APA-Addis Ababa (Ethiopia) The African Union Commission on Saturday
expressed the need for the swift lifting of the sanctions imposed on
The call by the AU came following the agreement reached by the Zimbabwean
government and the main opposition leaders for a power sharing government.
This underlines the need for the swift lifting of the sanctions imposed on
Zimbabwe," said Jean Ping, chairperson of the AU Commission.
Ping also welcomed the agreement reached by the Zimbabwean parties on the
implementation of the Global Peace Agreement (GPA), following the
extraordinary summit of the Southern African Development Community (SADC)
held in Pretoria, South Africa, on 26 January 2009.
The Chairperson commended the parties for the spirit of compromise and
mutual accommodation they have shown. He also expressed his appreciation to
SADC and its facilitator, former South African President Thabo Mbeki, for
their tireless efforts, which made this progress possible.
"It is the chairperson's expectation that the parties will now move swiftly
to establish the government of national unity according to the timelines
that have been agreed upon, in order to address the many challenges facing
Zimbabwe," said the AU statement.
Ping called on the AU member states that are in a position to do so and the
international community as a whole, to provide the much-needed assistance to
Zimbabwe to alleviate the suffering of its people and help the
socio-economic recovery of the country.
The Chairperson further reiterated the AU's determination to continue
supporting the efforts of the Zimbabwean parties, in particular the
implementation of the GPA, of which it is a Guarantor.
† DT/daj/APA 2009-02-01
** Daily information on new deaths should not imply that these deaths
occurred in cases reported that day. Therefore daily CFRs >100% may
occasionally result A. Highlights of the day: - 555 cases and 3 deaths added today (in comparison 451 cases and 17 deaths
yesterday) - 32.8% of the districts affected have reported today (19 out of 58 affected
districts) - 88.7 % of districts reported to be affected (55 districts/62) - Manicaland, Masvingo and Midlands provinces did not report - Cumulative Institutional Case Fatality Rate 2.1% - Daily Institutional Case Fatality Rate 0.5%
†Full_Report (pdf* format - 110.7 Kbytes)
* Please note that daily information collection is a challenge due to communication and staff constraints. On-going data cleaning may result in an increase or decrease in the numbers. Any change will then be explained.
** Daily information on new deaths should not imply that these deaths occurred in cases reported that day. Therefore daily CFRs >100% may occasionally result
A. Highlights of the day:
- 555 cases and 3 deaths added today (in comparison 451 cases and 17 deaths yesterday)
- 32.8% of the districts affected have reported today (19 out of 58 affected districts)
- 88.7 % of districts reported to be affected (55 districts/62)
- Manicaland, Masvingo and Midlands provinces did not report
- Cumulative Institutional Case Fatality Rate 2.1%
- Daily Institutional Case Fatality Rate 0.5%
January 31, 2009
By Our Correspondent
THE secretary general of the Morgan Tsvangirai-led Movement for Democratic
Change, Tendai Biti has slapped the Zimbabwe Newspapers group with a US$ 500
000 defamation lawsuit based on a series of articles published in The
The Herald alleged that Biti was the leader of a group within the MDC that
sought to topple party leader Morgan Tsvangirai.
In law defamation is the publication or communication of a statement that
makes a false claim about the aggrieved person or that has the potential to
tarnish their reputation or image in the eyes of the public.
In papers filed at the High Court last week and delivered to Herald House,
the Zimpapers headquarters, Biti has demanded a front-page retraction of the
articles in question on top of the half a million dollars.
The MDC secretary general confirmed having filed the lawsuit documents of
which the Zimbabwe Times had sight of. Sources in the Herald newsroom
revealed that features and political editor Mabasa Sasa and reporter Sydney
Kawadza, the authors of the articles in question, had held meetings with the
Zimpapers legal affairs manager Josephine Tomana.
Tomana is the wife of controversial attorney general Johannes Tomana. Tomana
is a close friend of Professor Jonathan Moyo, the Tsholotsho North
legislator who, as minister of information wielded total control at Zimbabwe
Newspapers. Johannes Tomana who was recently appointed Attorney General in
controversial circumstances was Moyo's lawyer.
"The lawsuit has shaken everyone here because it is apparent that the
company will lose this battle as the stories were manufactured in the office
of George Charamba," said a Herald senior staffer who spoke on condition of
Charamba is the permanent secretary of information, official spokesman of
President Robert Mugabe and de facto editor-in-chief of The Herald and The
Sunday Mail as well as other Zimbabwe Newspapers titles. As Herald columnist
Nathaniel Manheru Charamba himself has been accused of defaming many with
total impunity. Charamba inherited the column from Moyo, the original
"Sasa and Kawadza have held meetings with Tomana on the issue and they both
indicated having been ordered to write the stories by Charamba."
To minimise damage, the sources revealed, The Herald last Saturday made a
major climb down and came close to admitting that the stories alleging that
Biti was leading an MDC rebellion against Tsvangirai were fictitious.
