20 January 2009
Harare - SADC threatened to drop its mediation effort on Zimbabwe as another
attempt to form a unity government in the country failed late yesterday.
Prime minister-elect Morgan Tsvangirai described the failure as "the darkest
day of our lives".
South Africa's President Kgalema Motlanthe and former president Thabo Mbeki
and Mozambican President Armando Guebuza representing the Southern African
Development Community (SADC) failed to persuade the MDC leader, Tsvangirai,
and President Robert Mugabe to overcome their differences in another
marathon session in Harare yesterday.
They differed mainly over who gets key positions such as the home affairs
ministry which controls the police.
SADC executive secretary Tomaz Salamao emerged from yesterday's talks and
told reporters: "The meeting was not conclusive."
He said SADC would call another regional summit in either Botswana or South
Africa on January 26 to try to secure an agreement.
Salamao also made it clear in conversations that if Tsvangirai and Mugabe
cannot come to an agreement by then, SADC would drop its mediation effort on
As he told diplomats, there were many other "pressing" problems in the SADC
The differences between Mugabe and Tsvangirai have prevented them
implementing a political agreement they signed four months ago to form an
inclusive government in which Mugabe would remain president and Tsvangirai
become prime minister.
Motlanthe convened yesterday's talks as SADC chairman, Mbeki is SADC's
mediator on Zimbabwe. Guebuza represented SADC's security arm.
Several previous rounds of talks, facilitated by SADC to overcome
differences on the division of ministries and other issues, have also
Well-placed sources said that after heavy pressure was put on Mugabe by
Guebuza and Arthur Mutambara, leader of the smaller MDC faction, he finally
agreed to give up some provincial Zanu-PF governors he had already appointed
in provinces won by Tsvangirai's MDC in the March 29 elections.
He also agreed to reconsider some senior civil service appointments he made
without consultation with the MDC since the political agreement for a unity
government was signed in September.
SADC mediators believed that Tsvangirai had also agreed to make some
concessions, but was dissuaded by his powerful secretary-general Tendai Biti
and prominent Harare lawyer Innocent Chagonda.
Some MDC sources believe Tsvangirai himself believes he should take the MDC
into a transitional unity government as a first step towards fresh elections
under a new constitution in 18 months.
Several MPs loyal to Tsvangirai said they were disappointed at the failure
of the talks.
One said he believed that if the next summit failed and SADC walked away
from mediating the Zimbabwe crisis, Mugabe would be able to go ahead with
new elections without regional censure, and would win as there would be no
international supervision and no constitutional amendment 19 to form
independent commissions to control elections, human rights and the media.
Constitutional amendment 19 also creates the new post of prime minister for
Tsvangirai in the unity government.
It was due to come before parliament today but will now presumably be
Tsvangirai's MDC has a one-seat parliamentary majority over Zanu-PF which
has most senate seats, with Mutambara's MDC holding the balance of power of
10 parliamentary seats.
Although Mutambara has said both MDCs should enter the unity government as
it is the only chance to resolve Zimbabwe's crisis, he said before
negotiations began yesterday that he was backing Tsvangirai and called for
Mugabe to make "compromises".
"I am sure the whole nation is waiting anxiously for the resolution of this
crisis. We are committed to this deal but subject to Zanu-PF conceding on
these issues," Tsvangirai told reporters before he left the five-star hotel
in Harare where the talks were held.
He had presented regional mediators and Mugabe with his bottom lines which
included the re-allocation of some ministries and the release of about 30
opposition supporters who have been detained on suspicion of sabotage or
plotting with Botswana to topple Mugabe by force.
One senior Harare business leader groaned when he heard the news last night:
"I think many people will now have to run away and any hope of Zimbabwe's
recovery is in ruins."
Brian Raftopoulos, a veteran political analyst and academic, while
acknowledging flaws in the September political agreement, believed an
inclusive government was the only way for Zimbabwe to begin to get rid of
"The likely alternative is that the Mugabe regime will call another election
in 2009, intensify its violence against the opposition and civil society,
and preside over the further devastation of the country," he said.
Tue Jan 20, 2009 2:44pm GMT
By Cris Chinaka
HARARE, Jan 20 (Reuters) - Another African summit on Zimbabwe's political
crisis next week is unlikely to break deadlock over a power-sharing deal
between President Robert Mugabe and the opposition, and analysts see a bleak
Mugabe's camp suggested the meeting of southern African leaders called for
Jan. 26 looked doomed after the ruling ZANU-PF and opposition MDC leader
Morgan Tsvangirai failed to reach agreement at talks brokered by regional
leaders on Monday.
"Efforts to finalise the broad-based agreement appeared to have
irretrievably collapsed," the government's Herald newspaper said. It said
Tsvangirai's party had rejected regional proposals "that would have seen an
inclusive government being formed by the end of the week."
Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change is equally pessimistic. The
rivals blame each other for the failure to implement a September
power-sharing pact that had raised hopes of rescuing Zimbabwe from economic
Lovemore Madhuku, a lawyer and chairman of constitution reform lobby group
NCA, said it appeared increasingly unlikely that Mugabe and Tsvangirai could
"There is a crisis of confidence arising from Tsvangirai's belief that
Mugabe wants to trap his MDC party in order to tame it, ease pressure on his
government, get some international legitimacy and then absorb or destroy the
MDC," he told Reuters.
"On the other hand, Mugabe seems to truly believe that Tsvangirai is a
Western puppet holding out for an economic meltdown that may lead to a mass
uprising and a fall of his government."
The dispute has centred on who gets which posts in a shared government but
is as much as anything about the lack of trust.
"The SADC (Southern African Development Community) is not going to succeed
in Zimbabwe if they do not change their strategy," said Elinor Sisulu, head
of the South African branch of the Crisis for Zimbabwe Coalition.
