By Basildon Peta, Southern Africa Correspondent
Tuesday, 26 August 2008
Robert Mugabe's increasingly desperate attempts to cling to power suffered a
heavy blow yesterday when the opposition Movement for Democratic Change won
a vote for the coveted post of speaker of parliament.
Lovemore Moyo carried the vote despite the arrests of two MDC MPs as they
arrived at parliament before the vote. This was seen as an attempt by Mr
Mugabe to put the position of speaker beyond the reach of the MDC in the
hung parliament, where the opposition MDC controls 100 seats against 99 for
Mr Mugabe's Zanu-PF and 10 for a splinter faction of the MDC. The remaining
seat is held by an independent.
Mr Mugabe is to inaugurate the seventh parliament today, in which he will
have no majority for the first time since independence in 1980. Mr Mugabe
and the leader of the MDC splinter group, Arthur Mutambara, have
surprisingly found common ground in talks to end the Zimbabwe crisis,
mediated by the South African President, Thabo Mbeki.
But Mr Tsvangirai has refused to sign a deal amid disagreements on the
powers of Mr Mugabe and of Mr Tsvangirai if he were to become prime
minister. Mr Tsvangirai argues that under the deal he would not have the
powers to formulate policy or appoint, chair and run the cabinet, while also
leaving Mr Mugabe's executive powers intact.
Trying to divide the opposition, Mr Mugabe decided against fielding a
candidate for speaker, preferring to back Mr Mutambara's candidate, Paul
Themba Nyathi. Had Mr Themba Nyathi won, it is believed that Mr Mugabe would
have proceeded to form a cabinet - perhaps with Mr Mutambara. That would
have excluded Mr Tsvangirai, who defeated Mr Mugabe in the first round of
presidential elections on 29 March before boycotting the second round on 27
The MDC spokesman, Nelson Chamisa, said one of the MPs arrested yesterday,
Shuah Mudiwa, was "literally pulled" out of the parliament building. He
returned later to be sworn in, but the other MP, Eliah Jembere, remained in
Several of Mr Mutambara's MPs, and some from Zanu-PF, voted for Mr Moyo, who
polled 110 votes against Mr Themba Nyathi's 98. "This is yet another
crushing blow against tyranny and dictatorship in this country," said Mr
It is not clear whether Mr Mugabe would appoint a cabinet without Mr
Tsvangirai and close any further dialogue.
Mon 25 Aug 2008, 21:48 GMT
By Cris Chinaka
HARARE, Aug 26 (Reuters) - Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe is expected to
open parliament on Tuesday after his ruling ZANU-PF and the opposition MDC
won key positions in the chamber.
The opening of parliament could intensify a post-election political struggle
between the two sides that has threatened to scupper power-sharing talks.
Zimbabwe's main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party won
the vote for parliament speaker, gaining one of the most powerful positions
in Zimbabwean politics for the first time since independence in 1980 in a
blow to Mugabe.
The MDC has protested against Mugabe's plans to open parliament, saying it
would hamper talks on forming a unity government. The MDC speaker, Lovemore
Moyo, could boycott the opening, causing embarrassment for Mugabe and
raising doubts about whether the negotiations can continue.
Technically, if the speaker did not show up, the deputy speaker, who is from
a breakaway MDC faction, would take his place and the parliament would open.
Morgan Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change said it might attend the
opening of parliament out of respect for the new speaker but it did not
recognise Mugabe as the country's president.
ZANU-PF won a vote for the presidency of the upper house of parliament, the
Senate -- where it has a majority -- meaning it can block legislation passed
Negotiations between ZANU-PF and the MDC have stalled over what the
opposition says is Mugabe's refusal to give up executive power after 28
years in office.
The deadlock, in spite of strong regional and international pressure for a
deal, has dampened hopes of an agreement that could end the political crisis
and revive the economy.
Political analysts say that although the talks on how to share power look
doomed for now, they are likely to resume in the coming weeks because both
Mugabe and Tsvangirai are under intense pressure to reach a settlement.
Arthur Mutambara, leader of the smaller, breakaway faction of the MDC, could
emerge as the kingmaker.
Mugabe's party lost control of parliament in March elections for the first
time since independence from Britain, winning 99 seats, but Tsvangirai's
party only won 100 seats so does not have an absolute majority either.
That leaves control in the hands of Mutambara's breakaway faction, which has
10 seats. There is one independent. (Writing by Michael Georgy; Editing by
From The Associated Press, 25 August
By Angus Shaw
Harare - Zimbabwe's main opposition party won the top job in parliament on
Monday, a surprise victory for democracy that could give the opposition
leverage in deadlocked power-sharing talks following the country's disputed
election. The win for the opposition marks the first time since independence
in 1980 that President Robert Mugabe and his Zanu PF party do not control
parliament. However, Mugabe still retains power to dissolve parliament and
rule through emergency regulations by presidential decree. Zanu PF had been
expected to win the key post of speaker but it did not nominate a candidate
because "the figures were against us," party legislator Walter Mzemdi said.
