11th Feb 2008 18:10 GMT
By Sheila Pasi
HARARE - The opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) which is led by
Arthur Mutambara met earlier today and gave a hint that it could be engaging
Zimbabwe's former finance minister, Simba Makoni, following his announcement
that he would be standing against President Robert Mugabe in next month's
In a statement released by Secretary General Welshman Ncube after a national
council meeting, the Mutambara MDC, which failed to agree with the Morgan
Tsvangirai MDC on forging a united front ahead of the elections, "mandated
the party's management committee to "remain engaged with all progressive
opposition formations desirous of creating a united front to confront the
Mugabe regime in the forthcoming elections within a single candidate
"The MDC National Council met today to review and consider the candidate
selection process going on throughout the country for the harmonized
elections scheduled for the 29th March 2008. Council expressed satisfaction
with the progress which has been made to date, and called for finalisation
of the process at all levels," said Ncube.
"Council also noted the recent announcement by Dr Simba Makoni that he will
stand as a Presidential candidate in the forthcoming elections. Council
mandated the Party’s Management Committee to remain engaged with all
progressive Opposition formations desirous of creating a united front to
confront the Mugabe regime in the forthcoming elections within a single
candidate philosophy framework."
Tsvangirai has since said that he will stand in the March 29 elections to
represent his party. The founding MDC leader said those calling on his to
pave way for Makoni were "arrogant", especially when the former finance
minister was part of the Zanu PF government responsible for the suffering
endured by Zimbabweans for eight years now.
He ruled out any alliance with Makoni, equating him to "old wine in a new
Tsvangirai said his party would not work with Makoni since he was still a
Zanu PF member.
"Dr Makoni has been part of the establishment for the past thirty years. He
is equally accountable for the actions of Zanu PF," said Tsvangirai, who,
however, praised Makoni for being a patriot.
"I am not going to betray anyone on that particular agenda. It (calls to
back Makoni) is arrogance of the highest order. I am the leader of the MDC.
I am not a leader of Zanu PF," Tsvangirai said at a press conference where
he also unveiled the opposition's aspiring candidates for the March
parliamentary and senatorial elections.
Makoni last week announced and declared that he would be challenging Mugabe
in next month's presidential elections.
Mutambara had already indicated that he would not be contesting the
February 11 2008 at 07:56PM
By Angus Shaw
Harare - The main Roman Catholic human rights body said Monday
conditions for free elections were not in place just seven weeks before
national polling in Zimbabwe.
The Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace said the registration of
eligible voters was unwieldy and inadequate. Constitutional amendments
introduced in November to improve the fair compilation of lists of voters
had made little difference so far, the commission said.
"In reality the situation is still the same as it was before the
amendments," the commission said in a statement made available on Monday.
"The prevailing electoral environment is not conducive to free and
fair elections" because the voter registration process limits the full
participation of all citizens, it said.
The organisation said voter education programs were also inadequate
ahead of voting scheduled March 29, the boundaries of new voting districts
were not clearly publicized and despite some reforms existing media and
security laws "continue to be an obstacle to the freedoms required for the
preparation and conduct of a free and fair election."
The dominant official media and the sole state-run broadcast station
were not giving election contestants fair exposure, and the state-dominated
Electoral Commission did not conform with the November constitutional
changes and its composition of mainly pro-government officials was therefore
illegal, the group said.
"We strongly recommend that the old ZEC be dissolved with immediate
effect and a new one be appointed in terms of the law," it said.
The announcement January 24 by President Robert Mugabe of the March 29
date for the first combined presidential, parliament and local council
elections and February 15 as the deadline for the nomination of all
candidates did not give enough time for political parties to roll out their
campaign programs, the Catholic group said.
It said three million Zimbabweans living outside the country who fled
the country's political crisis and economic meltdown were disqualified from
postal or external voting yet they contributed significantly to the
country's social and economic life by sending money home to their families.
Since the often violent seizures of thousands of white-owned farms
began in 2000 and disrupted the agriculture-based economy in the former
regional breadbasket, remittances by economic and political fugitives have
become by far the largest source of hard currency in Zimbabwe.
In the worst economic crisis since independence in 1980, the country
has the world's highest inflation of 26 000 percent and suffers acute
shortages of hard currency, food, gasoline and most basic goods.
Independent financial institutions, factoring in dominant black market
prices of scarce goods, put real inflation closer to 150 000 percent.
Mugabe's ruling party nominated him as its sole candidate in the
presidential race, but he will be opposed by former ruling party loyalist
Simba Makoni and the fractured opposition Movement for Democratic Change.
Makoni, scheduled to release his election manifesto before Friday's
nominations, is expected to attract votes from disillusioned ruling party
and opposition supporters. - Sapa-AP
February 11 2008 at 02:16PM
Harare - Zimbabwe's mining sector has lost more than half its skilled
personnel in the last year with workers lured abroad by the chance of
boosting their pay more than ten-fold, an industry body said on Monday.
According to a new study carried out by the chamber of mines, there
are now 1 116 vacancies for professional and technical staff following the
departure of workers, mainly to neighbouring countries such as South Africa
"The industry has lost more than half of its skilled personnel to the
region and beyond," Jack Murehwa, president of the Chamber of Mines, said.
"The flight continues as we speak with South African companies
collecting artisans and machine operators by the bus load from organisations
"Mines and other organisations are helpless in the matter because they
can not match what these skills are being offered outside Zimbabwe."
Murewha said that a mining technician could expect to earn around
$2 500 a month in South Africa while the going rate in Zimbabwe works
out at less than $200 dollars with the industry struggling with a massive
"If artisans in Zimbabwe were to earn that kind of value, they would
stay in the country," he said.
"Under the current situation, the employer is struggling to make that
money, the taxes are among the highest in the world and price distortions
make earnings based on the official exchange rate a mockery."
Zimbabwe's mines, which produce gold, palladium, chrome, platinum and
diamonds among other minerals, earned the country $849-million up from
$702-million in 2006, according to central bank figures.
However problems over power supply and a dearth of foreign currency
are beginning to bite in the inflation-ravaged country, with production of
gold falling by more than a third last year.
Murehwa said the industry's future "looks bleak" in the light of the
skills flight, electricity shortages and government plans to force
foreign-owned mines to cede transfer majority shares to indigenous blacks.
Parliamentary sources say the planned legislation on mine ownership is
unlikely to come onto the statute book before national elections next month
but will be pushed through afterwards if President Robert Mugabe wins a new
term. - Sapa-AFP
Mon 11 Feb 2008, 17:02 GMT
LUSAKA, Feb 11 (Reuters) - Zambia and neighbour Zimbabwe said on Monday they
had placed military forces on flood alert after opening a floodgate at a key
dam that is expected to force Mozambique to evacuate 100,000 people.
Munyaradzi Munodawafa, a senior Zimbabwe energy ministry official, said
military forces would watch for heavy flooding on the Zambezi River after
the spillway gate at the Kariba Dam was opened to ease pressure on the
facility following recent heavy rains.
The dam and Zambezi river form the common border between Zambia and
"Defence forces from both countries are ready to respond to any eventuality
and are monitoring the situation," Munodawafa said in Siavonga, 150 km (93
miles) south of Zambia's capital, Lusaka.
"In case of serious flooding downstream, both governments are on full
alert," he added.
The head of water resources and environmental management at the Zambezi
River Authority (ZRA), Clement Mukosa, said the spillway gate would stay
open to help ease pressure on the dam.
"We expect more water to (flow and) we have decided to open one floodgate
... for a longer period. This is also to avoid any possible damage to
infrastructure and to safeguard the lives of people living downstream,"
Mukosa told journalists.
The ZRA said more gates could be opened as heavy rains continued.
Authorities in Mozambique have said they will evacuate 100,000 people due to
expected flooding from the Zambezi River, which passes through the country
to the Indian Ocean after flowing through Angola, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.
