.
Zimbabwe's economic meltdown has added urgency to the search for a
settlement. On Friday, Western nations urged the lifting of restrictions on
the activities of aid agencies in Zimbabwe imposed on 4 June after the
government accused them of favouring opposition supporters in the
distribution of food aid.
JOHANNESBURG, Aug 10 (AFP)
Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe should be barred from an upcoming regional
summit if power-sharing talks in his country fail, the head of South
Africa's main trade union confederation said Sunday.
"If the current talks fail to reach any settlement, Mugabe should be banned
from attending any summits or meetings as president of Zimbabwe," Zwelinzima
Vavi told a gathering of unions from the region.
"He is not regarded as president of Zimbabwe until the political situation
in his country is resolved."
Vavi's COSATU confederation is a junior member of President Thabo Mbeki's
Zimbabwe's political rivals are locked in power-sharing talks with Mbeki,
the mediator for the negotiations, in a bid to end the country's
Southern African leaders are scheduled to hold a summit in Johannesburg next
Zimbabwe opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai is himself a former trade union
Sunday's conference attended by union representatives from Zimbabwe,
Botswana and Malawi also denounced parliamentary elections planned for
September 19 in Swaziland, the continent's last absolute monarchy.
"Democratic elections have never been held in that country, and that makes a
mockery of their so-called democracy," said Vavi.
Parliamentary elections are held every five years in Swaziland, after which
the king appoints a prime minister.
More than a third of the parliament's 85 members are handpicked by the king,
who makes all government appointments.
Swaziland's constitution, re-written in 2006, allows for freedom of
association but people can only stand for elections as individuals.
August 10, 2008, 12:30
The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) says it is cautiously
optimistic that the sealing of a government of national unity in Zimbabwe
could put that country on the path of political and economic recovery.
The labour federation is meeting its counterparts from Zimbabwe and
Swaziland in Kempton Park on Gauteng's East Rand to discuss the climate in
the region. The two-day meeting comes as President Thabo Mbeki's meets with
the political leaders in Harare. It is hoped that it could result in the
unity government being announced later today.
Cosatu's International Secretary, Bongani Masuku, says they still want civil
society and labour to form an integral part of the political solution in
Meanwhile, human rights activist and political analyst Elinor Sisulu says
they are really concerned about the mediation process as the humanitarian
situation has not changed since the start of the talks between Zanu-PF and
the Movement of Democratic Change (MDC).
Friday, 08 August 2008
Head of policy and strategic planning at SADC, Professor Angelo Mondlane,
has said Zimbabwe is not the first country in Africa to slash zeros in an
attempt to stabilise its currency.
"We have seen it in Mozambique and Angola. It comes about because of the
abnormal situation of war or political turmoil.
If it is a war, the solution is to stop the war first. If it is political
strife, stop it and then undertake the necessary stabilisation and
adjustment measures," Mondlane said. He said one of the main causes of
inflation in Zimbabwe is that there is not enough goods in circulation.
The little, which is available, triggers spiraling prices. Mondlane said the
prices keep rising so long as the goods do not stabilise the supply
He said the move to cut the zeroes from a currency is an administrative act
that does not determine its value. He said the value of a currency is
determined by the power of the economy. "It is not the currency
denomination, which changes the weight of the currency," he explained.
Meanwhile, it is reported that prices of goods have increased phenomenally
following the introduction of a redenominated currency by the Reserve Bank
of Zimbabwe last week. A survey by radio VOP of Zimbabwe revealed that
business people in Zimbabwe have taken advantage of the new currency to
The Business Weekly of Zimbabwe reported on its website that prices in
Zimbabwe only appear cheap in numerical terms yet they are exorbitant in
real terms. "A two-litre bottle of cooking oil went up to Z$120 in new
currency, which is Z$1.2 trillion in old currency," the Business Weekly
A two-kilogramme packet of sugar is now selling at an average of Z$50 from
Z$25, a loaf of bread is now Z$25 that is Z$250 billion in old currency from
an average of Z$15. _
Comfort Muchekeza, the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe spokesperson for the
Southern region bemoaned the price hikes and urged the government to
crackdown on businesses to restore sanity.
Zimbabwean President, Robert Mugabe, last week warned that his government
might have to declare a state of emergency to contain an economic crisis
that has seen prices rise on a daily basis while inflation has shot to 2.2
million percent, the highest in the world.
HARARE - ZIMBABWE's soaring inflation now stands at a staggering 42
million percent, economists have said.
The figure is contained in document made available to Radio VOP. The
document has been circulated among the banking community and top business
They say it was not true that the inflation rate stood at 11 million
percent as pointed out by Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor, Dr Gideon Gono,
in his Monetary Policy Statement last week.
Genesis Investment bank (GIB) chief economist, Brains Muchemwa, said
the figure given out by Gono was for July and not for August as he did not
want to rile the international community at a time when there are talks
between the MDC and the ruling Zanu PF party.
He said Gono did not bother to check with economists before presenting
his statement to the nation.
A document was sent to all bankers in Zimbabwe which said the
inflation figure stood at 42 million percent but this did not see the light
of day as Gono is alleged to have told the economists not to be alarmists.
