From The Star (SA), 23 August
Zimbabwean political parties are reportedly plotting, scheming and, in some
cases, bribing and threatening to try to win the powerful post of Speaker of
Parliament when President Robert Mugabe convenes the body on Monday. With
the March 29 polls having produced a hung parliament in which Morgan
Tsvangirai's MDC controls 100 seats, Zanu PF 99 and a faction of the MDC led
by Arthur Mutambara 10 seats, no single political formation can win the
Speaker's post without the support of another. Although the MDC should have
been sure of the position because its two factions are formally in a
coalition still and together command an outright majority of 110 seats, that
now seems unlikely because of the persistent squabbling between the two
factions. Despite having only 10 seats, Mutambara's faction has fielded its
own candidate, former parliamentarian Paul Temba Nyathi, for the Speaker's
post. Sources say this is because of the support the Mutambara faction hopes
to get from Zanu PF, with whom it has established common ground in the talks
being mediated by President Thabo Mbeki. And Zanu PF wants to keep the
Speakership away from Tsvangirai. However, other sources say Zanu PF will
field its own candidate and hope to get Mutambara's support. "We're in
marathon meetings this weekend to map the way forward," said one source.
The MDC is planning to field its party chairman Lovemore Moyo as its
candidate for the Speakership. Tsvangirai's formation is deeply worried by
the continued threats against its MPs. It believes Mugabe has maintained a
reign of terror on some of them to ensure they don't report for Parliament
on Monday. That would mean the MDC loses the Speakership by default despite
having won the largest bloc of MPs. Several MPs-elect from Tsvangirai's side
including Misheck Shoko, Heya Shoko, Piniel Denga, Eliah Jembere, are still
in hiding after Zimbabwean police announced on state radio it wanted to have
them arrested for "inciting violence". Nevertheless, the party has asked
them to report for parliament. MDC senior official Eddie Cross said several
MPs from his southern region have been threatened by state security agents
ahead of Monday. Mugabe's agents are said to have approached at least 10 MDC
MPs and offered them farms, vehicles, cabinet posts and other perks if they
drop their support for Tsvangirai. It seems that Mugabe is employing divide
and rule tactics to weaken Tsvangirai and force him to sign a power-sharing
Sunday August 24 2008
Morgan Tsvangirai's MDC party could lose out on both the speaker and deputy
speaker positions when the Zimbabwean parliament is reopened tomorrow,
despite its majority in the lower house.
In the 29 March parliamentary elections, the MDC won 100 seats, against
Zanu-PF's 99. Ten seats went to a faction of the MDC led by academic Arthur
Mutambara and one went to independent candidate Jonathan Moyo.
National Constitutional Assembly chairman Lovemore Madhuku said the failure
by the MDC to produce a joint candidate had opened the door for a potential
deal between Mutambara's MDC and the ruling party. 'If Zanu steals the
speaker's position from us, the people of Zimbabwe will ... judge Mugabe
extremely harshly,' said Tendai Biti, the secretary general of MDC.
Alex Duval Smith
Saturday, 23 August 2008 20:52
Paul Themba Nyathi of the Arthur Mutambara-led Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC) has emerged as the strongest candidate for the powerful post of
Speaker in the Seventh Parliament which convenes tomorrow.
Zanu PF has proposed John Nkomo for the post.
Nyathi, who is a war veteran and former MP for Gwanda, is said to be
more acceptable to Zanu PF because of his background in the liberation
struggle and is also winning support from MPs from the rival MDC-T.
The small faction of the MDC, which won 10 seats during the March 29
harmonised elections, is seen as a potential power broker in the hung
parliament as both Zanu PF and the Morgan Tsvangirai-led MDC cannot
individually win contests in the house without its support.
Both Zanu PF and MDC-T have remained mum on their choice for the
speaker's post, arguing that they do not want to expose their strategies.
The group appears to have overcome problems caused by some of its MPs
who were reportedly threatening to go along with their colleagues in the
MDC-T who are likely to nominate Matobo North legislator Lovemore Moyo for
Nyathi has also reportedly received backing from MPs aligned to former
MDC-T women's assembly chairperson Lucia Matibenga who views Moyo as a
Matibenga fell out with Tsvangirai last year after the latter
allegedly pushed for Theresa Makone's elevation to the helm of the women's
assembly. The group aligned to Matibenga was last week reportedly lobbying
heavily for Nyathi to spite Tsvangirai and Moyo.
On Wednesday, Mutambara's faction convened a national council meeting
to caucus on the election of the speaker, where the 10 MPs are said to have
distanced themselves from media reports that they wanted to vote with the
main MDC in parliament.
Welshman Ncube, the faction's secretary general, said the council
deliberated extensively on the issue which appeared in the media alleging
that some of the party's MPs had attacked the party leadership on
allegations that they (the leadership) had signed a sell-out deal to form a
government with Zanu PF without the MDC led by Morgan Tsvangirai.
He said: "The council noted the denials of the Members of Parliament
repudiating and disassociating themselves from statements attributed to them
in the media."
The post of speaker is one of the issues being discussed under the
ongoing power-sharing talks between Zanu PF and the MDC factions.
Zanu PF and Mutambara's MDC have reached an agreement on the way
forward following weeks of negotiations and they are waiting for Tsvangirai
to make up his mind.
But there were signs of serious divisions in the main MDC after
Tsvangirai and Tendai Biti issued conflicting statements on President Mugabe's
decision to convene parliament.
Tsvangirai initially said the MDC had no problem with the move only to
backtrack after Biti said it was a "repudiation" of the memorandum of
understanding that set the terms and timeframe for the talks.
"Nyathi is going to capitalise on the confusion in the MDC and with
the backing of Zanu PF MPs, he is going to sail through," said an MDC
insider. "Although there are still some MPs from his faction who feel they
were not consulted on the choice for speaker, they are not likely to
influence the election in a significant way."
By Kholwani Nyathi
Saturday, 23 August 2008 20:32
PERVASIVE fear, suspicion and general mistrust still hound villagers
who suffered political violence by Zanu PF youth militias after President
Robert Mugabe's defeat in the March election.
Memories of savage killings, torture and intimidation are still fresh
in their minds.
Many are still nursing deep wounds inflicted on them by neighbours for
voting against Mugabe in favour of MDC leader, Morgan Tsvangirai.
Villagers still treat strangers and even their neighbours with
"I don't discuss politics with anyone even my friends because I don't
know how these talks will end," said an elderly Chiweshe villager, who
cannot named for security reasons.
"If the talks break down, the killers may come back and wipe us out."
The villagers in Chaona in Chiweshe district of Mashonaland Central
saw several suspected MDC supporters killed.
Some lost limbs, homes and livestock to their neighbours.
While there appears to be, generally, a commitment from members of the
public to reconcile and co-exist in some parts of the country, there is
still suspicion between victims and perpetrators of violence.
These views emerged during recent interactions with villagers from
different parts of the country. The villagers said there had been a
significant decline in political violence.
"A number of people who had fled the village are now back," said
Nathaniel Zhou, who said he was from Chitekete in Gokwe North.
"There are still a few pockets of enmity here and there, but
generally, we are living together as one people. We have forgiven each other
Even a Gokwe-based pastor acknowledges the challenges of co-existence.
"We have had some very complex scenarios where the clashes were
between members of our church. Getting them to attend services together is
now a challenge. We have engaged community members, in collaboration with
other churches and some civil society organisations. While in most cases a
great deal has been achieved, we have had some people vowing never to live
"nema chinja" (MDC supporters)," said the Pastor, who asked not to be
Another victim of political violence from Zaka in Masvingo province,
who can only be identified as Norman, said living in the same village with
the killers of his best friend, Krison Mbano, was a nightmare.
Mbano together with Washington Nyamwa were killed after an MDC
district office was doused with petrol and set alight by known Zanu PF
supporters in June.
"They can't look into my eye for they know what they did. I feel I am
betraying my friend by letting them roam around," he said. "They should face
justice. I can't forgive them."
Other victims of Mugabe's scorched earth policy have not returned to
their homes despite the two MDCs and Zanu PF signing a Memorandum of
Understanding (MoU) on July 21, which, among other things, called for the
cessation of political violence.
The parties called "upon all our supporters and members and any organs
and structures under the direction and control of our respective parties to
stop the perpetration of violence in any form".
They also called on people who were displaced when Mugabe embarked on
his campaign to ensure victory on June 27 to return home. The 84-year-old
leader contested alone after Tsvangirai withdrew from the race citing
excessive violence against his supporters and officials by Mugabe's
loyalists, mostly youth militias, self-styled war veterans and state
Hundreds of MDC officials and supporters have not returned to their
homes fearing retribution from militias loyal to the fist-waving president.
The MDC last week said its supporters, including elected legislators
and councillors, were still in hiding as rogue Zanu PF elements continued to
terrorise them, especially in rural areas, a direct violation of the talks
and the MoU.
MDC director of information, Luke Tamborinyoka, said although
political violence had generally subsided, there were still areas where
youth militias were terrorising opposition supporters and even preventing
them from returning to their homes.
He said the most volatile areas included Mutoko and Murehwa in
Mashonaland East, Makoni and Buhera in Manicaland, and Gokwe in the
The MDC cited more than 2 000 detentions, over 200 000 internally
displaced, and in excess of 10 000 of its supporters injured and maimed as a
result of Zanu PF-orchestrated violence.
At least 5 000 MDC supporters, mainly polling agents and council
candidates, are thought to be missing or unaccounted for.
Some 10 MPs-elect and councillors, said Tamborinyoka, were still in
hiding or could not access their areas.
"In some areas, the situation is still very tense and some people are
still coming to our offices looking for their missing relatives and
friends," he said.
The MDC said some 125 opposition activists had died since the March 29
The MDC spokesman for Manicaland, Pishai Muchauraya, said self-styled
war veterans were still waging a violent campaign against his party
supporters in the province.
Muchauraya said Buhera South was the worst affected area as the war
veterans were "terrorising the area and brutalising our supporters".
