by Fanuel Jongwe Sat Aug 30, 8:50 AM ET
HARARE (AFP) - Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe's party has rejected new
demands by the opposition following meetings with South African mediators to
get power-sharing talks back on track, state media said Saturday.
"The only new but absurd suggestion from the MDC was that the cabinet be
co-chaired by President Mugabe and Tsvangirai," state daily The Herald
quoted a source by Mugabe's ZANU-PF as saying, referring to Movement for
Democratic Change opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai.
"ZANU-PF dismissed the suggestion, not just as insolent, but also stunning
ignorance on how government works."
A delegation from Mugabe's ZANU-PF and the MDC met in Pretoria Friday with
South African mediators separately to "gauge feelings and thereafter decide
on the way forward", the source told The Herald.
The opposition would not comment on its demands while the negotiations are
"I am not at liberty to outline any of our positions (...) until I get the
green light from my authorities," MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa told AFP.
On Friday South African mediatiors tried to revive power-sharing talks which
were officially suspended in mid-August by talking to the opposing parties
A source close to the negotiations told AFP Saturday that the meetings would
not be continuing later this day. The South African presidency refused to
In Harare a spokesman for a dissident faction of MDC said he believed the
meetings were ongoing.
"Our negotiators are still in Pretoria which suggests to me that the
consultations are still going on. I have not been in touch with any of them
today so I cannot confirm the exact position of the talks," Edwin Mushoriwa
The faction, which holds 10 of the 210 seats in the Zimbabwean parliament
can swing the balance in favour of Tsvangirai, whose MDC faction has 100
seats, or Mugabe's ZANU-PF which has 99 seats.
Mugabe has hinted he would soon form a government without the opposition,
because of a lack of progress in the talks.
Divisions remain over how Mugabe, 84, and MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai,
would share power in a national unity government, including what authority
they would have as president and prime minister.
Analysts believe Mugabe is reluctant to yield responsibility for sensitive
security ministries like the army, police and intelligence, given that
Zimbabwe's military are strong backers of the veteran president.
According to The Herald ZANU-PF is not willing to budge. It argues there is
already a deal trashed out and all that remains is for the MDC to sign.
"It (ZANU-PF) said from its perspective all that remained was for the MDC to
append its signature to the document or withhold it for as long as it likes
knowing fully well that the process of forming a government would proceed
unhindered," the newspaper quoted the source as saying.
Power-sharing talks began after both sides signed a memorandum of
understanding on July 21.
Mugabe won the June 27 run-off election after first-round winner Tsvangirai
withdrew from the vote in protest at widespread election violence. The
opposition says some 200 people were killed and thousands were displaced.
Tsvangirai has repeatedly said he would not agree to any power-sharing deal
that would not give him real political power.
"It's better not to have a deal than to have a bad deal," he said in a New
York Times interview before the talks were suspended.
Aug 30, 2008, 14:29 GMT
Harare - Zimbabwe's opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) claimed
Saturday that it had unearthed a 'plot' by government lawyers and
intelligence agents to secure convictions against its lawmakers in a bid to
reverse its majority in parliament.
'Johannes Tomana, the deputy attorney-general is leading this plot,' the
party said in a statement, without giving details.
Tomana could not be reached for comment but deputy information minister
Bright Matonga dismissed the claims.
'We are now used to these malicious claims by the MDC. They are meant to
make their Western sponsors happy and tarnish our government. There is
nothing like that going on. The attorney-general's office is independent of
the government,' said Matonga.
Fourteen MDC MPs on a police 'wanted list' are either on remand or in police
custody on charges linked to a spate of political violence after March
elections that claimed mainly the lives of MDC supporters.
Five MDC MPs have been arrested since Monday, when the new 210-seat lower
house of parliament was sworn in. Four are still being held on charges
including attempted murder and rape - charges the MDC say mask a bid by
President Robert Mugabe to overturn his party's defeat in the March
elections. Morgan Tsvangirai's MDC faction - the larger of two - took 100
seats in the election to Zanu-PF's 99.
The plot claim comes a day after talks between the MDC and Zanu-PF on the
formation of a government of national unity resumed in South Africa.
The last round ended in deadlock after Tsvangirai refused to sign a draft
agreement that would have made him prime minister but without the powers of
a head of government.
State media accused Tsvangirai, whose party was emboldened by its victory in
a vote Monday for parliament speaker, of making fresh demands in the talks.
The Herald quoting unnamed sources as saying that Tsvangirai was demanding
to co-chair cabinet with Mugabe and wanted to have the constitution changed
to have three vice presidents instead of two.
Nelson Chamisa, spokesman for the MDC, refused to be drawn on The Herald
story, saying the party was interested only in the democratization of
Zimbabwe and in turning around the battered economy.
Before the talks resumed Mugabe had been threatening to forge ahead with
forming a government without the MDC - a move the MDC said would kill the
On Friday, in a sign of a more conciliatory stance, the government lifted a
nearly three-month ban on field work by aid agencies, whom it had accused of
stumping for the MDC.
The lifting of the ban means the agencies can resume distributing food to
around 2 million people in need.
Sat 30 Aug 2008, 9:23 GMT
HARARE (Reuters) - Zimbabwean power-sharing talks, which resumed in South
Africa on Friday, have hit a snag over a proposal for President Robert
Mugabe and his opposition rival to jointly chair the cabinet, state media
reported on Saturday.
The opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) made the new proposal
when negotiating teams separately met South African President Thabo Mbeki on
Friday, the state-owned Herald newspaper said, quoting sources.
"The only new but nonetheless absurd suggestion from the MDC was that
Cabinet be co-chaired by President Mugabe and (MDC leader Morgan)
Tsvangirai. ZANU-PF dismissed that, not just as insolent, but also stunning
ignorance on how government works," a source told the Herald.
The power-sharing talks have stalled over how executive power would be
shared by President Robert Mugabe and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai,
who refused to sign an agreement two weeks ago.
Tsvangirai outpolled Mugabe in a March 29 election but did not get enough
ballots to avoid a run-off poll, controversially won by Mugabe after
Tsvangirai pulled out citing violence and intimidation against his
Under a proposed deal agreed to by Mugabe and a smaller breakaway faction of
the MDC, Mugabe would chair the cabinet while Tsvangirai as prime minister
would be deputy chairperson.
The MDC'S new proposal would see him and Mugabe jointly chairing the
cabinet, the Herald said.
ZANU-PF opposed this proposal and insisted that all that remained was for
the MDC to sign up to the deal.
Mugabe would form a government should the opposition fail to accept terms of
the power-sharing agreement, the source said.
MDC officials in South Africa and Mbeki's spokesman were not available for
(Reporting by Nelson Banya; Editing by Angus MacSwan)
Published: Friday 29 August 2008 18:55 UTC
Last updated: Friday 29 August 2008 18:55 UTC
Zimbabwe's power-sharing talks have resumed in the South African capital
Pretoria more than two weeks after negotiations broke down. The ruling
ZANU-PF and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change are not involved
in direct talks, but are negotiating separately with South African President
The major stumbling block is the role of President Robert Mugabe in any
future power-sharing government. Mr Mugabe angered the opposition earlier
this week by saying he would form a government alone if necessary.
The Zimbabwean authorities are allowing aid organisations to distribute
supplies again. In June, the government suspended aid agencies' work, saying
they were involved in political activities.
29 August 2008 - Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today welcomed Zimbabwe's
announcement on lifting the suspension of field operations of aid agencies,
which have a vital role in the delivery of humanitarian assistance in the
southern African nation.
"This positive development will help ensure that neutral and impartial
humanitarian assistance is provided to the people of Zimbabwe," Mr. Ban's
spokesperson said in a statement.
The Secretary-General also welcomed the Government's invitation to all
non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and private voluntary organizations
(PVOs) as well as UN agencies to discuss the operational modalities
following the lifting of the suspension, which has been in place since June.
