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Makoni attacks Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe

The Telegraph

By Peta Thornycroft in Harare and Sebastien Berger in Johannesburg
Last Updated: 6:42pm GMT 13/02/2008


Simba Makoni, the former ally of Robert Mugabe preparing to challenge him in elections next month, has unleashed a withering attack on the Zimbabwean president's mismanagement of the country, vowing to unravel his land reforms that have left millions short of food.

Simba Makoni
Makoni has unleashed a withering attack on Mugabe's mismanagement of the country

Launching his manifesto for the election next month, Mr Makoni made clear his ambition to test seriously Mr Mugabe's determination to rule for the rest of his life.

"The Zimbabwe of today ... is a nation full of fear, a nation in deep stress, a tense and polarised nation, a nation also characterised by disease and extreme poverty," said Mr Makoni, 57, a well-regarded former finance minister.

"However, we believe that solving these problems will not be intractable, once we remove these barriers and impediments that bar the expression and pursuit of our common interest and common purpose."

If elected, he promised to "institute a process of national healing and reconciliation".

Mr Makoni was
expelled from the ruling Zanu-PF party on Tuesday. He will stand as an independent candidate in the joint presidential and parliamentary elections scheduled for March 29.

He urged other members of the ruling party to join him in the quest to prevent the 83-year-old president from winning a sixth term in office. "I particularly invite those compatriots who have been pushed into despair and despondency, but have the qualities of leadership to please enter the race," he said.

"I also invite those in Zanu-PF who ... share our yearning for renewal to contest the election as independent candidates under our banner. The time for decision has come. Jump off the fence, climb out of the false comfort zones."

A number of senior figures in Mr Mugabe's party are believed to be supportive of Mr Makoni's challenge, but are waiting to assess his prospects closer to polling day before sacrificing the benefits associated with Mr Mugabe's patronage.

Conscious of the perils of taking on Mr Mugabe at the ballot box, he added: "Let this not be a contest of fists, a contest stones, knives and guns, but let it be a contest of ideas, a contest of vision and commitment to the people. No one is worth killing for, nor dying for, not Mr Mugabe nor Simba Makoni."

Zimbabwe began its descent into economic crisis and cause chronic food shortages when Mr Mugabe almost lost elections in 2000 to the newly founded opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), led by Morgan Tsvangirai. He began to confiscate 90 per cent of farms in white ownership, the backbone of the economy.

Mr Makoni, who bought his farm before Mr Mugabe started to allocate seized land to regime loyalists, said that Zimbabwe needed land reform more urgently now than ever before and that seizure of land to redress the wrongs of the colonial era alone did not represent agrarian reform.

"Land acquisition and redistribution needed to be undertaken in an equitable and fair manner," he said.

While senior serving Zanu-PF leaders have yet to declare their support for him, Fay Chung, the first education minister after independence who is credited with beginning Zimbabwe's extraordinary surge in literacy, said she would run for parliament for Mr Makoni's new movement. "I will be there and so will others," she said.

He is also building support in the business community, suffering the effects of an economy with inflation running at 26,000 per cent, and has cut a deal with a breakaway faction of the opposition that will allow him to run as the unopposed challenger in the south of the country.

But Mr Tsvangirai has ruled out giving Mr Makoni a clear run at the presidency. While the election has been thrown open by the declaration of Mr Makoni, a three-way race risks splitting the anti-Mugabe vote.

Nonetheless Mr Tsvangirai, speaking in Johannesburg, insisted he was "running to win" and said the Zanu-PF vote could be divided instead.

"I would like to be among the first to welcome Mr Makoni to the ranks of the opposition in Zimbabwe," he said. "Opposition leaders in Zimbabwe face arrest, beating, tear gas, treason trials and the shock of seeing their candidates and supporters murdered.

"Mr Makoni knows this, he has seen it from the safety of the Zanu-PF politburo. He may soon experience it first hand.

"He participated in the Zanu-PF politburo while the hopes of liberation were squandered, while our economy was destroyed, while a quarter of our population has fled. He stood by and said nothing.

"He has finally opened his eyes, he has finally heard the weeping of the mothers watching their children starve, he has seen those dying without medical treatment. The air in our country is dense with the stench of poverty."

However, he left open the prospect of a parliamentary coalition between the MDC and Mr Makoni after the polls. Zanu-PF is a network of interests and a whole power structure that will survive in some form even if Mr Mugabe is defeated - although it will inevitably be weakened by Mr Makoni's move.

Mr Tsvangirai said that Zimbabweans needed a leadership that had been with them since the beginning of the democratic struggle, implying that only the MDC represented a break from the past.

Mr Makoni, he said, "is still Zanu-PF" despite his expulsion from the party.

"We have a Zanu-PF split. It's the split between Simba Makoni and Robert Mugabe in the ruling elite so it's a positive move for us, rather than a disadvantage. That should give us an opportunity as the opposition, rather than the other way around.

"We hope that others from Zanu-PF will take a stand. The military officers, the intelligence agents, the riot police - they too are now seeing their relatives starve. They can follow the example of Makoni and break with the dictatorship. They have the motivation, they have an example, I hope and pray that they also have the courage."

Asked about the possibility of a parliamentary coalition with Mr Makoni's supporters - which could give anti-Mugabe factions a legislative majority even if the octogenarian holds on to the parliament - Mr Tsvangirai said: "Yes, absolutely. There has to be one.

"I don't believe anyone after Mugabe can go it alone. There's a basis after the election for people to work together."

He denied holding talks with Mr Makoni or his presumed backer, the influential former military commander Solomon Mujuru.


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Mugabe rivals urge ruling party members to jump ship

Monsters and Critics

Feb 13, 2008, 15:49 GMT

Johannesburg/Harare - Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe's challengers for
the presidency in March elections on Wednesday urged members of his ruling
ZANU-PF party to jump ship to bar the 83-year- old leader from securing a
sixth term in office.

Opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai,
reacting to former Zanu-PF member Simba Makoni's surprise decision to
contest the election as an independent, said: 'We hope that others in Zanu
will follow his lead: that others from Zanu-PF will take a stand.'

Unveiling his election manifesto in Harare, former finance minister Makoni,
57, who has no party after being ejected from Zanu- PF, also urgedruling
party members to run as independent candidates for parliament under his

'The time for decision has come. Jump off the fence, climb out of the false
comfort zones,' he said, amid reports that major business, government and
army figures have given him their support.

Present at the press conference were a number of former senior party figures
but no big-name defectors.

Among his immediate priorities Makoni cited resolving food, power, fuel and
water problems, abolishing the various exchange rates that fuel black-market
currency trading and initiating a process of national healing - without
giving details.

Makoni, who predicted he and his fellow independents would win the elections
'in a landslide,' also announced plans for a non-partisan body to haul the
country of its current economic crisis, characterized by hyperinflation of
over 25,000 per cent, rampant unemployment and food shortages.

Makoni's candidacy has injected fresh energy into the election, which had
been billed as a walk-over for Mugabe, leader for the past 28 years, after
rival MDC factions failed to reunite.

But fears of vote-rigging abound after the past three elections were marred
by irregularities.

'We expect its not going to be a free and fair election,' Tsvangirai said.
'We want to force him to steal the election,' he said, urging South African
President Thabo Mbeki not to rubberstamp a fraudulent outcome.

'If you won't do it for us, if you won't do it for Africa, do it for your
own country. Do it for your own legacy,' he said, accusing Mbeki, who was
appointed by southern African countries to mediate between ZANU-PF and the
MDC, of giving 'quiet support for the dictatorship in Zimbabwe.'

Last week Mbeki declared the two sides had reached 'full agreement' on key
matters, a claim the MDC rejects.

Tsvangirai, 57, who has been the face of the opposition in Zimbabwe for a
decade, painted his rival as tainted by association with Mugabe, pointing
out Makoni had sat in Zanu-PF's politburo during Mugabe's worst excesses.

Tsvangirai did not however rule out a future power-sharing agreement with
Makoni, saying he would work with 'anyone who is prepared to close ranks
against ZANU-PF, against Robert Mugabe.'

The MDC had threatened to boycott the polls unless they were held under a
new draft constitution and the date postponed, demands that have not been

Asked about the possibility of Kenyan-style post-electoral violence if both
parties claim victory in the polls, he said: 'Of course it's a concern,' but
added: 'We would never endorse that type of outcome.'

A day earlier Tsvangirai, his aide and a driver was robbed at gunpoint at
the party's Johannesburg offices of their laptop computers, mobile phones
and money.

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Zimbabwe opposition urges Mbeki to stand up to Mugabe

Yahoo News

Wed Feb 13, 6:42 AM ET

JOHANNESBURG (AFP) - Zimbabwean opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai on
Wednesday urged South African President Thabo Mbeki to show some "courage"
and pressure Robert Mugabe ahead of next month's elections.

Speaking on a visit to Johannesburg, Tsvangirai said it was time for Mbeki
to abandon his policy of refusing to criticise the leader of South Africa's
troubled northern neighbour.

"We need a little courage from Thabo Mbeki. He can break with his policy of
quiet support for the dictatorship in Zimbabwe ... He can add his voice to
those demanding free and fair elections in Zimbabwe," said Tsvangirai,
leader of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party.

"He can do it without taking the risks that we are taking. He won't be
arrested, teargassed, beaten, he won't be charged with treason, he won't see
his supporters killed.

"Only a little courage is required -- the courage to speak the unpleasant
truth, the courage to see what is before him."

Despite the impact of Zimbabwe's economic meltdown on South Africa, Mbeki
has consistently refused to speak out against Mugabe, who will seek a sixth
term as president in elections on March 29.

Some three million Zimbabweans are believed to have fled south in a bid to
find work and escape the impact of the world's highest rate of inflation,
now officially put at more than 26,000 percent.

Tsvangirai said it was in Mbeki's interests to pressure 83-year-old Mugabe
to prevent South Africa from being "overwhelmed by the tragedy of Zimbabwe".

Mbeki was tasked by his southern African peers last year to mediate between
Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF party and the MDC. He had said the talks were making
"good progress" before Mugabe unexpectedly called elections just over two
months before polling.

