These are the latest figure for the cholera crisis, as of yesterday (11 February), released by the World Health Organisation (WHO). 73,105 cholera cases have been recorded to date, and 3,513 Zimbabweans have died from the disease.
Human rights group Amnesty International has urged the
coalition government taking over in Zimbabwe to release all political
prisoners. Long-time opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai had said he would refuse to
become prime minister until his jailed supporters and activists were freed. However, he was sworn in on Wednesday without them being released. The nominated finance minister, Tendai Biti, told the BBC it was a
"confidence issue" and they must be freed soon. President Robert Mugabe, who leads Zanu-PF and has ruled Zimbabwe for 28
years, has promised to co-operate in the unity government with Mr Tsvangirai's
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). Correspondents say the release of political prisoners will be seen as an
indication of whether the two men's parties can work together. A final deal on power-sharing was reached in January, after Mr Tsvangirai
returned to Zimbabwe following an absence of more than two months for fresh
talks with Mr Mugabe. "For nearly a decade the people of Zimbabwe have endured immense suffering as
a result of the government's policies against perceived opponents," says Amnesty
International's Zimbabwe researcher Simeon Mawanza. "It's against this background that we are calling on President Robert Mugabe
and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai to take concrete steps to demonstrate their
government's commitment to internationally recognised human rights. Gugulethu Moyo, a Zimbabwean lawyer who works for the International Bar
Association, says people will not be as patient with Mr Tsvangirai as they have
been with Mr Mugabe. 'Forgive, not forget' The prime minister has vowed to bring an end to political violence and said
his government will make food "available and affordable", and has promised to
focus on the cholera crisis that has killed more than 3,400 people. "He's promising a great deal… and we have to hold him to account for that,"
Ms Moyo told BBC World TV. "For instance, he called on the authorities to release certain people who are
being held on political grounds and he said he wouldn't go into government until
that happened - that hasn't happened, so already [he's given ground]," she said.
Mr Biti, who was arrested and spent time in custody last year on treason
charges, told the BBC's Focus on Africa programme that it was imperative such
"state brutality" stopped. "I'll forgive, but I can't forget," he said about his experiences, "but what
is critical is to make sure that what has happened to me - and I'm lucky in that
I'm alive - never happens again to anyone." He added that the prison service also desperately needed reform. "How a government full of people - liberators - that spent years in those
jails would have reproduced and left intact those same jails for 28 years... it
is appalling." 'Sanity' Mr Biti, who is to be sworn in with the rest of the cabinet on Friday, said
he would be outlining steps to tackle Zimbabwe's economic collapse next week.
The country faces rampant inflation, which Mr Biti estimates to be at a rate
well into trillions of percent, a cholera epidemic and 90% unemployment. The international community has promised additional aid to the country only
if real changes take place. "I don't think there's any been any greater sceptic of this agreement than
myself, but the fact that I'm now in is a reflection that this thing has to be
given a chance," Mr Biti said. "It's going to be an exciting period, a challenging period. We're going to
have tears on our faces... but I'm quite sure at the end of the day we'll all
have smiles." One bone of contention between the MDC and Zanu-PF has been over the central
bank governor, Gideon Gono - who can only be sacked with permission of Mr
Mugabe. "It's not about Gono [per se], it's about bring sanity and normalcy to the
Reserve Bank. "But let's not beat about the bush, the position of the MDC is that Gono has
to go and I will have to implement it."
Finance minister designate
Human rights group Amnesty International has urged the coalition government taking over in Zimbabwe to release all political prisoners.
Long-time opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai had said he would refuse to become prime minister until his jailed supporters and activists were freed.
However, he was sworn in on Wednesday without them being released.
The nominated finance minister, Tendai Biti, told the BBC it was a "confidence issue" and they must be freed soon.
President Robert Mugabe, who leads Zanu-PF and has ruled Zimbabwe for 28 years, has promised to co-operate in the unity government with Mr Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).
Correspondents say the release of political prisoners will be seen as an indication of whether the two men's parties can work together.
A final deal on power-sharing was reached in January, after Mr Tsvangirai returned to Zimbabwe following an absence of more than two months for fresh talks with Mr Mugabe.
"For nearly a decade the people of Zimbabwe have endured immense suffering as a result of the government's policies against perceived opponents," says Amnesty International's Zimbabwe researcher Simeon Mawanza.
"It's against this background that we are calling on President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai to take concrete steps to demonstrate their government's commitment to internationally recognised human rights.
Gugulethu Moyo, a Zimbabwean lawyer who works for the International Bar Association, says people will not be as patient with Mr Tsvangirai as they have been with Mr Mugabe.
'Forgive, not forget'
The prime minister has vowed to bring an end to political violence and said his government will make food "available and affordable", and has promised to focus on the cholera crisis that has killed more than 3,400 people.He has also promised that all public sector workers are to be paid in foreign currency - without saying how this would be done.
"He's promising a great deal… and we have to hold him to account for that," Ms Moyo told BBC World TV.
"For instance, he called on the authorities to release certain people who are being held on political grounds and he said he wouldn't go into government until that happened - that hasn't happened, so already [he's given ground]," she said.
Mr Biti, who was arrested and spent time in custody last year on treason charges, told the BBC's Focus on Africa programme that it was imperative such "state brutality" stopped.
"I'll forgive, but I can't forget," he said about his experiences, "but what is critical is to make sure that what has happened to me - and I'm lucky in that I'm alive - never happens again to anyone."
He added that the prison service also desperately needed reform.
"How a government full of people - liberators - that spent years in those jails would have reproduced and left intact those same jails for 28 years... it is appalling."
Mr Biti, who is to be sworn in with the rest of the cabinet on Friday, said he would be outlining steps to tackle Zimbabwe's economic collapse next week.
The country faces rampant inflation, which Mr Biti estimates to be at a rate well into trillions of percent, a cholera epidemic and 90% unemployment.
The international community has promised additional aid to the country only if real changes take place.
"I don't think there's any been any greater sceptic of this agreement than myself, but the fact that I'm now in is a reflection that this thing has to be given a chance," Mr Biti said.
"It's going to be an exciting period, a challenging period. We're going to have tears on our faces... but I'm quite sure at the end of the day we'll all have smiles."
One bone of contention between the MDC and Zanu-PF has been over the central bank governor, Gideon Gono - who can only be sacked with permission of Mr Mugabe.
"It's not about Gono [per se], it's about bring sanity and normalcy to the Reserve Bank.
"But let's not beat about the bush, the position of the MDC is that Gono has to go and I will have to implement it."
By Violet Gonda
12 December 2008
Three of the most seriously ill political detainees were finally given
proper unrestricted access to medical doctors on Thursday, but were forced
back to prison. Civic leader Jestina Mukoko, Prime Minister Morgan
Tsvangirai's former aide Ghandi Mudzingwa, and 72-year old MDC activist
Fidelis Chiramba were taken to the Avenues Clinic, where they were seen by
two doctors - from the state, and the private sector.
But despite both doctors agreeing that the three should be hospitalised,
they were still sent back to Chikurubi Maximum Prison early Thursday
Irene Petras from Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR), who was at the
Avenues clinic, said both the state and the private doctor had recommended
that the detainees needed to stay in hospital but there were 'instructions'
that the three should be returned to jail.
She said the victims have suffered many injuries, from the time they were
abducted and while being held incommunicado in detention. Their condition
had deteriorated because they had not received adequate medical treatment
while in jail.
She said recorded affidavits by the victims showed they suffered physical
and psychological torture after they were subjected to numerous assaults on
their bodies and under their feet, 'all in an effort to extract false
confessions from them.'
Charamba, the 72-year old activist, was forced into a freezer, stripped
naked and had his genitals burned with hot water.
Mudzingwa was beaten severely all over his body, had his feet smashed with
bricks, and was then subjected to simulated drowning.
