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

Mbeki meets Mugabe to try to end Zimbabwe deadlock


Thu 17 Jan 2008, 17:27 GMT

By Cris Chinaka

HARARE, Jan 17 (Reuters) - South African President Thabo Mbeki arrived in
Harare on Thursday and met Robert Mugabe for talks on Zimbabwe's political
crisis, amid signs the government would not yield to opposition demands for
a new constitution.

Mbeki had four hours of talks with the Zimbabwean president, before leaving
for a meeting with officials of the two factions of the opposition Movement
for Democratic Change (MDC). Details of the talks were expected at the end
of the meetings later Thursday.

Mbeki's arrival followed reports from South Africa that a deal was imminent.

The South African president has been mediating between Mugabe's government
and the MDC for nearly a year at the urging of the Southern African
Development Community (SADC), a regional grouping of 14 countries.

Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern said this week a breakthrough in the
negotiations might be achieved soon and an agreement that would pave the way
for free elections in March in Zimbabwe was only days away.

Ahern made his comments to reporters after a briefing by Mbeki in the South
African capital, Pretoria.

South African Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Aziz Pahad told reporters in
Pretoria on Wednesday it seemed that all substantial issues in the Zimbabwe
talks had been resolved and it was the timing of the agreement that was in

Zimbabwe's government-controlled Herald newspaper said on Thursday there was
a serious division between ZANU-PF and the MDC over the adoption of a new
constitution, which was agreed during the talks in Pretoria.

"Sources close to the dialogue being brokered by South Africa said ZANU-PF
negotiators last Sunday told the mediator that a deadlock was on the verge
of being declared as the government was not prepared to impose a new
constitution without a broad-based consultative process," it said.

Government and opposition officials were not immediately available for
comment on the Herald report, which quoted unnamed sources.


The Herald said the MDC wanted a new constitution to be adopted before
presidential and parliamentary polls were held, or the polls postponed.
Government negotiators believed the MDC was making its demands under
directives from London, it said.

Mugabe, in power since independence from Britain in 1980, accuses the MDC of
being a puppet of the former colonial power, Britain, which is denied by the
opposition party.

The Zimbabwean leader has vowed to run for another five-year term, despite
widespread accusations that his government has abused human rights, rigged
previous elections and destroyed the economy.

Zimbabweans are struggling with inflation of more than 8,000 percent and
chronic shortages of food and fuel. Thousands cross illegally into South
Africa every day to look for food and work.

Political analyst and Mugabe critic John Makumbe said the opposition would
be making a mistake by participating in elections before a new constitution
was put in place.

"The master of deception, ZANU-PF, is leading the MDC up the garden path,"
Makumbe said.

"It stands to reason that all the MDC and ZANU-PF have agreed upon through
the mediation talks is little more than efforts to hoodwink SADC."
(Additional reporting by Paul Simao in Johannesburg; editing by Andrew

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Compromise Plan May End Political Stalemate in Zimbabwe

Washington Post

By Craig Timberg
Washington Post Foreign Service
Thursday, January 17, 2008; 12:50 PM

JOHANNESBURG, Jan. 17 -- South African President Thabo Mbeki traveled to
neighboring Zimbabwe on Thursday to pressure leaders to complete
negotiations that have brought the government and the opposition to the
brink of a deal after years of political stalemate, officials from both
countries said.

The two sides have deadlocked in recent days over the timing of elections
and when to implement a new constitution, sources familiar with the
negotiations say. Mbeki flew to Harare, the capital of Zimbabwe, with a
compromise plan, raising hopes that a deal might be imminent.

Negotiators representing Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe and the two
wings of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change have made substantial
progress in recent months, including a deal for a constitution with a bill
of rights guaranteeing expanded political freedoms.

"What I saw of an earlier draft constitutes a substantial improvement over
what we've got," said David Coltart, an opposition member of parliament.

Deals between Mugabe and opposition leaders also have led to the easing of
restrictions on journalists and on political gatherings, and steps also have
been taken to make the electoral commission more independent.

But the timing of the elections, tentatively scheduled for March, has
emerged as a divisive issue. Mugabe favors keeping the vote on schedule,
with a promise to implement the new constitution soon afterward. The
opposition is demanding that the constitution, with its new freedoms, be
implemented before any national vote.

"Having an election would just be a farce if they happen in March," said
Nelson Chamisa, spokesman for the wing of the opposition party led by Morgan

The picture is complicated by news that Simba Makoni, a popular former
finance minister, may soon launch a third major party in Zimbabwe, splitting
Mugabe's ruling party after 27 years of unbroken power.

The government's brutal beating of Tsvangirai and about 50 other opposition
activists in March caused an international uproar and new pressure on Mugabe
from southern African leaders, who appointed Mbeki to oversee negotiations
to end eight years of political stalemate.

That process has brought the country closer to a deal than at any time since
the Movement for Democrat Change formed in 1999.

"All that runs the risk of being torpedoed," said Trevor Ncube, publisher of
two of Zimbabwe's few independent newspapers. "That's why Mbeki has gone
there, and there's a real possibility he's going to come back empty-handed."

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

A serious rival, at last?

The Economist

Jan 17th 2008
From The Economist print edition

Robert Mugabe may be facing his most dangerous opponent yet

THE new year has brought little joy to most Zimbabweans, as they struggle to
survive worsening food shortages, hyperinflation and joblessness. But at
least there is a flicker of movement on the political front. The ruling
ZANU-PF is said to be on the brink of splitting, ahead of parliamentary and
presidential elections due in March. Simba Makoni, a former finance
minister, has been named as a prospective splinter's possible leader. Could
he pose a serious challenge to President Robert Mugabe's hitherto firm grip
on power?

Mr Makoni, who has been in and out of cabinet since 1980, is still part of
the ruling party's top leadership. Widely respected as a technocrat and one
of ZANU-PF's few stalwarts untainted by corruption, he is a danger to Mr
Mugabe because he could appeal both to disgruntled people in the ruling
party as well as to the opposition. He does not have much grassroots
support, but, in the words of Sydney Masamvu of the International Crisis
Group, a Brussels-based lobby, he heads “a coalition of the wounded, the
marginalised and the bitter” within ZANU-PF. Some within this coalition have
links to Solomon Mujuru, a powerful party figure and former army chief whose
wife is a vice-president. But it is unclear whether Mr Mujuru, who has
hedged his bets in the past, is directly involved in Mr Makoni's brave—or

Mr Mugabe would struggle to see off a big revolt within his ZANU-PF,
especially if it were in cahoots with the opposition Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC). But such an alliance would be hard to forge. Mr Mugabe has
destroyed or co-opted his rivals for decades. The success of this latest
rebellion would depend on whether the economic catastrophe and Mr Mugabe's
excesses make enough ZANU-PF people stand up to the president and then stick
together. If so, it may convince the MDC, which is itself split into two
factions and is weak on its own, to close ranks and jump on a bandwagon led
by Mr Makoni.

