The ZIMBABWE Situation
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Biti proposes 2010 Budget of US$1.44 bln with a monthly revenue target of $120 mln


HARARE - Finance Minister Tendai Biti has proposed a 2010 budget of $1.44 bln, which he said would be largely focused on reconstruction.


He said the 2010 budget was a "difficult budget to craft because of limited fiscus space against huge demands and high expectations from Zimbabweans."


He predicted a "positive economic growth" of 7% in 2010. Meanwhile 2009 projection has been revised to 4.7% from 3.7% previously projected at mid year.


Inflation was projected to end the year at -5.5% and to reach 5.1% in 2010.


Biti noted the improved performance in agriculture up 10%, mining up 2% anchored by 14.6% gold output, manufacturing 8% and tourism 6.5%.


In agriculture tobacco had realised 56 mln kg of which 42 mln kgs were the actual harvest in 2009 with the rest being carryovers from last harvest. Maize production was at 1.2 mln tonnes.


In manufacturing capacity utilisation had grown to average 30%-80% from about 10%. 80% capacity utilisation was achieved in drinks and tobacco, 35% foodstuffs, textile and clothing 45%, paper manufacturing 32%, chemical 50% and non metalic 50%.


Banking sector had seen an increase in deposits up to $1 bln in October with long term deposits at $15.8 mln. Advanced loans were at $501mln as at October giving a loans to deposit ratio of 50% against the generally accepted ratio of 80%.


The country's debt remains unsustainable at $5.7 bln.


On fiscal developments Biti said revenue collected was $685 mln against a target revenue of $789.8 mln and expenditure was $640.8 mln. Of the $685 mln collected VAT accounted for 39% or $268.9 mln, Customs duty 26% or $179.2 mln, PAYE 15% $104.4 mln, Corporate tax 4.4% or $25.6 mln and Excise 7% or $44.6 mln.


Of the 5% capex $20 mln was spent on vehicles and furniture while capital projects accounted for less than $10 mln.


Of the cumulative expenditure of $640.8 mln the bulk (63%) went to employment costs. Civil service 43%, pensions 12% and other salaries 1%. Capital expenditure accounted for only 5%, vote of credits 2%, Zimra retentions at $41 mln was 7% of the budget. About $28 mln was used on foreign travel as a government.


Biti also projected a 40% improvement in mining, 10% in agriculture in 2010.


In the 2010 budget line ministries government departments and parastatals had demanded a total of $12 bln  against the projected revenue of $1.44 bln.


He also noted the vote of credit in 2009 was large because of pledges and the $210 mln from the SDRs.



Power - About $380 mln is needed to restore normal power supply but Biti allocated $52.6 mln for regeneration and transmission infrastructure  for Zesa. $5.5 mln for rural electrification and $500 000 for solar projects.


Transport - $26.3 mln has been allocated for road network of which $9.745 mln dualisation of sections of major highways. $16.65 mln for truck roads.


Railway - $16.745 mln for rail network


Aviation - $14.4 mln allocated for Harare International, $4.1 mln for Joshua Mqabuko and $1 mln for Buffalo Range upgrading.


Information Communication Technology - $5 mln allocated for the fibre optic project. About $10 mln is needed for this project but the private sector had come in.


Water - $38.5 mln allocated for water and sanitation in cities. $12.6 mln allocated to Zinwa for water sanitation in small towns. Total amount allocated for water $109 mln.


Construction Industry - $26 mln allocated for the Housing Guarantee Fund.


Youth and Women uplifting - $23 mln for SMEs and youth projects. 50% of the 423 mln lending for women.


Constituency Development Fund - $8 mln to be shared among the country's constituencies which translates to $50 000 per constituency.


RBZ Capitalisation - $10 mln allocated.


Health - $285.4 mln for procurement of drugs


Education - $13.8 mln for teaching material, $28.15 mln for cooperating partners (to be administered by Unicef), $1.32 mln for vehicles for education inspectors.


Social Protection Programmes - $23 mln for social programmes, $25 mln BEAM


Agriculture - Finalise land reform, tenure and audit $31 mln has been provided and a further $80 mln will be provided for agriculture extension services. In the 2010/2011 agriculture season an ambitious figure of 200 mln kg of tobacco is projected


Employment costs - $600 mln has been set for wage bill which has also been decompressed to include pensions to come up with a total of $800 mln for employment costs.


Parliament and Judiciary had been delinked from the Executive.


Operations and maintenance - $257.8 mln the bulk will go to social protection programmes like agriculture colleges etc. $31 mln for outstanding debts to utilities and $27.1 mln for foreign mission.


Multiple currency regime - No changes


External debt - A debt management and clearance office will be set in the ministry of Finance.


ZSE - levies rationalised to international standards. Investor protection levy to be run by a Trust Fund with representatives from ZSE and the Securities Exchange Commission.


NSSA - Contributions to NSSA to be adjusted with effect from January 2010.



·         Mining royalties up to 3.5% from 3%. Financial institutions to collect gold royalties.

·         Corporate tax down to 25% from 30% and projected to contribute 10% to revenue from 4%.

·         Customs duty on basic commodities still suspended until July 31 2010. Also suspended duty on inputs used in manufacturing of basic commodities.

·         Excise duty on spirits increased to 40% from 20% with effect from January. 

·         Electronic tax register introduced for collection of VAT with effect from April  1 2010. VAT payment date moved from the 5th to the 10th of next month.

·         Presumptive tax extended to bottle stores and restaurants from January of $300 a quarter.

·         PAYE - tax free threshhold increased to $160 from $150. Highest taxable income down to 35% from 37.5%. Bonus tax free threshold from $400. Retirement packages tax free now $15 000 from $5 000. 

·         Customs duty on half tonne trucks reduced to 25% from 40%. Small passenger vehicles down to 25% from 40%.

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Zimbabwe's budget predicts growth and low inflation
Wednesday, 2 December 2009
A Zimbabwean buys a loaf of bread
Slimmed down: massive inflation has halted thanks to the US dollar

Zimbabwe's first budget since its unity government began sharing power 10 months ago predicts a healthy economic future for the country.

Finance minister Tendai Biti said the economy would grow by 7% next year, after 10 years of sharp contraction.

He said growth would come from key sectors such as agriculture and mining.

Zimbabwe's biggest economic problem, stratospheric inflation, has been all but halted since hard currencies, such as the US dollar, were allowed.


Finance Minister Mr Biti said there was no return in sight for the Zimbawean dollar - despite calls from President Mugabe and the central bank for its return. He said he could not see it coming back before 2012.

Mr Biti said government revenues were improving from about $4m in March to $90m in June. Despite the improvement, total revenues for the March-to-October period were $685m, below the government's estimate of $789.8m.

Some think the government's estimate of 7% growth next year is way too optimistic.

"We still expect a slight contraction and next year's number will be highly dependent on the political developments," said Christie Viljoen, an economist at NKC Independent Economists.

The International Monetary Fund however predicts an expansion of 6%.

This would be in sharp contrast to the rest of this decade's performance. The International Monetary Fund estimated that during the years of President Robert Mugabe's policy of reallocating land at the start of the decade, the economy shrank by more than 40%.

'Difficult life'

For many living in the country, life has improved dramatically. Inflation, which was out of control at the start of the year, is forecast to be in single figures this year and next.

Last year, it was barely possible to find anything in the shops, let alone have the millions of Zimbabwean dollars needed to pay for any basic goods.

As one shopper in the capital Harare told the BBC: "Life was difficult last year. Everything was too expensive for us. Now, the shops are full and a loaf costs 85 cents."

The power sharing agreement, between President Mugabe and his arch rival Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, is not an easy one. Mr Biti is from the prime minister's Movement for Democratic Change party, while the central bank governor, Gideon Gono, is a Zanu-PF supporter.

As Nyasha Chasakara, a Harare-based economic analyst put it: "A lot depends on whether the unity government holds and continues to maintain the political stability needed to continue restoring confidence in the economy."

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South African Mediators on Zimbabwe Complete First Round of Talks

President Jacob Zuma's three-person team of mediators meet with top players
in Zimbabwe's power-sharing government

Peta Thornycroft | Harare 01 December 2009

South African President Jacob Zuma's three-person team of mediators has
completed a heavy schedule of closed-door meetings with top players in
Zimbabwe's power-sharing government.  The mediators were sent to Zimbabwe to
try to ease tensions and resolve outstanding issues of the 14-month-old
political agreement that gave birth to the inclusive unity government in

The South African team headed by former home affairs minister Charles
Ngakula, met several people involved in or concerned with the past 10 years
of political crisis in Zimbabwe.

A source close to the mediators said the closed-door meetings, beginning
with President Robert Mugabe, went well.

On the first full day of meetings Monday, the pro-ZANU-PF Herald daily
newspaper carried a report saying Movement for Democratic Change leader
Morgan Tsvangirai had admitted he called for so-called U.S. and European
Union sanctions against Zimbabwe.  Mr. Tsvangirai has said repeatedly he did
not call for any sanctions against Zimbabwe.

Mr. Mugabe cites the sanctions as the main cause behind Zimbabwe's economic
collapse and they are on his list of unresolved issues of the political
agreement.  ZANU-PF wants Mr. Tsvangirai to campaign for the restrictions to
be lifted.

The restrictions on Zimbabwe mostly limit international travel for Mr.
Mugabe, 200 other ZANU-PF officials and a few of their companies.  The U.S.
and EU restrictions do not extend to the World Bank and the International
Monetary Fund.

The World Bank and the IMF say they cut off assistance to Zimbabwe in 1999
because it had not serviced its debt to either organization.

South African President Jacob Zuma's team is trying to establish a framework
for ZANU-PF and the MDC to negotiate the outstanding issues from the
political agreement.  A December 6 deadline was set by the Southern African
Development Community.

