Thursday 23 August 2007
By Thulani Munda
HARARE - President Robert Mugabe's government on Wednesday postponed for the
second time the launch of a new economic blueprint that was expected to
replace the National Economic Development Priority Programme (NEDPP) that
was terminated last month.
The new economic blueprint - the Zimbabwe Economic Development Strategy
(ZEDS) - was initially penciled for launch by Economic Development Minister
Sylvester Nguni last week.
The launch was postponed to yesterday when it was again deferred to another
date under unclear circumstances.
A spokesman in Nguni's ministry told an army of journalists who had been
invited to witness the event in Harare yesterday that the government had
postponed the programme.
He did not give reasons.
ZEDS is expected to spearhead the country's economic revival after nearly a
decade of recession triggered by the violent removal of former white farmers
from their properties which led to foreign currency shortages and fuel and
power supply bottlenecks.
The country's Gross Domestic Product is estimated to have contracted by
between 30 percent and 40 percent since 2000 and the central bank this week
said inflation hit over 7 600 percent in July, the highest in the world.
"It (the launch) has been postponed until further notice," the ministry
Although it was not possible to establish the reason behind the postponement
of the launch, sources say the Harare authorities are studying the
recommendations of a Southern African Development Community (SADC) team that
was tasked by the regional economic bloc to look into Zimbabwe's deepening
The team presented its report at the SADC head of state summit in Zambia
last week, but stressed that the country's economic problems were a direct
result of economic sanctions imposed by the United Kingdom and the US after
a diplomatic standoff over Harare's controversial land reforms.
The SADC team recommended that the region's finance minister should come up
with an economic package to rescue the country's collapsing economy.
The Zimbabwe government is looking into the recommendations and will only
come up with a new economic blueprint after synchronising their programme
with that of SADC, a government source said yesterday.
Nguni could not be reached for comment yesterday.
Over the past 17 years Zimbabwe has come up with no less than seven economic
These include the International Monetary Fund-sanctioned Economic Structural
Adjustment Programme in 1990, Vision 2020, Zimbabwe Programme For Economic
and Social Transformation in 1998, the Millennium Economic Recovery Plan in
2001, the National Economic Recovery Plan of 2003 and the 10-Point Plan.
Launched with great excitement in April 2006, the NEDPP was the latest
blueprint touted by government as the panacea to the country's economic
At the time of the NEDPP launch the government claimed that there was
strong private sector participation in the programme, then seen as the
answer to the problems of hyperinflation, unstable currency and low foreign
It promised to turn around the economy within six months by increasing
productivity, removing price distortions and reducing government
The ZEDS is a medium-term economic blueprint modeled along the defunct
Vision 2020. - ZimOnline
Thursday 23 August 2007
HARARE - This is the second and final part of Luke Tamborinyoka's
experiences in a Zimbabwean jail. Tamborinyoka, together with 40 other MDC
activists, were arrested last March for allegedly petrol bombing state
institutions last March. He was finally released after spending 71 days in
remand prison. This is his story.
HARARE - Faced with the prospect of releasing us on the basis of the court
order, a grim-faced officer called the seven of us into a room and read the
charges against us.
We were being charged with carrying out a spate of petrol-bombings in Harare
and other cities. We were charged under section 24 of the Criminal Law
(Reform) Codification Act and were specifically being accused of "resisting
the government and seeking to remove the government through acts of
sabotage, banditry and terrorism."
I was shocked. Me, a terrorist bomber?
The real terrorists I knew were the State security agents who had pumped six
bullets into the groin of opposition activist Patrick Kombayi way back in
Even though the culprits, Kizito Chivamba and Elias Kanengoni, were
convicted and sentenced to seven years in prison, Mugabe had pardoned them.
The real terror bombers I knew were those who had blown The Daily News'
printing press to smithereens in the early hours of 27 January 2001. They
have never been arrested.
The terror bombers I knew were those who had petrol-bombed The Daily News'
offices in Harare and Bulawayo in 2001.
The real terrorists were those who in the 1980s directed and carried out the
killing of 20 000 innocent civilians in the Midlands and Matabeleland
provinces, all in the name of quelling an armed insurrection in the two
provinces against the government.
The real terrorists were those who had just murdered an MDC activist, Gift
Tandare, in cold blood in Harare's Highfield suburb on 11 March 2007.
The real terrorists were ruling ZANU PF party activist Tom Kainos
Kitsiyatota Zimunya and state agent Joseph Mwale, who petrol-bombed and
killed MDC activists Talent Mabika and Tichaona Chiminya in broad daylight
on April 26, 2000 at Murambinda service centre in rural Buhera district.
Some of these real terrorists have never been arrested while in the case of
Mwale, he remains an employee of the state despite a High Court order that
he be apprehended and prosecuted for the murder of Mabika and Chiminya.
In any case, the real terrorism was the one that had just been meted out on
us at the Law and Order section offices where these strange charges had been
It is the most misnamed office where neither law nor order prevailed.
We were taken to court under heavy security. This drama, of course, was
meant for the state media.
The state-controlled Herald newspaper went on to gleefully report the arrest
of the MDC terror-bombers, including the "journalist-cum-activist" Luke
(When the State case eventually collapsed like a deck of cards three months
later, the same State media thought it was not a story worth reporting - so
much for professional journalism).
There was no magistrate when we arrived. We were almost collapsing due to
hunger and the injuries sustained after three days of torture.
Someone must have summoned ambulances to the Magistrates Court but the
police ordered that we not be allowed access to medical attention.
One of my colleagues, Shame Wakatama, collapsed and we all thought he had
died. It was then that the police panicked and allowed the ambulance crew to
drive us to Harare's Avenues clinic.