"He would like to emphasize the importance of ensuring that people in need
have full access to humanitarian assistance essential to their health and
well-being and that humanitarian organizations have full and unhindered
access to vulnerable populations in order to carry out vital relief
operations," the statement added.
Prior to the ban, many Zimbabweans were already suffering from food
shortages and rampant inflation, a situation made worse by the violence that
plagued the country ahead of the June presidential run-off election.
Earlier this month Mr. Ban had warned that not lifting the suspension could
worsen the already dire humanitarian situation. With these organizations
unable to operate, only 280,000 people of the 1.5 million in need of food
assistance were being reached with distributions.
"The United Nations stands ready to work together with the Government and
NGO/PVO partners to continue provision of humanitarian assistance in
Zimbabwe," today's statement noted.
August 30, 2008, 07:00
President Thabo Mbeki has told Zimbabwe's negotiating parties that the
continent is pinning its hopes on them to find a speedy resolution to the
political crisis in their country. Talks to secure a power sharing deal
continued in Tshwane yesterday.
Representatives of the two Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) factions and
Zanu-PF have been attending the talks. The President however remains
confident that the parties will soon reach a settlement.
Meanwhile, Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe did not announce the new cabinet
yesterday as expected. Instead President Mugabe postponed the move for
further consultation. The delay is attributed to the power-sharing
negotiations which are continuing in Tshwane.
Aid agencies in Zimbabwe say they can resume distributing food in Zimbabwe
as their ban has been lifted. Oxfam and Save the Children said the
government had ordered them to stop work before a presidential run-off
nearly three months ago.
The lifting of the ban came the same day as power-sharing negotiations
SW Radio Africa (London)
29 August 2008
Posted to the web 30 August 2008
The tragic after effects of a violent ZANU PF campaign continue to be felt
in the country with the death of 2 more MDC activists who succumbed to their
injuries this week.
Annette Chiremba, who was hospitalised at Rusape hospital after being beaten
up, and Justice Gundumura, also beaten by ZANU PF militia before being
illegally detained at Mutare Central Prison, both died on Thursday. They
were attacked in the run-up to the June 27 one man presidential run-off from
which MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai withdrew citing the violence.
Speaking to Newsreel on Friday MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa said because
some areas were sealed off by ruling party militia, the death toll continues
to mount as more information trickles in on what happened. So far the party
has accounted for 131 activists and officials killed including Chiremba and
Gundumura who passed away this week.
Maxwell Magoche Tongodiwa from the Chibara area of Mashonaland West
succumbed to his injuries on the 6th August. Militia led by L Chikede the
ZANU PF district coordinating chairman, assaulted Tongodiwa after accusing
him of bringing MDC campaign posters and fliers into the area. Christine
Chinozingwa, Zanu PF Women's League Chairlady was accused of instigating the
attack. According to the doctor's report Tongodiwa died from liver puncture
caused by a broken rib. His liver later swelled leading to his painful
Asked if there were still incidents of violence now that talks between ZANU
PF and the MDC had resumed Chamisa said there were still pockets of violence
in some areas. "There is still a lot of tension around and the
infrastructure of violence remains intact," Chamisa said. He argued that
ZANU PF's engagement in the process of dialogue was clearly a very
'un-natural' process for ZANU PF because, "the default setting of this
regime is violence."
The MDC has unearthed a plot by the Attorney General's office and members of
the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) to secure convictions against
MDC MPs in a bid to reverse the MDC majority in Parliament.
Deputy Attorney General, Johannes Tomana is leading the plot in which the
Zanu PF regime is planning to secure convictions and lay more trumped-up
charges against MDC MPs to reverse our majority in Parliament.
This week five MDC MPs were arrested in Harare during the opening of the 7th
Parliament of Zimbabwe.
Four of them, Pearson Mungofa, the MP for Highfield East, Eliah Jembere,
Epworth; Bednock Nyaude, Bindura South and Trevor Saruwaka, Mutasa Central
are still in police custody. They were denied bail.
Hon Nyaude was granted bail by a Bindura magistrate but the State has
Via an MDC Press Release.
This entry was written by Sokwanele on Saturday, August 30th, 2008 at 3:21
Saturday, 30 August 2008 12:07
29 August 2008
The speculation over Zimbabwe's 'real' inflation figures is likely to
add more zeroes to the already revalued Zim dollar as analysts say blocking
the figures is pushing the inflation rate higher.
Three weeks ago Reserve Bank Governor Gideon Gono announced that ten
zeros would be slashed from the rapidly weakening dollar. The move saw many
old notes and coins re-entering the currency fray, causing confusion and
chaos across the country.
But since then, the zeroes have already started reappearing as the
political and humanitarian crisis continues to ravage the economy. At the
same time, while speculation around the 'real' inflation figures is rife,
producers and retailers continue to increase their prices daily to keep up
with the assumed inflation figure that is well beyond the official one.
The secrecy surrounding the figures is leading to more suffering for
average Zimbabweans who are already dealing with a severe currency and food
shortage. Many local businesses are also battling as their future
projections are based on an inflation figure that is purely speculative.
Economic analyst John Robertson told Newsreel on Friday that it is
likely another ten zeroes will need to be slashed off the currency because
of the current 'fierce rate of exchange'. He said significant 'behavioral
patterns' are also driving up the inflation figure, explaining that most
retailers are pushing up their prices to deal with expected rate changes
rather than actual ones. Robertson added that such a situation means there
is a 'self fulfilling economic prophecy' as Zimbabweans are paying inflated
prices, creating higher inflation changes.
HARARE - THE annual Harare Agricultural Show (HAS) held by the
Zimbabwe Agricultural Show Society, is now just a white elephant and should
be used for other purposes, a top agricultural expert has said.
In an interview at the end of the show on Friday, he said there were
no cattle at the show and there was very little activity in the showgrounds.
The Harare Agricultural Show used to be the second biggest event in
Zimbabwe after the Zimbbabwe International Trdade |Fair (ZITF), Zimbabwe's
premier investment show case, annually held in the second manjor city of
The Agricultural Show had gone down in terms of attendance and
activities. At some stage pigs were being exhibited by farmers instead of
top cattle - once the the pride of Zimbabwe.
The official said the Show grounds should be used for other events
during the year such as motor shows, cattle sales and not only wait for the
annual event as this had become a waste of time.
President Robert Mugabe officially opened the lacklustre event on
Friday in which he praised Zimbabwean farmers for their resilience at a time
when the economy had crumbled.
However political analysts blame the 85-year-old leader for the
falling standards in Zimbabwe an accusation he denies. The chaotic land
invasions of 2000 saw many of the predominantly white farmers being driven
out of their farms, resulting in current acute food shortages in the country
and an inflation which is the the highest in the world at more than 22
Harare - Teachers across the country are expected to boycott classes
when schools open for the third term on Tuesday, in protest over their
continued neglect by the government.
"We are going on strike from day one and we are not going back until
after the government shows some commitment to address our grievances," said
the militant Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe PTUZ Secretary General
The teachers, who were in August paid Zd 934 (revalued), are demanding
a minimum salary of USd 797, which they say is the prevailing rate across
the southern African region.
"Teachers' salaries have for long been determined arbitrarily. No
realistic formula or plausible factors have been used to fix the salaries;
all what is in use is the rule of thumb. The PTUZ has scientifically
determined that a teacher needs a minimum equivalent of US797 in Zimbabwe
dollar terms per month," said Majongwe.
The heftily built activist added that they would only go to work when
their grievances have been addressed.
In addition to the salary reviews, the teachers want the government to
urgently "pay teachers a rescue package so that they can survive". They also
want "all those who instigated and perpetrated political violence against
teachers should be brought to book".
August 30, 2008 | By Staff
Seven inmates at Mutimurefu prison in Masvingo died of hunger related
diseases,as the government reversed a food aid ban on Friday.
Zimbabwe Prison Services (ZPS) public relations manager, Gransinia Masango
said the seven died on separate days last week.
The deceased are Pedzisai Muvengwa, Howard Erika, Patrick Bhumera, Cleopas
Hasuma, Almon Dzaromba, Sikubekile Masuku and Joseph Mahumbile.