In papers filed at the Harare High Court Mukoko said: "I was tortured. At
first I was assaulted on the soles of my feet with a hard rubber object
while I was sitting on the floor. Later, I was told to raise my feet to a
table, and then everyone in the room started assaulting me."
"They took a break for a while then started beating me again. And beatings
continued every few hours. The men were always visibly drunk, many of them
with bottles of liquor in their hands."
She said at one point she was told to kneel on gravel and was beaten
Scores of civic and political detainees gave similar horrifying testimonies.
They are all still in jail despite assurances by Prime Minister Morgan
Tsvangirai on Wednesday 'that they are not going to remain in those dungeons
any day, or any week longer.'
The new Prime Minister has come under fire for making demands and promises
concerning the release of the detainees, but then failing to follow up on
Gugulethu Moyo from the International Bar Association (IBA) said it was
disappointing that Mr Tsvangirai went into government in the first place,
without making sure that the detainees had been released. She said this was
an important negotiating point, 'simply because many of those people were
detained unlawfully.' Some of the activists are still unaccounted for.
Critics say the MDC leader should have stuck to his principles, and many are
now waiting to see how he intends to exert any influence in the inclusive
Meanwhile, two lawyers from the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights and eight
activists from the Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) were released on bail on
Thursday after spending two days in police custody. They were charged with
participating in an unlawful demonstration and disorderly conduct. The 10
are expected to appear in court in March for the commencement of the trial.
However, the pressure group said the demonstration was peaceful and the ZLHR
says the arrests were indiscriminate. It also denies that their lawyers were
participating in the WOZA demonstration.
Moyo said it is clear that the MDC has not yet persuaded ZANU PF to change
She said: "I do think given the bold statements and commitment that Mr
Tsvangirai was making in his inaugural speech, and also Mr. Mugabe's own
statements, that he was committed to making those arrangements work. I think
that the direction for change surely should be coming through and filtering
through to people - the sense that things should be done differently."
The IBA official added: "I don't think people should wait for long and I don't
think they should be patient with this new government."
Thu Feb 12, 10:11 am ET
HARARE (AFP) - Zimbabwe's new Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai set to work
Thursday to bring his top aides into cabinet posts where they will have to
strike a delicate balance with their erstwhile adversaries.
The new cabinet will be sworn in Friday, although President Robert Mugabe
has yet to announce who will take the portfolios set aside for his ZANU-PF
party under the unity deal.
The appointment of the new cabinet would be a breath of "new political
oxygen in the country," said Nelson Chamisa, spokesman for Tsvangirai's
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party, who will become minister for
Tsvangirai spent his first full day in office meeting with diplomats and
looking into the cases of about 30 activists who were abducted and detained
in secret last year, the premier's spokesman Joseph Mungwari said.
Three of the activists who were seriously ill were taken to a private
hospital in Harare on Thursday, Mungwari added, but declined to reveal their
Though Mugabe has yet to appoint his party's ministers, the new unity
government already seems certain to create strange bedfellows.
Tsvangirai has appointed his senior aide Tendai Biti, who led the
negotiations on the unity accord, as finance minister with the unenviable
task of rebuilding an economy shattered by world-record inflation while
luring back sceptical foreign investors.
Biti, who had been accused of treason by Mugabe's government, will have to
coordinate his policy around central bank chief Gideon Gono, whose five-year
tenure has seen the value of the local currency evaporate while inflation
has hit astronomical levels.
Gono has slashed 25 zeroes off the local currency to keep the banknotes from
topping the trillions.
The two parties are sharing control of the home affairs ministry, which
oversees the police.
The co-minister from Tsvangirai's MDC is Giles Mutsekwa, a former air force
official who three years ago was accused of plotting to assassinate Mugabe.
Tsvangirai has also named deputy ministers who will have to work with
Mugabe's choices on the defence, agriculture and foreign affairs portfolios.
Agriculture was once the backbone of Zimbabwe's economy, but has been
decimated by nearly a decade of mismanagement following Mugabe's violent
land reform scheme.
The land reforms forcibly seized white-owned farms for resettlement by
blacks as redress for colonial-era inqualities.
But the new owners were often inexperienced, not given any support, and not
handed a formal title to the land, which prevented them from obtaining bank
finance for their new farms.
The new deputy agriculture minister will be Roy Bennett, whose coffee
plantation was seized during the reforms, and who was jailed after scuffling
with a ZANU-PF minister in parliament.
They and other officials will have to resolve deep mistrust built up over a
decade of violence and bitter accusations between the parties, to work
together to resolve the economic crisis that has turned into a humanitarian
Nearly seven million people require emergency food aid, with 94 percent of
the workforce unemployed and only 20 percent of students are attending
Public hospitals are closed in a nation where 1.3 million people have HIV,
and about 70,000 have been hit by a cholera epidemic that has killed 3,400
"The challenge will be delivering at a social level, in deliveirnig what
citizens are expecting in educational opportunities, in health care and what
public life will be like," said Isabella Matambanadzo, Zimbabwe programme
manager for the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa.
"Both sides now are having to put forward some of their best talent. The
challenge will be how that talent comes together," she said.
Feb 12, 2009, 18:14 GMT
Harare - Morgan Tsvangirai, prime minister of Zimbabwe's fledgling
power-sharing government, asserted his new authority Thursday by visiting
detainees of his Movement for Democratic Change held in the country's top
Tsvangirai, in a six-vehicle motorcade, swept up to the boom of Chikurubi
prison on Harare's outskirts at about 2 pm where prison officers saluted him
and allowed the vehicles through to the main prison gate.
'He was allowed in and saw the detainees,' said Tsvangirai's spokesman,
Joseph Mungwari. 'He spoke to prison officials who told him they did not
have the authority to release the detainees.' He left after about 45
Sixteen detainees, 14 of them MDC activists abducted by state agents in an
operation that began in October last year, have been tortured and held in
solitary confinement since their seizure on allegations they were 'training
to be terrorists' and plotting 84- year-old Mugabe's overthrow.
The allegations have been fiercely denied by their lawyers. Mugabe's regime
repeatedly violated orders for their release and for them to receive medical
The visit was seen as a test of Tsvangirai's nfluence against President
Robert Mugabe, who swore him in as prime minister on Wednesday, signalling
the start of the power-sharing government that was the result of seven
months of protracted negotiations brokered by southern African leaders.
Observers said Tsvangirai, who has repeatedly demanded the detainees'
release and at one stage refused to join the new government unless they were
freed, would never have been allowed in the prison previously, and that the
visit is an indication of how Mugabe's power can be diminished by the
'I can assure you they are not going to stay in those dungeons for a day or
a week later,' Tsvangirai told a mass rally of supporters after his
Source: United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
Date: 12 Feb 2009
GENEVA - The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said Thursday
she hoped the establishment of Zimbabwe's new Government of National Unity
would result in an immediate effort to restore the rule of law, and
expressed continuing concern over the disappearance of opposition officials,
the reported use of torture to extract false confessions and infringements
of the independence of the judiciary.
"The long drawn-out process to reach a political settlement was marked by
the perpetration of serious human rights violations and caused untold damage
to the rule of law in Zimbabwe," Pillay said. "All eyes will be on this new
government to see if it can undo that damage."
"The pattern of enforced disappearances and unlawful arrests in recent
months -- for which the government has acknowledged some responsibility --
spread fear among opposition officials and their supporters as well as human
rights activists and the independent media," Pillay said, adding that "in
cases where the accused were later produced in court, the police often
failed to respect or enforce court orders."
The High Commisssioner noted that in the cases of the well-known human
rights activist Jestina Mukoko and journalist Shadreck Anderson Manyere, as
well as those of members of the opposition, undue pressure had been put on
the judiciary to keep them in custody. "This is a serious infringement on
the independence of the judiciary," she said, "and it is particularly
disturbing in cases where the courts had already ordered medical
examinations and treatment for people who reported they had been tortured."
