Mugabe: talks with Blair 'more useful' than
HARARE - President
Robert Mugabe said on Monday it would be more useful to hold talks with Tony
Blair than Zimbabwe's opposition because he said the British prime minister
effectively controlled the opposition.
"The man who needs to be
spoken to in order for him to see reason resides at No 10 Downing Street ...
that's the man to speak to," Mugabe told thousands at a commemoration of the
fighters in Zimbabwe's war of independence during the 1970s.
"Those in Harvest House, Harare, (opposition headquarters) are no more than
his stooges and puppets. We would rather speak to the principal who
manipulates the puppets," Mugabe said.
The opposition Movement
for Democratic Change (MDC) says talks with ZANU-PF would pave the way for
Mugabe to retire and the formation of an interim coalition government that
would prepare for elections monitored by the international
But efforts to restart talks between the ruling ZANU-PF
and the MDC have floundered, deepening a political crisis.
ZANU-PF party could talk to the MDC if it dropped its support for sanctions
imposed on his top leadership by some Western nations, Mugabe
MDC spokesman Paul Themba-Nyathi said the opposition
would not beg for talks but economic crisis, shown in triple-digit
inflation, unemployment of over 70 per cent and shortages of foreign
currency could force Mugabe to negotiate.
"He will soon realise
they cannot continue to bury their heads in the sand. Even civilised leaders
eventually have dialogue with sections of its citizens who are disaffected,"
Themba-Nyathi told Reuters.
Last week Tsvangirai said he had no
problem meeting Mugabe following the withdrawal of the remaining treason
charges against him by the government.
Mugabe rebuffed the
opposition leader who says the 81-year-old leader, in power since
independence from Britain in 1980, robbed him of victory in a presidential
election in 2002.
"But why does the MDC leader now want to break
the boycott? No sir, I don't want to meet you," Mugabe said, drawing
chuckles from the gathering some of whom held banners with defiant messages
like "Talk to MDC? On what? About what?" and "We did not win elections to
form coalition government."
The US, European Union and New Zealand
have imposed targeted sanctions on Mugabe's top leadership for what they see
as human rights abuses and rigging of past elections. Harare says sanctions
mainly hurt the poor.
Embattled Mugabe snubs SA rescue package, boasting he
can rely on China August 9, 2005
Foreign Service Harare: President Robert
Mugabe has snubbed South Africa's financial rescue package and said the
economy would be revived by assistance from China.
a ceremony to mark the heroes of Zimbabwe's liberation war, Mugabe did not
mention any SA deal, other than an oblique reference to "shrill" calls.
These came, he said, from "many quarters including those we expect to know
better, for so-called talks with the Movement for Democratic Change. Some of
these calls are motivated by the MDC which wrongly thinks it can compel us
to talk to it".
Mugabe, with his usual round of Tony Blair bashing,
said China remained Zimbabwe's most steadfast ally.
" I am
happy to announce that our Look East policies are beginning to assume a
concrete form and yield quantifiable economic results for our nation. My
recent state visit to China was most beneficial and is set to transform our
economy in a fundamental way."
He did not mention gruelling
shortages of fuel and food, particularly in southern Zimbabwe where
malnutrition is increasing alarmingly. He called on Zimbabweans to grow more
food, saying: "Until and unless we feed ourselves we remain vulnerable to
outside influence and subversion.
"In asking all those on the
land to produce, we are asking them to secure our sovereignty which
continues to be challenged by the same forces we fought against
Paul Themba Nyathi, spokesman for the MDC, said: "He
really is senile. His speech was a snub to the South African offer of
"I have returned today from a trip to Gwanda (south of
Bulawayo) and the malnutrition out there is frightening. Journalists should
go and see for themselves.
"There has to be intensified
pressure from South Africa and the international community to force Mugabe
to allow people to get food now.
"He does not want food aid because
he wants to continue to use food to control people."
If the South African government
needed any further proof that its current approach to the Zimbabwean crisis
has failed dismally, it was provided yesterday by President Robert
In a strident address in Harare, he outrightly rejected
talks with the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) to resolve
the country's protracted crisis.
And, in a barely concealed
reference to the South African government, he sneeringly referred to the
proposal for talks with the MDC by "quarters which should know
Mugabe scoffed: "Today we tell all those calling for such
ill-conceived talks to please stop their misdirected efforts."
Even the possibility that his rather intemperate remarks could jeopardise a
multimillion rand loan from South Africa did not deter him.
it was necessary to review South Africa's hitherto softly-softly approach to
the instability in Zimbabwe, it is now.
government officials have often declared that it was up to Zimbabweans
themselves to resolve the turmoil.
However, Mugabe's caustic
rejection of talks with the MDC - which he described as puppets of British
prime minister Tony Blair's government - dramatically exposes the
limitations of this option.
