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Military plot to keep Mugabe in power

by Jonathan Maromo and Peter Chidembo     Wednesday 19 January 2011

HARARE – More than 80 000 youth militia, war veterans and soldiers will be
deployed across the country in an army-led drive to ensure victory for
President Robert Mugabe in the next elections that, according to
investigations by ZimOnline, look set to be the bloodiest ever witnessed in

A three-month investigation by ZimOnline that included interviews and
discussions with Cabinet ministers, senior military officers and ZANU PF
functionaries, revealed a desperate determination by Zimbabwe’s top generals
to thwart Tsvangirai, with some even openly bragging that they would topple
the Prime Minister should he somehow triumph against the planned violence to
emerge the winner of the polls whose date is yet to be named.

Zimbabwe’s hardliner generals have long been regarded as wielding a de facto
veto over the country’s troubled transformation process and as likely to
block transfer of power to the winners of elections that Mugabe insist
should take place this year should the victors not be the veteran President
and his ZANU PF party.

According to our investigation the Joint Military Operations Command (JOC)
that brings together the commanders of the army, air force, police, secret
and prison services plan to intervene at an earlier stage in the process,
well before foreign or even local observers are on the ground.

The strategy is to unleash enough violence and terror  -- worse than seen in
the bloody 2008 presidential run-off poll in which at least 200 of
Tsvangirai’s supporters died and tens of thousands of others were made
homeless -- to make sure a thoroughly cowed electorate will on voting day
back Mugabe in enough numbers to save the veteran President from having to
face another second round vote or do a Gbabgo.

The Ivory Coast leader, Laurent Gbabgo, has openly refused to hand over
power to his victorious opponent after being defeated in elections.

Zimbabwe’s generals, who were behind the 2008 violence that forced
Tsvangirai to withdraw from a second round vote he had been tipped to win
after beating Mugabe in the first round ballot, fear that the Southern
African Development Community (SADC) is unlikely to accept another
blood-soaked second round election victory for Mugabe or allow him to
refuse – Gbabgo style -- to hand over power to a victorious Tsvangirai.

The plan

With Tsvangirai and the MDC, civil society and even SADC seemingly
distracted by the problems surrounding implementation of the power-sharing
deal that led to the formation of the Harare unity government, the JOC has
worked quietly to reactivate the structures that waged violence in previous
polls – almost unnoticed, apart from the occasional report by human rights
groups or the media of resurgent violence in some parts of the country.

According to information made available to ZimOnline, the JOC plans to
deploy senior commanders from either the Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF) or
the Central Intelligence Organisation in each of Zimbabwe’s 59 districts to
coordinate the fight to retain Mugabe in power.

The ZDF comprises the Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA) and Air Force of Zimbabwe
(AFZ) while the CIO is the government’s secret service agency that has a
reputation for ruthlessly dealing with Mugabe’s political opponents.

Air Vice Marshal Henry Muchena, a fierce Mugabe loyalist who has virtually
taken over as ZANU PF elections director, will be in charge of the campaign
that according to our investigation will be unrolled during the
constitutional referendum but will reach peak momentum towards elections
that are expected to follow the plebiscite.

Muchena is in charge of the campaign’s central command housed at ZANU PF’s
national headquarters in Harare.

Other top soldiers of the ranks of major general, brigadier general or air
vice-marshal and assisted by CIO agents will head provincial command centres
that will direct the onslaught against the MDC in the provinces. Some of the
senior commanders have already started work in the provinces meeting ZANU PF
and traditional leaders to plot the way forward.

The JOC is convinced that Tsvangirai and his MDC-T party remain the biggest
threat to Mugabe retaining power and while paying attention to smaller
parties such as Welshman Ncube’s MDC, Simba Makoni’s Mavambo/Kusile/Dwan and
Dumiso Dabengwa’s ZAPU will mainly focus on the former union leader and his

According to a source -- who is a senior official in the Ministry of
Defence --  Major General Engelbert Rugeje will be in charge of Masvingo

Rugeje is a notorious Mugabe fanatic who took part in atrocities committed
by the army in the Matabeleland and Midlands provinces in the 1980s.

At least 20 000 innocent civilians died in the army campaign in the
Matabeleland and the Midlands provinces that was ostensibly launched to
crush anti-Mugabe rebels but randomly targeted civilians from the Ndebele
ethnic community dominant in the area and which mainly supported the then
main PF-ZAPU opposition party of the late nationalist, Joshua Nkomo.

According to our information, Rugeje has allegedly already started
terrorising MDC supporters in Masvingo where he has in recent weeks been
blamed of several acts of violence and intimidation against the former
opposition party’s supporters.

In Mugabe’s Mashonaland West home province Brigadier General David Sigauke
will run the brutal campaign to keep ZANU PF leader in power, while
Brigadier General Douglas Nyikayaramba will be in charge in Manicaland
province, said our source, who refused to be named for fear of possible

Retired Brigadier General Victor Rungani will be in charge of the campaign
in Mashonaland East province while Air Vice Marshal Abu Basutu will oversee
matters in Matabeleland South province.

Brigadiers General Sibusio Bussie Moyo, Sibangumuzi Khumalo, Etherton Shungu
will oversee matters in the provinces of Midlands, Matebeleland North,
Mashonaland Central respectively.

Colonel Chris Sibanda and Air Commodore Mike Tichafa Karakadzai will,
respectively, run the campaign to neutralise opposition to Mugabe in the
smaller metropolitan provinces of Bulawayo and Harare that are seen as the
strongest bastions of Tsvangirai support.

Junior commanders and hundreds of lower ranking soldiers, some of who have
already been deployed in recent months in villages in some districts, will
be at the disposal of the senior commanders.  But our source was unable to
say exactly how many out of Zimbabwe’s ±40 000 soldiers will be put to work
campaigning for Mugabe. (See below story full list of senior and junior
commanders who will run the campaign)

Torture camps

Hundreds of war veterans who have taken part in previous ZANU PF campaigns
including farm invasions will also feature prominently this time round and
will along with the youth militia run torture camps at strategic locations
in the districts and will also conduct pungwes (all night political
education meetings) that will be primarily used to intimidate villagers and
warn them about the dangers of voting for Tsvangirai or his MDC party.

The torture camps will be used as centres to punish and breakdown prominent
supporters, activists and leaders of Tsvangirai’s MDC in the districts and
villages as part of a drive to disable and render dysfunctional the party’s
grassroots structures.

Soldiers and war veterans will play major roles in the campaign but the
youth militia trained under a controversial government national youth
service programme will be the principal agents of violence, according to our

The youths that are fanatical supporters of Mugabe and ZANU PF have in
previous polls sealed off whole districts to the opposition and are once
again expected to turn most of Zimbabwe’s rural areas into virtually no-go
areas for the MDC.

While reports in the press last weekend quoting documents from the Ministry
of Youth Development, Indigenisation and Empowerment said the ministry was
looking to revive the youth service programme and to train 300 000 militia
members annually, a Cabinet minister in the unity government whom we spoke
to last December said at present there were about 80 000 youths ready for
use in ZANU PF campaigns and programmes.

Gov’t funded-bases

The minister, who only spoke on condition he was not named, said many of the
youths had been absorbed into the civil service while a smaller number
remain at the government-funded youth training camps where they are from
time to time assigned work by ZANU PF which controls the youth ministry.

He said: “80 000 had passed through the national youth service by the time
it was stopped two years ago. The majority of those who had already
graduated before the suspension of the programme have been absorbed into the

“Government ministries which absorbed these youths are the ministry of
defence through the Zimbabwe National Army, the Ministry of Justice through
the prisons service, the home affairs ministry through the police and the
ministry of youth.

“Those who have failed to get jobs have remained at the training centres. I
know some remain at Dadaya, Guyo, Eaglesnest, Mashayamombe and Mshagashe.
These are the most dangerous because this is a group that is readily
available to do any sort of work. The centres have remained a crucial
structure of violence because they provide government-funded bases.”

Defence Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa and Youth Minister Saviour Kasukuwere
repeatedly refused to take questions on the plans by the military to
takeover ZANU PF’s campaign and the role of the youth service in the
army-led drive to secure victory for Mugabe and his party.

But ZANU PF spokesman Rugare Gumbo dismissed the reports that the party had
virtually outsourced its electoral campaign to the generals as unfounded and
an attempt to smear Mugabe’s party.

Gumbo told ZimOnline:  “That is unfounded. ZANU PF is fully in charge of its
programmes. We have the capacity to run our own campaign without involving
soldiers. We have seen a pattern to smear ZANU PF and its leaders by falsely
claiming that there is violence out there and that we are behind the
violence. Now we are supposed to have surrendered our campaign to the army.
There is no basis.”

Do-or-die affair

But our investigations have established that ZDF commanders and CIO agents
have been holding high-level strategic provincial meetings to plot how to
secure Mugabe’s victory in the next elections even before a single ballot is

Analysts have advanced several theories as to why the generals would want to
prevent a possible Tsvangirai poll victory.

Others have said the men in uniform fear an MDC government will prosecute
them for human rights abuses including the Matabeleland and Midlands
massacres, while others say the generals  -- or some of them genuinely
believe --  rightly or wrongly, that Tsvangirai is a puppet of the West and
that they have to stop him to protect the revolution.

And yet others say the generals want Mugabe or a successor appointed by him
in power because the veteran President or his appointee will not only
protect the commanders from prosecution but will ensure that they retain
access to national resources, not least the rich Marange diamond deposits.

But whatever their motive or motives, our investigations showed a group of
committed military men who believe that the next elections  -- that Mugabe
has said must take place this year although they may yet be postponed
possibly to 2012 or 2013 -- are a do-or-die affair and that they are better
off taking matters in their own hands.

The generals are absolutely convinced that a lethargic ZANU PF that is riven
by factionalism over Mugabe’s succession cannot on its own win an election
against an MDC party that remains hugely popular with the electorate despite
the mediocre performance of some of its leaders in the unity government or
the WikiLeaks disclosures that painted Tsvangirai as flawed and of
questionable executive ability.

For example at a meeting in Manicaland last November, Nyikayaramba and Air
Commodore Innocent Chiganze told the ZANU PF provincial leadership that the
military was taking over the party’s campaign in order to be able to stop
Tsvangirai from winning.

Senior ZANU PF politicians among them Diydmus Mutasa, who is minister of
state in Mugabe’s office; Patrick Chinamasa, who is justice minister; deputy
economic planning minister Samuel Undenge; former minister Munacho Mutezo,
party provincial chairman, Mike Madiro and provincial spokesman Kenneth
Saruchera attended the meeting with the two soldiers.