Officials said the waters of the Zambezi River were expected to flow in
large volumes from Angola and Chavuma in north-western Zambia.
Zambia opened gates of the ITezhi-Tezhi Dam on the Kafue River earlier this
month after its walls were also threatened by heavy rains.
In 2005, The Zambezi River Authority opened spillway gates at Kariba North
Bank power station on the Zambezi River, causing severe flooding in eastern
Zambia and parts of Mozambique.
Zambia, Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi have been lashed by heavy rain for
several weeks, causing swollen rivers to burst their banks and forcing
thousands of villagers to flee flooded homes.
by Sebastian Nyamhangambiri Tuesday 12 February 2008
HARARE - Zimbabwe on Monday resumed an inquiry into the conduct of
Attorney General (AG) Sobuza Gula-Ndebele, with official sources saying the
state planned to call secret service agents to testify that he clandestinely
met a banker who was on a police wanted list.
President Robert Mugabe last November suspended Gula-Ndebele for
allegedly abusing his office and appointed a three-man tribunal to probe
whether the AG – the government’s chief legal officer and an ex-officio
member of Cabinet – should be permanently removed from office.
The hearing that began last month but was postponed to yesterday is
being held in camera at the instruction of Mugabe.
Top opposition politician and constitutional law expert Welshman
Ncube, who is representing Gula-Ndebele, confirmed the hearing had resumed
but would not shed more details because the matter is in camera.
”I can confirm that the hearing has started,” said Ncube, who is
secretary general of the one of the two factions of the main opposition
Movement for Democratic Change party.
The state charges that Gula-Ndebele breached the law when he allegedly
met former National Merchant Bank (NMB) deputy managing director James
Mushore who was wanted by the police on charges of breaching the country’s
foreign exchange laws.
Mushore fled to Britain in 2004 at the height of a Zimbabwean banking
crisis that saw several finance houses shut down by the country's central
bank. He was arrested in October upon his return to Zimbabwe.
Police, who are separately investigating Gula-Ndebele, say he promised
Mushore he would not be arrested if he returned to Zimbabwe. The Attorney
General denies the charge.
Sources said the state planned to bring forward nine witnesses among
them agents of the spy Central Intelligence Organisation who were on “a
mission to track Gula-Ndebele and Mushore and would testify that the two met
at a Harare restaurant.”
High Court Judge Chinembiri Bhunu is chairing the tribunal. Justice
Samuel Kudya and Harare lawyer Lloyd Mhishi are the other members of the
Speculation is widespread in Harare that Gula-Ndebele, considered
among the more liberal minds in the government, is being punished for
aligning himself with a faction of the ruling ZANU PF party led by retired
army general Solomon Mujuru that is said to be behind a rebellion in the
party against Mugabe.
It has been suggested that Gula-Ndebele, a brave former army officer,
did not help himself when he constantly clashed with Justice Minister
Patrick Chinamasa in a tussle over control of the AG’s department. –
by Thenjiwe Mabhena Tuesday 12 February 2008
HARARE - Iran will assist President Robert Mugabe defeat western sanctions
by helping his government set up a farm equipment manufacturing plant,
refurbish an oil refinery and expand a power plant, Teheran’s representative
in Harare said on Monday.
Ambassador Rasoul Momeni said Iran, which has wrangled with western powers
over its controversial nuclear enrichment programme, will stand by Harare
and condemned United States and European Union sanctions against Mugabe and
his top officials.
“The Islamic Republic of Iran fully supports the people and the government
of Zimbabwe in the face of sanctions and political pressure. It is the
manifestation of the famous saying ‘A friend in need is a friend indeed,”
said Momeni, in an address marking the 29th anniversary of the Islamic
revolution that brought Iran’s present rulers to power.
Mugabe has pursued a new “Look East’ policy that promotes stronger ties with
countries like Iran and China since falling out with the west over human
rights and other governance issues.
The US, EU, Switzerland, Australia and New Zealand have since 2002
maintained visa and financial sanctions against Mugabe and his lieutenants
who they accuse of violating human rights, stealing elections and failure to
uphold the rule of law.
The western governments have cut all aid to Harare except humanitarian
support, a move that has worsened an acute economic crisis gripping Zimbabwe
and seen in shortages of food, essential medicines, fuel, electricity, hard
cash and other basic commodities.
Momeni said his oil-rich country would step in to help lift Zimbabwe out of
a crisis that is described by the World Bank as the worst in the world
outside a war zone.
“My country is ready for the implementation of all agreements reached so
far, such as the establishment of the tractor manufacturing plant, the
refurbishment of Feruka Oil Refinery and the expansion of Hydro-electric
power plant,” said Momeni.
However, a previous oil supply agreement between Zimbabwe and Iran collapsed
after Harare failed to pay. - ZimOnline
by Own Correspondent Tuesday 12 February 2008
HARARE – The United Nations (UN) on Monday said it is seeking about US$90
million to help hundreds of thousands of flood victims in southern Africa.
In a statement yesterday, the UN Office for the Co-ordination of
Humanitarian Affairs said it was moving to respond to the floods that have
destroyed homes, devastated crops and left about half a million people
“(Southern African) governments urgently need the support of the
international community to ensure that all those displaced by the floods
receive the food, shelter, water, medicine and other basic,” said UN
emergency relief coordinator, John Holmes.
The UN said at least US$15.8 million was needed for relief efforts in
Zimbabwe following heavy downpours in the southern African country since
last December that have displaced about 15 000 people.
At least 21 people have died in the floods that have also swept away bridges
and roads in the low-lying northern district of Muzarabani near the Zambezi
The floods have also had a devastating impact in the southern province of
President Robert Mugabe’s government has already declared the floods a
national emergency paving way for the government to marshal resources
towards the badly hit regions.
“Despite the scale of these floods, the governments and the international
humanitarian community have so far prevented this crisis from becoming a
catastrophe,” said the UN statement. - ZimOnline
Monday, 11 February 2008 22:57
'The tragedy is that it never used to be like this'
KATE ADAMS, general practitioner in Hackney, London, and a trustee of
Zimbabwe Health Training Support, visited Zimbabwe recently and wrote this
No soap in a hospital? Can you believe it? But this is Zimbabwe, a
country whose public health system was once the envy of neighbouring
countries and that now has the lowest life expectancy in the world: 34 for
women and 37 for men. This statistic continues to shock and disturb me;
Zimbabwe is, after all, not a country at war.
Of course, HIV has had a great impact. But it is mainly the policies
pursued by Robert Mugabe's Zanu (PF) party that has moved Zimbabwe, once the
breadbasket of this part of Africa, to a basket case.
Late last year I spent 10 days in Zimbabwe. I am a trustee of a
charity, Zimbabwe Health Training Support, whose aim is to support the
training of health professionals and medical students in Zimbabwe. During my
stay I ran workshops on medical ethics for junior doctors and consultants. I
gave a talk to GPs in Bulawayo on how quality is assessed in general
practice in the United Kingdom. While in Bulawayo I stayed with a physician
and spent part of my week shadowing him. I also shadowed a GP.
HIV seemed to pervade all healthcare encounters. As many as 70% of
inpatients in the public hospital in Bulawayo had an HIV related disease.
Many people present with advanced disease—a death sentence. The HIV clinic
in Bulawayo is supported by the Clinton Foundation, but a shortage of drugs
and resources has meant that it has been closed to new entrants since
August, except for children, pregnant women, and healthcare workers. I spoke
to a pharmacist concerned about the future supply and reliable delivery of
Some Zimbabweans who work in South Africa get their antiretrovirals
there. One young man had fraudulently been given painkillers as part of his
triple regimen therapy. He presented with an immune reconstitution syndrome.
He needed chemotherapy, but this wasn't easily available and anyway he
didn't have the money to pay for it.
