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hopes hinge on regional Africa meeting
Zimbabwe's political impasse will
top the agenda of this weekend's Southern
African Development Community
meeting. Botswana threatens to boycott if
Robert Mugabe attends as
By Robyn Dixon, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
PM PDT, August 14, 2008
JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA -- Hopes for a way forward
in Zimbabwe's dispute
over elections hang on a weekend meeting of the
regional Southern African
Development Community, after negotiations this
week between the ruling party
and the opposition failed to seal a
Despite upbeat talk from Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe and the
of the talks, South African President Thabo Mbeki, little progress
on the key issue: the division of power between Mugabe and
The Zimbabwe crisis is
expected to take up much of the discussion when
southern African government
leaders begin their meeting Saturday.
In a sign of increasing disquiet in
the group over Zimbabwe's political
dispute, Botswana has threatened to
boycott the meeting if Mugabe attends as
this week's talks in Zimbabwe, negotiators for the opposition
Democratic Change, or MDC, agreed that Mugabe should remain
retain control of the army, according to opposition sources.
opposition insisted that his powers be dramatically curtailed, with
Tsvangirai making Cabinet appointments and leading the
Mugabe wants to appoint the Cabinet and retain government
The difference between the two sides relates to Zimbabwe's two
elections: The opposition says any deal must be based on the March 29
election, seen as relatively free and fair by African and local observers.
In that balloting, the ruling party lost control of the parliament and
Mugabe won fewer votes for president than Tsvangirai, though the Election
Commission found that neither candidate received enough votes to avoid a
The ruling party bases its claim that Mugabe is the
legitimate leader on
results of the June 27 runoff, widely criticized as
undemocratic by the West
and by three teams of African observers. Mugabe ran
as the sole candidate
after Tsvangirai withdrew amid intensifying violence
against his supporters.
Tsvangirai and other MDC officials were briefly
detained Thursday, and their
passports were confiscated at the airport in
Zimbabwe's capital, Harare, as
they prepared to fly to South Africa. The
opposition leader had been invited
to Johannesburg to address southern
African heads of government this evening
at the SADC gathering. The passport
was later returned, and he is expected
to fly early today.
incident followed strong criticism of Tsvangirai in the Herald, a
pro-government newspaper, for failing to accept Mugabe's terms in the talks.
After the passport seizures, the MDC released a statement accusing Mugabe
and his ZANU-PF party of not negotiating in good faith.
latest antics show that the regime is not sincere on the dialogue
The detention is an affront to SADC, to the [African Union] and to
broader international community who are working hard to peacefully
Zimbabwe's crisis," the MDC statement said. "Mugabe continues to
dialogue and to act war."
The failure of the talks leaves Mugabe coping
with raging hyperinflation and
a severe currency crisis, with money so short
that Western Union pays out in
gas coupons instead of cash.
country has no hope of a Western rescue package, reengagement with
international financial institutions or credibility among foreign investors
without a deal that includes Tsvangirai. It is highly doubtful that an
agreement that sees Mugabe retain significant executive power would win
Zimbabwe hit a currency crisis after a German paper
firm recently stopped
providing the money to print new bank notes on, most
of which are rendered
useless within weeks of release because of
The country is also facing widespread hunger, with cases
of starvation being
reported, after Mugabe suspended operations of foreign
Even without Tsvangirai, Mugabe plans to form a government
according to the state-owned media.
MDC leader to attend SADC
August 15, 2008, 05:30
The leader of Zimbabwe's opposition MDC, Morgan Tsvangirai
has arrived in
South Africa after his passport was returned to him.
Tsvangirai's passport was confiscated at Harare airport
threatening to prevent him from attending a SADC summit
Tsvangirai says he's been invited to the summit where
regional leaders will
be briefed on the latest impasse in the talks.
comes amidst reports in state media accusing the MDC
leader of bailing out
on a broad consensus on power-sharing at the 11th
reportedly wants more executive powers in the envisaged
citing his victory in the March 29 elections.
emerged that the MDC plans to pursue the conclusion
of the talks on the
sidelines of the SADC summit this weekend. Zimbabwe is
dominate the SADC summit. The nation in the meantime holds its
breath for a new democratic dispensation.
Authorities Pose Obstacles at Critical Phase of Zimbabwe
By Howard Lesser
15 August 2008
Zimbabwe's main opposition
leader Morgan Tsvangirai missed his flight to
Johannesburg Thursday as he
attempted hold consultations with African
leaders on forming a new
government. Zimbabwe authorities briefly seized
Tsvangirai's passport at
Harare International Airport and withheld it just
long enough so that he and
aides Tendai Biti and Eliphas Mukonoweshuro could
not fly to South Africa
for the day. They were trying to catch up with
members of the Southern
African Development Community(SADC), who are
preparing for an important
meeting on Saturday with South African President
Thabo Mbeki. In
Johannesburg, the SADC leaders will be briefed by Mbeki, who
also serves as
Zimbabwe chief mediator, on outstanding issues needed to
resolve the crisis
and strike a power-sharing deal between the opposition
Democratic Change (MDC) and the ruling ZANU-PF party to achieve
of national unity. Handel Mlilo is the MDC's chief
Washington. He explains what types of guarantees Mr.
Tsvangirai might be
searching for before agreeing to enter into a ruling
veteran President Robert Mugabe.
"When you have a government of
national unity and it is a meaningful one,
what you really need to be doing
is to be making sure that all services,
including security and military, are
reflecting the fact that you now have a
unity government and that they're
not favoring one party over another.
Otherwise, there's no point in having
an agreement," he pointed out.
The regional-backed negotiations were
necessitated by two controversial
rounds of presidential voting between
Mugabe and Tsvangirai that failed to
give the aging incumbent a clear
mandate for serving another 6-year term.
Morgan Tsvangirai won a March 29
presidential contest, but authorities ruled
he did not capture a majority of
the vote. President Mugabe declared victory
after running unopposed in June
when his MDC rival boycotted the vote to
protest a wave of violent attacks
on MDC supporters.
While power-sharing negotiations have taken place
behind closed doors,
reports have circulated that the 84-year-old Mugabe,
who has ruled Zimbabwe
since independence in 1980, would retain his title as
Tsvangirai acquiring the Prime Minister's job with a
delineated set of
executive responsibilities. Just where those duties lie
and how powerful
Tsvangirai, the winner of an unresolved first round of
voting, can become remain unclear. One possible sticking
point that has been
mentioned is who would be in charge of the military. The
MDC's Handel Mlilo
suggests that guarantees are essential to secure any
agreement on control of
the military, but that they entail a much broader
range of services and
responsibilities as well.
"There have to be
guarantees about a whole host of things, including the
everybody else. And security in all other institutions are
going to behave.
And we are going to make sure that whatever arrangement is
reflecting on the fact that we need to move forward and not move
like you saw happening in passports being withheld and people
they cannot go to meetings," he noted in a reference to Thursday's
restriction of MDC travel.
On Zimbabwe's food security crisis,
Mlilo accused President Mugabe of using
a political weapon against the
people of Zimbabwe. He also dismissed reports
from earlier in the week that
in Mr. Tsvangirai's absence, the head of a
breakaway MDC wing, Arthur
Mutambara, had agreed with President Mugabe on
terms for a future
government. Mutambara has denied he would sign any deal
approval from Mr. Tsvangirai, who left the talks on
Tuesday in order to seek
guidance from concerned diplomats. Handel Mlilo
says he suspects President
Mugabe is growing impatient with the negotiating
distinctly possible that ZANU-PF is trying to plant a seed of discord
the parties. But Arthur Mutambara, from what I understand, denied that
has been any agreement worked out with Mugabe, that is separate from
agreement. And at any rate, if they try to make an arrangement
Tsvangirai, it wouldn't go anywhere because the people of Zimbabwe
like to see the Movement for Democratic Change in a situation of
from now on. So they can go ahead and make whatever arrangements
to make. They will be meaningless, totally," he said.
