By Chinedu Offor
07 December 2005
United Nations humanitarian aid coordinator Jan Egeland ended a four-day
mission to Zimbabwe on Wednesday having visited communities devastated by
the government's slum clearance campaign, consulted with civil society
leaders and met with President Robert Mugabe in a partially successful bid
to expand U.N. relief efforts.
A U.N. source told VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that Mr. Egeland would brief
the U.N. Security Council on December 19 on the crisis and make
recommendations, which might include imposing international sanctions on the
Harare government for its seeming obstruction of efforts to deliver
humanitarian aid to the population.
Mr. Egeland expressed some frustration in a meeting with reporters in
Johannesburg, South Africa, his first stop after leaving Harare. Mr. Mugabe
endorsed his proposal for increased food aid, but rejected Mr. Egeland's of
a large number of tents to shelter hundreds of thousands of Zimbabweans left
homeless by the slum "cleanup."
The U.N. has estimated that 2.4 million people have been affected one way or
another by Harare's blitz on shantytowns and informal marketplaces, and food
security experts estimate that something approaching 4 million people are
"Millions of people are struggling with their back against the wall to fend
off hunger, to fend off AIDS and a lot of other things," Reuters quoted
Egeland as saying.
The Norwegian envoy said he was mystified by the government's rejection of
the offer of tents. "If they are good enough for people in Europe and the
United States who have lost their houses, why are they not good enough for
Zimbabwe?" he said.
Zimbabwe's human rights community reacted with cautious optimism to Mr.
Egeland's visit, hoping it would boost pressure on Harare to accept expanded
international aid for the estimated 700,000 people people left homeless or
destitute or both by the campaign called Operation Murambatsvina, Shona for
"Drive Out Rubbish".
Executive Director Arnold Tsunga of imbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights told
reporter Chinedu Offor of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that Harare would keep
ignoring calls for more aid to those displaced and impoverished by its
policies unless it is threatened with sanctions for "acts bordering on
crimes against humanity," as he put it.
Although Mr. Egeland's visit raised hope in some quarters, civil society
organizations said he failed to resolve questions about aid delivery and the
role of local NGOs.
Spokesman Fambai Ngirande of the National Association of Non-Governmental
Organisations told reporter Patience Rusere of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe
why his group felt somewhat let down by Mr. Egeland's fact-finding mission.
[ This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]
JOHANNESBURG, 7 Dec 2005 (IRIN) - UN Emergency Relief Coordinator Jan
Egeland has told South Africa that Africa should be "more outspoken on
In an interview with IRIN after his meeting on Wednesday with Sue van der
Merwe, South Africa's deputy minister for foreign affairs, Egeland said, "We
told them that each time it must not be Europe or any other western country
raising issues [around] Zimbabwe."
The African Union has been taken to task by human rights bodies for its
failure to criticise the Zimbabwean government's controversial clean-up
campaign, Operation Murambatsvina, which left more than 700,000 people
homeless or without a livelihood when it started in mid-May.
Earlier in the week, the UN envoy visited people affected by the "eviction
campaign" in the capital, Harare, during a five-day fact-finding mission to
Egeland told IRIN that the UN had begun constructing temporary and permanent
shelters for those left homeless by the campaign, but admitted that donors
had been "reluctant" to fund construction, citing government's insistence
that it would draw up its own list of beneficiaries as one of the problems.
Egeland said the UN would now compile the list, which has helped address one
of the donors concerns.
The Zimbabwean government initially rejected the UN offer to build temporary
shelters, saying there was "no humanitarian crisis", only to make an
about-turn last month. In its acceptance letter the government insisted on
drawing up the list of beneficiaries, and laid down specifications for the
construction of permanent brick and concrete one-room shelters.
Addressing a press conference in Johannesburg on Wednesday, Egeland was
sharply critical of the government's rejection of the UN's offer of tents.
"If they are good enough for people in Europe and the United States who have
lost their houses, why are they not good enough for Zimbabwe?" he asked.
He said UN agencies, along with the government and donors, were now putting
up 2,500 houses similar to those constructed for Tsunami victims. Subject to
funding, the UN intends building 20,000 units at a total cost of US $18
million in the next few months.
Egeland underlined that the UN could not "become a policeman", but had the
"moral authority of the global community" to criticise the "disastrous"
eviction campaign, which he described as "wholly irrational in all of its
He said he had met policemen and other government personnel who had also
been left homeless, "which probably was a mistake ... and they will probably
be the first to benefit from the government's housing policy".
Egeland noted that the HIV/AIDS and food crises in Zimbabwe posed a
"tremendous challenge" to the global community. Last week, the UN launched
an appeal for US $276 million for the country, saying at least three million
people would require food aid, as only an estimated 600,000 mt of maize had
been harvested, compared to a national requirement of 1.8 million mt.
"The food security is now an exploding issue," he said, adding that the need
for international aid was "big, and growing".
