by M.J. Smith 1 hour, 42 minutes ago
JOHANNESBURG (AFP) - South African President Thabo Mbeki will visit Zimbabwe
this weekend to meet the country's political rivals, his government said
Friday, amid signs power-sharing talks have moved closer to a deal.
The trip by Mbeki, who mediates in negotiations between President Robert
Mugabe's party and the Zimbabwe opposition, comes after more than two weeks
of discussions in South Africa between representatives of the rival sides.
"He's going Saturday to meet the leaders of the political parties involved
in the SADC-mandated talks facilitated by South Africa," foreign ministry
spokesman Ronnie Mamoepa said, referring to the Southern African Development
Community regional bloc.
Mbeki, who returns on Sunday, will meet Mugabe and opposition Movement for
Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai, as well as the leader of a
smaller MDC faction, Arthur Mutambara, the spokesman said.
It was unclear, however, whether the meetings would be held separately or in
A spokesman for Mutambara told AFP that all three Zimbabwean leaders would
meet soon in Harare. Edwin Mushoriwa said negotiators were expected to
return home from South Africa on Friday and the meeting would take place
South African newspaper Business Day reported that Mugabe and Tsvangirai
will meet Sunday as the two sides draw nearer to a power-sharing agreement.
Mbeki's trip comes ahead of Zimbabwe's Heroes' Day on Monday, which
commemorates fighters who died in the guerrilla war that led to independence
Mugabe himself was seen as a liberation hero in the war and was propelled
into power afterwards, where he has remained ever since.
The 84-year-old was re-elected in a June 27 presidential run-off that was
widely condemned as a sham after Tsvangirai dropped out of the race, citing
violence against his supporters that had killed dozens and injured
Tsvangirai finished ahead of Mugabe in the March first round of the
election, and the two sides entered power-sharing talks following a July 21
deal laying the framework for negotiations.
In a sign the two sides were moving closer to an agreement, the parties
issued a joint statement earlier this week calling on their supporters to
halt political violence.
The main sticking points in the talks are believed to involve what roles
Mugabe and Tsvangirai would play in a power-sharing government.
Tsvangirai believes his first-round total gives him the right to the lion's
share of power, but sources in his party said previously that Mugabe's
negotiators had so far only offered him one of several vice-presidential
The ruling ZANU-PF party has insisted Mugabe must be recognised as president
as part of any deal, since he won the June 27 vote.
But pressure, both internationally and regionally, has built on Mugabe to
reach a deal, analysts say, making it likely an accord is within reach.
The dire economic situation could also force Mugabe's hand, with Zimbabwe
facing the world's highest inflation rate and major food shortages.
"For ZANU-PF, it's a matter of political survival," said Eldred Masunungure,
a political scientist from the University of Zimbabwe.
"ZANU-PF has been put into a corner by domestic and international pressure,
and that corner is shrinking."
He added that "a settlement will be reached, but what remains to be seen is
whether the agreement can be implemented ... A formula has to be found to
mix oil and water".
Discussions have reportedly included offers of amnesty from prosecution for
Mugabe if he agrees to take on a more ceremonial role as president.
Human rights groups say the veteran leader could face prosecution over a
host of issues ranging from the so-called Gukurahundi killings of opposition
supporters in the 1980s to recent political violence.
Olmo von Meijenfeldt of the Institute for Democracy in South Africa said it
would likely be impossible to reach a deal without Mugabe retaining some
political role since his hardline backers include high-ranking military
"A deal making Robert Mugabe a ceremonial president and Morgan Tsvangirai a
prime minister is probably the one and only way forward now in Zimbabwe," he
"It will not be realistic or feasible for now to leave Mugabe out completely
from the political scene."
Fri 8 Aug 2008, 15:11 GMT
By Cris Chinaka
HARARE, Aug 8 (Reuters) - Even if Zimbabwe's government and opposition reach
a power-sharing deal soon, real progress in rebuilding the shattered economy
will depend on agreement from both security chiefs and Western powers.
Although there is no confirmation of press reports saying President Robert
Mugabe's ZANU-PF party and the opposition MDC could sign a deal this
weekend, there are signs an agreement may be close.
South African President Thabo Mbeki, who has mediated the negotiations, is
expected in Harare on Saturday, apparently in the hope of overseeing a deal.
But analysts say such an agreement would not turn around the ruined economy
unless Western powers threw massive financial backing behind it and the
powerful "securocrats" supporting Mugabe were also on board.
The army and police chiefs are widely believed to have strengthened Mugabe's
resolve after he lost a first round presidential vote on March 29. Analysts
believe they will not support a power-sharing deal unless they are given
immunity from international justice.
Human rights groups and the opposition accuse them of leading a violent
campaign to ensure Mugabe's re-election in a widely condemned second round
on June 27 that was boycotted by MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai because of the
Although no details of the power-sharing talks have been disclosed, several
Zimbabwe analysts believe Mugabe is only ready to surrender some executive
powers and will try to retain control of crucial state organs.
"I think those who expected Tsvangirai to be heading the government, those
who want Mugabe out of the scene altogether will not be happy with a
situation in which Mugabe retains significant power," said political analyst
"I think quite a number of Western countries will want time to assess and
review the outcome before committing themselves, and will not simply listen
to ZANU-PF or the MDC's versions of events," he said.
"If they come on board and give the process a chance, that will be good for
the economy, but if they don't, Zimbabwe will still face problems
internationally," said Masunungure, a political science professor at the
University of Zimbabwe.
Key Western powers, led by the United States and Zimbabwe's former colonial
master Britain, have frozen financial aid and imposed sanctions on Mugabe's
closest allies because of alleged human rights abuses and vote-rigging.
Analysts say assistance from these countries, and from the IMF and World
Bank, is crucial to reversing years of economic decline in a country
battling with the world's highest inflation of over 2.2 million percent, a
crumbling infrastructure, massive unemployment and food shortages.
Mugabe blames the economic meltdown -- which has forced a quarter of
Zimbabwe's 13 million people abroad and left the rest struggling with
chronic shortages of food, fuel and foreign currency -- on opponents trying
to oust his government.
Mugabe's party ring-fenced as "non-negotiable" a number of issues ahead of
the talks, including his presidency, his land reforms and what it called
Zimbabwe's political sovereignty.
Analysts say this was a clear pointer that Mugabe was not going to give up
control over agriculture and the security forces, crucial to his hold on
John Makumbe, a political commentator and Mugabe critic, said a political
deal that left Mugabe with key powers could split the opposition.
"Mugabe has been the problem, and if he is allowed to have overwhelming
power and allowed to dominate, there may be others in the MDC who will find
that unacceptable and will break away (from Tsvangirai's leadership)," he
"It will be a difficult scenario, but there are people who are wary about
being cheated by Mugabe," he added.
Critics accuse the 84-year-old former guerrilla leader of ruining the once
prosperous southern African state with policies including his seizures of
white-owned farms for redistribution to inexperienced black farmers
struggling to produce food.
But Mugabe -- who led the country to independence in 1980 after a seven-year
bush war -- says the land seizures and lately his plans to nationalise
foreign companies, including mines and banks, are part of a drive to empower
blacks impoverished by the white settler community.
John Robertson, a leading economic commentator, said Zimbabwe would be in
for more pain if the power-sharing deal failed to win international
"The economy is on its knees, and while a political deal is important, the
crucial question is, are we are going to see a change in the policies that
got us into this mess?" he said.
"That is the crux of the matter." (Editing by Barry Moody; Harare Newsroom:
+2634- 799-112-5; email@example.com)
President Robert Mugabe is insisting on retaining substantial power in any
coalition government that may emerge from a deal to end Zimbabwe's crisis, a
senior source in Harare has said.
By Peta Thornycroft in Harare
Last Updated: 6:49PM BST 08 Aug 2008
Mr Mugabe's stance could paralyse the talks between his Zanu-PF party and
the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, despite speculation that a
settlement is imminent.
A source close to the negotiations said that the key question of dividing
executive power between Mr Mugabe and his key opponent, Morgan Tsvangirai,
in any new government had yet to be settled.
"Zanu-PF launched murder and blood to protect executive power," he said. "If
anyone thinks they are going to go to an air-conditioned room to surrender
executive power they are dreaming."
Mr Mugabe will seek to keep enough power to be the dominant figure in a
government of national unity which would include - and perhaps neutralise -
When the two men shook hands on July 21, they signed a "memorandum of
understanding" promising to end all political violence. But mobs loyal to Mr
Mugabe have murdered at least three people since that occasion.
Zanu-PF thugs are still roaming parts of the country, assaulting suspected
opposition supporters, imposing curfews and refusing to allow villagers who
have fled the violence to return home.