The court later convened at the clinic and magistrate Gloria Takundwa
remanded us in hospital under prison guard until the following Monday. We
were put on intravenous tubes by hospital staff eager to nourish and boost
our wasted bodies.
But the worst was yet to come!
I am not ordinarily given to fear. But when about 10 gun-totting agents of
the state's spy Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) backed by prison
officers burst into the clinic at around midnight and demanded to take "our
people", I became jelly-kneed.
They scared the hell out of an adamant sister-in-charge, violently plucked
out our intravenous tubes and frog-marched us via the emergency exit to a
The sight of AK rifles in the van was frightening but the thought of driving
in the deathly quiet early morning hours with armed CIO agents to an unknown
destination was enough to almost paraylse one with fear.
The eight of us were later dumped at Harare Remand prison at around 1:30hrs,
breaking the prison's own record of "check-in" time in the process.
My colleagues, Zebediah Juaba and Brighton Matimba who had come out worst
during the torture, were immediately taken to the ill-equipped prison
hospital to await the attention of a government doctor.
The "doctor" was to pitch up at the prison complex after two months and
orally interviewed the 30 of us in about 20 minutes.
The oral interview took place long after my two colleagues had been
discharged to the cells even though they were still in critical condition.
Matibiri and I were allocated cell C6, where I carved out a place for myself
near the corner.
That corner was later to be referred to as the "MDC's Information Corner"
after it emerged it was in the same corner where the late party spokesperson
Learnmore Jongwe met his mysterious death in 2002.
Later, more MDC activists were to join us in Remand Prison and more were to
be detained at the prison hospital where they never saw a doctor.
These include Ian Makone, Paul Madzore, Morgan Komichi, Phillip Katsande and
Life in prison was an ordeal on its own. Remand prison is supposed to be
temporary but some inmates had stayed at the prison for years, seemingly
abandoned by the state which brought them to the jailhouse and by relatives
who no longer come to visit either because they have long died of HIV/AIDS
or they have simply grown tired of the routine trips to the prison.
More than 95 percent of the inmates have no relatives who bring them food
and they depend on the prison meal of a morsel of sadza (thick porridge made
from maize) and cabbage boiled in salted water.
Rations of soap and toilet paper were last seen in the 1980s, we were told
and a colleague, Arthur Mhizha, learnt the hard lesson that in a Zimbabwean
prison, you bathe with one hand while with the other, you hang on to your
prized piece of soap.
The 'MDC team', as we were known, became famous for donating some of its
food to other inmates, including Fungai Murisa, one of the ZANU PF activists
who is facing a murder charge after he and others allegedly murdered an MDC
activist in Makoni East in Manicaland province.
Food is acquired at a premium in prison. It is a one-meal per day affair
served from an aluminium bin. Yes! A bin! And it is only acquired after a
stampede that would leave rugby players green with envy.
Only adventurous inmates such as Reason, one of the most notorious prisoners
in D-class, could afford the rare taste of meat. He was well known for what
became known as the "rat barbecue."
He would "murder" the stray rats that patronized the dirty toilet chamber in
cell C6 and roast them on the overhead globe during the night when prison
officers are snoring the night away.
For the less adventurous, it was one meal of sadza and cabbage, taken every
day at around 2pm before everyone was ordered to retire to bed at around
The cells are another overcrowded affair, with an average of between 45 and
70 prisoners sharing a single cell and battling the night away in the usual
pastime of fighting away the cold and killing lice.
One also learnt to meet with suspects with fascinating and sometimes just
unbelievable stories of how they ended up in jail. One such character was
Takawira Mwanza, a former army officer who was arrested and served four
years for stealing Mugabe's prized bull from his Norton farm.
The bull, which was airlifted from China, turned up at Mwanza's rural home
in Sanyati. Mwanza says that even though he served his sentence for stock
theft at Chikurubi Maximum Prison, Mugabe was not happy that he should be
left to go home.
He says he is currently languishing at Harare Remand prison, waiting for the
day when Mugabe wakes up in a good mood and order the prison officers to
allow him to go home and meet his family.
In the meantime, he has to contend with his two blankets in his beloved
corner in cell C6 at Harare remand prison.
The MDC president, Morgan Tsvangirai, left his own mark at Remand prison. On
Monday, 13 May 2007, he came to visit us and when he proceeded to see Morgan
Komichi in the prison hospital, there was chaos from other sections when
both inmates and prison officers went into a frenzy, shouting "President" as
they stampeded to catch a glimpse of the man who has given Mugabe a
The officer-in-charge of Harare Remand Prison, known as Musonza, was
transferred to Prison Headquarters after the incident.
Tsvangirai was also "banned" from visiting Remand prison lest the officers
and the inmates got into another frenzy!
Moreover, the chants of "President" directed at Tsvangirai in a government
complex made a lot of people uncomfortable!
By mid-April, there were 30 MDC activists in prison, some shot and abducted
from their homes while others were arrested in the streets of Harare to face
the same charges of terrorism.
What kept us going was the inspiring presence of Ian Makone, the simplicity
of Zebedia Juaba, the comforting singing from Paul Madzore and Shame
Wakatama and the gospel teachings of Kenneth Nhemachena.
In June, the State case began to crumble after it emerged that it had
created fictitious witnesses to incriminate us in acts of terrorism.
For our charge, the State consented on 7 June 2007 that it had no evidence
and we were eventually removed from remand.
But another reality struck as I walked out of the prison complex, that in
fact the whole country was just another big prison. Harare Remand was simply
a microcosm of what the whole country has become.