It is, of course, not South Africa's
responsibility alone to find a way out of the impasse in Zimbabwe. But the
Southern African Development Community and the African Union have not
distinguished themselves so far during the crisis.
Zimbabwe's neighbour, and as host to many refugees already from that
country, there are additional reasons for South Africa to renew efforts to
help end the conflict there.
At the very least, it must make any
financial assistance to Zimbabwe strictly conditional on talks with the MDC.
Somewhere, some time, a line must be drawn. That time has now
Zimbabwe's civil society, and diminishing political
civil society is one of the most vocal in the region. Zimbabwean authorities
say most are dabbling in politics and are in fact corrupt themselves.
Writing for New Zimbabwe.com today, Zimbabwean lawyer Dr Alex Magaisa says
many are in it for the money, and not for the
Dr Alex Magaisa Last updated: 08/09/2005 09:07:32 THE publication of two
articles on New Zimbabwe.com last week attracted an avalanche of responses.
A key and one of the more tantalising challenges that came my way, could be
crystallised in a famous line attributed to Lenin, "What's to be done?"
which in this context, this must be read in the context of Zimbabwe. A
mere mortal that I am, I do not claim a monopoly of ideas nor do I hold the
single key to the resolution of the Zimbabwe problem. No single person does.
But I also have faith in the power of ideas and believe that critical
thought provides the invaluable therapy against the ills of complacency and
taking things for granted. The experience of the last 5 years has taught us
that the resolution of the problems is not and will not be accomplished in
one event. Rather, it is a process and like all processes, there are going
to be phases through which the country must pass and we all need to generate
In this article, I attempt an examination of Civil Society
Organisations (CSOs), more commonly known as Non-governmental organisations
(NGOs), in the process of transformation in much the same way I did in
relation to the MDC in a previous article. The principal aim is to
demonstrate that instead of constructing a unified force designed to pursue
the common theme of democratisation and protection of human rights, the CSOs
may have, albeit unwittingly, disabled the opposition political
organisations, in particular the MDC. I am particularly concerned with the
competition for political space between the MDC and the CSOs, that claim to
be apolitical, and the resultant shrinkage of space for the opposition,
among other consequences. There are some who will choose to interpret this
as an attack on CSOs. It is not. At the basic level, it is a call on CSOs to
take a critical self-assessment of their role and purpose in the political
process within the Zimbabwean context. Like the MDC, they too need to
redefine their perspectives, strategies and purpose in light of past
experience. Let me hasten to add that there are many people within the CSOs
who have done great work at very high risk and whose work deserves
commendation. But too much commendation and less critical assessment
explains why Zimbabwe is in the state it is today so the better to leave
praises to a late stage and to others and concentrate on possibilities for
Firstly, a closer assessment of the political landscape in
Zimbabwe reveals wider and more complex dynamics than mere appearances
sometimes suggest. In particular, there is a tendency to reduce everything
to the dialectical relationship between ZANU PF and the MDC - to portray and
understand the Zimbabwe problem from two dominant angles represented by each
of those political parties. The successes or failures of the MDC are
therefore often measured against the position of ZANU PF. This, I fear, is
incorrect. This is a simplistic picture that obscures the myriad of actors
and forces on the Zimbabwean political landscape. These actors and forces
must be subjected to greater scrutiny as regards their role in the processes
of change and march towards democratisation obtaining in the country. As I
have indicated, of particular concern is the phenomenon of the Non
Governmental Organisation, more fashionably referred to as Civil Society
Organisations (CSOs) often presented as necessary vehicles in Africa's march
towards democracy and human rights protection.
It is unfortunate that
there is that view that people can participate and make an impact on the
political process through vehicles that do not actually seek political power
and that have no mandate to make laws but at best, appeal to moral
conscience, pressure, goodwill and support mostly from external forces.
Instead of strengthening the political process, the proliferation of CSOs on
the political landscape, has simply highlighted the problem but not
mobilised enough to effect change. In fact, while providing people with a
convenient forum for debate, it may also turn them away from the political
organisations, which are the key to political change and transformation.
There is no shortage of opposition forces. The problem is that there is
division within the opposition forces between those who participate within
the realm of the political party and another large group that calls itself
CSOs whose individuals prefer to be known as "activists", at the same time
proclaiming to be apolitical. For whatever reason, they do not want to be
called politicians. Unlike the ruling party, those who are in the opposition
are thus divided into the "political" for MDC and the "apolitical" mainly in
CSOs. As I see it, Africa and in this case, Zimbabwe cannot afford people
who claim to be apolitical.