The three who are known to have been killed include one policeman. The MDC
believes that Zanu-PF still has 55 bases across Zimbabwe, manned by its
hired gangs, where opposition supporters are taken for beatings and torture.
The president also promised to lift the ban on distributing humanitarian
aid. But relief agencies remain barred from operating in hungry rural areas
and cannot give food to anyone with the exception of those with HIV-Aids.
"We cannot go out there, that is fact. Until we receive a letter undoing the
ban preventing us from doing field work, we are stuck in Harare," said the
country director of a large emergency feeding project who says many
Zimbabweans need food now as the summer's crops were probably the worst
Trevor Gifford, director of the Commercial Farmers' Union, said the last
handful of white farmers were still facing threats and violence. "We wonder
if this escalation in the last week is connected to negotiations as some
ministers are not going to survive into a new administration so they are
making good now."
August 08 2008 at 10:32AM
By Nelson Banya
Harare - Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe and opposition leader
Morgan Tsvangirai will hold a make-or-break meeting in Harare on Sunday
aimed at finalising a power-sharing deal, a South African newspaper reported
It is understood the two are not "too far apart", although the central
issues remain unresolved, Business Day reported, citing unnamed sources.
Mugabe said on Thursday that the talks were going well, but dismissed
media reports about a draft agreement as nonsense.
South African President Thabo Mbeki, lead regional mediator in
Zimbabwe, was expected to fly to Harare on Saturday or Sunday for the talks,
said Business Day.
Mugabe's Zanu-PF and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC) began talking more than two weeks ago to defuse a crisis that came to
a head after Mugabe was re-elected in a widely condemned June poll boycotted
by the opposition.
Business Day said Mugabe, in power since 1980, and old foe Tsvangirai
are said to have been in contact several times while the talks continued to
seek common ground on the delicate issue of power and positions, the
The two sides are under heavy international pressure, including from
within Africa, to resolve a crisis that has ruined the once prosperous
economy and flooded neighbouring states with millions of refugees.
Under a draft settlement reported in South Africa's Star newspaper on
Wednesday, Tsvangirai would run the country while Mugabe would become
A settlement could be a political coup for Mbeki, who has come under
intense domestic and international criticism for not taking a tough line
with Mugabe, a strategy he says would only undermine efforts to end the
Mbeki will host a summit of regional leaders in South Africa on August
16. It could give him a high-profile opportunity to showcase a hard-fought
August 08 2008 at 01:53PM
Human rights experts and activists have joined Justice Richard
Goldstone in expressing their alarm about a proposal for blanket amnesty to
perpetrators of human rights abuses to resolve the Zimbabwe impasse.
Christof Heyns, University of Pretoria faculty of law dean, said the
mooted amnesty "worries me a lot".
This would steer the pursuit of international justice in a "whole new
direction", sending the signal that "you could do just what you liked and
then earn praise as the founding father of your nation".
Part of one proposal for a political settlement is that President
Robert Mugabe would be hailed as founding father of the Zimbabwe nation and
retain a ceremonial presidential role, while opposition leader Morgan
Tsvangirai would be made executive prime minister. Another version gives
Mugabe an executive presidency.
Heyns said this might be a short-term solution, but "somewhere one had
to draw the line" in accommodating perpetrators of crimes against humanity
and human rights abuses.
On Wednesday, Justice Goldstone told a Wits University audience that
the ruling party elite would sooner or later have to face international
justice, even if there is a deal and Zimbabwe is not yet a signatory to the
Rome Statute, which launched the International Criminal Court (ICC).
Mugabe, 84, will probably be saved by his age from standing trial, but
younger generals in the Zimbabwe armed forces will not be so lucky.
Justice Goldstone, who shot to fame as chair of the Goldstone
Commission into apartheid human rights abuses, was speaking on the future of
international criminal justice.
He pointed out that Zimbabwe had not yet ratified the Rome Statute of
1998 instituting the ICC.
Only the Security Council of the United Nations or Mugabe's own
government could start with his prosecution on war crimes committed during
the notorious Gukurahundi campaign in the early 1980s.
Both are unlikely, as it would either be vetoed or a political
settlement in the Zimbabwe crisis would avoid dealing with it.
But, said Justice Goldstone, while he, like everybody, wants to see
peace and prosperity return to Zimbabwe, the country "at some point will
Amnesty and other measures agreed upon to facilitate a new
dispensation could easily be set aside by a future government, he added.
"Mugabe is safe mainly because of his age, but generals who are in
their thirties and forties" could stand trial, he said.
Justice Goldstone compared Mugabe to Slobodan Milosevic, the
Yugoslavian dictator, who thought he was immune from prosecution if he
He did not reckon with a revolution in his own country, which
delivered him to justice before the ICC's tribunal for Yugoslavia, where
Justice Goldstone was the chief prosecutor.
He conceded that critics of the ICC's indictment of Sudanese President
Omar al-Bashir might have a point that it could have an effect on peace
negotiations with rebels in Darfur.
This was cited by South Africa as the main reason for its strong
opposition to the ICC move, despite it being one of the ICC's strongest
proponents under ex-president Nelson Mandela.
But, he said, "the global community has to ask: Are we a better world
for withdrawing immunity from war criminals?".
He believed that this was the case and asked whether a delayed peace
process was not an appropriate price to pay for international justice.
This article was originally published on page 7 of The Star on August
08 August 2008
Blocked visit is likely to raise tensions between Harare and the world body
DESPITE negotiations on a power-sharing deal progressing well, Zimbabwe's
President Robert Mugabe has barred a United Nations (UN) envoy from visiting
the country to assess the talks between Zanu (PF) and the opposition
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).
The blocking of the visit this week by UN assistant secretary-general for
political affairs Haile Menkerios is likely to heighten tensions between
Harare and the world body.
Menkerios, an experienced Eritrean diplomat, flew to SA on Tuesday to
monitor the talks, UN spokeswoman Michele Montas said this week.
He was recently appointed part of President Thabo Mbeki's three-man
"reference group" on the talks which was set up as a condition for continued
participation by MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai, who had accused Mbeki of not
being an impartial mediator.
Last night the MDC could not be reached for comment.
Yesterday, Zimbabwe's permanent representative to the UN, Boniface
Chidyausiku, confirmed that Menkerios was blocked from visiting Harare.
"The talks have now reached a delicate stage and we don't want any
interference. Why does he want to engage in a parallel process?" he said.
Diplomatic sources said Menkerios - who was due in Harare today - was told
by Zimbabwean authorities he was "not welcome" and there was no need for him
to visit the country since the reference group worked with Mbeki, not
Mugabe. He was told that even if he arrived there, no official would meet
him and his visit would not be regarded as authorised.
"Menkerios was to have meetings with Mugabe, government officials and
opposition leaders. "But government told him he was not welcome because the
mediator was in Pretoria," a senior diplomat said.
UN spokesman Farahan Haq said yesterday Menkerios was in Pretoria and
"arrangements are still being made for his visit" to Zimbabwe.
UN representative in Harare Agostinho Zacarias is expected to travel to
Pretoria today to meet Menkerios.
The fallout from Harare's decision could give ammunition to the US and UK,
which are keen to impose UN-backed sanctions on Mugabe and his cronies in
response to disputed elections, political violence and killings. The two,
together with the European Union, recently stepped up sanctions, although
they failed at the UN when Russia and China vetoed a US draft resolution.
The resolution, which called for an arms embargo and financial and travel
restrictions on Mugabe and 13 officials, was backed by nine nations but
foundered on the vetoes.
Fri 8 Aug 2008, 14:01 GMT
By Mica Rosenberg
MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - More than 50 women, some as young as 13 and others
as old as 60, have been gang raped and tortured by government-backed
militias in Zimbabwe because of their support for the opposition, rights
groups and victims say.
"They came to my house singing political songs, they stole everything in my
house ... raped me and killed four people in my neighbor's house," said a 53
year-old Zimbabwean widow too fearful of reprisals to give her name.
A supporter of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, or MDC, she
spoke through tears in her native Shona language at an international AIDS
conference in Mexico.
She said her daughter and granddaughter were also raped in the attack, after
her house was looted by hundreds of youth militia members in a town near the
capital Harare in June.
Activists fear the women, who were refused treatment by government doctors,
are at risk of contracting AIDS, since over 15 percent of the country is
Women's rights organizations are working with international human rights
lawyers to document hundreds of cases of alleged rape by youth militias
backed by the ruling ZANU-PF party of President Robert Mugabe.
The MDC says more than 120 of its supporters were killed by pro-Mugabe
militia in political violence since disputed elections in March. Mugabe
blames the violence on the opposition.