"It is true that some prisoners in Masvingo died, but not of hunger. I was
informed that they were already ill," said Masango.
However, top prison officials at the jail, revealed that the seven had
suffered from malnutrition and later died for lack of a balanced diet.
"They died of kwashiorkor after spending a long time without a balanced
diet.owing to the lack of food at most jails. The situation was also
worsened by the fact that they did not get medical attention as most prisons
do not have doctors, who fled the country citing poor remuneration and bad
working conditions," said a source.
He added that many other prisoners were suffering from Pellagra due to the
food shortages as the authorities were now only providing one meal a day.
He said this was in addition to inhuman conditions in the country's cells,
such as lice infected blankets and same sex rape.
"It's a disaster in the making, a time bomb ready to explode. Many prisoners
are suffering from Pellagra. We used to provide three meals a day, but now
they eat a daily dosage of vegetable soup or porridge once a day. If you
have a relative detained, you better provide your own food everyday," warned
the prison official.
Other prisoners were getting pauper's burials, as no relatives would have
come forward to claim their bodies. Theres is no mortuary at Mutimurefu
Zanu-PF threatens retribution for MDC 'harassment'
Zimbabwe security minister Didymus Mutasa stood outside the Harare
headquarters of Zanu-PF yesterday, Thursday, and threatened violent revenge
for the humiliation that President Mugabe endured both inside and outside
parliament this week.
Referring to those Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) supporters who
heckled the President when he arrived to open parliament, and to the MPs who
jeered during his speech, Mutasa said: "They know what we are capable of
doing, and they should not cry foul when we deliver that blow as symbolised
by the party's symbol of a fist."
His open call for revenge is an indication of how deeply Mugabe and his
Zanu-PF colleagues were hurt by the unprecedented scenes in parliament, when
for the first time the President faced open ridicule, and the entire episode
was broadcast on national television.
Mutasa told his audience: "It was a painful experience to watch our
president, your president, being subjected to that kind of treatment. We
know that you were as pained as your leadership and there should be some
recourse for that kind of behaviour. We will do all we can to feed you, so
you will be strong when you hit back."
He said that Mugabe, who was expected to appear himself but failed to do so,
would personally give guidance on the nature and form of the retribution.
"I cannot speak about the things that will be done," he said. "But...what we
are working on now is a strategy that can see us revenging for that
The people of Zimbabwe are only too aware of the steps Zanu-PF and its
fearsome militia can take. During the run-up to the recent farcical election
hundreds of MDC supporters were attacked, beaten, driven from their homes,
Observers believe that Mutasa is openly threatening more of the same.
Posted on Friday, 29 August 2008 at 09:31
Saturday 30th August 2008
Dear Family and Friends,
It's a noisy afternoon as I sit writing this letter. The Msasa trees are
throwing out their seeds in preparation for the new season. Every few
seconds another pod loses control and cracks. There is a distinct click and
then the pod splits, curls and falls onto the hard, dry ground, scattering
shiny brown seeds into the dust. Summer is almost upon us and change is in
the air. Smoke is also in the air as yet again uncontrolled fires burn in
every direction and on every horizon but we look upwards as we wait for
clouds and rain and pray for relief from the tragedy engulfing our country.
Amidst our desperate struggle to survive eleven million percent inflation
and with so very many people going to bed hungry every night, there have
been some dramatic developments in Zimbabwe this week that bring change
another step closer. Just when we'd given up hope of the people's March 29th
votes ever being respected, Parliament was suddenly re-convened and MP's
sworn in. Then, for the first time in 28 years, Zanu PF lost control of the
House of Assembly as an MDC MP was voted Speaker of The House.
The ceremonial opening of Parliament was a spectacle not to be missed and
unbelievably the electricity stayed on during the entire procedure. Even
more amazing was that ZBC TV filmed all the events that followed, live and
uninterrupted. Zimbabwe saw Mr Mugabe arrive in the black open topped Rolls
Royce alone, without his wife. We saw the long, long line of MP's going into
Parliament. The MDC MP's were easily recognisable as they smiled and waved
to the crowds - perhaps acknowledging that it was their votes and their
sacrifices that had resulted in this day. The MDC MP's have not yet got that
arrogant, I'm indestructible look that is so common to Zimbabwean
Many shocking things followed in the next hour, filmed live by ZBC TV for
all to see. When Mr Mugabe walked into the House of Assembly only the Zanu
PF MP's stood up. For half an hour Mr Mugabe's voice was drowned out by
talking, jeering, singing and clapping MDC MP's. Never, in 28 years, has
Zimbabwe seen their elected MP's do anything like this. Never, in 28 years,
have Zimbabweans seen Mr Mugabe being openly challenged like this.
The final wind of change that blew into Zimbabwe this week came with the
government lifting its ban on international and local charitable
People who are hungry, sick and desperate have been given back the right to
ask for and receive help from people other than a bankrupt government.
Until next week, thanks for reading, love cathy
Return of tourism may provide respite for Zimbabwe's beleaguered citizens,
say Group Travel Editor Graham Boynton.
By Graham Boynton
Last Updated: 11:38AM BST 29 Aug 2008
News of the lifting of the Foreign Office ban on travel to Zimbabwe is both
welcome and premature.
It is welcome because the major victims of the Western tourism stay-away
over the past five or six years have been ordinary Zimbabweans. These
battered people have consistently since 2000 voted the despot Mugabe out of
office, but he simply refuses to go and uses his ghastly henchmen and
thuggish hirelings to suppress those he claims to represent.
Thanks to Mugabe, their country is broken and bankrupt and they are
struggling to feed themselves.
It is premature because any international gesture that suggests
normalisation of relations with the country while Mugabe remains president
may encourage him to continue clinging on to power. And every day he is in
power is another day of suffering for this beautiful country.
I have visited Zimbabwe twice in the past 12 months - once to cover the
rigged election and the other time to take part in a canoe safari along the
Zambezi River. Obviously, there was no moral conundrum in reporting on the
election - Mugabe did not want Western journalists there and that was reason
enough to be in the country.
The safari was another matter, for I have spent years debating whether we
should travel to Zimbabwe for pleasure. I ended up feeling comfortable about
making the trip, mainly because our small group had made significant
financial contributions to the local operators, guides and camp staff. They
were desperate, not only for money, but also for contact with travellers
from the outside world. They told us that the trickle of Western visitors in
recent years had enabled the camps to keep operating and to maintain a
presence in an area that has suffered from serious poaching in the past. In
Africa, tourism and wildlife conservation are inextricably linked.
So, on balance the decision was a good one. It is my view that the old
tyrant is finally losing his grip on power and that Zimbabwe's long
nightmare is coming to an end. If I am right, the time has come for tourists
to pour back into this marvellous country - they will doubtless enjoy the
holiday of a lifetime and at the same time help the beleaguered Zimbabweans
to get back on their feet.
By Ephraim Nsingo
HARARE, Aug 30 (IPS) - In 2006, there was shared concern among donors and
women's organisations over the fragmented approaches to gender and women's
empowerment programmes in Zimbabwe.
"This resulted in lack of clarity on what was happening, who was doing what,
where, with whom, with what/whose support and what was being achieved," says
Eunice Njovana, head of the United Nations Development Fund for Women
(UNIFEM) in Zimbabwe.
"This led to duplication of efforts, inefficiencies and ineffectiveness in
programming. The lack of a co-coordinated approach to programming also made
it difficult to identify gaps and priorities in the sector, to assess the
strategic value of the different efforts and to ensure that the different
programmes performed to expected standards."
In an attempt to solve this anomaly, the UNIFEM office in Zimbabwe convened
a meeting of donors and civil society organisations to identify ways of
harmonising activities and funding of women's organisations. The meeting was
held in the capital city Harare in the run up to the Women's Day
commemorations in March 2007.
