At least 120 white farmers in Zimbabwe have returned to the land by setting
up farms under leasehold deals with the black beneficiaries of Robert
Mugabe's land seizure policies.
By Peta Thornycroft in Harare 11:01PM GMT 03 Dec 2010
The emergence of a new group of white farmers has drawn bitter criticism
from the victims of Mr Mugabe's violent occupation of properties sold under
colonial era leases.
"These farmers handed Mr Mugabe victory," said former Zimbabwe Tobacco
Association president, Andy Ferreira.
In the ten years since Mr Mugabe ordered 4,000 white farmers off their land,
Zimbabwe's economy has collapsed. A recent revival in agricultural
production appears to have resulted from younger white farmers restoring
fallow land to agriculture.
Mr Ferreira has called on international traders to shun tobacco grown on
contested land as "blood tobacco".
Mr Ferreira, an evicted farmer, said this new generation of white farmers
did deals - often with Mr Mugabes cronies in the ruling Zanu PF party
"because they like the life" and rewards of farming in one of Africa's most
Hendrik Olivier, director of the Commercial Farmers' Union said, in some
discomfort: "Yes it is happening. We advised these (white) farmers not to
move onto land without permission from original owners" Some farmers are
paying leases to the Zanu PF beneficiary and the original owner. Others are
only paying the Zanu PF person who "acquired" the land and its improvements
Trevor Gifford, a past president of the CFU, who was forced off his farm in
eastern Zimbabwe earlier this year said: :"I am relieved this is coming out.
Some of these white farmers are behaving disgracefully."
by Own Correspondent Saturday 04 December 2010
HARARE – Zimbabwe’s largest independent election monitoring group says the
SADC and other organisations should deploy advance teams to certify if the
present political conditions in the country are conducive for the holding of
free and fair polls next year.
The Zimbabwe Electoral Support Network (ZESN) this week said advance
monitoring teams should be deployed “now to assess the political
environment” and should remain in the country at least a month after the
polls to ensure there are no post-election skirmishes as happened two years
The polls should only go ahead after the advance parties have certified the
climate conducive for the unfettered participation of all stakeholders.
According to ZESN, the rest of the election observers should be deployed at
least three months prior to the polls.
This is one of a set of “minimum conditions” announced by ZESN for the
holding of free and fair elections in Zimbabwe which are tentatively set for
Other conditions include the need to have Southern African Development
Community (SADC) monitors compared to the current situation where the
regional team’s role is limited to observer status only.
Election monitors have the power to intervene and rectify any shortcoming in
the electoral process while observers do not have powers to intervene and
must only report what they have seen.
The role of election monitors is critical in a highly polarized society like
Zimbabwe’s where there is a need for an independent voice to generate
consensus among political players on the rule of electoral game including
the acceptance of election results.
Zimbabweans go to polls in mid-2011 in elections expected to be a two-horse
race between President Robert Mugabe’s ZANU PF party and the MDC-T led by
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.
Mugabe, who will turn 87 next February and the only leader Zimbabwe has
known since independence from Britain 30 years ago, has in past elections
disputed the reports of Western poll observers whom he accuses of bias.
In their reports, the Western observers have cited cases of political
violence against Mugabe’s opponents and widespread rigging of poll results.
The MDC-T says at least 500 of its supporters were murdered by ZANU PF
militias in the last presidential polls held in 2008.
ZESN also called for a “fresh registration of voters” before the next polls
as well as the removal of strict registration requirements such as proof of
An audit of the existing voters’ roll conducted by pressure group Sokwanele
last year unearthed several anomalies in the current roll maintained by the
Registrar General’s Office.
These included a surprisingly large number of people aged 100 and above. The
audit identified names of 74 021 voters aged above 100 on the roll used in
the 2008 harmonised parliamentary and presidential elections.
There were also 82 456 people registered who are aged between 90 and 100
The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission has said it needs at least a year to clean
up the existing voters’ roll, adding to the intrigue surrounding the holding
of the country’s next general elections.
HARARE, December 4, 2010 -The Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN), has
listed 'demilitarization' of the electoral body among the minimum standards
that the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) must deal with for the country
to have a credible poll.
ZESN which has been monitoring Zimbabwe elections since the year 2000 said
there must be no violence or intimidation before, during and after elections
adding that ordinary people must be allowed to move freely.
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has said (ZEC) is full of state security
agents with links to President Robert Mugabe's Zanu (PF) party. The Prime
Minister demanded the recruitment of electoral officials who will be
impartial when executing state duties.The MDC has alleged that previous
elections especially in 2000, 2002 and 2008 were rigged in favour of the
Zimbabwe is likely to hold elections next year.Mugabe has said he needed
early elections as tensions in the unity government continue to rise due to
differences over key positions such as provincial governors,
attorney-general and central bank governor.
ZESN also wants a new voters roll to include Zimbabweans in the diaspora and
prison inmates. The pressure group said the voters roll must be made
available electronically and ready for inspection by any person or party any
The organisation also called on the government to speed up the licencing of
independent radio and television stations to ensure that all political
parties are given equal airtime during election campaigning.
The election pressure group appealed to the unity government to allow
foreign observers into the country when there is time and to make sure
their security is guaranteed by the state.
3 December 2010
Harare — PRESSURE is being brought to bear on Zimbabwe's top leadership to
reconsider the decision to go to the polls next year in order to give the
country's economy sufficient time to recuperate after a decade of a
record-breaking recession while at the same time nursing the polarisation
dividing its people in what has rendered the 2011 plebiscite doubtful.
Leading the anti-election drive are regional leaders who are leaning heavily
on South African President, Jacob Zuma, who took over from Thabo Mbeki as
the point man on issues pertaining to the Zimbabwe crisis, to drive the
Diplomatic sources told The Financial Gazette this week that latest attempts
to stretch the life of the not-so-inclusive government beyond the two years
agreed under the power-sharing truce signed in September 2008 by the three
founding principals were informed by fears that going to the polls without
upgrading Zimbabwe's lopsided political environment could produce a disputed
outcome that might plunge the country into a deep hole.
Rightly or wrongly, these concerns seem to resonate with the dominant view
of the generality of Zimbabwe's populace.
Since 2000, Zimbabwe's electoral outcomes have suffered a credibility crisis
resulting in the country's isolation.
Analysts say the economic crisis of the last 10 years was largely caused by
the lack of confidence in Zimbabwe's political systems, which the previous
government had tried to reverse through populist economic policies that
spawned more problems for the nation.
Zuma, seen as wielding a greater say in the course of action the country may
eventually take, was in Harare on Friday last week in a desperate attempt to
iron out the differences between President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister
Morgan Tsvangirai -- the pillars upon which the coalition is anchored.
He took the opportunity to impress on the country's leadership the need to
draw a road-map that would result in the staging of free and fair elections
to end the contestation for power between them.
While President Mugabe has hinted that elections would be held in June next
year, it would appear that the timetable for the polls is now in disarray.