Contrary to common posturing, the numerous
CSOs are in fact political vehicles and to the extent that they are, they
are political actors, which compete for political space against genuine
political parties. For most opposition forces in Africa political space is
limited, dominated as it is by the ruling liberation parties. The opposition
forces have to fight for that space under very difficult conditions. Now,
considering that in most cases both the main opposition party on the one
hand and CSOs on the other are engaged in battles for space against the same
ruling party, it is easy to see that how they too become competitors against
each other for the limited space that they are able to get. The ruling party
never sees the main opposition party and the CSOs as different in character
or goals that they pursue. Anything that challenges the position of the
ruling party is identified under the large and all-encompassing banner of
"the opposition". Whatever the protestations to the contrary, that is the
reality of our situation. The tragedy here is that instead of pursuing the
similar goals that ought to unite them, the opposition party and the CSOs
become embroiled in a fight amongst themselves, for the limited political
This pretence that "we are civil society" and not political
organisations is based on a fallacious distinction, which fails to take into
account the context within which they operate. To be sure, to most of the
population in Zimbabwe, there is no distinction between the MDC and CSOs
that have been fighting for human rights, etc. To the extent that the CSOs
attempt to portray themselves as apolitical and impartial advocates for
rights, they only serve to confuse a population that is already mentally
harassed by the conflict between the two main protagonists. The "No" Vote
against the proposed 2000 Constitution is the clearest demonstration that
the distinction is known only to those who lead and run CSOs but not the
masses. It seems widely accepted that the No Vote was more an _expression of
protest against the ruling party rather than the Constitution itself,
although of course those in the CSOs that led the "NO Campaign" would have
us believe otherwise.
We understand them - in order to get more
donor-funds, they need "claim" certain victories. So the "No Vote" is used
to state the case for CSOs relevance rather than the MDC, which incidentally
rose from within the realm of the so-called apolitical CSOs.
addition, it is inconceivable, within the context of African politics, that
CSOs can purport to be fighting for human rights without at the same time
being engaged in politics. In all of Europe, America, Asia, the first and
most important fight was the struggle at the political level. What is it
that makes people believe that they can simply change the opinion of ruling
parties in Africa, from self-appointed positions in CSOs without first
engaging in the struggle for political power? Arguably, it is necessary to
change the political system in order to achieve the human rights goals. In
other words, the achievement of human rights is largely dependent on whether
one can transform the political system.
This is what the liberation
movements had to do against the colonial forces - human rights did not just
come through campaigns run by "apolitical" CSOs - the goals had to be
achieved through political means and political parties were constructed
regardless of how often forms of political organisation were banned. It is
simply a pity that after getting political power, the liberation movements
cared less about human rights. To the extent that there is a crop of CSOs
that purport to be apolitical, they are wasting energy and resources by
failing to take a politically bold approach. They are competing for limited
space with political parties, which are better positioned and oriented
towards political transformation. The same youths who should be running with
and for the political parties are instead lured by the donor handouts that
come through CSOs.
It is easy to see why people are easily tempted into
believing that CSOs are key to change of fortunes on the continent. That may
be so only to the extent that they conscientise the masses with regards
their rights and mobilise people to be more vigilant. Others indeed play
crucial social functions. But let us pause for a moment. Do CSOs contest
elections? How does political power change? No - CSOs do not contest
elections and they do not form governments. Yet that is exactly what Africa
needs today - an active political culture in which every person realises
that they are political and have a role to play in politics. Yet this
phenomenon of CSOs appears to be breeding the norm of being apolitical. As I
have stated, Africa cannot afford to have millions of apolitical people at
Another problem with CSOs, which also has negative
consequences for the opposition movement is that despite preaching
accountability and good practice to the politicians some of their leaders
adopt the behaviour and lifestyle of politicians. The public cannot
distinguish between the leaders of political parties and the leaders of CSOs
and this causes the masses to despair about the whole political process. The
behaviour of some CSO leaders is probably unsurprising because as I have
argued, they are politicians operating under camouflage. Ironically, it is
never clear to whom they are accountable. There is something incorrect about
an organisation that is funded by one group of foreigners and yet claims to
act in the best interests of another mass of people, especially in matters
of self-determination. In whose interests do those who get funds really act?
They can close the organisation the next day and not have to face
accountability to the local masses. I had occasion to witness the
unfortunate relationship between some donors and some CSO leaders at one
conference in London. It was sad to see whole men and women almost crawling
like toddlers at the feet of donors - all to satisfy the donors! Instead of
engaging on matters of substance with the Zimbabwens that had gathered at
the event many of the leaders were too busy chatting up donors in
anticipation of another pay-day. It's simple really: They tell them all they
want to hear.