In the meantime, talks between ZANU-PF and the two-headed MDC resumed this
week. Following the beating-up of MDC leaders last March, South Africa's
president, Thabo Mbeki, has been trying to mediate between the two sides. As
a goodwill gesture, the MDC agreed to a constitutional amendment proposed by
the ruling party that upped the number of seats in parliament, though the
new constituencies are likely to favour ZANU-PF, which keeps a firm grip on
rural areas. In December, repressive security and media laws were eased a
bit. In a breakthrough, both sides agreed in principle to a new

But the talks have not improved things on the ground. Amnesty International,
a human-rights group, says the government still beats and tortures its
opponents. Local watchdogs have decried irregularities in voter registration
ahead of the election and in demarking constituencies.

The MDC also wants the new constitution, which includes a requirement for an
independent electoral commission, enacted before the election. This would
mean preparing for it all over again, which Mr Mugabe unsurprisingly refuses
to do. So the opposition wants the election postponed, and Morgan
Tsvangirai, one of the MDC's rival leaders, has threatened to boycott it if
these conditions are not met.

Mr Mugabe, in power since 1980, is bent on winning another term. The South
Africans hope that, fairly soon after that, he will step down and hand over
to an anointed successor from within ZANU-PF, perhaps Emerson Mnangagwa, a
former security chief who has been the Mujurus' rival in the ruling party.
The new ruler might—so the plan goes—reach out to one faction of the MDC and
form a national unity government. The West might then pile in with cash and
advice to give Zimbabwe a fresh start.

But Mr Makoni's bid, if he makes it, would turn all such calculations upside
down. It is unclear how Mr Mugabe would handle or squash him—or whether Mr
Makoni would take a big chunk of ZANU-PF with him or form a wider coalition
from outside the ruling party. The MDC faction led by Arthur Mutambara is
said to be keen to join up with him.

Mr Mugabe, for his part, is said to be terrified that a new regime would
send him to face charges of crimes against humanity at the international
court in The Hague. In any event, Mr Makoni has given Zimbabweans at least a
fleeting moment of hope that real change is in the offing at last.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Time may not be on the Zanu PF renegades' side

From The Cape Times (SA), 17 January

Tawanda Mashingaidze

Harare - With two months to go to the presidential and parliamentary
elections, a rift appears to be opening in Zanu PF, there are tensions
between the two opposition Movement for Democratic Change factions and there
is growing pressure to delay the national poll at least until June. March
has been proposed by the government for the first poll combining
presidential and parliamentary elections, but President Robert Mugabe is to
set a date when he returns from holiday at the end of the month. A delay
would not suit Mugabe and his supporters. They are acutely aware that former
finance minister Simba Makoni, a member of the powerful Zanu PF politburo,
is considered a potential presidential challenger by a faction emerging in
the party. Pressing Makoni to head a move to "retake our party" are a group
of former senior officials and ministers who have fallen out with Mugabe.
Heading the trio who represent this faction is academic and former permanent
secretary in the ministry of labour Ibbo Mandaza. The others are war veteran
Alfred Mhanda and retired army major Kudzai Mbudzi. They say Mugabe
"manipulated Zanu PF structures" at the extraordinary party congress last
month, enabling him to "steal" endorsement as the party's presidential
candidate. Makoni's backers, while opposed to forging links with the MDC
before any election, have mentioned the possibility of forming a government
of national unity with the party should the "real" Zanu PF win any future
poll. But there is no sign that the MDC's factions are prepared to unite.

Also, the major faction, led by former trade unionist Morgan Tsvangirai,
faces the withdrawal of trade union support. Unionists are angry about the
divisions in the MDC and the dominance of "opportunistic elements". They are
demanding that the opposition "put its house in order". "Some fly-by-nights
and political charlatans have taken control of (the MDC)," Zimbabwe Congress
of Trade Unions (ZCTU) general secretary, Wellington Chibebe said. He said
the MDC had grown out of ZCTU initiatives, but some people heading the main
faction "do not have the working people's agenda at heart". One issue on
which the MDC factions agree is that the elections should be delayed. They
cite their talks with Zanu PF, brokered by President Thabo Mbeki, as a good
reason. But the talks do not appear to have made progress and there is
cynicism here about Mbeki's ability to achieve a breakthrough. The MDC
factions also say that, if elections are to be free and fair, they must be
overseen by Zimbabwean human rights and independent international observers.
It is agreed that, to be effective, such observers should be in place three
months before an election. The widespread fear among opposition supporters
is that Mugabe will hold to the March election date to try to ensure he
remains in power. With only two months to go, Makoni's supporters may not be
able to organise a challenge, the MDC may remain divided and, without
adequate oversight, the elections would be a forgone conclusion.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

New Political Parties Mushroom As March Election Nears

SW Radio Africa (London)

17 January 2008
Posted to the web 17 January 2008

Lance Guma

With elections about 6 weeks away the number of political parties
mushrooming across the country continues to grow. In a week that saw intense
speculation over a new party to be led by former finance minister Simba
Makoni, another political party in Gweru has been formed. Former town
councillor Ruyedzo Mutizwa is reported to have formed the People's
Democratic Party and wants to contest the presidential election. Speaking to
journalists on Wednesday Mutizwa spoke of the need to put in place an
interim administration to usher in a new constitution to level the electoral
playing field.

Not much is known about Mutizwa except that he contested as an independent
candidate in the 2000 parliamentary elections before losing with 1,019 votes
to MDC MP Timothy Mukahlera's 12,172 votes. His position as a councillor was
won on a Zanu PF ticket. Mutizwa briefly joined the Mutambara MDC as a
publicity secretary in the Gweru Urban district and has now jumped ship to
run his own party. Another party in the fray is the Zimbabwe People's
Democratic Party, led by the relatively unknown Isabel Madangure. Despite
many people not being familiar with Madungure's party she insists it was
formed in 1991 and has taken part in several elections since.

Last year former prosecutor Levison Chikafu decided to form the Liberal
Democratic Party after falling out with Ministers Patrick Chinamasa and
Didymus Mutasa. After pursuing the two ministers over a case involving
political violence and the obstruction of justice, Chikafu found himself in
police custody, facing trumped up corruption charges. He was released after
a week. When he was cleared of the charges towards the end of the year he
then joined the political arena. 'We are excited about the reception we are
getting from Zimbabweans from all walks of life,' he told journalists at the
time. 'The message we are getting is that there is room for more players on
the political playground.'

All the new parties have sparked suspicion over the possible involvement of
Zanu PF in sponsoring the projects to create confusion. Analysts warn these
parties will come in handy should the main opposition decide to boycott the
polls and Mugabe's regime needs a political contest to claim legitimacy. A
commentary on one website urged Zimbabweans 'to seriously question backyard
parties that sprout overnight on the eve of a major election.' A common
denominator with all these small parties is that they have no chance of
winning anything, yet they persist with grand campaigns that offer people
false hope.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Zimbabwe bank issues $10million bill - but it won't even buy you a hamburger in Harare

Daily Mail, UK
Last updated at 18:30pm on 17th January 2008


zimbabwe inflation dollars

This is how many Zimbabwe dollars were needed to buy a loaf of bread

Forget the glitzy restaurants of New York and London: only in Zimbabwe would a hamburger actually cost millions of dollars.

The central bank of the southern African country has announced that tomorrow it will issue a 10million Zimbabwe dollars note. The move increases the denomination of the nation's highest bank note more than tenfold.