The engagements with such major donors as Britain's Department for
International Development (DfID), Canadian International Development Agency
(CIDA), United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Swedish
International Development Agency (SIDA) and the European Commission
culminated in a Gender Scoping Study to "profile women's priority needs,
identifying key actors and institutions to address them, and provide a
roadmap for strategic and comprehensive support".
The study started on Feb. 13, 2007 and a report was published slightly over
two months, on Apr. 24.
The study resulted in the establishment of a Basket Fund, which was to be
implemented by UNIFEM in partnership with the Women's Coalition of Zimbabwe
(WcoZ) - an umbrella organisation representing women's organisations in
Zimbabwe, beginning on Aug. 1. The Basket Fund was to provide "a common
financing mechanism to address essential needs and sustain gender equality
support within development planning".
But as August draws to an end, the Basket Fund -- sponsored to the tune of
1,035,000 euros by the European Commission and an additional along 50,000
pounds from DfID for a six-month planning and inception period -- is not yet
being implemented. According to officials in a non-governmental organisation
(NGO) close to the project, it may not be implemented at all this year.
The reason: the implementers are "still building capacity and putting
systems in place". The erratic political situation in Zimbabwe has also had
a significant negative impact on the fund.
"While UNIFEM has had previous fund management experience, as a UN arm, the
same cannot be said of the Women's Coalition of Zimbabwe (WcoZ)," explained
Rutendo Hadebe, the deputy chairperson. Hadebe is the former director of the
Women in Politics Support Unit (WiPSU) - an NGO that educates and provides
technical support to women politicians.
"This new role means setting up systems, transformation of the (Women's)
Coalition from just a coordinator of the women's organisation to playing a
pivotal role. This also means that key personnel has to be has to be
hired... that which has fund management experience". Fund managers would be
recruited mostly from consultants already working in the UN system in
Zimbabwe and civil society organisations.
The situation, noted Hadebe, was compounded by the political and economic
"Although Aug. 1 was set as the beginning of the implementation date, the
whole programme and inception phase envisaged late 2007 and beginning of
2008 had not anticipated a rather unpredictable and stretched election
period," she noted.
At the beginning of June, the government banned the fieldwork of all NGOs.
This, said Hadebe, crippled the consultative processes.
"In addition the resulting political violence and victimisation saw women's
organisations having to take up the role of offering humanitarian support to
hundreds of women victims, as opposed to continuing the inception phase
which had become impossible under the then prevailing conditions."
The government of Zimbabwe also played an active role in the project through
the Ministry of Women's Affairs, Gender and Community Development, led by
Oppah Muchinguri. Muchinguri was recently dropped from her position as
minister, and this, said gender activists, was likely to "impact negatively
on our activities as she pursued these issues with a passion". During her
tenure, Muchinguri spearheaded the enactment of the National Gender Policy,
which provided the framework for the study.
As a result of the challenges, beneficiaries of the programme are yet to be
"We have yet to identify the grant recipients because we are still in the
process of developing the project document and the systems, tools and
procedures for Basket Fund management," said Njovana.
"What we can say though is that the fund will specifically target multiple
sectors as per the identified thematic areas. It will seek to support a
broad range of issues in the thematic areas as well as involvement of a
broad range of players among civil society organizations. As this is a
national programme, it is expected that there will be wide geographical
coverage of the basket fund."
In an interview with IPS, Emma Mahlunge, the director of Kunzwana Women's
Association - which brings together 240 clubs representing 3000 mostly rural
women -- said although she was "aware of such a programme", they had not
"This is a good initiative, it gives organisations with shared objectives to
work together, identify problems together, thus using minimum funds on a
wide range of projects. But I do not know why we still haven't been
contacted. Our organisation has the widest representation of rural women,"
But Njovana said they were not neglecting any organisations, saying they
were targeting mostly "marginalised groups, specifically rural women, and
women living with disability".
"Special attempts will be made to involve the smaller, erstwhile
neglected/marginalised organisations/groups working in remote and
underprivileged communities to ensure that they receive some grants.
Examples of such groups are HIV positive women, women informal sector
workers, migrant women, indigenous communities, women survivors of gender
based violence and women with disabilities," said Njovana.
Given all these challenges, will the programme take off any soon, if at all?
"In this respect the Inception Phase, that is, project design, strategy and
tools for implementation, continues to take place but is expected to be
concluded in the next two or three months with implementation phase set to
begin thereafter," said Hadebe.
According to Njovana, although mostly women's organisations would benefit,
men would also benefit.
"Consistent with the recommendation of the Gender Scoping Study that
preceded the development of the National Gender Equality and Women's
Empowerment Programme, the basket fund will also reach out to men's
organisations for example Padare/Enkundleni Men's Forum on Gender to promote
a systematic and structured approach to men's involvement and contribution
to gender equality and women's empowerment," she added.
Officials from the Ministry of Women's Affairs Gender and Community
Development were reluctant to comment on the issue. A new minister is
expected when President Robert Mugabe announces a new Cabinet.
Saturday Tribune, Nigeria
Sat. 30th August, 2008
By Bayo Alade
Food crisis has always been a problem facing most countries in the world
today, especially in Africa. The irony has been that most governments in the
third world countries fold their arms doing nothing while depending on
foreign aid to feed their population. In Nigeria, for example, over 90
million hectares of arable land is available. Unfortunately, only about one
third of that is currently being put to use; yet we complain of shortage of
However, somebody decided to take a bold step and confront the issue
headlong with the hope that, this time, the problem would be solved once and
for all. Roughly, after one year of being voted into office, Kwara State
governor, Alhaji Bukola Saraki, took a long look at the almost
forty-year-old state he has started governing and decided that if the state
was going to rank among the leading states in the country its agrarian
status must change to that of a 21st century economy.
Governor Saraki discovered that Kwara State must grow its agricultural
potentials. He also discovered that employment of the peolple must be
diversified and this could be easily done by industrialising the state
through agriculture. Meanwhile, just as Robert Mugabe, president of Zimbabwe
was playing politics with land, forcefully taking it from the white farmers
(who had made a success of commercial agriculture in that country) and
giving them to black Zimbabweans which made the farmers to seek their
fortunes elsewhere, Saraki took the opportunity to invite them over. One of
the farmers, Paul was not happy to have been forced out of the country
despite the fact that he is a Zimbabwean. He was born there. He described
Mugabe as "a terrible man" who had succeded in "destroying the total
infrastructure of Zimbabwe faster that any dictator in Africa".
Governor Saraki's invitation was not only to help Kwara State develop its
agriculture but also to train the local people in the modern commercial
agriculture. "We have shown commercial agriculture in its true sense; we
have shown that the private and public sectors could work together to
finance agriculture and bring about development", the state Commissioner for
Agriculture, Prof Mohammed Gana told Saturday Tribune, adding that about
five banks, the state government and the farmers financed what has come to
be known as Tsonga Commercial Farm Project. In 2004, the farmers, 13 of them
in number berthed in Nigeria; in fact, there are 14 of them. 13 at Tsonga
and the remaining one at Malete Farm Project where young people are being
trained in all aspects of commercial farming. Each of the farmers is given
1000 hectares, on which they all practise agriculture in their own area of
There is a diary farm which is already producing milk for the markets in
Kwara State and hoping to branch out as the stock and milk production
expand(s); others produce soya beans, maize, cowpea and others. Chicken
farms would soon be springing up. The feed mill and processing units are
also being set up. The good thing about these farms is that they are all
self-sufficient -nothing is wasted. Every inch of the land is being put to
use. Paul who specialises in dairies has employed about 100 members of the
local population to help him on the farm. He has no less than 400 exotic
cows which had produced a set of 125 calves. "We produce 3,500 litres of
milk per day," he said, adding that Nigeria has a culture of drinking milk,
so he is optimistic that his farm would meet the needs of the market no
matter the demands.
