17 August 2007
Regional heads of state are expected to encourage South African President Thabo Mbeki to continue his efforts to facilitate negotiations between Zimbabwe's ruling ZANU-PF and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change. Peta Thornycroft for VOA reports that the Southern African Development Community's summit in Zambia also launched its first peacekeeping standby force.
|South African President Thabo Mbeki (file photo)|
In response to a question from South Africa's independent newspapers on whether there would be further negotiations, minister Zuma replied with one word, "Sure."
President Mbeki was appointed in March by SADC to facilitate negotiations between Zimbabwe's two main political parties ahead of national elections next March.
President Mbeki briefed a three-nation ministerial committee of SADC on the progress so far.
While the details of his report were not made public by the official end of the summit, some broad outlines on the mediation have emerged.
Negotiations have focused on a new constitution, and there is a deadline at
the end of next month for resolving outstanding areas of disagreement.
This may mean, political sources say, that if agreement is reached between ZANU-PF and MDC, national elections may be delayed by a few months as new provisions are put into place.
|President Robert Mugabe reacts to his enthusiastic reception by fellow leaders of a Southern African Development Community summit in Lusaka, Zambia, on Aug. 16, 2007|
SADC prepared a comprehensive report on Zimbabwe's collapsed economy and humanitarian crisis ahead of the Lusaka summit, but SADC says its reconstruction plan depends on an improved political climate.
The food situation in Zimbabwe continues to deteriorate, especially in the south where there were few crops last summer season.
MDC legislator from Zimbabwe's second largest city Bulawayo, David Coltart, said there was no food available at any supermarket Friday apart from some vegetables.
On Wednesday, two people were killed and several more were seriously injured in Bulawayo during a stampede by desperate shoppers who had been lining up for sugar since dawn.
|Leaders of SADC countries pose for a group photo after the opening of the summit, 16 Aug 2007|
Zambian president describes Zim economy as being in the "doldrums"
17 Aug 2007 11:44
HARARE - The Southern African Development Community (SADC) has, for the
first time, taken a hard-line stance against "big brother" Zimbabwe
President Robert Mugabe by setting stringent conditions for a Zimbabwe
economic bail out.
Described yesterday by Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa as being in the
"doldrums," Zimbabwe's economy has been dogged by instability and stagnation
over the past six years. It was against the backdrop of Zimbabwe's economic
decline that SADC heads of state tasked South African President Thabo Mbeki
with mediating between the country's political foes, President Robert Mugabe's
Zanu PF - in power since independence in 1980 - and the disjointed Movement
for Democratic Change (MDC).
Convening at an extraordinary summit, the SADC heads of state, set stringent
conditions for the provision of economic aid, diplomatic sources said.
Zimbabwe, battling year-on-year inflation of about 4 500% for the month of
May (the last official figure released), desperately requires outside aid
and assistance to stabilise its economy.
Sources say the conditions set by the regional and trade grouping for an
economic bail-out are tougher than those usually imposed by Bretton Woods
institutions like the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.
The demands border on securing drastic concessions of political reform from
the increasingly embattled and internationally isolated Mugabe, largely seen
as hostile to democratic change.
The stern conditions, contained in a confidential report compiled by SADC
executive secretary Tomaz Augusto Salomao, include the need for political
and legal reforms, economic liberalisation, and privatisation of public
Salomao addressed the regional grouping leaders yesterday in Zambia.
The report states that SADC wants Zimbabwe to implement fundamental
structural reforms, including public enterprise and civil service overhaul.
The country's civil service has been dogged by incessant viability and
Harare's recent (month-long) battle against retailers, manufacturers and
business to have them slash prices of their goods and commodities by 50%
also came under the spotlight at the summit. The region's leaders said
Zimbabwe should remove administrative controls in pricing, and advocate for
the restoration of the rule of law and property rights.
Media reports emanating from Zimbabwe also stress that SADC "wants a
tightening of fiscal and monetary policies. It has raised alarm over
quasi-fiscal activities by the Reserve Bank and recommended price and
exchange rate regime liberalisation. SADC further wants a reduction of the
budget deficit and fiscal discipline to contain inflation unofficially
estimated to be 13 000%."
The media reports add that SADC "has proposed to send economic advisors and
monitors to oversee the implementation of the economic rescue programme.
This implies firm methodologies and reporting, progress monitoring, and
censure in the process".
Mbeki briefed SADC leaders on the Zimbabwe situation in a closed-door
session yesterday. The delivery of the economic rescue package depends on
the success of the talks.
But a gruelling encounter - which observers say Mugabe is going to lose
anyway - is looming following announcements by Harare that there would be no
Salomao told a news conference on Wednesday SADC would have to consider
options including a "hard line", "quiet diplomacy" or a "different" method
"The stern conditions attached to the rescue proposal leave Mugabe and SADC
leaders on a collision course despite stage-managed appearances of support
in Lusaka. The SADC package is a take-it-or-leave-it deal for Mugabe,"
reported Zimbabwe's Independent Newspaper today.
Fri 17 Aug 2007, 15:44 GMT
By Shapi Shacinda and Michael Georgy
LUSAKA, Aug 17 (Reuters) - Southern African leaders failed to press Zimbabwe
to enact political reforms at a two-day regional summit, delegates said on
Opposition groups and Western powers had hoped they would pressure President
Robert Mugabe, who has stepped up a crackdown on the opposition as Zimbabwe
sinks deeper into an economic crisis, into changing his policies.
South African President Thabo Mbeki, who is mediating between the Harare
government and its opponents, told the summit of the 14-nation Southern
African Development Community (SADC), of which Zimbabwe is a member, that
progress had been made, delegates said as the meeting wound down.
But no discussion followed the presentation.
Delegates said SADC chairman Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa, who has
described Zimbabwe as a "sinking Titanic", proposed discussing its political
and economic crisis but other leaders were not eager to review the matter.
SADC members appear reluctant to criticise one of their own, even if many
Zimbabweans are fleeing across the borders of neighbouring SADC countries --
trying to escape the world's highest inflation rate, as well as severe food
and fuel shortages.
"There is really not much SADC can do," said a diplomat who asked not to be
named. "Mugabe has been crossing one red line after another for years and he
gets away with it."
At the opening ceremony, Mugabe received the loudest applause from an
audience which included regional ministers, diplomats and other officials.
Zimbabwe said there was no point in having a discussion.
"There was nothing extraordinary to warrant a discussion on Zimbabwe. SADC
nations are mandated to help Zimbabwe and we will not go beyond those
parameters," Zimbabwe's presidential spokesman, George Charamba, told
His justice minister, Patrick Chinamasa, suggested before the summit that
Zimbabwe's government could not justify engaging in a dialogue with the
opposition and accused them of carrying out bombings.