Even so, a hamburger in an ordinary cafe in Zimbabwe costs 15 million Zimbabwe dollars.

The hope is that such a move will help end chronic cash shortages and disperse long, chaotic lines at banks and automated teller machines.

Reserve Bank Governor Gideon Gono said in a statement 10 million Zimbabwe dollars notes will be issued tomorrow along with 1 million and 5 million Zimbabwe dollars bills.

The highest existing note, introduced last month, is for 750,000 Zimbabwe dollars.

The new 10 million note is the equivalent of about £2 at the dominant black market exchange rate. A hamburger at an ordinary cafe costs about 15 million Zimbabwe dollars (£3).

This is approximately all the new Zimbabwe $10million bill will buy you - two thirds of a hamburger

That hamburger has trebled in price this month amid shortages of bread, meat and most basic goods.

Zimbabwe faces the world's highest official inflation of an estimated 25,000 per cent. Independent financial institutions say real inflation is closer to 150,000 per cent.

Acknowledging the inflation crisis, Gono said individuals from Friday would be allowed to withdraw an increased limit of 500 million Zimbabwe dollars (£100) in a single daily withdrawal, up from 50 million (£10).

He said special arrangements were being made to pay soldiers, police and other uniformed services "because it is not desirable to see them queuing for cash".

Gono said with higher denomination bills businesses might be tempted to again raise prices of scarce goods.

"If this happens the whole objective of solving the cash shortages and to bring convenience to the people will be defeated," he said.

In August 2006, the central bank slashed three zeros from the nation's old currency.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Zim opposition push for vote delay

Mail and Guardian

Harare, Zimbabwe

17 January 2008 06:17

Zimbabwe's opposition urged South African President Thabo Mbeki
on Thursday to try to persuade his counterpart, Robert Mugabe, to delay
elections due in March, opposition and government sources said.

Mbeki held three hours of talks with Mugabe at State House in
Harare before then meeting with officials from the main opposition Movement
for Democratic Change (MDC) at the South African embassy, Agence
France-Presse correspondents reported.

While there was no official word on the talks before a scheduled
press conference with Mugabe and Mbeki, insiders said the MDC had lobbied
for the joint presidential and parliamentary elections to be held back.

"The opposition is trying to get President Mbeki to persuade
President Mugabe to postpone the poll but I doubt if the president [Mugabe]
will agree to this," a Zimbabwean government official told Agence
France-Presse on condition of anonymity.

An MDC official, meanwhile, confirmed the party did not want the
elections to be held before a new constitution is put in place, something
for which Mugabe has shown little enthusiasm.

"The main issue which we feel has to be addressed is the issue
of the constitution, then we can start talking about the elections," he

"We would be happy to have the elections any time after March
but we feel March is too early."

Mugabe, who has ruled the former British colony since
independence in 1980, has yet to set a date for the elections when he will
seek a sixth term at the helm of the country grappling with the world's
highest rate of inflation.

The MDC, which accuses the 83-year-old of fixing his last
re-election, has warned Mugabe not to rig the outcome this time if he wants
to avoid a repeat of the recent violence that followed disputed elections in

Mbeki was tasked by fellow leaders of the Southern African
Development Community with mediating between the ruling Zanu-PF and the MDC
after several opposition leaders were beaten up by security services. -- AFP

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Farming implements lie idle two months into rainy season

African Path

January 17, 2008 12:15 PM
By Ian Nhuka

Thousands of ox-drawn agricultural implements, bought by the Reserve Bank
last October under its controversial farm mechanization programme, remain
undistributed in parts of Matabeleland North and the whole of Matabeleland
South provinces.

The equipment was meant to be distributed to communal farmers in November
last year, in time for the beginning of the 2007/8 farming season.  However,
two months into the rain season, some of the equipment is still lying idle
in warehouses and yards in Gwanda town and Matabeleland North districts such
as Bubi, Nkayi and Binga.

The central bank acquired the ox-drawn implements under the second phase of
its ambitious farm mechanisation scheme. The first phase of the highly
controversial scheme, which the opposition dismisses as a Zanu -PF campaign
strategy ahead of elections scheduled for March, was unveiled mid last year.

The implements include ox-drawn ploughs, planters and harrows.

Communal farmers in Gwanda district castigated the government for delaying
the distribution of the implements, saying even if the equipment is finally
allocated, they would be unable to use it this farming season, which is
almost past the mid-way stage.

“We only hear about that on radio but they have not started giving us the
equipment,” said Norman Mahlangu, of Paye village, some 60km south-west of
Gwanda town in Matabeleland South.

“We do not know why there is this delay because we were told about this
before the rain season started. It has started and now about to end yet none
of us here has received anything. Perhaps they know that Matabeleland South
is dry and there is no need for ploughs, I do not know.”

Another villager, Maurani Phiri said: “Everyone is waiting for the tools. As
for me I filled in the application form and handed it to our local
councillor. I chose a plough but I am beginning to lose hope of getting it
this season. It is already late for this season.”

The allocation of the equipment has attracted criticism from various
quarters, including the opposition and even from some senior figures in Zanu

Recently, ruling party politburo member, Dumiso Dabengwa questioned the
criterion that is used to give the tools.

Dabengwa, an outspoken politician from Bulawayo was given a tractor under
the first phase, but recently said he did not know how he qualified to
benefit. He said the secrecy shrouding the allocation and absence of a clear
policy on distribution could result corruption.

Matabeleland South governor, Angeline Masuku, could not be reached for

But the Minister of Agricultural Engineering, Mechanization and Irrigation,
Joseph Made denied accusations that the scheme was meant to help boost Zanu
PF’s campaign, claiming it is a national programme, designed to benefit
everyone despite their political affiliations.

He also denied responsibility for the delay in allocating the tools, saying
his ministry only provides technical expertise.

“The distribution exercise is the responsibility of chiefs, headmen and the
provincial governors. They are on the ground and they know their people, not
my ministry. My ministry just provides technical advice on how to use the
tools and their servicing.”

The equipment lying idle in Matabeleland is part of the 50 000 animal drawn
ploughs, 70 000 animal drawn harrows, 70 000 knapsack sprayers and 45 000
scotchcarts bought by the central bank in October last year.

Launching the second phase in Harare, President Robert Mugabe boasted that
the mechanization scheme would make the so-called “mother of all
agricultural seasons” a reality, but with the equipment still piled up at
various centers, like in Gwanda, the goal might be missed.

Apart from lack of tools, a critical shortage of seed and fertilizer and the
prevailing incessant rains are likely to militate against the agricultural
yield this year. Abednico Bhebhe, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
legislator for Nkayi constituency said the farm mechanization scheme is part
of the ruling party’s campaign tools.

“It falls within the Zanu PF scheme of things for the elections,” said
Bhebhe, who was allocated a tractor during the first phase but turned it
down. “I think some of us in the opposition failed to read that initially.
If you look at it, only Zanu PF officials from their politburo, central
committee, provincial, district and ward structures got the equipment. While
some of our members have benefitted, it is obvious that the overwhelming
majority of beneficiaries are Zanu PF. It is like what they do with food.”

