The ZIMBABWE Situation
An extensive and up-to-date website containing news, views and links related to ZIMBABWE - a country in crisis
Return to INDEX page
Please note: You need to have 'Active content' enabled in your IE browser in order to see the index of articles on this webpage

'Pray and fast' plea for Zimbabwe
Wednesday, 25 February 2009
By Robert Pigott
BBC Religious Affairs correspondent

Archbishops John Sentamu and Archbishop Rowan Williams
In their first joint funding appeal the archbishops have called for donations now, rather than waiting for a political solution.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, has called on Anglicans to "pray, fast and give" to highlight Zimbabwe's slide toward starvation.

Dr Williams and the Archbishop of York, John Sentamu, have chosen the growing crisis in Zimbabwe for their first joint appeal for funds.

They said people should give now rather than wait for a political solution.

Dr Sentamu said if people did not give, disease and starvation would mean "more and more graves".

In a joint interview with Dr Williams for BBC News, Dr Sentamu said he will spend Wednesday fasting in St Helen's Church in York, as well as leading hourly prayers for Zimbabwe.

I think the humanitarian crisis in Zimbabwe is now at an appalling level
Rowan Williams

Fasting is a traditional act of penitence and reflection that Christians use to mark Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent.

Dr Williams called on people around the world, especially Anglicans, to fast, pray and give for Zimbabwe.

Otherwise, he said, disaster was inevitable.

Archbishop Sentamu said that his simple day of prayer and fasting would provide a sharp contrast with the elaborate schedule of the president of Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe.

It has been reported that Mr Mugabe will be spending at least part of Wednesday at the Rainbow Towers Hotel in Harare - half way through a week of sumptuous celebrations for his 85th birthday.

He will be attending a dinner, costing a reported £70 ($100) a ticket, and will be serenaded by a variety of musical bands, both home-grown and recruited from overseas.

Child suffering from cholera
Thousands of Zimbabweans, many of them children, have contracted cholera

Dr Williams said that beyond the gilded world occupied by the President and his entourage, Zimbabweans faced desperate conditions.

"I think the humanitarian crisis in Zimbabwe is now at an appalling level," he said.

"It's estimated that perhaps half the population is now under threat of starvation; and the deaths from cholera have been climbing in just the last couple of weeks from 3,000 towards 4,000.

"Everyone knows about the rate of inflation, but I think the main thing is the sheer level at which people are at risk of starvation."

"People will die. They'll die quickly, unpleasantly, and children and young people will bear the brunt of it."

Archbishop Sentamu said many of those deaths would come from disease.

'More graves'

"The spread of cholera, I'm afraid, will just increase because there isn't clean water. So in the end, if people don't heed this particular appeal, there'll be more and more graves".

Archbishop Sentamu has been scathing about Robert Mugabe, and publicly cut up his clerical collar on BBC television in 2007, promising to go without one until the President left office.

Despite Zimbabwe's desperate plight, the UN's World Food Programme recently reported that donor countries had actually reduced the amount they were giving.

The UN said donors were apparently waiting to see what would result from the power-sharing deal between President Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangirai before committing themselves to further funding.

Dr Sentamu - still without a clergy collar - told people they should give money now, rather than waiting in the expectation of a political solution in Zimbabwe.

"There is this seeming political solution by power sharing, but the truth is, as long as the Home Office Department is not controlled other than by Mugabe and his friends, just forget it! Because security won't return and people won't feel safe," he said.

Anglicans' relations with President Mugabe are already extremely tense.

After the Church criticised him last year, priests said that twenty Anglican churches were targeted by the police.

In one case, a priest told the BBC how officers armed with sticks interrupted a service and ordered the congregation of 300 to leave.

Political sanctions

A number of women were struck as they knelt in front of the altar in the act of taking the bread and wine of communion.

Dr Williams praised Anglicans in Zimbabwe for the "courage and imagination" they had shown in facing danger, and insisted that despite the rift with the government, the Church was well placed to deliver aid.

He also called for political sanctions.

"Sanctions that cut against the people of Zimbabwe are gong to be massively counter-productive.

"Sanctions against the political legitimacy and acceptability of the ruling elite in Zimbabwe are, I think, necessary.

"I hope they're effective, but they're not the whole story".

President Mugabe often portrays criticism from Britain as a throwback to colonialism.

But it's hard to pin that label on Archbishop Sentamu.

Dr Sentamu's Ugandan ancestry, his senior position in the Anglican Church (which has many members in Zimbabwe), and his reputation for sustaining campaigns such as this, make him an effective critic of Robert Mugabe.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Zimbabwe Civil Servants Have Trouble Redeeming US$100 Pay Vouchers

By Jonga Kandemiiri
24 February 2009

Some Zimbabwean civil servants said Tuesday that they were having trouble
redeeming the US$100 vouchers they have been given by the government as
supplements to their pay under a program announced last week by Finance
Minister Tendai Biti.

Banks were said to be running short on foreign exchange as state workers
tried to redeem the vouchers. Some banks advised customers to open hard
currency accounts elsewhere.

Teacher Valentine Moyo of Masvingo, capital of the eastern province of the
same name, told reporter Jonga Kandemiiri of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe
that he was not able to redeem his voucher and that retailers refused them
or insisted on a fee to accept them.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Zimbabwe at top of Ban's Africa agenda

James Reinl, United Nations Correspondent

Last Updated: February 25. 2009 12:39AM UAE / February 24. 2009 8:39PM GMT

Ban Ki-moon is on a three-day state visit and is expected to meet South
Africa's president Kgalema Motlanthe and later meet the former president
Nelson Mandela. Siphiwe Sibeko / Reuters

PRETORIA, South Africa // The UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, touched
down in Africa yesterday for wide-ranging talks designed to assist
cholera-stricken Zimbabwe, bolster a fragile peacekeeping mission in Congo
and raise cash for rebuilding Gaza.

An eight-day itinerary includes face time with four presidents and the
anti-apartheid icon, Nelson Mandela, through which the secretary general
will strive to forge consensus on tackling the continent's woes.

The five-nation trip comes amid expectations that International Criminal
Court judges are poised to issue an arrest warrant against Sudan's
president, Omar al Bashir, for alleged atrocities in Darfur.

UN peacekeeping chiefs fear The Hague-based court's much-anticipated
indictment will spur Khartoum to order reprisal attacks against the two blue
helmet forces operating in Sudan.

Mr Ban's arrival in Pretoria marks his first official South African visit,
where a meeting with Kgalema Motlanthe, the president, kicks off a blitz of
high-level talks across Tanzania, Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of Congo
(DRC) and Egypt.

Topping the agenda are the dire challenges facing Zimbabwe's new government,
where a cholera epidemic has claimed more than 3,750 lives and poverty has
slashed life expectancy to 37 years for men and 34 years for women.

Robert Mugabe's governance has seen Zimbabwe, once the breadbasket of
Africa, suffer economic meltdown and inflation rates believed to have soared
above the official figure of 231 million per cent.

The prime minister, Morgan Tsvangirai, who formed a unity government with Mr
Mugabe's party, Zanu-PF, this month, has warned it will cost as much as US$5
billion (Dh18bn) to rebuild the shattered economy.

Mr Ban's DRC visit comes hot on the heels of a preliminary peace agreement
between the government and the main former rebel group in the east of the
country, where fighting has seen more than 800,000 civilians uprooted in
recent months.

Talks between negotiators from the government of Joseph Kabila, the
president, and the National Congress for the Defence of the People (CNDP) in
the eastern hub of Goma are expected to lead to discussions in Nairobi and,
potentially, a full accord.

The eastern DRC has been racked by conflict, in which the CNDP forces of a
renegade Tutsi general, Laurent Nkunda, have seized large swathes of land in
an offensive towards the end of last year.

UN peacekeepers have faced criticism for failing to protect civilians in
North Kivu, where Congolese government troops and rebel groups are alleged
to have looted and committed atrocities.

But Mr Nkunda was arrested last month and some CNDP forces have rallied to
the Congolese national army, which is attempting to quell strife in the
region with the help of Rwandan troops and UN logistical support.

Joint operation between two African armies and a UN peacekeeping outfit,
known by its French acronym Monuc, is also tackling an ethnic Hutu militia
suspected of atrocities during Rwanda's 1994 genocide called the Democratic
Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda.

But Human Rights Watch says Monuc troops remain "thinly stretched across
huge swathes of Congo" and accuses peacekeepers of failing to protect
civilians in the north from brutal attacks at the hands of the rebel Lord's
Resistance Army.

Anneke Van Woudenberg, a senior researcher for the US-based pressure group,
said civilians are "not getting the protection they deserve from the armies
involved in the joint operations" and called for a beefed-up UN force.

This week's Africa trip will also see Mr Ban fly above the thawing snowcap
of Mount Kilimanjaro, among the world's most notable victims of global
warming, to draw attention to an international climate change treaty being
negotiated this year.

The UN leader recently called for "leadership of the highest order" from the
United States, China, India and the European Union to "show the way . for
those least able to adapt".

Other stops along the secretary general's trail highlight humanitarian
issues, with visits to refugees and victims of sexual violence in DRC as
well as Aids victims in South Africa.

The world's top diplomat will also visit the international war crimes
tribunal for Rwanda in the northern Tanzanian city of Arusha, before winding
up in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, on Monday, for an international pledging
conference to rebuild the Gaza Strip after Israel's offensive against Hamas.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Material deprivation

February 25, 2009

Economic sanctions may not overthrow despots, but their symbolic value
Joyce Mujuru, Vice-President of Zimbabwe since 2004, is so far steeped in
blood, plunder and oppression that the European Union maintains sanctions
against her, along with about 200 of her compatriots. When Mrs Mujuru tried
to sell covertly a huge consignment of Congolese gold through a bullion
dealer with offices in London, the company uncovered her role and
peremptorily refused the deal, on the admirably precise grounds that its
instigators were criminals. Mrs Mujuru responded with the threats of
personal violence that are the universal language of thuggish,
kleptomaniacal mediocrities.

It is impossible not to cheer the scrupulousness of the bullion dealer. But
the practice of imposing economic sanctions on repressive regimes and
despotic leaderships has only a mixed record. It is to some extent
inevitable that the worst of regimes, by the mere fact of their indifference
to international norms, will be more capable of resisting pressure than
countries that seek a measure of approval.

Apartheid South Africa is the most frequently cited case of a regime brought
low by international pressure. Sanctions in that case were undoubtedly a
just cause pursued against an evil system. But they were relatively more
effective than sanctions against, say, Baathist Iraq, because of a greater
degree of political openness. South Africa systematically disenfranchised
its black majority, yet possessed multiple political parties and an often
courageously independent press. The country's image ultimately mattered to a
leadership that had lost ideological confidence.

