The ZIMBABWE Situation Our thoughts and prayers are with Zimbabwe
- may peace, truth and justice prevail.

Back to Index

Back to the Top
Back to Index

Zim Online

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

      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 Cabinet.

      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.

      DA leader 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.

      Nzimande's 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

      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

      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 impasse.

      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.

      South African 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

Back to the Top
Back to Index

Zim Online

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 aid.

      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 genetically

      "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.

      The latest 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.

      Last week, 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 aid.

      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. - ZimOnline

Back to the Top
Back to Index

Zim Online

Zimbabwe says not aware of US ambassador's visit
Mon 8 August 2005

      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 Hall.

      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 statement.

      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.

      Zimbabwe's 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.

      Zimbabwe's five 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

      The 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.

      Mugabe's controversial demolition of thousands of houses and backyard
cottages two months ago during a
      clean-up operation also worsened the country's humanitarian crisis.

      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.

      But 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

Back to the Top
Back to Index

Washington Times

Mugabe's shameful apologists
By Nat Hentoff
August 8, 2005

    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.
    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
    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

Back to the Top
Back to Index

The Herald

Consumer monthly basket up 27pc

By Paul 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 commodities.

The latest rise was largely propelled by increases in both food and non-food
items, following adjustments in the price of fuel and the exchange rate.

Biggest movers were washing soap, which increased by 247,8 percent, bathing
soap 189,2 percent, transport 60 percent and rice 60,4 percent.

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 consumers.

The country's inflation rate is currently running at 164 percent.

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 December.

"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 said.

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

"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

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

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 consumers.

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 goods".

"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 Trade.

The last meeting on price increases was held in May, but the guidelines have
largely been ignored, the report said.

"Producers and 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 faith.

"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 said.
Back to the Top
Back to Index


How Zim will spend SA's R3.2bn
07/08/2005 11:02  - (SA)

Khathu Mamaila

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.

According to 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 debate.

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

City Press 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 season.

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

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 yesterday.

"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 stability.

"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 it.

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 agreement.

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 parliament.

"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 said.
Back to the Top
Back to Index

New York Times

Books of The Times | 'The Fate of Africa'
Africa and Its Rapacious Leaders

Published: August 8, 2005

The Fate of Africa: A History of 50 Years of Independence
By Martin Meredith
Illustrated. 752 pages. Public Affairs. $35.

In the 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 obedience."

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 rich."

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 mind-boggling corruption.

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.

"The Fate 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 tactic.

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."
Back to the Top
Back to Index

Business Day

Posted to the web on: 08 August 2005
Zanu (PF) posturing over talks - MDC
Jonathan Katzenellenbogen


International Affairs Editor

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

"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 said.

"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.

Tsvangirai 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.
Back to the Top
Back to Index

Washington Post

The Next Chinese Threat

By Sebastian Mallaby

Monday, August 8, 2005; Page A15

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 resources.

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' unspeakable

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?

Because of 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.

Global 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
British government.

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 forces.

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.
Back to the Top
Back to Index

Cape Times

      Calls increase for strict conditions on R3.2bn Zimbabwe loan
      August 8, 2005

      By Christelle Terreblanche

      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 reached.

      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 revival.

      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.

      A second 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.

Back to the Top
Back to Index

Cape Times

      Window on Africa - Mbeki must now play tough with Mugabe and show
results or show his cards
      August 8, 2005

      By Peter Fabricius

      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?

      Are there 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 independence.

      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 policy.

      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 private.

      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.

      Analysts 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 influence.

      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, in private.

      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 greater.

      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 actions.

      That is why Pretoria must now show results, or show its cards.

Back to the Top
Back to Index

The Star
      SA wary of humiliating Mugabe over loan
      August 8, 2005

      By Christelle Terreblanche, Patrick Leeman and Basildon Peta

      South Africa has been encouraging Zimbabwe to implement reforms at a
political and economic level as part of a loan deal.

      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.

      They 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 and food.

      "That part of the deal is almost done," an official said.

      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 direction".

      Meanwhile, calls on the South African government to openly attach
strict conditions to the loan have increased.

      Two 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".

      These were 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 implodes".

      "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 SACP said.

      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

      But he stressed that the DA was opposed to "giving any loans or

      Both parties called for more openness around the negotiations, with
the SACP asking the government to be "firm and vigilant in its engagement".

      The DA 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.

      Napier, commenting 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".

Back to the Top
Back to Index