"MDC-T secretary general Tendai Biti has denied that he is plotting to oust
Morgan Tsvangirai as party president and has dismissed two Herald stories as
false," reads a brief tucked on Page 2 of the main government mouthpiece
"In a letter from his lawyers to The Herald, he says the stories suggesting
that he is trying to delay the inclusive government until the MDC-T has new
leadership are totally false.
"One of the stories published on January 13, said that Mr Biti orchestrated
an internal leadership revolt and wanted to elect new leaders who would take
office in the inclusive government with himself becoming deputy prime
minister," continued the article.
However, Biti insists that the Page 2 brief fell short of his demand; hence
he is forging ahead with his lawsuit. The stories that he challenged
appeared on the front page of The Herald. Once Zimbabwe's largest
circulating newspapers with a circulation of more than 150 000 copies sold
per day the newspaper is now a shadow of its former glory.
In defending the newspaper in a case of defamation Zimbabwe Newspapers'
lawyers could argue that The Herald does not enjoy widespread circulation in
Zimbabwe. The paper is reported to currently print only 14 000 copies per
day with a 15 percent return factor. The circulation of a newspaper is a
factor in determining the quantum of damages in a case of defamation.
In terms of the laws of defamation the withdrawal of a defamatory story as
well as the tendered apology should be published as prominently as the story
If the defamatory story appeared on Page 1 the withdrawal should also appear
on Page 1, as Biti, himself a lawyer, now demands. It is then up to the
aggrieved person or plaintiff to withdraw charges. If found guilty the
publication can, however, cite the withdrawal and apology in mitigation when
pleading for a reduction for damages.
Friday, 30 January 2009
HARARE - Harare City Council, another organisation grappling with
dollarisation of the economy, has sold part of its 5000 herd of cattle to
the Democratic Republic of Congo in return for US dollars.
Hearing of the sale the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe quickly moved in and
took 10 percent of the profit in foreign currency, claiming the transaction
When asked why the bank hadn't taken all the money if it was illegal,
Harare mayor and lawyer Muchadeyi Masunda said: "They realised they could
also make some money out of the deal."
He added, however, that Town House was in the process of regulating
how goods and services belonging to the city are paid for in foreign
currency, in order to prevent a recurrence.
The sale money, which Masunda confirmed ran into thousands of US
dollars, is to be used to fund the city council's cash-strapped operations,
which have virtually ground to a halt because of its incapacity to bankroll
its costs. The city has as yet not been given the go ahead by central bank
governor Gideon Gono to collect revenue in hard currency.
The council's move to sell a portion of its herd comes at a time when
staff have stopped going to work because they cannot afford transport costs.
Commuter omnibuses are charging US$1 a trip when workers are earning the
equivalent of just US$3 a month in worthless Zimbabwean dollars.
Nor do these people have access to their money at banks due to a
shortage of notes. Thanks to Mugabe's attacks on Europe and the West,
Germany has refused to supply the paper needed to print money.
Many Harare residents believe widespread civil disturbance could
result if Mugabe does not act soon.
Local Charles Mudzi said: "If Mugabe continues on this path, it could
prove disastrous for him. People are getting restless because it is now
impossible to survive in Zimbabwe. Everything has been dollarised and where
does he (Mugabe) think we will get the money from? People are tired of his
BY SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT
Friday, 30 January 2009
BY John Makumbe
'Regime change has to result in most of our present oppressors fleeing
from Zimbabwe in fear for their lives'
It is now almost a year since the majority of the voters in Zimbabwe
rejected Robert Mugabe and Zanu (PF) as their rulers in March 2008. In the
past eleven odd months, Mugabe and his beleaguered political party have
tried every trick in the book to thwart the people's choice of a national
leadership, but none of their tricks has worked. Zimbabwe is still sliding
downhill in practically all aspects of nationhood.
The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) must be commended for firmly
resisting both the dictator and the toothless Southern African Development
Community (SADC) in their efforts to keep Mugabe and Zanu (PF) in power.
Both Mugabe and his devastated political party know very well that their
rejection by the people of Zimbabwe means that even the international
community has also rejected them as leaders of this nation. They can try all
they want to remain in power but regime change is well and truly on the way.
They may succeed in delaying it, but they will not be able to stop it.
Robert Mugabe has made so many enemies for himself that it does not
require that Tsvangirai should seek to discredit him any further both within
and outside Zimbabwe. It was utter folly on Mugabe's part to falsely accuse
Botswana of training MDC supporters in banditry so that they could overthrow
him from power. These accusations were not laughed at only by Sadc leaders,
but also by many people in the international community as well as in
The reeling authoritarian regime went on to kidnap several MDC
supporters and forcibly made them "confess" to having been trained in
Botswana in banditry tactics. The futility of the whole exercise is
highlighted by the Sadc's refusal to question Botswana on these allegations.