She said that instead of focusing only on the deal, regional leaders should
look at violence in Zimbabwe, where the MDC accuses the government of
attacks, and at ZANU-PF accusations the opposition is preparing an
insurgency from Botswana.
If there is no agreement, Mugabe has said he would proceed in appointing a
purely ZANU-PF cabinet.
But its work will be difficult in a parliament dominated by the opposition
since elections last March.
Tsvangirai also won a presidential ballot then, but without enough votes to
avoid a run-off against Mugabe. He pulled out of that citing attacks on his
Without a political settlement, Zimbabwe is unlikely to get financial aid
crucial to reviving the battered economy. Nor will it be able to persuade
Western powers to lift sanctions imposed on Mugabe's government.
Aid agencies are already struggling to cope with food shortages and a
cholera epidemic that has killed over 2,100 people.
"The future can only be secured if the politicians sort out the political
issues, and then we can expect assistance to repair the damage of disastrous
policies and to grow the economy," said leading economic consultant John
Others say Zimbabwe's economic problems -- which include food, fuel and
foreign currency shortages, unemployment of 80 percent and the world's
highest inflation rate of more than 230 million percent -- can only get
worse with the impasse.
Mugabe, who will be 85 next month and has been in power since independence
from Britain in 1980, says Zimbabwe's once prosperous economy has been
sabotaged by enemies opposed to his seizures of white-owned farms for
"It is not clear, in terms of strategy, where both the MDC and ZANU-PF want
to go outside the power-sharing framework, but its very clear that the
economy will be doomed without it," said Eldred Masunungure, a University of
Zimbabwe political science professor. (Additional reporting by Shapi
Shacinda in Lusaka)
HARARE (Reuters) - Zimbabwe's main opposition party said on Tuesday it was
doubtful another regional summit next week would rescue a fragile
power-sharing pact between President Robert Mugabe and his rivals.
Mugabe and Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai
failed to reach a deal on forming a unity government at a meeting on Monday
which was attended by regional leaders.
They agreed to try again to break the deadlock at a summit in either
Botswana or South Africa next week held by the regional Southern African
Development Community (SADC). But the MDC said hopes for success were slim.
"We are doubtful whether SADC will be able to deal with this issue," MDC
spokesman Nelson Chamisa told Reuters.
A unity government is seen as the best chance of preventing total collapse
in once prosperous Zimbabwe, where prices double every day and more than
2,000 people have died in a cholera epidemic.
But a September power-sharing agreement has stalled amid fighting over who
should control key ministries and regional leaders have failed to secure a
compromise, despite international calls for stronger action.
Mugabe's government accuses Tsvangirai of frustrating efforts to form a new
government but the MDC says Mugabe's ZANU-PF is trying to relegate it to
being a junior partner and has vowed not to join any new administration if
its demands are not met.
These include control of powerful ministries such as finance, home affairs
"We cannot afford to be in an inclusive government where we don't feel
included," Chamisa said.
Tsvangirai won a presidential election last March but by too few votes for
an outright victory. He pulled out of the subsequent run-off, citing
violence against MDC supporters.
(Reporting by MacDonald Dzirutwe)
Jan 20, 2009, 13:08 GMT
Harare - Zimbabwe's pro-democracy Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) will
attend next Monday's summit of the Southern African Development Community
(SADC) meant to try to kick-start the stalled power-sharing deal between the
country's political protagonists, the MDC said Tuesday.
The day after a 12-hour meeting in Harare failed to close the divide between
the MDC and President Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF on a unity government, MDC
secretary general Tendai Biti said there was
'no question of us boycotting. We will be attending (the SADC summit).
But he was 'not hopeful.'
'You can have a million extraordinary summits but as long as no-one (in the
SADC leadership) has the courage to look at Mugabe in the face and tell him,
old man, logic has to prevail, it will be meaningless.'
If the SADC extraordinary summit, which will be the third such meeting of
the 15-nation bloc in less than a year on the Zimbabwe crisis, fails, the
MDC expects the African Union at its regular summit in Ethiopia the
following week 'to take over this matter and kill it once and for all.'
'We need finality,' Biti said.
By Lance Guma
20 January 2009
Twelve hours of marathon talks between Morgan Tsvangirai and Robert Mugabe
failed to produce a deal Monday, after the ZANU PF leader refused to make
concessions to the opposition. South African President Kgalema Motlanthe,
mediator Thabo Mbeki and Mozambican President Armando Guebeza did little to
pressure the veteran dictator to loosen his grip on power. Tsvangirai called
it, 'probably the darkest day of our lives' and said 'the very same
outstanding issues on the agenda are the same issues that are creating this
impasse.' However he still pledged his commitment to the deal, but only if
his party got control of the Home Affairs Ministry, amongst other
Mugabe meanwhile was blaming Tsvangirai for throwing a spanner in the works
and accused him of presenting new conditions. But he told journalists that
talks between his party and the MDC would continue in Harare. Arthur
Mutambara, who many feel is the biggest beneficiary of the deal, was clearly
disappointed by the impasse and blamed both Tsvangirai and Mugabe. He said
the two leaders were refusing to change their positions and that Zimbabwe
deserved better leaders than either of them.
SADC Executive Secretary Tomaz Salamao described the talks as 'inconclusive'
and announced that an emergency summit of the grouping will be held either
in Botswana or South Africa, to try and resolve outstanding differences. So
once again Zimbabweans have to wait.
The proposal that ZANU PF brought to the talks said that the MDC should join
the government first, support the adoption of Constitutional Amendment 19,
have Tsvangirai sworn in as Prime Minister and then sort out the allocation
of ministries after the inauguration of the new cabinet. It also said that
when the contracts of the incumbent governors end, or should vacancies
arise, the posts will then be shared according to the formula agreed in the
original deal. ZANU PF also says the MDC should submit a draft bill for
discussion, which would explain the role of the newly created National
Security Council. They want this draft by the 24th January 2009. All other
outstanding issues would only be dealt with once the new government had been
The MDC countered these proposals by insisting on the equitable distribution
of ministerial portfolios, the appointment of governors and other senior
appointments, the enactment of amendment 19 and the secession and reversal
of all breaches to the agreement, before any government is formed.