Mlilo said that the violence that has resulted in
countless injuries and the
deaths of 163 opposition figures has to stop
before a well-meaning
government can be set up to win back the trust of the
to give Tsvangirai a diplomatic passport
August 15, 2008 | By
Zimbabwe's continued refusal to grant Morgan Tsvangirai
a passport has
forced the Botswana government to mull plans to give the MDC
diplomatic passport,Metro can reveal.
An official in the
department of Immigration and Citizenship revealed that
they have received
instructions to look into the issue of how they can give
'We were instructed to see how we can help ease
Mr.Tsvangirai's travel as a
civic leader in his country after obvious travel
restrictions from the
government of Zimbabwe,the legal and other aspects of
it', the official said
without elaborating further.
An official in
the Ministry of foreign affairs office professed ignorance on
the matter but
was quick to add; 'The right to travel is basic and
personally I don't know
of any crime Tsvangirai has done to be denied that
'If anything some people who have committed worse crimes in
free to gallivant all over the world to the extent of taking up
jobs in other countries.', the official added- an obvious
deported Mugabe's scribe Caesar Zvayi.
government has since responded to Zimbabwe state media's claims
deportation was a publicity stunt.
"Caesar Zvayi, a Zimbabwean national,
was declared Prohibited Immigrant in
terms of Section 7 (f) of the
'We trust that the information provided will alleviate
misunderstanding about the matter.
This is to further
deny the insinuation made in this morning's Harare Herald
the Botswana government contrived the whole affair as a
publicity stunt' by
inviting state and/or foreign media to witness Mr. Zvayi's
government did not invite any such media coverage.", the
government said in
The development comes as Tsvangirai 's emergency travel
document was seized
as he was about to leave Harare International Airport on
his way to a SADC
However George Charamba, Mugabe's spokesman
denied that Tsvangirai 's
passport was seized,he said instead he was not
allowed to leave the country
because his travel documents were invalid. He
said his passport had expired,
and had not yet been replaced.
not going to waive the rules for a politician who is merely
said before the travel documents were returned.
He accused Mr. Tsvangirai
of knowingly going to the airport with invalid
travel documents to provoke
authorities "to secure one or two sound bites"
and gain political
Africa intervenes after Tsvangirai detained at airport
By Fiona Forde in
Friday, 15 August 2008
Morgan Tsvangirai briefly
became a prisoner in his own country when his
travel documents were
confiscated at Harare airport. They were returned a
few hours later, but
only after South Africa intervened.
Mr Tsvangirai, leader of the Movement
for Democratic Change, and the party's
secretary general, Tendai Biti, were
due to board a lunch-time flight to
Johannesburg to attend a summit of
regional leaders tomorrow. Mr Biti was
the chief negotiator in the
power-sharing talks which collapsed earlier this
International Airport, Mr Tsvangirai's emergency travel document,
issued only a fortnight ago, was taken from him. Officials also
took his old
passport, which is no longer valid but which he always carries
By mid-afternoon, an MDC spokesman, George Sibosithwe, confirmed
documents had been returned: "Passports have been returned for all
but no reason has been given as to why they had been
The South African government confirmed that it had intervened on
Tsvangirai's behalf. "We heard that they had prevented them from
travelling," said President Thabo Mbeki's spokesman, Mukoni Ratshitanga.
"And we spoke to the Zimbabwean officials who assured us that they will
allow them to travel."
The MDC says that yesterday's affair calls
into question Robert Mugabe's
commitment to a negotiated settlement. The
party immediately called on the
Southern African Development Community
(SADC) to take a tough stance on the
84-year-old autocrat when the heads of
state meet this weekend. A statement
issued by the party said that "Mugabe
continues to preach dialogue and to
act war". They appealed to the SADC to
get tough with him.
Mr Mugabe is due to join his fellow leaders at the
two-day summit. However,
with the future of Zimbabwe and how to deal with it
likely to dominate the
agenda, following the collapse of the talks, Mr
Mugabe's presence will be
The talks became deadlocked
when Mr Tsvangirai refused to accept a junior
partnership in Mr Mugabe's
government. He claimed that, as the majority
winner in the general election
on 29 March, he is entitled to lead the
country through a transition period
until constitutional reform paves the
way for a new round of free and fair
elections. His party says that only
then can the legitimate leader of the
country be determined.
However, Mr Mugabe is refusing to play "Queen in
the Zimbabwean body
politic", according to his spokesman, George Charamba.
Soon after the
collapse of the talks, word emerged that Mr Mugabe was
Mutambara, the leader of the breakaway faction of the MDC,
to join him in a
coalition government. Despite Mr Mutambara's insistence
that this was not
the case, yesterday's edition of the state-owned Herald
stated the contrary.
It reported that the incumbent President and faction
leader had found a
middle ground on a number of issues, "paving the way for
Comrade Mugabe to
form a new government for the seventh parliament to start
elections held earlier in the year".
scenario would not bode well for the beleaguered country as Western
would withhold the billions of pounds of aid money that is needed to
Zimbabwe's fractured economy.
Tsvangirai Charges Coercion By Zimbabwe Authorities In Talks
By Blessing Zulu & Thomas Chiripasi
Washington & Harare
Zimbabwean opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai
charged Thursday that
President Robert Mugabe and his long-ruling ZANU-PF
party have resorted to
coercion to press his Movement for Democratic Change
to accept ZANU-PF's
terms for a power-sharing government.
the accusation after authorities at Harare International Airport
passports and those of several other MDC officials, preventing
Secretary General Tendai Biti from leaving for Johannesburg and a
the Southern African Development Community which got under way
a meeting of SADC foreign ministers.
Negotiations between ZANU-PF and the
MDC ground to a halt this week as Mr.
Mugabe and Tsvangirai reached an
impasse over their respective powers in a
Correspondent Thomas Chiripasi was at the airport Thursday
and told reporter
Ntungamili Nkomo of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that
authorities gave no
reason for seizing the passports except to say there
needed to carry out.
Security sources told VOA
the directive to prevent Tsvangirai's departure
came from the Joint
Operations Command which unifies the heads of the main
security services - and which some say has become the true
seat of power in
Harare in recent months.
Cabinet-level sources told VOA the JOC does
not want to see a power-sharing
agreement concluded between Mr. Mugabe and
SADC sources said regional leaders immediately put pressure
on Harare, some
threatening to boycott the summit, and convinced it to give
passports and, as matters stood late Thursday, to allow the rest of
delegation to leave Friday for Johannesburg.
formation meanwhile charged that ZANU-PF has approached
more than 30 of its
members elected to parliament in March elections
offering them money and
cabinet positions if they will agree to abandon
Tsvangirai and join a new
Sources said all 10 members of parliament of the MDC
formation led by Arthur
Mutambara have also been approached. Mutambara on
numerous reports saying he had reached a separate
power-sharing with Mr.
President Thabo Mbeki, SADC's mediator
in the Zimbabwe crisis since early
2007, is expected to brief the summit on
the talks deadlock and seek the
advice of his regional peers.
said Mr. Mbeki was among the SADC leaders who urged Harare to stop
Tsvangirai from traveling to Johannesburg.
Tsvangirai told reporter Blessing
Zulu of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that
the seizure of the travel documents
proved ZANU-PF is not negotiating in
Sikhanyiso Ndlovu declined to explain why the
authorities delayed Mr.
