Mbeki under pressure to come out clear on Zimbabwe loan Mon
8 August 2005
JOHANNESBURG - South African President Thabo Mbeki on
Sunday came under increasing pressure both from the opposition and from key
allies to come out clear on the preconditions for a US$500 million bailout
to troubled Zimbabwe.
South Africa's official opposition
Democratic Alliance (DA) party and the South African Communist Party (SACP)
- an ally of Mbeki's ruling African National Congress (ANC) party - in
separate statements demanded that Mbeki sets the record straight publicly on
the financial rescue package already provisionally approved by his
The two political parties spoke amid
reports the cash-for-reforms deal Pretoria is pushing could have hit a fresh
snag after President Robert Mugabe rejected a key South Africa condition to
restart stalled dialogue with the opposition to find a solution to
Zimbabwe's deepening political and economic crisis.
Tony Leon demanded Mbeki and his government stop their "cavalier disregard
for the wishes of taxpayers" and state clearly what conditions they had
attached to the loan, which Zimbabwe needs to pay off outstanding debt to
the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and to buy food and fuel, in critical
short supply in the country.
Leon said: "The money at stake belongs
to the South African people .unfortunately, the mixed messages being sent by
the President (Mbeki) and the Cabinet seem to indicate a cavalier disregard
for the wishes of the taxpayers and the needs of the public."
SACP secretary general Blade Nzimande told the Press Mbeki and his
government should attach "clear conditions to Zimbabwe" before any cash
could be released to help save the crisis-sapped country from total collapse
and expulsion by the IMF for nonpayment of debt.
SACP is part of a tripartite ruling alliance led by the ANC which also
includes the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU). His statement
was the first time a partner in the alliance has publicly called on Pretoria
to exercise caution in its efforts to help out Mugabe and his
COSATU, a harsh critic of Mugabe, has so far not
commented directly on the proposed loan while Mbeki and other top ANC and
government officials have emphasised more the need to bail out Zimbabwe
because South Africa would inherit a massive humanitarian crisis if its
northern neighbour collapsed.
South African government
spokesman Joel Netshitenzhe sought to downplay the issue of conditions when
he officially announced last week that Cabinet had "agreed in principle" to
loan money to Zimbabwe.
Netshitenzhe said the money would be given
in the context of an overall attempt to help revive Zimbabwe's economy as
well as resolve its political crisis but he said there were no conditions
attached insisting: "On principle we don't deal with other countries on the
basis of conditions".
However, media reports quoting unnamed
senior officials in Pretoria and Harare have indicated that South Africa was
demanding wide-ranging political and economic reforms before it could lend
money to Zimbabwe.
On the economic front, Pretoria is demanding a
revival of Zimbabwe's mainstay agricultural sector, after it was
destabilised by Mugabe's chaotic seizure of land from white farmers.
Pretoria also wants Harare to review its monetary policies especially its
dual exchange rate policy.
South Africa wants efforts to
resuscitate Zimbabwe's economy aided by reforms on the political front, key
of which would be resumption of talks between Mugabe's ruling ZANU PF party
and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party to find a
negotiated and democratic solution to the country's political
Pretoria has also asked Harare to repeal harsh media and
security laws that have been used in the past three years to silence the
independent media and other alternative voices.
Reserve Bank governor Tito Mboweni and Finance Minister Trevor Manuel are
said to have given Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor Gideon Gono and Finance
Minister Herbert Murerwa up to a week to secure Harare's signature on the
deal or it collapses.
But Mugabe and top ZANU PF officials have in
the past week publicly insisted they will not be railroaded into
negotiations with the MDC with unconfirmed reports suggesting Mugabe had
told Murerwa and Gono to tell the South African to "keep their money should
they insist on their conditions." - ZimOnline
SA church aid for Zimbabwe clean-up victims still held up in
Jo'burg Mon 8 August 2005
JOHANNESBURG - Three trucks
transporting aid to Zimbabweans displaced during a controversial government
clean-up operation are still held up in Johannesburg , South Africa after
the Harare authorities demanded permits before allowing in the
Ron Steel, a spokesperson for the South African Council of
Churches (SACC) which organised the aid, said the Harare authorities were
demanding a certificate that the food being transported to Zimbabwe was not
"We are also waiting for a letter from
the Zimbabwean government granting us a duty permit for the goods and
clearance for the vehicles," Steele said.
bureaucratic hurdles for the South African churches to deliver aid are in
sharp contrast to statements by Zimbabwean government officials that they
would accept aid for victims of the clean-up operation.
Zimbabwe 's State Security and Lands Minister Didymus Mutasa said Harare
would not bar South African churches from delivering the aid to thousands of
people displaced during the clean-up operation.
But Mutasa accused
the churches of pushing a political agenda under the guise of
The churches dispatched about 6 000 blankets and 37 tonnes of
food to be distributed to the most vulnerable groups throughout the country
as part of "Operation Hope for Zimbabwe ."