A sensible government would have been embarrassed by this attitude of the
Sadc, but not our very own tyrannical regime. A regime that goes as far as
kidnapping its own citizens in order to force them to admit having committed
crimes has clearly become satanic and evil. To date some of the kidnapped
activists are still missing. Whether he likes it or not, Mugabe will one day
have a lot to answer for.
Indeed, when regime change finally occurs there will be many in Zanu
(PF) and the Mugabe government who will have to face the wrath of the law
for their actions against the people of this country. Fortunately the names
of most of these criminals are currently being recorded as evidence that can
be used against them in courts of law. It is obvious that the kidnapping of
Jestina Mukoko and two of her Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP) colleagues was
aimed at getting at some of this evidence by state hoodlums. What they did
not realize is that all such evidence is carefully duplicated and backed up
in case of such raids as they committed against the ZPP.
Some of these people will be shocked to find out when regime change
takes place, that there will be mountains of evidence against them coming in
from all over the world. There will be no place to hide. The spurious
accusations against innocent Botswana mean that these thieves and murderers
will not be able to seek refuge in that peaceful country when the chips
fall. Perhaps South Africa and Namibia will take them in and grand them
refugee status. Mugabe and his family will most likely flee to Malaysia
where, it is rumoured, he owns a spacious house and possibly even a farm.
Regime change has to result in most of our present oppressors fleeing from
Zimbabwe in fear for their lives.
The decision by the MDC to take part in a unity government has blown a
breath of clean air into our sick and stagnant country.
01 February 2009 05:45
Early in the morning on the last day of January 2009 I witnessed the start
of a new day over Zimbabwe and wondered if this was The Day, the one that
would be remembered as our new beginning. A heavy bank of purple clouds lay
on the horizon broken by a few wisps of startling white. A slight breeze
stirred in the trees and the air was busy with early birds: fork-tailed
drongoes, bulbuls and shrikes. A ruckus in the Mulberry tree in my garden
meant the weaver birds were awake. Four pairs of birds are breeding in the
tree, they stripped the leaves from many branches before they were satisfied
with their nests but now their little colony is well established.
I couldn't resist walking barefoot in the dew laden grass and getting a
close up view of two mushrooms that had shot up overnight. Thin stems,
delicate creamy caps topped with a smudge of caramel, they had come from
nowhere, grown two inches in a single night and then, as the sun got hotter
they shrivelled up and were gone.
In amongst the snapshots of beauty like this, Zimbabwe is surrounded by
sickness, hunger and extreme poverty. Thousands have died of cholera in the
last few months and the epidemic continues to rage. It's often hard to
believe that such horror can be happening in such a beautiful place and hard
to see how we can ever get back to being a normal, productive, healthy, free
The decision by the MDC to take part in a unity government has blown a
breath of clean air into our sick and stagnant country. It has given us hope
again, a chance to test the trust that we put into the men and women we
chose to lead our country when we elected them nearly a year ago. Despite
all the negatives involved in this unity government, this is a chance for
change for Zimbabwe. We are sceptical, suspicious and even doubtful that
unity can be forged between perpetrators and victims, doubtful that this can
work. It is not the clean sweep that we hoped for but it is at least
somewhere to start.
© Copyright cathy buckle 31st January 2009.
Friday, 30 January 2009
HARARE - MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai has said the success of the
all-inclusive government that his party's National Council unanimously
agreed to join on Friday was dependent on the goodwill of all the three main
political parties to the power-sharing deal.
"The success of this inclusive government is dependent on many factors
including the goodwill of† the parties involved, the support of the people
of Zimbabwe and the continued engagement and vigilance of SADC and AU and
the broader international community in ensuring that all parties are bound
by the letter and spirit of the GPA (global political agreement) and the
commitments made at the last SADC summit," said Tsvangirai.
The MDC leader spoke just a few hours after the establishment of a
multi-party special taskforce, the Joint Monitoring and Implementation
Committee (JOMIC), which is mandated with monitoring and ensuring compliance
of all parties with the letter and spirit of the power-sharing deal.
The crucial taskforce comprises four members from the main MDC, four
from the breakaway MDC faction and four from Zanu (PF).
Representatives from the main MDC are Elton Mangoma, Elias Mudzuri,
Tabitha Khumalo and Innocent Chagonda, and from Zanu (PF) Patrick Chinamasa,
Nicholas Goche, Emmerson Mnangagwa and Oppah Muchinguri. The breakaway MDC
faction will be represented in the JOMIC by Welshaman Ncube, Priscilla
Misihairabwi-Mushonga, Edward Mukosi and Frank Chamunorwa.
Goche, Ncube and Mangoma will co-chair the JOMIC. They were elected at
the first meeting of JOMIC held under the facilitation of Thabo Mbeki's
facilitators Sydney Mufumadi and Frank Chikane.
Tsvangirai told reporters that concessions had been made by Zanu (PF)
on four out of the five outstanding issues.