MDC MP-elect for Buhera South, Naison Nemadziva, remains in hiding in
Mutare, after threats to his life.
In Makoni South, said Muchauraya, Chief Chiduku was demanding a $50
fine from all MDC supporters in Ward 28 for what he called "over-excitement"
after the March elections.
"Anyone who does not pay that money will be evicted from all villages
under Chief Chiduku," said Muchauraya.
Chief Chiduku could not be reached for comment. He is a prominent Zanu
PF stalwart, appointed to the Senate by Mugabe in 2005.
Zanu PF spokesperson Nathan Shamuyarira was also not available for
By Caiphas Chimhete & Vusumuzi Sifile
Saturday, 23 August 2008 20:48
A Chegutu family is living by the roadside after it was evicted from
its farm - its home for the past 28 years.
Chegutu tobacco farmer, Kobus Joubert, together with his wife, Mariana
and their 18 workers are staying in the open after being thrown out of the
farm by Felix Pambukani, a latest beneficiary of government's land reform
Another family, which sought refuge at the Jouberts, the Steyns, are
among the homeless.
"We received an eviction order on the 15th of this month and the
deputy sheriff came on the same evening and told us to move out," Joubert
During the day, they sit gloomily by the roadside in the company of
eight of their workers, who say they are obliged to support the man who has
been like a father to them. Twelve others reportedly spend the day loitering
at the farm compound and the two groups switch posts at night.
Pambukani has allegedly told some of the employees that he will retain
them as his workers and has promised to give them all the good things they
think they will miss after the Jouberts' departure.
"Some of us were born on Scotsdale Farm and only know it to be our
home," a long-faced employee said. "Mr Joubert is the only employer we have
ever known and we are very close to him because of his treatment and
assistance given to us over the years".
The family, with its property which includes tractors, trucks,
refrigerators, stoves, wardrobes, pots, plates, clothes and beds is camped
by the highway. While motorists gaze through the windows as they pass by,
others pull-up to enquire if there is an auction on site.
They cook in the open and sleep there at night. Neighbours have been
kind enough to allow them to use their bathrooms and toilet facilities.
On Saturday last week, their pregnant daughter, together with her
husband and two children visited and spent the day with them in the open,
with hardly any cheer to mark a typical family gathering.
A former president of the Tobacco Farmers Association, Joubert says
his sorrows began on June 24 when 19 men, led by the self-proclaimed and
controversial war veteran Gilbert Moyo, came to his farm and told him they
were giving him 30 minutes to vacate.
"He stole my pick-up, 385 litres of diesel, slaughtered my sheep and
all my wife's chickens to feed his people," Joubert said. "They stayed on
the farm but were ordered out on June 27."
Moyo and his group allegedly returned after the 27th but police and
the Zanu PF councillors in the district intervened and drove him out.
Shaken by the events, Joubert says he sought assistance from some
government officials but had to leave for three weeks.
He cut short his absence after he was notified that Pambukani had
occupied the farm.
In court documents filed at the Chegutu magistrates' court, Pambukani
says he expected Joubert to vacate the farm on February 4, 2008 as he was
now the lawful owner of the farm after the government allocated it to him.
"(Joubert) is making my occupation of the farm and the farm house
impossible.......He has no right whatsoever to deny me such occupation as I
am the person who was legitimately offered the farm," he said. "I have been
denied the use and enjoyment of the property by (him) in circumstances of
pure contempt of the law and invalid challenge too the government's Land
Reform Programme......the farming season is approaching and I want to start
preparations for serious farming.....".
He further alleges that he has sought the assistance of police and the
ministry of lands "without joy" and is therefore taking the matter to the
Joubert is also challenging the occupation of his farm, alleging that
he has a 2003 delisting for Section 8 on which Pambukani is basing his
By Jennifer Dube
Saturday, 23 August 2008 20:38
THE lid on the power-sharing agreement between Zanu PF and the MDC was
blown off yesterday as a leaked document revealed for the first time that
President Robert Mugabe would have remained both as head of State and head
of government in a new arrangement sanctioned by Sadc leaders.
The regional leaders, led by South African President Thabo Mbeki,
reportedly pressured MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai to sign "the deal", and
after failing to do so, gave Mugabe the go-ahead to convene parliament.
Their blessing, which allows Mugabe to preside over the opening of
parliament on Tuesday, ran contrary to the spirit and letter of the
Memorandum of Understanding signed by the negotiating parties.
Both parties pledged the convening of parliament would only be done
Leaked documents and information gathered from various sources show
that the unsuccessful deal, far from ensuring a changing political landscape
favouring Tsvangirai who polled the most votes in March 29 elections, would
have entrenched Mugabe's grip on power.
The documents show this 50-50 power arrangement was clearly in favour
of Mugabe who would remain Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces and head
of government as well as head of state.
Tsvangirai refused to sign the agreement nearly two weeks ago in order
to "reflect and consult".
Sources have revealed that top among Tsvangirai's worries was
paragraph 2 of the document titled Role of the Prime Minister.
While the paragraph stipulated that the prime minister would carry the
responsibility to oversee the formulation of policies by the Cabinet, it
also spelt out that Tsvangirai would not be the man in charge - he would
only be "a Member of the Cabinet and its Deputy Chairperson".
This arrangement left Mugabe, in accordance with the Zimbabwe
constitution, as the head of Cabinet.
To make matters worse for Tsvangirai, who had insisted that he heads
the cabinet, according paragraph 11 he would "report regularly to the
Sources say Tsvangirai is said to have strongly disagreed with such a
provision that would have left him without adequate authority to engineer
economic recovery and overcome repression.
Tsvangirai would find himself undermined if his authority is not spelt
out because if things go wrong, he would be blamed.
Tsvangirai also could not discipline ministers under such an
arrangement, as he could only "make recommendations on such disciplinary
measures as may be necessary."
The president and the prime minister, say the documents - confirmed as
authentic by different sources close to the talks - "will agree on the
allocation of ministries between them for the purpose of day-to-day
That also meant that Tsvangirai would not be in effective charge of
The president, our sources said, would retain broad powers to declare
a state of emergency, declare war or make peace and to grant amnesty.
Mugabe would also retain control of the Joint Operations Command (JOC)
which would remain in place, save for a change in name. Tsvangirai would
play second fiddle to Mugabe.
"The prime minister shall serve as a member of the National Security
Council and this will ensure his participation in deliberations on matters
of national security and operations pertaining thereto," say the documents.
Sources say Tsvangirai decided to take time to reflect on such an
arrangement after failing to ensure that Mugabe would take a back seat in
"Tsvangirai wanted an additional paragraph that would have effectively
made the president (Mugabe) ceremonial," said the source.
"The other negotiators however turned down his request, arguing that
this was a 50-50 power-sharing deal."
Sources close to the talks said yesterday under that agreement,
Tsvangirai felt he would be more a senior minister in Mugabe's cabinet than
a prime minister.
"He noticed that Mugabe remained the head of the chain of command in
cabinet, so why should he agree to be prime minister under these
circumstances? A prime minister should simply be in charge," said a source.
Another source said Tsvangirai had hoped that both the prime minister
and president's powers would be drawn from a transitional constitution but
was dismayed after noting that Mugabe would remain with his old sweeping
Tsvangirai would in that situation find himself undermined at every
By Walter Marwizi & Vusumuzi Sifile
Saturday, 23 August 2008 19:47
A Masvingo man who was annoyed by seeing President Robert Mugabe on
television and likened him to a female reproductive organ last week appeared
in court facing charges of undermining the authority of or insulting the
Pinas Magago (35) appeared before a Masvingo magistrate, Learnmore
Mapiye Mpandasekwa, who remanded him to September 24 on $200 bail.
Prosecutor Takunda Chikwati told the court that on August 17 this
year, Magago who was drinking beer at Chevron Hotel was debating with other
revellers about the political situation in the country when President Mugabe
appeared on TV during Newshour.
On seeing Mugabe on TV Magago, who blamed the ageing leader for
running down the country, was so annoyed he uttered the unprintable words in
This did not go down well with a lot of Zanu PF activists who usually
enjoy their drinks at the hotel owned by the late veteran politician Eddison
Zvobgo. Incensed by Magago's remarks, the supporters reported him to the
police, leading to his arrest.
He was immediately detained at Masvingo central police station for
Cases of people arrested after insulting the president have been on
the increase in Masvingo. Last year over six people were arrested after
making remarks deemed by the law to be insulting to the president.
One of them, Selestine Jengeta, a teacher at Victoria High School, who
wished Mugabe dead when he appeared on TV while he was in a police bar had
his cased referred to the Supreme court after he appealed over the judgment
in the matter.
By Godfrey Mutimba
Saturday, 23 August 2008 19:45
EVEN as the political parties are locked in talks to hammer out a
settlement that will usher in a new dispensation, there is no let up, it
seems, in the government's hostility towards the private media and the
climate of repression.
Police on Thursday detained the Midlands reporter of The Standard
after she took pictures of a huge crowd - including police and soldiers in
uniform - jostling to buy basic commodities.
Rutendo Mawere was arrested by a plain-clothes policewoman, who
identified herself as Million, outside a shop which was selling cooking oil
and laundry soap. A near-riot occurred after members of the public
complained that soldiers and police officers were jumping the queue.
Ordinary shoppers complained that it had become a trend that wherever
the much-sought-after basic commodities were sold, police and military
officers were always the first.
"They benefited from the recently introduced Bacossi programme and, if
any shop is raided for 'overcharging', the goods are sold at the police camp
and they are given first preference," shouted a disgruntled buyer who had
queued for hours with nothing to show for his endurance.
"At any shop that takes delivery of basic commodities, they do not
queue like the rest of us. Where do they put all these things? They should
also give us a chance to buy. We all need to survive."
Mawere was taken to Gweru Central Police Station where she was
interrogated by officers from the Law and Order section.