The road map alluded to by Zuma, the Southern African Development Community
(SADC) appointed mediator in the Zimbabwe crisis, is unlikely to be
accomplished within the next six months leading to the make-or-break
elections that are likely to be fiercely contested between the ageing
veteran nationalist and the former trade unionist.
For instance, the drafting stage of the new constitution that must precede
the polls is to all intents and purposes now off the rails.
The exercise has been held back by insufficient funding with donors said to
be sceptical about the unhelpful haggling and tussling that now characterise
the marriage of convenience between ZANU-PF and the two formations of the
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). The three parties have been at each
other's throats over the so-called outstanding issues encompassing the
appointment of senior government officials and a cocktail of reforms to be
implemented during the life of the inclusive government.
But what may cripple the election call more than anything else are
President Mugabe had tasked Treasury to budget at least US$200 million for
both the referendum and polls, which is proving to be a herculean task.
Finance Minister, Tendai Biti, only allocated US$50 million for the
referendum and the elections in his 2011 National Budget, a vote which
experts say is not enough to fund a national poll.
The hiatus in the Upper House over the alleged unilateral appointments of
provincial governors who seat in the Senate as ex-officio members, has also
blocked the passage of crucial Bills, some of which are meant to reform the
political environment, presently skewed in favour of the incumbent.
The Senate is only expected to reconvene in February, a setback to the
country's legislative agenda.
A catalogue of reforms currently in the pipeline include media and security
sector reforms, addressing the shambolic state of the voters roll,
conclusion of the stalled constitution reform process and diffusing tensions
in the unity government.
Ignoring these imperatives, according to diplomatic sources, might
compromise the credibility of the elections, which the SADC leaders would
want to avoid.
"All these issues, which were also raised by Zuma are impossible to address
within the next six months unless President Mugabe and Prime Minister
Tsvangirai were content with another sham poll, likely to be rejected," said
"Zuma has been told that he has to realise that the last election was marred
by violence and so far no meaningful effort has been relayed into the
creation of a peaceful political climate. The Organ on National Healing,
Reconciliation and Integration has been stuck in failure and stagnancy."
Legislators from both ZANU-PF and the MDC factions have already voiced
concerns over early polls. But analysts say these lawmakers could be easily
whipped into line and made to tow their respective party lines, as they are
deemed not to have the stamina to induce a political crisis.
A SADC Troika meeting is expected to take place in Pretoria before the end
of this week to discuss the way forward regarding the crisis in Harare.
Friday, 03 December 2010 17:28
GOVERNMENT should brace up for crippling strikes next year as civil servants
vent out their frustrations over the coalition’s failure to meet their
salary demands in the 2011 National Budget unveiled by Finance Minister,
Tendai Biti, last week. The public workers who number up to 200 000 have
been pressing for a salary of about US$502 per month for the lowest paid
government employee since the inclusive government was formed in February
In his budget statement, Biti increased the salary bill to US$1,1 billion
from US$773 — an increase of about 30 percent.
Taken together with other employments costs such as pensions, medical aid
and other allowances, the fiscus’ total salary bill will be US$1,4 billion
The net effect of the adjustment is however, still far short of the 100
percent salary rise that had been budgeted for by unions.
Unions representing the civil servants were this week livid over the issue.
Manuel Nyawo, the chief executive of the Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (TUZ),
said the government should brace for civil unrest in January.
He said the public workers were disappointed by the National Budget, which
maintained salaries at below the Poverty Datum Line (PDL), presently
estimated at US$500.
“We should send a clear message to them (government) to say, enough is
enough. There is going to be civil unrest next year because the Finance
Minister deliberately chose to leave us out of the consultations as if we
are not an important stakeholder. As TUZ we dismiss the budget as it does
not go along with our expectations,” he said.
The Public Service Association said it will soon convene a meeting of its
membership to review the budget and map the way forward.
Jeremiah Gwirinhi, the association’s deputy executive secretary said: “We
are still to unpack and allocate the proposed pay packages. However, we are
not happy at all as the government has again failed to address our issue.”
The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Union (ZCTU) has weighed in, saying the
budget left a sour taste in the mouth.
Wellington Chibebe, the ZCTU secretary general, said the union sees the
influence of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank in the
crafting of the budget hence the outcome is nothing short of being
capitalist and therefore not pro-poor.
“The ZCTU is worried that Value Added Tax and individual tax remain the
main sources of revenue for the government.
“Instead of taxing businesses that are into business to make profits,
government continues to hammer the workers with high taxes of up to 35
percent,” said Chibebe.
“The Minister is lying to the nation when he says the measures he has
introduced will impact positively on the purchasing power of tax payers.
This is because the tax bands have not been adjusted and the highest taxed
worker is still being taxed at a punitive 35 percent.
“The ZCTU’s position is that bonuses should not be taxed at all and
consequently the adjustment of the tax free bonus to US$500 has little
effect on the pockets of workers,” he added.
Chibebe said the adjustment of the tax free threshold from US$175 to US$225
was a slap in the face for workers who were expecting it to rise to at least
“We also take note of the proposed increase in the remuneration of the civil
service but labour is worried that there have been no attempts to flush out
the thousands of ghost workers in the civil service.
“An audit did take place and the Ministries that have the bulk of ghost
workers were identified and we wonder what is stopping the authorities from
weeding out these people.
“The proposed 100 percent salary hike for public sector workers is sickening
when one takes into account the fact that it’s inclusive of all other
obligations such as pensions,” he said.
Chibebe said the ZCTU wants Members of Parliament to critically look at the
proposed budget and not just rubberstamp the proposals as has been the norm
in the past.
By Thelma Chikwanha
Saturday, 04 December 2010 17:58
HARARE - The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) has called on the
Government to domesticate the International Labour Act, desist from
interfering in the work of the union and come up with policies that foster
economic growth in the country.
“Our labour laws are skewed and are not compliant with ILO standards,” ZCTU
President Lovemore Matombo told journalists at a meeting held at the Harare
Quill Club on Friday night.
Matombo, who recently won an international award for his sterling work for
workers under difficult conditions, said that there was need for the
Government to move away from colonial laws if the economy was to grow.
He said that 30 years after independence the Zimbabwean economy was still
run in the along the colonial lines that favoured a few people and left out
The ZCTU President said the Zimbabwe Political Economy was based on a
capitalistic system from the settler regime meant to cater for 250 000
He lamented the fact that there was no deliberate attempt by those in
positions of influence to change the status quo and grow the inherited
economy which he said catered for only 2O per cent of the formal economy
meant for whites.
“Zimbabwe is one of the richest countries on the planet with the poorest
people. Other countries rely on the minerals or tourism but Zimbabwe has
everything,” he said.
Matombo bemoaned the fact that a worker in 1975 earned more money than a
worker in 2010 despite the fact that Ian Smith was under sanctions.
He said that Zimbabwe at that time had a higher Domestic Gross Product than
India and China.
ZCTU is not happy with the recent 2011 budget presented by Finance Minister
Tendai Biti and described it as a slap in the face of wokers whose tax free
threshold was adjusted from US$ 175 to US$225 against a poverty datum line
of US$ 496.