Two separate South
African church delegations visited Zimbabwe last month to assess the
clean-up operation. They immediately announced plans to launch a massive
humanitarian relief effort for the Zimbabweans.
At least 700 000
people were rendered homeless after the government demolished thousands of
homes and backyard cottages in a massive clean-up campaign the authorities
said was necessary to restore order and smash a thriving parallel market in
basic commodities and scarce foreign currency.
The United Nations
in a hard-hitting report issued last month criticised the military-style
operation saying it violated the rights of the poor. South Africa's
President Thabo Mbeki who met the church leaders after their fact-finding
mission to Zimbabwe has also demanded a halt to the evictions. -
Zimbabwe says not aware of US ambassador's visit Mon 8
JOHANNESBURG - The Zimbabwe government at the weekend
said they were not aware of a visit tomorrow by United States (US)
ambassador to the United Nations Agencies for Food and Agriculture Tony
A press release by the US embassy in Harare said Hall will
arrive in Harare tomorrow for a five-day visit to assess the food
and humanitarian crisis in Zimbabwe.
"Ambassador Hall will be
visiting Harare as well as Zimbabwe's Eastern Highlands in order to observe
the current food and security situation in Zimbabwe," said the
Hall is expected to meet government officials,
representatives from the World Food Programme and non-governmental
organisations during the visit.
But the Harare authorities insist
they are not aware of the US ambassador's visit.
secretary for foreign affairs Joey Bimha said: "We are not aware of his
visit. They have not officially informed us about the visit. We don't
know anything (about the visit)," Bimha said.
year economic crisis worsened last month with severe shortages of food and
fuel threatening to ground the country to a halt. Harare is desperately
negotiating a loan deal with neighbouring South Africa. About four million
people are in urgent need of food aid to avert starvation.
US and other Western governments blame the food crisis on President Robert
Mugabe's seizure five years ago of productive farmland from the
minority whites for redistribution to landless blacks.
controversial demolition of thousands of houses and backyard cottages two
months ago during a clean-up operation also worsened the country's
At least 700 000 people were thrown onto the
streets during the clean-up operation, according to a scathing report by
United Nations special envoy Anna Tibaijuka.
The US, church
and human rights groups and other Western governments roundly criticised the
operation as a violation of the rights of the poor.
Mugabe has defended the clean-up exercise saying it was necessary to restore
the beauty of cities and towns. The Zimbabwean leader also said the
campaign was necessary to smash a thriving parallel market in
foreign currency and basic commodities. - ZimOnline
Mugabe's shameful apologists By Nat Hentoff August
Many more black citizens of Zimbabwe -- who
have suffered for years under the dictatorial rule of Robert Mugabe -- are
now without hope of liberation. On July 22, London's Daily Telegraph
reported: "Armed riot police and youth militia of Zimbabwe's ruling Zanu PF
Party are rounding up homeless people who have sought refuge in church
compounds." They are among the more than 700,000 victims of Mr. Mugabe's
"Operation Restore Order," that as the July 24 International Herald Tribune
reports has bulldozed "shacks, workshops and market stalls across Zimbabwe's
urban center." (Many of the now-homeless adults in such neighborhoods voted
against Mr. Mugabe in the last government-rigged election.) Miloon Kothari,
special rapporteur on adequate housing at the U.N. Commission on Human
Rights, told the June 11 New York Times that suicides are rising as the
desperate displaced people "just have nowhere to go." A stinging
200-page U.N. report by Kajumulo Tibaijuka, an expert in rural economics
from Tanzania, emphasizes that the Mugabe government's "indifference to
human suffering" has been caused by "a disastrous venture based on a set of
colonial-era laws and policies that were [under white rule] used as a tool
of segregation and social exclusion." (But strangely, she does not target
Mr. Mugabe directly as the cause of this suffering.) Recently, on a
liberal New York radio station, WBAI, I was describing how Mr. Mugabe has
caused an unemployment rate of 70 percent, ruinous inflation, the pervasive
decline of Zimbabwe's once bountiful harvests and the savage punishment of
dissenters inflicted by his merciless youth militia. A caller to the radio
station identified himself as an American black pastor and a human-rights
activist around the world. He admonished me for not giving Mr. Mugabe
credit for rescuing Zimbabwe from having been "a white-ruled plantation." I
told him the country still is a plantation -- ruled by a black
master. Also scandalous in these crimes against the people of Zimbabwe is
the silence of the African Union, formed five years ago to prove that the
continent can take care of its own problems and protect economic, political
and human rights. A July 7 front-page story in the Financial Times
began: "Kofi Annan yesterday urged African leaders to break their silence
over actions by governments, such as Zimbabwe's, that were undermining the
continent's credibility in the eyes of the world." The U.N.