Similarly, sanctions against Iran - an extremist regime but not a
totalitarian state - have had some successes when consistently applied. Iran
has a nuclear programme that is patently not designed purely for generating
electricity. Though the regime is hardly undermined by sanctions, it is
anxious to remain within the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, and has
responded to pressure.

Sanctions against Zimbabwe are a different case. The country is a place of
systematic violence and a cowed populace. Autocracies where oppression is
almost total - such as North Korea or Burma - can allow domestic conditions
to worsen almost indefinitely, because the price will be paid by the already
vulnerable. Western diplomacy needs to win the support of people labouring
under oppressive regimes. There is a large danger that - as happened with
Saddam Hussein's public relations campaign on the issue - the suffering of a
captive people will be blamed on international sanctions rather than
domestic repression.

All of these criticisms are fair. Sanctions may have scant effect on their
targets. It was military action, not the sanctions applied to them, that
overthrew Saddam and the Taleban, and that stopped the genocidal designs of
Slobodan Milosevic in Kosovo. But the importance of symbols in politics
should not be underestimated. Mrs Mujuru's outburst is suggestive. The
Zimbabwe regime defies civilised standards, while its leaders enjoy the
material spoils of gross misrule. It matters to them, even if it does not
directly alleviate the plight of their victims, that the EU and United
Nations maintain economic pressure. Tyrants may not thereby fall, but they
can at least be denied the fruits of avarice and the means of opulent

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Archbishops of Canterbury and York condemn regime in Zimbabwe
February 25, 2009

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, has issued an unprecedentedly strong condemnation of Robert Mugabe's regime in Zimbabwe, warning that the country's problems will never be resolved while he remains in power.

In a joint article with the Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, in The Times today, Dr Williams says that by destroying a country once held up as a beacon of hope, Mr Mugabe has destroyed the hopes of people throughout Africa. “The continent can't afford more failed states, mass hunger, contempt for the rule of law. And how much more painful it is when a country has been held up as a sign of promise,” he says.

Half of Zimbabwe's population is now in danger of starvation, cases of cholera have risen to 75,000, killing one in 20, and Aids remains a mass killer. Schools are closed and thousands of health workers are fleeing the country.

Announcing a joint appeal for aid to the starving, cholera-stricken people of Zimbabwe, he and Dr Sentamu say that the humanitarian tragedy could not be worse.

They write: “We know that there is no quick solution to this; and we know that there will be no serious solution as long as Robert Mugabe remains in power and refuses to accept the verdict of his people in last year's election. Lives can still be saved; and more importantly hope can be sustained if we continue to support the Church in Zimbabwe as a vehicle of promise and a guarantor of the human dignity so fearfully insulted by the current regime.”

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Unity government: The circus begins

by Tambanavo Chamanyawi Wednesday 25 February 2009

The inclusive government of Zimbabwe is turning into a circus. The idea is
very noble, but the architects are slowly changing direction and in the
process, compromising the objectives of the compromise.

Do we honestly need 52 ministers, a small country like Zimbabwe? What for?
What exactly are they doing? What are the job descriptions of this bloated
government ministers?

We hear that some ministers have neither work places, staff nor office
equipment. What are they doing? Do were need to fork out money to create
work places for them where they would pretend to be working?

These ministers are just walking in the streets without offices or duties.
They are just floating around in their party and government corridors with a
lot of power on paper but doing nothing except taking congratulatory
handshakes. They are also attending endless strategic meetings, but doing
practically nothing to redeem the sinking Zimbabwe.

A-ah vakomana! Kungotsvaga mutauro, kuti mungozofamba muchiti vananhingi

Our number one priority is cutting down on unnecessary expenditure, but
these guys come up with the largest Cabinet in human history.

Some of the things that are unfolding can only be expected to happen at
Sunday schools if not at kindergartens.

ZANU PF pitched up with 22 ministers instead of 15 for the swearing in
ceremony. They muscled in eight and in-exchange MDC was rewarded with others
for letting in ZANU PF's extras.

Even a class monitor position cannot be snatched this easily even at a rural
primary school.

We are told others got wind of the venue and time of the swearing in and
just turned up neither invited nor appointed. Guess what happened to them?
They walked away as ministers, complete with their Mercedes Benz
allocations, security details and unlimited vouchers. Asi chinyi nhai?

Like kittens being pulled out of a soup bowl whilst still sucking, ZANU PF
had to drag out some of its zealots from the swearing in parade, much to the
surprise of South African President Kgalema Motlanthe.

ZANU PF chairman John Nkomo is one of those who were asked to excuse
themselves from the swearing in drama.

The chucked-out lot had to take refuge in the State House to serve
themselves from embarrassment.

They had brought their families and friends, only to be shown the door in
front of rotating media camera lenses. Imagine!

Some ministries are a fallacy. Can anyone explain to the nation the duties
of the Minister of National Integration, Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga?

Would she be harmonising different factions in MDC, ZANU PF or Zimbabweans
as whole? Do we need a ministry just to remind citizens of Zimbabwe not to
fight among themselves?

Workshops administered by the civic society would have done the trick than
spending non-existent money paying a minister and her staff for being in
office, doing nothing, zero and zilch.

We all understand the spirit of compromising for the benefit of the country,
but what do we gain by compromising the objectives of a compromise? Nothing,
zero, zilch.

What about the deputy ministers who are flocking from everywhere? Do we
really need them? They are deputising what?

Where will we get the money to sponsor the extravagant ministerial life
styles? For heaven's sake where will we get money to purchase 104 Mercedes
Benz (Compressors), whilst the whole nation is starving?

Trust me never expect these politicians to forgo those luxuries. They will
go ahead and buy the sexy and powerful German-made sedans, well before
paying civil servants US$100 a month.

They would not even shy away from demanding another Nissan Narvara 4x4 for
use in their rural homes.

I am neither an alarmist nor a prophet of doom, but a realist. - ZimOnline

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Zim doctors call off strike

By Nokuthula Sibanda Wednesday 25 February 2009

HARARE - HARARE - Zimbabwean doctors who have been on an indefinite strike
to press for more pay and better working conditions have resolved to go back
to work apparently after the new government promised to address their
grievances, a top union official said.

"We are now going back to work strictly on humanitarian grounds," said Amon
Serevegi Hospital Doctors Association president.

"The government has not promised us much, but we have made an undertaking
that we will go back to work."

Serevegi could not be drawn into disclosing what sort of concessions they
had been given by the government.

The strike by mostly junior doctors last year led to a virtual collapse of
the country's health delivery system.

The doctor's strike was later joined in by nurses, making the situation in
state hospitals - the source of health services for the majority of
Zimbabweans -virtually untenable.

Standards and service at the public health institutions that were once
lauded as some of the best public hospitals in Africa have over the past
decade collapsed after years of under-funding and mismanagement.

The announcement by the doctors came hours after teachers, who were also
striking for more pay, announced that they were returning to work following
meetings with Education Minister David Coltart.

Coltart met leaders of the Zimbabwe Teachers Association (ZIMTA) and the
Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) last week to plead with the
two unions that represent the country's teachers to call off the strike has
been going on since last year and had grounded the school system.

Meanwhile, PTUZ president Takawira Zhou said on Tuesday although they had
agreed that teachers are going back to work, government should make an
undertaking that teachers' children do not pay fees.

"Although we have agreed to go back to work, government must make sure that
children for teachers do not pay fees," Zhou said.

"Government must also make sure that none of the teachers who were not
reporting for work are victimised since they were not at work as a result of
an economic crisis as they did not have bus fares while the other reason is
that most of them were victims of political violence especially in the rural
areas." - ZimOnline.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Unity govt should release political detainees: Civic groups

by Tendai Hungwe Wednesday 25 February 2009

JOHANNESBURG - A coalition of South African and Zimbabwean civic groups on
Tuesday urged Zimbabwe's unity government to free human rights campaigners
and political activists from jail and to scrap repressive media and security

The coalition known as Save Zimbabwe Now and some of whose members have been
fasting for weeks in solidarity with suffering masses in Zimbabwe said the
unity government had to act urgently to facilitate the drafting of a new and
democratic constitution for Zimbabwe.

South African rights defender Kumi Naidoo told reporters in Johannesburg
that the unity government risked being viewed as an extension of President
Robert Mugabe's ZANU PF party unless it freed "political hostages, human
rights detainees (and repealed) draconian laws such as the Public Order and
Security Act and the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act.

Mugabe used the tough security and media laws to clamp down on the
opposition and gag the press but agreed to review the laws under a
power-sharing deal with his chief rival and now Prime Minister Morgan

Tsvangirai and Mugabe formed a government of national unity about a week ago
immediately sparking hope for a revival of once prosperous Zimbabwe.

But skepticism remains high whether the unity government that under a
September power-sharing agreement should last for about two years would
survive the deep-seated acrimony between the political rivals.

Moves by state prosecutors on Tuesday to block top Tsvangirai ally, Roy
Bennett, from being released on bail after the High Court had said he should
be freed only helped to deepen doubts on the viability of the unity

Bennett, who is the MDC's nominee for deputy agriculture minister in the
unity government, is charged with possession of weapons for the purposes of
banditry, insurgency and terrorism - charges he denies and which his party
says are trumped up.

The MDC has called for the release of Bennett as well as at least 20 other
activists of the party being held in jail on charges of plotting to
overthrow Mugabe but it has said it remained committed to the unity
government despite the detention of its members. ZimOnline.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Hunger Exacerbating Child Mortality

Ignatius Banda

24 May 2009

Bulawayo - Judith Moyo is unable to give her child enough food. She has to
bring her 18-month-old daughter to a council clinic for check-ups every
month because of what nurses call her "slow development".

"I give her isitshwala leftovers from the previous night," 33-year-old Moyo
says as she tries to keep the child quiet. Isitshwala is a staple thick
porridge prepared from maize meal.

The fourth of the United Nations' Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) seeks
a two-third reduction in the deaths of children under five by 2015. But the
issues related to the first MDG, the eradication of extreme poverty and
hunger, will push the reduction of child mortality in Zimbabwe beyond the
target date of 2015.

Despite President Robert Mugabe's declaration in Zimbabwe's first MDG
progress report in 2004 that the country was achieving success in the
implementation of the goals, the continued lack of access to basic services
makes this unlikely.

The World Health Organisation's estimates for 2004 put the under-five
mortality rate in Zimbabwe at 129 per 1,000 live births. This has meant a
sharp increase since 1990 when under-five mortality was estimated at 80 per
1,000 live births. In 2000, it stood at 117 per 1,000 live births.