Tsvangirai disputes Mbeki's claim that only procedural matters remain

"What is the purpose to those negotiations or of a follow-up to those

Tsvangirai stood in the last presidential elections in 2002, claiming that
he was only defeated because Mugabe rigged the outcome.

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Nomination Courts Sit Throughtout Zimbabwe on Friday

The Zimbabwean

 Wednesday, 13 February 2008 13:33

HARARE , (Zimbabwe) NOMINATION courts for the 29th March harmonised
elections will sit across the country on Friday this week to receive
nominations from those who want to contest in the presidential, senatorial,
house of assembly and local authority elections.

In a statement today , the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, ZEC, said all the
nomination courts will open at 10am.
ZEC also said no nomination papers will be lodged with the nomination
officer after 4pm on  the nomination day.
"Nomination papers for presidential, senatorial and house of assembly
candidates can be collected from ZEC Head office –7TH floor Century house
East building, Corner Angwa street and Nelson Mandela avenue in Harare,"
said ZEC
The nomination papers can also be collected from any ZEC Provincial offices
while nomination papers for those who want to contest as councillors can be
obtained from local authority offices across the country.

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Editor, journalists threatened by suspected State Security Agents

 13th Feb 2008 12:13 GMT

By David Baxter

HARARE - The editor and journalists of The Masvingo Mirror, a private weekly
publication, were on Saturday February 9, 2008 threatened by suspected state
security agents over articles published in their weekly edition of February
8-14 2008.

According to the editor of the paper, Regis Chingawo, two men clad in black
suits and dark glasses stormed into the news room on Saturday morning
demanding to know the sources of two articles published in relation  to the
events unfolding as the run-up to the elections intensifies.

The two interrogated the editor and his staff  about the articles titled,
“Major Mbudzi ties the bell around the Cat’s neck” and “Makoni’s national
surgical operation Mbudzi speaks out,” both of which made reference to the
announcement by former Finance Minister, Simba Makoni of his presidential

Chingawo highlighted that from the threats, it was obvious the publication
of Mbudzi’s remarks which denounced the president and described him as, “a
bus driver who is sleeping on the steering who is refusing to give others a
chance,” had angered the suspected State Security Agents.

“The two men demanded to know the sources and threatened us with closure if
we continued to publish stories that are anti-government and aimed at
decampaigning the ruling party”, said Chingawo.

Misa-Zimbabwe notes with concern the harassment and threatening of
journalists going about their professional duties, and urges the responsible
authorities to adequately address such issues which intend to deter
journalists from actively conducting their duties during this crucial
election period when Zimbabweans have a right to access information.

The Masvingo Mirror has since filed a police report.

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Zimbabwe’s sky-high inflation rises even higher

Business Day

13 February 2008

HARARE — A shocking new range of price increases was announced yesterday as
Zimbabwe’s world-record hyperinflation spun further out of control, with
charges for cell phone calls soaring 1700% .

The official National Incomes and Prices Commission said international calls
were up to Z$1,2m from Z$67400 a minute, while local calls shot up 600% from
Z$43000 to Z$300000 .

However, the new prices were accompanied by a sharp fall in the value of
Zimbabwe dollars on the illegal black market exchange rate, which is used
exclusively in private trade and business.

The basic rate of the Zimbabwe dollar fell from Z$5,5m to the US dollar at
the end of last week to Z$7,5m quoted yesterday . It means a local cellphone
call will cost the equivalent of $0,04.

This time last year, one dollar was worth Z$ 3000.

The prices commission also announced the price of a 50kg bag of cement would
be Z$88m, from about Z$4m on the black market in December, an increase of

Cement has been in critically short supply for months, because factories
stopped producing after the commission forced them to sell the cement at
less than it cost them to manufacture it.

Commission chairman Godwills Masimirembwa said cement was made available
after the commission granted an increase in the price of coal used in the
production of cement. For months coal has been selling at the equivalent of
a couple of US dollars a ton.

Companies complain that the commission takes weeks to consider applications
for price increases and by the time it grants an increase, inflation has
taken the cost of production way beyond what they had asked for.

In September last year, t he finance ministry barred its central statistical
office’s monthly issue of inflation figures, but the central bank announced
last month that inflation in November stood at 26000%. The International
Monetary Fund estimated that by the end of last year it had hit 150000%.

Economists blame President Robert Mugabe’s reckless economic policies,
chiefly his instructions to the central bank to print local currency to meet
any shortfall in state spending, and on price controls. A new Z$10m note
introduced last month now is just enough to buy three copies of the
state-controlled Herald newspaper.

Basic food commodities have also been hit by inflation, with bread rising
from Z$1,5m a loaf last month to Z$3,7m now. T he price hikes have been
compounded by a collapse in agricultural production triggered in 2000 with
Mugabe’s lawless seizure of white-owned farms, which drove about 4000
farmers and their families, and about a million farm workers and their
families, from the land.

Last year the regime launched a massive drive to resuscitate crop and
livestock output, promising ample supplies of seed, fertiliser and
pesticides, and also spent $25m on importing 2125 tractors, 85 combine
harvesters and other equipment for distribution among newly resettled

It said that the 2007- 08 summer crop period would be “the mother of all
agricultural seasons”. But the government has since admitted that seed and
fertiliser supplies were far short of demand.

Yesterday, Agricultural Mechanisation Minister Joseph Made said the
government was “concerned” about the abuse of the recently distributed
equipment. He said tractors were not being maintained and many were being
used as buses to ferry people in rural areas, while others “spend their time
parked at beer halls. T ractors are used to carry 10 crates of beer when
they should be used for work in the fields ,” he said. Sapa-DPA

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UN increases food distribution in Zimbabwe

Ntungamili Nkomo, OhmyNews
February 12, 2008

The World Food Program has scaled up its operations in troubled Zimbabwe
amid a deepening food crisis that threatens 4 million people with hunger and
starvation, the UN aid agency says.

"In view of the worsening food shortages, we have since increased the number
of beneficiaries from 2.5 million in December to about 3 million people this
month," said Richard Lee, the WFP regional spokesperson for southern Africa.

Aid agencies say 4 million people are in need of aid assistance in Zimbabwe.
But Lee says the number will subside around June as a bumper harvest is
widely anticipated.

He added that WFP was hard at work in the country's 10 provinces parceling
out the staple corn meal to families bearing the brunt of successive
droughts that have severely reduced food production in a country once
revered as the breadbasket of Africa. To date, Zimbabwe is widely chided as
Africa's basket case.

Critics blame the acute food shortages on the government's land
redistribution program that dispossessed hundreds of productive white
commercial farmers of their farms. Consequently, food production was reduced
by more than 50 percent.

Lee said their distribution teams were having trouble accessing some of the
areas that have been affected by recent flooding.

"At the moment I would say we have sufficient food and funding but there are
logistical problems that have arisen in some areas. For instance we cannot
reach those areas that have been hit by floods recently," Lee commented.

The WFP's food distribution is targeted mostly at people living in the
countryside. But the agency says it is also distributing aid packages to
300,000 people affected by HIV in the urban areas, including the elderly and
families headed by children.

Other aid agencies such as World Vision and Christian Care are also
distributing aid in Zimbabwe.

President Mugabe's government late last year declared 2007 a drought year
and Zimbabwe has survived by importing food from Malawi, South Africa and
Zambia to supplement dwindling reserves.

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Spokesperson for Tsvangirai says this was no ordinary robbery

      Zimbabwe Opposition Leader Robbed

       Ntungamili Nkomo

     Published 2008-02-13 08:02 (KST)

Zimbabwe's main opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, was robbed at
gunpoint on Tuesday in South Africa by three gunmen who made off with his
personal belongings, including a laptop and a passport.

Tsvangirai, who leads the main wing of the splintered Movement for
Democratic Change party, had just arrived in the neighboring country for a
press briefing on Wednesday. He was robbed as he was coming from the
Johannesburg International Airport.

Johannesburg, South Africa's top commercial capital, is notorious for
crime. In fact, it is ranked as one of the worst crime hotspots of the

"Just as we were driving toward our South African offices, a car with
three men pulled by and blocked ours. They drew out guns and ransacked our
car. They physically searched us and took away all our belongings," said
George Sibotshiwe, spokesperson for the opposition leader.

"They then took off. We were also three in our car; me, our president
and the driver. We lost our passports and laptops. All the personal
belongings we had are gone," he added.

South African police have started investigating the robbery,
Sibotshiwe said.

It remained unclear, however, if the motive was just robbery or had
anything to do with politics.

Sibotshiwe said he suspected foul play. "I have no doubts whatsoever
that this could be the work of President Mugabe's secret agents operating
here [in South Africa]. They want to fix Tsvangirai. I am convinced these
were not just robbers. They are people who had our full itinerary, who
trailed us from the airport," he said.

Tsvangirai is set to run in Zimbabwe's presidential race, which is
scheduled for March 29.

Zimbabwe will also conduct polls to elect senators, legislators and
councilors on the same day. Observers have already declared that conditions
in the southern African state were not conducive for a free and fair
election. They believe President Mugabe will easily attain victory.

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Welcome to Joburg, Mr Tsvangirai

    February 13 2008 at 12:31PM

By Daily News Reporters

Police on Wednesday appealed to the public to help track down the
criminals who robbed Morgan Tsvangirai, Zimbabwe's main opposition leader,
in Johannesburg on Tuesday.

The man who hopes to oust Robert Mugabe as Zimbabwe's president in a
few weeks' time was robbed of money, cellphones and laptops containing
'sensitive information' after he was followed from Gauteng's OR Tambo
International Airport.

The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader was attacked at his
party's offices in Bryanston.

Gauteng police spokesperson Thembi Nkwashu said Tsvangirai and two of
his officials were outside their offices in Homestead Avenue at 6pm when
they were confronted by three men armed with pistols.

"The robbers stole the three men's bags, laptops, cellphones, an
undisclosed amount of Zimbabwean dollars and a file of documents.

"The robbers escaped in a white sedan that was waiting for them
outside," she said.