Safe hands

Chiganze told the politicians that the elections were just as crucial as the
1980 elections that ushered in independence from Britain and in which the
same military commanders actively campaigned for ZANU PF.

He said the ZANU-PF leadership had failed to effectively campaign because of
factionalism and it was now the duty of the army to lead the campaign to
defeat Tsvangirai.

According to a source who attended the meeting, Chiganze told the meeting
that military generals were ready to retire, but would only do so when they
were certain that the country was in the “safe hands” of a ZANU-PF leader.

Chiganze, according to our source, openly told the meeting that the military
would never allow Tsvangirai to takeover power and would rather depose him
than salute a leader they viewed as an American front.

The Air Commodore told the meeting that soldiers would be deployed in all
districts well before the announcement of the election date to seal the off
areas and mobilise people.

Chiganze advised the Manicaland ZANU PF leaders that once a date for
national elections was announced they should move with speed to organise
internal polls to chose candidates to represent the party in the various
constituencies in order to give time to soldiers to mount an “effective
campaign” well before international observers arrive in the country.

Mutasa and Chinamasa, the most senior ZANU PF leaders at the November
meeting, urged all party members to cooperate with the military as was the
case during the constitutional outreach programme during which Mugabe’s
party was able to push its views and drown out those of other parties.

Revolutionary credentials

The meeting between Nyikayaramba, Chiganze and the ZANU PF leaders was a
follow up meeting to another one held earlier by Nyikayaramba and over 200
traditional leaders whom he summoned to his army barracks to warn them of
the fatal consequences of allowing MDC activities in their areas.

A traditional leader, who agreed to speak to our reporters on condition he
was not named, quoted Nyikayaramba as saying: “Some people are saying that
Mugabe should be removed from power but that will never happen when we are
here. No one without any revolutionary credentials will rule this country.
We have no regrets over this statement because a lot of our people
sacrificed their lives for the liberation of this country.”

Other senior commanders assigned to the various provinces have also met ZANU
PF leaders there to inform them to leave campaigning in the hands of the

Zimbabwe’s elections have in the past been blighted by violence and charges
of vote rigging, which saw the European Union and United States slapping
sanctions on Mugabe, top ZANU-PF members and the security forces commanders.

The country's last election in 2008 ended in a stalemate that only ended
when Tsvangirai and Mugabe bowed to regional pressure to form a government
of national unity in February 2009.

The two former foes have appointed a new Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC)
to run new elections expected once a new constitution is in place.

But ZEC chairman Simpso Mutambanengwe has complained that the commission
lacks resources to fix a chaotic voters’ roll and implement other measures
key to ensuring the next polls are free and fair.-- ZimOnline

List Of Soldiers

The list shows the province, district or constituency in which the soldier
will be based and the name of the soldier:

Harare Metropolitan Province - AVM Karakadzai

Bulawayo Province - Col. C. Sibanda

Bulawayo central - Maj. J. Ndhlovu, Maj. J. Ncube

Manicaland and Mutare South - Brig. Tarumbwa

Buhera Central - Col. Morgan. Mzilikazi (MID)

Buhera North - Maj. L. M. Svosve

Buhera South - Maj. D. Muchena

Buhera West - Lt. Col. Kamonge, Major Nhachi

Chimanimani East - Lt. Col. Murecherwa

Chimanimani West - Maj. Mabvuu

Headlands - Col. Mutsvunguma

Makoni North - Maj. V. Chisuko

Makoni South - Wing Commander Mandeya

Mutare Central - Lt. Col. Tsodzai, Lt. Col. Sedze

Mutare West - Lt. Col. B. Kashiri

Mutare North - Lt. Col. Chizengwe, Lt. Col. Mazaiwana

Mashonaland Central - Brig. Gen. Shungu

Bindura South - Col. Chipwere

Bindura North - Lt. Col. Parwada

Muzarabani North - Lt. Col. Kazaza

Muzarabani South - Maj. H. Maziri

Rushinga - Col. F. Mhonda, Lt. Col. Betheuni

Shamva North - Lt. Col. Dzuda

Shamva South - Lt. Col. Makumire

Midlands Province - AVM Muchena, Brig. Gen. S. B. Moyo, Lt Colonel Kuhuni

Chirumhanzu South - Maj T. Tsvangirai

Mberengwa East - Col. B. Mavire

Mberengwa West - Maj T. Marufu

Matebeleland South - AVM Abu Basutu

Beit Bridge East - Group Cpt. Mayera, Rtd. Maj. Mbedzi, Lt. Col. B. Moyo

Gwanda South - Maj J. D. Moyo

Gwanda Central - Maj. B. Tshuma

Matopo North - Lt. Col. Maphosa

Matebeleland North - Brig. Gen. Khumalo

Binga North - Maj E. S. Matonga

Lupane East - Lt Col. Mkwananzi

Lupane West - Lt Col. Mabhena

Tsholotsho - Lt. Col. Mlalazi

Hwange Central - Lt. Col P. Ndhlovu

Masvingo Province - Maj. Gen. E. A. Rugeje,

Bikita West - Maj. B. R. Murwira

Chiredzi Central - Col G. Mashava

Chiredzi West - Maj. E. Gono

Gutu South - Maj. Chimedza

Masvingo - Lt. Col. Takavingofa

Mwenezi West - Lt. Col. Muchono

Mwenezi East - Lt. Col. Mpabanga

Zaka East - Maj. R. Kwenda

Mash West Province - Brig. Gen. Sigauke

Chinhoyi - Col Gwekwerere

Chegutu East - Lt. Colonel W. Tutisa

Hurungwe East - Lt. Col. B. Mabambe

Mhondoro Mubaira - Col. C. T. Gurira

Zvimba North - Cpt. T. Majongwe

Mashonaland East - Rtd. Brig Gen Rungani

Chikomba Central - Lt. Col. Marara

Goromonzi North - Lt Col. Mudzimba, Maj F. Mbewe

Marondera Central - Maj. Gen. Chedondo (COSG), Lt. Col B. Kashiri

Marondera West Squadron Leader - U. Chitauro

Murehwa South - Maj. Gurure

Murehwa North - Lt. Col. Mukurazhizha, Lt. Col. Chinete

Gutu North-Retired Colonel Mutero Masanganise

Gutu South-Colonel Muchechetere

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Zimbabwe faces election bloodbath, MDC minister Tendai Biti warns

Robert Mugabe plans elections this year amid warning signs of rising

    * David Smith in Johannesburg
    *, Wednesday 19 January 2011 17.39 GMT

Biti and Tsvangirai The Zimbabwean finance minister, Tendai Biti, with the
prime minister, Morgan Tsvangirai. Photograph: Gianluigi Guercia/AFP/Getty

Zimbabwe is facing a "bloodbath" if the president, Robert Mugabe, presses
ahead with elections this year, one of its most senior government ministers
has warned.

Mugabe, 86, has been beating the drum for fresh polls in recent months, amid
familiar warning signs of a rise in political violence and a crackdown on
the media.

But Tendai Biti, the finance minister in the unity government and secretary
general of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), expressed fears today
that, without fundamental reforms, Zimbabwe faces a repeat of the chaotic
2008 election in which the party says 253 people were killed.

"The chances of it being a bloodbath right now are probably more," he told
the Guardian during a global poverty summit in Johannesburg. "It's not a
possibility, it's a probability.

"Violence is rising now, hate speech is increasing, unconstitutional
statements from generals are increasing right now. There's a lot of work
that has to be done by Zimbabweans, by [South African] President Zuma, by
SADC [the Southern African Development Community], by the African Union,
because all the signs, all the symptoms are not good. They are reflective of
a reproduction of June 2008."

But Biti, who is in effect the number two of the prime minister, Morgan
Tsvangirai, insisted the MDC would not boycott an election if it is called
this year.

"I think boycott politics doesn't work," he said. "We will participate
without a doubt but it will not be ideal. After all, the majority of
Zimbabweans want real change. We can't frustrate the majority of people.

"But there are certain situations where you can't lead people to a
bloodbath, so if there are conditions which are in any way close to June
2008, it would be immoral for us to lead people to a slaughterhouse.

"So yes to an election but no to a bloodbath. That's the challenge of being
in the spaces that some of us occupy. There is no textbook that you can look
in for an answer. There is no university professor who will tell you an
answer. So you just have to make the decision on the facts that are
available as objectively as you can."

Biti, credited with steering Zimbabwe from hyperinflation to economic
stability, called for a "road map" to a free and fair ballot. This would
entail protecting individual voters against violence, possibly with the help
of southern African neighbours, and guaranteeing the results against fraud.

He asked: "Is the people's will going to be reflected and respected? Or is
it going to be Zimbabwe part II, Kenya part II, Ivory Coast part II?

"Unless we've got an answer over these three fundamental issues then an
election is a waste of time. While there's an obligation for Zimbabweans to
find an understanding with each other, this is not a domestic issue, it's an
African challenge. What has happened in Ivory Coast, what has happened in
Kenya, what has happened in Zimbabwe is unacceptable."

The minister expressed dismay at the events in Ivory Coast, where President
Laurent Gbagbo's refusal to give up power after defeat at the ballot box has
earned comparisons with Mugabe.

He added: "Africa tends to be cyclical. Every time of an election people run
away because elections tend to be cataclysmic. If the election that took
place in the United Kingdom on 6 May last year had taken place in Africa,
then Nick Clegg would have sought refugee status and Cameron would have been
in some filthy prison somewhere. Look what has happened in Ivory Coast. So
how do we find an answer?"

ZimOnline, a Zimbabwean news agency, reported today that more than 80,000
youth militia, war veterans and soldiers will be deployed across the country
to ensure victory for Mugabe in elections that "look set to be the bloodiest
ever witnessed in Zimbabwe".

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State agents compiling database of potential violence victims in Binga

By Tererai Karimakwenda
19 January, 2011

A councillor in a remote district of Binga has revealed that state security
agents are compiling a visual database of MDC officials that they suspect
are potential candidates in the next elections. The CIOs have already taken
photographs of some councilors in Binga, but others have refused to be
photographed, saying they know that their images will be used to identify
them when violence is unleashed during elections.

SW Radio Africa spoke to Councillor Temba Toonse Kunjulu, popularly known as
TTK in his Jabuba ward in Binga, who described how he was recently
approached by CIOs who asked him if he would be running for a position
during the next elections. They said all potential candidates for local
positions were being photographed ahead of the elections.

Kunjulu told them he had no such aspirations and refused to have his picture
taken. But the CIOs insisted they needed his photograph to be included on
official documents being compiled for the elections.

