The ZIMBABWE Situation Our thoughts and prayers are with Zimbabwe
- may peace, truth and justice prevail.

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Zim Online

Cabinet blocks graft probe against Mugabe's son-in-law
Fri 12 August 2005
  HARARE - Zimbabwe's Cabinet last month blocked a probe into a
multi-billion dollar irrigation scandal that is said to involve a son-in-law
of President Robert Mugabe, authoritative sources told ZimOnline.

      The sources said Energy Minister Mike Nyambuya last June requested
approval from Cabinet to order the police to investigate Sydney Gata - who
is married to a sister of Mugabe, Ntombana - for allegedly misusing for
personal gain funds and equipment at the state's ZESA Holdings electricity
utility where he is executive chairman.

      Nyambuya approached Cabinet after being tipped-off by some ZESA
employees that ZESA Enterprises, a wholly-owned commercial subsidiary of
ZESA Holdings, had deployed funds, men and equipment to set up a Z$2.3
billion (about US$130 000) irrigation project at Gata's Rupise and Mutema
Taona farms in Chipinge district, 300 km east of Harare.

      But the Cabinet, in what the sources said may have been an attempt
both to please Mugabe as well as to cover-up for their own "shady deals with
Gata" shot down Nyambuya's request arguing that the President's son-in-law
was a victim of a smear campaign.

      According to the sources Mugabe himself did not intervene in the
debate over whether or not Gata should be probed.

      "Nyambuya could have simply ordered the police to investigate Gata.
But he went through Cabinet because he did not want to burn his fingers
considering he was dealing with Mugabe's son-in-law," said one senior
government official, who insisted on not being named for fear of reprisals.

      The official added: "But as it turned out Mugabe didn't have to say a
single word when Nyambuya raised the matter. Nyambuya's own colleagues
blocked the probe insisting that Gata had been a victim of smear campaigns
for a long time and that this was just one of them."

      Nyambuya on Thursday refused to discuss the matter when approached by
ZimOnline. "I have bigger and more pertinent challenges I am dealing with,"
was all he would say before switching off his mobile phone.

      ZESA's corporate affairs manager Obert Nyatanga flatly denied the
state power firm was developing irrigation projects at Gata's private farms.

      "ZESA is not undertaking any projects on Mr Gata's private property,"
said Nyatanga who however refused to take further questions on the matter.

      But ZESA civil engineers and other technicians told ZimOnline they had
been working at the irrigation projects at Gata's farms since last November.

      One engineer who has been staying in a guesthouse at Mutema Taona farm
since November said the irrigation project at the farm should have been
completed by now but had been delayed because equipment could not be moved
to the farm on time because of fuel shortages.

      "The project was supposed to have been completed by now but we have
been hampered by fuel shortages. Two weeks ago, Gata personally shouted at
us for deliberately delaying the projects but we informed him of the fuel
problems. It is a massive and costly irrigation project covering huge tracts
of land," said the engineer, who preferred anonymity for fear of

      Like the government's other parastatals, ZESA is riddled with
corruption and mismanagement and survives only because of state subsidies.

      Mugabe last year fired the entire board of ZESA that was headed by
Gata for incompetence but he retained his son-in-law whom he reappointed as
chairman of the new board.

      The Zimbabwean leader, who has vowed to uproot corruption in the
country, has in the past been accused of blocking investigations into
corruption cases involving top lieutenants most notably his one time heir
apparent, Emmerson Mnangagwa and State Security Minister, Didymus Mutasa. -

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Zim Online

12 MDC supporters arrested in Bulawayo ahead of election
Fri 12 August 2005

      BULAWAYO - Police arrested twelve opposition Movement for Democratic
for Change (MDC) party supporters in Emakhandeni suburb in Bulawayo on
Wednesday for allegedly blocking traffic.

      But the MDC spokesman for Bulawayo province Victor Moyo, said the 12
were arrested for distributing party fliers and putting posters for the
party's candidate Japhet Ndabeni-Ncube in Saturday's mayoral election.

      Ndabeni-Ncube, who is the incumbent mayor for Zimbabwe 's second
biggest city of Bulawayo , will face the ruling party's candidate Dickson
Abu Basuthu in a mayoral election set for this weekend.

      The 12 were still detained at Bulawayo Central Police Station last

      Contacted for comment, Bulawayo police spokesperson, Inspector Smile
Dube said the 12 were arrested for violating sections of the tough Public
Order and Security Act (POSA) which bans Zimbabweans from gathering in
groups of more than three people to discuss politics without police

      "We cannot let a situation where people just go about blocking
traffic, toyi-toying and disturbing peace-loving people.

      "They were blocking traffic and toyi-toying and were arrested under
POSA," Inspector Dube said.

      The MDC and civic groups in Zimbabwe have in the past accused the
police of applying the law selectively to cripple the opposition. The police
deny the charge. - ZimOnline

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Zim Online

Secret agents quiz musician over Mugabe jibe
Fri 12 August 2005

      KWEKWE ­- Zimbabwe 's dreaded spy Central Intelligence Organisation
(CIO) has quizzed and threatened a local musician for playing songs during a
state-funded public gala suggesting President Robert Mugabe would only
relinquish power through death, sources told ZimOnline.
      The sources said CIO officers yesterday again warned top-selling
musician, Hosea Chipanga, to refrain from his "anti-Mugabe songs" and
ordered him to forward to them a list of the songs he will play at another
state music gala tonight being held in honour of the Zimbabwe Defence

      The sources, who witnessed Chipanga's encounter with the CIOs during a
music gala held in Kwekwe city to commemorate heroes of Zimbabwe's 1970s
independence war, said intelligence officers dragged the musician backstage
and sternly warned him to stop being critical of Mugabe and his government
or he and his music would be made to disappear.

      "They (CIO agents) told Chipanga he would die for nothing if he
continued playing anti-Mugabe music, let alone at a government-sponsored
gala. We were all afraid but Chipanga handled it well" said a band member,
adding CIO agents phoned Chipanga yesterday to remind him of their threat
when he performs at today's gala.

      When CIO agents, who have been accused in the past by church and human
rights groups of torturing and assassinating government opponents threaten
to make someone disappear, they often mean they could kill him.

      State Security Minister Didymus Mutasa, under whose portfolio the CIO
falls, could not be reached for comment yesterday. But the spy agency has in
the past refused to take questions from the press saying it never discusses
its business with the Press.

      The government has also in the past vehemently denied using its secret
police to assassinate opponents or to smother voices of dissent.

      Chipanga, who sings in the vernacular Shona language and whose music
is laden with social and political messages, confirmed the CIO had
confronted him about his music but he however downplayed the matter which he
said had been resolved.