The two sides earlier this week called on their supporters to end violence.
ZANU-PF and MDC negotiators, under heavy international pressure to reach a
deal to end Zimbabwe's economic and political crisis, began power-sharing
talks two weeks ago mediated by South Africa.
Local newspaper reports say they are close to an agreement but that has not
been confirmed by officials.
Rights workers said there have been 53 cases of rape since mid-April in
heavy violence between two rounds of a presidential election. Around 13 of
the women have been tested for AIDS but it is too early to say if any have
been infected from the rapes, the workers say.
One 60-year old woman said she was raped by 18 militia members who told her
they wanted her to have a ZANU-PF baby, others have had pesticides forced
into them for failing to reveal the location of opposition leaders,
Zimbabwean human rights activist Betty Makoni told a news conference.
A 13-year-old girl told how she was abducted from her home in exchange for a
goat and held in a youth militia camp where she was repeatedly raped and
beaten, said Makoni, who heads a network of support groups for girls across
"We are in a situation where the pain and the trauma is beyond
comprehension, I am here talking for women with wounded genital organs who
cannot even sit on a chair to talk," said Makoni, who herself was raped as a
Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai won the first round of the presidential
election on March 29 but fell short of the absolute majority needed for
outright victory. He pulled out of the June 27 second round because of
attacks on MDC supporters and Mugabe won the widely condemned poll.
"The accounts of politically motivated gang rape, severing of limbs and
practices of sexual slavery ... are not individual offenses, these are
crimes against humanity," said Noah Novogrodsky, the legal director of
U.S.-based advocacy group AIDS-Free World.
"We believe that the members of Mugabe's inner circle who turned the ZANU-PF
youth militia into rapists and killers are responsible," said Novagrodsky,
adding that a team of lawyers will be collecting evidence against the
perpetrators for eventual criminal prosecution.
Women who have been raped are at higher risk of contracting AIDS, a serious
danger in Zimbabwe where between 1.6 million and 1.9 million people are
infected, according to the United Nations.
"Women have told me 'When you are raped by 18 men you are already dead, so
what is the use of keeping quiet, I must break the silence,'" said Makoni.
By Brian Latham
Aug. 8 (Bloomberg) -- Zimbabwe, which has an official inflation rate of 2.2
million percent, will hold its first auction by barter, enabling
cash-strapped consumers to purchase cars, household appliances and furniture
using fuel coupons.
The sale today will be managed by Hammer and Tongues Auctioneers, according
to a statement on the Harare-based company's Web site. Assets will be valued
in liters of fuel.
``Hammer and Tongues is encouraging you to take this opportunity to convert
your assets into something that will assist you survive these very trying
times,'' the company said.
Zimbabwe has faced shortages of basic commodities such as flour and sugar
since 2001, a year after President Robert Mugabe began seizing white-owned
commercial farms for redistribution to black farmers deprived of land under
colonial rule. While inflation is estimated at 2.2 million percent by the
central bank, local lenders put the rate at between 10 million and 15
Last month, the central bank lopped 10 zeroes off its currency, revaluing
the 100 billion Zimbabwe dollar note to 10 Zimbabwe dollars. Retailers in
the country prefer using coupons instead of the local currency because of
the pace of inflation, said Mike Stone, who owns a gas station in Harare.
``If someone pays with local currency, then I have to spend it immediately
before it loses value,'' Stone said in a telephone interview. ``If someone
pays by check, then I must add a further 80 percent to the total because
that's how much it'll devalue by in the time the bank takes to clear it.''
Fuel for School
Schools in Zimbabwe have also begun asking that fees be paid in fuel
coupons, the Harare-based Herald reported today.
The coupons are acquired using foreign exchange and are sold by companies
including London-based mukuru.com. The company uses a voucher system that
enables people outside Zimbabwe to buy groceries, mobile-phone airtime and
fuel for residents, who redeem the goods using a code sent by mobile-phone
About a quarter of Zimbabwe's 12 million people live abroad.
Zimbabwe has been gripped by political turmoil since March 29 elections, in
which the opposition won control of the lower house of parliament. Mugabe
extended his 28-year rule in a June 27 presidential runoff ballot in which
he was the sole candidate. Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the opposition
Movement for Democratic Change, withdrew from that vote, citing the
persecution of his supporters.
Both sides are holding talks in neighboring South Africa aimed at ending the
Last Updated: August 8, 2008 08:26 EDT
August 08, 2008, 18:45
John Nyashanu, Harare
Zimbabwe's bank note crisis is worsening. This is despite last week's
increase on withdrawal limits by 2 000% by the country's central bank.
Yesterday, the monetary authorities increased the limit by a further 50%.
However, analysts say this does not solve the crisis as depositors continue
spending entire nights in queues. Barter trading is now taking root owing to
the unavailability of cash and spiralling inflation.
ATMs are cashless and withdrawing the equivalent of just R80 a day is
laborious. Even schools are now accepting commodities like fuel and
groceries as fees.
A political settlement, which some pundits are predicting could be as early
as this weekend, could raise Zimbabwe from its economic doldrums.
The opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has made Zimbabwe's urban areas bastions of support in the past few years, and it was this shift in political loyalties that led President Robert Mugabe's government to create the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (ZINWA), which took away bulk water treatment and distribution from city councils.
Critics of the policy maintain that control of water treatment and awarding contracts for the supply of chemicals provides lucrative kickbacks for the politically connected.
ZINWA's track record is widely viewed as disastrous, even by The Herald, the government-controlled daily newspaper. "Today, as we fast approach a decade of ZINWA's existence, the plans [for service delivery] remain in boardrooms and all the nation gets are frequent updates of the challenges facing the authority," said an editorial this week.
"Today, water shortages persist, and if everyone is to be honest with themselves, ZINWA is merely giving the same excuses for non-delivery that local authorities gave when they failed to fulfil their statutory responsibilities," the paper said.
Under ZINWA's tenure raw sewerage has been discharged into Lake Chivero, Harare's main reservoir, while raw sewerage routinely overflows into township streets. The capital has experienced several outbreaks of cholera, dysentery and diarrhoea in the last few years. The water authority claims the lack of foreign exchange makes it unable to undertake routine repairs and maintenance.
The outbreak of waterborne diseases has also been exacerbated by the failure of ZANU-PF appointed commissioners to ensure refuse collection. Harare's city health services director, Stanley Mungofa, announced this week that the eastern parts of the capital had been hit by another diarrhoea outbreak, but did not provide statistics.
"The city is currently experiencing pockets of high incidence of diarrhoeal diseases which could be attributed to the current water crisis, but no deaths have been recorded," Mungofa told the Herald.
"Water shortages in homes, schools, churches, beerhalls and other public places are of grave concern to the city, as the hygiene in those places and the health of people is severely compromised," he said.
Harare's recently elected non-executive mayor, Muchadeyi Masunda, said reclaiming bulk water treatment and distribution from the government was a priority.
"Quality water provision is one of the items topping my agenda. Indications are that all is not well at ZINWA in terms of meeting their mandate of providing quality water."
Farai Mangodza, chief executive officer of the Combined Harare Residents Association, said the residents had "consistently called upon the government to reverse the ZINWA takeover and return the responsibility to manage water supply to the city council."
"We condemn the government for failing to appreciate that the residents are suffering as a result of its arrogant decision to manage water supply," he said.
[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]
By Alex Bell
08 August 2008
The international community said in a statement on Friday it was "deeply
concerned" about the Zimbabwean government's ban on humanitarian aid access,
which is "denying vulnerable Zimbabweans essential and life-saving
support" - and said it holds Zimbabwean ministers and officials responsible.
The joint statement was issued in Harare by the governments of Australia,
Canada, France, Germany, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, the United
Kingdom and the United States on Friday - who have collectively called for
the "immediate and unconditional lifting of the suspension on all NGO field
The governments also called for the harassment of NGO's to cease
immediately - a day after the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition offices in Harare
were raided by police on Thursday.
The June 4 suspension of humanitarian operations, combined with critical
food and currency shortages, has left millions of Zimbabweans facing
starvation. The statement said without the "immediate resumption of food aid
across the country, widespread hunger and worsening malnutrition are
unavoidable". The Red Cross this week also issued an urgent food security
appeal, citing that the lives of millions more people in Zimbabwe were at
risk, if the harvest projections are accurate.
The joint government statement reads: "We feel a sense of responsibility to
sound the warning about the coming emergency. Because the Government has not
responded to our July 29 diplomatic appeal for full, safe and unhindered
humanitarian access and restored humanitarian space, we fell we must now
raise the profile of this issue publicly".