Chinamasa later told a news conference that there was no need for political
reform because Zimbabwe was a democracy.
Mugabe faces little pressure at home, where there is a weak and divided
He denies that his controversial policies, such as seizing white-owned farms
for redistribution to landless blacks, have brought a country once viewed as
a regional breadbasket to its knees.
But he acknowledged there were economic difficulties such as fuel shortages
in an interview with Zambian state television.
Mugabe, who has been in power since independence from Britain in 1980, still
portrays the struggle in Zimbabwe as one directly related to its former
colonial masters as he deflects criticism from Western powers and stifles
SADC, for its part, seems confident it can help stabilise other hotspots in
Southern African leaders launched a peacekeeping brigade on Friday as part
of a planned African standby force to be deployed on peace missions and to
tackle disarmament and humanitarian crises on the continent.
Times of Zambia
By Times Reporter
THE Zimbabwean government has reaffirmed its resolve to the continued land
redistribution exercise as a basis for empowering the local people in
The government has described the land situation as an emotive issue that
should be understood by anyone.
Zimbabwe minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Patrick
Chinamasa said during a briefing in Lusaka yesterday that currently over 11
million hectares of land from the 60 million hectares have been repossessed
and redistributed among Zimbabweans.
He said some white farmers were still present in Zimbabwe while some members
of the opposition political parties were part of the people that acquired
The minister acknowledged that that land redistribution exercise affected
the agriculture production in Zimbabwe because the programme was done in
five years instead of the initial plan of 30 years.
He said the exercise had to be rushed because the white farmers did not want
to comply and accept the agreements reached by the British government during
the colonial era.
Mr Chinamasa accused the Western media of being biased and portraying only a
negative perception of the happenings in Zimbabwe.
He said some opposition political parties such as the Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) were funded by foreign donors to cause trouble among
Zimbabwe and destabilise the government policies.
He wondered why the MDC was opposed to the land reforms when the idea was
meant to benefit the Zimbabweans as opposed to foreigners.
Mr Chinamasa said the MDC realised that it would not come into power using
legitimate means and decided to pursue violent avenues through
demonstrations and protests.
He said the recent death of a protestor in Zimbabwe was regretted but
commended the police for using reasonable force to contain the pressure
mostly caused by the MDC and some civil society groupings.
He wondered why the Western media and the Western countries have not given
the Zimbabwean government an opportunity to give its side of the story
instead of relying on mass propaganda created by the opposition political
Meanwhile, Japan has congratulated President Mwanawasa for assuming the
chairmanship of the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) during the
on-going 27th summit in Lusaka.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said in his congratulatory letter to Mr
Mwanawasa yesterday that his country highly evaluated SADC's commitment over
the past years.
Mr Abe said SADC planned to establish a free trade area by 2008 and a
customs union by 2010 in order to enhance economic integration in the
Japan attached importance to the role of the regional economic communities
in the pursuit of growth and integration in Africa.
He said Japan was keenly following the developments of regional integration
in Africa through SADC with interest.
The Prime minister said cooperation between Japan and SADC have been
enhanced in the past through developments such as Japan-SADC High Level
Dialogue meeting of 2004.
17 August 2007
SOUTHERN African Development Community (SADC) leaders yesterday decided to
keep confidential the contents of President Thabo Mbeki's report on his
mediation in the Zimbabwean political crisis.
Mbeki was mandated five months ago by his SADC peers to revive political
dialogue between Zimbabwean foes and there had been great anticipation of
late as to what his report would disclose.
But at a conclusion of a closed- door meeting yesterday, Zimbabwean Justice
Minister Patrick Chinamasa was quoted as saying: "The truth of the matter is
that we, who are participating in negotiations under the facilitation of
President Mbeki, agreed that we will not disclose to the press the nature of
"We committed ourselves and none of us has done so and that remains our
The leaders might, however, only release their decision at the end of the
Whatever the report's content, there were clear indications at the summit
that Zimbabwe would soon see a consolidation of solidarity from its
neighbours, political analyst Claude Kabemba said.
A standing ovation given to Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe and
supportive statements from incoming SADC chairman and Zambian President Levy
Mwanawasa in his introductory speech indicated that no condemnation of
Mugabe's policies - blamed for the economic crisis gripping his country -
were to be expected from regional peers.
He was later seated beside Mbeki as summit deliberations began. Mbeki was
expected to brief delegates in a closed-door session later last night
Mwanawasa, who had previously compared Zimbabwe to a "sinking Titanic",
appeared to backtrack on his statements and said that the organisation would
"always be ready to assist where it can to resolve the problems affecting
"It is probable such solidarity would translate into an economic rescue
package set up by SADC, as indicated by assertions made that Zimbabwe's
economic woes were caused by international sanctions called for by the UK,
and not by bad governance," Kabemba said. "Zimbabwe strongly expects SADC to
call for the lifting of those sanctions."
Kabemba also said the Zimbabwean leadership was confident that Mbeki's
report on his five-month mediation in the Zimbabwean crisis would show
progress had been made in the talks between ruling Zanu (PF) and the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). He quoted Zimbabwean
presidential spokesman George Charamba as saying that Mbeki's report would
The Zimbabwean delegation went to Lusaka saying it flatly rejected political
reform, with Chinamasa saying: "Political reform is not necessary in my
country because we are a democracy like any other democracy in the world."
Asked about Mbeki's mediation efforts and Chinamasa's rejection of any
dialogue with the opposition, Foreign Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma said:
"As far as we are concerned the process continues until President (Mbeki)
finishes what he is doing, the dialogue never died." With Reuters, Sapa-AP
From The Star (SA), 17 August
Diplomats and other outside observers have been dismayed and surprised by
the loud applause Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe received at the start
of the 27th Southern African Development Community summit. Leefa Martin,
SADC's head of communications, yesterday had to call for silence from the 1
000 heads of state, ministers, officials and dignitaries who attended the
opening ceremony, to the strains of Nkosi Sikelel' iAfrika, which is also
Zambia's national anthem. All eyes are on President Thabo Mbeki, who was to
report to the summit on his Zimbabwean mediation. The applause and the buzz
when Mugabe entered the hall indicated where SADC's sympathies lay and how
hard it is going to be to pressure Mugabe to make any concessions to his
political opponents in the negotiations. Diplomats reacted with despair and
some with disbelief at yet another display of solidarity with the
octogenarian Zimbabwean dictator, whose country is the only one in SADC with
a negative growth rate. "We can only throw up our hands," said one European
ambassador. "It was a bit of a shock, but not really unexpected," said a
Portuguese diplomat, part of a delegation preparing for a Euro-African
summit due for December in Lisbon. Portugal is the current chair of the
European Union. Rumours of a last-minute breakthrough in dialogue between
Mugabe's ruling Zanu PF party and the opposition Movement for Democratic
Change were denied by the Department of Foreign Affairs. But they also
indicated they were not up to date on developments in the Presidency.