Minister Tendai Biti on the other hand, said his budget favoured the poor
and also cited the need to amend the labour laws to make them investor
Written by John Chimunhu
Saturday, 04 December 2010 13:39
HARARE - Zimbabwean farmers have moved a step closer to seizing planes
belonging to the troubled state carrier Air Zimbabwe and trains owned by the
National Railways of Zimbabwe in their efforts to get compensation for farms
seized by President Robert Mugabe without compensation since 2000.
In claims registered recently in New York, the farmers have now been
empowered to attach planes, trains and any assets belonging to quasi-state
corporations which they can identify outside Zimbabwe.
Zimbabwe flies planes to various destinations around the world and runs
trains into neighbouring countries.
“Every day we have a new writ. The farmers registered an order in New York
and they can attach any quasi-state asset owned by such organizations as NRZ
and Air Zimbabwe,” said Finance Minister Tendai Biti during a post-budget
meeting with members of the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) last
The farmers are also said to be identifying offshore financial assets owned
by Zimbabwean parastatals with the intention of seizing them.
This would make doing business virtually impossible for many state firms.
A South African court last month ruled that three commercial farmers and a
German bank owed money by the government could auction a building owned by
the Zimbabwe government in Cape Town.
The farmers and the German Bank had initially targeted to auction three
Zimbabwean properties but the South Gauteng High Court ruled that they could
only sale the one building in Kenilworth, Cape Town, because it was being
rented out to a third party for commercial gain and therefore no longer
enjoyed diplomatic protection.
Biti said other government buildings were only saved on the grounds of
sovereign immunity (diplomatic immunity). But the finance minister the only
way to resolve the problem was to pay compensation to the farmers for
properties they lost in Zimbabwe.
“We have to solve the issue of this debt,” the Minister said. However,
paying off the farmers may prove difficult as the bankrupt Harare government
owes billions to other lenders, including the International Monetary Fund
and the World Bank.
Friday, 03 December 2010 17:27
THE government has been accused of conducting secret diamonds sales worth
several millions of United States dollars outside the auction system,
documents filed in the High Court show. As the diamond saga deepens one of
the directors of Core Mining and Minerals Resources is alleging that the
Ministry of Mines and Mining Development through its companies — the
Zimbabwe Min-ing Development Corporation (ZMDC), Marange Resources and the
Minerals Marketing Corpo-ration of Zimbabwe (MMCZ) — have departed from the
usual sale of diamonds through the auction system.
This is contained in court documents in which Lovemore Kurotwi, a director
of Core, is seeking to be availed some of the proceeds from the opaque cash
sales of the gems.
Kurotwi, whose company had partnered Marange Resources to form Canadile
Miners, kicked out from the fields recently on fraud allegations, has
launched a bid seeking more than US$3,7 million from sales of diamonds he
claims were conducted a fortnight ago and under a cloud.
He alleged that underhand dealings were taking place in the handling of the
“. . . On 12th of November 2010, Govati Mhora (ZMDC security officer)
attempted to airlift the diamonds from the Mutare sorting house to an
undisclosed destination. The attempted removal was stopped by Mutare police
who briefly detained (and) questioned Mhora and his helicopter crew, which
included the first respondent’s acting deputy chief executive officer,” said
Kurotwi in his application.
“I have been informed by one international buyer who participated in
previous auctions . . . that today (November 18 2010) he has been invited
and has been offered a diamond parcel of 400 carats valued at US$2 million.
“. . . (The) third respondent (MMCZ) has departed from the usual practice of
sale by auction and has offered the parcels to cash buyers . . . There is
now one sale underway. The nature of the transaction, (private treaty), has
the potential of abuse.”
ZMDC is the first respondent in the matter.
The ZMDC has since challenged the application saying the agreement that led
to the formation of Canadile had been revoked and as such Core Mining cannot
claim any money from diamond sales.
Kurotwi also sought the reversal of an instruction by the Immigration
Department to cancel the work permits of Canadile directors and employees
Aslanian Wiken, Yehudah Licht, Subithry Naidoo, Allan John Sawyer, Karen
Mikirayen, Komalin Packirisamy and Marco Chiotti.
He further stated that the directors be allowed to enter the country without
But ZMDC is challenging the credentials of the directors and maintains that
some of them were convicted criminals, diamond smugglers and money
Kurotwi, Chiotti, Naidoo, Pacikrisamy and Naidoo have been recommended by a
special ZMDC investigations report that they be probed and prosecuted for
smuggling of diamonds and money laundering.
The same report alleges that Licht was convicted and served a prison
sentence in Angola; Taylor was an apartheid mercenary involved in African
“conflict diamond” wars; Chiotti was a diamond smuggler operating from
Manica in Mozambique; Naidoo was a South African drug cartel boss, notorious
diamond dealer and smuggler in Mutare and Manica.
Kurotwi, who was released from police custody last month, would be indicted
for trial on January 4, 2011 along with five ZMDC officials on charges of
fraudulently acquiring diamond mining claims in Chiadzwa
The five are suspended ZMDC chief executive, Dominic Mubaiwa, board member
Mark Tsomondo, former board chairperson Gloria Mawarire, director Aston
Ndlovu and company secretary, John Tichaona.
The damaging revelations came as the impasse between the government and the
Kimberly Process has escalated.
Last week, Zimbabwe abandoned a meeting in Brussels, Belgium, that was meant
to discuss its diamond exports in protest.
There have been concerns regarding the sale of Chiadzwa diamonds in Marange
amid speculation that the precious stones were being abused by senior
political figures to further their political interests.
Presenting the 2011 National Budget last week, Finance Minister Tendai Biti,
said Treasury had receipted proceeds from only two diamond auctions and
still awaited the revenue from the third sale.
“The first and second sales conducted in August and September 2010 generated
gross proceeds of US$56 476 194,40 and US$29 914 788,86 . . . Out of this
amount accruals to government were US$30 006 630,85 and US$11 932 557,79
“Treasury still awaits receipts from the third diamond sale for
incorporation into the consolidated revenue account,” said Biti.
UN Humanitarian Coordinator Alain Noudehou said one in three children in
Zimbabwe is chronically malnourished and that malnutrition is a factor in
nearly 12,000 child deaths a year in the country
Sandra Nyaira | Washington 03 December 2010
The United Nations humanitarian coordinator for Zimbabwe, Alain Noudehou,
has issued an appeal to donors for $415 million for 2011, saying an
estimated 1.7 million Zimbabweans face hunger from January through March
when the annual maize harvest begins.
Noudehou said one in three children in Zimbabwe is chronically malnourished.
He said malnutrition is a factor in nearly 12,000 child deaths a year.
Zimbabwe has experienced a decade of food shortages due to drought and – say
experts – as a result of the land reform program launched in 2000 by
President Robert Mugabe, which severely disrupted the agricultural sector as
white operators were ejected.