Tsvangirai said Zanu (PF) had agreed to reverse its grab of all the
ten provincial governors. SADC endorsed Tsvangirai's formula that the party
that got the majority of seats on a province-by-province basis in the March
29 House of Assembly elections should have the governorship of that
Under the new arrangement, the MDC will take control of five
provincial governorships, Zanu (PF) four and the breakaway MDC faction led
by Arthur Mutambara gets one.
The Zimbabwean on Sunday understands JOMIC discussed the draft bill
written by the main MDC during their Friday meeting at the South African
embassy in Harare.
"It is clear therefore that these two issues (governors and security
legislation) are subject to negotiation and therefore constitute work in
progress," Tsvangirai said. "It is hoped that the work in progress will be
concluded to the satisfaction of all the parties as soon as possible."
The third issue that Zanu (PF) had climbed down on related to
Constitution Amendment No. 19 Bill, set to be tabled in Parliament on
February 5, according to the timeline set by SADC heads of State at the
emergency summit at the Presidential Guest House in Pretoria on Monday.
"The MDC has insisted that Constitution Amendment No. 19 (Bill) is
enacted by Parliament and signed into law prior to the swearing in of the
Prime Minister and this has now been agreed to by all the parties as
reflected in the SADC communique," Tsvangirai said.
The appointment of Attorney-General Johannes Tomana, a vociferous
supporter of Zanu (PF) will be reviewed, including the renewal of the
mandate of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor, Gideon Gono, who has
presided over the world's highest inflation rate.
Many observers doubt the unity government will last or work, given the
mistrust and deep-seated animosity between Mugabe and Tsvangirai. Others
suggest Tsvangirai may have put his illustrious political career dangerously
on the line by agreeing to partner Mugabe, who is known for not keeping his
word in similar deals in the past.
In addition, while South Africa and other countries in the region may
support the unity government, they lack the financial muscle required
topluck Zimbabwe out of a crisis seen in a collapsed currency, hyperinflation,
record unemployment and a cholera epidemic that has killed more than 3 000
people since last August.
A unity government will at last be formed, but can it rescue the country
from starvation and collapse?
By Raymond Whitaker
Sunday, 1 February 2009
An African Union summit opening in Addis Ababa today is expected to endorse
the unity government that will now be formed in Zimbabwe. But many,
including some of the country's main aid donors, question whether the forced
partnership of President Robert Mugabe and his main opponent, Morgan
Tsvangirai, can ease the plight of millions of Zimbabweans facing starvation
After a political stalemate lasting nearly five months - during which a
cholera outbreak has claimed over 3,000 lives and the number of people
dependent on food aid more than doubled to seven million - Mr Tsvangirai,
leader of Zimbabwe's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), will be sworn in
as Prime Minister on 11 February. Regional mediators, led by South Africa,
pushed him into agreeing to serve under Mr Mugabe, even though a dispute
over cabinet posts remains unresolved.
A power-sharing agreement signed on 15 September has remained in abeyance,
mainly because the MDC accused the ruling Zanu-PF party of reneging on a
deal that the opposition should run the Home Ministry, which controls the
police. Mr Tsvangirai rejected a proposal by mediators that the two parties
should hold the ministry alternately, but has now agreed to take office
before the dispute is settled. There was jubilation as he announced his
decision on Friday to a large crowd in the centre of Harare, but the MDC
leader has to overcome visceral suspicion of Mr Mugabe within his own party
as well as abroad.
A US State Department spokesman, Robert Wood, said after the deal was
announced that Washington remained "a bit sceptical", adding: "These types
of things have been announced before. The key is always implementation. The
jury is still out."
Zimbabweans remember that Zanu, the only other party to mount significant
opposition to Mr Mugabe during his 28 years in power, was forcibly merged
into Zanu-PF after 20,000 of its supporters were massacred in the early
1980s. The present deal follows months of turmoil after the MDC unexpectedly
won elections last March. Mr Tsvangirai was ahead in the first round of the
presidential election, but following a wave of violence in which 200 people
were killed, he pulled out of the second round to spare his supporters
The relief shown on the streets of Harare is a measure of the desperation
felt by Zimbabweans at the lack of any effective government for almost a
year, and some critics believe the MDC leader deserves a share of the blame.
"I believe going into the inclusive government deal is the only solution,
and has been the only solution for a long time," said one, adding that Mr
Tsvangirai "should have got his foot in the door immediately after 15
September, and then used his muscle to start changing things from inside.
Had he done so, he would have avoided 30 people being abducted and tortured,
the cholera epidemic taking hold and the economic situation deteriorating so
dramatically. What has he achieved by delaying this decision?"
Even if the government begins functioning and aid starts to flow again, the
plight of millions of Zimbabweans is likely to worsen in the short term.