Kunjulu checked with one of the neighbouring wards and discovered the
councillor there had indeed been photographed. However, more research
revealed there was no official documentation process taking place.

“I know how they work. They wanted to be able to point me out,” said

The councillor said he is being targeted because he is a human rights
activist in the area. He works with civic groups such as Bulawayo Agenda,
helping to educate villagers in remote areas about their rights.

“They see me as a threat. I mobilise and sensitise the community to human
rights issues. I go hundreds of miles to Bulawayo and back to collect
newspapers and distribute them in Binga. This is why I am targeted,” said

He explained that state security agents also took his radio in order to
limit his access to information.

“A CIO named Muzondo was part of the gang. They accused me of listening to
foreign radio,” said Kunjulu. The councillor insisted on a receipt for his
radio equipment and got one.

According to Kunjulu, the CIOs are intimidating villagers who are not
political as well. They take away radios and any leaflets that do not
support ZANU PF policies, knowing it is difficult to get information to
remote areas like Jabuba ward.

It is no secret that ZANU PF is already in campaign mode even though no
specific date has been set for elections. Thousands of youth militia have
been recruited, soldiers have reportedly been deployed in many parts of the
country and war vets like Jabulani Sibanda have been intimidating people in
remote areas.

Last week the MDC-T released a statement saying there has been an increase
in violence and in the arrests of their officials. Zimbabweans can only hope
that SADC and the AU insist on free and fair elections in a peaceful
environment where ZANU PF cannot influence the outcome through the usual
violence and intimidation.


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Zuma spells out new plan on ending Zimbabwe crisis

By KITSEPILE NYATHI, NATION CorrespondentPosted Wednesday, January 19 2011
at 19:43

South African negotiators have told Zimbabwean parties that President Jacob
Zuma is working on a roadmap for free and fair elections to solve the
political impasse that has persisted despite the formation of a unity
government by President Robert Mugabe and his opponents two years ago. The
South African leader was in 2009 appointed by the Southern African
Development Community (SADC) to mediate in the power sharing talks between
Zimbabwe’s three governing parties.
President Zuma (pictured) took over from his predecessor Mr Thabo Mbeki who
was instrumental in negotiating the Zimbabwean deal meant to end a decade of
political and economic crises the previous year.

On Monday, the South African negotiators started a new round of separate
meetings with the Zimbabwean parties where President Zuma’s road map was

They have since met the two Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) formations
led by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and Professor Welshman Ncube.

A meeting with negotiators from President Mugabe’s Zanu PF was scheduled for

“President Zuma’s team assured us that they were working on the roadmap and
that problems in the inclusive government will be discussed at a SADC
meeting, sometime after the AU summit at the end of the month,” an unnamed
official of the main MDC told the privately owned NewsDay newspaper.

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Prepare for democratic change - Tsvangirai

By Chengetai Zvauya
Wednesday, 19 January 2011 18:45

HARARE - MDC leader, Morgan Tsvangirai has urged his supporters to get ready
for the  forthcoming  party congress in May and  be prepared for democratic
change after the elections.

An upbeat Tsvangirai, flanked by his deputy, Thokozani Khupe, urged
Zimbabweans to stay the course for democratic change.

"This year, 2011 is a watershed year for real change and holistic
transformation. As we prepare for our historic congress after two years in
government, I call upon the people to ready themselves for far-reaching
democratic changes," he said.

Tsvangirai was speaking at his Strathaven home in Harare on Tuesday after
his return from South Africa where he had gone with his family.

He said the congress will mark the beginning of the MDC’s renewal as the
party gears itself for the total control of the government after the

“Our congress shall reaffirm our determination, our values and principles as
a democratic movement. We shall use it as a first step in asserting our
signature as a party of the people, a party of the future and the only
discernible hope for all Zimbabweans,” Tsvangirai said.

He said that during his break from work, he had  reflected on what his party
had done during the two years in the inclusive  government and planned for
the challenges  that lie ahead.

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State Editors Urged To Attack Tsvangirai

19/01/2011 19:50:00

HARARE – President Robert Mugabe’s spokesperson George Charamba has ordered
all state media editors to go all out in attack against Prime Minister
Morgan Tsvangirai ahead of elections which he insisted will be held this

Charamba was addressing the editors at a strategic meeting held in Nyanga
two weeks ago. He reportedly urged the editors to continue pouring out
propaganda in support of Mugabe saying Tsvangirai should never be allowed to
rule Zimbabwe as he is a sellout.

A senior editor from one of the state media newspapers told Radio VOP that
Charamba had called the meeting to ensure that all of them understood the
need to ensure that they campaigned for Mugabe during elections this year.

The meeting was attended by editors from the Herald, Sunday Mail, Zimbabwe
Broadcasting Corporation, Chronicle, H-Metro, B-Metro and Kwayedza.

“It was supposed to be a strategic meeting but it ended up as a Tsvangirai
bashing retreat. Charamba made it clear that Tsvangirai should be destroyed
through the media and said when election time approaches, the stories on the
Prime Minister must not be balanced. He said Tsvangirai must be dressed down
and even said they should not be worried about lawsuits but he did not
explain what he plans in the case of newspaper being sued.

“He said we should go all out in attack and never give him (Tsvangirai) a
chance.  The only strategy discussed at the meeting was propaganda. But
Charamba also said that we must gear ourselves for competition from the many
newspapers that are coming including The Daily News.

“What surprised us was that Charamba was speaking like a Zanu PF official by
denigrating the Prime Minister yet he is only a civil servant who is not
supposed to discuss politics especially in a situation where we have an
inclusive government.

“Some editors however privately questioned how we can remain competitive
while churning out propaganda instead of the real stories. Some were also
privately wondering if ever elections will be held at all this year. It
looks like generally nobody believed what Charamba was saying but at times
you have to pretend to be in agreement,” said the editor.

The meeting also discussed how the newspapers are performing in terms of

Charamba is known for his interference in the state media where he directs
operations from his Munhumutapa offices. He uses gullible editors to rubbish
Mugabe’s opponents while at the same time propagating his boss’ propaganda.

Charamba also uses the state media to attack his opponents with the Zanu PF

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US ambassador urges ‘peaceful protest’ against injustice

By Lance Guma
20 January 2011

The United States ambassador Charles Ray has urged Zimbabweans to use
‘peaceful protest’ against social and political injustices. Speaking at the
Arrupe College in Harare on the occasion of Martin Luther King Day, Ray
said: “the best weapon against hate and violence is non violence.” He also
encouraged local clergy to emulate Dr King by becoming the voices of hope
and freedom in society.

Martin Luther King, Jr. was an American clergyman, activist, and prominent
leader in the African American civil rights movement. He is best known for
being an iconic figure in the

advancement of civil rights in the United States and around the world, using
non-violent methods, following the teachings of Mahatma Gandhi. Every year
on his birthday (17 January) Americans celebrate Martin Luther King Day.

In Harare, Ambassador Ray led the commemorations by telling about 300
students and members of the public that Zimbabwe had gone through and still
continues to “face great challenges and controversies.”

“In this era of change, I urge you to never let your voices be silent, but
instead to let them rise to the rafters as Dr. King’s did, time and time
again,” Ray said, adding that Dr King encouraged people to “shun silence and
apathy in favor of righteous and compassionate action.”

Turning to religious leaders in Zimbabwe, Ambassador Ray said: “You are
leaders of flocks who want and deserve a just and peaceful society. Your
parishioners want to create progressive communities and better opportunities
for their children, and you can guide them on the path to building this
brighter future. Like Dr. King, may we not become silent about things that
Pro-democracy activists in Zimbabwe have had to deal with brutal state
sponsored violence for many years. After suffering a humiliating loss to the
MDC in March 2008, Mugabe and his ZANU PF party launched a massive campaign
of murder and torture to intimidate those who had voted against them. Over
500 activists were killed, thousands tortured and hundreds of thousands

But as those in Tunisia will tell you, feats of bravery by one person can
also bring down a dictatorship. Tunisian fruit seller Muhammad Al Bouazizi
committed suicide protesting the cancellation of his vending permit. The
national outrage surrounding his plight and those of many others like him
who were unemployed, led to demonstrations which eventually toppled
President Zine Al Abidine Ben Ali and his regime after 24 years in power.

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Zim issues flood warnings after heavy rains

Eyewitness News | 3 Hours Ago

Zimbabwe was the latest Southern African Development Community (SADC)
country to issue flood warnings on Wednesday after heavy rains in the

The country’s Meteorological Services Department said low-lying areas in the
north and south of Zimbabwe were at greater risk of flooding. Rivers near
the Beitbridge border with South Africa have already flooded.

Parts of Harare’s central business district were flooded on Tuesday
afternoon after the ageing drainage system failed to cope with large volumes
of rainwater.

The head of the country’s Civil Protection Unit (CPU), Madzudzo Pawadyira
said the ground was waterlogged and more rain was forecast in the country.

Pawadyira said aid agencies like Médecins Sans Frontières were on standby to
help those affected.

