Andrew Meldrum in Pretoria Tuesday August
2, 2005 The Guardian
The Zimbabwe dollar tumbled to an all-time low
yesterday as it became apparent that President Robert Mugabe had failed to
get the billion dollars he sought from China to relieve the country's
shortages of fuel, food and power. One US dollar purchased 45,000
Zimbabwe dollars yesterday on the illegal black market. The official
exchange rate is US$1 to Z$17,000, but neither banks nor corporations use
Mr Mugabe returned from Beijing over the weekend with pledges from
the Chinese government of $6m (£3.4m) for food, a passenger aircraft and 100
computers, according to the state media.
He will now have to go back
to South Africa for financial assistance. South African officials have made
it clear they will demand substantial political and economic reforms in
Harare accuses SA churches of pushing political agenda Tue
2 August 2005
HARARE - The Zimbabwe government last night said it
would not bar South African churches from delivering aid to thousands of
people displaced by its controversial urban clean-up exercise but accused
the churches of pushing a political agenda under the guise of
The South African Council of Churches (SACC) yesterday
dispatched 6 000 blankets and 37 tonnes of food to Zimbabwe to be
distributed to the most vulnerable groups in the crisis-hit country as part
of "Operation Hope for Zimbabwe".
Zimbabwe State Security
Minister Didymus Mutasa, who also oversees distribution of food aid, told
ZimOnline: "Surely we are not going to stop them, we will let them come and
hand out the aid but they will not find any victims of Operation
Murambatsvina because there are beneficiaries of Operation
Murambatsvina is the government's codename for the
clean-up exercise while Garikai refers to a reconstruction drive that the
government says it is undertaking to provide housing for people left
homeless after their city backyard cottages and shantytown homes were
demolished by the police.
Earlier last month, two
SACC delegations that visited Zimbabwe expressed shock at the scale of the
disaster and human suffering caused by Harare's clean-up drive and urged
Mugabe to halt the exercise.
The church leaders immediately
announced after their fact-finding mission that they were planning a massive
relief campaign to assist thousands of families evicted during the exercise
that has also been criticised by Western governments and international human
rights groups as a violation of the rights of the poor.
President Thabo Mbeki last month endorsed efforts by the SACC to raise
humanitarian support for victims of Mugabe's urban renewal
South African Anglican Archbishop Njongonkulu Ndungane last
night told journalists the religious body would meet Mbeki soon to discuss
United Nations envoy Anna Tibaijuka's report condemning Harare's clean-up
"The president indicated to us that he would like to meet
us to engage on the United Nations report," Ndungane told
On the pavement outside the SACC office in Marshall
street, Johannesburg, Ndungane prayed for "sanity" to be brought to the
leadership of Zimbabwe.
But Mutasa said only the Harare
authorities were best placed to know the people in need of help than foreign
clergymen and accused the SACC of hypocrisy alleging that the church
movement in South Africa had failed to help Zimbabweans at their "greatest
hour of need during the country's liberation struggle".
said: "This (aid) is really not intended for what they say it is supposed to
be, that's not true. They are doing it to help the MDC (Zimbabwe's main
opposition Movement for Democratic Change)."
Mugabe has defended
the widely condemned blitz, justifying it on the need to restore order in
cities and towns and to douse a thriving parallel market for foreign
currency and basic commodities.
Tibaijuka two weeks ago issued a
damning report on the Zimbabwe government's demolition of houses and called
on Harare to stop the controversial campaign which she said also violated
The UN said at least 700 000 people were
rendered homeless by the demolitions and another 2.4 million directly
affected by the campaign. Zimbabwe has rejected Tibaijuka's report saying it
was biased and hostile. - ZimOnline
Mugabe to amend constitution to shield heir from facing quick
election: Moyo Tue 2 August 2005
BULAWAYO - The Zimbabwe
government plans to amend the constitution to postpone presidential
elections and to allow a vice-president to serve for the remainder of the
term of a president who resigns, dies or is too sick to serve, according to
a former senior government minister.
The constitution at present
allows any of President Robert Mugabe's two vice-presidents to take over if,
for whatever reason, he leaves office before the expiry of his six-year term
in 2008. But the stand-in president must call an election within 90 days of
Mugabe's departure from office.
Jonathan Moyo, who until his dismissal about four months ago was one of
Mugabe's closest and most powerful lieutenants, said Mugabe - blamed by many
for ruining Zimbabwe's once prosperous economy - could not win re-election
were he to stand in 2008.
At the same time Mugabe realised his heir
apparent, second Vice President Joyce Mujuru, could not win a national
election a mere two years down the line after the government's extremely
unpopular urban clean-up campaign that left thousands of people in the
streets after their homes were demolished by the police, Moyo
Moyo said the only option for Mugabe, who has in the past
publicly hinted he will step down in 2008, was to postpone the presidential
ballot to 2010 to allow for the palpable anger among Zimbabweans over the
clean-up exercise to natural dissipate.
Besides, delaying the
election would also allow Mujuru - a novice and virtually unknown outside
ZANU PF until her elevation to Vice-President - time to learn the ropes
before taking over, added Moyo who is former government chief propagandist
and is a trained political scientist.