The latter point was in relation to the abduction and detention of
opposition and civil society activists which the MDC argues violated
September's agreement. So while ZANU PF is saying 'come and join the
government, we will resolve the difference later' the MDC is refusing to put
'the cart before the horse.' Spokesman Nelson Chamisa said, 'the key
conflict areas needed to be resolved. It's crucial where there is mistrust.
We do not want to go into a government as a ritual.'
Meanwhile church leaders from South Africa on Tuesday urged former President
Thabo Mbeki to step down as mediator. Leaders from Catholic, Methodist,
Anglican, Dutch Reformed, Lutheran and Rhema churches said, 'Mbeki is
compromised and no longer suitable for the mediation process.' They accused
SADC and the South African government of failing the people of Zimbabwe and
Africa through their so-called quiet diplomacy. 'We respectfully call for
the intervention of the African Union and the appointment of a new
facilitator,' the group added.
Several other church leaders from the South African Council of Churches,
notably Cardinal Wilfred Napier and Archbishop Thabo Makgoba, supported the
statement saying Mugabe was holding onto 'illegitimate power.' South Africa's
powerful Congress of South African Trade Unions also released a statement
saying it is alarmed by the failure of the talks. COSATU said it was nearly
10 months since the people of Zimbabwe voted the MDC into office despite
huge levels of intimidation, yet ZANU PF, the party that lost, is clearly
refusing to agree to any new government that reduces their power. COSATU
blamed SADC for treating Mugabe as a 'bonafide President' even though he
lost the elections
Jan 20, 2009, 10:56 GMT
Harare - Zimbabwe's state media Tuesday said talks on a unity government
between President Robert Mugabe and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai 'had
irretrievably collapsed' after regional mediators failed to break a
The Herald, which is controlled by Mugabe's Zanu-PF party, blamed Tsvangirai
for the breakdown Monday night of discussions mediated by South African and
Mozambican leaders and accused him of being manipulated by Western powers.
Mugabe and Tsvangirai signed an agreement to share power in a transitional
government in September, but its implementation has been held up, chiefly by
the 84-year-old Mugabe's refusal to cede real power to Tsvangirai's Movement
for Democratic Change (MDC).
Mugabe said Monday the day-long discussions 'didn't go well,' but that talks
with the MDC would continue.
The impasse, which is framed by severe economic and health crises in
Zimbabwe, will be taken up at an extraordinary summit of SADC heads of
state, to take place on Monday in Botswana or South Africa, a senior SADC
official said in Harare.
Tsvangirai, whom the deal makes prime minister, called the failure of what
was regarded as a last chance of saving the power-sharing agreement, 'the
darkest day of our lives.'
While MDC members privately expressed scepticism about the likelihood of a
breakthrough at what will be the third SADC crisis summit on Zimbabwe in
under a year, the party is officially backing the SADC process.
'Another SADC summit is necessary,' George Sibotshiwe, Tsvangirai's
spokesman told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa. 'To convene a SADC summit is to
accept that the last SADC summit (in November) did not succeed in resolving
the outstanding issues.'
The key sticking points remains the distribution between the parties of key
posts, including ministerial portfolios, and the state's renewed crackdown
on the opposition.
Dozens of MDC members and civic activists are being held on allegations of
banditry aimed at toppling Mugabe's regime - allegations that have been
rubbished by Zimbabwe's neighbours.
Patrick Chinamasa, Mugabe's chief negotiator, was quoted in the Herald as
saying that Tsvangirai had backed away from a solution proposed by South
African President Kgalema Motlanthe. South Africa has been trying to
convince the MDC to go into government with Mugabe and leave any
shortcomings in the deal to be ironed out later.
'The MDC's intention is to create a vacuum so they can advance their agenda
to illegally and unconstitutionally remove Zanu-PF from government,'
A Kenya-style unity government had been mooted as the best way of rescuing
Zimbabwe from a decade of worsening tyranny and hardship under the populist
Mugabe. Over 2,200 people have died of cholera, an easily preventable
disease, since August, mostly for lack of clean water.
By Tichaona Sibanda
20 January 2009
Robert Mugabe's ZANU PF party on Tuesday deferred the introduction of
constitutional amendment number 19 in Parliament, fearing the MDC would
block its passage.
MDC chief whip Innocent Gonese told us it was wise for ZANU PF not to bring
the constitutional amendment to parliament because the MDC would not support
'Sitting resumed today (Tuesday) but take it from me, you will not hear of
the amendment until possibly next week following the SADC summit,' Gonese
said. Instead, the legislators introduced debate on the collapse of the
country's health and education systems.
The MDC MP for Gutu South, Professor Elphas Mukonoweshuro, explained that
currently there were no Bills under discussion in parliament, but he said
parliament will sit for the rest of the week to discuss motions that have
'Bills to parliament are brought by the cabinet, so in the absence of a
cabinet there is nothing forthcoming from the government. As long as there
is a stalemate, things will not move in the country,' Mukonoweshuro added.
The constitutional amendment, if agreed to by all parties, would create a
prime minister's post that MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai would hold in the
unity government, under the agreement both sides reached last year. But
Zimbabwe has been without an effective government for nearly a year. Even
when the House of Assembly sat recently it had to be hurriedly suspended
because of a chronic shortage of funds and water.
These developments showcase the embarrassing sign of the state of collapse
and the dire situation in the country. It adds to the long list of many
state institutions, such as hospitals and universities that have been forced
to shut down because of lack of water and staff.
If Mugabe doesn't agree to share power soon, there won't be a country left
to rule with his iron fist.