February and March are traditionally the hungriest months, because the maize
crop does not ripen until April and food stocks from the previous harvest
are beginning to run out. But drought, economic collapse and administrative
chaos meant large areas of the country had nothing to eat even before last
year's planting season began. Flooding during the annual rains is also
likely to worsen the cholera epidemic, which has already infected at least
A quarter of Zimbabwe's population of about 12 million has left, mainly for
South Africa, in search of food and work, and 94 per cent of those left
behind are unemployed. Last week the UN World Food Programme said more than
seven million people needed emergency food aid, but it did not have enough
to go round. An adult is estimated to need 12kg of grain a month to survive,
but the WFP, which had already cut the monthly ration to 10kg, is being
forced to halve it to 5kg in February. Even some of the most desperate cases
will get nothing.
An aid worker reported that, at one community food distribution, three old
men were so close to death from hunger that a nursing mother had to give
them breast milk "to survive for the next few hours". It is not known
whether they are still alive.
The Independent on Sunday Christmas Appeal
The Independent on Sunday Christmas Appeal for the work of Save the Children
in Zimbabwe raised a total of £61,100, and we thank readers for their
generosity. The appeal is closed, but donations to Save the Children can
still be made at www.savethechildren.org.uk/secure/51_6630.htm
February 01, 2009
Fred Bridgland in Johannesburg reports on the desperation of Zimbabwe
HAVING WATCHED his fellow Zimbabweans being murdered, tortured, starved and
condemned to death from disease by Robert Mugabe, while millions of others
fled the country, Morgan Tsvangirai has taken the biggest gamble of his life
and entered coalition government with the man accused of subjecting
Zimbabweans to slow genocide.
"If you walk into a lion's den and meet a lion, you should not complain that
you met a lion," Tendai Dumbutshena, former editor of the now-defunct
Zimbabwe Times, warned Tsvangirai. He added that, once they are inside the
unity government: "Mugabe will shoot Tsvangirai and the MDC from short
Dumbutshena is the son of Enoch Dumbutshena, Zimbabwe's former chief
justice, who until his retirement in 1990 ruled fearlessly against the
Mugabe government. He was recalling the fate of the last Mugabe opponent to
enter coalition with the head of state.
Opponents of the current deal within the MDC fear that the power-sharing
arrangement resembles another Zimbabwe Unity Accord in 1987. Then Mugabe
sent his North Korea-trained 5th Brigade, who were answerable only to him,
into the heartland of opponent Joshua Nkomo's territory.
Under Air Marshal "Black Jesus" Perence Shiri, born in the same village as
Mugabe, the 5th Brigade slaughtered between 20,000 and 30,000 people, most
of them peasant villagers. Mugabe dubbed the massacres and burnings of
peasant huts the "Gukurahundi", which translates as "The early rain that
washes away the chaff before the spring rains."
A report on the Gukurahundi, based on a five-year investigation by
Zimbabwe's Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace, said: "Most of the
dead were killed in public executions involving between one and 12 people at
a time, often being forced to dig their own graves in front of family and
fellow villagers." Human rights organisations demanded that "Black Jesus" be
tried for crimes against humanity, but he is now a member of Mugabe's Joint
Operations Command, the supreme military junta that has effectively governed
for the past few years, and is one of the richest and most powerful men in
After the massacres Nkomo was forced to merge his party - the Zimbabwe
African People's Union - with Mugabe's ruling Zanu-PF party. Nkomo's
organisation was then swallowed whole by Mugabe. Nkomo was given farms,
houses and fleets of cars, but he was destroyed politically and died with
his reputation for integrity in shreds.
Tsvangirai has been softened up in a similar manner by Mugabe. Ten months
ago he and the MDC defeated Mugabe and Zanu-PF in presidential and
parliamentary elections. A run-off presidential vote was required in June
because Tsvangirai narrowly failed to win the 50% plus one vote necessary to
become head of state. But Mugabe then launched a terror campaign by police,
soldiers and Zanu-PF militias against MDC supporters in which more than 100
people were killed and thousands were tortured and maimed. Tsvangirai
withdrew from the June vote to save his supporters further suffering, and
last week the 15 heads of state of the Southern African Development
Community (SADC) forced Tsvangirai into a government of national unity with
his archenemy, Mugabe, who remains state president.
Tsvangirai this week becomes prime minister after the parliament in the
Zimbabwe capital Harare created the new post specially.
It is anyone's guess how the arrangement will work or whether it will
improve the dreadful lot of the people of Zimbabwe. While many in the
opposition see the arrangement as unworkable, with further disaster waiting
to happen, Tsvangirai believes the alternative - Mugabe forming his own
government with the support of SADC leaders - would be infinitely worse.
Tsvangirai realised how cavalier, craven and irresponsible the SADC leaders
were while he was at last week's summit in South Africa to induce the birth
of the unity government. The members ignored his plea for the MDC to be
given control of the home ministry. It runs the police, who are Mugabe's
main tool of repression. Instead, the SADC went with Mugabe's own unworkable
"solution" - Zanu-PF and the MDC will take turns to run the ministry six
months at a time. Tsvangirai asked the Reverend Frank Chikane, a top civil
servant in the South African presidency and the mediator of the deal, which
party should control the police first. Chikane replied: "Just toss a coin."