Gono is alleged to have then withdrawn the foreign currency trading
licence of Genesis due to its economic department which he accused of
overstepping its boundaries by revealing the actual inflation figure.
He accused the bank of dealing illegally in foreign currency but this
was never proven as the bank had its licence given back last week.
This 42 million percent inflation figure is the highest in the world
and other economists point out that since there are no goods on the shelves
it could actually be much worse.
Meanwhile the rates for the South African Rand and the United States
greenback continue to pick up in Harare as citizens now prefer to keep
foreign currency instead of the worthless bearer cheques.
The Rand on Saturday was pegged at Zd 4.5 trillion for 100 Rands. For
USd5 one could recive Zd 1.5 trillion on the same day.
The dealers say there is no cash on the market as people are now
holding on to their money expecting a major cash crisis.
The Bankers Association of Zimbabwe (BAZ) has however denied the money
shortage in Zimbabwe.
However surveys carried out in Harare at CBZ Holdings Limited, CABS,
KIngdom Bank Limited, and FBC Holdins Limiyted showed long queues in Harare
BAZ boss, John Mangudya said there was no cash crisis and this was
being taken out of context.
This is despite the fact that just below his office there was a very
long and winding queue.
10 August 2008 By Bill Corcoran in Johannesburg
If Zimbabwe's parties manage to negotiate a power-sharing deal over the
coming days that brings an end to the country's political crisis, the art of
diplomacy may well get the initial plaudits.
While the ability to coax compromise from stubborn stakeholders will have
played its part in resolving southern Africa's longest running political
emergency, it is arguably the ruling regime's mismanagement of the economy
that has forced it to the negotiating table.
Although Zimbabwe's economic downfall has been steady since the white-owned
land invasions began in 2000, the speed at which it has disintegrated since
the disputed March 29 general elections has been astonishing.
According to Co Galway man Garrett Killilea, who has been living in Zimbabwe
since the late 1970s, the economy has been shrinking steadily over the last
eight years, but the recent elections and their violent aftermath have
brought it to a virtual standstill.
''Since last March, there has been a serious decline in business activity
among our clients due to the decline in the value of the currency, and the
lack of confidence in relation to the country's political and economic
situation," he told The Sunday Business Post.
The founder of Lamont Engineering in Harare used to employ 80 people, but
his workforce now stands at just eight, and they mostly work on projects in
''Unless you have access to foreign currency, life here is nearly impossible
at the moment. Food has become incredibly scarce - even at the supermarkets
in the very wealthy areas there is next to nothing to buy,'' Killilea said.
''Local producers can't operate under the government price controls because
the hyper inflation means they will lose money if they do; importers aren't
bringing in food because they can't keep up with the pace of the devaluing
currency either," he said.
But how has a country once known as the ''breadbasket of Africa'' come to
Historically, agriculture, tourism and mining formed the backbone of
Zimbabwe's once booming economy. But when president Robert Mugabe seized
white-owned farms during the 2000 land invasions and gave them to cronies
with no knowledge of farming, commercial agriculture was destroyed.
When Mugabe unleashed violence against his political opponents, he scared
off tourists, and by passing a law last year allowing the state to seize 51
per cent of shares of foreign-owned companies, forced most mining firms to
abandon exploration and investment.
As a result of those actions, Mugabe's tax revenues have dwindled to the
point where he can no longer pay his bills, and there are few assets left to
strip and use as a substitute form of payment to those who keep him in
Instead, the Reserve Bank has stepped in and has been working overtime to
print money needed to pay members of the army, police and ZanuPF -Mugabe's
However, printing money is also one of the main reasons for hyper inflation.
The more that is printed the less it is worth, which means most of those who
support him are now suffering as much as his opponents, despite being paid.
The economic shutdown has led to a scarcity of food and commodities, which
has helped to drive inflation upwards from 100,000 per cent last January to
an official figure of 2.2 million per cent last month. But independent
financial institutions suggest the real inflation figure is around 10
million per cent - and rising.
In an attempt to rein in inflation, Gideon Gono, the governor of Zimbabwe's
central bank, launched a new currency on August 1, which effectively knocked
ten zeros off the existing currency.
''Zimbabweans must realise the country is in a practically binding state of
socio-economic emergency," he told the state-run Herald newspaper recently.
He also urged the few remaining businesses in the country to freeze prices
and wages for the next six months.
However, this is not the first time Gono has dispensed with zeros as a means
to curb inflation. In 2006, he knocked three zeros off the currency, but two
years later the situation was worse than ever.
Indeed, there is little confidence in the new currency. Some businesses have
recently decided to use petrol coupons, which are given out by fuel
suppliers once a customer lodges foreign currency into an off-shore account
as payment for fuel, as a more stable form of currency.
Barred from using US dollars by the government and unwilling to conduct
transactions in local currency, Harare auctioneer's Hammer and Tongues
announced last Wednesday that its first auction by barter using petrol
coupons would take place last Friday. ''Homegrown solutions for Zimbabweans.
Now we are selling in litres (gallons), not in dollars," a statement from
the auction house read.
South African-based Zimbabwean economist Davey Malungisa said that the real
reason behind the launch of the new currency was purely to help financial
institutions whose computers could no longer handle electronic transactions.