Addressing concerns around access by humanitarian agencies to distribute
food across the country, Egeland commented that they had "unlimited access"
in the rural areas, but urban areas were proving to be "a little more
complicated", as they were unable to track all those affected by the
The UN envoy said he was "relieved" that the relationship between the UN
agencies and the Zimbabwean government had "turned a corner".
"We are working very well with the government on programmes like HIV/AIDS,"
he noted, pointing out that Zimbabwe was one of the few countries in the
world which had managed to reduce its HIV prevalence rate.
"We are not sanctioning or voting on the government's policies here," he
underlined. "We are helping people in a desperate situation."
Andrew Meldrum in Zimbabwe
Thursday December 8, 2005
Zimbabwean officials should be prosecuted for crimes committed in the
government's mass housing demolition earlier this year, the United Nations'
head of humanitarian aid said yesterday.
"Crimes were committed," said Jan Egeland at the end of a four-day visit to
the country. He said he had open disagreements with Zimbabwe's president,
Robert Mugabe, particularly over obstacles to international aid.
Mr Egeland launched an appeal for $276m (£159m) to help the homeless, hungry
and Aids sufferers in Zimbabwe. It was a question of life and death for
thousands, he said.
07 Dec 2005 20:49:07 GMTSource: FEWS NET
|SUMMARY AND IMPLICATIONS|
|CURRENT HAZARD SUMMARY|
|RURAL FOOD SECURITY WORSENS|
|SHARP INCREASE IN COST OF LIVING JEOPARDIZES URBAN FOOD SECURITY|
|ZIMBABWE ILL-PREPARED TO TAKE FULL ADVANTAGE OF A POTENTIALLY GOOD RAINFALL SEASON|
Wed 7 December 2005
HARARE - Top Zimbabwean and South African newspaper publisher Trevor
Ncube is among a several business people slapped with financial sanctions by
the government of Australia because they are associated with the government
of President Robert Mugabe.
Under the sanctions Ncube, the publisher of the Zimbabwe Independent
and the Standard, is prohibited from conducting financial transactions of
whatever nature with Australian banks and financial service companies.
It is not clear how the publisher ended up on the list that also
includes Mugabe, his wife Grace, his top lieutenants who have been under
targeted financial and visa sanctions by Western governments as punishment
for their failure to uphold democracy human rights and the rule of law.
Ncube's papers are among the few remaining truly independent papers in
Zimbabwe while his South African title, the Mail and Guardian is also highly
Both Australian Ambassador to Zimbabwe Jon Sheppard and Ncube could
not be reached for comment on the matter.
But the Reserve Bank of Australia said in a notice published on
November 30 but made available to ZimOnline yesterday that it had included
Ncube and other businessmen on the new sanctions list on the orders of
authorities in Canberra.
The notice reads in part: "At the direction of the Australian
Government, the Reserve Bank has expanded the list of individuals restricted
by these financial sanctions to include new members of, and persons
associated with, the Government of Zimbabwe.
"Under this directive, 127 individuals have been added to the Annex of
names. All the transactions involving the transfer of funds or payments to,
by the order of, or on behalf of such persons are prohibited."
Among some of the top Zimbabwean businessmen slapped with the
sanctions are Fortune Chasi, a top adviser to Reserve bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ)
governor Gideon Gono, former RBZ deputy governor Charles Chikaura as well as
Hwange Colliery managing director Godfrey Dzinomwa.
Other prominent names on the list are the chief executives of
Zimbabwe's biggest milk, food and steal suppliers. These are Dairibord
Zimbabwe boss Anthony Mandiwanza, National Foods head Ian Kind and Zimbabwe
Iron and Steel boss Gabriel Masanga.
The chief executive of the British-owned Standard Chartered Bank
Zimbabwe Limited Washington Matsaira is also on the list and so is Elias
Mushayakarara, who is head of state-owned financial services group, Finhold.
Prominent economic commentator Eric Bloch is also on the list of
people banned from conducting financial business in Australia
But Bloch, who sits on the RBZ's advisory board said it was grossly
unfair on the part of the Australian authorities to target people "who are
involved in the fight for a better economy to alleviate poverty and
suffering amongst Zimbabweans".
"This is clearly a misunderstanding because there are individuals who
are not engaged in political activities but have been included merely
because they are members of the RBZ advisory board," Bloch said.
But some of the individuals, who were put on the financial sanctions
list, dismissed the measure saying it would have minimal impact on their
The managing director of Wankie Colliery Company Godfrey Dzinomwa, one
of the new additions to the list, said: "We do not do much business with
these people (Australians) and I do not think there was any criteria used in
compiling the list."
The United States, European Union and other Western countries have in
the last few months expanded the list of Mugabe's lieutenants on the visa
and financial sanctions list to include their children as well as private
business people benefiting from Mugabe's rule. - ZimOnline
Thu 8 December 2005
HARARE - Zimbabwe's main opposition Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC) national chairman Isaac Matongo on Wednesday summoned the party's
deputy president and other top leaders to a disciplinary hearing for
illegally suspending the party's president Morgan Tsvangirai.