The United Nations Children's Fund reports that while Zimbabwe saw a decline
in infant mortality in the early 1990s, numbers have risen steadily after
2000 as health delivery services declined amid growing international

Zimbabwe therefore remains one of a few countries to reverse the gains made
during the early years of independence.

Apart from Moyo, other women at the government clinic also admit that they
cannot provide enough sustenance for their newborns because of escalating
food costs.

Selina Zulu makes regular visits to the clinic. She used to give her older
children, who have since finished their primary education, supplements like
peanut butter. But now she cannot do the same for her three-year-old son
because of escalating prices.

"Things have changed so fast. We have had to turn to feeding our children
food which we know is not good for them," she said amid nodding from other
women gathered at the clinic.

A nurse at the clinic says a number of children under five have been put on
supplementary feeding. They are getting rations from the United States
Agency for International Development (USAID).

"Many of the children have been given the anti-measles jab, but they remain
poorly fed. This is our main worry," says Helen Dube, a nurse monitoring the
feeding and vaccination.

Zimbabwe's economic decline has led to the breakdown of the country's health
delivery system. Health care is now characterised by acute shortages of
drugs and skilled personnel. This has affected levels of measles
immunisation, which is one of the indicators for MDG 4.

In the 2004 progress report, the Zimbabwe government promised that 90
percent of infants will be vaccinated against measles by 2015.

But Stanford Matenda, a researcher and chairperson of the National
University of Science and Technology's Journalism School in Bulawayo, says
the economic decline has made it virtually impossible for the country to
realise this goal. "I do not see us achieving it."

"Just recently, government acknowledged that nurses were not going to work.
The same goes for medical doctors. Children do not have access to food, care
or medication, so it will be difficult to attain these targets," argues

"When parents are experiencing severe economic and psychological hardships,
it will also be quite difficult for children to be healthy," he concludes.

Recently, Deputy Minister of Health and Child Welfare Edwin Muguti told
striking doctors that the government had no money to meet their demands for
salary adjustments.

The lack of resources to meet service delivery needs will also affect remote
rural areas. According to health officials in the western border town of
Plumtree, the measles vaccination programme has been slowed down by the
unavailability of medicine and medical personnel.

Gertrude Chisale of Plumtree Hospital's documentation centre says there has
been a steady rise in the number of deaths from measles as the government
hospital struggles with resources. "This year alone, we have had at least 15
deaths of children under five and we expect the number to rise if the
situation continues," Chisale tells IPS.

"We used to have motorcycles for staff to travel to remote rural areas to do
vaccinations. This has been stopped because government says there is no
money for fuel or for the maintenance of these bikes," says Chisale.

Matenda hopes that international assistance will become available to help
vulnerable groups such as newborn babies.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Zimbabwe Human Rights Issues Cloud Prospects For Regional Bailout

By Blessing Zulu
24 February 2009

A Zimbabwean High Court justice ruled Tuesday that jailed deputy
minister-designate Roy Bennett should be granted bail pending judicial
action on charges he possessed weapons to be used for terrorism - but the
former white farmer and opposition official continued to be held after state
prosecutors announced they would appeal the decision.

Bennett remained behind bars in a remand prison in the eastern Zimbabwean
city of Mutare, to which he was brought after being arrested on Feb. 13 at
an airport outside Harare on the same day the cabinet of a national unity
government was being sworn in. Bennett, treasurer of the Movement for
Democratic Change formation of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, was
designated deputy minister of agriculture but has yet to be sworn into

Correspondent Irwin Chifera reported from Harare on the high court decision.

For more on the legal issues involved, reporter Ntungamili Nkomo of VOA's
Studio 7 for Zimbabwe spoke with Beatrice Mtetwa, Bennett's lawyer, who said
the state's appeal based on a section of the Criminal Procedures Act was an
abuse of the law. Bennett's legal team asked the High Court judge to refer
the issue to the Supreme Court.

Mr. Tsvangirai's MDC formation issued a statement calling the state appeal
in the case "malicious and vindictive."

The Bennett case threatened to spill over into regional politics ahead of a
meeting Wednesday of finance ministers of the Southern African Development
Community in Cape Town, South Africa, at which they were to consider
financial assistance for Zimbabwe's reconstruction.

Regional financing may not be as much of a sure thing as it seemed last week
when Prime Minister Tsvangirai met with South African President Kgalema

Sources said some SADC finance ministers have expressed displeasure at
allegations that 300 million rand in South African agricultural aid to
Zimbabwe was diverted, while other SADC officials are expressing concern
about Bennett's continued detention.

SADC Executive Secretary Tomaz Salamao told reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA's
Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that Harare's bailout is the top item on the SADC
ministers' agenda.

Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa said he was unaware of any deal reached
by Mr. Mugabe and Mr. Tsvangirai as to the release of political detainees,
countering that Mr. Tsvangirai by writing to the High Court on behalf of
Bennett had interfered with justice.

Tsvangirai MDC Spokesman Nelson Chamisa warned that the Bennett case
jeopardizes the very existence of the national unity government.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Health Disaster Looms at UZ

HARARE, February 24 2009 - A serious health disaster is looming at
University of Zimbabwe (UZ) as standards continue to deteriorate as the
institute of higher learning has now gone for more than half a year without
water, Radio VOP has established.

Lecturers and students are now using two toilets that still have
running water at the entire complex.

A lecturer with the Faculty of Law said the situation was pathetic as
the authority had failed to provide water for the past six months. He said
the entire complex was using two toilets, a situation which is unhealthy for
the over 3000 students.

He also said the university no longer provided food and students had
to bring their own food.

"We are surprised to read that things have improved at the university
in newspapers... infact conditions have deteriorated," said the lecturer.

He said lessons had not yet started contrary to media reports, mainly
because lecturers had not yet received their salaries.

"We are yet to receive the US$100 vouchers, probably today although
the money is not enough for our needs. Students are coming but the real
situation is that we have not yet started working," added the lecturer.

University of Zimbabwe was last year August closed after the
institution faced a serious water crisis which emanated from burst and aged
water pipes.

Meanwhile Higher and Tertiary Education Minister Stan Mudenge was on
Tuesday expected to hold a crisis meeting with university Vice Chancellors
and college principals in Harare in desperate attempts to bring sanity to
the institutions of higher learning.

Higher education officials told RadioVOP that the meeting was meant to
discuss university and college fees, inorder to come up with a fee structure
that would bring normalcy to the education sector.

Students at the institutions of higher learning recently staged
violent demonstrations countrywide demanding a reduction in fees.

Most colleges and universities have proposed fees of between USd
600-USd 1 000 per semester. However, there has been a public outcry from
most students who said they could not afford the announced fees taking into
consideration the prevailing harsh economic environment.

Mudenge and higher education officials were expected to unveil a new
fees structure amid revelations the minister has also asked traditional
donors to chip in towards the welfare of lecturers.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Tsvangirai offers to be Bennett guarantor

February 24, 2009

By Our Correspondent

HARARE - Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai on Tuesday offered to act as a
guarantor for the appearance of his party's national treasurer Roy Bennett,
if the courts granted his application for bail.

Bennett, who is Deputy Minister of Agriculture -designate, was arrested two
weeks ago on alleged possession of dangerous weapons back in 2006. He denies
the charges.

In a letter dated February 20, 2008, but presented in court on Tuesday, and
also intended to support the defence efforts to seek bail for Bennett, the
Zimbabwean Premier appealed to the court to release Bennett into his
personal custody.

"In terms of the Global Political Agreement," Tsvangirai wrote, "Roy Bennett
has been nominated to serve as a deputy minister in the new transitional
government in Zimbabwe.

"As Prime Minister, I am responsible for overseeing all policy formulations
by cabinet and all policy implementation by the entirety of government.

"For this reason, Mr Bennett will be reporting to me and I will be
responsible for the work he performs as a deputy minister.

"Such is the need for Zimbabwe to have at its disposal all nominated and
qualified personnel to wok to rebuild our country, our economy and our

The High Court on Tuesday ordered the release of Bennett on stringent bail

The State however declared its intentions to challenge Justice Tedious Karwi's
ruling, citing provisions of Section 121 of the Criminal Procedure and
Evidence Act.

The Act bars the immediate release of an accused person before the lapse of
seven days within which such challenge has to be filed through the Supreme

Tsvangirai said it was imperative that Bennett be released immediately to
begin his duties as minister.

"In this respect, as Prime Minister of Zimbabwe, I will stand surety of Mr
Bennett and ensure that once he has been granted bail, he attends all and
every court appearance or other duty as so instructed by the courts."

Bennett, 52, was arrested two weeks ago as he tried to fly out of Zimbabwe
to visit his family in South Africa. His plane was ordered to abort as it
was taxing for take-off.

He was due to attend his swearing in as deputy minister last Friday.

In response to Tsvangirai's pleas, the state, which is still fighting to
keep Bennett in custody, said the letter by the Prime Minister was

"The Prime Minister is a member of the Executive who must not interfere with
the judiciary unless he is acting in his own capacity," Chris Mutangadura,
who appeared for the State, said Tuesday.

"The letter is irregular and constitutes a serious infringement on the
separation of powers (between the Executive and judiciary).

The State's contention elicited an interjection from Justice Karwi who
cautioned Mutangadura not to rubbish the person of the Prime Minister in

Justice Karwi said Mutangadura was the Attorney General's representative in
the matter and should accordingly act as advisor to government.

"You are the advisor to the Prime Minister," said Karwi. "Why did you not
advise him accordingly? You should not be seen attacking your Prime Minister
in public. I fear he may consider firing you."

Harare lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa supported the Prime Minister's intervention
saying it had helped strengthen the defence's efforts to secure the release
of their client.

"The stronger your surety, the better your chances (of getting bail)," said

"There is absolutely nothing wrong with even the President of Zimbabwe
standing surety for anyone who is close to him because the bail rules allow

The intervention by Tsvangirai reveals a huge difference between him and
President Robert Mugabe who says the courts should be allowed to determine
the fate of all the jailed MDC members who are currently held on banditry

Although it is well within his constitutional mandate to order the
unconditional release of the political prisoners, Mugabe said Monday he
could only exercise his prerogative of mercy after the courts were through
with the matter.

The President's offer of mercy pre-supposes the accused persons will be
found guilty, as his offer would be rendered meaningless should they be
found to be innocent.

On the other hand, Tsvangirai, who has been campaigning vigorously to have
the accused persons released unconditionally, says the continued jailing of
his party's activists is undermining the credibility of the unity government
in which he serves as Prime Minister.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Mukoko challenges unlawful detention

By Moses Muchemwa

Published: February 24, 2009

Harare† - Jailed Zimbabwe Peace Project director Jestina Mukoko has filed a
constitutional application challenging her unlawful detention that has
surpassed stipulated days.