Tsvangirai's departure for Johannesburg and the SADC
Parts Of Zimbabwe's Manicaland Province Still 'No-Go' Zone For
By Jonga Kandemiiri
Opposition officials in Zimbabwe's Manicaland
province said war veteran
leader Joseph Chinotimba has been pursuing a
campaign of harassment and
threats against members of the Movement for
Democratic Change in the Buhera
sources said Chinotimba addressed a meeting of village heads
early this week
and told them to ignore ongoing power-sharing talks between
ZANU-PF party of President Robert Mugabe, and the two
formations of the MDC,
and to pay no attention to a call by all of the
parties in the talks for an
end to political violence.
Chinotimba is said to have ordered the headmen
to keep pressure on
opposition members returning to their homes after
fleeing the political
violence which began after the MDC won a majority in
parliament in a March
29 general election and continued to mount through
June when President
Mugabe, unopposed, claimed victory in a June 27
The MDC said some returnees have been badly beaten
by Chinotimba's gang.
Buhera South has remained a "no-go" area for
opposition members due to
political violence. Chinotimba's name is on a list
of ZANU-PF and government
officials under European Union sanctions. VOA was
unable to reach Chinotimba
for comment on the charges.
sources in Tshitshi district, rural Plumtree, Matabeleland South,
veterans there are denying MDC members access to local
Bar collapses in Harare
14/08/2008 22:16 -
Harare - Witnesses say a bar collapsed onto a restaurant below
in a downtown
Harare building on Thursday.
The witnesses say
ambulances took away four bodies as well as several
About 30 people had been inside at the time of the accident on
The bar was just above the ground-floor Sidewalk Cafe
in a colonial era
building in Zimbabwe's capital.
veterans reject power-sharing deal
August 15, 2008
Chikari and Another Correspondent
MASVINGO/Harare - Zimbabwe's liberation
war veterans have, in their own
words, ordered President Robert Mugabe not
to accept any power-sharing deal
with the opposition MDC, or risk dire
consequences, including invasion of
the remaining white-owned commercial
A copy of the letter written by the war veteran and allegedly
handed over to
Mugabe on Saturday was shown to The Zimbabwe Times Thursday.
Mugabe is the
patron of the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans'
Meanwhile Zimbabwe's powerful military chiefs have reportedly
certain unspecified action should Mugabe cede executive power to
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai.
Mugabe is the
commander-in-chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces.
Sunday until Tuesday, Mugabe negotiated with Tsvangirai and rival MDC
Arthur Mutambara details of a power-sharing deal that is likely to
stripped of the executive power that he has enjoyed for 28 years.
have revealed that the defence forces commander, General Constantine
Chiwenga told President Mugabe Monday that the army was not prepared to
honour any arrangement that leaves Tsvangirai as the dominant figure in
government. Chiwenga is the leader of the Joint Operations Command that has
effectively usurped power from Mugabe since Tsvangirai defeated him in a
presidential election held on March 29.
The warning was delivered to
Mugabe on Monday, While Zimbabweans expected
that Mugabe, Tsvangirai and
breakaway faction leader Mutambara were close to
signing the anxiously
awaited power-sharing deal, Mugabe launched a
blistering attack on
Tsvangirai. In an address at the National Heroes' Acre
that provided the
first hint that all might not be well at the Rainbow
Towers Hotel, venue of
the talks, Mugabe reverted to his usual hostile
rhetoric against Tsvangirai,
calling him a puppet of the West.
Meanwhile, he praised Mutambara,
calling him "that astute professor". On
Sunday Mutambara had circulated an
article in which he borrowed heavily from
On Tuesday night Tsvangirai walked out of the talks saying he
consult with his party on aspects of the agreement. His sudden
triggered off a flurry of speculation that Mugabe and Mutambara
an agreement of their own without him. Both Mutambara and
President Mbeki of
South Africa, the talks SADC-appointed mediator quickly
denied that any deal
had been signed. What exactly happened at the Rainbow
Towers that night
remains shrouded in secrecy, especially as there was no
conference to signal the end or adjournment of the
Mbeki virtually sneaked out of Harare under cover of darkness just
midnight on Wednesday. There is consensus however, that the major
point by that time Tsvangirai departed was who between Mugabe and
wield executive power.
In the letter to Mugabe dated
Saturday, August 9, the war veterans were
unequivocal. They advised him that
they would not allow him to share
executive powers with the opposition,
arguing that any such power-sharing
scheme would be a clear reversal of the
gains of Zimbabwe's liberation
The war veterans threatened
to invade all the remaining white-owned
commercial farms and, if the need
arises, to take up arms to topple the new
leadership if Mugabe was stripped
of all executive powers.
The letter, which was shown to The Zimbabwe
Times reads in part: "We have
read and heard through rumour that you have
agreed to give all the executive
powers to the opposition.
veterans, if you agree to this then you have sold out. We will never
to any arrangement which will see you lose your executive powers.
ready even to take up arms and defend the gains of the liberation
Giving your executive powers to anyone will mean you have
reversed the gains of our liberation struggle".
The war veterans said
they had identified a number of farms belonging to
commercial farmers which they threatened to occupy
should there be a
transfer of executive power from Mugabe to Tsvangirai.
chairman in Masvingo Province of the Zimbabwe National
Veterans' Association, confirmed this latest development but
was sparing on
The ZNLWVA is more active in Masvingo than in any other
Zimbabwe. Muzenda is also a member of the national executive of
association, which is led at national level by Jabulani
"We wrote the letter you are referring to following
consultations with all
war veterans and we agreed to give the President an
order not to relinquish
his executive powers", said Muzenda.
President is our patron and he should always consult us on issues that
feel are against the gains of our liberation struggle".
It could not be
established yesterday whether or not Mugabe had received the
letter from the
Sources within the President's Office said the letter was
Mugabe on Saturday, just before the beginning of what was
supposed to be the
final round of the Mbeki-mediated negotiations. Mbeki
departed from Harare
empty-handed after three days of talks failed to clinch
the so-far elusive
It emerged Thursday that some so-called war
veterans in the Mwenezi District
of Masvingo Province had this week invaded
Quaga Pen B Ranch, following
reports that Mugabe had agreed to relinquish
executive powers to Tsvangirai
as Prime Minister while he was reduced to the
status of ceremonial
While the police in Masvingo
yesterday professed ignorance about the
invasion, war veteran leaders said
their members had moved onto some farms
to demonstrate their anger over
reports that Mugabe was prepared to cede his
executive powers to
"Some of our members are already on the farms preparing for
invasions as a demonstration that our leader should not be
stripped of his
powers," Muzenda said.
Opposition must make the most of its chance
Friday, 15 August
Zimbabwe'S President, Robert Mugabe, has never passed up an
demonstrate his distaste for the negotiations aimed at ending
the crisis in
his battered country.
His attempt to humiliate his rival,
Morgan Tsvangirai, at Harare airport
sums up his dilemma: While Mr Mugabe
holds the leader of the Movement for
Democratic Change in contempt and has
little stomach for ceding any
executive power to the MDC, he has few other
The parlous state of the economy - with runaway inflation
compounded by the
fact there is little produce for sale - means that
domestic support for a
substantive deal is overwhelming.
arrangement will have to vest significant power in any post offered to
Tsvangirai, according to the analyst Knox Chitiyo, the head of the Africa
programme at the Royal United Services Institute.
In this situation,
the pressure on the mediator, Thabo Mbeki, could prove
decisive in the next
Mr Mbeki, like Mr Mugabe, has never had much time for Mr
South African commentator William Gumede says they view his
lack of a
background in the liberation struggle and relatively modest
credentials as disqualifying him from their own rarefied
But this logic has been undermined by the fact that most leading
the African National Congress have turned against Mr Mugabe as
has become more oppressive.
The shifting landscape has
implications for both Mr Mugabe and Mr Mbeki.
Zanu-PF's favoured outcome
would see Mr Tsvangirai take up a non-executive
prime minister's position.