The CPU added that they were ready to provide tents to those hit by the

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Chombo in fresh land scam

Written by Own correspondent
Wednesday, 19 January 2011 14:13

HARARE - Fresh evidence implicating Ignatius Chombo  has emerged in yet
another suspicious land deal in which the Zanu (PF) politburo member is a
central figure in corruption.  In the city’s plush northern suburb of Glen
Lorne lies a piece of land technically known as Subdivision “K” of Nthaba,
which used to belong to the city council.
This week’s issue of the MDC Changing Times newsletter contains a lengthy
report of the shenanigans involved in the minister’s attempt to convert the
land to his own use.
Chombo alleges that he was allocated the land in 1995 by the then Ministry
of Local Government, Rural and Urban Development. But there was no ministry
with such a name at the time, although the date stamp on Chombo’s lease
agreement says so. The ministry was actually that of Local Government and
This piece of land was donated to the city by a well-wisher, Walter Serocold
Pell Edmonds, in 1954 and transferred in 1973 to the City of Harare - on
condition that it could only be used as a public space.
Title Deed No.3662/1954 was specifically endorsed to effect the council
ownership. For years, the plot remained in that state. Chombo claims to have
signed a lease agreement with this non-existent ministry on January 2, 1997
and agreed to pay Z$6 301 rent per year. He also maintains he bought the
same piece of land on January 1, 1997.
Chombo tried to sell the land to Alois Ndaziva Chimeri for Z$250 million in
September 2003. But this could not happen as he was not the registered
Records show that, over the years, Chombo persistently tried to transfer the
land into his name, but failed. Correspondence dating back to June 2004,
between the ministry (through the then permanent secretary Mrs R.
Pazvakawambwa), Harare City Council and lawyers Honey and Blackenberg show
clearly the difficulties Chombo encountered in wrestling the property from
the council.
Among the lawyers’ concerns was conflict of interest, as Chombo, now the
minister, was intending to change the land use for personal advantage.
Further, the lawyers wanted a Capital Gains Clearance Certificate, Title
Deeds and an Agreement of Sale – documents Chombo did not appear to have.
Perusal of the documents shows that they appear suspect, tampered with or
completely manufactured. A long and complex process of correspondence ensued
over the next several years, involving countless hours of council staff and
lawyers’ time.
On January 7 2005, the Town Clerk wrote to Honey & Blackenberg to proceed
with the transfer. Further inter-departmental activity and mountains of
correspondence continued, as officials frantically tried to regularise the
transfer to Chombo. By December 2006, L. Chimba, writing on behalf of the
permanent secretary, informed Town House of a suggestion of a land swap with
another piece of land in an unnamed low-density suburb of Harare.
The saga continued once the council reverted to control of the MDC in March
2008. On November 24, 2008, the lawyers insisted on the fulfilment of the
demands of the letter dated 11 April 2005, and requested an agreement of
sale for the purposes of Capital Gains by Zimra, and consent of the City of
In February 2009, the lawyers demanded proof of payment and advised that
Chombo risked a heavy penalty from Zimra, as he claimed to have sold the
land in 2005 and did not pay Capital Gains Tax within a month as required by
On October 26, 2010, Chiwanga – the man implicated in all of Chombo’s
fraudulent land deals from previous investigations – advised the city
treasurer that Sub-division K of Ntaba, Glen Lorne, had had its use changed
from a designated public space to a residential property. Not surprisingly,
this letter is dated 4 September 1996.
“The MDC and hundreds of workers in the City of Harare and in the inclusive
government are aware of Chombo’s activities since Mugabe brought him into
his Cabinet from a lecture room at the University of Zimbabwe in 1990s,”
says the Changing Times.
“They are baffled as to why he remains in public office. For those who may
be unaware, Chombo sits in the Zanu (PF) politburo as the secretary for land
reform and resettlement.”

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Zimbabwe State-Controlled Publisher Proposes to Move Into Broadcasting

Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum Executive Director Abel Chikomo said it
would be a travesty if Zimpapers were granted licenses to broadcast given
the monopoly enjoyed by the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation

Sandra Nyaira | Washington  18 January 2011

Media holding company Zimbabwe Newspapers, parent company of the
state-controlled Herald and other publications, aims to launch radio and
television operations, Zimpapers Chairman Paul Chimedza told a strategic
planning workshop on the weekend.

Sources attending the workshop in Nyanga on Sunday said Chimedza told the
meeting that Zimpapers should be a full media house with print and
electronic offerings.

Information Ministry Permanent Secretary George Charamba endorsed the
proposal but it has stirred controversy given the existing state monopoly in
broadcasting. The Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corp. is the only entity licensed to
broadcast on the national territory.

Zimbabwean journalists took to social networking sites on Tuesday to discuss
the merits and demerits of the state awarding Zimpapers a licence to
broadcast. There were mixed reactions with state media journalists
applauding the move saying it would create jobs while most independent
reporters and editors were against the idea.

"I thought ZBC (the state-controlled Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation) and
Zimpapers were more or less one and the same ... So what new can we expect
from the Zimpapers TV/radio that we cannot get through the current ZBC?"{
one journalist asked.

Another one wrote: "This is good news indeed. As long as they also licence
independent players.The more the merrier."

Quipped a third online participant: "At least there is an acknowledgement by
all sides of the box that ZBC alone is inadequate."

Nhanhla Ngwenya, director of the Zimbabwean branch of the Media Institute of
Southern Africa, said independent operators should also get broadcast
licenses if the government gives them to Zimpapers.

Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum Executive Director Abel Chikomo said it
would be a travesty if Zimpapers were granted licenses to broadcast, given
that the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corp. is also state-controlled.

Many consider ZBC to be a mouthpiece for the long-ruling ZANU-PF party of
President Robert Mugabe, even with the establishment in early 2009 of a
government of national unity under the 2008 Global Political Agreement for
power sharing.

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Kimberley Process Members Approve Modification to Zimbabwe Agreement

Revision of the Zimbabwe agreement was the last effort of outgoing Kimberly
Chairman Boaz Hirsch of Israel to reach a consensus on clearing the
international sale of diamonds from the Marange field

Tatenda Gumbo | Washington  18 January 2011

Members of the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme have voted in favor of
an amendment to an agreement hammered out last November in Jerusalem on
marketing Zimbabwean diamonds from the controversial Marange field.

The amendment to a so-called violence clause will make it harder for those
who allege human rights abuses in the Marange zone in eastern Manicaland
province to seek a formal investigation by the Kimberley Process.

Under the new language, three rather than two member countries would have to
endorse a call for monitoring by the industry watchdog group.

The amendment vote was the last effort of the outgoing Kimberley Process
Chairman  Boaz Hirsch of Israal to reach a consensus on certifying diamonds
from the Marange alluvial field for export sale. Human rights organizations
have charged that serious violations have occurred in the Marange field and
to some extent continue.

Analysts say a continuing Kimberley ban on the export of Marange diamonds
has had an affect on the international market where rough stone supplies
have tightened.

Kimberley Process officials were waiting for Zimbabwean officials to accept
or reject the modification of the agreement reached in Jerusalem last

Alan Martin, research director with Partnership Africa Canada, a Kimberley
Process NGO member, told VOA reporter Tatenda Gumbo that if Harare accepts
the revised agreement that will be a step toward further export sales of
Marange diamonds.

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KP waiting on Zim to approve diamond agreement

By Alex Bell
19 January 2011

Members of the diamond watchdog group, the Kimberley Process (KP) are said
to be waiting for Zimbabwe’s approval of an amended agreement, which could
potentially open the door for more diamond exports from the country.

KP members this week voted in favour of an amendment to an agreement that
was proposed last November in Jerusalem, where Zimbabwe’s diamond trade
future was hotly debated. The country has been suspended from exporting its
diamonds because of rights abuses at the Chiadzwa diamond fields, including
violence and smuggling. The country’s Mines Ministry insists that such
abuses have stopped, and have threatened to sell the diamonds without KP

This amended agreement has been outgoing KP chairman Boaz Hirsch’s last
ditch effort to clear the air over Zimbabwe’s contested diamond trade, and
reach a consensus on certifying Chiadzwa stones. But critics are concerned
that the agreement is only to prevent Zimbabwe from making good on its
threats to sell its stones without approval, and doesn’t make the issue of
human rights a priority.

Of particular concern is the amendment to a ‘violence clause’ that will make
it harder for those who allege human rights abuses at Chiadzwa to seek a
formal investigation by the KP. Under the amendment, it will now take three,
rather than two member countries to endorse a call for monitoring by the KP.

The KP is now waiting on Zimbabwe to approve this deal, which is likely as
the Mines Ministry has indicated that it is already in the process of
organising fresh diamond auctions.

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Zimbabwe rubbish dump pollutes Mozambique water

APA Maputo (Mozambique) A Zimbabwean rubbish dump is polluting a major
source of water for the central Mozambican province of Manica,
state-controlled Mozambique News Agency (AIM).

The agency said the rubbish dump, in the eastern Zimbabwean city of Mutare,
was set up 60 years ago by the British colonial authorities, at the spot
where the Munene river has its source.

The Munene is a tributary of the Revue river, which supplies water to the
Manica provincial capital, Chimoio, Manica town and the municipality of

AIM cites Natercia Nhabanga, the Manica Provincial Director for the
Environment, describing the situation as very serious, since all manner of
waste is deposited at the Mutare dump, including industrial waste and
hospital waste.

According to AIM, the water from the Munene flows into the Revue and then
into the reservoir of the Chicamba dam, which is an important fishing centre
and provides drinking water for the main urban centres of the province.

The pollution of the Munene was first raised by the mayor of Manica town,
Moguene Candieiro, in 2009, and in 2010 the governor of the province, Ana
Comoane, set up a technical commission to investigate the matter.

That commission has visited Mutare and the rubbish dump several times, and
has met with the Mutare municipal authorities.

Nhabanga said that the Mutare authorities have recognized the seriousness of
the problem, but said that, due to Zimbabwe’s financial and economic
problems, there is no short or medium term solution.

However, Zimbabweans also said they were looking for a new site for the dump
and contacts have been made with South Africa, which could send experts to
help Mutare municipality remove or destroy the dump.


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New website to lure Zimbos home

Written by Ngoni Chanakira
Wednesday, 19 January 2011 13:25

HARARE – A new website has been designed to lure disgruntled Zimbabweans
working outside the country back home.

Statistics reveal that there are more than five million Zimbabweans who fled
the country when the government of President Robert Mugabe decided to grab
lucrative commercial farms from white farmers and dished them out to
landless blacks in what has become known as the "land grab" era.

There are about two million Zimbabweans in South Africa, but this could
change soon due to new and stringent Visa regulations that have been put in
place by the South African regime of President Jacob Zuma.

There are also millions of Zimbabweans in the United States of America
(USA), Europe - especially in the United Kingdom (UK) - Australia, and even
in neighbouring countries such as Botswana, Malawi and Zambia.

A spokesman for the new website, known as,

"In response to the flight of skilled professionals from the country, the
Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education, with assistance from the
International Organisation for Migration (IOM), recently developed the
Zimbabwe Human Capital Website."

He said the Zimbabwe Human Capital Website seeks to facilitate and
contribute to the economic and social development of Zimbabwe through
mobilising human skills and investment potential among locals in the

The website disseminates information on employment and investment
opportunities in Zimbabwe that skilled workers, professionals and investors
(local and abroad) can take advantage of.

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Tsvangirai to stand uncontested for party leadership

By Tichaona Sibanda
19 January 2011

MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai is set to triumph at his party’s elective
congress scheduled for May, as indications from party structures suggest he
will garner overwhelming support to retain the Presidency uncontested.

Tsvangirai’s widespread popularity among the party’s rank and file, along
with his gift for engaging ordinary people in large audiences and one-on-one
encounters, has earned him huge support from grassroots levels.

Party insiders told SW Radio Africa on Wednesday that internal consultations
at provincial level appear to suggest the MDC is keen to keep its top
leadership team intact. Tsvangirai’s deputy, Thokozani Khupe is also
expected to stand unchallenged.