Mugabe's spokesperson, George Charamba, said the outcome of Mbeki's
mediation would be an endorsement of the original statement put out after
the Dar es Salaam summit on Zimbabwe. In March, when Mbeki received his
mediation mandate, SADC caused some dismay in international circles by
calling on Europe and the US to drop targeted sanctions against Mugabe.
Mbeki was due to report on Wednesday night. But after ministers involved had
waited for hours for their presidents to arrive, the meeting was postponed
until last night.
Last Updated: 12:01am BST 17/08/2007
We are told that southern Africa is concerned about Robert Mugabe. It
is said that the millions who have fled Zimbabwe are unsettling neighbouring
countries; and that his wrecking of the economy is giving the region a bad
name as a destination for trade and investment.
Yet, yesterday in Lusaka, it was Mr Mugabe who received the loudest
applause at a summit of the Southern African Development Community (SADC).
Its heads of state, or at least some of them, may be concerned, but such an
ovation will merely strengthen the old tyrant's hand.
What explains this contradiction? First, there is Mr Mugabe's status
as the oldest of the freedom-fighting leaders still in office. Then there is
his brilliantly successful propaganda campaign, which quite erroneously
alleges that "illegal" Western sanctions have ruined the economy, whereas,
in fact, they have merely imposed a visa ban and an asset freeze on about
100 named officials.
Finally, there is the well-attested reluctance of African leaders to
criticise their peers, at any rate in public.
Readers of this newspaper have been reminded of the dire state of
Zimbabwe, from hospitals starved of basic medical supplies to deserted
factories and stripped supermarket shelves, by a series of reports from
inside the country by Sebastien Berger, our Southern Africa Correspondent.
The most telling illustration of Mr Mugabe's wrecking of an economy
once regarded as the regional breadbasket is the inflation rate, which the
last official figure gave as more than 4,500 per cent; according to the
International Monetary Fund, it could top the 100,000 mark by the end of the
year. In other words, while Mr Mugabe remains president - and he is due to
stand again next March - things are going to get a lot worse.
Ascribing this disaster, nearly a generation after independence, to
neo-colonialist machinations may not fully persuade SADC members, but does
at least secure their acquiescence. Yesterday's applause confirmed that
outside pressure will play only a minor role in Mr Mugabe's demise. That
will be effected from within, most likely through a palace coup.
By Lance Guma
17 August 2007.
After months of pressure the Australian Government has decided to cancel the
visas of eight Zimbabwean students studying in that country because their
parents are senior Zanu PF and government chefs. Privacy issues have
prevented the government from releasing the names, but Newsreel sources say
Gideon Gono's twin daughters Pride and Praise Gono have been included on the
list. Foreign Affairs Minister Alexander Downer confirmed to journalists
that he is set to revoke their visas. Observers say the move signals a
strengthening of sanctions against the Mugabe regime.
Under 'smart sanctions' individuals who are part of Mugabe's regime are
barred from travel to E.U. and Western countries and have their assets
frozen in an attempt to put pressure for democratic reforms. The targeted
sanctions were expanded by Australia on Friday to include the children of
officials who are on the banned list.
Downer said: "We have eight children of people in the Zimbabwean regime
studying in Australia. I've decided to cancel their visas so they can go
back to Zimbabwe. They are of course being paid for to go to universities
here in Australia, by their parents presumably. It's a tough thing to do
but, to be honest, those regime people who are paying those fees are people
who are doing immense damage to the people of Zimbabwe."
Downer conceded that he was putting the sins of the parents on their
children but that he had reflected on it carefully and concluded that human
rights violations in Zimbabwe deserved such a drastic move. Under Australia's
immigration laws the Minister has the power to cancel visas if they are not
in the country's best interests.
Most of the students affected are studying in the Australian town of Perth.
Farai Maguwu from the Civic Alliance for Democracy and Governance says the
visa cancellations are a step in the right direction. This he said would
send a clear message to Mugabe and his regime of the disapproval felt by the
international community over their his governments behaviour.
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
Monsters and Critics
Aug 17, 2007, 7:47 GMT
Harare/Johannesburg - A court in Zimbabwe has sentenced a businesswoman to a
year in jail for flouting price controls as the police chief vowed to press
on with raids on stores for allegedly overcharging, reports said Friday.
Gertrude Nyabadza, the owner of Better Class Supermarket in the eastern town
of Rusape, is the first person to be jailed since President Robert Mugabe's
government ordered prices cut by at least 50 per cent more than six weeks
The magistrate who sentenced Nyabadza called her an unrepentant and
unethical businesswoman, with little regard for the law, said the
state-controlled Herald newspaper.
Meanwhile the country's police chief Augustine Chihuri was quoted by the
Herald as saying the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) would continue its blitz
on high prices.
'Those who have been masquerading as pearls of economic wisdom by posting
astronomical profits while the public is suffering will be exposed for what
they are, Chihuri was quoted as saying.
'As ZRP we will not tire until this vicious criminal phenomenon is
eliminated,' he said.
But Chihuri, who was speaking at a handover ceremony of donations from the
business community to a regional police sports contest being held in Harare,
hastened to add that Zimbabwean police were not at war with the business
'There is no war between us and business,' he said. The governments blitz on
prices was aimed at ensuring moral rectitude is restored in the business
community, he said.
Mugabe has said high prices in the country are a plot to cause civil unrest
aimed at unseating his government. But the business community says prices
are only in line with record high inflation which analysts say could now
have reached 13,000 per cent.
The Harare government has announced that it is now mulling a new law that
would make it a criminal offence for businesses to engage in what it calls
© 2007 dpa - Deutsche Presse-Agentur
Fri 17 Aug 2007, 6:33 GMT
HARARE, Aug 17 (Reuters) - Zimbabwe's Murowa diamond mine recorded a 63
percent dip in production in the first half of 2007 due to frequent power
cuts and failure to expand mining operations, its majority owner said on
Murowa, majority owned by Britain-based Rio Tinto Plc, produced 46,211
carats in the first six months of 2007, compared to 126,000 carats in the
same period last year, according to a statement issued to shareholders.