There is no food on the shelves; starvation is stalking the nation and
people can no longer afford to visit each other because of prohibitive
transport costs. Zimbabwe has simply become a big prison with Mugabe as the
Our unwarranted arrest showed that the regime has developed sudden bouts of
panic. Mugabe has every reason to panic. When he came to power after the
crucial election of 1980, he was 56 years old.
Morgan Tsvangirai will be 56 on 10 March next year - a trivial statistical
coincidence but maybe one that could still scare an old tyrant in an
advanced state of panic.
* Luke Tamborinyoka is the technical head of the MDC's information and
publicity department. He was news editor of the banned Daily News and a
former secretary-general of the Zimbabwe Union of Journalists. He is
currently writing a book on his experiences and his stint in prison.
Thursday 23 August 2007
By Regerai Marwezu
MASVINGO - Police in the southern town of Masvingo on Tuesday fought running
battles with informal traders accusing the vendors of returning to sites
they were evicted from under a controversial government clean-up exercise
two years ago.
The police raided informal traders in the poor working class suburbs of
Mucheke, Rujeko and Runyararo and confiscated goods worth millions of
dollars during the operation.
Residents who spoke to ZimOnline on Tuesday said the fresh police crackdown
on vendors was reminiscent of Operation Murambatsvina (Operation Clean-up
Rubbish), a controversial exercise carried out in 2005 that saw the
government demolish illegal shacks in urban areas.
The exercise left at least 700 000 people homeless while another 2.4 million
people were directly affected by the clean-up exercise, according to a
United Nations (UN) report.
Although some informal traders had operating licences issued by Masvingo
council allowing them to sell their wares, the police ignored the licences
arguing that the "papers" were issued in error.
At Mucheke long-distance bus terminus, where most of the vendors sell their
wares, the situation was tense with some vendors vowing to defy the police
ban on their operations.
"This is the only place where we can eke a living. We were given licences by
the council allowing us to sell our wares here but the police are
indiscriminately destroying and confiscating our goods," said Naison Moyo,
one of the informal traders at the bus terminus.
Officer commanding Masvingo district, Chief Superintendent Lancelot Matange
said the operation was the second phase of Operation Murambatsvina after
vendors had returned to their original vending sites.
"It is true that we have launched the second phase of the operation because
we had seen that these people are not respecting government laws.
"We are not going to recognise some of the licences issued by the council
because they are insignificant in that these people are in the open. If the
council wants them to operate it should built proper structures for the
traders," said Matange.
Masvingo executive mayor, Engineer Alois Chaimiti, a senior member of the
main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party, yesterday
dissociated himself from the operation saying his council had never
sanctioned the exercise.
"We never sanctioned the operation and the police are just acting on
political orders from elsewhere," said Chaimiti.
The eviction of the vendors comes hardly a week after the Geneva-based
international relief group, the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre,
warned of fresh evictions in Zimbabwe.
In a report released last week, the IDMC said many victims of Operation
Murambatsvina had returned to urban areas where they continued to live in
"unauthorised" structures raising prospects for fresh evictions.
The IDMC is an international body established by the Norwegian Refugee
Council that monitors conflict-induced internal displacement around the
world. - ZimOnline
Thursday 23 August 2007
By Regerai Marwezu
MASVINGO - More than 50 percent of Zimbabwean workers could lose their jobs
before year-end as companies start counting losses from a controversial
government blitz on prices.
A meeting held in Masvingo on Tuesday attended by the government's Pricing
and Incomes Monitoring Taskforce, the local business community and labour
representatives heard that several companies had started retrenching workers
in response to the unviable operating environment.
A senior Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) official told the meeting
that at least half of the country's labour force will be out of a job by
December as a direct result of the price crackdown.
"About half of the country's entire workforce will be on the streets before
the end of the year," said Misheck Gapare, who chairs the Masvingo chapter
of the ZCTU.
Gapare said more workers will find themselves on the streets as companies
continue to scale down their operations since the hurried introduction of
the price slash exercise.
President Robert Mugabe last June ordered companies to slash the prices of
goods and services by half to contain runaway prices, which had trebled
within a space of one week.
The Masvingo Cattle Producers Association said its members were laying off
workers in order to cut their losses after the government set limits on the
wholesale and retail prices of beef.
"We cannot continue to keep our staff when things are as bad as they are,"
said association chairman, Vitus Hakutangwi.
The ZCTU has warned that it was forging ahead with plans to call mass
protests by workers this month to force the government to address worsening
economic hardships in the country.
The mass protests would be called before the end of August after the union
had briefed its members on the form and nature of the protests.
The move will likely deepen tensions in Zimbabwe which is in the grip of an
unprecedented economic crisis that has manifested itself in rampant
inflation of over 7 200 percent last June, widespread unemployment and
Police officers who attended the meeting said the arrest of business
executives for overcharging, which has so far seen more than 12 000 people
nabbed since June, was meant to prevent riots in a country already sitting
on knife-edge due to political tensions.
"We fear that people will revolt against the government if prices continue
rising," said a senior Masvingo police officer who refused to be named.
The price blitz has triggered an acute shortage of goods after panicky
consumers cleaned shop shelves of basic commodities.
Fearing a backlash from the shortages, Mugabe this week partially lifted the
price freeze allowing prices of some goods and services to go up. -
Thursday 23 August 2007
By Nqobizitha Khumalo
BULAWAYO - Zimbabwe's tax collector is broke and may fail to pay workers
this month unless the parent Ministry of Finance bails it out, ZimOnline
Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA) commissioner-general Gershem Pasi told
workers in a circular dated August 20 to remain patient while negotiations
for funding continued with the Ministry of Finance.