secretary-general emphasized: "What is lacking on the continent is [a
willingness] to comment on wrong policies in a neighboring country." But in
the same article, Olusegun Obasanjo, president of Nigeria and presently the
chairman of the African Union, defiantly said he would "not be a part" of
any public condemnation of Mr. Mugabe. Moreover, as The New York
Times reported on July 6: "Tanzania, Namibia and Zambia are among those
[African nations] that have praised Mr. Mugabe's economic policies in recent
months," or even more appallingly, "have stopped protesters from criticizing
them." Also insistently silent on the rampant ferocity of the Mugabe regime
is Thabo Mbeki, president of South Africa, who has long claimed he is
pursuing "quiet diplomacy" in his dealings with Mr. Mugabe. His
"diplomacy" is so quiet that its alleged results have not reached these
black citizens in Harare described in the June 11 issue of The Economist,
after the government obliterated their neighborhood: "A barefoot widow and
her two children stand in the ruins of their shack, their meager belongings
gathered under plastic sheets... they now sleep in the open with nothing to
protect them from Harare's bitter cold. With tears in her eyes and a broken
voice, she shows a lease and receipts for rents she has paid. "I have
nowhere to go," she laments." (Mr. Mugabe says the demolitions have ended,
but the government has said that before. In any case, he is again
responsible for ruthless crimes against his own people.) They have
also been abandoned by the justly venerated Nelson Mandela, who has marred
his autumnal years by refusing to say a word in criticism of Mr. Mugabe. I
asked an African, a longtime human-rights worker concerning the continent,
why Mr. Mandela will not speak, when his condemnation of this horrifying
injustice would, should he offer it, reverberate around the world.
The human-rights worker replied that Mr. Mandela still sees Mr. Mugabe "as a
liberator of his nation in the long, bitter struggle on the continent in
which so many, including Mandela, suffered so much. He will not condemn this
man." Jean-Claude Shanda Tonme of Cameroon, a consultant on international
law, wrote in the July 15 New York Times: "What is at issue is an Africa
where dictators kill, steal and usurp power yet are treated like heroes at
meetings of the African Union." What will debt relief for (some of) these
rulers do for the widow and her two children in Harare who have no place to
go? Their condition cannot be reported in Zimbabwe's two largest,
independent and best-selling newspapers, the Daily News and the Sunday Daily
News. Now silent, their licenses to publish remain denied by Mr.
Mugabe. Once again, the African Union, like the United Nations, has been
Nyakazeya THE Consumer Council of Zimbabwe's July monthly consumer basket for
a low-income urban family of six increased by 27 percent to $5,4 million
from the June figure of $4,2 million.
The consumer's purchasing power
is fast eroding due to the continuously escalating prices of basic
The latest rise was largely propelled by increases in both
food and non-food items, following adjustments in the price of fuel and the
Biggest movers were washing soap, which increased by 247,8
percent, bathing soap 189,2 percent, transport 60 percent and rice 60,4
Fresh milk went up by 41,5 percent, clothing and footwear 76,6
percent, roller meal and rent 11,1 percent and cooking oil 50 percent,
posing a threat to the expenditure patterns of ordinary
The country's inflation rate is currently running at 164
Presenting his mid-term monetary policy review statement last
month, Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor Dr Gideon Gono called on all
stakeholders to work together in the fight against inflation, which the bank
maintains will be contained to about 80 percent by the end of
"The increase in the basket can also be explained by the
prevalence of the black market, which is giving ready access to commodities
such as sugar, cooking oil, mealie-meal, flour, soap and fuel which have
disappeared from the formal market.
"The consumer low-income urban
monthly budget for a family of six shows that many families are increasingly
vulnerable to poverty and hunger as shortages of basic commodities continue
unabated and price adjustments occur daily," an economic commentator
The basket is calculated by averaging the prices of goods in
selected retail outlets across the country's major urban centres. The
surveys are conducted twice a month.
Economists said although the
increases enabled industry to operate profitably, the average famiy was
going to find it difficult to make ends meet.
"The increases are
likely to add more woes to the ordinary consumer, against an environment
characterised by a decline in the purchasing power of the dollar. The
increases have already depressed the consumer's expenditure
"The real value of the local currency continues to plummet as
a result of black-market activities and the inflation challenge," said one
analyst on Friday.
CCZ said it was disheartened by the continued
shortage of basic commodities and the exorbitant prices at which goods were
being sold and would ensure appropriate action was taken against anyone
found on the wrong side of the law.
In a report on the shortage of
basic commodities last month, the consumer watchdog said the supply of
bread, flour, cooking oil, toothpaste, bath and washing soaps, milk and
mealie-meal had remained intermittent in the last six months. The list of
scarce commodities was growing by the day much to the chagrin of
In the report CCZ said manufacturers of basic commodities
interviewed attributed the current shortages mainly to foreign currency
constraints and viability problems which "have seen the majority of them
working below 50 percent, and therefore failing to meet the demand for
"Despite the recent review in the price of basic commodities,
their supply remains irregular. Last month all brands of locally produced
laundry and bath soap joined the long list of shortages, opening the
floodgates for imported products," CCZ said.