This would almost certainly be rejected in the
West, and it is unlikely to
be welcomed regionally.
Zanu-PF could yet push ahead with a deal that
Mutambara's splinter MDC faction.
plan, Mr Mugabe would chip away at the MDC's wafer-thin majority
parliament by offering opposition MPs cabinet positions and then
it to the rest of Africa as a fait accompli triggered by the
All this means Mr Tsvangirai has to make the most of his
as the head of the one party that could help end the
economic crisis in
The MDC is pushing for a French-style
system where the party leader takes up
the position of an executive prime
minister for a period before elections.
For Mr Tsvangirai - never the
most decisive of leaders - exploiting the
bargaining chips he has at hand
will prove to be his most formidable
Muriithi Mutiga is a
senior writer for Nation Media Group
Beware a despot bearing gifts of shared power
opposition should not be fooled by symbolism
Friday, 15 August
The negotiations over Zimbabwe's political future have entered a
and treacherous new phase. Many expected a power-sharing deal to
announced at the beginning of the week. But the leader of the Movement
Democratic Change (MDC), Morgan Tsvangirai, has called a halt to the
negotiations, amid rumours of a split in the opposition. Arthur Mutambara,
the leader of a breakaway faction of the MDC, has been accused of doing an
unofficial deal with President Robert Mugabe, heaping the pressure on Mr
Tsvangirai to sign up to the offer on the table.
Yet Mr Tsvangirai is
right to resist this pressure. It is important to
remember that the MDC
leader enjoys more political legitimacy than Mr Mugabe
in Zimbabwe. Mr
Tsvangirai defeated Mr Mugabe in the first round of the
elections in March. And he would almost certainly have done so
again in the
June run-off had it not been for a vile campaign of violence
supporters by Mr Mugabe's thugs, which forced Mr Tsvangirai to
MDC also won the most seats in the parliamentary elections
year. Mr Tsvangirai should not allow himself to be bounced into
anything. Moreover, there is a grave danger lurking in any
agreement. In 1987, Mr Mugabe entered a coalition with his
Joshua Nkomo. It did not take very long for Mr Mugabe to turn
Mr Nkomo into
a political irrelevance. The Zimbabwean President, doubtless,
perform the same trick again.
The temporary confiscation yesterday of Mr
Tsvangirai's passport by state
officials as the MDC leader was on his way to
the Southern African
Development Committee's meeting in Johannesburg
tomorrow is a clear sign
that Mr Mugabe has not changed. He still regards
the MDC as impudent
upstarts, to be harassed and bullied at every available
Reports from the talks suggest that the proposed deal would
make Mr Mugabe
"founding president" and Mr Tsvangirai prime minister. But
should not be taken in by such cheap symbolism. The critical
question is who
would have control over the state's instruments of violence.
If Mr Mugabe
retains control over the military and the police, it would be a
the people of Zimbabwe. He would continue to use that power
terrorise opponents and subvert the democratic process. Of course,
Tsvangirai gained control over the economy that would be no small
especially if European Union and United States aid is delivered. But
real key is executive power over the security services. The only deal
Mr Tsvangirai should accept is one that allows him to call fresh
within a reasonable period and also enables the MDC leader to
control the country's military and police chiefs.
realistically secure such a deal? Strengthening Mr Tsvangirai's hand
fact that the international aid Zimbabwe's basket-case economy so
needs will only be delivered if he is given real power; but weakening
the fact that the South African President, Thabo Mbeki, is in charge
mediation process. Mr Mbeki is fatally compromised by his historic
Mr Mugabe and his personal dislike for Mr Tsvangirai. This bias is
as the main obstacle to progress.
The African heads of state attending
the SADC meeting tomorrow should call
on the mediation committee to be
widened to counterbalance Mr Mbeki's
influence. If Zimbabwe is to emerge
from its prolonged nightmare, what it
needs more than anything is an honest
arrest and confiscation yesterday of the passport of Zimbabwe's main
opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, underscores the importance of his
return to the power-sharing talks that now appear to have
This blatant intimidation tactic is clearly designed to prevent
from attending the SADC heads of state summit in Johannesburg
Talks to resolve the political impasse in Zimbabwe have
to a halt after nominal president Robert Mugabe and
Tsvangirai were unable
to agree on the proposed sharing of executive powers
between the presidency
and prime minister.
Tsvangirai is believed to
have declined to sign the final agreement because
it would have left Mugabe
largely still in charge of the government and the
If so, he did the right thing, even if the people of Zimbabwe
for some form of settlement that might allow them to start
lives. Tsvangirai must stand firm in his insistence that a
deal should be
based on the will of the people as expressed in the March
arrangement that does not significantly change the status quo
Suggestions that Mugabe wants to form a coalition
government with Arthur
Mutambara, who leads the smaller opposition faction,
and exclude Tsvangirai
from any form of power, are dead in the
If Zimbabwe is to recover from its deep economic and social
country needs to wipe the slate clean. That is a precondition if
international donor community is to step in with the funds and expertise
required to rebuild the country's basic infrastructure and kickstart the
Mugabe must relinquish power. Nothing less than that should
be acceptable to
the Southern African Development Community heads of state
when they meet
this weekend. If President Thabo Mbeki wishes to start his
tenure as the
leader of the regional body with any credibility, that is what
he needs to
impress on his peers.
'Totalitarian Temptation' in Zimbabwe
Zanu-PF's rule is founded, as Stalin's was, on the ordinary
human emotion of
The decision of the states of the
Southern African Development Community to
endorse the dictatorship of Robert
Mugabe in Zimbabwe under the fiction of a
re-run election was anticipated in
an analysis of totalitarianism by the
English philosopher, Roger
In an essay, "The Totalitarian Temptation", delivered in an
address in 2003
to a conferfence on totalitarianism organised by the
University of Krakow in
Poland (a country that knew both Hitler's and
Stalin's boot), Professor
Scruton considered the origin of totalitarianism
to lie in the ordinary
human emotion of resentment. Totalitarianism he
considers to be present when
there is the "absence of any fundamental
constraint on the central
authority." It is a form of government that "does
not respect or acknowledge
the distinction between civil society and the
State.... Nothing limits the
power of the State in the way that might be
limited by a representative
legislature or a system of judge-made, or
judge-discovered, law." Following
the model pioneered in Russia by Lenin and
Trotsky and perfected by Stalin,
its form is as follows: "Society was
controlled by the State, the State was
controlled by the party, and the
party was controlled from the top by the
leadership." This conception fits
the reign of Zanu PF as led by Mugabe in
leadership defines itself by its particular ideology. This
ideology is "not
a truth-seeking device but a power-seeking device." It is
system of thought". Scruton suggests that "the interests
totalitarian ideology are those of an aspiring elite". What is
according to Scruton's analysis, following Nietzsche, is that
ideologies - like the race and class ideology of Zanu PF - are
recruit resentment", or as Nietzsche put it, using a French word,
ressentiment. This is a "virulent and implacable state of mind, that
precedes the injury complained of".
Resentment occurs in all
societies, but what is unique about totalitarian
ideologies is that they
"rationalize resentment, and also unite the
resentful around a common cause.
Totalitarian systems arise when the
resentful, having seized power, proceed
to abolish the institutions that
have conferred power on others:
institutions like law, property and religion
which create hierarchies,
authorities and privileges, and which enable
individuals to asset
sovereignty over their own lives...Once institutions of
law, property and
religion are destroyed - and their destruction is the
normal result of
totalitarian government - resentment takes up its place
immovably, as the
ruling principle of the State."