Mr. Mugabe's ZANU-PF is also preparing for its congress that takes place
every five years to appoint a new party leadership.

All ZANU-PF's provinces have agreed Mr. Mugabe should remain as party
president, many say the 85-year-old leader should remain party president for
the rest of his life.

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Zuma to be briefed on GPA talks by facilitation team

By Tichaona Sibanda
3 December 2009

South Africa will launch new efforts to push ZANU PF and the MDC to finalize
terms signed by all the three parties in the Global Political Agreement,
according to a source in Johannesburg.

This follows a visit to Harare by a South African facilitation team that met
the three principals and the six negotiators from ZANU PF and the MDC. The
team, which was in Harare since Sunday, flew back home on Tuesday to brief
President Jacob Zuma, SADC's new facilitator on Zimbabwe. The reports that
stated that Zuma himself would be flying to Harare, turned out to be

The source told SW Radio Africa that the South African government is
expected to step up its diplomatic push to urge the parties to the GPA to
finalize their long-drawn talks.

'Pushing for the full implementation of the GPA is an absolute priority of
SADC and the present stalemate by the parties in Zimbabwe only serves to
alienate the country from the region and the international world,' the
source told us.

Finance Minister Tendai Biti highlighted this in his budget speech on
Wednesday. He said the political impasse caused by the delays in finalising
the talks was derailing the growth of the economy.

Charles Nqakula, Zuma's political advisor and leader of the facilitation
team, told journalists in South Africa that his team held 'candid and
positive' talks in Harare with Robert Mugabe, Morgan Tsvangirai and Arthur

Zuma is on record saying Western aid won't be forthcoming until the
outstanding issues were resolved. His ruling African National Congress (ANC)
in August said it expected him to curb 'deviant behaviour' in Mugabe camp

During his two-day visit to Harare in August, Zuma said the inclusive
government had the responsibility to fully implement the GPA and thus create
confidence in the process.

The facilitation team reportedly told the three principals in Harare that
Zuma was determined to facilitate a truly comprehensive unity deal in

Direct negotiations between ZANU PF and the MDC, mediated by South Africa
and centred on the non-compliance of the GPA, were held on Monday and
Tuesday in Harare. But there has been no public sign from the South Africans
that Mugabe has or will agree to implement the remaining issues in the GPA.

Reports now say that President Zuma will be due in Harare over the weekend
for talks with Mugabe, Tsvangirai and Mutambara on the sticking points.

Political commentator Sox Chikohwero said we are beginning to see a
departure from the quiet diplomacy practiced by the former mediator Thabo

'As mediator Mbeki was reluctant to carry out checks and balances of the
GPA. But Zuma has been on this job for less than a month and already we've
seen a lot of movement on Zimbabwe from his camp. This shows us he has the
muscles to push these two sides to a compromise for the sake of the country,'
Chikohwero said.

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VOA: Complaints about ‘pirate’ radio stations inaccurate

By Alex Bell
02 December 2009

External radio service Voice of America, which hosts Studio 7, has lashed
out at the government’s complaints about ‘pirate’ radio stations, calling
them inaccurate and without truth.

The group’s special broadcast, Studio 7, broadcasts from Botswana into
Zimbabwe and, like SW Radio Africa, has come under fire for being a ‘pirate’
station that broadcasts ‘hate messages’ into the country. The Herald
newspaper is now reporting that the government will make a formal complaint
to Botswana over its hosting of Studio 7.

The newspaper reported on Wednesday that the complaint was being filed over
the hosting of ‘pirate’ radio stations “beaming hate messages into the
country in violation of the Global Political Agreement and threatening the
survival of the inclusive Government.” The newspaper quotes the Secretary
for Foreign Affairs Ambassador Joey Bimha saying that the government had
already made a formal complaint last year through the SADC Organ on
Politics, Defence and Security Co-operation and “they would soon raise the
matter with Gaborone.”

“We made a complaint and the Organ said the issues should be addressed
bilaterally through the Committee on Defence and Security and the Joint
Permanent Commission,” he said.

VOA’s Director of Africa Broadcasting, Gwen Dillard, told SW Radio Africa on
Wednesday that the complaints are completely inaccurate and without truth,
saying she is ‘disappointed’ by the government’s position. Dillard explained
VOA’s government-to-government broadcast agreement with Botswana, continuing
that there is “nothing illegal or pirate about our operations.”

The continued existence of external radio stations, which are the only
source of independent and accurate news in Zimbabwe, has been a thorn in
ZANU PF’s side for many years. It is not surprising then that the broadcasts
feature so highly on ZANU PF’s list of outstanding issues affecting the
Global Political Agreement (GPA), and analysts have argued it is merely a
smokescreen to mask the real issues in the country. VOA’s Dillard argued
that the government is “missing the larger point” by its focus on seeking
the closure of external radio stations.

“The government needs to open its tight regulations for independent and free
media,” Dillard said. “If the government liberalised the media space, there
wouldn’t be any need for us.”

Other analysts quoted by the Herald have condemned Botswana and Madagascar’s
continued hosting of the radio stations saying this “flew in the face of all
SADC principles.” Madagascar plays host to Voice of the People (Radio VOP).
The newspaper quotes notorious media ‘hangman’ Jonathan Moyo as saying
Botswana was ‘spiting’ both SADC and the African Union “as guarantors of the

“This issue should be brought to the notice of SADC because the regional
organ should not allow its members to undermine the same GPA it guaranteed,”
Moyo said.

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Serious clashes over vacant diplomatic posts emerges

Written by Zimbabwe Mail
Wednesday, 02 December 2009 06:50
Harare - The Movement for Democtratic Change, the MDC has targeted vacant
diplomatic posts in South Africa and Brussels, amid serious resistance from
Zanu PF, according to state media reports
The fresh dispute has emerged in the inclusive Government over the
appointment of new ambassadors to South Africa and Brussels, Belgium, with
MDC-T and the matter has been included in the current ongoing discussions as
tensions rise over the key positions.
The Brussels post -- which covers the European Union, Belgium, the
Netherlands and Luxembourg -- fell vacant when Ambassador Hurudza Punungwe
died in October this year.
The diplomatic posting in Pretoria is likely to fall vacant in January 2010
when the incumbent, Ambassador Simon Khaya Moyo, is expected to return home
to take over Zanu-PF's national chairmanship, which is a full-time job.
Khaya Moyo is set to leave South Africa once his nomination is endorsed by
congress this month.
MDC-T has targeted these posts and is understood to be facing stiff
resistance from the rogue elements in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs backed
by Zanu PF leaders on the flimsy reasons that these are senior missions and
should not be apportioned on political lines, yet previous appointments were
politically motivated.
Zanu PF officials in the Foreign Affairs Ministry have said it would not be
proper to appoint ambassadors to these countries on a partisan basis and
these should instead go to career diplomats, but MDC has pointed to the fact
that Simon Khaya Moyo was not a career diplomat when he was appointed
ammbassador to South Africa.
MDC-T spokesperson Mr Nelson Chamisa has confirmed that his party was eyeing
both diplomatic posts and they have already identified potential candidates.
"Ours is an inclusive arrangement premised on the principle of sharing of
authority and responsibilities. "As such, the matter you are referring to is
part of the ongoing (inter-party) discussions with view to locating common
understanding of sharing and inclusivity," he said. Asked to if was true
that MDC-T wanted both Pretoria and Brussels, Mr Chamisa said: "Yes, sharing
has to be total. But these are matters under discussion and I cannot divulge

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Zesa Holdings warns of more load shedding

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Herald Reporter

There is likely to be an increase in power cuts over the next three days
with Zesa Holdings yesterday revealing they had lost supplies from the
Mozambique electricity grid due to a technical fault on that country's

The power utility's spokesperson Mr Fullard Gwasira said Zimbabwe's national
grid had lost 160 megawatts that were being imported from Mozambique.

"Zesa Holdings would like to advise all its valued customers that there is a
possible increase in load shedding countrywide due to a technical fault on
the Mozambican network which has adversely affected power imports," he said.

He said Zesa would alleviate the situation through a possible increase in
generation, with an additional unit at Hwange Power Station returning to

Mr Gwasira said scheduled maintenance work at Hwange was at an advanced
stage and the power station would soon be able to produce about 920
megawatts to alleviate the situation.

"The restoration of power imports is expected within 72 hours, during which
period repair works are scheduled to be completed. Zesa Holdings encourages
all its customers to continue using the available power very sparingly
during this period to minimise the effects of load-shedding and treat all
equipment as live to avoid risk of electrocution," he said. Mr Gwasira said
incidences of faults had drastically increased with the advent of the rain

"Customers are advised to report tree overhangs and all faults to their
nearest fault centres countrywide," said Mr Gwasira.

Recently, Zesa Holdings said increased load shedding being experienced
across Zimbabwe was due to reduced electricity imports, low generation
capacity and heightened vandalism that had left many areas without power.

Many parts of Zimbabwe - particularly urban areas - have in the past few
weeks experienced unscheduled power cuts with some areas going for more than
12 hours without electricity.

The Southern Africa region has suffered from power generation deficits and
Zimbabwe's traditional suppliers have been providing only half of what they
normally did as they battle to meet their own domestic demand.

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Tsvangirai’s bodyguard jailed for violence

December 1, 2009

By Owen Chikari

MASVINGO – Three MDC-T activists including Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s
body guard were on Tuesday, December 1, jailed for 18 months for public
violence committed during the run up to the 2005 parliamentary elections.

Peter Chigaba who is the Prime Minister’s body guard, former Masvingo
councillor Francisca Sheya and Ackim Chigarire were sentenced to 26 months
each in jail of which 8 months each were conditionally suspended for five
years bringing the total effective sentence to 18 months.

Former Masvingo central legislator Silas Mangono and four others, who were
jointly charged with the convicts, were acquitted on similar charges when
they appeared before Masvingo senior Magistrate Timeon Makunde.

