by Jameson Mombe Friday 29 August 2008
HARARE - A senior Zimbabwe official said on Thursday that nothing would stop
President Robert Mugabe from appointing a new government while on the same
day police broke up an NGO meeting, as Mugabe adopts an increasingly
belligerent stance in the face of stalled power-sharing talks with the
Deputy Information Minister Bright Matonga said Mugabe would defy opposition
warnings that forming a new government before conclusion of power-sharing
talks could derail negotiations that remain deadlocked over who between the
veteran President and opposition MDC party leader Morgan Tsvangirai should
control a government of national unity.
Mugabe had delayed appointing Cabinet or convening Parliament to give chance
to power-sharing talks. But the 84-year old leader convened Parliament this
week and was quoted by state media as having said he would go ahead and
appoint a new Cabinet without the MDC which he said was unwilling to join.
Matonga told the media: "Nothing is going to stop us from forming a new
government. We need to move forward, we need to make sure that Zimbabwe
regains its status, we need to work on the economy. People are suffering."
The deputy information minister, who dismissed the MDC as "not serious at
all", claimed Mugabe was given permission by Southern African Development
Community (SADC) leaders to form a government after Tsvangirai refused to
sign a power-sharing deal that was endorsed by the bloc's leaders at a
summit in South Africa.
Matonga's claims that regional leaders had given Mugabe the green light to
appoint a new government before conclusion of power-sharing talks could not
be immediately verified with the SADC secretariat in Botswana.
In their communiqué after the summit two weeks, ago SADC leaders only said
Zimbabwe's new Parliament, which had not sat since being elected five months
ago, could be convened but was silent on the issue of Cabinet.
A government of national unity is seen as the most viable way to extricate
Zimbabwe from a multifaceted crisis marked by political violence, the world's
highest inflation of more than 11 million percent, severe food shortages,
record unemployment and shortages of hard cash.
The MDC has said it will not join any government formed by Mugabe before
conclusion of negotiations and has warned that if the Zimbabwean leader
unilaterally appoints a Cabinet that would be tantamount to killing the
MDC secretary general Tendai Biti told reporters: "You will be killing the
talks. Once you form a government, forget about talks. It is a disaster and
an act of insanity to think that Mugabe can go it alone."
Biti said the MDC would write to South African President Thabo Mbeki, SADC
mediator in the Zimbabwe talks, to formally complain about the violations by
Mugabe of a July 21 memorandum of understanding on talks signed by Zimbabwe's
three main political leaders.
And in a sign that Mugabe may have decided to toughen his approach towards
the MDC and other opponents of his rule, police forcibly broke up a an
annual general meeting of the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition (CZC), one of the
largest civic groups in the country.
A ZimOnline correspondent who was present at Cresta hotel in Harare where
the meeting was taking place said dozens of police, some of them armed,
stormed the hotel and ordered CZC members to leave the conference room.
The police remained camped at the hotel until every member of CZC had left.
"We have failed to hold elections. They sealed the hotel until all members
had left," said CZC official, speaking to our correspondent after the
The CZC is a coalition of civic rights and pro-democracy activists, women's
groups, churches, the labour and students movements that campaigns for a
democratic solution to Zimbabwe's crisis. - ZimOnline
JASON MOYO - Aug 29 2008 00:00
Zanu-PF leader Robert Mugabe has been pegged back in a week of setbacks, but
is preparing to reverse his opponents' gains in Parliament by hunkering down
and going it alone, even if this leaves Zimbabwe at a constitutional
The opposition MDC expected to soften Mugabe's resolve after the party
gained control of Parliament this week, but he has declared he will go ahead
and form a new Cabinet.
His opponents, emboldened after seizing the key post of speaker in
Parliament, now plan to use the legislature to "box him in".
Last week Mugabe appeared to gain the upper hand in power battles with his
main rival, Morgan Tsvangirai, by winning tacit SADC backing and calling
Parliament in an attempt to pressurise the MDC to sign a deal critics say
leaves much of his powers intact.
But the opposition has taken control of the fourth most-powerful post in
government and Mugabe is on the back foot. Rather than be forced back to the
negotiation table, Mugabe intends to ride out his opponent's resurgence and
continue his rule using the executive powers at his disposal.
With Parliament falling to the MDC, two centres of power have now emerged,
each devising plans to cripple the other.
MDC officials say they will starve Mugabe's government by voting down
budgets. Parliament will "put a wall in front of him, box him in until he
bends", an MDC MP said.
"Until we have a restoration of legitimacy, we will continue to have this
crisis," said Innocent Gonese, the MDC chief whip.
But there is little else the MDC can do. Even combined, the opposition
remains short of the two-thirds majority required to impeach Mugabe. He can
veto any legislation proposed by the opposition-dominated Lower House and
his Zanu-PF party still retains control of the Upper House. Mugabe can also
exert his executive powers and rule by decree.
"We are at a constitutional dead-end. Neither side can put one over the
other," said a constitutional expert who did not want to be named.
Mugabe still insists talks with the MDC will succeed, saying "landmark
agreements have been concluded, with every expectation that everyone will
sign up". South African President Thabo Mbeki was expected go to Harare this
week in the hope of getting both sides to talk again.
But the MDC has drawn first blood in the power struggle and believes it has
Mugabe cornered. The hardening of positions on both sides was apparent as
Mugabe was heckled in Parliament and police briefly arrested five MDC MPs.
Mugabe declared: "The MDC does not want to come in, apparently. They have
been promised by the British that sanctions would be more devastating, that
our government will collapse in six months' time."
His previous Cabinet had been "the worst in history", he conceded, and he
identified replacements. He would leave some seats open for the MDC, he
said. But Tsvangirai now believes he is in a better position to press for
Political analyst Alex Hove said Monday's vote, in which the smaller faction
of the MDC unexpectedly ditched its own speaker candidate to back the
candidate of the larger MDC faction, indicates there will be a lot of
"wheeling and dealing" in the new Parliament. Mugabe, he said, will need all
his bargaining powers to survive. "The executive will have to show its
persuasive powers now," Hove said.
The effectiveness of the MDC's plans to undermine Mugabe's rule from
Parliament will depend on how Lovemore Moyo, the new speaker, steers debate
in the key legislative Lower House.
Moyo told the Mail & Guardian after his election the legislature would no
longer be a rubber stamp for the president. He said he would seek to direct
debate in Parliament over the enactment of "progressive legislation".
"This is a new era for our Parliament. The executive has to negotiate with
the legislature to push through its programmes," he said. "No longer must we
be expected to act as a rubber stamp for the executive."
But Moyo faces the difficult task of taking up a powerful political post in
a government still led by Mugabe, whose legitimacy the MDC disputes.
Although Moyo says Mugabe only "claims" to be head of state, he insists he
will be impartial in his work. "A polarised Parliament is in the past."
On Tuesday MDC MPs handed Mugabe a petition, calling him "the illegitimate
usurper of the people's will".
A penchant for colonial pomp
They love their bling colonial style, the people in charge in Harare.
They laid it all out this week at the opening of Parliament. The judges
strutted along in flowing robes and white, woollen wigs that hang to the
shoulders. The traditional leaders proudly plodded along in their
ankle-length red robes, gold chains around their necks and those
Then came Robert Mugabe himself, Africa's last defender against marauding
Western imperialists -- in a black open-top Rolls Royce used by Load Soames,
the last British governor of pre-independence Zimbabwe. The car has been
pimped out, with white leather seats and silver rims.
Mugabe was guarded by dozens of horsemen in bright red vests with polished
gold buttons. They wielded gleaming lances with little fluttering red
feathers at the base, as swords with gold-plated handles dangled from
Inside, hundreds of MPs crammed into the small chamber of the Lower House of
Parliament -- an exact replica of the British House of Commons, with leather
seats, a huge table and helpers in white gloves, black tuxedos and tails
sauntering about like butlers. And, to use Mugabe's description of his
hostile reception in Parliament, he might have been in some English pub.
Movement for Democratic Change MPs heckled and sang dirty songs; one
repeatedly shouted "murderer". Mugabe was visibly annoyed, but as is the
hallmark of his rule, he simply pretended the problem wasn't there. He
plodded on for 30 minutes.
At a dinner later, Mugabe was back on form. He'd been told, he said
laughing, that the "barbaric" MDC legislators had spent the previous night
in some cheap bar.
This is the first time Mugabe has been jeered inside Parliament. But it is
not the first time he has faced hostility in public -- the halo has been
slipping for years.
In 2000, arriving for a Parliamentary ceremony after a narrow election
victory won through fraud and violence, Mugabe faced loud taunts from an
adjacent public square, the nastiest of which cast aspersions on the
paternity of his children.
On Monday Tsvangirai's MDC had not expected to carry the vote. But, when MPs
from the Arthur Mutambara faction filed past Tsvangirai's chief whip,
Innocent Gonese, appearing to show him their ballots, it was clear something
As the result was read out announcing the MDC's Lovemore Moyo's appointment
as speaker, one side roared. The other sat in cold silence. Emmerson
Mnangagwa walked over to Deputy President Joyce Mujuru. The two huddled in
discussion, like tail-ender batsmen plotting to delay the inevitable.
Mnangagwa was clearly reluctant to stand and give his party's
congratulations, as parliamentary decorum demands of the losing side. He
stood up only after repeated cajoling and gesturing by Mujuru.
"You can crow all you like," a Zanu-PF MP defiantly declared. "Tomorrow,
Mugabe will still be your president."
August 29, 2008
By Our Correspondent
HARARE - A senior Zanu-PF politburo member has urged party supporters to
prepare for a revenge mission after the humiliation of President Robert
Mugabe when he officially opened Parliament on Tuesday.
MDC supporters, gathered outside Parliament, sang derogatory songs aimed at
Mugabe and his government when the Zimbabwean leader arrived at the House.
Worse was to come inside the House; MDC MPs refused to stand up, as per the
traditional show of respect, after Mugabe walked into the building.
The Zimbabwean leader then endured a torrid time as the opposition MPs
interrupted his speech with boos and jeers; it was his first experience of
public and televised humiliation.
Addressing supporters outside the Zanu-PF headquarters in Harare, the party
secretary for administration Didymus Mutasa urged them to gear themselves
for retribution against MDC supporters.
Mugabe failed to pitch up for the meeting as planned. It is understood the
meeting had been called to plan the restructuring of the party after its
defeat in both parliamentary and presidential elections at the hands of the
MDC on March 29.
The embattled party suffered further embarrassment when Lovemore Moyo,
chairman of the Morgan Tsvangirai-led MDC, was voted Speaker of Parliament.
Moyo beat a candidate supported by both Zanu-PF and the smaller faction of
Mutasa said Zanu-PF legislators watched in dismay as MDC supporters and
legislators harangued Mugabe in full view of passers-by. He said, inside
Parliament, Mugabe and Zanu-PF MPs were treated like school children by the
Said Mutasa: "It was a painful experience to watch our president, your
president, being subjected to that kind of treatment and harassment by the
MDC and its supporters
"We know that you were as pained as your leadership and there should be some
recourse for that kind behaviour. We will do all we can to feed you and be
strong to hit back.
"They know what we are capable of doing and they should not cry foul when we
deliver that blow as symbolized by the fist which is the party's symbol."
He said Mugabe would, in the near future, give direction and guidance on the
nature and form of the retribution.
"I cannot speak more about the things that will be done," said Mutasa. "If
the president was here, he would have told us what will be done and how it
Mugabe is accused of engineering well-calculated violent campaigns.
In the run-up to the presidential elections on both March 29 and June 27, he
was blamed for ordering party youths and war veterans to embark on a bloody
campaign that left opposition supporters dead, displaced or injured.
At the same gathering, Zanu-PF political commissar Elliot Manyika also
expressed anger at Mugabe's public humiliation.