      He said: "They (CIO) just said they were worried about my lyrics. But
I simply explained that my music is mainly social commentary with no
political connotations and that it is the listeners who might attach their
own wrong or correct meanings to the songs. We have resolved the whole

      The song that appeared to have irked the state police the most was a
track titled "Ndarota Mambo Afira Pachigaro", which loosely translated
means: I dreamt the king had died on the throne. The song is due for release
on CD and cassette in November but Chipanga has been playing it during live

      In the satirical song that is a thinly veiled reference to Mugabe,
Chipanga sings of an ageing leader of an unnamed country, who vows to rule
until he drops dead despite calls by his people to step down because of old

      Mugabe and his government, wary of rising public discontent because of
worsening economic crisis, have in the last three years severely clamped
down on the independent Press and other voices of dissension.

      The government has since 2003 forcibly shut down four independent
newspapers most notably the Daily News, which at its closure was the biggest
circulating paper in Zimbabwe .

      More than a 100 journalists have also been arrested over the same
period for allegedly breaching tough state media laws although none have
ever been successfully prosecuted.

      The state-owned Zimbabwe Broadcasting Holdings, the only television
and radio broadcaster in the country, has also banned music perceived as
anti-government, especially music by one of the country's biggest stars,
Thomas Mapfumo, who has used his music to openly call on Zimbabweans to rise
up against Mugabe. -ZimOnline

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Zim Online

Private schools warn of massive closures if Bill is passed into law
Fri 12 August 2005

      HARARE - Private schools on Thursday warned that hundreds of schools
will be forced to shut down if a Bill seeking to control fees charged at
private schools is passed into law.

      Addressing the parliamentary committee hearing on the Education
Amendment Bill which is before parliament yesterday, Edith Mushore said the
Bill was "an unprecedented attack on private schools" in Zimbabwe .

      "If this Bill passes through parliament in its present form, by
mid-next year half of our schools will be closed down and our children will
be roaming the streets,"

      Mushore is the spokesperson for the Association of Trust Schools,
which groups about 65 private schools from around the country.

      The Bill seeks to control fees charged by private schools, impose one
set of uniform for all schools and directly get involved in the recruitment
of teachers. It also seeks to shut down all schools which defy the education
ministry's directives on fees.

      Raymond Majongwe of the Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe in his
submissions to the committee said the Bill "will cripple the operations of
all private schools" in the country

      "The government should not be allowed to make rules and regulations to
control the running of private schools and the conduct of teachers they
don't employ," Majongwe said.

      Zimbabwe 's education system, once one of the best in Africa , is in
shambles after years of under-funding and neglect. Thousands of teachers
have also fled the country in search of greener pastures abroad. - ZimOnline

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Mail and Guardian

      Zimbabwe loan: Who will blink first?

      Nic Dawes | Johannesburg, South Africa

      12 August 2005 07:26

            President Thabo Mbeki and Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe are
locked in a high-stakes poker game over the conditions attached to a South
African plan to stave off the collapse of the Zimbabwean economy.

            Each has considerable leverage: the International Monetary Fund
(IMF) will expel Zimbabwe on September 26 if it does not take significant
steps toward repaying more than $270-­million in arrears.

            Hard currency shortages are already leading to power cuts,
severe fuel shortages and an inability to pay for crucial imports. A report
released on Thursday by the Washington-based Centre for Global Development
said Zimbabwe's economy had contracted to 1953 levels.

            But South Africa is in a tight corner, too. Mbeki has stressed
that South Africa cannot afford the collapse of its neighbour. Government
officials are unanimous that not only would serious regional contagion
ensue, but a further influx of Zimbabwean migrants would place unbearable
stress on an overtaxed welfare system.

            Mugabe is currently considering the terms of credit facility
agreed in draft form between his Finance Minister, Herbert Murewa; Reserve
Bank Governor Gideon Gono and a South African team led by Minister of
Finance Trevor Manuel and Reserve Bank Governor Tito Mboweni.

            It is unclear whether he will accept the loan in its current
form or ask for its terms to be changed. Those familiar with his diplomatic
style expect him to press for a relaxation.

            Asked whether South African negotiators were in a position to
insist on tough conditions, given anxiety about Zimbabwe's economic
meltdown, government spokesperson Joel Netshitenzhe said: "I don't want to
go into that too much, but this is a loan, not a grant, and it will be
structured as such."

            Following a welter of conflicting reports on the loan's scale
and conditions, some details of the draft agreement are now clear.

            As City Press reported, an initial $160-million will be paid
directly to the IMF, with the rest of the cash released in phases as
Zimbabwe shows signs of progress on economic and political reforms.

            Once the threat of expulsion from the IMF is averted, between
$40-million and $340-million may gradually become available for crucial
agricultural inputs such as seed and fertiliser, and for fuel and
electricity purchases.

            South Africa is not demanding direct talks between Zanu-PF and
the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), as some reports have suggested.
Instead it is pressing for the resumption of negotiations over a new
constitution involving a wider range of political actors.

            China's refusal to give Zimbabwe substantial aid put South
Africa in a strong position to press for tough conditions. But some
well-placed observers suggest the leaking of details to the South African
media have forced Mugabe into an aggressive rejection of conditions, and
weakened South Africa's bargaining position.

            Netshitenzhe insisted "there has been interaction between senior
people from both governments. They know what the real terms are, and they
won't be mis­directed by media reports".

            Other ANC and government observers say they believe Mugabe may
try to dilute the conditions by pressing for narrowly fiscal requirements.

            But Mbeki's patience with Mugabe is seen to be wearing thin. And
some within the ANC believe residual support for Zimbabwean leader in the
tripartite alliance is diminishing.

            Mugabe's role in scuppering a compromise deal on UN reform
during last week's African Union summit in Addis Ababa had angered Mbeki,
they said, suggesting that South Africa is less likely to back down in the
face of Zimbabwe's brinkmanship than in the past.

            Zimbabwe, Namibia, Egypt, and Zambia were vocal in denouncing a
proposal agreed between the AU's "facilitating mechanism" of 18 foreign
ministers and the most powerful reform lobby, the G4 of Germany, Japan,
Brazil, and India. The 18 had decided to back a plan giving Africa two
permanent seats on the UN Security Council, one non-permanent seat, and one
seat that would rotate between Africa, Latin America, and the Caribbean. In
return, Africa would give up its demand for veto rights.

            Zimbabwe resisted the South ­African-backed compromise,
insisting on veto rights and ultimately contributing to the scuppering of
what diplomats say was the only deal with any chance of success.