Thereafter they retire to the hotel and hop onto
another plane to Washington and the routine goes on . Then they return home
with US dollars and arrange a meeting at one of the Harare hotels, where an
invited "distinguished" guest speaks and this and that . and so on and so
on. All too often a few months after taking a position a leader of a CSO
relocates from Glen View to Avondale. He trades his battered Datsun Pulsar
for a Toyota Land Cruiser - which more often, is ferrying relatives to a
funeral or a wedding, and o, yes, they also get fuel coupons because they
are "working for the good of the people", they may not paid "salaries" but
get "allowances", etc. Yes, his lifestyle changes. Sometimes the
chairperson, is also the chief executive and he is also a consultant . and
so on. And you tell me politicians do not do the same?
It is a sad
state of affairs when the CSO sector is seen as an employment creator. When
that happens, you suspect the cause is only of secondary importance. In
Europe, they leave lucrative City jobs to volunteer or earn considerably
reduced wages in charities. In Africa, people leave the private sector to
join CSOs for the salary quoted in foreign currency, for the vehicle and
other perks. Few do so for the cause. People look after each other, just as
the politicians do. Unlike directors of companies, issues of conflict of
interest, duties and powers are not properly regulated. Like their political
party counterparts, the CSO leaders become entrenched in the organisation or
in the sector. Perhaps worse, as soon as he loses his position, he goes on
to set up another one. They hop from one CSO to another and it is as if
their very lives depend on the persistence of the crisis. The result is a
vast collection of CSOs led by different individuals some with egos the size
of Zimbabwe, fighting for donors among themselves and fighting for space
against political parties. So today you hear of a "coalition", tomorrow
there is a "forum" and the next day there is an "alliance", etc. There are
forums, coalitions and alliances all representing the same smaller CSOs.
What is the sense of purpose? Is there really any justification for these
different layers? If only they were political organisations designed to seek
political power and therefore control change. But they are not and at best
can only highlight.
Unsurprisingly great talents and resources that would
otherwise accrue to political parties are instead diverted to the numerous
CSOs. There are many strong and active members participating within the
realm of CSOs who could make a huge difference if they could be bold enough
to declare their political aspirations and take on the challenge. Many of
us, especially the intellectuals, prefer to stand behind the cover of CSOs
and proudly proclaim our "apolitical" credentials. But there is also another
argument which might explain the existence of CSOs - that the opposition
parties themselves do not offer sufficient space to others, in particular
ambitious ones who may not have been around at the time of formation of the
party. So for example it is not unusual to hear young cadres arguing that
the MDC has been "privatised" by a certain clique and we are therefore not
able to participate in its structures at the appropriate levels. Could it be
that the opposition is losing talent by closing its doors? Could it be that
the same people eventually end up forming CSOs to play a role in the
political process and to gain visibility within the context? It may confirm
the argument that some of the people in CSOs may in fact be politicians who
have not managed to find space or have been rebuffed by the main opposition
party. That is something to seriously think about.
What then is the
point of all this? It is this that even though Zimbabwe appears to have one
dominant opposition party, there is in fact a potentially powerful force
represented at present by so-called apolitical CSOs. There are too many
opposition forces fighting each other for the same space, same resources,
same limelight and for the same goal yet some are not bold enough to stand
in the clear. There is unnecessary and unhelpful division. The scenario is
therefore akin to where you have different opposition parties contesting
against the ruling party, which wins not because it is more popular, but
because of split votes in the opposition. The key is to unite as political
force from a common political platform.
So for example, the MDC
leadership must desist if it has such tendencies, from the "privatisation of
internal space" and open up avenues for other actors that could be powerful
partners - both individuals and organisations. If such an opening were
available, there is really no need for a new political animal on the scene
but that people now talk of such an animal should however warn the MDC and
other opposition parties of the need to open up and consolidate. As for
CSOs, I reiterate the point that this business of being impartial and
apolitical is not necessary. It is not to disparage the many good men and
women out there, but to suggest that there is need for redefinition of
purpose and strategy. What we see and hear from them has become all too
predictable. Dr Magaisa is a Zimbabwean lawyer formerly Lecturer in Law at
the University of Nottingham. He is also a writes a legal and business
column for the Zimbabwe Independent. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
Mandela 'must speak out on Zim' 08/08/2005 22:05 -
Geneva - A United Nations human rights expert on Monday sharply
criticised major African leaders, saying their failure to condemn President
Robert Mugabe's housing demolition campaign in Zimbabwe was tantamount to a
The UN special rapporteur on the right to adequate
housing, Miloon Kothari, said Zimbabwe was heading towards a disaster if the
government failed to change course on the forcible eviction of about 700 000
people from shantytowns.
Kothari said: "The silence of major
governments in Africa continues to be shocking.
"And of influential
individuals like Nelson Mandela, I don't understand why they don't speak
"There is a kind of a cover-up that is there as far as President
Mugabe is concerned."