Matongo said Sibanda and the other party leaders face expulsion from
the MDC if they failed to attend the Saturday hearing.
The MDC is embroiled in a fierce factional war after Sibanda and party
secretary general Welshman Ncube led a revolt against Tsvangirai over last
month's controversial senate election won by President Robert Mugabe's ZANU
Those summoned to attend the hearing apart from Sibanda and Ncube are
deputy secretary general Gift Chimanikire, secretary for research Trudy
Stevenson, treasurer Fletcher Dulini-Ncube and St Mary's Member of
Parliament Job Sikala.
Matongo said all members of the disciplinary committee apart from
Sibanda and lawyer Josphat Tshuma who drafted Tsvangirai's suspension
letter, will hear the case. Sibanda heads the party's disciplinary
The pro-senate faction also faces charges of abusing party funds after
they financed the senate election as well as paying to travel to a meeting
with South Africa's President Thabo Mbeki last October without the consent
of the party's national executive council.
"You wilfully caused persons to stand for the senatorial election in
breach of a national council resolution of 5 November holding that the party
will not participate in the Senate election," read part of the letters sent
to the six top members.
Sibanda's faction last month suspended Tsvangirai for disregarding an
October national council vote to participate in the November 26 senate
election. But Tsvangirai ignored the suspension resulting in the faction
soliciting the help of the courts to enforce the suspension.
High Court Judge Yunus Omerjee yesterday reserved judgment
indefinitely in the case.
Contacted for comment yesterday, Chimanikire scoffed at the attempt to
haul him and his colleagues to the disciplinary hearing.
"Matongo is dreaming. We will not attend such kangaroo courts because
they have no legal basis or effect. Instead, we will move ahead to weed the
party of dictatorship," he said.
But Nelson Chamisa, the party's spokesman said the hearings will
continue with or without members of the Ncube faction.
"It's up to them to attend. But I can tell you that they will be fired
if they don't come. They cannot stop the wheels of the party from
functioning," he told ZimOnline. - ZimOnline
Thu 8 December 2005
HARARE - Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC) chairman Peter Chingoka and managing
director Ozias Bvute were released from police custody on Thurday without
charge after the Attorney General's office refused to prosecute.
The two were arrested on Monday for allegedly breaching the country's
tough foreign exchange laws.
Chingoka was accused of violating the Exchange Control Act after he
made some payments of behalf of ZC for some cricket balls from Pakistan
while Bvute was also accused of illegally procuring vehicles from outside
the country on behalf of the cricket body.
But the AG refused to prosecute the duo after the police failed to
verify whether the transactions had been approved by the Reserve Bank of
Chingoka has been battling to stay at the helm of ZC after senior
players revolted against his leadership. Captain Tatenda Taibu last month
quit the national team and vowed not to return unless Chingoka and Bvute
Meanwhile, provinces and all stakeholders who met in Harare yesterday
resolved to hand over their suggestions to the Sports and Recreation
Commission (SRC) to act against Chingoka and Bvute.
Plans to pass a vote of no confidence in Chingoka and Bvute were
postponed after the provincial representatives decided to work hand in hand
with the Sports Commission which is already probing how cricket is being run
in the country.
Cricket players, led by Taibu, have accused Chingoka and Bvute of
destroying the once vibrant sport through lack of professionalism. -
By Mihir Bose
The Zimbabwe Cricket chairman, Peter Chingoka, and managing director, Ozias
Bvute, who were released from police custody yesterday after two days in
detention, had been asked a searching series of 80 questions, such as
whether Bvute bought a house worth over £31,000 using a sponsor's cheque
from this year's one-day series against New Zealand.
It was also revealed that ZC are owed around £89,000, but there is no record
of who should pay. Secretarial salaries and other expenses have also climbed
from £8,000 a year ago to over £64,000.
Another question was whether a London resident was asked to loan a senior ZC
official £20,000 and was later asked by the same official to hold on to
£196,000 for him.
The pair were arrested on Monday after voluntarily going to the police.
Chief Superintendent Oliver Mandipaka said they would soon be charged with
contravening the country's exchange control act.
This was contradicted, though, by Bvute, who said the attorney general would
not be pressing charges. Mandipaka responded: "As far as I am concerned,
there is still a case pending against Mr Chingoka and Mr Bvute." However, he
added that it was the prosecutor's prerogative to decide whether to pursue
the case. Chingoka was unavailable for comment.
I understand one issue the Zimbabwean government are concerned about is that
in recent months ZC have not been bringing any money back into the country.
They are said to have been banking their income from the sale of rights
overseas and also paying players in US dollars instead of the increasingly
worthless local currency.
I also understand the money received from selling the television rights of
the home series against India and England has been banked abroad and the
Zimbabwean government now want to know what ZC have done with some £12.6
million they are estimated to have received since January.