"We thank you for having been at parliament on Tuesday to support your
leadership," said Manyika. "If you were not there, it was going to be a bad
day in the office for the president because of the behaviour of those MDC
"We were pained by the way they treated the party, the president and the
entire leadership of this country. This should never happen again. What we
are working on now is a strategy that can see us revenging for that
August 29, 2008
By Our Correspondent
HARARE- Zimbabwe's labour movement has lambasted President Robert Mugabe for
retaining for five years a cabinet he described as the worst he had ever
Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) secretary general, Wellington
Chibebe, on Wednesday said Mugabe's admission that his cabinet was inept
reflected his lack of leadership.
Chibebe said, as the head of government, Mugabe should ultimately be held
responsible for Zimbabwe's crisis.
Speaking during a luncheon organised by the local government ministry to
mark the opening of parliament on Tuesday, Mugabe railed against his cabinet
ministers, criticizing them for their penchant for self-enrichment.
"The Cabinet that I had was the worst in history. They look at themselves.
They are unreliable" Mugabe said while promising to appoint a new cabinet
which should have the competence to manage the business of the people.
Chibebe said the poor performance of the cabinet, which he said was running
the country illegally after the March 29 elections when Zanu-PF was
convincingly defeated, should include him as well.
"The question which now begs for an answer from him is: why did he allow
this worst cabinet in history of Zimbabwe to continue ruining the country
even after his defeat at the hands of the Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC)?" Chibebe said.
"It shows that Mugabe does not have the people of Zimbabwe at heart.
Instead, just like his cabinet, he is the worst leader this country has had
in living history."
Chibebe likened Mugabe to a fish out of water. "Mugabe should know that he
has been a fish out of water for the past ten years when his legitimacy has
been under scrutiny," he said.
"A fish starts rotting from the head, hence his criticism that he was
presiding over the worst cabinet also includes him."
Zimbabwe's slide into decay started a decade ago when Mugabe expropriated
vast tracts of farmland mainly from white commercial farmers in a chaotic
and often violent land redistribution programme.
The exercise came after Zimbabweans rejected a government-sponsored
constitution in a referendum following a campaign spearheaded by trade
unions, civic organisation and the fledgling opposition MDC.
Economic decline gradually set in as the haphazard agrarian reform triggered
the collapse of the agricultural sector which formed Zimbabwe's economic
backbone, capital flight and worsened foreign currency, food and fuel
Economists estimate Zimbabwe's inflation to be at 50 million per cent
although government put it at 11 million percent.
by Own Correspondent Friday 29 August 2008
JOHANNESBURG - The United Kingdom on Wednesday relaxed its warning
against travel to Zimbabwe, following continued decrease in political
violence that had engulfed the Southern African country since disputed
elections in March.
"Due to the continued decrease in violence in the country we no longer
advise against all but essential travel to Zimbabwe," the Foreign Office
said in a travel update on its website, cautioning that unrest could erupt
again "without warning", amid continued uncertainty over stalled
power-sharing talks between President Robert Mugabe and the opposition
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).
"We strongly advise against all travel to high density, low-income
suburban areas at any time; and all but essential travel to rural
Mashonaland, rural Manicaland and farming areas. There have been a number of
serious incidents in rural areas and it is dangerous for farmers or
agricultural workers to visit former properties or other agricultural
Zimbabwe's former colonial power, which has been the leading critic of
Mugabe added: "You should also avoid areas where war veterans are active.
The situation remains unpredictable and incidents of violence across the
country continue: it could deteriorate further, without warning."
Mugabe reportedly said on Wednesday that he will form a new government
despite a deadlock in power-sharing negotiations, a move condemned by both
the Morgan Tsvangirai-led main faction of the opposition MDC and its Arthur
Mutambara-led splinter group who both said they would not join any new
government before the conclusion of negotiations meant to bring the country's
feuding political parties into an all-inclusive government of national
MDC leader Tsvangirai defeated Mugabe in a first round presidential
election in March but failed to secure the margin required to takeover the
presidency. Mugabe's ruling ZANU PF party also lost to the MDC in a parallel
parliamentary poll in March.
However, Mugabe went to win the second round presidential vote in
which he was sole candidate after Tsvangirai pulled out saying a free and
fair vote was impossible after at least 113 MDC supporters were killed and
about 200 000 others displaced in state orchestrated political violence
during the run-up to the poll.
The West and several African governments rejected the June 27
presidential ballot as undemocratic.
Efforts to find a negotiated settlement to Zimbabwe's political
impasse have hit deadlock because Mugabe and Tsvangirai cannot agree on who
between them should control a government of national unity that some said is
the only way to break the country's political and economic crisis.
Britain, the US and other key Western donor nations whose financial
support is vital to any plan to revive Zimbabwe's comatose economy insist
they will only back a Harare government whose executive head is
Tsvangirai. - ZimOnline
SW Radio Africa (London)
28 August 2008
Posted to the web 28 August 2008
United States ambassador to Zimbabwe, James McGee has warned that the
country faces a humanitarian disaster because of the continued ban on NGO
The ban was announced during the run up to the election run-off in June,
after Welfare Minister Nicholas Goche accused aid groups of supporting the
MDC's campaign during the first round of elections in March. The ban forced
NGOs to suspend their desperately needed aid operations, and has now left
millions of Zimbabweans facing starvation in a situation that is becoming
In rural areas of Mashonaland East and Manicaland maize supplies have dried
up and households that previously produced maize on their homestead plots
have been hit by poor harvests, made worse by the lack of fertiliser. At the
same time, according to a report by the Food and Agricultural Organisation
and the World Food Programme, more than 5 million Zimbabweans will suffer
food insecurity in the next nine months because of poor harvest projections.
The report said it estimates that, "2.04 million people in rural and urban
areas will be food insecure between July and September 2008, rising to 3.8
million people by October and peaking to about 5.1 million at the height of
the hungry season between January and March 2009."
The dire situation has seen the Red Cross federation issue an urgent appeal
for more than 20 million US dollars in emergency food aid. The food packages
are set to be distributed to almost 300 000 of the country's most desperate
people from September.
Matthew Cochrane from the International Federation of Red Cross and Red
Crescent Societies based in Johannesburg, told Newsreel on Thursday the
emergency food aid initiative is the start of a comprehensive 6 month
"recovery" programme. He said that the organisation's primary focus is
getting aid to the "most desperate," including the elderly and people living
with HIV/AIDS. But Cochrane added that it is "critical that more food aid
comes" to start easing the desperate humanitarian situation in Zimbabwe.
The Red Cross was one of the few organisations not affected by the
government's ban on aid. But Cochrane said although its efforts have
continued, it is "unrealistic" for one group to provide aid for an entire
nation' and said the operations of other aid groups is urgently needed.
In the run-up to Zimfest, Oliver Mtukudzi tells Rob Crossan about being a
Friday, 29 August 2008
The phone lines are down in Zimbabwe. With frustrating regularity, the
antiquated system has been collapsing for years now. For Oliver Mtukudzi,
the most famous living musician still to call this deeply-scarred country
his home, it means that keeping in touch with his friends and family back
home is a logistical nightmare. A punctured tyre and near-deadly road crash
on his current tour of the UK has only added to the communication problems:
"I wasn't on the bus but my entire band was," says Mtukudzi, his voice as
dry and weathered as emery cloth as we speak in his London hotel. "We were
lucky in that we have a very skilled driver, but the first thing a lot of
our friends and families heard about it was when it was reported in the
For Mtukudzi, road accidents are one of the less seditious occupational
hazards of being the last remaining superstar musician still living in
Zimbabwe who is prepared to speak out against the regime of Robert Mugabe.
Mtukudzi headlines the Zimfest outdoor festival in Raynes Park, south
London, this Saturday. The festival, organised by three Zimbabweans - one
white, one Shona and one Ndebele (the two main black ethnic groups in the
country) - was initiated in 2001 with the aim of raising money to support
charities and NGOs that are still operating in the country. It would seem to
be a natural platform for a veteran dissident like Mtukudzi. This, after
all, is the man who, as far back as 2000, was singing (in his native Shona
language), a song called "Mkuru Mkuru", meaning "old man", whose lyrics
spoke of a leader knowing the time to give up and bow out gracefully.
Mugabe's ZANU-PF party complained bitterly about the lyrics. Mtukudzi
cunningly responded by saying: "If the leader is being affected by this song
then that means there is something wrong with him. But I'm talking about any
head of family. 'Mkuru Mkuru' applies to any family, but families make up a
community, and communities make up the nation."
"Walk down the street in Harare, and you'll find more people of any age who
love Tuku [Mtukudzi's nickname] or at least have heard of him, than you will
any politician," says Gordon Glyn-Jones, one of the organisers of Zimfest. A
mercurial and impudent front man, Mtukudzi, now in his fifties, may not be
quite as energetic on stage as he once was, but the success of the highly
distinctive musical style he has developed over the last 30 years (known as
"Tuku Music") is still dependent on his booming growl of a voice, backed
with a lush guitar sound, plucked to sound like the mbira. This instrument
is also known as a thumb piano: a native Zimbabwean creation consisting of
thin strips of steel layered across a hollowed-out calabash. Marimba, bass
and resonant female backing vocals create a sound that is energetic,
accessible and highly popular with British audiences: "People should come to
listen," says Mtukudzi when describing his sound. "But they should also
bring their dancing shoes." He sold out the Jazz Café in Camden Town, north
London, last week and is expected to play in front of an audience of more
than 5,000 at Zimfest.
"Every day is a struggle and it's getting worse all the time," admits
Mtukudzi when I ask him about his choice to continue to live in Harare.
"I didn't choose to be a Zimbabwean but the fact that I am makes me proud. A
lot of people have left the country - perhaps they have better reasons to
than I do. To be proud to be Zimbabwean is a totally different thing to
anyone saying they can be proud of Zimbabwe - because now, every day is a
Perhaps understandably, Tuku, as a man living under the present regime, is
not a man to scream revolution when you talk to him, preferring to use more
subtle methods of allegory and metaphor in his conversation and his music.
He is returning home after this tour, which also takes him to South Africa,
but he has no problem with headlining a festival such as Zimfest, which has
been so outspoken about Mugabe's reign.
"I think it's a brilliant idea," he tells me. "Nothing is forever. Whether
leaders, or me and you, like it or not, things have to turn around. Our
economy is ruined but everything changes at some point. Hope is vital for
all of our people. And anyway, there's no such thing as an easy life,
wherever you are."
The event that started it all...
Zimfest started in 2001 as a music and arts festival for 700 people in a
field behind Wandsworth Prison in south London. It was organised by "We
Zimbabwe", a charity that focused on raising money for groups working with
youth development, education, human rights and support for victims of the
crisis in Zimbabwe.
Now spearheaded by three Zimbabweans - Phil Chikwiramakomo, Hilton
Mendelsohn and Gordon Glyn Jones - this year's festival is expected to draw
around 5,000 people to the Prince George Playing Fields, Raynes Park, south
London on Saturday.
Appearing with Oliver Mtukudzi are a range of other Zimbabwean artists
including rock act Mann Friday, Rina Mushonga and urban duo Bkay & Kazz.
Tickets cost £20 in advance and £30 on the day. See www.wezimbabwe.org for
more information and tickets.
Thursday, 28 August 2008 21:43
Consultations to conclude Zimbabwe's stalled talks for a negotiated
political settlement commence today in Pretoria, amid reports that South
African President Thabo Mbeki may press MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai to sign
a proposed deal endorsed by Sadc a fortnight ago.
Sources told the Zimbabwe Independent yesterday that Mbeki called for
the consultative meeting after the gulf between Zanu PF and the
MDC-Tsvangirai widened on Tuesday when parliament was convened and President
Robert Mugabe was heckled by MDC members of parliament during his address.
Tsvangirai said the convening of parliament by Mugabe was against the
provisions of the memorandum of understanding signed on July 21 by political
parties engaged in the negotiations.
MDC-Tsvangirai negotiators Tendai Biti and Elton Mangoma and Mutambara
faction's Priscillah Misihairambwi-Mushonga flew into South Africa on
Wednesday and Zanu PF's Patrick Chinamasa and Nicholas Goche left yesterday.
Welshman Ncube (Mutambara camp) is leaving today.