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New Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe's civil society needs to reform

Dr Alex Magaisa wrote an article critically analysing the role of CSOs on
the Zimbabwean political landscape. He argued that it is necessary for CSOs
to take a critical self-assessment in respect of their role, purpose and
strategy in the transformation of Zimbabwe. He posed the proposition that
instead of strengthening democracy and assisting the democratising
movements, the CSOs may in fact be disabling them. Lawyer, Khanyisela Moyo
responded and argued that Dr Magaisa's article was inaccurate. She argued
that in fact CSOs strengthen democracy and also attract foreign currency.
Here,. Magaisa offers his response


By Dr Alex T. Magaisa
Last updated: 08/12/2005 12:55:55
THIS is a reply to a reply. Khanyisela Moyo made a response to the article
that I wrote earlier this week. The article that I wrote was a critique of
the role of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) on the Zimbabwean political
landscape. Ms Moyo did not need to apologise for her opposing stance or
ideas and not even for the tone of her article, which I took, as I often try
to do, in good spirit.

It is the idea, not the person that captures my attention. I appreciate the
kind words that come my way. I also acknowledge any words that might appear
to be unkind about the character or limitations of my article and in some
cases my person. I take them in my stride, as hazards of placing oneself in
the public domain. The principal aim of my article was to highlight a
perspective in relation to one of the most important forces on the country's
political terrain and to the extent that it has provoked debate, I am
pleased, because we must not only generate ideas, we should also debate them
rigorously. And for that I respect Ms Moyo's views and I am grateful that
she took time to read the article and even more to comment on it. Her points
were useful - so useful in fact in that they went some way to confirm the
proposition put forward in my first article.

It seems to me that the biggest contribution of Ms Moyo's response is that
it supports, in large part, the propositions advanced in that article. Ms
Moyo is kind enough to tell us that she has been involved in the CSO sector
in Zimbabwe and is currently a Board member of two similar organisations in
the UK. She therefore writes from the vantagepoint of an insider in the CSO
sector - and thankfully the article betrayed some of the problems that even
my article had failed to concretise. Ms Moyo sang the tune, drew the picture
and danced along in her defence of the CSO sector as agents of social
change. Whether or not CSOs are agents of change is too general a question,
which we cannot sufficiently answer within the confines of this site.
Doctoral theses have been written and are being written on that question.
Certainly, a closer reading of my article would reveal that I do not make a
blanket conclusion that all CSOs are bad and inconsequential. In fact, I
acknowledge that there are people doing very important work out there. But
that should not deter us from taking a critical analysis of their work. The
central question is whether the paradigm that places CSOs at the forefront
of change in Africa solid and sustainable, given the contextual
circumstances in which the struggle for political transformation obtains.

Further, the key in my article was a critique of the idea of using CSOs as
instruments of advancing human rights while at the same time making a
detachment from the political struggle. It is wrong, I argued, to make that
distinction between the political and human rights struggle. The pursuit of
human rights within our context is to a large extent dependent on political
change. Harping on and on about human rights to a regime as intransigent as
any can be is akin to hitting a stone wall with a wooden plank. It makes
noise and makes everyone aware but cannot break the wall. To what end? You
have to find means of breaking the wall.

Unfortunately, Ms Moyo misquotes my article by taking a small part of a
paragraph without placing it in context. For example, she writes, "Dr
Magaisa states that in "all of Europe, America and Asia, the first and most
important fight was the struggle at a political level" not the fight for
human rights." I do not say the human rights struggle was not important. A
closer and accurate reading of the paragraph from which the quoted line is
conveniently prised will reveal that my argument is that in you cannot
achieve human rights goals without first fighting the political struggle. In
other words you cannot separate the human rights and political struggles as
some CSOs in Zimbabwe purport to do. They have to strategize at the
political level.

This is what I say in the article, "Arguably, it is necessary to change the
political system in order to achieve the human rights goals. In other words,
the achievement of human rights is largely dependent on whether one can
transform the political system." I do not think the European revolutions
that Ms Moyo refers to were simply couched as human rights campaigns
divorced from the general political struggle. If this is what Ms Moyo
referred to as examples of inaccuracies and sweeping statements, then I am
prepared to submit myself to be lectured on the art of writing but from what
I can see, selective quoting on he part may have caused the misconstruction
of her argument. A budding scholar, Ms Moyo should know all about
referencing and quoting from secondary pieces.

Perhaps the most startling claim in Ms Moyo's article is when she confirms
what I feared in my article: that CSOs are not and do not have to be
accountable to the masses. To whom then should they account? To the donors,
Ms Moyo states with conviction. At best CSOs claim moral authority for
acting for and on behalf of the people. They also claim, as Ms Moyo
demonstrates, a role of checking the powers of politicians. Now, we must
pause for a question: If not for the masses for whom do they check the
powers of the politicians? On what basis do they claim to check and balance
the power of those holding political power? Ms Moyo does not think that they
have a duty to account to the masses, even though ironically they should be
allowed to act on behalf of the masses interests. Instead they account to
the donors, and rightly so because they provide the funds? So there we have
it now, a new institution besides the traditional three arms of the state:
Parliament, Executive and the Judiciary, yet having to account to no one
within the country but to donors, who are largely external. And some people
seriously think that can be right? Has any question been asked with regards
to whom the donors are accountable? Surely their money does not simply fall
like manna from heaven. And that is where the problem lies: failing to
critique the wider implications of the dominant and widely accepted CSO-led
approach to social and political change.

The point in my article was not simply to pursue the allegation that money
is abused and sometimes many people choose the CSO route more for
professional reasons than pursuing the cause at the heart of those
organisations. The intention was simply to highlight a common problem that
afflicts CSOs, which might appear non-existent simply because there has not
been adequate scrutiny. My view is that if left unchecked the uncouth
practices that come out from time to time threaten the strength and
durability of civil society in Zimbabwe. Further because the masses may not
actually make the distinction between "apolitical CSOs" and political
parties in the opposition, the bad practices in the CSOs tend to feed the
masses' perceptions about the state of affairs in opposition politics. So to
the extent that the CSOs and for example the MDC work together, CSOs ought
to be careful that whatever bad conduct takes place in the midst is likely
to negatively affect the MDC and other opposition forces as well.