Zanu PF legislators were instructed to vote for the leader of a splinter
opposition faction, Paul Themba-Nyathi, he said. But Lovemore Moyo, of
Morgan Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change, won the position by 110
votes to 98. The distribution of votes in the secret ballot showed Moyo
apparently got votes from both Mugabe's party and the breakaway splinter
Mugabe, 84, has been in power since 1980 and for years was revered for
leading the seven-year bush war to oust the white-minority government that
ruled the former British colony. But the country descended into chaos nearly
a decade ago when Mugabe set loose so-called "war veterans" from his ruling
Zanu PF party to violently invade white-owned farms. Despite Mugabe's claim
of seizing the farms for Zimbabwe's blacks, most of the land went to
Mugabe's ministers and generals and was left to lie fallow. Today,
Zimbabwe - once a supplier of food to the region - is an economic disaster
zone with an official inflation rate of 2.2 million percent and 80 percent
unemployment. A third of the population has fled to neighboring countries
and abroad, while another third depends on international food aid. A
disputed presidential election earlier this year sparked Zimbabwe's latest
Both Mugabe and Tsvangirai claim to be Zimbabwe's legitimate leader -
Tsvangirai based on placing first in a field of four in March presidential
elections; Mugabe based on a widely denounced June runoff in which he was
the only candidate. Analyst Simandla Zondi said Monday's victory marks "the
beginning of power-sharing not by consensus but by issue of the electoral
weight" of the opposition party. "It gives them a significant amount of
power to build the legislative assembly into a strong force for
accountability, one which is really going to force the executive (Mugabe) to
find a way to work with a parliament which may be led by hostile forces,"
said Zondi, of South Africa's Institute for Global Dialogue. The speaker can
control the timing and pace of debate, which is a strategic advantage. If
Tsvangirai's party continues to win support from legislators in other
parties, the opposition could block legislation in parliament and funding
for major ministries.
The election of Moyo as speaker brought cheers from the opposition, and
legislators broke into an electoral song declaring "Zanu PF is finished!"
Moyo promised to "work toward a professional parliament that will represent
the true wishes of the people of Zimbabwe." The Movement for Democratic
Change party has 100 seats in the 210-seat legislature; Mugabe's party 99;
and a faction that broke away from the opposition has 10. An independent
politician who broke away from Mugabe's party, Jonathan Moyo, has the
remaining seat. Jonathan Moyo seconded the candidacy of Nyathi, which
indicates at least one Zanu PF legislator must have voted for Lovemore Moyo
in the secret ballot. The two Moyos are not related. Shortly before the
election of speaker, two opposition politicians were arrested as they
entered parliament to be sworn in.
One of those arrested, Sure Mudiwa, was held only briefly and later was
among 208 of 210 lawmakers sworn in. But the second, Elia Jembere, did not
reappear. Jembere was among seven opposition activists police have said they
were seeking, alleging they were involved in election violence. Mudiwa was
not on the list, and the uniformed and plainclothes officers who made the
arrests did not say why nor where the two were being taken. An opposition
statement said police also tried to arrest a third member, who is on a team
trying to negotiate the power-sharing agreement, but he "was rescued by
other MDC members of parliament." The arrests and a government announcement
Monday that Mugabe had appointed loyalists to several posts were likely to
fuel the opposition accusations that Mugabe is undermining stalled
Police spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena said he was unaware of Monday's arrests,
and added "it would be illegal for anyone to be arrested while they were
proceeding to parliament." Independent human rights groups have said
Mugabe's forces were responsible for most of the violence since the
legislative elections. Tsvangirai beat Mugabe and two other candidates in
presidential elections held alongside the legislative balloting, but did not
gain the simple majority of votes needed to avoid a runoff. Leaked documents
from the talks show Tsvangirai balked at signing a deal based on an offer
making him prime minister with limited powers and answerable to Mugabe, who
would remain as president. The documents show the prime minister would be
deputy chairman of the Cabinet, and the president and the prime minister
would need to agree on ministerial posts. With the prime minister reporting
regularly to the president, Mugabe's power would be left virtually intact.
The Editor, The Times
Newspaper Published:Aug 26, 2008
It is now clear that Mugabe has decided that he will hold onto power unto
EDITORIAL: THE arrest of two Zimbabwean MPs - both later released - as they
entered parliament to be sworn in is about as blatant a slap in the face for
democracy as one could conjure up.
But Robert Mugabe has been slapping democracy in the face for decades, so it
was all in a day's work for the ageing autocrat.
What is now clear is that Mugabe has decided that he will hold onto power
unto the grave.
In recent negotiations, he was offered a graceful exit that included the
rather generous offer of being allowed to remain in the government as
ceremonial head of state.
For an 84-year-old man who polled fewer votes than his opponent in the March
elections, this was surely an offer he could not refuse.
But refuse he did, insisting that he retain full executive powers, a
negotiating position so patently untenable that the talks have collapsed.
That was Mugabe's plan. He has strung South Africa's President Thabo Mbeki
along for more than a decade. What's another year or two of subterfuge?