She said the police asked her why she had taken the pictures. When she
told them that she is a practising journalist, they demanded her
accreditation card, which she produced.
Then she was accused of taking pictures of the soldiers and police
officers so she could write a story that they "always loot basic
However, after nearly an hour, the police led by Assistant Inspector
Mudzawa, released Mawere without charge.
Davison Maruziva, the Editor of The Standard described the conduct of
the police as "most unfortunate and totally unnecessary". He said the arrest
demonstrated the hostility of the law-enforcement agents towards journalists
from the private media.
"The arrest just goes to show there is no let up in the police
harassment of our journalists," Maruziva said. "It is ironic that this
should be taking place against the backdrop of the talks by the major
political parties in the country."
The regional chairperson of the National Association of
Non-Governmental Organisations, Peter Muchengeti, condemned the arrest,
which he said showed the continued harassment of journalists.
Saturday, 23 August 2008 19:41
Army commanders who led President Robert Mugabe's violent re-election
campaign have taken delivery of all-terrain luxury vehicles at a time when
millions of Zimbabweans face starvation.
Sources say the army chiefs were recently allocated brand new
all-terrain twin-cab Toyota Hilux Vigos as official vehicles to add to their
ever increasing fleet of luxury cars. The 4 X 4 vehicles, worth more than
US$30 000, are similar to the ones recently allocated to High Court judges
by the Reserve Bank.
"Mugabe is rewarding the army chiefs who stood by him in his greatest
hour of need after he suffered a humiliating defeat in the first round of
voting on March 29," an army source said.
Top security chiefs pledged their undying loyalty to Mugabe and even
threatened to prevent MDC leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, from taking power if he
defeated Mugabe in the elections.
Soldiers played a decisive role in ensuring Mugabe won the vote by
establishing torture camps throughout the country.
They allegedly commanded ruling party militias who led a sustained
campaign of intimidation and harassment against the rural electorate, which
eventually forced Tsvangirai to pull out of the June 27 presidential
Zimbabwe Defence Forces Commander, General Constantine Chiwenga,
reacted angrily when contacted for comment about the latest purchase of
luxury vehicles by the army.
He said he did not "comment on army issues in the press" before
switching off his mobile phone.
A fortnight ago Mugabe rewarded members of the powerful Joint
Operations Command (JOC), who were fingered in the pre-election violence
that left over 100 MDC supporters dead and thousands displaced.
Retired brigadier generals, Happyton Bonyongwe, Paradzai Zimondi and
Richard Ruwodo all received medals for their contribution to Mugabe's June
27 election victory.
Bonyongwe who is the director of the Central Intelligence Organisation
and Zimondi who heads the prison service both sit on the JOC.
JOC, which also includes Commissioner General Augustine Chihuri and
Air Marshall Perrence Shiri, is headed by Chiwenga.
By Nqobani Ndlovu
Saturday, 23 August 2008 19:39
Teacher training colleges have lowered the requirements for
prospective student teachers to compensate for a sustained lack of interest
in the profession, senior officials confirmed last week.
This comes amid reports that 14 000 teachers have left the profession
since January due to poor remuneration and deteriorating conditions of
Teachers earn less than $1 200 a month, which is just enough to buy
five loaves of bread.
Educationists fear the lowering of entry qualifications at the
institutions would further compound the crisis in the country's schools
already grappling with falling standards on many fronts.
One of the hardest hit institutions is the United College of Education
(UCE) in Bulawayo, which trains primary school teachers.
Primary school teacher training colleges normally require five "O"
Level passes including Mathematics and English but the institutions are said
to be willing to recruit those without the two subjects.
The institutions are also forgoing the pre-selection interviews.
UCE's acting principal, Sipho Moyo, said the new recruitment
directives were a serious cause for concern.
He warned that some colleges might even be forced to close down
because of the poor response from school leavers.
"Of current concern to the college administration is the apparent drop
in the enrolment figures over the last two years," he said.
"In order to meet the numbers, the college has dropped the requirement
for interviews for prospective students," he said. "The sudden reversal in
the quest for education and training is something that has to be looked at
urgently otherwise colleges will become white elephants."
The college's intake for this year dropped from 350 students to less
Raymond Majongwe, the Progressive Teachers' Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ)
secretary general who said over 14 000 quit the profession in eight months,
acknowledged the drop in enrollment figures at colleges because of low
"We continue to lose teachers at an alarming rate but the government
continues to turn a blind eye to the crisis," he said.
He said although there was no conclusive survey on staff levels, the
estimates of over 14 000 teachers who left the profession could be an
"And this has also resulted in most people shying away from joining
the education sector because of low salaries, forcing colleges to relax
entry requirements thereby compromising standards," Majongwe said.
Education Minister Aeneas Chigwedere was not immediately available for
Zimbabwe is facing a severe shortage of teachers who continue to leave
the country in droves in protest over poor pay and working conditions.
The country now employs 1ess than 110 000 teachers when it requires at
least 200 000.
By Nqobani Ndlovu
Saturday, 23 August 2008 19:37
IT'S 4:30pm and Tendai Moyo, a mother of two, hurriedly packs her hand
bag ready to knock off from work. Seeing her packing her precious purse, one
could be forgiven for thinking she is rushing off to catch a lift home.
But Moyo, who is an accounts clerk, has to venture into the woodlands,
where she fetches firewood because parts of Masvingo have gone for the past
two months without electricity.
Without firewood she will not be able to prepare supper for her
daughters aged eight and four years old, and husband.
This is the plight of many working people in the country's urban
settlements who have virtually been reduced to villagers by the country's
sole power utility Zesa.
Urban residents in various parts of the country have endured more than
three months without electricity as Zesa has intensified its load-shedding.
In many parts of the country, electricity is switched off early in the
morning, usually around 4am only to be restored at midnight. This is the
time when most people would have gone to sleep.
"Zesa does not follow its own load-shedding timetable. They want to
turn us into witches who work at night," said Dorcas Munyoro of Glen View.
But Zesa public relations manager Fullard Gwasira blamed the power
outages on shortages of coal supplies to Hwange Power Station, the country's
main power generating station.
"Zesa Holdings would like to advise its valued customers that the
load-shedding currently being witnessed countrywide is due to generation
constraints at Hwange Power Station emanating from shortages of sufficient
coal," he said. 'The station is currently generating 120MW from one Unit out
of a possible 500MW."
He said the situation was set to improve as the power utility had
started receiving coal supplies.
But Masvingo residents, like others in smaller towns, believe Zesa is
discriminating against them as they have gone for longer periods without
Gwasira, however, dismissed these allegations, saying: "There is no
truth in that. The truth is that load-shedding is done in a fair and
transparent manner. . . We are not in any manner favouring any city or
Consumers have complained that the extended power cuts mean more
financial strain on a people already grappling with a long list of expenses
on a daily basis.
In Harare's Mabelreign surburb residents said they were buying
firewood and charcoal as alternatives and these were expensive. Most
firewood dealers are charging $20 for three pieces of firewood.
Power cuts are not only affecting domestic consumers. The retail and
manufacturing sectors have not been spared either.
Workers say they spend the whole day "sun bathing" and get lower wages
when the month ends as they can only earn a salary they worked for.
In Harare's Glen View, a Satellite Polyclinic, which has a maternity
ward that caters for neighbouring suburbs like Glen Norah and Budiriro, is
perhaps the worst hit.
Women in labour are asked to bring candles and some have complained
about the conditions in which they have had to deliver.
Zesa said it did not prioritise clinics. Last February, a woman gave
birth at the entrance to the clinic after nurses allegedly ignored her,
saying the unlit maternity ward had become a hazard for them.
Obert Sibanda, the new president of the Zimbabwe National Chamber of
Commerce, said his organisation was concerned about the negative impact of
the continuing power outages.
"The power cuts are affecting production but we hope Zesa will soon
resolve the problem as promised," he said.
Sibanda said although it had become necessary for most businesses to
use generators as an alternative, this was very costly.
"We have also heard about government's intention to levy generators
but we are yet to see the statutory instrument for us to assess the likely
impact given that using generators is already costly without the levy," he
By Godfrey Mutimba & Sandra Mandizvidza
Saturday, 23 August 2008 19:35
Hunger stalks the sixth edition of the annual National Youth Games
which were officially opened in Gweru on Monday, The Standard can report.
Athletes representing the Midlands province, who spoke on condition
of anonymity told The Standard that since getting into camp for the
games two weeks ago they have been surviving on a
very skimpy diet.
They said the meals comprised mostly sadza and boiled cabbage, but
that the situation worsened over the weekend as they reportedly only had
porridge for breakfast, with no lunch or supper.
"For Saturday and Sunday we only had porridge in the morning," said
one of the athletes, speaking on behalf of the others.
"We are staying at Regina Mundi and most of the food is prepared here
at the polytechnic so we were just told that food would come but we never
got to eat anything."
Sports and Recreation Commission information officer Shadrec Williams
would not take any questions about budget issues referring The Standard to
one Nyakotyo, said to be in charge of finance. He could not be reached for
However, sources closer to the organisers told The Standard that there
were problems regarding the provision of food for the participants as
funding was inadequate. The sources said the ever-rising cost of food
compounded the problem.
The sources said besides food shortage, the organisers were also
having to grapple with transport and accommodation problems.
They said the organisers had drawn up a budget of US$4 000 with half
of the amount supposed to be raised by the Local Organising Committee, and
the remainder being raised from affiliation fees paid by the 10
Although the sources could not give the exact amount that was
ultimately raised they said it was about half of the target, which left the
The games which were supposed to be officially opened by the
Vice-President, Joice Mujuru, were opened by the Midlands Province Governor
Youths aged between 14 and 19 are eligible to take part in the games,
which comprise eight disciplines including basketball, boxing and soccer.
Last year's games were held i the Matabeleland North town of
The Sports and Recreation Commission inaugurated the games in 2003
with the stated objective of identifying and developing sports talent among
By Rutendo Mawere
Saturday, 23 August 2008 19:14
ZIMBABWE requires external support from multilateral financial
institutions to stabilise its recovery, an economist with the World Bank
said last week.