Additionally, the proliferation of bad conduct and lack of public
accountability in CSOs threatens their moral authority against the
legitimate arms of state, which they seek to hold accountable. How, for
example, can a leader of a CSO who is engaging in corrupt activities or
doing things that expose him to conflict of interest with his own
organisation, claim the moral authority to question the bad conduct of a
cabinet minister or a parliamentarian? My argument is simple: Those that
claim the authority to question the conduct of others and preach the gospel
of good morals, etc should be willing to take the obligation to be
accountable to others within the same political system. They must also be
subjected to the same scrutiny that they expect to enforce in relation to
public officials. Should they fail and they become actors in the game, what
they are doing is no more than using people's problems for their own
benefit. And I must add that this is not a problem confined to Africa. A
reader alerted me to the problems surrounding the billions donated to the
victims of the Asian-Tsunami disaster. Perhaps my article was too kind to
the Western counterparts of Zimbabwean CSOs - but Ms Moyo does not challenge
the idea - on the contrary she confirms that there are many who do it not to
pursue the cause but to pursue a professional career. There is nothing wrong
in having people with a heart who wish to pursue a career in the CSOs - it
is just that society does not expect them to ride on the people's problems
for their own personal aggrandisement. If that happens their authority is
also undermined.

There seems to be a view that CSOs are important because they bring foreign
currency into the country. I am not sure whether it is desperation or simply
narrow and shallow perspectives on economics but what amazes me most is that
even learned people take this view seriously. When people begin to rely on
inflows through CSOs meant to support human rights campaigns - you might as
well start selling anything, even people to secure foreign currency. Foreign
currency inflows are not the primary issue here. CSOs are not in the
business of generating income nor should they be relied upon for that
purpose. More critically, CSOs are not in the business of production. They
are quite simply, charitable organisations. To say they are vital cogs in
the economy because they generate foreign currency is almost arguing for the
perpetuation of the crisis so that they can remain viable so as to attract
more donor funds. It cannot work that way, and that is why any justification
of CSOs on the ground that they bring foreign currency must be dismissed.
There are better reasons for their existence and using the attraction of
foreign currency is really unnecessary and unfortunate.

Ms Moyo argues that they should claim successes because success in activism
"attracts donor funding". Really? But could there also be a chance that such
claims may become exaggerated and unrepresentative of the truth in order to
win funding? Is there a chance also that different CSOs might lay claims to
the same "success" in their competition for such donor funds? And what
happens when different CSOs and opposition parties all lay claim to the same
success and in the process compete for the limelight, for the prize, for the
recognition and also for the resources? If so, does this not therefore
confirm the point in my article in relation to the unnecessary and divisive
competition for political space? It seems to me that Ms Moyo inadvertently
demonstrates the substance of my proposition in the article.

Ms Moyo also claims that the ultimate success of CSOs is in the
"institutionalisation and the socialisation of human rights norms in
Zimbabwe". I concede that the pursuit of human rights is a noble venture.
But it is also necessary to take a pragmatic approach. By now, CSOs would
have known that the current regime would not accede to their demands unless
there is some form of political transition. Pragmatically therefore, the key
area of participation is on the open political arena not indirect ways. This
idea of being indirect participants or adjuncts is unhelpful. There is also
an unfortunate tendency to portray the image of Africans as people that are
not aware of their rights - people that need to be educated and
conscientised about rights. This justifies the need for CSOs to conduct
awareness programmes - to educate the masses.

This view is not immune from challenge, because it conveniently marginalises
history - Long before the current crop of CSOs, people knew of their rights.
In 1900 people knew that their rights had been violated. In the 1960s and
70s, as Ms Moyo concedes, people were also fighting for human rights. So
people know about their rights. It is not that the people are ignorant of
their rights that is the main problem. It is how to attain and safeguard
them that is the matter. So any claims by current CSOs that they have
educated people are in many cases just vain claims. Ms Moyo and her
colleagues at the NGO Forum may have helped victims of political violence
but that is only a part of the jigsaw. You need to go further and construct
a conducive political climate for the enjoyment of rights. That is the
critical point and unless effort is centred on that primary goal of
political transformation Ms Moyo and her colleagues will still be tending to
victims of political violence for years to come. The key lies in focussing
effort and resources at the political level.

Also, there is the argument that CSOs have played a key part in bringing
awareness about and attention to Zimbabwe at the international level. It is
possible that Niger has its own NGOs but how long did it take for the
international community to know that there was a tragedy unfolding there?
The same in the case of Darfur, Sudan. The DRC has been on a downward spiral
and thousands are hacked to their deaths from time to time. Could it be that
Zimbabwean CSOs are so powerful and hardworking compared to their
counterparts in Niger, the DRC and Sudan? Or could it be that there are
special reasons why Zimbabwe happens to attract more attention? The point
here being that, there is probably more to the question of how the global
media houses cover issues in different parts of the world and that the wider
attention that Zimbabwe gets may not simply be attributed to the heroics of
CSOs. But that is an issue for another day, for it requires its own space,
ideas and time.

Finally, let me restate the point in simple terms:

. CSOs, the MDC and other opposition parties are part of the wider
opposition forces;

. Their struggle is best-sustained in unity than diversity and division of
effort and resources. They are ultimately fighting for the same limited
political space and to the extent that they contradict each other and
compete for resources, attention and limelight, they simply confuse the

. Consequently, the opposition movement is disintegrated and ineffectual

. The result is that the best they can do is raise awareness at the
international level but to what end? They shout out and they shout back and
it is the same story every day, every year;

. Why create a new force when the structures and resources for building a
viable force are already in place. The question is, are the political
parties willing to open up and be more inclusive and are CSOs prepared to
redefine their purpose and strategy?

I have received so much correspondence and people have great ideas. But
these ideas should be shared and debated in the public domain. The danger is
that this will remain a two-way debate between lawyers when there are so
many out there with good ideas. More views from diverse angles will only
make it healthy. An idea shared is an idea gained - there is no loss. I rest
my case.
Dr Magaisa is a Zimbabwean lawyer and formerly lecturer in law at the
University of Nottingham, UK. He can be contacted at
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Cape Times

      Hypocritical ANC has tarnished its image as Africa's hope
      August 12, 2005

      I have followed the ANC's handling of the Zimbabwean crisis with hawk
eyes and it is time to speak out against a government that gives credibility
to a regime that has systematically raped the principles of democracy.

      The ANC has a long history of fighting for equality and the
entrenchment of democracy in South Africa that so long eluded millions of
South Africans. In 1994 the dream of a better life for all as enshrined in
the constitution was achieved and South Africa was hailed as a miracle.

      The ANC took on the mantle as the guardian of democracy in Africa if
not the world, with South Africa having one the most progressive
constitutions in the world. The ANC leadership propagated the ideals of
democracy all over South Africa and Africa and won a lot of respect for it,
but it has been proven that even though they have such a high regard for
"democracy" they still seem to be two-faced and hypocritical in the case of
the Zimbabwean crisis.

      By not speaking out against the Mugabe government the ANC has given
credibility to a regime if not an individual, that has long since lost touch
with political and economic realities.

