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SA turns Zimbabweans back at border

Eyewitness News | 10 Hours Ago

Zimbabwean holiday makers say South African immigration officials are
turning back hundreds of Zimbabweans at the Beitbridge Border Post.

The border is already heavily congested with holiday traffic but
disappointed travellers say their holidays have been ruined.

Immigration officials are turning back Zimbabweans trying to cross using
emergency travel documents instead of passports.

They are being cleared by Zimbabwean immigration but the trouble comes once
they reach the South African side.

Officials do not like the fact many of the ETD's have been altered by hand.

ETD's used to only be valid for 21 days but since South Africa started
allowing Zimbabweans a six month stay, officials have extended the validity
of ETD's, often by hand.

Zimbabwe's co-Minister of Home affairs Kembo Mohadi said his secretary is
trying to make contact with South African authorities.

Mohadi said Zimbabwean travellers are having their holidays spoilt.

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WHO announces Zim measles outbreak

by Sebastian Nyamhangambiri Saturday 19 December 2009

HARARE - The World Health Organisation (WHO) on Friday announced an outbreak
of measles in parts of Zimbabwe, a reminder of the fragile health and
humanitarian situation in the southern African country that is striving to
emerge from years of economic recession and political turmoil.

"We now have an outbreak of measles in Zimbabwe which has affected more than
340 cases so far and as WHO this is not acceptable and we are frustrated, as
this is mainly because of people who have denied their children
 vaccination," WHO head in Zimbabwe Custodia Mandlhate told journalists in

She said the affected areas included the districts of Bubi, Murambinda,
Makoni, Chipinge, Chirumanzu, Zvishavane and Marondera.

The WHO official said the situation in Makoni in the east of the country was
"worrisome", adding that her team was going to the areas with the intention
of vaccinating children under five years to slow down the spread of the

Most of the cases were among members of religious groups that shunned
conventional medical treatment, while the heavy rains currently falling over
the southern African country were also hampering efforts to distribute drugs
and other medicines needed to curb measles.

The disclosure of the latest disease outbreak in Zimbabwe came as the WHO
wrapped up a conference on immunisation in Harare which drew vaccination
experts and health ministers from the region.

Opening the conference on Monday Zimbabwe's Health Minister Henry Madzorera
said the country's health delivery system was still strained and in need of
strengthening to be able to adequately deal with disease outbreaks after a
devastating cholera epidemic that killed more than 4 000 people between
August 2008 and July 2009.

The cholera epidemic - that the WHO labelled the worst in Africa in more
than 15 years - was only brought under control after international aid
agencies moved in with medicines and health support staff to treat the

Since October, cholera has re-emerged and there has been about 100 cases of
infections and at least five lives claimed.

Zimbabwe's power-sharing government between President Robert Mugabe and
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has promised to rebuild the economy and
restore basic services such as water supplies, health and education that had
virtually collapsed after years of neglect and under-funding.

But the administration has found it hard to undertake any meaningful
reconstruction work after failing to get financial support from rich Western
nations that insist they want to see more political reforms before they can
loosen the purse strings. - ZimOnline.

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VP Mujuru Implicated In Sugar Scam

Masvingo, December 19, 2009 -Vice president Joyce Mujuru has been implicated
in a messy sugar scandal after she was cited in the trial of the chairperson
of a farmers union as being one of the beneficiaries of sugar that was
defrauded from farmers last year.

The chairperson of the Zimbabwe Commercial Sugarcane Farmers Association
(ZCSFA) Ardmore Hwarare (54) appeared before Masvingo magistrate Walter
Chikwana facing 10 counts of fraud and theft.

The state alleges that between November 11 2008 and January 2009 Hwarare
stole 379 tones from 616 farmers, before selling it on the black market as
sugar was expensive and in short supply then.

The accused would collect the sugar from Tongat Hullet on behalf of farmers
but would divert it into his own use.

Hwarare alleged in court that he was being used as a shield to block
prosecution of the VP.