That is the case in Zimbabwe , with the
endorsement of the SADC. Once in
power, "the resentful are inclined to
dispense with mediating institutions,
and erect a system of pure power
relations, in which individual sovereignty
is extinguished by central
control. They may do this in the name of
equality, meaning thereby to
dispossess the rich and the privileged. Or they
may do it in the name of
racial purity, meaning thereby to dispossess the
aliens who have stolen
their birthright. One thing is certain, however,
which is that there will be
target groups." In Zimbabwe , the totalitarian
project exercises its right
to rule through a combination of the two forms,
the appeal to equality and
to race (and, more specifically, but implicitly,
to tribe). It unites both
the Stalin (hostility to privilege) and the Hitler
(hostility to race)
forms. As such, it is "directed collectively against
groups, conceived as
collectively offensive and bearing a collective guilt".
argues, this project is "not conducted from below by the people,
above, in the name of the people, by as aspiring elite".
ideologies, very widely endorsed in southern Africa , as the
decision of the
SADC shows, "legitimize the resentments of an elite, while
resentment of those needed to support the elite in its
pursuit of hitherto
inaccessible advantages. The elite derives its identity
from repudiating the
old order. And it casts itself in a pastoral role, as
leader and teacher of
the people", as if it were a "priestly caste". The
elite then "justifies its
seizure of power by referring to its solidarity
with those who have been
The leader of such a totalitarian project, according
to Scruton, is
frequently an embittered and isolated person, who seeks "some
take revenge on the world that has denied him his due". Such
"fired by a negative energy, and are never at ease unless bent on
of destruction". When such a person achieves power, he will
his isolation by establishing, in the place of friendship, a
command, with himself at the head of it. He will demand absolute
obedience, in return for a share in the reward. And he will
admit no one
into his circle who is not animated by resentment, which is the
that he has learned to trust". Such a characterisation suits
The political project of this leader "will not be to gain a share
within existing structures, but to gain total power, so as to
structures themselves. He will set himself against all forms of
compromise and debate, and against the legal and moral norms
which give a
voice to the dissenter and sovereignty to the ordinary
He will set about destroying the enemy, whom he will
conceive in collective
terms, as the class, group or race that hitherto
controlled the world and
which must now be controlled. And all institutions
that grant protection to
that class or a voice in the political process will
be targets for his
At this point Scruton very
precisely identifies the sham and scam that the
electoral process has
revealed itself to be in Zimbabwe , as a typical
feature of the totalitarian
regime. He writes that the inevitable result of
the seizure of power in this
project will be the "establishment of a
militarized core to the State -
whether in the form of a party, a committee
or simply an army which does not
bother to disguise its military purpose.
This core will have absolute power
and will operate outside the law. This
law will itself be replaced by a
Potemkin version that can be invoked
whenever it is necessary to remind the
people of their subordinate
In citing this "Potemkin
version" of law, Scruton refers to the supposed
tricky practice of Prince
Grigori Aleksandrovich Potemkin when acting as
chief minister to Empress
Catherine the Great of Russia, who held absolute
power in the late 18th
century. The Russian peasantry lived in abysmal
poverty and shabbiness.
Empress Catherine wanted however to believe that
everything was for the best
under her enlightened government. Potemkin was
alleged to have squared the
circle by having fake, cardboard villages
erected along the route the
Empress travelled on her tour of the Crimea.
Constitution, law and elections
in Zimbabwe are a Potemkin village. By
implication they are also actually or
potentially so throughout the states
of the SADC, South Africa included,
their leaders having so crassly endorsed
Mugabe's Potemkin-type electoral
As Scruton writes, under the totalitarian regime this "Potemkin
law" will be
a "prominent and omnipresent feature of society, constantly
paraded, in order to imbue all acts of the ruling party with an
air of legitimacy. The 'revolutionary vanguard' will be more
legal forms and official stamps than any of the regimes that it
displaces.... In this way the new order will be both utterly lawless and
entirely concealed by law." In this way, as Scruton quotes the former
President of the Czech Republic , Vaclav Havel, the people oppressed under
the totalitarian regime are required to "live within the
Scruton gives also a telling characterisation of the Mugabe type.
the pathological character of the resentments carried by the great
the totalitarian project, people who "have an exaggerated sense of
entitlements, and a diminutive capacity to observe them...Their
are not concrete responses to momentary rebuffs but accumulating
of the system in which they have failed to advance."
seems, are "particularly prone to this generalized
should not be surprised to find intellectuals in the
forefront of radical
movements, or to discover that they are more disposed
than ordinary mortals
to adopt theories and ideologies that have nothing to
recommend them apart
from the power that they promise." This fits Mugabe to
the tip of his little
[Roger Scruton's essay, "The
Totalitarian Temptation" is in Roger Scruton, A
(Continuum, London and New York , 2006. pp.146-160)].
retrenches 7 alleged MDC supporters
August 15, 2008
HARARE - Seven senior ZBC journalists, who were suspended in
accusation that they were too sympathetic to the opposition Movement
Democratic Change (MDC), now face looming retrenchment.
said the journalists were summoned one by one on Thursday to the
resources department, where they were informed of their impending
"We were told we would be served with our retrenchment
notices this Friday
(today)," one of the journalists told The Zimbabwe Times
The journalists were told point blank that the cause of their
was their failure to promote Zanu-PF and President Robert
Mugabe during the
campaign for the harmonised March 29
Mugabe and Zanu PF lost the elections to opposition leader
and his nine-year old MDC party. This was the first defeat
for Mugabe and
his party since independence in 1980.
"We were told we
can no longer fit into the new structures which ensured
romped to victory during our two months suspension," said
President Mugabe's shock defeat triggered off a witch-hunt at
claimed the scalp of chief executive officer, Henry Muradzikwa.
replaced by war veteran Happison Muchechetere.
followed this up with the June 1 suspension of the seven
editor Patrice Makova, business editor Brian Paradza, and
producers Monica Gavela and Sibonginkosi Mlilo. Also affected were
editor-in-chief, Stephen Ndoma, as well as reporters Garikai Chaunza
Other sources say Tazzen Mandizvidza, general manager
of news and current
affairs, who is their immediate boss, instigated the
This is despite a Harare labour court ruling on
July 25, which nullified
Mandizvidza, allegedly a
staunch Zanu-PF supporter, is said to be reluctant
to retain the group,
given its allegedly tainted history.
It is further said the continued
presence of the group at the state
broadcaster's premises was causing
"tension and animosity" among staff.
Both Muchechetere and Mandizvidza
could not be readily reached for comment.
But the Zimbabwe Union of
Journalists (ZUJ) condemned what president Mathew
Takaona described as the
high-handed action by the ZBC, saying it violates
the rights of the
"We condemn the retrenchment," Takaona said, "As a union, we
will fight for
the rights of journalists."
Harare lawyer, Rodgers
Matsikidze, who represents the group, said he was
going to challenge his
clients' impending retrenchments, which he says are
is very unlawful and suspicious," he said.
"The question one ought to ask
is what has precipitated their sudden
retrenchment. They have been on
suspension for two months and were not aware
of any retrenchment proceedings
"This is a clear attempt to dump them and we are definitely
challenge it in court."
There were immediate concerns
however that the cash strapped broadcaster
will not be able to meet their
retrenchment packages as it is currently
failing to pay its
ZBC workers were paid their July salaries on August 7, exactly
after their usual pay day.
Zanu (PF) example bad, says Nzimande
Karima Brown and Wilson
LEADERS of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) gathered in
to discuss advancement of democracy and development in the region,
Zimbabwe's former liberation movement Zanu (PF) came under fire for
subverting democracy and turning on its own people.
the first African conference on p articipatory democracy in
yesterday, South African Communist Party (SACP) secretary
Nzimande told delegates from 30 countries, from as far afield
America and Europe that former liberation movements could not blame
their problems on the imperialists.