"Due to financial constraints, please be advised that we will not be able to
meet the pay day of 24th of August 2007. Negotiations are still going on
between the Ministry of Finance and ourselves," the chief tax collector told
In the circular referenced August Pay Day, Pasi said he was hoping that
workers would be paid before the end of the month.
"I remain positive that funding will eventually be made available and that
you will be paid by 31 August 2007. I expect all employees to be patient and
continue to be productive," Pasi said in the internal communication.
ZIMRA insiders yesterday blamed corruption and lack of professionalism in
the manner the organisation was being run as chief causes of the financial
They claimed that lack of professionalism was costing the parastatal of
They cited the case of more than 50 managers who had been given early
retirement packages but were recently rehired less than a year after they
"Most of the 50 senior managers that were given early retirement packages
are back in their positions and that is contributing to the huge wage bill
that is now becoming unsustainable," said a worker at the parastatal
speaking on condition of anonymity.
Pasi could not be contacted for a comment.
The news of ZIMRA's financial problems came as tax experts warned that the
tax collector might be forced to refund value added tax (VAT) payments made
by businesses affected the government's directive on prices.
Tax experts said ZIMRA would have to refund millions of dollars to companies
whose prices were slashed to be below cost.
Companies pay VAT to their suppliers and they in turn charge VAT when they
sell their products and are supposed to pay the revenue authority the
difference between the VAT they paid and that which they charged.
Normally the VAT that companies pay should be lower than that which they
charge the end user, but this was reversed under the price blitz because
most companies were forced to charge prices that were below cost.
If a company charges less VAT than that which it paid, it should be
refunded, and this is likely to be the case with most companies whose prices
ZIMRA has been outperforming its revenue collection targets, raking in
$406.7 billion last year instead of the targeted $317.6 billion. It earned
$61.5 billion from value added tax alone, more than a quarter of its total
revenue. - ZimOnline
Thursday 23 August 2007
By Thabani Mlilo and Brendon Tutani
HARARE - Zimbabwe's main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
party on Wednesday called for the extension of the voter registration
exercise describing the exercise that ended last week as a "sham".
At a press conference at the party's Harvest House headquarters in Harare
yesterday, the MDC's elections director, Ian Makone, said the registration
exercise must be extended until a month before the 2008 elections.
Makone said the MDC had already written to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission
(ZEC) to register their dissatisfaction with the registration exercise that
only saw 80 000 new voters being registered.
"The MDC is aware of the overt machinations by the regime to steal the
people's vote through a biased and opaque mobile voter registration that
sought to disenfranchise the young population and the urban voters where the
opposition enjoys majority support," said Makone.
Makone said the opposition party had discovered gross irregularities and
inadequacies in the manner in which the whole exercise was carried out by
the Registrar General Tobaiwa Mudede.
"This was a well calculated ploy not to only to disenfranchise millions of
potential MDC voters but also to have more people registered in rural
Mashonaland provinces so as to pave the way for the creation of new
constituencies in areas ZANU PF considers politically safe," said Makone.
Makone said in Mkoba in Gweru and in Hatfield in the capital Harare, there
was just one mobile unit carrying out voter registration while in Zvimba,
Mugabe's rural home, there were 95 voter registration centres.
The MDC elections chief said the trend was widespread in the Mashonaland
provinces where Mugabe's ruling ZANU PF party enjoys more support.
The MDC, which has posed the greatest threat to Mugabe's 27-year grip on
power, also called for the exercise to be extended to Zimbabweans living in
At least a quarter of Zimbabwe's 12 million population is living outside the
country after fleeing economic hardship and political persecution at home.
The government has banned exiled Zimbabweans from voting in key elections
only allowing the vote to those on foreign missions and special assignments.
Mudede could not be reached for comment on the matter last night. -
Thursday 23 August 2007
By Brendon Tulani
HARARE - The Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum on Wednesday released a dossier
of evidence it said was meant to disprove claims by the police that
opposition parties and civic groups were conniving to violently overthrow
President Mugabe's government.
The Forum said it planned to present the 28-page dossier to South African
President Thabo Mbeki, who was last March appointed by Southern African
Development Community (SADC) leaders to mediate in Zimbabwe's political
The Forum, which is a coalition of 17 of the biggest human rights and
pro-democracy groups in the country, claims the bulk of political events
listed in two recent police reports as "criminal activities" were in fact
genuine political or civic activities held by the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) party and non-governmental organisations.
Forum chairman Noel Kututa told journalists in Harare that the police
reports were "internally contradictory, inherently implausible and
manifestly false in many instances."
The ZRP recently issued two reports "Opposition Forces in Zimbabwe: A Trial
of Violence and Opposition Forces in Zimbabwe: The Naked Truth which were
used by Mugabe to justify a crackdown against the MDC claiming the
opposition party wanted to illegally topple his government.
Police compiled the reports to justify the brutal assault of main opposition
leader Morgan Tsvangirai, and many of his supporters on March 11 when police
broke up a prayer rally in the Harare's Highfield suburb. The assault
received worldwide condemnation.
The Forum says in its dossier that the role of opposition parties in any
democracy was to seek regime change but that the Zimbabwe government had
sought to wrongfully criminalise this valid role of the opposition.
"In Zimbabwe, the state-controlled media has repeatedly accused opposition
of regime change . . . turning the phrase to imply something inherently
criminal," reads part of the Forum's report.