Posted to the web: 20/01/2009 19:22:17
BARACK Obama told Robert Mugabe and other despots around the world that the
United States of America was ready to work with them "if you are willing to
unclench your fist" as he was sworn in as the 44th President.
In comments that appeared a direct address at Mugabe, Obama warned leaders
around the globe who try to encourage conflict and "blame their society's
ills on the West" that they were "on the wrong side of history" and their
people will judge them on what they build, not what they destroy.
Obama spoke hours after Mugabe made diplomatic overtures in a congratulatory
message, assuring him that "Zimbabwe remains ready to engage his government
in any desirable endeavour to improve bilateral relations between the two
countries", state television reported.
Mugabe said the challenges that lie ahead for Obama were enormous, adding
that "developing countries cherish the hope of working with the new
administration in pursuit of programmes and policies to develop societies in
the global context of socio-economic interaction."
Signalling a departure from former President George Bush's often abrasive
diplomacy, Obama pledged broader engagement in the world. Saying the people
of the world should know that America is a friend of all who seek "a future
of peace and dignity," Obama vowed that the United States is "ready to lead
He also pledged to "work alongside" the people of poor nations to make
"farms flourish and let clean waters flow."
"To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict, or blame their
society's ills on the West - know that your people will judge you on what
you can build, not what you destroy," Obama said.
"To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing
of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history; but that we will
extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.
"To the people of poor nations, we pledge to work alongside you to make your
farms flourish and let clean waters flow; to nourish starved bodies and feed
"And to those nations like ours that enjoy relative plenty, we say we can no
longer afford indifference to suffering outside our borders; nor can we
consume the world's resources without regard to effect. For the world has
changed, and we must change with it."
By Violet Gonda
20 January 2009
On Tuesday all nations of the world were gripped with inauguration fever as
they witnessed the profound moment when Barack Obama was sworn in as the
first African American President.
The inauguration is unprecedented because not only is Obama America's first
black president but he is facing more intense difficulties than any other
president in recent times.
Not only has he inherited a tough economic crisis in his own country, but
internationally America is involved in two unresolved wars - one in Iraq and
the other in Afghanistan, not to mention the crisis in the Middle East and
the global credit crisis.
But there are great expectations and a BBC World Service poll on Tuesday
said the 'world has high hopes'for this son of a Kenyan goat herder turned
According to the poll of more than 17,000 people in 17 countries, 67% said
President Obama would strengthen US relations abroad and make the global
economic crisis his top priority. However observers say it's going to be a
great challenge for Obama, given the international complexities he now
One of the many unresolved world crises is Zimbabwe, now described by
humanitarian agencies as a 'scandalous factory of poverty'. The man-made
Zimbabwean crisis has resulted in a total collapse of the economy, rampant
state sponsored lawlessness and more than 30 civic and MDC activists
incarcerated in the notorious Chikurubi prison on trumped up terrorism
Political rivals are stuck in an endless power share debate that is going
nowhere and Mugabe shows he has no intention of giving up any power -
something the SADC leaders seem to be happy with.
But political analyst Glen Mpani feels that new President Obama is really
inspiring hope in Zimbabweans: "If you come back home and see an environment
that is highly oppressive, in an environment where the economic issues are
quite depressing - where there is high inflation, where the hospitals have
closed, where there is despondence across the country. And in a context
where there has been successive meetings that have failed to breakthrough
and come up with a solution in Zimbabwe. I think he inspires hope."
"He provides an opportunity that if people are willing and if people are
optimistic and if there is hope that we can be able to transform the
situation in Zimbabwe, I think that in itself should inspire all progressive
and democratic Zimbabweans to say our time shall come when we will be able
to liberate ourselves and we can celebrate like what African Americans and
everyone else in America are currently celebrating with the coming of Barack
Obama," added Mpani.
In November, speaking just after Obama won the US election, political
analyst Brian Kagoro said: "I think it recreates hope that has long been
lost in electoral democracy and liberal democracy. Liberal democracy of
course does not always result in economic redistribution. So in a sense, I
think what the Obama victory does is the symbolism that creates the
impression that you don't necessarily have to have war credentials to run a
country, because America like Zimbabwe had been fixated with this war
Kagoro believes there will be a renewed focus on an end to tyranny,
despotism, dictatorship and human rights violations. He said; "Many are
going to find themselves pretty lonely if they do not comply with these
increasing global expectations. And we don't just see it as an Obama
victory, we see it in its symbolic form as history being made for the entire
The coming of the Obama administration means the end of the George Bush era.
Many Americans and the world are bitter over Bush's legacy and criticise him
for mismanagement and the invasion of Iraq. However there are many in Africa
who see him as a friend. In many parts of Africa the outgoing American
President will be remembered for pumping billions into the fight against
HIV, Aids and malaria and for leading world-wide condemnation of Sudan and
Zimbabwe's human rights records.
Any change will then be explained. ** Daily information on new deaths should not imply that these deaths
occurred in cases reported that day. Therefore daily CFRs >100% may
occasionally result A. Highlights of the day: - 1900 cases and 137 deaths added today (in comparison 434 cases and 11
deaths yesterday) - 58.6% of the districts affected have reported today (34 out of 55 affected
districts) - 88.7 % of districts reported to be affected (55 districts/62) - Newly affected areas: Svisvi , Zhamba and Musita (Gokwe South)
Full_Report (pdf* format - 100.2 Kbytes)
* Please note that daily information collection is a challenge due to communication and staff constraints. On-going data cleaning may result in an increase or decrease in the numbers.
Any change will then be explained.