"The anticipated decrease in grade with depth and the delay in the
implementation of the expansion project has caused this fall in production
compared to the same period last year," Rio said, adding that regular power
outages had further affected mining operations.
Rio Tinto <RIO.L> has a 78 percent stake in the mine, with the remainder
owned by locally listed RioZim <RIO.ZI>.
Rio Tinto has stated its intentions to inject $200 million into the mine to
raise production, but seeks assurances over its investment after President
Robert Mugabe's government announced plans to localise control of all local
Mugabe's government has tabled an empowerment bill that seeks to transfer
control of all firms, including foreign-owned mines and banks, to black
Last year, RioZim chairman Eric Kahari warned that without the expansion,
the mine could start winding down from 2009.
Along with Rio Tinto, Anglo Platinum <AMSJ.J>, the world's largest platinum
miner, number two Implats <IMPJ.J> and Aquarius Platinum <AQP.AX> <AQP.L>
are all major foreign miners with interests in Zimbabwe.
The mining industry has overtaken agriculture as the largest employer in
Zimbabwe, accounting for about 4 percent of gross domestic product and
contributing over 40 percent of all foreign currency inflows into the
By Tererai Karimakwenda
17 August, 2007
As the regional Heads of State conclude their summit in Lusaka, Zambia on
Friday, Zimbabwe is awash with reports that hundreds of thousands were
denied the opportunity to register to vote in the mobile registration
exercise that ended the same day. There is also evidence that massive
rigging took place during the exercise that began June 18th and was
conducted by the Registrar-General's Office and the Zimbabwe Electoral
Commission. It is reported some areas identified as opposition strongholds
were not serviced. The authorities are also accused of using food as a
political tool and forcing street vendors to register in constituencies
other than their own.
David Chimhini, director of the Civic Education Trust (ZIMCET), said they
received "disturbing" reports from some constituencies. He pointed to Harare
South as an example, saying people there were allocated new housing stands
and were then told they had to register using the new stand's address. But
these were people who were already registered under their current addresses
Chimhini said the exercise is reported to have registered 45,000 people as
of last week. That number is the equivalent of one constituency. Chimhini
questioned the extent of the coverage by government, saying the exercise
could not have been successful. He said: "I can safely say the voters roll
will not be representative of Zimbabwe's voting population."
The Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN), which was monitoring the
registration exercise, report that they visited the suburb of Hatcliffe,
Harare North, and found that people from outside the constituency were being
registered there because they had been allocated stands at a housing project
that does not exist. Some were teachers who are resident in places as far
away as Gokwe.
ZESN found them in possession of letters from a housing cooperative named
Enerst Kadungure Housing Co-op, which they used as proof of residence. It
turned each voter given a stand was ordered to provide 5 witnesses who were
also registered at the same stand. This means 6 people were being registered
using the same non-existent stand.
One of opposition strongholds that reported that no registration teams had
been in the area was Masvingo urban. ZESN noted that the mobile teams only
covered areas on the outskirts of the city. Their report said the closest to
the urban areas was Chikarudzo Business Centre, 20 kilometres away. Masvingo
residents told ZESN that officers at the Registrar General's office advised
them the registration exercise currently taking place "is for rural areas."
Another registration scam uncovered was in Mbare high-density suburb of
Harare. It was discovered vendors at Mbare Musika market who live elsewhere
had been forced to register there by youth militia, war veterans and
soldiers. One report said ZANU-PF officials had provided vendors with proof
of residency in Mbare.
Opposition parties have insisted they will not take part in the elections if
the playing field is not level and if there are no wholesale constitutional
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
By Tererai Karimakwenda
17 August, 2007
An injured victim of the stampede that developed on Wednesday when a huge
crowd queued for sugar in Bulawayo is reported to have died in hospital. No
name has been provided, but the police official attending to the case told
our Bulawayo contact Zenzele that the man had sustained head injuries and
broken both legs when a crowd forced its way into a Entumbane Shopping
Complex to buy some sugar that had been delivered last week. As we reported,
a 35year old security guard died on the spot and a 15year old injured
schoolboy died later at Mpilo Central Hospital. The death Thursday brings to
3 the number of fatalities from this tragic incident.
It has been revealed that the brick wall that was knocked over by the
desperate shoppers was not reinforced. A police official involved in the
case told Zenzele that the bricks were simply cemented, and they fell apart
from the pressure of the surging crowd. Zenzele said another person is still
in hospital with serious injuries.
Questions have been raised as to why the sugar that was delivered last week
was not sold until this Wednesday. By the time it went on sale a queue had
formed that was so long the Zimbabwe Republic Police could not cope with the
numbers. According to Zenzele, military police had to be called in to
disperse the crowd.
He said the owner of the OK Supermarket where the incident occurred might be
investigated not only for the sugar incident, but for some bags of rice that
were found in the shop's office as well. Many businesses have had empty
shelves for weeks now after the government initiated price controls that led
to panic buying, hoarding and looting by officials.
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
UN Integrated Regional Information Networks
17 August 2007
Posted to the web 17 August 2007
Malnutrition is accelerating among Zimbabwe's children, their access to
healthcare is declining, and one in 10 in the capital, Harare, is suffering
from kwashiorkor, a condition caused by an acute lack of protein, according
to new reports released by the government.
The 2005/06 Zimbabwe Demographic and Health Survey (ZDHS), compiled with the
assistance of the Central Statistical Office (CSO), found that 29 percent of
children under five were stunted, a condition in which a child is shorter
than the average for his or her age because of the cumulative effects of
chronic malnourishment. The previous ZDHS survey, in 1999, found that 27
percent of children under five years old were stunted.
Thirty-one percent of stunted children are found in rural areas, while 24
percent live in urban areas
"Thirty-one percent of stunted children are found in rural areas, while 24
percent live in urban areas," the report said. "At the provincial level,
more than one-third of the children in Mashonaland Central and Manicaland
are stunted, with the former recording an increase of 38 percent."
The survey, compiled from interviews and the investigation of 9,285
households, found that in other provinces, stunted growth among children
reached 27 percent in Mashonaland West, 29 percent in Masvingo and 35
Low body weight, which determines whether a child is underweight for his or
her age and can also indicate malnutrition, has also risen. According to the
survey, 17 percent of children nationwide were underweight, compared to 13
percent in 1999.
In Bulawayo, Zimbabwe's second city, and Harare, as well as Mashonaland
Central, Mashonaland East, Midlands and Masvingo provinces, the incidence of
underweight among children increased by at least 28 percent, the report
Wasting - in which a child is considered too thin for his or her age due to
acute or recent malnourishment - stood at 6 percent nationwide, and was
unchanged since the 1999 survey.