      Zimbabwe has spiralled into total anarchy and the laws instituted by
the Mugabe regime to ensure that the opposition is silenced violate one of
the fundamental tenets of democracy, which states that all political parties
shall be allowed to conduct their business without hindrance in order to
ensure a healthy political climate and to lend credibility to the government
of the day.

      It seems that in Africa there is a belief that having routine
elections constitutes a democracy, but much more needs to be done in order
for a real democracy to come into existence.

      The ANC has also maintained that it is not in its power to criticise
the policies of another country and therefore it cannot interfere. This is
rightfully said as even the UN Charter has this principle listed, but the
ANC must have forgotten that not so long ago they were flying around the
globe to urge the UN and other countries to interfere in apartheid South
Africa's policies in order to bring universal suffrage to every South
African. With this said I am by no means stating that apartheid should be or
can be equated with the Zimbabwean crisis, but I am merely stating that the
ANC should realise that by lending credibility to Robert Mugabe's regime
they have tarnished their image as Africa's hope.

      The argument that President Thabo Mbeki cannot criticise another
African president does not carry any weight. It is time for African leaders
like Mugabe to realise that they have no birthright to divine rule. If Mbeki
ever wants to be taken seriously, then it is high time he looks beyond his
African political box.

      Mbeki should also not be fearful of being branded a crony of the West,
because it is most important that the ideals his organisation has strived
for are respected by the people he regards as friends. With this said, the
time has come for Mbeki to prove that he has the political will as well as
leadership skills needed to make Nepad and Africa's revival a success.

      With this comes the responsibility to eradicate those elements within
the African Club that will ultimately determine whether Nepad will be a
success, because the West, the Bretton Woods institutions and all other role
players that Africa needs to be successful, might just close the taps.
      Lindsay Louis

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U.S. Food Assistance Diplomat in Zimbabwe Assessment By Thomas Chiripasi
      11 August 2005

The U.S. representative to the United Nations Food and Agriculture
Organization and World Food Program arrived in Harare Thursday to assess the
humanitarian and food security situation in Zimbabwe, suffering not only
from drought but from the effects of the government's May-July
slum-clearance drive, which left thousands homeless.

Mr. Hall, a former U.S. congressman from Dayton, Ohio, was appointed to the
Rome post in 2002. He served in the Peace Corps in Thailand in 1966-67, was
awarded the Shriver Award for humanitarian service in 1994, and has been
nominated three times for the Nobel Peace Prize. As a U.S. congressman he
was chairman of the House Select Committee on Hunger and the Democratic
Caucus Task Force on Hunger.

Correspondent Thomas Chiripasi of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe filed a

Though Mr. Hall is visiting in his capacity as U.S. representative to the
Rome-based U.N. food organizations, his status as a senior U.S. foreign
service official was not without political implications. The U.S. government
has been highly critical of Harare and has imposed economic sanctions and
travel restrictions on its top officials.

Reporter Patience Rusere spoke with political analyst Ernest Mudzengi, an
official of the National Constitutional Assembly, a civic organization
focused on broad-based reform of the Zimbabwean constitution, about the
significance of Mr. Hall's visit.
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The Media Monitoring Project Zimbabwe

Monday August 1st – August 7th 2005

Weekly Media Update 2005-29








1. General comment


THE media’s professional ineptitude in tackling important issues that have a serious bearing on the constitutional rights of Zimbabweans manifested itself this week in their failure to thoroughly explore and bring to light the full implications of government’s proposed amendments to the constitution.


Except for the Zimbabwe Independent (5/8), none of the media fully informed their audiences of the details contained in the Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment (No.17) Bill or carried an adequate analysis of the proposed changes.

Studio 7 (4/8), The Herald (5/8) and The Standard (7/8) merely restricted their coverage to a public hearing conducted by the parliamentary portfolio committee on Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs to discuss the Bill.

These media simply quoted members of civic society raising reservations on Clause 16B, which erodes property rights and the citizenry’s right to seek recourse from the courts, and the proposed appointment system for members of the Senate.


A starkly more comprehensive assessment of the grave pitfalls of Clause 16B was only made by Alex Magaisa in the Independent. For example, Magaisa summed up the disastrous effects the proposed amendments would have on the country thus: “The confidence of investors will decline further while the credit rating of the country and businesses will be drastically reduced.” Consequently, he warned Parliament to “think long and hard before passing this dangerous amendment into law for it is a mortal danger to the economy”.  


In spite of this however, none of the media ventured into discussing other proposed undemocratic amendments that seek to further curtail Zimbabweans’ rights to freedom of movement, their rights to directly participate in the governance of the country, or to choose representatives of their choice by proposals that will introduce stringent qualifications for aspiring legislators.

The media’s failure to expose these latest attempts to systematically annihilate yet another swathe of fundamental constitutional rights disguised as a Bill to introduce a Senate is a travesty of journalism that exposes how effectively repressive media laws have emasculated the journalistic profession in Zimbabwe.


Meanwhile, the week witnessed the continued harassment of dissenting voices by the police and alleged ZANU PF supporters. Studio 7 (4/8) reported that National Constitutional Assembly chairman Lovemore Madhuku was arrested outside Parliament together with two other individuals, who included a member of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, on allegations that they planned to stage a demonstration against the proposed constitutional amendments.

The station (2/8) also reported that about 100 families in Manicaland were allegedly being denied food by the Grain Marketing Board because they supported the opposition.


In another incident, the station reported (3/8) that ZANU PF supporters in Bubi district had allegedly attacked MDC MP Edward Mukhosi and other party officials, including the opposition’s local candidate for the upcoming council by-elections. However, the station compromised its reports by failing to balance the victims’ accounts with official comments, or those accused of perpetrating such abuses. Neither did it provide evidence that it had sought their side of the story.    

The government media ignored these issues. 


2. Economic issues


THE debate over Zimbabwe’s worsening economic crisis dominated media coverage in the week. The print media carried 77 reports on the matter, 39 of which appeared in the government newspapers and 38 in the private Press. ZBH carried 37 reports, while Studio 7 had 14 stories.

However, the government media’s coverage of the economic meltdown evaded examining its root causes, or the measures the authorities were taking to arrest the decline. Consequently, these media neither explained the exact reasons behind government’s efforts to seek economic rescue packages from China and South Africa, nor discussed the circumstances surrounding the aid agreements.


Rather, all the five stories that the government Press carried on the China/Zimbabwe agreements emphasised the purported benefits of the alleged deals. For instance, The Herald (4/8) reported that Zimbabwe and China had “struck a telepathic understanding” in various spheres of development that include political and economic co-operation, which would place Zimbabwe at an advantage when it comes to negotiating economic deals. Without providing informative detail on the deals, the paper’s opinion piece (6/8), Attacks on Chinese products unjustified, tried to endorse Zimbabwe’s trade with China by simplistically portraying the Chinese as better trading partners than Zimbabwe’s former Western associates.