Christian Care National Director Reverend Forbes Matonga said donor agencies
have already started distributing food in parts of the country most prone to
Written by Vusimuzi Bhebhe
Saturday, 04 December 2010 13:45
HARARE – Zanu (PF) has intensified the politicisation of food aid and
farm input distribution as part of a wider campaign to victimise and
intimidate opponents ahead of elections tentatively set for next year.
According to the Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP), incidents of aid
politicisation have been rampant in Lupane West, Hwange West and Binga
South districts of Matabeleland North province.
“Matabeleland North recorded cases of harassments mostly around the
issue of partisan distribution of food and other forms of aid with
victims being denied access to aid,” the group said.
The campaign to cow opponents ahead of polls likely to take before
mid-2011 has also seen a spike in incidents of political violence
across the country, with ZPP saying it recorded 896 cases of violence
and human rights abuses – including assault, intimidation, rape and
torture – in October compared to 869 such incidents recorded in the
The ZPP said Zanu (PF) militia have set up torture camps in
Mashonaland Central province in a sign of worse things to come.
“Torture bases have also been established in Mashonaland Central in
the areas of Muzarabani and Bindura North constituencies leaving
villagers terrified,” said the ZPP in its report on political violence
and human rights abuses for the month of October.
The report also showed the intensification of a terror campaign by the
army against supporters of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s
The ZPP said soldiers are openly campaigning for President Robert
Mugabe, telling the villagers they would be killed if they do not vote
for Zanu (PF).
“Military presence in communities has been a source of constant fear
for villagers, who anticipate a repeat of the 2008 electoral violence
at the hands of the Zanu (PF) militias and serving members of the
army,” the ZPP said.
In Mashonaland East province, soldiers at Joko Army Barracks near
Mutoko have resorted to taking their training drills to the villages
instead of their secluded military base in a move meant to instil fear
among the hapless villagers.
The ZPP also said traditional chiefs from Manicaland province were
summoned to a “indoctrination workshop” where the Brigadier-General
Douglas Nyikayaramba told them to support Zanu (PF) or they would be
deposed from their positions.
Zimbabwe is next year looking to hold a referendum on a new
constitution followed by elections that many analysts have warned
could see a return to violence without political, security and
Zimbabwe’s elections have been characterized by political violence and
gross human rights abuses with the last vote in 2008 ending
inconclusively after the military-led campaign of violence and murder
that forced then opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai to withdraw from
a second round presidential ballot.
A power-sharing government formed by Mugabe and Tsvangirai after the
flopped poll was tasked to stabilise the economy, easy political
tensions and write a new and democratic constitution that would ensure
future elections are free and fair.
The coalition government has scored well on the economy but has
struggled on the political front with constitutional reforms marred by
reports of violence and intimidation, while security forces have
continued to threaten the rule of law and human rights.
Written by John Chimunhu
Friday, 03 December 2010 10:56
HARARE - Zimbabwe has made some headway in negotiations with the United
States for the provision of coins following the apparent collapse of similar
talks with neighbouring South Africa.
According to Finance Minister Tendai Biti, the US has indicated its
willingness to give Zimbabwe much-needed coins to smoothen the flow of trade
in a country where consumers are often forced to pay high prices and buy
things they do not need as there are no coins for change.
The US currency is the number one medium of exchange in Zimbabwe since the
government allowed last year the use of a basket of foreign currencies that
includes the South African rand, Botswana pula and British pound. “We’ve
opened negotiations with the US Treasury with regard to coins. They said if
we can pay for shipping then we can have the coins,” said Biti, who did not
give a timeframe for the availability of the coins nor indicate how much
Zimbabwe would pay in shipping costs.
Zimbabwe switched to the use of foreign currency following the collapse of
the Zimbabwe dollar after an unprecedented economic meltdown that peaked in
2008 and is blamed on President Robert Mugabe’s controversial policies. Biti
said the use of multiple currencies was going to continue for some time as
no agreement had been reached with South Africa.
He talked down the possibility of the SADC region currency being introduced
anytime soon, saying such a currency would have to be linked to the proposed
SADC Free Trade Area that, however, remains stalled because of South Africa’s
dragging of feet over the trade arrangement.
Health Minister Henry Madzorera said much more must be done to reduce the
new infections that contribute to the so-called HIV prevalence rate, now
about 10 percent across Zimbabwe
Studio 7 Reporters | Washington & Chinhoyi 03 December 2010
Zimbabwean Health Minister Henry Madzorera said Friday that 60,000 new HIV
infections have been recorded this year despite efforts to boost public
awareness of the risk.
Madzorera told VOA Studio 7 reporter Sandra Nyaira that much more must be
done to reduce the new infections that contribute to the so-called HIV
prevalence rate, now about 10 percent across Zimbabwe though less than half
where it stood several years ago.
Though observations of World Aids Day on Wednesday provided a boost for many
of those living with or fighting the deadly disease, some HIV positive
Zimbabweans say they have little cause to celebrate because surviving
remains a daily battle, as Studio 7 correspondent Arthur Chigoriwa reported
from Chinhoyi, Mashonaland West.
In activities following up on World Aids Day, the Youth Forum met with
members of the parliamentary committee on Women, Youth, Gender and Community
Development for what the young activists called a no-holds barred
Youth forum projects coordinator Wellington Zindove said the organization
expressed its views on governments engagement of youth, economic
disenfranchisement, political violence, proposed 2011 elections, and youth
access to HIV testing and treatment.
Zindove told reporter Tatenda Gumbo that the panel was very receptive.
Youth Fourm member Tapiwa Mushati said he hopes Parliament and the
government will focus more on the economic empowerment of young people.
APA-Harare (Zimbabwe) The Global Fund to Fight HIV, Tuberculosis and Malaria
has rejected Zimbabwe’s application for US$220 million to finance HIV and TB
programmes for the coming year, threatening to derail progress achieved so
far towards efforts containing the two diseases, the state-run Herald daily
reported on Saturday in Harare the capital.
The Herald daily reported Saturday that the Global Fund would not fund
Zimbabwe’s Round 10 application for programme financing but did not give
reasons for the rejection.
Zimbabwe had applied for US$170 million for HIV and US$50 million for TB.
National Aids Council chief executive Dr Tapiwa Magure described the
development as devastating.
"It means we have to re-prioritise and focus on a few issues because the
budget has now been limited. This will make it difficult to attain the
Millennium Development Goal of universal access to treatment,” Magure told
Zimbabwe’s adult HIV prevalence has been on a downward trend, dropping from
18.1 percent in 2006 to 13.7 percent in 2009.
According to the government, about 343,600 adults and 35,200 children under
15 years urgently need anti-retroviral (ARV) treatment out of 1.2 million
Zimbabweans living with HIV/AIDS.
The government’s ARV programme only caters for about 200,000 infected
An estimated 3,000 people out of the total 12 million Zimbabweans die of
HIV/AIDS related illnesses every week.