"We have not spoken to Tsvangirai, but we can confirm that none of the
officials was hurt," said Nkwashu.

One of the men robbed was Tsvangirai's aide, George Sibotshiwe.

Speaking to the Daily News on Tuesday night, Sibotshiwe said as they
got out of their vehicle, they were surrounded by the gang who pointed
firearms at them.

"They simply said to us that it was an armed robbery and we should
give them everything we had," he said.

No one was injured in the attack, and no shots were fired.

Tsvangirai, who flew into South Africa to meet with supporters, was
scheduled to leave the country on Wednesday.

Sibotshiwe said that Tsvangirai had only planned to spend the night in
Johannesburg where he was meeting various people and holding "confidential

"He is fine. He is doing well and continuing on his business here in
South Africa," he said.

Nkwashu said police were investigating a case of armed robbery. She
said investigators were following up on leads.

Police said they hoped that with the help of the public and the
community they would be able to make a breakthrough in the case.

Attacks on people who arrive in South Africa through OR Tambo
International Airport have added to the country's image as a crime-ridden
destination and have led to protests from the diplomatic community.

In November two foreign clergymen, in South Africa as guests of
African Christian Democratic Party leader Kenneth Meshoe, were ambushed by a
gang after being followed from the airport to a block of flats near Ellis

In another incident three visiting media heads were ambushed as their
driver pulled up at the Sandton guesthouse where they were booked to stay.

The visitors were robbed of their laptops, money, luggage and

Also last year SA's ambassador to the UN, Dumisani Kumalo, was
ambushed at his son's home in Greenside after he returned from the airport
and Khethang Lerata, the nuclear services manager of the Nuclear Energy
Corporation of SA, was killed outside his Pretoria home when gunmen hijacked
him and his driver after they returned from the airport.

This article was originally published on page 1 of Daily News on
February 13, 2008

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Opposition's Tsvangirai will work with anyone who opposes Mugabe

Monsters and Critics

Feb 13, 2008, 9:23 GMT

Johannesburg - Zimbabwean opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai on Wednesday
declared he would work with anyone who opposed the dictatorship of President
Robert Mugabe while denouncing former ruling party presidential candidate
Simba Makoni as tainted goods.

'Anyone who is prepared to close ranks against ZANU-PF, against Robert
Mugabe, we will work with them,' Tsvangirai, who heads the Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC), told a briefing with foreign correspondents in
Johannesburg ahead of March elections which he said he expected would be

Tsvangirai was responding to questions about whether he was prepared to join
forces with popular former finance minister and ZANU-PF member Makoni, who
announced earlier this month he would stand for president against
83-year-old Mugabe, Zimbabwe's president for 28 years.

Makoni's announcement has revitalized the election, which had been billed as
a walkover for Mugabe after rival factions within the MDC failed to agree to
contest the presidential, parliamentary and local polls under a single

The smaller of the two MDC factions led by Arthur Mutambara is reported to
have thrown its support behind Makoni.

Tsvangirai stressed that Makoni, who was formally expelled from the ruling
party on Wednesday, was tainted by his association with Mugabe's rule.

'They are guilty by omission and commission,' he said of reform-minded
figures within ZANU-PF, pointing out that Makoni had sat on ZANU-PF's
politburo while the economy went into free fall driving an estimated 4
million Zimbabweans into exile.

Mugabe's disastrous policies, including his ruinous land reform programme,
are blamed for hyperinflation of over 25,000 per cent, unemployment of
around 80 per cent and widespread shortages of basic foods.

But Tsvangirai also acknowledged Makoni's stand, which has drawn threats of
violence from war veterans close to Mugabe, was 'courageous' and said the
MDC was prepared to hold 'a principled discussion about the future of the
country,' with any anti-Mugabe figures.

The opposition leader, whose beating by police during a crackdown on the MDC
in March 2007 sparked international outrage, also made an impassioned plea
to South African President Thabo Mbeki not to rubber-stamp the outcome of
the March 29 polls.

Tsvangirai urged Mbeki, who was appointed by southern African countries to
mediate between ZANU-PF and the MDC on creating the conditions for free and
fair elections, to 'break with his policy of quiet support for the
dictatorship in Zimbabwe.'

'If you won't do it for us, if you won't do it for Africa, do it for your
own country and for your own legacy,' he said, adding Mbeki's assessment
that the two sides had reached 'full agreement' on key matters was

The MDC had threatened to boycott the polls unless they were held under a
new draft constitution and the date postponed.

The party's about-turn has been criticized by some as conferring legitimacy
on elections many fear will be not be free and fair.

'We want to force him to steal the election,' Tsvangirai said, expressing
confidence that the MDC would be the legitimate winners.

Asked about the possibility of Kenyan-style post-electoral violence if both
parties claim victory in the polls, he said: 'Of course it's a concern,' but
added: 'We would never endorse that type of outcome.'

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Tsvangirai blasts Makoni at press conference in South Africa

By Tererai Karimakwenda
13 February, 2008

MDC president Morgan Tsvangirai was in South Africa Wednesday where he
addressed international correspondents about recent events regarding the
March 29th elections. Tsvangirai revealed that on February 23rd the MDC
would unveil their election manifesto and the party’s plans to reverse
Zimbabwe’s decline, which he said was a product of ZANU PF misrule in the
last thirty years.

Journalist and writer Geoff Hill, who is also the deputy chairperson of the
Foreign Press Association in South Africa, said the main theme of Tsvangirai’s
speech was the emergence of Simba Makoni as a presidential candidate. The
MDC leader welcomed Makoni to the ranks of the opposition and reminded him
that opposition leaders in Zimbabwe face arrest, beatings, tear gas and
treason trials.

Hill said Tsvangirai then hit hard at Makoni, saying that the former finance
minister had taken too long to finally speak out about the situation in
Zimbabwe. Tsvangirai accused Makoni of saying nothing during Operation
Murambatsvina, when the government destroyed homes and businesses,
displacing nearly a million people.

He also said Makoni watched while people were tortured, teargassed and
opposition members were beaten. “Makoni knows this, he’s seen it from the
safety of the ZANU-PF Politburo. He may soon experience it first hand”, said

Hill agrees that Makoni may have to answer for his silence quite soon, but
he also believes he could do damage to Tsvangirai and Mugabe in the
presidential poll. Hill admitted that Makoni’s problem is that he has no
political party with structures in place.

In his speech, Tsvangirai dismissed comments made by Thabo Mbeki during his
state of the nation address last Friday, that the MDC and ZANU-PF had
managed to resolve their major differences over a framework for next month’s
elections. He said: “Changes in the law, negotiated by President Mbeki, have
not changed the behaviour of the dictatorship. Democratic political
campaigns are not permitted in Zimbabwe.” Giving a recent example,
Tsvangirai told the gathered press that this past weekend an MDC rally was
broken up by armed riot police in the town of Kadoma.

Robert Mugabe’s birthday falls on February 21st this year. Hill said there
are plans to celebrate it two days later on Saturday, February 23rd. This is
the same day on which Tsvangirai said the MDC would unveil their election
manifesto. Hill laughed at the irony of this situation, but he believes the
MDC manifesto will be received with much more enthusiasm.

SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news

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From Harare: Election fever starts

13 February 2008, 07:44 GMT
Harare skyline [Pic: Robyn Hunter]

Esther (not her real name), 28, a professional living and working in Zimbabwe's capital, Harare, is writing a regular diary on the challenges of leading a normal life.

Zimbabwe is suffering from an acute economic crisis. The country has the world's highest rate of annual inflation - 26,000% - and just one in five has an official job.

Well Harare is in the grip of high excitement over Simba Makoni's announcement that he is running for president in the 29 March polls. It has to be THE most talked about issue here.

Black-market money dealer counting back notes
Zimbabweans are trading everything from banknotes to tomatoes

Questions are flying: "Is he genuine, or is his campaign about splitting the opposition vote?"

For loyalists: "what is he doing, standing up to Mugabe?"

Then there are those who love "The Party" - Zanu-PF - but think it needs new blood, and for them Simba is the perfect answer.

Then again our supermarket shelves are slowing emptying again, you can't get basics like milk and margarine, what basics you can get are hideously expensive.

I've seen greenish meat in smaller supermarket chains because the ordinary Zimbabwean just can't afford meat.

By the way most professionals are included in this category, what with civil servants earning the equivalent of between $20 to $50 per month.

So for most people the new presidential hopeful is just something to talk about while commuting to and from work, or over lunch and tea breaks at work, and it ends there.

People have more important things to think about, like where to get mealie meal, how to raise extra money for the kids' daily bus fare, stuff like that.

Brain drain

I met this woman on the combi yesterday - public transport is a GREAT source of info - and she was telling me how 15 teachers from her daughter's school resigned and will not be available this first term.

Simba Makoni
Many Zimbabweans are excited about Simba Makoni's challenge

It's not unique to that school, professionals are quitting work every day to become traders - cross-border, fuel, forex [foreign exchange on the black market], commodities... basically whatever they can get into.

It all pays better than waking up early in the morning, putting on a suit and tie to work for, it you are lucky, 500m Zimbabwean dollars a month. That's less than US$100 at today's rate.

I think this brain drain is even more severe than the migratory one we always talk about, and that's a bit scary.

If you can't afford a private school, your child is almost certainly not getting an education, if you can't afford a private hospital, don't dare to get sick because government hospitals are short staffed, without drugs and sometimes without electricity and running water.

We are not even at war.

I shudder to think what will happen if the opposition decides to react the way Kenya's did after our March poll.

After her first instalment, Esther answered some readers' questions:

Question from Rob Chikuri, South Africa:

How are people managing to balance between school fees for their children, daily travelling to school or work, groceries, lunches and utility bills. How much is a teacher, engineer, doctor or any degree professional earning?

Esther: Almost everyone now does something outside of their formal employment in order to supplement their income. Professionals in the civil service earn about 250m - 300m Zimbabwean dollars a month. Sounds impressive, but that will buy two pairs of shoes in a middle market shop.

Question from J Kinya, Nairobi, Kenya:

I have an experience of what bad governance can do to an economy. If you had an opportunity to leave your country, would you leave?