The ZCSFA chairman alleges that on 2 September 2008, he surrendered half of
the sugar to the VP upon her visit in to the Lowveld town.

Mujuru is the association's national patron.

Chikwana  remanded Hwarare, a ZANU PF loyalist, out of custody to appear in
court soon.

Dereck Charamba prosecuted.


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Human Rights Watch seeks ban of Zimbabwe diamonds in US

APA-Harare (Zimbabwe) A United States-based human rights organisation on
Saturday called on the world's major diamond retailers to shun Zimbabwean
diamonds and urged pressure for a review of the definition of "blood
diamonds" to include stones procured by governments that commit rights

The New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) urged the industry's main
retailers to publicly state that they would never buy or sell Zimbabwean
diamonds "as long as human rights violations continue" at the country's
controversial Marange diamonds fields.

Citing rampant smuggling, lack of transparency within Zimbabwe's diamond
industry and insufficient controls at the country's borders with
neighbouring countries, HRW said there was no way to guarantee that Marange
stones are not being mixed with those produced at Zimbabwe's other two

HRW also observed that once the Marange diamonds left Zimbabwe, they are
intermingled with diamonds from other countries, creating a serious risk
that Zimbabwean diamonds extracted in an abusive human rights environment
may be sold elsewhere.

Diamonds from the Marange fields have caused international outrage since the
beginning of the year when reports of human rights abuses allegedly
committed by the army first surfaced.

Soldiers assigned to guard the diamond fields have been accused of engaging
in killings and forced labour since taking over the area last year.

"The US diamond industry, including retailers, therefore has an important
responsibility to ensure that they do not sell these gems to unwitting
customers," said Arvind Ganesan, head of the business and human rights
division at HRW, in a letter to the major diamond retailers in the US.

Ganesan said the retailers should also urge their national representatives
and the World Diamond Council to broaden the definition of conflict diamonds
to include diamonds "procured by governments as well as rebel groups that
commit human rights abuses."


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Villagers in court bid against eviction

by Tendai Maronga Saturday 19 December 2009

CHIADZWA - The Chiadzwa Community Development Trust has appealed to the High
Court to bar the government from forcibly removing them from the
controversial diamond field to pave way for commercial mining of the

The Trust representing more than 1 000 families living at the diamond field
said in an urgent application filed with the High Court earlier this week
that the court must order the government to first pay compensation to the
villagers before it can relocate them.

"This is an urgent chamber application for the interdict stopping the
respondents from evicting and relocating any individuals from the Chiadzwa
communal area until compensation payable to the affected individuals has
been agreed and paid," Trust lawyer George Gapu said in papers submitted to
court this week.

The villagers also argue the whole relocation process is not being done in a
transparent manner and that the companies granted licences to mine the
diamonds at the controversial Chiadzwa or Marange diamond field have not
conducted an environmental impact assessment.

Two private firms, Mbada Mining Private Limited and Canadile Miners Private
Limited, were controversially awarded licenses to mine diamonds at Chiadzwa
in collaboration with the government's Zimbabwe Mining Development
Corporation (ZMDC).

The court application names Mbada and Canadile as first and second
respondents respectively. Other respondents are the ZMDC, Obert Mpofu, the
Minister of Mines and Mining Development and Ignatius Chombo, the Minister
of Local Government, Urban and Rural Development.

The government has said it wants to relocate up to 1 800 families from
Chiadzwa to pave way for commercial mining operations as part of measures
Harare was ordered to implement by the Kimberley Process, the world diamond
industry watchdog. - ZimOnline

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Zimbabwe Unity Government Partners Pick Up Talks Seeking Near-Term Deal

The power-sharing negotiators were expected to hold meetings through Sunday
enabling them to report on Monday to the unity government principals who in
turn are expected to communicate with regional mediators

Blessing Zulu | Washington 18 December 2009

Discussions on the numerous issues destabilizing Zimbabwe's unity government
resumed on Friday in Harare following the expression by South African
officials of concern and impatience at the slow pace of negotiations to

But sources said the talks did not get far as Finance Minister Tendai Biti,
chief negotiator for the Movement for Democratic Change formation led by
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and Transport Minister Nicholas Goche, for
the ZANU-PF party of President Robert Mugabe, were not present.