Pillay also expressed concern over the politicization of the police and
their failure to undertake credible investigations and arrests of
individuals alleged to have committed serious human rights violations during
the election violence in June and July. These include hundreds of cases of
alleged summary executions, torture and sexual violence, including rape, the
great majority of which are believed to have been carried out by supporters
of Zanu-PF. "The Government of Zimbabwe has the primary responsibility to
see that justice is done for these victims," Pillay said.
She called upon the new government to meet its obligations under
international law, including the prohibition of torture and respect for the
independence of the judiciary. "It is vital that international attention is
focused on preventing future violations in the country by ensuring that
human rights defenders and independent media are able to carry out their
work without being harmed, arrested or harassed," Pillay said. "I call for
the immediate release of all those people currently still being held in
The High Commissioner revealed she had made repeated requests to the
Government for a visit to Zimbabwe, and said she had received positive
signals during recent meetings with top Government officials attending last
week's African Union summit in Addis Ababa. However, she is still waiting
official confirmation that such a visit can go ahead.
From The Cape Argus (SA), 12 February
Arrest warrant rumours surround MDC stalwart Roy Bennett
Harare - Tens of thousands of opposition supporters cheered their new prime
minister Morgan Tsvangirai at a rally after he had been sworn in yesterday,
hopeful of a new era. But fears soon began growing that a crackdown by Zanu
PF had begun. Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) treasurer general Roy
Bennett, who had returned from exile in South Africa last week and was due
to be sworn in as deputy agriculture minister tomorrow did not turn up for
the swearing-in ceremony at State House in Harare yesterday. Reliable
sources in Harare say several of his old haunts in the city have been
visited by state security agents and some of his colleagues say they believe
there is a warrant out for his arrest. Bennett fled to South Africa a few
years ago, accused of plotting to overthrow President Robert Mugabe by
force. He returned recently after Tsvangirai had been given a guarantee he
would not be arrested.
Yesterday prominent human rights lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa said that once
again, prison authorities had disobeyed a court order to take ailing
opposition detainees, who were kidnapped mostly in December and claim to
have been tortured, to a doctor of their own choice before a court
appearance today. One MDC Member of Parliament was outraged when he learned
that Bennett was in danger of arrest and said that he would consult his
colleagues about whether they should submit to being sworn in tomorrow if a
colleague was about to be arrested. Yesterday's swearing-in ceremony for
Tsvangirai as prime minister and Arthur Mutambara, leader of a smaller MDC
faction, as deputy prime minister, was businesslike and less formal than the
usual top events at State House. MDC supporters applauded loudly when
Tsvangirai was sworn in. On the streets of Harare, however, people were
disappointed because the event disappeared from the screens of the country's
only TV channel, run by the state-owned Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation,
just as the police band began playing the national anthem.
Mugabe set a jarring note by having his favourite cleric, the renegade
former Anglican bishop of Harare, Nolbert Kunonga, conduct the prayers.
Prime minister Tsvangirai, beaming widely and, with his wife Susan beside
him, hugged old enemies from Zanu PF after he was sworn in. Afterwards, the
largest crowd yet seen in Harare gathered at the Glamis Stadium within the
Harare Showgrounds to welcome the new prime minister. At least 50 000
cheered wildly when he called on all public servants to be at work on
Monday: "From the end of this month every health worker, every teacher,
every soldier, every policeman will be paid in foreign currency," he
declared. All retail goods are now sold in rands or US dollars. At least 90%
of government schools are closed because teachers can no longer afford
transport to work. But in the crowd, Raymond Majongwe, president of the
Progressive Teachers' Union, was sceptical about Tsvangirai's bold promise.
"It is a great day, but of course the teachers are not going back to work on
Monday. How much will they be paid? There are too many outstanding issues
here, it will not just be solved like this."
Tsvangirai noted that his inauguration was happening 19 years to the day
after Nelson Mandela walked free from Victor Verster prison. "But former
president Mandela's release did not signify the end of his people's struggle
for democracy," Tsvangirai cautioned. "Only with the courageous effort and
compromise by all parties was a peaceful transition finally possible. "With
the formation of this transitional government, President Mugabe, Professor
Mut-ambara and I have pledged, in the sight of God, to deliver to the nation
a new political dispensation. This is our promise to you, to our children
and to the future generations of Zimbabweans. This is the debt that we owe
to our liberation heroes and our democratic heroes who paid the ultimate
price so that we could all live together, free from fear, hunger and
poverty." An unemployed textile worker in the crowd, Tapera Zhombe, said:
"We have hope now. Morgan said workers haven't got enough to eat every day
and cannot get to work. "That is right. The company I worked for closed down
and we are battling every single day to find food to eat. Today was a great
day, Morgan is prime minister and Mugabe is old and will go soon; we will
not bother about Mugabe any more."
Morgan Tsvangirai of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has
been inaugurated as the prime minister of Zimbabwe, but many remain pessimistic
about the country's prospects for political stability or economic recovery. If the power-sharing deal brokered by the Southern African Development
Community (SADC) is going to help average Zimbabweans, the international donor
community must engage. In order to engage, the political arrangement must hold
and donors must have strict assurances that resources will flow transparently
and effectively to arrest the humanitarian catastrophe that is facing the
majority of Zimbabweans. An Imperfect Arrangement The power-sharing deal in Zimbabwe is less than perfect and is not a victory
for African democracy, but it could be a step in the right direction. Almost one
year ago, in March 2008, the MDC participated in a badly flawed electoral
process yet still managed to win control of parliament, and Tsvangirai beat
Robert Mugabe in the presidential race. Tsvangirai was denied an outright
victory and forced into a run-off election with the dictator Mugabe. With
political violence on the rise and food used as a weapon against his supporters,
Tsvangirai pulled out of the presidential run-off in June 2008. Not even
regional leaders who had been reluctant to criticize Mugabe could accept as
legitimate his overwhelming victory in the sham election. Forced to negotiate
for the first time in his 28 years of power, Mugabe maintained his seat as
president with the help of SADC leaders. In exchange, he agreed to a
power-sharing arrangement signed in September 2008. The mere fact that the shared government took from September to February to
form shows that Mugabe and his ZANU-PF party remain disingenuous to the core and
callous to the suffering of the average Zimbabwean. In the end, SADC leaders did
not pressure Mugabe to make necessary concessions but instead painted Tsvangirai
as the impediment to peace. The MDC had little room to maneuver and was forced
to accept a deal that many observers have already deemed a failure. The break in Mugabe's complete stranglehold on power comes at a critical time
for Zimbabwe's future. Once known as "the breadbasket of the continent," the
country is ravaged by cholera, with more than 70,000 confirmed cases and nearly
4,000 deaths. The unemployment rate is an astonishing 94 percent. HIV/AIDS and
food shortages push down life expectancy to just 34 years, among the lowest in
the world. Of Zimbabwe's 12 million people, 4 million have left the country, and
estimates suggest that the more than 5 million people remaining in the country
require emergency food assistance. For those policymakers and donors who would be more pragmatic and focused on
transitioning Zimbabwe away from failed-state status, there is a time-limited
window of opportunity to act. As part of the government, the MDC must now
deliver a solution. Prime Minister Tsvangirai announced his intention to focus
on the country's cholera epidemic and its emergency food needs. The MDC will
have few tools at its disposal without outside donor help. Channeled properly
and transparently, humanitarian assistance could start to lift the country out
of its doomed status, but Zimbabweans will also need help far beyond just food
and health interventions if the country is ever to recover. Recommendations for Congress and the Obama Administration: A Crucial Juncture Mugabe and his ZANU-PF supporters have been the biggest obstacle to past
efforts to alleviate the suffering in Zimbabwe. Their recent compromise, however
limited in scope, offers a window of opportunity that must be seized.
International donors, including the U.S., must responsibly engage the new
democratic forces within the government of Zimbabwe. This includes the immediate
delivery of humanitarian assistance and a carefully structured framework for
future development assistance--provided its distribution is not constrained or
conditioned by political demands. Wait-and-see approaches have not worked in
Zimbabwe, and America may be seeing its last best hope for saving the
country. Thomas M.