"It is going to be a consultative meeting," one of the sources said.
"We expect Mbeki to ask Tsvangirai when he is going to sign the proposed
deal, which was endorsed by Sadc at its recent summit."
The sources said it was "likely" that Tsvangirai would be given a
deadline to sign. Two weeks ago Tsvangirai refused to sign the final of a
series of documents so far agreed to, saying he needed time to reflect. He
has insisted that the talks were not dead.
However, a source this week declared: "Negotiations have already
ended. It is either Tsvangirai signs or not. In Mbeki's view, there is no
outstanding issue to discuss. This applies to Mugabe also."
But other sources said Mbeki might be forced to seek the re-opening of
negotiations after Tsvangirai's MDC on Monday won the post of Speaker and
effectively took control of parliament.
"The MDC victory in parliament gives them leeway to demand more power
in an inclusive government," one of the sources said.
The sources said Mbeki would not want the talks to collapse as he
"understands gravity of the consequences South Africa" and other Sadc
countries would face.
There has been an influx of Zimbabweans in South Africa, Botswana and
other neighbouring countries escaping the decade-long political and economic
The talks between Zanu PF and the two MDCs stalled three weeks ago
after Mugabe and Tsvangirai failed to agree on the powers each should wield
as president and prime minister respectively.
Tsvangirai reportedly wanted a transfer of power to him as executive
prime minister rather than share power with Mugabe whom he says should
become a ceremonial president.
Sadc heads of state and government met in South Africa two weeks ago
and urged Tsvangirai to sign all "outstanding agreements" to pave way for an
The regional bloc recommended the convening of parliament.
Political analysts said Sadc's recommendation was meant to put
pressure on Tsvangirai to sign the deal, but this has not happened, forcing
Mbeki to call for today's meeting to find a way forward.
Doubts abound that Zanu PF was no longer interested in the talks after
Mugabe on Tuesday said he was in the process of forming a new cabinet.
Mugabe has already appointed 10 provincial governors and three
non-constituency senators -- positions that were on the talks agenda and
were expected to be distributed between Zanu PF and the two MDC formations.
The move by Mugabe to appoint a new cabinet before power-sharing talks
have been concluded did not go well with the Tsvangirai camp, which said
this would be a "declaration of war" against the people.
Nelson Chamisa, the spokesperson of the MDC-Tsvangirai, said Mugabe
wanted to "hijack the leadership" of Zimbabwe by naming a new cabinet.
By Constantine Chimakure
Thursday, 28 August 2008 21:39
ZIMBABWE'S political troubles are intensifying as President Robert
Mugabe struggles to form a functional government after losing control of
parliament in the wake of faltering power-sharing talks with the opposition
Although talks are resuming today in Pretoria, no agreement is likely
to be signed because Mugabe is said to be determined to resist pressure for
him to surrender more power to Tsvangirai, while the MDC leader is also not
willing to budge. Tsvangirai has refused to sign a power-sharing deal with
Mugabe that regional leaders and his opposition rivals think is fair and
realistic in the circumstances. Tsvangirai says it will make him a lame-duck
Sources said South Africa president Thabo Mbeki, the mediator, who has
called for today's consultative meeting on the talks, would not reopen
negotiations but ask the negotiators what is needed to break the deadlock.
If the talks collapse, Mugabe will proceed with his cabinet project
which could however be paralysed by his party's loss of parliament. Mugabe
said on Tuesday he was in the process of forming a new government.
Deputy Information minister Bright Matonga said yesterday his boss was
going ahead with plans to appoint cabinet despite ongoing talks.
"Nothing is going to stop us from forming a new government," Matonga
said in an interview with South Africa's public broadcaster SA FM. "We need
to move forward, we need to make sure that Zimbabwe regains its status, we
need to work on the economy." Matonga suggested that Sadc had given Mugabe
the authority to convene parliament and appoint cabinet.
However, Sadc, which authorised Mugabe to reconvene parliament during
its recent summit in Johannesburg, South Africa, said yesterday it had not
given him the go-ahead to appoint cabinet.
Sadc defence director Dankie Mothae said the regional body had not
given Mugabe any such authority.
Sadc executive secretary Tomaz Salomao said Sadc only gave Mugabe
authority to convene parliament. The Sadc communiqué issued after the summit
only refers to the convening of parliament. "Although we don't want to
comment on the talks, we don't know where they are getting it (that Mugabe
can appoint cabinet) from," Salomao said. "Sadc specifically referred to the
convening of parliament only."
A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for talks signed by Mugabe,
Tsvangirai, Mutambara and Mbeki on July 21 prohibits the convening of
parliament and appointing a new cabinet before the conclusion of the talks.
Tsvangirai's MDC secretary-general Tendai Biti said they would today
lodge a formal complaint with Mbeki on these issues, including the arrest of
five of their MPs and senior party official this week.
Whatever government Mugabe forms alone will be paralysed as it cannot
pass laws or a budget without the support of the MDC in parliament.
Zanu PF was defeated in parliament on Monday by the leading MDC
faction led by Tsvangirai despite trying to strike a coalition deal with MPs
from the smaller MDC group led by Arthur Mutambara in a fierce battle for
the post of Speaker of the House Assembly.
This dealt a heavy blow to Mugabe and Zanu PF who lost in the March 29
Mugabe however reversed his defeat on June 27 via a campaign of
violence, killings and intimidation, according to the MDC.
After being outmanoervred on Monday, Mugabe was further subjected to
humiliation by jeering opposition MPs on Tuesday while he was opening
Mugabe said on Tuesday he was proceeding to form a new government
excluding the MDC, a move which would compound the political impasse at the
heart of the economic meltdown.
Constitutional lawyer Lovemore Madhuku said if negotiations collapse,
Mugabe would have a torrid time trying to govern without a majority in
parliament. He however said Mugabe's real problem is the economy, not loss
of parliament. He said Mugabe's fate in power would largely depend on what
the MDC does or fails to do after a break down of talks.
"Mugabe will have a difficult time running governing without a
majority but that is not his real problem. His main problem really is the
crumbling economy. The day to day running of government does not need the
control of parliament, so he can manoeuvre," Madhuku said. "However, there
is no room for manoeuvre in dealing with the economic crisis."
Madhuku said if parliament blocks Mugabe's proposed laws, he would
have no choice but to abandon his legislative agenda and perhaps resort to
Presidential Powers (Temporary Measures) Act which empowers him to make
regulations dealing with situations that have arisen or are likely to arise
and require urgent attention. However, the problem is that the Act only
allows him to introduce measures that last for six months.
Madhuku said declaring a state of emergency as some people had been
saying would not help because it would only be able to suspend "certain
provisions of the constitution mainly relating to the Bill of Rights, not
"The real problem in terms of parliament will be when it comes to the
passing of a budget," Madhuku said. "If MDC MPs block the budget, Mugabe
would have no option but to dissolve parliament. However, this is
problematic because if he dissolves parliament his term of office also comes
to an end at the same time in terms of the current constitution as amended."
By Dumisani Muleya
Thursday, 28 August 2008 20:47
THE Morgan Tsvangirai-led MDC won parliament's speaker position this
week after it struck a deal in Botswana with rebellious members of the
smaller faction led by Arthur Mutambara.
The deal allegedly scuttled an agreement between Zanu PF and Mutambara
and his secretary- general Welshman Ncube to land influential posts in
President Robert Mugabe's government.
Impeccable sources told the Zimbabwe Independent that Tsvangirai, his
vice-president Thokozani Khupe and national chairperson Lovemore Moyo met
nine MPs from the Mutambara camp soon after the Sadc summit and persuaded
them to vote in their favour for the parliamentary speaker in return for
positions and other incentives.
The nine legislators from the Mutambara faction were Edward Mkhosi
(Mangwe West), Abednico Bhebhe (Nkayi South), Njabuliso Mguni (Lupane),
Nomalanga Mzilikazi Khumalo
(Mzingwane), Siyabonga Malandu Ncube (Insiza North), Norman Mpofu
(Mangwe East), Maxwell Dube (Tsholotsho South), Patrick Dube (Gwanda North)
and Thandeko Mkandla (Gwanda South).
Moses Mzila Ndlovu of Bulilima constituency did not attend the
The meeting took place a week after Sadc heads of government and
states recommended that Mugabe could reconvene parliament.
The sources said the MPs from Mutambara's camp agreed during the
Botswana meeting to vote for Moyo and they in turn asked the Tsvangirai
faction to back them and elect Khumalo as deputy speaker.
"An agreement was reached in Botswana and the MPs from Mutambara were
promised positions and other incentives if they voted for Moyo," one of the
During the election of the speaker on Monday, Moyo won against Paul
Themba Nyathi who was co-sponsored by Mutambara's MDC and Zanu PF. Khumalo
was unanimously elected deputy speaker.
But the spokesperson of the MDC-Mutambara, Edwin Mushoriwa, in a
congratulatory statement, alleged that a Zanu PF group working with the
party's Nkayi MP and cabinet minister Sithembiso Nyoni voted for Moyo. Nyoni
is the mother-in-law of Moyo.
"The outcome of this election clearly shows that parliamentarians
voted across party-lines. We are aware that Zanu PF parliamentarians,
particularly the Sithembiso Nyoni groups, were canvassing and voted for
Lovemore Moyo. We are more than certain that our MPs voted for our
However, Nyoni yesterday charged that the claims were mischievous and
malicious and said she would not lose sleep over them.
By Constantine Chimakure/Loughty Dube
Thursday, 28 August 2008 20:44
PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe has dropped provincial governors perceived as
sympathetic to Vice-president Joice Mujuru's bid for the presidential post
before Zanu PF's extraordinary congress last year.
The purge, sources in Zanu PF and government said, would extend to the
appointment of a new cabinet by Mugabe.
Mugabe this week dropped four governors who allegedly were part of a
faction in Zanu PF that backed Mujuru to succeed the 84-year-old leader.
The four are Ray Kaukonde (Mashonaland East), Tinaye Chigudu
(Manicaland), Willard Chiwewe (Masvingo), and Ephraim Masawi (Mashonaland
Former Education minister Aenias Chigwedere, ex-Transport minister
Chris Mushohwe, Titus Maluleke and Advocate Martin Dinha replaced the four.
Mugabe also dropped two other governors, Cephas Msipa (Midlands) and
Nelson Samkange (Mashonaland West).
Mugabe at the party's Goromonzi conference in December 2006 publicly
reprimanded Kaukonde, who was also Zanu PF provincial chairperson for
Mashonaland East, for openly supporting Mujuru.
His province and Harare refused during the conference to endorse a
proposal to extend Mugabe's rule to 2010 when the country's first harmonised
elections were initially planned for by Zanu PF hardliners.
By then Mugabe was yet to be endorsed and confirmed by the party as
its presidential candidate in this year's harmonised elections and this
necessitated the convening of an extraordinary congress in December.
Mugabe allegedly manipulated the congress to endorse his candidature.
"Kaukonde was seen as behind the Mujuru faction and Mugabe was
bitter," a source in Zanu PF said. "He decided to replace him with
Chigwedere whose loyalty to Mugabe is unquestionable."
The sources said Chigudu, Chiwewe and Masawi were also perceived to be
behind Mujuru's bid for the presidency and mobilised her support in their
"There are more people who will be dumped from the current cabinet and
from party structures," the source added.
Zanu PF has since ordered the restructuring of its organs after it
performed dismally in the March 29 elections.
The restructuring was sanctioned during a central committee meeting
last month where a reportedly irate Mugabe quizzed the party's leadership on
why Zanu PF lost the elections to the opposition Movement for Democratic
The party sources said the exercise was expected to usher in new
leaders from cell up to provincial levels.
"The plan now is to have a restructuring exercise that will ensure
that people who are deemed failures will not be elected as leaders ahead of
the party's conference in Bindura in December," said one of the sources.
In an interview yesterday, Zanu PF national commissar Elliot Manyika
said the restructuring exercise was being conducted in line with the party's
Manyika said: "The (restructuring) process is being held after the
realisation that the terms of office for the old executives have come to an
end. We are preparing for the conference in December and we want to go to
the conference with new executives in place.