Esther: At times I get really frustrated and want to just leave, like when there has been no power for three days straight and no running water but on the whole I'd rather live in my own country.

Question from Mwiza, Lusaka, Zambia:

Hi Esther, I really feel bad about the situation in your country. There was a time when we, as Zambians would flock to Zimbabwe to buy essentials like butter and cooking oil, now we see our streets full of Zimbabwean women selling sweets and chocolate. However, as much as the economy has gone down, you still have the infrastructure. If the government changed, how long before the economy could get back on its feet?

Esther: I remember those days too! I think quite a lot of damage has been done and it will take five to 10 years to really get back on our feet and rid our society of the corruption that comes along with this kind of suffering.

Question from Farai Mutibura, Harare, Zimbabwe:

Esther in light of your concern about our current situation, as a responsible citizen of Harare and Zimbabwe, what do you think we must do to get rid of the current situation?

Esther: I honestly believe a big part of the solution is political. Handei ko vota! [Shona for let's go to vote.]

Question from Nicole, New York, US:

Thank you for your words. I am wondering how long you think the people of Zimbabwe can endure in such times of economic crises. When is enough, enough? And what will it take to make change?

Esther: Apparently we are a very resilient people.

Question from Susan Ward, Broken Arrow, US:

Both of our countries have major elections coming up, and like millions of other Americans, I've been keeping up with our presidential race at every turn. How easy is it to keep up with the Zimbabwean presidential race? Given [Robert] Mugabe's extended period in office, how likely is it that a new president could be elected? Do you feel that the election process will be fair? I'm not fond of [US President] George W Bush by any stretch, but I'll take him in a heartbeat over President Mugabe.

Esther: You cannot begin to compare the US presidential race with ours. In our country it is treason to even entertain presidential hopes. That should answer your question about fair elections, hey, the opposition does not even get equal, let alone positive media coverage. The Republicans are in power in your country, but the Obama-Clinton race is the most talked about election issue, and they are Democrats. You will not see that on our local TV station news.

Taking on Mugabe

Robert Mugabe could be defeated at the polls next month. And by a member of
his own ruling Zanu-PF, no less.

R.W. Johnson, Wall Street Journal
13 Feb 2008 06:37

This week's entrance of former Finance Minister Simba Makoni into the
Zimbabwean presidential race has suddenly created the extraordinary
possibility that Robert Mugabe could be defeated at the polls next month.
And by a member of his own ruling Zanu-PF, no less.

The 83-year-old Mugabe, who has been president since 1980, seemed until now
unbeatable -- and not just because elections in Zimbabwe are rigged. He was
bound to remain in office also because the two rival fractions of the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change, led respectively by Morgan
Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara, had failed to agree on a united front for
the March 29 elections.

Of course, challenging Mr. Mugabe's rule, particularly from within his own
party, is not without risks. Joseph Chinotimba, deputy leader of the War
Veterans' Association, a pro-Mugabe militia which the president uses to
attack and intimidate opponents, said that "Traitors should know Zanu-PF has
a history of dealing harshly with their kind." Which basically means being
horribly tortured to death. That, at least, has been the fate of many
thousands of Zimbabweans suspected of sympathy for parties threatening Mr.
Mugabe's rule.

Meanwhile, Mr. Makoni has been summarily expelled from the Zanu-PF and come
under attack from the pro-Mugabe press, which has denounced him as a stooge
of "Anglo-American imperialists" who wants to turn Zimbabwe back into a
colony. But the 57-year-old Makoni seems unperturbed. He has pointed out
that he has been a longtime member of Zanu-PF and its Politburo till this
week. He claims to have consulted widely within Zanu-PF before launching his
candidacy, implying that he has large support in the ruling party.

Crucially, Mr. Makoni disagrees with Mr. Mugabe's assertion that Zimbabwe's
economic meltdown is caused by the "imperialists." Mr. Makoni lays the blame
squarely on the Mugabe government. "Of course we need change," says one of
his backers, Wilfred Mhanda, a former Zanu guerrilla fighter who is part of
Mr. Makoni's campaign team. "The old man wants to be in charge for the rest
of his life, regardless of how much further the country falls. He does not
care how much anyone suffers." Mr. Makoni himself promises to "bring a new
dawn of democracy, accountability and integrity."

Mr. Mugabe seems flummoxed with this challenge and has canceled a recent
Zanu-PF Politburo meeting. Normally, he would send the War Vets to beat,
torture and kill the supporters of any would-be opponent. But the problem is
that he doesn't know who exactly within Zanu-PF backs Mr. Makoni -- and
setting the militia on his own party would, in any case, be asking for

What must further concern Mr. Mugabe is that he may not even be able to rely
on the loyalty of the usual vote-riggers. In the past he secured his
victories with the help of crooked voters' rolls, large-scale electoral
fraud in the rural areas and Zanu-PF stalwarts, most of them military, who
did all the counting. But rumors are flying thick and fast that Mr. Makoni
has strong support within the police and military. The vote-counting may no
longer go the way he wants it.

Still, Mr. Mugabe has said that he will not allow Zimbabwe to be turned back
into a colony. Given what his own press says of Mr. Makoni, let alone about
the Movement for Democratic Change, this can only mean that he won't allow
anyone but himself to win. But his intelligence organization has warned him
to postpone the vote, saying he could lose.

And that's even though Mr. Makoni hardly fits the profile of the charismatic
challenger. He had an undistinguished ministerial career, and his reputation
as a technocrat is not even fully deserved. But that is not the point. As
everyone knows, whoever succeeds Mr. Mugabe will immediately be offered aid
by the EU, the U.S. and the international institutions in exchange for
sweeping political reforms to turn around the economy.

If this were done under a Tsvangirai or Mutambara government, the corrupt
and powerful interests grouped within Zanu-PF might all be swept away. Mr.
Makoni, on the other hand, might be able to gain all the benefits of such a
turnaround while leaving Zanu-PF in power and all those interests
undisturbed. It is an alluring prospect for everyone in the party -- except
Mr. Mugabe, of course.

While Mr. Tsvangirai has launched his campaign and seems determined to run,
the much weaker Mutambara faction is clearly happy to back Mr. Makoni. And
there is no doubt that South Africa's ruling African National Congress would
also be delighted to see Mr. Makoni win: Its main objective is to keep its
fellow liberation movement, Zanu-PF, in power and it has felt for some time
that Mr. Mugabe was endangering that objective.

Facing possible defeat, Mr. Mugabe may decide to delay elections and use the
intelligence service to ferret out who exactly within his party supports Mr.
Makoni. Mr. Mugabe is already trying to get rid of Zanu-PF lawmakers whom he
suspects of being Makoni supporters.

But this is an uncertain exercise: Many will swear undying loyalty to the
president while quietly preparing to ditch him. The real question is what
would Mr. Mugabe do if the election is held and, despite all his fraudulent
efforts, Mr. Makoni is declared the winner? Would Mr. Mugabe simply try to
annul the result? Or will Mr. Mugabe simply cancel the elections altogether
to avoid defeat?

Whatever he decides to do, it seems clear that Mr. Mugabe will not just bow
out. But all the alternatives to stay in power would amount to a virtual
coup. So the decisive question is where the loyalties of the police and army
will lie. More so then ever, they will be able to steer the country's

Makoni's battle against conspiracy culture

New Zimbabwe

By Dr Alex T. Magaisa
Last updated: 02/13/2008 19:10:58
“HAVE you not heard that Makoni is actually being put forward by Mugabe in
order to divide the opposition vote? My sekuru, you know my mother’s elder
brother who works at the Reserve Bank? Yes, that old man. He heard it from
one of the very top guys. Zanu PF is just pretending that Makoni is now an

The speaker may even check his mobile phonebook to prove that he really has
an influential sekuru, as if that is enough to authenticate his story.
Friends at the bar listen attentively to this ‘revelation’.

From the pub, the story can take any number of new lives. It will be retold
at another pub and the new theorist will find it hard to resist the urge to
add a new dimension for dramatic effect. The story may soon find new form on
email sent to all friends and associates in the address book. An excited and
creative recipient of the email may come up with his own theory and once he
hits the “Reply All” tab, it creates a new wave to friends, associates and
other unknowns.

Within hours there is an avalanche of information, none of which is based on
fact, all being products of the creative speculation of individuals. By the
end of the week, there may be so many theories doing the rounds that the
ordinary reader simply struggles to make sense of it all.

This is what happens in a society where conspiracy theorising becomes the
norm. It thrives in an atmosphere of fear, mistrust, lack of information and
unhealthy levels of scepticism. It is hardly surprising that any significant
political development in Zimbabwe is often met with scepticism and
conspiracy theorising.

This is the fate that has befallen Simba Makoni’s bid for the presidency.
What most citizens may not realise, however, is that conspiracy theorising
can be part of a regime’s architecture for maintaining its grip on power.

It works in at least three ways:

First, the regime is adept at creating its own conspiracy theories for at
least two purposes: to denigrate a potential opponent and also to exonerate
itself from responsibility for obvious failure. Conspiracies help to
apportion blame.

Second, because of limited sources of information and mistrust built over
time, citizens become overly sceptical of otherwise normal events. Whilst
healthy scepticism is essential in any society, it becomes counterproductive
when citizens can longer see anything outside the mist of conspiracy.

This leads to the third problem, whereby ordinary citizens feel disempowered
by the apparent multiplicity of conspiracies, giving the impression of
forces over which they have no control. It can reach dangerous proportions
when citizens cannot even trust their own shadows, believing them, instead,
to be the work of some elaborate conspiracy.