Two years ago, ZC's share of the 2003 World Cup proceeds was £5.2 million.
Now being run by their vice-chairman, Justice Ahmed Ebrahim, they have been
urged to conduct a forensic account of their records to determine the
present state of affairs regarding the money that was earned and how it may
have been spent.
The Times, UK December 08, 2005
By Pat Gibson
TATENDA TAIBU, the former Zimbabwe captain who fled the country
last week fearing for his life, and Phil Simmons, the deposed coach, who
claimed in court that his dismissal was unconstitutional, could be
reinstated if an attempt to overthrow Peter Chingoka and Ozias Bvute, the
chairman and managing director respectively of Zimbabwe Cricket, are
Chingoka and Bvute were released from police custody without
charge in Harare yesterday, 36 hours after being arrested under the Exchange
Control Act, but Justice Ahmed Ebrahim, the vice-chairman, is pressing ahead
with an emergency board meeting aimed at removing them both and launching an
immediate forensic audit of the accounts.
It is the latest move in a deepening crisis that has forced
Taibu to relaunch his career in Bangladesh after death threats. Two other
players, Vusi Sibanda and Waddington Mwayenga, have been arrested on charges
relating to violation of foreign exchange laws, with a further six lined up
for questioning, and staff have been left in fear of losing their jobs.
At the centre of it are Chingoka and Bvute, who are reported to
have faced 80 questions while they were in custody. One asked whether Bvute
bought a house using a sponsor's cheque from a one-day series against New
Ebrahim wants television companies, sponsors and other financial
backers to trace any funds that they have sent to Zimbabwe Cricket in recent
years. "We have to convince them their future funding is in safe hands," he
said. "Our finances are extremely poor at present and it is essential to
recover financially if we hope to rejuvenate Zimbabwe cricket."
Taibu and the other players have said that they will not play
for Zimbabwe as long as Chingoka and Bvute remain in office, while the ICC
says that it cannot interfere in the internal affairs of a member country.
STANDARD Chartered said yesterday it was effectively writing off the value
of its banking operations in Zimbabwe after a sharp downturn in economic
conditions. Inflation of more than 400 per cent at the end of last month was
blamed for the move, but Standard insisted it had no plans to quit Zimbabwe,
where it has been trading since 1892.
The Zimbabwean dollar has plunged from 9,900 against the US dollar in June
to 69,000 five months later, Standard said. The London-based bank said it
would write-down its assets in Zimbabwe by US$40m (£23.1m) based on the
ATTENTION: All Zimbabwe Commercial Farm Property Owners, Commercial
Farmers, Commercial Farm Lessees and Farm Managers.
Please click here for an essential survey form to be completed and
returned to JAG as soon as possible. The information received will be
treated with absolute confidentiality.
The success of this extremely important exercise is dependent on a very
high rate of returns. Please play your part and exercise your rights by
completing and returning these survey forms.
The JAG/JAGMA Team
The UN day is particularly
significant to Zimbabweans as the UN Emergency Relief Co-ordinator, Jan Egeland,
has been visiting
Mr Egeland said “Conditions
are very bad, the needs are tremendous”.
He has promised UN assistance but the
The Vigil welcomes the UN’s assistance to the sick and starving in Zimbabwe but demands that the Security Council investigates the massive violations of human rights which has driven up to a quarter of the population out of the country in the last 5 years.
PLEASE COME AND SUPPORT US THIS SATURDAY.
The Vigil, outside the Zimbabwe Embassy, 429 Strand, London, takes place every Saturday from 14.00 to 18.00 to protest against gross violations of human rights by the current regime in Zimbabwe. The Vigil which started in October 2002 will continue until internationally-monitored, free and fair elections are held in Zimbabwe. http://www.zimvigil.co.uk
UN News Centre
7 December 2005 - Although the incidence of HIV in Zimbabwe is still among
the highest in the world, the percentage of adults living with the virus has
declined and the number of new infections has decreased over the past five
years, the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) said today.
"Sexual behaviour change has accelerated these declines beyond what would
have been expected given the natural dynamics of HIV infection. The changes
in behaviour include increased condom use in non-regular partnerships,
commencing in the mid-1990s, and reductions in rates of sexual partner
change," its report, entitled "Evidence for HIV Decline in Zimbabwe," says.
A photo in the report shows an employee of a local non-governmental
organization (NGO) called Family AIDS Caring Trust, Esta Zimombe,
distributing free condoms near the market and bus station in the town of
According to the review of epidemiological and behavioural data by a team
that included research staff from Britain's Imperial College, the prevalence
of HIV among pregnant women declined from 26 per cent in 2002 to 21 per cent
last year, and other data showed a similar trend.
UNAIDS cautions against allowing the decline to lead to complacency and says
the challenge is to ensure that the downward trend is sustained. "Additional
years of data are required before it can be established whether the decline
in HIV prevalence is temporary, or would - in the absence of widespread
treatment - be long-term," the agency says.