"Of course, we have said the leaders should go to the people to seek
new mandates and if they (the executives) fail to rise to the occasion and
let down the people, surely they will not be voted back."
By Nkululeko Sibanda
Thursday, 28 August 2008 20:39
ZIMBABWE'S opposition leader and President Robert Mugabe set aside
years of bitter rivalry and talked like a father and son when they met for a
private dinner last month.
Morgan Tsvangirai, who has repeatedly suffered arrest and assault at
the hands of Mugabe's regime, described how the tension disappeared during
their first one-on-one meeting following the signing of a memorandum of
understanding to negotiate a power-sharing deal between Zanu PF and the two
MDC formations on July21.
"A passer-by might have mistaken it for a lost father-son reunion,"
said Tsvangirai. "Initially, there was tension between us but as we chatted
about this and that and became more relaxed, I discovered that he was a
human being after all."
This private dinner, details of which have never previously been
disclosed, followed the public handshake between Tsvangirai and Mugabe in
Only weeks earlier, scores of opposition supporters had been murdered
and thousands assaulted or tortured during a bloody presidential election
But in an exclusive interview, Tsvangirai said these traumatic events
did not come between him and the 84-year-old president. "We chatted about
family, about my mother, as well as about politics and the talks. Mugabe ate
a lot and knew exactly what he wanted. He is very alert mentally but,
physically, the age is telling."
Tsvangirai said it would be "unfair" to reveal the political details
of 90-minute dinner with Mugabe. But he said the ageing leader was concerned
about his place in history and genuinely worried about Britain's alleged
plots to oust him -- a constant feature of his speeches.
"I got the impression that he has a deep commitment to his legacy. I
realised that he actually believes a lot of what he is saying; it's not all
said just for propaganda purposes. He is paranoid about the British. I think
overall he wants to prove to them that he is right," said Tsvangirai.
As for the British government, Tsvangirai discovered that Mugabe views
(prime minister) Gordon Brown as an even more dedicated opponent than Tony
Blair. "I said, 'Why don't you talk to them?' And he said, 'Well, you know,
Blair was bad enough but this Brown, he is even worse'."
Mugabe's regime has been responsible for thousands of deaths since he
won power 28 years ago. But the old leader appeared genuinely pained about
how he is portrayed.
"At one point Mugabe told me, 'You know, some people say I'm a
murderer. But I'm not. Let the two of us carry on eating together and
showing that we can go forward in peace'," said Tsvangirai.
But Mugabe seemed to have blanked out the violence which scarred the
presidential election campaign and was firmly in denial about his own
"It felt like a remarkably normal conversation most of the time, apart
from his denial of the violence in Zimbabwe," said Tsvangirai. "He seemed to
be unaware or he feigned ignorance of the atrocities committed by his own
"I wondered if he was suppressing knowledge of something he was not
comfortable with. Right up to the end of the dinner, I kept coming back to
the issue of violence and he kept denying any knowledge of it."
Only a week after this meeting, however, Mugabe gave a very different
message. During the annual ceremony remembering the dead of the war against
white rule, Mugabe said: "We used violence to defend what is ours."
Tsvangirai remains puzzled by the president's capacity for
double-think and denial.
"I left the hotel wondering why Mugabe is so violent. Why does he
resort to violence whenever he is cornered? Being in his company, I couldn't
imagine where the violent streak was: I think he suppresses it, even to
himself. Or is it the people around him? He doesn't seem as bad when you're
with him, but I know he was trying to manipulate me that night."
Despite this friendly meeting, Tsvangirai later refused to sign a
power-sharing deal that would have left Mugabe in command of Zimbabwe's
government. But he said he felt "no sense of bitterness," adding: "I
actually have to admit that I have some respect for Mugabe, who used to be
By Heidi Holland : the author of Dinner with Mugabe, published by
Thursday, 28 August 2008 20:37
THE three Matabeleland provinces have threatened to pull out of former
Simba Makoni's Mavambo movement, in a move that will scuttle plans to
transform it into a fully-fledged political party.
Plans to turn the movement into a party, to be known as the National
Alliance for Democracy, are underway.
Bulawayo and Matabeleland North and South provinces have written to
Makoni threatening to quit over the way the movement is being run.
Last week, Dumiso Dabengwa, Makoni's main backer in the March 29
presidential election, abandoned the movement.
In a letter to Makoni dated July 28 in the possession of the Zimbabwe
Independent, the inter-provincial steering committee said it was dismayed by
the manner in which its contributions to the formation of the party had been
handled by the Harare office.
"We would like to remind you that we are equal human beings and that
we were ill-treated for a long time under similar circumstances, and cannot
live to repeat this," the letter said.
"We have seen the superiority complex displayed by individuals at 'the
head office' which is run like a family outfit and are very unhappy to be
part of this, and particularly detest the arrogance, lack of foresight and
leadership that has so far been displayed."
Furthermore, the letter warned that failure by the Mavambo head office
to deal with issues of concern raised by the steering committee could lead
to the severing of ties.
"We request audience with you (Makoni) before the national
consultative conference to discuss the issues (stated in the letter). If
this is not possible, we shall have no option but to announce (an) immediate
suspension of the relationship between ourselves and the head office and we
shall proceed with the development of the party in the direction and pace
that we feel shall be beneficial to our supporters," added the letter.
A fortnight ago, the Independent reported that there were complaints
on resource allocation towards the mobilisation of support for the planned
party by the three provinces.
In the letter, the question of allocation of the movement's vehicles
It has since emerged that the vehicles referred to were actually
donations and not acquired using funds procured by Mavambo in its
fundraising campaign for the presidential and general elections.
Read the letter: "As we struggle through the formation of this party,
we wonder where the donated vehicles are and why the process of getting them
to good use is taking so much time.We were issued with one truck that
services the office and also covers the immediate areas. This vehicle had
not been serviced until it was sent to Nissan Clover Leaf Motors where it
attracted a huge bill that is now pegged at $33 trillion (old currency). The
chairman had no option but to pay out from his pocket."
Godfrey Chanetsa, the Mavambo spokesperson, said it was surprising
that the matter of differences within their camp should be played out in the
media while there were avenues of seeking reconciliation within the
structure of the movement.
He said anyone with any grievance should approach the head office with
the matter for attention.
"I am wondering why some people want us to address issues of Mavambo
in the media. Those that feel they have grievances know what the party
structures are and they should be free to approach the head office and these
matters shall be thrashed out at that forum. There is absolutely no need to
try and resolve our matters in the media," Chanetsa said.
He said that some of the problems were "fixated and imagined" that
could be thrashed out "within the confines of the four walls" and not in the
By Nkululeko Sibanda
Thursday, 28 August 2008 20:34
ESTABLISHED local and international companies have shunned this year's
edition of the Harare Agricultural Show (HAS), leaving small and
medium-scale enterprises (SMEs), government ministries, parastatals and
banks as the only exhibitors.
A visit to the Exhibition Park this week showed that ministries such
as Local Government, Energy, and Education, had taken up space to display
school uniforms, textbooks, and model rural houses.
Parastatals like the Zimbabwe United Passenger Company had on display
30 seater Swaraj buses that were part of President Robert Mugabe's
presidential campaign in the run up to the March 29 and the June 27
presidential election runoff.
Exhibition halls such as Home Industries and Rajiv Gandhi, which in
previous years used to be packed with indigenous entrepreneurs and
small-scale farmers displaying their produce, were nearly empty save for a
few interior décor exhibitors.
However, the Harare Show Society (HSS) this week said the number of
exhibitors had gone up from 469 last year to 500 this year because of the
increased presence of SMEs.
Tsitsi Moyo, a Mbare woman, who had taken her kids to the show, told
the Zimbabwe Independent that she was disappointed to find out that most of
the exhibition space had been taken up by government ministries that did not
have on display any interesting material for her children.
She said: "I am so disappointed that after struggling to raise enough
money to bring my kids here we find empty stands and government ministries
with information which is not exciting to school going children."
The annual event, which started on Monday, has been marred by a low
turnout, which the HSS spokesperson Heather Madombwe blamed on the economic
crisis in the country.
"The annual event has not lost its traditional appeal, but the public
are failing to access cash from banks as well as many other challenges
facing the nation," Madombwe said.
By Wednesday, only 11 332 people had visited the Exhibition Park
compared to over 50 000 people during the same period last year.
The current cash shortages and the high cost of food at the Exhibition
Park forced many people to bring packed lunches from home.
Mugabe will for the second year in a row officially open the show
By Lucia Makamure
Thursday, 28 August 2008 20:21
BUSINESS and industry this week warned that the economy would further
deteriorate if the country's two major political parties which adjourned
talks two week ago fail to find a lasting solution to the country's
Its appears the economy has deteriorated further since the talks were
suspended with prices of all goods and services increasing astronomically,
companies and industries operations depressed as the dollar continues to
lose value against major trading partners.
In an interview with businessdigest on Wednesday, Confederation of
Zimbabwe Industries president, Callisto Jokonya, said business appeared to
be in better shape before the talks started.
"Business is concerned with the delay of the talks and is appealing to
politicians to consider the life of the 13 million people ahead of personal
gains," Jokonya said.
He added: "sanctions are real and business and people are now feeling
their negative effects".
"Talks must be finalised today and not a day later. Politicians must
be moved by compassion and not power," he said.
The talks were suspended when opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai
refused to sign the document saying he needed time to reflect.
"We cannot wait and say it is business as usual, when industry and
business is collapsing. There will never be a solution without the two
parties sitting down and finding a lasting economic and political solution,"
Jokonya said it was not time for both parties to exchange bitter
"The (economic and political) solution must be drafted locally because
it is the locals who are affected. No one will help Zimbabwe when we are
divided," Jokonya said.
Jokonya said he was not shifting blame to any political party as CZI
had not seen the document that both parties were supposed to sign.
Business and indusrty are clinging to the hope that the positive
outcome of the talks would signal the turnaround of the economy.
Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce president, Obert Sibanda, said
failure of the talks could signal a very dark chapter in Zimbabwe's
businesses and life of the ordinary man on the street.
"It is critical that the parties reach a consensus. There should reach
a point were they agree for the revival of the country," Sibanda said.
He said failure of the talks would condemn Zimbabwe's economy to
levels that might be very difficult to revive.
By Paul Nyakazeya/Thando Mpofu
Thursday, 28 August 2008 20:18
PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe's plans to amend the controversial National
Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act could draw a furor of debate in
parliament after opposition legislators jeered at proposals he made at the
opening of parliament this week.
Opening the Seventh Parliament on Tuesday, Mugabe said his government
would among other things table motions that would give indigenisation
minister more powers to oversee the empowerment exercise with "renewed
The empowerment act was promulgated in April amid outcry from business
and civic quarters alleging that its implementation would result in
government expropriating foreign owned companies.
"Now that the National Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act,
which provides for the acquisition of at least 51 percent shares in every
public company and any other strategic businesses by indigenous persons is
law, implementation of the empowerment policy shall be pursued with renewed
vigour on a sector-by-sector basis," said Mugabe.
"However to facilitate implementation, some amendments of the Act will
have to be brought to this Parliament during this session. The amendments
will among other things, empower the relevant minister to prescribe what
constitutes a strategic company or sector, the timeframe for compliance with
the Act, and the approval format for indigenisation arrangements."
The president's remarks were responded to with interjections from
opposition members of parliament who reminded Mugabe of the ill-planned land
"Minda makatadza wani (You failed on the land exercise)," shouted an
Speaking at the just-ended American Business Association of Zimbabwe
Just Business forum, LonZim country representative Geoff Goss said his
company had no immediate plans for an "exit package" despite imminent plans
by government to seize control of foreign-owned companies. Conglomerate
Lonhro Plc has a 20% stake in the company with remainder being shared by
emerging market funds.
"We don't have one, it is not our intention to move out. It's not on
top of our agenda right now," said Goss.