The court heard that on  November 18, 2005, there was an MDC rally at the
Masvingo Civic Centre where aspiring candidate Tongai Matutu was addressing.

The accused persons who were by then aligned to Silas Mangono the former MP
of the area arrived at the scene and demanded entry.

However they were denied  entry and violent clashes erupted. At least one
person was injured and several windows in the civic centre building were
shattered as rival factions of the then MDC candidates clashed during the
run up to then 2005 parliamentary polls.

Magistrate Makunde described public violence especially that of a political
nature as a serious offence and ruled that no punishment was suitable for
the MDC activists other than a custodial sentence.

However, Tongai Matutu who replaced  Rodney Makausi as the lawyer for the
convicts successfully  appealed  against both conviction and sentence which
was granted by Magistrate Makunde.

The state did not oppose the bail pending appeal application and the
convicts were ordered to  deposit US40 each with the clerk of court and
reside at their respective residential address.

Makunde said during the course of the trial he discovered that the former
legislator Silas Mangono and four others among them current Masvingo
councillor Misheck Gapare did not participate in the clashes but ruled that
Chigaba, Sheya, and  Chigarire committed the offence.

MDC President Morgan Tsvangirai attended the rally at the Civic Centre where
the clashes occurred.

The convicted men wanted to gate-crash the meeting where Tsvangirayi was
bolstering support for the MDC official candidate Tongai Matutu.

The activists who were against Matutu’s candidature stormed the venue
demanding entry.

Violent clashes erupted after they were denied entry. Ironically, the man
they were  fighting against successfully represented them in court on
Tuesday. They were released following their successful application for bail,
pending appeal.

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Former MDC-Mutambara MPs join Tsvangirai’s MDC

By Moses Muchemwa

Published: December 1, 2009

Lupane – The three former Members of Parliament who were expelled by the MDC
led by Professor Arthur Mutambara (pictured) have joined the formation led
by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, the ZimEye can reveal.

The trio announced that they have now joined the Tsvangirai-led MDC at a
rally organised in Lupane on Sunday.

The rally was organised by Njabuliso Mguni, the former legislator for Lupane

The former MP for Bulilima East Norman Mpofu officially made the first
public announcement that they had now formally joined the Tsvangirai-led

Speaking at the rally, Hwange Central MP, Brian Tshuma of the MDC-T called
on all party members to now unite and form a strong MDC party.

Mpofu, Mguni and Abednico Bhebhe (Nkayi South) and other officials were
expelled from Arthur Mutambara’s MDC for allegedly bringing the party into

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Zimbabwe Peace Project Reports Big Decline in Rights Violations in August
Studio 7

But the nongovernmental organization noted resistance in some rural areas to
the new political dispensation in Harare where the former ruling party and
opposition now share power

Patience Rusere | Washington 01 December 2009

The Zimbabwe Peace Project has issued a new report noting a significant
decline in human rights violations in the country in August, the most recent
period it has documented, though the group noted resistance in some rural
areas to the new political dispensation of a power-sharing government.

The project said reported violations eased from 1,335 in July to 527 in
August, with a notable decline in incidents of severe violence. But it said
discrimination in food distribution for political reasons persists in some

The Peace Project also reported the disruption of meetings on the national
constitutional revision process, with participants coming under heavy
pressure to accept the so-called Kariba Draft as the basis for the revised

The former ruling ZANU-PF party of President Robert Mugabe wants the Kariba
draft to be substantially incorporated into the new constitution, whereas
both formations of the former opposition Movement for Democratic Change say
it should be just one source of language for the new documents.

Peace Project board member Okay Machisa noted in an interview with VOA
Studio 7 reporter Patience Rusere that violence flared recently when the MDC
formation led by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai disengaged from the unity
government from October 16 to November 5 in protest of alleged ZANU-PF
violations of the Global Political Agreement underpinning the power-sharing

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Obsolete Equipment Affecting Weather Forecast

Harare, December 02, 2009 -Obsolete weather forecast equipment is affecting
accurate weather predictions in Zimbabwe, affecting economic planning and
subsistence farming, senior meteorological officer, Tirivanhu Muwhati told
parliamentarians attending a climate change workshop in Harare on Wednesday.

A senior meteorological officer, Tirivanhu Muhwati, told parliamentarians
attending a climate change workshop in Harare on Wednesday that his
department was faced with a serious problem of acquiring new weather
forecast equipment, a situation which is affecting accurate results.

"We are faced with a critical shortage of equipment because the ones we are
having are old.This is affecting weather results, which has an adverse
effect on economic planning and subsistence farming," he said.  "We have 66
weather stations of which 60, which are functioning are in a sorry state.
This is because most of the equipment is imported."

He urged parliamentarians to lobby for the procurement of new weather
forecast equipment so that the weather department can produce accurate and
credible results.

The weather forecast equipment currently used by the Meteorological
department is manufactured in Germany and the United Kingdom.

The climate change workshop was organised by Environment Africa with the
help of the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) and
Zimbabwe Environmental Lawyers Association (ZELA) with the aim of
encouraging legislators to lobby for the formulation of a comprehensive
climate change legal frame work.

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Zanu PF Abducts Nine Year Old

Chimanimani,  December 2, 2009, Political violence incidences are on the
rise in Chimanimani with recent reports that a nine year old son of an
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) activist was abducted but later found
dumped in the bush as pressure to force the parents to join Zanu PF.

"We had just retired for bed when a group of Zanu (PF) supporters led by
Colert Mutimwa, a security guard at Joshua Sako, the Zanu (PF) Secretary for
External Affairs in the Youth League broke our hut while we were sleeping
with my children and my wife. Mutimwa grabbed my son by the hand and said
they were going to return him on condition that I renounce my MDCZanu (PF),"
said Sibonile Marwirana.

Marwirana said he and his wife followed the abductees and they discovered
their son abandoned in the middle of the bush after the parents started
making noise alerting other villagers.

Marwirana said he reported the incident to Chimanimani police station but no
arrests were made.

The MDC Chimanimani coordinator, Pardon Maguta confirmed the incident. "Mr
Marwirana and his wife visited our district offices last seeking assistance
and advice from the party on the alleged abduction of their son .The couple
also complained about new wave of political violence in the area which is
dominated by Zanu (PF) supporters.

"The problem with Machongwe is that the area is a resettlement area and it
is dominated by Zanu (PF) supporters. Under the circumstances it is very
easy to identify and harass MDC supporters," said Maguta.

Last month an MDC Isuzu truck ferrying party supporters from Ndima was
ambushed and attacked in the area. One of the MDC activist Watson Miyocha
was seriously injured in the attack and was rushed to Chimanimani Hospital.
The truck which belonged to the Mutare MDC provincial offices had also its
window screen shattered in the attack which happened a few metres away from
Sako's farm.

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Harare asked to halt seizure of German’s farm

by Sebastian Nyamhangambiri Wednesday 02 December 2009

HARARE – The German embassy has written to Zimbabwe’s government to stop the
seizure of a farm owned by a German national in line with an investment
protection agreement between Harare and Berlin.

In a letter dated November 26, the embassy protested that property rights of
German investors in Zimbabwe continued to be violated despite promises by
high-ranking members of the Harare government to honour a bilateral
investment promotion and protection agreement between the two nations.

The embassy wrote the Foreign Affairs Ministry following an attempt by two
Zimbabwean men, Maclean Bhala and Thabani Ndlovu, to seize Doublevale Farm
in Matabeleland South that is owned by a German family only identified as
the Androliakos family. ?

“Once again, the German embassy notes with great concern that property
rights of German nationals and their investments in Zimbabwe are put under
threat, which is a clear violation of international law,” the embassy said.

“Despite repeated confirmations of high ranking representatives of the
Zimbabwean government about the latter’s intention to honour the BIPPA
(Bi-lateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement) in full, the
development on the ground so far shows few commitment to these clear

Foreign Affairs Minister Simbarashe Mumbengwegwi confirmed receiving the
embassy letter.  “We are going to look at the concerns of the letter and
communicate with the Germans,” he said, without giving much detail as to
what action he planned to take.

The embassy also sent another protest note to Mumbengegwi last October after
a German national lost US$1.5 million worth of investment in a farm that was
invaded by a top army officer.

Top security commanders and senior members of President Robert Mugabe’s ZANU
PF party have stepped up farm seizures since the February formation of a
unity government by the Zimbabwean leader and his former foe and now Prime
Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.

The coalition government has promised to carry out a land audit to establish
who owns which farm in the country, followed by an orderly programme to
allocate land to those who may need it.

But the administration is yet to undertake the audit, with Lands Minister
and Mugabe ally Herbert Murerwa suggesting recently that the audit may never
take place because of a shortage of funds to pay for the exercise.

Continued seizure of privately owned farms including those covered under
bilateral agreements has raised questions about the new administration’s
commitment to uphold property rights as well as agreements entered with
other countries. – ZimOnline

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Zimbabwe suspends hunting

by Chenai Maramba Wednesday 02 December 2009

HARARE - Zimbabwe has suspended wildlife hunting licences in what sources
said was part of efforts to curb poaching that has been on the rise since
the start of the year.

The Department of National Parks and Wildlife, in charge of national parks
in the country, flighted adverts in the press on Monday warning permit
holders currently on hunting sessions to stop hunting with immediate effect.

''National Parks and Wildlife Authority would like to warn the public that
all current hunting permits have been suspended with immediate effect to
verify them," the advert said, adding; "All current permit holders are
advised to approach the Parks Authority to verify validity of their

National Parks director general Morris Mutsambiwa could not be reached for

However, a senior official with a local non-governmental organisation (NGO)
that campaigns against poaching said suspension of permits was aimed at
curbing poaching and abuse of hunting permits that has seen the country
losing thousands of dollars in potential earnings from trophy hunting.