Zimbabwe has been in arrears with the International Monetary Fund,
World Bank and the African Development Bank since 1999 and owes the three
institutions a staggering US$1.2 billion.
Dr John Panzer, who manages the group of economists responsible for
economic analysis in 12 countries in Southern Africa, told the Just Business
forum on Thursday that external support would help finance the rebuilding of
physical and human capital. He said external support was critical in
softening fiscal adjustments during stabilisation. Zimbabwe has been
financing its budgets since the drying up of balance of payment support in
"External support adds credibility and hence enhances likelihood of
success of a stabilisation programme," he said. Thursday's Forum, organised
by the American Business Association of Zimbabwe drew participants from
strategists in business; potential foreign investors and political leaders
with an array of local and international speakers.
Panzer said the country needed to demonstrate a readiness to re-engage
the multilateral institutions.
"The country needs to demonstrate readiness and willingness to work
with us. Readiness interpreted as macro-stabilisation and sound development
policy to achieve economic and social development under good governance," he
"There is nothing to suggest that if Zimbabwe demonstrates readiness
support would not be forthcoming."
Panzer said multilateral institutions could only move forward if
arrears were cleared, adding that Zimbabwe's debt was not sustainable and
would require debt restructuring and forgiveness.
Although there was a provision for debt forgiveness among poor
countries, Zimbabwe did not belong to the group and this posed new
"Zimbabwe has to be brought into the club. The club is an expensive
club," he said.
The World Bank economist proposed a reform of the monetary policy and
debt service after arrears have been cleared but said the international
community would come in a supportive role. Zimbabwe has been critical of
policies "imposed" by foreigners.
Panzer said the success of stabilisation and speed of recovery "will
depend on commitment to policy reform and consistency in implementation".
Asked to comment of the government's "Look East" policy, Panzer said
the policy of the country need to look North, South, East and West for
"If looking East means I am not going to reform economy, good
governance . . . then that policy is bad," he said. "If looking East is to
bypass quality of economic management, then it is a bad policy."
By Ndamu Sandu
Saturday, 23 August 2008 19:09
FOR the first time since the inception of the Travel Expo in 1982,
this year's edition of the annual tourism and travel fair will be graced by
exhibitors from non-African countries.
Bulawayo will host this year's re-branded Sanganai World Travel and
Tourism Africa Fair from October 15-19.
Karikoga Kaseke, Zimbabwe Tourism Authority CEO told Standardbusiness
that 13 non-African countries would bring exhibitors for the October travel
and tourism showcase.
"Thirteen non-African countries will bring exhibitors," Kaseke said.
"But it does not mean that there will be 13 exhibitors as each country will
bring in more than one exhibitor."
The ZTA boss said the 13 non-African countries bringing in exhibitors
included Brazil, South Korea, UK, Germany and France among others.
ZTA had targeted 400 local exhibitors and 50 international exhibitors.
"Five hundred and eighteen exhibitors have already booked space compared to
130 exhibitors last year," he said.
Kaseke said the fair had attracted buyers from 53 countries including
Europe. Last year 70 international buyers from European countries,
particularly the United Kingdom, withdrew their participation from the
travel and tourism fair "for political reasons".
Saturday, 23 August 2008 18:35
THERE is a saying that I often heard from elders in my days of youth.
They used to say, "Kufa kwemuJoni kamba haivharwi" when someone important
failed to turn up for an event or something that was anticipated didn't
I have no clue about the origin of that saying but I suspect it has
something to do with the colonial experience. I am told it literally means
that the death of an officer does not necessarily mean that all business
must cease. More generally, it is that the failure of one thing does not
necessarily mean that everything else has failed.
I am reminded of this old saying, as I observe the developments on the
Zimbabwean political scene and in particular Zanu PF's decision, apparently
supported by Sadc, to convene Parliament, notwithstanding that the talks
have yet to yield a meaningful result.
The MDC has gone some way to gain fluency in the difficult and complex
language of African politics and given the circumstances of Zimbabwe,
African leaders have found it increasingly difficult to ignore Morgan
Tsvangirai and his party. But it is repeating the obvious to say that one
should avoid total faith in the African leaders because many of them have
too many skeletons in their own cupboards.
Sadc was only going to be a key player in the heat of the tragic
circumstances of Zimbabwe's elections from March to June. Time, being of the
essence, was always going to be the enemy in the long run. Because, sure
enough, the more the dispute dragged on, the less there would be the world's
attention and consequently the less the pressure on the African leaders, to
"do something" about Zimbabwe, to borrow the ubiquitous phrase whenever
Zimbabwe is mentioned.
As it happens, the Beijing Olympics and the Russia-Georgia conflict
have robbed Zimbabwe of its prime slot in the global media. Indeed, in the
order of priorities, the worry of global leaders is over Georgia and Russia's
actions and less about Africa. Zimbabwe is lucky to get the few seconds on
prime time news. And with less media attention, African leaders tend to
return to familiar type, which is why Sadc's lackadaisical approach to
Zimbabwe is hardly surprising.
Sadc's failure so far to resolve the Zimbabwean problem is testament
to its youth and inexperience. It simply lacks the cojones to confront the
likes of President Robert Mugabe. There was always going to come a time when
Sadc would be ready to take a quick-fix deal. It's hardly surprising,
therefore, that Sadc appears to have largely endorsed the deal on the table,
contrary to the expectations of Tsvangirai and his faction of the MDC. It is
unlikely that Sadc will return soon to consider the matter and it now
appears that pressure will be exerted on Tsvangirai to agree,
notwithstanding his concerns, however genuine they may be.
For Mugabe, Sadc could not have delivered a better gift. For months,
he has suffered the ignominy of being the outcast, shunned by his erstwhile
comrades bar President Thabo Mbeki. At some point, even his old
battle-hardened comrade, Angola's President Eduardo dos Santos appeared to
have deserted him in his hour of need. But, it now appears, he took the
opportunity over the weekend to argue his case and convince them that what
he was presenting to his political nemesis was reasonable under the
For Sadc to agree that it may be necessary to convene Parliament is a
significant step in that it symbolically acknowledges Mugabe's presidency -
after all it is he who will preside over the opening of the legislative
body. That process had been suspended in order to deal with the
power-sharing issues and, in the process, Mugabe's legitimacy. Yet, as is
common cause, Mugabe's presidency is at the core of the talks.
It was thought that pressure from Sadc, even in the form of the
dreaded sanctions would be more effective to bring Zanu PF into line. That
prospect was, for the opposition, more likely at the height of the disquiet
over the chaotic elections. But in the aftermath of the recent Sadc Summit,
that now seems very unlikely. Mugabe appears to have managed to put off that
very uncomfortable pressure point. And that, too, is the opposition's loss
in this game of high stakes.
Zanu PF was desperate not to form a government at its greatest point
of weakness after the elections. Its main option was to seek some
accommodation with the MDC, and use the MDC as a "Juice-Card", that is, in
the language of mobile telephony, to secure some much-needed credit to run
for another few years. If that failed, the sub-option was to endeavour to be
seen as being conciliatory and willing to work with the opposition. That, at
least it hoped, would show its reasonable side.
svangirai's reluctance to sign is a result of fear of being used as
Mugabe's "Juice-Card". But given Sadc's current stance, Zanu PF appears to
have managed to persuade its erstwhile comrades that it is being reasonable
in trying to accommodate the opposition. The pressure from Sadc, it now
appears, is on the MDC to agree, however messy the deal is.
On its part the MDC's options are rather limited. It may be right to
refuse to be used as a "Juice Card" by Zanu PF if the power-sharing
agreement is hollow but it has to acknowledge that it has failed through
legal means to remove Zanu PF from power. The MDC does not appear to have
the facility or will to front a popular revolt. This closure of options is
why the MDC has agreed to talk to Zanu PF otherwise it would use other
For my part, I think it is futile to think that Zanu PF was ever going
to commit political hara-kiri on the negotiating table, when it went to such
great and, quite frankly, despicable lengths, to cling on in the first
place. There is, perhaps, need for some reality check on the part of the
opposition, recognising its strengths and limitations and appreciate that
what it would get through negotiations was always going to be far short of
what it could get through a total revolutionary victory.
The other option often touted by some people is the so-called "tongai
tione" stance; in other words, for the MDC to stand aside and let Zanu PF
govern in self-destruct mode. To their credit, of late, the MDC leaders have
shown none of this boycott approach to politics. They know it may provide
fodder for popular rhetoric but they also realise that the talks are their
most viable option at this delicate stage. They have consistently shown a
willingness to engage in order to resolve the differences. It has been
argued previously in these pages that entry into government will have its
positives and negatives and the challenge upon the MDC is to make sure that
the positives outweigh the negatives.
Crucially, they know that failures in their march to power are
consequent upon Zanu PF's exclusive control of the state apparatus, from the
media, finance, the security forces and importantly, the electoral
machinery. What they need to consider is whether entry into government would
lend them some influence and, possibly, control over these structures. Are
they likely to succeed in the next election whilst they remain outside
government or will their chances be better when they can counter Zanu PF's
influence in the state machinery? If they remain outside, what will have
changed in the next five years in terms of Zanu PF's strategies if it
retains exclusive control of the state machinery? These are questions the
MDC needs to consider its decision-making process.
For my part, I do not think the MDC has to enter government on the
basis that it will create any miraculous changes in the next five years. It
won't have the capacity to do that; not even the promised billions will
deliver those changes. Rather I have always viewed MDC's entry into
government in strategic terms. I am convinced that total control will never
be delivered by Zanu PF on the negotiating table. Remaining on the outside
will simply perpetuate more of the same.