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Harare allocates US$2 to Supreme and High Courts

Zim Online

by Thulani Munda  Thursday 17 January 2008

HARARE – Zimbabwe’s Supreme and High Courts, the two highest courts in the
country, will receive a paltry Z$7 million to meet running costs this year,
in a stark reminder of how the judiciary is badly under-funded.

The amount allocated the two courts under the 2008 National Budget is enough
to buy only 11 loaves of bread and is equivalent to US$233 at the official
exchange rate of one American dollar to Z$30 000 or a little over US$2 at
the parallel market rate of one greenback to Z$3 000 000.

The bulk of hard cash is traded on the illegal but thriving parallel market
for foreign currency.

Chairman of the parliamentary portfolio committee on justice, Shadreck
Chipanga called the allocation an “embarrassment to the nation”, adding that
lack of adequate resources could weaken the judiciary, one of the three
pillars of state together with the Executive and Parliament.

“We should sit back and say what are we doing as a nation. We created
important institutions and yet we don't want to fund them,” Chipanga said
during debate in Parliament earlier this week.

Chipanga, a legislator of President Robert Mugabe’s ruling ZANU PF party,
said everything at the courts had all but collapsed, adding that the courts
did not even have stationery to write judgments.

“If you don't fund your other pillar of the state, you have a state with two
strong pillars and a weaker one,” he said.

Zimbabwe is in the grip of a debilitating political and economic crisis
blamed on repression and wrong policies by Mugabe, and that has left the
Harare administration struggling for resources to keep institutions of state

The judiciary has been one of the hardest hit by the resource shortage,
forcing Judge President Rita Makarau last year to break with tradition to
openly accuse the government of undermining the judiciary by starving it of
resources and reducing it to “begging for its sustenance”.

Makarau said gross under-funding of the courts and poor salaries paid
judicial support staff was beginning to breed corruption within their ranks.

Zimbabwe’s judiciary was once one of the best in Africa but saw its stock
plummet after Mugabe purged the bench of most independent judges. -

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Grain firm turns to production of dog food

Zim Online

by Thenjiwe Mabhena Thursday 17 January 2008

HARARE – Zimbabwe’s state-controlled Grain Marketing Board (GMB) has turned
to the production of dog food for the export market in a move it says will
boost its dwindling foreign currency earnings, ZimOnline has learnt.

In a statement to the media, the GMB said production of the dog food known
as “Doggy’s Delight,” had received overwhelming response from the market and
was now producing about five tonnes of the food for the export market.

“Production of dog food by the GMB is now on full throttle,” said the GMB in
a statement signed by William Ndindana, the company’s nutritionist
responsible for stock-feed formulations.

“Doggy’s Delight, a pre-cooked high protein instant dog meal, which proved
to be an early Christmas present for those who keep dogs . . . has received
overwhelming response from the market,” said the statement.

The GMB said because of the overwhelming response and the successful
introduction of Doggy’s Delights, it was now shifting its attention towards
the production of stock-feeds for other animals.

The GMB, the only company that is allowed to buy maize directly from farmers
in the country, has struggled to feed millions of Zimbabweans with certain
regions of the country going for months without any maize supplies.

Maize-meal is the staple food for the majority of Zimbabwe’s 12 million

Farmers have over the past few years refused to sell maize to the GMB
arguing that the prices that were being offered by the grain company were
too low.

At least three million Zimbabweans are said to be requiring food aid from
international relief agencies until the next harvest around April or they
would starve. - ZimOnline

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Zanu PF Turning Flood Relief Centres Into Political Rallies

SW Radio Africa (London)

16 January 2008
Posted to the web 16 January 2008

Lance Guma

As parts of the country battle rising flood waters the ruling Zanu PF party
is being accused of manipulating relief aid distribution centres to campaign
for the coming March elections.

Senior party leaders who have been dispatched to the affected areas are
holding impromptu rallies and telling desperate villagers the aid is coming
from Zanu PF. Political commissar Elliot Manyika and Ephraim Masawi, the
governor for Mashonaland Central, have been cited as examples. Manyika told
villagers in the province, 'you have seen that the party leadership has its
people at heart. We have been hit by this national disaster and we have
acted swiftly to provide aid.'

Most of the aid being distributed has come from humanitarian and aid
organisations but Zanu PF officials insist on presiding over the
distribution. At one such ceremony Manyika went on to say, 'you should not
let enemies break this bond and fool you with falsehoods. The president
loves you and that is why he has sent us.' Party leaders are making it clear
villagers have to vote for Zanu PF if they want to be looked after. The
opposition has long complained about the use of food aid in the campaign for
votes towards election times - despite talks in South Africa aimed at
cutting out such practices.

A spokesman for the National Association of Non-Governmental Organisations,
Fambai Ngirande, said the government was also not providing enough
information to enable some of its member organisations to help. Adding to
frustrations is government bureaucracy and paper work. The relevant
government departments have also been rocked by a massive brain drain.

Last month's flooding killed at least 3 people in Muzarabani alone, with
thousands of families being displaced. The heavy rains have continued and
authorities on Tuesday warned of fresh flooding in the Zambezi Valley, with
more heavy rains expected later in the week. The Red Cross predicts the
rains will last until April. Guruve and Muzarabani have been identified as
the areas most at risk. Meanwhile Chiredzi, Bikita, Zaka, Mwenezi and
Masvingo are said to have been cut off from the rest of the country because
of damaged telephone lines, bridges, roads, electricity lines and

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Deputy Minister for Labour Implicated in Gwanda Murder Case

SW Radio Africa (London)

15 January 2008
Posted to the web 16 January 2008

Tererai Karimakwenda

Reliable sources in the Gwanda district of Matabeleland have revealed that
police investigating the abduction and murder of a civil servant back in
2002 are preparing to bring charges against several ZANU-PF officials,
including the Deputy Minister For Public Service and Labour (and MP for
Gwanda South) Abednico Ncube.

The victim, a civil servant named Tumelo Makhurane, disappeared the day
after presidential elections in 2002. His remains were found in July 2007.

Our Matabeleland contact Warren Moroka got details of the case from police
officials involved in the investigations. He said there was enough evidence
to prosecute Ncube and his accomplices in 2003. But an order came from top
officials within ZANU-PF instructing the police to drop the case.

Makhurane was taken from his home in the early hours of the morning after
the presidential election. Allegedly the abductors were a gang that included
Ncube, who was then Mayor of Gwanda South. Others accused in the case are
the former deputy mayor of Gwanda, Japhet Dube plus war veteran Robson Mafu.
Two others said to be involved were Jossam Siziba, and Never Matshazile, a
now deceased member of the ZANU PF provincial youth league.

The victim had worked as the presiding election officer at Zhukwe Primary
School, where Ncube wanted to stuff ballot boxes in favour of Robert Mugabe
but Makhurane refused to open the boxes. Ncube then allegedly threatened him
with disappearance and death in the event Mugabe lost the election. Even
though Mugabe announced a victory, the threat against Makhurane appears to
have been carried out.

Moroka quotes one of the police sources as saying: "Our informants suggest
that contrary to earlier suggestions of a CIO hit job, he was taken by these
men to Dube's house where we believe he was tortured and possibly beaten to
death before being dumped, first at a farm owned by Mafu and later on state
land where his remains were finally seen by people who were gathering

According Moroka, Ncube is one of Robert Mugabe's key officials in
Matabeleland, a militant who managed to retain his seat even after the MDC
won most constituencies in the province.