Woods is Senior Associate Fellow in African Affairs in the Margaret Thatcher
Center for Freedom, a division of the Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Institute
for International Studies, at The Heritage
Morgan Tsvangirai of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has been inaugurated as the prime minister of Zimbabwe, but many remain pessimistic about the country's prospects for political stability or economic recovery.
If the power-sharing deal brokered by the Southern African Development Community (SADC) is going to help average Zimbabweans, the international donor community must engage. In order to engage, the political arrangement must hold and donors must have strict assurances that resources will flow transparently and effectively to arrest the humanitarian catastrophe that is facing the majority of Zimbabweans.
An Imperfect Arrangement
The power-sharing deal in Zimbabwe is less than perfect and is not a victory for African democracy, but it could be a step in the right direction. Almost one year ago, in March 2008, the MDC participated in a badly flawed electoral process yet still managed to win control of parliament, and Tsvangirai beat Robert Mugabe in the presidential race. Tsvangirai was denied an outright victory and forced into a run-off election with the dictator Mugabe. With political violence on the rise and food used as a weapon against his supporters, Tsvangirai pulled out of the presidential run-off in June 2008. Not even regional leaders who had been reluctant to criticize Mugabe could accept as legitimate his overwhelming victory in the sham election. Forced to negotiate for the first time in his 28 years of power, Mugabe maintained his seat as president with the help of SADC leaders. In exchange, he agreed to a power-sharing arrangement signed in September 2008.
The mere fact that the shared government took from September to February to form shows that Mugabe and his ZANU-PF party remain disingenuous to the core and callous to the suffering of the average Zimbabwean. In the end, SADC leaders did not pressure Mugabe to make necessary concessions but instead painted Tsvangirai as the impediment to peace. The MDC had little room to maneuver and was forced to accept a deal that many observers have already deemed a failure.
The break in Mugabe's complete stranglehold on power comes at a critical time for Zimbabwe's future. Once known as "the breadbasket of the continent," the country is ravaged by cholera, with more than 70,000 confirmed cases and nearly 4,000 deaths. The unemployment rate is an astonishing 94 percent. HIV/AIDS and food shortages push down life expectancy to just 34 years, among the lowest in the world. Of Zimbabwe's 12 million people, 4 million have left the country, and estimates suggest that the more than 5 million people remaining in the country require emergency food assistance.
For those policymakers and donors who would be more pragmatic and focused on transitioning Zimbabwe away from failed-state status, there is a time-limited window of opportunity to act. As part of the government, the MDC must now deliver a solution. Prime Minister Tsvangirai announced his intention to focus on the country's cholera epidemic and its emergency food needs. The MDC will have few tools at its disposal without outside donor help. Channeled properly and transparently, humanitarian assistance could start to lift the country out of its doomed status, but Zimbabweans will also need help far beyond just food and health interventions if the country is ever to recover.
Recommendations for Congress and the Obama Administration:
A Crucial Juncture
Mugabe and his ZANU-PF supporters have been the biggest obstacle to past efforts to alleviate the suffering in Zimbabwe. Their recent compromise, however limited in scope, offers a window of opportunity that must be seized. International donors, including the U.S., must responsibly engage the new democratic forces within the government of Zimbabwe. This includes the immediate delivery of humanitarian assistance and a carefully structured framework for future development assistance--provided its distribution is not constrained or conditioned by political demands. Wait-and-see approaches have not worked in Zimbabwe, and America may be seeing its last best hope for saving the country.
Thomas M. Woods is Senior Associate Fellow in African Affairs in the Margaret Thatcher Center for Freedom, a division of the Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Institute for International Studies, at The Heritage Foundation.
Britain cannot treat Zimbabwe as an "ordinary country" until it makes a
series of reforms despite opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai joining the
government, Gordon Brown said yesterday.
Last Updated: 6:08PM GMT 12 Feb 2009
Mr Brown told a parliamentary committee that Mr Tsvangirai's appointment as
prime minister would not lead to an immediate change in relations with
Zimbabwe that might open the way to large-scale aid to help rebuild its
Mr Tsvangirai was sworn in on Wednesday by President Robert Mugabe following
months of wrangling since they agreed last September to share power.
Mr Brown said he feared Mr Mugabe, who has ruled Zimbabwe since independence
from Britain in 1980, would still block change.
The warning came as Mr Tsvangirai put the finishing touches to his cabinet
yesterday which is due to be sworn in today, but Mr Mugabe has yet to
announce who will take the portfolios set aside for his ZANU-PF party under
the unity deal.
Doubts have been raised about the chances of a functioning coalition after
the Movement for Democratic Change appointed a series of ministers loathed
by Zanu-PF, including Roy Bennett who became deputy agriculture minister.
Mr Brown has said he had told Mr Tsvangirai on Tuesday that Britain wanted
to see humanitarian aid getting to people in distress, such as those
affected by a cholera outbreak.
"I also said to him that until the government of Zimbabwe could convince us
that there were going to be free and fair elections and ... the removal of
repressive legislation and clearly the release of political prisoners, until
these things happened, we could not treat Zimbabwe as if it was an ordinary
country," Mr Brown said.
"I hope there will be considerable pressure by the international community
to release political prisoners, to get in a credible team to deal with the
finances (and) to have a clear road map to the next election," he said.
Britain has been one of the fiercest critics of Mr Mugabe, accusing him of
destroying the country's economy and using militias to suppress opposition.
Mr Mugabe's government in turn blames Britain and other Western nations for
The country is suffering unemployment above 90 per cent, prices double every
day, half the 12 million population need food aid and a cholera epidemic
that is estimated to have affected more than 60,000 people.
By Tichaona Sibanda
12 February 2009
World leaders have called for sweeping reforms in Zimbabwe before they can
release badly needed aid money to resuscitate the economy.
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown was on the forefront of this call when
he said his country cannot treat Zimbabwe as an 'ordinary country' until it
puts in place a series of reforms.
Testifying to a Parliamentary committee in London on Thursday, Brown made it
clear Morgan Tsvangirai's appointment as Prime Minister would not lead to an
immediate change in relations with Zimbabwe, or open the way to large-scale
aid to help rebuild the ravaged economy.
Tsvangirai was sworn in on Wednesday by Robert Mugabe following months of
disagreements after the signing of the power-sharing deal in September last
Brown said he had told Tsvangirai in a telephone call on Tuesday, Britain
did want to see humanitarian aid getting to people in need, such as those
affected by the cholera outbreak. Brown has always been one of the fiercest
critics of Mugabe, accusing him of destroying the economy and using militias
to suppress opposition.
His foreign secretary David Milliband sounded fairly conciliatory when he
heralded Tsvangirai's inauguration as a 'step forward', but voiced concern
that Mugabe remained as President. Milliband added that the international
community stood ready to offer additional aid to Zimbabwe but it all
depended on the actions of the new government.
The Obama administration meanwhile extended its congratulations to
Tsvangirai for becoming the country's Prime Minister, but said it is waiting
to see evidence of true power-sharing and effective governance before
offering additional development assistance, or easing its targeted sanctions
against Mugabe and his key supporters.
Acting State Department spokesman Robert Wood said that the United States is
reserving judgment on the new government. He said they need to see evidence
of good governance and particularly 'real, true power-sharing on the part of
Mugabe' before they were prepared to make any kind of commitment.
Economist Luke Zunga said the reasons why the western world remained
sceptical was because nothing is on the ground yet to show there is change.
"Remember many of the agreements faltered right after the parties signed
them. It's the implementation process that has been a problem in this
power-sharing deal," Zunga said.
He added; "If there is progress, then the western countries will review the
situation but as it is, who doesn't forget that Mugabe has been insulting
the same people left right and centre. The question is, what has he done now
to suddenly deserve aid from the same countries?" asked Zunga.