There is not going to be total change at this stage, no, not even the
"tongai tione" approach can deliver that total control in the end - it
simply postpones some form of accommodation between the parties. The main
reason for the opposition to enter the ranks of government is strategic,
with an eye on the next phase of elections. Perhaps by then, if it stays
clean, it might have neutralised some of Zanu PF's influence in the state
By Alex Magaisa: based at Kent Law School, The University of Kent. He
can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
Saturday, 23 August 2008 18:29
THIS year's Harare Agricultural Show, which opens tomorrow, should
have been a historic one, one that would have been a watershed.
But instead there will be the same old tired and defiant rhetoric that
is only remarkable for its refusal to accept the reality of the sector's
For those with longer memories, no amount of blame can wish away the
self-evident truth that this year's show will be a sickly shadow of its
former self. This is even reflected in the absence of regional dignitaries
officiating at the event.
It is a bit embarrassing for anyone to preside over an event while
fully aware the sector in question is on its knees and the host country is
going to have to require international assistance, even though it is in
As many as five million Zimbabweans will require food aid to see them
through to March next year - thanks to the government's disastrous handling
of its chaotic so-called land reform programme.
The show takes place before the onset of the farming season and a
political settlement ahead of the show would have set the stage for a
But it is up to history to record whether failure to secure a binding
political settlement ranks among the catalogue of Zimbabwe's innumerable
There are several undertakings by the government on its support for
farmers which, while long on promises, have fallen woefully short on
One example will illustrate the perception by farmers of a farrago of
unfulfilled commitments: the majority of the small-scale farmers were
exhorted to grow cash crops, among them tobacco. However, a visit to the
tobacco sales floors around the capital will reveal the sorry state in which
the farmers find themselves after a season of back-breaking work in order to
produce tobacco, which the government so badly requires to raise more
foreign currency to pay for its unquenchable avarice.
The Reserve Bank tried to do something ostensibly to ease the plight
of the farmers just before the June 27 presidential election run-off, but we
are now the wiser as to its intentions then. The bank was more concerned
about paying off the farmers so they would return to their constituencies
and vote for President Robert Mugabe. But once they had played their part in
the result, they were forgotten, hence the scenes at the various auction
Not only are the small-scale farmers having to live in appalling
condition while waiting to be paid for their tobacco, they are wasting
valuable time that could be better spent in preparations for the next
agricultural season. But even more worrying are allegations the farmers
raise - missing tobacco bales, under-invoicing of the weight of the crop
delivered and transport charges that leave the farmers with absolutely
nothing after delivering their tobacco. It is a massive rip-off, which
anyone genuinely interested in empowering the farmers and providing
incentives for them to grow more of the crop would have acted on to stop the
And the question begs: where are the unions representing these
farmers? Have they been completely suborned? Why are they not fighting for a
better deal for their members? Where is the central bank and government
officials who misled these farmers into growing a crop that gives the
producers so many headaches and so few returns?
Here again we see the collapse of one of the nation's most profitable
industries. And the ruling party still refuses to let go and let somebody
else have a chance to put things right.
Tsvangirai Holds Key To Resolving Zim Crisis
Saturday, 23 August 2008 18:42
IN my discussions with patriotic Zimbabweans across the globe there is
a very strong view that if Morgan Tsvangirai's signature is the one that
will save the country, then he should be accorded the power that is
commensurate with the power of his signature.
The power of Tsvangirai's signature comes with responsibility and
therefore requires necessary say in the major decisions in the government
that will obtain in Zimbabwe because the people should be able to measure
his contribution. Any performance is measured against the job description
and specification. Tsvangirai appears to be asking for the clarity of his
role in the Government of National Unity which is necessary to avoid
unnecessary conflict in a situation where tension will be inevitable in any
change process because people are resistant to change.
The idea of a ceremonial role is understandably viewed as insult by
both President Robert Mugabe and Tsvangirai because you do not fight an
election to have a ceremonial role. People do not elect leaders to have a
ceremonial role. In a situation that Zimbabwe finds itself since March 29
2008 it makes sense for Zanu PF and the MDC to share power 50-50.
Professor Arthur Mutambara of the smaller MDC formation has been a
subject of serious criticism for tipping the balance of power in favour of
Zanu PF, and misusing his king-making position. Zimbabweans would hope that
Mutambara has good reasons for his decisions. Mutambara lives among
Zimbabweans and it is the mark of a transformational leader to listen to the
people who follow him/her otherwise you start facing accusations of being
arrogant and out of touch with reality.
For a person of Mutambara's intellect, who has researched on rocket
science, it should be easy to ascertain the people's wishes and feelings.
Change is about people's feelings and emotions and if you cannot connect
with people then there will be no buy in and change.
Tsvangirai has been referring to the March 29 election as a better
measure of ascertaining the people's feelings. In that election he was ahead
and the power of Tsvangirai's signature is understandably derived from that
election. President Mugabe had told the nation in the period leading to the
run-off that the pen will never defeat the gun. In the on-going talks
between Zanu PF and the two MDC formations, it is clear that the pen and the
gun should co-exist to save the country. In any case, it was the signatures
of President Mugabe, the late Dr Nkomo and Ian D Smith and even Bishop Abel
Muzorewa at Lancaster House, which brought the Independence of Zimbabwe.
It is a truism that Zimbabwe will not move forward without Tsvangirai's
signature. So does it mean that Tsvangirai is under pressure to save
Zimbabwe with the power of signature? It looks like a Messiah-moment for
Tsvangirai and with it, will come serious criticism if things go wrong and
praise and even worship if he gets it right.
The question for Tsvangirai is, does he go into the theatre without
enough tools or go in and ask for the tools once he is inside? Tsvangirai
should not under-estimate his power even without all the tools he wants. His
presence in the theatre will make a difference to the lives of the people of
Zimbabwe much more than he might imagine. It will take his creativity,
imagination and initiative. It cannot be disputed that Tsvangirai's role in
the future government should reflect the power of his signature.
Not Fooled Anymore
Saturday, 23 August 2008 18:41
I am shocked by the level of disrespect exhibited by the Zanu PF
propaganda machinery towards the majority of ordinary Zimbabweans.
For some reason, Zanu PF and the government's spin doctors still
labour under the mistaken belief that they can at any time win our minds,
hearts and votes with any story notwithstanding its persuasive value.
There are attempts to hoodwink citizens of this country into believing
that Zanu PF is a Messiah of anti-colonialism. Claims that Zanu PF is an
agent of "sovereignty" and nationalism are as misleading as they are worn
It is clear that President Robert Mugabe subverted the will of the
people of Zimbabwe and by his rhetoric and that of his acolytes they seek to
divert the attention of the masses from bread and butter issues - issues of
Zanu PF is prepared to negate the values that drove thousands of young
men and women, sons and daughters of the soil into the bush during the
struggle for independence in search of democratic values such as the right
Zanu PF and its leadership were prepared to incite violence and chaos
so they could continue in power. But rhetoric and lies will not improve our
stone-age social services, medieval economy and international isolation.
Mugabe's behaviour will only sink us deeper and deeper into the abyss of
poverty and isolation.
Zvamunoda S Hondo
Zesa Workers Involved In Vandalism
Saturday, 23 August 2008 18:39
ON Monday August 18 we had load-shedding, which we accept, but there
is even worse load-shedding.
The power goes off at 6am and comes on at 11.30pm. Sometimes it does
not even come on at all. We have to constantly raise the Call Centre on
704236 - and sometimes we eventually get power around 2am.
On Wednesday, August 20, around 9.30pm we saw that the street lights
had come on but the houses didn't have power. We then called the
above-mentioned number to explain the problem.
This is not the first time this problem has occurred. The Zimbabwe
Electricity Supply Authority is well aware of the problem and they have a
range of ready explanations - either the wire has fallen out of the
sub-station box or they don't have fuses.
I then got a report number and called at 3pm to find out if they had
attended to the problem. It was a different story: the sub-station had being
vandalized and they could not help.
I asked to speak to the manager, but he is never in his office. The
Call Centre people are rude, and don't have any respect for how they should
talk to their customers.
Rumour has it that some Zesa technicians are removing parts from
sub-stations and being paid US$20 to US$50 per house to replace the missing
components so that power can be restored. This allegation is supported by
the fact that they (Zesa technicians) are the only ones with knowledge of
where the fuses and wires are placed in sub-station boxes otherwise an
ordinary person would get electrocuted if they tampered with the wires.
Zesa should offcially respond to these claims because it is important
that we make the public aware of what is going on and what the authority is
doing to address the concerns of the long-suffering electricity consumers as
a result of the apparent indifference of the people at Zesa.
Hillside / Eastlea / Braeside
Exposing The Shameless Hypocrisy Of Zimbabwe's Rulers
Saturday, 23 August 2008 18:37
SINCE independence, the policies of Zimbabwe's rulers have been
informed more by a burning desire to get recognition and glory as
world-renowned statesmen, rather than the will to advance the interests of
The world-acclaimed policy of national reconciliation proclaimed in
1980, was the first sign of the Zimbabwe rulers' priorities. Without doubt,
the policy of reconciliation was noble in the circumstances to provide a
foundation for nation building. However, it was aimed more at getting
Zimbabwe's rulers a place in history as statesmen than advancing the cause
To show that the policy of reconciliation was more of a publicity
stunt than a gesture aimed at nation-building, the triumphant black rulers
only extended the olive branch to whites and not to fellow blacks. As a
result, the new black rulers did not find it worth their while to reconcile
with their black war-era adversaries like Ndabaningi Sithole, Henry
Hamadziripi, Bishop Abel Muzorewa and Dzinashe Machingura. Sithole and
Hamadziripi were not forgiven even in death as they were denied an
opportunity to be buried at the hallowed Heroes' Acre.
Having announced their presence on the world stage with the
self-serving policy of national reconciliation, the Zimbabwe leaders
proceeded to put in place the physical infrastructure necessary for them to
play out their glory-seeking foreign policy. They built the Harare Sheraton
Hotel - a white elephant in a sea of poverty - to host world leaders and
international talk shops. Soon after the completion of the Sheraton prestige
project, the Zimbabwean leaders hosted the Non-Aligned Movement, in keeping
with their desire to enhance their standing in the international community.