The HIV clinic has 2500 children on its register. A morning spent with
the paediatric nurses revealed the human tragedy. I met numerous orphaned
children with HIV being cared for by aunts and grandparents. Because of the
food shortages in Zimbabwe a charity was donating food to people with HIV to
help feed their families.
I wondered why there seemed to be so many small children and babies
with HIV, given the availability of treatment for pregnant women. A
paediatrician said one reason is that there is no easily accessible milk in
Zimbabwe, so mothers continue to breast feed beyond six months, putting
their babies at further risk of acquiring HIV.
Shortages of medical equipment and drugs are severe.
Thermometers were being shared between wards, no glucose sticks were
available for monitoring diabetes, and certain antibiotics could not be
obtained. A lack of catheter bags and pads meant that incontinent and
immobile patients had to lie in urine. One patient had metastatic pancreatic
cancer. There was no morphine to control his pain or dexamethasone to reduce
his brain swelling. Patients in outpatient clinics told us they had
difficulty getting basic drugs for ordinary medical conditions such as heart
disease, diabetes, and asthma.
One patient couldn't afford to buy a steroid inhaler. A girl was
walking around for a week with a fractured arm not in a cast as neither of
the public hospitals had plaster of Paris. The tragedy is that it never used
to be like this.
Healthcare professionals are leaving their work daily. A paediatrician
and a physician had left the week before I arrived. No one begrudges them
for leaving, but work schedules inevitably become more intense for those
remaining. Non-governmental organisations try not to poach health service
staff, but they pay in hard currency. Inflation continues to soar—during my
short stay prices increased by a third. Nurses I met couldn't afford to eat
on their pay.
A typical nurse's monthly salary of Z$17 million (£290; 385; $570)
doesn't go far when transport to and from work costs Z$400 000 each day. One
nurse I met relied on financial support from a relative (a nurse) working in
Simply surviving in Zimbabwe is exhausting. People spend a lot of time
searching for and queuing for food. Basic foodstuffs such as bread, sugar,
and flour are hard to find. Many people survive on one meal a day. There is
a desperate shortage of fuel, and people have to go to Botswana to get it.
Every day there are cuts in power and water supplies—one part of Harare had
not had any running water for six weeks.
I have great admiration for the healthcare staff I met.
They had to be so resourceful and were constantly having to solve
problems. I was impressed by the clinicians' skills. As is the case in many
developing countries, doctors' clinical and interpretive skills are often
very sharp as so few tests and investigations are available.
In spite of all my experiences I was left with a lasting impression of
people who, in spite of incredibly difficult circumstances, had not lost
their humanity, sharing food and water and helping each other out in
whatever way they could.
A lack of catheter bags and pads meant that incontinent and immobile
patients had to lie in urine . . . the tragedy is that it never used to be
like this. - This article appears courtesy of the BMJ, in which it was
Monday, 11 February 2008 22:57
Dear Family and Friends,
It's been a long and dramatic week in politics in Zimbabwe. Things are
changing very fast and some of the news I relate here may well be out of
date or have altered completely by the time you read this letter.
The first major development took place last weekend when the two
factions of the opposition MDC met to decide if they were going to reunite
and stand as one party in the coming elections. Despite everything that has
happened to the MDC and their supporters in the last eight years including
murder, rape, torture, abduction and arson, the two factions were not able
to agree to stand together to fight Mugabe and Zanu (PF).
I suppose the inability of the two factions to unite has not come as a
surprise to most Zimbabweans but, regardless of the detail or the inevitable
finger pointing, it is a sad event for Zimbabwe. So many people, so many
sacrifices, such pain - what a shame that in the end, at this most crucial
time, the desperate state of the country could not come first.
The news of the MDC division had hardly got around when it was
completely overtaken by the dramatic news of a serious challenge within the
ruling Zanu (PF) party. A Presidential challenge no less! Simba Makoni, the
ex Minister of Finance, long time Zanu (PF) member and presently sitting on
the Politburo, addressed a news conference on Tuesday.
Saying that he had consulted widely and across the board, Mr Makoni
said he was accepting the call of the people and offering himself as a
candidate for President of Zimbabwe. His short speech was realistic and down
to earth. Simba Makoni said: "Let me confirm that I share the agony and
anguish of all citizens over the extreme hardships that we all have endured
for nearly 10 years now. I also share the widely held view that these
hardships are a result of failure of national leadership and that change at
that level is a pre-requisite for change at other levels of national
Almost as one Zimbabwe drew breath. Naturally the rumours and
speculation that have followed this historic announcement have almost
overwhelmed us. Is Simba Makoni expelled from Zanu (PF)? Has he got a
political party waiting in the wings? Is he a threat to Mugabe? Will other
senior Zanu (PF) members now come out in the open and support him? Is this
the end of Zanu (PF) as we know it? Is this going to split the Zanu vote?
Will it have an impact on the MDC vote?
The most pressing question on everyone's lips has been: Is Simba
Makoni genuine? As each day has passed and the attacks on him by the State
propaganda have increased to greater heights, they have perhaps even
answered the question with their own vitriol. In one classic editorial in
The Herald came the predictable and groaningly familiar blaming of the
West - so insulting to the intelligence of Zimbabweans. The editorial said:
"one does not have to be a seer to see that Simba has just subscribed to
megaphone politics by giving a black face to the voices from the White House
In the middle of all of the upheaval came the announcement that the
date for nominating candidates had been moved back another week and so,
again, we wait and we watch. Certainly whoever Makoni represents and
whatever positions the two branches of the MDC take, the events of
this past week may well have broken the apathy that is suffocating
Zimbabwean voters. I join the call of others and urge Zimbabweans, wherever
and if you are still on the voters roll to please come home and vote
on March 29. Until next week, thanks for reading, Ndini shamwari yenyu.
SW Radio Africa (London)
11 February 2008
Posted to the web 11 February 2008
Former finance minister Simba Makoni is struggling to win the backing of
sceptical civil society groups who at the weekend effectively distanced
themselves from his presidential bid.
Over 5000 delegates from various organisations, including the National
Constitutional Assembly, Zimbabwe National Students Union, Bulawayo Agenda
and Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition, met for the National Peoples Convention in
Harare. It was during this meeting at the Rainbow Towers Hotel that the
general sentiment from the speeches reflected a deep distrust for Makoni and
his camp. Although the convention avoided committing to a resolution on the
Makoni issue, the thunderous reception to NCA chairperson Lovemore Madhuku's
criticism of Makoni gave away their feelings.
Addressing delegates Madhuku said Makoni's insistence that he was still Zanu
PF meant they could not support him. 'We are not talking of personalities
here but we are talking of changing the system of governance. We thank
Makoni for helping us to destroy Zanu-PF, not that he is the leader we want.
Makoni was and is still part of Zanu-PF, which presided over the collapse of
our economy. He is still a Zanu-PF Politburo member and was part of those
who watched and blessed the beatings of National Constitutional Assembly
activists who were demanding a new constitution. He was there when the
Gukurahundi atrocities were committed in Matabeleland and to now turn around
and try to convince us that he is presidential material is very wrong.'
Other groups at the convention included the Christian Alliance, Zimbabwe
National Pastors Forum, Padare, Women's Coalition, Zimbabwe Election Support
Network, Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, Media Institute of Southern
Africa, the NGO Forum, Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, and Women of
Zimbabwe Arise. The groups resolved that irrespective of the results of the
March 29th poll they will continue to campaign for a people driven
constitution to ensure the country had a workable democracy. In the meantime
member organisations were encouraged to conduct voter education campaigns
and to call on Zimbabweans to turn out in large numbers to vote.