''The banks weren't able to deal in the larger transactions of trillions and
quadzillions, so something needed to be done. But the zeros will be back
soon enough as it will have no affect on the inflation," he said.
According to Malungisa, what is needed for economic revival is peace,
stability, a massive investment from abroad and the cancellation of the $4.5
billion Zimbabwe owes foreign organisations like the IMF and World Bank.
''There is an international principal called 'odious debt'. This is where a
new government has the right not to honour debts incurred by dictatorships.
This needs to be applied, otherwise all the foreign currency the next
government earns will go to pay off that debt, rather than being invested in
health, education and infrastructure," he said.
A soaking wet Vigil so we went into survival mode: tarpaulin billowing in
the wind and a minimum of banners and posters. At least it wasn't cold. We
thought few people would turn up but amazingly we had what has become a
fairly normal turnout of upwards of 150. The damp didn't seem to matter at
all even when someone prodded the tarpaulin and unleashed a torrent on the
unsuspecting people on the fringes. Crammed together there was even more
incentive to sing and just enough room to dance, enhanced by the
reappearance of an old friend Clifford Mahembe, a founder member of the
Ephraim Tapa, another founder member of the Vigil, who recently returned
from a visit to South Africa, answered anxious questions about the talks
between the MDC and Zanu-PF. He said people wanted genuine change for
Zimbabwe and the objective was creating a conducive environment for free and
fair elections. The talks should not be about power sharing but about
allowing the people to freely decide their own destiny. "The people know
what they want", he said. The general feeing was that the Vigil is in for a
long haul outside the Zimbabwe Embassy because no one is prepared to accept
a deal which will not recognise the needs of the people.
An indication of how integrated Zimbabwean exiles are becoming in British
life came when a disabled Zimbabwean briefly joined us with his English
carer - an interesting reversal of roles given that so many Zimbabweans here
are employed as carers.
For latest Vigil pictures check:
FOR THE RECORD: 155 signed the register.
FOR YOUR DIARY:
· Euripides' ' Elektra' at 9.15pm on 11- 13 August at the Camden
People's Theatre, 56 - 61 Hampstead Road, London NW12PY. This production is
set in Zimbabwe and hopes to raise questions about the current situation.
For bookings contact; www.camdenfringe.org
· Next Glasgow Vigil. Saturday 16th August, 2 - 6 pm. Venue: Argyle
Street Precinct. For more information contact: Ancilla Chifamba, 07770 291
150, Patrick Dzimba, 07990 724 137 or Jonathan Chireka, 07504 724 471.
· Zimbabwe 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: Finsbury
Park. For more information contact the Zimbabwe Association 020 7549 0355
(open Tuesdays and Thursdays).
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 by the current regime 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.
Sultan Al Qassemi
a.. Last Updated: August 09. 2008 10:18PM UAE / August 9. 2008 6:18PM GMT
As the Beijing Olympics take-off, predictably and literally, with flying
colours, China has set a new standard in organising major sporting events. A
brand new stadium, the world's fastest train and the largest airport in the
world are some of the brighter aspects people will remember of the
In contrast, South Africa, the nation hosting the next world sporting
event - the football World Cup in 2010 - has been troubled by problems in
construction so severe that the country exceeded the time delay margin
permissible by Fifa, the world football governing body, before construction
even began, forcing Fifa's top official to say: "I would be a very negligent
president if I hadn't put away in a drawer somewhere a Plan B."
Could there be a direct link between the woes currently plaguing South
Africa's hardware infrastructure as seen in its construction delays, and the
troubles plaguing its software infrastructure as embodied in its leadership
South Africa's story is one of struggle and perseverance; a story of triumph
in the face of injustice that enabled the nation to free itself from the
evils of apartheid in the early 1990s. Soon after his election as the first
post-apartheid president, Nelson Mandela initiated a courageous healing
process that culminated with the establishment of the Truth and
Reconciliation Commission in which the country began to account for its
past. The TRC was so successful that its influence was felt throughout
Africa and was emulated in Morocco and Sierra Leone.
South Africa in the 1990s restored the faith of all Africans in their
continent and put to shame the racist system that had plagued the nation for
many decades. In the last major elections however, its citizens had to
settle for a choice in leadership, not in the best person to lead, but
between the lesser of two evils.
In the dying days of 2007, two years after he was ousted by his former
ally-turned-rival and current president, Thabo Mbeki, the fiery Jacob Zuma
was elected leader of the dominant Africa National Congress party that has
ruled South Africa since Mr Mandela was elected president in 1994.
An ethnic Zulu politician, Mr Zuma served an entire decade in jail during
the apartheid years after joining the MK, the military wing of the ANC. The
MK carried out numerous attacks in the country including the notorious
Church Street bombing of 1982 in which innocent civilians were killed.
Recently, during a multi-billion dollar corruption case currently pending in
court against Mr Zuma, his backers, including MK veterans, took to shouting
alarming slogans, such as "No Zuma, No country". His supporters previously
celebrated Mr Zuma's election as leader of the ANC with an apartheid era
song entitled Bring Me My Machine Gun.