However, the story had not been a plesant one all along because of
challenges which were not there when the farmers were in Zimbabwe. Some of
the challenges as enumerated by Paul are harsh weather which is affecting
the cows including the volume of their milk production. Also, there are
livestock diseases which were not there in Zimbabwe and most importantly
malaria is common here and the farmers could only wish they don't fall
victims too often. If the New York and Jersey stocks are hard to raise here
in Nigeria, why don't the farmers go the local ones? one might be tempted to
ask. The fact is that the local ones do not produce as much milk as the
exotic ones. While the local ones produce three litres of milk per day, the
exotic ones produce 24 litres per day. In commercial farming, that
difference is too much to ignore.
To develop a hybrid stock, Paul says it would take up to between 10 and 15
years. "That is a long time to wait, so we have to continue with what we
have and see what we could do", Paul said, noting that the prospect of a
thriving diary market is high. The harsh environment had taken its toll on
the livestock. Of the 125 calves born few months back, about thirty-five had
died. For some, it was because they were born prematurely, while for others,
the weather simply took its toll on them. Once the calves are born they are
taken to a special place provided for them. One of the reasons, a farm
supervisor said was because if they were left with their mothers, their milk
intake would affect the volume of milk available to produce yoghurt and
At one week old, they are given concentrates and about two litres of milk
per day up to four weeks. At 15 weeks old, they are fed once a day with four
litres of milk. Within the next one year, one could only imagine what would
be coming out of the Tsonga Farms -the output is limitless. What the
livestock would be eating for the next few years is already being preserved
as at today so that not even drought would be able to affect the cows let
alone human beings when the farms begin to run full trot. Farmer Paul gives
an insight into why the Tsonga Tarm Project is succeeding. "Nigeria has an
enlightened leadership which allows people to work without government's
interference, an enabling environment and when you do that the people would
fly." The Kwara State Commissioner for Agriculture, Prof Gana also states
why the project has succeeded. "The governor of Kwara State has shown
commitment -rare commitment and he was determined to make it succeed. If any
state would succeed in a venture like this the leader must be committed and
that is what Governor Saraki has demonstrated."
The Sacrifice For Tsonga
Siting the commercial farm project at Tsonga was not an easy task at all.
The village called Tsonga (Shonga) before the project was not easily
accesible. Today, it is one hour drive from Ilorin but before the project
became a reality it was deep in the savannah and the access road could make
a traveller's back ache for days.
As soon as the indigenes of Tsonga heard that their land had been earmarked
by the state government for the farm project they were up in arms against
such a move and anybody who would come into their community to start the
project. Saturday Tribune learnt that they used all the weapons in their
arsenal in order to defend their land from being supposedly taken over by
At a point, it was as if Governor Saraki's pet project was moribund, but he
was not one to give up at this stage -at least not when everything looked
set for one of the most revolutionary and promising agricultural effort so
far in the history of the country. At this point, there was a pause, ST
learnt, and diplomacy was employed to break the logjam. Some of the
indigenes of the village were sent to Mecca and a school was also built. For
the first time in the struggle, the indigenes decided to take a second look
at the intent of the state government having seen some glitter of sincerity
in the government's approach. To make sure that the project did not go the
way of other white elephant projects, Governor Saraki himself made several
trips to Tsonga and even slept on the farm, ST learnt. Several times even at
odd hours he visited the farmers to re-assure them that they had nothing to
fear as far as the project was concerned.
Apart from the compensation they were promised, the indigenes were also
given bicycles and motorcycles which they still use till date. Having
arrested the attention of the indigenes, the multiplier effect of the farm
project was further shown to them and by the time the white farmers started
settling down and the first set of farm employees were engaged, they knew
the project was in their favour after all. Today, the indigenes were the
better for it. One of the farmers alone has about 100 of them in his
employment let alone the remaining 13 farmers. Some of the indigenes who are
into farming have direct contact with the white farmers who teach them
modern methods of farming.
Today also, Tsonga is easily accesible to the outside world. Though the
farms are yet to be linked with electricity and that is costing some of the
farmers a lot of money for alternative power supply such as power generating
sets, the government is promising that in a few month's time the power
problem would be over. On the whole, the sacrifice had been worth the gains.
As at today, the first set of trainees at the Malete project have graduated.
About five hectares each according to the Commissioner for Agriculture, had
been cleared for them so that they could practise what they had learnt and
later on some would go to their local governments where they would further
teach the local people modern methods of farming.
Having seen the success recorded by the Tsonga experiment the state
government is thinking of replicating Tsonga in other areas of the state so
that Kwara State could truly be a state notable for commercial agriculture
and food production with the potential of feeding a large part of the
country's population. Even the farmers are not thinking of going anywhere
else, having made up their minds that Nigeria is the place to be. One of the
farmers, Paul is even thinking of bringing his whole family, including
children and grandchildren from Zimbabwe and Mozambique to Tsonga for the
xmas period. In other words, Tsonga is gradually easing its way into the
Zimbabwean politics has always been very adaptive and fluid when it comes to
dealing with difficult national questions. Rooted in the need to eradicate
the ills of colonialism and to equate the citizens of our great nation in
every aspect of life from economics to social wellbeing, the nature of our
politics has always created heroes and villains alike. Most importantly
though the shaping of our politics and the making of our politicians has
always been a natural process with no human hand dictating the fate of the
men and women who have chosen the rocky path that is politics.
When the struggle against discrimination kicked off in earnest in the 1950's
with the formation of the very first political group that was the then
Rhodesian African National Congress of 1952, there were all the tell-tale
signs that it was going to be a long and difficult process. There were
always checks and balances to make sure that those at the fore front of the
struggle were people of the right calibre and integrity. The founding
nationalists also sought to eliminate rigidity and pettiness and there was
little time for name calling.
This is why the long walk to the independence that came about in 1980 was
littered with the formation, re-formation, break-up as well as re-union of
political parties and politicians alike. This was done in the search of the
right leaders as well as the right calibre of movements to champion the
cause for independence. On the same token the individuals as well as the
political movements that were not up to the job were left on the wayside of
our national politics. There are quite many of them.
It was a natural process of selection that was never instigated by any
particular group or persons but it was an automatic and self regulating
process that would trigger itself whenever necessary. There were people who
chose to align themselves with certain movements and political parties for
different reasons and these either fulfilled their ambitions to serve their
country, or had their political existence destroyed as necessary. Those who
were true to their values and their devotion to the mother land stayed the
course and led Zimbabwe to independence and majority rule in 1980.
Today our country is back again to that point where a large sieve in
filtering through the political landscape with the mere intention of
retaining those politicians who are true to their values and devotion to
their country. When the MDC was formed in 1999 it was welcomed as a
necessary political movement to steer Zimbabwe from a looming dictatorship
to multiparty democracy. The new party was welcomed in similar fashion to
the way ZAPU and later on ZANU had been welcomed as the ultimate vehicles to
steer the then Rhodesia from similarly looming apartheid to plural democracy
that brooked no racial bounds.
Just like in the years of the struggle against colonialism, there were bound
to be splinter parties stemming out of the MDC as well as new other parties
being explored by either genuine or opportunistic politicians. When the MDC
party split in 2005, there were at first mixed views about the split of the
party among ordinary Zimbabweans. As for the MDC faithful, there were
seemingly fundamental differences and this was why at the very onset of the
split, different sets of people went either side of the divide.
But with time, the seemingly fundamental differences then boiled down to
purely national interests with people close to the MDC making very hard
choices as to what really mattered to the national cause. This was why there
was movement backwards to the wing of the MDC that would emerge as the main
one led by founding President Morgan Tsvangirai. When the party split there
was no main wing as such. The two halves of the party all had a somewhat
fair share of party heavyweights as well as founding figures. However, with
time the weight of some of the heavy weights would be drastically reduced to
At the time of the split, there were a lot of people who felt that
Tsvangirai did not handled the whole thing properly especially the fateful
vote that set the split mode in motion as well as the after math. I was one
of those people and my main bone of contention stemmed from what I thought
was Tsvangirai's failure to reign in on Welshman Ncube in the earlier stages
just before the split. I was particularly incensed with the way Ncube had
clearly sought to undermine Tsvangirai during their last trip to Europe and
the UK while the party was still united. It was there for all to see and the
members of the then MDC UK executive were clearly unhappy about that.