But national party Chairman Lovemore Moyo is expected to fend off a
challenge from former Women’s Assembly chair Lucia Matibenga. The third
ranking member of the party, Secretary General Tendai Biti, is likely to
stand unchallenged.

There are reports linking popular party spokesman Nelson Chamisa with the
post of Organising Secretary, though the Kuwadzana MP flatly denied he was
interested in the post.

SW Radio Africa on Wednesday managed to get the names of the officials
standing for positions in the upcoming congress, as well as the positions
they are being linked with. Biti’s deputy Tapiwa Mashakada is poised to
retain his post, while Chamisa, former director of elections Dennis Murira
and incumbent Elias Mudzuri are likely to fight a pitched battle for the
Organising Secretary’s position.

Treasurer general Roy Bennett is considered safe to hold on to his post,
together with his deputy Elton Mangoma. There could be an intriguing battle
for the control of the Women’s Assembly, wheere Senate chief whip, Gladys
Dube Gombani is set to throw her hat in the ring against Theresa Makone.

If Chamisa decides to move up the ladder, his post is likely to be contested
by two rising party stars, Obert Gutu and Tongai Matutu, both Deputy
Ministers in the unity government.

Chamisa on Wednesday defended the current leadership, when he said at no
point in time is the party intending to change the winning team, which
spearheaded ZANU PF’s electoral defeat two years ago.

“When you have a winning team in any struggle you don’t seek to weaken it by
trying to make unnecessary changes. All we need to do is strengthen it
making sure that we buttress its pillars,” the party spokesman said.

Pressed to confirm whether he had set his sights on any other position in
the party’s decision making organ, the standing committee, Chamisa answered
with a big ‘no’.

“It has really been speculation but I think I’ve saved the party loyally in
terms of the position I occupy. I’ve no intention of taking any other
position, but of course people may decide otherwise,” Chamisa said.

He added: “The party has a lot of respect for our organising secretary
(Mudzuri) for the great work he has done since the split (2005). We have
emerged from that stronger, better, mightier and even more electable. So why
change things?”

“Belonging to the MDC is about values, beliefs and principles. All we want
is to show we are ready to govern. We want real power for real change and
this leadership team is the ultimate key to unlock that entry into a new
Zimbabwe,” Chamisa continued.

Chamisa’s words were echoed by Tsvangirai on Tuesday, who told senior party
officials and staff at his home, marking his return to office after his
annual leave that, Zimbabweans must ready themselves for far-reaching
changes in 2011.

He said the forthcoming congress shall mark the beginning of the MDC’s
renewal as the party gears itself for the total control of the government
after the next elections.

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Controversial Zim Police Exams Underway

19/01/2011 11:11:00
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Bulawayo, January 19, 2011 - The annual Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP)
examinations which were cancelled last year amid reports that the force was
planning to recall retired police officers and war veterans to occupy vacant
top posts ahead of an anticipated elections this year finally commenced last
week at Eveline Girls High School in Bulawayo.

Last November The Standard Newspaper carried out a story which said the
police ‘s annual examinations had been cancelled and alleged that the police
was planning to hire retired police officers and war veterans to occupy
vacant top posts in anticipation of elections this year. After the
publication of the story, Nqobani Ndlovu, the author of the story was
arrested for contravening Section 96 of the Criminal Law (Codification and
Reform) Act, which criminalizes the publication of “falsehoods”.

Despite being granted bail by a Bulawayo magistrate, Ndlovu was detained for
nine days at Khami remand prison. The paper’s editor, Nevanji Madanhire was
also arrested on the same charges and later released.

Well placed police sources in Bulawayo told Radio VOP that the writing of
the examination started in the city on Saturday, the 15th of January at
Eveline Girls high School.

“It’s true that junior police officers from the ranks of constable to
Assistant Inspector wrote their examinations last Saturday at Eveline Girls
High School last Saturday. Senior police officers from the ranks of
Inspector to Chief Superintendent will be also writing their examinations at
the same venue on this coming Saturday,” said a senior police officer who
refused to be named for fear of victimisation.

The police officer said the examinations were also being written throughout
the country. A caretaker at Eveline who only identified himself as Joe also
confirmed that police officers wrote the examinations at the school.

“Kulabantu ababhala amaExaminations ngermpelaviki kodwa kangikwazi ukuthi
kwakungamapholisa na (There are people who wrote Examinations here over the
weekend but I not sure if they were police officers or not since they were
in plain clothes.” said the caretaker.

When reached for comment, Home Affairs Co-Minister Kembo Mohadi said he was
not prepared to comment on the issue. “Why can’t you speak to the police
themselves? I am not at work,” he said.

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The Zanu-Pf Green Bombers: The Real Story

Written by ZBN News
Wednesday, 19 January 2011 08:22

LONDON - My name is Yvonne Maposa and I’ve been living in the UK for three
years now. I had been working for an NGO as a field officer before I fled
from Zimbabwe. I was working with volunteers from the community and I used
to conduct meetings now and then. Sometimes we would have these meetings in
an open space. When the militia discovered this they told me to stop
undertaking these meetings as they thought they were politically motivated
and they just assumed I was having MDC meetings.

They started stoking me until they bashed into my house one day and started
beating me up. I was hospitalised for about five days. To me this was the
last stroke that broke the camel’s back. One of the volunteer ladies helped
me obtain a document that I used to flee from Zimbabwe because there were
more death threats when I came out of the hospital. I was so scared even to
walk in the streets because I didn’t know who was behind me or who I was
going to meet.

When I fled to England I felt safe but I was thinking of my family back
home. I used to communicate with them now and then to see how they are. In
2010 my sister was identified by one of the militia who was present during
my assault and he thought she was me. They started asking her questions that
she couldn’t answer and that’s when she realised they thought she was me.
She tried to explain that they had got the wrong person but they insisted
that it was me.

Apparently one of our uncle is in the ZANU PF leadership and he was not very
happy that our family was supporting MDC. He used to send people round to
his brother’s place, where my sister was staying, and they will interrogate
him. One day at night they came and started beating them up and they
sexually assaulted her because they thought my sister was me. They both
managed to go to the hospital and my uncle who had serious head injuries,
stayed in the hospital for about two days but he couldn’t make it.

With this situation, my sister couldn’t stay there anymore. She managed to
go to South Africa where she claimed asylum. She feels safe in her new
adopted home though somehow she is scared that she is being followed.

This is why I am so scared to go back to my own people in Zimbabwe. I still
feel my life is in danger. I think the ZANU-PF thugs are still looking for
me. I don’t think there will ever be human rights in Zimbabwe.

Living in another country is not easy and neither is it pleasant. But Mugabe
leaves us with no choice. I want Mugabe to GO…NOW. -  Yvonne Tutsirai
Maposa, Activist

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Land reform debate must be based on facts

Written by Robin palmer
Wednesday, 19 January 2011 10:50

Ian Scoones made this plea in your paper last week (‘CFU welcomes debate on
land reforms’,13 January 2011): ‘We want the debate (on land reform) to move
ahead based on evidence, on facts, on details and on information based on
research rather than on conjecture.’

At the Royal African Society launch of his co-authored book, Zimbabwe’s Land
Reform, in London the following day, Ian got his wish, when we enjoyed two
hours of presentations, questions and answers without the normal ranting
that emerges whenever Fast Track Land Reform in Zimbabwe is mentioned.

At that meeting I was invited to make an historical presentation. So I
referred back to my 1977 book, Land and Racial Domination in Rhodesia, long
out of print and sadly never available inside Zimbabwe. In my introduction
to that book I referred to a considerable mythology which had grown up
around the subject of land, and went on:

‘While conscious of this mythology, I have felt it best to ignore it as far
as possible, and to attempt to produce a sober, dispassionate study which
will withstand (as well as such things can ever withstand) the ravages of
time and the changes of political climate, and one which perhaps will permit
future mythologies to have a somewhat firmer basis in reality.’ (p.1)

At the end of the book I concluded:

What can be affirmed with certainty is that the most acute and difficult
question confronting the first Government of Zimbabwe will be that of land,
bedevilled by its past use as a political and economic weapon by the whites,
and by the consequent mythologies to which this has given rise. The problem
will not be an easy one to resolve. The continuing stranglehold of the land
division of the 1890s, the fact that Rhodesia is part of the Southern
African regional economic system, and the lessons to be drawn from the
agricultural failures of neighbouring Zambia, will all impose constraints on
future land and agricultural policies. That the country possesses enormous
potential is not in doubt; that such potential can be harnessed effectively
and with social justice remains to be determined.’ (p.246)

When Nelson Marongwe, one of the co-authors of Zimbabwe’s Land Reform,
finally completed his doctorate in 2009, I presented him with a copy of my
1977 book as a reward for his great perseverance! That single copy has since
been circulated hand to hand around Masvingo ‘with great enthusiasm’, and
been appreciated on both sides of the political divide – which has pleased
me greatly. Another co-author, B.Z. Mavedzenge, has pointed out that ‘the
younger generation now have no idea about their real history.’

I am quietly hopeful that my 1977 historical study may finally be published
in Zimbabwe, and so make a belated contribution to the triumph of history
over mythology in this deeply and bitterly contested subject.

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The Global Political Agreement as a ‘Passive Revolution’: Notes on Contemporary Politics in Zimbabwe

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Solidarity Peace Trust

The Global Political Agreement as a ‘Passive Revolution’: Notes on Contemporary Politics in Zimbabwe
19 January 2011

By Brian Raftopoulos - Centre for Humanities Research, University of the Western Cape, and Solidarity Peace Trust. This article has been published in 'The Round Table'

We invite you to participate in discussion stimulated by this article by following this link and submitting comments on this or other essays included in the section on our website known as the Zimbabwe Review. You may also respond via email: please send your comments to Please note that some comments may be selected for publication on our website alongside the article to further stimulate debate.


At the heart of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), mediation on the Zimbabwe crisis has been the role of the South African government, which in its position as political and economic leader in Southern Africa has attempted to end the decade-long political crisis in the country. The complexity of this task must be set against the many challenges facing such a process, including the continued recalcitrance of a former liberation movement determined to defy a plebiscite rejecting its continued rule, the impediments in implementing the regional body’s protocols on democratic accountability, and the perplexing task of navigating a path between the demands of the ‘good governance’ agenda of the international community and a still resonant anti-imperialist messaging of a resurgent nationalist politics. In addition to this, then PresidentMbeki had to deal with strong perceptions of his own bias towards the Mugabe regime throughout the mediation, and a divided opposition in which the different formations used the mediation to deal not only with the Mugabe regime but also with their own contestations over future electoral competition and positioning over possible state power. Thus, as is often the case, such mediation became the site of intense contestation in which national, regional and international forces became embedded in an increasing complexity.