Direct animosity towards people
also called on leading developing nations outside Africa, such as Brazil and
India, to speak out against the demolitions.
He said: "What needs to be
impressed upon President Mugabe is that he has to change course - you cannot
rule a country by arbitrarily demolishing thousands and thousands of
Kothari said: "You cannot run a government by that kind
of direct animosity towards your population because what we are looking
ahead to is a much greater disaster."
Kothari said UN
Secretary-General Kofi Annan was ready to spearhead a co-ordinated campaign
by the world body on the situation in Zimbabwe.
According to a UN report released last month, about 700 000
Zimbabweans had lost their homes and livelihoods in the campaign and a
further 2.4 million people had been affected.
The report by the UN
envoy Anna Tibaijuka said the demolitions had been "carried out in an
indiscriminate and unjustified manner, with indifference to human
Kothari, an Indian legal expert, said he was concerned that
there had been no moves by Zimbawe's authorities since the UN report to
compensate those who had been thrown out of their homes.
Monday said he had invited Annan to Zimbabwe "so that he can have an
appreciation of what we are trying to do for our people in the sphere of
housing and informal business".
Zimbabwe's president also lashed out
at critics, calling them "long-distance philanthropists who romanticise
Kothari said he was willing to travel to Zimbabwe to provide
help with a fair housing policy.
Zimbabwe stands alone as the delinquent in Standard's
The results from Standard Chartered set two records
yesterday. The bank's profits from its rapidly growing business in Asia sent
the shares to a new high, while it managed to set a benchmark for
What were once plain old provisions are now known as
impairment charges in Standardspeak, adding a new twist to Barclays'
description of bad loans as "delinquencies".
are in Zimbabwe, where Mervyn Davies, the chief executive, delicately
described "margin compression", and "difficult trading conditions" before
deciding on discretion.
Of course, margins are not the only things being
compressed there, as the 700,000 people made homeless as their houses were
flattened by Mugabe's heavies in June have found. Mr Davies worries about
his 900 staff, so his evasion is understandable. He knows that Zimbabwe,
when it was Rhodesia, was one of the bank's most profitable investments.
Now, its assets there have been written down to nothing.
stands as a bleak reminder of how things can change in emerging economies,
the places where Standard operates. In the early 1960s, Zimbabwe was richer
than Thailand, which has itself only just got over a serious banking crisis
in the late 1990s. The expanding Asian middle class may be signing up for
mortgages, loans and credit cards in vast numbers, but it would be naive to
expect a seamless transition from emerging market to mature
Fortunately, there is no sign of trouble elsewhere in Standard's
new British empire. The historical connections which have caused grief in
Zimbabwe are allowing the bank to run a close second to HSBC in China and
India; two British institutions in pole position to exploit two emerging
world traders - not least the trade with each other. It's not a bad place to
Ronald Matsito has been unable to pick up the pieces
since his home of 15 years and his small hardware shop were bulldozed two
months ago during the Zimbabwe government's clean up
"I can't see a way forward," says Matsito (55) a
father of five who lives in Mufakose, a working-class district in southwest
Harare. "I've lost everything."
"I have no relatives, no
one to ask for help. The people are all in the same
Hundreds of thousands of victims of a ten-week
demolition blitz are living on the edge in Zimbabwe after their homes,
market stalls and shops were destroyed.
has for the most part yet to materialise, forcing many of the new homeless
to live in tents while others are recovering scraps from the rubble of their
former homes to rebuild a smaller shack.
thousands of people are sleeping out in the open, exposed to the bitter cold
of the southern hemisphere winter, according to aid
An unknown number have moved to the countryside
where food shortages are acute. Others have been taken in by family and
friends in already crammed homes.
After his two-room home
was destroyed, Matsito erected walls by piling his belongings, wrapped
plastic sheeting around them and found a slab of corrugated steel to use as
His makeshift house lies next to where his backyard
dwelling and home of 15 years once stood.
gave a false name out of fear of reprisals, turned to United Nations aid
agencies for blankets "because the children were shivering at night", and
now depends on hand-outs to survive.
His face drawn and
looking thin, Matsito says he sometimes walks three kilometers to buy bread
due to shortages. He worries about the price of maize, the staple food,
which has increased three-fold since he lost his home.
have enough maize now for eight days. Where will I find the next bag?" he
asks. Most of the homeless survive on sadza, a thick maize
With unemployment at 70%, finding a job seems
an impossible prospect for those like Matsito who have been robbed of their
Street and market vending remain outlawed after
most of the city's stalls and so-called home industries, small artisan
shops, were razed.
At Hatcliffe Extension, a township of
about 20 000 people in northwest Harare, Farai Sibanda's family spent six
weeks in a transit camp before being told by Zimbabwean authorities that
they could go back to the dirt field where their home once
The family of eight spent close to a month sleeping
outside before construction workers showed up with material to build new
homes in the coming weeks as part of the government's new Operation Garikai,
or Live Well.