In Zimbabwe’s case all this works in favour of the Mugabe and Zanu PF. In
fact, some of the conspiracy theories against Makoni and members of the
opposition may be encouraged or even created by the regime because they help
to neutralise the potency of the opposition initiatives. Ironically, the
Internet, with the cover of anonymity that it offers, has provided boundless
opportunities for the regime and citizens to peddle all types of conspiracy

In Makoni’s case, whilst secretly acknowledging the usefulness of theorising
which positions Makoni as a Zanu PF agent (and therefore reducing his
likeability factor among the pro-MDC supporters), the regime is also
promoting a contradictory conspiracy theory, which posits that Makoni is
(like the MDC) a Western agent and therefore part of a grand neo-colonialist
conspiracy to unseat Mugabe and undo the gains of the ‘revolution’. The
latter is intended to reduce Makoni’s likeability factor among Zanu PF
supporters for whom the term ‘mutengesi’ always bears ominous messages.

The more obvious use of conspiracy theory is, of course, the notion of a
permanent Western conspiracy against President Mugabe and Zimbabwe. This has
become the hallmark of the regime’s politics of survival especially in the
wake of the stern challenge first posed by the MDC since 1999. Yet, when the
High Priests of the Zanu PF ‘revolution’ speak of a permanent conspiracy by
the West against Mugabe and Zimbabwe, they are hardly advancing a novel

To illustrate the emptiness of this approach, it is necessary to go back in
time and far away to the west coast of Africa for a regime that used similar
notions of conspiracy in order to perpetuate an unsavoury dictatorship. In
doing so, I rely shamelessly on the work of veteran writer, Martin Meredith
whose book ‘The State of Africa’ makes both interesting and sad reading on
the plight of a whole continent since independence.

In the 1960s, the West African country of Guinea was ruled by a man called
Ahmed Sekou Toure. According to Meredith, Toure ‘inhabited a world of
conspiracies’ and often referred to what he termed a ‘permanent conspiracy’
to unseat his regime. The culprits were Western powers and all others that
he called the enemies of the ‘revolution’. Whilst Meredith admits that there
were some real plots against Toure, it appears most were either ‘contrived’
or ‘fictitious’. These plots provided the pretext under which opponents were
purged, often without getting opportunities to defend themselves in the
courts of law.

What emerges from this is how these conspiracies and plots became
instruments of control and marginalisation of the opposition. When teachers
went on strike, Toure referred to it as the teachers’ plot against the
revolution. Similarly, when there were shortages of medicines, Toure claimed
that it was the doctors’ plot to denigrate the ‘revolution’. It got so
absurd that even news of a cholera epidemic was interpreted as a
‘counter-revolutionary plot’. It is said that Guinea national football team’s
loss in the final of the Africa Cup of Nations in 1976 was also interpreted
as a conspiracy.

In fact, Toure saw enemies everywhere, including the ordinary market traders
so that by 1977 the informal markets were closed and substituted by huge
state enterprises. When the traders demonstrated against the closures, the
soldiers were ordered to shoot on sight. Meredith quotes the regime’s
newspaper which described the incident as part of the ‘historical struggle
between revolution and counter-revolution’. Poor planning and bad management
meant that the state enterprises largely failed and the result was that
whereas Guinea had been self-sufficient at independence, became a net
importer of food hardly 20 years later.

Now, when one observes the agricultural decline, suffocating state
intervention in industry, Operation Murambatsvina, allegations of opposition
plots to bomb Harare and trains, general economic decline in Zimbabwe, etc.
the Guinea account bears several similarities in terms of tactics and
trends. Even the late veteran nationalist Ndabaningi Sithole was put on
trial on the basis of an alleged plot to assassinate Mugabe. Like Toure
before him, Mugabe perceives a permanent Western plot to undo his
‘revolution’. Everyone who stands up to challenge Mugabe is dismissed as a
Western stooge and counter-revolutionary.

The problem is that ordinary citizens have become victims of the notion of
conspiracy, giving rise to a more subtle form of conspiracy theorising among
them. The trouble with the conspiracy theory culture is that ordinary
citizens begin to withdraw through a process of self-exclusion, from
participation in the affairs of the state, in the belief they do not have
the means of control the mystic forces.

They retreat because they feel powerless in the face of seemingly omnipotent
and shadowy forces over which they have no levers. This may also explain
high levels of the apathy. This conspiracy theory culture among the public
is a form of mental torture that is just as disempowering as physical

The challenge for Makoni and his opposition counterparts is to neutralise
and overcome these conspiracies by providing clear and decisive information.
A more informed public is unlikely to resort to conspiracy theorising. But
above all, they need to form a clear front that demonstrates to the public
that they are serious about effecting change. The public itself needs to be
careful. By wilfully peddling these theories, they have become willing tools
for their own disempowerment.

They, too, may soon start running away from their own shadows, thinking they
are products of a conspiracy.

Alex Magaisa is based at Kent Law School, UK and can be contacted at

A nation locked in victim mode

New Zimbabwe

By Trudy Stevenson MP
Last updated: 02/13/2008 19:37:37
WHEN Simba Makoni announced that he would run for President last week, I
expected the whole nation to sit up and take notice. Here at last was a
member of Mugabe’s own party prepared to challenge him openly!

Certainly there has been a lot of talk and speculation, and some genuine
excitement, especially among the business community. But almost immediately,
we started to get the negative remarks: “He’s just trying to trick us”; “He’s
a CIO plant to destroy MDC”; “There’s no way he can win, whatever he does”;
“He has no following”; “He’s an opportunist”; “Mugabe has already rigged the
election.” etc, etc.

This reminded me of similar negative reactions to the SADC-led negotiations
between MDC and Zanu PF and the unity talks between the two formations of
MDC, and other positive developments over the past few years. People almost
immediately dismiss all these developments as futile, and go back to victim
mode, the “poor little me” syndrome wherein all the forces are against them
and there is absolutely nothing they can do to get out of the mess they are

While it is true that the SADC-led negotiations did not lead to agreement
between Zanu PF and MDC for the election, and that the unity talks collapsed
following Morgan Tsvangirai’s failure to adopt the agreement last weekend,
both of these developments led to positive spin-offs, which are dismissed
along with everything else as being worthless.

To me, the very fact that Zanu PF and MDC were prepared to talk in the same
room and try and reach an agreement, even if that agreement failed, is a
positive development. It means the will is there, somewhere, in both sides,
to work together to resolve our national crisis.

Likewise, the fact that the negotiating teams of the two MDCs (comprising
the top 10 of each formation) agreed on a reunification document means that
there is a will, somewhere, at least in the top leadership, to present a
united front in the forthcoming elections. Surely, these are positive
developments, despite the negative end result?

I believe that we Zimbabweans have been victims of abuse for so long that we
have become locked in victim mode and do not actually WANT to switch over.
We enjoy all the negative publicity about our situation and our country. We
enjoy being patted gently and consoled for all the terrible things we are
suffering. “Oh, you are from Zimbabwe. Poor you, we feel so sorry for you.”

We are like women in an abusive relationship. We are battered and bruised
and have broken bones and we quake with fear. But we cannot imagine getting
out of this relationship, and we just go back for more. Afterwards, if a
really decent man comes along, we are afraid of making a commitment to him,
because of our experience, so we lose our self-confidence and wither quietly
away – another destroyed life.

We do not want to hear that anything positive is happening. We block our
ears, and quickly find another story of women and babies being beaten and
locked up by riot police. We look for evidence that the election will not be
free and fair, and ignore positive developments like all the elections being
held on the same day. So when a powerful new figure announces a challenge to
the old man, we prefer to find reasons why it will not change anything. We
prefer to wallow in our comfort zone in victim mode rather than shake
ourselves awake and find the energy to really fight for a better Zimbabwe.

Someone said to me the other day: “You know, even if the old man died and
his body was in a coffin, people would say: “No, it can’t be him, it must be
someone else.”

We Zimbabweans are in need of psychotherapy, because we have become mentally
ill. We need professional help to get out of this negative mindset, and we
need it fast, if we are to wake up and make the most of this amazing
God-given opportunity that has suddenly been thrown at us.

Surely the fact that someone as respected across the board as Simba Makoni
has come out in the open and asked all of us to join forces to save our
country is an opportunity not to be missed? It has come very late for this
election, but it has come – and if we can snap out of victim mode and into
victor mode in the next few weeks, we CAN do it!

Stevenson is the Secretary for Policy and Research in the MDC faction led by
Arthur Mutambara and MP for Harare North

Poor Whites Struggle by in Zimbabwe

Institute for War & Peace Reporting

After the departure of many white people, those who remain in the country
often face economic hardship.

By Joseph Nhlahla in Bulawayo (AR No. 156, 13-Feb-08)

An elderly white man sits behind the steering wheel of an old van with
“National Railways Zimbabwe” emblazoned on its doors. As he and the group of
black men with him disembark from the van, people start pointing and passing
comments about him.

Slightly unkempt, with a rough beard and a stooping back, the old man
trudges to the Bulawayo offices of National Railways Zimbabwe, NRZ - once
the envy of other rail companies in sub-Saharan Africa but now a run-down
shadow of itself after years of mismanagement.

Someone in the crowd of onlookers at Bulawayo station asks why the old man
is still around when so many whites have fled the country to settle
elsewhere, after the ruling ZANU-PF threw them off their farms in President
Robert Mugabe’s land-grab policy.

Another man says he is surprised the railwayman is actually an employee
rather than employing others as has generally been the case in this former
British colony.

The responses come fast and furious, “He is from that group of poor whites
who have nowhere to go”; “He has no choice but work for the NRZ or he would
be out on the streets as a vagrant”; “He never owned a farm because if he
did, he would have left the country after it had been taken over by the war

Everyone has an explanation for the apparent oddity of a white man holding
down a “proper” job alongside blacks. The increasingly common sight of white
men working on the railway is taking locals some time to get used to.

The plight of white people has changed ever since Zimbabwe’s current
political and economic crisis set in. Some say it began with the seizure of
white commercial farmland in 2000.

For many whites, the going has never been this tough since they settled here
decades ago.

Although the minority white group continued to enjoy some of its class and
race privileges into the post-independence period, members have also borne
the brunt of President Mugabe’s anger. He has frequently accused them of
stealing African land in the past, and also of working with his political
foes to depose him.