"Indigenisation requires empowerment rather than endowment.experience
rather than expedience. As foreign investors, we have the responsibility
beyond simply making profits for our stakeholders. We must also respect,
include, engage and return to the communities we operate in."
He said LonZim had plans to raise US$100 million to invest on the
local market, hinting a keen interest in tourism and mining. The mining
sector is likely to be affected by the exercise.
Earlier this year Chamber of Mines of Zimbabwe, David Murangari warned
government against "adverse monetary and economic policies" which inhibit
exploration, development and major capital projects. Murangari said there
was need to revisit the empowerment Act. The gold mining sector is
forecasting a significant drop of about 4,5 metric tonnes compared to 29
metric tonnes at peak in 1999.
"This law, in its present form does not inspire both local and foreign
investors to commit their funds in growth projects for the long term," he
"The Chamber of Mines is not against the policy of indigenisation as
such, and it would suggest that the objective should be to promote further
development of the mining industry by taking into consideration the fact
that it is capital intensive and requires long periods of investment before
positive returns are experienced.
What the industry encourages is a policy that will grow the "cake"
rather than share an existing small one."
Last month Indigenisation minister Paul Mangwana said hundreds of
foreign-owned companies earmarked for the government takeover were being
audited before the exercise commences.
Mangwana said British investors held stakes in at least 499 Zimbabwean
companies while 353 firms have shareholders from other European countries.
By Bernard Mpofu
Thursday, 28 August 2008 19:56
HIDING inflation figures has forced speculators to run riot with
producers and retailers increasing prices daily, a move that will further
intensify inflationary pressures.
Economic analysts this week said blocking the figures will not help
bring down inflation but will instead force it to rise because economic
players will not have a guiding figure to effect new prices.
This, they say, will lead to rampant speculative pricing based on an
assumed inflation figure "well above the official one".
What is however true is that no one really knows what Zimbabwe's rate
of inflation is.
It should be enough to just say "prices are rising astronomically,"
rather than for banks and research institutes to engage in the charade of
trying to put a number to it.
The situation is simply too fluid to be able to do that accurately, as
the widely varying figures of these "reputable" finance houses and
The effect of speculative tendency in Zimbabwe is already being felt
on the foreign currency front where the US dollar's depreciation against
major trading currencies is also being used to estimate inflation.
The secrecy on the inflation figures has only led to more suffering
for the common man and worsen the economic crisis, analysts say. The Central
Statistical Office last week announced that the June inflation was 11,2
Kingdom bank group economist Witness Chinyama, said the major problem
with not releasing inflation figures was that it hampered developmental
plans for companies while at the same time fuelling inflation even further
because of speculation.
"Inflation figures are essential for companies planning purposes
especially in a hyper inflationary environment like we are living in now,"
"Companies need to track their performances based on these inflation
figures. Without these figures, companies won't know where they are coming
from and where they are going," Chinyama said.
A fortnight ago, Kingdom Bank reported that inflation had reached 20
Producers said the figure could be higher and would not stop
increasing their prices simply because they do not have inflation figures.
Market will continue to flourish on the back of an unrealistic exchange rate
which is way behind the parallel market.
Prices of fuels, spare parts and other imports show clearly that the
pricing models are based on the parallel market rates.
Retailers and manufacturers have been responding to each announcement
of inflation figures by increasing the prices of goods and services.
Zimbabwe's economy and quality of life have been in rapid,
The irony has been that while companies are happy to base their salary
increments on known inflation figures to cut their costs, they are more than
willing to use speculative figures to increase their prices.
Independent economist John Robertson said the delay in releasing
inflation had led to confusion in the market.
"People will not be able to get an idea of what is happening to the
exchange rate leading to prices being pegged using the prevailing parallel
market rate," Robertson said.
"There are so many figures being thrown around. The impact (of
speculation) is disastrous on smaller companies with less cushion and no
external operations," he said.
Robertson who believes that the June inflation rate was about 30
million percent said the higher estimates were likely to be more accurate.
In a country where about half the population is reportedly threatened
with starvation, the increase in inflation would be felt particularly hard
as the dollar continues to slide.
A local banker who refused to be named said the government has been
conservative in portraying the real situation on the ground.
"How can one explain the fact that we went for six months without a
official inflation figure. This has created a lot of distortions in the
country in terms of pricing and has had an impact on the exchange rate. We
have the Old Mutual Implied Rate, the interbank rate, the parallel market
rate, the hard boiled index, the NGO and embassy rate, and the Mazowe Orange
Crush rate which are all reactions to the inflation figures," said the
The bank official said there were multiple prices for goods and
services for almost every commodity and service.
"There is an official and unofficial price. This is because when the
Central Statistical Office releases a figure, it is based on the official
prices while banks and research institutes use prices being obtained on the
market," the official said
What is happening in the country is no laughing matter.
For untold numbers of Zimbabweans, toilet paper and bread, margarine,
meat, even the once ubiquitous morning cup of tea have become unimaginable
All are casualties of the hyperinflation that is "officially" roaring
towards 12 million percent.
By Jeslyn Dendere
Thursday, 28 August 2008 19:26
THE power-sharing talks between the Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe
and the opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai have been presented as the best
hope of bringing peace to the embattled country.
However, power-sharing agreements are in fact a poor strategy for
They are extremely difficult to reach and possibly even more difficult
to implement and sustain.
Power sharing is not a credible or viable solution to the crisis in
Zimbabwe, either in the immediate or longer term.
It is unlikely to bring a durable peace, is inherently undemocratic
and rewards ruthless behaviour.
Power-sharing deals are difficult to negotiate under the best of
Reaching an agreement in Zimbabwe will be particularly problematic,
for at least three reasons. First, the ruling party's interest in sharing
power is highly questionable.
Negotiators from Zanu PF are reportedly refusing to consider ceding
any executive powers to an opposition prime minister -- the main bone of
contention in the power-sharing agreement that ended a standoff following
Kenya's December 2007 elections.
Zanu PF is only sitting at the bargaining table because of
international pressure, notably from South Africa and other neighbours, and
will be loath to compromise.
While the opposition is more likely to be negotiating in good faith
than the government, the failure of talks may help the MDC's case that Zanu
PF is intransigent and that sterner international pressure will be required.
Another major impediment to agreement is the lack of trust between
Not only has the ruling party brutalised MDC officials and supporters
in myriad ways since 2000, its previous power-sharing agreement serves as a
stern warning to the MDC.
In 1987, a deal was signed between Mugabe and Joshua Nkomo, the leader
of the then main opposition party.
Nkomo was brought in as a figurehead vice-president and the deal
resulted in his party's absorption and disbandment, serving to consolidate
A third challenge is internal fragmentation.
Though not as significant as the multiplication of actors that have
plagued negotiations in the Democratic Republic of Congo or Darfur, both
Zanu PF and the MDC are factionalised.
Not all perspectives are represented at the bargaining table and
further splits may be forthcoming if any eventual agreement displeases
significant wings on one or both sides.
For instance, even if Arthur Mutambara's MDC faction signs a separate
agreement with Mugabe, his 10 MPs might defect to the main MDC wing, leaving
Zanu PF no closer to achieving a parliamentary majority.
In addition, high-ranking military officials in Zanu PF, who have
consolidated political and economic power in recent years, may prevent
Mugabe from reaching an agreement that is detrimental to their own
Even if a deal is reached, three principal challenges threaten its
First, governing elites might lack the commitment to applying the
terms of the agreement.
They might actually only be seeking to co-opt the opposition and could
renege on the agreement if they fail.
Alternatively, there may be institutional resistance to sharing power.
For instance, where the bureaucracy of the state and a party apparatus
have been one and the same for a long time, a political agreement at the top
does not guarantee compliance at the middle and lower echelons of
government, and indeed resistance may be orchestrated from the top.
In Sudan, members of the National Congress party continue to dominate
state institutions in spite of the power-sharing provisions of the 2003
comprehensive peace agreement that ended the north-south conflict.
Second, government and opposition elites might lack the ability to
deliver their commitments, particularly where key parts of their
constituency are resistant to a political deal.
Veterans, one of Mugabe's most powerful constituencies, may attempt to
spoil a transfer of executive powers if they fear losing influence.
This is not unique to Zimbabwe. Veterans have obstructed progress in
other locales such as the Serb entity in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Third, the MDC's shortcomings might impede power sharing.
Where incumbents have been in power for a very long time, the
opposition's capacity to govern is likely to be limited.
That was the case in Sudan, where the Sudan People's Liberation
Movement found itself propelled to a governing position overnight.
Permitting ill-equipped opposition leaders to assume positions of
responsibility is also a way of ensuring they will stumble and fall,
especially when assigned near-impossible tasks.
For this reason, one could expect Mugabe to give Tsvangirai
responsibility for redressing Zimbabwe's economic woes.
Even if a power-sharing arrangement was a viable option and could
prevent more violence in the shorter or longer term, it is not necessarily a
strategy worth pursuing.
Allowing a small number of elites to determine outcomes is inherently
undemocratic, and manifestly ignores voters' choices.
It would make more sense to hold new elections as soon as possible,
preferably under a caretaker government.
Otherwise, a terrible precedent is set, encouraging politicians who
are not committed to democracy to attempt to steal elections and then,
through power-sharing agreements, secure a much stronger position than they
otherwise would have held.
The Zimbabwean opposition and international actors would be well
advised to consider this before supporting further
By Chandra Lekha Sriram :director of the Centre on Human Rights in
Conflict at the University of East London School of Law.
Marie-Joëlle Zahar is associate professor of political science at the
University of Montreal specialising in the politics of power-sharing and
Thursday, 28 August 2008 19:23
THE proposed power-sharing deal between Zanu PF and the two formations
of the MDC is intended to retain President Robert Mugabe as head of state
and government while leaving new prime minister Morgan Tsvangirai with
little executive power.
According to the leaked proposal which Tsvangirai refused sign, Mugabe
would have remained the commander-in-chief of the armed forces and head of
government, as well as head of state.
Tsvangirai declined to sign the deal after questioning Paragraph 2 of
the proposed deal titled the Role of the Prime Minister.
While the paragraph states that the prime minister would have the
responsibility to oversee the formulation of policies by the cabinet, it
also spelt out that Tsvangirai would not be the man in charge.
It said Tsvangirai would only be "a member of the cabinet and its
This arrangement would have left Mugabe as the head of cabinet in
accordance with the Constitution of Zimbabwe.
Political analysts observed that the situation was made worse by
Paragraph 11, which stipulated that Tsvangirai would have to "report
regularly to the president".
Mugabe was also to retain broad powers to declare a state of
emergency, declare war or make peace and to grant amnesty.
The analysts said the proposed deal also revealed that Sadc leaders
were in support of Mugabe's retention of far more executive powers than is
Sadc heads of state and government met in South Africa two weeks ago
and made a passionate plea to Tsvangirai to sign all "outstanding
agreements" to pave way for an inclusive government.
The regional bloc recommended the convening of parliament that took
place on Tuesday, a move analysts said was contrary to the spirit and letter
of the memorandum of understanding signed by the negotiating parties.
Zimbabwean-born South Africa businessman Mutumwa Mawere said the
proposed pact intended to create two centres of power with attendant
challenges not only in terms of accountability, but also in reconciling the
past and the future.
"Mugabe is an ideologue and believes in the justice of his cause,"
Mawere observed. "His world-view has not changed and he has invested so much
in the past that the future appears to be of little concern to him."
He said the country needed a break from the past and the correct
interpretation of the March 29 election was confirmed by the takeover of
control of the House of Assembly by the opposition for the first time in
"The proposal was negotiated when it was not clear how much support
MDC-Tsvangirai enjoyed. The view held then was that whoever controlled
parliament should have executive powers," Mawere argued. "With the outcome
of the Speaker's election, a new argument can be legitimately made that
Tsvangirai does control parliament . . . If Tsvangirai does control the
House of Assembly, then a case must then be made that he deserves to deliver
the change that people want."
Political scientist Michael Mhike concurred with Mawere that the South
African President Thabo Mbeki-mediated deal intended to create two centres
of power -- an executive president and prime minister. He further argued
that change in Zimbabwe would not be credible with Mugabe at the helm.