And amending the constitution
to allow a vice-president to complete the remainder of the term of a serving
president would ensure Mujuru would remain in charge should the 81-year old
Mugabe die before 2010.
"They want to remove the clause that says
in the event of the president leaving office through death, ill-health or
resignation, polls should be held in 90 days and replace it with one that
allows one of the designated vice presidents to serve the remainder of the
term," Moyo told a public meeting to discuss constitutional reforms in
Bulawayo at the weekend.
He added: "ZANU PF wants a new
Constitution in 2010 to give itself time to recover from the effects of
Operation Murambatsvina (clean-up operation) and also to give President
Mugabe's successor enough time to learn the ropes. If Mugabe runs in 2008,
we all know he will lose. Mujuru can't win with Operation Murambatsvina," he
But ZANU PF secretary for administration and State Security
Minister Didymus Mutasa dismissed Moyo's claims saying the former government
and party spokesman was an outsider who could not speak on behalf of the
government or ruling party because he did not have intimate knowledge of
their plans and programmes.
Mutasa said: "He (Moyo) cannot
speak on our behalf because he is not part of us. He does not sit in any of
our meetings even at cell level so how can he claim to know what we want to
do? I don't think he has authority to claim that ZANU PF is going to do this
This is not the first time claims that Mugabe and ZANU PF
will use their absolute control of Parliament to amend the constitution and
postpone the presidential election.
A confidential ZANU PF
document that was leaked to the Press several months ago made similar
claims, although at that time the only reason cited for postponing elections
was to allow Mujuru to gain experience. ZANU PF never disclaimed the
document. - ZimOnline
400 women activists take to the streets over Mugabe's rights
abuses Tue 2 August 2005
BULAWAYO - About 400 members of the
Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) activist group wearing black armbands on
Monday marched through Zimbabwe's second largest city of Bulawayo protesting
against human rights violations allegedly by President Robert Mugabe and his
The women, who wore black armbands to symbolise the
death of freedom and democracy in Zimbabwe, also called on the government to
repeal repressive security and press laws that have been used in the past
five years to silence the independent press and other voices of
WOZA spokeswoman Magodonga Mahlangu told ZimOnline: "We
are calling for the repeal of the Public Order and Security Act (POSA),
Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA), the Regional
Town and Country Planning Act, the Urban Councils Act and other repressive
laws that are not in tandem with the goals of the liberation
The protests by WOZA come barely two weeks after 29 of
the group's activists escaped possible jail after a magistrate dismissed
charges against them that they obstructed traffic during a protest last June
against the government's controversial urban clean-up campaign.
Mahlangu said WOZA also wrote to Mugabe on July 29 urging him to uphold
human rights and to accept the recommendations of United Nations special
envoy Anna Tibaijuka to call off the urban clean-up drive and seek
humanitarian assistance for the victims of the operation.
Mugabe's spokesman George Charamba could not be reached last night to
establish whether Mugabe had seen the WOZA letter. But Harare has dismissed
Tibaijuka's report saying it was biased.
Zimbabwe, at one time
one of the best prospects for economic and social success in Africa, has one
of the poorest human rights records on the continent.
Harare's security laws, Zimbabweans require police permission first to meet
in groups of three or more people to discuss politics while journalists face
up to two years in jail for practising without being registered with the
government's Media and Information Commission. Newspaper companies must also
be registered by the commission in order to operate in the country. -
Herald, 29 July 2005, contained three new listings of farms
LOT 15 - Section 7 Notices (198 properties) LOT 170 -
Section 5 Notices (18 properties) LOT 27 - Section 8 Orders (28
Herewith LOT 15 of Section 7 Notices. Please be advised that
a number of anomalies exist in this listing for the following farm
52 & 80 have the same case numbers but are different
properties. 55 & 87 as above 56 & 153 as above 154 & 175 as
above 162 & 182 as above 99 has no case number 104 & 108 are
the same property but have different case numbers.
1 120/95 Sabi River
Ranch P/L Bikita Lot 9 of Devuli Ranch 18 790,000ha LA5797/05
5782/95 Mukazi River Ranch P/L Bikita Lot 1 of Angus Ranch 11
3 5855/74 Humani Estate P/L Bikita Lot 2 of
Humani Ranch 174,7010ha LA5757/05
Phone Shops Demolished in Southeast Zimbabwe Town of Chiredzi By
Carole Gombakomba Washington 01 August
Operation Murambatsvina has resurfaced in the southeastern
town of Chiredzi, where police are said to have destroyed seven phone shops.
Sources told VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that the only phone shop still open
belongs to a ruling party city councilor.
Elsewhere, some former
residents of the Porta Farm settlement west of Harare have been dumped at
abandoned farms in the capital region. One woman, asking that her name not
be used, told reporter Carole Gombakomba that authorities took her and
others to an abandoned farm where they live in empty tobacco
She must walk for two hours to reach the Harare-Bulawayo road
for transport to Harare, from which she spoke with Ms. Gombakomba on
Other former Porta Farm residents taken to Hopely Farm on the
road from Harare to the satellite town of Chitungwiza, were still not
receiving any humanitarian assistance, according to the Zimbabwe Lawyers for
Human Rights, a civic group.
