|The ZIMBABWE Situation||Our
thoughts and prayers are with Zimbabwe |
- may peace, truth and justice prevail.
On the surface, Zimbabwe has changed little since I first visited the country four years ago. The streets of Bulawayo, Zimbabwe's second biggest city, remain fairly busy. There are almost no potholes. The lights work, water flows, and refuse is still collected every week. But the long queues tell another story, and the only fuel available nowadays is on the black market. Some people walk 15-20km to work and many can't afford food. And then there is the fear, the all-pervasive fear of the ZANU-PF government, the war veterans, and the state-sponsored youth militia.
"To tell you the truth, even my friends, they are now afraid to come to my place . . . people are also afraid to associate [with] me in almost everything because once they are seen talking to me or giving me business, they will be associated with MDC. All the people around me, they [have] problems. They have been beaten up. Their property has been destroyed. A lot of things are happening to them and I know in the near future, one of those happenings will actually happen to me."
Despite ZANU-PF's intimidation and violence, the MDC has continued to advocate peaceful change. The reason lies in its origins as a social democratic movement: it emerged in the late 1990s, as trade unions, churches, and civic organisations reacted to the government's failure to address Zimbabwe's most crucial problems, such as the imploding economy and widespread corruption.
The MDC's social democratic principles and its position as southern Africa's first significant post-nationalist party have not endeared it to the liberation movements who rule in the region. But the time has come for a break with the past, the MDC believes. The liberation struggle is now over and ZANU-PF has failed to make good on its promises: most Zimbabweans are worse off than they were at independence 23 years ago. The ruling party has run the country with impunity, and today, says MDC MP Abednico Bhebhe, what Zimbabweans need more than anything are rule of law and justice and real democracy.
"The situation we are seeing in Zimbabwe is a situation whereby one man wants to be the referee, the adjudicator, the player, the coach at the same time. Obviously being a competitor and a referee, he's going to favour himself."
Earlier this month, the government announced that it had recruited members of the National Youth Training Service ? better known among ordinary Zimbabweans as the Taliban or the Green Bombers because of their uniforms ? to work as polling officers in next week's urban council elections. It is these youth militias who are assaulting and terrorising MDC supporters and activists across the country.
MDC activist Clever says it is essential members of the opposition resist striking back at the aggressors:
"Right now we are experiencing problems, violence, and this violence is being done in order to intimidate people. The stance that we are taking right now is we are playing it cool because we cannot assist violence by hitting back because once we do so, even by defending yourself, you are very same person who is picked up by police."
Clever's decision to support the MDC has come at a huge cost. He and his family cannot even obtain food because it is distributed by the government-run Grain Marketing Board. His wife, who is a teacher, was recently dismissed because of her husband's political affiliation, and early every morning, the youth militia come to threaten her family.
Clever says he has become accustomed to the threats:
"They're actually hardening me up. There was a time when I was afraid. Those were the early days. But now I think there's no need to be afraid. So I'm not afraid at all. Even if it means it may cost you your life? Well, right now I am dying . . . I'm having a slow death because as I told you earlier on, I'm getting no food and I'm getting no jobs. That's a death on its own. So I am not afraid to die because I think things will change for the better."
Because of the severe restrictions the ZANU-PF government places on foreign journalists, Eric Beauchemin travelled undercover to Zimbabwe to prepare this report.
Mugabe's new palace in a land of
By Peta Thornycroft in Harare
Builders are putting the finishing touches to a retirement home for President Robert Mugabe that will rival the most extravagant of African leaders' residences.
The project is the latest sign of how his regime is prospering while vast numbers of Zimbabweans are close to starvation. The World Food Programme estimates that 5.5 million people - almost half the population - will need hunger relief by the year's end.
Several architects who have seen aerial pictures of Mr Mugabe's new mansion, 16 miles north of Harare, say it looks as large as a medium-sized hotel.
Surveyors in Harare estimated the building cost about £3.75 million - a colossal sum in a country where factory workers can earn as little as £6 a month. Final costs, including landscaping, security and interior decoration are expected to push the bill close to £6 million.
Contractors are working feverishly on the fittings while two lakes built for Mr Mugabe on the southern boundary have begun to fill.
The residence offers more than three acres of accommodation, mostly on three floors, including two-storey reception rooms, an office suite, and up to 25 bedrooms with adjoining bathrooms and spas.