Pedzisai Ruhanya, a Programmes Manager with the Crisis in Zimbabwe
Coalition, told Newsreel most delegates felt they could not abandon those in
the opposition who have been fighting Mugabe's regime, only to support an
eleventh hour u-turn by someone who says they are still Zanu PF. Former
ZINASU President Promise Mkwananzi has meanwhile said Makoni's bid will only
split the opposition vote. He says Makoni's handlers are already campaigning
to encourage the MDC leadership to step aside, even though Makoni has not
stated what his plan to rescue the country is. 'He is sending the Tekere's
to tell our leaders to step down on his behalf. He has not consulted anyone
in the civics and we don't know yet what he is bringing with him from Zanu
PF to measure his strength,' Mkwananzi said. He urged the opposition to
continue campaigning under, 'a theory of constant mistrust.'
SW Radio Africa (London)
11 February 2008
Posted to the web 11 February 2008
Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) have reported that the fifteen members who
were briefly detained last Thursday afternoon by riot police were assaulted
while in custody. The WOZA members had come from Bulawayo and were in the
capital to attend the National People's Convention that started Friday.
WOZA coordinator Jenni Williams said the police taunted them throughout
their detention, saying they should not speak Ndebele when they come to
Harare. Williams, who was not among the detained, said police beat them with
baton sticks. They were released some hours later that same day.
The police had descended on the WOZA members in Africa Unity Square, where
they had gone due to delays checking into their hotel. Riot police arrived
in several vehicles and the WOZA women had their bags were searched.
Williams said the police found WOZA scarves and literature and took the
activists to Harare Central where the assaults took place.
Among the detained group were two members of the Men of Zimbabwe Arise.
One of them is named Tirimuhondo (which means we are at war). Wlliams said
the police asked which war he was in, and beat him much harder than the
The defiant activists have vowed to continue their street actions,
pressuring for a decent living, affordable food, housing, school fees and
Warm spring-like weather cheered everyone. The sun shone brightly and here
we were in Vigil t-shirts in the middle of winter. It made us feel perhaps
miracles would happen in Zimbabwe as well.
No sooner had we set up our banners and posters than a passer-by asked us
'Why aren't you doing this in Zimbabwe'. We were able to say we are doing
this in Zimbabwe through our partners ROHR (Restoration of Human Rights in
Zimbabwe), who are campaigning bravely for freedom and justice. There was
another meeting today to discuss how we in the UK diaspora can further
support their efforts.
Next Saturday we are hosting a demonstration by the UK branch of WOZA (Women
of Zimbabwe Arise). Their message is: "This year WOZA will be dedicating
their Valentine's Day actions to the children of Zimbabwe and saying: Our
education system is being allowed to collapse and our children's future is
being sacrificed on the altar of political power by a bunch of corrupt,
insensitive, selfish thieves. Can we continue to keep quiet whilst our
children are robbed of their future?"
One of our supporters is also hosting the new Anglican Bishop of Harare,
Sebastian Bakare, who will be in Britain on a short visit. We know how
tight his schedule is, but we are inviting him to the Vigil next week to
tell us about the confrontation with Mugabe's Bishop Kunonga, whose
outrageous behaviour has distressed Anglicans around the world.
We were pleased to have with us Vikki Farrell, who visited Zimbabwe in 2006
and is creating a 5m X 2.5m tapestry / collage to express what is happening
in Zimbabwe. She was delighted at the energy of the Vigil and she took
photos which will feature in the piece, which will be on display at the
University of Brighton public gallery from 3rd to 5th March.
There was a ripple of excitement at the Vigil when a white van bearing the
words "Freight forwarding to Zimbabwe and other African states" pulled up
outside the Embassy. But no, the staff of the Embassy did not get in. They
do not seem to have any desire to forego the fleshpots of London for the
potholes of Harare.
Not that they aren't kept busy. Embassy staff and other Mugabe supporters
were out in force at two high profile meetings in London this week also
attended by Vigil supporters. The first, organised by a think tank, the
Global Strategy Forum, was held on Tuesday at the National Liberal Club. It
was chaired by the former Africa Minister, Chris Mullen, MP. We were
appalled that the Mugabe apologist George Shire was invited to speak. He
claims to be an independent-minded academic but we pointed out at the
meeting that he had been the mainstay of a pro-Mugabe demonstration at the
Lisbon AU / EU summit last December, supported by young ladies who could
speak no English or any Zimbabwean languages. Mr Shire blustered that the
African Union was obliged to provide a counter demonstration to the
anti-Mugabe protesters (us)!
A Zimbabwean stood up and said 'I am 68 years old. I fought in the
.Liberation War. I am a supporter of Mugabe.' The same gentleman gave the
same odd little speech at a seminar on Zimbabwe organised by the Royal
United Services Institute Africa Programme on Thursday. The Vigil knows that
a huge proportion of the Zimbabwean budget goes to maintain the Mugabe's
propaganda offensive - but this was risible. People found it difficult to
keep a straight face.
It was good to have Chipo Chaya back with us today after her bereavement and
illness. Her hard work has been greatly missed. She asked us to pass on
her thanks for all the support she got from her friends at the Vigil.
For this week's Vigil pictures: http://www.flickr.com/photos/zimbabwevigil/.
FOR THE RECORD: 213 signed the register.
FOR YOUR DIARY:
· Saturday, 16th February 2008, 2 - 4 pm - outside the Zimbabwe
Embassy, London. WOZA Valentine's Day Action.
· Saturday, 29th March 2008, 6 am - 6 pm - Zimbabwe Vigil's diaspora
polling station and mock ballot.
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
Monday February 11 2008
Zimbabweans know from cruel experience that elections can bring hope but not
change. Exhausted by hunger, poverty and state brutality, they could also be
forgiven for surrendering to Robert Mugabe's demand that they re-elect him
as Zimbabwe's president next month. The optimism that surrounded Morgan
Tsvangirai's bid for the post in 2002 has long gone, amid repression and
economic collapse. But last week Simba Makoni, once finance minister and a
member of Mr Mugabe's Zanu-PF, fought back, announcing that he will stand
for the presidency in the contest on March 29. "I share the agony and
anguish of all citizens at the extreme hardships we have all endured ...
these are a result of failure of national leadership," he said.
This is the boldest challenge that Mr Mugabe has faced from inside his own
movement since Zimbabwe began its descent into calamity more than a decade
ago. But the truth is that Mr Makoni cannot expect to win. Victory would be
possible, perhaps even likely, in a fair contest, but Zimbabwe's election
will be anything but fair. Millions of people, mostly opposition supporters,
have left since Zimbabweans last defied their president by voting against
him in a constitutional referendum eight years ago this month. Many voters
live in rural areas and depend on the ruling party for food handouts. Mr
Makoni has no structure to support him; he is being denounced in the state
media and he faces opposition from at least one part of the now-divided
Movement for Democratic Change, led by Mr Tsvangirai, though he is a
These are big hurdles - but there are still grounds to hope Mr Makoni might
leap them. He represents Zimbabwe's most likely route out of chaos: change
from within Zanu-PF. At 58, he comes from a post-independence generation. He
was an able finance minister, leaving the government in 2002 when Mr Mugabe
refused to let him devalue the currency. Unlike most senior party
colleagues, he did not acquire a stolen farm in land redistribution. As a
senior Zanu-PF figure he is on the EU and US list of banned visitors, but he
could win the votes of its supporters who, though sick of Mr Mugabe, do not
trust the MDC. By all appearances, he might make a good president.
Could he win? If he comes close to doing so, Mr Mugabe will try to fix the
election. But Harare is full of rumours of Zanu-PF splits. Mr Makoni may
have the support, public or private, of several top officials. "I have a
deeper faith in my country than my party," he said last week. "I am genuine,
I am honest, I am nobody's tool or agent." His first name, Simba, means lion
in Swahili, and he will need all the bravery he can find if his roar of
defiance is to succeed.