The Mugabe regime through its discourse and destructive party accumulation project represented a provisional, and never total, authoritarian nationalist disengagement away from the dominant international norms on political and economic accountability, and in its defiance confronted a South African mediator whose continental ambitions forced him to negotiate a tightrope between Pan- African sensitivities and the need for Western support for his leadership in a broader African vision (Freeman, 2005). In contrast to this the opposition was constructed through a language of liberal constitutionalism, human rights advocacy and postnationalist aspirations, with its economic vision, in common with other emergent opposition parties in Africa in the 1990s, never having much option but to conform to the dominant nostrums of neo-liberalism (Olokushi, 1998; Raftopoulos, 2009a). While Mbeki and his successor in the mediation process, Jacob Zuma, maintained an economic prospectus close to that of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), the weight of the liberation legacies on the African National Congress (ANC) and the politics of balance in SADC ensured a tight hold on any substantial censure of the Mugabe regime. Faced with this politics of solidarity against the inconsistencies of Western demands on human rights and the application of international justice, the MDC (Tsvangirai) in particular has been hampered as much as helped by the political support of the West. Notwithstanding its clear popular legitimacy at national and international levels, it has had to contend persistently with its image in Southern Africa in the face of its demonisation by the Mugabe regime, and to confront the major obstacles to removing peacefully a former liberation movement from power. In the course of the years since its formation in 1999, the frustrations attendant on dealing with an authoritarian polity have had their own negative effects on unity and accountability in the opposition, resulting in its own pathology of violence and divisions (Raftopoulos, 2006). The major purpose of this discussion is to track the central contours of the SADC mediation and its effects on the politics of the two MDCs, and tangentially the civic movement, in the context of the regional and international pressures that have woven their own agendas into the politics of this period.

A Theoretical Note: The Mediation, the Global Political Agreement and Opposition Politics as a Passive Revolution

One theoretical route to understanding the process underway is to deploy Antonio Gramsci’s concept of passive revolution, which in his Prison Notebooks functioned as both a concept for historical interpretation and an analytical device for a theoretical problem (Sassoon, 1982, p. 131). Gramsci developed the concept of passive revolution to understand the form of unification that took place in Italy under the Risorgimento. From this analysis he elaborated the passive revolution as a characteristic response of the bourgeoisie to a period of organic crisis and disintegration, in which major transformations in a country’s political economy are carried out from above through the agency of the state, without expanding the processes of democratic participation (Simon, 1982). Thus this ‘revolutionrestoration’ that Gramsci viewed as a feature of ‘every epoch characterised by complex historical upheavals’ (Gramsci, 1978, p. 114) takes place in ways that both transform the relations between the state and civil society and seeks to restructure the model of capital accumulation and the political forms of its existence. The central role of the state, as the constitutive motor for the production and reproduction of the elite, as well its major site of struggle, becomes particularly apparent in the ways that ‘hegemony is replaced by statist and bureaucratic domination’ (Buci-Glucksman, 1979, p. 22), or what Gramsci referred to as ‘dictatorship without hegemony’. Furthermore as Buci-Glucksman (1979) noted, one should not assume that the theory results in a dualism between production and politics; on the contrary, the politics of the passive revolution need to be located in the changed production relations of a particular period, in which, ‘through the legislative interventions of the state far-reaching modifications are being introduced into the country’s economic structure’ (Gramsci, 1982, p. 120). Moreover, the structural changes in the economy as a result of state intervention and coercion undermine the capacity of popular forces to develop their own autonomous politics and to organise alternative hegemonic alliances.

An analysis of Zimbabwean politics over the last decade can certainly be read through the conceptual lens of a passive revolution, in which major changes on the land, though unleashed through the agency of war veterans, remained largely under the control of the state, in a process of land distribution that has, for the most part, been carried out through a violent and coercive process that has largely politically marginalised the majority of the population. Similarly, the broader struggles for indigenisation of the economy, and in particular the looting of the large diamond deposits in the Chiadzwa area, have added another dimension to the militarisation of the state, the terror of the population and the crude accumulation of the elite. These policy interventions, in addition to the broader deleterious economic policies of the Mugabe state, have transformed relations not only between the state and civil society but also between the state and existing capital. However, the challenges such changes have presented for the regime, in terms of both national legitimacy and punitive international responses, forced the Zimbabwe African National Union–Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) into a temporary power-sharing deal that it did not want, but was forced to accept. Thus, in important ways the Global Political Agreement (GPA) brokered through SADC could be seen as one major aspect of the passive revolution that has taken place in Zimbabwe, in which a ruling party facing an organic political and economic crisis has used the space to reconfigure and renegotiate the terms of its existence with the opposition, civil society and the international community. It continues to face challenges to the national legitimacy and international re-engagement it seeks, particularly with the continued ‘sanctions’ against the regime. However, because of the growing entrenchment of the militaryeconomic elite in Zimbabwe’s political economy and the shield of regional political solidarity along with, for the moment, the Chinese and Russian protection at the United Nations, under which they brave their politics, the crisis in Zimbabwe is likely to be a lengthy process. Added to this, the political legacies and grotesque economic accumulation of Mugabe’s party are not likely to disappear even if there were to be a change of ruling party in the near future.

In another application of the concept of passive revolution, it may also be argued that the politics of the MDC and the civic movement under the GPA can best be understood under the register of this analytical tool, for several reasons. Both formations of the MDC have also been pushed into the GPA as a result of a combination of: state repression and violence against the structures of the MDC; the inability of the opposition to translate their electoral victory in 2008 into state power in the face of ZANU-PF’s control of the coercive arms of the state; the structural erosion and political exhaustion of its support base, particularly in urban areas, as well as the weakening of the civic movement as a result of similar factors; and the limits of Western diplomacy in removing the Zimbabwe question from the SADC regional bloc in which Mugabe’s Pan-Africanist message and the shortcomings of the regional body itself have ensured Mugabe regional cover against the thunderous imprecations of the West (Solidarity Peace Trust, 2008, 2009, 2010).

Drawing on the theoretical position above, it is clear that the changes in the structures and relations of production as a result of the changes in the accumulation model and forms of employment in the country, particularly the rapid informalisation of labour, have had a number of effects. They have severely eroded the structural basis for labour and opposition mobilisation in a more informally constituted economy, in which the discipline and modalities of formal organisation built up by a once formidable labour movement have been lost to the different rhythms of survivalist opportunism endemic in the more precarious conditions of informal livelihoods. In the words of Hammar et al. (2010), the crisis of displacement that has characterised the historic upheavals in the Zimbabwean economy has reshaped patterns of production, accumulation and exchange, reconfigured state power, and led to conflicting claims and obligations. One might add that the kukiyakiya (wheeler/dealer, getting by) survival strategies that have come to constitute a dominant form of social relations in the informalised urban area (Jones, 2010) have emerged as a result of the suppression of the more disciplined and public forms of organisation associated with the labour movement. With the removal of this more accountable form of organisation from the public sphere, such popular organisations and their allies have seen their past attempts to build an alternative hegemonic project severely undermined, a major result of ZANU-PF’s party accumulation and authoritarian restructuring from above (Raftopoulos, 2009b).

The discourse of human rights so effectively deployed by the civic movement since the 1990s has also had an ambiguous effect on the politics of democratic struggle in Zimbabwe. On the one hand the language of civic and constitutional rights has greatly expanded the debate on democratic participation in the context of a long tradition of such rights struggles around, for example, the rule of law, the vote, urban and rural governance, women’s rights, workers’ rights in the anti-colonial struggles, as well as the strategic use of universalist claims around citizenship to confront the repressive constructions of the settler state (Ranger and Bhebe, 2001; Ranger, 2003). Moreover, the politics of the human rights movement has created a strong tradition of research, reporting and advocacy on rights issues at national, regional and international levels that has made Zimbabwe one of the most documented countries in this area on the continent. The vigilance and courage of civic activists in the country have made them the scourge of the Mugabe regime, providing a series of damning reports and advocacy interventions that have helped to undermine the legitimacy of the regime.

The discourse of human rights, however, has also been constructed in a global context in which, since the 1990s, aid from the EU and the OECD has linked neoliberal economic policies to the ‘good governance’ agenda and political conditionality, in which the emphasis has been placed on elections and formal political and civic rights, rather than on social and economic rights (Abrahamson, 1997). Under this framework, it is believed that elections will ‘broaden and deepen political participation’, and serve ‘not just as a foundation stone but a key generator of further democratic reforms’ (Carothers, 2002, p. 8). Through US state-funded organisations such as the National Democratic Institute, the International Republican Institute and Freedom House, this dominant political perspective of democracy assistance is funnelled, in which aid is targeted at key political institutions such as political parties and civic groups, ‘with the hope of catalytic effects’ (Carothers, 2009, p. 5). Much of the human rights discourse and lobbying in Zimbabwe is constructed through this framework, with little analysis of political economy issues, the broader effects of global neo-liberalism on local debates, or the politics of regional dynamics in SADC. Moreover, notwithstanding the recurrent problems of violence and accountability in the MDCs, there has been too little critical attention given to this matter in the civic movement because of the strategic priority of removing the Mugabe regime. The result is that there is likely to be little preparedness for the problems that have confronted other pro-democracy movements coming to power, namely weakly institutionalised political systems, and the challenges of succession and executive dominance that drive such parties (Rakner, 2010).

The making of such a critique is not aimed at undermining both the strategic and political importance of the human rights debate in Zimbabwe, for as has been pointed out above this has a long historical record behind it. Nor do such criticisms vitiate the need for legitimate elections. However, such interventions are meant to contextualise the current import of the human rights debate, and to take note of its limitations and disabling elements in the interpellation of people as juridical rather than more broadly political subjects, and as part of the language of the new form of imperialism (Neocosmos, 2006, p. 374). This linkage becomes particularly perilous when the national social base and local forms of civil society from which to launch such universalist claims have been severely eroded by structural economic crisis and political repression, and the major advocacy pressure is emanating from external sources. Drawing once again from Gramsci, it can be noted that when such pressures are not tightly linked to a strong national social base, there is a greater likelihood of them becoming extensions of international developments, and passive citizens in a project beyond their control (Gramsci, 1982, pp. 116–170). In such circumstances emphasis for political change is placed on changes in the control of the state, with little thought given to the broader developmental issues required for substantive transformation.