It crassly claimed that the quality of Chinese industrial products were actually better than Western products as exemplified by the “guns of Chinese origin” that “triumphed over the Western-made FN rifles of the RF (Rhodesian Front)” during the liberation struggle. It added that “Westerners” were “peddling falsehoods” about Chinese products “in the hope of cultivating consumer resistance to Chinese goods” and “deal a fatal blow to the Look East policy.”


ZBH adopted a similar slant. For instance, Power FM (1/8, 6am) & ZTV (2/8, 6&8pm) simplistically claimed that President Mugabe’s recent visit to China would improve Zimbabwe’s economic fortunes by providing the business sector with vast investment opportunities. These superficial reports captured the tone of the14 stories ZBH carried on the Zimbabwe/China relations.


The government media’s oversimplification of Zimbabwe’s economic problems was also evident in the way they suffocated government’s attempts to obtain a US$1 billion loan from SA to pay for essential imports and offset its debt with the IMF.

None of the eight reports the government media (the government Press [6] and ZBH [2]) carried on the loan adequately outlined the reasons why government wanted the credit, or provided details regarding the terms of its disbursement. So reluctant were these media to discuss the matter that their coverage of the issue only emerged in the context of defending the borrowing.


For example, South African President Thabo Mbeki provided the government media (The Herald, Chronicle, 2/8, and Power FM, 2/8, 1pm) with a perfect opportunity to defend the loan following Mbeki’s claims that Zimbabwe’s crippling foreign debt was “a natural consequence of (Zimbabwe’s) liberation and independence, which imposed on the new government a duty to deal with the urgent needs of the formerly oppressed” and not a result of “corruption”.

Mbeki’s claims were allowed to pass without any scrutiny.

The government media’s unwillingness to go beyond official pronouncements to unravel the details of the SA/Zimbabwe negotiations to bail-out Harare was illustrated by The Sunday Mail’s failure to take the Governor of the Reserve Bank to task on the matter. Instead, the paper passively quoted Gideon Gono refusing to shed light on the issue on the basis that “borrowings between nations” were “never done through megaphone negotiations”.


The government media’s unprofessional handling of the matter and other related reports on indicators of economic collapse was reflected in their sourcing pattern as shown in Figs 1 and 2.


Fig. 1 Voice distribution on ZBH






Ordinary people

Zanu PF














Fig 2 Voice distribution in the government Press







Ordinary people










The government Press also carried nine editorials either echoing or magnifying government policies.


The private media were more analytical in their coverage of Zimbabwe’s economic woes. For example, the nine stories they carried on Zimbabwe’s trade relations with China critically examined the alleged successes of Zimbabwe’s economic embrace with China.

The Financial Gazette (4/8) and Zimbabwe Independent (5/8) argued that apart from Chinese political support, Zimbabwe had failed to secure the desperately needed rescue package.

The Independent noted that although Mugabe had returned from China clutching more bilateral and preferential trade agreements, including “a paltry US$6 million for grain imports” enough to feed the starving multitudes for three months, “it leaves Mugabe with nothing for fuel and power imports.”

The Financial Gazette concurred, adding that the much-publicised visit was “a significant failure” since the figure was “a far cry from the US$420 million the country needs to bridge a massive grain deficit”.


The Independent also contended that while President Mugabe claimed China was Zimbabwe’s “great friend”, the Asian country had “stronger economic and cultural ties with the West” which it was consolidating. And while Mugabe boasted about the success of his ‘Look East policy’, said the paper, latest figures showed that Zimbabwe’s total trade with the Chinese was only US$264 million annually, an amount which can “barely buy five months’ supply of fuel.”


The private media also updated their audiences on the negotiations surrounding the SA/Zimbabwe loan in the 17 stories they carried on the issue. They revealed that SA had attached strict conditions to the loan Zimbabwe was seeking. Studio 7 (3/8) and the Independent, for example, quoted SA government spokesman Joel Netshitenzhe saying the loan should benefit Zimbabweans “within the context of an economic recovery programme and political normalisation”.


The same sentiments were echoed in another story published in the SA-based Business Day and reproduced by the Independent and The Daily Mirror (5/8). The story claimed that part of the deal was aimed at averting Zimbabwe’s expulsion from the IMF, a move confirmed by Netshitenzhe. He was quoted as saying the IMF had already given Zimbabwe four weeks’ grace period, following talks between SA and the international lender.

As the week closed, Studio 7 (7/8) quoted the South African Sunday Times claiming that Pretoria had given Mugabe a “week to agree to democratic reforms in return for a financial aid package of up to US$500 million”.

The openness in which the private media debated Zimbabwe’s economic ills was reflected in the private Press’ sourcing pattern as shown in Fig 3.


Fig 3 Voice distribution in the private Press






Ordinary People

Zanu PF














The private papers carried six critical editorials of government’s economic management. In addition, they carried 22 other stories that highlighted the increasingly poor performance of the economy.

Although Studio 7 was also revealing in its coverage of the country’s economic meltdown, which included four reports on indicators of economic decline, it failed to balance alternative voices with official comment. See Fig 4.


Fig. 4 Voice distribution on Studio 7





Ordinary people

Zanu PF












3. Political developments and Murambatsvina


THE extent of Zimbabwe’s political crisis, which seemingly regained momentum by Murambatsvina, also remained largely untold in the government media.

As a result, those who rely on these news sources remained ignorant of renewed efforts by South Africa, the African Union and the UN to revive talks between ZANU PF and the MDC as a first step to resolving Zimbabwe’s political and economic crises. This only appeared in the private media.


The government papers only carried two stories on the talks while ZBH carried three. Even then, the reports were not aimed at apprising their audiences of growing international concern over Zimbabwe’s crises, but were based on pre-empting such plans.   

For example, The Herald, the Chronicle (1/8), and ZBH (1/8, 6am) merely focussed on President Mugabe’s rejection of talks without balancing it with the international community’s calls for dialogue between the rival parties, a recommendation that was also made by UN special envoy Anna Tibaijuka in her Murambatsvina report.


The government media quoted Mugabe saying he had only invited UN Secretary General Koffi Annan “ to assess the aftermath of the clean-up and not to superintend our political relations with the MDC”, adding, “Anyone who seeks to foster relations with the MDC will be going against our own democratic principles and we shall resist that stance from whomsoever.”

The private media revealed that despite Mugabe’s angry rejection of talks, the international community was unrelenting in its resolve to find a solution to the Zimbabwean crisis. Studio 7 (3/8) for example, reported that the AU had appointed former Mozambican president Joachim Chissano as its special envoy to Zimbabwe, in an effort to address the country’s problems.