The Chinese-style roof is clad with midnight blue glazed tiles from Shanghai. The ceilings were decorated by Arab craftsmen.
Mr Mugabe's mansion is more than three times the size of his present official residence and his offices at State House.
Its scale has raised opposition concerns that - if as is widely expected - Mr Mugabe steps down as leader of his ruling Zanu-PF at the annual congress in December, or maybe after his 80th birthday in February, real power will move from his official government offices to his new residence.
David Coltart, the justice spokesman for the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, said: "It had always been assumed that Mugabe himself has not been corrupt. The size of this house would suggest otherwise and will further complicate the negotiation process as Mugabe seeks to secure a peaceful exit. He must explain to Zimbabweans where he got the money from to build such a mansion."
Since coming to power 23 years ago - first as prime minister and then as executive president - Mr Mugabe has officially earned a total of less than US$1 million (about £625,000), including various allowances. Last month, he increased his annual salary by 1,000 per cent to the equivalent of £23,000.
Last year, when America and the European Union slapped sanctions on Mr Mugabe and more than 70 of his political cohorts, Washington also froze their assets. Mr Mugabe challenged investigators to find any personal stash abroad. "They will find nothing," he said.
However, his new house is one of the most striking signs that he has spent massively more than he has earned. A mile away from the new mansion is that other architectural testament to Mr Mugabe's rule, the brick house -dubbed Gracelands - which his second wife Grace built using a government building fund set up to assist lowly paid civil servants.
That house appears unoccupied. After exposure in the media, Mrs Mugabe sold it, and it ended up in the hands of Libyan diplomats - among the last international backers of the regime. But they have not moved in.
It is dwarfed by her husband's retirement home across the valley. Set in 44 acres of heavily wooded land, the property is made up of three separate title deeds - the first two bought in 1987 by the M & S Syndicate Ltd, set up seven years earlier.
This week, staff at the Registrar of Companies in Harare said records of M & S Syndicate were not available, but gave names of directors, including the speaker of parliament, Emmerson Mnangagwa, who is tipped to succeed Mr Mugabe as president of Zanu-PF, and the defence minister Sydney Sekeramayi.
The third tranche of property was bought three years ago from a farmer who, friends say, was forced to sell because Mr Mugabe wanted to extend the land-holding.
When he finally retires as president, he will continue to receive his full presidential salary which is nowhere near enough to maintain the costs of his retirement mansion.
At present, the cost of protecting the property is borne by Zimbabwe's taxpayers. At least four uniformed police officers patrol the perimeter 24 hours a day.
Security agents from the Central Intelligence Organisation are on hand to apprehend inquisitive drivers or bird-watchers who stop near the fence.
The mansion was built by a former Yugoslavian company, Energoproject, which has had close links with Mr Mugabe.
The present site manager, Alexandre Illic, said last week that the building had been completed about a month ago. He said he reported to the ministry of mines and that Mr Mugabe recently visited the site while he was there.
Sources in the building industry say landscaping and interior decoration - supervised by Mrs Mugabe, renowned for her expensive tastes - will be carried out by South Africans.
The Telegraph faxed questions to Mr Mugabe's Harare office, asking how the residence was paid for, but received no reply.
Brian Raftopoulos, professor of development studies at the University of Zimbabwe, said: "Details of his new home are an indicator that the issue of retirement is on the agenda. He will never let go of power. His influence on government will be different, but will remain.
"One of the issues for the transition is his role in retirement and his continued influence on all sectors.
"The size of his house indicates that he feels his presence needs to be symbolised by this massive outlay of resources for his retirement."
Southern African leaders have signed a
security pact that allows
member states to intervene in conflicts in neighboring countries.
Members of the 14-nation Southern African Development Community (SADC)
unanimously approved the plan at the end of a two-day summit in Tanzania.
The security agreement permits SADC members to use strong action to
enforce peace in another member state. States will be able to respond using
diplomatic, political or military means.
It is not clear if the security pact will create an African regional
peacekeeping force. The African Union has been debating the idea of forming
such a force.
The annual summit was attended by several African heads of state and
hundreds of delegates.
It opened Monday with a call on Western nations to lift sanctions on
Zimbabwe. SADC chairman and Tanzanian President Benjamin Mkapa told the
conference that U.S. and European sanctions were ineffective, unwarranted,
and hurt ordinary people in Zimbabwe.