The power-sharing negotiators were expected to hold meetings through Sunday
enabling them to report on Monday to the unity government principals.

They will be grappling with the most divisive issues troubling the
government including the leadership of the Reserve Bank and the Office of
the Attorney General, and the swearing-in of MDC provincial governors.

Complicating matters, ZANU-PF's recent congress resolved that there should
be no further concessions to the MDC until the former opposition party has
convincingly lobbied the West to lift targeted sanctions.

The Tsvangirai MDC formation wants to revisit shared control of the Ministry
of Home Affairs with MDC and ZANU-PF co-ministers, saying the arrangement
has not been working. However, the MDC formation of Deputy Prime Minister
Arthur Mutambara and ZANU-PF says it sees no problem with the setup.

The Tsvangirai formation is also demanding control of the Ministry of
Foreign Affairs - the portfolio is held by ZANU-PF's Simbarashe Mumbengegwi.

Political analyst Charles Mangongera told VOA Studio 7 reporter Blessing
Zulu that negotiations will have their hands full reaching agreement on all

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Zimbabwe's Business Tycoon Properties Under Council Probe

Harare December 19, 2009 - Harare City councillors have resolved to set up a
committee to investigate how controversial business tycoon Phillip Chiyangwa
acquired vast tracts of land around the city without council approval.

The councillors said Chiyangwa's acquisition of large acres of land in the
peri-urban farms around the city has to be investigated through a land audit
to check how he ended up owning the land.

Deliberating at a full council meeting at Town House, the councillors agreed
to set up a committee to investigate how the Pinnacle Holdings boss acquired
land that he continue to advertise for sale.

The debate was raised by Ward 19 councilor Munyaradzi Kufahakutizwi said it
was very unfair for an individual to own huge tracts of land at the expense
of ordinary residents.

"It is not surprising to note that the businessman might have got the land
for peanuts and he is now selling the stands at exorbitant prices. You see
the adverts everywhere and where is that money going and is it of any help
to the council?" asked Kufahakutizwi at the meeting.

Mabvuku councillor Casper Takura also supported the motion to investigate
arguing council land should be sold to residents after a full council
resolution okaying the move.

"Council land must be a prerogative of the poor so whatever deals that are
being undertaken to enrich one man must be stopped," said Takura.

The councillors expressed concern that Chiyangwa has been issued too many
stands and they suggested that it must be stopped.

Council has already advised Chiyangwa to stop developing a public open space
meant for a recreational multipurpose park in Borrowdale.

The director of urban planning Psychology Chiwanga told the council that the
"illegal developments" were being undertaken by Kilma Investments, a company
owned by Chiyangwa, and he has been served with a prohibition order.

The councillors also resolved that the director submits a report an all land
sold to Chiyangwa and companies associated with him.  Chiyangwa acquired
arrays of land under yet unclear circumstances that have prompted the
council to launch the investigation.

Chiyangwa, a nephew of President Robert Mugabe has been described in Zanu PF
circles as "tsuro magen'a" because of his "clever antics" of making wealth.

He boasts of having a degree in common sense and drives top of the range

A councillor who spoke on condition that he is not named confirmed that the
land audit will be set to investigate why one man acquire such large areas
of land while poor residents suffer.

Chiyangwa is also involved in another wrangle in Chinhoyi where the council
has evicted him from a farm.  He is arguing that the farm was given to him
by Zanu PF under the land reform programme.


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South African Officials Move to Reintegrate Zimbabwean Victims of Xenophobia

The Zimbabweans took refuge in the farm town of De Doorns about 140
kilometers from Cape Town after their homes were attacked and demolished by
South Africans nationals over alleged underbidding for farm labor

Sandra Nyaira | Washington 18 December 2009

Officials in a farming community near Cape Town, South Africa, say they are
withdrawing shelter and services from some 2,500 Zimbabweans living in tents
near Cape Town after apparent xenophobic-inspired attacks in November.