''National Parks is reacting to numerous reports of poaching, over-hunting
of quotas by hunters as well as abuse of permits,'' said the NGO official
who declined to be named for fear of victimisation.

Last month National Parks officials blamed the upsurge in poaching in the
country on a cartel of international gangsters they said were funding
poachers to kill valuable game such as the rhino that is hunted for its

Zimbabwe is one of four countries in the world that still have significant
populations of rhinos. The other three all in Africa are Kenya, Namibia and
South Africa.

Wildlife authorities in the country have found it hard to contain poaching
in national parks especially after landless villagers began invading - with
the government's tacit approval - white-owned farms in 2000.

There have also been widespread reports of illegal and uncontrolled trophy
hunting on former white-owned conservancies now controlled by powerful
politicians from President Robert Mugabe's ZANU PF party.
The government however denies that politicians are illegally hunting game
and insists it still has poaching under control.  - ZimOnline

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Make ARVs affordable says MDC

December 1, 2009

By Our Correspondent

HARARE - The mainstream MDC has urged the coalition government to make
anti-retrovirals (ARVs) available and affordable to Zimbabweans.

In a statement to mark World Aids Day on December 1, the MDC said HIV/Aids
remained one of the biggest threats to development in Zimbabwe. The party
said high costs of drugs and food shortages over the years had connived to
exacerbate the condition of those living with HIV/Aids.

"The MDC urges the inclusive government to urgently address the issue of
this menace to development through awareness programmes and by making ARVs
available and affordable," the MDC said
"Zimbabwe is one of the countries with the highest prevalence in the world
where about 5 000 Aids-related deaths occur every week. The country is
losing its most productive and economic population to this pandemic. Its
most disturbing long-term feature is its impact on life expectancy, now 34
years for women and 37 years for men."

"While we are aware of what the inclusive government has done to address the
collapsed health delivery system in the country, the only option is to
prioritise and engage in preventive rather than curative measures to prevent
further spread of the disease, to minimise its impact and to mitigate
effects by providing a caring and compassionate environment for those
infected through the provision of ARVs."

The MDC said the inclusive government should face the realities of the
pandemic head-on, and differentiate clearly between the myths and proven
practices and knowledge that would help in mitigating the disease.

Meanwhile, the World Federation for Mental Health (WFMH) Africa Initiative
on Mental Health & HIV/AIDS has launched a publication focusing on
depression among people living with HIV/AIDS and those who care for them.

The publication was also launched on World AIDS Day, commemorated on
December 1, as part of the WFMH's Africa Initiative on the Mental Health
Consequences of HIV/AIDS.

The WFMH Africa initiative, based in Cape Town, South Africa, was started in
October 2006 when the organisation adopted a position statement on mental
health and HIV/AIDS in low-income countries.

The publication brings together African and international research to
support a strong call for action for governments throughout the continent to
give greater attention and increased priority to the pressing need to
increase the availability and quality of mental health and psychosocial
support services for people living with HIV/AIDS.

"Being diagnosed as HIV positive can lead to considerable psychological
stress, "said Ingrid Daniels, chief executive officer of the Cape Mental
Health Society.

"HIV/AIDS infection can also cause changes in the brain that may lead to
people developing depression, and some of the medications used in managing
HIV also have other side-effects."

While depression is a common and potentially serious mental health problem,
it is treatable. Unfortunately, while depression can be treated, it is often
overlooked in people living with HIV and their caregivers, Daniels said

"More resources and increased awareness are needed to ensure that all people
can access effective treatment and support services when they need them,"
said Daniels.

The publication is available for download from the WFMH web site.

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Cancer patients stranded in Bulawayo

By Moses Muchemwa

Published: December 1, 2009

Bulawayo   - The machinery used to treat cancer patients at Mpilo Central
Hospital in Bulawayo has been grounded for the past 16 years, putting lives
of cancer patients into danger.

The Head of the Radiotherapy Department James Chinganga said the two
critical machines - the Linear Accelerator and Gamma Camera broke down in
1999 and 2003 respectively.

He said cancer patients in Bulawayo are forced to seek the specialised
treatment in Harare and neighbouring countries.

"As you know the hospital caters for the entire Southern parts of the
country including patients drawn from as far as Masvingo, Midlands and the
two Matabeleland provinces and just imagine the number of people that were
affected by this.

"We do provide chemotherapy treatment but we cannot entirely rely on that as
the disease needs to be continuously traced as to see whether it is
spreading or not and there is no way we can see what would be happening if
the machines are not working," he said.

The British Embassy donated spare parts worth over US$50 000 to the
institution to assist cancer patients.

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Zifa village condemned as sub-standard

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

By Petros Kausiyo

FIFA head of development for Africa Cyril Loisel is expected in Harare today
to discuss Zimbabwe's Goal Project amid stunning revelations that the Zifa
Village has been heavily condemned as a sub-standard facility, unsuitable to
host a centre of excellence.

The Zifa Village, situated in Mt Hampden, was chosen as the centre where the
association's Goal Project would be run from.

But the Goal Project, a development programme financed by Fifa under the
world body's financial assistance programme, has remained largely stagnant
with Zimbabwe having just recently completed Phase I.

A host of problems, including the failure to complete refurbishment work and
construct a training pitch at the site, have been blamed for the slow pace
of the Goal Project which has lagged behind other Southern African countries
like Botswana, Swaziland, Namibia and Zambia that are on Phase III.

Last month Zifa chief executive Henrietta Rushwaya noted that the facility
was falling apart, less than two years after some construction work had been
done to the lecture rooms that were officially opened by the late Vice
President Joseph Msika.

The late vice-president Msika was also the Zifa patron.

It has now emerged that a consultancy firm hired to evaluate the Zifa
Village, which incorporates a commercial centre, training facilities,
residential estate and a conference centre, produced a damning report on the
state of the complex.

It is largely because of the complaints on the frustratingly slow progress
in implementing the Goal Project that Fifa senior development manager for
Africa, Loisel, will visit the country accompanied by the world body's
development officer for Southern Africa Ashford Mamelodi.

Loisel and Mamelodi are expected to meet with the Zifa Board to table the
issue of Goal Project, the Zifa Private Limited and the association's plans
for a development programme for next year.

A meeting with the contractor of the project over "some unsettled bill'' and
another indaba with the co-ordinator of the goal project Frank Valdemarca
are also on the agenda on Fifa duo's three day working visit.

The pair will also tour Rufaro's artificial turf that was constructed under
Fifa's new development initiative on the continent - Win in Africa with
Africa - in which Fifa have funded the construction of an artificial turf in
each of the Confederation of African Football's 53 member associations.

But it is the damning report by architects and consultancy firm -
Afro-infrastructure Solutions Ltd - that has left a number of questions on
the wisdom of Zifa's continued investment in the Mt Hampden complex.

"This report gives a global state of the Zifa Village located in the Mt
Hampden area off the Old Mazowe road about five kilometres from the
Wastegate Shopping complex.

"While the report does not focus primarily on the project components of the
Fifa Goal Project 2, it gives attention to the physical steps and functional
state of the existing infrastructure at the village and the optimal steps
and/or solutions necessary to modernise the village and make it suitable for
its intended purpose.

"While our team cannot claim expertise in sports, it is our understanding
that any sports retreat must be capable of motivating participants to
perform at their maximum possible potential. In essence any retreat/ resort
must offer to both the players and officials an environment that is in all
aspects better than their usual residence and or training facilities in the
broadest sense of the phrase.

"It is our objective and sincere observation that in its current state and
location, the Zifa village is depressing and a potentially demotivating
factor to both players and management and therefore unsuitable as a camping
facility for our national teams.

"We feel obliged to state that in the main we are convinced that the
location of the village is inappropriate and the size of the site of the
village too small for the intended purpose.

"In the interim we wish to go beyond our current mandate and suggest that
the Zifa board investigate the possibility of an alternative site which
could be on state land suitable for the facility that they intend and the
nation expects them to develop,'' reads part of the nine-page report. The
consultants also offered alternative recommendations should Zifa eventually
fail to find new land on which to build the village.

"In the absence of a suitable alternative and in the full knowledge that
good money may be chasing bad money, it is our broad recommendation that
modest architectural, structural, landscaping and sporting facelift be given
to the existing facilities as the village must epitomise and embrace the
aspirations and dreams of the soccer fraternity and the nation at large.

"In view of the above it is important that the proposed Zifa Village and
corporate office be refurbished to the standard expected of a national
soccer nerve centre.

"The exterior and interior of the building will need to be redesigned to
meet the public perception and the image that management and the nation
expects and envisions of the football association today and in the future.

"We believe that with good supervision and management, the proposed
rehabilitation can be completed at a reasonable cost and time. The rooms
will need to be upgraded to the minimum acceptable standard preferable,
equivalent to a four star hotel.

"The solutions put forward in this report are temporary as we believe the
site itself is not suitable for its intended purpose. In the medium to long
term, Zifa must develop a suitable money-generating facility in an upmarket
location. We believe Zifa can use its relationship with the government to
secure a suitable site where at least four training pitches can be

"The current site does not have adequate space for even a training pitch.
The designated space is facing east-west instead of north - south, this
implies that players will always be facing the sun during training making it
difficult to concentrate,'' the consultants said.

After getting an independent and expert view of the state of the village the
Zifa board, who are expected to tour the village with Loisel and Mamelodi,
should at the end of their indaba with the senior Fifa development manager
get the world body's opinion on their project.