Britain, the European Union and the United States slapped sanctions on
Zimbabwe's government following last year's disputed elections and the
implementation of President Robert Mugabe's controversial land reform
policy. Zimbabwe also has been suspended from the Commonwealth, a grouping
of former British colonies.
SADC members also tackled serious development issues facing their
region, including the AIDS pandemic affecting some 14 million people in
Fourteen nations comprise the Southern African Development Community,
which seeks to establish an economic community and a common market similar
to the European Union. SADC nations are: South Africa, Swaziland, Lesotho,
Botswana, Namibia, Angola, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Mauritius, Tanzania, the
Democratic Republic of Congo, Mozambique and Malawi and Seychelles.
Seychelles says it plans to quit the grouping but has not yet done so.
From The Sunday Mirror, 24 August
Zanu PF in no hurry to dialogue with the MDC - Chinamasa
Artwell Manyemba in Kariba
ruling Zanu PF is in no hurry to resume interparty dialogue with
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), the Minister of Justice,
Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, Patrick Chinamasa said last week. The
minister said Zanu PF was committed to entering into direct talks with the
MDC, "once the environment is ripe and conducive to delivering a successful
conclusion." Asked when that would be, Chinamasa said he could not reveal
the indicators for such a time. "What I am saying is that because of the
importance of the matter (talks), nothing should be hurried, rushed. "Direct
contacts by their very nature will help get Zanu PF and MDC to get to know
each other better and demystify a lot of things. I am sure the contacts when
established will contribute immensely towards the easing of tension,"
Chinamasa said. He said he did not see the role of any mediator in the
talks, saying Zanu PF and MDC were already engaged through their interaction
and participation in Parliament. Efforts by Church leaders to mediate
between the two parties will not yield much as Zanu PF only welcomes
facilitators for the talks, Chinamasa said. Chinamasa was at the forefront
of dismissing church-led initiatives to bring Zanu PF and the MDC to the
talking table, accusing the clergymen led by Reverend Sebastian Bakare of
being partisan in favour of the latter party. This prompted media
allegations that Chinamasa was averse to talks as they would diminish his
The minister however denied reports that some
Zanu PF top ranking officials
were against the resumption of the inter-party dialogue to resolve the
country’s political problems. "The generality of Zimbabweans support
resumption of inter-party dialogue," he said. However, Chinamasa spelt out
conditionalities for stakeholders genuinely interested in moving forward.
The conditions, which he termed "shared core values", include the
acknowledgement of the legacy of he Second Chimurenga (Zimbabwe’s armed
struggle for independence), recognition of the heroes and heroines of the
liberation struggle, respect for the country’s symbols and institutions and
a nationalistic political attitude. "MDC should not seek to enter into
dialogue with the hidden agenda to achieve an imposed solution or to achieve
what it failed to achieve through attempted assassination, stayaways,
rolling mass actions and so called final pushes. Zanu PF will not talk under
threats of mass actions. No common ground can be found between a political
party or leader that remains the footstool of (Tony) Blair and (George) Bush
and a party with liberation credentials. It is like water and oil. The two
cannot mix," Chinamasa said. The minister said the MDC’s attendance of
parliament and the party’s abolishment of their boycotts of President Robert
Mugabe’s address was a refreshing new beginning.
Meanwhile, the minister announced that government for the
first time was
requesting the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) for assistance
for the electoral process leading to the 2005 general elections. UNDP
resident representative, Victor Angelo confirmed the request saying the UNDP
was engaged in discussions with government in the past seven months. Angelo
said the UNDP was willing to financially and materially support the 2005
general elections process, from legislative review, delimitation, voter
education, and the political parties’ campaigns. "We want to contribute
towards the full credible process. The elections should meet the high
international standards," Angelo said. Both the minister and the UNDP
representative could not be drawn into revealing the amount to be used for
the election support being sought. The UNDP wants to safeguard the validity
and credibility of Zimbabwe’s elections. After the 2001 March presidential
and the 2000 parliamentary elections, the MDC led campaigns for the
nullification of the results saying the process leading to the elections was
flawed. Some international observers said the elections were not free and
Nothing fishy going on up the Zambezi
A generation or so ago I achieved a long-standing
ambition - to live in
Africa. With the enthusiastic assistance of the Colonial Office, I arrived
in Salisbury, the capital of what was then Southern Rhodesia, a land
described as consisting of "heat, dust, tea, cold beer and shorts".