The Zimbabweans took refuge in the farm town of De Doorns about 140
kilometers from Cape Town after their homes were attacked and demolished by
South Africans nationals over alleged underbidding for farm labor.

A recently released study by researcher Jean Pierre Misago of the University
of the Witwatersrand's Forced Migration Studies Program said the incident
was sparked by tension between Zimbabwean and South African labor brokers
with local brokers or "spanners" fanning resentment against foreign brokers.

The De Doorns local authority has told the migrants they must return to
their homes, but the Zimbabweans fear new attacks if they do so.

Zimbabwe Exiles Forum Executive Director Gabriel Shumba said the move by
officials in De Doorns is contrary to statements by President Jacob Zuma
promising the country would adopt immigrant-friendly policies.

Global Forum Zimbabwe Coordinator Norah Tapiwa told VOA Studio 7 reporter
Sandra Nyaira the move by De Doorns officials is worrisome.

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Full Text: Mugabe's Copenhagen speech

18/12/2009 00:00:00

Speech by President Robert Gabriel Mugabe at the UN Climate Change summit in Copenhagen, Denmark, delivered on December 16, 2009:

[New Transcript]
Your Excellency, Mr Lars Lokke Rasmussen, Prime Minister of Denmark,

The Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change,

Excellencies, Heads of State and Government,
Honourable Ministers,
Distinguished Guests,
Distinguished Delegates,
Invited Guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

As my delegation left the United Nations General Assembly hall on the 22nd September this year, we felt encouraged by what we saw as a commitment by all countries towards a successful outcome of the Copenhagen Conference.

We were assured by what appeared a palpable global realisation that indeed our planet was in great danger because of the planet unfriendly model of development pursued by some of us in the so-called highly-industrialised developed world, all to our collective detriment.

The consequences of that development model on our planet have become all too abundant to be denied or ignored, they become more poignant each day that passes, that includes today.

If we still have any more doubting Thomases, let them visit sinking island member states whose communities today face dim prospects of inexorable collective extinctive drowning.

Let them visit our part of the world where rains fail, where the searing sun scorches everything brown, and lifeless, including our ever diminishing livelihoods. The prospects of meeting our MDGs or other welfare targets agreed to nationally, regionally and internationally grow dimmer everyday.

We of the developing world are drowning, we are the burning, indeed we are the tragedy that climate changes have turned out to be for the larger half of mankind. Yet we never caused that crisis. We thus come here hoping for justice and fairness, indeed for decisions that recognise the urgency of our situation, that recognise the undeserved climatic endgame that stares us in the face.

But we are under no illusions about the enormity of the task that lies ahead. Negotiations on climate change have never been easy in the past, beginning with Real Earth Summit in Brazil, they have always been fraught. They will not be any easier today in this environment of the global financial crisis, again brought upon us by the same world that has corrupted environment. The little progress made so far at this convention bears this fact out.

For beneath the tip of well intentioned rhetoric on climate change lies the iceberg of power and aspirations to global dominance. We are dealing with vested interests. We are dealing here with dominant economies resting on a faulty, eco-unfriendly development paradigm, aspiring to misrule the world. In those circumstances, progress is bound to be glacier.

Climate change, the latest and by far the most encompassing and insistent crisis spawned by this hegemonic development paradigm, yet again reveals the interconnectedness issues of global imbalances by way of uneven development, by way of unfair trade, by way of unclean politics, by way of hegemonic values and by way of arbitrary power and governance systems.

The dominant north-south divide that has been the bane of so many international initiatives once again rears its ugly head on this very question, at this very conference. We are split along the same old north-south dichotomy.

Why is the guilty north not showing the same fundamentalist spirit it exhibits in our developing countries on human rights matters on this more menacing question of climate change? Where is its commitment to retributive justice which we see it applying on other issues? Where is sanctions for climate change offenders?