But the Sibanda family got fed up of
waiting, so last week they took some of the material to build a small shack
-- although they expect that it too will be taken down.
"I don't think the government has the money or the wish to build housing for
these people," says opposition lawmaker Trudy Stevenson.
"They are thinking that they will be grateful that they are back at
Hatcliffe and will shut up."
"They will be forgotten," says
Stevenson who is trying to mobilise aid for the demolition
While the homeless say they blame President Robert
Mugabe for their hardships, there is no talk of protest action, mostly out
"We are afraid of pursuing anything. We are just
waiting," says Sibanda, who feels he is powerless.
worst thing is that we were made to feel that we cannot make decisions. The
people who gave us the stand can come and take it away. The people who
evicted us from Hatcliffe are the same ones who took us back." -
A few weeks ago, Jennifer Peterson stood
paralyzed in the boxed cereal aisle at the supermarket. Bombarded by the
splashy packaging of Froot Loops, Cheerios, corn flakes and the like, she
found herself overwhelmed by the choices, not because she couldn't decide,
but because she's seen firsthand a lack of choice.
returned from a visit to Zambia and Zimbabwe, two neighboring African
countries, one on its way to democracy, the other struggling under corrupt
leadership. The experience, she says, changed her.
Peterson, an engineer
who works for HKM Engineering in Helena, was chosen by Rotary International
for a Group Study Exchange - a program that provides professionals the
opportunity to visit other countries to learn more about International
Rotary programs and meet Rotarians in other countries who share the same
Peterson said she had never traveled abroad, except to once
cross the border into Mexico.
In April, Peterson traveled to Zambia
and then to Zimbabwe on a six-week exchange. She traveled with three other
professionals from Montana and a sponsor from Rotary
The team visited schools, medical clinics, hospitals and
orphanages, many of which would not be in operation were it not for Rotary
donors. Still, the educational and medical services that were provided were
vastly different from what Peterson expected.
"Every time we'd plan
to visit one of these Rotary projects I'd have this huge knot in my stomach.
I just didn't know what I would encounter, whether it be a hospital or a
school or what," Peterson said. "And I'd always come away
In both Zambia and Zimbabwe, poverty is widespread and food,
medicine, fuel and money are in short supply. It's estimated that a quarter
of the population in Africa has AIDS and thousands of children are born HIV
Despite sharing a border, the two countries are different
in many ways.
"Zambia is on its way up," Peterson said. The country has
an established democracy, a stable economy and the infrastructure to grow.
Still, Peterson said she was surprised at how little the people had in
comparison to her American point of reference.
The people of Zimbabwe
suffer under a corrupt government, which has all but destroyed the national
economy. The poverty and oppression leads to more social problems and fewer
services to those in need. Aid organizations have been driven out by
Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe, who fears an uprising.
many of the places she visited three months ago in Zimbabwe no longer exist.
Markets, schools, orphanages and clinics have been closed down or demolished
in Mugabe's Murambatsvina, roughly translated - Drive Out the
Peterson said Zimbabweans who are associated with any
non-governmental agency and aid organizations that are not government
sanctioned have been targeted under the Drive Out the Trash program along
with poor families living in shanty towns in cities.
She was told
that he so fears being removed from office that he seized the ballot boxes
from a nationwide election held in April. Many residents believe that he
lost the election to an MDC, Movement for Democratic Change, candidate. A
United Nations investigation said that in a matter of months, some 700,000
people lost their homes and or their livelihoods, and many, many citizens
have been denied access to education and medical care.
In addition to
Drive Out the Trash, Mugabe implemented what he calls a land reform program
in 2000. Since its inception, hundreds of farms have been seized from
families who have owned them for generations, and the property has been
given to high-ranking government officials, who have halted production.
Peterson stayed with one such family, stripped of their farm.
an optimist in Zimbabwe is someone who thinks it won't get worse," Peterson
said, quoting one of her hosts in the country.
In the face of such
adversity, it was the hope, courage and generosity of the people Peterson
encountered that moved her.
Not a day goes by when she doesn't think of
the children she encountered in Africa, many of them orphans, many of them
born with AIDS. Orphanages were filled with children who were orphaned when
their parents died of AIDS, and only the sickest children received hospital
care, she said.
"I just wanted to make it all better for the children,"
she said. "I've thought long and hard about what you can do. I've literally
been haunted by it."
One of the ways Peterson said she plans to help
the children of Zambia and Zimbabwe is to support education in those
countries, both through Rotary International and by private, direct
In Zambia, the Montana Rotary District purchased brick-making
equipment to help rebuild a newly established school that was once a tavern.