In a provincial breakdown, Mashonaland Central recorded a 6 percent
incidence of wasting among children, in line with the national average, but
in Mashonaland East it climbed to 11 percent, in Mashonaland West to 9
percent and in Masvingo to 7 percent.
There were increased levels of wasting in Manicaland (4 percent),
Matabeleland South (6 percent) and Bulawayo (1 percent), while the condition
among children in Matabeleland North (6 percent) and Harare (4 percent)
The report was sponsored by the US Agency for International Development
(USAID), with technical support from the health ministry, the Zimbabwe
National Family Planning Council, USAID, the UN Development Programme,
United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF), the UK Department for International
Development and the National Microbiology Reference Laboratory.
Kwashiorkor affects one in 10 children
A recent report by the Harare City Council's health department showed
malnutrition was on the rise in the capital, with 10 percent of children
suffering from kwashiorkor in 2006. Case numbers were particularly high in
the poor, populous suburbs of Dzivaresekwa, Kuwadzana, Mabvuku and Mbare.
Acute under-nutrition or wasting ... increased during 2006, compared to the
previous year. The number of kwashiokor cases increased by 43.7 percent
"Acute under-nutrition or wasting ... increased during 2006, compared to the
previous year. The number of kwashiorkor cases increased by 43.7 percent,"
the report said. "The findings may be due to the harsh economic situation
being felt throughout the country by the majority of Zimbabweans."
Of the cases of malnourishment reported among minors at Harare's public
clinics, 91 percent occurred among children younger than five years, and 9
percent among those aged 5 to 15.
In June 2007, UNICEF's representative in Zimbabwe, Festo Kavishe, said the
organisation was "deeply concerned" about the negative impact of the
"Every day in Zimbabwe the basic elements required for a healthy and happy
childhood - affordable education, three meals per day, clothing and
shelter - are being pushed out of reach for people," Kavishe said.
Since 2000, when President Robert Mugabe launched his fast-track land-reform
programme, followed by consecutive years of poor rains, the country has been
Inflation has topped 13,000 percent, according to independent analysts; the
economy has contracted by about a third, unemployment levels are at 80
percent and shortages of basic commodities, fuel, water and electricity have
The UN World Food Programme is currently feeding about 1.1 million
Zimbabweans - including nutritional support for malnourished children and
orphans via school feeding schemes. It estimates that more than a quarter of
the population will require emergency food aid early next year.
The Famine Early Warning System Network (FEWS NET), in its August update on
Zimbabwe's food security, blamed in part the ZANU-PF government's price
control clampdown, which forced businesses to cut the prices of commodities
by 50 percent, fuelling food shortages.
"Recent attempts by the government to arrest the rampant increases of basic
commodity prices by introducing price controls only exacerbated the already
out-of-reach cost of basic necessities," FEWS NET said.
"Quickly, commodities affected by price controls became unavailable in
markets, either because they had immediately sold out at controlled prices,
or simply became uneconomical to sell at the set prices." As a result, "the
food access of poor households continues to diminish at an alarming rate,
especially in urban areas."
The winter wheat harvest, which relies mainly on electrically powered
irrigation, was ruined by numerous power outages; food shortages, already
serious, are expected to become more severe.
Food short for employed and unemployed
Esther Shereni, 28, of Hopley Farm, a settlement established in 2005 for
Harare residents displaced by Operation Murambatsvina, a government campaign
that demolished informal housing and business stalls, leaving about 700,000
people without shelter or income, is one parent among many unable to provide
enough food for their children.
"Before Operation Murambatsvina, I ran a tuckshop in Glen Norah [township in
Harare], in which I also slept, but when it was razed down I became
homeless," said Shereni, a single mother who survives by selling flowers to
mourners at a graveyard.
She was pregnant at the time, and "because I no longer had a steady source
of income, I failed to feed myself adequately and when the child was born,
she was underweight and my inability to feed her has continued to this day
and she is always falling sick," she told IRIN.
Her two-year-old daughter has an extended belly, an unusually big head and
thin limbs - a clear indication of malnutrition. Sherini said it was always
a struggle to get the medicines her child needed; the public clinics rarely
had any, and she could not afford to buy from private pharmacies.
My dream was to have a bouncing, healthy baby, for that is is what every
mother looks forward to but, because of poverty, that has not been possible.
I just pray that my little daughter will not die
Shereni's home is a shack made of plastic sheeting, she fetches water from a
borehole that is used by thousands of other people, and the settlement has
no sanitation or electricity.
"My dream was to have a bouncing, healthy baby, for that is what every
mother looks forward to but, because of poverty, that has not been possible.
I just pray that my little daughter will not die," she said.
Having a job is no guarantee that the children will be adequately fed.
Samukheliso Sigodo, 30, a personal secretary at a Harare consultancy, cannot
feed her six-month-old baby exclusively on breast milk because of work
commitments, and leaves the child with a caregiver. "That means I have to
give the child formula milk and porridge, but the tragedy is that you cannot
get these from the shops," she told IRIN.
"While there has always been scarcity, and I have had to rely on traders who
buy it from South Africa, the situation is now worse because the shops have
completely run out of the products and the informal market has also dried
[ This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations ]
Aug 17 2007 05:36 PM
Finance24 / Economy
Harare - Zimbabwe will soon launch a new economic revival plan aimed at
ending the troubled country's years of economic meltdown.
A new economic blueprint, known as the Zimbabwe Economic Development
Strategy, will be launched next Wednesday, according to government officials
The launch of the blueprint was scheduled for Thursday but was inexplicably
postponed due to - what some believe ? is the ongoing Southern African
Development Committee (SADC) in Zambia.
This comes a year after yet another economic plan, the National Economic
Development Programme (NEDPP), embarrassingly failed to yield any positive
Insiders say Mugabe could have accessed a US$2bn loan from Libya for the
turnaround of the economy and might be using the loan as a basis for the new
Mugabe plans to step down
Mugabe is said to be planning to step down when Zimbabwe's economy
stabilises. Once the economy is stable Mugabe will seek a dignified exit
from the helm after 26 years.
The US$2bn will guarantee key imports such as energy, particularly fuel and
electricity, among other key requirements Zimbabwe is grappling with.
The troubled southern African nation is facing an acute shortage of foreign
currency exacerbated by a negative Balance of Payments Position (BOP) after
the International Monetary Fund (IMF) withdrew such support when Mugabe
refused to play by their rules.