The organization said authorities were
present at Hopely Farm over the past weekend to assess conditions and
register about a thousand displaced persons there.
Gombakomba of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe asked attorney Otto Saki of the
Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights for an update on Hopely
Elsewhere, families forcibly resettled from Harare to the rural
areas of Mashonaland East say their life there is very difficult. Men say
they are unable to provide for their families because of their limited
access to homes and jobs in the rural district. Such breadwinners say their
only chance for survival is to return to the city.
Thomas Chiripasi of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbawe reports.
Church leaders expect to meet
President Thabo Mbeki soon to discuss the United Nations report on
Zimbabwe's "clean up" operations, believed to have affected around 700,000
Anglican Archbishop Njongonkulu Ndungane said this on Monday
after he and other church leaders blessed consignments of humanitarian aid
the SA Council of Churches (SACC) has donated to Zimbabwean people affected
by the operation.
This follows a recent visit by the leaders SACC
leaders to Zimbabwe.
"The president indicated to us that he would like to
meet us to engage on the United Nations report," Ndungane told
Last month, the UN released a scathing report on the campaign
of demolitions stating that it had left 700,000 Zimbabweans homeless and
destitute and affected a further 2.4 million.
"We all know that
Zimbabwe goes from one crisis to another and we are all interested in
long-term solutions to the economic and political problems in Zimbabwe,"
The cleric echoed Finance Minister Trevor Manuel's
concerns that South Africa had to make sure it did not have a failed state
on its borders.
Monday's consignment, containing 37 tons of food and over
6,000 blankets, was the first of many loads the churches would send across
the Limpopo river border.
The Zimbabwe Council of Churches'
humanitarian distribution agency, Christian Care, will distribute it where
it deems necessary.
The next consignment, on August 18, will be
accompanied by a South African military escort. Monday's will
Ndungane said the SACC had consulted with the South African
government to help with the smooth transportation of the consignments into
"We trust the angels to use God's power to change the hearts of
stubborn people who want to stop good things from happening," he
On the pavement outside the SACC office in Marshall Street,
Johannesburg, Ndungane prayed for "sanity" to be brought to the leadership
His Rhema counterpart, Ray McCauley, asked that the event
mark the beginning of momentum to help people who were suffering people in
Other clerics presiding were Bishop Ivan Abrahams of the
Methodist Church and Molefe Tsele, secretary-general of the
CONVOY of trucks carrying aid for Zimbabwe left Johannesburg yesterday as
part of the South African Council of Churches' (SACC's) Operation Hope for
"This is our initial response to the humanitarian
crisis in Zimbabwe," Anglican Archbishop Njongonkulu Ndungane
The aid includes 4500 blankets and 37 tons of
maize, beans and oil that is to go to Zimbabweans displaced by President
Robert Mugabe's Operation Murambatsvina, or Drive Out the
The United Nations said 700000 people have been made
homeless by the demolition of homes and businesses in the
Members of a church delegation that visited Zimbabwe
in July, including Ndungane, Methodist Church Bishop Ivan Abrahams, Pastor
Ray McCauley of the Rhema Church and SACC general secretary Dr Molefe Tsele,
blessed the trucks as they left SACC headquarters.
The aid is to
be distributed from church halls and resettlement camps in and around
Mutare, Bulawayo and Harare with the help of the Zimbabwean Council of
Churches. The South African high commission will help ensure the aid gets to
the correct distribution points.
Operation Hope for Zimbabwe is a
relief initiative launched after the delegation's visit to the
The fund has raised R350000 since its launch, according to a
statement released by the SACC.
An appeal was held at churches
across SA on Sunday in an attempt to increase this amount.
press briefing held at the SACC yesterday, Tsele said the delegation had met
with the South African presidency to inform it of the launch of Operation
Ndungane said the suffering of ordinary Zimbabweans was
the responsibility of all South Africans.
He said: "Zimbabwe
needs to resolve its own political and economic crisis, and the South
African government and President (Thabo) Mbeki must use whatever leverage
they have got to further this cause."
Meanwhile, a telephone survey
of 493 South Africans conducted by market research group Research Surveys
last month showed widespread condemnation of Mugabe's campaign, with 70% of
respondents saying they thought it was a bad
Seventy-seven percent responded that human rights in
Zimbabwe were a disgrace to Africa.
However, 38% said it was a
"good" thing that SA was planning to loan Zimbabwe $1bn to help rebuild its
When analysed by race, 45% of black respondents agreed with
the statement, while only 26% of whites responded favourably. Forty-one
percent of coloured and Indian respondents said that they supported the
author Chenjerai Hove once wrote that African governments were not bankrupt
until the pantry in state house was bare. Arguably, the pantry in President
Robert Mugabe's state house is empty - hence he has dusted off the begging
He has sought help from those countries he knows appreciate his
economic and political policies - SA, China, Malaysia and even Namibia. Just
when it seemed a geopolitical drama pitting SA's influence against China's
was about to unravel, Mugabe arrived back from Beijing without the large
loan he was hoping for. So now it is up to SA to bale him
Interestingly, the proposed deal with SA has garnered more
column centimetres in SA than in Zimbabwe, where people are too busy coping
with their day-to-day survival to worry about what money SA is going to come
up with, ostensibly for their betterment.