The station, The Daily Mirror (2 & 5/8) and the Independent also reported that SA was using Zimbabwe’s request for US$1 billion loan from that country as leverage to force Mugabe to the negotiating table.


Studio 7 (4&6/8), The Daily Mirror and The Financial Gazette (4/8) also quoted MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai expressing his readiness to meet Mugabe, emphasising the importance of dialogue in solving the political stalemate.


The government media shied away from these issues. Instead, they diverted attention from Tibaijuka’s recommendations with glowing stories on the purported achievements of Operation Garikai. The government Press carried 10 such stories while 21 appeared on ZBH.

None of them provided a comprehensive picture of the operation’s achievements. Instead, they simply regurgitated official comment. For example, The Herald (5/8) quoted a spokesman of a government team appointed to assess the progress of Garikai in Mashonaland West, Vincent Hungwe, praising the “progress” made in Chinhoyi, Chegutu, Karoi and Kariba and bemoaning the “challenges” facing reconstruction in Kadoma and Murombedzi. He did not elaborate on the ‘challenges’ nor was he asked to.

This unquestioning nature was also apparent in ZBH’s reports. Almost all its 21 stories on Garikai were passive commentaries on ministerial tours of construction sites in various parts of the country. The officials were quoted expressing satisfaction with the reconstruction programme.


However, the private media presented a different picture in 11 stories they carried on Garikai.  The stories, as illustrated by The Standard’s story, Operation Garikai a ‘pie in the sky’, reported that nothing much had materialised under the programme.

The paper revealed that government’s target of building 5 000 houses by August 31st was unlikely since little progress was being made on the ground. As an example, the paper noted that at Whitecliff Farm, where a total of 20 477 people were allocated stands, “only 50 small houses have been constructed to roof level”.


In addition, it quoted MDC MP for Harare North, Trudy Stevenson claiming that there was “virtually no construction progress” at Hatcliffe Extension where more than 300 families were allocated stands. She told the paper: “Massive construction of houses under Operation Garikai is only taking place on television.”

The Independent exposed the anarchy surrounding Garikai’s implementation when it reported that ZANU PF supporters “violently evicted registered traders allocated stalls” at Mbare Msika market saying the stalls would be “reallocated to ruling party supporters.”

Studio 7’s eight reports exposed the continued human suffering caused by Murambatsvina, the clergy’s efforts to assist the victims, and the ongoing demolitions in Chiredzi and Epworth in contravention of UN calls for them to be stopped immediately.



The MEDIA UPDATE was produced and circulated by the Media Monitoring Project Zimbabwe, 15 Duthie Avenue, Alexandra Park, Harare, Tel/fax: 263 4 703702, E-mail:


Feel free to write to MMPZ. We may not able to respond to everything but we will look at each message.  For previous MMPZ reports, and more information about the Project, please visit our website at

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Sent: Friday, August 12, 2005 12:40 AM
Subject: Pearson Mbalekwa on BTH

In his first radio interview since resigning from Zanu PF, former

Zvishavane MP and Zanu PF central committee member, Pearson Mbalekwa speaks to Lance Guma on Behind the Headlines. He tells us why Joyce Mujuru was appointed to the Vice Presidency through the back door and how it was so obvious Emmerson Mnangagwa was the favourite for the post, before the politburo ‘illegally altered’ the constitution. He gives a dramatic explanation for the motivation behind Operation Murambatsvina and also spells out his political future. Is he being victimized for resigning?

Lance Guma
SW Radio Africa
SW Radio Africa is Zimbabwe's only independent radio station broadcasting from the United Kingdom. The station is staffed by exiled Zimbabwean journalists who because of harsh media laws cannot broadcast from home. Access broadcasts on Medium Wave -1197KHZ between 5-7am (Zimbabwean time) and 24 hours on the internet at Broadcast archives are also available on our site.
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Sent: Thursday, August 11, 2005 9:49 PM
Subject: BILL WATCH 9 [Amendments to the Constitution and Discrimination
against Women]


 The Constitution Amendment (No 17) Bill and Discrimination against Women

As the Constitution is being amended, it is a good opportunity to press for
the removal of all discriminatory provisos against women.

Section 23 [the protection against discrimination section] of the present
Constitution of Zimbabwe is being amended to include physical disability as
a prohibited reason for discrimination, and also to include a provision
permitting affirmative action for those who have been previously
disadvantaged by unfair discrimination.

It is suggested that a further amendment is called for to ensure that
Section 23 (3) (a) and (b) [which enable women to be discriminated against
in areas of personal, private, family and customary law] is deleted.

For some years now women's organisations have been lobbying to have these
parts of Section 23 which discriminate against women removed from the
Constitution and welcomed the fact that in the Draft Constitution proposed
by the Constitutional Commission these discriminations against women were no
longer included.

This is an opportunity to amend this section of the Declaration of Rights in
the Constitution so that all discrimination against women is outlawed.

It is suggested that all concerned, and in particular women's organisations
or individual women, lobby Parliament to achieve this by means of letters,
petitions, visits and phone calls to :

The Vice President of Zimbabwe The Hon Joyce Mujuru, M.P.

The Minister of Justice The Hon Patrick Chinamasa, M.P.

The Minister of Women's Affairs and Gender The Hon Opa Muchinguri, M.P.

Members of the Portfolio Committee on Justice, Legal & Parliamentary Affairs

Mr. T.S. Chipanga [M.P. Makoni East], Chairperson, Chief Bidi [Matabeleland
South], Mr F.E. Chidarikire [Chinhoyi], Mr D. Coltart [Bulawayo South], Mr
J.M. Gumbo [Mberengwa East], Mrs S. Machirori [Rushinga], Mr. A. Malinga
[Silobela], Mr W. Madzimure [Kambuzuma], Chief Malisa [Midlands], Mr T.
Matutu [Masvingo Central], Mrs P. Misiharabwi-Mushonga [Glen Norah], Chief
Mudzimurema [Mashonaland East].