By Peter Clottey
11 February 2008
The leader of Zimbabwe’s main opposition Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC) says he is sure of the party’s victory in next month’s general
elections. Morgan Tsvangirai said Zimbabweans desperately want change, but
he fears the ruling ZANU-PF party led by incumbent President Robert Mugabe
may rig the elections to maintain power. John Makumbe is a political science
professor at the University of Zimbabwe. From the capital, Harare he tells
reporter Peter Clottey that the MDC has no choice but to participate in next
month’s general elections.
“That’s a correct perspective. Under the current constitution, ZANU-PF is
going to rig the election; there is no two ways about it. Mr. Mugabe is
desperate to stay in power and in office. And the current constitution
creates a very uneven political field, which favors only ZANU-PF,” Makumbe
He described as strategic Tsvangirai’s intentions to be part of the general
“I think it’s a tactical maneuver by Tsvangirai. To boycott this election
would have given ZANU-PF a free ride. And it would have surrender to ZANU-PF
a lot of the democratic space that the MDC has reclaimed from the ZANU-PF
over the past few elections, and it would be shortchanging the people of
Zimbabwe. Really, political parties are there to contest elections and to
seek to enter into office into power and run the country. And Morgan
Tsvangirai’s party must continue to do that come rain come sunshine,” he
Makumbe concurs that the presence of other political figures in next month’s
elections might have played a major role on the MDC’s decision to
participate in the vote after previously threatening to boycott the
“Yes, essentially, Tsvangirai cannot boycott the elections now with Arthur
Mutembara (leader of one faction of the MDC) faction running for this
elections and then you have the wild card of Simba Makoni also creating
confusion, which at the moment nobody knows will result in which
consequence,” Makumbe noted.
He said the decision of Makoni, a former ally of President Mugabe to contest
the election as an independent presidential candidate could make things
difficult for the ruling ZANU-PF party.
“For example the Simba Makoni factor may in fact ruin Robert Mugabe’s
chances of winning or it may again simply be an extra job for Mugabe. But he
will rig the election in such a way that nobody else gets in. so, it’s an
interesting situation where Morgan Tsvangirai would have actually
shortchanged himself severely by not participating,” he noted.
11th Feb 2008 17:52 GMT
By Sebastian Nyamhangambiri
HARARE – Zimbabwe yesterday resumed an inquiry into the conduct of the
country’s Attorney General Sobuza Gula-Ndebele suspended by President Robert
Mugabe last year for allegedly abusing his office. The inquiry has been
stopped last month.
Professor Welshman Ncube, who is now representing the AG after taking over
from Advocate Happias Zhou, confirmed the resumption of the hearing but
refused to give details as the matter is being heard in camera.
"I can confirm that the hearing has started,” said Ncube. Asked how long the
hearing would take, Ncube said: “I have no slightest idea. All I can say is
that the state has indicated that it wants to bring nine witnesses. So this
week is definitely out of question, it might limp into next month.”
The hearing, which is highly linked to the political crisis in Zanu PF,
pitting General Solomon Mujuru'a camp against Emmerson Mnangagwa, once
regarded as Mugabe's heir-apparent, is being heard in camera at the
Nine state witnesses will testify against the government’s chief legal
adviser and an ex-officio member of cabinet. Sources say the witnesses are
likely to be members of the CIO who were on a mission track down the
movements of the AG and fugitive former bank executive, James Mushore, who
is said to have held a meeting with him.
The three-man tribunal inquiring into the conduct of Gula-Ndebele will
advise Mugabe whether he should be removed from office or not.
High Court Judge Chinembiri Bhunu is chairing the tribunal. Justice Samuel
Kudya and Harare lawyer Lloyd Mhishi are the other members of the committee.
Gula-Ndebele was last October briefly detained by the police and charged for
conduct inconsistent with the duties of a public officer after he allegedly
met Mushore and assured him that he would not be prosecuted if he came back
home after fleeing Zimbabwe with the government in hot pursuit saying he
breached the country's financial laws.
Mushore, a former deputy managing director at National Merchant Bank (NMB),
fled to Britain in 2004 at the height of a Zimbabwean banking crisis that
saw several finance houses shut down by the country's central bank. He was
arrested in October upon his return to Zimbabwe .
Police, who are separately investigating Gula-Ndebele, say he promised
Mushore he would not be arrested if he returned to Zimbabwe. The Attorney
General denies the charge.
Speculation is widespread in Harare that Gula-Ndebele, considered among the
more liberal minds in the government, is being punished for aligning himself
with the Mujuru faction that unsuccessfully tried to stop Mugabe standing
for re-election in next month's elections.
It has been suggested that Gula-Ndebele, a brave former army officer, did
not help himself when he constantly clashed with Justice Minister Patrick
Chinamasa in a tussle over control of AG's department.
Published 11 February 2008
We profile Simba Makoni who has emerged to challenge Robert Mugabe from
within ZANU-PF and who may be Zimbabwe's strongest hope for change
On 5 February 2008, one day after the leaders of the two opposition parties
in Zimbabwe failed to agree upon a single presidential candidate to oppose
Robert Mugabe, Simba Makoni – a Leeds University-trained chemist and former
minister of finance – announced he would stand against Mugabe as an
It took the failure of the opposition parties to tip Makoni innto a decision
he had long dithered in taking. As recently as 16 January he had,
face-to-face with Mugabe, declared he would not enter the presidential race;
and Mugabe had, in any case, earlier refused to accept Makoni’s resignation
from the high echelons of the ruling party, ZANU-PF.
Since the early 1990s, Makoni has been the darling of western diplomats
stationed in Harare. Technocratic and economically pragmatic, he was also
neither corrupt nor disliked by any faction of the ruling party. Even now,
it is hard to find sworn enemies of Makoni outside the president’s tight
circle - and the leaders of both opposition parties are on friendly terms
with him. Morgan Tsvangirai, the longer-serving opposition leader, has
publicly said he could work with Makoni; and Tsvangirai’s opposition rival,
Arthur Mutambara, is said to be more open to discussions concerning a union
with Makoni than with Tsvangirai.
For now, Makoni will need the protection of ex-army boss, Solomon Mujuru.
The question is, since Mujuru has his own presidential aspirations, whether
Makoni is merely a stalking horse.
Meanwhile, a curious alliance seems to be developing within ZANU-PF between
the much-touted ‘third force’ advocates – the ZANU-PF intellectuals who are
enamoured by neither Mugabe’s leadership nor the prospects of opposition
victory – and the ‘muscle’ represented by increasingly-dissident ZANU-PF
barons such as Mujuru.
But it is a tricky alliance. Mujuru is not noted for his modest lifestyle,
and nor is he reputed to be a man of democratic inclinations. He has opposed
Mugabe, though not to the extent of other internal dissidents such as Dumiso
Dabengwa. If, now, Mujuru and Dabengwa could together throw their weight
behind Makoni – and if Makoni can make a deal with Arthur Mutambara – then
that is as close to a ‘dream ticket’ as is possible in Zimbabwe. It would
mean the marginalisation of the brave Morgan Tsvangirai, but also allow a
proper, if flawed, challenge to Robert Mugabe.
For Makoni has neither political base nor organisational machinery of his
own. Outside the group of party intellectuals he is unknown in the wider
ZANU-PF constituency. He will need Mujuru’s protection first of all.
Otherwise the risk he is taking in finally defying the aged Mugabe will be a
dangerous one indeed. Both Dubengwa and Mutambara can deliver him a fair
slice of the western region’s Ndebele vote; and Mujuru himself can deliver a
small but meaningful chunk of the eastern Shona vote.
Even so, Makoni will have to rely for critical voting mass upon the urban
disenchanted who must be persuaded that he stands, not only in opposition to
Mugabe, but that he can fix the mess left behind by Mugabe. It is this
second credential that he must persuade voters is real.