When a country spits at Kyoto Protocol, by seeking to retreat from its dictates, or simply by refusing to accede to it, is it not undermining the rule of global law? When countries spew hazardous emissions for selfish consumptionist ends, in the process threatening land masses and atmospheric space of smaller and weaker nations are they not guilty of gross human rights violations?

We raise these questions not out of spite or vindictiveness, but out of concern for our very endangered livelihoods. When these capitalist gods of carbon burp and belch their dangerous emissions, it is we, the lesser mortals of the developing sphere who gasp, starve, sink and eventually die.

Your Excellencies,

We of Africa aligned with our other brothers in the developing world have made proposals predicated on principles of historical responsibility, common but differentiated responsibility and respective capabilities of parties.

We stand by the Kyoto Protocol with its full set of commitments which to this day cry for fulfilment. Late believers and late comers cannot be dictators at this conference, besides they happen to be among the guiltiest on this matter.

It simply has become imperative that the developed world, itself the leading sinner on climate offences takes serious and effective measures to cut emissions on the one hand, while supporting developing countries to adapt to and mitigate the effects of this man-made planetary, if not cosmic disaster.

May I say the developing world, itself the least offending on climate crimes, owns bio-carbon resources and carries in a sense the world's lungs now solely needed for cleaning the world. Let that fact be recognised as our comparative advantage in world affairs.

The present global regime where resources are disproportionately allocated in terms of the degree to which a country endangers the climate is a skewed one. But surely, we cannot reward sinners, we cannot punish the righteous, we who bear the burden of healing the gasping earth must draw the most from the global pursue for remedial action.

We who tend the forest so badly needed to heal the ecosystem deserve better funding, and improved access to green technology transfer. We need to have our national capacities augmented so we are able to pursue the clean development paradigm underpinned by clean technologies to build a brave new world where humanity lives in greater harmony with nature.

We oppose climatic recovery paradigms predicated on denial of our right to development for the sake of cleaning the mess created by selfish countries of the north.

We have sacrificed a lot already. Zimbabwe continues to suffer from illegal sanctions unilaterally imposed on her by the west. Because of these undeserved sanctions, we have only been able to draw a mere US$1 million in the last three years from the Global Environment Fund. The situation is likely to grow worse in the wake of new changes to the operationalisation of this Fund.

Self interest and vindictiveness have apparently defeated the lofty goals of saving the planet. We deserve better support than we have had to date.

Your Excellencies,

My delegation remains hopeful that this convention will reach some consensus on this very important subject affecting our planet.

Let me conclude, Your Excellencies, my remarks by expressing my delegation's appreciation for the arrangements that the government of Denmark put it place to make our stay here comfortable. We will cherish memories of our stay here.

I thank you.

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Zanu PF’s ‘pirate’ troubles

19/12/2009 00:00:00
by Gilbert Nyambabvu

THE normally unflappable Secretary for Media, Information and Publicity, Cde
George Charamba was recently in a bit of a ‘state’ emphatically berating the
Botswana government for hosting the relay facilities of ‘pirate’ radio
stations which he claims broadcast ‘hate messages’ and ‘anti-Zimbabwe
propaganda’ into the country.

Botswana has indeed admitted playing happy hosts to relay transmitters for
the Voice of America’s Studio 7 while yet another ‘pirate’ radio station,
the London-based SW Radio Africa, whose editorial policy Zanu PF reckons is
similarly inclined, allegedly beams signals into Zimbabwe via Madagascar.

However, in what was perhaps the strongest protest yet by a senior
government official over the saga, Secretary Charamba reportedly suggested
Botswana had effectively ‘usurped the sovereignty of a neighbour by entering
into an agreement (with the United States) to attack the country’ adding
‘this makes ... resolution of this matter all the more urgent’.

The Herald’s December 4 2009 issue quotes the Secretary as saying, “we know
that they (the US government) have recently completed upgrading a
transmitter site with the specific intention of (boosting) the media
terrorism against Zimbabwe and its people."