December 04 2010 ,
Defence Minister Lindiwe Sisulu
South Africa will establish two new border posts in Limpopo bordering
Zimbabwe. This was announced by Defence Minister Lindiwe Sisulu in Durban
yesterday. Sisulu and her Zimbabwean counterparts concluded a three-day
commission on defence and security.
The meeting aimed to improve relations between the two countries,
particularly on issues of safety and security. It is said that vehicle
smuggling, human trafficking as well as drug trafficking pose serious
threats to both countries due to the single border between the two
Now South Africa plans to ease congestion at the Beit bridge border by
introducing two new border posts which will be built at Mapungubwe and
Chikwarakwara in Limpopo. Both new border posts will link the Trans-frontier
parks. Sisulu also maintains that the situation has improved significantly
since the defence force returned to the borders.
Both countries have pledged to apply stricter border control measures. The
commission plans to draw up similar legislation for both countries in an
effort to curb rhino poaching. The migration of illegal Zimbabweans into
South Africa will also be closely monitored. A memorandum of agreement was
Written by JUSTICE ZHOU
Thursday, 02 December 2010 16:36
Relief efforts a drop in the ocean
HARARE - Unemployment continues to wreak havoc in Zimbabwe, amid a deepening
power-sharing row in the unity government (GNU) which analysts say could
derail the country’s recovery from 10 years of political instability and
“Serious political challenges continue arresting our country…structural,
social and economic problems remain,” Finance Minister Tendai Biti told
parliament while unveiling the 2011 national budget recently. These include
political disputes in the GNU, poverty and unemployment among others, Biti
Although prices of goods and services have dropped since he took control of
the finance ministry in 2009, life remains unbearable for Zimbabwe’s mainly
young citizens, who endure a chronic lack of jobs. “The livelihoods of
Zimbabwe’s population are under threat. Unemployment rates of 85 percent and
reduced earning opportunities are forcing many people to resort to selling
their assets to survive,” says humanitarian body, Oxfam.
Lloyd Gumbo, a 27-years-old marketing graduate from rural Gokwe who has been
jobless since he left college in 2006, said: “Sourcing money to set up a
business is the way to go now. As for the dream of getting a job, I have all
but given up hope.”
Simmering political tensions and the looming 2011 elections have raised
fears of government’s attention being subsequently turned away from the
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
has described his turbulent alliance with President Robert Mugabe of Zanu
(PF) which started in 2009 as “an unworkable combination”, saying it should
end once the pact expires next year.
Analysts say Mugabe’s reluctance to allow for economic and other reforms has
resulted in lower investment inflows trickling into the country and
international moneylenders holding back credit assistance, making it
difficult for the economy to grow faster towards creating jobs.
“The current unemployment crisis depends on the political landscape and
whether the government is willing to persuade foreign investors into the
country. More credit facilities for income-generating projects are required
as well, thus creating more job opportunities,” Tafadzwa Muropa, a
Harare-based political economist, told The Zimbabwean.
Citing a drop in economic freedoms, the World Bank downgraded Zimbabwe in
November on the Doing Business Index to157th position in 2010, from 156th
last year. Despite interventions by donor agencies, relief efforts have
proved to be a drop in the ocean as a larger section of the jobless have
since turned to unlawful means such as prostitution, crime and illegal
mining of precious minerals, while others migrated to foreign countries.
Even as industrial capacity has improved significantly, several firms still
lack capital and are either reluctant to employ new staff or ceasing
operations due to high labour costs. In his budget speech, Biti expressed
concern about the “labour market’s inflexibility” in relation to salaries
and wages that do not match industrial productivity, warning that labour
laws and the arbitrator’s role would be reviewed.
But the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) has hit back at the finance
minister, arguing that his US$2.7 billion budget excluded submissions by
labour unions and has continued to rely on workers as a main source of
fiscal revenues. ZCTU secretary general, Wellington Chibebe, said: “Instead
of taxing businesses that are into business to make profits, government
continues to hammer the workers with high taxes.”
A September 2010 World Bank economic review noted that factors such as
political uncertainty and labour costs stand in the way of economic growth
in Zimbabwe. “There is now a need for deeper reforms focused on economic as
well as sector policies to consolidate recovery...and put the economy on a
path to higher growth and employment,” the bank said.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) last month called for more reforms,
saying political stability was vital to “consolidating gains in
macroeconomic performance”. Biti has promised to revive the collapsed
Micro-Finance Revolving Fund by providing US$15 million worth of support to
small and medium-scale enterprises and the self-employed, as part of
addressing poverty and the unemployment crunch.
This newspaper reported in November that he has also allocated US$40 000
each for all the country’s provinces towards youth projects. Recently the
government launched a loan scheme to help the jobless in small business
ventures. However, the scheme has come under criticism for being mired in
corruption and political interference.
A youth project by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) also got
underway last year. The YES-JUMP project aims to create1000 jobs in poor
communities. “This is being achieved through the facilitation of
entrepreneurship, technical, vocational education and life skills training
and boosting small enterprise and cooperative development with access to
microfinance for pilot projects,” the ILO office in Harare said.
According to a recent report by the United Nations Office for the
Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), Zimbabwe had just 480 000
formally employed people in 2008, compared to around 3.6 million in 2003.
Nearly a third of the country’s labour force is estimated to have left to
seek work abroad as the impact of the decade-long crisis caused scores of
companies to shut down, while Mugabe’s former government had struggled to
pay its employees.
By Staff Writer
Saturday, 04 December 2010 17:47
HARARE - A report just released by Amnesty International says the Zimbabwean
government should urgently investigate the high level of deaths of newborn
babies at Hopley settlement, just outside the capital.
The settlement was created to give shelter to thousands of people made
homeless by the ill concieved Murambatsvina forced eviction programme
launched by the government five years ago.
The report titled, No Chance to Live, Newborn death at Hopley Settlement,
found that at least 21 newborns had died at Hopley within a five month
period indicating a very high level of newborn deaths within the settlement.
"When people were settled in Hopley, the government promised them a better
life but things have gone from bad to worse," said Michelle Kagari, Amnesty
International's Deputy Africa Director.
"Many of the women we spoke to felt that their minimal access to healthcare
contributed to the deaths of their babies. Others suspected that their
babies died of cold because they live in plastic shacks."
"The government must ensure these women have access to maternal and newborn
healthcare in order to prevent further avoidable deaths."
The government justified its 2005 mass evictions program, Operation
Murambatsvina, by claiming that the communities evicted were living in
But the truth is that the government was angered that most of the urban
population had voted for the opposition MDC in national elections held that
year and so the their eviction their punishment.
Government set up a housing scheme named Operation Garikai (Better Life) to
re-settle several thousand of the victims of the eviction program promising
them better access to services.
Hopley - located about 10 kilometres south of Harare - was one such scheme.
"The victims of Operation Murambatsvina have been forgotten by the
government and, five years after losing their homes and livelihoods, their
situation continues to deteriorate," said Michelle Kagari.
Women in Hopley told Amnesty International that they were well aware of the
importance of maternal and newborn healthcare, and many had received such
care during previous pregnancies before the government moved them to Hopley.