However on the outlook, the trip was a resounding success because everything
else was extremely well organised. We even organised one of the biggest ever
rallies to be addressed by Tsvangirai in the UK at Friends Hall in the
East-end of London. But internally we could all see that there was a huge
problem and that the party was tottering on the blink of a split because the
Secretary General and the president were clearly at logger heads. But most
importantly, we could see that the problem was definitely Ncube because we
had clashed with him before on other issues that we felt he was over-arching
Tsvangirai was due back to the UK in the coming weeks after that animosity
filled trip. I was going to be involved in organising that trip. I wanted to
set things straight with him so I phoned him in Harare to discuss the trip
and the other issues. Then I told him about the need to deal with Ncube
before they came again on another visit and Tsvangirai told me that Ncube
had to be left to the people to judge and only time would tell. In fact
Tsvangirai went on to say that instead of coming with Ncube to the UK he
would be accompanied by the Youth and Women's wing representatives. By that
he obviously meant Chamisa and Mativenga who still headed those wings at
However, that trip never happened because the next thing the MDC party had
split and the rest is just history. I explore this further in my impending
book, Zimbabwe - The Road to Ruin. I just said to myself what sort of party
president is this who would really says he won't do anything about his
errant Secretary General only leaving him to the people? I asked myself what
people? When the skirmishes that occurred in the MDC when people like Ncube
were roughed-up by fellow members such that he had to go into hiding for
days, I said to myself was that what Tsvangirai meant when he said he would
leave Ncube to the people? But again it did not make sense.
What Tsvangirai actually meant was that the people of Zimbabwe would have a
referendum on Ncube's political existence at their own time. According to
Tvsangirai, it was not up to him to cut short Ncube's supposedly promising
career and have another Zimbabwean's political blood on his hands.
Effectively Tsvangirai left Ncube to posterity. That is one thing I failed
to see then but I now see very clearly because had Tsvangirai fired Ncube
from his coveted post of SG every Zimbabwean maybe including myself, would
have accused him ending the promising career of an emerging politician.
But came March 2008 and the people of Zimbabwe, Matabeleland to be specific,
gave Ncube and overdue red card. I don't know how many times I told Ncube
that his politics no matter how seemingly colorful was never inspired by
national advancement, but rather personal self interest. I was proven right
as well because regardless of how seemingly confident Ncube was to win back
his seat, he was defeated at the hands of Thokozani Khupe.
The post March 29 08 events also drew parallels between the politics of the
1970's and now. Even after the split of the MDC when I joined the faction
led by Mutambara, my main reasoning to do that was clear. I wanted something
that could end what was seemingly becoming stagnation in the party. I really
thought that there was real need for a rejuvenation of the MDC and I am
adamant that I was not the only one who felt like that at that time. But I
was equally clear that that kind of new direction would never come from
Ncube. Therefore I made it very clear and in no uncertain terms to Mutambara
when he came on the scene that if he did not deal with Ncube effectively
then this whole rejuvenation and re-unification of the MDC thing would never
In a matter of weeks I was satisfied that it was not going to happen and I
left that faction with my colleagues and we issued a statement to that
effect. Ncube was the one who was running the show and that is why there was
never going to be any prospect of the party being re-united. But even then I
still doubted Tsvangirai's capability to be an effective leader who would be
able to make really essential decisions because I still felt he had not
dealt with Ncube effectively. However in March 2008 Tsvangirai's idea of
dealing with Ncube was brought into full action in the form of a resounding
rejecting of the Bulawayo legislator by his own people. The people dealt
with Ncube according to Tsvangirai's political manual.
The other faction was never about Mutambara because he was not and is still
not the one in charge. Instead, it is Ncube who is in charge and this is why
even after losing his parliamentary seat he is still commanding a lot of
essential duties. No matter what happens from now and how the protracted
negotiations between the MDC and ZANU PF would be concluded, it has been
made abundantly clear that at least Tsvangirai has taken the right stance on
the kind of power arrangements that need to be made between the MDC and ZANU
PF post March 29. This is what has won a lot of former Tsvangirai doubters
over to his side. At the moment there are a lot of people who do not
necessarily belong to the MDC but are firmly behind Tsvangirai. These are
people who were never on his side before March 2008.
The tide of protest support that the MDC has been riding on for years has
been significantly turned into real support as a result of the very
nationalist stance that Tsvangirai has taken to conclude our very long
overdue crisis. As a result Zimbabwe is a much more unified country from the
one it was before the March poll and had Tsvangirai taken over then, he was
going to inherit a very porous country than the one he will surely take over
anytime now. However, this is politics and these talks have to be handled
with care because Mugabe is proving to be as relentless as ever.
In the next part I will be explaining why I supported Makoni's campaign.
This is the campaign that also helped to show the extent of Tsvangirai's
popularity and I will be exploring more.
Silence Chihuri is a Zimbabwean who writes from Scotland. He can be
contacted on 07706376705 or firstname.lastname@example.org
By PanAfrican Visions - panafricanvisions.com
Feature Article | Sat, 30 Aug 2008
By Tunji Ajibade*
Europe often sets the pace. That includes economics and politics. Its
continental union, the EU, didn't start out with the latter in the closing
years of the 1950s.
It did with the former. Economy of scale was a strong motive. But it wasn't
the only one. A political union was left in the bag. That time, going it
alone economically was deemed to be to the disadvantage of small nations. A
large economic community made sense. It did to European nations that stood
no chance of competing with the likes of United States of America which
economy was a raging bull in the post-war years.
Yet some nations remained suspicious of such an association. Britain was
one. It stayed out for many years. The possibility of losing its national
sovereignty was the concern. Then the political union card was brought out
of the bag and the EU was born. 'One Europe' that does things from a central
point, have standardized rules, effectively a continental state is in the
making. The EU has become a politico-economic model that other continents
are copying. Africa is one of them.
When the AU was ushered into existence a couple of years back, travelling on
the EU highway was the intention. When it met last year, however, majority
of its members shied away from forging ahead full steam to form the United
States of Africa that some AU leaders called for.
Old talk of integrating first at the regional level and gradually move on to
a united continent was the shell into African leaders retreated. Last June,
the Southern African region's SADC made much noise about the efforts it is
making towards integrating specified matters at its own end. West Africa's
ECOWAS sang much the same when its leaders met weeks back. In East Africa,
the drumbeat has the same tone and rhythm. When fifty-three members of the
AU gathered in Egypt days back, bread and butter issues such as an AU court
and something close to the same with respect to human rights were at the two
ends of their menu list. And there were a host of other issues ranging from
water to Darfur in-between. But Zimbabwe overshadowed them all. The
situation in that Southern African country was such that a UN Deputy
Secretary General came to lecture AU leaders about it. Accepting what
Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe had done in his country would send a dangerous
signal across the African continent, she had warned.
It was not as if African leaders were blind to what happened in Zimbabwe.
But they were such set of leaders that they could not tell Mugabe to stay
away from their gathering. In fact, when the host of the AU meeting, Hosni
Mubarak of Egypt spoke, he mentioned every flash spot on the continent but
left out Zimbabwe. The vocal Zambian president who had condemned what
happened in Zimbabwe before he arrived Egypt for the meeting took ill and
ended up in hospital bed. Liberia's woman president made her displeasure
known. Botswana's president too did the same. Kenya's Prime Minister, Rhaila
Odinga, a victim of the ruling party gimmicks in his own country and
speaking from Nairobi lambasted AU leaders for allowing Mugabe to sit with
them. Other leaders were less direct. It is understandable. Only a few of
them have good democratic credentials.
In the end, AU leaders only resolved that Mugabe talk to the opposition,
share power with them and come up with a government of national unity. But
would it be headed by Mugabe? In that case a formula is already provided for
other sit-tight rulers across the continent.
It worth pointing out that what happened in the present context is larger
than Zimbabwe. For how AU deals with political and political transition
problem such as this will affect whatever the union sets out to achieve.