He singled out Zanu (PF) "for blaming
all our problems exclusively on
imperialism without internal self reflection
and criticism ".
The talks between Zanu ( PF) and the Movement For
Democratic Change are high
on the agenda at the SADC
Yesterday Foreign Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma said that the
Zimbabwe was negatively affecting the region but said SADC was
offer support .
The talks between the Zimbabwean political
parties does not involve civil
society and the trade unions and many have
criticis ed them as a "dialogue
of the elite".
The role of former
liberation movements and their interaction with
developing democracy was a
key issue at the conference.
Nzimande said SA's democratic breakthrough
in 1994 was an important
milestone, but it did not mean the end of the
struggle for economic justice.
"We have always said the ANC must
retain its tradition of bias towards the
poor . However, the SACP and the
labour movement need to remain independent
from their partner the ANC," he
"The tendency in many African countries after liberation was to
left formations into the liberation movements ushering in "conveyer
politics that spelt disaster for its independence, Nzimande
Eva Bjorklund from Sweden's Left International Forum said
power" could save the world.
The conference is co-
sponsored by the f orum and seeks links between
like-minded left political
It will focus on developing alternative political, economic
policies to address global inequalities, gender relations and
participation in governance.
latest strategies are mere posturing
August 15, 2008
IT IS only two weeks after the presentation of the half
year monetary policy
statement presented last week, the situation on the
ground is showing the
Reserve Bank Governor Gideon Gono only attempted to
cure the symptoms rather
than the root cause of the economic
Analysts say Gono should realise by now that the economic
Zimbabwe are political. All his attempts since he was appointed
November 2003 have been hitting a strong political brick
The talks which are taking to long to conclude have been expected
to be the
best way forward as long as there is sincerity from all
A positive outcome of the talks will result in more
investors coming in the
country which should lead to increased production in
all major sectors of
the economy and a stable currency. More investment
options will also be
Economic analysts this week said as long
as there was no production,
monetary authorities will continue to move in
The supply side of the economy should be addressed by
real crisis, which is the crisis of governance,
sanctions and legitimacy.
Independent economist, John Robertson said
monetary reforms just announced
will remain futile in the absence of
substantive strategies to shore up the
"There should be increased production in all major sectors of
He (Gono) addressed symptoms as opposed to the root causes," he
University of Zimbabwe business school lecturer Tony Hawkins
latest strategy as little more than posturing.
monetary policy? That was a political statement that was made. The
about Zimbabwe being under sanctions was not monetary. There were a
currency changes, but that is where it ends. Freezing wages is not going
end hyperinflation," he said.
Hawkins said unless there was a political
settlement, the zeros would be
back on the currency in a few
"We are looking at a situation whereby the (US) dollarisation of
is going to increase, because our own money will have become
"The main causer of hyperinflation is Gideon Gono, who is
which is being used for handouts and is being given to
political thugs to
beat up people," Hawkins said.
MDC-T Secretary for
Economic Affairs Elton Mangoma said the latest measures
of removing zeros
will fall flat and cause serious confusion among the
the announcement that old coins are coming back into circulation
benefit people who do not have a banking culture, which will send a
signal to the market at a time when confidence building should be top
priority to the Reserve Bank.
"We believe that any central bank
should know the amount of money that is in
circulation and clearly, allowing
people to scrounge for old money from
their drawers will make it impossible
to know how much currency is on the
market. It could further push up
inflation," he said.
During the 2008 mid-term monetary policy last week,
President Robert Mugabe
warned the country's business sector to stop
profiteering or face emergency
"If you drive us more than
you have done we will impose emergency measures,
and we do not want to place
our country in a situation of emergency rules,
they can be tough rules you
know," Mugabe said.
"We want to leave you with the freedom, the
flexibility to make decisions .
. . You need to be rewarded for your
efforts, customers also need a fair
price, not ripping them off," he
It remains to be seen what government will do although some
warned that controlling prices will result in shortages of
National Incomes and Pricing Commission (NIPC)
Masimirembwa said prices being charged were not
"The rate at which prices are rising is a major cause of
concern which needs
to be addressed," he said.
Masimirembwa said the
business community has been ignoring prices which have
been set by the
The prices being approved by NIPC are way out of sync with
the real prices
that are already prevailing on the market.
Elephants killed by staff 'in lieu' of
By Sebastien Berger in Johannesburg
Friday August 15
Zimbabwe's wildlife is being decimated by the impact of the
economic crisis, conservationists claimed yesterday.
2,000 elephants have been killed in and around the Hwange national
year, the Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force (ZCTF) claimed. It said
national parks' department intended to authorise the shooting of
The killings were the result of a combination of hunting, poaching
alleged culling programme that he believed was a cover for illegal
trade, according to the ZCTF.
"The actual employees can shoot
these animals in lieu of wages," he claimed.
"It's the only way they can
survive. With the economic meltdown these guys
are getting paid about US$7 a
month, way below the poverty line. They shoot
the animals and sell the meat
to the locals.'' (© Daily Telegraph, London)
- Sebastien Berger in
MDC hoping to return stronger
MANDY ROSSOUW AND JASON MOYO -
Aug 15 2008 00:00
opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai walked out of negotiations in Harare knowing
that he will have to return and confident that he will do so in a stronger
The latest deadlock has highlighted the tensions in the MDC.
Some senior members were keen for Tsvangirai to sign the deal already on the
table, which centrally provides that Britain will meet the claims of
dispossessed farmers and that Western sanctions against Zanu-PF leaders should
The senior MDC members argued that they could not allow the
suffering of ordinary Zimbabweans to continue.
However, the respective
positions of Tsvangirai and Robert Mugabe in a national unity government
continue to be the main stumbling block, with Tsvangirai insisting that the
Zanu-PF leader should be stripped of all executive power.
observer said Tsvangirai walked out believing that he could clinch a more
favourable deal if he hangs back.
"He will return to the talks. But to
some extent he is underestimating Mugabe's stubbornness -- Mugabe can live with
a country that is falling apart."
Western diplomats remain adamant that
the outcome of the talks must reflect the March 29 election result with
Tsvangirai as head of state with full executive powers.
they might accept a titular role for Mugabe. "We would obviously prefer him not
to be there, but it isn't the end of the world if he is," one diplomat
Tsvangirai's immediate concern is how to approach the SADC summit
due to take place in Johannesburg this weekend.
A deal had looked within reach when President Thabo Mbeki arrived in
Harare last Saturday, after the three negotiating teams appeared to be at one on
many key issues.
But the first sign of trouble was when a conference
room at the Rainbow Towers Hotel in Harare, decorated in preparation for the
signing ceremony, remained empty well into the first night of talks.
They continued for another threedays with the parties drifting further
apart. Mbeki asked for patience, telling reporters that he was committed to
finding a solution: "If it means staying in Zimbabwe for six months, [I] will do
"I know the suffering the people of Zimbabwe have gone through, the
violence of the past few months. Zimbabweans want to lead a better life, to
recover from the problems they face," he said.
encounter, a visibly angry Tsvangirai told reporters who asked him about the
status of the talks to "go ask Mbeki". Earlier, Mugabe said he had "wanted to
raise my fist" at one point in the negotiations.
Zanu-PF has tried to
sideline Tsvangirai, painting him as the spoiler, and the leader of the rival
MDC faction Arthur Mutambara as the more rational partner.
state media claimed Mutambara had signed a deal with Mugabe, but Mutambara
denied this, saying a deal could only be signed if all three agreed on all the
issues in dispute.
But, he charged Tsvangirai had shifted position on
several occasions. "Three times he agreed to this one aspect and three times he
changed his mind," said Mutambara.