Kututa said the reports by the police claiming the opposition and civic
groups were colluding to overthrow the government had naively revealed the
politicisation of the police and the use of state resources for party
Politically motivated violence and human rights abuses - mostly blamed on
state agents - have become routine in Zimbabwe since the emergence in 1999
of the MDC as the most potent electoral threat to Mugabe and ZANU PF's
stranglehold on power. - ZimOnline
SW Radio Africa Transcript
Broadcast 21st August 2007
Violet Gonda: We continue the discussion from where we left off last week
with two former freedom fighters Margaret Dongo and Wilfred Mhanda. The main
reason of going to war was to reclaim the land, which was in the hands of
the white minority. In this last segment I started by asking Wilfred Mhanda
if land went to the majority of the war veterans who spearheaded the farm
Wilfred Mhanda: We all know if land went to a few war veterans it is a few
war veterans but not the majority of the war veterans. Land did not benefit
the war veterans. It did not benefit the women. We all know where it went.
Margaret Dongo: It went to the chosen few!
Wilfred Mhanda: It went to the elite!
Margaret Dongo: It went to the chosen few!
Wilfred Mhanda: Ya, the political elite. We all know about that. We also
know it's on public record - even the President has said it - a lot of
people have got more than one farm. So if really land had benefited the war
veterans - they are in such a destitute condition. They live in appalling
poverty - the war veterans. You go to the rural areas. If there had been any
genuine land reform surely there would be evidence of decongestion? There is
nothing like that. Land was merely used as a political resource to enable
ZANU PF to hold on to power. We still need genuine land reform that will
benefit the people, that would alleviate poverty, that will also support the
development of our economy.
Margaret Dongo: Violet have a look. The issue of land is very crucial. I
tell you the majority of ex-combatants who have been used to invade the
farms today are being harassed and I don't even think they are comfortable
there. And I think they have become the poorest people. I don't know if they
are doing any farming because the majority them - if you want to ask on the
allocation of tractors, how many of them got those tractors? How many of
them are getting enough support in terms of implements? How many of them are
actually living comfortably. I am telling you the majority of those comrades
who invaded the farms were used as guinea pigs. They were just used as
frontiers. They were used just like in a slavery situation. To be honest
enough lets do an accountability, let's do an inventory to see what went to
And in fact I am not happy because when the land invasions happened I was
outside the country and I could see the majority of the people who were at
the forefront were less than 15 years (old) and some of the people in those
farms are 18 years to 20 years (old). And you ask yourself; 'Oh my God at
what age did they join the struggle?'
It's unfortunate that people abuse former freedom fighters as well and they
use them as frontiers and I want to believe the time will come when the true
liberators will take their place because it's high time the comrades sit
back and take account of whether there are any benefits they are deriving
from the roles that they are playing today. They can't be made as frontiers.
So as the issue of the land is concerned - it's a total failure and the
majority of the people that are in the farms - if somebody is to be honest
enough and take an inventory - you will find that the majority are non
ex-combatants. They are relatives of the so called chefs and some of them
have more than three farms in different names. So as far as I am concerned
comrades have not benefited enough from the land redistribution.
Violet: I understand that even the man who led the violent farm invasions,
Chenjerai Hunzvi, did not even get a farm himself.
Margaret Dongo: Let me tell you, it's not a surprise. Margaret Dongo did
apply for a farm before the invasions in 1990. But I know I have committed
a crime which is not pardoned and I had more than 5/7 applications and I don't
even regret not getting the farm. I don't even regret not getting a farm
myself. I am quite comfortable being in the rural. Actually I feel as if I
am still in the Tribal Trust Lands as I talk today because by virtue of
being a former freedom fighter I thought I could benefit but I don't have to
kneel down. You know you don't want a situation where you make an
application, you start asking for a farm, and the first question is: 'When
are you coming back to ZANU PF?"; as if the land belongs to Zanu PF. Isn't
it we were fighting for us all to benefit?
So why should you have conditions for one to have a farm? This is when you
say to yourself: 'These farms were not distributed fairly.' So at the end of
the day it's an issue that needs to be looked into, as far as I am
concerened the land issue was a trump card that the current president used
to get into power. Just as what happened in America where (President George)
Bush used the Iraq war as a trump card; and so has Britain.
I have no respect for people who use people by using such essential and
important tools that are supposed to benefit the majority of the people.
Violet: And how would you answer those who ask: "How do we get rid of this
despotic regime?" Mr. Mhanda?
Wilfred Mhanda: We are dealing here with a dictatorship, just like the Smith
regime - which was also a dictatorship. You don't fight dictatorship through
the constitution or free and fair elections; it has never worked and I don't
believe it ever will.
We have to grasp reality: there is need for a paradigm shift. What we need
is a national political resistance movement. Resisting the suffering and
oppression of the people. We need to articulate the actual suffering of the
It's good to talk about the rule of law, about the constitution and free and
fair elections. But the people have no electricity, they have no fuel, they
have no water and no food. Do they have to wait until the elections?! We
need to address those issues affecting the people's livelihood and
exisitence. As far as we keep focusing on abstract things I think we will
have a problem there.
The other problem is - the Zanu PF regime is in government but it is also in
the opposition because it seeks to be populist and address maybe people's
concerns and capitalising on things like land and privatisation hence
crowding out the opposition. So they are both the opposition and the
What we now need is to compete with Zanu PF in addressing those issues that
concern the people. That is what Mugabe is very good at: he always talks
about the suffering of the people while we talk about the constitution -
which is good - but we must begin with the people's suffering.
Margaret Dongo: Violet, it's Zimbabweans themselves who want to be taken for
a ride. I tell you five years of suffering and if you go back to 2000 and
what we have been going through in terms of the economic hardships; you tell
me that the next six months running up to the elections will bring economic
change here in Zimbabwe? At the end of the day, it is the Zimbabweans
themselves who are prepared to be taken for a ride.