The National Sports Stadium was yet another prestige project meant to
give the spotlight-crazy Zimbabwe leadership a place to hold national events
from which to pontificate to the bemused masses in their impressive English.
The annual Heroes' Day commemorations are only a platform for an
opportunity to showcase their oratory and posture as the world's most daring
leaders who can fire broadsides at the world's western leaders with
(reckless?) abandon. Zimbabwe's ruling elite's actions since independence
clearly show that genuinely remembering the gallant fallen and living heroes
has never been one of its priorities.
Since independence, they have been obsessed with pursuing a
glory-seeking foreign policy to almost the total exclusion of advancing the
interest of the liberation war heroes living and departed whose sacrifices
brought them to power in the first place. The leaders are more interested in
"dealing a telling blow to that intransigent and incorrigible racism" ahead
of improving the lot of their black people.
While the country's leadership annually pontificates at the obscenely
opulent Heroes' Acre on Heroes' Day, there are still a lot of fallen war
heroes who lie in unmarked graves in and outside the country. A group of
concerned war veterans going by the name, Fallen Heroes: The Exhumers is
literally scavenging in the bush using their bare hands in search of the
remains of their comrades, with no state support whatsoever.
While the country's leaders use the occasion to remember the fallen
heroes to fire more broadsides against imperialists, Mai Tapiwa in Mberengwa
at Chegato wonders how and when she will ever get to see where her brother
Cde Zvandasara lies buried, more than thirty years after he left for the
liberation war. Mbuya Jura in Rusape has given up hope of ever knowing how
her beloved son Tendai perished in the war and where his remains lie.
Mainini MaDube in Mberengwa at Chavengwa is resigned to the fact that her
wish to know where the remains of her war veteran brother Abraham lie, will
never be granted in her life time.
But the concerns of these peasants must be subordinated to and come
second to the selfish leaders even if it means Zimbabweans will be reduced
to beggars and economic refugees all over the world as a result.
The much-hyped land reform when it finally came was motivated more by
the leaders' desire to vicariously deal a blow against the British through
grabbing their white kith and kin's farms, than a genuine desire to empower
Zimbabwe's current leaders cannot be counted among genuine and sincere
African heroes who dedicated their lives to improving the lives of the
Africans at home and in the Diaspora. These genuine and sincere African
freedom fighters are people like Nelson Mandela, Kwame Nkrumah, Thomas
Sankara, Julius Nyerere, Kenneth Kaunda, Martin Luther King Junior, Malcolm
X, Oliver Tambo, Dedan Kimathi, Bob Marley, and Marcus Garvey.
Zimbabwean leaders are merely a bunch of shameless power-obsessed,
self-important, hypocrites who opportunistically use the cloak of
Pan-Africanism to camouflage their selfish interests. They are more
interested in caressing their monstrous egos than improving the lot of the
citizenry of Zimbabwe.
Saturday, 23 August 2008 18:44
Shame on Zesa
THE Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority should be ashamed of the
shoddy service it is giving to consumers. Why doesn't the whole bunch of
under-performers resign? They should be ashamed that they wake up and inform
their families that they are going to work - what work when for the greater
part of the time consumers have no electricity? They should pay the money
they owe Hwange Colliery Company so that they can receive more coal
supplies. This is how Zanu PF has destroyed this country. They waste money
congratulating President Robert Mugabe for winning a disputed poll. How does
this help the ordinary people? What are Zanu PF's priorities?- Shameless.
THE Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority fails to provide power and I
buy a generator as an alternative, but now I am being told to pay a levy in
US dollars in a country that says it's illegal to deal in foreign currency,
or for property owners and shops to charge in American dollars. - Tatambura.
Trap for Morgan
AS Morgan Tsvangirai's ability to lead will come under the microscope
for the transitional period of the agreement, he needs to negotiate for real
power. This is because Zanu PF would love to make sure he fails as prime
minister and becomes unelectable. - Oskido.
INSTEAD of bank queues being a thing of the past, I think Dr Gideon
Gono, the Governor of the Reserve Bank, should be made a thing of the
past. - Futurist.
COULD you please ask Dr Gideon Gono where the $500 notes are? Carrying
and counting coins has become a nightmare. - Stumped.
Why Mugabe must go
THE gravity of the economic and social problems in Zimbabwe should
motivate President Robert Mugabe to transfer most executive powers to Morgan
Tsvangirai. He has had them for 28 years and hence the problems we have.-
Makoni for RBZ chief
DR Simba Makoni was a victim of the so-called political commentators
who cannot read the mood of the nation and pushed him to challenge for the
presidency. He is a much better alternative for the Reserve Bank Governor
though. - Real commentator.
SO President Robert Mugabe says he won the election run-off. But what
does it help us if most of the time we are in the dark, while they waste
diesel ferrying Zanu PF supporters to rallies, yet at the same there is no
money to purchase oil for power transformers. - N'anga.
Where's the diesel n'anga?
COULD The Standard please update us on what has happened to the diesel
n'anga? If you do publish an updated article on the matter please could you
accompany it with pictures of government ministers bare foot. I still cannot
get over the sight of the ministers being duped by a primary school
ZIMBABWEANS went through hell this year because a few individuals were
fighting to be elected so they could earn a salary of US$56. If we are
serious, we should not be trying so hard to be the laughing stock of the
world as if we don't have anything better to do. Just imagine the time,
energy and resources that were spent just to earn US$56 a month. - Baffled.
Lift NGOs ban
THE government should swallow its pride and allow non-governmental
organisations to resume their humanitarian activities. People are dying of
hunger. In Bikita villagers are resorting to wild plants and fruits. -
No more Zanu PF tricks
I would like to say to the Minister of Justice, Legal and
Parliamentary Affairs, Patrick Chinamasa, that misinforming people does not
pay because people are much wiser than the politicians think. We are aware
that Zanu PF is messing up the talks. Morgan Tsvangirai is not asking for
favours from President Robert Mugabe. He is not going to sign a flawed deal
until Zanu PF gets its act together. Tsvangirai won the March 29 election
and therefore deserves respect. People no longer watch ZBC news. They search
for information from credible sources and are exchanging it as it is. There
will be no deal until Zanu PF starts playing ball. - Zimuto, Harare.
ZANU PF has proved to all and sundry that it cannot give up power
through the ballot box. No one in SADC can sweet talk the party out of
office, so what's next for Zimbabwe? - Eric.
PUTTING the country first must not imply that the MDC accepts token
posts offered by Zanu PF. They won't fulfill the people's wishes. They won
the vote.- Hope, Kadoma.
THIS nation needs God-fearing leaders. We don't need leaders who are
advised by dodgy clergymen. These leaders must know God. - Prophet.
IN Kuwadzana III and IV, we are experiencing serious power cuts. Can
Zesa care to explain to its consumers because among the consumers affected
is a clinic? - Act.
THE Zimbabwe National Water Authority could be pumping untreated water
to domestic consumers in Kadoma. This is because there is an outbreak of
diarrhoea in the town. I think this is scandalous. - Gurundoro.
Sadc shields failure
THE Zimbabwe crisis as adjudicated by Sadc has been nauseating to the
intellect and very unpleasant self-destruction by Africans as they
simple-mindedly applied their Kenya blunder, which sadly, they were still
mistakenly celebrating as a democratic achievement. The Sadc leaders met to
find modern ways of accommodating dictatorship in modern African political
culture founded on the mistaken belief of the sanctity of the African Union
at all costs. - Chirandu.
SADC only needs to engage one of the political parties and convince it
that it needs not manufacture its popularity after a 30-year record of
dismal failure in providing the nation with basics of life, and that the
same party leadership isn't indispensable. - Citizen.
If SADC cannot solve such issues as the crisis in Zimbabwe, why are
they wasting resources grouping? President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa
should be held accountable for the continued suffering of Zimbabweans. -
The majority of Zimbabweans know that parastatals have for years been
draining the fiscus and wasting taxpayers' money, which has led to the
decline in the performance of state-owned companies that take the record in
loss-making mismanagement and incompetence. Why should a route that does not
generate revenue continue to be serviced? They say insanity is where a
person continues to repeat the same things hoping to achieve a different
result. - I'm sane.
Wisani Wa Ka Ngobeni Published:Aug
Parastatal PetroSA is dishing out oil deals to a consortium that includes
foreign businessmen who have been fingered by the United Nations (UN) as
fronts for Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe.
Thamer Al Shanfari and his associates in the now defunct Oryx Natural
Resources are founding shareholders of the local company, Middle East South
Africa Energy (Mesa).
But it has now emerged that the UN has accused Oryx Natural Resources of
plundering in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and diverting the
proceeds to the Zimbabwe Defence Force (ZDF) and to Mugabe.
In addition, the US government last month issued an executive order banning
its nationals or companies from doing business with Oryx or Al Shanfari - a
listing the London-based businessman intends challenging.
Announcing the ban, US president George W Bush ordered that assets of the
individuals and entities identified as fronting for Mugabe that are within
US jurisdiction be frozen. "Additionally, US persons are prohibited from
conducting financial or commercial transactions with the individual or
entities," he said.
Thabo Mabaso, spokesman for PetroSA, on Friday confirmed that the state oil
company was doing business with Mesa, but said PetroSA was not aware of the
allegations of fronting for Mugabe against anyone involved with the company.
He said Mesa has been registered as a vendor with PetroSA and that it had
been awarded a contract for an 8-million deal in January this year.
Before this Mesa had landed a R1.2- billion deal from PetroSA. Mesa had
scooped a contract to supply PetroSA with 30000 tons of oil condensate a
month over two years.
The deal ended in 2006.
Al Shanfari and his associates hold their stake in Mesa through a
Mauritius-based company, Pegasus. They initially held 49% of Mesa, along
with South African companies Kovacs Investments (20%), Lithemba Investments
(10%) and Chomulunga African (21%). Chomulunga has since withdrawn from
Mesa's chief executive Bongani Raziya confirmed that Pegasus owned a stake
in Mesa. However, he said he was not aware of its partners' alleged
activities in the DRC.