The feeling seems to be
that whatever money is lent to the government, ordinary people will not see
The spread on the table sounds tempting. Newspapers
talk of unspecified political, economic and human rights reforms in return
for unspecified amounts of money. But South African commentators seem to
have forgotten the track record of Mugabe. Promising reforms is one of his
trademarks. Reneging on them is another.
On the issue of talks
with the opposition, one of SA's mooted conditions for the loan, the
question is what the two parties will talk about. Zanu (PF) won the
election, and SA accepted the result. The ruling party is not interested in
revisiting this. The government is in the middle of tampering yet again with
the constitution, and is unlikely to be diverted from its path. The Movement
for Democratic Change is said to be in disarray and unlikely to present a
The economic situation is dire, and not likely to be
resolved by plugging a few holes and making token
Although the meltdown of the Zimbabwe economy has long been
predicted, the combination of long-standing fuel shortages, a serious
shortage of foreign exchange because of continued government intervention in
the economy, skills flight, critical food shortages, increased political
insecurity and spiralling day-to-day costs, have now resulted in a real
alarm about how ordinary people are going to cope, even in the short
Breaking the law to keep business going has become the key to
survival. Business people say government unpredictability makes life
The ad hoc management of the economy,
coupled with inflation rising at more than 20% a month, and the fluctuating
currency - both formal and informal rates - mean businesses are unable to
The powerful governor of the reserve bank, Gideon Gono,
whom some call a de facto prime minister because of his wide brief, has
helped to stabilise the economy over his 18-month tenure. But the positive
economic measures he introduces are often not followed through by his
The official exchange rate, as determined by
weekly foreign currency auctions, which was kept to about Z$6000 to the
dollar for most of last year, suddenly spiralled to more than Z$10000 this
year. A few weeks ago, after businesses had adjusted their projects, it
suddenly rose to Z$17500 (about Z$2630 to the rand).
devaluation was a start, although it has badly thrown out everyone's
projections, but it is still a long way off the market value of the
currency, which is around Z$35000 to the dollar and climbing," said one
The government in its desperation for foreign currency
is again targeting exporters. It recently reduced the amount of foreign
exchange exporters can retain in hard currency, from 55% of export earnings
to 50% (the other half is changed by the government at the official rate).
The retained portion can be held for only 21 days (down from 30 days) during
which time the central bank must give approval for its use, or confiscate it
and pay the exporter in Zimbabwe dollars.
Exporters complain that
the bank is delaying approvals, thus enabling the government to confiscate
the currency. And getting dollars on the foreign currency auction is
Many companies review staff salaries every
month, but most at least every quarter, to keep ahead of inflation. Supply
chain management is made difficult because of the continually fluctuating
rates for foreign exchange and other moving targets that affect monthly
planning. Hyperinflationary accounting makes nonsense of annual reports. The
cost at which fuel can be bought can fluctuate 1000% in a
Domestic debt is spiralling, rising from Z$3-trillion
in January to Z$12-trillion in June - a 400% increase in just six months.
This does not include the Z$3-trillion the government has suddenly promised
to build homes for the estimated 700000 left homeless by its so-called
The extent of Operation Murambatsvina (Drive Out
Trash) has taken ordinary Zimbabweans aback. They say there is virtually no
one left unaffected by the campaign, which radically altered the mood in the
In the city centre, hawker stands are empty, the
street traders are gone and there are fewer cars on the roads. Unemployment
is sky high, worsened by the destruction of the informal economy, which
represented at least 60% of the total economy.
There is little
support for the government's increasingly shrill insistence that the
campaign was to level slums and provide better housing. The lie is clearly
shown by the fact that the Z$3-trillion for housing is not in any budget. It
is expected, however, to be included in a supplementary budget to be
announced this month. In the interim, the government has offered some of the
dispossessed a few sheets of asbestos roofing which will enable them to
build only the type of dwelling the government suddenly took such exception
to just a few weeks ago.
In the meantime, the municipal
fee for those whose homes have not been razed and who want to regularise
their house plans with the council has risen from Z$5000 to Z$23m
There is no simple answer to the question as to whether
SA's loan will benefit ordinary Zimbabweans. But it might help to offset
some of the hostility towards SA. Resentment runs high because of the
perception of SA's support for the government many Zimbabweans accuse of
ruining their country.