Meanwhile, some leaders like South Africa's President Kgalema Motlanthe have
expressed very different views from their western counterparts. Motlanthe
said Tsvangirai's swearing-in was 'a vindication that our approach to the
crisis of Zimbabwe, all along has been correct, despite scepticism in
certain quarters.' But he called on the international community to lift
sanctions on Zimbabwe and turn its attention to the country's humanitarian
France also welcomed Wednesday's appointment of Tsvangirai but cautioned
that Zimbabwe has much to do to rescue the country from the crisis.
"This government's task is immense," French Foreign Ministry spokesman
Frederic Desagneaux told reporters at a briefing. "Priority must be given to
improving the daily life of the population."
"We are in particular, very concerned about the humanitarian situation and
the spread of cholera, which has now infected 70 000 people and taken 3 400
victims," he added. "We also call on the new authorities to rapidly restore
the rule of law, and to ensure the respect of human rights and democratic
principles. In this regard we repeat our call for jailed rights activists to
China on Thursday welcomed Tsvangirai's swearing-in, and
Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu told a press conference, the new
government was of 'great significance' in helping to solve the Zimbabwean
Jiang Yu said her government hoped that all parties in Zimbabwe would
continue working together to achieve a smooth establishment of the new
government, which she said, will lead the Zimbabwean people away from the
current difficulties and back on the track of 'stability and development.'
By Lance Guma
12 February 2009
An attempt by ZANU PF chief negotiator Patrick Chinamasa to alter sections
of the National Security Council Bill without the knowledge of the MDC who
drafted it, were reversed this week in Parliament. The original bill was
crafted in an effort to tame the unrestrained behaviour of the country's
security forces by putting them under the control of a national security
council, set up by an act of Parliament. When ZANU PF and MDC negotiators
met in South Africa last week they agreed on the draft bill. Chinamasa as
Justice Minister however went on to gazette an altered version of the bill
before it was taken to parliament on Tuesday this week.
MDC parliamentary Chief Whip and Mutare MP Innocent Gonese told Newsreel the
changes were uncovered in Parliament and immediately reversed with the
parties going back to the agreed version of the bill. Under the MDC bill the
Security Council would have had 11 members, whereas Chinamasa's version
increased the membership to 21. The changes have already been dismissed as a
brazen attempt to smuggle several ZANU PF sympathisers onto the council.
Chinamasa also sought to reduce the recommended fortnightly meetings of the
council to just once a month. In other changes the Vice President would
chair meetings in the absence of the President, a move seen as trying to
sideline the Prime Minister.
It's the second time Chinamasa has unilaterally changed an agreement behind
the backs of the MDC. In September last year he altered the text of the
power-sharing deal between the time of agreement and the actual signing
ceremony. His latest attempt puts into doubt the sincerity of ZANU PF in
implementing a genuine power sharing deal with the MDC. Tendai Biti one of
the negotiators from the Tsvangirai MDC told the Zimbabwean newspaper, 'On
what basis does he (Chinamasa) change what we agreed on? He has no right to
do that, it's mendacious, it's insanity.'
Biti explained that the new body would not replicate the notorious Joint
Operations Command (JOC) and was supposed to be a new start. Under JOC over
180 opposition activists were murdered in political attacks last year.
Confronted with accusation he altered the text of the Security Bill
Chinamasa told The Zimbabwean newspaper he would speak directly to the MDC
and not negotiate with them via the media. What is clear however is that he
sought through the alterations to reduce the powers of the newly created
Security Council from directing operations, to merely reviewing policies and
making recommendations on the operations of the security forces.
February 12, 2009
By Our Correspondent
HARARE - The country's umbrella labour organisation has called on all civil
servants to return to work in support of the unity government.
The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Union (ZCTU) told a press briefing held at
the union's offices in Harare that they support the unity government but
only on a transitional basis. They therefore urged all workers to return to
work and give the government a chance.
"We are cognisant of the fact that workers particularly teachers and nurses
have been on strike since last year and would need to borrow some money for
them to be able to go to work but we are urging them to go to work in the
spirit of co-existence," said ZCTU President, Lovemore Matombo.
Matombo was speaking just an hour after his ZCTU leadership had just met
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai in a meeting where they discussed issues of
labour and how they should be addressed by the new government.
He said he was confident that the Prime Minister whom he repeatedly referred
to as the "new paymaster," was cognisant of the worker's needs and would
deliver on his promises of paying civil servants in United States dollars,
starting from the end of February.
"The statement came from the paymaster himself and who are we to question
him. I have no doubt in my mind that the statement was well thought out and
well researched before it was said," said Matombo.
Asked if he had been told anything about the source of the money Matombo,
said normally it was only the paymaster who knows where money comes from and
his own concern was that workers are paid in a currency of value.
"We are not concerned about where the money comes from as workers. All we
want is to be paid, the paymaster is the one who manages the fiscus and he
knows where the money will come from," said Matombo.
Alluding to a worst case scenario where Tsvangirai fails to deliver on his
promises, Matombo said, "If you tell lies, you are creating problems for
As Matombo addressed journalists in his 9th floor office, a host of
temporary, retired and black listed teachers had gathered on the 4th floor
seeking redeployment following Tsvangirai's announcement that all civil
servants would be paid in US dollars.
Turning onto the ZCTU leadership's meeting with Tsvangirai, Matombo said
they had spoken about the need to revise workers tax bands.
"We are some of the most highly taxed people in the world and we would want
to continue (to challenge) the government on that aspect," said Matombo.
Matombo added that the new government should restore civil liberties, accept
the concept of rule of law, move to apply the international treaties in
respect to human and people's rights, including labour standards.
He said government should also ensure that there is a clear separation of
powers among arms of the state and respect labour laws. He said the new
government should bury authoritarian rule and suppression of worker's rights
as has been the case over the past decade.
"The major problem is that the new government must bury authoritarian rule
and replace it with a democratic governance system. The ZCTU calls on both
Zanu-PF and MDC to forge a sustained political alliance that leads to
political tolerance during and after general elections," said Matombo.
The ZCTU has now put on hold its plans for a national strike which was
scheduled for the end of the month to push for payment of all workers in
foreign currency in response to the virtual dollarization of the economy.
"We want to work with the new government," said Matombo.
By Alex Bell
12 February 2009
The day after Morgan Tsvangirai vowed to pay the country's civil servants in
foreign currency, doubt was being cast over how the new Prime Minister can
keep his word, in a country where the local economy has completely collapsed
and foreign investment is all but non existent.
Tsvangirai made the promise while speaking at the rally in the Glamis Arena
in Harare on Wednesday, shortly after his inauguration as Prime Minister. To
thundering applause and cheers Tsvangirai announced that by the end of
February "our professionals in the civil service, every health worker,
teacher, solider and policeman will receive their pay in foreign currency
until we are able to stabilise the economy." In return, Tsvangirai urged
Zimbabwe's civil servants to return to work by Monday, in an obvious bid to
end the growing number of strikes across the country over forex wages.
Teachers, nurses and doctors have been on strike since last year, demanding
salaries in foreign cash and better working conditions. But since the total
collapse and almost total dollarisation of the economy the demand for forex
wages has grown and so have the number of strikes. Health workers were until
Wednesday the only civil servants that had been guaranteed a forex wage by
the old ZANU PF government after a bail-out package for teachers was
rejected. The majority of schools have since stayed shut while teachers
remain on strike, and even once government-loyal soldiers have taken to the
streets demanding foreign currency salaries.
Last month the country's budget proposal all but officially declared the
local dollar worthless, with all new budget figures set in US dollar value.
Basic costs of food and even amenities have all been pegged in forex and for
the small percentage of Zimbabweans still drawing a monthly salary, local
currency payouts have proved critically insufficient and unrealistic in the
current economic climate. The country's 150 000 strong civil service make up
the majority of what is left of the country's workforce, and the news that
they'll now be earning forex has, understandably, been well received, but
many questions are now being raised over how the prime minister plans to
keep his word.