All said they wanted to give birth in a hospital or with the assistance of a
trained health official.
Many women described how they could not afford the US$50 required to
register for ante-natal care. While this cost is applied to all pregnant
women in Zimbabwe, Hopley residents are particularly unable to afford the
costs because many lost their livelihoods during the mass forced evictions
when market places and other informal businesses were destroyed.
Expecting mothers at Hopley are also affected by the lack of transport when
they go into labour. The nearest maternity clinic is in Glen Norah, 8km
Harare City Council only has three functioning ambulances which service a
population of about two million. Many private ambulances and transport
operators will not go into Hopley settlement for fear of crime, especially
On 19 February 2010, Megan (40) gave birth to twin boys prematurely at
around midnight and could not get transport to the maternity clinic.
The babies were delivered in her shack. Both the babies died while she was
on her way to the clinic the following morning. This was her fifth
pregnancy. She has four surviving children who were all born before the
family was settled at Hopley by the government.
Fadzai (25) went into labour on 26 February 2010 and gave birth to a baby
girl who died the same day. She thinks her baby died because she could not
keep it warm.
"Limited access to health services is one of the causes of the high levels
of newborn deaths at Hopley," said Michelle Kagari. "Low cost interventions
and basic healthcare could save young lives as well as those of their
It appears that the newborn deaths at Hopley have largely gone unnoticed by
the authorities. A Harare City Council official told Amnesty International
that the council and the government did not have demographic information of
the population at Hopley, which they felt was necessary to plan health
No public official figures exist but the Zimbabwean government estimates
that a national average of 29 neo-natal cases per 1000 live births. Hopley
has approximately 5,000 residents.
"The Zimbabwean authorities have failed to monitor the health situation at
Hopley. They must act immediately to combat the rate of newborn deaths
revealed by Amnesty International's investigation," said Michelle Kagari.
Amnesty International has called on the Zimbabwe government to urgently
address the threats to the health and lives of newborn babies by immediately
putting in place all necessary measures to ensure pregnant women and girls
at Hopley settlement, and other Operation Garakai settlements, have access
to maternal and newborn care.
The organization said that the government must also address as a matter of
urgency the appalling living conditions which expose newborns and pregnant
women and girls to risks of ill health and death.
A health surveillance system to monitor the overall health situation in
Operation Garikai settlements, including Hopley is also urgently needed;
with a specific focus on maternal, neonatal and infant mortality and
Most of the people who now live at Hopley were forcibly moved there by the
government. They had been living at Porta Farm, a settlement on the
outskirts of Harare.
The government had moved people to Porta Farm following forced evictions
from Harare precincts in preparation for the 1991 Commonwealth Heads of
Porta Farm was destroyed during Operation Murambatsvina in spite of three
court orders barring the government from removing the community without
adequate alternative accommodation.
Written by The Zimbabwean
Thursday, 02 December 2010 17:35
Historical memory traces the process of reconciliation in Zimbabwe to 1980
when the then Prime Minister of Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe extended a hand of
reconciliation to the main rival political party, the Rhodesia Front, that
was involved in the war of liberation.
As such, it can be argued that the notion of reconciliation is not new to
most Zimbabweans, as the process began in 1979 with the Lancaster dialogue
between all conflicting parties writes Pamela Machakanja:
Having won the elections in April 1980, Robert Mugabe extended a hand of
reconciliation to the white settlers in exchange for positive peace and the
promise of external foreign aid to rebuild the war-ravaged country.
Since then, the process has gone forward through a number of contested
political ‘nationalist encounters’ at critical turning points, most notably
the signing of the historic Unity Agreement between the old Zanu (PF) and
PF-ZAPU into (today’s united) Zanu (PF) in December 1987, and now the Global
Power-Sharing Agreement between the Zanu (PF), the MDC-T and MDC-M.
(Pictured: Joshua Nkomo – Signed Unity Accord with Mugabe)
These negotiated peace processes were couched in reconciliatory amnesty
measures. One is reminded of the Clemency Order of 1988 following the Unity
Accord of 1987, which pardoned all human rights violations committed by
political parties between 1982 and 1987.
This was followed by the 1995 presidential amnesty, which pardoned all
politically- motivated violence perpetrated during the 1995 general
elections. This set further precedent for the Clemency Order of 2000, which
pardoned politically-motivated violence and human rights violations
committed during and after the parliamentary elections of June 2000.
Those opposed to these amnesty policies argue that they are political acts
which negate the achievement of durable peace through justice. However, one
key question that arises from these peace and reconciliatory efforts is the
extent to which these amnesty policies and reconciliation processes
constitute a cumulative movement toward national cohesion, national healing
In the context of Zimbabwe, reconciliation would need to be broadly
conceptualised as a dynamic, inclusive, multi-dimensional adaptive process
aimed at rebuilding and healing society; a process of change and
redefinition of social and political relationships.
However, because reconciliation in Zimbabwe resonates with the dissolution
of conflicting identities, rule of law and the guarantee of human rights
grounded in racial divisions and political polarisation, some people are of
the view that insisting on repentance and amnesty alone would encounter
difficulties. Opponents claim that amnesties encourage a culture of impunity
and revenge that undermines the rule of law.
The first question that needs to be asked is what and who needs
reconciliation and healing? Whilst wrongdoers and victims or survivors will
have different answers to this question, this paper argues that
reconciliation should aim at addressing the most obvious human rights abuses
and the root causes of the conflict, focusing on land rights, property
rights and civil and political rights.
Arguments are that the success of any reconciliation and national healing
model would depend on the extent to which it is inclusive and consultative
of all key stakeholders at all levels of society. Related to this question
is whether reconciliation and healing are the best ways to address the human
rights abuses, or whether other means such as legal action should rather be
One possible answer is that the choice between pursuing justice and opting
for reconciliation is not an easy one, as this depends heavily on
circumstances. For example, the Zimbabwean situation where some of the
people perceived to be perpetrators of human rights violations continue to
hold power or are in strategic positions that obstruct the advancement of
the envisioned reconciliation and national healing process.
Given this situation, though deeply regrettable from a moral point of view,
restorative reconciliation may be the only realistic option. Those who
support this view argue that in such contested situations, reconciliation
processes can help society to turn the page and bring people closer together
as the justice system might not be able to deal impartially with the gross
human rights violations.
The third question is why reconciliation and healing are needed.
This requires an understanding of the underlying causes of the conflict and
the violence that manifest from it, the means used to resolve the conflict
and whether the process was viewed as political or judicial. How did people
react to these means? Were there feelings of suspicion that something was
One fundamental aspect required under this rubric is an assessment of the
conditions under which a fractured society like Zimbabwe can opt for trials
and prosecutions by a truth commission.
(Pictured: Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara (L) and Prime Minister
Morgan Tsvangirai – Signed global political agreement with Mugabe)
To answer these questions in the context of political polarisation, one is
cautiously tempted to argue for restorative justice over retributive
justice, on the basis that prosecutions of the gross human rights violations
could seriously jeopardise the fragile GPA and, most importantly, the
reconciliation and healing at individual, community and national levels.