The Consumer Council
said it observed that many producers are increasingly evading controlled
products by supplying the market with expensive substitutes, which probably
gave them better returns.
"This is being witnessed in the bread,
mealie-meal and flour industries where producers now make more expensive
bread and fancy cakes at the expense of ordinary bread and super refined
mealie-meal instead of roller meal."
On the other hand, cake flour was
more readily available than plain flour.
As far as CCZ is concerned,
producers need to justify their increases. Proposals for further increases
are said to be before the Ministry of Industry and International
The last meeting on price increases was held in May, but the
guidelines have largely been ignored, the report said.
retailers are just charging prices as they deem fit. If you confront some of
them over incessant increases they argue that it is because their suppliers
had increased prices. This means that business is dialoguing in bad
"Stakeholders are not being truthful to each other, and for as
long the situation remains like that, the economic turnaround will be a
mirage, because people are not genuinely supporting it," the report
How Zim will spend SA's R3.2bn 07/08/2005 11:02 -
Johannesburg - An agreement has been reached
between SA and Zimbabwe about a loan of up to half a billion US dollars to
assist the country to deal with its economic meltdown.
City Press the meeting between SA and Zimbabwean treasury officials on
Thursday was short and there was agreement on all issues, including SA's
prerequisites on assistance.
Government spokesperson Joel Netshitenzhe
confirmed that a meeting between officials of the two countries took place
this week. He said details of the meeting were not a subject for media
Zimbabwean government spokesperson George Charamba was
unavailable for comment on Saturday.
Zimbabwe asked for a $1-billion
loan last month. The SA Cabinet this week approved the loan request in
principle. Netshitenzhe told the media on Wednesday that the amount that
would be granted would be "far less than the $1-billion".
has established from highly reliable sources that in terms of the draft
agreement, Zimbabwe will have a loan facility of between $200 and $500
About $160 million of this will be used to repay the
International Monetary Fund arrears immediately after the signing of the
agreement, while the rest will finance much-needed resources for the
country, such as fuel, seeds and fertilisers for the approaching planting
Payments will be phased: the IMF arrears will be paid
immediately, and the rest would be dependent on Zimbabwe's acceptance of
prerequisites and their implementation.
These include an insistence
that the money be used to create a sustainable economic recovery programme
and unlocking the political logjam, senior SA government sources said
"The idea is to ensure that they do not come back next year
with the same problem," one source said.
It is understood SA is not
insisting on the resumption of talks with the MDC but rather emphasising the
need "to interact with all roleplayers to ensure economic and political
"It is wrong to think that the SA government can tell the
Zimbabean government who to talk to, but what is being said is that there
was a draft constitution produced following talks between government and
other parties that would unlock the political logjam and we think it should
be implemented," a source said.
Other issues that SA is insisting on
include freedom of the media and of association. Zimbabwe has up to the end
of the month before its membership of the IMF is ended and this means the
agreement would have to be signed at the earliest this week or within the
next two weeks to unlock the money. President Robert Mugabe went to China
two weeks ago for financial help but has seemingly failed to secure
The militant rhetoric from both Mugabe and his Cabinet colleagues
that they would not accept financial help with strings attached has been
dismissed as posturing to the public.
SA officials say the monitoring
of implementation of the agreement was going to be crucial as they feared
that Mugabe might renege. Thus, money other than that going to the IMF,
would be linked to phases of the implementation of the
This would mean the talks "with all roleplayers" would have to
begin and legislative drafts to ensure a free media and free political
process have to be tabled in parliament before funds are released. The
implementation of the draft constitution also needs legislative chnages to
the structure of government and these would have to be tabled before
"Sometimes one gets the impression that the Zimbabweans feel
that because we (SA) cannot allow a total breakdown in their country in our
own national interest, then they can take advantage of that and promise
things they later do not do. That time is gone," another senior source
Books of The Times | 'The Fate of Africa' Africa and
Its Rapacious Leaders
By JANET MASLIN Published: August 8,
The Fate of Africa: A History of 50 Years of Independence By
Martin Meredith Illustrated. 752 pages. Public Affairs. $35.
words of an African proverb cited in Martin Meredith's Sisyphean new volume:
"You never finish eating the meat of an elephant." That thought is summoned
by the overwhelmingly difficult assignment that this historian, biographer
and journalist has given himself. He has set out to present a panoramic view
of African history during the past half century, and to contain all its
furious upheaval in a single authoritative volume.