Mbeki, on the cusp of a diplomatic breakthrough that would finally have
offered his rapidly melting legacy some respite, must be furious.
Even he must surely see that he has been manipulated and made to look silly
The fact that Mugabe now intends to ramrod his continued dictatorship
through parliament should come as no surprise.
He is counting on the prevarication of Mbeki, who has been exceedingly
accommodating in the past.
He is hoping that Mbeki will more or less ignore the latest shenanigans and
claim that the talks will continue.
Mbeki must not fulfil this expectation.
His reputation is hanging by the thinnest of threads. If he indulges the
delusions of Mugabe one more time, that thread will break and he will lose
what little face he has left.
August 25, 2008
There is so much irony in the world today.
One great irony: an MDC Tsvangirai candidate for Speaker has won the support
of the Zimbabwe Parliament (100 MDC, 99 ZanuPF and 10 MDC Mutambara).
Whatever Mutambara is up to, it is a wonderful reflection of the wisdom of
those in Parliament who achieved the election of Lovemore Moyo (Tsvangirai's
My knowledge of both candidates, Moyo and Paul Nyathi, makes me sad that
Nyathi has lost the contest and happy that Moyo has won. They are both good
men. Nyathi who was a genuine freedom fighter has done great good in
post-liberation struggle service to civil society. Moyo, a respected leader
of an Ndebele traditionalist group has thrown his weight behind Tsvangirai
who is from Mashonaland. He follows in Joshua Nkomo's footsteps. The latter,
Zimbabwe's first nationalist, hailed, from Matabeleland and began his career
in politics determined to unite the Mashona and the Ndebele people.
The greatest irony is the mis-step of Robert Mugabe who did not put forward
a Zanu-PF candidate, thus appearing to back the candidate put forward by
Mutambara. I guess he did not appreciate the general mistrust of Mutambara
since he has appeared to collude with Mugabe in the ongoing power struggle
And what about yet another irony? Obama vs McCain, with Hilary and Bill
veering involuntarily towards a political limbo.
By Joram Nyathi
Last updated: 08/26/2008 22:01:07
"THE best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate
intensity," said William Butler Yeats in his poem The Second Coming, a
He wasn't of course referring to the plight of ordinary Zimbabweans who have
no voice in the current inter-party talks. If these Zimbabweans lack
anything, it is knowledge of the objects of dispute between their political
leaders rather than what they themselves want: peace and food.
It is those least affected by the standoff who are against any immediate
political settlement -- in the name of "the people". The people have become
so indeterminate that everyone wants to speak on their behalf so long as
there is money to be had.
MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai has expressed his commitment to the talks
between his party and Zanu PF. His formation's secretary-general Tendai Biti
this week said "failure is not an option".
Both men know what they are talking about, having been engaged in the talks
for close to 15 months. It would however be disingenuous of them to insist
on the March 29 electoral upshot as a non-negotiable benchmark as if they
were ignorant of the law.
Similarly, it would be unconscionable for Mugabe to offer, and unimaginable
for Tsvangirai to accept, a non-executive portfolio in any transitional
authority, given his performance and that of his party in the March
elections. It is not for foreigners to tell us this; fair play commends it,
so does commonsense.
But let these power games not be confused with a desire to fulfill the "will
of the people". People elected their parliamentary representatives who have
a legal mandate and they are waiting for them to deliver on their promises.
What has marred the "talks about talks" is either malicious propaganda or
the ignorance of those who have been excluded. They are being treated as the
final thing when they should not be.
My understanding is that those involved who signed the MoU are discussing
only the structure and mechanics of the transitional authority or unity
government, and how executive power should be shared.
There is no final constitution as yet.
The draft constitution which will be adopted at the talks will be subjected
to a referendum under the transitional authority where everyone will
presumably have a say.
Part of the propaganda is driven by those obsessed with the facilitator in
the talks, Thabo Mbeki's failure. Having convinced themselves that he is
engaged in a conspiracy with Mugabe, they can't admit that they were wrong;
that Mbeki might be on the verge of a breakthrough . Thus any sign of
progress must be grudgingly attributed to the lone actions of Botswana or
In any event, he can't get anything right unless and until he can see the
Zimbabwean crisis through Western eyes. That's why Botswana's Ian Khama has
become such a salutary example of how all African leaders should behave.
I would agree if the argument was that Mbeki should leave the final solution
to Zimbabweans. But instead, it was the Sadc summit in Johannesburg which
was expected to conjure up a solution. That solution was in the form of a
ban on Mugabe from attending, notwithstanding that he is one of the key
stakeholders who was supposed to tell his side of the story.
I don't know if those organisations pushing this bizarre line expected Sadc
leaders to take them seriously.One of them was the Zimbabwe Congress of
Trade Unions which has been so entangled in politics it is hard to know if
it still represents workers.
While it is calling for an increase in daily cash withdrawals, I know nearly
50% of workers in industry don't earn more than $300. Why has it placed
itself in this awkward situation where its leaders have to fight in the same
corner as capital against workers?