And it is a toss-up whether Tsvangirai can wrench improvements in the lives
of Zimbabweans from a deal littered with potential pitfalls.
Quite apart from having to fathom out how to work with Mugabe and his
murderous comrades, Tsvangirai has to tackle myriad problems on the ground
that would daunt a collective of all the world's geniuses.
How to start explaining his problems? Well, take inflation, which last July
was put officially by Mugabe's government at a dizzying 231 million percent
before it abandoned any further attempts to calculate the rate. It's
difficult to absorb the realities of inflation of such catastrophic
magnitude. But Steve Hanke, professor of applied economics at Baltimore's
John Hopkins University and a senior fellow at the libertarian public policy
Cato Institute think-tank, set to work with a team to calculate Zimbabwe's
true inflation rate.
Hanke and his co-workers came up with a month-on-month inflation figure for
last November of 79.6 billion percent. But, utterly frighteningly, the Hanke
team worked out Zimbabwe's annual inflation rate at approximately 6.5
quindecillion novemdecillion percent. That is 65 followed by 107 zeros,
meaning that the cost of living more than doubles each day.
To keep up, Zimbabwe's central bank issued a new high-denomination banknote
for 100 trillion Zimbabwean dollars. But last week finance minister Patrick
Chinamasa gave up altogether and formally abandoned the national currency,
saying that from now onwards transactions will take place in US dollars,
euros, South African rands, Botswana pulas and British pounds. The immense
problem now for the majority of Zimbabweans is that they have no way of
accessing foreign currency unless it is sent to them by relatives working
The question is: how are Zimbabweans surviving amidst such ruination? And
the answer is: they aren't.
They are dying in their thousands each day from starvation, Aids, cholera
and a host of other "ordinary" diseases which elsewhere in the world are
containable. The Zimbabwean health-care and water and sewerage systems have
completely collapsed. The country has by far the lowest life expectancy in
the world: assuming she survives the early traumas, a baby girl born today
can expect to live for less than 34 years.
Cholera, which in the modern world is not a mass killer, is out of control
in Zimbabwe. The World Health Organisation puts the official death toll at
3161, but these are only deaths recorded among those who reach the collapsed
clinic system: thousands more are dying unrecorded in rural areas where
there are no longer any services. WHO estimates more than 60,000 other
people are infected.
"It's a very, very dire situation," said Elizabeth Byrs, spokeswoman for the
United Nations Office for Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA). She said that, with
the collapse of the hospital, water and sewerage infrastructure, "it will
take time to put the health system back on track".
And then, elsewhere in the stack of scarcely believable statistics about the
Zimbabwe Mugabe has created, new figures published last week by UNOCHA show
that Zimbabwe's unemployment rate has reached 94%. It means that only
480,000 people have formal jobs, down from 3.6 million in 2003.
Amidst all this, the Zimbabwe population is simply disappearing.
Demographers estimated that the country, if it had followed a "normal"
development path, should by now be inhabited by 18 million people. Many
estimates put the present population at just nine million. More than three
million people, including most professionals such as doctors, nurses,
engineers and IT experts, have fled the country. The rest have simply been
killed or have died unnecessarily because of misgovernment and official
Absurdly, Zimbabwe was until a decade ago the breadbasket of Africa,
producing crops in abundance and a surplus for export that made it rich and
financed what were once the finest schools and hospitals in Africa. But
instead of reforming the agricultural system, so that black farmers were
trained up alongside some 5000 highly efficient but mostly reactionary white
commercial farmers, Mugabe - fired by xenophobia and memories of racist
denigration when Zimbabwe was white-ruled Rhodesia - launched violent land
invasions to expel the white farmers.
The result was a collapse of the agricultural system, which in turn
triggered total economic decay. Some 600,000 farm workers and their families
became destitute and elongated the queues for international food relief.
The farmland was never reallocated to competent peasant agriculturalists, as
promised by Mugabe. Instead, huge farms were given to his top party members,
military generals, pliant judges and senior policemen. These once-productive
farms now lie fallow and overgrown, used mainly by the corrupt urban elite
for weekend barbecues. The World Food Programme estimates it will have to
provide emergency food to more than seven million Zimbabweans this year,
compared with five million in 2008.
Tsvangirai can only begin to turn things around with aid from a West
burdened with the credit crunch, which has said it will provide no help
while Mugabe remains in political power.
Somehow the West will have to compromise if it is sincere in wanting to help
the legitimate MDC wing of the government to erode the power of the
illegitimate Zanu-PF wing.
Donald Steinberg is the deputy president of the International Crisis Group
and was the special assistant for African affairs to Bill Clinton when he
was president. He said that although the Zimbabwe deal remains "dangerously
vague" the West should immediately begin extensive humanitarian aid while
the delivery of large-scale development assistance should be tied to
transparent projects and credible management.
"Programmes to rebuild civil society should be launched to reverse Mugabe's
divide-and-rule strategies that have destroyed the nation," said Steinberg.