The Sovereign was represented by a retired admiral and the Union Jack,
flying over Government House, represented the Pax Britannia throughout the
land and many other lands in Africa now sadly torn by civil strife. Having
little money and no job, a somewhat anxious period followed before the offer
of a job transpired. This took the form of the junior of two assistants to
the manager of a large tobacco plantation .
A salary for a cook being provided by the estate, I interviewed a candidate,
who assured me that there was nothing he did not know about the culinary
art. I instructed him to bring me my breakfast in the tobacco lands on his
first morning. This he did with a big smile, whipping the cloth off the
plate to reveal a whole boiled cabbage. At the end of the season I was
invited to accompany the manager on a fishing trip to the Zambezi river,
which was quite an adventure in those days.
Applications for a volunteer to accompany us as Man Friday were called for
and Chakuda was selected - a man of considerable initiative and ingenuity,
whose CV was only slightly marred by several prison terms for robbery and
assault. The great day arrived and a one-ton Bedford truck was duly loaded.
The load largely consisted of drums of petrol, fishing tackle, and crates of
beer, the final addition being some £3,000 in cash wrapped in a paper bag
being the balance of farm wages, with no safe on the estate for deposit.
The descent of the gravel and dirt road leading down the escarpment to the
Zambezi valley required maximum concentration in bottom gear. On reaching
the valley floor, a further 40 miles of sand track awaited one before
reaching the river. Finally arriving in the vicinity of the river, a road
consisting of half game trail and half track was negotiated for some miles,
with the assistance of the redoubtable Chakuda wielding an axe.
Camping consisted of clearing a space under a marula tree and unrolling a
blanket each. The beer was kept cold by placing a canvas bag full of bottles
in a tree and dripping petrol on them, the walk to fishing spots required
avoiding numerous short-sighted and aggressive rhino and Worcestershire
Sauce was added to the guineafowl stew when it got a little high. But the
fishing was superb.
On the last day we ventured further from our camp than usual, leaving
Chakuda busy drying and salting a large quantity of fish. We were sitting
taking a break from fishing about mid-morning when Chakuda arrived with the
front of his shirt stuffed with our £3,000 whilst remarking that if we were
stupid enough to leave large sums of money around, somebody would steal it.
In view of his previous CV and the fact that at the time he was in receipt
of an income of £3 a month, there must be a moral to the story. However,
after some 40 years have passed, I have still not arrived at the conclusion
as to what it is.
MDC and govt 'still talking'
August 27, 2003
By Beauregard Tromp & Sapa
Dar es Salaam: The new Southern African Development Community
chairman, Benjamin Mkapa, says talks between the Zimbabwean government and
the opposition Movement for Democratic Change are continuing behind the
He was speaking at the closing of the 23rd annual Sadc summit which
saw the regional body adopt a road map to speed up economic integration.
The Tanzanian president said that, contrary to media reports, contacts
still existed between the Zimbabwean government and the opposition.
"Just because it is not happening in public doesn't mean talks are
continuing. You may call it a creeping readiness to dialogue," said Mkapa.
He emphasised the region's support for Zimbabwe and called for an end
The leaders also agreed to a new mutual security pact that would
permit member states to intervene and stop an internal conflict to prevent
it destabilising other countries.
27 Aug 2003 01:04:16 GMT
FEATURE-African wildlife set for cross-border tourist boost
By Toby Reynolds
LUSAKA, Aug 27 (Reuters) - Africa's wild animals have never paid much
attention to the continent's often arbitrary borders.
Soon the tourists who watch them won't have to either.
Trans-national conservation areas with relaxed or no borders are a
blossoming project for conservation in southern Africa, where neighbour
states have formally agreed to set up seven cross-border wildlife sites, and
have 15 more in the works.
Those pressing for their creation say they will allow animals freer movement
and encourage tourism, and that the parks are also valuable exercises in
"African borders were all determined arbitrarily by European colonial
powers, irrespective of existing ethnic groups," said Willem van Riet, head
of South Africa's Peace Parks Foundation.
"Those boundaries have nothing to do with ecology."