Mukoko also challenged the failure by the State to arrest her kidnappers who
raided her from her Norton home on December 4.

Her defence team led by Beatrice Mtetwa, confirmed that the constitutional
challenge was filed at the Supreme Court.

"We have filed the constitutional application at the Supreme Court," she

Mukoko has been detained despite court rulings to release her. Mukoko's
lawyers successfully applied to have the case taken to the Supreme Court
where a ruling will be on whether or not the alleged abduction, torture and
inhuman treatment on Mukoko violated her constitutional rights.

The Zanu-PF regime incarcerated Mukoko and 30 MDC activists for banditry and
insurgency charges.

The MDC has rebutted the charges saying it was cheap propaganda.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Zimbabwe farmers face 'last-minute land grab'

By Richard Lapper and Tony Hawkins

Published: February 24 2009 23:36 | Last updated: February 24 2009 23:36

Even before a gang of heavily armed men burst into his house and forcibly
evicted him from his land, farming had become a hazardous business for
Malcolm Clark, a 66-year old Zimbabwean who has made his living as a farmer
since 1962.

During the last two years electricity shortages have made it virtually
impossible to irrigate, reducing output at the 92-hectare holding north of
Harare where Mr Clark cultivated a range of vegetables and seeds.

"I didn't think I would survive," said Mr Clark describing last month's
attack, which farmers' organisations say forms part of a "final push" by
supporters of President Robert Mugabe to drive the country's remaining 700
commercial white farmers from their land.
Attacks and legal actions - Mr Clark was accused in September of illegally
occupying the land and must appear in court to hear the eviction order
against him - are on the increase.

They come in spite - or rather, say some observers, because of - the
formation two weeks ago of a government of national unity, in which the
85-year-old Mr Mugabe agreed to share power with Morgan Tsvangirai, leader
of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change.

In 2000 Mr Mugabe launched a land resettlement programme that saw thousands
of white farmers evicted and their land handed over to black Zimbabweans.
But the pace of the evictions had slowed in recent years.

The Commercial Farmers Union (CFU) says at least 77 farmers have been
evicted since February 6 when senior government officials - including the
justice minister and chief magistrate, with high-ranking army and police
officers - began to tour the country with orders to evict those without
government permission to continue working the land.

Trevor Gifford, CFU president, says the evictions are being carried out "by
members of the old regime in [Mr Mugabe's] Zanu-PF who are not willing to
see the transition take place to a new unity government".

Other groups say dozens of other farmers face the threat of violent
occupations and up to 150 are being pursued through the courts.

John Worsley-Worswick, head of the Justice for Agriculture Trust and himself
one of nearly 4,000 farmers to have been pushed off the land since the
beginning of this decade, says since the start this month up to 25 farmers a
day have been asking him for legal advice. That is more than four times the
recent average.

What Mr Worsley-Worswick describes as a "last-minute land grab" is one of
the most obvious signs of the new government's weakness.

Another is the fact that Joseph Made, the agriculture minister, is a Zanu-PF
member who presided over the most radical and violent phase of the evictions
in the early part of this decade.

By contrast, Mr Made's deputy, Roy Bennett, himself an expropriated white
farmer and prominent leader within the MDC, remains in prison after being
detained by security forces on the day the coalition cabinet was sworn in 10
days ago.

The attorney-general appealed against an order granting Mr Bennett bail, a
move described by the MDC as "provocation of the highest order", emphasising
the tensions at the heart of the new arrangements.

For Zimbabwe, that means any coherent agricultural policy will remain off
the agenda for the immediate future.

And it leaves farmers with little option but to pursue their own legal
remedies as they seek compensation for lost land, production and equipment.

"We'd be naÔve to think we'll get our land back. The damage is too big and
it's gone too far but compensation is very important to us," says Hendrik
Olivier, director of the CFU.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Getting to the health centre in an ox-cart

24 Feb 2009 16:18:00 GMT

Written by: Save the Children

Recently I had the pleasure of meeting Sitshengisiwe, our HIV/AIDS and
Reproductive Health Coordinator in the Zambezi Valley. In the valley there's
no safe water, electricity, transport or communication systems. So if
someone gets ill they will have to walk, or at best be transported in an
ox-cart, to the nearest basic health centre.

This wasn't always the case. Sitshengisiwe tells me that there used to be a
working ambulance for referrals to the district hospital 46 kilometres away.
But as with many things, this is no longer functioning.

Lack of transport dealt a serious blow to one family that Sitshengisiwe
managed to support. Following childbirth at home, a young mother had
suffered post-partum haemorrhage. In attempt to get his wife to the nearest
clinic, her husband tried to sell one of his goats to pay for transport, but
nobody he asked could afford to buy his goat. He tried to take her in an
ox-cart instead, but sadly she died before they made the 10-kilometre

The husband then chose to brave the 46-kilometre walk to the district
hospital, to register his wife's death at the district hospital. This is
where Sitshengisiwe was informed of his case. She visited the family soon
after - walking only a 12 kilometre round trip this time.

On arrival she and her Ministry of Health counterpart provided health and
nutrition advice to the family, and gave them a 'baby kit' that contained
essential items for caring for newborns, including a baby-grow, warm clothes
and a hat, nappies, towels, soap and Vaseline.

She also discussed options for feeding the baby with the husband, aunt and
grandfather who are now left to care for him. They resolved to feed the baby
with modified goat's milk using a cup and spoon as it was seen as the only
sustainable option for them.

Save the Children feels strongly about the importance of infant feeding and
actively supports the "Operational Guidance on Infant and Young Child
Feeding in Emergencies" which provides the do's and don'ts in this area. The
current international guidance is that modified animal milk should not be
promoted as it lacks some important nutrients.

I was interested to find out more about this so I spoke to Ali Maclaine, an
Infant Feeding Consultant who is working for Save the Children in this area.
Her role in Zimbabwe is work with the Zimbabwe Nutrition Cluster (a group of
organisations involved in nutrition) to ensure that breastfeeding is
supported and that agencies know and follow the international guidance.

She told me that breastfeeding, especially in emergencies, saves lives and
protects infants from diseases such as diarrhoea, malnutrition and death. In
fact, non-breastfed infants in non-hygienic conditions are 6-25 times more
likely to die than breastfed infants. Moreover, breast milk specifically
helps protect infants from cholera. When infants are not-breastfed
pre-crisis or when the mother dies usually a "breast milk" option is looked
at as a first resort as it is such a life saving intervention.

Other options include wet-nursing (breastfeeding by someone other than the
mother), milk banks or re-lactation (re-starting breastfeeding - if the
mother had stopped pre-crisis or by a grandmother if the mother has died).

In places like Zimbabwe where there is a high prevalence of HIV, the
guidance is that wet-nurses should be counselled and have an HIV test.

Where a breastfeeding option is not available infant formula should be
provided for as long as the infant required needs it - along with additional
support such as education on making up the formula as safely as possible,
provision of additional materials e.g. cooking equipment and it should be
fed to the child by cup as bottles and teats are very hard to clean.

Yet even if the care-givers get formula and extra support it is not easy:
The child must be monitored and health care provided as they are likely to
get sick more often and more severely than a breastfed child, collecting the
additional water and fuel to make the formula and then feeding the child
takes time, etc.

As part of her routine work, Sitshengisiwe carries out infant feeding
support sessions for young mothers. In these sessions they talk about things
like the importance of exclusive breastfeeding, the reduced risks of HIV
transmission with exclusive breastfeeding compared to mixed feeding and how
to breastfeed successfully.

She also talks to them about when to introduce other foods/fluids and what
foods they should use. The sessions are generally a mixture of sharing
experiences and concerns, and providing mothers with information.

It is hard not to get angry at the unfairness of what the people
Sitshengisiwe works with have to face. Cholera and malaria are easily
preventable illnesses and the vital information and resources health workers
like Sitshengisiwe and her Ministry of Health counterpart can provide saves

But, with the terrible road conditions making each home visit into a
cross-country trek, the amount of families benefiting from such services is
never enough.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Zimbabwe: charities keep faith despite Mugabe's brutal regime

Non-governmental groups continue to campaign for human rights in spite of
the risk of beatings, abduction and torture

David Batty, Tuesday 24 February 2009 00.06 GMT

As Zimbabwe's autocratic president, Robert Mugabe, tightened his grip on
power in the past five years, the country's charities have faced the same
violent persecution meted out to his political opponents. As the charities
struggled to help an increasingly desperate population, left hungry and
impoverished by government corruption and incompetent economic reforms,
dozens of their workers suffered beatings, abduction, imprisonment and

Even after the establishment of a new government this month, with Morgan
Tsvangirai, leader of the main opposition party the Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC) and now prime minister, many charity workers remain locked up
in terrible conditions, according to the National Association of NGOs of
Zimbabwe (Nango).

"This is Zimbabwe's Guantanamo," says Cephas Zinhumwe, chief executive of
Nango, which represents more than 1,000 non-governmental organisations
across the country.

"Some of our members are still in jail. Mugabe blames them for the regime
change. Tsvangirai said when he was sworn in they would be released. But
they haven't been yet. Some of them [the charity workers] are sick and won't
survive in the jails. We want to make sure they're allowed to get to
hospital and get treatment. No one - them or any other prisoners - should be
in those conditions."

Zinhumwe was in the UK last week to attend the annual conference of Nango's
British counterpart the National Council of Voluntary Organisations, trying
to build partnerships with international NGOs to help his members in their
efforts to revitalise Zimbabwe.

He also met with the foreign secretary, David Miliband, to lobby for a
change in the government's approach to his country's plight. He opposes the
international sanctions on Zimbabwe, arguing they have not been effective.
"It's the poor women and children who are suffering from the sanctions," he

The aims of his visit to the UK reflect Nango's changing role in Zimbabwe.
It was founded in 1962 as a non-partisan umbrella body for social welfare
organisations but has increasingly found itself embroiled in the country's
political turmoil. Its championing of the interests of the poor, the
marginalised and the vulnerable, and defence of the independence of its
member organisations, brought it into conflict with Mugabe and his
supporters over the past decade.

"We were combating the excesses of the government," says Zinhumwe. "We
didn't think it was serving the people.

"Our major concern is to have a government that is well run and concerned
about our people. We were far ahead of other African countries but now we
are 10 to 20 years behind. We have people with no food, no medicines, no

"If it wasn't for the NGOs, the situation in Zimbabwe would be much worse.
Our members are sourcing funds and medicines to contain the cholera
epidemic. As it is now, our government has no capacity to contain it."