Raziya said his company has nothing to do with Mugabe or his regime. "I know
that Pegasus was supplying oil in the DRC," he said.
Al Shanfari - through his London-based lawyers, The Khan Partnership - on
Friday said he had resigned from Oryx in December 2002 and "have not been to
Zimbabwe since then".
He added: "I have no wish to be associated with those who support the Mugabe
regime." He said his inclusion on the US list of entities and people
associated with Mugabe had damaged his reputation. He added that his lawyers
were applying to have his name cleared, and that this included court action.
All individuals or companies mentioned in the US order were given 30 days to
show why they should not be listed.
Meanwhile, it has been established that Al Shanfari's business associates in
Oryx included former Emir of Qatar Sheikh Khalifa and Issa Al Kawari, the
former Information Minister of Qatar. Al Shanfari is now embroiled in a
bitter row with Khalifa and Al Kawari over his 30% shareholding in Pegasus.
Other Shareholders in Oryx are Kamal Khalfan, who is the honorary consul of
the Sultanate of Oman in Zimbabwe.
Neither of these three businessmen are listed in the US executive order.
However, Khalfan, who maintains a close relationship with Mugabe, only last
month facilitated the donation of Z1-trillion to a charitable trust
belonging to Mugabe's wife, Grace.
Khalfan chairs the richest horse racing event in Zimbabwe, the Republic Cup,
of which Mugabe is the patron. According to recent reports in the Zimbabwean
government-owned newspaper, the Herald, the Republic Cup Trust last month
also donated money to another unnamed trust nominated by Mugabe.
In 2002 the UN reported that the DRC's then president, Laurent Kabila,
granted Zimbabwe a 2-billion diamond concession in the DRC to compensate it
for having provided military support.
By Dominic White
Last Updated: 9:26pm BST 23/08/2008
WPP, the world's second largest advertising company, has quietly offloaded
its interest in a Zimbabwean agency involved in President Robert Mugabe's
The 25 per cent stake in Imago Young & Rubicam was sold by WPP last month
for just $1 to the majority shareholder, Sharon Mugabe, who is also chief
WPP, run by chief executive Sir Martin Sorrell, had been assured that she
was no relation to the president.
As part of the deal, Imago Young & Rubicam is changing its name to remove
all references to Young & Rubicam and associated brands. Y&R is one of the
most powerful agencies in Sorrell's global empire.
The sale followed revelations in June that Imago was advising President
Mugabe on advertising for his re-election campaign, which was blighted by
allegations of violence, intimidation and vote-rigging.
British companies have come under fire for remaining in the country and the
British Government has suggested they could be forced to leave. A growing
number of Western companies are pulling out, including Shell. Tesco has said
it will no longer source food from Zimbabwe.
Barclays, Standard Chartered and the mining corporations Anglo American and
Rio Tinto have all so far decided to stay.
In June WPP distanced itself from Imago Young & Rubicam, saying it had "no
legal control" of the business, and that it shared "the world's outrage at
what is happening" in Zimbabwe.
WPP added: "This could never happen with our knowledge or approval and we
investigated the situation as a matter of urgency."
Last week it emerged that Zimbabwe's inflation rate had surged to 11.2m per
cent in June.
Some observers fear that Mugabe is planning "corporate seizures" similar to
his land grab of white farms eight years ago, which helped precipitate its
descent into economic chaos.
IoS revelations force ministers to campaign for voluntary scheme to prevent
'silent complicity' in Mugabe's regime
By Brian Brady, Whitehall Editor
Sunday, 24 August 2008
Ministers mounted a secret campaign to persuade huge British firms to adopt
"an ethical approach" to their investments in Zimbabwe, amid concerns that
some could be "silently complicit" in Robert Mugabe's reign of terror,
documents obtained by The Independent on Sunday have revealed.
A clutch of internal Foreign Office (FCO) emails lay bare the Government's
deepening fears over the damage 16 companies trading with the pariah state
could do to Britain's reputation as it struggled to defuse the crisis over
Mr Mugabe's "stolen election".
But they also demonstrate how ministers were powerless to control the firms,
including Barclays, Shell and BP, by persuading them to sign up to a
voluntary agreement to uphold human rights in Zimbabwe. The FCO last night
confirmed that ministers had failed to thrash out an "optional ethical code"
The Prime Minister's hard-line stance on Mr Mugabe, urging firms not to
"prop up" the regime, was undermined by a series of revelations about the
billions of pounds British firms still had invested in Zimbabwe. The IoS
also revealed that seven MPs owned significant shareholdings in companies
trading in the country.
The documents, obtained under Freedom of Information legislation, disclose
that FCO officials and the Cabinet Office were under intense pressure to
respond to the public mood and find a way to exert some "leverage" on the
firms. An internal email last month revealed that the IoS revelations in
particular had intensified the pressure on ministers attempting to resolve
"There is a lot of public interest in additional measures against the regime
in Zimbabwe," the memo, from 1 July stated. "One angle is financial, centred
on current Zimbabwean legislation that requires banks to surrender part of
their foreign currency to the government - see coverage inter alia in The
Independent on Sunday yesterday.
"We discussed this at this morning's Whitehall Zimbabwe crisis meeting."
Another email between senior FCO officials on the same day said: "We're
looking into how UK businesses with links to Zimbabwe can help. How can we
encourage an ethical approach from British Businesses (inc banks or their
subsidiaries) trading in /with Zimbabwe? What leverage do we have over the
behaviour of British businesses, and how can we apply it most effectively?"
However, the response pointed out that only nation states, not corporations,
were bound by international human rights legislation. The email continued:
"It is to be hoped that UK companies are not directly complicit or
beneficially complicit in human rights abuses. Some may however be silently
complicit by failing to raise the question of systematic or continuous human
rights violations in their interactions with the appropriate authorities.
"For example, inaction or acceptance by companies of systematic
discrimination in employment law against particular groups (which in the
context of Zimbabwe might be interpreted as those opposed to Mugabe)."
The departments came up with a proposed voluntary code comprising seven key
principles that they hoped British firms would agree to outlaw in their
dealings with Zimbabwe. But the code, including an obligation to oppose
human rights abuses and discrimination, failed to gain support from the
John Hilary, executive director of the charity War on Want, said the
Government had been "misguided" to expect that a voluntary code would work.
"Hoping that companies would abide by an optional code flies in the face of
experience, and the Government should know that that is the case," he said.
A spokesman for Barclays said the bank had abided by sanctions against
Zimbabwe. He added: "We have been there for the best part of 100 years and a
lot of people depend on us, for their food, if nothing else."
24th Aug 2008 00:53 GMT
By a Correspondent
ZIMBABWE'S doctors went on strike yesterday and aid officials warned of an
impending humanitarian crisis that could see at least 5-million people
facing chronic food shortages because of one of the worst harvests on
Doctors at government hospitals went on strike over pay and teachers
threatened to begin a work stoppage shortly, union officials said.
"All doctors at all the country's referral hospitals are on strike," Amon
Siveregi, chairman of the Zimbabwe Medical Doctors' Association, said in an
interview in Harare yesterday.
"We are negotiating with government, but can't yet disclose our demands
because of a confidentiality clause in our dealings."
In the run-up to Zimbabwe's general election on March 29, the state granted
public servants wage hikes. Reports at the time said some doctors were also
Crisis in Zimbabwe, a coalition of Harare-based humanitarian organisations,
described Zimbabwe's hospitals as "death halls" in a report this month.
It blamed "acute shortages" of drugs and equipment and poor salaries for
The Progressive Teachers' Union of Zimbabwe said yesterday it was
considering calling a strike. The tension comes as Zimbabwe's official rate
of inflation hit an annual 11,2-million percent this month. Kingdom Bank, a
unit of Kingdom Meikles Africa and the country's second-biggest local
lender, estimated the rate to be closer to 50-million percent.
"The 448% increase on basic salary and the 900% transport- allowance
increase are basically a high-sounding nothing," the teachers union
spokesman, Takavafira Zhou, said from Harare.
"It falls far short of our demands for the equivalent of US$800." A teacher's
monthly salary is not enough to buy a 10kg sack of maize meal, which could
feed a small family for a week. Reports of a looming humanitarian crisis
intensified this week.
President Robert Mugabe banned humanitarian agencies from distributing food
in Zimbabwe in the run-up to the March election, accusing them of backing
the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).
The UK's Daily Telegraph said on Wednesday that the country had had its
worst summer harvest for decades and 5-million people, or nearly half the
population, were expected to need food before the next harvest in April.
An unnamed official from a humanitarian organisation was quoted as saying
the agency had received many reports of an increase in malnourished
Community centres were now gathering grounds for people without food. A
business owner in Bulawayo told his MDC representative that an unofficial
food distribution system among workers and locals was collapsing because
food was more scarce.
Former MDC MP Renson Gasela was quoted as saying in the Daily Telegraph
report: "This ban is appalling and disgraceful and is a violation of the
memorandum of understanding (between ruling Zanu PF and MDC). No country in
the world should be allowed to stop food from reaching people in need."
World Food Programme food aid destined for Zimbabwe is going stale in
warehouses in SA, the report said. Separately, the MDC said it would hold a
memorial service for its slain national youth assembly secretary on Saturday
Tonderai Ndira's mutilated remains were found a week after he was abducted
from his home by suspected state security agents in the early hours of May
13. - Business Day/Own Correspondent
A veteran US foreign correspondent argues it's dictators such as Mugabe who
try to inspire guilt in Western leaders. Their people just call for help
Sunday August 24 2008
On the streets of Kinshasa years ago, during a protest against the
then-dictator Mobutu Sese Seko, I remember someone in the crowd cornering
me, an American reporter, and demanding to know why the United States had
not sent troops to intervene. 'You took out Duvalier! You took out Marcos,'
he said, referring to deposed dictators in Haiti and the Philippines. 'Why
not here?' It was a question that I heard often over the years, in East
Timor and Rangoon, in Malawi and Cameroon. It was usually posed by people
who felt they had no other recourse against a repressive regime.