Possibly due to a culture that celebrates such songs, South Africa is
plagued by one of the highest murder and rape rates in the world. In the 12
months leading up to March 2008, over 18,000 people were murdered - more
than 50 a day - including over 1,100 children, while 36,000 women were
Mr Mbeki peculiarly holds the opinion that crime isn't "out of control". One
of his ministers, insinuating that it was only white people who complained
about the crime rate, suggested that "they should get out if they don't like
The high murder rates compound the health problems that this country of 45
million individuals already faces; life expectancy averages a brief 43 years
for both sexes. Despite the epidemic proportions that HIV/Aids has reached,
with more than 20 per cent of the adult population infected, both Messrs
Mbeki and Zuma display serious ignorance of the disease. The first by
naively denying a link between the HIV virus and Aids and the latter by
saying he took a shower after having unprotected sex with an HIV-infected
woman to reduce the chances of his infection.
Mr Zuma, who has taken four wives, was also acquitted of rape charges and
claimed that the intercourse was consensual because he wouldn't have risked
raping a woman while his own daughter was in the house.
Recently, despite the fact that four million Zimbabweans have fled their
country, mostly into South Africa, escaping bloodshed, tyranny and an
astronomical inflation rate of 2.2 million percent, Mr. Mbeki foolishly
stated that "there is no crisis in Zimbabwe".
South Africans deserve leaders of moral integrity, character and
intelligence who do not celebrate machine gun culture, shower after
adulterous sex to avoid Aids, and deny soaring crime rates. They deserve
leaders who can take the rainbow nation beyond the football championships,
leaping above "Plan B" and into the 21st century.
Sultan Al Qassemi is a Sharjah-based businessman and graduate of the
American University of Paris. He is the founder of Barjeel Securities in
August 10 2008 at 08:38AM
By Tawana Kupe
The outcome of the secret talks that President Thabo Mbeki is
mediating could be a new beginning for Zimbabwe, a country that, as the
cliché goes, has gone from being the bread basket of the region to a basket
A new beginning for Zimbabwe would be the creation of a transitional
government based on the March 29 elections, with a mandate to stabilise an
economy in free fall and create a new democratic constitution, through an
inclusive and participatory process involving all Zimbabweans.
The process should end with fresh, free and fair elections within 24
months. Such a beginning should exclude Robert Mugabe and his key supporters
from office and make them account for past and present human rights
What is more likely, is what some will perceive to be a false dawn and
a disappointing outcome. Mbeki's dogged refusal to raise his voice or take
tough action against Mugabe and his strenuous opposition to sanctions is
driven by a belief that he is pursuing a new beginning for Zimbabwe, which
is part of his larger vision of an African renaissance.
For Mbeki, failure is not an option and, for him, any setback cannot
be larger than the dream of Africa solving its problems in its own way,
without what he perceives to be the megaphone diplomacy of Western nations.
Consistent with this view, for him an imperfect deal is something that is
the basis of a new beginning.
Everyone must therefore be prepared for the deal that emerges from the
"power sharing talks" to be unpalatable to those who want the departure of
Mugabe from the political landscape. Mbeki's mediation will seek a political
accommodation for Mugabe, from which he escapes culpability for the
brutality he has committed during his nearly three decades in power.
Instead, he will be allowed to gradually retire with honour and
dignity. This outcome will be explained as the price that must be paid for a
For those who consider Mugabe a liberation-hero-turned-monster, a
blanket amnesty will be a bitter pill to swallow. They will want to see
Mugabe's hands tied behind his back, (a la Charles Taylor) alighting from a
United Nations aircraft at The Hague to be tried for human rights
For this compromise, it is important that there should be an end to
the culture of impunity and that a culture of respect for human rights
begins with the transitional government that will emerge out of the mediated
A transitional constitution must provide a mechanism to protect and
promote the human rights of all Zimbabweans. This mechanism must be a key
distinguisihing aspect of a new constitution, which communicates an
unequivocal message: that human rights in Zimbabwe should not be sacrificed
on the altar of political expediency.
The rapidly collapsing economy is an important factor pushing all
players, including Mbeki, to produce a deal quickly. Even more incentive
comes from the billions that are being offered for Zimbabwe's
But therein lies the danger of massive corruption by members of the
transitional government, including those who have recently been critical of
the Mugabe government and asked for assets and funds to be frozen.
An anti-corruption agency and legislation that is explicit about
transparency in the use of public funds and assets should be part of the
transitional constitution in order to promote public accountability and
If corruption is allowed to take root during the transitional period,
the government could easily morph into a government of national looting.
Such a government will want to enjoy a full five-year term because the
comforts that come with abusing public funds dull the appetite for
Professor Tawana Kupe is Dean of the Faculty of Humanities at the
University of the Witwatersrand (Wits), Johannesburg.
This article was originally published on page 6 of Sunday Independent
on August 10, 2008
Sunday Monitor, Uganda
August 10, 2008
Kenya kicked off the madness at the start of the year when depraved
politicians decided that a few thousand deaths were what their people
deserved for voting in the December 27 elections.
Then the totally inept and wicked government of Zimbabwe picked up the
button from Kenya. Egomaniacal Robert Mugabe simply chose to not hand power
to Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai who had defeated him at the March 29
poll. For good measure, he unleashed his goons on Opposition supporters even
as the economy collapsed.