Although he has been a preferred or compromise candidate in the imaginations
of both internal and external actors in the Zimbabwean drama, Makoni has not
established a public record of sustained dissent to Mugabe. He has certainly
stood up to him in private, and been sacked from the cabinet for his pains.
But, in December 2007, he made a public speech in which he made his first
open criticism of the president, saying: “the old Zimbabwean leader I knew
was there for service, the new one is only there for privilege.”
Then he was edging nearer to a decision to stand. In January he shirked
back. In February, alarmed at the failure of the opposition to unite, and no
doubt with some powerful persuasion by Mujuru and possibly other ZANU-PF
barons, he took the leap. It has been like watching a cub make his first
steps away from his mother. But Mugabe is a very powerful old leader of the
pride. There will be vengeance to come. Makoni knows he has to win, and he
knows the chances are high he will not. Finally, whatever the dithering,
this is an act of courage – no more than what Tsvangirai and Mutambara have
demonstrated before him – but those opposition leaders were not intimates of
the ruler of Zimbabwe. This is the lion cub taking on the lion king - and
the unpalatable people upon whom he must now rely for protection had better
not let him down at the first opportunistic moment.
Professor Chan of the School of Oriental & African Studies is preparing the
second edition of his book: Robert Mugabe: A Life of Power and Violence,
London: I.B. Tauris 2003
Africa News, Netherlands
1.. Posted on Monday 11 February 2008 - 10:14
Munyaradzi Mugadza, AfricaNews reporter in Harae, Zimbabwe
The government of Zimbabwe has stepped up preparations for the 21st
February Movement celebrations with a target of $ Z3 trillion dollars, the
chairman of the committee has said.
Andrew Langa who is also the deputy minister of Environment and Tourism
said the celebrations will be held in Beitbridge on the 23 of February in
Matabeleland South Province which is 580 kilometers away from Harare.
Addressing a committee members meeting, the deputy minister said the
committee would do as much as they can to surpass the $Z 3 trillion target.
”I wish to assure you that as a patriotic and committed committee we will
do our best. It will not fail” he said.
Minister Langa said President Mugabe’s birthday was a special occasion as
he had liberated Zimbabwe from the bondage of colonialism. Zanu-PF national
secretary for youth affairs Absolom Sikhosana said the annual event is very
important as it aims to mould the behaviour of youths into a responsible
The committee members also agreed to approach farmers and request them to
donate cattle despite the hardships that has affected them for the past
years. This is however a sad development because this year’s agricultural
season is a disaster due to lack of adequate inputs and the incessant rains
that has been experienced throughout the country.
This committee’s intention to request farmers to donate is a daylight
robbery as the farmers were still recovering from last’s crackdown by the
government. Government last year slashed the price of basic commodities to
curb profiteering by unscrupulous business people. Farmers were then forced
to sell their cattle for cheap price in order to improve the availability of
beef which had become a rare commodity in most supermarkets.
Moreso the committee resolved that the chairman would write to the
minister of Environment and Tourism requesting for a donation of game meat
from the National Parks and Wildlife. The same would also be affected to the
ministry of Energy and Power Development, Mi0ke Nyambuya requesting for
The 21st February Movement is a special event to celebrate President
Mugabe’s birthday but surprisingly the government is wasting resources while
the general populace is embedded in extreme poverty. Instead, the government
should raise money for building accommodation for the victims of government’s
Operation Murambatsvina who are still living under sordid conditions while
the government continue with its cheap diplomacy that they would build
houses imminently. Besides, Zimbabwe is in a foreign currency crunch which
has seen her failing to clear its debts and recently their electricity plug
was pulled off by Mozambique.
Government employees, civil have for the past couple of years cried foul
for poor remunerations from their employer resulting in more chaos and
massive exodus of skilled to greener pastures.
HARARE, 11 February 2008 (IRIN) - Resettled farmers in Zimbabwe have been
hit by input and financial shortages, and have failed to deliver on
production, prompting the government to repossess their plots, according to
Didymus Mutasa, the land reform and resettlement minister, recently told the
official daily newspaper, the Herald, that the government had reclaimed at
least 1,449 A2 farms - the category for commercial production - after a land
audit completed in 2007 revealed that they were not being used productively.
In 2000 the government dispossessed more than 4,000 white commercial farmers
of their land in a controversial land reform exercise and reallocated it,
often after cutting it up into smaller plots, to thousands of land-hungry
"Government is repossessing all vacant and unutilised A2 farms and we are
not going back on this exercise. We will withdraw the offer letters and
allocate them to deserving new applicants," Mutasa was quoted as saying.
He said the government was attempting to address some of the problems faced
by the new farmers, and repossession of the plots should not be read as a
reversal of the land reform programme.
The owners of most of the farms being taken back by the government had not
even taken occupation, said Sam Moyo, a land affairs expert who advised the
government on its land reform programme. "A number of plots have remained
vacant, meaning that the beneficiaries were not able to go and establish
themselves on their plots for a variety of reasons."
Zimbabwe's economy is in meltdown: the International Monetary Fund (IMF)
estimates that the country's annual inflation rate has reached 100,000
percent and is still rising; shortages of foreign exchange have affected the
supply of agricultural inputs and fuel. As a result, many farmers had been
unable to make any of the hoped for short-term gains from farming and had
abandoned their plots, Moyo said.
According to economic analyst John Robertson, "The bottom line is that most
of these farmers have not produced enough to justify being retained on their
farms. Those that have managed to do so were either lucky enough to have
taken over sound infrastructure they found on the farms, or were the big
fish that got favours from the government."
He pointed out that the beneficiaries did not have the "motivation" to farm
effectively because they got the land for free, and that the government had
hurried to parcel out land "for political populism" without ensuring that
the beneficiaries were well supported with money, skills training and
"Some of these farmers applied for land for the kicks, and that is why they
sold the inputs and fuel they obtained, while in some cases farms were
turned into weekend barbeque resorts, a trend that was common among
multiple-farm owners," Robertson claimed.
The financial squeeze the farmers found themselves in was worsened by
reluctance on the part of the banks to issue loans to the new farmers
because the 99-year leases offered by the government did not offer adequate
Robertson argued that while repossession of the farms was justified, how
would the A2 farmers repay any loans they might have taken? "One just hopes
that the government is not using repossession as one of those election
campaign tactics, to lure voters with pieces of land that would also be
taken away once victory is attained."
The country will be holding joint parliamentary, council and presidential
elections in late March and, as happened in 2000 on the eve of another major
poll, there are fears that the land issue could be used to sway voters.
The land reform programme coincided with a series of droughts, which hit
production and led to livestock deaths. Land was also underutilised by those
who lacked the necessary skills to farm, particularly in the case of
specialised crops like tobacco.
Most of the farms were carved up into small units, making it difficult for
beneficiaries to produce on a large scale, with the new farmers sometimes
having to share infrastructure left by the outgoing owners.
However, Moyo had maintained at the time that "Since most of the new farmers
don't have adequate finance ... small plots would be the more viable
Unfair, say farmers
The new farmers whose land has been repossessed were taken by surprise and
are angry. Some cited discrimination. "I don't understand what criteria they
used to repossess my farm," said Stanley Banga, 56, who was given a 60ha
plot in Goromonzi district, about 50km southeast of Harare, the capital.
"True, I have been struggling to produce adequately, but that cannot be
blamed on me. While other managed to get inputs, I had to struggle because I
am neither a war veteran nor an active member of the ruling [ZANU-PF]
party," he said.
"My only hope is that the authorities will understand ... There was drought,
I lost my income and could not access inputs easily. Now it's the heavy
rains that have been falling non-stop."
If his plot - largely covered by overgrown grass, except for small patches
of maize in the waterlogged fields, with a dilapidated farmhouse left by the
previous owner - is taken back, Banga will have nowhere to go.