I think it's high time to say enough is enough. There is no where in Africa
where you can have free and fair elections. If you look at Zambia and
Malawi, you will see the same cry; but at the end of the day Zambia and
Malawi were able to change their leadership. So has Kenya! Why can't we
Zimbabweans come together and say enough is enough; that's what we are
looking at because if we wait for the ground to be levelled, it will never
happen! These people will never quit, don't you remember (the late Vice
President Simon) Muzenda saying: 'Tichatonga kusvika dhongi ramera nyanga'?
(We shall rule until a donkey grows horns!") So don't forget his words. If
we remain as we are, we are likely to have problems.
I will put it to the Zimbabweans themselves to actually go back and digest
and say: 'What is it that we want? What is the future Zimbabwe that we want
and what is the leadership that we need to put in place?'
As far as the political field - forget about it because Zanu PF is there to
maintain power and to protect it ruthlessly. That we should know. Anyone who
has been in opposition politics knows this is not a luxurious field for one
to enjoy themselves. It's an uphill struggle so people have to accept that
one day the system has to be changed. And it is up to the people.
If the people are still reluctant to change the system as if they are happy,
what then can we do? Because there is no way one person can lead without the
people. Everything is up to the people. Government is composed of people not
leadership so if people say they don't want it, they have to remove it.
You don't go into the ballot booth with a stick behind you neither will
anyone know what you put on the ballot paper. You can make threats outside
the booth, but once I am in there I know what to do.
That's the slogan we should make Violet!
Whatever threats they make, even if they don't give me food but when I get
to that ballot box, I will teach them a lesson!
Violet: But how do you mobilise the masses to say enough is enough, Mai
Margaret Dongo: That's the problem. There is no activity on the the ground
as we speak. Zanu PF is busy registering people in the rural areas. I have
been round in the rural areas and there are no NGOs that are talking about
voter education right now. Wait until its six months before the elections
and you will find a lot of NGOs mushrooming doing voter and civic education
and yet this should have started when the last election ended. But nothing
has been happening. Everyone has been sleeping in their beds only hoping to
wake up six months before the election and then there will be traffic
congestion; NGOs here, political parties there; and yet this is the time
when civic educators should be out there. This is the time when NGOs are
raising political awareness; this is the time when they should be
encouraging people to go and register.
And now what is happening is that Zanu PF has structures and they are simply
abuse those structures, even the traditional structures to go and register
their own people. There is no one out there Violet, I have been there in the
rurals and I haven't seen anyone from the opposition coming to ask for
assistance to see how they can actually communicate with the people. No
one! You see the four wheel drive vehicles are here causing more potholes on
the roads in towns instead of people going to the rural areas to raise
It is you and I who should be responsible for raising voter awareness. Not
to wait for the NGO alone again. I blame myself for that. I also have a role
and Zimbabweans have a role.
Wait until Zimbabweans are able to sponsor their own political parties and
they will choose the party to lead them. But because right now those
(political parties) that have the advantage of the international community's
financial favour, they are getting funding, so they don't feel any pain at
all. But if it was the Zimbabweans themselves taking up the challenge, they
would choose the right leadership.
Violet: Mr. Mhanda, you've done this before as a commander of the
liberation forces. How can the people be mobilised to fight as one, what is
your advice and suggestions?
Wilfred Mhanda: First of all we should understand, comprehend or appreciate
the nature of the challenge that we face. Like I said, we are dealing with a
dictatorship here, just like Ian Smith. Unfortunately, unlike the other
countries that Margaret Dongo was talking about - Zambia, Malawi and
Kenya - they never had liberation movements. They had nationalist
movements. They never fought a war. So, the machinery to support the
establishment was not that partisan whereas here in Zimbabwe it was totally
different. What we need is to understand the nature of the challenge: people
have been optimistic thinking every year they are going to win. But just
like Margaret Dongo said we need to climb down from the ninth cloud to the
ground and understand that here is a real challenge: Mugabe is not going to
give up power that easily. That is point number one.
And you're not going to dislodge him through conventional opposition
politics. What we then need after we have identified and appreciated the
nature of the challenge that we face; is to map up a strategy and a national
rallying point - a unifying agenda like fighting for liberation, fighting
We talk a lot about the Smith regime but hardly about the Rhodesian Front
which was Smith's political party. We talk about the Smith regime; and even
if we captured some of their fighters we conceded they were victims of
propaganda. So the message we should be telling the people is that we are
all victims of this dictatorship including members of Zanu PF!
But we are actually reinforcing the polarisation because that is the way of
conventional politics: them and us! We need to be united; then we mobilise
the people and organise them, give them direction and then leadership. At
the moment there's no mobilisation, there's no organisation , there's no
direction and as for leadership, I leave that to the people to see if they
have the leadership to lead them through this struggle.
Violet: (To Mhanda) So where are people like you, what are you doing, why
can you not participate in the mobilisation and the leadership - in the
things that you are talking about?
Wilfred Mhanda: I am not a politician right now. I have not formed a
political party, but like I said...
Margaret Dongo: Mhanda!
Violet: (Interjects) Do you have to be a politician though?
Wilfred Mhanda: No, no, no, no. What you need is a national political
resistance movement that unites people against the dictatorship. Not one
that reinforces the polarisation putting the police here, the army there and
Zanu PF there and we are here. You will not get anywhere! I don't know if
you get my message!?
Violet: Amai Dongo, do you get his message...