But just when we were feeling relieved with Kenya's government of national
unity seemingly holding and the opposing sides in Zimbabwe talking - however
belatedly - the Mauritanian generals chose to insert themselves into prime
news. On Wednesday, they toppled the 15-month old government of President
Sidi Cheikh Ould Abdallahi, the country's first freely elected president in
over two decades.
With a population of 3.4 million, Mauritania has been wracked by more than
10 coups or attempted coups since independence from France in 1960, a news
agency report said. With that sort of record, you would think the
Mauritanians had lost appetite for coups. Not so, obviously.
The generals have not given the reasons for their coup. But whatever they
are, nothing justifies a military coup in the present age. As Mauritania's
own history shows, more coups tend to breed more coups.
And yet the military has not proven itself competent to run the state in
Africa, or anywhere else. This is because of the tendency of the military to
resort to the gun to resolve political disagreements.
Some would argue that the continent has seen civilian dictatorships as well.
True. But on the balance, one would rather have civilians messing around
Civilians will much more easily grasp the need to resolve political
disagreements politically through talking and cutting deals. It takes time
but it is durable and it is the stuff of mature politics. Which is why we
think the political processes in Kenya and Zimbabwe are worth watching and
It is important to ask, however, why coups occur to begin with. We think it
is the result of the near-complete failure of political leadership in
Africa. One could explain away the golden age of coups in Africa in the
1970s as a manifestation of the crisis of state formation. Not now, really.
Today, the politicians simply appear to be selfish and duplicitous, doing
very little for their countries. This has tended to leave a leadership
vacuum that the military has been happy to fill with "revolutionary" or
"people's redemption" councils. And the results have been woeful at best.
From The Sunday Tribune (SA), 10 August
President Thabo Mbeki was part of the Zimbabwe problem by using the
continuing violence in the country to blackmail the opposition into talks,
Allan Boesak said yesterday. He called on churches and religious bodies to
find ways to put pressure on Mbeki and Zimbabwe's rulers to stop the
violence there, after victims testified at the international HIV/Aids
conference this week about the systematic rape of opposition supporters.
Boesak was part of a delegation of reformed churches, including the
Presbyterian and Unitarian churches, which gathered last month near Benoni
for a special summit on Zimbabwe. Their subsequent submission to the
presidency was critical of Mbeki's handling of the crisis. This week South
African Council of Churches (SACC) president Tinyiko Maluleke said the
council had not been satisfied with the response. He said the presidency had
asked the delegation to bring evidence on the level and scope of the
violence. "We handed a comprehensive dossier to his office, but were are not
happy with the response," he said.
After Zimbabwe's March 29 election, Mbeki dispatched a team of retired
generals to probe the violence, but their report has never been published.
The opposition Movement for Democratic Change said at least 120 of its
officials and supporters had been murdered, while non-governmental stalwarts
such as Elinor Sisulu said the figure could well be more than 600. Boesak
said yesterday the group was receiving e-mails and phone calls daily from
victims of violence. At the Aids conference in Mexico this week, a group of
women recounted how they had been raped by government militias. The SACC had
been particularly upset about increasing reports of limbs being hacked off,
which is reminiscent of the infamous amputations of the hands of
participants in Sierra Leone elections during the reign of Fody Sankoh. This
information had been gathered at great risk by churchgoers and others across
Zimbabwe, said Boesak. The presidency's response had been one "we had become
used to", he said - one of "stilstuipe" (Afrikaans for an attack of
silence). "It raises the fundamental question, why is the violence still
continuing?" asked Boesak. "Why is Mbeki not getting Mugabe to stop the
violence? How can a real, honest settlement be achieved while violence is
being perpetrated on people?"
He accused Mbeki of using the violence to put the MDC in an "invidious"
position during the talks - forcing the organisation into negotiations in a
morally disadvantageous position, because Mbeki told them the violence would
stop only if they took part. Boesak said this hidden agenda was being played
out in the talks. Maluleke cast doubt on the whole exercise of the talks.
"What is the use of a political settlement if the people have to live in the
midst of death?" he asked. Boesak said the talks should no longer be about
"making a pact with the devil", but about securing peace. He suggested that
pressure from all sides, including renewed calls for sanctions, be
maintained on the Mugabe regime, and on Mbeki, to stop the violence. During
their first submission, the church leaders called on regional governments to
refuse to recognise Mugabe as president. They also called on Mbeki to desist
from making statements showing a partiality to Mugabe.
Business Daily, Kenya
Written by Rejoice Ngwenya
August 11, 2008: Reconciliation talks mean that our self-inaugurated
president Robert Mugabe is now unlikely to face justice in Zimbabwe but it
is hard to see where he could run from international law and he must know
The last colonial-vintage ruler, Ian Smith, spent the twilight of his
years peacefully at his Shurugwi farm. Credited with a dirty anti-liberation
war that accounted for 20,000 deaths in the 1970s, Smith received a
handshake of forgiveness on the eve of freedom in April 1980 from a Mugabe
who had been expected to vent his Marxist-Leninist vengeance on him.
Now national hatred has turned on Mugabe.
Mugabe's political resumé features the Gukurahundi massacres in
Matabeleland with North-Korean-trained troops, Operation Murambatsvina that
"cleaned out the filth" of slum-dwellers, military intervention in the
Democratic Republic of Congo, and the abduction, torture, murder and
displacement of thousands of Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) activists:
these fall squarely into the category of crimes against humanity.