** Daily information on new deaths should not imply that these deaths occurred in cases reported that day. Therefore daily CFRs >100% may occasionally result
A. Highlights of the day:
- 1900 cases and 137 deaths added today (in comparison 434 cases and 11 deaths yesterday)
- 58.6% of the districts affected have reported today (34 out of 55 affected districts)
- 88.7 % of districts reported to be affected (55 districts/62)
- Newly affected areas: Svisvi , Zhamba and Musita (Gokwe South)
Source: International Organization for Migration (IOM)
Date: 20 Jan 2009
IOM reached some 160,000 people between 20 December 2008 and 10 January 2009
with cholera prevention messages and free aqua tabs distributed at
transportation hubs in Harare, Bulawayo and Mutare.
But despite local and international efforts to contain the disease, the
number of victims continues to rise. As of 18 January, a total of 44,463
suspected cholera cases and 2,337 deaths were reported.
IOM's response, which is concentrated on mobile and vulnerable populations,
particularly in border areas and at transport hubs, includes health hygiene
education, aqua tab distribution, delivery of medical supplies and education
materials for affected communities, support to more than 20 cholera
treatment centres (CTCs), including tents, transport and fuel assistance,
non food relief items, and incentives for health care staff and assessment
A new IOM partnership launched 2nd January with Tetra Pak (South Africa) to
provide water containers labelled with cholera prevention messages has also
seen the distribution of nearly 6,000 1-litre packs.
IOM continues to monitor border areas and remains on standby to assist in
the event that any new outbreaks occur. Assessments are ongoing and cholera
prevention messages are also being mainstreamed in all IOM programme areas.
IOM water and sanitation specialists are also visiting rural areas to advise
people on how to minimize the risks of contracting cholera.
In Chiredzi district, in Zimbabwe's south-eastern Masvingo Province they
found people using unprotected open wells that they shared with domestic
livestock. Their advice included flushing and cleaning the wells, protecting
them with trenches to drain off contaminated water and fencing them off with
logs and thorns to keep out the animals.
IOM is an active member of the UN Health and Water, Sanitation and Hygiene
(WASH) clusters coordinated by WHO and UNICEF respectively. IOM has been
designated as the lead agency for cholera response in the border areas of
Manicaland, Mashonaland West and Matabeleland North.
IOM is also working closely with its NGO partners in the areas of disease
surveillance and reporting, case management, food, water, and health and
IOM's cholera response activities have received funding and in-kind support
from Sweden (SIDA), Austrialia (AusAid), AmeriCares and Tetra Pak (South
By Alex Bell
20 January 2009
Deaths as a result of the devastating cholera epidemic have soared in South
Africa and Zambia, as the flood of desperately ill Zimbabweans seeking
treatment continues to pour into Zimbabwe's neighbouring countries.
Health officials in South Africa's Mpumalanga province this week made a
shock announcement that 19 people in the province had died as a result of
the disease in the past two weeks, bringing the total number of reported
deaths in the country to 32. Three deaths have been reported in the central
Gauteng province, out the 185 suspected cases there, while more cases have
been reported in at least two other provinces, with one death confirmed in
KwaZulu-Natal. The Limpopo health department meanwhile is still fighting to
stop the ongoing spread of cholera through the province, where nine people
are confirmed to have died, and officials there have said the number of
cases has risen to 2439, with 91 new cases reported in the past few days.
National health ministry officials have recently insisted the cholera spread
in South Africa is unrelated to the crisis in Zimbabwe, but in all reported
cholera cases across the country, a Zimbabwe link has been found. The
situation is much the same in Zambia, where the death toll has also soared
to 28. Health officials in the country have said the traffic of Zimbabweans
crossing the border into Zambia for treatment has 'contributed' to the
spread of the disease, and medical teams are said to be battling to contain
the estimated 2000 cases reported there.
Meanwhile the disease has continued its spread in Zimbabwe and officially
more than 2200 people have died and there are almost 44 000 reported cases
since August. The onset of the rainy season recently prompted fears the
disease would spread further out of control, and medical experts on the
ground have predicted the worst is yet to come. At the same time, as the
country sinks deeper into the rubble of its collapse, there are fears of a
serious cholera outbreak in Bulawayo, where residents have not had running
water for more than a week. No explanation has been given by the city
council, whose workers have been on strike since Wednesday last week, citing
the council's unwillingness to review their January salaries in foreign
APA-Harare (Zimbabwe) More than 46,000 Zimbabweans have contracted cholera
since August as the death toll approached 2,500, according to new figures
that the health ministry and World Health Organisation released here on
Cumulative infections rose to 46,606 patients as of January 19, while total
deaths jumped to 2,484 as the water-borne disease continued to wreak havoc
on Zimbabwe's population.
However, unlike in the past few months, the latest WHO figures show that the
epicenter of the outbreak seems to be moving away from the capital Harare to
Districts that recorded the highest number of new cases on Monday included
Bindura in Mashonaland Central Province; Makonde and Zvimba in Mashonaland
West; Buhera, Chipinge and Mutare in Manicaland; Chivi and Bikita in
Masvingo; and Gokwe in Midlands Province.
The cholera epidemic, which broke out in August 2008 in Zimbabwe, has spread
to other southern African countries where several deaths have been reported
in South Africa, Mozambique and Malawi.
has at least 1.3 million orphans in the country
UNICEF executive director Ann Veneman, who visited Zimbabwe recently, told journalists that children's access to health care and other preventative measures have been made difficult by the collapse of the health services system, the cholera epidemic, the closure of government hospitals, and the economic and food crises.
With at least 1.3 million orphans in the country, Zimbabwe has a higher number of orphans, in proportion to its population of 13 million, than any other country in the world, according to UNICEF.
Life has become even more precarious for children living with HIV, as they have had nowhere to turn for treatment of opportunistic infections since health workers at government referral hospitals downed tools in October 2008 in protest over the deteriorating working conditions and poor salaries.
About 120,000 children are in need of antiretroviral drugs, but only 9 percent are receiving their medication from the government-run programme. The drugs should be fetched every month, but the HIV/AIDS clinics have closed, so getting the drugs has become extremely difficult.