By Patience Rusere
07 December 2005
In delivering his 2006 budget last week, Zimbabwean Finance Minister Herbert
Murerwa announced the elimination of price controls. Since the announcement,
prices of washing powder, milk, sugar and rise have risen by a third to two
thirds, alarming consumers already feeling the impact of annual inflation
rate over 400%.
Mr. Murerwa said he was abolishing price controls to reduce pressure on
companies and help bring more goods into the marketplace to relieve
shortages. It remains to be seen if his strategy will work, but one
Zimbabwean economist says it should.
Economist John Robertson of Harare told reporter Patience Rusere of VOA's
Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that although prices did surge after Mr. Murerwa's
announcement, they should fall or stabilize soon, and domestic-made products
should be easier to find.
The Herald (Harare)
December 7, 2005
Posted to the web December 7, 2005
THE Cold Storage Company (CSC) is now seeking approval to resume beef
exports to the European Union (EU) early next year after successfully
completing its vaccination programme.
This would enhance the company's ability to generate foreign currency to
sustain its operations and move away from heavily depending on the fiscus.
What is now needed, a CSC official said, was an approval from the EU.
It is hoped that the assessors from the EU would conduct and produce a fair
and accurate report on the status of the country's beef industry.
"We have a very good working relationship with the veterinary department and
we are happy that the programme has been successfully completed," said the
He expressed confidence that the country's beef products would find a market
place on the EU despite "sanctions" imposed on the country by the European
EU together with United States, imposed trade sanctions on Zimbabwe in 2002
to isolate the country from the international community.
"Our beef products are of high quality and will certainly find a better
market position on that market (EU) and the so called sanctions will not
affect us as already some companies are exporting into EU countries," the
Beef exports to the EU were suspended in 2000 following the outbreak of foot
and mount disease which had dilapidating effects on the national herd.
The effects of these two effectively reduced the national herd by almost
half and the country is now on a rebuilding process.
Prior to the outbreak, compounded by successive droughts, the company had an
annual beef quota of 9 100 tonnes to the EU, generating over $500 billion.
CSC, the official said, is also finalising a deal to export to Far East
region as the company seeks to broaden its foreign markets.
"We proved to them that we are capable of meeting their religious
requirements in terms of slaughtering process and handling of beef products.
"We are hoping to penetrate the market as soon as possible," said the
CSC currently exports to countries in the southern African region.
The Herald (Harare)
December 7, 2005
Posted to the web December 7, 2005
THE United Nations will assist Zimbabwe with at least 300 000 tonnes of
grain between now and March next year as part of its interventionist role in
augmenting efforts by Government to ensure that there is adequate food in
This emerged during a meeting between President Mugabe and visiting UN
humanitarian co-ordinator Mr Jan Egeland in Harare yesterday.
Briefing journalists after the meeting that lasted for about two hours,
Information and Publicity Secretary Cde George Charamba said apart from
providing food relief, the UN would also assist the country in the fight
against HIV and Aids.
The UN, he said, had agreed to assist Zimbabwe in regaining its status as
the breadbasket of the region and to this end, the world body would second
its agronomists and supply the country with agricultural inputs.
The world body was the one, which offered to assist Zimbabwe in putting
measures in place that guaranteed long-term food security.
Mr Egeland later told journalists after the meeting that the UN had agreed
to assist Zimbabwe on several issues that included food assistance and the
fight against HIV and Aids. He added that there would be further discussions
on the modalities on how to intervene in assisting people affected during
Operation Murambatsvina/Restore Order.
"The President wants us to be effective and active in the country. I
explained to the President that we can be more effective when we get
information on better procedures on how to help and he has pledged to assist
in this regard," he said.
"There is disagreement on how to help those who were evictedâ-oe..but this
is not the time to list the disagreements."
Mr Egeland said they also agreed on the importance of the international
community to raise its profile in Zimbabwe.
He said the UN chief was considering visiting Zimbabwe next year and hoped
that by the time of Mr Annan's visit Zimbabwe would have made progress in
addressing issues that had been discussed.
Cde Charamba also said the UN envoy acknowledged efforts made by Zimbabwe in
the fight against HIV/Aids and pledged support in curbing the pandemic.
He said there was also commitment by the UN to provide proof that doctors to
be deployed in the country under the auspices of "Doctors without Borders"
would be bonafide doctors as the Government was afraid of bogus medical
personnel infiltrating into the health delivery system.
It was also agreed that there was need to strike a balance between the
urgency by the UN in deploying the doctors and the safety requirement by
Zimbabwe to safeguard health standards.
However, Cde Charamba said on the reconstruction exercise the State wanted
the UN to play an interventionist role by building permanent structures as
opposed to temporary structures as envisaged in its blueprint.
"The Government is saying what the poor and homeless require is a long term
solution. If the UN has no funds, let it augment what the Government is
doing (building permanent structures)," he said.