Margaret Dongo: (interjects) Mhanda can not give an excuse that because he
is not a politician he can not play a role. This is the problem that we
have: Mhanda was a commander in the liberation struggle. Mhanda should use
the strategy that he used to mobilise people to join hands during the
struggle. What strategy did they use during the struggle to convince the
masses to join hands? How did they train the masses?
I will not pardon him for that! I do not know his defination for politics.
It doesn't mean you have to hold political office to be able to help develop
your country or develop the people in your country. You have a role to play.
Mhanda knows the slogan we used to have in the struggle: "Iwe neni tine
basa." (You and I have a duty to liberate Zimbabwe.) So what is your role
Mhanda? Mhanda should play a role as well. Those strategies we used then,
should be used again today in the rural areas to educate the people.
If Mhanda were to go today to the rural areas; and I and the former freedom
fighter were to go as well; and tell the people that this is not what we
fought for, we are now living in abject poverty why don't we go back and
redirect the new struggle? Then we will get there!!
Violet: I am afraid Mr. Mhanda I must agree (with Margaret Dongo) and put my
personal thoughts into this. Having heard what people say on this forum,
many talk in the third person or as observers; but what about you as a
person, what role can you play in this struggle?
Wilfred Mhanda: I am a victim of oppression and the dictatorship in
Zimbabwe. Single-handedly there's nothing I can do on my own.
Wilfred Mhanda: I will have to work with other forces bent on change. But
then you'll need to agree on certain things. If people are obssessed with
conventional opposition politics, I'm sorry to say they will have to exhaust
that phase. Just like the nationalists who hoped they would get independence
through the constitution. Eventually they exhausted those platforms. Do you
understand what I am saying?! Zanu and Zapu both wanted to go for the
elections negotiating with Britain; it was only much later that they
realised that this is not the route to take. Do you understand what I am
talking about Violet?
Violet: Uh huh. Are you saying that conventional opposition politics is not
the way to go but that Mugabe is going to need a stick?
Wilfred Mhanda: I am saying conventional opposition politics will not solve
Violet: So what should happen?
Wilfred Mhanda: If there's a critical mass of people who share that point of
view that is fine. If people can not agree with me, what can I do, I can't
Violet: Now Mr. Mhanda, some have said ultimately change will come from the
army. Do you agree with this?
Wilfred Mhanda: It will be wrong and I don't agree with that. It is actually
escapism, just like Margaret Dongo here; thay are shying away from their
responsibility to bring about change. Why do you look up to the army? They
are constitutionally compromised to take party in politics, play elective
role. Why do you wish to make them the torch-bearers of the struggle? They
like everyone else are victims of this dictatorship.
But our message is actually to say all the security forces, the police, the
army are Mugabe's people, which is not bringing people together. I was
telling you that during the war even when we captured Smith's forces we said
they were victims being used; and tried to win them over.
We are not trying to win anyone over, we are trying to reinforce the
polarisation So it is wrong to expect the army to take the lead. This is a
political struggle, it is the people who are suffering, yes the army and the
security forces are also victims, but why should they shoulder the
responsiblitiy of liberating the country. Because then we will only bring
another dictatorship. And what will you do with that dictatorship if it
comes from the military? It will not be liberation in the end.
Violet: But you know we have heard so many reports in the past few months
about coup plots and attempts. Is there a likelihood of a coup in Zimbabwe?
Wilfred Mhanda: I'd say the chances are very remote. The security forces
seem committed to a constitutional route. There's been discontent and
disgruntlement within the military; but reports of coup were actually
manufactured to scare any thoughts of a coup being entertained within the
military. I wouldn't think that if there was a coup it would fail if they
really wanted to do that. It would have actually succeded. But I am not a
proponent or advocate for military coups because I don't support that, I
don't support military governments, it is the people who have to be
stakeholders in their struggle. We have to democratise the struggle, not to
be by-standers and then expect to exercise our rights afterwards, no! Don't
let the army participate. Actually forbid them. Say: "We don't want you to
take the lead!"
Violet: What about you Mai Dongo, what are your thoughts on the role of the
army? And also, how strong a hold do you think Mugabe has on the security
Margaret Dongo: I don't even foresee a military rule in this country.
Because the army have a separate role to play in defending the country and
they are supposed to be in the baracks and out there defending the country.
The idea of a coup was meant to further frighten the people of Zimbabwe;
that there's war coming again up if you do not do a,b, c, d; and e! I don't
think even the army commanders themselves would ever dream of that because
the question is; do they have the capacity to rule? That's the question,
because it doesn't mean when you held a gun or when you hold a gun you can
be the best leader. Not at all. There are quite a number of issues to
consider when you are talking about leadership and when you talk about
running a country. So I rule out the issue of a coup. That is mere
speculation and meant to frighten people and it does frighten the people to
some extent and this is the motive. I rule that out.
Violet: In your view, is Mugabe in charge of the security forces or the
security forces are in charge of Mugabe?
Margaret Dongo: It's very difficulty to tell because the army is made up of
people like myself; and they are going through the economic hardships just
like any other person in Zimbabwe. They also have different feeling about
the governance today. So its very difficult to tell who is in control. You
might be surprised that a former army commander might be in control or
somebody else; a colonel or a major. It's possible it depends on who has the
power to convince people but at the end of the day, when it comes to
control, you can not guarantee control in an environment which we have toady
where you even have soldiers who are not happy about their salaries and are
struggling even though they are doing a steerling effort to defend their
country and those in power. So it's not something to talk about.
Violet: What can you say about this because its been said that Mugabe has
support from the generals and commanders like Perence Shiri and Constantine
Chiwenga? Does he actually have support of the rank and file?