Access to the life-prolonging medication can depend on whether or not the overworked senior staff still working at the hospitals have decided to open the clinics.
"The fact that children have no access to HIV/AIDS treatment services because hospitals are closed or AIDS clinics are closed is a big issue for us," Veneman noted.
"What happens when they get pneumonia and they don't have access to antibiotics? We all know that pneumonia is one the biggest killers of children under five, while children living with HIV are particularly vulnerable to this disease - and other diseases - because of their compromised immune systems," she added.
According to UNICEF about 41 percent of child deaths are AIDS-related; with limited access to health care and HIV/AIDS treatment services, child mortality rates will keep rising. About 1.7 million people are living with HIV in Zimbabwe, of which and approximately 160 000 are children.
The work boycott led to the closure of at least three referral hospitals in the capital, Harare, leaving patients in need of medical care stranded. To help get health personnel back to work, Veneman announced that UNICEF would make available US$5 million for salaries and incentives.
Veneman also expressed concern about the effects of the deteriorating health system on maternal health. As a result of the boycott by health workers, the programme to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV has also suffered a setback.
Women have struggled to be admitted to deliver their babies in state hospitals, and are not being adequately monitored. Most Zimbabweans cannot afford the high cost of obstetric care in private sector institutions.
Without treatment or other interventions, 15 percent to 30 percent of babies born to HIV-positive mothers will become infected with HIV during pregnancy and delivery. A further five percent to 20 percent will become infected through breastfeeding.
The minister of health and child welfare, Dr David Parirenyatwa, told IRIN/PlusNews that government was doing the best it could to address the problems in the health sector.
"We are currently working with donors on the ground to address problems in the health sector," he said. "However, the economic crisis continues to make life very difficult for us, but we are doing our best."
SW Radio Africa Transcript
HOT SEAT interview: Journalist Violet Gonda interviews Physicians for Human Rights CEO Frank Donaghue who says Mugabe is now a global threat.
Broadcast 16 January 2009
Violet Gonda: International medical rights organisation, Physicians for Human Rights recently released a report on how the collapse of Zimbabwe’s public health system has caused the devastating cholera epidemic. The organisation also labelled Zimbabwe’s health crisis a crime that should be the subject of an investigation by the International Criminal Court. The group CEO, Frank Donaghue is my guest on the programme Hot Seat. Welcome on the programme Frank.
Frank Donaghue: Thanks a lot, it’s great to be here Violet.
VG: You were part of the emergency delegation that went to investigate the collapse of health care in Zimbabwe in December and you said, this week, that this is the first Human Rights evaluation on Zimbabwe by international health professions, can you start by telling us your findings?
FD: Sure. This is my third or fourth trip to Zimbabwe in the last year and on November 18 when hospitals were basically shut down and after Mr Mugabe attacked health care workers that were protesting in order to get medicine and water for their patients; I spoke to one of the medical students. I told him that I was so sorry and I wished we could do more and he said “Frank you are doing all you can by being our voice and telling our story.” And I said “How are you doing?” and he said “We have no water. We are just waiting to die.”
And I think this is was what prompted us within two months to be in Zimbabwe and do this research and to have this report issued, both in Johannesburg and in the United Nations. What we found was absolutely startling. You know people talk about the cholera epidemic and I think the statistics of cholera speak for themselves, in most countries in war-torn countries, about 1% of people who contract cholera die. In Zimbabwe it is over 5% and in some regions in Zimbabwe it has been as high as 34, 35%.
So 35% of the people that are getting cholera in some places in Zimbabwe are dying. Coincidentally they are of course in regions where the MDC is more popular than Mr Mugabe’s regime.
So that was the first thing and then we visited regions in rural areas. There is no public health system. We all know that, it is gone. Mr Mugabe has completely destroyed that basically because of his incredibly poor bad economic policies and the collapse of the economy. There is no water and sanitation. I mean we saw kids drinking out of the sewer. Turn on someone’s spigot for those people who do have water and see what comes out - and so you have the water collapse which is obviously part of the cholera epidemic.
But even more enlightening to me, I spent half a day meeting with some women who had the HIV disease. They basically have no food, they are getting any retro viral drugs sporadically and they’re changing their drugs on a regular basis. So they might get for about one month, they might only get a two weeks supply. So we’re creating drug resistant HIV disease. There is no TB monitoring so we’re creating drug resistant TB. We know that there’s no obstetric care. If a woman wants or needs a C section in Zimbabwe, and obviously there are private hospitals, a C section in the Avenues Hospital costs $3000. Who can afford that? And so the solution, I asked a doctor what happens if you don’t have the $3000 and she said “You die”.
VG: And this $3000, this is $3000 US dollars?
FD: US dollars in a private hospital. And so we went out to some of the mission hospitals, and thank God there are mission hospitals, but as you know they are primarily out in rural regions. And now people that have some money can afford to get to a rural hospital like Howard and get treatment. A C-section there costs US $15 but there are very few people that have the US$15 or the money to transport themselves out to the hospital to get there. And yet the hospital is overflowing with people.
And so the poorest of the poor of the poor have no healthcare in Zimbabwe. Mr Mugabe and his regime have signed onto a number of international covenants and commitments with the United Nations and other civil societies to protect the life of his citizens. He is in gross violation of those covenants and therefore we’re saying the United Nations has the responsibility to step in and we’re suggesting the United Nations through its power, and they have that power, to take over the health system, the sanitation system and anything that relates to the health of the people - put together a consortium of non-profit organisations and non-government organisations to take care of those until the rightful government is put in place in Zimbabwe. And we know the rightful government was elected in March.
VG: We’ll talk a bit more about that, but I just wanted to go back to the statistics that were in your report and you say that at least 400 people are dying daily from HIV Aids, now are these people who have been diagnosed HIV positive or is this just based on clinical assessments because as you said earlier on, there are no facilities to test people because of the breakdown of the health system?