Cde Charamba said the State was of the view that the world body was
employing double standards as it was building permanent structures in
Darfur, Sudan and Zambia yet it wanted to put up tents in Zimbabwe for those
displaced during the clean-up exercise.
He said President Mugabe told the UN envoy that: "We are not a tents
people... We believe in houses."
Cde Charamba said Mr Egeland had even raised the issue with non-governmental
organisations during a meeting on Monday on why they wanted to put up
temporary structures for those affected during the clean-up campaign and he
was told that this had something to do with the attitude of the donor
community towards President Mugabe.
He said the President prefaced the meeting by expressing growing anxiety
that the United States and Britain were abusing the integrity of the UN.
Cde Charamba corrected the misconception created by the media that Mr
Egeland's visit had been prompted by the release of a one-sided and highly
critical report by UN Secretary-General Mr Kofi Annan's special envoy Mrs
Anna Tibaijuka, who had been sent to assess the clean-up operation.
He said the visit by Mr Egeland followed reservations expressed by the
Government on the operations of some NGOs, which were neglecting their core
business at the expense of meddling in the affairs of the country.
He said NGOs were of the view that there was too much bureaucracy on the
current registration procedures, which they said needed to be streamlined.
Government, Cde Charamba said, was also concerned with the attitude of some
NGOs, which had the habit of off-loading a large number of non-humanitarian
staff in the country with the money for salaries being paid in their mother
By Alex T. Magaisa
Last updated: 12/08/2005 12:13:22
AND the boy listened to the story from the alchemist. He said, "What you
need to know is this: before a dream is realised, the Soul of the World
tests everything that was learned along the way. It does this not because it
is evil, but so that we can, in addition to realising our dreams, master the
lessons we've learned as we have moved toward the dream. That's point at
which most people give up. It is the point at which, as we say in the
language of the desert, one 'dies of thirst just when the palm trees have
appeared on the horizon'. Every search begins with beginners' luck. And
every search ends with the victor being severely tested. The boy remembered
an old proverb from his country. It said that the darkest hour of the night
comes just before the dawn." Paolo Coehlo, The Alchemist
At the beginning of August this year I wrote an article entitled The
Pitfalls of Opposition Politics in Zimbabwe. Little did I realise that by
the end of the year, those challenges would have knocked down the young and
vibrant political pugilist, which at one time had the most promising career
in all of Sub-Saharan Africa. Fans of the sweet science are at once reminded
of the meteoric rise of one lad from Brooklyn, New York, who took the world
heavyweight title at the tender age of 20 but a few years later was serving
a jail term and thereafter was biting an opponent's ear. His name is Mike
Tyson - a man who was set to dominate the game of boxing but fell apart when
he could have achieved more. He lost his title and the aura of invincibility
in 1990, to a less known opponent and was never the same again. Boxing
connoisseurs generally agree that he lost largely because he had begun to
take things for granted.
Barely six years after its glorious entry into mainstream politics in
Zimbabwe and capturing the attention of the world with a promising future
ahead of it, the MDC appears to have struck the self-destruct button. This
internal struggle for survival will be its biggest test to date, forget the
national elections, which all being equal, it is generally believed the
party would have won.
Apportioning blame and throwing harsh words against one or more persons
during a period of crisis is the easy part. Flowing water always follows the
lines of least resistance. But internal bickering will hardly solve the
situation. Rather it detracts attention from the real cause, which as a
party they have been trying to pursue. The mudslinging and vitriolic
personal attacks between members of the two factions of the MDC leadership
are reminiscent of petty verbal wars normally encountered in student
politics. Listening to the use of the biggest and harshest words being
traded against individuals reminds one of those overzealous students in a
school debate who were always eager to impress by the enormity of the
vocabulary they used. Like those misguided students, little do the leaders
realise that they are not communicating any valuable message to the people,
whose concerns centre on survival and re-establishment of proper living and
working conditions. The people are not interested in who is good-looking,
engages in sorcery or uses the most beautifully-scented soap. There is
hardly any substance directed at resolving the current difficulties in the
speeches other than attempts to massage their personal egos.
Perhaps ZANU PF was right after all - that these people in the MDC
leadership lack firm foundation in politics and have no interests beyond
their own personal agenda. To that extent, they are birds of a feather. The
public expects their leadership to take a mature and sober approach to the
issues at hand, even if they include differences on matters of substance.
This is an opportunity for the MDC to demonstrate that it is different, that
it tolerates difference and that it is capable of solving the differences in
a fair, sober and civilised manner.