The Memorandum of Understanding, signed on 21 July between Zimbabwe's
political parties, states that they "will work together to ensure .that
humanitarian and social welfare organisations are enabled to render such
assistance as might be required." Friday's statement said the international
governments are concerned that "more than two weeks after the signing of the
MOU, and despite our diplomatic appeals, we have seen no concrete steps
taken to carry out this commitment".
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
By Lance Guma
08 August 2008
Zimbabwean activists in the United Kingdom on Friday teamed up with
protesters from Burma, Tibet and Sudan to demonstrate at the Chinese embassy
in London. Zimbabwe, Sudan and Burma have all suffered human rights abuses
at the hands of dictators, supported by China. The people of Tibet meanwhile
are fighting for their independence from China which invaded the territory
in the fifties. Many died in that conflict.
While the opening ceremony of the Olympics in China was being played out in
Beijing the marchers raised the various flags of the oppressed countries and
their national anthems were played. British MP Kate Hoey, who chairs the
All-Party Parliamentary Group on Zimbabwe, gave a speech at the
demonstration. Over 40 policemen formed a protective wall around the
embassy, standing behind metal fences that were erected.
The Zimbabwean activists were protesting China's continued support for the
Mugabe regime, including it's use of a veto last month to block a resolution
at the United Nations Security Council calling for targeted sanctions
against the regime. The resolution would have also seen a UN arms embargo
being slapped on the country. The Chinese instead have been supplying arms
to the Mugabe regime, despite international condemnation and arguments that
there was no legitimate government in place.
The demonstrators put together a presentation featuring look-alike dictators
from Zimbabwe, Burma and Sudan, bowing to a figure representing China. A
black coffin was on display to represent the people who have died in the
various countries while fighting for freedom. There was a lot of drumming at
the venue, while banners were held aloft calling for a 'Free Tibet' and
demands for China to stop it's support of the brutal military junta in
Radical campaigner Peter Tatchell told journalists 'We are here to remind
China and the world that the Olympics show may proceed but we have not
forgotten the millions of people who are the victims of the tyranny of the
regime in Beijing, the political prisoners, the suppressed trade unionists
and the persecuted minorities like the Tibetans. He said there could be no
normal sporting relations 'with the abnormal oppressive regime in Beijing.'
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
GABORONE, Aug 8 (AFP)
Botswana authorities detained Friday a Zimbabwean on the EU's sanctions list
aimed at people connected to President Robert Mugabe's regime and plans to
deport him, a government official said.
Caesar Zvayi, a former political columnist for the state-owned Herald
newspaper in Zimbabwe, was to be deported, said the permanent secretary in
the home affairs ministry, Segakweng Tsiane
Zvayi had been employed by the University of Botswana as a print journalism
He and Munyaradzi Huni, political editor of Zimbabwe's state-owned Sunday
Mail, have been accused of inciting violence through their writings in their
Plainclothes police swooped on Zvayi late Friday and loaded his belongings
into a truck before driving him away.
Zimbabwe citizens in Botswana have been writing letters to local newspapers,
urging the government to deport Zvayi and criticising the Botswana
government for allowing him to teach.
By Alex Bell
08 August 2008
Mozambique's main opposition leader on Friday slammed the power sharing
talks between Zimbabwe's main political parties and called Robert Mugabe a
Alfonso Dhlakama, head of the Renamo party, was quoted as saying "Mugabe
used to be my hero, but I now consider him as a political criminal to the
Zimbabweans who were denied the result of their choice in the recent
Mozambique is traditionally an ally of Mugabe, but the farcical run-off
election that saw the dictator snatch back power in June has seen many
former allies turn their back on Mugabe and his regime.
Dhlakama said the power sharing negotiations "were done in bad faith" and
echoed the wide spread sentiment that the talks are "a bad example to
African and the whole world". He said it "encourages African leaders who
lose elections to resort to robbing elections and rely on the solutions of
their friends to continue to cling to power".
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
Via an MDC Press Release:
From Ready to Govern to Preparing to Govern
The Movement for Democratic Change is and remains a people’s project, with the strategic objective of completing the business of the struggle for national liberation. Over the next few days, we will provide the various policy position of the party, indicative of our readiness and preparedness to govern in accordance with the best interests of the majority of our people. Our struggle is not merely a struggle against, but it is most importantly a struggle for an ideal.
This this alert, we provide our policy position on the Land Question in Zimbabwe and also provide how we will attend to the issue.
In this alert please find our Lands and Agrarian Reform Policy and our Agricultural Recovery Strategy.
LANDS AND AGRARIAN REFORM POLICY
Resolving the land question once and for all to ensure that no Zimbabwean will ever go hungry again
A New Zimbabwe where the land conflict is resolved once and for all and land as a finite economic development resource, is equitably distributed and productively utilized making Zimbabwe the regional bread-basket in land use and agricultural production.
Values for MDC Land Reform Policy
The MDC’s core values on land reform are:
The MDC Land Policy
The MDC’s Land Reform Programme will be based on the matrix that recognizes the country’s unfortunate colonial history of plunder and wastage and the need to deal with historical injustices. In this regard, the MDC takes note of the acquisitions of land that have been done by the Zanu PF regime between 2000 and 2006. That land reform was chaotic and outside the rule of law.
That being the case, the MDC must rationalize the situation by ensuring that there will be no return to the pre-2000 status nor will the present regime of wastage, corruption, under utilization and multi-ownership be preserved.
To undertake this rationalization, the MDC will through an Act of Parliament establish a Land Commission whose mandate is to:
The MDC recognizes the fact that the acquisition of land is not an end in itself and therefore recognizes that the ultimate economic liberation of Zimbabwe will only occur after the destruction of the dual enclave economy and the transition of our country into a modern industrial State.
Thus fundamental to our land policy is the need to free the country from direct reliance on land and agriculture but an industry and technology and software. In short, the complete transformation of our country to a New Zimbabwe.
While Land Reform is regarded as a programme for the transfer of control, ownership and tenure of agricultural land, agrarian reform necessarily has much broader scope, seeking to restructure the entire agricultural sector and industrialize the rural areas to make them productive and wealth generating.
The MDC Government will:
The MDC government recognizes that there should be just and equitable compensation to all farmers whose land was acquired since the year 2000. However, the Zimbabwean economy does not have the capacity to offer the just and equitable compensation while at the same time driving the economy forward.
In this regard, the MDC government will internationalize the issue of compensation so that multilateral institutions and bilateral countries inextricably connected to the Zimbabwe crisis will bring in their resources to adequately compensate the erstwhile land owners. It is important to note that the international community has previously made binding understandings as far as such support is concerned.
Zimbabwe has a varied tenure system covering four main areas: -
The MDC recognizes this reality on the ground and therefore takes land tenure reform as a continuous and ongoing process not as a once off activity. The MDC Land Commission will investigate the situation in respect of farmland, communal lands, forestry, and all commercial land holdings and recommend a reform process in all areas of the country including land tenure systems. However land under the MDC government will be held under one law for all forms of ownership, state, communal and private with some government protection for communal farmers. The MDC will ensure that there is comprehensive land legislation in place that allows both for private ownership of land secured through title deeds.
Agricultural Recovery Programme
The MDC has developed an Agricultural Recovery Program to ensure a rapid recovery of the agricultural sector as in as short a period as possible. Key elements of the program are: -
Realizing that a sophisticated agricultural industry is achieved only by a supportive institutional infrastructure, the MDC government will invest resources to rehabilitate and reform public marketing agencies, research and teaching institutions and public agro-based financing institutions.
The MDC government will maintain the Agricultural Research Council as an independent, non-political body. The Council will advise government on all aspects relating to agricultural research (new breeds, seed varieties, GMOs etc, will recommend the provision of grants for research by central government, and will also solicit grants from agriculture associations and development partners. Government grants would be tied to agricultural research to benefit the small-scale resettled farmers who may not be able to afford research output of their own.
All agricultural training institutions will be placed under independent councils selected from the agriculture industry. These institutions will be expanded in order to ensure that there are adequate numbers of trained personnel to take the many opportunities to be created in the farming sector by the land and agriculture programmes. Government will support agricultural training through the same facilities that are available to students at universities and colleges. These activities will be the responsibility of the Ministry of Agriculture.
The MDC government will provide basic extension services to all farming communities through a system of extension agents who will work with local farm communities and research establishments. Particular regard will be paid to extension services in small-scale resettlement and communal farming areas. Private sector firms with interests in the agriculture industry will be encouraged to support extension services to commercial farmers.