The bipolar nature of trials that distinguishes the innocent from the guilty
makes them not only inappropriate for redressing the systemic human rights
abuses, but also controversial. In this regard, what is of importance is
ensuring the existence of an inclusive and consultative approach which
allows all segments of society to take part in the process. Such a process
should also be seen as a way of helping people come to terms with the
In Zimbabwe one critical factor which comes into play when considering
issues of sovereignty and non-interference is the role of the international
community in facilitating transitional justice.
In the absence of a broad-based international involvement, the parties to
the conflict may be limited to the option of trading justice for
reconciliation and peace as a way of avoiding continued violence. Those who
support the discourse of non-interference argue that in most cases,
international actors do not speak with one voice as they have their own
interests and agenda regarding transitional justice processes.
In the case of Zimbabwe, those who oppose the involvement of the
international community in the transitional justice process argue that their
agenda is limited to regime change by undemocratic means. There is also the
view that long-lasting reconciliation and peace needs to be home-grown in
the sense that every stage of the reconciliation process should reflect the
will of those who are directly concerned with regards to participation,
decision making and the implementation of the reconciliation and national
Whilst such questions are open to debate, past cases have shown that the
involvement of the UN or SADC has been successful in cases where social and
political spaces are constrained and world concern over the situation of
human rights violations and human security were high and persistent.
Conditions for successful reconciliation
For national healing and reconciliation to achieve the desired objective of
uniting the fractured social and political groups, certain factors must be
(1) Legislative Reform: This would ensure that the concerns of all
Zimbabweans are assuaged. The process of recommending specific services to
deal with the particular and extensive effects of trauma and grief requires
secured legislative backing through the setting up of the National Healing
and Reconciliation Commission.
The National Healing and Reconciliation Commission would have to be secured
by a bill passed through Parliament and enacted into an act of law.
Such an act would allow the commission the discretion to: establish the time
periods to be covered by the Commission’s investigations; determine the
nature of human rights abuses to be investigated; determine the social and
economic effects of the abuses including recommending preventive and health
promoting approaches, assessment, counselling, healing programmes and
(2) Political will: Raking past atrocities and human rights abuses is an
excruciating exercise. If badly managed, the exercise could backfire, and
further widen the chasm in an already politically-fractured nation.
Indeed, this fear often deters the introduction of ‘just’ reconciliation
processes where victims feel a genuine sense of satisfaction over the
claimed entitlements. Hence, the political will to promote genuine
reconciliation is paramount.
(3) Transformative and restorative justice: This is based on a theory that
emphasises healing and the transformation of harm to the wholeness of people’s
lives. Emphasis is on repairing harm caused or revealed by criminal
behaviour and is best achieved through cooperative processes that include
The fundamental principles are that justice requires that different
categories of people work to restore those who have been injured and that
those most directly involved and affected should have the opportunity to
participate fully in the response programme.
The role of government would be to preserve a just public order as well as
secure and safe social and political spaces, while the role of the community
would be to build, nurture and maintain a just peace.
Such collaborative encounters would create opportunities for
victims/survivors, offenders and community members to discuss their personal
experiences of atrocities and their impact and opportunities for meaningful
contribution in their own lives and society.
(4) Civil society engagement: A successful national healing and
reconciliation process requires meaningful engagement of civil society and
the public at large. This is because a process aimed at responding to people’s
needs must necessarily involve
the people affected by the conflict, especially at grassroots level.
In this context, civil society organisations can play a vital role in
monitoring the implementation of the reconciliation and healing processes.
In this way, their work can give greater legitimacy to the healing process,
thereby reinforcing the principle of bottom-up approaches which guarantee
sustainable and transformative peace.
(5) Consensus building: It is essential to achieve widespread agreement on
all aspects of national reconciliation. The process must be devoid of
partisanship with those favouring and opposing a formal reconciliation
process exhibiting political tolerance.
Consensus and legitimacy of the outcome of the national reconciliation
exercise will be enhanced where the government, human rights organisations
and other interest groups work together to develop the framework and other
key aspects of the national
healing and reconciliation project.
(6) Truth-telling: True reconciliation cannot occur when the truths about
past wrongs are not told. Truth-telling encourages the verification of past
repressive actions and incidents by individuals and government. The process
may also challenge stories
widely, but inaccurately, circulated in the public domain as rumour.
Knowledge of the truth helps to set the record straight and creates an
environment where forgiveness may occur. As the South African Truth and
Reconciliation Commission revealed, the value of telling one’s traumatic
story to a supportive audience provided a significant sense of healing to
the survivors of apartheid.In this sense, the right to be heard and
acknowledged with respect and empathy can contribute to a process of
(7) Education for national healing and reconciliation: There is a need to
educate the general Zimbabwean community about the experiences of trauma and
grief as well as their extent and effect on women, men, children, the
elderly and the disabled.
There is also a need for re-education on how communities that have
experienced violent conflicts can coexist in peace and harmony. Educational
programmes should be linked to processes of trauma-healing and
reconciliation and should be acknowledged by the wider community, as
affirmation of a public commitment to the broader healing process agenda.
(8) Counselling for trauma and grief: The availability of counselling
services to help Zimbabwean people deal with their experiences of trauma and
grief as well as specific counselling to do with particular situations is
Examples of such situations include those that are consequent upon abduction
and disappearances, deaths in custody as well as forced separation of
children from parents and guardians. Counselling formats would need to be
specifically developed in holistic and culturally appropriate ways to deal
with longstanding, past or profound traumatic experiences.
(9) Special healing places and community intervention programmes: It is
suggested that there could be value in the development of special places of
healing such as trauma healing centres and special nature parks where people
can visit as part of the relaxation and therapeutic process.
It is proposed that people could visit and stay at such recreational places
as part of the healing process. These recreational healing places could be
developed with supportive programmes where people undertake community-based,
skills-orientated training programmes relevant to the development of their
Such promotional projects would strengthen sustainable peace by furthering
social investment and the unification of the social fabric of society. Thus,
peace through community reconciliation, engagement and empowerment can yield
(10) Memorialisation and ritualisation: Taking cognisance of the cultural
context of the Zimbabwean setting, memorialisation of the past is important.
This would require physical reminders in the form of monuments, ceremonies,
memorials or other ritual occasions aimed at contributing to the
acknowledgement as well as the setting of a general ethos of healing.
(11) Funding: One factor that often hinders the progress and success of
reconciliation and national healing projects is funding. Reconciliation
exercises are not only expensive, but time-consuming, emotional ventures
that demand patience and resilience.
Furthermore, apart from the operational budget, reconciliation must also
have a human face. Words must be accompanied by actions such as restitution
and compensation, but failure in most national healing and reconciliation
projects has been attributed to lack of resources.