And in response to suggestions the ‘pirate’ broadcasts would continue until
Zimbabwe ‘liberalised (its) media space’ Secretary Charamba retorted; "This
country (Zimbabwe) has had a State broadcasting monopoly since day one of
radio services. Why is it that VOA never beamed messages into the country
during UDI?

"Why didn't they do this all throughout Rhodesia if they cared so much about
the people of Zimbabwe? How about during that thing called
Zimbabwe-Rhodesia, why did they not broadcast?

"Why is it they never found it necessary to broadcast into Zimbabwe at
independence and ... only saw the need to start when we embarked on the land
reform programme? What is the principle at work here?"

Coming from a senior government official and considering it referenced a
supposedly ‘fraternal’ neighbouring country, this is pretty robust language
which suggests Cde Charamba and his political principals have had it to
their back teeth with the activities of the ‘pirate’ radio stations.

But while Zanu PF complains to no end about SWRadio Africa and Studio 7’s
activities, the fact is that the rhetoric is mere political posturing
because, at the very best, the ‘pirates’ only pose a marginal threat to the

Secretary Charamba, as a communications expert and seasoned industry
operator, certainly recognises that media effects are hardly ever ‘direct’
and people will not necessarily believe that Zanu PF is a vile political
party because ‘pirate radio’ broadcasts suggest as much.

Research has shown that, quite apart from being ‘passive receivers’ of media
messages, listeners/viewers and readers actively mediate the communication
process by interrogating encoded content and, very often, reject outright
the influences of media propaganda.

If this were not the case then the relentless efforts of the ZBH, Zimpapers
and NewZiana/CNG (surely we can include them among the lot) would have seen
Zanu PF reclaim the country’s urban constituencies from the opposition as
well as enhance its support in the Matebeleland regions where the party’s
entreaties have been met with an ‘hatshi, tshiyana lathi’ kind of refrain
going back to the first decade of Independence.

Again, the fact that Zanu PF now names Studio 7 and SWRadio Africa among its
own GPA ‘outstanding issues’ does not in any way imply the good chaps
running these stations are doing a ‘damn fine job’ of spreading ‘hate
messages’ and ‘anti-Zimbabwe’ (read anti-Zanu PF) propaganda.

The only reason the ‘pirates’ find themselves among the venerated GPA
‘outstanding issues’ is because Zanu PF’s strategists have realised the
issue provides a convenient and very effective way of forestalling the MDC-T’s
own demands.

Zanu PF is fully aware that the MDCs cannot force Studio 7 and SWRadio
Africa to shut up shop for the simple reason that the opposition parties do
not own these radio stations and, therefore, cannot exercise any control
over their operations.

Clearly therefore, Secretary Charamba would probably rather Studio 7 and
SWRadio Africa continue to operate because their very existence gives Zanu
PF reason to tell Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and his party to go hang
over the matter of RBZ Governor, Dr Gideon Gono and the rest of their
‘outstanding issues’.

As such the source of Cde Charamba exasperation with the Gaborone regime
must be something far more profound than the prosaic matter of ‘pirate’
radio stations.

In truth, it has since been evident that the Botswana regime are not the
sort of neighbour Zanu PF might look to for help with salt on a skint day.
There is every chance such saline generosity, if granted, could come laced
with a dash of Polonium 210.

The Botswana administration’s frequent public censure of President Robert
Mugabe and Zanu PF has stunned regional observers because it marks an
unexpected and flagrant disregard for the long-standing SADC tradition
whereby leaders generally refrain from public criticism of each other and
countries avoid interfering in the domestic affairs of neighbours.

President Mugabe actually sought to remind his counterparts of this
political norm during the signing of the Global Political Agreement on the
15th of September 2008 when he gently chided the Botswana leader, General
Ian Khama over the issue and stated that, for his part, public criticism of
a SADC colleague was unimaginable.

This ‘common aversion to interference in domestic conflicts amongst SADC
states, as well as (the) political norm and culture of avoiding public
criticism of a fellow African leader’ is rooted in the solidarity which
regional liberation movements forged during the bloody fights against
apartheid and (neo)colonialism in the region.