The Grain Marketing Board will remain a part of central government but will be required to operate on commercial principles and will no longer hold a statutory monopoly over grain and oilseed marketing. However, the GMB will be required to maintain a network of depots throughout the country and to act as residual buyer of food grains and oil seeds. It will also be required to maintain strategic stocks of basic foods and to provide storage facilities to the private sector.
Local, regional and international commodity trading plays a crucial role in triggering socio-economic development and wealth creation in Zimbabwe. The MDC government will play a non-interventionist, regulatory role in ensuring a competitive pricing environment that creates conditions conducive to investment in the sector, putting in place, however, mechanisms that will protect vulnerable groups.
AGRICULTURAL RECOVERY, ZIMBABWE 2008-2013
Guidelines for the Recovery Strategy
Agriculture is the backbone of the economy of Zimbabwe. Exports of tobacco, beef, cotton, horticulture and sugar have always provided the much need foreign currency that supported the rapid economic growth in the first 15 years of independence. The industry food and textile relied heavily on agriculture for inputs. Further, agriculture relied on a well managed and effective agricultural input program that was based on a self sustaining retail system enabling most farmers to access inputs on time.
Zimbabwe’s agriculture would need a two fold strategic plan that could stabilize the agricultural sector in the first year (2008/09) and subsequent 5 years (2009-2013).
I. Review of the current general state of agriculture in Zimbabwe, crop, livestock and horticultural production in both rural and resettlement areas
1. Review the current input delivery system to both rural and resettled farmers in former commercial farmland. The input delivery system is currently dominated by government.
2. Review the current commodity marketing systems especially the role of government and the Grain Marketing Board and impact on productivity of the sector.
3. Review the state of agricultural research and extension. These were key to technology generation and dissemination that supported growth and development of the sector.
4. Review the current rural retail network for sustainable distribution of inputs to farm communities
5. Review the state of agricultural infrastructure such as irrigation and tobacco processing units and horticultural greenhouses
6. Identify solutions and make recommendations for adoption and implementation by the new government
Two parallel strategies would need to be implemented, a) short and, b) medium to long term for agricultural recovery.
II. a. The short term strategy would be for the 2008/09 season. The current season (2007/08) failed due lack of inputs and drought. This creates a need for immediate revival of production and stabilization of the sector in the 2008/09 cropping season.
The objective is to ensure that farmers have access to inputs of required quantities and quality at the correct timing. The main objectives are however as follows:
1. Liaise with input suppliers and establish their capacities to produce and supply adequate quantities of seeds and agrochemicals
2. Review and identify key input retail networks that increase access farmers’ access to inputs.
3. Review and identify effective distribution networks that will deliver inputs to retail networks by mid to end September 2008.
4. Develop an input marketing and distribution monitoring system to ensure inputs do not find their way to the informal markets.
5. Develop a subsidized input pricing system that enables every farmer to access inputs through the retail system. No free inputs. Farmers could pay a subsidized price supported by donor. 20% of the current donor food aid could provide such subsidy.
6. Institute a land preparation support scheme to ensure that land is adequately prepared in time for the farming season.
7. Identify and support areas for irrigation schemes to ensure agricultural productivity all year.
8. Identify and recommend collaboration between NGOs and the extension service to provide immediate support to farmers in the immediate season
9. Develop immediate modalities for support of horticultural and tobacco production
10. Recommend a commodity pricing system that is consistent with world markets.
II. b. Medium to long term, (5 year strategic plan) that also looks at land reform and support for the agricultural input industry.
The objective is to ensure sustainability of productivity in the next 5 years. The main objectives are:
1. Review the current land reform and its long term impact of agricultural productivity and social security.
2. Review and recommend a need for a land commission that will over see the land rationalization of land ownership in Zimbabwe
3. Develop and recommend guidelines to a sustainable land tenure system that is acceptable to all Zimbabweans to do away with current dual production system of rural and commercial farming.
4. Develop and recommend a system of input subsidy that is phased out over a period of 5 years.
5. Develop and recommend systems and ways to increase farm productivity in rural areas.
6. Review the current capacity of inputs suppliers, seed producers, fertilizer manufacturers and wholesale and retailers in providing a permanent and sustainable supply of such inputs.
7. Recommend measures of support to inputs industry to increase capacity
ZIMBABWE CRISIS TALKS
Locating the role of civic society in Zimbabwe's power sharing talks
Zimbabwe's power sharing talks cannot include civic society. Their role is
to monitor, and facilitate transition and to shape it.
The negotiations between Zimbabwe's major political parties are said to be
progressing well. In fact, reports from various media say they have reached
an agreement on a draft deal which they are now taking back to their
principals. The details of this draft have been subject to vociferous
speculation amongst individuals, civic society and the political parties
themselves. Otherwise it's a wait and see game, and no one no knows when,
what and who will take what. However, there has been great debate in other
fora and the media, about civil society's demand for inclusion in the
ongoing talks. Are they entitled a seat? Should they be included? Who is
civic society? Do they have a mandate? What would be their added value to
Civic society leaders have dismissed the talks in SA as leading to an elite
pact, a power sharing deal which negates the real issues that need urgent
attention. In a statement, civic society had called for a transitional
authority led by an independent figure. This didn't go well with their
partners in the opposition who felt they had been given a mandate by the
people to govern and they deserved that role, even in a transitional
authority. When the negotiations finally kicked off, and they included the
only three parties given the mandate by the people to represent them in
parliament, civic society cried foul and demanded inclusion in the talks.
Zimbabwe has one of the biggest ranges of civic society organizations,
ranging from workers, students, youths, women, governance pressure groups,
professionals (lawyers, doctors, and intellectuals), humanitarian, and
churches. Whilst I have grouped these groups into sectors, there are a
multiple organizations in these sectors with others being more prominent and
mass based than others. However, who would have represented the civil
society in the talks? Let's assume that's a group of individuals would have
been picked from these organizations, they might have numbered up to 10 at
least. Fare enough, isn't this another elite group of individuals? Isn't
doing this an elite way of aggregating the interests of the different groups
A friend of mine proposed in one of the fora we interact that we should
follow the "national conference" style that took place in Benin. Or
inclusion as the CODESSA was involved in SA. However, I believe that given
the desperateness the Zimbabwe situation is, there is need for these talks
between Zimbabwe's major political parties so as to freshen up the air
before such national re-engagement, national conferences can be engaged in.
In any case, they are mandated by the people to do so.. The civic society,
as suggested by others, should do a comprehensive paper and have it
considered at the talks if they so wish. In any case one might think that
they have already made their position clear when they said they did not want
a transitional authority led by either Tsvangirai or Mugabe.
Generally, civic society has a traditional role as a watchdog, this role
they have played well up until now. They should continue monitoring the
talks, demand that their constituencies be informed of the progress, monitor
the outcome and decide whether it's in the best interests of the people they
represent, as none of them represent the whole spectrum of the Zimbabwean
society, this is done by MDC and ZANU PF and Independent/s. If a deal is
reached, civic society has an important role to play; probably more
important than they hoped to play at the talks.they should facilitate
transition. Act as information source of the developments to their
respective constituencies and monitor progress in important areas such as
peace, economy, rehabilitation and re-engagement.
Whilst we have one of the most vibrant civil societies in our region it has
suffered a lot of suppression, oppression, violence and intimidation that it
also needs rejuvenation, rehabilitation and realignment in terms of their
goals, interests and capacities. Those interested in taking the political
route should do so.
Collen chibango is a former student and youth leader in Zimbabwe, now
studying in the Netherlands. He writes for a Zimbabwe watch website column.
University College of Maastricht
P.O Box 616
6200 MD, Maastricht
August 08, 2008, 14:15
The media may have undermined the role of President Thabo Mbeki's mediation
in the Zimbabwean political crisis, according to Electoral Institute of
Southern Africa political analyst, Victor Shale.
This comes amid reports that the SADC mandated talks aimed at finding a
settlement to Zimbabwe's political crisis, are nearing a positive end. Shale
says Mbeki's mediation was undermined by interested parties and media
reports that his efforts were biased. The South African Foreign Affairs
Department has confirmed that Mbeki will be in Zimbabwe tomorrow.
The department has declined to comment on speculation that Mbeki's trip to
Harare tomorrow has been arranged to conclude a governing deal for Zimbabwe.
Mbeki is scheduled to meet with President Robert Mugabe and Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai in the Zimbabwe capital
before returning to South Africa on Sunday.