We were unable to contact Ncube for comment.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Zimbabwe Teachers Association Blames Cash Crisis For High Absenteeism


By Jonga Kandemiiri
16 January 2008

The Zimbabwe Teachers Association, one of the main unions representing
teachers in the Southern African country, said Wednesday that widespread
cash shortages have kept many teachers from reporting for the new school
term that began this week.

A ZIMTA official said many members who teach outside the large towns have
not been able to withdraw enough money from their bank accounts to travel to

Schools opened Tuesday but many teachers were absent, and many of those who
did show up joined a slowdown called by the Progressive Teachers Union of
Zimbabwe, which has rejected the government’s offer of a 1,000 % increase in
teacher pay.

The union is demanding minimum teacher compensation including various
allowances of $526 million a month. The government offered $260 million.

ZIMTA Secretary General Richard Gundani told reporter Jonga Kandemiiri that
some teachers may have departed for jobs in South Africa and other
neighboring countries - or simply emigrated in search of whatever employment
they can find.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Zimbabwe Water Woes Deepen As Much Of Harare Remains Cut Off


By Patience Rusere
16 January 2008

Much of the Zimbabwean capital of Harare remained without running water on
Wednesday, while suburbs that were well supplied earlier in the week despite
the failure of a major water pumping station said their taps have dried up.

Sources contacted in Harare said the outlying district of Hatfield has had
no water for a week, while Marlborough and surrounding areas have had no
water for two weeks. Glenview has had an erratic supply of water though it
flowed for a few hours.

The Harare district of Warren Park had water for one hour, local sources

The city center was reported to have had a steady supply of water.

The Zimbabwe National Water Authority could not be reached for comment as
calls to cellular and fixed-line numbers of managers did not connect.

Opposition lawmaker Innocent Gonese, a member of the house committee on
local government, said the water failure in Harare as in other cities has
numerous causes, and the only remedy is to hand control of water systems
back to municipalities.

Parliament has handed control of municipal water and sewage systems across
the country to the Zimbabwe National Water Authority, which has been harshly
criticized for failing to maintain the flow of water to gross overbilling of

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Report On Electoral Redistricting Submitted To Zimbabwe Parliament


By Carole Gombakomba
16 January 2008

The Zimbabwean parliament on Wednesday officially received a preliminary
report on the delimitation of new constituencies by the the Zimbabwe
Electoral Commission, potentially opening a heated debate with elections
coming up in March.

The report, tabled in parliament late Wednesday, describes how the
commission set the boundaries for 210 house constituencies and 93 senate
seats in keeping with the constitutional amendment passed last year changing
the electoral framework.

The Movement for Democratic Change faction led by Morgan Tsvangirai has
objected to how the redistricting has been carried out, saying it will “only
accept processes” which emerge from crisis resolution talks being mediated
by South Africa.

The MDC formation led by Arthur Mutambara said it will “reserve judgement”
until it has had time to closely examine the constituency boundaries.

Independent observers have voiced concern at what they call the “clandestine
nature“ of the delimitation process, which was conducted solely by the
Zimbabwe Electoral Commission with negligible input from non-ruling party

Chief Parliamentary Whip Innocent Gonese of the Tsvangirai MDC faction told
reporter Carole Gombakomba of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that legislators
are unlikely to have much input to the process, noting that many
parliamentarians had not even received copies of the delimitation report by
late Wednesday.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Dabengwa leads Zanu PF revolt, to challenge Mugabe

New Zimbabwe

By Staff Reporter
Last updated: 01/17/2008 10:58:40
DISSIDENTS within Zimbabwe’s ruling Zanu PF party are ready to forge an
alliance with opposition groups in the most daring political move yet
against Robert Mugabe’s uninterrupted 28-year rule.

New understands from sources that former PF-Zapu stalwart,
Dumiso Dabengwa, will be invited to lead a broad political alliance, with
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader, Morgan Tsvangirai,
and former finance minister Simba Makoni his likely running mates.

Zimbabwe is expected to hold joint presidential and parliamentary elections
in March. President Mugabe, 84 next month, controversially secured his party’s
nomination in December to seek another term.

A source familiar with the political intrigue said the plan was for a
“short, sharp programme of action” that will send tremors in the corridors
of power.

“This will be a sprint not a marathon … and with an element of surprise,”
our source added.

Challenged whether it was too late for a political party to enter the fray –
just over a month before March – he said: “Anything earlier than now would
have been the wrong time. It’s not true that this is late because the only
thing that we have is time.

“This is not a time to form a new political party, but come up with a broad
alliance. The maximum time for this roll-out should be 14 days.”

Political analysts warn that moves by the Zanu PF rebels to challenge Mugabe
will likely “unleash a terrible backlash”.

Makoni, widely speculated in local and international media reports as the
designated leader of the new political outfit, was said to be “failing” to
commit to the project, feeding into comments earlier by National
Constitutional Assembly (NCA) pressure group chairman, Lovemore Madhuku, who
said the former Finance Minister was a “coward”.

Morgan Tsvangirai, the MDC’s founding leader who lost a controversial ballot
against Mugabe in 2002, was said to be watching the developments, but one
official suggested the idea of him standing down in favour of a candidate
chosen by the “broad alliance” was “out of question”.

Arthur Mutambara, the leader of a rival faction of the MDC which split in
2005, is said to have landed his support to the idea of a “united front”
only if it attracts the support of other opposition and civic groups.

The plan has elicited the attention of foreign diplomats and generated
momentous debate among Zimbabwean voters who have been nudging the two MDC
groups to unite, reasoning that there is more strength in unity than a
fragmented challenge to Mugabe’s rule.

New understands that Dabengwa is now the preferred leader for
the new coalition. Dabengwa is a key ally of a Zanu PF faction led by Vice
President Joice Mujuru, and the plotters believe Mujuru will swing behind
him, in the process delivering to the opposition key voters, especially in
the Mashonaland East, Central and Manicaland provinces. Mujuru, whose
husband is retired army commander, Solomon Mujuru, also retains the critical
support of the military and intelligence apparatchiks.

Mujuru has previously said she won’t stand against Mugabe, but analysts say
she fears losing her businesses to a vengeful Mugabe.

Dabengwa, who comes from the minority Ndebele tribe, still commands respect
in the Matabeleland provinces which traditionally vote against Mugabe’s

Dabengwa, 69, was the intelligence supremo of Zipra, one of two liberation
war guerrilla outfits which took up arms to fight white settlers.

In 1982, two years after Zimbabwe’s independence, he was arrested with
Lookout Masuku and others and charged with treason. They were acquitted a
year later but on their release, Mugabe ordered them detained under
emergency regulations.

Known as the “Black Russian” during the bush war against white minority
rulers because of his Russian training, Dabengwa was released four years
later, at which time the government had concluded the Gukurahundi military
campaign in rural Matabeleland and the Midlands, targeting supporters of
Joshua Nkomo, the then PF-Zapu leader. Human rights groups estimate the
number of dead as high as 20 000.