Indeed, his palpable anger notwithstanding, Secretary Charamba still
carefully coded his attack in order to speak to this liberation legacy and
subtly suggested that by electing to ‘give succour’ to the Western ‘regime
change’ agenda in Zimbabwe, Botswana was betraying the region’s and
anti-(neo)colonialism traditions.

It is a strategy that has, over the last decade or so, helped sustain Zanu
PF’s regime preservation efforts by ensuring the existence of a formidable
regional bulwark against relentless domestic and international efforts to
remove the party from power.

Nevertheless, while Zanu PF has generally counted on the support of fellow
liberation movements that remain in power such as the MPLA (Angola), Frelimo
(Mozambique), SWAPO(Namibia), CCM (Tanzania) and the ANC (South Africa), the
region has not always presented a united front and Botswana is not the only
country to show signs of impatience with Harare.

Writes researcher Eldridge Adolfo; “What can be noted is that the few
countries that have been willing to openly criticise (President) Mugabe and
his Zanu PF ... have either never had a liberation party in government
(Botswana) or have in fact removed them from office (as happened in) Zambia
and Malawi,’.

Zambia under Levy Mwanawasa latterly became quite outspoken; ditto Malawi
under Bakili Muluzu. That these countries presently refrain from any public
utterances against Harare possibly has something to do with their current
leaders’ familial connections to Zimbabwe.

Malawi President Dr Bingu waMutharika’s late wife was a Zimbabwean and he
reportedly owns a farm in the country while Zambia’s Rupiah Banda was born
in Gwanda which possibly gives him a more intimate contextual understanding
the country’s troubles.

Regional observers suggest that SADC has always been torn between those
countries borne out of struggle and want to see the grouping retain its
‘Frontline States’ ethos whereby the totemic narrative of ‘liberation’ and
its sequel of resource reclamation/redistribution define sub-regional
relations in addition to guiding interactions with the wider world.

On the other hand are those countries which, while recognising the struggles
for independence as an ‘historical fact’ nonetheless want to see the
regional grouping transition to a post-liberation paradigm in order that the
objective of greater and integrated economic development envisioned when
SADC was formed can be realised.

This latter group view the ‘Zimbabwe crisis’ more as the result of
administrative malfeasance and leadership failure instead of just
neo-colonial meddling in the country’s affairs by the British government and
its western allies as Zanu PF would have the world believe.

To be fair however, this alone cannot explain the ‘contrarian’ and
‘conflictual’ behaviour of Botswana’s government towards President Mugabe
and Zanu PF.

Gaborone’s ‘emoting’ may rightly be the result of increasing frustration
over the social and economic challenges that country faces which locals
(justly or otherwise) blame on the multitudes of Zimbabwean migrants who
streamed across the border to escape the economic crisis back home.

In addition, Zanu PF’s argument that Botswana’s provocative interference is
also guided by ‘imperial puppetry’ is not altogether imaginary.

That said, it can also be assumed that beyond publicly calling for President
Robert Mugabe’s removal from office, the Botswana administration is (behind
the scenes) actively lobbying the region to apply greater pressure on Zanu
PF over the so-called ‘outstanding issues’ and general implementation of the

And any indication that such ‘nefarious’ activities are behind the growing
regional impatience with the ‘political ping pong’ in Harare would
necessarily leave the likes of Secretary Charamba apoplectic with anger.

Indeed, Zanu PF will certainly not have been overly (if at all) cheered by
recent developments with regard to the regional mediation efforts in the
country’s political troubles.

It is important to recall that following Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s
temporary ‘withdrawal’ (possible pun absolutely not intended) from
government, the state media reported that the MDC-T leader would be rebuffed
by SADC leaders on his regional tour.