It's clear that all other items on AU's menu list for integration can't come
through when the leadership invites political instability by their failure
to adhere to civilized democratic standards.
What meaningful integration can AU achieve in economic and social or human
rights terms when its member states are trouble spots, made so by the
unending rule of the likes of Cameroon's Paul Biya, Chad's Idris Derby,
Burkina Faso's Blaise Compaore, Gambia's Yaya Jammeh, Egypt's Hosni Mubarak,
Uganda's Yoweri Museveni, Kenya's Mwai Kibaki, and Zimbabwe's Mugabe among
Staying put in power by any means apart from the wishes of the people is one
thing EU member states have overcome. It's a major factor in whatever
progress the union has made in other areas in their move toward one Europe.
The AU cannot wish it away. It's strange how the African continent copies
good things only to conveniently bastardize them. Peer review mechanism was
an idea in the early days of AU. It was closely linked with the New
Partnership for Africa (NEPAD) arrangement. It was meant to checkmate
excesses, set minimum standard of governance as well as monitor progress
made in agreed areas among AU members.
Significantly, the leaders that initiated it were the first to break the
rules. Nigeria's former President Olusegun Obasanjo who was at the forefront
of NEPAD initiative, for instance, tried to extend his term in office. He
could have got away with it. He didn't. Others did. Many still do - by using
diverse gimmicks. But must they be allowed to get away with it? This is
where some form of standard simply needs to be set and stuck to by AU.
The EU begrudges no European leader the right to rule for long periods. How
they came about their democratic mandate is what borders Brussels. It is
difficult for any politician to fraudulently tamper with the electoral
process. All in all however, who stays or goes out of office is decided in
free and fair elections. It is the wish of the people that prevails. Free
and fair elections as well as performance are two factors that have come
together to produce the quality of governance enjoyed by EU members.
If there must be a turn around in everything negative Failure on the part of
members should be met with stiff sanctions. The EU ensures this. It is one
reason Turkey is still out in the cold. The argument among African leaders
that foot-drag, claiming they want to resolve blatant misrule by their
fellows the African way is a waste of everyone's time. This laid-back
approach should discarded.
*The Writer can be reached at,email@example.com
By PanAfrican Visions - panafricanvisions.com
Feature Article | Sat, 30 Aug 2008
By Herbert Ekwe-Ekwe
DESPITE the unprecedented overdrive of its diplomatic pressure on African
heads of regime during the recent African Union assembly in Egypt, Britain
failed abysmally to persuade the summit to condemn Zimbabwe's June 2008
rigged elections. For the Brown administration, this failure was a
disappointing anticlimax in a season of sustained publicity blitz across
Britain in which the state and media found a rare common purpose and a
convergence of opinion on the subject of the demonisation of Robert Mugabe.
The typecasting was unmistakeably swift and assured: Mugabe became the
purveyor or indeed inventor of election rigging in Africa, the grotesque
human rights violator, the quintessential, fiendishly-sutured African
Even provincial newspaper editors and commentators as well as their radio
and television counterparts, usually concerned with more mundane local
issues, became instant experts on Mugabe and Mugabeism - such was the frenzy
of the times! Thanks to this bizarre British offering of "African history"
of the past 50 years, the plaque of shame that lists the cabal of Africa's
notorious heads of regime and genocidist personages of the age appear
casually erased for the occasion: Muhammed, Gowon, Danjuma, al-Bashir, Idi
Amin, Mengistu, Bokassa, Awolowo, Buhari, Compaore, Aminu, Eyadema, Haruna,
Mobutu, Toure, Enaharo, Abubakar, Akinrinade, Patasse, Obasanjo, Are, King,
Habre, Adekunle, Ayida, Ali, Babangida ...
The irony of the awkward bind in which Britain currently finds itself in the
Zimbabwe saga is fascinating. Britain is absolutely right that Mugabe rigged
those elections. But everybody knows that. The African "leaders" at the
Sharm el Sheikh summit also know that. More importantly though, they also
know that, like Mugabe, each and everyone of them (total of 53 heads of
regime), except, possibly, the leaderships of Senegal, Botswana, Ghana and
South Africa, is presently head or beneficiary of a rigged
election/no-election regime. Not even Hosni Mubarak, the host of the
gathering, could distinguish between a rigged election and one designated
"free"/"fair". It is therefore not surprising that, on the eve of the
conference, Mugabe dramatically capitalised on these well-known facts on
bogus elections-that-"elect"-bogus leaders in Africa and dared any of his
fellow summiteers to criticise his own signature of poll rigging!
Hardly anyone of them took up that challenge. In the end, it was left to
Britain, a supposedly non-member of the AU, to lobby delegates hard in hotel
suites, conference hall, committee rooms and corridors to sign up to its
"Mugabe illegitimate re-election" resolution quest but without success. For
African "leaders" and quite a few other observers, Britain still had to
explain the rationale for its policy of pick and choose from Africa's
rigged-election catalogue. Whilst it recognised and fraternises with the
regimes that emerged from the rigged elections in Nigeria (April 2007) and
Kenya (December 2007), it demonises and wants the rest of the world to
ostracise the regime that took power after the rigged poll in Zimbabwe (June
Yet, no independent assessments of the three "polls" have shown that the
charade in Zimbabwe was any worse than either the one in Nigeria or in
Kenya. This is the case if one evaluates the comparative data available on
the three countries focusing particularly on such key indices as a
competitive environment for all contestants and their affiliate
organisations, genuine and free access to vital campaign resources including
the ability to form independent political parties, raise finance, access to
publicly-owned media outlets for party broadcasts and advertising, access to
private media institutions, unhindered campaigns in time and space,
intimidation, pre-"poll" levels of violence, "poll" day/post-"poll" day
levels of violence, number of persons murdered, number of persons injured,
homes/other properties damaged or destroyed, displacement of persons, and
the overall state of stability and security within the country in the
aftermath of the "poll".
On the very crucial subject of fatality in these "polls", for instance, more
Africans were murdered in Kenya than in Zimbabwe; more Africans were
murdered in Nigeria than in Zimbabwe. Finally, it should be stressed here
that for the regime in Nigeria, unlike its counterparts in Kenya and indeed
Zimbabwe, its April 2007 "election" was nothing short of a military
campaign - aptly, albeit ominously code-named "operation do-or-die" by
regime head Olusegun Obasanjo, a genocidist general in the Nigeria army
during the 1966-1970 Igbo genocide. This was Obasanjo's third election
rigging in eight years.
Except Britain is perhaps much more concerned with the destiny of Africans
in election-rigging Zimbabwe than those in the rest of other equally
election-rigging African countries which include Nigeria and Kenya, the June
2008 rigged presidential poll in Zimbabwe does not, in itself, sufficiently
explain the basis of the present British hostility to Robert Mugabe. One of
the myths peddled along the stream of mutual propaganda by both sides in
this crisis is to exaggerate the timeframe of the "confrontation". Contrary
to current popular perception, Mugabe has generally had a close and warm
relationship with successive British governments during most of his 28 years
of absolutist power. Few African "leaders" of comparable disposition have
had such ties with Britain in recent history.
We mustn't forget that the overwhelming majority of victims of Mugabe's
ruthless rule, right from the outset, have been Africans. In 1982-83, two
years after he came to power following the "restoration" of Zimbabwean
independence, Mugabe ordered the notorious Gukurahundi or the 5th brigade of
his military forces to embark on a devastating, murderous campaign against
the Ndebele people in the south of the country. A total of 20000 Ndebele
were slaughtered during the pogrom. Mugabe essentially assumed supreme
political power across Zimbabwe after these murders. The Ndebele were the
core electoral constituency for the ZAPU liberation movement, which, in
alliance with Mugabe's ZANU, had won the pre-"restoration" of independence
election organised and supervised by Britain.