Political commentator Bekithemba Mhlanga argued on Thursday that Tvsangirai
"must have done his homework" before making such an ambitious promise,
saying the promise "can be fulfilled." He explained that financial support
is 'out there', citing the teachers bail-out package that was turned down by
government earlier this year, but he acknowledged that crucial foreign
investment would likely wait until Western governments were satisfied with
the success of the new unity government.
Meanwhile, the cost of the country's new cabinet has been billed at an
estimated US$1 million a month - this as more than half the population is in
need of critical food aid. The 46-member cabinet, set to be the largest and
most expensive in Zimbabwe's history, will be sworn in on Friday. The
ministerial posts are reportedly worth at least US$1000 a month, with deputy
ministers earning less, but the relatively modest salaries are reportedly
far outweighed by the allowance and perks afforded each cabinet member.
The salaries alone cost the Zimbabwean taxpayer an estimated US$400 000 and
with allowances, the cabinet bill inflates to the roughly one million a
month. Cabinet ministers and their deputies will likely get a minimum of
five security personnel, plus a few new cars. The inclusive government is
also inheriting a US$4.7 billion external debt owed to bilateral,
multilateral and commercial creditors. The figure will seem a slap in the
face to ordinary Zimbabweans fighting a daily battle to survive, in the
midst of the worst humanitarian crises in the country's history.
** Daily information on new deaths should not imply that these deaths
occurred in cases reported that day. Therefore daily CFRs >100% may
occasionally result A. Highlights of the day: - 280 cases and 11 deaths added today (in comparison 1698 cases and 12 deaths
yesterday) - 37.3% of the districts affected have reported today (22 out of 59 affected
districts) - 90.3 % of districts reported to be affected (56 districts/62) - Cumulative Institutional Case Fatality Rate 1.9% - Daily Institutional Case Fatality Rate 2.5% - No reports from Mashonaland East, Matabeleland North and Masvingo.
Full_Report (pdf* format - 94.9 Kbytes)
* Please note that daily information collection is a challenge due to communication and staff constraints. On-going data cleaning may result in an increase or decrease in the numbers. Any change will then be explained.
** Daily information on new deaths should not imply that these deaths occurred in cases reported that day. Therefore daily CFRs >100% may occasionally result
A. Highlights of the day:
- 280 cases and 11 deaths added today (in comparison 1698 cases and 12 deaths yesterday)
- 37.3% of the districts affected have reported today (22 out of 59 affected districts)
- 90.3 % of districts reported to be affected (56 districts/62)
- Cumulative Institutional Case Fatality Rate 1.9%
- Daily Institutional Case Fatality Rate 2.5%
- No reports from Mashonaland East, Matabeleland North and Masvingo.
Email | Print | A A A
By Carli Lourens
Feb. 12 (Bloomberg) -- LonZim Plc, the investment betting on a recovery in
Zimbabwe's economy, will announce "big" acquisitions, Executive Director
Geoffrey White said.
"We'll be announcing a couple of really big deals in the next two to three
weeks," White said in an interview in Cape Town today.
Zimbabwe has experienced a decade of recession. Inflation was estimated in
July at 231 million percent. Zimbabwe's health, sewage and water systems
have collapsed, exacerbating a cholera outbreak that has killed 2,971
people, according to the United Nations.
LonZim, which is based in London, will still be "fine" should the economy
fail turn around in the next five years, said Chairman David Lenigas, who
was interviewed alongside White. The two are also chairman and chief
executive officer respectively of Lonrho Plc, the conglomerate that has a 20
percent stake in LonZim and which manages the investment company.
While LonZim's existing investments are "commercially sound, basically none
of them are making money," White said.
Adopting neighbor South Africa's currency, the rand, would "bring an element
of stability" for businesses in the country, White said. Zimbabwe should
adopt the currency to stabilize the economy, the Herald, a state-owned
newspaper that often carries government announcements, said yesterday.
Lonrho, which is based in Liverpool, plans a $150 million expansion to
double the size of its Luba port in Equatorial Guinea.
"We're looking at possible options including private equity and bank debt,"
Lenigas said. He added that the company has invested $80 million in the
port, where companies including Exxon Mobil Corp. now operate from. Lonrho
acquired 63 percent of Luba Freeport Ltd. in 6.
Lonrho also operates East Africa's biggest private airline and plans to
start operating its Fly540 airline in Angola in the next few weeks, in Ghana
in May, and in Zimbabwe "at some point in the future," White said.
…as the inclusive government is put in place.
12 February 2009
The MDC formations and ZANU-PF have finally
found common ground to implement the Global Political Pact and put in place
Zimbabwe’s social services provision and
infrastructure maintenance have heavily collapsed, unemployment levels are
currently pegged above 94%, HIV infected people are said to be 1, 3 million,
school attendance rates are said to be below 20%, 70 000 people have been
affected by the current cholera pandemic, 3400 of these constitute the reported
deaths, millions go hungry, millions are ‘refugees’ in different countries
around the world, thousands dead and some remain political violence victims. The
Zimbabwean economy is laterally lifeless and the $ZW as worthless as any other
piece of paper (the country now uses a multi-currency system). This is just an
extract from a horde of the country’s political and socio-economic crises. The
centre just cannot hold in
In his inauguration speech in
The Prime minister emphasized the need for a pro-people and nationalistic rather than partisan transitional Government and the need for urgency and fair distribution of food aid. Mr. Tsvangirai called for revamping of the country’s education sector, urging teachers to go to work ‘on Monday.’ He, however, acknowledged the difficulties which lie ahead and the need for unity of purpose for the realization of the transitional government’s deliverables. On the other hand, President Mugabe, speaking at the private swearing-in ceremony held at the State House promised to shun intransigence and extend a ‘hand of friendship, cooperation and solidarity’ for the good of the country.
CHRA looks forward to tangible and quick attendance to the cholera pandemic, health delivery system, water and sewer management, infrastructural maintenance, electricity supply, environmental management, housing, unemployment, poverty, bread basket and other socio-economic and political crises bedeviling the city and the country as a whole. The Association will continue to advocate for effective, affordable, non-partisan, transparent and professional service delivery and upholding of democratic principles at local and central government levels.
Exploration House, Third Floor
Landline: 00263- 4- 705114
Stanley Kwenda interviews JOY MABENGE*, political activist
PRETORIA, Jan 28 (IPS) - Following an extraordinary Summit of SADC heads of
state in Pretoria on Jan. 26-27, it was announced that a unity government is
to be formed in Zimbabwe, apparently resolving months of disagreement
following a power-sharing agreement in September 2008.
That agreement, signed by Robert Mugabe of the Zimbabwe African National
Union Patriotic Front (Zanu-PF), Morgan Tsvangirai of the Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) and Arthur Mutambara, leader of a smaller breakaway
faction of the MDC, ran into immediate difficulties due to differences over
how government posts should be distributed.
Despite the SADC announcement, the MDC says that it will only make a final
decision about joining a unity government after a high-level party meeting
in Harare on Jan. 30.
Joy Mabenge is an Associate Fellow at the Johannesburg-based Institute for
an Democratic Alternative for Zimbabwe (IDAZIM), a think tank centred around
the development of policy and democratic issues as well as the writing of
development papers on the political transitition in Zimbabwe.
Mabenge spoke to IPS in his personal capacity.
IPS: SADC has announced that the two parties have agreed to form a new
government, but MDC is insisting they are yet to make a decision... what
should be the way forward?
Joy Mabenge: There seems to be no consensus, but if MDC gets into the unity
government, they need to ensure that the monitoring mechanism is put to full
use and strongly push for the resolution of their other concessions.
Or they should just declare that the talks are over and come up with a Plan
IPS: What should this Plan B look like, in your view?
JM: MDC will have to mobilise people to go against president Mugabe's
government, because obviously - with or without the MDC - he will move to
form a government now.