FD: There are about 200 000 people on anti-retrovirals in Zimbabwe - primarily thanks to governments like Britain and the United States by the way, who Mr Mugabe calls the enemies. And those people are getting treatment. However we know of about 800 000 people who should be on anti-retrovirals in Zimbabwe but there’s no way, the health system has totally collapsed so there’s no way to put new people on these rolls. So increasingly people are dying because they’re not getting treatment.
So these are people we know who have HIV, but as the women told me that afternoon, they know other women - obviously sex workers have increased because people are just hoping to survive, feed their families - who think they might have HIV and need to get tested and they can’t get tested because there’s no hospital to test them. So HIV will continue to spread as will the other diseases because there’s no way for prevention even.
VG: So how many people would you say from your investigations are dying daily because you said 400 are dying daily from Aids, now have you factored in all those people who are dying from cholera and of course those people who are not accessing health services and who are dying in their homes and remote areas?
FD: Well what is also so sad is the collapse of any surveillance or data collection so you really don’t know how many are dying. Let’s take cholera itself – they say that there are 2000 people who have died of cholera. Now you know in five days that many people die of Aids - but there are 2000 people who have died of cholera, presumably. But since there’s no health system how many people are dying at home because there’s nowhere to go to die of cholera? Noone knows. Everyone believes that the 2000 is far under-estimate of what is really happening. That there’s no data collection. There’s one person now working in TB surveillance in all of Zimbabwe. You can imagine. So no one knows how many people are dying or even contracting TB and there are no places for them to go for treatment.
One of the most startling things we saw was utter starvation. In some of the regions we visited, we actually went down roads and stopped at peoples’ homes and asked if we could see the food supply which they had. And people would readily open their food storage areas of which they might have had a week or two of grain left to eat for weeks. You know it is the rainy season so the chances of getting more, people are dying. Now more than half the population in Zimbabwe need food subsistence in order to sustain their life. This is a country that was once one of the world’s bread baskets and now half the people don’t have enough food to eat. That’s sort of telling. So to answer your question directly there really aren’t adequate statistics…
VG: So you wouldn’t have independent estimates?
FD: Well we don’t. Let’s take childbirth, the maternal mortality. Ten years ago, twelve years ago the maternal mortality rate in Zimbabwe was about 138 to 100 000 births. In 2005 that number had risen to 1100 out of 100 000 births. If you can imagine, 1100. Who knows what has happened in the last three or four years since that statistic has been developed by the World Health Organisation.
So the problem is, based on the regime, so many things have collapsed, there is no real adequate data collection and of course there is total denial by the government that any of these issues exist. I mean the life expectancy of an individual in Zimbabwe today is about 34 years old, where 15 years ago it was mid-60s. And Mr Mugabe would not admit that people are dying of starvation, he told regional health ministers not to report cholera. We interviewed 92 people by the way – patients, doctors, people in government, NGOs, water and sanitation people, students, people on the street – we had 92 intensive interviews and the facts we gathered are unquestionably true because they were collaborated in all our interviews.
VG: Now some have said that the death toll is way more than anywhere else in the world, especially as people in Zimbabwe are dying of preventable diseases, now has the group Physicians for Human Rights, have you seen anything like this anywhere else in the world?
FD: Well I think when people say ‘there are people dying in Sudan, there’s people dying in northern Uganda and why are we worried about Zimbabwe?’ I think first of all, you should not compare one country to another. People are dying in Zimbabwe and that is the issue and people all round the world should care about Zimbabwe as we care about other areas. But number two, other countries that we are pointing to - like Sudan and northern Uganda - never had the health system that Zimbabwe has lost. And that’s the most tragic point is that compared to what this country was before Mr Mugabe ruined it, it had the best health system in southern Africa, it now has the worst.
VG: You mentioned that you actually interviewed people in government, how were you received by the Mugabe regime?
FD: Well obviously everybody we interviewed was anonymous and did not want to be identified – except one man interestingly, one man who was a councillor for the MDC. We visited him as we visited some other people that had been tortured and beaten up by the government in a hospital, and we went and saw his wife and him - who had been badly, badly beaten up the weekend before we arrived. Their bodies were beaten with clubs for four or five hours, simply because they went to the funeral of a family member who had died of cholera coincidentally, and they realised he was a councillor of the MDC and they beat him and his wife brutally. And he said please tell everybody my name because it must be stopped. I said we won’t do that.
So the people that we interviewed, it was all done, all our informants were done anonymously, so I can’t say of the official people we met with how they treated us. I have to say this however – on our exit to Zimbabwe, we were tipped off at the airport that the CIO were waiting for us behind Security. They had our full itinerary including every place we ate and that the CIO and the police were there to arrest us. Within hours, moments later we were surrounded by Zim television and sticking a camera in my colleague’s face saying “is it true you are a spy for Britain and the United States? You are here to overthrow the government.” We were immediately picked up and taken into safe houses by very brave people who put their lives at risk to protect us.
Within another hour, Mr Mugabe reported that we were already detained and arrested for being spies from Britain and the United States. Coincidentally, there were four of us, three were from the United States and one was from South Africa, there were no Brits in the group. And we, thank God, through again some really brave people, got out of the country by land into another country and finally out after a pretty harrowing drive, hoping to get out because the Embassy said to us, since he has already said you were arrested they’re going to be very embarrassed if they don’t arrest you so you need get out quickly.
VG: So you were forced to leave before you had actually concluded your investigations?
FD: No, we were on our way to the airport so we had finished our work, but the sad thing is, when you have doctors coming in to do a health assessment to see how the government and how health workers can provide better health to your people and the government calls you a spy because they don’t want people to really know the truth, that sort of says it all doesn’t it?
VG: Some observers have said that this is a great report but the question is; how are you going to take this further, do you have some sort of pressure point?