At the time of the Ndebele massacre, the British still exercised some
administrative "oversight" on Zimbabwean security and land resources, an
important feature of the "restoration" of independence settlement worked out
in London in 1979/early 1980. Britain was therefore fully aware of the
Ndebele atrocity. The Gukurahundi campaign was comprehensively and
extensively covered across the world's media then. In 1984, barely one year
after the Gukurahundi outrage, the prestigious Edinburgh University awarded
Mugabe an honorary degree for "services to education in Africa".
Ten years later, the Zimbabwean "leader" made an official visit to London.
The British state used the grand occasion to crown its special relationship
with Mugabe by awarding him the prestigious knighthood, Knight Grand Cross
in the Order of Bath (Following the June 2008 revocation of this honour,
there was consternation and disappointment among some in African-centred
intellectual circles in Britain who were unaware that Mugabe had all along,
until very recently, been a proud recipient of British knighthood!).
This cosy relationship began souring in the late 1990s. The Blair government
that took office in 1997 reneged on making the annual British financial
payment to the Mugabe regime (that had been paid since 1980 - part of the
London pre-"restoration" of independence settlement) to enable it engage in
the perverse venture of "buying back" African lands expropriated by the
British invasion of Zimbabwe during the course of the previous century.
Mugabe responded by implementing a "land recovery programme", which should
have been part of the strategic goal of the liberation project back in 1980.
The Mugabe "version" being executed 20 years later was clearly
opportunistic, a hardly disguised stratagem for the personal survival of a
dictator! The compelling lesson of the belated Mugabe-British discord
couldn't be clearer: Mugabe could murder and murder as many Africans in
Zimbabwe and trample on their other human rights as he deemed fit but there
was a "red line" he mustn't cross - harm Europeans in Zimbabwe. For Britain,
Mugabe's "land recovery" exercise was just "land robbery" that harmed
Europeans in Zimbabwe. He had crossed that "red line" and must be punished.
It is not inconceivable that Britain decided to focus on the rigged Zimbabwe
poll, rather than address all the others in Africa, as the start to
challenging pervasive election-robbery in Africa. After all, one must start
somewhere! Maybe Premier Brown wants to re-launch a new "ethical foreign
policy" that focuses on Africa after the disastrous collapse of the one
initiated by his predecessor (Blair) in the late 1990s/early 2000s. Under
the aegis of the former, paradoxically, Britain, in the August-September
2001 conference on racism in South Africa, vehemently opposed African
peoples' calls for reparations from Britain for its central role in the
pan-European execution of the African holocaust and the phenomenal wealth it
accrued in the process.
In the same period, Britain emerged as the leading arms exporter to Africa,
now earning at least US$2 billion per annum. At the height of the dreadful
wars in the Africa Great Lakes region in 2000, Britain sold weapons to both
sides of the conflict. Charles Onyango-Obbo, the respected Ugandan
journalist, recalls: Britain ... supported both sides - it just robs them of
any moral authority and a lot of people rightly do despise the British
government in this affair.
To be continued
Dr. Ekwe-Ekwe is a leading scholar of the Igbo genocide, 1966, 1970
by Own Correspondent Saturday 30 August 2008
JOHANNESBURG - A Zimbabwean has been arrested in Australia after he
allegedly attempted to smuggle heroin into the country.
The Australian Customs Service said in a statement on Friday that if
convicted the 45-year-old Zimbabwean man, caught after an X-ray scan
revealed that he was carrying foreign objects in his stomach, faces up to 25
years in jail.
"It will be alleged in court that the man passed a total of 91 packages
containing approximately 800g of powder believed to be heroin," said the
statement, as the man was due to appear in the Perth Magistrates Court later
on Friday facing charges of importing a marketable quantity of a
Customs officials at Perth airport became suspicious that the man could be
concealing drugs internally following his conduct during a routine physical
examination of his baggage after arriving on a flight from South Africa on
The maximum penalty for this offence is 25 years imprisonment and/or a $550
Zimbabwe, which was once a model African economy, is in the grip of an
unprecedented economic recession that in addition to hyperinflation is also
seen in shortages of food, rising unemployment and poverty that has forced
millions to leave the country in search of greener pastures.
Western governments and the opposition MDC party blame President Robert
Mugabe - in power since 1980 - for ruining the economy through repression
and wrong policies.
Mugabe denies ruining the economy and instead says his country's problems
are because of sanctions and sabotage by Britain and its Western allies
opposed to his land reforms. - ZimOnline
Comment from The Mail & Guardian (SA), 29 August
Chief K Masimba Biriwasha
Harare, Zimbabwe's capital, is full of buildings that look like giant
matchboxes at night. Dusk was falling when, after attending a poetry session
at the Book Café - an artist's hangout at the edge of the city centre - I
decided to take a walk through the streets. They rang with the patter of
feet as the Saturday night crowds criss-crossed and changed direction.
Because I am carrying a backpack with a laptop and a top-of-the-range
camera, I keep glancing around to make sure that no mugger is lurking in the
shadows of the moonlit night. Fortunately, I soon walk into a street with
lamps that shower light onto the pavement. I feel safe. Two men standing
outside a city apartment/business office gesture at me and inquire about the
latest forex rates. When I tell them I'm not a forex dealer, one of the men
begins to wax lyrical about the qualitites of his favourite politician -
Morgan Tsvangirai. We chat, furtively, about politics for a while before I
bid him farewell and continue on my journey towards the rank to catch a
The dark has now fully gathered; around me the matchboxes look as if they're
waiting to explode under the weight of the nation's groaning. I cross a wide
street at a little trot to avoid being hit by a fleshy black Mercedes-Benz
that slides down the street at full speed. As I reach the other side, at the
edge of a street named Kwame Nkrumah, a tall soldier appears from nowhere
behind me, walking with wide strides. I almost miss a heartbeat, thinking he
is coming after me to confiscate the wide-lens camera in my backpack. I keep
my cool and he strides past; I try in vain to imitate his walk simply to
test if I have a soldier in me. I am lost in my soldier thoughts for a while
until a bald man beckons to me and asks for a match to light his cigarette.
I offer him one. We end up talking (dialogue is a currency on the streets)
about my pregnant wife and how our baby is due anytime now. Just then a text
message beeps on my cellphone. Perhaps this is "the call", I think, and I'm
instantly relieved that it is just a friend asking where I am. I walk
towards the Supreme Court. Opposite it stands a group of soldiers
silhouetted in the dark who suddenly scream loudly into the night that a
hare is crossing the street. For a moment, I stand frozen, wondering how on
earth a hare could have ended up in a city filled with rock-solid buildings,
until I notice that the so-called hare is just a cat. In fact, it's two
cats; one scampers away behind the court building and the other, on seeing
me, dashes towards the chuckling soldiers.
Cats have joined soldiers in my thoughts as I walk on quickly towards the
shop that sells one of the best things still available in Harare - ice
cream. It's usually packed, but surprisingly, tonight it is deserted.
Perhaps it's the price increase; overnight price hikes in Zimbabwe can bring
on a heart attack and new tactics have to be employed all the time. Anyway,
I purchase a huge cone of clear white ice cream that tastes like real cream;
of all the things in Zimbabwe, I daresay, the ice cream at that shop
competes with any other in the world. As I lick away, my photographer's eye
can't help but notice the post-election posters still plastered all over the
city walls. They're an eyesore given that the election was a stillborn. I go
for my camera to take a picture of the posters for posterity or perhaps just
to record a piece in the process of human history. At the back of my mind I
know I could get arrested and spend a night in jail in this
expression-stifled city if the police or soldiers see me. I put the camera
back. Walking on I suddenly sink into a mass of human flesh. On the
pavements are numerous men and women selling an assortment of agricultural
produce in season - it makes sense for them to trade at night because the
municipal police have already gone home. I buy a green maize cob for a total
of Z$20, approximately US$0,05. And then I careen my way through the madding
crowd, till finally I reach the rank where I find a minibus to take me home
through the Harare night.
Chief K Masimba Biriwasha is a children's author, poet, philosopher and
playwright. His first book The Dream of Stones won Zimbabwe's National Arts
Merit Award in 2004