Van Riet's group facilitates the development of cross-border conservation,
and has the backing of peacemaker and former South African president Nelson
The issue will be big on the agenda at next month's World Parks Congress in
Durban, South Africa -- where the future of the world's parks, nature
reserves and other protected areas will be under the spotlight from
Three days will be devoted to trans-frontier conservation areas at the
meeting, Van Riet said.
ENLARGING ANIMAL, TOURIST RANGES
Aside from the issue of the borders themselves, expanding the size of the
individual parks by running them into one another increases the foraging and
migration ranges of the animals and the attraction to tourists.
"From a conservation point of view you can manage populations much better
because the habitat is much larger and the animals can migrate," Van Riet
"The second thing is that you can do much better tourism development because
there are more places for the tourists to go...From a pure rural development
option tourism is often a better, more feasible option than agriculture."
Breaking down the park boundaries also fits in with regional integration
efforts under the auspices of the Southern African Development Community
(SADC), a bloc that groups 14 member states with the aim of boosting trade
That spirit has already set South Africa, Zimbabwe and Mozambique well on
the way to creating a giant super-park which will include the renowned
Kruger National Park.
"In the SADC protocol on wildlife and conservation management there is a
provision for the establishment of these trans-frontier conservation areas,"
said Hapenga Kabeta, director general of the Zambian Wildife Authority.
He hopes his country will benefit from running its border conservation areas
into those of its neighbours.
Zambia's vast plains and rich forests once housed huge populations of game
animals, elephant, rhino and big cats.
But poaching devastated many of them during the 1970s, and while they are
beginning to recover, they need all the help they can get.
Opening up the country's borders to amalgamate its parks with those of its
neighbours will help attract tourists, Kabeta said.
ZAMBIA PLANS SIX SUCH PARKS
Zambia, a poor country which has nonetheless protected about a third of its
land for wildlife, has six cross-border conservation areas on the drawing
One -- encompassing Malawian and Zambian parks on the Nyika plateau on the
northern edge of the shared border -- is on track for official approval this
year, Kabeta said.
"Basically, Zambia and Malawi have agreed...Our target is that by December
this year the two countries must sign a memorandum establishing this," he
The envisaged Nyika trans-frontier park would cover some 3,200 square
kilometres (1,236 square miles), and would house leopard, elephant, buffalo
and lion -- four of the hunter's famous "big five", as well as more than 400
species of birds.
Just south of the Nyika plateau Zambia's Lundazi Forest Reserve is set to
merge with Malawi's Vwaza Marsh reserve, and further south again there are
plans to link Zambia's Lukusuzi park and the Kasungu park in Malawi to make
a combined park that would cover nearly 6,000 square kilometres (2,317
square miles) of ground.
Another project would join protected areas in Zambia, Namibia, Zimbabwe,
Botswana and possibly Angola, around the northern Okavango delta, while a
fifth would cross Zambia's borders with Zimbabwe along the banks of the
Tens of thousands of wildebeest could find their annual migrations between
Zambia and Angola made easier by the establishment of a sixth cross-border
area on the Liuwa plains between the two countries, Kabeta added.
These projects will be expensive -- a Peace Parks Foundation report pegs
costs at more than $70 million -- but will encourage visitors, and will help
shore up regional alliances.
"Apart from the conservation and tourism...these are little experiments in
co-operation between countries," Van Riet said.
Southern African states trade sovereignty for security
Pact seeks to halt civil wars
Wednesday, August 27, 2003 Posted: 0046 GMT ( 8:46 AM HKT)
DAR ES SALAAM, Tanzania (Reuters) -- Southern African leaders ended a
regional summit Tuesday with a new mutual security pact that will permit
member states to intervene and stop an internal conflict to prevent it
destabilizing other countries.
The pact, which effectively limits an individual country's sovereignty,
enshrines the principle of strong joint action to enforce peace, and
officials of the 14-member Southern African Development Community said they
hoped this would avert civil war in the region.
Under the pact, a conflict within any SADC country would automatically
invite a response from other members. Diplomatic, political or military
means, or a combination of all three, would be used to end civil war in a
member, officials said.
The agreement provides for regional intervention but opposes coups and
suggests that SADC members would aim to restore "constitutional order."
It does not set up a new regional peacekeeping force, though existing
African Union plans envisage such a force.