Dabengwa accepted an appointment in Mugabe’s government as Home Affairs
Minister in 1992, but he lost his job in 2000 after his parliamentary seat
in Nkulumane fell to the MDC’s Gibson Sibanda.

His friends say he harbours no bitterness against Mugabe, and has been
moderating calls from radical Matabeleland groups for reparations for
Gukurahundi. Last year, he blocked a Private Members’ Bill brought by
Tsholotsho MP Professor Jonathan Moyo which sought to criminalise
Gukurahundi denial and demand reparations.

And an adviser to the coalition convenors said: “He is a courageous person
with the right credentials. It would be wonderful for a transition
government if the leader is national, inclusive and not vengeful. Dabengwa’s
record stands him in good stead.”

Some doubters will question whether Zimbabwe is ready for a leader from a
minority tribe.

“That has been considered,” our source revealed, “and history shows that
when countries are caught up in a polarised environment like ours, you need
the minority to provide leadership.”

He added: “In South Africa, they said the ANC cannot be ruled by anyone but
a Xhosa. Zuma, a Zulu, has just exploded that myth. Mugabe has nothing to
attack Dabengwa with.

“Tsvangirai has demanded of Makoni to show him scars from Mugabe’s
brutality; he has none! No-one bears more scars of Mugabe’s brutality than
Dabengwa who was detained without trial, eventually tried, acquitted then
detained, not for a day, week but four years. He has not been bitter or

Supporters of the “broad alliance” say it is the best shot by opposition
groups to reinvigorate weary voters and put a stop to Zimbabwe’s dramatic
economic decline.

Power and water is only available intermittently in urban centres,
unemployment as high as 80 percent and the country stopped calculating
inflation, said to be as high as 24 000 at the last count.

The possibility of senior Zanu PF figures challenging Mugabe has riled his
media supporters. A leading opinion writer in the state-run Herald
newspaper, Nathaniel Manheru, assumed to presidential spokesman George
Charamba, dismissed the expected split as a British-sponsored "coalition of
the bitter" bent on reversing Mugabe's policies, including his seizures of
white-owned farms.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Newsletter - Bulawayo South Constituency

David Coltart MP

January 2008

Dear Friends,

Since being elected by you in June 2000 if I have had one consistent message
it has been that we will not restore and develop Zimbabwe's economy unless
we turn Zimbabwe into a genuinely democratic state. Indeed I have been
saying this ever since I returned to Zimbabwe from University in 1983. As
far back as May 1991 - 17 years ago! - I gave a speech in Bulawayo (which
was then published in the Financial Gazette) in which I said:

"Economic liberalization and political protectionism are incompatible. It
goes without saying that trade liberalization and structural adjustment
cannot work in a vacuum. The experience of the world is that genuine
democracies have the strongest economies. Economic liberalization will not
work in Zimbabwe unless Government abandons its policy of political
protectionism. I need to stress that I am not saying that economic
liberalization will not work in Zimbabwe. I am simply saying that unless
Government is encouraged to bring about genuine democracy in Zimbabwe and
liberalize the political environment the long-term economic outlook for
Zimbabwe will be bleak. Without the free flow of information even if
controls in the economy are relaxed corruption will continue to flourish.
Corruption can only be stifled if there is a free flow of information,
through ongoing investigative reporting which exposes corruption. I believe
that corruption is an epidemic which if allowed to conti
nue will undermine the entire economy and it is therefore imperative, if
trade liberalization is to work, that it be brought under control. The
history of Africa and other developing countries shows that undemocratic
Governments are inevitably followed by increased corruption, increased
inflation and eventual economic decline. The only people who flourish are
the Government Ministers, the externally based shareholders of
multi-nationals and the privileged few Chief Executives of locally based
companies who have managed to illegally obtain foreign currency. Because of
this I believe that if we are genuinely interested in a future in Zimbabwe
and a sound economic outlook we need to take a serious long term view and
consider what we as business people can do to ensure that economic
liberalization is accompanied by political liberalization. I believe that
unless these points are seriously considered . a bright economic future in
Zimbabwe will at the least be severely retarded if not reversed completely."

Tragically that warning went unheeded by the Government, and even business,
and today we all suffer the consequences of living in the world's fastest
collapsing economy. Zanu PF blame the economic collapse on so called
sanctions and drought (presumably now with all this rain they will blame it
on floods!) but the fact of the matter is that Zimbabwe has got into this
pitiful state because our nation lacks, and has always lacked, one critical
ingredient, namely democracy. Building a strong nation is rather like baking
bread. It doesn't matter how good all the other ingredients in dough are; if
one tries to bake bread without yeast the bread will be simply
won't rise. Democracy, which includes listening and respecting people,
fighting corruption, having laws that apply to everyone and giving the
people a fair chance of selecting who they want to lead them, is like
yeast - it doesn't matter how good a nation's ingredients are - how educated
a nation's people are, how
much gold a country has, how much fertile land a state has; if a country is
not democratic it will never prosper in the long term.

This truth is now clear to us all. Zanu PF has been promising for years that
there will be an economic "turn around" and yet the opposite has happened.
The truth is that there will never be any turn around, never mind long term
sustainable economic growth, until there is a deep rooted commitment to
installing democracy to Zimbabwe. That includes allowing independent
newspapers to operate, allowing all points of view to be aired on our radio
and TV stations, allowing the police and judges to enforce the law against
all, irrespective of their positions in society, and allowing all people to
hold whatever political views they have without fear of arrest and
detention. Likewise businessmen and women should be able to operate without
fearing that they will be arrested for selling a product at a price which
some government official dislikes. The law should rather be used against
those who have corruptly become so obscenely rich on the backs of millions
of hard working Zimbabweans.

It is shameful that Francistown, which used to be Bulawayo's country cousin,
now has an economy much bigger than ours. It is shameful that Bulawegans
have to travel there to buy basic necessities which are not available in our
own shops. But the reason why that has happened in the last 30 years is
because Botswana has been democratic since independence whereas Zimbabwe has
never experienced true democracy.

But we must not just moan about our fate. It is within our own power to do
something about this catastrophic state we find ourselves in. There are many
of us who know what is needed to be done to restore our pride in Zimbabwe.
All you have to do is to help us by not giving up, by registering to vote
and then when elections are called to go and vote for those not responsible
for getting our country into the mess it is in today.


In the midst of all the suffering brought about by Zanu PF's chaotic
policies I have done what I can as your MP to alleviate the situation so
many of you my constituents find yourselves in. As I have mentioned in
previous newsletters I have raised a fund to assist the most vulnerable
people in Bulawayo South and I am pleased to report that most of the
projects initiated in the last few years are working well.