Everything about this
subject is immense: the idealism, megalomania, economic obstacles, rampant
corruption, unimaginable suffering (AIDS, famine, drought and genocide are
only its better-known causes) and hopelessly irreconcilable differences
leading to endless warfare. "The rebels cannot oust the Portuguese and the
Portuguese can contain but not eliminate the rebels," read a typically bleak
1969 American assessment of a standoff in Guinea-Bissau. For the author,
even organizing this information is a hugely daunting job. How can such vast
amounts of information be analyzed for the reader? One way was to follow
parallel developments in different places - which is more or less how Mr.
Meredith works, with attention to the hair-trigger ways in which one coup or
crisis could set off subsequent disasters. He is able to steer the book
firmly without compromising its hard-won clarity.
He might just as easily
have divided the book's terrain into geographical regions and studied each
one chronologically. But one of his initial points is that even the
boundaries that once defined African nations lacked legitimacy. When
European colonial powers carved up the continent - in the so-called
"Scramble for Africa" - late in the 19th century, the British prime
minister, Lord Salisbury, remarked, "We have been giving away mountains and
rivers and lakes to each other, only hindered by the small impediment that
we never knew exactly where they were."
"The Fate of Africa" does not
even attempt to deal with such past outrages. In fact, its lack of range
beyond the author's designated half century is a liability. But Mr. Meredith
wisely begins his narrative on Feb. 9, 1951, a pivotal date in the history
of what was then Britain's Gold Coast (but would soon reclaim its earlier
name, Ghana). On that day the political prisoner Kwame Nkrumah was elected
to political office as Britain began fulfilling its promises for the
country's self-determination. Four days later, Nkrumah was designated the
new prime minister. And the cycle this book describes - from the shadow of
colonialism to the bloom of self-government, onward to tyranny, profiteering
and vicious internecine warfare - had begun.
"What is so striking about
the 50-year period since independence is the extent to which African states
have suffered so many of the same misfortunes," Mr. Meredith writes, making
the book's most striking point. So he must present many differently nuanced
versions of the same story. Once the founding fathers, idealists and
ideologues like Nkrumah (a lonely figure who shared an unlikely friendship
with Queen Elizabeth) give way to a new breed of authority, the book becomes
heavily dominated by the self-styled giant: "a flamboyant, autocratic
figure, accustomed to living in style and demanding total
Africa has produced many different versions of this figure.
And their collective tenacity has been extraordinary: by the end of the
1980's, Mr. Meredith points out, "not a single African head of state in
three decades had allowed himself to be voted out of office." Instead, these
dictators - figures as different as Haile Selassie of Ethiopia, Idi Amin of
Uganda, Gnassingbé Eyadéma of Togo and Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, who has
boastfully called himself a tougher version of Adolf Hitler - "strutted the
stage, tolerating neither opposition nor dissent, rigging elections,
emasculating the courts, cowing the press, stifling the universities,
demanding abject servility and making themselves exceedingly
There is more than enough ignominy to go around. But the book
reserves a special distinction for Jean-Bedel Bokassa of the Central African
Republic, whose reign "combined not only extreme greed and personal violence
but delusions of grandeur unsurpassed by any other African leader."
Bokassa's coronation in 1977 cost $22 million and took place in a country
with only 260 miles of paved roads.
Although Mr. Meredith finds a few
bright spots of economic viability (Botswana), uplift (South Africans coming
out in droves to vote for Nelson Mandela's presidency), noble characters
(the poet-president Léopold Senghor in Senegal) and worthwhile leadership
(Vice President John Garang, the former rebel leader whose death in a
helicopter accident last week set off paroxysms of grief in Sudan), almost
all of his book involves copiously documented evidence of rampant graft and
This account might be accused of reckless
pessimism if it were not so well documented. Sources here include African
writers (Chinua Achebe, Wole Soyinka), fellow journalists with African
expertise (Michela Wrong, Philip Gourevitch) and reports by Human Rights
Watch and the United Nations Commission on Human Rights. Joseph Conrad, who
knew something about the heart of darkness, is cited too.
of Africa" is all too eventful. General Amin may have been the most
infamous, crocodile-fancying thug of his day, but he occupies only a few of
this book's 700-odd pages. Also to be found here are France's struggle with
Algeria (the subject of 3,000 books and 35 films, according to the author);
the role and martyrdom of Patrice Lumumba in the Congo; Che Guevara's
frustrating foray into Africa after Cuba's revolution; the first stirrings
of an Islamic jihad in Africa; and the disastrous miscalculations behind
American intervention in Somalia.
Mr. Meredith's frequent claim is that
complicated African problems have been exploited and oversimplified for the
benefit of the wider world. He points to rampant misconceptions that Hutu
refugees were the victims, not the perpetrators, of Rwandan genocide. He
sees a cynical political component to highly publicized starvation in places
including Ethiopia and Biafra. The book underscores the frustration of
famine relief organizations in trying to deal with governments cynical
enough to use starvation as both photo opportunity and military
As for its title, "The Fate of Africa" finds woe there too. "Far
from being able to provide aid and protection to their citizens," he writes,
"African governments and the vampirelike politicians who run them are
regarded by the populations they rule as yet another burden they have to
bear in the struggle for survival."