Meanwhile Mbeki has once again demonstrated his neighbourly concern,
cautioning after the Sadc summit against over-reliance on foreigners to
dictate what is good for Zimbabwe.
"This is critically important because any solution that is imposed from
outside will not last; it will not last unless it is a common product that
is owned by this entire collective of the leadership of Zimbabwe," he said.
Tsvangirai deserves better in any political settlement for the sake of both
national progress and healing. But those advising him impetuously to pull
out of the talks are misleading him. They are the same politically-blind
dark forces, "full of passionate intensity" who cheated him out of the June
27 election which Mugabe went on to win on a silver platter.
Their motivation is neither in Zimbabwe's nor Tsvangirai's interest. Their
personal desires have become "the people".
For any rational person to insist on the March 29 presidential election
result as the only benchmark on the way forward is to miss both the logical
and legal argument in a political forest.
Joram Nyathi is the deputy editor of the Zimbabwe Independent newspaper.
E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org
Last updated: 08/26/2008 21:41:29
THERE is no doubt who is in charge of the 7th Parliament after 110 MPs
voted for MDC national chairman and Matobo North MP, Hon Lovemore Moyo as
the Speaker of Parliament.
Hon Moyo polled 110 votes against 108 votes garnered by former MP Paul
Themba Nyathi of the Arthur Mutambara-led formation.
Zanu PF MPs were backing Themba Nyathi, but they were left in shock
after 110 MPs voted for the MDC candidate. The MDC had 99 MPs in the
house and permutations had been made that Nyathi would be the automatic
But democracy had other ideas!
The MDC staved off the early morning arrest of two MPs, Hon Shuah Mudiwa
(Mutare West) and Eliah Jembere (Epworth) to assert its dominance in the
Lower House. Hon Mudiwa was later released and he later attended Parliament
in time to teach Zanu PF MPs a lesson. But Jembere is still in the custody
of the police and the charges he is facing remain unknown.
The MDC is in charge. We are in control. The people's project is on course!
MDC Information and Publicity
How the MDC took the top job in Parliament
To the surprise and delight of the Opposition, an MDC MP was yesterday
elected Speaker of the Zimbabwe Parliament. Party chairman Lovemore Moyo was
carried shoulder-high by cheering fellow members after he won with 110 votes
to 98. He thus becomes the first Opposition speaker since the country gained
independence in 1980.
Observers believe that the Moyo election was the result of a crafty but
ultimately disastrous Zanu-PF plan. Mugabe's party had declined to field a
candidate as Speaker, but instead backed a member of the tiny MDC splinter
faction. But Paul Themba Nyathi came up 12 votes short - a result indicating
that, in the secret ballot, at least one Zanu-PF MP voted for Moyo.
MDC members also loudly celebrated a second victory when, as the largest
party in Parliament, they were able to occupy the government benches.
Laughing MPs shouted at Zanu-PF members: "You sit on that side. You are the
But police harassment of the MDC continues. When MDC MPs arrived for the
swearing-in ceremony, two of their number were arrested. One was released
almost immediately, but the other is still detained.
MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai continues to oppose the recall of Parliament,
saying it will tend to jeopardise the power sharing talks, which are
currently stalled. However, President Mugabe is still expected to officially
open Parliament today, Tuesday.
Posted on Monday, 25 August 2008 at 21:28
Zimbabwe Aid Needed Now
24 August 2008
While power-sharing talks over the political crisis in Zimbabwe appear to
have stalled, the humanitarian crisis there continues. African leaders
attending the recent peace and security forum in Johannesburg say the
session brought Zimbabwe leaders closer together on forming a new
government, but did not entirely close the gap between them. While the
parties decide their next moves, President Robert Mugabe can and should act
now to allow aid workers to bring his people the assistance they desperately
With a badly suffering economy and astronomical inflation, Zimbabweans are
in dire straits. The United Nations reported that in the coming months
nearly five million people there will require emergency food aid. Thousands
more were forced from their homes in the state-sponsored violence that
followed the March 29 presidential voting. By almost all accounts, the
political crisis is matched by human suffering that is worsening by the day.
Moreover, continuing the ban on humanitarian assistance into the imminent
planting season will impede the timely provision of essential agricultural
inputs, threatening to prolong the crisis and delay any recovery for another
Despite this, Mr. Mugabe's regime continues to block most nongovernmental
organizations from providing assistance. The memorandum of understanding
that set up the power-sharing talks stipulated that aid groups be allowed to
do their work, but they continue to be restricted in their offices under
Mr. Mugabe was brought to the bargaining table by international pressure,
and it is hoped that the continued demands of the international community
will make him see what is in his and his nation's best interest. The aid ban
should be lifted now, the safety and security of all humanitarian workers
should be guaranteed, and the rights of all affected people to move freely
to seek and receive aid should be respected.
by Jameson Mombe Monday 25 August 2008
HARARE - South Africa's labour movement has criticised African leaders for
what it said was their tacit approval of Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe's
claims to legitimacy after bludgeoning his way to victory in June election
that was condemned as undemocratic by Africa and Western governments.