Farming Projects

In December 2006 the farming project situated at the corner of Nketa Dive
and Guqula Road in Nketa, jointly run by the Bulawayo South Development
Trust and Loving Hand Orphanage was officially opened by Deputy President of
the MDC the Hon. Gibson Sibanda MP. The project has employed "Farming God's
Way" techniques and operates using a highly sophisticated irrigation scheme.
The project has been successful and has supplied tonnes of vegetables and
mealies to the Nketa and Emgwanin residents in the course of the last year.
At the same time 10% of the gross proceeds have gone to Loving Hand

I am pleased to report that in the past year I have managed to obtain
further funding and we have now established phase 2 of the project (almost
doubling the size of the irrigated lands). This phase will be run solely for
the benefit of Loving hand Orphanage. It will have its own kiosk separate
from the kiosk which has been opened on Nketa Drive. Crops were planted in
November and the first crop has been reaped. It will be officially opened

This year I have started working with the old age pensioners who work the
Vundla Farming project next to Nkulumane Secondary School. Funds have been
raised to reconstruct the fence around the project, which will shortly be
installed and some food has been secured for the old age pensioners. During
2007 vegetable seeds have been purchased and supplied to the Vundla project
and other small scale cropping projects in the constituency.

Cricket nets

In my last letter I advised that I had secured funds for an additional
cricket net to be built in Emgwanin. That project has been delayed through
the shortage of cement but cement has now been secured and construction of
the same is underway again. Funds have been obtained to construct a further
net in Nketa 9.

Thanks to the generous donation by a visiting international cricket team I
have secured further cricket equipment which is gradually being distributed
to up and coming cricket teams in the constituency. In December 2007 the
newly established Emgwanin cricket team defeated a visiting team in a
fiercely contested game held on a bare earth wicket in Emgwanin!


Another generous donor has supplied computers for distribution in schools in
the constituency. To date computers have been handed over to Emgwanin
Secondary, Founders High, Hamilton High and Nkulumane Secondary.

Relief Fund

Through the ongoing generosity of two friends who attended the same school
as me I have continued the relief fund I mentioned in my last newsletter.
During 2007 we assisted disadvantaged people by paying school fees, medical
expenses, burial expenses and the like. With the collapse of the economy the
fund is more necessary than ever.

Parliament/SADC mediation

Parliament has been dominated by the Mbeki/SADC mediation talks which
culminated at the end of the year with wide ranging amendments being made to
the Electoral Law, POSA, and AIPPA.

The recent passage of Constitutional Amendment 18 and these other
amendments, with the consent of both Zanu PF and the MDC, has caused much
alarm and confusion within Zimbabwean civil society and even amongst MDC
supporters. Some have gone so far as saying that the opposition has sold
out. Others think that the opposition has made a serious error of judgment
and has compromised not only principle but political advantage. This arises
from a perception that, for example, Amendment 18 only helps Zanu PF and
that there is no benefit for those struggling to bring democracy to Zimbabwe

Whilst I think we in the opposition did ourselves and our colleagues in
civil society a disservice by proceeding with haste in passing the
amendments, and by failing to explain our actions sufficiently to our
colleagues, I do not think our consent per se was a mistake. There is no
doubt that the process used to pass the amendments was flawed. But had we
been able to consult widely and argue our case with our civic partners I am
sure they would have agreed that we should consent. Accordingly, save for
the one reservation about the flawed process, I think history will show that
it was the right thing to pass the amendments. I have written in detail why
I believe this to be so in an article entitled "The Gorbachev Factor" which
has been distributed in the constituency. If you have not read it and have
access to the internet you can read it at my web site

However perhaps the main fear about the amendments is that they are part of
a process which will allow Zanu PF to wriggle out of the hole it has dug for
itself. People fear that we may in the next few months witness a much fairer
legislative environment without genuinely free and fair electoral conditions
being created. We can already see, for example, that although our media
legislation has been amended, which in theory should allow independent
papers to operate freely, in practise the laws have not been implemented
soon enough to enable an independent paper such as the Daily News to start
publishing prior to the elections.

In the short term these are valid concerns. There is a real danger that the
Mbeki mediation process will result in all the form of a free and fair
electoral environment being created without any substance. The mere passage
of new laws does not in itself create a democratic environment conducive for
the holding of free and fair elections. It takes time for constitutional and
legislative amendments to take root and change the way we conduct our
politics in Zimbabwe.  27 years of oppression has created a certain mindset
within the Zimbabwean electorate. It will take time to liberate the minds of
Zimbabweans. The concern of many is that if elections are held too soon Zanu
PF will be able to claim legitimacy through a process which has a democratic
façade but which in reality does not allow for a genuinely free expression
of the informed will of the electorate

These are issues which have not yet been resolved in the Mbeki mediation
process and which are still being debated as I write. We in the MDC say that
there must be a new democratic constitution in place and sufficient time for
its provisions to be implemented before an election is held. Zanu PF appears
to be determined to push ahead with a March election without any opportunity
for these new laws to have any meaningful effect on the electoral
environment. And so at present we are at loggerheads over this issue.


As many of you are aware I was appointed to be part of the mediation team
established in August 2006 by the Mutambara formation of the MDC to
negotiate with our brothers and sisters in the Tsvangirai formation of the
MDC. In this capacity I have attended numerous meetings in an attempt to
create a united opposition to fight the election. In April 2007 the two
negotiating teams reached agreement regarding the setting up of a coalition
of the two formations which would ensure that a single opposition MDC
candidate would be agreed to fight each contest in the Presidential,
Parliamentary and Local Government elections. Although that agreement has
been accepted by the National Council of the Mutambara formation of the MDC
it has not yet been accepted by our colleagues in the Tsvangirai formation.
We are doing all in our power to reach agreement and I remain confident that
agreement will be reached shortly. What is very clear in my mind is that the
opposition cannot afford the luxu
ry of being divided at this critical juncture in our nation's history.


It remains very difficult for me to communicate with you. The police
continue to ban meetings I try to set up - the most recent meeting scheduled
in Ward 5 for the 17th of December 2007 was banned because the police were
not prepared to allow us to meet at the normal time of 5.30 to 7.30. We are
of course denied access to the ZBC and the Chronicle never reports on our
activities as MPs for Bulawayo. I am sure that many of you will be surprised
to read of the many projects I am engaged in, not one of which has ever been
reported on by the Chronicle! This strategy is of course deliberate - it is
designed to cut us off from our constituents and to give the impression that
we as opposition MPs have done nothing for the people who have elected us.

I hope that through this newsletter you will have caught a glimpse of what I
and my colleagues have been doing. Space of course does not permit me to
write everything that we in the opposition have been doing to alleviate the
suffering of Zimbabweans. We have however been working as hard as we can in
very difficult circumstances, and will continue to do so, to bring a new
dawn of peace, freedom and prosperity to Zimbabwe. If there is anything you
would like to communicate to me you can telephone me or write to me at my
Constituency office which is located at Nketa 6 Housing Office. Those of you
who have access to the internet can write to me through my web site.

I am of the firm belief that the long night of tyranny suffered by
Zimbabweans is about to end. Thomas Jefferson, the great American statesman,
speaking about the iniquity of slavery in 1781 said "Indeed I tremble for my
country when I reflect that God is just, and that his justice cannot sleep
forever". God is indeed just and His character has not changed at all since
1781. He abhors what is going on in Zimbabwe and I wait with great
expectation to see how He moves to restore justice to Zimbabwe.

In the interim our role is to work hard and to remain committed to certain
fundamental principles such as non violence and democracy. In any event we
must never give up. History shows that tyrannies have done enormous damage
to nations through the ages. But history also shows that these tyrannical
regimes always end and often quicker than anyone dares hope for. Zimbabwe
will not be an exception.