In 2003, former government junior minister Jonathan Moyo, who has since
fallen out with Mugabe, said whites should leave the country because they
were behind the creation of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change,

These accusations stemmed from reports that the MDC was being funded by
white commercial farmers, with state television showing footage of MDC
president Morgan Tsvangirai allegedly receiving a cheque donation from white

The white population has plummeted over the last two-and-a-half decades.
Following independence from Britain in 1980, some figures put the white
population at over a quarter of a million. However, by 2004, various
estimates – including the last census - put the figure at under 30,000.

A Bulawayo-based historian and researcher told IWPR that much has changed
over the years for whites in Zimbabwe. Those remaining in the country are
often there because they have little alternative.

“While whites have always been a minority, their mass exodus after 2000 has
meant those who remained may have been less wealthy, with no relations
outside Zimbabwe, and unable to relocate,” he said.

As Zimbabwe prepares to go to the polls, the bulk of the white minority is
likely to vote for the MDC, as has happened in previous elections.

Yet there are still whites who support ZANU-PF, taking part in national
galas organised by the ruling party where songs extolling the virtues of the
regime fill the air.

Despite Mugabe’s vitriol towards whites, senior government officials have
maintained strong relationships with white business people. Mugabe has also
appointed whites to prominent public posts, notably Timothy Stamps, a former
health minister who now acts in an advisory capacity in the ministry, and
Stuart Hargreaves, the director of veterinary services.

An American professor of journalism working in Bulawayo says whites still
enjoy some privileges.

“We still do get preferential treatment,” she said. “We see it in queues
where whites who decide to jump the queue are not taken to task; in shops
where shop assistants are very ingratiating.”

Hayes Mabweazara, a Zimbabwean academic based in Scotland, said the year
2000 saw whites becoming victims of “reverse racism” which forced many to
retreat from public life.

“The post-2000 political upheavals following the farm invasions ignited an
unprecedented form of ‘reverse racism’ that naturally forced whites to
withdraw from public visibility purely for security reasons. A great many of
these lost their relatives and friends in the farm invasions,” he told IWPR.

“Those who have stayed on remain hopeful that one day sanity will prevail
and they will find their feet again. It is a particularly sad story for many
who have known no life outside Zimbabwe.”

A white missionary priest who adopted Zimbabwean nationality in the Eighties
says white citizens still have a place here, despite efforts by the regime
to marginalise them.

“While a few remain, whites still have a place and a role to play in the
creation of a better Zimbabwe,” said the priest.

“Unfortunately, their involvement in national discourse or politics has been
met with hostility by the regime. It is possible that those who were forced
to leave the country will come back, but others will obviously decide to
move on with their lives in their adopted countries.”

Joseph Nhlahla is the pseudonym of a journalist in Zimbabwe.

Young People 'Die' to Be Heard


[Opinion] Youth citizen participation in Zimbabwe

Masimba Biriwasha

     Published 2008-02-13 07:52 (KST)

Young people are literally dying to be heard in the repressive, chaotic and
often violent political scene of Zimbabwe.

Levels of despondency are high among the youth because they cannot see a
future of hope and dreams in the country's political decision-making.

As a result, many young people have gone into self-exile or illegally cross
national borders everyday to work in menial jobs in neighboring countries,
usually putting their lives at risk.

The situation of youth in Zimbabwe today is indeed reflective of the social
fragmentation, decay and crisis facing the country.

The problems that face youths in Zimbabwe are multifaceted and complex; and
need to be clearly understood before any effort to encourage youth political
participation is developed.

Young people are seriously marginalized and stifled that they do not play a
key role in deciding their own destiny, and therefore cannot perceive "a
future" in the current state of affairs.

The ostracism of young people away from opportunities for political
participation is unhealthy for the future of the country.

Alcoholism, drug abuse, crime and prostitution have increased due to high
levels of poverty, especially among young people.

If anything, young people are by far the worst affected by the ongoing
political and socio-economic crisis in the country -- a factor that has
negatively impacted youth engagement and participation in political

Ranked among 10 of the world's most unstable countries in the Failed States
Index Scores 2007, Zimbabwe desperately needs an urgent solution to its
multi-faceted problems.

Fifty-six percent of the population lives on less than US$1 a day, while 80
percent live on less than US$2 a day. The unemployment rate is currently
over 80 percent.

Zimbabwe is also experiencing one of the world's worst HIV epidemics. Since
the first reported case of HIV in 1985, the epidemic has become a serious
health, social and economic problem.

An estimated 1.8 million people are living with HIV, 651,402 of them women
and 132,938 being children under 14. Life expectancy at birth has fallen
below 35 years, having reached over 55 years previously.

Young people 15 to 24 years old are the group most vulnerable to HIV and
other STIs yet they have limited access to reproductive health services,
including treatment for STIs and information about sexual health.

Against this background, the framing of political issues around the war of
liberation by the ruling ZANU-PF government has excluded youth from
effective involvement in political decision-making.

Paradoxically, it was the youth during the colonial era that formed the
majority of people involved in the liberation struggle.

But beginning in the late 1990s, the ZANU-PF government has become heavy
handed on the ideal of civic participation.

Against the backdrop of a shrinking economy, rising unemployment, an orphan
crisis and the sharply increasing cost of living, Zimbabwean youths are
severely curtailed from making their voice heard.

Although the country has a national youth policy, it has been implemented in
a manner designed to strengthen the prospects of the ruling ZANU-PF

Because young people have little access to resources, power and wealth,
their voices tend to be marginalized by the powers that be.

Also, the sociocultural and traditional values in Zimbabwe largely exclude
the voice of young people. From an early age, young people are generally
left out of decision-making processes.

Within the political arena, young people are used as instruments to
propagate the agendas of party political leaders. Youth are exploited to
fulfill the needs of party political machinery without their voices being

Many young people cannot find employment, and therefore become prey to the
whims of politicians who pay them to engage in violent acts against
perceived political opponents.

Unfortunately, out of desperation, young people neither understand nor
question political philosophies.

The promotion of youth participation and involvement in political processes
is critical to the democratic transformation of the country.

Youth need to be strengthened through programs and campaigns that can
enhance their ability to participate confidently in political processes. It
is vital to develop new strategies and mechanisms for promoting political
participation of young people in Zimbabwe.

Distinctive community outreach projects such as seminars, debates,
innovative voter registration drives, media projects and other civic
programs can be designed to encourage the active participation of young
people in politics.

In essence, programs should strengthen young people's self-image and
self-reliance as well as equip them to be able to question political

The bottom line is that engaging young people in politics is essential for
the future of democracy in the country.

However, projects to encourage youth participation need to be based on young
people's own motivation, potential, knowledge, interests, and perceptions of
their reality rather than offering theoretical training on the mechanisms of
citizen participation.

Debunking Myths off the Zimbabwe Question and Makoni Project

The question of national interest has always haunted the post-colonial state
in Africa since the fall of colonialism and apartheid. What is mainly
interesting is that this terrain has been inadequately or failed to be
resolved by Africa’s Leaders. There has always been a tendency of conflating
ruling party ideology with national interest. More so an ahistoric
interpretation of society has always been used to justify stagnation in the
past without failing to recognize the mutating material conditions of the
world we live in. The citizens are expected to subsist on the “we liberated
you” syndrome. Henceforth any form of change outside the ruling party is
seen as unimaginable and not revolutionary. Change can only then come from
either the ruling party process or through internal rebellion. Myths of
revolutions, patriotism, and liberation war credentials become fashionable
anthems of politics at the detriment of the general populace’s better life.
Therefore a citizenry becomes tied to the exhausted leadership of the
nationalist geriatrics who have become out of touch with reality. This
situation rings more in the Zimbabwean situation where the prolonged
seemingly elusive quest for change has led to the giving of a blank cheque
to Dr. Simba Makoni’s candidature without critical scrutiny. There is a fast
developing trend of messianism in the Makoni project, albeit that there are
a lot of porous points within that project. Such blind fanatical approach to
fundamental political and economic questions has deluded us of the change to
interrogate the nature and form of change that we seek. The major question
thus becomes are Zimbabweans seeking a change of the elite faces at the helm
of the state or systems and institutions that will alter the material
condition of every man and woman belonging to Zimbabwe? This contribution
will thus among other things seek to address these questions and as well the
relevance of the Makoni candidature.

My first point of deliberation is the insistence by Simba Makoni that he is
still ZANU PF, and in beginning his spin-doctors ruled out an alliance with
the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) on basis of different ideology and
values. However this reason has been informed by misconstrued perceptions
created by the ZANU PF propaganda machinery henceforth my bone of contention
with the Makoni project. Firstly these flawed and warped reasoning is
buttressed on the notion that MDC is a reactionary party birthed by
American-Western Imperialism under the tutelage of the British. Therefore
following the illogic, logic of this argument is that the people who have
voted for and support the MDC have no legitimate political and economic
concerns to be addressed. The best they are is being running dogs of
imperialism. This is irregardless of the fact that there are clear factors
that explain the mergence of the MDC, and the massive support it got from
the people of Zimbabwe. Among other things that made Zimbabweans invest
their hope in the MDC, it has been the quest for change after suffering from
ZABU PF malgovernance. ZANU PF failed to deal with pertinent questions in
the economy gaining comfort in the lack of a meaningful opposition whilst
the country burned. They gained notoriety for corruption as seen by notable
cases such as the War Veterans Compensation Fund, Willovalle Motor, Grain
Marketing Board, National Oil Company of Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe Iron and Steel
Company, VIP Housing Scheme and many other litany of scandal not mentioned
due to lack of space. The poor economic policies adopted and deteriorating
standards of living for the ordinary man made a lot of Zimbabweans question
the relevance of independence when sleeping on an empty stomach. This is
where the crux of the post-colonial question in Africa emerges and conflict
arises between the nationalist geriatrics and new generation (Born Frees).