Below are some of the salient features of the new economic plan according to
a leaked document published in an independent newspaper a few days ago as
the 13-point plan.
a.. Mobilise a specific amount of foreign currency to stabilise the exchange
rate and ensure sufficient importation of food, fuel and inputs to
agriculture and industry;
b.. Create a primary budget surplus (i.e. surplus before interest
c.. Put in place a credible, transparent pricing mechanism that ensures both
business viability and affordability for consumers for controlled and
monitored products through the framework from the social contract;
d.. Remove all pricing misalignments including those for foreign currency;
e.. Finalise the land issue and investment laws so as to create a climate
conducive for investment;
f.. Finalise the issue of security of tenure in agriculture so as to
increase agricultural output thereby stimulating production and economic
g.. Rehabilitate key infrastructure such as water, roads, power and coal;
h.. Mobilise/launch national housing initiative to clear backlog in housing
and create employment;
i.. Stem exodus of skills by putting in place appropriate legislative and
j.. Reform and restructure public enterprises; and
k.. Once the internal package of measures achieves traction, leverage this
to seek external balance of payment support on favourable terms.
A Herculean effort needed
But President Robert Mugabe's critics say turning around the country's
economy will be a Herculean task given its apparent lack of political will.
Others believe that this could be Mugabe's attempt to win the hearts of the
electorate ahead of March presidential elections.
A number of economic development plans have been launched over the years but
have achieved little to nothing.
If anything, the economy has sunk deeper into recession after years of
ruinous economic policies.
The IMF estimates that Zimbabwe's gross domestic product has shrunk by over
60% in the last seven years and has predicted that the economy will shrink
further this year.
The country has the highest inflation rate in the world - believed to be
above 4 500% in April - while over a third of the country's population is
facing starvation owing to recurrent droughts and a disastrous land reform
: 17 August 2007
The articles selected for Issue 4 of Zimbabwe Election Watch confirm the climate of organised violence, torture and intimidation. They also demonstrate massive irregularities in the voter registration exercise.
In an extract from the latest Zimbabwe Human Rights Forum report, the group recorded an escalation in the number of cases of abuse by state agents: 373 in May compared to 318 the previous month. They include torture and the curtailing of freedom of expression. The government’s ongoing crackdown on activists from the National Constitutional Assembly and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change is of grave concern.
Food continues to be used as a weapon. It was revealed this week that the Joint Operations Command was enforcing a deliberate and systematic ploy of using food to ensure President Mugabe and his Zanu PF party retain power.
With respect to voter registration, it was reported that hundreds of thousands of Zimbabweans could have failed to register their names with the mobile voter registration teams after officials avoided certain areas associated with opposition supporters.
A residential stands-for-votes scam was uncovered in Hatfield, Harare North constituency, where people were being registered in a constituency they did not belong to because they had been allocated stands at a non-existent housing project.
Street vendors at Harare's Mbare Musika market confirmed they were forced to register as voters in this opposition stronghold by youth militia, war veterans and troops, despite the fact that they resided elsewhere.
Although the scale of violence appears to have been toned down in advance of this week's SADC Summit in Lusaka, 16 activists from Women and Men of Zimbabwe Arise were severely beaten in police custody after taking part in netball and soccer games at a stadium in Masvingo. National University of Science and Technology students' union president Clever Bere was arrested and tortured in Bulawayo.
Operations Command - a think tank of top security officials - is enforcing a
deliberate and systematic ploy of using food to ensure President Robert Mugabe
and his Zanu PF party retains power.
Millions of people are going hungry not ... because of poor rains but as a direct result of policies ... denying food to opposition supporters and enriching its loyalists.
An elaborate plan hatched by the JOC to ban food imports, which has been reversed after being shamelessly exposed, forms part of this broad plan.
Top security officials told The Zimbabwean that control of the Grain Marketing Board (GMB), Zimbabwe's state-owned monopoly supplier of commercial maize, has been passed to one of Mugabe's most loyal henchmen, Air Marshal Perence Shiri, an alleged war criminal.
Shiri, who sits in the JOC together with other generals, two weeks ago appointed a new board at the GMB to oversee the elaborate strategy.
.. sources alleged Shiri's mission was to spend a £17 million loan provided by Libya, buying just enough maize to stave off food riots, which would then be supplied through the GMB.
The organisation ... has been selling desperately short maize only to supporters of the ruling Zanu PF party. Backers of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change went hungry.
Worse still was the (planned) Food For Work programme. Thousands of opposition supporters would provide 15 days' labour only to be told at the end there was no GMB food for them...
There is also evidence that the Zimbabwean government, through the JOC, is deliberately blocking the work of international aid groups and keeping the flow of aid down to a trickle... Last month an aid consignment was seized in Masvingo.
"What we are seeing is nothing but humanitarian torture," an aid worker said. "It takes three months to die of starvation and this is a torture every bit as bad as beating someone with barbed wire or hanging them from
Identified perpetrators: Air Marshal Perence Shiri
Source: Zimbabwean, The (ZW)
Link to source: http://thezimbabwean.co.uk/viewinfo.cfm?linkcategoryid=3&linkid=8&id=5700
SADC standards breached
apathy expected due to proposed creation of new constituencies
Source Date: 11-08-2007
Zimbabweans will be disenfranchised after the delimitation exercise which seeks
to introduce 80 more new constituencies in next year’s general and presidential
elections leading to massive voter apathy, analysts have said.
They said voters will have to skip from one constituency to another after the Delimitation Commission increases the number of contested constituencies to 200 up from 120 as is being proposed in the gazetted Constitutional Amendment (no.18) bill, which is soon to be tabled in Parliament.
Political analyst and University of Zimbabwe lecturer Professor Eldred Masunungure said given the limited time left before the elections, the only logical thing to do was to postpone the elections.
“There is going to be an artificial voter apathy as most people are going to be disenfranchised after the delimitation of constituencies. Most people would not be able to check their new constituencies and in the end they get disillusioned and frustrated. A sizeable number of eligible voters are going to be turned away after turning up in wrong constituencies,” said Masunungure.
He said the Zimbabwe Election Commission (ZEC) has not done enough about publicizing their activities.
“ZEC is being negligent. It’s not doing its constitutional job. We now have less than six months before the local council elections are held and I believe more time should have been devoted to the voter registration process since the delimitation of constituencies is primarily based on the number of registered voters," said Masunungure.
Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) chairperson Noel Kututwa said the organisation has since written to ZEC calling for the extension of the mobile voter registration exercise.
The Registrar General’s office is continuing to register voters until 17 August.