As one Zimbabwean put it: "Which part of being
hungry, scared, poor and oppressed do the South Africans think we like so
much that they support, even applaud, what our president is
Games, director of Africa @ Work, is researching the
Zimbabwean economy for the South African Institute of International
do our relations with our northern neighbour always bring out the worst in
our national conversation? One explanation is that the politics of that
country is close, familiar, and even intimate; it is also easily understood
against the backdrop of change in SA; indeed, some South Africans seem to
regard Zimbabwe's war of national liberation as "struggle
Attitudes like this block any consideration of the
qualifications needed to fashion sound policy options.
is a public discussion that is marked by absolutism. The worst of this came
a few years ago when the head of a national think-tank made the wacky
suggestion that SA should invade Zimbabwe in the name of "regime
Let us be clear on something: Zimbabwe's Operation
Murambatsvina was a form of cleansing - not ethnic, in the sense that we
have come understand it, but a cleansing nonetheless. It came on top of a
slew of unfathomable policies, economic and other, that have dragged
Zimbabwe, and its people, towards a political and social
But saying this, and understanding the complexity of the
relationship between the two countries, is not the same thing. Put
differently, diplomatic and political intricacies are not explained by
dismay over policies that make no sense even if, tragically, these ruin
Approaching the issue of Zimbabwe in a different fashion may
be a big ask for SA but, if successful, it can generate results that have
the interests of Zimbabwe's people at their centre.
this change in approach be done? Political history and the language of
politics open ways of appreciating both the intensity and intricacy of the
The history of the relationship does not begin, as many
think nowadays, with the end of apartheid. It is rooted in the late-19th
century decision to carve a colonial entity, separate from SA, north of the
Limpopo River. The resulting creature, notwithstanding its closeness with
Cecil John Rhodes, was not an immediate financial success.
was to be success, but this came later and was driven, not by the market,
but by Keynesian economics and the determination, from 1923 onwards, to
build a modern state called Rhodesia - an artefact of late colonialism.
Understanding this is essential: the place we now call Zimbabwe was built on
the resources and planning of the colonial state and black
A modicum of its success was because Rhodesia was never truly
separated from SA. It was separated in name only - the border between the
two countries was never completely sealed.
unilateral declaration of independence (UDI) in 1965, this porosity enabled
Pretoria to exercise control and direction over Ian Smith and his Rhodesian
Front government for the 15-odd years of UDI.
This was a moment, Dr
Sue Onslow of the London School of Economics has recently shown, in which
the issues of policy towards the then Rhodesia were dominated by a triangle
that has returned to haunt the region: SA's position in the face of
sanctions against our northern neighbour, SA's relations with the leader to
the north, and loans to that country. In a different form, these now stand
again at the heart of SA's policy predicament.
In 1965, Onslow
suggests, SA's white voting public was enthusiastic about the prospects of
supporting UDI; the government in Pretoria, on the other hand, was wary of
the implications of UDI for SA's international relations. Interestingly, the
archives, from which Onslow draws her work, show that Hendrik Verwoerd was
cautious: playing the diplomatic game to the letter of then accepted
international law - no interference in the domestic affairs of another
This frame offers to the recent loan crisis an instructive
historical perspective. SA has been here before; certainly, the times were
different, as were the players, but the issue of how to deal with a
crippled, blighted northern neighbour was similar.
instance, the loan, or rather the loans, were granted, with all the
necessary protection to SA's interests - political, economic and security.
President Thabo Mbeki's recent decision to grant the loan, therefore, has a
precedent, albeit in a distant, and certainly distasteful, political
This raises the difficult issue of language. However one
understands it, Zimbabwe is a polity mired in the language and ritual of an
outmoded African nationalism. This suggests that, once more, the country is
an artefact, this time of the early 1950s: the Cold War, decolonisation and
the often simple-minded slogans that drove policy outcomes in those distant
Understanding this suggests that Zimbabwe's politics will
not simply be dissolved by the language of contemporary democratic practice.
This seems a pity. The double meanings attached to terms such as governance,
accountability and transparency may well provide the necessary ambiguity in
the two areas, its economy and its constitution, that need urgent reform in
South Africans know it is not easy to be optimistic
about Zimbabwe. But if that country is going to turn out to be what all
South Africans want we must try to look beyond the hype and the grunge of
the everyday event. This requires a more informed, more nuanced national
conversation than we have heard to date.
Vale is Nelson
Mandela professor of politics and head of the department of political and
international studies, Rhodes University.
Staff Reporter Last updated: 08/02/2005 09:21:54 ZIMBABWEAN authorities
have seized hundreds of copies of Section Eight, a novel by Zimbabwean
journalist, Chris Gande, which had been destined for the Zimbabwe
International Book Fair, New Zimbabwe.com has learnt.
Gande, who is now
based in Washington DC and works for Studio Seven said the copies, fliers
and posters of the book based on the land reforms were sent to Zimbabwe by
air on July 7 and were expected to be in Zimbabwe on July 10.
States Postal Service on Monday confirmed that the books had been flown to
Zimbabwe, but their whereabouts could not be ascertained.
A postal worker
at the Washington DC post office where the books were sent from said their
records last indicated that the books were with the Zimbabwe department of
"This is unusual for customs to detain goods this long,
especially if they are just books," she told NewZimbabwe.com.
a former Daily News Bulawayo bureau chief, said he was told by a customs
official that copies of his book might have been sent for "verification" to
the President's office because it "looks like it is subversive material". He
said he had been hopeful that the book would make it for the ZIBF which ends
Gande said: "The book is now available in several countries
except Zimbabwe, I was trying to promote it through the book fair and it
seems likely that it will not make it at all. The few book sellers who had
indicated their wish to sell the book withdrew their wish after reading it.
They say they fear that it may antagonize the authorities."
that his lawyers in Zimbabwe were preparing to institute legal action to
retrieve the books from the authorities.