IPS: What should be the response of civil society organisations, which have
for a long time been involved in lobbying for the establishment of a fairly
representative government? How should they move forward?
JM: The original standpoint of the civic groups was the establishment of a
transitional authority headed by a neutral person. They should revert to
that position and push for pro-people concessions under this transitional
authority. such as the establishment of a new people-driven constitution
which will lead to an internationally-supervised election - ensuring that
the bloodshed witnessed in June last year do not happen again.
But if MDC gets into the new government, then it is the duty of the civic
groups to make sure that the MDC doesn't relax and end up being absorbed by
IPS: At the moment it appears the MDC may get into the government with a
heavy heart. What sort of international support is needed to make sure that
this experiment works for the better of ordinary Zimbabweans?
JM: Its a tricky one. It will heavily depend on how international donors
perceive the SADC proposal, since they have previously stated that they will
not give support to an establishment where Mugabe retains all the
I foresee inaction for the first six months of the implementation of the
government, a sort of a wait-and-see depending on how Mugabe chooses to
treat the MDC as partners in government.
IPS: SADC appears to view a unity government as the solution to Zimbabwe's
problems. Are there any alternative courses of action for the democratic
movements in Zimbabwe?
JM: In the event that MDC decide not to go into the government, then civil
society organisations should continue what they have been doing, organising
street protests, through Women of Zimbabwe Arise and National Constitutional
Assembly's (NCA) for example
They should coordinate and sustain civil disobidience, urging people to
withdraw their loyalty to a Mugabe led government. There is a fertile ground
for that, with all the long strikes in the education and health sectors.
The key this time is to simply work out a plan to sustain these actions
until the government is pressurised out of power.
*Joy Mabenge's views in this article are entirely his own, and do not
necessarily reflect the those of the Institute for an Democratic Alternative
Thu Feb 12, 2009 4:26pm GMT
By Phumza Macanda
JOHANNESBURG, Feb 12 (Reuters) - Adopting South Africa's rand to rescue
Zimbabwe from hyperinflation and a near worthless currency will fail unless
Harare cedes control of economic policy to its big neighbour, something it
would probably reject.
South African President Kgalema Motlanthe said on Sunday that Zimbabwe could
adopt the rand, without giving any details.
Zimbabwe's economy is in freefall and its dollar virtually worthless,
leading the government to allow the use of the U.S. dollar, the rand and
other currencies. Hyperinflation and shortages have forced many Zimbabweans
to buy basic goods in South Africa, the continent's biggest economy.
Analysts say it would take more than formally adopting the rand to fix
Zimbabwe's economy. They doubted that the Harare government would be
prepared to give up the political power, and tolerate the damage to its
image, that this would entail.
"It would mean that Zimbabwe would have to follow very different policies
than what they've followed up to now," said Rudolph Gouws, chief economist
at Rand Merchant Bank.
"It would impose severe discipline on them; they would have to follow
monetary policy set by South Africa. It would take a political decision on
their part, but I have no idea if that would happen."
A new power-sharing government, sealed by the swearing-in of Morgan
Tsvangirai as prime minister on Wednesday, has shifted focus to the economy.
Tsvangirai said state employees would be paid in foreign exchange, without
saying which currency or how the money could be secured.
Azar Jammine, senior economist at Econometrix, said that adopting the rand
would have to come with a dilution of political power. This would be
unattractive to both the old leadership and a new government trying to prove
"It would not work unless Zimbabwe accepted that South Africa would control
its economy which would make it virtually a province of South Africa. That
would probably be unacceptable to (President Robert) Mugabe's regime."
Mugabe has repeatedly said no regional or Western countries had the right to
interfere with Zimbabwe's internal affairs, even as the economy moved closer
Zimbabwe's central bank Governor Gideon Gono told the state-run Herald
newspaper this week that he welcomes the idea of adopting the rand as an
anchor for the Zimbabwe dollar.
The mechanics of how the arrangement will work are still not clear. However,
South Africa's neighbours Swaziland, Lesotho and Namibia currently price
their currencies on a par with the rand, and allow it to be used as legal
Zimbabwe's economic woes pose challenges, though, and South Africa's central
bank has dismissed the idea in the past, particularly given the dire
economic indicators. Inflation has not been officially calculated since July
last year, when it stood at 231 million percent.
South Africa's Reserve Bank said on Thursday it has not been formally
approached about the proposal and declined to comment.
Thabo Masebe, spokesman for Motlanthe, said Zimbabwe's economic recovery
plan was a matter for the regional body, the Southern African Development
Community (SADC), as a whole.
But rifts appeared within SADC over how to deal with Zimbabwe's long
political deadlock, raising questions on whether member countries can now
coordinate an economic rescue plan.
"As South Africa, we can put together our own plan, but it's always better
to work as a region, so it will be within SADC," said Masebe. The decision
on adopting the rand was up to South Africa's central bank, not the
presidency, he added.
If Zimbabwe does not turn to South Africa, it could be more dependent on
financial aid and investment from Western states, which have made it clear
their money will start flowing only once a democratic government and
economic reforms are in place.
Critics say Mugabe's reckless policies have destroyed the economy. The
Zimbabwean leader, in power since 1980, says Western governments and their
sanctions brought financial ruin.
Zimbabwe's troubles are cited by analysts as one of the negative factors
affecting investor sentiment towards the rand.
Jammine said using the rand in Zimbabwe would not hurt the currency. "It
should not affect the rand. Zimbabwe is such a small country relative to
South Africa and if South Africa had all the control, it would control how
many rand it creates."
International ratings agencies Standard & Poor's and Fitch said on Thursday
that any adoption by Zimbabwe of the rand would not hurt South Africa's
rating. (Additional Reporting by Gordon Bell and Rebecca Harrison; editing
by David Stamp)
Feb 12th 2009 | JOHANNESBURG
From The Economist print edition
But is President Robert Mugabe genuinely ready to share any power?
FEW seriously believed it would, or could, really happen. On February 11th,
almost a year after elections which saw Robert Mugabe's ruling Zanu-PF party
defeated for the first time since independence in 1980, Morgan Tsvangirai,
leader of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), was sworn in as prime
minister. It is a post reinvented for the leader of the country's main
opposition party under a deal in which Mr Mugabe is meant to share power.
Up until the last moment, there had been doubts as to whether Mr Tsvangirai
would actually agree to enter the unity government. Several of the
conditions he had set for taking part in it had not been met, such as the
release of about 30 MDC and human-rights people, abducted, tortured and
detained. But in the end, he seems to have decided that a bad deal was
better for Zimbabwe's wretched people than no deal at all. He, unlike Mr
Mugabe, refers to the government as "transitional", regarding it as a
precursor to fresh elections.
Under the power-sharing pact, which Mr Tsvangirai signed on January 28th,
the MDC will get 13 cabinet posts in a 31-member government and Zanu-PF 15,
though it holds fewer parliamentary seats. The remaining three posts go to
an MDC splinter led by Arthur Mutambara, who also becomes a deputy prime
minister. Thokozani Khupe, the MDC's vice-president, was sworn in as another
deputy prime minister. The hotly contested home-affairs ministry, which
oversees the police, is theoretically to be shared between the MDC and
Zanu-PF. Mr Mugabe keeps control over the armed forces. Tendai Biti, a fiery
human-rights lawyer and the reputed brains behind the MDC, is handed the
unenviable task of running the finance ministry.
Mr Tsvangirai's decision to get into bed with the despotic Mr Mugabe has
been much criticised, not least in his own party. There has been talk of a
power struggle between Messrs Tsvangirai and Biti, who has openly opposed
the deal. He says it was forced through by the Southern African Development
Community, a 15-country regional group he accuses of gross bias in Mr Mugabe's
Outsiders, including most of Zimbabwe's would-be donors and investors in the
West, are sceptical too. How can two such bitter enemies ever work
effectively together? Many fear the MDC leader will end up being used as a
scapegoat for the country's continuing ills, leaving Mr Mugabe, who turns 85
on February 21st, in control of all the levers of real power. Ominously, the
pact gives the president the right to fire his prime minister for
incompetence. A 12-member committee, consisting of four people from each of
the three parties, is meant to monitor compliance with the deal and resolve
any disputes. But it may prove toothless.