"Programmes will be necessary to resurrect Zimbabwe's once-proud legal
institutions and legislature, neutered under Mugabe's pernicious abuse of
Such commitments will be full of risk for the West, since Mugabe will do
everything possible to pervert and distort the power-sharing agreement. But
it will be a necessary risk, since the leap in the dark being taken by
Tsvangirai is greater and more perilous by far.
Friday, 30 January 2009
The chaos that marked the beginning of the new school term in the past
week, as children were sent back home because teachers were on strike,
illustrates the tragedy that once proud Zimbabwe has become under the charge
of a totally incompetent and shamelessly corrupt ruling elite.
Having destroyed all that was good about Zimbabwe - a good
manufacturing sector, a sound public health system that was a shining
example on the continent, a world class farming sector that they ruined
through some absurd and racist agrarian reform programme - now President
Robert Mugabe and his cohorts are determined to turn our children into a
generation of uneducated imbeciles.
No serious learning took place at public schools in 2008 because
teachers spent the better part of the year striking for more pay or sitting
at home because they could not afford the bus fare to work on their meagre
The new school year will go to waste again because teachers will not
report for duty unless the government agrees to pay them in hard cash. We do
not blame them. Who, if they had a choice, would accept the Zimbabwe dollar?
That teachers, doctors, nurses or anybody else will not accept the
near worthless dollar speaks of a worse crisis that has seen thousands of
jobs lost, while poverty has risen to frightening levels in the entire
nation - except the ruling class of course.
The crisis that continues to get worse by the day could have been
eased months ago and on the way to a permanent resolution. If only Mugabe
had put the interests of Zimbabwe first by agreeing to share power equitably
with the MDC, instead of trying to cheat the opposition into joining
government as a powerless junior partner.
Likewise, the 3 000 people that have died needlessly because of
cholera could have been saved had Mugabe and Zanu (PF) cared.
But this is too much to ask of the selfish buccaneers in charge of the
ship of state. They abandoned the noble ideals of the liberation struggle
many years ago.
They are too busy stealing taxpayers' money or fighting over which
last commercial farm to loot to be able to see the anguish of parents
agonising over whether to send their children to school where they may
contract cholera or keep them at home and damage their future.
Sheer greed and an obscene desire to keep power at all costs is what
has motivated Zanu (PF). It is the only motive driving them into this unity
government with Morgan Tsvangirai and the MDC.
We have said it before and in the name of our children who are being
denied an education by this incompetent lot, we say it again: this unity
government cannot work, not when there is no paradigm shift on the part of
Zanu (PF), not when Mugabe continues to see it as a means to outflank the
By Minabere Ibelema
Published: Sunday, 1 Feb 2009
WHEN African politicians tiptoe around Zimbabwe's nightmare, Robert Mugabe,
it is understandable. Many of them are practitioners of Mugabe's cynical
politics or have benefited from such.
When academics vent for Mugabe, that is a different matter. It is reason for
concern. Alas, there has been a lot of that from some of Africa's brightest
Africa's intellectual class is usually the most unsparing critics of African
politicians. But the two groups tend to find common grounds when the issue
is Western imperialism.
There was a time in some intellectual circles when African leaders literally
got away with murder if they could link their countries' travails to
colonialism or neo-colonialism. That trend reached its peak during the Cold
War, when the rivalry between the capitalist and communist blocs wreaked
havoc on African soils.
Accordingly, opportunistic African leaders - civilian and military - readily
mobilised their people to fight the external evil.
The end of the Cold War in the early 1990s took away the cover for
repression and inept leadership. Pro-Western African regimes could no longer
repress their people with the excuse that they were guarding against
communism. And pro-Soviet regimes could no longer perpetuate totalitarianism
in the guise of anti-imperialism.
In country after country, the people began to focus their attention on the
internal political process and the quality of their leadership. They
recognised that the imperial presidency was not consistent with people's
political and economic aspirations.
For academics, the fervour for related treatise on imperialism began to wane
correspondingly. Rather than blame imperialists, they increasingly
acknowledged that the quality of life of African people depended more on
internal forces than external machinations.
For some African intellectuals, it seems that this realisation has been
jettisoned with regard to Mugabe. They have fervently revived the
colonialist/neo-colonialist thesis to explain Africa's greatest political
tragedy at this time (with all due consideration for Darfur and eastern
Actually, some of Mugabe's defenders are only being consistent with their
The essential argument in defence of Mugabe is that Zimbabwe's economy has
crumbled because of Western economic sanctions. And the sanctions were
imposed because of Mugabe's redress of colonial injustice.
Both parts of the argument are only half-truths. They do not justify support
for Mugabe's morbid clinging to power.
Sure, Mugabe inherited a vexing inequity. Whites controlled about 70 per
cent of Zimbabwe's most arable lands, though they constitute a small
percentage of Zimbabwean farmers and population.