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Does Electoral Competition Cause Post-Election Intimidation and Violence? Evidence from the March 29, 2008 Zimbabwean General Election

A Paper Presented at the 27th Annual Meeting of the Association  of Third World Studies, Cape Coast, Ghana, November 21-24, 2009

Author: John Hickman


Are post-election intimidation and violence attributable to intense electoral competition? This paper presents answers to that question based on empirical findings from an analysis of the events immediately following balloting in the 2008 general election in Zimbabwe, a time period marked by thousands of incidents involving threats and physical attacks. The scholarly warrant for this research is that post-election intimidation and violence merit research as political phenomena that are important for reasons that involve both normative and practical policy-making interests and that have not been much studied. Indeed, while the published research about intimidation and violence before and during balloting comprises a small literature, the published research about post-election intimidation and violence hardly comprises a literature at all.

The general normative interest in electoral intimidation and violence is that safeguarding the right to vote without fear is that people appear to value the right to participate beyond the specific outcomes of elections (Benz 2007: 210; Guth and Weck-Hannemann 1997).  The procedural utility they derive from participation in elections is an enhanced sense of personal well being from the, "feeling of being involved and having political influence" and "inclusion, identity, and self-determination" (Benz 2007: 212). These feelings fulfill innate needs for autonomy, competence and relatedness (Benz 2007: 203). That probably accounts for the determination of some voters to participate in elections despite the risk of threat or physical attack. Notwithstanding the courage of some voters, public opinion research suggests that the experience of intimidation deters some from voting both in the near term and over the long term (Bratton 2008: 626). The general normative interest in electoral intimidation and violence is independent of both the purposes sought by its perpetrators and its effectiveness. These behaviors are morally repugnant whether their purpose is simply retributive or instrumentally rational.

The general practical or policy-making interest in electoral intimidation and violence is that they constitute what liberal societies would otherwise deem to be criminal behavior (Bratton 2008: 623). Policy making about electoral intimidation and violence begins with moral outrage but then moves to consideration of he economics of crime: "the cost imposed on society by the criminal act; the benefit to the criminal of committing the act; the cost of resources used to maintain the expected punishment" (Winter 2008: 13). Where the authorities are not among the perpetrators or otherwise complicit, then a straightforward economic policy analysis may be warranted. How much effort should the state devote to preventing and punishing electoral violence and intimidation? Beyond the importance of deterring violent crime of any sort through prevention and punishment, the importance of specifically deterring electoral intimidation and violence lies in the value of deterring highly publicized violent crime that may have a demonstration effect by indicating the weakness of social restraint and in its instrumental effectiveness either by reducing voter turnout or by enhancing the chances of winning by parties and candidates whose supporters are perpetrators. Therefore, if the authorities are not among the perpetrators or otherwise complicit, and if electoral intimidation and violence are neither highly publicized nor effective, then they may not merit policing and prosecution efforts different in intensity from ordinary violent crime. However, if the electoral intimidation and violence are highly publicized and effective, and if the authorities are among the perpetrators or otherwise complicit, then straightforward economic policy analysis of crime is insufficient. In such circumstances the equality of treatment expected under the rule of law is violated, and the practical or policy-making interest therefore becomes inseparable from the normative interest. So powerful are the normative interests implicated in widespread electoral intimidation and violence by the authorities that some citizens may ignore patriotic pride and willingly endorse international investigation to expose the pathology (Gettleman November 6 2009: A6). As such it may internationalize what would normally be a national political controversy. Independent news coverage indicates that the state was complicit in the highly publicized and widespread post-election violence in Zimbabwe in 2008 (Shaw June 22, 2008).

This research is justifiable because it attempts to answer, however preliminarily, an inquiry about a contradiction between moral goods: legitimacy and contestation. Beyond the toll of emotionally traumatized, wounded or dead, post-election intimidation and violence threaten the legitimacy of immediate election outcome, and more generally of elections as a method of selecting officials. If the intensity of electoral competition is associated with post election intimidation and violence (Manning 2005: 721), then that poses a fundamental conflict in moral goods because electoral contestation is crucial if elected officials are to be responsive and accountable to citizens.

Download the full paper here

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Universal Access and Human Rights

Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights
Statement on World AIDS Day - December 2009

'Universal Access and Human Rights'

World AIDS Day provides an opportunity to remind ourselves of what has been
achieved and of the work still to be done on HIV/AIDS. In 2009, Zimbabwe
recorded further decline in the prevalence rate of HIV from 15.6% to 13.7%.
An indicator that progress is being made. However only 180 000 of an
estimated 400 000 persons in urgent need of antiretroviral therapy (ART) are
currently on treatment. It is clear that universal access - for everyone,
everywhere - to treatment, prevention, care and support as a fundamental
human right is far from being realised and more concerted efforts are
required to achieve this.

Universal access can never be achieved as long as there is violation of the
human rights of people living with HIV/AIDS. However, PLWHA in Zimbabwe are
still subject to stigma and discrimination; are still denied their right to
work; and are often left in poverty that deprives them of their dignity. The
human rights of PLWHA to universal access cannot be fulfilled in the absence
of guarantees on availability, accessibility of quality of treatment,
prevention, care and support. In addition to these guarantees, a human
rights approach to HIV/AIDS must focus on eliminating discrimination and
stigmatisation as a primary goal, guaranteeing universal access, decreasing
vulnerability, promoting meaningful participation of people living with
HIV/AIDS in decision making and ensuring access to information.

It is deplorable that some ART sites are charging PLWHA an 'administration'
or 'card fee'- essentially user fees - to access free drugs. This undermines
the intention to promote universal access and prevents those without access
to financial resources from exercising their right to seek medical attention
and access treatment. ZADHR calls on the Ministry of Health and Child
Welfare to take steps to address this and ensure that People Living with
HIV/AIDS are exempt from all health care fees in the public health care
system and that these exemptions are enforced despite present funding
challenges within the health system.

Currently, there is no clear strategy in place to ensure the realisation of
human rights for people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) in Zimbabwe. The
Zimbabwe HIV and AIDS National Strategic Plan (2006 - 2010) does not use the
language of 'human rights' nor does it articulate specific strategies to
realise it. Consequently the monitoring and evaluation plan for the strategy
does not make any provision for tracking realisation of rights of PLWHA.
Thus, failure to use the language of human rights and identify specific
steps to be taken towards their fulfilment often translates into the
inability to take the actions that the realisation of human rights requires.
The human rights of PLWHA in Zimbabwe cannot come to be realised unless
intentional action is taken going forward to review existing legislation,
policies, strategies and programmes and ensure that all future legislation,
strategies and programmes are rights-based.

Whilst policy frameworks, such as the National HIV/AIDS Policy make a
contribution to approaches to HIV/AIDS it is important that the intentions
on human rights in the National HIV/AIDS Policy are made effective by
complimentary legislation. The enactment of legislation which specifically
protects the human rights of PLWHA is paramount. This should include an
enforceable provision for the right to health under which universal access
is guaranteed within the bill of rights of a new Zimbabwean constitution.

Finally it is important to remember as this year's mantra of 'universal
access and human rights' is chanted, that universal access to treatment and
prevention will transform HIV/AIDS into a manageable chronic illness which
will demand a Zimbabwean health system that can provide life-long regular
follow-up to PLWHA. This can only be done within a functional, equitable and
effective health system, on its own a fundamental human right.

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INTERVIEW: 'SADC gave timeframe, not deadline'
Wednesday 02 December 2009

Broadcast: November, 27 2009

GONDA: My guest on the Hot Seat programme today is Professor Welshman Ncube, the Minister of Industry and Commerce and one of the negotiators from the MDC-M. Welcome on the programme Professor Ncube.

NCUBE: Thank you.

GONDA: Now let me start with the latest developments; you are back discussing issues that you had negotiated on before, why is this happening again?

NCUBE: Well it's self-evident, we're back to negotiations because there is a fair amount of unhappiness about either the implementation of the original Agreement itself or the implementation of the decision of the SADC Summit of 26th to 27th January this year which directly gave birth to the inclusive government or because certain maybe unforeseen circumstances have arisen which have affected the capacity of the parties to continue to work together and lastly maybe, just because political parties and their nature - they never stop grandstanding and trying to make political capital out of every situation.

GONDA: So can you tell us what has been agreed on so far?

NCUBE: Well regrettably I can't tell you that because there is agreement that we should not begin to negotiate in the broader media and one of the resolutions that have been taken by the negotiators is to simply indicate that we are talking, the talks are continuing, we have an agreed agenda which we need to go through without talking to each other or doing reinterpretations which might lead to further complications through the media.

GONDA: But can you tell us which issues the parties are still divided on?

NCUBE: Well I wouldn't say the issues where parties are still divided on because we are going through the agenda. What I can tell you is that the same issues that everyone knows have been raised by the parties are the issues which remain on the agenda, issues as I have said which arise from the SADC Communiqué of 26th to 27th of January this year. And those issues, you'll recall that communiqué asked the parties, or directed the parties to go and agree on a formula for the appointment of provincial governors. Those governors remain unappointed and therefore they're self-evidently an issue. Then again that communiqué requested or directed the inclusive government to deal with the dispute around the appointment of the Reserve Bank governor and the Attorney General. That issue regrettably over the last nine months has either not been dealt with or no agreement on how to deal with it has been arrived at. The communiqué also directed that the inclusive government must be constituted by the swearing in of the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister and the swearing in of all the Ministers and Deputy Ministers by the 13th of February. We all know that one of the Deputy Ministers nominated by MDC-T has not been sworn in and therefore, even though that SADC Summit resolution has been substantially complied with, it has not been completely and fully complied with because one Deputy Minister remains un-sworn in, clearly therefore that is an issue arising out of that communiqué.

And since the formation of the inclusive government different parties are happy, are unhappy about different aspects of implementation of the GPA. And there's unhappiness about implementation around the provisions that we agreed on sanctions, there's unhappiness about the agreement relating to the media in what you might call a two-fold manner - there is the question of the external radio stations such as yours where the provisions relating to encouraging and ensuring that these radio stations should be encouraged to come and broadcast from home rather than externally where it is believed they are influenced by, funded by and also pursuing the agenda of foreign interests.