It is expected that we so called “Born frees” (if ever we were) should not
question the state and be contented with the freedom that we have even when
we are jobless, homeless and hungry. Zvanzi matakadya kare anonyaradza vana.
No; this is where they miss it. In as much as the nationalist leaders have
fought colonialism that is not a license to mortgage our livelihoods and
subsistence. Independence without the ability for man to subsist himself and
engage in production and reproduction is meaningless, and the reverse is
true. The politics of production and reproduction can therefore not be
divorced from independence. This has been the post colonial African
challenge not the wild goose chase of imagined ghosts of imperialism that
our leaders and have tried us to think of. Amazingly the same ghosts of
imperialism are the likes of Ibbo Mandaza and Simba Makoni would like us to
believe are our threat. Therefore the national interest can best be defined
and protected within the arm pits of the ZANU PF rebels. I have no qualms
with people getting out of ZANU PF and joining others to fight the
dictatorship. The sticking point is you can not claim to be ZANU PF and at
the same time stand against Mugabe, who has been declared ZANU PF candidate.
No matter how flawed the process was, it should be noted that Makoni and his
associates never challenged that within ZANU PF, and thus this claim of
still ZANU PF is stupid. It is informed by the fact that the only ZANU PF
can define and defend the national interest. Makoni does nothing to help the
situation but regurgitates the same propaganda churned out by the
dictatorship. Therefore the major question is can we reinvent a frog into a
beauty queen? This exhausted nationalism is not what we are looking for, but
change that can transform the material conditions of our lives.

This brings us to the part where the Makoni camp has failed to elucidate.
Makoni talks of a government of national unity and working with all parties,
which is fine. However when phrases such as ‘coalitions’ and ‘national unity’
become fashion on our lips without unpacking their content is very
problematic. The struggle in Zimbabwe is not about personalities per se, but
about values, systems and institutions. This explains why the constitution
and political culture are sticking points in resolving the Zimbabwe
question. There is need for a political culture that is informed by
universally agreed values and systems, and reputable institutions.
Therefore, what systems, values and institutions has Simba put in place to
deal with our crises? What are his policies to be specific? We need them on
the table so that we can asses their feasibility. It should be noted that no
matter how flawed they are Mugabe has policies. Even the MDC with its
divisions has brought forward the likes of RESTART and BRIDGE. More so they
have talked about various institutional reforms of several arms of
government, and as well announced shadow cabinets after elections. Therefore
for Simba to talk about a government of national unity and focus on the
presidency alone and bank on other parties to form a cabinet is flawed. It
is like a general going to war without an army, and rely on other generals’
soldiers. That is unheard of and it should be noted that such miracles have
never been recorded anywhere even in the bible. Such sheepishly faith Makoni
expects us to have is ill-informed and is bound to plunge into oblivion just
like a meteor. Makoni needs to untangle himself from the hallucinatory
ghosts of ZANUISM and come up with team that shares and thrives to live his
dream in their life time. It is not about the presidency alone running a
country, but a collective effort of a committed team. What if the
parliamentarians who win do not share a vision with Makoni? Will he have
unity for the sake of Unity? How will he balance competing party interests,
the national interests, and his presidency without being impeached? Makoni
need to answer these questions for he is suggesting the impossible. This
change that we seek is not change for the sake of it, but change that will
materially transform our livelihoods. The ‘put me first’ and ‘let them join
me syndrome smacks off a messianic tendency that undermines Zimbabweans’

Makoni is no messiah as some sections have tried to portray. He has failed
to provide substance where it is needed, majored in semantics and rhetoric.
There is need for a clear and coherent plan, on how he intends to tackle the
Zimbabwean crises. What form of foreign and trade policy will he seek? Will
he look East or West? What constraints and challenges does he see ahead and
what opportunities and solutions are available to overcome this complex
myriad that ZANU PF has plunged us into? It is answering such kind of
question, that should make Makoni begin to seriously consider unlocking the
deadlock in Zimbabwe. The surprise mushrooming of Makoni’s spokespersons’ is
baffling. Various sections are spelling out policies and ideals on behalf of
Makoni without a single utterance from him let alone his sanction. In whose
words do all these mouthpieces speak? Can we therefore take people’s
imagined perceptions about Makoni as policies? That approach is absurd and
unscientific, and will not help us bring the change we seek. It would only
help to reproduce the status quo. There is a need for people to critical
engage candidates before they fall into an ecstatic, fanatic analysis of
bread and butter issues as if they are at a football match. The time of
giving blank cheques is over and we need more substance from the Makoni
project and they stop the naïve messianic syndrome.

The question in Zimbabwe is not about regurgitating exhausted nationalist
rhetoric, but dealing with bread and butter issues. There is need to
recognize the need for transformative change of structures and systems of
production and reproduction. The ability for any nation to put systems that
enables its citizenry to engage in meaningful economic activity without fear
from anyone and live a happy is the greatest present that any politician can
give to Zimbabwe. This is the post-colonial challenge that the ‘born frees’
have raised and will continue raising until they are addressed. Stomachs
will never be filled with ideology but, food. When a leadership assumes that
ideology is an end then we are in big trouble. The Makoni project is trapped
in the annals of history and can never deliver us from ZANU PF. There is
serious need for thorough thinking by progressive forces in Zimbabwe to
continue with the journey to freedom albeit seemingly elusive, than to be
distracted by fly-by night imagined reformers with no content. No man is
born to suffer at the hands of any man in perpetuity. Freedom will come
tomorrow, no matter how seemingly high are the mountains ahead. We can not
be desperate at dawn after navigating all these tribulations in long hours
of darkness.

By Tamuka Charles Chirimambowa

Southern Africa flood crisis is not over

African Press Organisation

Geneva/Johannesburg, February 13, 2008

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies is
launching a revised emergency appeal for 11.4 million Swiss francs (US$ 10.3
million / € 7.1 million) to support Red Cross societies in southern Africa
in their response to the current flood crisis. A preliminary appeal was
issued on January 18 for 8 million Swiss francs (US$ 7.2 million / € 5

“The heavy rains since December caused rivers to swell and it remains a
particular concern in Mozambique as water levels continue to rise above the
alert level along the Zambezi river. The decision to release water from the
Kariba dam in neighbouring Zambia makes the situation even more alarming so
the crisis is not over,” says John Roche, The International Federation’s
Operations Coordinator for Africa in Geneva.

More than 334,000 people are currently affected in southern Africa including
106,000 in Mozambique, 139,000 in Malawi, 32,500 in Zimbabwe, 20,000 in
Zambia and 24,000 in Namibia. Parts of Lesotho, Swaziland and Botswana have
also experienced heavy rains or tornadoes.

“Further heavy rains are expected and, in addition to increasing
humanitarian needs, the longer term effect of the flooding on crops and food
security is becoming a real concern in some areas,” explains Françoise Le
Goff, Head of the International Federation’s southern Africa zone office.
“We also need to put more resources into disaster preparedness activities.
We know that a major humanitarian crisis has been avoided so far thanks to
the early-warning system and evacuation of local communities conducted by
Red Cross volunteers in flood-prone areas and we need to further strengthen
those programmes all the more since the pattern of floods across southern
Africa has become more frequent and unpredictable”, she adds.

The appeal will focus on helping more than 154,000 people for six months.
Among other activities, food and other basic emergency items such as
tarpaulins, tents, mosquito nets and water purification tablets will be
further distributed as well as shelter material. More latrines will be
built. Red Cross volunteers working within local communities in all affected
countries will also step us health education and disaster awareness
campaigns. One thousand volunteers will also be trained on health promotion
in all affected countries.

On January 14, the International Federation had warned about a serious
humanitarian crisis looming in southern Africa based on the short term and
long-term weather forecasts with rain expected to fall possibly until April.
This warning has been relayed by many humanitarian organizations since then.

Elections pose risk to journalists in 2008


Wed Feb 13, 2008 12:08am GMT

By Richard Balmforth

PARIS (Reuters) - The year 2008 could be particularly hazardous for
journalists covering elections in several countries including Pakistan,
Russia, Iran and Zimbabwe, with a big risk of physical attack and arrest, a
media watchdog said on Wednesday.

In an annual report on press freedom worldwide, Paris-based Reporters
Without Borders (RSF) denounced China, which it said was ratcheting up
pressure on journalists who exposed human rights abuses ahead of the Beijing
summer Olympics.

And RSF chief Robert Menard strongly criticised some Western countries and
major international bodies for "spinelessness" in failing to defend media
freedoms across the globe.

RSF said reporters faced pressure everywhere from repressive governments,
extremist religious groups, drug traffickers, rebel groups, corrupt
politicians and secret police forces.

The 86 journalists killed last year because of their work made 2007 the
deadliest year for the profession. But 2008 was likely to be even tougher
for reporters covering elections in countries "whose leaders distrust
independent journalists", the report said.

Journalists would face attack and arrest in Pakistan during a February 18
parliamentary election, it predicted. Things were likely to be equally grim
for those covering the March 2 presidential election in Russia, a country
where the murder of journalists was commonplace.

In Iran, where President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was trying to curb media
influence before a March 14 election, journalists not already in prison were
being reminded by judges that they were only free conditionally, the RSF
report said.

And in Zimbabwe, photographers and television camera operators were likely
to be at risk from police if they cover protests against President Robert
Mugabe during an election scheduled at the end of the month.

In Iraq, the toll of murdered journalists continued to climb by the week,
and journalists there did not expect any real improvement soon to their
working conditions.


Censorship, it said, was on the increase in all corners of the globe by
repressive governments seeking to restrict the flow of information through
the new media.

Video-sharing and social networking Web sites had fallen foul of censors in
Syria, Egypt and Brazil, while China, ahead of the Beijing Games, was
particularly energetic in trying to cracking down on Internet users and

The report was sharp in its condemnation of China and implicitly, of the
International Olympics Committee which it said appeared to be the only body
that believed the Chinese government would make any "significant human
rights concession" before the Games.

"Every time a journalist or blogger is released, another goes to prison," it

RSF Secretary-General Menard, in the report, accused the U.N. Human Rights
Council in Geneva of yielding to pressure from Iran and ex-Soviet Uzbekistan
and said the European Union appeared unable to deal with "tyrants who are
not troubled by the threat of sanctions".

"The spinelessness of certain Western states and big international
institutions is harming freedom of expression," he said in a preface to the

"The lack of determination by democratic countries in defending the values
they supposedly stand for is alarming."