The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) said because of clear
signals Mugabe received from a summit of regional leaders last week - that
said he could proceed to convene parliament before concluding power-sharing
talks with the opposition - he was now on a drive to secure power to the
exclusion of the main opposition MDC party.
The unions said in a statement: "Mugabe believes he can get away with this
manoeuvre because of the clear signal he received from the Southern African
Development Community (SADC) - when they paraded him as head of state at the
Summit on 16-17 August - that he should go right on.
"It was the worst possible message they could have given. The African Union
is also treating him as a head of state and he is eagerly awaiting his next
COSATU - a longtime vocal opponent of Mugabe's controversial rule - insists
that the veteran Zimbabwean leader is illegitimately in power after his
re-election in a June presidential run-off election boycotted by the
opposition because of political violence.
The run-off election was held because opposition MDC party leader Morgan
Tsvangirai defeated Mugabe in the first round voting on March 29 but failed
to secure the margin required to takeover power.
The MDC also defeated Mugabe's ruling ZANU PF party in a parallel election
Power-sharing talks between ZANU PF, MDC and a breakaway faction of the MDC
led by Arthur Mutambara have stalled over who between Mugabe and Tsvangirai
should control a government of national unity.
Mugabe unilaterally ordered Parliament to convene on Monday ignoring
opposition protests that the move could derail the stalled negotiations.
However, the move to recall Parliament appeared to backfire on the
Zimbabwean leader when an MDC candidate was elected Speaker of the key House
of Assembly, the first time that the lower chamber of Parliament is to be
led by the opposition.
Mugabe's ZANU PF had tried to block the MDC from taking the speaker's chair
by backing a rival candidate of the breakaway Mutambara faction.
The Mutambara faction and ZANU PF jointly control 109 seats the MDC's 100.
But a revolt by some of Mutambara and ZANU PF's legislators saw them
rallying behind the MDC's Lovemore Moyo for Speaker.
However ZANU PF was able to win the presidency of the Senate that has power
to block legislation coming from the House of Assembly. - ZimOnline
26th Aug 2008 00:34 GMT
By Ian Nhuka
BULAWAYO - A three-month strike by lecturers at Zimbabwe's National
University of Science and Technology (NUST) has forced authorities to
postpone to late next month, the re-opening of the university amid desperate
efforts to end the strike.
NUST was supposed to re-open for its first semester today, Monday, but
because of the industrial action, authorities now expect to admit students
on September 29.
They expect to have sealed a new salary deal with their employees by then.
The strike for better salaries and working conditions by academic staff at
the university started in June and has continued with no end in sight.
A lecturer at the university who spoke on condition of anonymity, said their
salaries ranging from $150 billion ($15 revalued) and $250 billion ($25) are
ridiculously low and they cannot continue to report for work.
Continuing to turn up for work when they earn such low salaries, said the
lecturer, is tantamount to subsidizing the employer.
"We were expecting back pays at the end of June, but the university did not
pay us. From then on we decided not to turn up for work because the salaries
are too low. You cannot continue coming to work when your salary is not
enough to pay for your transport for one day. You will be subsidizing the
The salaries are not enough to buy a single loaf of bread, whose price now
averages $2 trillion ($200 revalued). Junior and middle-level doctors last
week also went on strike, to press the government to increase their salaries
or alternatively, to pay them in foreign currency as promised.
Although other civil servants have had modest salary increases of late;
those working for universities have not had any meaningful increases because
they are not paid by the government directly through the Salary Service
Bureau, but through their universities.
Universities get their budgetary allocations at the beginning of every
financial year, but with the economic crisis, which has seen inflation
rising to more than 11 million percent, the votes quickly get eroded. This
makes it impossible for the colleges to operate smoothly and pay their
employees decent wages.
Another lecturer at NUST said, despite official denials, the continuing
strike had forced the postponement of the start of the first semester.
He warned that the university might not open again on the new date late next
month unless their salary demands are met. "We have had several rounds of
negotiations with the vice-chancellor, our parent ministry (of Higher and
Tertiary Education) and the Ministry of Finance but there appears to be no
deal," said the lecturer. He added that only part-time lecturers are working
while all full timers are on strike.
Strikes have been the order of the day at state universities in the country
as workers press for higher salaries and better working conditions. Because
of the pathetic salaries, most lecturers continue to leave the country for
better jobs in other countries, especially, Botswana, South Africa and
Namibia. NUST's dean of students, Lobiseni Sifobela confirmed the delay in
the re-start of the academic year but refused to discuss the reasons for the
"It is correct that the university will not re-open as scheduled," he said.
"The reasons are many and are beyond our control. I am not at liberty to
disclose them at this stage." In an apparent bid to cushion itself from
financial distress, NUST this week made an unprecedented appeal for students
to pay deposit fees by the end of this week before they can be admitted for
the new academic year. Usually students are given until the end of their
first week at the university to pay up.