Then there is the issue of the continued polarisation in the media, in particular that whereas the parties and Zimbabweans have tried to move out of their pre-inclusive government trenches, the media has remained firmly, firmly entrenched in those trenches and sniping away at the political party or parties that are perceived to be the enemies of that section of the media. So all around there's unhappiness about the media, some are unhappy about the public media, the way it has continued to report, some are unhappy about the private media which equally has taken sides and promote as much hate speech regrettably as is promoted by the public media, so that issue has also to be dealt with.

Then there are issues relating to alleged operations of parallel government, indeed by both sides, there are accusations and counter accusations, as you know that this side or that side operate a parallel government not accountable to and not controlled by the inclusive government.

Then you have the issues about continued failure to adhere to the rule of law, selective prosecutions of people on the basis of their political opinions or their belonging to particular political parties. So these are some of the issues which we all know have been in the public arena or public domain for quite some time and in respect of which this or that party is unhappy about and we have therefore to review these issues and find a formula to solve them.

GONDA: I would want to talk a bit more about the external radio stations but just to go back to some of these outstanding issues you mentioned, we know where the MDC-T stands on the outstanding issues, for example they want a review of the appointments of the Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono, the Attorney General Johannes Tomana and governors among other issues and we know that ZANU PF is saying it wants the sanctions removed and external radio stations shut down but what about the MDC-M, your party, can you spell out your own view about what you believe are the outstanding issues?

NCUBE: Well certainly there's no entity called MDC-M, but having said that . . .

GONDA: What do you mean, there's no entity called the MDC-M? MDC-Mutambara, is that not your party?

NCUBE: Never. There is no party registered by that name. There might be persistence in the media and elsewhere in calling us by that name, but we are not MDC-M.

GONDA: So what is your name?

NCUBE: We are the MDC full stop. We have never, we contested the elections by that name, we have always used that name but that's not the core issue. I say it because if I don't then I will be conceding to being called by a name which we have never fielded.

As I say, that's not a core issue. Your question is about what are our issues - first we have always said the issues which SADC require to be resolved must be resolved and consequently therefore all the issues which arise out of the communiqué as I have indicated them to you, are issues which we say must be resolved and have always said must be resolved because we are parties to the discussions of that communiqué. We are directly affected by those issues, the appointment of provincial governors is a matter of concern to us which is our issue too because if you are to have an inclusive government each of the parties must be represented at all the levels of government and provincial governance is one of those levels. So that is our issue and we have repeatedly said so.

We have equally, equally insisted that the issue of the media as I have summarised to you is an issue which requires to be addressed. In fact on that issue we have been most adversely affected. One of the other parties, two parties, complains about the public media, the other about the private media, we complain about both and we are the only party which do not control, which do not have any media under our captivity, the others have this or that media under their captivity and we clearly therefore do not accept that Zimbabwe deserves a media that is under captivity in one form or the other.

Clearly therefore too, we have an interest in the observance of the rule of law, we have an interest in ensuring that the GPA is implemented as we agreed, that no one party, no one section of society is subjected to the law and others are not. So those are issues which are of interest to us. What you might perceive as a difference is that we have not yet mastered the art of grandstanding and we don't always stand at the rooftops and shout about these issues.

GONDA: You know in terms of the media coverage you complain that your party has been adversely affected and that there's this unfair media coverage but isn't this to some extent because your party is viewed with suspicion and also because you lost dismally in the last elections and that out of the four ministers in government, only one was elected?

NCUBE: Well Violet, that's illogical. The question of who this party deploys to government is an exclusive prerogative of this party. It cannot be said because this one was elected, this was unelected - we have an obligation to deploy this or that person. On the contrary we have deployed Moses Mzila Ndlovu, David Coltart, and Tapela - all of whom were elected. We have deployed only so-called unelected people who are the senior leaders of the party and even that for good cause. You are not going to go around buying our Members of Parliament who work with you and expect us to then deploy them into government. And we did that quite deliberately and we were being asked to deploy people who were already working for another political party and we are not imbeciles, we will not do that and we'll never do that. We will deploy people who will stand by, defend the party, die for the party and will not deploy turncoats who can be bought overnight.

So it's quite simple as far as we are concerned and the principal issue is you cannot disagree with Tsvangirai and his party. All of us exist to serve them, if you don't serve them you will be perceived in a negative way, if you jump at the top of the highest mountain and say Tsvangirai is God, you will be worshipped by the media and civil society - that is the bottom line and indeed you should be worried if you are a true democrat. You shall be worried and indeed not just worried, you shall be truly afraid because you have a culture, you have a party, you have a civil society which is a mirror image of ZANU PF in its behaviour, in its treatment of dissenting voices - because you believe that the positions you have taken are an eternal truth. Who dares challenge an eternal truth?

And did ZANU PF not believe that it's a socialist thing, its nationalist thing, its land thing are eternal truths? And therefore who dared challenge them? And its exactly the same thing and this is what is actually frustrating, kuti (that) a people who are supposed to be champions of democracy because they think they're on the right side of history and right side of justice and therefore there can no longer be any right to contest their position and you are constructing ZANU PF.

GONDA: What about the issue of Gono and Tomana? Where does your party stand on that?

NCUBE: Look, those are communiqué issues. The communiqué of SADC said the inclusive government must resolve them and therefore as I have said all communiqué issues are our issues too. We don't stand with MDC-T; we don't stand with ZANU PF. Our position is clear, we have nothing personally against Gono, we have nothing personally against Tomana and we are not obsessed about the matter but we believe in principle that once you had a GPA signed on the 15th of September, any senior appointments that had to be made should have been made consistently with the provisions of the GPA, which required the parties to agree and clearly therefore those appointments were made after agreement. We believe that they should be made within the letter of the GPA and should be made within the spirit of the GPA but we have nothing personal against any of those individuals. Ours is a matter of principle, a matter of procedure that an appointment that is required to be made in a particular way was not made in a particular way.

GONDA: So obviously this is a point of departure between you and the other MDC?

NCUBE: I've no idea; I don't speak for them so I don't know what their position is.

GONDA: Let me go back to the issue of the media. What really is the issue at hand here when it comes to the radio stations is it because we are broadcasting externally into Zimbabwe or that we do not come under the influence of the State machinery?

NCUBE: My understanding is that in the GPA there is an agreement that those who broadcast into Zimbabwe and are supposedly Zimbabwean media should therefore broadcast from Zimbabwe as a matter of principle. That's what was agreed so that the primary radio stations in Zimbabwe are not an extension of foreign governments or foreign interests, which appears to be in the case in the state of some of the external radio stations.

GONDA: Appears in whose eyes? Appears in whose eyes that they are an extension of foreign interests?

NCUBE: Well if you have a radio station which is an arm of a particular foreign government as is the case of at least one of the foreign radio stations which is in fact funded by a foreign government as part of its own national radio station but dedicated to broadcasting into Zimbabwe. Surely you would agree, surely you must agree that everything else being equal, that is undesirable? That is not to suggest that there were no justifications or circumstances which justified getting to the position where you had foreign governments providing a framework or a support to the establishment of radio stations to broadcast into Zimbabwe because you had a closed media environment but . . .

GONDA: But surely . . .

NCUBE: . . . if I may finish . . . you would agree that if you were to correct the internal problems in Zimbabwe, just like any other country it will be desirable to have what is called Zimbabwe media to have stations dedicated to broadcasting about Zimbabwe, broadcasting from Zimbabwe. There's a difference between a station in any other part of the world reporting on Zimbabwe from time to time but from whether a situation where you have a radio station dedicated at, dedicated into broadcasting about and exclusively, almost exclusively on Zimbabwe and everybody's agreed, indeed in the GPA this is not a matter for debate. The parties agreed that this is undesirable and that as a general principle we ought to have Zimbabwean media broadcast from Zimbabwe and we acknowledge in the GPA that there are circumstances, which gave, rise to this.

GONDA: Can you be more specific about this? SW Radio Africa is not pursuing the agenda of any foreign government and is not an extension of foreign interest. And also how can you make the shutting down of external radio stations a priority when you are failing to open up the media environment in Zimbabwe?

NCUBE: Firstly I have not alleged that your radio station is an arm of any foreign government. At the worst it is a radio station, which operates externally to Zimbabwe or from Zimbabwe. It is a radio station which will be funded by, I believe, the money which is external to Zimbabwe and I have not suggested and I would think that everyone would acknowledge that your radio station is not a radio station which is an arm of a foreign government.

Then secondly, I have not insisted, as far as I understand myself that anyone should be shut down. I have said in the Global Political Agreement there is an agreement that we will liberalise the media so that those who are operating from outside Zimbabwe will be free to come into Zimbabwe and broadcast without let or hindrance from Zimbabwe. Indeed the relevant clause says - in anticipation of a free media environment the parties thereby agree that the external radio stations should be encouraged to return to Zimbabwe and to broadcast from Zimbabwe . . .

GONDA: So why are the . . .

NCUBE: So clearly therefore we have not yet got to a state where you can say the legislative framework has allowed that to happen and clearly therefore it is a matter therefore which needs to be addressed.

GONDA: So you see, this is perhaps where the confusion is, why are you then as the negotiators and even as the political parties even talking about the external radio stations right now when there is no free media environment, when the airwaves have not been opened up? Surely, shouldn't that come first? Opening up the airwaves, setting up the media commission and then the journalists or the radio stations that are operating from abroad can then decide whether they want to go back into the country?