Tsvangirai's hardened position became
apparent on Tuesday when he angrily walked out of the talks after refusing to
move on his central demand -- that any power-sharing be based on the March 29
election, in which he won 47% of the vote to Mugabe's 43%; that parliament
rather than Mugabe should elect a new head of government; and that he would not
accept the post of prime minister without the authority to hire and fire cabinet
Documents leaked to the Mail & Guardian show the three
leaders had agreed on 13 issues before Tuesday's deadlock.
Tsvangirai declared that any "resolution that represents anything other than the
will of the Zimbabwean people would be a disaster for our country".
Botswana continued to insist this week that it will not attend the SADC
summit if Mugabe attends. Mugabe has been invited as Zimbabwe's head of
Foreign Affairs Minister Nkosazama Dlamini-Zuma said this week
that President Ian Khama's decision was sad, but that the issue was "not within
South Africa's control".
"All of us should guard the unity and cohesion
of the SADC jealously," she said.
- Lift all sanctions against Zimbabwe,
- resist undue external interference,
- condemn any attempts by foreign powers to effect
- UK must accept primary responsibility to pay
compensation for expropriated land,
- holistic audit of land ownership should be
- multiple farm ownership and farm productivity should
be dealt with by parliament,
- end all violence,
- disband youth militia,
- restoration of civil liberties including freedom of
expression and communication,
- call on foreign governments to desist from hosting
and funding radio stations,
- reform state institutions,
- facilitate unfettered access for aid groups
- promote national healing and
Why Zimbabwe talks collapsed
by Nqobizitha Khumalo Friday 15
BULAWAYO - Zimbabwe's power sharing talks broke
down earlier this week after
President Robert Mugabe blatantly refused to
relinquish his wide-sweeping
executive powers, a senior opposition figure
Opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party
chairman Lovemore Moyo
said the talks led by South African President Thabo
Mbeki hit deadlock after
Mugabe insisted that he should appoint the new
government and chair Cabinet
Under the proposal by Mugabe
and his ruling ZANU PF party, MDC leader Morgan
Tsvangirai would be
appointed prime minister with oversight over some
ministries but virtually
little else to do.
"The deadlock in the talks arose out of a disagreement
on who should have
executive powers between the president and the prime
minister and we could
not agree on that as the two parties," said Moyo in
the first official
disclosure of the single element of disagreement that
Mbeki had said caused
talks to stall.
Mbeki has refused to say out
publicly what the single element of
disagreement was but journalists have
throughout the week rightly speculated
that Zimbabwe's rival political
leaders failed to agree on who between them
should wield real power in the
Moyo, who is part of the MDC's team of negotiators,
said: "ZANU PF proposed
that Mugabe should have executive powers and should
appoint Cabinet and
chair its meetings while the prime minister should lead
and have no powers. We felt it would be wrong for the MDC
to accept Mugabe
as executive president."
resisted being appointed nominal prime minister and
instead demanded that he
be given all executive power because he defeated
Mugabe in the March 29
At that point, talks had to be called off because
it was clear neither
Mugabe nor Tsvangirai was ready to compromise on their
In a statement on Wednesday, Tsvangirai made the same call that
power-sharing agreement should be based on the March elections won by
himself and his party, although the MDC leader failed to secure the margin
required to takeover power.
Tsvangirai pulled out of the second round
run-off election on June 27
because of violence against his supporters.
Mugabe went on to with he
run-off in which he was the only candidate and
insists that any agreement
with his rival should recognise his victory in a
poll discredited by both
Western and African governments.
that in addition to Mugabe and Tsvangirai also included Arthur
who heads a breakaway MDC faction, started last Sunday amid high
that a deal was within reach.
Leaked information from the highly
secretive talks suggesting that the
parties had reached agreement on several
key issues and that there could be
a positive end to the dialogue
immediately sparked hope across crisis-weary
slowly began to turn into disillusion as the talks dragged on amid
they could collapse over Mugabe and Tsvangirai's differences on how
divide power between themselves.
Mbeki has remained optimistic, telling
journalists in Angola on Wednesday
that talks would be resumed in the future
and that a deal could still be
achieved. - ZimOnline
Exposing root cause of violence in Zimbabwe
Nyamakope Friday 15 August 2008
OPINION: Those who ignore
lessons from history are condemned to repeat the
same mistakes made in the
While walking to our office from the train station recently with my
friend, we started discussing the military conflict between Georgia
Russia in South Ossetia.
My friend quickly pointed the finger of
blame on the Americans and the
Russians. I rebuked him for always seeing an
American hand in any conflict.
He started to talk about the geopolitical
forces operating at the tectonic
plate level of this conflict.
asked me to read a book by Noam Chomsky which he had given me nearly six
months ago and which I had never read.
Well I went and read the book.
Noam Chomsky says, quoting A J Muste who
said, in 1941 when European
countries were already locked in World War II
and aggressions were
escalating in Asia and the pacific, "The problem after
any war is with the
victor. He thinks he has just proved that war and
violence pay. Who will
ever teach him a lesson."
Think about what happened after World War II,
for a minute.
Chomsky is inferring that after the end of the war, the
problem would now be
the victors, America and Russia in this case, and not
the defeated, Germany
Sure enough after the war the
aggressors (Germany and Japan) had been
silenced and were now peaceful and
those that had been provoked to war
(Russia and America) and were the
victors became the new aggressors.
The cold war immediately started. The
Korean war erupted in 1950 which was a
proxy war between America and Russia
fought over the Korean peninsula.
Then there was the Vietnam war and
other conflicts until today where the
hands of these victors were
Muske was accurate in his prediction.
I would like to turn
to our own doorstep, the Zimbabwean liberation war.
According to Muste
the problem after a war is with the victor because he
begins to think that
war and violence pay. Who will ever teach him anything.
The mindset of the
victor becomes entrenched in the notion that coercion
works and by applying
a substantial force to your fellows you will get
natural outcome from this is a habit to prefer force over peaceful
Those who will remember the liberation war in Zimbabwe in the
late 1970s and
the outbreak of conflict in Matebeleland and Midlands in 1982
remarkable similarities with what has just recently happened in the
to the June election.
In 2000 there was considerable violence
when farms were invaded, people
killed, houses and property burnt, farm
equipment vandalised (no
negotiation, no compensation, it was war!) and this
followed after the
defeat of the government in the constitutional referendum
of early 2000.
More violence was to follow in the 2002 presidential
elections and many
people lost their lives.
In 2006, people had their
houses and properties pulled down by bulldozers,
children killed in the
process. No negotiation, no compensation. It's war
few months ago in 2008, business people had their goods forcibly
from them in a warlike manner because they are overcharging (no
In the run-up to the re-run of the presidential
election this year, war
returned. We saw what probably can only be compared
to what was happening
during the liberation war and the Matebeleland
If you look deeper at all these "wars" against innocent
citizens, there was
a real or perceived problem or threat to the government
which they wanted to
solve. The default method of choice to solve these
Why is there such a propensity to resort to such levels
of violence? Why can't
anything be done in a peaceful negotiated way? Why is
there a preference to
use force rather than peaceful means?
answer lies in Chomsky's Theory. Those who win a war will always think
war and violence pay.
The root causes of all this violence are to be
found in the fact that our
government came to power after a violent
conflict. They were the victors in
a war and they came to power and got all
that they got by means of war and
The natural outcome of
this is a habit to prefer force over peaceful means.
To them violence and
war pay. The chronology of events I have listed above
is testimony to that
belief. Every problem is viewed through a war lense.