Members of the Portfolio Committee on Youth, Gender and Women's Affairs
Mrs Shuvai Mahofa [M.P. Gutu South], Chairperson, Chief Bushu [Mashonaland
Central], Mr. L. Chikomba [Gokwe Chireya], Mr Chebundo [Kwekwe], Mr A
Chibaya [Mkoba], Chief Dandawa [Mashonaland West] Mr F. Kanzama [Mutare
South],  Mr Madzore [Glen View], Mrs E Matamisa [Kadoma],  Mrs S Mugabe
[Zvimba South], Mr T Mukahlera [Gweru Urban], Mrs C. Satiya

Individual women M.P.'s

The  women M.P's are as follows:    F. Buka, Minister of State for Special
Affairs Responsible for Land and Resettlement Programme [M.P.
Gokwe-Nembudziya];   A. Damasane, Deputy Minister of Women's Affairs
[Non-constituency M.P.];   T. Khupe [M.P. Makokoba];   S. Machirori  [M.P.
Rushinga];   S Mahofa [M.P.Gutu South];   E. Matamisa [M.P. Kadoma];   T.
Mathuthu, Governor  Matabeleland North [Non-constituency M.P.];   M. Mawere
[M.P. Zaka West];   E. Maziriri [M.P. Chivi North];   P.
Misiharabwi-Mushonga [M.P. Glen Norah];   P. Mpariwa [M.P. Mufakose];  O.
Muchena, Minister of Science and Technology Development [M.P. Mutoko South];
S. Mugabe [M.P. Zvimba South];   Joyce Mujuru, Vice President of Zimbabwe,
[M.P. Mt Darwin North];    E. Nyauchi [M.P. Gokwe West];    C.
Dausi-Gwachiwa [M.P. Hurungwe-West];  The Hon Mrs N. Khumalo [M.P.
Umzingwane];   E. Madzongwe, Deputy Speaker of Parliament [Non-constituency
M.P.];   O. Muchinguri, Minister of Women's Affairs, Gender and Community
Development [Non-constituency M.P.];   A. Masuku, Governor Matabeleland
South [Non-constituency M.P.];   C. Pote [M.P. Chiredzi North],  C. Satiya
[Non-constituency M.P.];   T. Stevenson [M.P. Harare North];   M. Zinyemba
[M.P. Mazowe West ].

Your Constituency M.P. or any other M.P. you may know or feel would be
sympathetic to your submission.

If submissions are concise and to the point they are more likely to be

It would be helpful to give details of the consultative processes you have
already taken in lobbying for this change in the Constitution.

Your submission will carry more weight if you give details of the
constituencies and other women your organisations represent.

If you are writing to a Portfolio Committee, address the letter to the Clerk
of Parliament marked for the attention of the Clerk of the relevant
Committee and deliver to Parliament.   Parliament should distribute copies
to all M.P.'s sitting on these committees.  To be on the safe side you could
send a copy to each committee member.

If you are writing to an individual Minister or M.P. address your
submissions to them personally and deliver to Parliament and the letter will
be placed in the respective Minister or M.P.'s mail box.   The PRO
Department in Parliament and Clerks of Committees are very helpful if you
wish to contact an M.P. personally.  Tel 700181/9

We have sent out the Constitution Amendment (No. 17) Bill with our last Bill
Watch.  If you are a new subscriber to Bill Watch and have not received it,
but would like it, or if you know anybody else who would like to receive it,
please let us know.

We also have an electronic version of the Constitution of Zimbabwe updated
to Amendment No 16 showing what changes are being proposed by the new
amendments, if you would like this please request it.


Veritas makes every effort to ensure reliable information, but cannot take
responsibility for information supplied.

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The Fate of Africa
      Reviewed by Janet Maslin The New York Times

      FRIDAY, AUGUST 12, 2005

      In the words of an African proverb cited in Martin Meredith's
Sisyphean new volume: "You never finish eating the meat of an elephant."
That thought is summoned by the overwhelmingly difficult assignment that
this historian, biographer and journalist has given himself. He has set out
to present a panoramic view of African history during the past half century,
and to contain all its furious upheaval in a single authoritative volume.

      Everything about this subject is immense: the idealism, megalomania,
economic obstacles, rampant corruption, unimaginable suffering (AIDS,
famine, drought and genocide are only its better-known causes) and
hopelessly irreconcilable differences leading to endless warfare.

      For the author, even organizing this information is a hugely daunting
job. How can such vast amounts of information be analyzed for the reader?
One way was to follow parallel developments in different places - which is
more or less how Meredith works, with attention to the hair-trigger ways in
which one coup or crisis could set off subsequent disasters. He is able to
steer the book firmly without compromising its hard-won clarity.

      He might just as easily have divided the book's terrain into
geographical regions and studied each one chronologically. But one of his
initial points is that even the boundaries that once defined African nations
lacked legitimacy. When European colonial powers carved up the continent -
in the so-called "Scramble for Africa" - late in the 19th century, the
British prime minister, Lord Salisbury, remarked, "We have been giving away
mountains and rivers and lakes to each other, only hindered by the small
impediment that we never knew exactly where they were."

      "The Fate of Africa" does not even attempt to deal with such past
outrages. In fact, its lack of range beyond the author's designated half
century is a liability. But Meredith wisely begins his narrative on Feb. 9,
1951, a pivotal date in the history of what was then Britain's Gold Coast
(but would soon reclaim its earlier name, Ghana). On that day the political
prisoner Kwame Nkrumah was elected to political office as Britain began
fulfilling its promises for the country's self-determination. Four days
later, Nkrumah was designated the new prime minister. And the cycle this
book describes - from the shadow of colonialism to the bloom of
self-government, onward to tyranny, profiteering and vicious internecine
warfare - had begun.

      "What is so striking about the 50-year period since independence is
the extent to which African states have suffered so many of the same
misfortunes," Meredith writes, making the book's most striking point. So he
must present many differently nuanced versions of the same story. Once the
founding fathers, idealists and ideologues like Nkrumah (a lonely figure who
shared an unlikely friendship with Queen Elizabeth) give way to a new breed
of authority, the book becomes heavily dominated by the self-styled giant:
"a flamboyant, autocratic figure, accustomed to living in style and
demanding total obedience."

      Africa has produced many different versions of this figure. And their
collective tenacity has been extraordinary: By the end of the 1980s,
Meredith points out, "not a single African head of state in three decades
had allowed himself to be voted out of office." Instead, these dictators -
figures as different as Haile Selassie of Ethiopia, Idi Amin of Uganda,
Gnassingbé Eyadéma of Togo and Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, who has boastfully
called himself a tougher version of Adolf Hitler - "strutted the stage,
tolerating neither opposition nor dissent, rigging elections, emasculating
the courts, cowing the press, stifling the universities, demanding abject
servility and making themselves exceedingly rich."

      Although Meredith finds a few bright spots of economic viability,
almost all of his book involves copiously documented evidence of rampant
graft and mind-boggling corruption.

      As for its title, "The Fate of Africa" finds woe there too. "Far from
being able to provide aid and protection to their citizens," he writes,
"African governments and the vampirelike politicians who run them are
regarded by the populations they rule as yet another burden they have to
bear in the struggle for survival."
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