Intervention has been discredited in recent years, since the American and
British-led invasion of Iraq. But there are still people clamouring for
someone from outside - usually America or a former European colonial power -
to come and rescue them.
And any hint at intervention, like any criticism, is deflected by
authoritarian regimes that have proven deft at playing 'the colonial card'.
Expressions of concerns for human rights and democracy are ridiculed as a
modern way for the West to 'subjugate' countries of the south. We have heard
it from Zimbabwe, where British criticism of Robert Mugabe is routinely
denounced as a new kind of imperialism.
Coming from the likes of Mugabe and his henchmen, playing the colonial card
is self-serving justification. And the silence of others in the region and
the world - of South Africa, in Zimbabwe's case, of the south east Asian
countries who continue to deal with Burma's military regime - sometimes
makes it seem as if concern for democracy and human rights are only European
and American fixations.
That doesn't mean there are not also real sensitivities involved.
I have to agree with New York Times columnist Tom Friedman, who observed
several years ago that 'the single most under-appreciated force in
international relations is humiliation'. For Africa in particular, most of
which has been independent for more than four decades, colonialism remains a
source of humiliation and resentment and the cause of deep-seated
The fact that outside action has been required so many times over the years
only deepens the humiliation. French troops have, by one count, intervened
in Africa more than 45 times between 1960 and 2005. British troops have
intervened in Africa as well, in places such as Sierra Leone, when rebels
besieged the capital, Freetown ... American troops have intervened, most
disastrously in Somalia in the early 1990s.
If it's not a lingering colonial mentality, ask African critics of such
interventions, then why does France only intervene in its former colonies?
Why does Britain put so much pressure on Zimbabwe?
It's tricky, for it's true that Europeans more readily step in where they
retain residual interest and influence. The interest is not even-handed, but
determined by history, geography, language and recent patterns of
immigration. But that doesn't make it wrong.
The British care about what happens in Zimbabwe, Kenya, Nigeria, India and
Pakistan. The French more closely follow events in the francophonie,
specifically Congo, Rwanda, Vietnam and Cambodia. And Americans pay more
attention to what happens in neighbouring Mexico and in the Philippines
(along with places where it has economic interests).
These spheres of influence are fairly durable and in many ways necessary.
America, Britain, France and Spain will continue to exert outsized
influence - cultural, economic, military, political - on their former
colonies, one-time clients or countries in their back yard. As long as that
clout is wielded to promote universal principles, it's not a bad thing.
In fact, people who have no way of standing up for themselves have come to
expect it. It's one of the lessons I learnt over nearly two decades as a
foreign correspondent. My first overseas stint came in 1986 in Haiti, when I
was sent to cover spreading street protests against the rule of dictator
Jean-Claude 'Baby Doc' Duvalier.
Impoverished Haiti had a bit of a colonial split personality - colonised by
France and now part of the francophonie, but on America's doorstep and in
the US sphere of influence. So it was no surprise that Duvalier was taken
out of Port-au-Prince airport on an American cargo plane and bound for exile
in the south of France and Haitians in the streets thanked America and
In Jakarta, it was a Portuguese diplomat, Ana Gomes, who became the most
high-profile foreign critic of the Indonesian government's treatment of East
Timor, a former Portuguese colony. And within the EU, at the UN, before any
forum that would listen, Portugal kept the plight of East Timor on the
Indonesian officials and diplomats always seemed particularly incensed at
what they considered Portuguese 'interference' in East Timor. They played
the colonial card, reminding journalists how the Portuguese in 1975 left
Timor a chaotic mess. In Jakarta's official narrative - that continues much
to this day - Indonesia had gone to East Timor to restore stability.
Portugal, however, is hardly a military might. So it fell to Australia, the
military power of the South Pacific, to lead the intervention that routed
the militia and provided security in Timor. At the time of the mayhem in
1999, an American diplomat in Jakarta predicted this turn of events.
'Australia will have to deal with it,' he told me. 'It's their Haiti.'
The pattern will persist in international affairs until countries become
less timid about speaking up about human rights abuses and atrocities in
their own neighbourhoods and show a willingness to act to resolve them. That
will take time and a capacity, militarily and otherwise, that most countries
do not have.
And as Mugabe appears, once again, to strengthen his grip on power, turning
Zimbabwe into a new Zaire with little public outrage from Africa itself,
Britain will struggle over how to react.
Any action will raise the criticisms of neocolonialism, imperialism and
racism. Past feelings of guilt might tempt Western countries to want to
lower their voices and stand on the sidelines. But the louder voices will
always be the ones from the streets, just like the ones I heard in Kinshasa
and in Dili and in Rangoon: where are you? Why don't you help?
· Keith Richburg is now the Washington Post's New York bureau chief
Comment from Business Day (SA), 23 August
When the police came banging on his door in the early 1990s, Arthur
Mutambara made his fabled escape through the window of a second-floor hostel
room. The student movement in Zimbabwe had determinedly resisted attacks on
academic freedom, growing state authoritarianism and corruption. Student
leaders were ready targets for the police. A Rhodes scholarship to Oxford
was a timely intervention after his escape, and the beginning of an
international career. At home, a legend grew as Mutambara gained the
reputation for having been the University of Zimbabwe's most forceful
student council president. Some 15 years later in 2006, he capitalised on
that status and entered politics. So far Mutambara appears to be fighting
the battle of one whose best moments may be behind him. Those who know him
comment on his unbridled ambition and conceit, no doubt fuelled by his
exceptional academic achievements. Scholarship has defined his life from the
time he skipped grades and was promoted to his older sister's class. When
his parents died an uncle took over, putting him though school in Mutare,
Zimbabwe's fourth-largest city on the border with Mozambique.
A common criticism of Mutambara's politics is that it lacks maturity and is
still defined by student activism. In particular, his attacks on the west
appear to have alienated some of those who had given him the benefit of the
doubt, especially individuals and groups pushing for democracy in Zimbabwe.
However, Mutambara's biggest test will come next week when President Robert
Mugabe reconvenes parliament. This will be the first time MPs meet since the
March 29 elections. Though Mutambara has ruled out a separate deal with Zanu
PF, reports are that his party, a faction that split from the Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC), has entered an agreement with the ruling party,
allowing it to earn the influential position of speaker. In parliament,
Mutambara's party will have to decide whether to give its 10 swing seats to
Zanu PF or to Morgan Tsvangirai's MDC, with 99 and 100 seats respectively.
It will be ironic if Mutambara gravitates towards his former nemesis.
Like Simba Makoni's entry into the presidential race in January, Mutambara's
return to Zimbabwe also elicited suspicion from those resigned to cynicism
and a distrust of politicians. Many wondered why a rocket scientist - a
robotics academic, author and one-time Nasa scientist - would want to gamble
such a dream career for an uncertain and perilous dabble in opposition
politics. No less uneasy at the 42-year-old's return to Zimbabwe were
opposition supporters fearful of a Zanu PF plant at a time when the MDC was
proving adept at surviving a determined onslaught by the government.
However, Mutambara's chance came when a disagreement over participation in
the 2005 senate elections caused a split in the MDC. Largely on the basis of
his Shona roots, he was chosen to lead the breakaway group, ahead of senior
party members wary that an Ndebele leader would not receive as much support
from the country's majority Shona speakers. In the March elections, his
party's support came from the two southern provinces of Matabeleland. But
several MDC founder members, including the faction's chief negotiator,
Welshman Ncube, lost their seats.
The Mutambara faction argues that the power-sharing talks - in which the two
MDC factions initially held a common position - have surpassed expectations,
yielding a new position of prime minister with more power than Kenya's Mwai
Kibaki. Their argument is that Tsvangirai's demand for a single centre of
power is as unrealistic as it is unattainable. Such statements have bred
suspicion that the party has caved in and handed Zanu PF a victory. "They
are on the Zanu PF side of the court and that's very unfortunate," says John
Makumbe of the University of Zimbabwe's political studies department.
However, there is talk of a division among the 10 MPs. "It's a do or die, if
we don't participate (in parliament) we're handing the speakership to Zanu
PF and this cannot be reversed," says Abednico Bhebhe, an MP in the
Mutambara faction. Makumbe says Mutambara has added confusion to Zimbabwean
politics, throwing the country back to pre-1980 factionalism in what is
sometimes referred as the Muzorewa era. He describes Mutambara as
"egotistic, self-centred" and prone to "projecting himself above the
Yet in his acceptance speech after being elected president of the MDC
faction in February 2006, Mutambara described Tsvangirai as a "Zimbabwean
hero" and promised to step down should a new leadership be elected after
reunification of the two factions. Such intentions have resulted in only a
loose partnership between the two groups. Mutambara's party denies having
struck a secret pact with Zanu PF. It says it does not intend participating
in a Mugabe government. The perceived closeness to Zanu PF will alienate
public opinion, already hardened by electoral shortcomings resulting from
the split in the MDC. A hard-hitting speech that Mutambara gave earlier this
month led some to conclude he was starting to speak Mugabe's language. Yet
the same rhetoric was apparent when he was elected president of the faction.
On Zimbabwe's Heroes' Day, he attacked western diplomacy for its "irritating
ignorance, political insensitivity, double standards and patronising
arrogance". He asked: "How does a western country publicly pronounce that
they will not recognise a government unless it is led by a particular leader
without undermining the credibility and integrity of that individual?"
Claiming that this "dishonesty" has damaged the opposition's fight against
dictatorship, Mutambara said: "Western governments have undermined our
legitimacy, strengthened our opponents, removed our moral authority, and
ruined our effectiveness and standing among Africans." Less well known is
that Mutambara worked in SA briefly as a Standard Bank executive, a post he
left in unclear circumstances. He has taught at the University of SA. At
present he is a consultant who shuttles between Harare and Johannesburg,
where he has a home.