NCUBE: SADC resolved in Maputo, that the grievances of each and of all the parties must be addressed and resolved concurrently and not sequentially and hence if a party has therefore said we are unhappy with the continued operations of the external radio stations, well none of the parties have the power to veto it because SADC said if you do not put on the table the grievances of all the parties then you would not make progress. Clearly therefore we have to put that issue of external radio stations on the agenda because one of the parties flagged it at SADC as an issue over which it is unhappy. And so consequently it is an issue, which we have to address and find a formula in respect of which everyone will be happy about it. It is not for us to prejudge the issue by saying your issue is invalid and we should not put it on the table because the other party will also say - fine we will say your issues are equally invalid and we'll veto their putting them on the table and we will not get anywhere if that is the attitude.

If you ask me personally and you ask me as the representative of the MDC, I will tell you that there are certain things which would make it easier for us to deal with this issue if they were to happen internally to Zimbabwe but I will not go so far as to say these must therefore be preconditions. If you do then you will have in fact validated ZANU PF's contention that the issues which were put by them on the agenda originally are all often being said - ah they are issues for implementation last, you must implement all the other issues that we - as the MDC collectively this time - were concerned about: Have a full restoration of the rule of law, have a full media freedom, have full this or that and all those were issues which were placed by us on the agenda and ZANU PF complains that you want a full realisation and full benefit of your "issues" in quotation marks while you are saying - oh our issues depend on the implementation of your issues so therefore we will get a situation where all your issues are implemented and ours remain unimplemented and there is this or that excuse for their lack of implementation. That is the challenge and that is what they have flagged over the last couple of months and it behoves us to find a formula to ensure that they are satisfied that if the other issues are implemented we will not simply walk away and say - we have got what we want in respect of issues, it's your problem that you haven't got what you wanted.

GONDA: But don't you realise that you can or you may discuss the issue of the external radio stations until you are blue in the face but nothing is going to happen because the creation of some of these radio stations such as ours had nothing to do with politicians and you have no authority to ask for the radio stations to close down. And secondly we all know that this is a ZANU PF pre-condition - the closing down of these external radio stations - you can't close down things you don't like - isn't that what it all means, isn't this what democracy is about?

NCUBE: We all recognise that we have no power to legislate for something which is happening from London or from America and we all realise that we cannot therefore compel anybody to shut down a radio station one way or the other which is why in the GPA we talk of encouraging. We could not and we did not say they must shut down or must be shut down by anyone because we clearly have no such physical or legal power to do it, it's self-evident and in this interview I have repeatedly used the word encourage.

GONDA: Yes but ZANU PF doesn't use that word. Robert Mugabe has on many times been on record as saying that the radio stations should be shut down, he does not say encourage.

NCUBE: Violet, I don't care what people in their parties say, I care about what we agreed and what we agreed is in the GPA and I'm just giving it to you. I'm no spokesperson for ZANU PF or any other party for that matter therefore I have no mandate nor the will nor the desire to explain what they say.

GONDA: You know it's been suggested that your team from the MDC is sympathetic towards ZANU PF and is doing the bidding for ZANU PF and that you are viewed as a spoiler. How do you react to that?

NCUBE: I'm tempted not to dignify that rubbish with an answer. You have just been saying right now - passionately defending your right of your freedom of expression, freedom of the media to exist and to hold views and to allow people to propagate their views through their media as freely as they want to and you were very passionate just a few minutes ago - and surely you must be equally passionate about our right as a party to hold views which are different from MDC-T and which are different from yours and which are different from civil society and which are different from those of ZANU PF, and therefore we don't exist for the purpose of agreeing with this or that particular party.

And therefore when we disagree with the favourite party of some interest you can label us whatever you wish and we wouldn't care a hoot. We take our position on the basis of our party policies and on the basis of our principles and we hold no brief for ZANU PF. We disagree in a lot of ways, too many ways with ZANU PF to be even considered as a party, which bids for ZANU PF. Just as much as we disagree in terms in particular of the practices of the MDC-T, fundamentally disagree with them in many ways and it's our right to do so. The fact that we do disagree with them does not make us ZANU PF.

GONDA: Did you deliberately leave the country to avoid the talks?

NCUBE: First again that is a nonsensical idiotic allegation. What the heck do I have an interest in avoiding the talks? What is it that I have to gain by avoiding the talks when in fact, when in fact we were the party which was saying before these talks were started and were called that the parties need to sit down and talk? You look at each and every comment, every statement that we made prior to the SADC Ministerial visit, prior to the SADC Troika Summit in Maputo, president Mutambara consistently, consistently called upon MDC-T, called upon ZANU PF to sit down and talk.

We are the ones who called upon Morgan Tsvangirai to come back to the country so that this matter can be resolved by Zimbabweans across the table and if you look at our oral and written submissions to the SADC Ministerial Troika we recommended this dialogue and these talks, it is emphatically calling for the talks. Indeed more than any of the other parties we did that. You will recall the MDC-T were saying there is no reason for any talks, all you need is to implement the GPA without any discussion. So even on the basis of the fact it is nonsensical to say that the party, which called for, which campaigned for, which argued for the dialogue suddenly wants to avoid the dialogue.

Secondly the meetings, which we travelled to attend, were meetings, which were predetermined long before, long before the talks were agreed and before the timeframe was set by SADC. I went to the ATC Council of Ministers in Brussels which was agreed upon six months ago that it will take place on those dates which we committed ourselves that we will attend to ensure that you have appointments of the new secretary general, you have the budget for next year, you have programmes for next year and that we as a country have an interest in ensuring that all those things take place and that is the meeting I went to attend. Mrs Mushonga went to attend the meeting of the ADB Bank, which we were requested as chair of COMESA to go and attend that meeting and to make a presentation on behalf of COMESA as the current chairs of COMESA. So if some imbecile somewhere thinks that attending those meetings is avoiding the talks it is not my problem.

Thirdly and finally, the 15 days we are talking about, we as a party were available for the talks. When we returned from Maputo we said we were available for the talks and others were not available. I then travelled to Egypt with President Mugabe to the Africa/China Summit on that weekend immediately, or rather on the Sunday immediately after the Maputo Summit and we came back on the Monday and we offered ourselves for the talks, we said we can talk on Tuesday, we can talk on Wednesday, we can talk on Thursday, we can talk on Friday, we can talk on the Saturday and the Sunday and there were no takers for our offer, others were busy. On the Monday that's when we were then away, on the Monday, and the Tuesday and the Wednesday - three days.

We returned on Thursday and offered to be at the negotiating table on the Friday, on the Saturday, on the Sunday, on the Monday and we even offered to say let's get out of Harare and have a retreat so that we will have uninterrupted negotiations with a view to concluding them as expeditiously as possible. Again there were no takers. For instance the Minister of Finance said he was working on his budget, he could not be out of Harare although he was available during those days for talks in Harare. The ZANU PF team said they were not available during that period and therefore only an idiot can suggest that representatives of a party who were available out of the 15 days that we are talking about, were available except in respect of four of those days, you can then say they avoided the talks.

GONDA: So what is going to happen if you don't meet the SADC mandated deadline? I understand it's the 6th of . . . (interrupted)

NCUBE: There is no such thing. That is a creation of those who grandstand and who are masters of deception. There never was a SADC deadline. Those that want to believe there was, it is their problem, not mine. SADC provided a framework and said, and this is a decision of SADC and it has no deadline and I'll summarise it to you.

GONDA: Before you summarise it to us, Morgan Tsvangirai, after the SADC Summit in Mozambique, he came out and told journalists that Robert Mugabe had been given a 30-day deadline, so are you saying he lied?

NCUBE: I'm not the spokesperson for MDC-T or for Morgan Tsvangirai, you are free to go and ask him . . .

GONDA: But you are saying there was no deadline.

NCUBE: There was no deadline and I don't know whether he said that or he didn't say that, I'm hearing it from you and as far as I'm concerned there wasn't. My understanding and my party's understanding of the SADC resolutions was that the parties must meet immediately and after 15 days, the facilitator will review the progress they have made and render such assistance as might be necessary to render. And after a further 15 days the facilitator shall report to the SADC chair on progress or lack of it and then the SADC might then consider what further assistance or what further action, if any, is required and in my vocabulary, those are not deadlines, that is a framework.

GONDA: The MDC-T has issued several statements and in most of the statements they've talked about a SADC deadline and I was actually going to ask you who pushed for the 15 to 30 day timeline?

NCUBE: First as I say I'm not a spokesperson of anybody except the party that I represent. As I understand it there was no deadline pushed for or the timeframe, which was pushed for by anyone. The Ministerial Report, the Foreign Ministerial Troika Report contained the provision relating to the 30-day period or 30-day framework, that was already in the Report to say that the parties must talk and SADC must then review within 30 days the progress thereof. What was then added on the floor of the Summit was the 15-day period and that 15-day period was proposed by President Zuma and accepted by everybody else who was present at the meeting.

GONDA: Right, and so President Zuma has actually appointed a new team tasked with evaluating the negotiation process, so in your view how significant is the shift in persons?

NCUBE: Previously the dialogue was facilitated by the South African President who was at that time President Mbeki and there's a new President in South Africa and he's facilitating the dialogue. In fact if there's a team to evaluate, they never was a team before to evaluate. That's a new development. Previously there was a facilitation team and this was not an evaluation team. This was a team, which basically chaired the dialogue among and between the parties. You had Reverend Chikane, you had then Minister Mufamadi you had Advocate Mojangu - these were the facilitation team, they sat with the negotiators, chaired the meeting when they were required to be chaired and then when we requested that we wanted to talk on our own without them being present we will tell them so. That is what used to happen and they were not an evaluation team. I have no idea what the terms of reference of the new team are.

GONDA: Finally Professor Ncube why are the talks being held in total secrecy because many people are saying obviously you cannot give all details but surely there has to be some kind of a brief, or the occasional press conference so that at least Zimbabweans know what is being discussed about their future?