Felix Moyo, the university's Director of Public Relations, said new applied
sciences students must pay $3,3 trillion ($3 300 revalued) while those in
the faculties of commerce and communication and information science must pay
$ 2, 3 trillion ($2 300). He said those who fail to do so by the close of
business yesterday would lose their places to others that are on the waiting
August 26, 2008
By Owen Chikari
MASVINGO - Zimbabwe's rhino species faces extinction after four animals were
killed this week in the Gonarezhou National Park, bringing to 15 the number
of the animals killed by suspected poachers since January.
The Zimbabwean authorities have since deployed troops to patrol the giant
national park amid reports of widespread poaching by suspected government
officials amongst them, senior police and army officers and , Parks official
say, cabinet ministers. None of the culprits were named and unless orders
are received from high above it is unlikely the police, even with the
support of the army, will apprehend their senior officers or cabinet
The carcasses of two white and two black rhino, which were at an advanced
stage of decomposition, were discovered yesterday by Parks and Wildlife
authorities prompting the government to deploy troops to curb the illegal
Police in Masvingo yesterday confirmed that four rhino were killed last week
in the park adding that investigations to arrest the culprits were in
Masvingo provincial police spokesman Inspector Phibeon Nyambo said a joint
operation involving parks and wildlife authorities, the police and the army
has been launched as reports of poaching increased.
"We are investigating the death of the four rhino whose carcasses were found
yesterday," said Nyambo.
"No one has been arrested in connection with this case but we have since
involved the army to curb poaching in the giant park. All the four carcases
However, sources within the Parks and Wildlife Authority said that senior
government officials, among them top police and army officers, were
responsible for the poaching of the animals in the park.
"We know of senior army and police officers, including cabinet ministers,
who are involved in poaching in the giant park," said a source who requested
anonymity. "Our superiors in the parks and wildlife management authority are
aware of this and they are just quiet because big fish are involved."
About 700 families have also turned the Gonarezhou National Park into their
permanent home after they resisted efforts by the government to evict them.
The continued presence of the invaders has hampered efforts by the Parks and
Wildlife Authority to control poaching activities in the area.
The invaders moved into the park at the height of farm invasions in 2000 and
have since refused to vacate the park. The families from the nearby Chitsa
clan have been accused of poaching in the country's second largest game
Environment and Tourism minister Francis Nhema yesterday expressed concern
over the poaching activities in Gonarezhou.
"We cannot develop our tourism sector when we allow people to continue to
poach at will," said Nhema. "We have since requested the police to arrest
anyone involved in poaching irrespective of his or her standing in society.
"It is very worrying and if we just fold our hands, all the animals will be
wiped out by the marauding poachers".
Published:Aug 26, 2008
No news is good news for Zimbabwe's rulers, writes Moses Mudzwiti
WHEN there is an electricity blackout, everything stops. No lights, no
water, no telephone, no petrol and no news. This is the situation in
Stuck in this jumbled existence, it is hard to make any sense of anything at
all. No one here seems too bothered about the make-or-break power-sharing
talks between President Robert Mugabe and the two factions of the Movement
for Democratic Change.
Ordinary people are too busy hustling for their next meal to expend any
energy on finding out any latest developments. Besides, newspapers are too
expensive while radio and television are, by any standards, hardly credible
sources of information.
Television might as well have died long ago. The state owns the broadcasting
rights over Zimbabwe's single television channel.
Without any competition, the sole provider can subject its long-suffering
viewers to endless history lessons on how the country was colonised by the
British more than a century ago.
In between the lessons, there are repeats of Korean soap operas, complete
This, as well as a combination of factors including incompetent media
practitioners, overpriced news products and unreliable electricity supplies,
has conspired to keep Zimbabweans ill-informed about their country and the
world around them.
If by some fluke electricity is available and you turn on the radio, more
often than not, a less than impressive radio jock will mumble something
about "crossing over to the news".
The enduring local news jingle of beating drums comes alive, followed by the
voice of Mugabe declaring: "We stand by our people. Their votes on June 27
can never be rejected."
He then goes on to thank Zimbabweans for the "faith they have reposed" in
him. Then the radio goes dead quiet. A few minutes later, the DJ proudly
announces "That was the news."
No one seems to take notice of such glitches. And conspiracy theorists could
be forgiven for suspecting that the frequent blackouts are simply a
government ploy to hide information from the public.
But incompetence is largely to blame for the sub-standard broadcasting. The
state broadcaster rises to the occasion only when Mugabe makes a live
address. Perhaps it is fear of arrest that ensures that it performs for the
Journalists employed by the state media have learnt how to survive. If they
want to stay employed they know they have to sing the government's praises
all day long.
Some citizens have adopted the government's hostility towards the West,
which they frequently accuse of imposing crippling sanctions.
A local singer who was taking part in an all-night Heroes' Day bash earlier
this month took the anti-West rhetoric a step further.
The singer changed the word "British" to "Bri-shit" in a song ridiculing the
former prime minister Tony Blair.
"The only Blair I knew was a toilet," sang the young man, much to the
obvious amusement of his audience.
It is hard to find anyone genuinely interested in radio and television news
bulletins. Nevertheless, the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC)
dutifully continues to churn out its pro-government bulletins. Little wonder
fed up consumers have renamed the propaganda machine "The Dead BC".