Some 2,000 children attend the school, which is without indoor
"They just stopped serving beer there two years ago," she said.
"They were serving beer at the time the school was there."
Rotary-supported school in Zimbabwe, Peterson made a connection with a girl
Peterson said that the government offers education to
children through grade six, but for further education, the student must have
a sponsor. She said that $300 a year will cover all the costs for a
Zimbabwean student to attend a boarding school for continuing
One of the top students in her class, Pretty, was in the sixth
grade and couldn't afford the tuition to continue her education. Peterson
recognized her potential almost instantly, and she decided then and there to
pay her way through school.
"She definitely had it all going for her
- even more than I did at that age," Peterson said. "She was just born in a
different place, that's all."
GABORONE - SADC and Botswana
Observer missions to Zimbabwes March parliamentary elections have been
criticised for declaring the elections free and fair.
at a Ditswhanelo focus seminar on Zimbabwe, Beatrice Mtetwa, a human rights
lawyer in Zimbabwe, said: One wonders what yardstick the Botswana and SADC
missions used to reach such conclusions.
If that is how they
observe, then we might as well do without them because they do not serve any
There can be no free and fair election in a situation
where the entire electoral process is riddled with fraud.
can the chairperson of the delimitation committee eventually be appointed to
chair the electoral commission? she asked.
In her presentation,
Mtetwa noted however that the missions reports could be attributed to the
fact that they only arrived a few weeks before polling day and thus could
have missed most undesirable incidents.
Mtetwa regretted that in
Zimbabwe the rule of law is perpetually disregarded, especially by the
If court orders can not be enforced because
they are against government, then the whole judicial system is flawed, she
She said that currently the competence of the countrys
judicial system is highly compromised because judicial officers always
operate under fear.
Judges should normally operate under no
incentive except their remuneration because otherwise it would compromise
The lawyer castigated the Zimbabwean government for
introducing legislative changes, which would hit hard on the rule of
She cited the Public Order and Security Act, miscellaneous
offences and access to information and security Act, saying they limit civil
societys role in a democracy.
Another legal eyesore she cited
was the bill that seeks to curtail freedom of movement of Zimbabweans
saying, it infringes on fundamental human rights.
speaker, Bishop Trevor Manhanga, condemned SADC for speaking through both
sides of the mouth.
SADC should not be so hypocritical by
condemning Zimbabwe and being silent on Swaziland. Is Swaziland really a
democracy? I think the same measuring stick should be applied across the
board because otherwise it becomes ineffective.
He argued that
ousting ruling ZANU-PF from power in Zimbabwe will not be a panacea to their
problems rather the change in approach would.
SADC should help put a framework in place where anyone who wants to contest
the election would do so freely and would be unintimidated. BOPA
"Teachers are at substantial risk of getting
infected with HIV/AIDS and already one third of them are likely to be
infected with the virus," local newspaper The Herald reported on
The Zimbabwe National Commissioner for United Nations
Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Josiah Mhlanga,
was quoted as saying that an evaluation of the Life Skills Program had shown
that most HIV/AIDS initiatives focused on pupils with little emphasis on the
"Teachers are a key resource in responding to HIV/AIDS in
the education sector and need to be trained and equipped to maximize the
impact of education on the epidemic along the prevention to care continuum,"
Mhlanga said it was crucial that teachers have
the skills to educate children on sexuality, reproductive health and the
impact of HIV and AIDS on their work and daily lives.
in collaboration with the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education, held a
week-long workshop recently to review the HIV/AIDS syllabus for teachers'
colleges and build the teacher 's capacity on issues to deal with post-test
This would complement the compulsory teaching of
HIV/AIDS and Life Skills Education in primary and secondary schools, which
the government initiated in 1995.
All these initiatives have
resulted in people, even young children, having some forms of knowledge
When it comes to twisting the
arm of Zimbabwe strongman Robert Mugabe, there's probably only one person
with the muscle to do it: South African President Thabo Mbeki.
And twist he must, for Mugabe is running his country into the ground.
Triple-digit inflation, a jobless rate above 70 per cent, severe hunger and
fuel problems, political oppression, and a cruel urban relocation scheme
have created a human rights disaster.
Mbeki has considerable
leverage. South Africa is Zimbabwe's largest trading partner, and the two
leaders share a bond in having thrown off white rule, but Mbeki embraced
democracy while Mugabe did not.
The head-shaking reality is that
Mbeki is not using his leverage and moral standing. Instead, he's pursued a
course of "quiet diplomacy." A more vigorous approach, with South Africa
ready to give a $1 billion (U.S.) loan to Zimbabwe, would be to demand
reform. Any such incentive may lack force, though. Mugabe, who just closed
an economic deal with China, may feel he can afford to spurn loans with
A host of reasons explain Mbeki's reticence.