Source: Zimbabwean, The (ZW)
Link to source: http://www.thezimbabwean.co.uk/viewinfo.cfm?id=5649
SADC standards breached
Massive irregularities in voter registration exercise
Source Date: 08-08-2007
reports that hundreds of thousands of Zimbabweans could have failed to register
their names with the mobile voter registration teams after officials avoided
certain areas associated with opposition supporters.
MDC legislator Editor Matamisa, who first raised the issue of the irregularities with her party, claimed ... that the mobile registration teams did not ... visit her constituency, which has close to 10 000 residents who want be added to the voters' roll.
Matamisa, the Kadoma central legislator, warned that widespread inefficiencies and fraud are already pointing to massive rigging of the poll by Zanu PF. She said she was shocked to learn that many government officials were unaware of the current registration exercise.
"... There are no posters in the town but what scares us is that Zanu councillors have been bragging to me that most of their supporters have been registered. So the question is where did these people register?" asked Matamisa.
The outspoken MP said instead of guaranteeing citizens' basic rights to register freely, the government and electoral officials were already actively colluding in the rigging of the presidential and parliamentary polls...
The Zimbabwe Election Support Network, like all pro-democracy groups in the country, has proposed that the exercise be extended to at least four months and has called for more public awareness on the on going exercise. The normal voter registration exercise, as opposed to mobile registration, has been taking place at the same time.
Source: SW Radio Africa (ZW)
Link to source: http://www.swradioafrica.com/news080807/voters080807.htm
SADC standards breached
Residential stands-for-votes scam uncovered
Source Date: 12-08-2007
Election Support Network (ZESN) continued with voter registration observation.
Visits were made to Hatcliffe, Harare North constituency where the team (found that) people were using letters from a housing co-operative, Enerst Kadungure Housing Co-op, as proof of residence.
This means that people are being registered in a constituency where they do not belong simply because they have been allocated stands at a non-existent housing project.
Those who have been offered the stands and the ‘proof of residence’ by this housing co-operative are ordered to provide five witnesses who are subsequently also given ‘proof of residence’ against the same stand number.
They are also advised to register as voters in the constituency. Thus at least six people per stand are being registered ... against these stands.
Teachers who are resident in places as far away as Gokwe have ‘benefited’ from this co-operative and are now registered to vote in Hatcliffe constituency.
ZESN has also noted that there haven’t been any mobile registration teams for Masvingo urban. All the centres covered by the mobile teams are outside the city with the closest being Chikarudzo Business Centre which is more than 20 kilometres away.
ZESN has been inundated by calls from residents of Masvingo who feel disadvantaged by the absence of the mobile registration facility. They said efforts to get assistance from the Registrar General’s office in the city had been futile as the officers ... allegedly told them the registration exercise currently taking place “is for rural areas."
Source: Zimbabwean, The (ZW)
Link to source: http://www.thezimbabwean.co.uk/viewinfo.cfm?id=5641
SADC standards breached
voter registration ongoing in MDC controlled ward
Source Date: 06-08-2007
doing business in the bustling Mbare Musika market on the outskirts of Harare
say they have been forced to register as voters in the opposition stronghold by
youth militia, war veterans and troops though they reside in other
Vendors from other suburbs such as Sunningdale, Kuwadzana and Mufakose said the alleged forced voter registration drive started early last week...
One vendor at Mbare Musika, who is a resident of Sunningdale, speaking on condition that she not be named, (said) ZANU-PF officials had been providing such vendors with documents indicating residency in Mbare.
Source: VOANews (USA)
Link to source: http://www.voanews.com/english/Africa/2007-08-06-voa64.cfm
SADC standards breached
activists beaten, released but two more arrested
Source Date: 09-08-2007
the Women and Men of Zimbabwe Arise, who had been arrested by state security
agents earlier in the month while playing netball and soccer at Macheke Stadium
in Masvingo, were finally released this week.
WOZA co-ordinator Jenni Williams said the 16 victims, who had spent two cold nights in police cells, had been badly beaten.... Two members of their support team, who were going to take food to those in custody, were also subsequently arrested and were in police custody....
Source: SW Radio Africa (ZW)
Link to source: http://www.swradioafrica.com/news090807/woza090807.htm
SADC standards breached
Student leader finally released; badly tortured
Source Date: 10-08-2007
University of Science and Technology (NUST) students' union president, Clever
Bere,... who was arrested on 6 August in Bulawayo, was dragged in handcuffs all
the way to Bulawayo Central Police Station and detained...
NUST said that charges related to Clever's arrest were unclear and highly political. They said he was verbally accused of being aligned to the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)... and that the torture Clever went through was clearly politically manifested.
Identified victims: National University of Science and Technology (NUST) Students' Union president, Clever Bere
Source: Zimbabwean, The (ZW)
Link to source: http://www.thezimbabwean.co.uk/viewinfo.cfm?id=5640&linkid=1&linkcategoryid=36&siteid=1
SADC standards breached
Zimbabwean civic groups stress the need for a new, democratic constitution
civic groups, including the Zimbabwe Election Support Network, the National
Constitutional Assembly, Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, the Crisis in
Zimbabwe Coalition and Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) met officials from the
South African government in Pretoria this week to offer their input into ongoing
talks to resolve Zimbabwe's seven-year old political crisis.
In a communiqué issued after the meeting, the civic groups said any attempts to resolve the Zimbabwe crisis should be premised on the penning and adoption of a new, democratic constitution for the country…
President Robert Mugabe has already rejected opposition demands for a new constitution saying his government will forge ahead with plans to unilaterally amend the constitution in Parliament where Zanu PF has a majority. …
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LISBON, Aug 17 (AFP)
Portugal will not ban Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe from a EU-Africa
summit in Lisbon in December, despite European Union sanctions against him,
a senior Portuguese official said Friday.
Deputy Foreign Minister Joao Gomes Cravinho, speaking from a southern
African summit in Zambia, told Portugal's LUSA news agency that Lisbon "has
no intention of discriminating" against Zimbabwe.
"It is not up to Portugal, current head of the EU, to invite some people
rather than others," he said.
Mugabe, in power since 1980, and more than 100 people closely linked to his
regime were slapped with a travel ban and sanctions by the West after
allegations that he rigged his re-election in 2002.
The 83-year-old is officially barred from travelling to the 27 nations in
the EU, and Britain in particular is keen on maintaining the ban.
The issue has hampered efforts to organise a second summit between the
European Union and African states. The first was held in Cairo in 2000.