"A new face with executive powers is required," suggested Mhike. "Two
centres of power in terms of day-to-day supervision of ministries has its
He said the proposal was framed on the basis that Mugabe was duly
elected as head of state.
"The events following the March 29 election culminating in the
election of the Speaker confirms that the legitimacy of Mugabe is
problematic and a new scenario is called for," Mhike argued. "The parliament
and senate configuration is sufficiently balanced to give comfort to Mugabe
that the inevitable loss of executive powers through the transfer of power
to the prime minister will not pose a serious risk to moving the country
He said the ideal deal would have been for Tsvangirai to report to
parliament and senate, not Mugabe.
Mhike said it was apparent that the negotiated deal was meant to
accommodate Arthur Mutambara, Mugabe and Tsvangirai as individuals.
"It turns out that Mutambara may not enjoy the support of his
constituency to give him a credible standing in any negotiations. If this is
the case, then there has to be a new realisation by Sadc and all interested
parties that no deal that places Tsvangirai in a subservient position to
Mugabe will be credible," he argued.
For declining to sign the deal, Tsvangirai has been accused by the
MDC-Mutambara of demanding power transfer to himself rather than
Welshman Ncube, the chief negotiator of MDC-Mutambara camp, last week
quoting the Sadc communiqué said the deal on the table was appropriate, fair
and an equitable power-sharing pact.
"The executive function is the function of running government, of
appointing and supervising ministers, of determining the day to day
operations of government, of defining policy," Ncube said. "If you exclude
the leader of one of the parties from that completely, you are rendering
whomsoever you have excluded ceremonial. That is why Sadc found that the
demands which are on the table (from Tsvangirai) are for a power-transfer.
And they were unable to endorse those. Which is why they endorsed what is on
the table which is power-sharing."
He said even if one would go by the results of March 29, no single
party can argue for transfer of power to itself because no single party had
the absolute majority entitling it to have power transferred to it.
"Consider the figures, Zanu PF has 99, MDC-T 100 and we have 10,"
Ncube argued. "For anyone to say that power ought to be transferred to
themselves alone, they ought to have 106 seats in the House of Assembly. No
one has that. The fact that you might have the highest number does not
entitle you to a transfer."
Writing in the Cape Argus this week, former professor of
constitutional law at Unisa and veteran of South Africa's own negotiations
for a new constitution, Marius Wiechers, argued that Tsvangirai was right to
reject the deal because it was not about power-sharing. "It's just jostling
for positions -- the really operative side is not addressed," he wrote.
Wiechers argued that despite the attempt to dish out ministries fairly
equally, the clincher was that Mugabe retains the chair of cabinet, which
could prove decisive.
He dubbed the deal an "incestuous merging" of presidential and prime
Wiechers said there was no other conflict-resolution mechanism in the
deal, which becomes, therefore, a "recipe for disaster" in the form of
He suggested that Sadc should take a leaf out of the international
community's handling of the Kosovo crisis by creating a superior Sadc body
standing above all the Zimbabwean parties to arbitrate the deadlocks which
he believed must inevitably arise from the power-sharing deal.
By Constantine Chimakure
Thursday, 28 August 2008 19:13
GOVERNMENT'S unmitigated recourse to endless duplicity is brazen in
the extreme, and clearly knows no bounds.
Admittedly, this is neither a new phenomenon, nor a characteristic
that is exclusive to the Zimbabwean government, for many (if not most)
governments are guilty of devious double-dealing, dissembling, and reliance
upon the "nod and wink", hypocritical actions diametrically opposite to that
which it does, or claims to do, or expects of others.
Examples are numerous of such duplicity.
Probably the most recent is gazetting of a Statutory Instrument
prescribing that all as are possessed of generators are bound by law to
register such generators with the Zimbabwe Electricity Regulatory Commission
(ZERC), subject those generators to ZERC inspection, and effect payment of
prescribed fees to that commission.
The duplicity of this regulation is two-fold. On the one hand, it is
the bounden duty of the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (Zesa), which
is a wholly-owned parastatal of government, to provide all Zimbabwe with
requisite supplies of electricity. This it has been dismally failing to do,
to an ever-increasing extent, with the country's residents, its commerce and
industry, mining and agricultural sectors, being grievously prejudiced by
pronounced interruptions in supplies.
Almost all are subjected to being without electricity seven days a
week, in many instances for periods of six to 10 hours, and as recently as a
fortnight ago Zesa publicly foreshadowed intensification of those periods to
a probable twelve hours each day.
Due to Zesa's gross inability to meet the nation's essential
electricity supply needs, more and more businesses and individuals have been
driven to acquiring, at great initial and on-going operational costs,
generators to assure them of at least some of the power supplies so
Now government places yet another hindrance before them, by
promulgating oppressive registration requirements. But the duplicity does
not end with the registration requirement, obviously targetted and
indirectly preserving government's absolute and total control over
Zimbabwean electricity generation.
It extends further, not only by assuring the regulatory authority of
licensing and inspection fees (undoubtedly to compensate for declining
revenue flows resulting from the diminishing sale of electricity), but by
legislating that the fees be "pegged" to the United States dollar.
Repeatedly the minister of industry and international trade, the
minister of finance, the president, the chairman of the national incomes and
pricing commission (NIPC) berate those in the private sector as have
resorted to pricing their goods and services by pegging the prices to the
United States dollar, the South African rand, or other foreign currencies.
Such pricing policies are stated to be unlawful, and to be contrary to the
national and public interest, as major fuellants of inflation. But that does
not deter government from empowering itself to peg the generator fees to the
United States dollar! Apparently, government's policy foundation is "Don't
do as I do, do as I say!" (Probably its next measure will be to impose an
energy tax on candles, batteries, and tensile springs!).
Of course, this duplicity incident on the part of government is far
from unique, and is certainly not an isolated one, for it has unhesitatingly
imposed a fee payable for Zimbabwean passports in US dollars, allows Air
Zimbabwe to peg its fares to the US dollar, and to require payment by
Zimbabweans of foreign airport taxes and landing fees in that currency
(thereby driving many, in desperation, to engage in the alternative parallel
and black markets), and prescribes that Zimra charge import duties on
alleged "luxury" imports in foreign currency, notwithstanding that such
duties are payable by Zimbabweans.
In many, if not most, instances, the recipients of the imported goods
are receiving those goods as relief support from distant families and
friends who wish to alleviate the extreme distress and hardships of those in
Zimbabwe struggling to survive on increasingly worthless pensions, rapidly
declining incomes (in real terms), and in an environment of very great
But that sympathetic, well-intended, and very necessary relief, is
eroded by the state's avaricious demand for duties in foreign currency. For
most, that currency is only available at extraordinary cost from within the
unlawful black market. This is even so for the few who were fortunate enough
to be possessed of Foreign Currency Accounts (FCAs) funded by monetary gifts
from family and friends abroad, for all too often they are unable to access
their lawfully owned foreign currency from the Reserve Bank. And "luxury",
according to Zimra, even includes medically prescribed disposable sanitary
pants for the frail and aged!
Governmental duplicity is in no manner limited only to foreign
currency related issues. Never endingly, the president, his ministers and
NIPC berate the business community for alleged profiteering and for
exploitation of the captive consumer market.
Government contends that business heartlessly strives to enrich itself
excessively, with total disregard for the hardships which afflict the
populace. In the alternative, or more probably as complementary to that
objective of private enterprises, government recurrently claims that
business is engaged in diabolical conspiracy with government's enemies to
destroy the economy, in order to motivate the population to force a regime
change. But these contentions in no manner deter government from resorting
to almost continuous escalations of charges by its parastatals and other
In the last month the newspapers owned by a state-controlled company
have increased their prices, to a gargantuan extent, at least twice,
concurrently with the number of pages, and the extent of editorial copy,
Air fares on the state-owned airline rise on a weekly basis. (This is
not to say that the newspaper prices and air fares should not rise, for
hyperinflation impacts upon publishers and the airline to as great an extent
as it does upon all other businesses, but if the price escalations were, and
are, necessary for them, so too are they for all other enterprises.
Therefore, it is naught but duplicity for government to castigate
scathingly the private sector for necessarily doing the same as it and its
enterprises must do).
Government's ability to twist, distort, misconstrue and misrepresent
is far from a recently acquired skill, for it has relied upon it ever since
it so vigorously destroyed the economy and, in pursuit of self-interest,
strove to divert culpability for that destruction to others.
Until the recent imposition of certain, unwarranted and unjustified,
sanctions by Germany, including the freezing of Zimbabwean funds and the
withholding of delivery of paid for currency paper, Zimbabwe was not the
victim of any substantive economic sanctions, save and except for the USA's
Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act provisions, which included
mandatory veto by the US of any IMF support to Zimbabwe, there were no
substantive economic sanctions imposed upon Zimbabwe. But that did not
impede government from recurrently attributing Zimbabwe's economic ills to
the mythical economic sanctions.
Similarly, although it is inconceivable that government did not know
the minimal extent of land cultivation in the last agricultural season,
the gross insufficiently available quantities of seed, and the grievous
lack of inputs by way of fertilisers, chemicals, pesticides, electricity,
and so forth, nevertheless for eight months government constantly trumpeted
on radio, television, in the print media, parliament, and elsewhere, that
that season was going to be "The mother of all agricultural seasons".
Regrettably, government's duplicitous character is such that it studiously
ignored the fact that "the mother was barren!" Once the season had ended,
and facts could no longer be denied, even by government, it had no
difficulty in ascribing the season's near total failure to a combination of
allegedly negative climatic conditions, and to its perpetual blame
diversionary tactic of so-called economic sanctions.
A very old maxim is that "honesty is the best policy", matched only by
ethics and integrity, but with extraordinary rare exception, governments the
world over do not subscribe to that maxim, or those commendable principles,
and instead resort unceasingly to duplicity, deceitfulness, fabrications and
fiction or, at best, economy of truth. Regrettably, not only is the
Zimbabwean government no exception thereto, but it has become one of the
foremost practitioners thereof.
The article was submitted before the government suspended the
recently gazetted Statutory Instrument on generators.
By Erich Bloch
Thursday, 28 August 2008 19:02
IT was an all-time Herald classic, to be cut out and sent to friends
and colleagues abroad. Many will have it framed.
Even if you didn't see it last Friday, you would have heard about it.
It provided merriment in bars and clubs across the country. As the nation
sank further into the abyss, the Herald declared: "Zim's inflation not that
It was not that bad, it said, when compared to Weimar Germany's
monthly 3,25 billion percent in 1923 or Hungary's 4,19 quintillion percent
in 1946. Then there was Yugoslavia in 1993 where the monthly rate reached
five quintillion percent.
So, no reason to worry then. We are "yet to claim number one spot in
modern world history". But judging by the speed at which we are travelling
we will soon be there, on a par with post-war Hungary!
But the Herald must get some sort of award for this latest piece of
Do the people working at the Herald really believe that "Zim's
inflation not that bad"? Is that what people say? What sort of cloud-cuckoo
land do these guys live in?
Then there was the bit in the story which said: "A tough monetary
policy, a balanced blend of economics and politics, as well as increased
production will be key to achieving macro-economic stability."
Indeed, but since when has this government ever shown the slightest
inclination to achieve these goals? Journalists have a duty to exercise
healthy scepticism when reporting on these matters, not utter gullibility.
We were interested to see in the Herald last Thursday a ZimOnline
interview with Welshman Ncube which our paper also carried. What caught our
attention was the spin given to the interview in the introduction (that the
Herald was just seeking clarification on Morgan Tsvangirai's "dithering")
and the omission of the interviewer's name.
Why was the Herald unable to disclose that the interview was conducted
by Basildon Peta?