There is one good lesson for the public though: as stated by one wise one,
that there is a tribe called politicians. Forget all this issue of Shonas
and Ndebeles - that, after all is a vague and fallacious distinction between
people of Zimbabwe. It assumes that there are only two tribes in that
country. Yet by categorising everyone into either of those labels, there is
a deliberate attempt to bury the many smaller tribes and communities that
exist in Zimbabwe. People need not be distracted by these tribal
accusations. The real tribe is that of politicians. They, the politicians
are the same, no matter how well they try to appear different in their
speeches. After all, as Talleyrand the 19th century French diplomat
remarked, speech is given to man to disguise his true thoughts. Ultimately,
in the present context their behaviour, tactics and approach are the same,
whether or not they belong to the same party. The political party is simply
a form of acquiring space within the body politic so that the politician can
advance his interests. Listening to the public statements, watching the
violence and the allegations of misconduct in the MDC, a foreign observer
would be hard-pressed to distinguish between Zanu PF and the MDC. As things
fall apart in the MDC, and the public begins to see beyond the veil of
democracy one wonders whether things would really be different for Zimbabwe,
under the leadership of that party. That people are beginning to question
that is a serious dent on the credibility of the MDC leadership.
The MDC has always found sympathy and support within the international
community. It has largely been portrayed as a victim of an orchestrated
attempt by the state to stifle its march towards assuming the reigns of
power. All the while, there has never been an attempt to question its own
democratic credentials. In an attempt to keep the ship on sail, there has
been a conspiracy of silence from within and outside, until now. This
episode has caused a dissipation of the goodwill that the party had built up
over the last six years. This goodwill gave the party a high profile and
provided an avenue to get audience at high levels of the international
community. They were supposed to be different. But given the prevailing
scenario, there will be murmurs in the corridors of Tshwane, Washington and
London to the effect that they are all the same. It will be very hard for
the MDC to rebuild that goodwill unless they put their act together. They
must understand the meaning of democracy and practice it in the way they
preach. Make no mistake, once the current international attention wanes, the
MDC will be treated just like any other party in Africa and without sources
of moral support and funding, it will surely pass away unnoticed.
Rather than apportion blame, the key issue is to focus on the way-forward
which lies squarely at the doorstep of the leadership as a whole. But
instead of doing so, they seem to be diverting attention from their failure
to take bold decisions by engaging in their personal battles. Both sides
here have made big mistakes and miscalculations and as long as they remain
steadfast in their individual belief that they are right, a solution is
unlikely to be achieved. The pro-senate faction failed to read the political
mood of the general public - that essentially people are tired of voting but
the anti-senate faction also failed to do what is expected in the
decision-making process - that it is vital to stick by the rules, even if
they produce a result that is unfavourable to their side.
International capital, which is generally in favour of the MDC, requires
that set rules must be respected. By refusing to play by the rules, and
instead using the amorphous "people's will" as the basis for taking
decisions in this matter, international capital gets worried. It knows that
Zanu PF uses the same slogan - zvido zvevanhu - people's will - to avoid
rules and justify for example, the violation of property rights. There is
every reason for Zimbabweans to be worried by this tendency to use the
"people's will" to circumvent rules because even though it appears right
under the current circumstances, what guarantee is there that it will not be
used to justify the wrong outcome in future? Once you permit a leader to get
around rules simply because he says that is the people's will, you have
created a bad precedent and opened the floodgates to similar decisions in
the future and it will be hard to stop it - one just has to look at the way
Zimbabweans allowed the ruling party to change and avoid rules in the past
that it now believes it has a right to do so.
The suggestion that the two factions ought to talk to solve their
differences might appear absurd and misguided given the rising temperature.
But let us consider it from a wider perspective by looking at the bigger
picture. For six years Zanu PF and the MDC have been at loggerheads - to say
the contest has been bitter is probably an understatement. Indeed there have
been many casualties, including fatalities. Yet there are members of both
factions of the MDC that were prepared to have talks with Zanu PF - even
pleading with regional and international leaders to force President Mugabe
and his party to the roundtable. The only reason they have not talked is
that President Mugabe has refused to have talks. Now, given the bitter
history between Zanu PF and the MDC and the readiness of the MDC leadership
to engage in talks, one is baffled by the suggestion that the two factions,
erstwhile partners in the struggle against Zanu PF would themselves be
unwilling to resolve their internal differences. The point is: It is not
impossible to resolve these differences which are common in every political
organisation the only difference being that some mature ones handle them
better while others like the MDC exhibiting its juvenile characteristics
seem to fail to place their problems in the context of the bigger picture.
Once they look at the bigger picture in which their differences are located,
they will realise that they are quite minor and there is more to worry about
and address their collective attention.
One view that is emerging is that rather than being confined to the senate
election, the divisions actually run deeper and centre on an internal power
struggle. One suggestion is that Tsvangirai is dictatorial and reports have
emerged alleging that he has leaned towards autocratic tendencies in the
last few years. Another view is that the pro-Senate faction is actually
interested in toppling Tsvangirai from power. There is in both cases, an
attempt to make a big issue out of a normal and ordinary matter. This simply
because leadership contests are natural in any organisation. Leadership is
not sacred territory. By the very nature of it being elected office, it is
often highly contested territory. Contesting leadership should never be seen
as being disrespectful of the leader. Whether or not Tsvangirai should
remain at the helm should be a matter for the people to decide - It is a
political issue that must be resolved politically.