An SADC body equivalent to the U.N. Security Council would take the hard
decisions on intervention after reviewing each case that might require it,
SADC officials said.
"If your neighbor is not stable, you cannot be stable for too long. If your
neighbor collapses, the fallout will not respect the boundary between you,"
Tanzanian President Benjamin Mkapa, the SADC's new chairman, told a news
Could intervene in Zimbabwe
The pact could allow the SADC to play a more direct role in trying to
restore stability and security in Zimbabwe, where often violent land reform
since 2000 and a controversial election last year led to a political and
It could also help the region to negotiate a return to law and order and
greater freedom for the people of the small kingdom of Swaziland -- where
opposition parties are banned and analysts say the rule of law has virtually
While the pact marks a public step toward greater accountability, analysts
have noted that southern African leaders have thus far been reluctant to
take a strong stance against fellow rulers in the region.
In an end-of summit communique, SADC pledged its solidarity with Zimbabwe,
and said it rejected donor aid to the region linked to resolving the
"We do not choose our neighbor. Do not tell us how to choose our friends,"
The group also agreed a regional strategy to fight HIV/AIDS, which affects
some 14 million people in the region and is seen as a threat to economic
Mkapa said the SADC had agreed to take a common position during World Trade
Organization talks in Mexico next month on issues ranging from drugs for
AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis to subsidies for U.S. and European farmers.
The SADC comprises South Africa, Swaziland, Lesotho, Botswana, Namibia,
Angola, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Mauritius, Tanzania, Democratic Republic of Congo,
Mozambique and Malawi. Seychelles has given notice it intends to leave the
group, but has not yet formally done so.
Myth that SA is going the Zimbabwe route must be dispelled
By Jeremy Gardiner
With the amnesty period in full swing, there is much debate raging on
the merits of coming clean. I do not profess in any way to be an expert on
the amnesty, and therefore am not going to say much on the subject.
However, I urge those who are considering not taking advantage of the
amnesty to think what spending time in a South African jail would actually
be like, and with that thought in mind, how much one would be prepared to
pay to get out of that particular predicament, and I think you'll find that
the penalty fees pale into insignificance!
What is intriguing is that most articles on the amnesty start with the
argument that if you think South Africa will go the same way as Zimbabwe,
don't come clean.
In fact I would take it further. If you believe South Africa is headed
in the same direction as Zimbabwe, then it would make sense to sell all your
South African-based assets, rent a house and a car, and take advantage of
the generous forex relief to get every cent you legitimately can out of the
country, because with the Zim dollar trading at 2 500 to the US dollar,
R7.30 to the dollar must be about as good as it's going to get!
However, given that certain people will be guided in making their
amnesty decision on this topic, it is surprising that nobody seems to be
stating a case for why it is highly unlikely that we will travel the
While nobody can categorically state that we won't go the same way as
Zimbabwe, here is an attempt to dispel some of the common myths on this
Myth One: Africa is inherently corrupt.
No continent encourages corruption. The 20th century, however, was not
kind to Africa. Under colonialism the local population was massively abused
and the scars remain today.
Then, when it became politically incorrect to own a piece of Africa,
the colonialists withdrew, leaving behind a leadership void.
Into this void stepped leaders more interested in enriching themselves
than the countries over which they presided. And enrich themselves they did.
The European colonists, wracked with guilt, were not going to intervene in
these newly liberated countries. So Africa was left to its own devices and
corruption thrived, but the tide is turning.
Myth Two: Africa will never change.
The world has changed, and the West is now taking an active interest
in Africa's affairs for a variety of reasons, including:
... Humanitarian - Improved news flows highlighting the plight of
Africans, combined with the increased political and economic power of
various interest groups, which attack world leaders every time the Group of
Eight tries to hold a conference, has led to an improved attitude towards
helping the world's have-nots.
... The spread of fundamentalism - Post-September 11, the US feels
vulnerable, paranoid and aggressive, fuelling fears that Africa might become
a breeding ground and a launch pad for terrorist attacks, after which the
perpetrators could retreat into an impenetrable jungle. It has become
important for US strategic reasons that democracy and stability advance in
Africa and that poverty and war retreat.
... Expediency - The US consumes 25 to 30 percent of the world's oil,
most of which originates from the Middle East. Needless to say, the US feels
that the level of client service from the region is sub-standard and is thus
looking for non-Opec alternative.