Now faced with the real prospect of him losing power, many of us
believe that for his every past action there should now be an opposite and
There might be, however, a substantial part of the present generation
that will want to adopt a more conciliatory position to facilitate rapid
We cannot expect any support for his prosecution from our neighbours
(except Botswana). Many Africans of all types support Mugabe and really
believe his economic vandalism is caused by Western (principally British)
Other Africans tell me Mugabe is not as bad as Uganda's Idi Amin or
Ethiopia's Haile Mengistu-but this callous moral relativism means nothing to
the dead, the tortured or the fearful in Zimbabwe or to more than two
The only person with the moral authority to stand up and call the
dictator a dictator is our neighbour Nelson Mandela, but his single mild
comment about "failure of leadership," last month during the election
terror, gave the impression that all Zimbabwe needs is a few policy
In practice, it is difficult to see what trade-offs Southern African
Development Community-appointed mediator President Thabo Mbeki of South
Africa can demand in order to insulate Mugabe from national or international
Pursuit of consensus like the 1979 British-brokered Lancaster House
Agreement calls for large-scale compromises but this depends on the ability
of MDC to extinguish the anger of its supporters and allies who bore the
full brunt of Mugabe's post-2000 political wrath followed by the latest
post-election campaign of terror.
Many groups are crying foul for being shut out of the negotiations in
Pretoria between Mugabe's representatives and the MDC: the 1998 People's
Convention that gave rise to the formal opposition was a concoction of
disparate civil society bedfellows.
Ironically, it is in Mugabe's own interest to encourage an inclusive
negotiating team since reconciliation and forgiveness are backed by the
Zimbabwe Council of Churches, the Christian Alliance of Zimbabwe and the
Evangelical Fellowship of Zimbabwe.
Yet the very relationship between freedom and justice is a potential
hazard for Mugabe and his cronies.
If Zimbabweans suddenly find themselves once more with a credible
judiciary, even where Mugabe's legitimacy is no longer a priority issue,
aggrieved citizens-and there are millions-may use their new-found freedom to
challenge any immunity clause.
And international law now makes it impossible for dictators to retire
in comfort to the Côte d'Azur or even inside their own country: the
International Criminal Court's prosecutor filed charges of genocide, crimes
against humanity and war crimes against Sudanese President Omar Hassan
al-Bashir last month, around the time Bosnian-Serb leader Radovan Karadzic
was mysteriously seized to face justice and while the trial of fallen
Liberian ruler Charles Taylor continues at the ICC.
Paradoxically, it makes dictators harder to shift as they have nowhere
to hide. China didn't seem to want him at the Olympics but they have no
problem selling him arms so maybe they or his friends in North Korea will
have him. Any offers?
Ngwenya has been involved in constitutional research and electoral
supervision from 2000 to the present.
The Tide, Nigeria
. Saturday, Aug 9, 2008
President Robert Mugabe may be offered 'founding President and father of the
nation' status as parties in the Zimbabwe's crisis talks are close to
agreement, a South African newspaper has reported.
However, President Thabo Mbeki's spokesperson Mukoni Ratshitanga, could not
be reached for comments.
The paper, quoting from a draft settlement said to be in its possession said
"Mugabe will become ceremonial president of Zimbabwe in the new transitional
It said he would, after this, retire as founding president and father of the
nation, protected under a blanket mnesty.
"Morgan Tsvangarai will run the country as the new executive prime minister
in a transitional government that will pave way for fresh elections in the
future," it said.
It reported that Tsvangarai would appoint two deputy prime ministers each
from his party and Zanu-PF.
"The draft agreement will provide the basis of the face-to-face meeting
between the two men in Harare on Thursday to be facilitated by President
Published Date: 10 August 2008
By Liz Rawlings and Eddie Barnes
THE Scottish Parliament pension fund is helping to prop up the regime of
Zimbabwean dictator Robert Mugabe, Scotland on Sunday can reveal.
More than £18m has been invested on behalf of MSPs, hundreds of thousands of
which has gone into firms which have already been criticised for their close
links to the failed African state. The companies involved include
Anglo-American, the mining giant which is investing $400m (£208m) to develop
a platinum mine in Zimbabwe.
Prime Minister Gordon Brown recently warned the firm that it should think
again about "supporting" the Mugabe regime in this way. And Conservative
leader David Cameron has called on all companies and individuals with "any
dealings" in Zimbabwe to examine their consciences and ensure that they are
not keeping Mugabe in power.
But figures released by the Scottish Parliament show that MSPs have invested
more than £100,000 in Anglo-American via the pension fund. There are also
substantial investments in other companies heavily involved in the country,
including Standard Chartered bank, Rio Tinto, Barclays and Royal Dutch
Shell. On the back of these and other investments, the MSPs' fund grew by
£700,000 last year.
The revelations come just weeks after several MSPs backed the decision to
strip Mugabe of his knighthood and called on the international community to
redouble their efforts to bring about change in the country.
Last night, one senior MSP on the Scottish Parliament Corporate Body
(SPCB) - its ruling council - said the revelation was "regrettable" and said
he would examine whether it was possible to switch the money.