OPPOSITION party leader Morgan Tsvangirai has said the
Zimbabwean government was posturing when it refused last week to resume
talks with the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) as a prerequisite for a
South African $1bn bale-out package.
The MDC leader said the
government was desperate, and had no option but to accept SA's conditions
for the loan.
Tsvangirai said in an interview on Friday that his
party was in the midst of considering new strategies of "resistance" to the
ruling Zanu (PF) party.
The MDC has come under increasing internal and
external pressure in the past few months for its failure to confront the
government on its brutal Operation Murambatvina.
The United Nations,
among others, has said about 700000 people have lost their homes and
livelihoods in the crackdown.
Tsvangirai said that in view of the
desperate situation in which the Zimbabwe government found itself, it was in
no position to reject SA's conditions.
"No one is prepared to bale
them out but SA and they have no option but to accept conditions. They are
perpetuating the defiance. They are perpetuating the stalemate," he
"It puts the South Africans in a very enviable position of
having to withdraw the loan when they know the loan is the only way to
rescue the country from being a failed state.
"But it also puts the
burden on Zanu (PF) as if they were saying we don't care, we are prepared to
burn down the building," he said. "But this intransigence is just posturing.
They need the money."
Tsvangirai reinterated that his party was
willing to talk to Zanu (PF), but would be extremely wary of joining a
government of national unity between the two parties, a path known to be
favoured by SA.
"After all we did not form the MDC in partnership. We
formed the MDC to be judged on its own," he said.
the MDC was moving towards a new strategy of resistance to President Robert
Mugabe, but declined to give details of what this would
"For the past five years we have pursued various options
- election, litigation, mass action, and international diplomacy - but using
the electoral route has been unsuccessful in dislodging Mugabe. Let's accept
that. And what we have been doing over the last two or three months is to
re-strategise what options were available to us".
Last week Zanu
(PF) spokesman Nathan Shamuyarira said his government would not hold talks
with the MDC, and would "not be forced" to do so.
Last week congressional
bullying drove China to abandon its bid for Unocal, a small California-based
oil company. Anyone inclined to celebrate should focus on the likely sequel:
China will redouble its efforts to buy energy and other resources in shaky
developing countries. This will undermine Western efforts to promote
transparency and fight corruption there, damaging U.S. interests and values
far more than a Unocal takeover.
To see why this is so, begin with
China's motives. China wants to control supplies of oil and other
commodities because it's scared of price shocks; owning oil or other mineral
reserves provides anti-shock insurance. As Chinese economists argue, their
economy is extremely vulnerable to external shocks because it's extremely
open. The Unocal defeat is not going to stanch China's drive to buy foreign
China has two ways to do that. It can buy Western resource
companies: That was the Unocal strategy. Or it can do deals in resource-rich
developing countries, which tend to be plagued with corruption, human rights
abuses and other unsavory practices. To cite just two of many examples,
China has invested in Sudan and Zimbabwe, propping up both countries'
As far as Western interests are concerned,
these Chinese resource investments may sound like a marginal threat. But
they go to the heart of the most promising growth area in development
policy. Old development was based on aid and trade, but there's a limit to
how much aid poor countries can absorb, and trade isn't a panacea. New
development adds a third tool: a focus on governance and transparency in
poor countries and also, crucially, among the outside governments and firms
that deal with them.
Why are outsiders so important? Because the insiders
-- the poor countries themselves -- face a sort of Catch-22. You can urge a
corrupt government to reform itself, but its own corruption constitutes an
obstacle. You can dream up development projects to promote better
governance: training for judges, civil service reform, budget transparency
laws and so on. But how do you administer a project to improve public
administration when administration itself is the problem?
this Catch-22, outsiders have to begin by overhauling their own practices
and institutions. In the past five years or so, there's been remarkable
progress in this field -- much of it driven by newcomers to the development
scene such as Global Witness, a terrific activist group in London. Global
Witness and its allies are on the brink of persuading the development
establishment to give their agenda the priority it deserves. But their
momentum may be wrecked by China's post-Unocal resource strategy.
Witness's successes range from oil to timber to diamonds and from Indonesia
to Angola. On oil, the group has argued that while you can't wish away oil
corruption in a country such as Angola, you can require Western oil
companies to publish what they pay to the Angolan government so that
citizens have at least a theoretical chance to complain if it gets looted.