Foreign Affairs Spokesperson, Ronnie Mamoepa says tomorrow's meeting is part
of SADC-mandated power-sharing talks under the facilitation of Mbeki. Talks
between Zanu-PF and the MDC in South Africa are said to be progressing
I was amused to read this comment by a Zimbabwean this week. "There are two
things Zimbabweans are good at, one is laughter and the other is making a
plan." The truth of this observation is something all Zimbabweans will
recognise and while it's certainly true that laughter is the best medicine,
it is also true that the ability to 'make a plan' to get round difficulties
has meant that Zimbabweans often fail to grasp the nettle because they are
so busy trying to negotiate a way round it. Robert Mugabe understands this
national characteristic very well and exploits it to the advantage of the
ruling party. No matter how repressive and unjust the measures he takes
against the people, he knows that Zimbabweans very seldom get angry enough
to react. Instead they find a way round obstacles; they simply 'make a plan'.
In the midst of all the rumours and counter-rumours this week of an imminent
settlement between Zanu PF and the MDC, ordinary Zimbabweans have,
understandably, been too busy trying to get round the monetary chaos to pay
much attention to political goings on. With the cancellation of ten noughts
off the face value of notes and the reintroduction of coins, the householder's
job was to locate the long discarded coins. There were hilarious accounts of
people finding coins in the most unlikely places, kids' toy boxes, rubbish
dumps, jam jars in pantry cupboards and then rushing out to spend them at
supermarkets where harassed shop assistants used to counting notes on neat
little note counters suddenly had to contend with hundreds of heavy and very
grubby coins. 50c was apparently the lowest acceptable denomination but if
the bill for just a few items, a loaf of bread, a pkt of milk a dozen eggs
and a few tomatoes,(even supposing you could get any of those things) came
to 124 trillion that had to be calculated in 50 cent pieces! I can only
imagine the length of the queues at the checkout, not to mention the weight
of the coins the shopper had to carry. $200 in 50cent pieces weighs 2kgs
apparently! There were so many stories to provoke laughter; I liked the one
about the man who had been using his old coins in buckets as doorstops. The
story goes that he was able to buy a satellite dish with his six or seven
buckets of coins. Another man, a street vendor, had found enough coins to
buy him a houseful of new furniture and even hire a truck to carry his
splendid new bedroom suite etc home for him. Much laughter but, alas little
action or protest that this absolute chaos had been brought down on the
populace by the Governor of the Reserve Bank himself, the same man who had
paid billions to provide judges with the latest state of the art Mercedes
and satellite dishes. Indeed the initial reaction from the people was that
Gideon Gono had actually made life easier for them. What they don't realise
is that this monetary honeymoon will be very short and the nightmare of
noughts is already on the way back. There is no sign of the new currency
notes and in a bizarre development fuel tokens have become the latest
feature of the economy. Providing one has forex to buy the tokens, it is now
possible to buy goods, pay utility bills and even school fees with fuel
tokens worth US 1.50 a litre. That certainly is laughable were it not so
tragic a sign of Zimbabwe's total collapse. The truth is that Zimbabwe in
2008 has returned to a barter economy under Robert Mugabe, the man who once
said no one could have managed the economy better than he had.
In the midst of all this chaos at home, Robert Mugabe went off to Singapore.
It was reported that he had gone for a medical checkup but the Sydney
Morning Herald picked up the story that he was in reality on his way to Hong
Kong to be one of the 'World Leaders' attending the glamorous opening of the
Olympics but - and this is the funny part - the Chinese wouldn't let him in!
ITV here in the UK picked up the same story but in Harare George Charamba,
the president's spokesman, said it was simply a matter of Mugabe being
needed at home as the talks reached a crucial stage. Later on in the week,
just yesterday the 7th August, George Charamba was denying that there would
be face-to- face talks between Mugabe and Tsvangirai to settle the final
details of a so-called deal between the parties. And to give his denial some
semblance of truth he added that " the president spent the day (when he was
supposed to be meeting Tsvangirai) feeding chickens at his Norton farm." Now
that is funny! How many chickens has he got for heavens sake? And are we
really supposed to believe that Robert Mugabe feeds his own chickens - in
his Saville Row suit, no doubt? The mind boggles. The pity is that he doesn't
give as much care to feeding his own people. The food insecurity figures
were issued this week by the Zimbabwe Red Cross and the picture is grim.
Millions of Zimbabweans face present hunger and the real prospect of
starvation in the months ahead. Still the NGO's are forbidden by Mugabe's
'government' to deliver food aid and Mugabe's bully boys and thugs 'fine'
villagers returning home from their hiding places by taking their chickens
and goats as punishment for voting the wrong way. A good friend of mine who
has been in hiding since May went back home to Murehwa this week to check
out the situation. He has been separated from his wife and children for over
three months now and his kids have missed school. It's still not safe for
them all to go home together he says because the thugs come out at night to
beat up MDC activists whose names are listed. 'This is where Shepherd Jani
was murdered' he reminds me, as if I could forget. Despite the ongoing
'talks' nothing has changed on the ground and the police continue to turn a
blind eye on blatant criminality while hunger and despair haunt the land. I
heard the despair in my friend's voice, such a brave activist he is, when he
said "Perhaps any settlement is better than nothing?" and my heart sank. Who
am I from the relative comfort of the diaspora to tell him otherwise? I am
not hungry and hunted down as an 'enemy of the state', unable to feed my
children or give them a roof over their heads. But I fear for Zimbabwe. Will
Zimbabweans wake up one morning soon to find the party and leader they
supported overwhelmingly back in May swallowed up by Robert Mugabe and Zanu
PF in a Government of National Unity. There will be no room for laughter
then, no 'making a plan, to get round that obstacle, it will be too late.
Yours in the (continuing) struggle. PH
Paul Mutuzu 07 August, 2008 08:57:00
When Mugabe was faced with fading populism and his party increasingly
becoming irrelevant to the people of Zimbabwe, he scapegoated...
When Mugabe was faced with fading populism and his party increasingly
becoming irrelevant to the people of Zimbabwe, he scapegoated by sponsoring
racial prejudice, a precursor to the violent farm seizures. However there
are many people in Zimbabwe and outside, who consider the scenes associated
with farmland pillaging and consequent pandemonium as self-inflicted. T
he problem was that the colonial fiefdoms (both physical and psychological)
that were built to discriminate against blacks were not only preserved but
cultivated well after Independence. There still remained a number of whites
who were determined to re-live Ian Smith's phantasmagoric view that there
would never be black majority rule in 1000 years.
It was just before Independence on January 27, 1980 when upon his return
from a five-year self-imposed exile, Robert Mugabe pleaded with the whites
to "stay with us, please remain in this country and constitute a nation
based on national unity."
Delivering his Independence message on April 18, 1980, the conciliatory
Mugabe further extended the olive branch reassuring white people that "it
could never be a correct justification that, because the whites oppressed us
yesterday when they had power, that the blacks must oppress them today
because they have power. if you were my enemy, you are now my friend. If you
hated me, you cannot avoid the love that binds me to you and you to me."
Contrast the above statements with the following vituperative statements
uttered by the same Robert Mugabe twenty years later: "Our party must
continue to strike fear in the heart of the white man, our real enemy!" and
"the only white man you can trust is a dead white man". In March 2003 in a
speech at the funeral of his former Minister Swithun Mombeshora, Mugabe
declared that "This Hitler has only one objective: justice for his people.
If that is Hitler, then let me be a Hitler tenfold."
The trillion dollar question becomes: What went wrong? Events that ensued
only served to dismiss reconciliation as a mere cynical tokenism intended to
delude the world into believing the notion that Mugabe was indeed one of the
greatest statesmen of international stature ever hailed from Africa. The
strategy did pay dividends for a while given all the accolades of knighthood
and honorary degrees.
By way of a disclaimer, I hasten to point out that I am not a social
scientist but it does not take an Einstein to figure out that race relations
in Zimbabwe had a role to play in the build-up to Zimbabwe's political and
socio-economic implosion. Like many other patriots, I realize that the
stakes are high and the issues facing our country so intricately entwined
for any one of us to wait hoping that social scientists will come out of
their hibernation some day and help us put the Zimbabwe crisis into
perspective, a fundamental step towards building a formidable new Zimbabwe.
A no-holds-barred discussion on a contentious subject like race has to be
encouraged. In the process of doing so, mindsets will to drastically change
for the better. Race relations are not a tangential issue to the country's
crisis but are significant and urgent, requiring collective redress by us a
Politics of racial slandering by old warriors willing to do anything to win
votes should have no place in Zimbabwe. It is the same pattern that the
skillful power-freaks of Zanu PF led by Mugabe employed to win votes. When
Mugabe was faced with fading populism and his party increasingly becoming
irrelevant to the people of Zimbabwe, he scapegoated by sponsoring racial
prejudice, a precursor to the violent farm seizures. That is not to say land
redistribution was not necessary, we all agree that it was a historic
blunder that needed correction.