Mike Pringle said: "In the light of what is happening in Zimbabwe, it is
extremely regrettable that the Scottish Parliament has to be involved in
investing in Zimbabwe. I would be hopeful that as a Corporate Body we would
be able to influence this decision.
"If we can't influence it then that is regrettable. As a member of the
Corporate Body I will be suggesting that they discuss this with Baillie
Gifford (their investment managers] to find out whether there is any
flexibility in the way it is managed."
Senior Nationalist MSP Roseanna Cunningham said: "I have no idea how it's
funded or invested in that sense but, like most MSPs, I would be pretty
concerned. I should imagine that MSPs would be unhappy with it and people
will start asking questions."
The MSPs' scheme requires them to pay in 6% of their £54,000 salary each
year. In return they get back a generous one-50th of their final salary for
each year at Holyrood.
Adam Ramsay, Ethical Investment campaigner and president of Edinburgh
University Students' Association, said: "By investing in a company, the
Scottish Parliament is giving both financial and moral support to what the
company is doing. You can't condemn something with one hand if you are
paying for it with the other."
Along with Anglo-American, Barclays has attracted the greatest controversy
for its Zimbabwean operations. It owns two-thirds of Barclays Bank Zimbabwe,
and contributes to a government loan scheme that is thought to have lent
money to at least five ministers for farm improvements. Standard Chartered
operates in a similar manner. Rio Tinto, another mining giant, has a diamond
mine at Murowa.
A spokeswoman for the Scottish Parliament said: "The Members' Pension Scheme
is part of a pooled fund... which operates in accordance with the United
Nation's Principles for Responsible Investment.
"The Parliament is only one of a large number of investors in the fund and
cannot, therefore, direct where investments are made. Our total investment
in this fund would have to be worth more than £50m in order for MSPs to be
able to direct the investments."
Anglo-American claimed last night that withdrawing investment from its
activities in Zimbabwe would only make things worse in the ravaged country.
"Anglo-American is deeply concerned about the current political situation in
Zimbabwe and condemns the violence and human rights abuses that are taking
place," it said. "The responsible development of the Unki mine will create a
long-term viable business which will be important to the economic future of
Zimbabwe for years to come."
The firm also claims that, if it quit the country, the Zimbabwean government
would assume control of the mine, potentially making matters worse.
Another Nationalist MSP, Bill Wilson, has written to Zimbabwean opposition
leader Morgan Tsvangirai expressing his concern that "such investments might
be serving to perpetuate Robert Mugabe's despotic regime".
It emerged earlier this summer that several Conservative MPs had sizeable
shareholdings in companies accused of propping up Robert Mugabe's regime.
The Parliament's Fund has previously attracted controversy after it emerged
it also invested in British America Tobacco - despite having voted through a
ban on smoking in public places.
Yesterday, talks were continuing in Harare between Mugabe and the opposition
MDC party over a potential power-sharing deal, to be brokered by South
African president Thabo Mbeki
August 10, 2008
By Munyaradzi Mutizwa
JOHANNESBURG - Zimbabwe Times photojournalist Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi has fled
Zimbabwe to South Africa with his family after the police seized his car
while on assignment and then raided his home, arrested him and then
Before leaving the country, Mukwazhi told MISA-Zimbabwe that the police
accused him of possessing an "improperly registered vehicle" and of having
used the vehicle to travel and cover the opposition Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC) leader, Morgan Tsvangirayi, in the run up to the 29 March
According to Mukwazhi, plain clothes police officers visited his home at
around 5.00 am on Thursday, July 24, three days after the historical signing
of the Memorandum of Agreement by the leaders of Zanu-PF and the two MDCs.
They broke down the main door and assaulted him and his maid.
He says he was driven first to Harare Central Police Station and the on to
Southerton police station. He was released after two hours without charge.
His car was confiscated by the police and remains in their hands amid
allegations it was improperly registered.
Mukwazhi says when he produced the documents for the vehicle, a Toyota
Raider pick-up truck, the police insisted that he had used the vehicle
during the elections to cover the MDC leader's campaign trail in
Mukwazhi told MISA-Zimbabwe he was concerned for his safety and that of his
family. He said he had seen his car being driven by the police officers who
arrested him. He said lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa was handling his case.
Mukwazhi asked MISA-Zimbabwe to hold on to the information until after he
had left the country.
This is not the first time that Mukwazhi has been assaulted by the police
and had his property confiscated. He was arrested on March 11, 2007,
together with the MDC leadership, as he was covering a prayer meeting
organised at Zimbabwe Grounds in Highfields. He was severely assaulted and
his laptop and cameras were destroyed by the police. His car was also
confiscated at that time. MISA-Zimbabwe's legal department made several
representations before the police released the vehicle.
At the height of the farm invasions back in 2000, Mukwazhi was covering the
invasion of a commercial farm by so-called war veterans for The Daily News
when his equipment was confiscated by war veterans' leader Joseph
Chinotimba. The equipment was recovered from Chinotimba by the newspaper's
management after two days.
MISA-Zimbabwe says they see this latest attack on Mukwazhi as an indication
of the state's unwillingness to allow freedom of expression, access to
information and freedom of the media, even at this crucial stage in the
political development of Zimbabwe.