Tracking the SADC Mediation

Having set out this general theoretical argument, this section will turn to the detail of the SADC mediation. As the Zimbabwe crisis unfolded from the late 1990s around the questions of post-colonial democratisation and the legacies of colonial inequality, the politics of the crisis posed serious dilemmas not only for Zimbabweans, but also for the region and South Africa in particular. On becoming President of South Africa in 1999, Thabo Mbeki, faced with the politics of solidarity and sovereignty in SADC and the African Union, was determined to avoid the pitfalls of unilateralism that the South African state encountered in its dealings with Nigeria, Lesotho and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in the 1990s. The post-9/11 world and regime change strategy that became a hallmark of US foreign policy under George W. Bush also heightened the sensitivities of African states to opposition movements on the continent viewed as the agents of such a strategy.

The Mbeki government was also very sensitive about being seen as the regional bully, pushing its own agendas in conflict situations, and hence continuing the ambitions of the apartheid state. Thus, on the Zimbabwe question South Africa’s broader ambition of leading the continent and becoming a global player meant that it had ‘to walk the tightrope of keeping South Africa’s continental ambitions alive (by not coming out in opposition to Mugabe’s regime) without totally sacrificing Western support’ (Freeman, 2005, p. 156), seeking also to link the ‘rhetoric and energy’ of Pan-Africanism to a struggle to reform the global order (Habib, 2009). In a paper written on Zimbabwe soon after taking over as head of state, Mbeki stated a key aspect of his assessment of the problem and his attitude to the ‘party of revolution’, ZANU-PF:the questions of post-colonial democratisation and the legacies of colonial inequality, the politics of the crisis posed serious dilemmas not only for Zimbabweans, but also for the region and South Africa in particular. On becoming President of South Africa in 1999, Thabo Mbeki, faced with the politics of solidarity and sovereignty in SADC and the African Union, was determined to avoid the pitfalls of unilateralism that the South African state encountered in its dealings with Nigeria, Lesotho and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in the 1990s. The post-9/11 world and regime change strategy that became a hallmark of US foreign policy under George W. Bush also heightened the sensitivities of African states to opposition movements on the continent viewed as the agents of such a strategy.

The Mbeki government was also very sensitive about being seen as the regional bully, pushing its own agendas in conflict situations, and hence continuing the ambitions of the apartheid state. Thus, on the Zimbabwe question South Africa’s broader ambition of leading the continent and becoming a global player meant that it had ‘to walk the tightrope of keeping South Africa’s continental ambitions alive (by not coming out in opposition to Mugabe’s regime) without totally sacrificing Western support’ (Freeman, 2005, p. 156), seeking also to link the ‘rhetoric and energy’ of Pan-Africanism to a struggle to reform the global order (Habib, 2009). In a paper written on Zimbabwe soon after taking over as head of state, Mbeki stated a key aspect of his assessment of the problem and his attitude to the ‘party of revolution’, ZANU-PF:

Of critical importance . . . is the obvious necessity to ensure that Zimbabwe does not end up in a situation of isolation, confronted by an array of international forces it cannot defeat, condemned to sink into an ever-deepening social and economic crisis that would result in the reversal of so many of the gains of the national democratic revolution. It is also important that the party of revolution should consider its internationalist responsibilities to the rest of the Continent and especially to southern Africa, given the reality that events in any one of our countries has an impact on other countries particularly in our region. (Mbeki, 2008, pp. 66–67)

In breaking down the policy of ‘quiet diplomacy’ that led from Mbeki’s assessment of the Zimbabwe crisis, Jeremy Cronin (2004), a key member of the Alliance in South Africa, noted three phases in the strategic approach of the South African government to Zimbabwe by 2004. In the first phase between the formation of the MDC and the 2000 general election in Zimbabwe, the MDC was viewed as ‘both a symptom of weaknesses and errors committed by ZANU-PF, and as a challenge that could (and should) be warded off’. To deal with the challenge the South African government encouraged a combination of sustainable and stabilising macroeconomic policies, pushed by the ‘reformers’ in ZANU-PF, combined with a modernised electoral strategy that would avoid violence. This, it was hoped, would avoid the danger of a ‘regime change’ via the ballot box. This strategy was soon confronted by the resistance of key ZANU-PF factions to any reform strategy, as well as the party’s preference for violent, patronage-based mobilisation geared towards maintaining ethnic balance in ZANU-PF. It also failed to account for the rapid accumulation strategies that the economic crisis presented for the ruling party leadership.

In the second phase during the run up to the 2002 Presidential election, after the surprising success of the MDC in the 2000 general election, the support and social base of the MDC could not be so easily dismissed. However, the Mbeki government had three concerns around the MDC. First was the fear that the Zimbabwean military and security sectors would not accept an elected MDC government, and a statement to that effect on the eve of the 2002 election merely confirmed that fear. Second, the South African government was concerned that the MDC would not have the capacity to run a state, and that this weakness would very quickly lead to a weak, unstable state on its border. Third, the concern that the MDC was too close to the West increased anxieties about its future role in the region. Given this assessment, Cronin described the hopes of the South African government in the following terms:

Regime change is one thing, the practical consequences in the immediate aftermath (as the present reality in Iraq reminds us) is quite another. For these reasons our government hoped that, as a best case scenario, ZANU-PF would win a free and fair election. If, however, elections were less than free and fair, but the ZANU-PF candidate was still declared the winner, the fall-back scenario would be a pragmatic recognition of a Mugabe ‘victory’, but in return for this recognition, ZANU-PF would be expected to move immediately to establishing a GNU with the opposition. (Cronin, 2004, p. 5; see also Landsberg, 2004)

The highly contested nature of the 2002 election, resulting in a further polarisation of Zimbabwean politics and the West–Africa divide on the Zimbabwe crisis, scuttled this scenario.

In the aftermath of another highly contested general election in 2005 and the deepening divide around Zimbabwe that ensued, the Mbeki government continued to place its emphasis on the need for a national dialogue between the major parties, leading to a free and fair election. It was also hoped that this eventuality would result in the removal of the sanctions, and that the heightened succession battle in ZANUPF would lead to a Mugabe exit and a reformed ZANU-PF agenda, on the understanding that such a transition would have the support of the military.

This analysis of the Mbeki government is interesting because, in the view of this writer, its central theses provided that paradigm for the mediation attempts that followed. Moreover, this was an assessment that largely framed the constraints of the Zuma administration that succeeded Mbeki. The unified MDC up to 2005 shared Mbeki’s objective to move towards a free and fair election, but clearly differed with him on the future role of ZANU-PF. In the early attempt by President Obasanjo of Nigeria and President Mbeki of South Africa to mediate a settlement in 2002, the MDC stated this position clearly:

. . . we in the MDC stand ready to embark on a process of national reconciliation and national healing. But such a process must be anchored in a sound foundation characterised by an unconditional return to legitimacy. This can only be achieved through fresh presidential elections, under free and fair conditions and supervised and monitored by the region, the continent and the international community. (Tsvangirai, 2002, p. 3)

For its part, ZANU-PF noted that its central position was tied to legitimacy, not derived primarily from an electoral process, but from the sovereignty achieved as a result of the liberation struggle:

The huge sacrifices which accompanied our rise to statehood makes the sovereignty of this country sacred and sacrosanct, a non-negotiable issue we are duty bound to uphold, defend and augment for all times as Zimbabweans. No one party around or to come, can ever arrogate to itself the right to negotiate our sovereignty. Indeed, no one party can ask for permission to diminish our sovereignty through associations, whether national or international, which may threaten it. (Chinamasa, 2002, pp. 5–6)

These competing discourses continued to run right through the positions of ZANUPF and the two MDCs in the period leading to and in the wording of the GPA signed in September 2008, with the language of much of the civic movement according closely with that of the MDCs. Moreover, in Mbeki’s early treatise on the Zimbabwe situation, mentioned above, one could detect both discourses, with a definite partiality towards the language of the liberation movement in Zimbabwe (Moore, 2010).

After the Extra-ordinary Summit of the Heads of State and Government of SADC in Dar-es-Salaam on 29 March 2007 mandated President Mbeki to act as facilitator between ZANU-PF and the two MDCs, Mbeki stated that the dialogue should achieve the following:

  • Endorse the decision to hold parliamentary and presidential elections in 2008.
  • Agree on the steps that must be taken . . . to ensure that everybody concerned accepts the results of the elections as being truly representative of the will of the people.
  • Agree on the measures that all political parties and other social forces must implement and respect to create the necessary climate that will facilitate such acceptance.

Mbeki also put forward his hope that the projected 2008 election would ‘provide a golden and strategic opportunity’ to ‘begin the process leading to the normalisation of the situation in Zimbabwe’ and the ‘resumption of its development and reconstruction process intended to achieve a better life for all Zimbabweans, on a sustained basis’. In response the two MDCs set out their conditions for a free and fair election, stressing that the existing constitution was the ‘root cause of many of the problems’ that beset the country, and that therefore new elections ‘should only take place after a new democratic national Constitution comes into operation’ (MDC, 2007). Predictably, ZANU-PF responded that the Land Question, ‘and not the so called need for a new Constitution, alleged human rights violations or alleged lack of the rule of law or a declining economy’ was at the centre of the Zimbabwe situation (ZANU-PF, 2007).

With electoral conditions and constitutional reform at the heart of the mediation process, Mbeki attempted to cajole both sides into an election as soon as possible, going so far as to make exaggerated claims in his report to the SADC organ on politics, defence and security, in February 2008, that the parties had reached agreement on all substantive issues relating to the political situation, noting that ‘the only outstanding matter relates to the procedure to be followed in enacting the agreed draft constitution’ (SADC, 2008). A joint statement by both MDCs protested against Mbeki’s report and the subsequent SADC statement, pointing out that the issues of the date of the elections, the time-frame for the implementation of the agreed reforms and the ‘process and manner of the making and enactment of a new constitution were not matters of procedure but of substance and went to the heart of the matter’. Moreover, Mugabe’s unilateral announcement of the election date ‘amounted to a repudiation of the SADC dialogue by ZANU-PF’ (MDC, 2008).

After the electoral victories of the MDC-T in particular in the general and first round presidential elections of 2008, and the ensuing illegitimate presidential run-off in June of that year, the resumed SADC mediation resulted in the September 2008 GPA. ZANU-PF has used its continued monopoly over the state’s coercive forces to limit the implementation of those aspects of the GPA that could potentially open up democratic spaces in the Zimbabwean polity. In particular, Mugabe’s party has refused to consider any security sector reform, for fear of unravelling the centre of the party. Moreover, although there has been some movement in the establishment of new electoral and human rights commissions, the opening up of the media space has been confined to the print media, with the more popular electronic media still firmly under party control. In the area of constitutional reform, the agreement under Section 6.1 of the GPA to carry out the process under the auspices of a Select Committee of Parliament represented a position in which the MDC compromised on the process in order to try to gain as much as possible from the content. It is likely therefore that the substantive content of the new constitution will be composed of the compromised Kariba Draft signed by the negotiators in September 2007.