However, in pressing Mugabe's government to tackle issues such as the
independence of the judiciary and the media, Nango's members found
themselves treated as political opponents.

"The only sector [of our members] to have come into direct confrontation
with Mugabe is the human rights and governance sector, which is challenging
the government on a range of issues, even violence," says Zinhumwe.

"What we are saying is that we can't live in a country with this level of
violence, where the government is not providing schools and hospitals and
the judiciary is not independent. But once you do that, you are seen as the
enemy of the state and a collaborator with the US and UK.

"Thirty to 40 of our members were detained last year. Some of our members
were beaten, harassed heavily and questioned by the police. Last year some
were abducted, including Jestina Mukoko, director of the Zimbabwe Peace
Project, and two of her staff."

Mukoko, a forthright campaigner for human rights, was dragged from her home
in Norton, near the capital Harare, in December in her nightdress by armed
men. She was tortured - beaten with rubber truncheons - and interrogated,
and has still not been released despite demands from international human
rights bodies and politicians.

But it is not just Zimbabwe's human rights organisations that have borne the
brunt of the political violence. In the run up to last year's general
elections, Mugabe's Zanu-PF party tried to wrest control of food
distribution from independent humanitarian organisations.

"They [Zanu-PF] said that food was distributed in a partisan manner that
swayed votes, says Zinhumwe. "They wanted to see and control where the food

Three years earlier, the government had tried to push through a law that
would allow the regime to manage NGOs. But thanks to concerted efforts by a
coalition of NGOs, the labour movement and the churches, the president never
signed it into law. Nango now wants a law to be drawn up that will enable
charities to operate freely while ensuring they are independently monitored.

Nango is also lobbying for a new national constitution and a truth and
reconciliation process similar to that held in South Africa after the end of
apartheid. Zinhumwe believes this could bridge Zimbabwe's political divide
and resolve grievances on both sides.

"The challenge will be the demand for restitution," he says. "People have
been killed, buildings destroyed, livelihoods ruined. They want to get on
with their lives and revenge won't help."

Despite the country's dire straits and cynicism about the new power-sharing
arrangement between Zanu-PF and the MDC, Zinhumwe is optimistic about his
country's future.

He says: "Some people think the MDC sold out. But we will support this
government because there's no alternative. We hope it will at least produce
a positive impact. There will be a little bit of stability. The country has
lost trust in our government and our banks, but with this new government
this could change."

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

NZ Govt welcomes decision to delay Zimbabwe tour

Updated 11:25AM Wednesday Feb 25, 2009

New Zealand Cricket (NZC) has postponed its tour of Zimbabwe by a year.

NZC and Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC) agreed to postpone the tour, which was due to
take place this July following discussions at an International Cricket
Council (ICC) meeting in Johannesburg this week.

ZC chief executive Ozias Bvute and his NZC counterpart Justin Vaughan agreed
New Zealand would now tour in June 2010, following a week of speculation
that Prime Minister John Key was preparing to step in to prevent the tour
going ahead.

A spokesman for Mr Key said the Government welcomed the decision.

"It's obviously a good outcome from our point of view," the spokesman said.

"We didn't have anything directly to do with it."

Mr Key has previously indicated he was prepared to order the team not to go
to Zimbabwe.

"I'm pretty reluctant for the Black Caps to travel," he told reporters over
the weekend.

"There are very real, genuine security risks for our players.

"We don't support that (Zimbabwe) regime. We don't support what is happening
in that country, and we don't want to give a signal that we do."

It had left NZC in a delicate position as pulling out of the tour would have
left it open to substantial financial penalties under ICC regulations.

Vaughan said ZC was aware of the New Zealand government's opposition to the
proposed tour and asked for the deferral.

He said ZC believed by 2010 the current political powersharing arrangements
will have had a positive impact on their country.

"This is a pragmatic solution that allows the situation in Zimbabwe to be
monitored over the next year," Vaughan said in an NZC statement.

"Given that Zimbabwe remains a full member of ICC we have continuing
obligations to play them on a reciprocal basis - therefore this agreement is
an acceptable outcome for the present time."

No decision has yet been made on whether a replacement tour will be sought
for July this year, Vaughan said.

The proposed Zimbabwe series was scheduled to comprise three one-day

NZC's general manager of cricket, Geoff Allott, told NZPA the solution
allowed time to review the situation in Zimbabwe from a political and a
cricketing perspective.

"At the end of the day we certainly want to play cricket and Zimbabwe is a
member of the ICC so we have obligations to meet," he said.

"NZC is relatively pleased with the outcome and the position will be
monitored over the next 12 months."

Allott said NZC would be in contact with its players and the Government
about a decision to tour in 12 months time.


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

West can't have it both ways in wanting to oust Mugabe

24 February 2009

Jorge Heine

WITH its government of national unity between President Robert Mugabe's Zanu
(PF) and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change ,
Zimbabwe is replicating the Kenyan experience of "cohabitation" between
President Mwai Kikwete and his erstwhile opponent, Prime Minister Raila

Launched in France in 1986 by president Francois Mitterrand when he asked
opposition leader Jacques Chirac to become his prime minister,
†"cohabitation" - sometimes a necessity in semiparliamentary systems that
combine an elected, executive head of state with the traditions of
parliamentarianism - demands a high degree of tolerance for radically
different policy perspectives. It is the political equivalent of "sleeping
with the enemy". The jury is still out as to how it has worked in Kenya,
though it could be argued that the fact the government has survived for 10
months shows a modicum of success.

Will it work in Zimbabwe?

One important difference with Kenya is that Mugabe has ruled Zimbabwe since
1980, and is the country's founding father. And the first indications are
not promising. The arrest of Roy Bennett (Tsvangirai's choice for deputy
agriculture minister) by the security forces only two days after the new
government was formed shows that the military is playing hardball. Not
surprisingly, Mugabe was unwilling to give up the state security portfolios.

Still, the current government offers by far the best opening in 10 years to
pry Zimbabwe out of the mess it finds itself. The international community,
and particularly the western powers that hold the purse strings, should try
to make the most of it, rather than continue to push Mugabe to the wall,
leaving him with no options.

In an unprecedented step, the British embassy put an advert in a local daily
in Harare indicating that Britain will not renew its aid to Zimbabwe as long
as Mugabe is in the government. Queen Elizabeth not too long ago stripped
Mugabe of his knighthood. The US has also voiced its displeasure with Mugabe's
continued hold on power, and leading newspapers in the US and Britain have
published editorials along the same lines.

Nobody would dispute that Mugabe bears the brunt of the responsibility for
driving his country down the drain. The question is a different one. Things
in Zimbabwe are bad, people are dying by the thousands, and the
international community needs to step in. This is not easy. By law,
international co-operation funds need to be exchanged at the official rate
at the central bank. This means they subsidise the government, since the
official exchange rate is only a minimal fraction of the "real" (meaning
black market) one. But the underlying problem is a deeper one.

The arrest of Bennett is a symptom of the degree to which the military in
Zimbabwe has become a force of its own. Mugabe has been ruling with a
junta - the Joint Operations Command - with the military honchos sharing the
responsibility for the brutal repression against the opposition that has
become such a hallmark of the regime. Much like Mugabe, the generals have no
interest in giving up power.

On the other hand, a key part of Tsvangirai's electoral plank before coming
to power was that he would pay public servants in hard currency. Being paid
in Zimbabwean money doesn't even make it worth their while showing up to
work, as a result of which only one in five schools is actually functioning.
Fulfilling this promise means $40m a month, which Zimbabwe doesn't have. If
Tsvangirai is unable to deliver on this, he will pay a hefty political
price. There is much to be said for working with him to make this happen,
without continuing to demand that Mugabe should go before even considering

Many would argue that the main reason Zimbabwe's situation has deteriorated
so drastically over the past decade has been Mugabe's willingness to do
whatever is needed to keep himself in power, even if it means running his
country into the ground. Yet, the driving force behind his stubbornness goes
beyond strict megalomania. According to some reports, he was willing to
leave power after losing the first round of presidential elections to
Tsvangirai last March, but the military wouldn't let him.

And then, there is the question of "the morning after". The existence of the
International Criminal Court and the principle of universal jurisdiction for
human rights violations imply that the dictators of this world are no longer
safe. Gen Augusto Pinochet's arrest in London in October 1998, which was the
first time a former head of state was detained abroad for crimes committed
at home, and the indictment of president Slobodan Milosevic by the s pecial
t ribunal on c rimes in the former Yugoslavia - another first, this time for
a sitting head of state - broke new ground in international human rights
law. This was a welcome development, and the world is a better place as a
result of it.

But there is a problem.

One reason Mugabe is said to be unwilling to step down (although, at 85, he
knows his time is up) is because of what happened to Charles Taylor, Liberia's
former strongman, a man with whose fate he seems to be obsessed. Under
international pressure, Taylor resigned from the presidency in August 2003
to go to Nigeria, where he was offered safe exile. Yet, in March 2006 he was
released by Nigeria, to be tried in Freetown by the Special Court for Sierra
Leone. Taylor, one of Africa's worst and bloodiest warlords, is now in
prison in The Hague, facing 11 charges of crimes against humanity.

I remember visiting Harare in November 1998, shortly after Pinochet's arrest
in London, and, while staying at the Meikles Hotel in Harare, listening to
an hour-long programme on BBC Africa about the implications of that arrest
for Africa - by no means an obvious subject. There was a panel of
commentators from different countries and listeners phoned in from all over
the continent to convey their passionate reactions. It touched a raw nerve,
and not just because Pinochet, like to so many African dictators, loved to
shop at Harrods and would no longer be able to do so.

These are all very difficult choices, for which I do not claim to have all
the answers. What I do know, however, is that it is not possible for the
international community to have it both ways. It cannot tell Zimbabwe all
co-operation will be withheld until and unless Mugabe quits, while at the
same time holding over his head the very real possibility that he will end
up sharing a cell with Taylor in The Hague. Human nature being what it is,
the first will not happen if it is likely to be followed by the second.

Working with the present government and empowering Tsvangirai seems a far
more realistic option.

...Heine holds the chair in global governance at the Balsillie School of
International Affairs and is a Distinguished Fellow at the Centre for
International Governance Innovation in Waterloo, Ontario. He was
cross-accredited as ambassador to Zimbabwe, based in Pretoria, from 1996 to

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Zimbabwe dispatches: looking for a rubbish tip

Last Modified: 24 Feb 2009
By: Channel 4 News

As the UN secretary general calls for emergency food aid for Zimbabwe, Helen illustrates how his assessment is an understatement.