Small wonder that big donors like Britain and America say they want to see
how the new government performs before deciding whether to resume aid. But
without outside money, even with Mr Biti and the MDC in control of the
finance ministry, the new government has the most daunting of uphill tasks.
Tanonoka Joseph Whande
I was honestly disgusted to see Morgan Tsvangirai being sworn in by Robert
I mean, it doesn't make sense, does it?
Mugabe expects Tsvangirai to uphold a constitution that he, Mugabe, refused
It was a painful sight as, once again, an African country made mockery of a
democratic process with the assistance of the international community, South
Africa and SADC.
Mugabe swore in the man who should have replaced him as president had Mugabe
upheld the constitution.
For Tsvangirai, it must have been a very painful development indeed to be
let down in such a manner and to be reduced to begging for the money in his
I am very tempted to hold my breath and cheer, wishing with every fiber of
my existence that the Government of National Unity (GNU) consummated by
Mugabe and Tsvangirai on Wednesday will take hold and succeed.
Sadly, I am cursed with pessimism.
Fear comes uninvited.
I don't like this arrangement.
But with all the odds staked against the success of this government, this
thing called hope, remote and faint as it might be, lingers and flatters
lazily about. It is hope forcibly born out of a desire to see the cessation
of hardships inflicted on our compatriots by the same man whom we are now
forced to trust.
We have been forced to put our lives in the hands of the same man who, over
the decades, has taken so many of our compatriots' lives. Our break with the
past is to be supervised by the man who has soiled the very same past we are
so desperately trying to forget and abandon.
We are taking our tormentor and his demons into a future we'd have preferred
to be with neither.
As for me, there is never going to be a time that I will ever think Robert
Mugabe can do anything decent for the people of Zimbabwe again.
The man forced himself on us for 30 years as he destroyed everything in his
path, like the fabled bull in a china shop.
He used the 30 years at the helm of a peaceful, prosperous country to
convince the world of his bad character.
There was a chilling display of brutality.
There was an undisputed demonstration of economic incompetence and
We lived through human rights abuses that left us with so many of our
citizens dead and many more missing.
The word genocide was introduced into our lexicon.
Property rights were taken away from us and we lost property to our own
Our Judiciary was contaminated while our Parliament became a madman's
bedroom, where political sadism was practiced at the expense of legislative
Our homes where bulldozed to the ground and others were set alight as our
own government, our supposed protectors exposed our infants, the elderly and
the infirm to the elements.
Even as the MDC celebrates sinking its teeth at the edge of the pie whose
ownership is in dispute, some of its supporters are languishing in prison;
some are in hiding and others in exile.
This is the man we must trust.
One of our esteemed listeners wrote to say that whilst Morgan Tsvangirai has
displayed immense courage and dedication in his opposition to the current
political dispensation in Zimbabwe, he has also displayed spectacular levels
of naivety, inconsistency, indecisiveness, flip-flopping and downright
incompetence during the recent negotiations culminating in the GNU.
She said that the people of Zimbabwe did not endorse the GNU; in fact their
opinion was never sought! We should never lose sight of this; this is
important, she emphasised. ZANU-PF, MDC and SADC decided, in their wisdom,
that they know better what is best for us.
But do they?
SADC forced the winners of an election to relinquish a clean mandate
legitimately given to them by the people. For SADC's sake this arrangement
must succeed so that SADC may, at least, claim that they achieved something.
But I am a worried soul even if I were to be drowned in a drum of optimism.
My greatest fear is that the presence of the MDC in this government, in
which ZANU-PF clearly is dictating terms and direction, will resuscitate
Mugabe and strengthen his evil empire and brutality.
The MDC's presence in this government legitimizes Mugabe in the eyes of the
world and the last thing we want to see now is Mugabe replenishing his
I pray that this so-called unity is temporary.
I wish it could have been slated to last only a few hours because an angel
cannot ask the devil for help and not compromise himself.
Zimbabweans voted for a break with Mugabe and for the opening of a new
chapter. They got neither.
It is my hope that the MDC knows something we do not know. They are
obviously taking a very big risk on behalf of the nation, a risk that might
end up leaving Mugabe in a stronger position than he was in before the
As the contestants literally circle each other in the arena, sanctions on
Mugabe and his cronies must remain firmly in place.
There should be no letting up and the pressure must be maintained or even
tightened until we see a deliberate willingness to free the Zimbabwean
people and to give back the people their freedom.
I do not believe in this exercise at all, not because of Mr Tsvangirai but
because of Robert Mugabe. My fear and reluctance are born from past and
I was abused so much before that I am afraid to hope.
And yet hope is a part of the installments we have to pay if we want to
believe in a possibility.
The resilience of the Zimbabwean people is a matter of public record.
We fought like lions to liberate our country and still refuse to be tamed by
But, as someone wrote to me recently, I hope we are not lions being led by
As long as Mugabe has any say in what the government does and as long as he
has sway in what direction the nation should take, please count me out.
Personally, Robert Mugabe is one man I will NEVER accept or forgive; let
alone forgiving him enough to let him hang around the corridors of power.
I will never celebrate with those who celebrate with Mugabe. I have been
If today, some feel euphoric enough to celebrate while holding hands with
Mugabe, please go ahead.
There is absolutely no chance I will celebrate joining hands with Mugabe as
the MDC has chosen to do. Of course, the people at home know what they want.
They will give their verdict soon enough. Some people underestimate
Zimbabweans at home and think that they will sell themselves short because
they have suffered for too long.
They will give an answer soon enough and the MDC better be prepared for the
verdict. There is nothing to celebrate here. It is premature.
I am hoping that Tsvangirai, who has made such a sterling contribution and
shown so much courage and conviction for our beloved country, has not tired
enough to position himself and his party to be swallowed.
Regrettably, I agree with those who say that this is no longer the time to
be crying about which party won what in March or June or which party should
have got which ministry.
We were screwed and left to shout at each other.
Now ZANU-PF and Mugabe are calling the shots while the legitimate winners
wait to be allocated their share and complain.
Support for our political parties must not blind us to realities, nor should
it make us so impotent as to be unwilling to criticize ourselves.
The heart of the matter is that I shall not celebrate joining forces with
Mugabe. I believe that it was a mistake for the MDC to accept joining
ZANU-PF in government.
The MDC should have held out for ZANU-PF to join it.
Now the MDC must see to it that their cooperation with ZANU-PF does not make
Mugabe stronger enough to start preying on people again while the MDC
We are expected to turn 30 years of justified mistrust into faith yet our
preference and choice were denied.
We have now been forced to trust Mugabe and all who abused us for decades.
Faith is belief in something that cannot be proved and I think the
international community has asked Zimbabweans for a little too much.
Now let us all calm down and see what changes the MDC will bring while it
drags ZANU-PF around its neck.
Hope is a commodity that needs to be nurtured but not nurtured by one who is
doing the hoping.
On second thoughts, there is, after all, something appealing about lions
being led by donkeys, wouldn't you say?
Send me your comments on email@example.com
I am Tanonoka Joseph Whande and I do not know if that, my fellow
Zimbabweans, is the way it should be today, Thursday, February 12, 2009.
Are you aware that in Rusape and Manicaland they are still trying to arrest,
acquire, occupy the few remaining farmers and farmers?? There are daily
court cases trying to sentence them and get them off their farms, despite
having won the court case in Namibia??
My father is 79 yrs old and they are trying to arrest him and occupy his
farm. It has been an endless battle and still they go on - he has been
beaten, attacked, held hostage in his house by 10 youths and the police
refuse to help - it just doesn't stop!!! They have terrorised him and my
brother for years now. This is riduculous - what is going to change in