It bears repeating that the lack of internal leverage by both MDCs against Mugabe’s authoritarian project, notwithstanding the electoral majority of the MDCT, gave them little room but to negotiate the compromises of the GPA. Since entering the Inclusive Government in February 2009, the MDCs have on the one hand pushed for full implementation of the GPA, while on the other hand they have struggled to position themselves in a state whose structure is still largely shaped by the imperatives of ZANU-PF’s military-economic elite. The seemingly endless struggle over the outstanding issues overlaps with both these processes and has once again cast the MDCs not only against ZANU-PF but also against each other, and in a few cases led to agreement between MDC-M and ZANU-PF over the interpretation of the outstanding issues. With their politics henceforth focused largely on working within the state, the effects of this emphasis on the MDCs have been twofold. At one level the already difficult relationship that existed between the two MDC formations during the mediation process grew more antagonistic both in the run up to the 2008 elections and in the period of further mediation that followed. After a brief attempt to draw up principles of cooperation in April 2007, lack of agreement over parliamentary selection and the jostling for future positions in the state ensured a growing animosity between the two formations with the dominant MDC-T, seeing little gain in developing a parliamentary pact with a rump of the original party, whose prospects beyond another election looked terminal. The relationship between the two formations continued to be difficult in the Inclusive Government, with the MDC-T and much of the civic movement viewing the Mutambara formation as a temporary irritant, undeserving of its place in such an agreement. That such intolerance should persist in the ranks of the opposition remains a disturbing feature of Zimbabwe’s political culture.

At another level the focus on state power, away from party organisational work, led to increasing tensions within each party. In the MDC-T, organisational and structural problems in the party as well as internal party violence, which led to the split in 2005 (Raftopoulos, 2006), recurred in 2010 because the issues were left largely unattended to. Reported struggles in this party have, as in 2005, focused on the tensions between the offices of the President and that of the Secretary General, with the role of the ‘kitchen cabinet’ once again coming to the fore (Zimbabwe Independent, 2010). Apart from the changed contexts in which these tensions emerged, there are three differences between the struggles in 2010 and those preceding the 2005 tragedy. First, in the earlier period the donors largely supported the removal of Welshman Ncube, the Secretary General of the united MDC and one of the leading protagonists in the 2005 split, as they saw him as an obstacle in strengthening the powers of the Presidency. In the recent period the donors were very much behind Tendai Biti because of his management of the economy (Zimbabwe Independent, 2010). Second, in 2005 Ncube’s social base in the party was weak and the ethnicisation of the politics of the split led to a rapid demonisation of his person, not only in the party but also in the allied civic movement. In the current period, although Tsvangirai’s position in the party and the country is unassailable, Biti’s position is much stronger that Ncube’s was in 2005. In a further twist to this internal struggle, Mugabe was reported to have warned Tsvangirai against removing Biti both because of his effectiveness as a minister (Zimbabwe Independent, 2010) and arguably because of Biti’s role in negotiating a future normalisation of relations between Zimbabwe and the International Financial Institutions (IFI). Third, it is highly unlikely that the current tensions in the party will lead to a split, as they did in 2005. This is because Biti has neither a sufficient political base nor the political space in the current conjuncture for such a move, and Tsvangirai, on his part, feels the divisions can be dealt with within the party structures without threatening his position. Both are aware that another split in the MDC would be disastrous.

In the smaller Mutambara MDC, the bleak prospects of surviving an election in the near future, as well as the severely weakened state of the party, have led to several defections, criticisms of the party leadership, and the formation of yet another splinter group, MDC 99, led by a former member of this formation and a student leader in the 1990s, Job Sikhala. With little prospect of surviving outside the current arrangements of the state, it is not surprising that such squabbles emerged over existing positions (NewsDay, 2010; Financial Gazette, 2010). All these developments signified internal party tensions in the context of a broader political parabola still shaped by the destructive politics of ZANU-PF, in which the electoral power of Tsvangirai’s party had yet to provide the leverage to shift the military power at the heart of Mugabe’s party. In the face of these challenges, the role of the international community proved equally problematic. Since the early 2000s, sanctions imposed against key figures in the Mugabe regime by the United States and the EU, combined with the lack of new development assistance from the IFIs, have been the major strategic weapon used by the West in attempts to push the regime into political and economic liberalisation. The language of the sanctions has been cast as punishment against the regime for its use of political violence and intimidation, lack of free and fair elections, human rights abuses, erosion of the rule of law, a land acquisition process that undermined the protection of property, and the abuses of the media and judiciary (MacDermott, 2009).

After the signing of the GPA, however, the politics of the sanctions issue became a further site of the ambiguity in the Inclusive Government, and thus a source of renewed rhetorical fire from Mugabe’s nationalist turrets. The GPA committed the parties to work ‘together in re-engaging the international community with a view to bringing to an end the country’s international isolation’ (Global Political Agreement, 2008, p. 4). In the ‘Final Report of the Negotiators on the Post-Maputo Interparty Dialogue’, issued in April 2010, it was also agreed that the principals ‘should meet and consider the issuance of a statement and the convening of a press conference restating commitment to the GPA, and the removal of sanctions . . . and the implementation and execution of a consistent message on the question of sanctions’. SADC persistently supported such a position, and Mbeki’s successor Jacob Zuma repeated it during his state visit to the United Kingdom in March 2010.

Both the EU and the United States on their part argued that the removal of sanctions could only be linked to a full implementation of the GPA, and that until such time the measures would remain in place with assistance restricted to the humanitarian sphere. The US and British governments in particular were always clear that any full re-engagement between Zimbabwe and the international community depended on the removal of Mugabe. At the end of 2008, a few months after the signing of the GPA, the US Assistant Secretary of State for Africa, Jendayi Fraser, was categorical about this: ‘Mugabe is a barrier to progress, and is not likely to be a viable partner towards the successful implementation of the September deal’ (Business Day, 2008). This position was stated more diplomatically by the Foreign Secretary of the new British government in June 2010:

This government will focus on supporting a process that gives Zimbabweans a chance to state their democratic preferences, and that leads to a stable government genuinely representing the people’s will. It is vital that elections, when held, must be concluded in a manner that allows Zimbabweans to express their opinions in an informed and free way and without fear of violence and intimidation. We will be working with the international and regional community to ensure that this can happen. (Zimbabwe Vigil, 2010)

The debate on Zimbabwe’s future thus took on, once again, the complexion of an Africa versus the West confrontation, with Mugabe, and SADC, arguing that the EU and the United States should respect the terms of an African-negotiated solution. With the human rights groups generally supportive of the position of the donors, advocacy around the sanctions issue appeared as an issue largely driven by outside actors, with the local advocacy groups in a junior, supportive role. The advocacy around the suspension of Zimbabwe in the Kimberley Process over the human rights abuses related to the mining of diamonds in the Chiadzwa area appeared in a similar light, notwithstanding the arrest of local civic activist Farai Maguwu. The key point that emerged from these forms of pressure was that with a severely weakened local civic base and in the context of an opposition that had signed up to a regionally negotiated power pact, these measures took on the appearance of a politics driven largely by external sources, thus subordinating local forces to a different kind of passive revolution. In July 2010 the negotiators of the three parties in the GPA held talks with the Vice-President of the EU and the Commissioner for Development Andris Piebalgs, under Article 96 of the Cotonou Agreement, with the aim of moving the dialogue between the parties forward, with the discussion particularly focused on constitutional and security reforms. After the talks Ashton stated that the EU ‘appreciates some progress made implementing the Global Political Agreement in Zimbabwe and remains ready to continue the dialogue and to respond flexibly and positively to any clear signals of further concrete progress’. Moreover, following this meeting the mandated parties in Harare were tasked with defining the indicators, setting the timetable for the achievement of concrete objectives based on their respective roadmaps of commitments, and monitoring progress (Europa, 2010). It remains to be seen whether this will be a step towards the ‘normalisation of the situation’ in Zimbabwe envisaged by Mbeki.


This paper has attempted to argue, using the Gramscian concept of ‘passive revolution’, that Zimbabwe’s democratic forces have become part of a passive revolution through two processes. In one part of this configuration, notwithstanding the electoral popularity of Tsvangirai’s MDC, the repressive anchor of the Mugabe regime, itself pushed into a negotiated settlement by a variety of factors, has largely shaped the contours of this settlement, forcing the opposition to adjust to ZANU-PF’s reconfiguration of the state and its relations to capital from above. Moreover, ZANU-PF has carried out this manoeuvre under the cover of the regional body, itself constrained by its own limitations. In another part of this conjuncture, the control of an important tool of leverage for change in the country’s political relations by external forces has placed the opposition and civic forces in a subordinate role to broader global agendas on political and economic change. In this context, the politics of the opposition and civil society groupings could be understood as being in a defensive mode, fighting to institutionalise forms of politics that could establish a broader basis for imagining and carrying out alternative political visions. Moreover, the MDC-T in particular has had to adapt its political positioning to the imperatives of the GPA, the politics of SADC, and the demands of its supporters in the West. In this field of force the persistent calls for new legitimate elections have been understandable, but clearly face enormous odds. Finding a way through the problem remains a complex challenge that involves not just an electoral strategy but a broader development vision.

Published in ‘The Round Table: The Commonwealth Journal of International Affairs‘: Raftopoulos, Brian(2010) ‘The Global Political Agreement as a ‘Passive Revolution’: Notes on Contemporary Politics in Zimbabwe’, The Round Table, 99: 411, 705 — 718


  1. A good example of this trajectory of research and advocacy is the Research and Advocacy Unit, What are the Options for Zimbabwe? Dealing with the Obvious!, Harare, 4 May 2010, where the lack of an historical sensibility is palpable.
  2. I heard these concerns on many occasions between 2002 and 2007 in my discussions with key figures in the Mbeki administration and the leadership of the two MDCs.
  3. Letter from Thabo Mbeki to Morgan Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara, cc President Robert Mugabe, 4 April 2007.
  4. See the Final Report of the Negotiators on the Post Maputo Interparty Dialogue, April 2010. The MDC-M refers to the smaller formation of the MDC, led by former student leader and prominent academic Prof. Arthur Mutambara, which emerged after the split in the organisation in 2005.

Full references to all sources cited in this paper are available on our website.

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