I am sure the majority of Zimbabweans out there will agree with me that the
whole process of land redistribution was fraudulently bungled. The truth of
the matter is that it was done expediently by a coterie of failed
politicians, a corrupt regime of inept leaders, who were facing mass
evictions from power by the people. Mugabe seized the moment to distract
people from confronting his corrupt regime and inept leadership in order to
justify staying in power as he declared that he would not go until the job
was done ( I guess to until he dies). How clever! The slide of Zimbabwe into
a full-throttled dictatorship became inexorable.
While it is justifiable to chastise Zanu PF together with its architects of
Zimbabwe's misery, it is inadequate to end there if we are to chart a new
direction for our country. We should therefore take a moment to flip the
other side of the same coin. There are many people in Zimbabwe and outside,
who consider the scenes associated with farmland pillaging and consequent
pandemonium as self-inflicted. The natural starting point is to deconstruct
unresolved legacies of racial superiority and the historicity of white
supremacy, which indubitably are the progenitors of racism.
The economic might of the white people (thanks to colonization) extended
beyond 1980. However, that was not the problem. The problem was that the
colonial fiefdoms (both physical and psychological) that were built to
discriminate against blacks were not only preserved but cultivated well
after Independence. There still remained a number of whites who were
determined to re-live Ian Smith's phantasmagoric view that there would never
be black majority rule in 1000 years. The underhand unofficial segregation
intensified while unwritten policies of exclusivity flourished.
Just like in the South Africa today, there existed all-white clubs (golf
clubs, night clubs, etc), all-white churches, all-white schools and many
other all-white social gatherings. Harare Club and the Exchange Bar in
Bulawayo were the most salient vestigial symbols of neo-colonialism. The
bottom-line is that our white counterparts still have some work to do as it
is imperative for them to tear down some of those walls that serve as
When the violent confiscation of farms gathered momentum, it resembled a
time of reckoning. Only a small number of black Zimbabweans sympathized with
the plight that fellow white citizens were disproportionally subjected to.
It was not uncommon to hear people in the streets saying "regai mavheti
amboona moto' (literally translates to "let the whites see fire"), the
equivalency of pay-back time.
When the September 11 disaster struck in the US, I still recall being at a
Harare hotel glued to a TV set as the harrowing news was breaking. I was
confounded to hear some of the people in the room publicly expressing their
approval of the carnage that had left about 3000 people dead. I confronted
them with utmost disgust and they boldly defended their jubilation that
'whites in Zimbabwe had caused them to dislike all white people regardless".
The incident only served to show how race relations had become so polarized
twenty years after Independence, which had come complete with
It reminds us of the American society that is still suffocating from
after-shocks of the shackles of slavery, 300 years later (after the
abolition of slavery). Race remains America's problem child and has never
been more conspicuous than in today's presidential election that is pitting
a black man and a white man, for the first time in history. The older
generation, solidly behind John McCain, is squirming and wriggling with
anger at the sight of even entertaining the idea of a black man occupying
the highest office in the land while the younger generation and the more
educated citizenry is overwhelmingly behind Barack Obama, a candidate of
hope and change.
McCain has already run a dishonorable campaign with clear racial
reverberations which were recently described by the veteran political
analyst David Gergen (a man who worked for four US Presidents) as smacking
of racism. The campaign is obsessed with portraying Obama as an outsider who
is "not one of us". The code word: 'The One" was used as the theme in John
McCain's newest TV commercial aimed at denigrating Barack Obama as an
trespasser. The code word has its roots from America's once-predominantly
racist southern states whose meaning closely resembles 'kaffir', an
antiquated racial slur used by unrepentant 'neo-apartheidists' in modern
day South Africa.
In Zimbabwe, the seemingly combative and bellicose farmers' Commercial
Farmers Union (CFU) only made things worse. CFU was a powerful consortium of
white farmers that lacked representation from the black farmers. In
response, the Zimbabwe Farmers Union came into existence primarily to
counter the growing power of the CFU. The images of rich white farmers
having their social gatherings and government-bashing conferences
(understandably so) did not go down very well with the Mugabe's government
whose venomous rhetoric was peaking. The same rhetoric was strikingly
similar to the one George Bush used to justify the 'shock and awe' that
flattened Baghdad. Certainly, that iota of the remaining commercial farmers
will agree with me that things could have been done differently. If they had
sought a more ameliorative path to the containing the fermenting
confrontation, Mugabe could have been stopped. Instead he declaring that
"Farmers are enemies of the state! Those farmers who resist will die!"
South Africa's unanswered racial conundrum makes it a ticking time bomb.
Racial inequality is evident in every aspect of South Africa's economy. The
black South Africans are overwhelmingly immersed in poverty and pose a
serious threat to whites' economic and power privileges. When those
xenophobic attacks occurred in South Africa, I do not think that they were
driven by hatred of Zimbabweans per se, but it was just a vengeful and
barbaric attack on defenseless Zimbabwe instead of their real targets. They
just had to unleash their frustrations some easy targets which came in handy
in form of Zimbabwe's homeless economic and political refugees, thanks to a
South African government that condones lawlessness and violent crime. I am
yet to read an article which points in that direction. Unfortunately South
Africa is not reading the signs of the times as it continues to tread on the
same path of racial intolerance and segregation that will come back to
destabilize the whole nation in the not-so-distant future unless radical
measures are taken to normalize race relations.
Our history is indeed an oxymoron. There was somehow 'this' erroneous
assumption that white people needed to go back where they came from hundred
years ago, yet they had only one home which is Zimbabwe. If we apply the
same argument to Zimbabwe's ethnic groups then what message are we telling
our Ndebele brothers and sisters? That they should go back to South Africa
where they came from? For readers out there who do not know Zimbabwe's
history, the Ndebeles only came into Zimbabwe in the 1830's under the
leadership of Mzlikazi having fled the wrath of Tshaka in South Africa. It
is fascinating to note that approximately the same time whites were
beginning to test the waters to settle across the Limpopo They eventually
did a few years later, when Lobengula was artfully befooled into selling the
country to Cecil John Rhodes in exchange of 100 pounds 'salary' per month,
1,000 rifles, 10,000 rounds of ammunition and a riverboat.
The white people in Zimbabwe are no lesser Zimbabweans and they have to be
fully protected by the same law that protects black people. They equally
have a bigger role to play in the new Zimbabwe that we are anticipating. Let
us not forget that the change whose optimism is keeping us awake throughout
the nights was not a result of sacrifices by a few officials from MDC. It
was a coalition of everyone, both black and white, rural and urban citizens,
preachers and teachers, who rejected the tyranny of Mugabe and his cronies.
It was a concerted effort by all those who love freedom, black and white who
realized that Zanu PF leadership was deceptive, treacherous and entrenched
in enriching its promoters at the expense of the masses who have been left
with nothing. With a few exceptions, most of the wealthy individuals in the
Zimbabwean society of today have their riches deeply rooted in Zanu PF's
loot. The so-called economic empowerment programs were nothing more than
scandalous state-sanctioned looting apparatus meant to benefit the regime's
few henchmen, a situation similar to South Africa's ongoing futile
empowerment that is leaving out the masses.
In conclusion, while it is a fact that racism is still embedded in all
societies, as Zimbabweans we must all strive to grow bigger in spirit as
citizens by embracing multi-culturalism, so that more can be accomplished in
our lifetime. Now is the time for a paradigm shift that calls for
transcending the confines of skin color and racial insensitivities. The
bottom-line is that we all need each other in creating a racially harmonious
Zimbabwe for our good and the good of the economy. We cannot afford to
repeat the costly mistakes of the recent past.
Dr Paul Mutuzu is the CEO of the US-based National Vision Institute
(http://nationalvision.wordpress.com). NVI is an independent economic and
political strategy think-tank focusing on Zimbabwe and the Southern Africa
Region. The Institute also advocates for open exchange of views and ideas.
He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
By Alex Bell
08 August 2008
Despite the power sharing talks, once again civil society groups have become
victims of the government's continued anti-activism clamp-down this week.
The period of the talks has seen little change on the ground in Zimbabwe,
despite the signing the Memorandum of Understanding that agreed to
facilitate peace and ease suffering. Reports of violence have continued and
the government ban on humanitarian aid has still not been lifted, leaving
millions of Zimbabweans in a daily battle to survive.