Mugabe's solution was to allow activists to yank farmlands from whites
without due compensation and without ensuring the expertise necessary to
keep those farms as productive.
In effect, he gambled with the country's economy. If agricultural production
collapsed, the economy would collapse. And sure enough both did.
This fact is conveniently sidestepped in the imperialist arguments - that
sanctions are to blame for Zimbabwe's economic collapse. Yes, sanctions
hurt, but only to a degree.
Many countries with well-managed economies have survived sanctions. For
years, for instance, apartheid South Africa thumbed its nose at the world
despite United Nations sanctions.
Sure, many Western countries violated the sanctions. But then sanctions are
always violated by countries that have something to gain in doing so. The
sanctions against Zimbabwe are no exception. Even arms are being shipped in
Significantly, Namibia and South Africa faced similar inequity in economic
power when the black majority took over in both countries. In neither
country did the leaders resort to rash policies that would have constituted
cutting off one's nose to spite one's face.
In Namibia, President Sam Nujoma and Prime Minister Hage Geingob were both
SWAPO Marxists. But once in office they had the political wisdom to adopt
pragmatic policies in both racial and ideological matters.
With a mixture of negotiations and cajoling they succeeded in steering the
country to relative racial equity without unsettling the economy. The
successive presidency of Nelson Mandela and Thabo Mbeki did the same in
Even if Mugabe's government was justified in its approach to redressing the
farmland inequity, the consequence has been disastrous and the people have a
democratic right to hold him accountable. He cannot hide behind ostensible
nationalism and racialist rhetoric.
In the most recently contested elections, the people decided they had had
enough, but Mugabe and his allies would not let the verdict stand. They
turned the opposition's evident victory into results that supposedly
warranted a run-off. Then they let loose the police and military on the
opposition, abducting, imprisoning and clobbering them.
Even if Zimbabwe's downfall was engineered by the West, Mugabe has to be
answerable to his people, the electorate. What he is doing, instead, is
thumbing his nose not so much at the West but at Zimbabweans. Their
suffering does not even seem to perturb him.
At points in Zimbabwe's history, Mugabe was an asset. Now he and his cronies
are a tragic liability.
Democracies have been known to let go their most revered leaders when a
different kind of leadership is called for. After World War II, for
instance, the British voted out Winston Churchill, the prime minister whose
inspired leadership saw them through the perilous years.
In South Africa, Nelson Mandela stepped down of his own accord. He would
still be president today if he had wanted to. But wisdom and love of his
country dictated otherwise.
Apologists for Mugabe have dubbed opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai a
stooge for the West. The same appellation was used to discredit opponents of
Africa's post-independence totalitarians. And one thought we had gone beyond
In the words of Shakespeare, "There is a tide in the affairs of men, which
taken at the flood leads on to fortune; omitted, all the voyage of their
life is bound in shallows and in miseries."
The tide for Mugabe's departure came long time ago, but he did not take it.
Now Zimbabweans are paying a steep price for his egomania. He should go.
Sunday, 1 February 2009, 5:25 pm
Press Release: New Zealand Labour Party
Statement on Zimbabwe
Rt Hon Helen Clark, Labour Spokesperson on Foreign Affairs said today hopes
would be high that the power sharing agreement announced in Zimbabwe would
offer a fresh start for the traumatised nation.
The agreement, announced in Zimbabwe in recent hours would see Morgan
Tsvangirai, Leader of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), sworn in as
Prime Minister in eleven days time. Reports suggest that the MDC would take
the finance portfolio; share the important Home Affairs portfolio which has
responsibility for the police; and take a range of other portfolios.
Helen Clark said that the international community stood poised to offer
major support to the rebuilding of Zimbabwe, should this be a serious power
"The previous power sharing accord, signed in Zimbabwe last September,
failed to take effect. For the sake of Zimbabweans, it has to be hoped that
this one fares better.
"In recent weeks a cholera epidemic has spread in Zimbabwe, infecting more
than 60,000 people and killing more than 3,000. This misery has been added
to the HIV-AIDS epidemic, 94 per cent unemployment, and an inflation rate
now estimated at a staggering 231 million per cent.
"Political violence causing death, disability, and terror has been
perpetrated against Zanu-PF's opponents. The new agreement commits to free
political activity without the fear of harassment and intimidation.
All eyes will be on Zimbabwe to see if this critical part of the new
agreement is abided by. Without adherence to that, Zimbabwe cannot get the
fresh start it so desperately needs.
" The leaders of Southern Africa have worked hard to get this second power
sharing agreement in place, fully conscious of the tragedy which has
unfolded in Zimbabwe. For the sake of Zimbabwe and the region, it has to be
hoped that it works. A nation once in the vanguard of development on the
continent has been reduced to unimaginable tragedy by its rulers.
"The new agreement implies reasonably rapid progress on the development of a
new constitution which would be submitted to a referendum. The world will be
watching to see that this process proceeds unhindered by those responsible
for reducing Zimbabwe to its present desperate state", Helen Clark said.