All other state media make it their business to fight against what they call
the "regime-change agenda". They devote a lot of time and space to
criticising the opposition, especially the MDC, led by Morgan Tsvangirai.
"I don't watch ZBC television," Tsvangirai revealed last month on the night
he signed the memorandum of understanding that paved the way for the
Since siding with Mugabe, MDC splinter-group leader Arthur Mutambara has
enjoyed positive publicity on radio, television and in the state-owned
newspapers, the Zimbabwe Herald and the Sunday Mail.
Privately owned newspapers like the Financial Gazette, the Zimbabwean and
the Standard are more sympathetic towards the opposition. But they are
priced well beyond the reach of those who need the information the most.
Though DStv beams into Zimbabwe, ordinary people are left with no choice but
to rely on rumours.
Joining a queue for scarce items usually turns out to be a good way of
keeping abreast with the goings-on. The recent power-sharing talks were a
good example of street news editing.
On Monday morning, a few nervous glances up and down a long queue at
Standard Bank in Harare was the cue for someone to break the latest news.
A nervous character told people around him that talks had stalled in
"Chematama [the one with chubby cheeks] still refuses to sign," announced
the self- styled news reporter. Everyone within earshot immediately knew
that Tsvangirai had opted out.
The banking hall was stunned into silence. Some people starred at their news
"source" in disbelief. He instinctively raised his hand to make sure his
doubters could see his cellphone.
"I got an SMS from South Africa," he said. It was enough to convince his
If the noose around the media is tightened any further, word-of-mouth
reporters could lose their front teeth and have their mouths padlocked.
Perhaps the lack of information accounts for the surprising lack of angst
among Zimbabweans living on a political knife edge.
From The Mail & Guardian (SA), 22 August
Batanai Secondary School was a very long way from home. But when, a few
years back, I got a chance to go and teach there, I grabbed it. I was
inspired by my late mother's approach to life. However hard it got, she kept
positive in her thoughts and her actions - which is how the son of a trader
who swapped fish and old clothes for maize got to go to teachers' training
college in the first place. My new teaching post was in Mashonaland, western
Zimbabwe, almost 900km from my home town, Mutare. To get there it took three
bus changes and a lifetime on a speeding bus with rattling windows across
mostly dust and gravel roads. The journey itself was almost too much for a
ghetto boy. I grew up 500m from my primary school. All our cooking was done
on an electric stove and TV was a daily necessity. My brother and I had been
to a rural area only once - when we were seven and nine respectively - to
visit our grandmother and our rude shock at her lifestyle made us quite a
nuisance to her.
Cotton is the cash crop for the people of Batanai. It's a crop with
potentially huge financial returns, but it's also labour-intensive. Cotton
will fail if you do not weed it often enough, do not spray it often enough
and do not turn the soil often enough. So for my new neighbours, the cotton
farmers, the day started well before dawn through the rainy season and they
still found time to farm maize and groundnuts the rest of the year. The
farmers also tamed the tasty guinea fowl and I enjoyed fried guinea fowl
eggs and roasted the meat many a time, thanks to the hard-working people of
Batanai. The school learners were also up before dawn to work alongside
their parents until it was time to take a bath and rush to school. I found
them a joy to teach, even though I taught O level English and many of them
could barely understand it. I found this unacceptable at first, but their
willingness to learn and their constant striving to get good grades - which
they often did - gradually made me more tolerant. Science was a tough
subject to tackle in a different way, with a handful of unusable apparatus
at my disposal and no laboratory at all. On weekends I tried my hand at
fishing in the vast Sanyati River that separated Batanai from Gokwe, both
tiny farming communities with just two or three grocery shops selling
overpriced and often stale goods, which made catching my own supper a more
That river must be more than 2km wide. When I first saw the Sanyati it took
my breath away. It was rather amusing the way I failed to catch anything
while a 14-year-old boy a few metres away reeled in bream after bream. I
realised later that while I love my fried bream, I was fishing for fun while
the young boy was fishing for sustenance: I could afford to buy the bream
from him when he came by my cottage at sunset. The contrast was stark when I
moved to my next teaching post at Dinyane High School in Tsholotsho at the
end of the year. Tsholotsho was five bus changes away: Batanai to Karoi,
Karoi to Chinhoyi, Chinhoyi to Chegutu, Chegutu to Bulawayo and finally
Bulawayo to Tsholotsho - about 1 000km in all. Tsholotsho is a dry place;
agriculture without some form of irrigation system is a waste of time. They
tried to farm maize without much success. Sorghum, millet and watermelons
gave modest returns that seemed hardly worth the effort. There were no
rivers in Tsholotsho, just insignificant streams that dried up a few hours
after an occasional downpour. The muddy dams lasted only a few weeks of the
"rainy" season, which began in November and, with luck, ended in March.