This argument has fathered something called the Extractive Industries
Transparency Initiative, a voluntary disclosure code sponsored by the
Global Witness has also pushed a good idea on
diamonds. You can't always stop limb-chopping rebels from capturing African
diamond mines, the group has argued, but you can at least try to prevent
Westerners from buying their gems and hence financing their butchery. This
argument is at the heart of the Kimberley Process, a scheme to track
diamonds as they move from legitimate mines to sorting centers in Antwerp to
your local jeweler; the aim is to ensure that the next earring you buy won't
finance gangs of killers. This activist idea has also won the eager support
of several Western governments.
Most recently, Global Witness has
been going after firms that make payments to dubious security forces. Again,
you can't realistically expect to turn Indonesia's army into a temple of
enlightenment, but you can at least hope that Western companies don't pay
for its corruption and brutality. Global Witness claims that the Indonesian
operation of Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold, a U.S. mining firm, has
paid large sums to individual police and military officers, including
$247,705 to a general with an uncertain human rights record. The group
argues that international accounting standards should in the future require
multinational companies to publish the details of their payments to security
So the field of internationally driven anti-corruption disclosure
is buzzing. But the weakness of these schemes is that they require
everyone's cooperation. If American and European companies reform their
behavior, this isn't going to be enough. Corrupt thugs in the poor world
will just do deals instead with companies that don't care about development
or human rights -- such as companies from China.
Hence the big
post-Unocal danger. China is going to be even hungrier for resource deals
than it was before, and the attempt to force higher standards of
transparency in poor countries is going to suffer. On a recent trip to
China, I asked several Westernized professors about their country's support
for Sudan's genocidal rulers. Not only did they betray no sympathy for
Global Witness's world view, they weren't even aware that Chinese
involvement in Sudan might be an international issue.
Calls increase for strict conditions on R3.2bn Zimbabwe
loan August 8, 2005
Political Bureau Calls on the government to
openly attach strict conditions to a massive loan to Zimbabwe have increased
amid conflicting reports on whether a draft agreement had been
Two diametrically opposed political camps, the SA
Communist Party and the Democratic Alliance yesterday appealed for stringent
political guarantees to accompany the loan of up to R3.2bn being negotiated
between South Africa and Zimbabwe.
Both also called for greater
openness around the deal. But the two parties differed on whether there was
a need for a life-line to President Robert Mugabe's government to help him
repay International Monetary Fund debt and kick-start economic
Government spokespersons could not be reached yesterday to
clarify conflicting weekend reports over the loan. A Sunday newspaper
reported that President Thabo Mbeki had given Mugabe an ultimatum to sign up
on a series of political reforms, including talks with the opposition and a
new constitution, before the money is released.
newspaper also reported that a draft loan agreement had already been
finalised during a meeting late last week in Pretoria between South African
and Zimbabwean treasury officials for the phased release of the money. Other
reports said Mugabe was resisting Mbeki's conditions for the loan and had
instructed his officials to tell South Africa to "go to hell" if Mbeki
insists on them.
Window on Africa - Mbeki must now play tough with Mugabe
and show results or show his cards August 8, 2005
The fog of South Africa's Zimbabwean diplomacy has
now become so dense that one can trust virtually nothing you hear or read
about it. Are we going to give Robert Mugabe's government a loan of $1
billion or $150 million, or something in between?
going to be any preconditions and, if so, what? Will they include the
all-important political conditions without which any economic reforms would
be unfounded and ultimately meaningless?
Who really knows. Perhaps
we will find out soon. Perhaps not. But almost everyone who takes an
interest in the country has now become terminally exasperated by quiet
diplomacy, which has been dragging on for five years while Zimbabwe slides
ever faster into oblivion.
And the fog has grown denser over the
last few weeks as the putative loans have been debated. The contradictions
multiply; President Thabo Mbeki promises action on Robert Mugabe's brutal
clean-up of the country's shacks and hawkers, but his foreign minister
Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma dismisses this as "an internal matter". Some
government officials insist that Zimbabwe's dire straits have now at last
presented South Africa with an opportunity to exert the influence it has
always wanted to.
Others say there will be no conditions. Then
Mbeki makes some remarkable statements exonerating Mugabe, including the
assertion that the origin of all his troubles is that, like an
overly-generous uncle, he spent too much on his poor countrymen after
And, rather sinisterly, Mbeki "reveals" that back in
the early 1990s, South Africa persuaded Mugabe to hold off on his landgrab
until after the South African transition so as not to frighten South African
whites from giving up power.
Sinister because it implies that
the ANC was quite happy with the land grab; its only concern being not to
interrupt its own powerplay down south. Mbeki said this, significantly
perhaps, at a land reform conference where his government abandoned the
willing-seller/willing-buyer basis of its own land-reform
As always the rest of us are left to puzzle whether all
these noises are sincere, or just more of the same quiet diplomatic
methodology of flattering Mugabe in public the better to pressure him in
Understandably the Zim-watchers have had just about
enough. The Democratic Alliance, naturally, doesn't like the loan idea at
all, but adds that if we must give Mugabe one, it must come with very tight
strings and these must be debated only in parliament.
agree, noting the Achilles heel of quiet diplomacy is that Mugabe can break
any promises he makes to Mbeki with impunity because no-one except Mbeki
knows he has made them.