There is no doubt oil played a significant role in President George W
Bush's recent trip to Africa. This is to be encouraged as Africa has oil and
the US wants oil, but we don't have the massive capital resources required
to prospect and mine the oil. Just imagine what significant oil exports
could do to Africa's infrastructure and economies.
Myth Three: Quiet diplomacy means we agree with what is going on in
This issue is often misread as complicity, the logic being that
because the government has not been significantly outspoken on the subject,
they therefore agree with President Robert Mugabe's actions. The government
would argue there are many reasons for quiet diplomacy, including:
... South Africa's proximity to Zimbabwe - Of paramount importance has
been the need for a gradual transformation rather than any risk of
instability, which would impact on the region
... Mugabe continually kept up the pressure on apartheid South
Africa - It is important for the maintenance of South Africa's leading role
in African statesmanship, not to publicly spurn a leader who was steadfast
in his opposition to apartheid and who still has the ability to unite with
various African malcontents, such as Libya, to wreck the best of the
... Various cultural reasons that include not publicly castigating or
humiliating your elders.
Myth Four: Mugabe and President Thabo Mbeki are close.
The evidence suggests otherwise. While Nelson Mandela was in prison
and Mbeki in exile, Mugabe was the global spokesperson for Africa. Upon
their release and return, Mandela and Mbeki have usurped this role. It is
hard not to credit the rumours that Mbeki is privately irate that Mugabe has
managed Zimbabwe into the ground and embarrassed Mbeki at crucial moments in
his marketing of an African Renaissance.
Myth Five: The ANC and Zanu-PF are struggle allies.
Zanu traditionally had a relationship with the Pan Africanist
Congress, not the ANC. In fact, Mugabe's government turned a blind eye to
cross-border raids by apartheid forces, that attacked ANC safe-houses. The
ANC's relationship was in fact with the Zimbabwean African Peoples Union,
Myth Six: Our government has done nothing.
The government has been active behind the scenes for at least 3 years
(since Victoria Falls in 2000 to be exact) trying to secure a government of
national unity, without Mugabe. The "without Mugabe" part of the equation
has proved impossible to achieve and is largely responsible for the failure
of quiet diplomacy.
If ever there was a time when South Africa was actually heading in the
same direction as Zimbabwe, it was in the late 1980s. This was when we also
had a leader who would wag a finger at the rest of the world. Land invasions
and forced removals were legislated. We had a security force not dissimilar
to Mugabe's war veterans, and an economy isolated from the rest of the
Those were dark days indeed. So bleak in fact that white South
Africans, when travelling overseas, pretended to be Australian!
Today, not only is the rainbow nation not heading in the same
direction as Zimbabwe, but on the contrary, is heading in the opposite
direction, as the facts below illustrate:
... The Zimbabwean economy is forecast to shrink by 15 percent* this
year, ours will probably grow by roughly 2 percent.
... Its inflation will finish the year at 450 percent*. Ours will drop
to roughly 4 percent.
... Its formal sector employment is dropping. Ours is rising, albeit
... Its currency will fall to Z$3 500 to the US dollar* by year-end
and ours is forecast to finish at R8 to R8.50 per US dollar.
... Its tourism industry has collapsed. Ours is one of the few in the
world experiencing growth.
In conclusion the world is a different place today.
The abuses of yesterday will not be tolerated by a West that is no
longer burdened with colonialist guilt and hungry for solutions.
In addition, a new breed of African leaders is taking control on the
continent. Led by the New Partnership for Africa's Development, countries
that subscribe to the principles of good governance, human rights and
democracy will be rewarded with Western investment, aid and training and
those that don't, won't.
Finally foreigners and South Africans are learning to distinguish
between South Africa and Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe is a unique and sad situation,
which will hopefully start to improve in the not-too-distant future. The bad
news is fortunately (or unfortunately) already factored into the price of
our stock market and our currency. Therefore, as we move closer towards a
possible solution, a potential upside is more likely than downside.
So, when looking at Zimbabwe, try to look forwards, not backwards, as
past performance is no guarantee of future performance, particularly in this
* Sourced from: Professor Tony Hawkins (University of Harare) and Nic
... Jeremy Gardiner is the director of Investec Asset Management