It was further stated that the regional grouping would not hold any meetings
to discuss the MDC-T’s claimed ‘partial disengagement’ from the inclusive

Still, Tsvangirai was duly received by the leaders of Angola, the DRC,
Mozambique and South Africa. Subsequent to that, the regional grouping’s
Organ on Politics, Defence and Security met in Maputo to review
implementation of the GPA where deadlines/timelines for final resolution of
the so-called ‘outstanding’ issues were suggested/imposed.

Yet another significant development was the removal of former South Africa
President Thabo Mbeki (who also attended the Maputo gathering) from his
facilitation role which would have particularly pleased the MDC-T since they
were never happy with his mediation.

It has also long been clear that Zanu PF preferred that Mbeki, with whom
President Mugabe appeared to share an intellectual and ideological intimacy
without parallel in the region, remained facilitator.

A colleague however dismisses as a mischievous flight of fancy any
suggestion that these developments necessarily imply that the region is now
coming round to President Khama’s perspective on Zimbabwe.

But there can be no disputing the fact that SADC will certainly not allow
any political brinksmanship to threaten the Global Political Agreement and
possibly induce the collapse of the inclusive administration.

Zimbabweans can therefore find comfort in the fact that SADC will not
hesitate to apply the necessary pressure on all the parties to the GPA
because the country’s regression to the pre-GPA mayhem portends an even
greater socio-economic conflagration for the wider region.

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Dear Family and Friends,

I went walking a little after dawn and was struck by the contrasts of
Zimbabwe this Christmas. The natural picture is of paradise
flycatchers, pintailed whydahs and olive bush shrikes flitting
through the deep green Msasa's and on the roadsides the poinsettias
showing the first few red flowers for Christmas. The grass is lush,
green and wet with thick dew glistening in the early sunlight. It's
cool and quiet as I walk, the only sound the flicking and slapping of
my flip flops against the soles of my feet.

I was going to visit the grave of my baby nephew and spend a quiet
time thinking about all that has happened in the 11 years since he
died. I look down and see a brown ear tick crawling on my leg, and
then another - ever the opportunists looking for a meal! I notice for
the first time that in the grass there are swathes of flowering
sedges: rusty brown spikes, clear, white balls and big creamy

A young eagle is disturbed from its perch and stares down at me with
startled, unblinking eyes. A scarlet flame lily, the first I've seen
this Christmas, stands tall against a headstone and many more, heads
bowed with unopened flowers are plentiful amongst the graves.

Walking quietly in the cemetery, the reality sinks in. So many graves
are of young people, died long before their time.

'Rest in peace, brother,' says a sign on a piece of rusty tin,
marking the grave of a man named Marvellous, born in 1983, died in
2009 - just 26 years old. This young man lived his entire life
knowing the rule of only one President, the greedy, oppressive
policies of only one political party. Over a dozen newly dug graves
in a line wait for the inevitable weekend ceremonies. Three times
this cemetery has been extended in the nine years I've lived here and
now all the boundary fences have been stolen. For a moment I am
shocked at how people have planted maize less than two metres from
the nearest lines of graves. The irony of a country covered in seized
but unplanted farms and maize alongside urban graves really says it

Later I pay a brief visit to town where the picture is different but
the message the same. Lines of buses are heading to the rural areas.
Despite all the hardships people are determined to go 'home',
kumusha. Roof racks of buses are crammed with bags and the odd
bicycle and bed is balanced atop the pile. The grocery shops are
bustling but when you look in the trolleys its not crackers,
chocolates and wine that you see but salt, sugar, laundry soap and
rice. These are the essentials so needed at home in the rural areas.

This Christmas we take time to remember the generation lost to Aids,
and the hundreds who have died in the struggle for democracy. We also
think of the millions of Zimbabweans who are in the Diaspora, away
from home, apart from their families - not by choice but by
necessity. May 2010 be the year we see meaningful change in our

I am taking a break for a few weeks but thank you all for reading and
for caring for so many years. I'm delighted to say that I've at last
got a small stock of Innocent Victims available in Zim so please do
email me. Until next time, Happy Christmas, love cathy. �Copyright
cathy buckle 19 December 2009.

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