The conference planned for December "is not a summit on Zimbabwe" but is
aimed at "forging a new relationship" between the two continents, Cravinho
Cravinho said that he had not spoken with Mugabe in Lusaka. "We have no
particular subject to discuss with him," he said.
Portugal's Foreign Minister Luis Amado said in June that Mugabe would not be
welcome at the summit.
The octogenarian president has been slammed for leading the once-model
economy into ruin and trampling on democracy and human rights. The southern
African nation currently has the world's highest inflation rate.
South Africa's deputy foreign minister Aziz Pahad said last month that
Africa would not allow Europe to exclude Mugabe from the summit.
BY TRUST MATSILELE
LUSAKA: Zimbabwe 's opposition Movement for Democratic Change, Political
Liaison Officer, Nqobizitha Mlilo has gone missing and is believed to have
been abducted in the conference centre where the SADC summit was taking
MDC vice President Thokozani Khupe has confirmed,
"We can only attribute Mlilo's disappearing to the work of Central
Intelligence Organisation agents whose heavy presence is being felt all
over," confirmed Khupe.
Mlilo's arrests came a few hours after they addressed a media conference
attending by literally hundreds of journalists in Zambia .
Meanwhile the MDC is appealing to all concerned with human rights abuses and
who value life to help with the knowledge of Mlilo's whereabouts as they
fear if he is not located promptly his life might be in danger.
The Zimbabwean government's notorious CIO operative in Zambia ,Joseph Mwale,
who in 2002 killed two MDC supporters in Bikita, was leading a strong
contingent of CIO hunting for Zimbabweans who had graced the SADC summit to
demonstrate against human rights violations in the country.
The Zambian authority when reached for comment said those arrested where in
police custody as they had breached the country's laws.
"All those who have been arrested for breaching our laws are under police
protection as they still have to answer for their activities. If there are
any who have been picked up by CIOs that's news to us and we stand to
investigate such," said a senior police officer.
However Human Rights Lawyers and MDC officials are still failing to locate
the whereabouts of Mlilo.
Mail and Guardian
17 August 2007 10:59
As South African President Thabo Mbeki prepared to present his
progress report on the mediation process in Zimbabwe to regional leaders
gathered at this week's Southern African Development Community summit,
Zimbabwean Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa was insisting that there was
no need for political reform in Zimbabwe.
In an interview with the media, Chinamasa, one of Zanu-PF's
negotiators at the Pretoria talks, said: "Political reform is not necessary
in my country because we are a democracy like any other democracy in the
A day before he made this statement, 65 anti-government
activists who had travelled to Zambia to protest on the sidelines of the
summit had been refused entry by the Zambian government.
This week Zambia is taking over the chair of the SADC. Other key
areas on the agenda at the summit were the creation of a regional standby
force and further integration of the 14-member bloc.
Speaking about Zambia's role in regional efforts to end the
crisis in Zimbabwe, Zambia's information minister Mike Mulongoti told news
agencies that "Zambia cannot impose its will on Zimbabwe, just as Zimbabwe
cannot impose its will on Zambia. But we can quietly whisper to each other
This is a big climbdown from when Zambian President Levy
Mwanawasa compared Zimbabwe with a sinking Titanic following the assaults on
Morgan Tsvangirai and other opposition leaders by security forces in March.
Mbeki, who was appointed to lead the regional mediation effort
at an extraordinary SADC summit in March, presented his report amid concerns
in Zimbabwe that the Pretoria-led effort should be broadened to include
other countries in the region.
Thokozani Khupe, deputy president of the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change, said: "The issues on Zimbabwe are so critical that they
cannot be put exclusively on the shoulders of President [Thabo] Mbeki. We
have confidence in President Mbeki, but we want SADC to involve more than
Jonathan Moyo, a former Mugabe minister who is now an
independent MP and political analyst, concurred: "The mediation should be
broadened to include other players in the region so that Zanu-PF can't
wriggle out of the process by saying 'we can't have our constitution decided
"You can't say the mediation is a SADC process when it is
entirely led and composed by negotiators from one country," he said, adding,
"Why can't they meet in Gaborone?"
Asked about the likely outcome of the Lusaka summit, Moyo said:
"There are no regional summits that come up with something new."
Moyo said, since the extraordinary session of March 29, the
process has been notable more for its setbacks than its achievements,
pointing to the divided opposition and the incidents of no-shows by Zanu-PF
negotiators. He said Zanu-PF still does not feel it needs to negotiate, as
it is cushioned by a two-thirds majority in Parliament, which allows it to
amend the constitution.
However, a source close to the MDC-Zanu-PF talks said that
Zimbabweans and the region should be optimistic about the process. "We
should wait for the process to run its course before we dismiss it," he
said, expressing confidence that the talks would deliver a "give-and-take
constitution" that is acceptable to all the parties involved in the
The SADC heads of state met as a document was circulating in the
media and in diplomatic circles that painted a fairly rosy picture of the
talks and rehashed Mugabe's well-known refrain that the British government
is to blame for Zimbabwe's troubles. The South African government denied
knowledge of the document, adding "If it exists, it was not authored by the
Analysts the Mail & Guardian spoke to wondered if the summit
would deliver much, especially in light of the fact that Mugabe received a
standing ovation at the packed opening ceremony attended by ministers and
Michael Sata, the leader of the Zambian opposition and a fan of
the Mugabe government, dismissed the MDC as a "harem of Western agents" who
have "descended upon Lusaka during the current SADC summit, in their
numbers, to earn breadcrumbs by selling out on their birthright, against
Zimbabwe's national interests".
Zambia's founding president Kenneth Kaunda has weighed in on the
debate using similar arguments. In a comment piece for the BBC he said
Zimbabwe's negative global image is perpetrated by people "who may not
understand what Robert Gabriel Mugabe and his fellow freedom fighters have
"Of course, there are some things President Mugabe and his
colleagues have done which I totally disagree with -- for example, the
police beating of Morgan Tsvangirai," he said.
Tomaz Salomao, executive secretary of SADC, told a news
conference that the group had a range of options to deal with the crisis,
including a "hard line", "quiet diplomacy" or a "different" method.
Eldred Masungunure, a political scientist at the University of
Zimbabwe, said that most people in Zimbabwe had "exhausted their sense of
optimism about the process". He did not expect the summit to come up with
"something spectacular", arguing that the meeting will likely "come up with
more of the same".
Masungunure said some of the leaders "may garner sufficient
courage to chastise Mugabe in private", but the summit won't bring about the
change that is needed in Zimbabwe. He said the sorry state of affairs is not
helped much by the fact that the MDC's momentum has dissipated because of