Nevertheless, it is a quirk of fate that
just as everyone has really had enough of five years of failed quiet
diplomacy, now may be its moment.
With Mugabe apparently on his
knees, having exhausted alternative sources of funds such as Libya and
China, South Africa may really be positioned to exert
We may now be about to see whether "quiet" diplomacy is
also weak diplomacy as many have long suspected, or whether our government
has really been twisting Mugabe's arm, or trying to twist his arm, quietly,
For toughness is after all more important than
loudness. If Mbeki really feels that by going public with the conditions
now, he will embarrass Mugabe into rejecting them, that may be the way to
go, since the opportunity to influence him has perhaps never been
But it must surely be the last time. And Mbeki can use the
tactic of quiet diplomacy to greatest effect now by adding this further
condition to the loan; that if Mugabe reneges, all will be revealed about
his broken promises and South Africa will, furthermore, publicly disown him.
Henceforth South Africa will speak its mind, publicly and loudly, on all his
Part of the problem is that many South Africans
have not only lost trust in Zimbabwe, they have also lost trust in their own
government's sincerity, suspecting that quiet diplomacy is a convenient
excuse for protecting Mugabe from the deserved consequences of his own
That is why Pretoria must now show results, or show its
The Star SA wary of humiliating Mugabe over loan August 8,
By Christelle Terreblanche, Patrick Leeman and Basildon
South Africa has been encouraging Zimbabwe to implement
reforms at a political and economic level as part of a loan
But, according to sources in Harare yesterday, South Africa
would not insist on the political aspect if Zimbabwean President Robert
Mugabe feels humiliated by them.
The Zimbabwean government
officials said South Africa believed that if Mugabe felt humiliated, he
would not continue with reforms, and talks between the ruling and opposition
parties would be jeopardised.
They rejected reports that a deal,
with several political conditions attached, was close to being struck,
saying they were confident South Africa would at least pay a debt instalment
on behalf of Zimbabwe to the International Monetary Fund.
expect South Africa to release around $500-million (about R3,2-billion) to
help pay off arrears to the IMF. This would allow Zimbabwe to remain a
member of the IMF, with the remainder being used for urgent imports of fuel
"That part of the deal is almost done," an official
Mugabe is said to have told his negotiators last week that
South Africa should "go to hell" if it insisted on certain
conditions. Zimbabwean Finance Minister Herbert Murerwa and Mugabe's
close confidant, Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor Gideon Gono, are
negotiating the loan deal on Zimbabwe's behalf. They have held meetings and
regular phone discussions with their South African counterparts, Trevor
Manuel and Tito Mboweni.
The sources said Manuel and Mboweni
were helping Gono and Murerwa in crafting a "new economic
Meanwhile, calls on the South African government to
openly attach strict conditions to the loan have increased.
diametrically opposed political camps, the SA Communist Party and the
Democratic Alliance, yesterday appealed for stringent political guarantees
to accompany the loan.
The SACP said after its central executive
committee meeting in Johannesburg that the conditions on Mugabe should
include "an immediate halt to the wanton destruction of homes and community
facilities", which left 700 000 homeless during "Operation Clean Up", and
"the scrapping of anti-democratic legislation".
among the conditions reportedly being set by Mbeki, which, according to the
Sunday Times, also include "a credible programme for economic recovery" and
"a fair and open programme of land reform to undo the negative consequences
of Mugabe's farm seizures".
The SACP said it agreed with the
government that South Africans could not, for both moral and pragmatic
reasons, "just sit back while our neighbouring country
"We are, however, extremely concerned about the danger
of a loan amounting to little more than extending the crisis-ridden shelf
life of anti-worker, anti-poor authoritarian policies and practices," the
DA leader Tony Leon also called on Mbeki to ensure that
a loan, if given, "should be subject to strict political conditions -
including the implementation of a 'road map to democracy', which would
incorporate plans for the departure of Mugabe from office; the establishment
of an interim government; the drafting of a new constitution; and the
holding of new elections".
But he stressed that the DA was
opposed to "giving any loans or credit".
Both parties called
for more openness around the negotiations, with the SACP asking the
government to be "firm and vigilant in its engagement".
said: "The mixed messages being sent by the president and the cabinet seem
to indicate a cavalier disregard for the wishes of the taxpayers and the
needs of the public."
And the head of the Roman Catholic Church in
Southern Africa, Cardinal Wilfrid Napier, yesterday said it would be
reckless to send government aid to Zimbabwe.
in the latest issue of Southern Cross, the national Catholic weekly
newspaper, said giving money to Mugabe could be compared with "giving money
to an alcoholic beggar who tells you he has given up drink and will spend
the money on food".