[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]
Our household trash had not been collected since before Christmas ... and
with flies becoming a serious health hazard ... our trusty horticulturist and I decided
to take a trip to the Municipal Landfill site !!
Now this trip is not to be taken lightly I can assure you... the municipal
landfill has an aura all of it's own, as well as an odour all of it's own !!
Gathering up the neighbours' trash too, we set off most pungently down the
road.... we had removed everything from the truck that was not bolted down, including
the rubber mat that protects the lining of the truck.
What goes into a Municipal Landfill site in Zimbabwe seldom re-emerges trust
As we approached the dump, doors firmly locked, windows rolled up tight, as
if by magic, emerged from the tall grass, the most amazing collection of raggle taggle
gypsies you have ever seen.
They were undoubtedly human, but their eyes were raging red and bloodshot,
their hair matted with dirt and their clothes were held together with dung clotted
I had been warned of this this heart breaking sight, but nothing could ever
lead me to believe that people actually existed in this sub human way.
Racing to the truck, they heaved themselves over the sides and as we drove,
they rummaged furiously through our miserable, stinking, maggot ridden refuse.
Bottles and plastic bags were tucked into torn shirts, scraps of fetid food
were stuffed voraciously into gaping mouths .... nothing could ever have prepared me for
this heartbreaking experience.
We dutifully went to pay at the Municipal office, but the supervisor
graciously allowed us through without paying !! We were after all doing the job of the city
As we approached the dumping area, the stinking rotting fumes that emanated
from the trash parted, and dozens of grey ghostly figures, the tattered remnants of
human beings, could be seen scrabbling slowly, as if in a trance, through the morass of
mud and filth.
Mad Max and his gang leapt off the truck, the trash miraculously dragged off
with them, and began to fight over a box of wine bottles. No one bothers with
re-cycling in Zimbabwe, these sad scarecrow scavengers do it for us ....
Timidly opening the window a tiny bit I had the temerity to ask who they
would be voting for next month ?
Would they perhaps be voting against a government which had reduced them to
being the very dregs of humanity ?
Perhaps they like this odious life of theirs, perhaps this abject filth and
misery is all they have ever known, but as one they gave me an answer that I did not want to
By Mutumwa D. Mawere
Last updated: 02/11/2008 20:57:16
LEGITIMACY is a key factor in confidence building. The entry of Simba Makoni
into the politics of change in Zimbabwe has raised many legitimate questions
about his credibility. The Zimbabwean political atmosphere is heavily
polluted and it has succeeded in blurring the national vision.
The past 28 years has had the combined effect of creating an environment of
fear, doubt and cynicism. The demons of the past have not been exorcised and
people in general are looking for a break from the divisive politics of
yesterday and yet the key political actors on the scene carry their own
Makoni is no exception because he finds himself deeply embedded in the Zanu
PF machine that is largely credited for undermining the rule of law as well
as property and human rights. Some would argue that Makoni cannot escape
blame for the unprecedented economic regression that has led to a dramatic
decline in all key Zimbabwean human development indicators.
Under Zanu PF leadership, the social and physical infrastructure that was
largely inherited from the colonial state has crumbled, so have the key
economic sectors like agriculture, mining and manufacturing, leaving the
economy increasingly dependent on humanitarian aid.
An argument is often made that Makoni chose to remain in the Zanu PF engine
room while the economy was nose-diving. Zimbabwe finds itself today more
vulnerable than it was at Independence in 1980. Its investment in human
capital has been externalised to the extent that the capacity of the state
to implement a turnaround is questionable.
It has been argued that the future of Zimbabwe has been hijacked by Zanu PF
and any change agenda driven or prosecuted by anyone associated with the
system is necessarily flawed. Using this construction, it is then argued
that the entry into the political scene by Makoni at a time when the MDC was
on the verge of boycotting the elections is nothing but a ploy by Zanu PF to
It is argued that the purpose of Makoni and his nameless and faceless
political backers is to confuse the agenda and possibly hijack it by
seemingly presenting a higher moral and intellectual platform for change
forgetting that the fruits of change must necessarily be exclusively
harvested by non-Zanu PF affiliated democratic revolutionaries who see in
the struggle an opportunity to advance careers and take advantage of
opportunities that they have been hitherto denied by the system.
It is true that any political transition is necessarily pregnant with issues
of identity and authenticity. Even after the conclusion of the Lancaster
House Constitution, similar arguments were raised about the need for
national reconciliation and whether, in fact, persons who were part of the
colonial order were welcome to participate in the post-colonial state. There
are no easy answers but if history has any lessons, it is that it does not
help to dwell on the past as a vehicle to address future challenges.
History will record that even President Robert Mugabe saw it fit to include
Ian Smith’s colleagues in the first post-colonial administration as
Ministers. Even President Mandela did the same in the interests of national
unity and progress. Examples are abound that demonstrate that political
maturity is required if the enormous challenges facing the country like
Zimbabwe are to be addressed head on.
However, there is a feeling among many Zimbabweans that anything smelling
Zanu PF must be annihilated. People who question Makoni’s bona fides may
also not pass the same test that they seek to impose on Makoni. If it is the
intention of the people who seek to make Zimbabwe work again that Zanu PF
members are not eligible to contribute at all levels provided in the
Constitution of the country on the basis that President Mugabe’s government
has been partisan, then surely if partisanship begets partisanship, then no
real progress would have been achieved by the movement for democratic
I also do not buy the notion that Zanu PF is a monolithic organisation. Yes
there may very well be differences of opinion; tactics and strategies in the
party and this should be respected, as is the fact that ultimately the
voters should express their opinion about the manner in which they wish to
The nature, depth and scope of the Zimbabwean crisis are so complex that it
would be futile to attribute the decay to selected people for political
expediency. What is evident is that the complicity of Zimbabwean citizens in
helping to create a culture of limited or no accountability has to be at the
centre of what should change to make Zimbabwe work again. The republic
belongs to citizens who should take due care like owners to ensure its
viability and sustenance.
By targeting Makoni, who has reluctantly accepted to lead the final stages
of the struggle for real change, we may be missing the point.
It is true that through the SADC mediated talks both factions of the MDC
accepted the legitimacy of President Mugabe’s government and were at one on
the key constitutional and legal amendments only to disagree at the end of
the process. If the same yardstick were used, then surely both factions of
the MDC would not be eligible for office if being associated with the regime
has become so evil that it taints irreparably a person’s credibility.
Dialogue requires reaching out to the other party. What is evident today is
that there appears to be no attempt at rapprochement between MDC and Zanu PF
and regrettably it had to take SADC to make the two parties talk to each
other. Will the outcome of the forthcoming elections provide the incentive
for the two parties to do what they seem to have failed to do during the
last eight years i.e. the civility to engage each other in the national
interest or will Zimbabwe’s future be mortgaged once again to the egos of
Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangirai?
Supporters of Makoni will agree that he is fountain of reason and a person
you will not find difficult to get along with. There is nothing in his
record that would suggest that he is part of the problem, rather, he would
rank as one of the few points of light in the confused Zimbabwean political
The forthcoming election is too strategic and so important to the future of
the country for anyone to be dismissed from consideration merely on the
basis of perceived past associations. Makoni is a new face at the
Presidential level and must be given the same benefit of the doubt that
Tsvangirai and others were given when they started climbing their own
What is strategic is that politics has become so commercialised that across
the political divide, there is no appetite to give up a position in the
interests of national progress. It is told that both the MDC factions had
agreed to unite only on the basis that the seats of the incumbent members of
parliament would not be contested. Can you imagine a deal being cut with
Mugabe that would lead to an entrenchment of his position?
If the incumbent members of parliament of the two MDC formations had agreed
to submit themselves to a democratic process, I am convinced that Makoni
would not be a candidate. If this were the case, then it would be unfair to
raise the question of whether Makoni is real because a real prospect exists
of repeating what has happened in the previous elections where the outcome
is disputed even though the participants willingly accepted to be in the
race fully aware of the consequences.