NCUBE: Well I think Zimbabweans know what is being discussed. The contentious issues, the unresolved issues and the outstanding issues are known. What we have said we will not do is give a briefing of 'we have an agreement on this, we are still negotiating on this' because first there can be no agreement on one issue without an agreement on the others because all the parties have said while they may make a concession on item "A", that concession is valid only on the assumption that they will be able to get concessions on items "C" or "D". Therefore without going through the entire agenda there is in fact no agreement on anything. So it is pointless to say you are announcing that we have an agreement on how to take the issue of sanctions when you have no agreement on how to take the issue of the rule of law because whatever concessions people are making on one issue might be conditional on the other issues being resolved, so it is pointless.

Secondly by its very nature, if you start to brief the media and to issue statements on the substance there will always be different points of emphasis which will only create contradictions and we might then end up negotiating what we have said in the media - is this correct, is this the best way of saying it - and it doesn't help in our respectful view.

GONDA: I'm afraid we've run out of time and we have to end here but thank you very much for talking on the programme Hot Seat.

That was Professor Welshman Ncube one of the negotiators from the MDC and the Minister of Industry and Commerce, thank you very much.

NCUBE: Thank you. - ZimOnline

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Some tips for facilitator Mac Maharaj

December 1, 2009

By Takarinda Gomo

BORN on April 12, 1935 at Newcastle in KwaZulu Natal, Mac Maharaj is a South
African of Indian descent. For 12 years he was a political prisoner in the
company of Nelson Mandela. Maharaj is one of the icons of the struggle.

Maharaj was a member of the armed wing of the African National Council
(ANC), uMkhonto weSizwe, since its formation. He underwent military training
in the then German Democratic Republic (aka East Germany). He rose through
the ranks to become Commander of Operation Vula, a highly secret
mobilization campaign outfit answerable to the then ANC President, the late
Oliver Tambo.

On May 11, 1994 Maharaj was appointed the first Minister of Transport in the
democratic South Africa.

Maharaj is not a stranger to political negotiations. He was Joint Secretary
in the Transitional Executive Council that ensured the run-up to the 1994
elections in South Africa was fair to all parties. He was a member of the
ANC negotiating team where he served as Joint Negotiating Secretary in the
Transitional Executive Council to the multi-party talks at Kempton Park,
which brokered the agreements that took South Africa to the first democratic
elections in 1994.

Even with all these glowing epithets, Maharaj and his team will find the
elusive Zimbabwe problem an uphill struggle. The South African situation,
from the time Nelson Mandela was released in February 1990, was ripe for a
solution. Both sides of the political divide were desperate for any
solution. The Zimbabwean situation in 2009 is not so ripe, because Zanu-PF
is negotiating in bad faith, insisting that there are no more outstanding
issues in the Global Political Agreement (GPA) except the issue of
sanctions. Here is a case of a political party negotiating either to
maintain the status quo or seeking downright failure of the talks.

This is the scenario Maharaj and his facilitating team will find in Zimbabwe
today. He will also find Zanu-PF subterfuge and intransigence in abundance.
Like many Zimbabweans, the facilitating team will be annoyed by the fact
that the six negotiators are sworn to silence. They are enjoying the power
of keeping the nation in a high state of suspense. The first thing Maharaj
should do is to ensure that there are daily briefings to the media about
progress of the talks or lack thereof. The fate of 12 million people can not
be determined by six politicians, some of them unelected. That conspiracy of
silence and media blackout is an insult to the conscience of the people of

According to The Zimbabwe Standard (29 November 2009), the issue of Gideon
Gono and Johannes Tomana is believed to be set aside, to be negotiated last.
Like any sunset clause, the matter will be rushed to beat the deadline.
Maharaj should be firm with the six negotiators. The issue of Gono and
Tomana should be negotiated, completed and agreed. If Zanu-PF does not want
the issue negotiated, then declare a deadlock and Zimbabwe goes to the polls
in March 2010, supervised by the African Union and the United Nations.

People are nervous that Maharaj may repeat the mistake made by Thabo Mbeki,
who was not willing to comprehend the interests, hopes and fears of the MDC.
Maharaj knows that procedural even-handedness and fair play are crucial
because they signal a readiness to listen, to learn and protect the parties'
soft parts.

Each dispute contains its own ebbs and flaws, so Maharaj and his team should
develop their own rhythm different from the Mbeki facilitation. To find an
early solution to the Zimbabwean dispute, he may wish to shake both Zanu-PF
and the MDC formations, by giving them something to mull over. In a
polarized situation such as Zimbabwe is in, a highly charged argument such
as that of Gono and Tomana may break out the conditionalities for accepting
or rejecting new ideas.

Maharaj's unenviable task is to put a leash on three dogs of war and become
an agent of purposeful change. He has the full weight of South African
influence and affluence behind him and the 2010 World Cup is beckoning and
ticking away. Maharaj cannot afford to fail. South Africa cannot and should
not allow a situation whereby it hosts the World Premier Soccer showcase
with inhabitants from its northern neighbour tearing each other apart and
refugees flooding in.

It is an open secret that South Africa in general and President Jacob Zuma
in particular has leverage over Zimbabwe and President Mugabe. The time has
come for South Africa to flex its muscle to put the nonsense of Zimbabwe
behind us, for the good of, not only Southern Africa, but Zimbabwe and South
Africa as well.

For the MDC formations, making peace with a violent adversary is an act of
faith, but increasing or removing the pain that Zanu-PF inflicted on
Zimbabweans does not address the fear-confidence equation. In fact, the two
may not intersect. For Maharaj the delicate art of managing negotiations is
now firmly in his hands.

Perhaps when he was a boy, Maharaj used to go fishing in the rivers of
KwaZulu Natal before he joined the armed struggle. He might remember the
analogy of angling.

Just as the angler is fishing from the time he baits the hook; to his choice
of the best means to present the lure; the strike that sets the hook in the
fish; his technique of playing the fish on the line and finally bringing the
fish into the net.

The game of facilitator in the Zimbabwean dispute is akin to playing the
fish from the moment the hook is set in, to the joyous instant when the fish
is netted. The angler keeps a taut line, never permitting a slack. If the
fish wants to dive or jump, let it do so. The fish may be lost by trying to
thwart it. It cannot be netted until it exhausts itself. Impatient anglers
lose fish by trying to muscle them before they are ready to be netted.

The only problem with this fishing analogy is that Maharaj has to get three
fish into the net by ironing out all the outstanding issues of the GPA
before President Zuma comes to triumphantly announce successful mediation of
his advance team. The odds of three fish striking at the same time are low
but not impossible. It has happened during a feeding frenzy. This is the
ideal moment for Zimbabwe whose people are suffering a crisis of
expectation, but also in a frenzy to get the politics right and get on with

Once Maharaj gets the three fish hooked, they can offset each other,
inadvertently helping him and his team to bring them into the net.

Much as there is no foolproof manual to guarantee not losing one or two, or
even all three fish, the analogy remains apt.

Finally, a bit of humour will certainly help the facilitators to ease the
tension and establish common ground to trigger off a reaction. Sometimes it
is useful to know some things that make people laugh. And Zimbabweans are
renowned for their infectious sense of humour.

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Make believe politics

Recently a group of "experts" (whatever that means - what makes an expert?) held a meeting in Harare to discuss a wide range of current concerns in Zimbabwe, including whether the Interim Government (IG) is "working". A report of the meeting has been published by the Research and Advocacy Unit and IDASA and we've just put it up on the Kubatana web site. You can check it out here.

The report gives us a lot of food for thought especially in regard to civil society and the general public getting sucked into the "make believe politics" of the IG. According to the report "It was suggested that the donors had contracted what was referred to as the MDC disease of "GNUitis". The donors thus appeared to a large extent to be setting the agenda, and an agenda which was not one that was required. This went to the extent of organisations such as the UNDP duplicating, and, to some extent, thus commandeering projects already being undertaken by the civics. "

Below is an extract from the report:

The group noted that the State media, MDC media releases, and politicians from all signatory parties to the GPA were at pains to emphasise that the IG "is working" albeit with "unsurprising" "teething problems". There are various facets to these statements:

* "Working" could be merely existential in the sense that the IG is intact and has not dissolved in the face of the divergent objectives of, and acrimony between, the signatories.
* "Working" could mean that some governance is taking place which is responsible for bringing a modicum of economic, social and political stability to Zimbabwe after a period of extreme turbulence in all of these spheres.
* "Working" could mean that the MDC's stated objective of returning Zimbabwe to the rule of law and democratic governance is being incrementally realised.
* "Working" could mean that ZANU PF's stated objective of "removing illegal sanctions" is a work in progress and the, probably unstated, goal of achieving legitimacy after unrecognised 2008 elections with a consequent easing of international pressure had been achieved.

The group noted that very little power had accrued to the MDC through the GPA, and that the MDC appeared to be reluctant to exercise the little power that it had. This led to an unpacking of the MDC's concept of a "working" IG. In particular, the MDC argument that, while it recognised that the GPA was highly flawed and left Mugabe's powers almost completely intact, it had little choice other than to sign and enter the IG. Failure to do so would have resulted in a formal or de facto coup by the security sector and a continued and intolerable humanitarian crisis. This had been avoided by the GPA and the tactic had thus "worked" to this extent. A corollary of this tactic is for the MDC to demonstrate that it is not a threat to ZANU PF - achieved in part by not seeking to exercise power in any sphere which ZANU PF regards as its exclusive domain - to thereby ameliorate the acrimony between the parties, calm the political waters, and for there to be a mutual "re-humanising process" to reverse the dehumanisation that had preceded the accord. This approach was designed to gradually "change the mindset" of ZANU PF stalwarts, and the MDC, simply by virtue of being in the corridors of power, would increase its leverage and be able to open up democratic space sufficiently for free elections to be held under an improved constitution. The approach demanded that the MDC claim that the IG was "working". The group gave this approach the moniker "make believe" politics.

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