I drew back in fright from the man that lurched out of the overgrown, jungly bush on the roadside.

I was looking for the town tip and was driving at a snail's pace along the sandy road which runs behind the main High School in the area. The road has been badly washed away and huge gullies creep out into the road threatening to swallow up car wheels which stray anywhere near.

The grass and weeds are taller than a man and hang dripping and waving into the road, brushing the windscreen and roof of the car.

The man at my window was filthy, his hair woolly and matted and his clothes torn and ragged. Fear was replaced with empathy as I greeted him and the man responded by cupping his hands together and clapping in the traditional Zimbabwean greeting.

His fingernails were lined with black grime, his mouth filled with brown, rotten teeth. He obviously lived somewhere here, in the bush nearby.

Eight or ten lines of small maize plants were growing in a little cleared patch and a stinking stream of sewage ran through the middle.

Sewage flows through maize plants.

I choked back the retch caused by the foul smell and could not imagine how the man could survive this hell or how there was not cholera or some other deadly disease running openly across the paths here.

Just that day I had read that UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon had said that 7m people needed emergency food aid in Zimbabwe. This is well over half the population of the country.

Mr Ban also said that the humanitarian situation in the country had reached "an almost unbearable point for the people in Zimbabwe". The words are an understatement in the context of this vision of horror taking place in a Zimbabwean town today.

Mr Ban's words also stand in stark contrast to the news just coming in about our Vice President, Mrs Mujuru and attempts to sell 3.5 tons of Congolese gold. The revenue from this is un-imaginable in a country where most people are unable to even feed themselves.

Rubbish on the road in Zimbabwe.

All the way down the eroded road, garbage has been dumped into the grass by residents of the town.

It has been ten months since there has been a garbage collection in the town and people are desperate to get rid of their waste.

Just a few metres away from the wall and in clear view of the High School, tins, bottles, bags and other garbage has been dumped under a tree. Big green bottle flies and a score of mosquitoes rise up from the filth as they are disturbed by my progress.

I never did find the tip but the vision of a starving, filthy man emerging from the bush and seeing sewerage run through his maize plants is vivid in my mind's eye.

Rubbish by a school in Zimbabwe.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Telegraph View: Mugabe's law as usual

Telegraph View
Last Updated: 8:00PM GMT 24 Feb 2009

Comments 0 | Comment on this article

It has taken less than a fortnight for Robert Mugabe to confirm what
everyone suspected - that he entered the power-sharing government with the
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) in bad faith. On the day the new
government was formed, February 13, the MDC's treasurer, Roy Bennett, was
arrested on trumped up charges of terrorism and illegal possession of arms.
Yesterday, a judge granted him bail - and immediately rescinded it at the
request of state prosecutors. So much for the rule of law in Zimbabwe.
Mugabe's Zanu-PF party is also targeting for eviction a further 100 white
farmers (there are only 300 left in business) in a return to the land-grab
policy that triggered the country's descent into economic chaos. So much for
learning from mistakes.

Morgan Tsvangirai, the MDC leader, cannot say he was not warned. This is
turning into a re-run of the 1987 Unity Accord between Zanu-PF and Joshua
Nkomo's Zapu party, which resulted in Nkomo being outmanoeuvred at every
turn by Mugabe and reduced to no more than a political puppet. The MDC's
policy on land tenure is that there should be security for those who have
planted crops yet, according to the Commercial Farmers' Union, the targeted
farmers have £70 million-worth of crops in the ground. This is an early test
of the MDC's influence within the new government. If it is unable to halt
these latest planned seizures, the power-sharing agreement will be exposed
as a sham. That will have serious consequences. Western aid is desperately
needed in a country where starvation is widespread and cholera has claimed
nearly 5,000 lives. But donor countries will be reluctant to commit any
resources when all the evidence suggests it is business as usual in Mugabe's

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Politicians always take care of each other

February 24, 2009

THE idea that some Zimbabweans have that Gideon Gono is going to somehow be
deposed by Tendai Biti is, I fear, naive. The MDC have been rattling their
sabres since they joined up with Zanu-PF but nothing has been achieved.

Somehow Roy Bennett's position takes precedence over Jestina Mukoko, who has
been suffering in prison since Christmas. But then of course Roy is now a
politician with a salary and no doubt a car and poor old Jestina is just a
civil rights activist.

In the end it seems the politicians will all take care of each other, hollow
promises will be made as always and the real villains will get away as has
always happened in Zimbabwe. Do the MDC sincerely believe they can call to
account, Emmerson Mnangagwa, Sidney Sekeremayi, Perrence Shiri, Constantine
Chiwenga, Gideon Gono, John Bredenkamp, Paradzai Zimondi and the others?

Only one fate should befall them and we all know what that is.

When these harbingers of death and destruction are brought to book, when
their assets have been seized and when they have been made to face their
victims families and face the wrath of those that have suffered, only then
will a free Zimbabwe be possible, a Zimbabwe with a Government that is open
and transparent, whose only brief is to serve the people and keep their best
interests at heart.

Miles Anderson

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Gono on mission to clear himself

February 24, 2009

By Our Correspondent

HARARE - Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) governor Gideon Gono has allegedly
embarked on a mission to absolve himself of charges of siphoning funds,
agricultural inputs, and the general running down of the economy.

RBZ sources disclosed that Gono had written a memorandum last week advising
divisional heads to gear themselves for an audit that would be conducted "in
the shortest possible time".

The sources said Gono had intimated that the audit would cover operations of
the central bank itself and would then expand to cover the agricultural
mechanization programme which the Reserve Bank has been running since 2007.

He is also said to have highlighted the need to also conduct an audit of the
bank's properties, especially vehicles that were procured for purposes of
helping in the administration of Operation Sunrise 1 and 2.

"We were told by our heads that the governor has advised of the prospect of
an audit of the Reserve Bank activities since a new government is coming
into being," said a source at the bank.

"The governor advised that he would want to clear the whole air regarding
various issues so that when the new Minister of Finance effectively assumes
office, he will find all things cleared up."

The new Finance Minister, Tendai Biti of the MDC, assumed office last week,
but has been in and out of the country with Prime Minister, Morgan
Tsvangirai, holding meetings with potential donors to secure funds to pay
the salaries of the civil service in hard currency, as promised.

Kumbirai Nhongo, the Reserve Bank spokesperson confirmed the existence of
the memorandum on the audit but would not give more detail.

"That memorandum is indeed existent but it is an internal memorandum. The
contents remain an internal matter until the governor makes a disclosure
himself," said Nhongo.

"As of the audit, it is common practice there should be an audit and this is
nothing at all."

Some members of management at the Reserve Bank have, however, reportedly
queried the rationale behind Gono's intended audit of the farm mechanization

"The governor, in his memo, instructed the divisional heads that they should
start by auditing the farm implements and inputs which the governor himself
received for last year," said one.

"We, as the workers, view this as a ploy to cleanse himself and make himself
appear as a clean man ahead of the full takeover of the financial affairs by
the minister.

"We wonder why the audit has to start with his farm yet it could start
anywhere as per the wish of the minister."

He said at the moment there was serious disgruntlement among the bank's
employees who are required to prepare the audit.

The disenchantment arises from the fact that some of the workers were yet to
be paid outstanding salaries.

Gono has reportedly refused to pay the full salaries of staff in hard
currency, claiming this would start only in March.

"We are the ones who handle this foreign currency as a central bank yet we
are told we will be paid our full salaries in foreign currency only next
month," said the worker.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

MPs should lead by example

I will start by wishing the new ministers in the inclusive government
success in every effort they take to stop Zimbabwe from hemorrhaging and
rescue the economy from the continuous slide into the abyss.

I am already touched by the Minster of Education, Sports and Culture's
honest assertion that the government is broke and therefore cannot afford to
pay civil servants, especially teachers, anything above USD100. He should be
applauded for being honest. However I want to ask the entire cabinet where
they are going to get the money to pay the 71 minsters and deputies and buy
them cars, furnish and staff their offices? Why is it that the civil
servants have to wait to be paid adequately but at the same time we have not
heard that the minsters are not going to stop getting their perks for one
month until government gets the necessary funds?

Can they lead by example and start by tightening their belts themselves by
trimming all the unnecessary perks with effect from the end of this month?
This can be done by avoiding buying mercs for all the ministers for example
but perhaps this might be too late because already the MDC would want to
miss the gravy train I wonder?

The MDC as a workers' party should understand that our children have missed
out on a whole year because teachers were on strike - all they are asking
for is a decent living wage. I thought the MDC would look at the civil
servants' plight and give them a decent living wage because USD100 is not
enough to pay for a passport, rent, electricity and school fees which is
between USD100 - 250 in some of these cheap government schools. So if a
teacher who is a graduate cannot even earn a salary that is enough to send
just one child to school what does that say for all of us? We do not want to
see a repeat of the same behaviour and uncaring attitude from the government
as was the norm with ZANU PF.

But already this government is so bloated that the taxpayer including civil
servants are going to carry this heavy burden while their plight is shelved
for later.

This entry was posted on February 24th, 2009 at 9:24 am by Sophie Zvapera

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

The changed fortunes of Jonathan Moyo

February 24, 2009

By a Special Correspondent

THE Jonathan Moyo that journalists saw at the Quill Club was a far cry from
the sharp tongued Moyo that we have all come to know and to hate.

I personally felt sorry for him. One thing he did not tell us but that he
still succeeded in conveying to us was that he was greatly affected by his
omission from the Zanu-PF line up of ministerial appointees.

His actions over the past few months, had spoken of someone who was gunning,
perhaps too confidently,† for the information ministry. How else could you
explain his court challenge of Lovemore Moyo's election as Speaker of
Parliament, his passionate defence of Johannes Tomana, the new Attorney
General, his unwarranted and vicious† attack on Morgan Tsvangirai, the MDC
leader, who is now Prime Minister,† and finally, his startling utterance
that "the gun is mightier than the vote"?

As usually happens when Moyo is guest speaker, journalists packed the club.
Their excitement and curiosity was, of course, to see how the former
firebrand politician would behave now that he was without obvious friend or
ally since Zanu-PF and the MDC had now joined hands in matrimony as it were.

Journalists were anxious to hear if he would continue to sing praises of
Mugabe, while attacking Tsvangirai as had become his custom.

The theme of his presentation was whether the unity government was a viable
proposition. He did agree it was viable, maybe to save face lest he be
accused of sour grapes.

He spent almost an hour and a half talking. Unlike on previous occasions he
presented his entire address while seated. He was reading from a piece he
had painstakingly written.