At the school where I taught, the rain - or lack of it - was often the chief
topic of conversation. Locals coming to pump for water for their livestock
at the school's borehole well into the night was a familiar sight. All in
all, the wall of pessimism that greeted me there before I unpacked my bags
was rather understandable. I could not accept the pessimism I encountered
towards education. Most boys ran away from school, went to South Africa and
came back as drivers with money in their pockets, so it was hard to convince
learners that education was important. The teachers were even worse and I
was told not to bother doing much work because the learners were bound to
fail anyway. I might be a pessimist in many aspects of my life, but
believing that a whole community of people are mediocre is ridiculous. I
dived into my work and before long this rubbed off on the learners, who put
in more than average effort with no threat of being caned, as was the norm.
My biology class of 16-year-olds -mostly boys - achieved a 25% pass rate
from a very bad zero. We had weekend lessons and extra homework, all this in
a jolly mood. We visited the school garden where agriculture learners grew
spinach and tomatoes to see which crop had a nitrogen, potassium or
phosphorus deficiency. We discussed the state of their livestock - we didn't
have a fancy laboratory. I took over the netball team and the drama club.
The netball team did not lose a single match on their way to the district
finals. The drama club waltzed its way to the national finals of a drama
competition. We performed one of my own plays, The Chronicles of Dr Phiri,
which attracted mutters of being "too political". This was before political
thought and life became the high-risk business it now is in Zimbabwe. At
times I felt overwhelmed. At times I thought I could not do much alone. The
school head loved my efforts, but some of the more senior teachers hated
me - good work makes shoddy work appear even shoddier. I stayed in one of
the school cottages and schoolgirls were always offering to do my washing
up, cleaning and those sorts of things. I knew the dangers of accepting such
offers; I was not looking for a wife. I managed to stay out of trouble for
the three years I stayed at Dinyane High School. But I have realised this -
if we want change, we need to change our own attitudes first.
Shepherd Mandhlazi is a playwright, filmmaker, poet and commentator based in
BULAWAYO, August 25 2008 - An editor with one of the weekly
publications run by the Zimbabwe Newspapers Group (Zimpapers) has been sent
on forced leave after being accused of sympathising with the Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC).
The editor of Umthunywa, a Ndebele publication based in Bulawayo,
Bheki Ncube, was suspended last week to pave way for investigations after
senior managers at the company's head office in Harare as well as Zanu PF
politicials felt he was getting out of line.
The last straw, sources said, was his edition published two weeks ago
in which he ran a story indicating that former PF Zapu soldiers, in the
Zipra wing also fought the war and deserved better recognition. The paper
proposed that former Zapu cadres be represented in the power sharing talks
between Zanu PF and the two MDC formations.
"The editor of the paper, Bheki Ncube has been suspended and was asked
to surrender all company property while investigations go on. He was however
allowed to go home with a small truck, but it seems as if his bosses have
already concluded that he ought to be fired," a source said.
Ncube was also accused of associating with an oline publication,
Zimpatriot, which always exposes ill deals at Zimpapers, particularly at the
Bulawayo branch, something which incensed the branch manager, who reportedly
has close links with the head office.
The Umthunywa editor was once cautioned by the CIO after Matabeleland
North governor Sithokozile Mathuthu complained that the paper had a vendetta
When Saddam Husein, the former Iraq president, was sent to the
gallows, the paper ran an editorial indicating that there was one leader who
survived the gallows despite killing more than 20 000 people.
"Authorities have been watching this guy but he has been ignoring
advice from fellow colleagues to follow company editorial policy. He was
operating like an editor of an independent publication," the source added.
By Lance Guma
25 August 2008
The world's second largest advertising agency secretly sold its 25 percent
stake in Zimbabwe's Imago Young & Rubicam, to majority shareholder Sharon
Mugabe for $1. WPP decided to offload its shares in the company following
accusations Imago helped Mugabe with his re-election campaign. According to
the UK Telegraph newspaper, under the deal the agency will change its name
'to remove all references to Young & Rubicam and associated brands.'
In June this year Bernard Barnett, a corporate Vice President at Y&R, told
the UK Sunday Times in an interview, 'we're just anxious to end any possible
connection between ourselves and that disgraceful regime.' WPP were keen to
stress at the time that such work could not have taken place with their
Chief executive Sharon Mugabe has denied she is related to Robert Mugabe but
some press reports suggest she deliberately promoted that perception
herself. Other reports suggested a romantic link to Deputy Information
Minister Bright Matonga. It is Imago's work for the regime however that has
continued to fuel speculation that some other link exists. They ran
advertising campaigns for Mugabe's violent and discredited re-election
Sharon Mugabe bought majority shares in Imago Young & Rubicam, formerly
Michel Hogg Young & Rubicam, in 2005. The latest development has seen her
take full control of the company and this follows a trend where politically
connected individuals buy companies for a song while benefiting from hostile
Meanwhile the UK government has been making attempts to persuade British
companies operating in Zimbabwe to sign up to a seven-point voluntary code
which, among other things, will require them to uphold human rights in their
conduct. The move follows concern that most of them are 'silently complicit'
in sustaining Mugabe's brutal regime. A total of 16 companies are said to be
operating in the country, but most seem reluctant to sign up, arguing that
only states and not companies are bound by international human rights
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