Noam Chomsky is
Violence and war is the breath of our government. That is the
has become Zimbabwe. It all started very well, by winning a
war. This is why
we hear statements like "this country was won through the
bullet and it
cannot be taken by the pen", or "we have degrees in
I will be quick to remind you that there is a spiritual
dimension to all
this. Because we have given way and allowed these spirits
of war, violence
and bloodshed to be seated in our midst, murder and death
no longer mean
much to those practising them. There are spiritual roots and
powers that act
behind all this violence and Zimbabwe needs to be freed from
This tendency to war and violence will have to be broken for there
lasting peace in Zimbabwe and the MDC must be hailed for their
insistence on peace. Only until peace wins the day will the
mindset of those
stuck in violence begin to change.
As a way of
comparison, there were no fully-fledged wars fought in Zambia,
Botswana or even South Africa. Because there were negotiated
end colonialism in some of these countries, they also tend to
negotiations and their tendency to violence is almost
to the Armageddon that comes with Zimbabwean
comes from a background where negotiations won peace and that is
believes in negotiations.
Our own government comes from a different
background and that is why they
have to be restrained by Mbeki to
Remember war will never bring peace only peace will. -
Zimbabwean Swimming Fans Still Hopeful Kirsty Coventry Can Land
By Marvellous Mhlanga-Nyahuye
Zimbabwean swimming star Kirsty Coventry set
a new Olympic record Thursday
in a preliminary heat of the women's 200-meter
backstroke, encouraging her
supporters who hope she will yet claim a gold
medal after winning three
silvers medallions in Beijing
Zimbabwean paralympian Elliot Mujaji told reporter
Mhlanga-Nyahuye of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that fans should
Coventry off for gold just yet.
Elsewhere, Dynamos fans
in Egypt were looking for a win against Egyptian
league champions Al Ahly in
an African Champions League mini-league match
Sunday in Cairo despite the
absence of key players including Desmond
Maringwa, who was mourning the loss
of his father.
Dynamos fan Matilda Mahlalela said she hopes striker
Murape Murape and
inspirational player Edward Sadomba can lead the team to
victory on Sunday.
Displaced foreigners' asylum applications rejected
Correspondent Friday 15 August 2008
JOHANNESBURG - Hundreds
of foreign nationals displaced in the May xenophobic
violence on Thursday
received letters from the South African home affairs
department turning down
their application for asylum status.
The home affairs department had
issued all foreigners housed in temporary
shelters put up for victims of
xenophobic attacks with temporary six-months
IDs while they fast-tracked
their asylum requests but developments on
Thursday left some 2 500 mostly
Zimbabweans, Mozambicans and Congolese still
in the camps disillusioned as
they anticipated possible deportation at the
end of their temporary
"People were given the six month permits on the understanding that
would do something to make themselves legal within those six months,"
Gauteng provincial government spokesperson Thabo Masebe told the media,
adding that those who received rejection letters could follow an appeal
But Emmanuel Ngenzi of faith-based legal and support centre,
Ministry Centre, said that it wasn't easy for foreign nationals
the appeal process.
"The environment is not conducive
enough for the appeal," he said. "Many of
them don't even have access to us
and other legal organisations."
Ngenzi said the asylum requests were
generally turned down because the
countries of origin had no official
conflict or war. "I can understand with
a country like Mozambique which is
at peace," he said, but he stressed that
many Zimbabweans and Congolese were
fleeing real crisis.
Bishop Paul Verryn of the Methodist church in
central Johannesburg which has
been home to displaced people since 1985 and
opened its doors to those
fleeing xenophobic violence, said a rumour was
going around the camp that
busses would take people back to their
"This has really caused me to question the integrity of the
Verryn criticised the government's
reintegration process that has seen some
communities openly stating that
they would not accept foreigners returning
to their former homes. "Quite
frankly they've done no work in the
communities from which these people
came," he said. "There has been very
little preparation in terms of
reintegration and dealing with what caused
the problem in the first
Masebe said that those leaving the camps when they would be
closed down on
Friday would be provided with whatever assistance they
emphasised that nothing would be left "except ground" once the
"We have a contingency plan in case there
are two or three people who can't
arrange to go anywhere," he said without
elaborating. - ZimOnline
Coventry relies on power of one to effect change in her
FEW athletes have to walk as fine a line at the Games
as Zimbabwean swimmer Kirsty Coventry. Somehow she has to represent her country
with pride but without condoning the excesses of the Robert Mugabe regime, which
have reduced much of her country to chaos and poverty.
Kirsty Coventry is diplomatically silent on the Mugabe issue.
Her ability to walk that line, while maintaining an outstanding competition
record, suggests that Coventry,
24, has a future in diplomacy if she so chooses. Despite countless invitations
from the international media to speak out against the Mugabe Government during
her career, she remains apolitical.
And with good reason. Her parents Rob and Lyn, who run a chemical company in
Harare, and her wider family, including sister Lauren, still live in Zimbabwe where they
are vulnerable to the ruthless forces of the Government.
However, she has been based in the United States since she was recruited by
Auburn University coach Kim Brackin in Alabama six years ago. She completed her
degree last year and followed her long-term coach to Austin, Texas, where they
planned her Olympic campaign.
Coventry was asked the Mugabe question again after winning the first of three
silver medals at Beijing's Water Cube this week. As usual, she preferred to talk
about the people of her country rather than its Government.
"Part of the reason that I am still swimming and still motivated is to raise
my country's flag high and shine a good positive light on the people back home,"
She knows exactly what an inspiration she is to her people, having returned
home to a riotous welcome after she won her country's first Olympic gold medal,
in the 200m backstroke at the Athens Olympics. Coventry was hailed as a national
treasure and greeted at the airport by beating drums, tribal dancers and
hundreds of fans waving banners. In the wake of her triumph, many new babies
were given her first name, often with the middle name of "Coventry", while
others were named "Gold Medal".
Coventry usually goes home once a year, at Christmas, and is never in doubt
of the support she has.
"Every time I go down the street, people on the street say good luck to me,"
she said. "I don't think there are a lot of athletes who have their whole
country supporting them."
She still has the opportunity to win a gold medal in the 200m backstroke
While she has not openly criticised the dictatorship of Mugabe, she knows her
athletic triumphs on the world stage are a more powerful weapon.
In an interview in April this year, after winning five medals, including four
gold, at the world short-course championships in Manchester, Coventry made a
rare mention of Mugabe.
"Everyone there including President Mugabe knows something needs to change
because so many people are hurting," she said. "I hope that (change) does
happen. I know that's part of why I'm doing what I do. I hope it makes a
difference and gives people back home hope that things will change for the
In Manchester, Zimbabwe finished fourth on the medal table behind the US,
the Netherlands. And the power of one is at it again in
Beijing. Zimbabwe is 23rd on the medal table with three silvers so far.
The country has won seven medals in 10 appearances at the Olympics - Coventry
has six of those. The other was the women's hockey team in Moscow in 1980 - the
year Zimbabwe gained independence from Britain and Mugabe came to power.
It must irk Mugabe that Coventry has united a nation of blacks and minority
whites that he has tried to divide. He called Coventry "a golden girl" and
hosted the reception for her after the 2004 Olympics, presenting her with a
diplomatic passport - allowing unhindered movement and travel free from security
forces - and $US50,000.
Coventry, who turns 25 next month, has not lived in Zimbabwe since she left.
She speaks with an American accent but she will not give up her Zimbabwean
passport. She has said she hopes to return one day.
"I will always go back to visit," she said.
"The problem is that the economy is just so bad right now. It's really hard
for youngsters to start out in life. Now if it ever got better ... my memories
growing up are so positive that I would certainly love for my kids to have the
same opportunity. But for right now, I'm just dealing with the daily pressures
and not thinking that far ahead."
And one of those pressures has been to speak in political tones about the
upheaval at home.
But in another interview this year, with Reuters news
agency, Coventry said: "I strongly believe that athletics and politics should
not mix. I just need to be proud that I get to compete for and represent my
country and that's it. What I love is seeing people back home feeding off my
success, and giving them something to cheer for."