Section Eight is a novel based
on the son of government Minister who falls madly in love with the daughter
of a white commercial farmer. It turns out that the government Minister
wants to take over the farm belonging to the father of his son's
A T Magaisa Last updated: 08/02/2005 09:28:33 THE great challenges that
the MDC is facing should not be a source of surprise. These are challenges
that at one point or another were bound to materialise - the only question
was when that would happen.
First, that the MDC was a coalition of
otherwise disparate groups was known from the very beginning. It was, to put
it mildly a choir of discordant voices. It didn't sound right, but those who
listened chose to pay attention to the sales, rather than the quality of its
production. It was always a shaky alliance - of previously opposing groups,
which were united by one aim: the removal of Mugabe and his government and
the introduction a new dispensation led by a new government, whatever it
was. No one really cared about the quality of the change. It was change for
change's sake. Disparate groups, lack of leadership scrutiny, amateurism,
greed, unbridled ambition, riding on a wave of protest rather than support -
a dangerous concoction it was.
The result justified the means. An
alliance of farmers, farm workers, businesses, trade unions, the urban and
the rural, middle class (or aspiring) and the working classes was bound to
be shaky at the very least. It was an alliance based on the prospect of
imminent success. Failure was not an option or was deliberately dismissed as
an impossibility. The failure to respond to apparently unfair electoral
defeats demonstrated that the MDC had based its strategy on the basis of the
belief that it would win elections. The possibility of loss, by means fair
or foul, had not been accounted for and when it materialised the MDC has
always been caught napping. After three elections, some have begun to say,
fatigue has set in. It is not simply fatigue - it is careless, amateurish
planning and unrestrained lust for power - the over-eagerness of a young man
who meets a woman for the first time, and in his bid to impress fails the
basics and flounders.
Secondly, the MDC became misdirected in its
strategy and approach to the issues facing the country. It found itself
between two constituencies - on the one hand, the people of Zimbabwe and
secondly the international community. Unfortunately, it became a "captured"
movement - responding more to the demands and concerns of the international
community and less to the daily concerns of the local people. It became
distant and its leaders were more interested in flying to Western capitals
than they were prepared to rally the masses in the townships and the rural
areas - except during the pre-election phases during which conditions were
manipulated to cause maximum difficulty for the MDC.
In the end the
MDC was not quite visible beyond the urban areas. Yet Mugabe plotted well
and repeatedly dismissed the MDC as an instrument for Western imperialism.
We all thought it was nonsense of course but the idea was repeated so often
in the state-controlled media, and true to Goebbels' tactics, some people
began to believe that it was true. What did the MDC do to avert that
impression of being a stooge for the West? Nothing, besides shallow media
denials that it was not. Worse, perhaps drawing comfort from the support it
received as a pro-democracy movement the MDC publicly displayed its
friendship with the Western powers. Unsurprisingly, in its folly the
leadership ended up eating from the same plate with the "consultant", the
notorious Ari Ben Menashe, who turned out to be Mugabe's spy. People tended
to forgive the leadership, but this showed the ineptitude and weaknesses in
the leadership especially the misguided affinity for all things
So like a rabbit glaring at the headlights, the MDC stood there
in awe, hoping that the solution would come from outside and that in the
scheme of things, the people of Zimbabwe were powerless and had no role to
play beyond participation in a clearly manipulated electoral process. There
was a saying in my youthful days, which was told in Shona as "Kudyiwa
wakatarisa seMatemba" - Matemba are small fish. When captured and cooked
their eyes appear to be glaring at the consumer. They can "see" that they
are being eaten, people say, but they do not resist. It connotes a foolish
person, who knows he is getting into trouble but does nothing to avert the
outcome. The MDC knew, or should have known that they were losing in the
elections due to the unfair system, but they went along nonetheless and had
no alternative strategy. Yakadyiwa yakatarisa seMatemba.
problem however is that the MDC seems to have lost focus on the primary
reasons for its emergence in 1999 and the key points of challenge against
ZANU PF that really matter to the people. This is connected to the above
point in relation to "capture" by the international community. Instead of
focussing on the wider primary reasons for people's disgruntlement against
ZANU PF, the MDC became obsessed with the matter of "human rights".
Everything became human rights; Everyone was talking of human rights;
"Mugabe must go because he violates human rights", etc. I do not discount
that there have been human rights abuses in the country. However, what
causes concern is the Reductionist approach to the Zimbabwen problem whereby
everything is reduced to the human rights argument and must fit the human
rights paradigm. Therefore every problem, every other issue which many of
the groups that make up the MDC had against the government became quite
simply a "human rights" issue. The key challenges against the government,
such as economic mismanagement (which by the way was the primary problem
long before the current human rights problems) have become marginalised
topics that are discussed on a "by the way" basis.
It is easy to see
why the MDC became so obsessed with human rights that it began to base its
campaign against Mugabe on the basis of violation of human rights. It could
not ably articulate the many issues represented by the many voices in the
MDC choir. The leadership probably listened to the tune and realised that
there was too much discord. Their advisers, the "consultants" probably heard
the discord too and advised them to stick to one issue as the rallying point
against Mugabe: Human Rights - for that is universal and affects everyone.