From The Sunday Tribune, 10 August
On my return flight from Harare yesterday afternoon I struck up a
conversation with the woman seated next to me. We chatted amicably for some
time and then she asked, "What do you do?" "I'm a spy," I told her, in great
jest. "Is it?" she responded. I assured her I was only joking. And she was
satisfied with that. You certainly don't have the makings of one, her face
was telling me. But George Charamba, Robert Mugabe's spokesman, is convinced
otherwise. So much so that in yesterday's edition of the Herald newspaper he
outed me as a British agent, a woman hell-bent on scuppering the settlement
that is being stitched together in the Zimbabwean capital this weekend.
Charamba was ranting about an article I wrote, published in our sister paper
The Star, last Wednesday, based on a document that had been leaked to us,
which outlined the makings of a deal between Mugabe and his rival, Morgan
Tsvangirai. Until then, according to comrade Charamba, Zanu PF had been
happy with their lot and the weight of the executive power that they were
likely to win in this historic deal that was near completion. Then entered
"starless Fiona Forde" with a document outlining a proposal with Tsvangirai
as the executive head of state, Mugabe as the ceremonial leader, complete
with an exit plan for the Zanu PF chief that would see him retire peacefully
after the transition with the lifelong title of founding president of the
country, free from persecution under a blanket amnesty. The prospect of
Mugabe becoming the "queen" to the Movement for Democratic Change king irked
Charamba no end. The only plausible reason for the thinking had to be the
British, he wrote. And their agent was none other than "South Africa's
According to Charamba, "starless Fiona . . . did wonderfully well to become
the poke-and-probe stick for the British. She did much to splash dung,
thereby dimming the Johannesburg Star, her employing title," he wrote, in
his weekly column which he pens under the nom de plume of Nathaniel Manheru.
"Not many at The Star knew she would turn out to be a serial rapist of truth
on the talks," he said. I all but choked on my corn flakes as I read the
piece in my Harare hotel yesterday, confident as I am that it was not the
British who leaked this document to me but one of his own compatriots. Yet I
couldn't help but spare a thought for the British in all of this. In
fairness, comrade Charamba, the British would hardly turn to an Irish woman
to help them in this entrenched post-colonial battle in which you find
yourselves. His pen continued to attack viciously. "When The Star ran the
story, which seemed to suggest the president has acceded to become 'the
queen' in the Zimbabwean body politic, a few white farms in Masvingo were
occupied by war veterans who felt the land gain was about to be lost in the
new settlement. And in the countryside people cannot understand why Zanu PF
is partitioning or even surrendering its mandate of June 27, which is why a
falsehood from the South African Star triggers a potentially explosive
reaction here in Zimbabwe, in real time." A likely excuse for the barbarity
that continues to wreak havoc all over the country.
Zimbabweans are in utter darkness over the direction their country is about
to take. There is no mention of the talks on state radio and television, and
only a government fed slither in the state-owned Herald. Hence it seems
far-fetched for "starless Fiona" to hope of having any kind of impact on the
thinking of Mugabe's people, with my supposed covert credentials. Only two
days ago, the same state-run newspaper ran a quarter-page advertisement,
headed "Constitution", which listed eight farms and swathes of land that are
to be acquired immediately under the Land Acquisition Act. Either Charamba
is revealing the true identity of the war veterans or this spy is losing her
golden touch. But it is his deep-seated hatred for the British that appears
to be blinding the hapless Herald columnist. The "real issue", he reckons,
is "the place and position of Zimbabwe against Britain". "Mark my words,
until and unless this fundamental question is tackled and resolved, this
land will know no peace. Limbs will continue to be broken, lives violently
terminated, to bring about a resolution to this one question."
August 10, 2008
BEIJING - Swimmer Kirsty Coventry became the first Zimbabwean to win a medal at the 2008 Olympics on Saturday night as she won the silver in the 400-meter individual medley, clocking a time of 4:29.89.
Her time is one of only two ever below the 4:30 mark and comes in under the old world-record time of 4:31.12 held by the United States’ Katie Hoff.
Australia’s Stephanie Rice took gold in the event and set a new world record with a time of 4:29.45.
Coventry set a new African record with her time of 4:29.89, breaking her own previous record time of 4:34.25.
She was never lower than second place throughout the race, turning behind Rice after the opening butterfly leg and eventually briefly taking the lead following the backstroke leg. Rice regained the lead during the breaststroke leg and never let it go as she came in for the win.
Coventry took the silver after sneaking into the final. She finished seventh in the preliminary, clocking a time of 4:36.43 that left her 0.53 seconds ahead of ninth place.
The medal is the fourth of Coventry’s career as she won three (gold, silver and bronze) at the 2004 Olympics in Athens.
Her performance marked her first 400m IM in an Olympic Games and the sixth different event of her Olympic career. Coventry swam the 50m freestyle, 100m freestyle, 100m backstroke and 200m IM at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney. She came back at the 2004 Games to compete in the 100m back, 200m back and 200m IM.
The 400m IM is the first of four events for Coventry at the 2008 Olympics. She will return to the pool Sunday morning to swim in the 100m backstroke preliminary.
Also on the program is the women’s 100m backstroke, an event that will feature Coventry (Zimbabwe), Alana Dillette (Bahamas) and Margaret Hoelzer (United States).