Wilf Mhanda: Of course it is the constitutional responsibility of the army
to be loyal to the head of state, one would not expect otherwise. It would
actually be foolhardy to imagine a situation where you have security forces
sworn to the constitution to be openly opposed to the head of state. I think
that one is a none starter. In terms of the state itself, there's one key
decision-making institution responsible for running this country; that is
The Joint Operations Command (JOC). It comprises mostly of security forces
though its role is largely advisory. They don't give instructions nor take
political decision. It could actually be acceptable. What they advice or the
nature of their advice, we cannot tell. We do not know. We are not privy to
They may be totally be opposed to what is happening but they have no other
avenues because of the nature of their duties; and they have sworn loyalty
to the constitution.
It however doesn't mean to say they are not human beings, just like Margret
was saying. They are suffering like everybody else but it would not be
proper for them to be the first to air any discontent as it will be
tantamount to a mutiny.
They would rather keep things close to themselves, play their cards closely
to themselves because the moment that is known; surely the head of state
will be justified and legalluy too, to take action against them! So they are
in a very compromised position. I don't envy their position at all. And that
does not mean that they are supportive of the current situation.
Violet: But It has been reported that that JOC will help Mugabe campaign in
the next election.
Wilf Mhanda: Have the sources of that information been authenticated. They
could very well be coming from Zanu PF or government itself; with the aim of
intimidating people just like these coup stories which have not been
authenticated. Is it possible!?
As far as I know they (JOC members) don't sit in the Zanu PF politiburo. We
know Zanu PF takes decisions and gives instructions to cabinet. But it is
not JOC that gives instructions to cabinet or the politiburo as such.
Violet: Is it so difficult or to believe that the army could do this for
Robert Mugabe because the security forces have been accused of helping the
government to suppress dissent and to beat up people and to brutalise the
Wilf Mhanda: What I can openly say is that the police and the central
intelligence has been compromised. We all know that. They brutalise the
people, they arrest people on a daily basis. That is quite open. But we do
not have similar evidence with regard to the army. There could be members of
the military who are are also used but as for the police its an open record,
we know that. They and the CIO are Zanu PF militants. But I can not say the
same about the military.
Violet: So Amai Dongo, what accounts for Mugabe's staying power?
Margaret Dongo: The way I see Mugabe is that he is a strategist who knows
how to dance to the people's tune. Look at the recent policies that they
have just put in place. Look at the price slash, it was meant to woe the
majority of the people who are not happy with the economy. And for him he
did it purposely to try and please whathe called the poor people. His
mistake was that it wasn't the poor people who benefited. So, at times when
he does his interventions and wakes up on the wrong side of the bed, he just
makes up a decision and to him it doesn't matter who is affected as long as
its for his political gains.
Mugabe is a person who knows how to divide and rule and this is seen in the
Zanu PF structures as well where he has caused divisions: there are the
wanted few and then there are the ones regarded as rebels with the ZANU PF
By so doing, those who didn't take part in the liberation struggle are taken
aboard his band wagon becoming the new messiahs, the favoured few. These now
find themselves at the top positions and kneel before Mugabe telling him:
'Mr. President, all is well, we want you back'; merely because they want to
be protected. It;s now time for all the former freddom fighters to come
together and ask themselves what they have benefited under Zanu PF; as well
as the chimbwidos (war collaborators), together with the masses in order to
find a strategy. What is required is for people to join hands and speak with
one voice because we have had enough.
Violet: And Mr. Mhanda, final word...
Wilf Mhanda: I'd agree with Margret with regard to Mugabe's staying power.
He understands power, he's a populist; and he knows how to manipulate
people. He is good at grand-standing and at rhetoric. He is an opportunist
politically and he's also extraordinarily good at choosing his leuitanants
and subbordinants who are loyal to him. He invokes loyalty from his
supporters and also patronage is his key instrument. But partronage is not
that he gives you something in return to loyalty, it's actually based on
impunity. Its that: 'You can do anything and get away with it.' In other
words: 'enrich yourself, break the law, do whatever you like and I will turn
the other way as long as you are loyal.' That's the key strategy used by
Robert Mugabe. And it has been working well, but people need to know that.
The need is actually to isolate him and his inner circle! And get everyone
else to see that it's not good for the country including those in Zanu PF,
including those security forces. Not to say: 'Oh those people support
Mugabe, they are in Zanu PF, war veterans..." No, no, no, no. We will not
get anywhere like that.
Violet Gonda: Thank you very much Mr. Mhanda and Amai Dongo
Dongo and Mhanda: Thank you Violet!
Comments and feedback can be emailed to email@example.com
Updated: 2007-08-23 04:52
HARARE -- Zimbabwe's Ministry of Defense signed an agreement with Pakistan
on Wednesday that will see the Asian country seconding its armed forces to
Zimbabwe, local media reported.
Speaking at the signing ceremony, the permanent secretary for Defense Trust
Maphosa said the agreement reinforces relations that exist between the two
countries in the field of defense particularly in the air force.
"This agreement shall actively promote defense cooperation between the
defense forces of our two countries, in accordance with international law
and the respective national laws of our two countries," Maposa was quoted by
New Ziana as saying.
Pakistani Ambassador to Zimbabwe Riffat Iqbal said the agreement marked a
milestone in cooperation between Zimbabwe and Pakistan.
"This event marks our desire to continue the relationship we have with
Zimbabwe. We are hoping that we shall also explore other areas of mutual
benefit to both our countries," he said.
Under the agreement, Pakistan's forces would offer training, guidance and
defense advice to Zimbabwe's armed forces.
The agreement is for two years but has provisions for extension.