It universalises the problem and covers all issues under a single umbrella.
But it also meant lost opportunities to challenge Mugabe on key areas that
directly affect people on the ground - education, health, transport,
employment, development, etc. Even Mugabe knew this - when he was donating
computers to rural schools across the country, what did the MDC do to
address the weaknesses of ZANU regarding the education policies and
practices? Nothing on that issue which is dear to people's hearts. The
restoration of human rights will not necessarily change the way public exams
are run in Zimbabwe - the MDC needs to articulate these issues that find
resonance in the community. Instead, all we hear is Mugabe violates human
rights and nothing more.
But on a more crucial note, how well does
this "human rights" talk resonate with the local population? This is a
population of which more than half of the people probably did not have a
clue about the Constitution, let alone the Bill of Rights before the
constitutional debate in 1999. There is no doubt that human rights matter to
everyone, the knowledgeable and the ignorant alike. But as a political
strategy, it is necessary to put at the forefront, issues that are uppermost
in the psyche of the people. A campaign predicated on human rights sounds
very right and sweet to the international community, especially Western
countries. The introduction of democracy and promotion of human rights and
removal of tyrannies is well in line with the current US foreign
What the MDC has done and its campaign strategy based primarily
on the need to remove Mugabe because he allegedly violates human rights and
is undemocratic elicits support and sympathy from large sections of the
international community, especially the West. But does it really touch the
key areas of the local population? Do Zimbabwean people primarily dislike
Mugabe and his government because of human rights violations or because of
economic mismanagement? In other words, do people want the government
replaced because it closed the Daily News or because it is not delivering
bread? Okay, it could be said more generally that both reasons apply, but
surely there is something that is uppermost in the mind of the people and
foremost in their hearts and I argue that in this case it is bread. And you
do not need to argue this point on the basis of human rights to make it a
relevant issue. The MDC has chosen to discuss almost everything in the
language of human rights. It is good for the international community to
understand our problem but it is also necessary to base the campaign on
issues that resonate in the local context. This, I fear, the MDC has not
done very well - the leaders are more often in London and Brussels or
addressing the BBC and CNN than they are in Dotito or
Unless the MDC, refocuses its energy on the local, it will
continue to look to the international community - which frankly has more
interests elsewhere and will continue to shout against Mugabe, but
ultimately do nothing, but all the while, their businesses are still doing
business in Zimbabwe.
Dr Magaisa is a Zimbabwean lawyer and formerly
Lecturer in law at the University of Nottingham, UK. He is a weekly
columnist for the Zimbabwe Independent newspaper and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
Kabwato Last updated: 08/02/2005 09:19:04 IT'S really hard to argue with
people who have no sense of history or who deliberately fabricate history.
The debate on Zimbabwe has become one in which facts have been sacrificed at
the altar of racism, disaffection with SA's poverty levels, deliberate
revisionism, emotionalism and woolly Pan-Africanism.
It can be quite
tiring being a Zimbabwean because all the time you have to describe, explain
and interpret the mess in that country. And yes it's a mess. The author of
that mess is not Tony Blair though if you listened to the deranged messages
from ZANU-PF you would think the British Prime Minister was some suicide
bomber let loose to cause havoc with Zimbabwe's politics and economy. No the
economic crisis in Zimbabwe stops with Mugabe. The World Bank and the IMF
and their misguided Structural Adjustment Programme (SAPS) may have to
shoulder some blame for the economic problems of the early 1990s but it is
Mugabe who has driven a once-proud nation into the ground.
paid war veterans billions of Zimdollars (the Zimbabwe currency then was
trading at 1 to USD8) in 1997; led us into a private war in the DR Congo
where his thieving elite looted the resources of that country; led a violent
seizure of farms under the pretext of redistributing land to peasants; and
now he has come up with Operation Murambatsvina (a very derogatory term in
this context and which means "we refuse to be associated with
dirt/rubbish"). But what is context of my article? Well, Mugabe has come
begging for money and South Africans are clearly divided on whether he
should get the funds or not and if he does under what conditions. My take on
this is simple: if you give money to a habitual thief and delinquent what do
you really hope to solve? Mugabe is not going to return the South Africans
taxpayers' money. Mugabe is not going put the funds to any productive use
unless the funds are channelled by the SA government to the creditors
directly. And the next question would be what next? Will SA loan 'Oliver
Twist' some more funds in a few months when he comes begging for some
The Zimbabwe government is clueless on how to resolve the economic
meltdown. Hospitals and clinics have collapsed; the education system is
bleeding (of course all the elite's children are at Rhodes and elsewhere in
the world); there is no foreign currency for the simple reason that the
country is not exporting tobacco. The 'cellphone farmers', as we call the
elite who have seized farms, have not started producing. The last time they
produced was when they were harvesting what they found on the farms they
seized. But of course Mugabe will blame everything on Tony Blair.