He did take questions from journalists and strangely, the often combative
journalists refrained from asking him the obvious questions, such as why he
did so much to destroy Zimbabwe's independent press. Perhaps, like me they
all felt sorry for him and refrained from kicking a man when he was down.

In his responses he addressed issues to do with his perceived bitterness on
being left out of cabinet, without being asked. Perhaps that's one burning
issue he specifically came to clarify. But one could tell he had accepted
his unfortunate circumstances. For now he is gone; perhaps gone for good.
Which party will trust him no? That question rings repeatedly as he sifts
through his conscience. He knows he may be in Parliament for the duration of
the transitional government. He knows there is little scope for striking
deals with either the MDC or Zanu-PF.

I have attended parliamentary sittings in the past. He had become an object
of ridicule among provocative MDC backbenchers who would heckle him by
shouting, "Tsholotsho, Tsholotsho", each time he stood up to contribute.

Moyo represents the Tsholotsho North Constituency in the House.

He arrived at the Quill some 30 minutes before his presentation. He chatted
to Jameson Timba, the new deputy Minister of Information and a few
journalists. Timba is MDC.

During his address, he seemed to be limiting eye contact with his audience.
His smiles were forced and seemingly sheepish. Occasionally he paused† to
take a sip from a glass of beer.

During his address he repeatedly mourned that he was often misquoted by The
Zimbabwe Times. He did not cite any specific example of where he was
misquoted. Of course, he had no clue who were the Zimbabwe Times
correspondents among his audience.

Throughout his address he never mentioned any other publication apart from
"Nyarota's Zimbabwe Times."

Geoffrey Nyarota, the managing editor of The Zimbabwe Times was the
Editor-in-Chief of The Daily News in Harare during the hey-day of Moyo as
Minister of Information. Between 2001 and 2003, as Moyo regularly breathed
fire against sections of the independent press from the Linquenda House
headquarters of the Ministry of Information, the printing press of The Daily
News was bombed, Nyarota and his journalists were repeatedly arrested, the
editor was then fired and soon afterwards the newspaper was banned.

"Perhaps he misses me," Nyarota mused this week. "We used to be good
friends; that was until he became minister. News outlets in his former media
empire have become hostile to him while I am now attacked by readers for
giving Moyo a platform."

As for Moyo's† allegation of misquotation by The Zimbabwe Times,† Nyarota
said: "It's news to me. I have never received any complaint from him."

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Critical Eye: Let's support Tsvangirai for now

24 February 2009

By Doreen Mutemeri

The formation of a new government has divided opinion amongst Zimbabweans
both home and abroad. At the risk of sounding like a broken record and
making a u-turn myself, I must admit I understand why Morgan Tsvangirai made
the difficult decision to embrace a regime led by a brutal dictator.

After being decimated by the murder of over 200 of its activists during the
2008 March and June election period the MDC had to make decisions based on
humanitarian concerns. But what has been disappointing is the attitude of
the Zimbabwean Diaspora and NGO's working in and out of the country.

Let's be frank here and call a spade a spade. Its one thing to criticize the
deal on the basis of its imperfections but you get the sense some people in
the Diaspora would like the crisis to continue under pressure from their
asylum claims, while the NGO's feeding off the crisis would also like the
status quo to remain.

I attended the MDC Monday Forum in Central London this week and judging from
the contributions of the participants everyone is arguing from a selfish
perspective. Ask anyone what other option Tsvangirai and the MDC had and
they will tell you he should have kept fighting against Mugabe.

But to be fair the advocates of this 'crash and burn' approach are
comfortably settled in western capitals while the common person in Dotito
suffers. In my last contribution I compared the deal to a rapist going to
the altar to marry the rapist. I gave my reasons for worrying the deal would
not work on the back of a lack of sincerity coming from Zanu PF.

I however think we should draw the line and avoid attacking the MDC and
pretending we do not understand why they made the decision. It is painful to
see a man who lost the election remaining as President and the one who won
being relegated to Prime Minister. But we all know who is the People's
President. We all understand the difficult choices the MDC had to make.

We should support the MDC in their attempts to make things better for the
poor folks at home. We should constantly campaign for the Zanu-oids who
killed and maimed innocent people to be brought to justice. But calling the
MDC all sorts of names like what I heard at the Forum on Monday is
counter-productive and mostly driven by selfish agenda's.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Gono is incompetent, period!

February 24, 2009
Jupiter Punungwe

CALLS for Gono's departure are reaching a crescendo with the editor of the
Zimbabwe Times being asked this week to provide a platform for publishing
allegedly incriminating evidence against him.

Many seem to want Gono to go because he can't work with Tendai Biti, or he
is a member of the JOC.

My view is that Gono should go simply because he is hopelessly incompetent.
He is totally ignorant and has survived this far because he is working with
equally ignorant if not more ignorant people. Anybody with a single molecule
of knowledge in their brain would have realized that Gono was leading us up
a creek a long time ago.

He has absolutely no idea how to interpret simple economic data and fit it
into a simple economic model. Instead of using numbers to model the economy
he tried to force the economy to model numbers. That is a completely wrong
approach to simple mathematical modeling which is the basis of scientific
analysis including econometrics.

Gono would set a number such as an exchange rate and then try and force the
economy to conform to the number he had set. This was simply wrong. You
derive your formulae and numbers so that the numbers reflect certain
physical characteristics of the situation you want to mathematically
analyze. Taking measurements from the physical situation you then calculate
your numbers. You don't set your numbers and then try and force the physical
situation to change to conform to your numbers.

Let me try and put it very simply.

Let's suppose you want to measure how much meat you can harvest from a herd
of cattle. You know each cow weighs about 250kg and has 4 legs. You then
come up with a device for counting the number of legs as cows walk past. If
you count 8 legs you know you have 2 cows and a potential 500kg of meat. The
model is very simple. The numbers in the model are derived from physical
characteristics of the cow. Four legs equal one cow yielding 250kg of meat.
Eight legs equal two cows yielding 500kg of meat.

What Gono did with the exchange rate was that he decided that he would
define one leg as one cow. He apparently thought that his model would now
make eight legs equal eight cows therefore in the end he would get 2000kg of
meat!!! Lost to him was that mere definition does not change the physical
characteristics of a cow. If one American dollar is worth a thousand
Zimbabwe dollars, decreeing that one American dollar be worth a hundred
Zimbabwe dollars will not change the physical characteristics of the

The exchange rate is a function of the balance of payments. How much you are
producing and selling outside versus how much you are importing by and large
determines the value of your money relative to other currencies. If you are
producing too little and importing too much your currency devalues. It is a
very simple model to understand even without going through mathematical
calculus that real economists use to make accurate predictions of economic

If you reduce production by hindering producers, for example through price
controls, at the same time increasing imports by importing all kinds of
luxury goods, cars and even simple to make things like scotch carts and
ploughs, your currency devalues massively. Setting the exchange rate at some
number won't help an iota. It doesn't matter whether you throw bones,
consult tarot cards, peer inside crystal balls or climb up rocks barefoot to
come up with the number. The exchange rate is modeling the physical
characteristic which is exports versus imports. Its real value will always
depend on the balance of payments, not the wishes of people.

Setting the exchange rate was wrong. Price controls made the situation even
worse. To go back to our analogy of a herd of cows, price controls were like
splitting the legs of cows into two halves hoping that as each cow passed,
you would then count eight legs, and then claim to have 4000kg of meat from
two cows. Of course you will discover that after cutting their legs the cows
bleed to death leaving you with no meat at all!

After imposing price controls our producers bled to death leaving Gono and
the government without a tax base at all.

While many people argue for Gono's departure based on his political
affiliations and his relationship, or lack thereof, with certain
politicians, I am of the opinion that the major reason why he should depart
is his lack of performance.

To put it simply it doesn't matter whether Gono is a member of Zanu-PF, the
MDC or even the Democratic Party of America. The reason why he should depart
is his incompetent management of the monetary system, as well as destructive
interference in other areas where he had absolutely no business poking his
nose into, such as agriculture.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

ZIMBABWE A mixture, not a coalition
24 February 2009

Africa Confidential Volume 50 No 4

The new government, with no money and little power, is stronger on hopes
than on expectations

Welshman Ncube, the long-time oppositionist who chairs the monitoring body
for the new power-sharing government, is distributing leaflets which read:
'Zimbabwe is our Zimbabwe. It is not Mugabe's Zimbabwe. It is not
Tsvangirai's Zimbabwe. It is our Zimbabwe. We, the people of Zimbabwe, hold
the power. It is up to us to make sure we create a new Zimbabwe.' This,
perhaps, sums up the popular mood, which holds that the country has turned a
corner with the formation of the coalition (AC Vol 50 Nos 1 & 3).

The swearing-in ceremony for the power-sharing cabinet on 13 February was
delayed by last-minute shenanigans among President Robert Mugabe's allies.
The Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front team, with over 40 full
ministers and deputies, had thought that in the confusion nobody would
notice if they sneaked in an extra four. To compound the confusion, Morgan
Tsvangirai, who heads the Movement for Democratic Change, had nominated
Abdenico Bhebe, a member of the rival opposition MDC faction, led by Arthur
Mutambara. This faction protested that parties could nominate only their own

On the previous night, Mugabe's Spokesman George Charamba had issued a full
list of the ZANU-PF nominees, which the state media published, with
pictures. The next day, it was still unclear who was filling which post.
ZANU-PF's chicanery meant dropping four names and reshuffling others.
Tsvangirai dropped Bhebe and replaced Eddie Cross, his designated Minister
for State Enterprises. Senator David Coltart of MDC-M, at Education, is the
only white full minister.

Mugabe has nominated old hands with whom he feels comfortable: Didymus
Mutasa, Sydney Sekeramayi, Stan Mudenge, John Nkomo, Obert Mpofu and
Ignatious Chombo. Most are regarded as dead wood. He is probably less at
ease with Emmerson Mnangagwa and Herbert Murerwa, who makes a surprise
return to Land Reform. Nicholas Goche and Patrick Chinamasa remain but have
no base of political support.

Bright Matonga and Patrick Zhuwao were dumped. Retaining Kembo Mohadi as
joint Home Affairs Minister was a surprise; his health is poor and he made
no impact in the last cabinet but he qualifies for the job through his
connections in Matebeleland, where none of the three national leaders
carries much clout. The independent member of parliament and former
Information Minister Jonathan Nathaniel Moyo has been ingratiating himself
with Mugabe but was overlooked.