Here we have a case of a publisher denying to a journalist his right
to proper attribution. The Herald was happy to use the interview because it
was grist to its political mill, but was unwilling to credit the person
responsible for it. This is another sign of a suborned media that conducts
vicious attacks on journalists based outside the country, questioning their
professionalism, but is then happy to appropriate their copy when it suits
Muckraker is delighted that Kirsty Coventry was able to bring honour
to the country with her gold and silver medals haul. They seem to have
generated a good deal more excitement than the medals handed out a few weeks
ago to those responsible for the current mess.
But Kirsty should beware of attempts to associate her with the
Chitungwiza Aquatic Complex. This mosquito-infested pond has become a byword
for Zimbabwe's misrule.
At the time of its construction for the All-Africa Games in 1995 the
government was warned of the danger of it becoming another useless white
Sure enough it was never put to good use. Zimbabweans like Kirsty who
wish to excel at their chosen sport have to seek the hospitality of nations
denounced daily by our politicians and state media.
It would be entirely inappropriate in the circumstances to accept the
dubious honour of having any sporting facility here named after her. Kirsty
should be happy with her diplomatic passport and leave it at that.
Meanwhile, the anti-Tsvangirai campaign is scaling new heights. What
this has done is to show the outside world the "face of the beast" he is up
against here. Can you imagine MPs elected by the people being arrested when
arriving at parliament to be sworn in?
There was a nice little letter in the Herald last week saying it was
"odd that a whole nation can be held to ransom by the intransigence of one
man.What monster are we creating in allowing one man to think he holds our
destiny in his hand?"
We enjoyed the debate between George Charamba and Tendai Biti on the
pages of last week's Mail & Guardian. Asked what he considered the most
important outcome of the inter-party talks, Charamba put economic
independence at the top of his list.
"To put it down simply to matters of democracy and good governance is
missing the issue altogether," he said. "Talks are of no significance if
they do not address economic independence."
Asked what influence Zimbabwe's economic decline had on the talks,
Charamba asked "what decline"? The banks and mining companies were doing
very well. They were in for the long haul.
Biti on the other hand said that the economic decline was proof of the
fact that nationalism had been a failure. Some people's values systems were
skewed and the economy is the least of their concerns, he said. Thousands
were fleeing the country every day. Inflation was sky-high.
"One of the ironies of the present matrix is that the regime that has
made sovereignty the national religion has made the Zimbabwean economy so
vulnerable. This has decreased our independence."
Irony indeed. In an editorial the M&G points out that under the deal
being offered to Tsvangirai, Mugabe would retain the right to hire and fire
ministers and to veto all legislation.
"How can a lasting solution to the country's profound crisis be
ecretary for Justice David Mangota doesn't appear to grasp the
elementary principle that it is injudicious for judges to accept gifts from
any source other than those prescribed by law.
That includes accepting anything from the Reserve Bank. Nobody is
opposed to the government "looking after the judiciary", as he ineptly puts
This means they will be giving more of their time and attention to
their work, he claims. Weren't they doing that in the first place? Perhaps
he could enlighten us.
And why has Mangota suddenly decided to speak up several weeks after
Law Society president Beatrice Mtetwa made the obvious point that many
of the gifts dished out last month were unrelated to a judge's core
business. How is a plasma-screen television an essential tool?
Why is it when government officials rise to defend the government they
invariably make things look worse? All these officials are required to do is
the right thing. Why is that so difficult?
We have in the past accused New African editor Baffour Ankomah of not
being his own man. That's because his magazine serves as a public relations
platform for President Mugabe. We would be keen to know who paid for his
latest visit to Zimbabwe.
Here is a clue. Ankomah says "the impression widely created by the
Western media that the political violence in Zimbabwe was perpetrated by
only one side, Zanu PF or Mugabe's thugs, is absolutely not true. There have
been no saints in Zimbabwe. In fact all independent analysts agree that it
was the MDC that first started the violence before Zanu PF retaliated."
Really, is that the view of "all independent analysts"? Not even Zanu
PF believes that.
Let's throw down a challenge to Ankomah. Name "the independent
analysts" who suggest that the MDC started the violence. Or did you, as in
the past, get your information from the Office of the President?
Could Dairibord clarify its outrageous charges. A week ago a 500 ml
packet of Chimombe milk from vendors on Prince Edward St cost $40. The same
packet this week is going for $115. Some vendors are charging $130.
Where's the National Incomes and Pricing Commission? Dairibord is
Readers are welcome to write to us with particularly shocking cases of
price hikes. Of course companies have to recover their costs. But there are
some unjustified cases of profiteering that need to be exposed.
Muckraker is amused by Zanu PF's sudden rediscovery of the Senate. In
1989 the upper house was declared a colonial relic we could do without. Now,
we are told it is an essential instrument which can block measures passed by
the lower house.
Not strictly true. It can delay but not block. But it is obvious why
we are seeing reports about who's who in the Senate and Zanu PF's majority
there. It's the only place they won any significant support in the March
election, largely because most people weren't bothering. Even with the
current set-up the opposition is well placed to resist any attempts to roll
back the democratic tide.
Zanu PF's response to the drubbing Mugabe got in parliament on Tuesday
was to be expected. The party's spokesmen waxed indignant. "Childish
grandstanding", we were told. "A mockery" of the august House. "Pathetic and
Mugabe himself described the demonstration as "barbaric and
These criticisms of the understandable exuberance of a new generation
of MPs come from those who have denied us freedom of speech on a systematic
basis. What the unprecedented events of Tuesday so clearly demonstrated is
that the mould has been broken. Mugabe is no longer the icon the nation
Many may indeed regard the demonstrations staged in parliament as
childish and unnecessary. But stop for a moment and think what those MPs
have been through at the hands of the ruling party.
They endured three months of brutality and bloodshed designed to
reverse the nation's will. Many lost members of their immediate family and
colleagues. These were the survivors of the most vicious campaign since
Gukurahundi. And Mugabe in his speech tried to suggest these were isolated
It was significant that the jeering started when he tried to blame
Britain and sanctions for our predicament. "These must stop now," he
That proved provocative. The opposition wasn't having any political
dishonesty of that sort. They had heard it all before. In a sense what we
witnessed was some healthy iconoclasm. The MPs took the opportunity to
express their anger and contempt for their oppressors.
It was a lonely president who made his way out to his colonial-era
Rolls and sat down on the back seat looking a shrunken, melancholy and
rather forlorn figure.
But he was back to his old self when addressing the party faithful at
the lunch hosted by the Ministry of Local Government. It was actually
"disgusting" watching these chefs stuffing themselves at taxpayers' expense
while the president entertained them with stories about people spending the
night in bars. Casual abuse hurled at the opposition instead of educating
his party on the realities they now have to face.
Caesar Zvayi thought parliament resembled a rowdy high school on
Tuesday. Then he decided the demonstrators behaved like "pre-pubescent
This is what happens when you really have nothing useful to say. You
get mixed up about which grade you're in.
Their raucous behaviour at times drowned out the president's voice,
Zvayi indignantly observed.
Goodness, the voice that dominates the airwaves and newspapers while
denying a say to others actually met its match. Surely not!
And Caesar, if you must resort to other languages please get them
right. A dog is un chien, not "chain". And the expression is "the dogs bark
but the caravan moves on".
We appreciate Zvayi's barking role in defending the indefensible, but
if the "on-going inter-party talks were predicated on mutual respect for
each other's political space", then surely the public media, given the MDC
majority, should allow other voices to be heard?
Thursday, 28 August 2008 19:00
PRESIDENT Mugabe's speech at the opening of parliament on Tuesday
attracted the same kudos from trusted praise singers who were quick to
attach tags such as "progressive" and "groundbreaking" to it but overall he
said what we generally expected him to say.
That is to say the Presidential speech was the same old monotonous
monologue promising hope, food on the table for the poor, enhanced social
services, provision of water and electricity, dealing with corruption,
fighting HIV and Aids and improving foreign relations. It basically promised
a better livelihood without changing fundamentals on the ground.
As usual Mugabe trained his guns on the West and other enemies whom he
accused of trying to effect illegal regime change in Zimbabwe. All in all
this was a speech we have heard before and whose supposed punchlines have
become empty clichés because listeners now find it hard to believe anything
promising prosperity, especially coming from the Zanu PF government.
In concluding his speech, Mugabe tried to put his best foot forward to
set the tone for national recovery and healing. He said: "I wish to urge all
Zimbabweans to rekindle the spirit of national pride and self-belief as we
strive to build a strong and united prosperous Zimbabwe. Let us exert our
full effort towards raising our country and its flag in the manner our
Olympic team has done in Beijing."
Unfortunately for Mugabe, he cannot marshal the collective strength of
the nation to rebuild this country as he did with state resources to protect
his throne after his defeat in March. The attempt to rally the nation to
support a recovery programme under his leadership will fail as it has done
in the past because Mugabe today is not the epitome of social progress and
trailblazer to national recovery.
There is however still the false belief that our political leadership
despite a myriad of shortcomings is joined at the hip with the whole nation.
It is primarily about the relationship between, on the one hand, the leader
promising a pot of gold and on the other hand, followers who want nothing so
much as to just believe.
Not any more. The sinews of attachment have been severed and no
blandishments of electoral victory, legitimacy of the throne and
conspiracies of neo-colonial plots can restore this engagement with the
people. We have a nation that is now determined to defy Zanu PF's
administration at every turn and the evidence is abounding.
We tend to think of defiance in openly hostile terms, the way MDC MPs
barracked Mugabe during his address on Tuesday or street demonstrations and
other more visible forms of resistance. These the state can put down easily
through the use of concomitant force.
But the biggest resistance to Mugabe's regime has been refusal by
Zimbabweans to conduct themselves as required by his policies. The illegal
trade in foreign currency, corruption in government, bureaucratic truancy
among civil servants and people charging rentals, goods and services in
foreign currency all point towards a silent revolution that cannot be put
down. Has Mugabe not spoken strongly against all these ills? It is not just
his opponents who have raised the sceptre of resistance but his supporters
and lieutenants are on board -- indeed leading the way.
In parliament on Tuesday rowdy MDC deputies sang and interjected. They
did not want to give Mugabe a chance to speak. But at various fora Mugabe
has been given the opportunity to speak without any interruption but the
evidence is abounding that his calls for national recovery and healing no
longer resonate with national sentiment. Instead of drowning out the
president's voice with a cacophony of disapproval many have simply looked
the other way.
The country, I believe is crying for an alternative voice to
communicate strategy and unite the nation. Mugabe's voice alone can no
longer achieve this. The faltering dialogue process was a unique opportunity
to retire the voice of Mugabe and to introduce a fresh tone to rally the
MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai provides that alternative voice
notwithstanding his moments of weakness and errors of judgement. He needs to
start talking to the nation as leader of a party which controls the nation's
principal democratic institution, the House of Assembly. This is what the
people are waiting for and not the soporific adverts on radio and TV
expounding Mugabe's virtues and pleading with the nation to support his
efforts for unity. Not many have been recruited into Mugabe's fight.
It is important to note that people follow a leader when they have
confidence in his plans. They do not just follow, they work, they sacrifice
and they won't give up. Leaders have two important characteristics; first
they are going somewhere and secondly, they are able to persuade the people
to go with them. As an old Chinese axiom says; "he who thinks he leads when
no one is following is just taking a walk".
By Vincent Kahiya
Thursday, 28 August 2008 18:43
THIS cabinet that I had was the worst in history," said President
Robert Mugabe this week after the opening of parliament.
He said most of the ministers were unreliable, they were incompetent
and spent time attending to personal business. Many abused their powers to
deny people food. He didn't say who the chief culprits were, neither did he
say who were the competent ones.
What is however well known is that corruption in high places has been
condoned. In the case of those arrested for abusing the subsidised fuel they
get for farming, they have been given such risible fines that the eloquent
message was "go and steal again".
"They look at themselves," said Mugabe of his "unreliable" ministers.
"They are unreliable, but not all of them," he said.
It is hard to tell why Mugabe made this otherwise self-evident
confession. Our best guess is perhaps to say that he wanted to look better
in the public eye. Secondly, in the face of a spiralling economic crisis, he
imagined that he could curry public sympathy by portraying himself as the
victim of unreliable cabinet colleagues. It is by all accounts a hopeless
leap of faith.