Pamela Machakanja is with the Institute of Peace Leadership and Governance
at Africa University. The article above is taken from a paper by Machakanja
on prospects for national reconciliation in Zimbabwe titled: “National
healing and reconciliation in Zimbabwe: challenges and opportunities”.
Friday December 3rd 2010.
Julian Assange’s name probably doesn’t mean much to Zimbabweans but he’s the
man behind the Wikileaks that have been creating such a storm here in the UK
and in the US.
‘Where is he, what does he want and what will he do next’ were the questions
posed on the front page of the UK Independent on Thursday. Meanwhile the
Guardian in the UK, the New York Times and other European papers continue to
publish the leaks; they may be profoundly embarrassing for diplomats and
their embassies but do not as far as one can judge constitute any real
threats to individuals or states. In the case of Zimbabwe, for example,
Wikileaks revealed the opinion of a former US ambassador, Christopher Dell,
about Robert Mugabe and his regime – none of which came as any great
surprise to Zimbabweans. Another leak told of South Africa’s partiality for
the Zimbabwean dictator, no surprise there either for Zimbabweans who are
well-used to South Africa and SADC’s support for Robert Mugabe. Analysts who
have attempted to understand the reasons for South Africa’s continuing
support have concluded that their only motive is Mugabe’s status as a
‘Liberation hero.’ No matter how despotic his regime now, no matter how much
he wages war on his own people, his past history as a ‘liberator’ excuses
all present crimes - or that seems to be the thinking within the region.
Assange’s motive in releasing this flood of leaked diplomatic cables is not
so clear but on the face of it, it is in line with democratic principles.
His mission statement reads, “Transparency creates a better society for all
people. Better scrutiny leads to reduced corruption and stronger democracies
in all society’s institutions.” Assange’s critics have commented angrily
that his revelations are simply designed to humiliate the US and Robert
Mugabe and Zanu PF have been quick to launch another of their vitriolic
attacks on the west. Speaking in Libya at the Africa/EU Summit Robert Mugabe
seized the opportunity to repeat his claim that Blair and Bush should also
have been indicted for war crimes for the war against Iraq which killed
thousands of innocent Iraquis. It was classic Mugabe-speak; distracting the
world’s attention from the suffering that Zanu PF’s policies have caused and
are still causing for innocent Zimbabwean citizens.
Mugabe’s own motives in calling for early elections are also open to
question. Is he just grandstanding to intimidate the opposition, is it just
his ego at work or has he finally accepted that time is not on his side?
Whatever his motives, Mugabe’s call for early elections has inspired his
fanatical followers to echo almost word for word his constantly repeated
references back to past glories. The Police Commissioner Augustine Chihuri
told young police cadets this week that, “This country came through the
barrel of a gun and it will never be re-colonised through a simple pen which
costs as little as five cents.” No doubt there as to Chihuri’s motive: vote
Zanu PF or you will be ‘dealt with’. Another Mugabe supporter was even more
specific. “Election is a declaration of war, blood must spill like in any
war situation – even if it means killing those who are against Zanu PF.”
As the annual conference of Zanu PF draws closer, soldiers and police openly
demonstrate their support for the former ruling party in mindless attacks on
teachers and journalists . The theme for the conference we are told will be
“Total control of our resources through indigenisation and empowerment.”
which means of course more jobs for the boys, more businesses and farms for
Mugabe to reward his supporters; this, despite the fact that Mugabe and his
allies now own more than 40% of the land seized from whites with Mugabe and
wife owning 14 farms between them. A CZI survey this week shows a mere 4% of
Zimbabwe’s industry is actually viable. Business people tell Mugabe’s
deputy, in no uncertain terms that they do not want elections now. No one in
the party heeds their warnings; unlike the Wikileaks man, Robert Mugabe’s
motivation is very clear. It is to stay in power at all costs.
Yours in the (continuing) struggle, PH. aka Pauline Henson
Dear Family and Friends,
Before dawn the sound of wheelbarrows fill my suburban neighbourhood. Around
the craters which once were potholes, through cavernous gullies which are
consuming the tar and around the muddy swamps where vehicles have skidded
and got stuck. The wheelbarrows are negotiated through the deep sand drifts
which have gathered on corners, in dips and at the bottom of hills; sand
that the rain has scoured off our un-repaired suburban roads; sand that once
held our roads together but now engulf the storm drains. In the wheelbarrows
are the water containers: white, yellow, blue, green; twenty litre bottles –
chigubus- we call them, a most precious possession.
Around the piles of sodden, festering, dumped garbage, uncollected for over
two years, the wheelbarrows find and make their own paths – the shortest
route to the nearest water. This is usually a shallow hole in the bush, an
open well or seepage in a wetland. Or rather what’s left of our precious
urban wetlands which have gone unprotected for over a decade as dirty,
greedy political power struggles have ignored everything else in Zimbabwe.
Wetlands which until recently were filled with wild herbs, flowers, reeds
and sedges; home to colonies of nesting Weavers, Red Bishop birds, Herons,
Hammerkops and Whydahs. Wetlands that are now a maze of illegal cultivation
and are carved up into little strips containing a few mealie plants or sweet
potato ridges, climbing beans or creeping pumpkins.
Amongst this ‘allotment gone mad,’ our urban population have no choice but
to dig holes and collect water. As I write this letter our town has just
survived ten days without a drop of water coming out of our taps. Every day
the municipality had another excuse as they kept on promising: “tomorrow”.
Our brand, spanking new pump which worked for just a week suddenly stopped
working and for ten days an honest explanation never came to light. The need
for new valves was one story; sabotage was another; a worker who hadn’t
filled the oil and therefore seized the engine was another story that was
muttered. On Thursday, eight days into the hell of empty taps, smelly
toilets and bucket-baths in under 5 litres of swampy water, the municipality
came around, door to door. Not to offer their humble apologies,
explanations, promises or to deliver a bowser of water; oh no, they came
only to bring their monthly invoices.
Walking in town the following morning an unkempt man wearing blue overalls
and red plastic slip slops came up to me. Clutching a bible he said to me:
“We are in hell Mai.” Ten days without water, electricity only in the
middle of the night, a town strewn with litter and everyone talking about
the rat explosion, I looked at the man and said: “I Know.” He was delighted!
“She knows!” he shouted to anyone who would listen, and kept on shouting as
he walked away, laughing, turning back, pointing to me and calling ” She
That night I went to a Christmas Carol service with the words of the
disturbed man still in my head. The service ended with Silent Night and
verses were printed and sung in German, Shona, English and Afrikaans. As I
sung I knew that 83 WOZA activists had been charged with ‘criminal nuisance
for holding a peaceful protest on International Peace Day; that journalists
and newspapers are under renewed threats and that political tension is
gathering momentum everywhere. How Zimbabwe longs for and deserves a Silent
Night, a new era and a bright horizon.
I end this letter with the news that after a gruelling two month journey and
a 12 day stop at Beitbridge border, my books on Norman Travers/Imire have
arrived. Until next time, thanks for reading, love cathy Copyright © Cathy
Buckle. 4 December 2010. www.cathybuckle.com