Meanwhile, despite reports of progress at the talks, police in Harare raided
the offices of the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition on Thursday, under the
pretence of investigating an illegal mining company. At the same time, about
10 activists from various groups were deported from Zambia after immigration
officials there claimed the group were trying to disrupt the power-sharing
Macdonald Lewanika, a spokesman for the Crisis Coalition, told Newsreel on
Friday that the police raid was "tantamount to harassment" and "completely
unexpected in context of the dialogue taking place". He said the police
officers used an excuse to conduct the raid and added that the group has
since been ordered to "provide an explanation for operating under the
government's directive for NGO's to cease operations".
Lewanika was also part of the group of activists that was deported on
Thursday. He said the group had travelled to Zambia for a consultative
meeting with individuals from across Africa, who had gathered to describe
"how government transitions were managed in their countries". He explained
that while they were offered no explanation from the Zambian government,
immigration authorities insisted that the meeting would be "aiding renegades
who discuss things that are not in the spirit of the dialogue".
Lewanika said the talks been undermined by the ongoing threat to civic
society and the Zimbabwean people, and added that the process has no
validity in the face of the continued clamp down on humanitarian efforts and
the obvious suffering experienced by the people. But he added that civic
society has been given little choice but to "wait and see what kind of an
agreement is reached".
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
Financial Gazette (Harare)
7 August 2008
Posted to the web 8 August 2008
Our economy is not performing well and most of the problems facing the
economy are self-inflicted. Allow me to offer my experiences and those that
I share with others in my everyday life.
Some of us strongly believe that this nation is one of the few chosen states
that are meant to be God's torchbearers, but sadly this has not been the
case for Zimbabwe because of issues that I shall allude to in this
Look at our literacy rate, the abundance of minerals, favourable weather
conditions, good soils and vast opportunities in tourism, etc.
Our only curse is our leadership, which lacks a human face as well as the
desire to truly serve the people.
We are our own enemies as a people and to get out of the current crisis we
must start to focus on a few areas.
The first suggestion is that, in our small ways, we must make sure that the
little that we have is put to good use. Those in positions of authority
should complement us in the private sector with timely decisions.
Our major problem as a country is that we have hammered our economy so
badly. For example, it is quite possible that a supplier can fail to provide
you with a price for something that he/she has in stock because of the
difficulties in pricing.
In most cases you will be lucky to find the goods because of the shortages.
Allow me to cite a chicken farmer as an example, of which I am also one.
In order to produce table chicken, we have to contend with shortages of feed
and the skyrocketing prices of day old chicks.
Suppliers blame the rising cost of stock feed on a weekly basis on the
depreciation of the Zimbabwe dollar and its impact on inflation. The same
applies to vaccines, which are imported.
The other challenge is our fellow farmers who are growing maize and soya
beans -- essential in the manufacture of stock feed -- are demanding payment
in cash and in some cases payment in hard currency in order to preserve
value, which they cannot do with our currency that is losing value on a
Accepting payment by way of transfer (RTGS) or cheques is not helping our
suppliers because the money is losing value in excess of 25 percent per day
while trapped in the banking system.
Herein lies a serious problem. Soya beans is selling at around US$300 per
tonne, which means one has to raise $6 trillion (before revaluation) using
an interbank rate of US$1: Z$20 billion.
Alternatively, if one was to effect the transaction via the RTGS, suppliers
will decline such payment given that the RTGS is in itself a major hustle.
At the rate of 25 percent mentioned earlier in this article, it means that
one would be losing value at the rate of 175 percent in a week, which is
usually the same length of time it takes for a cheque to clear or for an
RTGS to reflect in one's bank account.
In any case, who wants to receive their money in RTGS when you cannot
withdraw the cash in one swoop, not to mention the fact that the money would
be losing value at a tremendous pace?
Parallel to this is the cutthroat competition emerging on the domestic
market in the form of imported chickens from Botswana, Brazil, etc, that are
proving to be cheaper than local products.
The other problem is that of viability in the agricultural sector. I know
that our enemies will want to quickly conclude that the newly settled
farmers are not productive because they do not know how to farm. This is
obviously laughable because every newcomer in the farming sector would
require a bit of time to settle. The white former commercial farmers can
testify to this.
This is not to say we should condone poor planning on the part of the
regulatory authorities who have a penchant for distributing inputs well into
the farming season. It is now the norm that producer prices are not
announced on time, which makes planning difficult.
In the private sector, banks are another hindrance. They are taking weeks,
if not months, to process loan applications, which does not augur well for
productivity, as agriculture is time bound.
These issues should be corrected alongside other challenges such as the
availability of fuel and other difficulties confronting other strategic
industries such as commerce, mining, tourism, etc.
I must end by saying I do not share the notion that sanctions have been the
cause of our economic woes. The economic challenges we find ourselves in are
90 percent caused by mismanagement of the economy and 10 percent as a result
What have sanctions and nature got to do with people who approach a season
without fertilizer, seed and viable producer prices?
What have sanctions got to do with a people who undermine their own currency
by perpetuating policies that are not complementary to productivity such as
the price controls, and the sponsored distortions in the pricing of foreign
currency, fuel, etc?
Fri, 08 Aug 2008 13:21
The African migrants who, like 21-year-old Fortune from Zimbabwe, have
poured into the city known in Zulu as the Place of Gold over the past
decade, face an agonising choice in the coming week.
They must reintegrate into the townships and squatter camps they fled in
mid-May when their South African neighbours began attacking them - or return
home to the poverty and/or conflict they left behind in their countries of
The two-week orgy of xenophobic violence that swept South Africa in May,
leaving at least 62 people dead and hundreds injured, marked one of the
darkest hours in the country's 14-year democracy.
Tens of thousands of Zimbabweans, Mozambicans, Malawians, Congolese,
Nigerians and other Africans scooped up their children and ran from mobs
with little more than the clothes on their back.
Many were so traumatised by the violence they had witnessed or experienced
they rushed to board buses and trains out of South Africa.
The rest, close to 40 000 at one point, piled into police stations, churches
and community halls, from where most were later bundled off to
Shelters being shut down
Now, barely three months later, the government is shutting down the
shelters, leaving around 7000 people facing an uncertain future. In Gauteng
province, where most of the violence took place in and around Johannesburg,
six camps holding around 3000 people are due to close by 15 August.
Refugees in the Western Cape have a few extra weeks to plot their next move,
with authorities saying they hope to empty over 40 shelters by 3 September.
For Fortune, removal from Rand Airport refugee camp in east Johannesburg
means the end of his protection from youths who have vowed to finish off
'They will kill me'
"It is difficult for me to go back (to nearby Primrose squatter camp)," says
the lanky security guard, who hopped the border illegally into South Africa
to escape Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe's disastrous policies.
Returning to Zimbabwe in the absence of a change in government is not an
option, says Fortune. Going back to Primrose is nearly as unpalatable. "They
will kill me," he says.
Dramatic a scenario as that may sound, it's not unrealistic. In Ramaphosa
squatter camp, where the sadly iconic image of Mozambican Ernesto Nhamuave
burning to death was captured; another Mozambican who returned home recently
to his South African wife was dragged from his shack and hacked to death.
Analysts say the unbridled influx of migrants from poorer countries into
Africa's biggest economy since the end of apartheid, including an estimated
ranging between one and three million Zimbabweans, is causing a
"poor-on-poor violence" tussle over scarce resources.
One in four in South Africa is officially jobless, with unions putting the
real figure at closer to 40 per cent. South Africans accuse undocumented
foreigners of aggravating their plight by working for less pay.
'They don't know where to go'
While most agree that the refugee shelters should not become a permanent
fixture, activists accuse the government of not doing enough to pave the way
for the reintegration of migrants or to prepare them for their return.
"People are really confused. They don't know where to go," says Partson
Madzimure, a Zimbabwean-trained psychology lecturer who organises free
classes for kids and adults at Rand Airport.
But the government has to tread carefully to avoid being perceived as doing
more for the migrants than needy locals.
Allegations that foreigners leapfrogged South Africans on the waiting list
for government housing was what ignited the violence in Alexandra township,
north of Johannesburg, on 11 May.
"We're encouraging people to reintegrate themselves," Russell McGregor, the
Gauteng government's media liaison officer said.
Where migrants were unwelcome, in places like Ramaphosa, "the political
leadership and the councils will try to integrate them into other areas," he
Meanwhile, migrants who return to the scene of May's crime have their own
set of resentments to contend with.
Domingo Mawai, a Mozambican-born father of four, is back selling fruit and
vegetables through a mesh screen in a tiny street-side stall in Alexandra.
Every day, he sees the people who used the cover provided by the xenophobic
violence to make off with R8000 worth of stock, his fridge, TV, DVD player,
blankets and stove.
"One of them came to the shop recently to ask forgiveneness," he notes.
Nobody, as yet, has offered to return his property.