His neighbour may be a despot at the helm of a failing country, but he's a
hero to many South Africans for getting whites out of government and off
farmland. Mbeki's African National Congress party has reservations about the
effectiveness of Zimbabwe's political opposition. And South African
businesses like the great mining deals they're getting in
But every passing day makes these reasons look like
excuses. A new U.N. report found that Mugabe's recent slum-clearing has left
700,000 people homeless. Parallels between a world that stood by during so
many years of apartheid, and one that's standing by now, are
The U.N. Security Council is under pressure to meet
regarding the report. But as with Darfur, where China has oil interests,
it's hard to imagine Beijing backing U.N. intervention in Zimbabwe, where
China has mining interests. That puts pressure on Africa for a home-grown
solution - to alleviate the suffering in Zimbabwe, but also to ease Mugabe's
If it's African cover that Mbeki needs, he's got the U.N.
report - produced by a Tanzanian. And he should turn for help to Nigeria's
president Olusegun Obasanjo, a Mugabe critic.
If he could find
the moral courage he summoned to fight apartheid, Mbeki could use these two
African levers, as well as his own weight and that of Zimbabwe's neighbours,
to bring Mugabe to the negotiating table. Delay just prolongs the despot's
This is an edited version of an editorial from the Christian Science
Time for action over Zimbabwe's on-field performances
much longer must this go on?
On Sunday at Edgbaston, we witnessed Test cricket at its
very best in an epic match which went down to the wire. If that was the
international game at its best, what was laughingly labeled as a Test at
Harare Sports Club yesterday was it at its worst.
defines a Test as "a procedure for critical evaluation; a means of
determining the presence, quality, or truth of something." However you
dissect that definition, the quality of Zimbabwe cricket and its right to be
deemed fit to mix with the best in the world was clear for all too
Whatever the rights and wrongs of the political background which
has stalked, and some would say blighted, Zimbabwe cricket in recent years,
the blame for yesterday's farce was not the fault of the Zimbabwe board.
Yes, the side that took the field was so weak was partially the result of
its questionable management and partially the legacy of the way the country
as a whole is run, but the game should never have never happened in the
The calls for Zimbabwe and Bangladesh to be stripped of
their Test status have been doing the rounds for some time. But comparisons
between the two are misguided. Whereas Bangladesh is a generally cricket-mad
country which can - and will - only get better, Zimbabwe is in terminal
decline, in more ways than one.
A minority sport, and one for many
years almost exclusively a white preserve, the numbers playing the game were
always tiny in a country less than a tenth of the size of Bangladesh in the
first place. Political upheavals which led to the emigration of a majority
of those who played the game seriously undermined the game's future.
Commendable attempts were and are made to keep the flame burning, but with
little to build on and almost no money in the pot, the signs are that it is
fast being extinguished. To only ones who can save it are those running
So desperate are certain members of the ICC to keep
Zimbabwe in the fold - and the reasons are as much to with who supports who
in a hugely political environment - that all calls for their Test status to
be reviewed are flat batted by those who decide such things with a skill
woefully lacking in any of Zimbabwe's batsmen yesterday. But Zimbabwe's
continued presence makes a mockery of sport, and it has gone on long
For much of last year, Zimbabwe were able to deflect
criticism by pointing out that many of their first-choice players were on
strike. But against New Zealand, they fielded their strongest side for the
first time since March 2004, and on home soil for good measure. That made
the outcome even more alarming.
Even the government-backed Herald had
seen enough. "Maybe the umpires and the match referee should have ordered
the teams to get the second Test underway And it would have been finishing
anytime from tomorrow." reflected Lawrence Moyo, who was last month named
the country's Cricket Writer of the Year. "If what was on display at Harare
Sports Club yesterday is too be reviewed at the highest level then Zimbabwe
should not be playing Test matches in the interests of the world's Test
If the situation is now being questioned so publicly
inside Zimbabwe, then the cricketing world - and I don't mean the
administrators who are not representative of the rank and file - saw the
reality some time back. The ridicule with which yesterday's game was
received showed that nobody is fooled. Even in winning inside two days, New
Zealand at times appeared to be on cruise control. An outing against a
half-decent club side would have tested them more.
The only hope now
for Zimbabwe cricket is that they are put into intensive care and relieved
of the burden of playing incessant international cricket. The endless
humiliations will eventually kill the game for good, but with some careful
management it might just survive. Less exposure to the big guns, more
lower-key tours, and some targeted funding might just keep it limping along.
But so severe is the problem, that it might already be too
Sadly, the latest farrago is likely to be brushed aside, as
have all the previous ones, and the integrity of Test cricket, which some
claim to put so much store in, will continue to be eroded along with the
future of the game in Zimbabwe.