Amnesty to distribute roses in support of Zim women

13th Feb 2008 13:59 GMT

By a Correspondent

DUBLIN - THE Amnesty International (AI) Irish Section Zimbabwe Group will
tomorrow be distributing Zimbabwean roses especially imported into Dublin in
support of women activists in WOZA, (Women of Zimbabwe Arise, who have been
fighting the government over the increasing deterioration of the social,
economic and political conditions in the country over the past few years.

The Valentines Day special is meant to educate the world about the human
rights abuses in Zimbabwe and the need for the government of Zimbabwe to
change the way it treats its citizens, deal with the issues affecting women,
children rather than concentrating on political repression.

Then on Friday the play “A Footprint of Roses” by Elaine Desmond will be
performed in Dublin followed by a panel discussion about how to campaign
against the human rights abuses faced by Zimbabweans in Zimbabwe and in
other countries where they now live.

The play is a stark portrayal of the human rights abuses endured by the
women of Zimbabwe who continue to campaign for social and economic reform in
a country teetering dangerously on the brink of total collapse.

Panellists will include Colm O’Gorman, executive director, Amnesty
International Irish Section, Kieran Clifford campaigns manager, Amnesty
International Irish Section, Selu Mdlalose, a ember of Amnesty International
Irish Section Zimbabwe Group, Barry Andrews and Joe Humphreys, an Irish
Times journalist based in Pretoria up to January 2008.  Karen Coleman of
Newstalk and TV3 will chair the discussion.

The panel discussion will be on the human rights issues raised in the play
and how to help campaign against continued abuses in Zimbabwe.  Friday’s
meeting will be at St. Ann’s Parish Centre in Molesworth Lane, off
Molesworth Street, Dublin 2.

The play pays tribute to the courage of the women of WOZA, a women’s civil
movement, founded in 2003 in response to the increasing deterioration of the
social, economic and political conditions in Zimbabwe.

WOZA is not allied to a political party and have conducted over 50
non-violent protests since the group’s inception. Over 2,500 WOZA women have
spent time in police custody, many more than once and most for 48 hours or
more. They have been unlawfully detained, prevented from obtaining legal
representation, threatened, intimidated and physically and sexually

WOZA members have staged peaceful protests each St Valentine’s Day since
2003. During these protests, the women march, sing songs and distribute
roses to police to illustrate their peaceful intentions. These protests have
been met with police brutality and wide scale arrests.

Gordon Brown backs Zimbabwe boycott but it may mean loss of World Twenty20

The Times
January 4, 2008

Richard Hobson and Sam Coates
England could lose the right to host the ICC World Twenty20 in 2009 if the
Government blocks Zimbabwe from touring earlier in the season. The ECB will
be happy for Gordon Brown to press ahead with plans to bar the squad from
entering the country but knows that it may face a backlash from the wider
cricket community.

Talks are under way between Downing Street and the ECB, with the Government
preparing to toughen its stance on Robert Mugabe’s regime. Under ICC rules,
the ECB will not be liable for any compensation to Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC) for
the cancellation of the Test and one-day series if the ban is made at
government level.

In 2005, the New Zealand Government took such a stance in refusing to give
visas to the Zimbabwe party. The England situation is more complicated
because Zimbabwe are expecting to stay in the country for the global 20-over
competition, which in turn precedes the Ashes in what the ECB sees as a
golden summer.

With the Home Office examining the broad issue of visas for one-off events,
it is possible that Zimbabwe may be allowed in for a competition falling
under the higher auspices of the ICC, even if they are blocked for what are
self-contained bilateral matches against England.

However, this may not satisfy the Asian-led bloc that forms a majority
inside the ICC. The ECB was keen to secure the 2009 tournament having given
Twenty20 to the rest of the world as one of its most successful sporting
exports, but the formal paper-work of host and staging agreements are still
to be signed.
England would receive a fixed sum of about £1 million as hosts as well as 10
per cent of ticket sales. There will be no shortage of other boards eager to
stage the event after the cricketing success of the inaugural competition in
South Africa last September, although low pricing for spectators removed any
commercial windfall.

The ICC is already facing a possible move for one flagship tournament
because political uncertainty in Pakistan may jeopardise its hosting of the
Champions Trophy in the autumn. South Africa and Sri Lanka are thought to be
keen to take on the venture, which will not involve Zimbabwe.

England are looking for alternative opponents for the two Tests and three
50-over games against Zimbabwe next year. In December, the board was
embarrassed when sources inside ZC said that Giles Clarke, the ECB chairman,
had offered about £200,000 for England to buy their way out of the

Zimbabwe have been in Test exile for two years because of the paucity of
their cricket and the ECB wants to know whether they will be back in the
fold by May next year. If not, then without the Government’s lead,
compensation will be due only for the one-day games because Zimbabwe retain
full status in the shorter form.

Sri Lanka and Bangladesh have been identified as possible replacements, but
an offer from the ECB will be more attractive if it combines Test and
one-day cricket. There will be less interest if a touring side have to
return home or stay idle in England between the Tests and the World

The Zimbabwe issue has been a constant thorn since the build-up to the World
Cup game between England and Zimbabwe in Harare in 2003 when players and
officials, stuck inside a hotel in Cape Town for three days of talks when
they should have been preparing for games, expressed their determination not
to travel because of safety fears.

Around that time, Henry Olonga and Andy Flower, who is now an assistant to
Peter Moores, the England head coach, staged their famous black-armband
protest against the Mugabe regime. They were widely acclaimed for their

In 2004, Stephen Harmison, the fast bowler, made himself unavailable for
England’s one-day matches in Harare and Bulawayo on moral grounds and David
Morgan, the ECB chairman at the time, was placed in a near-impossible
position of having to save the tour to avoid penalties after Mugabe
initially denied visas to travelling journalists.

Morgan’s task would have been simpler had the Government ordered the squad
to stay away, as John Howard instructed the Australia team eight months ago.
Howard, the Prime Minister at the time, saw the games as a propaganda coup
for Mugabe, whose home is close to the venue for significant matches in

Brown has taken a higher-profile stance on Zimbabwe than Tony Blair, his
predecessor. He refused to attend an EU-Africa summit in Portugal last month
because Mugabe was present. A number of issues, including liability, need to
be settled before a block on the Zimbabwe tour is confirmed and Downing
Street said that a final decision is yet to be taken.

A spokesman for the Prime Minister said: “I think that it is very early to
be making these sorts of decisions. We obviously will need to discuss this
with the ECB closer to the time. A decision will have to be made about this
at some point, but we are not at that point at the moment.”

Andy Flower Former Zimbabwe captain and England batting coach

“Unfortunately things have got far worse in Zimbabwe over the past four
years. My views on the political situation there are well known, but it is a
little tricky for me in my new position as an ECB employee to comment on
whether Zimbabwe should tour England in 2009 – or the implications for the
World Twenty20. We do need firm decisions on this, however, and if the
Government back the ECB that would be welcome.”

Henry Olonga Former Zimbabwe fast-medium bowler

“It’s the first I’ve heard about it, but I welcome it. Clearly, Gordon Brown
is taking a stronger stance than Tony Blair. ITN’s excellent series of
reports on Zimbabwe in the autumn brought the whole issue out in focus. At
the end of the series, Brown came on and said he wouldn’t be attending the
summit in Lisbon [last month]. That showed solidarity with the people of
Zimbabwe and made it clear that sanctions against Mugabe’s cronies would be

“There have been too many scandals in Zimbabwean cricket and something needs
to be done. There are a lot of corruption issues. Every time I speak about
it, I get angry and emotional as it’s just so unnecessary.”

Out on a limb

How other countries view Zimbabwe

Australia Refused to tour the country last year after a ruling by John
Howard, the Prime Minister at the time

New Zealand Government denied Zimbabwe players and officials entry visas in

Pakistan Were due to host a five-match one-day series at the end of the
month, Zimbabwe’s first visit since 2004

West Indies Were the most recent visiting team to the country in November
last year

South Africa Have generally supported their neighbours, briefly threatening
to pull out of an England tour in 2003

Bangladesh Have become regular opponents in the past 18 months and left them
behind in the ICC one-day rankings

Zimbabwe’s next international fixture Saturday, January 26: First one-day
international (of five) v Pakistan (venue tbc)

Andy Flower admits guilt over Zimbabwe

The Times
February 13, 2008

John Westerby
When ECB officials hold talks with the Government in the next few weeks over
Zimbabwe's proposed tour to the UK next year, one member of England's
management team in New Zealand will have a particular interest in the
outcome of those discussions.

Andy Flower, a former captain of Zimbabwe and now England's assistant coach,
has talked of his enduring sadness about the desperate political situation
in his homeland. He has also spoken of a lingering guilt that he has been
unable to do more to help his compatriots since his famous black armband
protest with Henry Olonga at the 2003 World Cup, which led to their exile
from Zimbabwe.

“I feel a little guilty that we couldn't follow it up, but I don't know what
more we could have done,” Flower said in an interview with The Wisden
Cricketer magazine. “We didn't change anything and weren't powerful enough
to do so, but we got an amazing response from people who felt they'd been
jogged out of their apathy.”

Since Flower's departure, the fortunes of Zimbabwe's national team have
plummeted so far that they are presently opting out of Test cricket. Looking
back on the build-up of tension between players and administrators of the
Zimbabwe Cricket Union (ZCU), Flower believes that both sides share
responsibility for this decline, but attaches particular blame to Peter
Chingoka, the chairman of the ZCU.

“There was a lot of blame on both sides,” he said. “[Cricket] was a sport
run by the whites and not enough black cricketers got exposure. But when
Peter Chingoka got involved, the way he and his fellow administrators tried
to impose selection, it got the hackles up of the whites.”
From this position of mistrust, Flower concedes that both sides communicated
poorly. “The white players and administrators - and I include myself -
should have been more willing to communicate openly and attempt a serious
and mature integration of more black cricketers,” Flower said. “But the
black administrators could have communicated a hell of a lot better and more
honestly. It's really sad that we didn't find a better compromise and I take
responsibility for that. But the administrators should take more of the
responsibility as they were older and more experienced.”