Thank you all for your ongoing support.

Yours sincerely,

David Coltart MP

Please note that this newsletter together with photographs of the various
projects can be viewed on my web site


If you would like to leave a public response to this mailing, please visit
my website and leave a comment. I greatly appreciate getting your
feedback, even when it is critical, as it helps me understand the issues I
need to confront.

Website (with images):
RSS feed:

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Robert Gabriel Mugabe is Simply Indefensible

The Weekly Observer (Kampala)

17 January 2008
Posted to the web 17 January 2008

Vincent Kiwanuka Kalimire

I read the article, 'Blame UK for Zimbabwe crisis' by Benjamin Kiiza
(January 10, 2008) with amusement. Kiiza undertakes the unenviable task of
defending the indefensible: Gabriel Robert Mugabe, president of Zimbabwe. In
his view, the chaos in Zimbabwe is largely a result of UK's failure to
honour its pledge of funding the land reforms. That Mugabe confiscated land
and humiliated the white farmers only when money taps dried up.

I have been to Zimbabwe and witnessed the ugly realities faced by the
African people in that country. There are practically no exaggerations of
the images we see on our television sets, telecast by CNN, BBC and other
media. This is the ugly reality to which a former freedom fighter has
exposed his people.

I am not underrating Mugabe's contribution to the struggle for the
"liberation" of the Zimbabwean people from foreign domination, neither am I
trying to exonerate the former colonial masters from blame. I have seen the
injustices committed by colonialists in countries such as South Africa,
Zimbabwe and Namibia.

I have interfaced with the ordinary people and those who have been entrusted
with powers to rectify the colonial mistakes. The level at which these
colonialists parcelled out land to themselves and confined other Africans to
unproductive areas is nothing but obscene.

Unfortunately, it is at the stage of rectifying the colonial mistakes that
our African "liberators" have displayed their selfishness and sheer greed
for power and in the process became worse than the people they replaced.

Instead of addressing the real problems faced by the people they purport to
have liberated, the new liberators instead start outright campaigns for
personal aggrandisement--accumulating wealth at all cost. We do not have to
use Zimbabwe's experience to explain this reality. I believe Uganda provides
a good case study of shrewd liberators with unexplained wealth.

Many years after many African countries gained independence from their
colonial masters, self inflicted problems have persisted and it is high time
that blame is shared proportionately. We cannot continue to blame the
colonialists for torching our huts and instead of putting out the fire; are
busy fanning it. The truth must be told; President Mugabe, instead of
redistributing land to the people, opted to appease his generals and
lieutenants with big chunks of land as ordinary people were driven to camps.

A visit to Chitungwiza, barely 30 miles from Harare, would shock even the
Angels. It is here that some of the worst levels of deprivation manifest
themselves alongside opulence. Where people sleep in makeshift shelters and
have to cue for toilet facilities. These people were herded here by
President Mugabe as they perpetually wait "for better housing facilities."

Mr. Kiiza; that Britain, the former colonial master, defaulted on its
promise to provide money for the re-allocation programme was no excuse for
grabbing farms owned by white farmers. It was possible to establish a
harmonious co-existence without necessarily destabilising the economy. This
is where Zimbabwe's problems become self-inflicted.

Zimbabweans fought for land among other rights and it is only fair that
policies that seek to address this historical mistake address
comprehensively the concerns of all the stakeholders--the Zimbabwean people
irrespective of their colour.

Selective re-allocation of land to members of the Zimbabwe African National
Union (ZANU), the ruling political party, is therefore unacceptable. In that
regard, it was no longer tenable for Britain to fund a project which
actually was not addressing the historical mistakes, but was instead
creating another time bomb--creating another "fifteen percent" who maintain
presidents in power.

Kiiza wonders whether Mugabe has become a dictator today and not yesterday
when his country hosted CHOGM. What is happening in Zimbabwe should send a
clear message to other African leaders who have stayed beyond their
"sale-by-date" that they are indispensable. As long as you stand in the
strategic interests of the big powers, consider yourself an "off the shelf"

Yes, the sanctions have had an impact on the ordinary people and certainly
facilitated Mugabe's propensity to retain power for fear of being tried for
crimes against humanity. They have also helped to show the hypocrisy of the
so-called development "partners--" Dining with dictators only when it best
suits their interests.

The author is an MA student at the University of Westminster, London.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

ANZ to re-submit Daily News application

17th Jan 2008 18:53 GMT

By Sebastian Nyamhangambiri

HARARE – Lawyers representing Zimbabwe’s banned Daily News newspaper have
expressed dismay at the newly reconstituted Media and Information Commission
(MIC)’s decision to ask the media house to re-submit their application for
an operating licence.

In an interview yesterday, Mordecai Mahlangu, the lawyer for the Associated
Newspapers of Zimbabwe (ANZ), publishers of the Daily News, confirmed that
MIC had met earlier this week and asked ANZ to make a fresh application for

"It took the commission almost 70 days just to tell us to make a fresh
application, that is very unfair,” said Mahlangu. “The aim is just to make
us frustrated and preserve the regime’s grip on to power.

"The government has never shown commitment to create a scenario for free
speech and media diversity. It is a real long struggle.”

Mahlangu said he had informed the ANZ yesterday of the MIC ruling and was
expecting them to start working on the application with a view to submit it
‘in few days time.’

John Gambanga, the ANZ acting chief executive could not be reached for
comment yesterday.

Last November, Information Minister Sikhanyiso Ndlovu reconstituted the MIC
and said saying the commission would “start in earnest” a review of the ban
imposed on the Daily News in September 2003.

Ndlovu yesterday said he had no comment on the ruling.  “The commission is
run independent of the ministry or government,” said Ndlovu. “We only come
in when the law or courts require us to, as when we appointed the commission
to hear the ANZ case.”

MIC chairman for the ANZ case Chinondidyachii Mararike could not be reached
for comment yesterday. While the MIC executive chairman refused to comment.
“I am not part of the team that is handling the ANZ case so there is nothing
to comment on it,” said Mahoso.

Mahoso was removed from hearing the ANZ after the courts ruled that he was
baised against The Daily News.  The Daily News was Zimbabwe’s biggest
circulating daily newspaper when it was shut down by the government in 2003
for allegedly violating the tough Access to Information and Protection of
Privacy Act.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Exiled ENG director Muponda on BTH

Broadcast 17 January 2008

Businessman Gilbert Muponda fled Zimbabwe in 2004 after the state accused
his ENG Asset management company of defrauding its clients of nearly Z$61
billion. This week on Behind the Headlines Lance Guma speaks to Muponda and
traces the ENG saga from start to finish. After a four year silence the ENG
director has decided to give his first radio interview. He says he wants to
remove any insinuations that his company was engaged in criminal activities.
So why did the authorities crack down on him and many other businessmen who
also fled the country at the time?

To listen to programme

Lance Guma
SW Radio Africa

Full broadcast on Shortwave-7125Khz in the 40 metre band or 4880Khz in the
60 metre band between 5-7pm (GMT) and 24 hours on the internet.

Programme also available on podcast at

For programme schedules visit:

Programmes are available for two weeks on our archives even after broadcast.

Back to the Top
Back to Index