People must advance their arguments for and against their preferred
candidates. Where a political party has contested elections and failed to
secure power, whether fair or foul, it is natural for others to seek to
challenge the leadership skills of the person in power. Tsvangirai should
not see the challenge as anything bad - if anything he should be using the
contest as an opportunity to demonstrate his commitment and ability to lead
the people into the future. It should be a chance to remove doubt against
him and renew the mandate from the people. If he fails to tolerate such
contests and if people who challenge him are seen as traitors, then there is
no point of distinction between him and the person he is trying to replace
in the leadership of the country - whose position in the party has long been
considered sacred and few, if any, choose to publicly state their leadership
intentions. It is not a divine right to remain in power nor is it a
permanent seat that cannot be challenged.
The pro-senate faction has decided to take the legal route to resolve the
dispute over the leadership of Tsvangirai whom they wish to be barred for
violating the part constitution. They are well within their rights to call
on the courts to solve legal problems within their party. Nonetheless, one
cannot ignore the fact that this is not simply a legal matter but one that
is essentially political in character. Notwithstanding the legitimacy of the
legal claims calling for a legal solution, it is arguable that what this
matter actually requires is a political solution. Arguably, such a matter
cannot simply be viewed within the narrow confines of law so that it can be
put to rest through the legal process. One can a foresee a situation whereby
the pro-senate faction wins the legal claim but that victory may not in
itself solve the political crisis within the MDC. If Tsvangirai broke the
rules of the constitution, the pro-senate faction was right to insist on the
importance of abiding by the rules. And even though they have been slated in
some sections, it seems to me that they were right to insist on the
importance of observing the legal parameters. After all, that is precisely
what the MDC has been fighting for in its battle against the ruling party.
By refusing to observe rules, Tsvangirai may have alienated some of his more
important backers in the international community.
However, what the pro-senate faction appear to be failing to read is that
having made their point about Tsvangirai's failure or refusal to observe
rules, they are now entering muddy waters through the legal action. They
have failed to read that now that the senate election is history, the
anti-senate faction has to face the bigger challenge of what to do after the
boycott. The anti-senate faction has to justify its stance on the boycott by
taking a different approach, which as yet the public remains unsure because
the proponents of the boycott have not been bold enough. It is not enough to
celebrate the electoral boycott because it has changed nothing for the
people of Zimbabwe. The crucial question is, after the boycott what strategy
is there to confront the problems in the country? That, more that the legal
challenge, is the big question that Tsvangirai and the anti-senate faction
have to face. So far there is nothing of substance that has been put forward
and advanced to extricate the country from the quagmire. In any event it
seems dangerously naïve to celebrate the low voter turnout as an indication
of the people's support for the electoral boycott. It may be true that some
people boycotted in support of the call but it cannot be ignored that people
are simply tired of voting when there is no change in their socio-economic
conditions other than for the worst. It is arguable that the voter turnout
might still have been low even if the MDC had contested as a united bloc.
But more importantly, people would like to know the alternative option given
that part of the MDC leadership has discounted the electoral route as a
viable means of achieving political change. The pro-senate faction is
misreading the political situation by taking legal action where clearly the
MDC leader has a bigger political challenge to confront in the wake of the
electoral boycott. Indeed, this legal action might even give Tsvangirai a
good excuse to divert attention from the real challenge that he faces: what
next after the boycott. There has to be a plan of what to do next if Zanu PF
were to call for an early presidential poll next year. If the electoral
landscape does not change, will the MDC contest? If not what is the
alternative? So far, the public is waiting for the alternative to the
boycott of the senate election. That search for the alternative approach,
rather than whether or not the MDC should have contested the election is the
key issue at stake. As they take Tsvangirai through the courts of law, which
as a party they have previously attacked as being biased toward the
government, they are in effect drawing sympathy toward him. They are
perpetuating an argument in which they themselves failed to read the
political mood at the time and it does their interests no good. It seems to
me that though probably right in law they may still be misreading the
By continuing their personal battles in the public domain, they only help to
cement the image of a party that is led by petulant political infants. The
public does not expect future national leaders to be making some of the
unnecessary personal attacks that have become commonplace in the public
domain. I cannot help but refer again to Talleyrand, who is reported to have
said that a man's reputation is like a shadow, which is large and tall when
it precedes him but very small when it follows him. The MDC must now take a
look at its shadow. As for the decision on leadership, again a few words
from the same man provide interesting counsel. He said, "I am more afraid of
an army of 100 sheep led by a lion than an army of 100 lions led by a
This may yet be the darkest hour just before the dawn. The leadership of the
MDC seems to be dying of thirst just as the palm trees begin to appear on
the horizon. Are they really giving up?
Dr Magaisa is a Zimbabwean lawyer. He can be contacted at