Before asking whether Makoni is for real, it is important to ask whether the
opposition has what it takes to win especially given the complaints about
the uneven playing field. If it is accepted that Zanu PF will not make it
easy for the opposition to win, then there is nothing to lose for the
opposition in Makoni coming into the scene unless the opposition is
confident of winning.
A habit is now well established among Zimbabweans to label anyone who
attempts to do something positive and daring “a puppet”. According to Zanu
PF, Makoni is now a puppet of the West notwithstanding the fact that he is
still holding a senior position in the standing committee of the same party.
Anyone who dares to compete for political office necessarily risks being
labeled a traitor or puppet. On the other hand, the opposition forces have
already started labeling him a Zanu PF agent.
When will Zimbabweans start respecting each other? I should like to imagine
that Makoni is a principal and he is mature enough to make his own choices.
To the extent that he has accepted to be considered for the highest office
in the land, all must respect it.
At this defining hour in Zimbabwe’s history, it is important to ask what
kind of leader the country deserves. What are the challenges facing the
country? Who is best suited to lead the country out of the morass of the
past? Has the hour of change arrived? If so, are Zimbabweans ready to bury
the past and move forwards?
I can relate to the predicament that Makoni may find himself in given the
cynicism that now characterises contemporary Zimbabwe. I also have been
called names by the same forces that seek to intimidate Makoni into
surrender at a time when even the alternatives have already accepted that
the outcome of the elections is predetermined.
You all have a stake in the future of Zimbabwe. Please join me at:
www.mmawere.com if you want to be part of this defining moment in Zimbabwe’s
history. Should you want to invest in the Bank of Hope please add your voice
Mutumwa Mawere's weekly column is published on New Zimbabwe.com every
Monday. You can contact him at: email@example.com
SW Radio Africa (London)
11 February 2008
Posted to the web 11 February 2008
A group of about 200 immigrants, the majority of them Zimbabweans, descended
on the Central Police Station in Cape Town last Thursday to protest against
police brutality and xenophobia. The demonstration was organized by People
Against Suffering, Suppression, Oppression and Poverty (PASSOP), a rights
group in South Africa that assists immigrants and refugees. The Treatment
Action Campaign (TAC), a lobby group for people who are HIV-positive, also
assisted with organising the demonstration.
Braam Hanekom from PASSOP, said the police raid on the Methodist church in
Johannesburg at the end of January prompted the protest; "Frequently
immigrants are beaten and even killed by local South Africans and for police
to have engaged in such a manner was absolutely unacceptable." He was
referring to the behavior of police during the church raid, where they
assaulted Bishop Verryn and his staff and destroyed property belonging to
the church and the refugees who shelter there. 1,500 people were arrested.
Last week Regis Matutu, projects officer for TAC, said it was important to
protest this behaviour because so many of the people arrested had been
denied access to medication while in police custody.
The police had denied permission for the demonstration last week, claiming
there was not enough manpower to provide adequate security. The police
suggested that the event be delayed by at least a week.
Hanekom said this did not stop them, saying; "We had no choice but to do it
and we weren't going to let the police disallow our protest against their
brutality." He explained that there were 15 people still in jail after the
Johannesburg church raid and the message against police brutality and
xenophobia could not wait.
The police have now retaliated against the organisers of the protest.
Hanekom said they informed him that they had opened a docket for the
gathering and he says they might be issuing a warrant of arrest for him.
On the positive side Hanekom said that it was encouraging to see Congolese,
Burundis, South Africans and even American students join the protest in
solidarity. The protestors marched to the Cape Town Central Police Station
where they picketed and presented a memorandum against police hostilities
towards foreign immigrants.
|Monday, 11 February 2008 22:51|
Food and Agriculture
Caption: Today Zimbabwe cannot feed itself; agricultural output has collapsed to 20 per cent of pre 2000 levels.
One of the key issues confronting the electorate in the 2008 election is who can be trusted to steer the country back to the road from the wilderness that Zanu (PF) has taken us into? In this, the second in our series, A SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT looks at the Food and Agriculture sector and the way it has been destroyed by Zanu (PF)'s misrule.
Zimbabwe has always had a majority of its people living on and off the land. Land has therefore been a key issue and access to land a long held priority for most who live here. In recent years this has changed and for the first time in our history, more people now live in the urban areas than live in the rural areas of the country.
This reality has been compounded by the lack of accommodation and living space in the urban areas and the relatively low wages earned by the majority. In some form, access to land has therefore been essential to the survival of most Zimbabweans and has taken on a real political aspect. There can also be no disputing that the land issue is one of the most contentious matters that were not properly attended to after Independence in 1980.
There is no dispute over the need for reform of the agricultural system - the question was only how to do it and on what terms. After neglecting the issue for 20 years Zanu (PF) only started to implement its "fast track" land reform in 2000 after the defeat in the February referendum. The subsequent programme was not only illegal, it violated firm undertakings given to farmers after 1980 and it has resulted in the near destruction of the agricultural industry - long the mainstay of the economy.
Today, eight years later, the country cannot feed itself; output has collapsed to 20 per cent of pre 2000 levels and only a third of the population that once worked and lived on commercial farms remain. Farm exports have collapsed and the coming year, despite a good wet season, will again see Zimbabwe critically short of food.
Food and shelter are the most basic needs of mankind and one of the most difficult issues facing a new government will be what to do about the situation. The MDC has long said that it will be guided by two main principles - not to accept the status quo and not to go back to the situation that existed before 2000.
Commercial farmers affected by the land grab have taken the State to Court in Zimbabwe, in SADC and now in Europe. In all three cases they have won significant legal judgments that confirm their rights under law as owners of freehold assets in Zimbabwe guaranteed by the constitution under which they secured those rights. The financial liabilities of the State established by the Court decisions are very considerable and will have to be taken into account in any lasting solution.
The MDC programme of action post the election will be premised on the following priorities: -
1. To get agriculture back on its feet as soon as possible so that it can feed the nation and resume exports.
2. To restore the legal status of title rights.
3. To provide fair compensation to all who lost assets during the past eight years.
4. To investigate the incidents of human rights abuse during this time and record these for historical purposes and to guarantee that this will not happen again.
5. To protect those in productive and sound occupation of land and give them long term security.
6. To provide all farmers - small and large, with security of tenure and the necessary support services to ensure they can farm productively and on a sustainable basis.
Monday, 11 February 2008 22:45
HARARE - Zimbabwe Broadcasting Holdings (ZBH) workers are on a go-slow
and have notified management that they are reluctant to do the usual bidding
of churning out propaganda on behalf of the Zanu (PF) regime due to poor
The Zimbabwean this week saw the pay slip of a bulletin editor at ZTV,
showing that for the month of January, his net salary was Z$70m (U$35) -
enough to buy just four 2kg packets of sugar. His transport allowance for
January was Z$14,000, when commuter fares are now in the range of Z$3m and
Z$7m for a single trip.
At Pockets Hill, the headquarters of the national broadcaster, morale
was said to be at an all-time low, and recent appeals to the Chief Executive
Officer, Henry Muradzikwa, had failed to yield anything.
"Muradzikwa said there is no money and actually informed us that the
money we received in December and January came from Phillip Chiyangwa for
his sponsorship of soccer coverage," a worker at ZBH said.
Reporters at ZTV told The Zimbabwean that they have been ignoring
orders from Zanu (PF) officials wanting them to provide coverage for their
election campaigns as well as broadcast propaganda against the opposition.
"We are simply not interested, and they now know that. They have
failed to provide the basics without even talking of our stupid salaries.
There is only one vehicle functioning at the moment and we are having to
struggle hard to make it to assignments," another reporter said. - Own