Mugabe keeps his grip on his party but his security chiefs snubbed the
inauguration. They include:

Commissioner General, Zimbabwe Republic Police, Augustine Chihuri;

Zimbabwe National Army, Lieutenant General Phillip Sibanda;

Air Force of Zimbabwe, Air Marshal Perence Shiri;

Zimbabwe Defence Forces, Gen. Constantine Chiwenga;

Central Intelligence Organisation Director, Major Gen. (retired) Happyton

Commissioner, Zimbabwe Prison Service, Gen. Paradzai Zimondi.
All had previously said they would not salute Tsvangirai. They boycotted the
ceremony where he was sworn in, alongside his two deputies, Arthur Mutambara
(leader of the rival MDC-M) and Thokozani Khupe. Resignations were vetoed by
Mugabe, as they would open vacancies for people acceptable to the coalition
partners and risk giving the MDC leverage over security. The boycott offered
tacit support for the ZANU faction of retired Gen. Solomon Mujuru, which is
barely represented in the inclusive government.

In ZANU-PF, tension grows. Supporters of Mnangagwa, newly appointed Minister
of Defence, make up almost half of Mugabe's cabinet appointments: Joseph
Made (Agriculture), Ignatious Chombo (Local Government), Lt. Colonel (rtd.)
Obert Moses Mpofu (Mines), Webster Shamu (Information), Patrick Chinamasa
(Justice and Legal Affairs), Simbarashe Mumbengegwi (Foreign Affairs),
Walter Mzembi (Tourism), Herbert Murerwa (Lands and Land Resettlement) and
Francis D. Nhema (Environment). Saviour Kasukuwere (Youth Development) and
Nicholas Goche (Transport) were allies of Solomon Mujuru but broke ranks to
back Mugabe. Sekeramayi, touted as a dark horse to succeed Mugabe by
Mujuru's faction, pledged allegiance to Mugabe after the defection of former
Finance Minister Simba Makoni.

Other cabinet members, such as Kembo Mohadi (co-Home Affairs Minister with
MDC-Tsvangirai's Giles Mutsekwa) and Stan Mudenge, have worked with
Mnangagwa's faction, combining Karanga and Ndebele support from Masvingo,
Midlands and Matebeleland provinces.

Tsvangirai now sees ZANU-PF close up and says Mugabe is no longer the main,
or the only, problem. To get foreign help, he must downplay Mugabe's
influence; for now, Western donors insist they will not provide medium-term
aid for any regime in which Mugabe still has influence.

Success in tackling the economy and security will determine the success of
Tsvangirai's prime ministership, although he has limited control over both
issues. He and his deputy, the more strategically minded Tendai Biti, may be
able to take advantage of the shift in political momentum towards the MDC,
which has the support of many civil servants and professionals, the business
class and many outsiders. Tsvangirai will have to be as canny as his
opponents and make the occasional short-term compromise to win a longer-term
victory. In fact, the MDC remains divided over the merits of the power-
sharing deal, which many see as a compromise too far.

Tsvangirai had insisted, for example, that he would not take office until
MDC party activists had been released from detention. He was sworn in before
they were and visited them in gaol on the following day. One of his
right-hand men, party Treasurer and Deputy Agriculture Minister-designate
Roy Bennett, was arrested hours before the new cabinet was to be sworn in.
The ceremony went ahead. John Makumbe, a political scientist at the
University of Zimbabwe, said a visit to suffering people in Harare had
convinced Tsvangirai that he must make the unity government work.

Some say Bennett's arrest is a ploy by Home Affairs Minister Mohadi to keep
his co-minister Mutsekwa out of the country. Mutsekwa faces charges similar
to those originally aimed at Bennett - attempting to commit terrorism,
banditry and sabotage. If he is kept out, ZANU-PF will control Home Affairs,
a portfolio that the two major parties haggled over for nearly four months.

Tsvangirai's MDC ministers are a blend of ethnic, tribal, gender, civil
society and business representatives. The combative party Secretary General
and Finance Minister, Biti, is effectively MDC Deputy President and had deep
reservations about the power-sharing arrangement. His immediate problem is
how to work with Mugabe's right hand, Gideon Gono, the widely distrusted
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor who has been acting like a prime minister.
Biti wants an audit of the Reserve Bank, covering a raft of procurement and
foreign exchange deals made under Gono.

Biti has described Gono as an 'economic saboteur'; Tsvangirai says that
Gono's fate, and that of Attorney General Johannes Tomana, another of
Mugabe's ultra-loyalists, will be 'first on the agenda' of the new
government. When Mugabe reappointed Gono last November, the MDC wanted him
out, but Gono boasted that he would be at the helm of the Reserve Bank 'for
a long time'.

Gono could save face by stepping down but he also has extensive knowledge of
Mugabe's personal fortune. We hear that Gono's carelessness might have
allowed details of Mugabe's US$6 million Hong Kong property to leak out to
the foreign press, as well as details of First Lady Grace Mugabe's planned
diamond cutting business at Qingdao, on China's eastern seaboard. Gono
authorised the transfer of some $100,000 from the Reserve Bank to Grace
Mugabe for her January trip to Malaysia and Hong Kong. Getting rid of
Governor Gono would greatly boost public confidence in Biti and Tsvangirai.
Yet as Prime Minister, Tsvangirai has no formal power to dismiss Gono; he
can merely 'advise' Mugabe on appointments or publicly withhold his support.

Tsvangirai's economic judgement has been called into question over his
promise to pay civil servants in scarce foreign exchange. Acting Chief
Executive of the Zimbabwe Teachers' Association Sifiso Ndlovu said the
Premier had to negotiate better pay before teachers would return to classes.
Mugabe's acting Finance Minister, Patrick Chinamasa, said the government had
no foreign currency and civil servants would be given grocery hampers.
Tsvangirai later admitted he did not know where the payments would come

At a swearing-in celebration, Tsvangirai warned that the power-sharing deal
was a small victory and that he had reluctantly agreed to it so that the
humanitarian crisis could be addressed and steps be taken to arrest the
collapse of the economy. MDC insiders believe Zimbabwe must join the Rand
Monetary Area alongside Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland and Lesotho; they
argue that financial discipline can be restored only by surrendering control
of the currency, interest and exchange rates to an outside authority. South
African President Kgalema Motlanthe has indicated that his country would
cooperate. That would be a huge economic risk for South Africa and would be
anathema to Zimbabwe nationalists: in real terms, Zimbabwe would be on the
way to becoming South Africa's tenth province.

Yet again, Mugabe has won time. Hopes are high that he will step down at the
party congress in December, to give his successor time to build a base, but
nobody is holding their breath. If he leaves the day-to- day running of
government to Tsvangirai and it works, Mugabe could be politically eclipsed.
If the coalition does not deliver, it's back to untrammelled power for
Mugabe and his clique.

The other opposition leader, Arthur Mutambara is the luckiest politician in
Zimbabwe. Compared to Tsvangirai, he is a political novice. He lost the
elections, and yet he is now Deputy Prime Minister; With only ten seats, his
party has three cabinet posts. He gave Education, the most sensitive
ministry, to human rights lawyer David Coltart. Industry and Trade he gave
to his party's chief negotiator (and de facto leader) Welshman Ncube.
Another negotiator, Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga, was given Regional
Integration. Mutambara and his faction are the kingmakers because ZANU-PF
and the mainstream MDC are tied at 99 seats each, so his ten MPs sway the

The worsening social crisis is the direct result of the economic free- fall.
Yet it will take much more than money to revive Zimbabwe's once proud health
and education services. The cholera epidemic shows that the entire health
system needs emergency assistance, as well as the medium-term support that
international donors are reluctant to hand over. As Minister of Water
Resources, the MDC's Samuel Sipepa Nkomo must work with ZANU's Local
Government Minister, Chombo, to find the funds (and the fuel) to allow local
authorities to operate their own water and sewerage systems again.

Getting the teachers back to work will be harder still. Most of them support
the MDC but tell parents that the issue is not the unity government but
money. The Zimbabwe Teachers' Association represents more than 80% of
teachers. Its President, Tendai Chikowore, insists that they are not going
to deal in promises any more. Tsvangirai met union leaders on 16 February
but neither side is talking about the outcome of the first of many sobering
meetings between Tsvangirai and his former trades union colleagues.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Comment from a correspondent

Tongue-in-cheek story...

Mugabe to appoint new war veterans as real ones are all dead

HARARE. Zimbabwean despot Robert Mugabe will confer official war veteran
status on 500,000 teenage boys this week as part of his 85th birthday
celebrations, after it emerged that the last genuine veteran of the guerilla
war died of cholera this morning.
The new war veterans will be tasked with "rebuilding Zimbabwe by hitting MDC
pigs with half-bricks".
The current life expectancy in Zimbabwe is 38, and given that the country's
civil war ended in 1980, the only surviving genuine ZANLA veterans would
need to have enlisted at the age of 9.
According to the country's national archives, currently housed in an empty
Chibuku skud in a field outside Harare, the youngest recruit was Twinkie
Matambanadzo, 13, who was sold to the Zanu armed forces by his parents who
wanted their son to see the world and thought the militia was a traveling
Matambanadzo reportedly passed away in 2006 after choking on a mouse he had
caught and boiled, his first solid food in more than four months.
However other veterans were luckier. Field Marshall Brooklax Chaturanga, who
commanded the Light Mounted Zebras between 1978 and 1980, had just
celebrated his 104th birthday last month when a family member stepped on his
oxygen tube and he passed away.
In a small ceremony, at which packs of feral dogs were shooed from the
gravesite and vultures were kept at bay with parasols, well-wishers
remembered a hero and patriot who attributed his long life to clean living,
dedication to his country, and having all of his medical expenses since 1994
paid by South African taxpayers.
Chaturanga was believed to have been the last surviving genuine veteran, but
new evidence emerged this week that Banjo Hungwe, 48, had once mooned a
Rhodesian policeman, making him officially the only veteran still alive.
However two days after the discovery, Hungwe contracted cholera and passed
A saddened Mugabe said this morning that his veterans would be sorely
missed, especially now that he would have to stop eating truffles long
enough to go out and find some more people who could hit his opponents with
"The war is over but the battle continues," said Mugabe, dabbing caviar off
his chin. "The British homosexuals are everywhere, but we will prevail."
He said he had tasked his aides with finding 500,000 teenage boys who would
be given official war veteran status and who could be "handed the half-brick
of destiny, to totally mash up the heads of the imperialist dogs".
However aides who did not wish to be named confirmed this morning that they
are struggling to find 500 000 teenage boys healthy enough to pick up a
"All the ones who are strong enough to walk or crawl are in South Africa,"
said one.
"It's very disappointing that they can't make an effort for the man who has
saved Zimbabwe. We just hope it doesn't spoil Comrade Mugabe's birthday.
"People can be so selfish."

Back to the Top
Back to Index