can give an example of the thieving nature of the ZANU-PF government. 13
years ago I was working as a civil servant when Mugabe announced a housing
scheme for government workers. For a monthly contribution you would secure a
housing stand in an area called Tynwald (a lower middle-class suburb). Well
as a simple citizen with simple needs of wanting food, clothes and shelter I
duly paid my funds over a period of seven months. Needless to state I never
got the housing stand. The next thing I was told was that the housing fund
had been looted and the chief beneficiary was Grace Mugabe who went on to
build a mansion the media dubbed "Gracelands". Fruitless missions to the
Housing Ministry did not get me my money back. And now Mugabe claims he is
destroying people's houses (they are not shacks) in order to give them
decent accommodation (what a contradiction!). And people still have to split
hairs on what Mugabe represents? He is not a revolutionary. An consummate
political opportunist Mugabe is the epitome of a revolution of that has lost
South Africa should not give money to Mugabe - after all he
is the government, the state and the country. Any financial aid can only
give him time to entrench himself. Mugabe must go. He is bad for Zimbabwe,
Southern Africa and Africa. He is bad for people like me who just want to
get on with their lives and in their own country. A million or more
Zimbabweans live on Tony Blair's native land and many more are devising
dubious ways of getting there.
Mugabe's supporters must ask why three
million Zimbabweans wander across the face of the earth. An analysis of the
Zimbabwean situation should not be tainted by the gut reactions of African
political solidarity nor should such analysis be motivated by a desire to
return to the skewed racial distribution of land pre-2000. An analysis of
Mugabe must be based on whether he has provided the people of Zimbabwe with
a life that a democratic society assumes: freedom of speech, freedom from
fear, freedom from want and all the rights enshrined in the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights. Chris Kabwato works in the School of Journalism
& Media Studies at Rhodes University
Mabhena Last updated: 08/02/2005 09:25:23 PROFESSOR Jonathan Moyo has laid
his stake in the ground by proposing the Third Way. Serious conversations
must begin in earnest with a view of unpacking this view.
Ncube started the debate of the Third Way and thus concluded that Robert
Mugabe was a factor in how the country must move forward. Following that
conclusion Professor Jonathan Moyo agrees in principle on the Third Way but
disagrees how it should be packaged. He does not agree that Robert Mugabe
should be a factor when moving forward but insists Mugabe should be done
away with altogether.
The above are very serious conversations in trying
to shape the future of Zimbabwe. Those people that are serious about the
future of Zimbabwe either for their own sake or their off-springs should
ignore these conversations at their own peril. If Zimbabweans do not
participate in the shaping of their future, some fool definitely
Professor Moyo made a cursory reference to the 2000 Constitutional
Referendum. We should take a step back and exercise our minds on what the
proposed constitution carried as compared to the current one crafted by the
late Dr. Edison Zvobgo. Admittedly the proposed Constitution was fraught
with a lot of omissions from peoples' submissions but we should have been
strategic enough to accept it as a first step to changing the current
regime. At times change takes place one step at a time. However, lessons
learned are that we should not be emotional but strategic when it comes to
issues of national governance.
As we prepare to take a step forward
into the future, we should bear in mind that emotions must be set aside.
There has to be consensus on the way forward. This calls on all Zimbabweans
in the Diaspora and in Zimbabwe, black or white, Indian or coloured, rich or
poor, Ndebele or Shona, to come together and save Zimbabwe. I believe
patronage and tribalism remain the two actions that are responsible for
where this country finds itself today.
In the last few days when Robert
Mugabe and team left the country on a wild goose chase in the name of
soliciting for funds from friendly nations, one was left with no choice but
to laugh aloud. It was panic station at the government of
However, after the laughing subsided, one felt private
embarrassment at being Zimbabwean.
As we unpack a lot of solutions on
the way forward including the 'Third Way' we should remember where we are
coming from. We need to take personal audit on what went wrong since 1980.
We should have serious conversations with both ourselves and other people.
We should have conversations for relationship building, action,
opportunities and possibilities. While we have these conversations, we
should listen out for each other's moments of brilliance.
have these conversations, we should be wary of opportunists. We should
accept that in building anything one needs to have a shot at it and give
others a chance. In building the third way we must worry about politicians
that are going to jump ship from Zanu PF and MDC and offer themselves to
serve the new order. We should be wary of them as I believe that the failure
of MDC is that it was fashioned along Zanu PF lines: that is on nepotism,
tribalism and patronage. Furthermore it was formed in Zanu PF spirit. We see
Morgan Tsvangirai holding on to a dying party for he wants to give power to
his unelected relatives and tribesmen. Zanu PF is the same.
the new way forward, the sure way of ensuring that it will not succeed is to
allow failed and uncourageous politicians from both MDC and Zanu PF to come
on board. Kenyan Rainbow Coalition is an instructive example. Kenyans are
slowly approaching the next election without the promised Constitution, with
the draft having been tempered with by powers that be. I am not surprised at
Kenya's still progress. How were they expecting to make progress with a
President who was Arap Moi's deputy for over a decade?
intellectuals, academics, proper politicians, artists must respond to
Professor Jonathan Moyo's stand. In reacting to the issue of the Third Way,
we need to sincerely unpack it in a manner that is democratic, open and
frank. Serious conversations need to take place both at home and in the
Diaspora. Ndaba Mabhena is a regular contributor to New Zimbabwe.com and is
based in Harare