In the first place there is nothing redeeming in Mugabe's attempt to
justify the current economic malaise on the basis of betrayal by his own
ministers. The least he could do would have been for him to fire those
ministers who are not performers just as it was his prerogative to appoint
them. But in any sane society he should have resigned for gross dereliction
Mugabe's confession in fact amounts to an insult to the people of
Zimbabwe. Over the years he has recycled the same ministers he now calls
incompetent and corrupt and he begs for our indulgence in this. And while he
was making the confession, he was on the other hand appointing to new
positions the same people, some of whom have repeatedly been rejected by
voters at every election in the past 10 years.
Furthermore, we find it deceitful of Mugabe to tell the nation that
those who own businesses should employ people to work for them. The truth is
that under his administration, his ministers have gotten fabulously rich
without ever declaring their interests in various organisations. He has
allowed this culture of self-aggrandisement to flourish among his closest
associates without a thought for ordinary Zimbabweans.
Those who have so benefited include members of the judiciary who have
been given farms.
Most of them were recently given plasma-screen TV sets and satellite
subscriptions to enable them to perform their duties more efficiently. Not
just that. They were also offered 4x4 vehicles so that they would not use
their newly-acquired Mercs to drive to their farms.
In other countries such offers to members of the Bench would be
frowned upon as it besmirches their reputation. But under Mugabe's
government it is business as usual. What makes it worse is that these gifts
are given without conditions.
For instance, it is not clear how the judges and the ministers are
supposed to divide their time between their official duties and attending to
private affairs on their farms. Shouldn't there have been a choice between
those who wanted to go into fulltime farming and those who wanted to remain
employees of the state to be allocated sufficient resources for their tasks?
So what does Mugabe promise toiling Zimbabweans as he contemplates a
He had a ready answer too, except that even here he has no time to
reflect on his own limitations. "I need managers. I want workers -- people
who take people to work. I do not want people with their own businesses. I
want one business -- people's business," he said.
The focus is completely mistaken here even if we give Mugabe the
benefit of the doubt that he wants people who will devote all their
attention to government business. The parlous state of Zimbabwe's economy
needs more than ordinary workers and managers. The country is in desperate
need of strategic thinkers who can see beyond tomorrow. It needs people who
can think beyond political patronage for them to survive.
Quite contrary to what Mugabe is thinking, the economy needs the
skills of those who have already succeeded outside political favours --
entrepreneurs who are prepared to serve the people because they already have
enough for the good life.
It is unfortunate that our politics are so tainted that they cannot
attract such people. It's much worse that politics has been demeaned to a
sport of the poor and corrupt who seek to make a living out of it. The
interests of the people become no more than a convenient cover for
self-enrichment. Mugabe has turned this disgraceful behaviour into a
national culture. That is a shocking legacy.
Thursday, 28 August 2008 18:38
WE Zimbabweans have been so buffeted by President Mugabe's economic
policies that it is sometimes not clear to me whether we still know what it
is we want.
Is it change for its own sake; simply a new president so long as it's
not Mugabe, or a new president and a new constitution as a first step
towards a more democratic dispensation?
Currently the thinking seems to be "give us the president and
everything shall follow". This defective "thinking" is often followed by an
unpolitical "reasoning" that anyone who comes into power after Mugabe should
be easy to replace because he/she is unlikely to be as sophisticated.
The more daring ones name names, declaring with breathtaking arrogance
that Morgan Tsvangirai will be easy "to deal with" because he is less
"educated" or has no university degree. In other words there is no need for
institutional safeguards against the abuse of power, and consequently, the
issue of a new constitution has been pushed off the national radar screen.
We are in grave danger when we allow national memory to lapse so badly.
Professor Ken Mufuka wrote an interesting article in the Financial
Gazette this week which raises two very fundamental questions about the
Zimbabwean national psyche. One was his attack on Zimbabwe's
"intelligentsia" for its failure to see the obvious in why Tsvangirai
refused to sign the final of a series of documents at the inter-party talks
between Zanu PF and the two MDC formations. The second was to expose Mugabe's
unlimited executive powers in the current constitution. The two are closely
The first point was a denigration of higher education in a way that
would find resonance with today's young foreign currency dealers. Why, often
ask secondary and high school dropouts, should I waste my time going to
school when I can make more money in one day selling foreign currency than a
university professor earns in two months? One can't doubt that there is
idiotic logic in this reasoning, but is that how we want our children to
I have no problem with people questioning the content of our syllabi
and the quality of our debate. But to veer to the other extreme and declare
that because those with degrees have messed up the economy therefore we don't
need university education is to expose our country to danger in a world
facing furious competition for ideas and influences.
"Why is it that educated men cannot see what this brother (Tsvangirai)
can see so clearly?" asks Mufuka in his article titled "It's not about
Tsvangirai". "Kufunda kwakaipa chokwadi. Their (educated men's) brains are
messed up with too many books."
This leads to the second issue. What did Tsvangirai see which the
"intelligentsia" failed to see? It is Mugabe's divine power. Mufuka sums it
well without a hint of irony. He quotes from the constitution that the
"president shall take precedence over all other persons in Zimbabwe". (I
guess this is a given in every country!) Further down it says: "A court of
law shall not inquire into the following matters, or the manner in which the
president exercised his discretion."
Mufuka rightly observes that over the years, through constitutional
amendments, Mugabe has "arrogated to himself the powers which were once held
by divine kings". "I was surprised," confesses Mufuka, "to find that the
more learned Zimbabweans did not appreciate what our undegreed brother
(Tsvangirai) understood so easily."
It was left to Tsvangirai's genius to grasp these plain truths.
Tsvangirai explained why he needed time to "reflect" on the final document
which he is reluctant to sign. "We don't want positions. We want power,"
Tsvangirai is said to have told Raila Odinga in Nairobi.
Tsvangirai is right. You don't risk your life in politics to get a
ceremonial post. Mufuka is also right. The issue should not be about
Tsvangirai signing himself into obscurity.
However, Mufuka appears to obfuscates matters here. He is full of
praise for Tsvangirai's "genius" in demanding real power, but doesn't
explain the nature of that power. The plain truth is that Tsvangirai craves
the same "powers which were once held by divine kings" but are now wielded
by Mugabe. He wants a complete transfer of the same powers.
I find that scary, but it does explain the current subterranean
tension in the so-called pro-democracy movement about Lovemore Madhuku's
place - a new constitutional and presidential powers.
Shouldn't the mere transfer of raw, undiluted power ring alarms bells
among those fighting for democracy who have blamed Mugabe's sweeping powers
for the state we are in? We are coming almost full circle but nobody in this
frenzied power dynamic seems to care about trimming executive powers,
whether presidential or prime ministerial.
The supreme irony is that Mufuka wants us to believe that it is the
"uneducated" or "undegreed" who should discover and expose these power games
and lead us to democracy.
Neither Mugabe nor Tsvangirai needs absolute power in a democracy. The
Europeans and Americans we are trying to ape discovered these banal truths
centuries back and have set up safeguards to protect themselves against
"human nature". Mufuka knows this much better than I do but chooses to
prevaricate around "genius". And he belongs to the intelligentsia which he
denigrates. Is the truth that painful in this polarised land where the
dollar has become a deity directing the fate of every politician?
I am baffled and horrified.
By Joram Nyathi
Mugabe's Aura Of Infallibility On The Wane
Thursday, 28 August 2008 18:58
WHILST one cannot condone the disorderly conduct with which some
junior MDC MPs conducted themselves at the opening of parliament on Tuesday,
it was amusing to see Robert Mugabe being lambasted in an institution in
which he had had his way for decades.
Most Zimbabweans have watched helplessly as Mugabe over the years
built a cult personality in which he exuded the aura of infallibility and
riding roughshod over all who dare stand in his way. Even African leaders
usually articulate in criticising tyranny elsewhere in Africa, were
seemingly tongue tied when it came to the Zimbabwean ruler's excesses. It
appears however that the times are changing.
African leaders who are unimpressed by Mugabe's tired neo-colonial
diatribes are sprouting up and are condemning his callous disregard for the
democratic values he signed up to. Some have gone to the extent of not
recognising him as head of state and he can no longer claim that Africa is
solidly behind him when he addresses the West. Events such as these evoke
memories of the gradual fall from grace of Mobutu Sese Seko and how the aura
of fear he had fashioned steadily gnarled until he had to escape to exile.
It was good for a moment, to see him being drowned out whilst making a
humdrum speech about economic recovery without any policy change and
purporting to reach out to the opposition without sincerity.
Congratulations To Mutambara
Thursday, 28 August 2008 18:56
I WOULD like to congratulate you. When it comes to treachery and greed
you have set a standard that will be hard to surpass.
I hope you will now find joy and happiness with your comrades in Zanu
PF, Arthur Mutambara.
The people of Zimbabwe too will, I am sure, never forget the way you
fought for their rights and their liberty and in due course I hope that you
will be appropriately rewarded. So too I guess will the esteemed Cde
Welshman Ncube be rewarded, you are truly a unique combination.
You have also convincingly demonstrated the absolute need for high
academic qualifications if you are to be accepted into the circle you have
tried so long and so desperately to join. Again I am sure that the suffering
people of Zimbabwe will remember your unswerving dedication to the person
you deem most important of all. Self interest is after all a good thing to
In most universities it is a requirement that engineering students do
a course in what is called "Liberal Studies" in order that they learn
something of the humanities. It would seem when you were a student you did
not attend or more likely understand the lectures on ethics. This is very
If you should think that I am mocking your much-vaunted education and
maturity, please be assured that it is totally intentional.
St Petersburg (Stalingrad),
Mugabe Stumbling Block
Thursday, 28 August 2008 18:53
THE political negotiation process has predictably yielded no solution
In my view this is because of a real and clear point that has sadly
The central problem to the Zimbabwean issue is that Robert Mugabe does
not want to pass on the baton of power to anyone including members of his
own party Zanu PF.
To him the current talks cannot in any way negotiate about his
retaining of power and he will use every trick in the book to achieve this.
We have seen how over the years Zanu PF members who have dared
challenge his right to rule perpetually have been dealt with thoroughly and
ostracised from the party.
We have also seen how party members were cowed into endorsing him as
the presidential candidate for the March 2008 elections. As a result I
believe that the current negotiation process is clearly an exercise in
The mediator and some of the other Sadc heads of state appear not to
see that this is the issue that needs to be dealt with if any progress is to
Going forward from where we are now, I see the need for all to whom
Mugabe listens to persuade him to exit the front line scene and revert to a
party leadership advisory role and allow others to lead Zanu PF and
negotiate a "meaningful" power sharing deal with Tsvangirai and the MDC. As
long as Mugabe remains an active player in the process, the combination will
not work. The sooner the mediators face up to this, the better for Zimbabwe.
Whilst only time will tell whether Tsvangirai will live up to
expectations as a national leader, there is no denying the fact that he is
one man who, against enormous odds has been brave and persistent in pursuing
Call A Spade A Spade
Thursday, 28 August 2008 18:50
YOUR Candid Comment (Zimbabwe Independent August 8-15) headlined
"Dialogue with Magaisa over dialogue" refers.
I used to suspect that you are biased against the MDC-T and its leader
Morgan Tsvangirai. I have been following your articles since the MDC split
in 2005 when you appeared to favour the other MDC faction.
However, recently, I have witnessed a significant difference in your
work, particularly last week's article. This leads me to think that I was
either wrong in my interpretation, or that Joram Nyathi has improved as a
Anyway, my point is; your interpretation of the current political
developments and criticism of Tsvangirai was very justified and based on
You demonstrated that you do not fear and favour anyone by critically
highlighting his shortcomings leading to our present situation as well as
their strategic blunders in the current Sadc-brokered dialogue.
It is increasingly looking like there is indeed "lack of leadership in
Zimbabwe", borrowing from former SA President, Nelson Mandela.
Keep that up and let us call a spade a spade because politicians can
never be trusted!
Media Monitoring Project Zimbabwe.