FD: Well I think the fact that Mary Robinson, the former High Commissioner of Human Rights for the United Nations, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and the chief prosecutor for the Bosnian war crimes, Richard Goldstone a South African, have all signed on to this. Mary Robinson actually released this report in New York, the day that I released it in Zimbabwe.
The United Nations has already called on us to come and discuss our five recommendations including a receivership taking over the health system, including putting pressure on the International Criminal Court to continue to gather evidence against Mr Mugabe for crimes against humanity. And so yes, we are getting lots, we had over one hundred worldwide interviews. You know one of the arguments is that governments should stay out of this, this is Zimbabwe’s problem and sovereignty and we have no right. The truth is this is no longer a Zimbabwe problem. Cholera drug resistant, HIV drug resistant, TB, all these diseases are now spreading beyond Zimbabwe and Mr Mugabe is responsible for that. It is no longer an issue of sovereignty; it is an issue of security to the health and well being of all of Southern Africa and in fact beyond. People who travel into Zimbabwe and leave and take an aeroplane to Chicago or to London, could be carrying the very drug resistant diseases that Mr Mugabe has allowed to continue. He is actually a global threat and he should be stopped.
VG: The fact that you are pushing for the ICC to get involved, is this something that your group has ever recommended and also can the ICC actually intervene in this crisis if Zimbabwe is not a member or a signatory to the ICC statutes.
FD: Absolutely and to answer both of your questions, first of all the United Nations does have the authority through Article 41…
VG: No, the ICC, the International Criminal Court.
FD: Yes, but the United Nations has the authority to call on the ICC even though Mr Mugabe may not have signed on to the Rome Treaty because of the threat to the regional security, because of the regional threat. What we’re suggesting is that the UN must call on the ICC to investigate and continue to gather evidence against Mr Mugabe.
Has our organisation done this before? Let me say this, and Mr Mugabe should take careful recognition of this; Physicians for Human Rights, although we are small, are very well respected in our recommendations. We are the first organisation, human rights organisation, which called Sudan – genocide, and look what is happening to the President of Sudan today. We are one of the first organisations that talked about what happened in Srebrenica and that crimes against humanity should be levelled against its leaders in Bosnia - and look what’s happened to them.
It’s that kind of work that won us the Nobel Peace Prize. And I personally and my colleagues will not stop till justice is done to Mr Mugabe and that the people of Zimbabwe are allowed the access they have to the very human right to health.
VG: You said earlier on that the United Nations has the responsibility to protect and should actually step in. Now it’s reported that the UN has agreed to bail out Zimbabwe’s failed health ministry by funding the payment of health workers in foreign currency. Now do you know how this will actually work?
FD: Well I understand that governments have offered to top up salaries but Mr Mugabe, as I understand it and the Health Minister there, who I guess is so busy building his huge home along with the head of the Reserve Bank, I understand he’s building a 42 room suite. He is too busy and Mr Mugabe is on vacation, so they are too busy to deal with the reality of the situation.
But Mr Mugabe and his regime have said they’re not going to allow outsiders to top off salaries to the level they want to because they will not be able to sustain that long term. Let’s hope that Mr Mugabe and his regime are not there long term to have to sustain it. But the truth is you can’t have a doctor in any country in the world making 32 cents a month - and I saw pay stubs for doctors - 32 cents a month and expect them and their family to survive.
So I believe the United Nations will do more and I think has the power and authority to do more than just to get donor governments to top off salaries. They do have the authority to set up some type of receivership over the very health system and make Mr Mugabe yield control of his health system.
VG: On the other hand, some have said that the flow of humanitarian aid actually keeps dictators in power and that in Zimbabwe’s case the Mugabe regime has completely failed and that the humanitarian organisations are now picking up the pieces. What are your views on this?
FD: Well our fifth recommendation in our report and your listeners can get it on our website, completely the whole report on www.physiciansforhumanrights.org . Our fifth recommendation is that donor countries must continue to provide and live up to their commitment to provide adequate food to the people of Zimbabwe. But, but, we cannot allow the Mugabe regime to do what he has done to politicise food and make sure that the supporters of Zanu-PF get food and the people that support the MDC starve. And so there needs to be some monitoring that he’s not allowed to obstruct food supply and medical supply just to the people he wants to get it. And so donor countries not only need to give money but they need to demand accountability of how that food is used. And it’s a very difficult thing for the United Nations and other organisations because they somewhat work at the will of the government, they can’t go in and say to the government we want to go to Bulawayo and deliver this because they just can’t, the government won’t let them do that, the government has to authorise it. But we need to put restraints on it and say there will be no delivery of food until we have access to deliver to all the people that need it, not controlled by the Zanu-PF
VG: Now power sharing negotiations have actually stalled although the MDC leader Mr Morgan Tsvangirai has said he is still committed to forming a new inclusive government with Robert Mugabe. From what you observed on the ground, is it a realistic assumption that if the political crisis is unlocked then all else will fall in to place?
FD: I think that as Mr Tsvangirai has said - no deal is better than a bad deal, and to trust that Mr Mugabe is going to share power. I mean on December 19th, the day when we were almost forced out of the country, Mr Mugabe said Zimbabwe, quote “Zimbabwe is mine and I will never, never, never surrender.” Zimbabwe is not his, it belongs to the people, the people who voted in March and any deal, a bad deal is not going to cut it and Mr Tsvangirai and everyone else should stick to their commitment that unless there is a fair resolution of the political impasse then they cannot deal at all with Mr Mugabe. And I think Mr Mugabe has proven that he is both incapable and too cruel to run a government and it is time for the world to step in and there should be no deal with a man, with a criminal.
VG: The Mugabe regime accuses your organisation of being biased and merely following part of the West’s regime change agenda. How do you respond to that?
FD: The largest donors, the biggest infusion of money into Zimbabwe, is from (1) the United States government, number two the British government. The biggest donors to food aid to HIV drugs to a variety of support in humanitarian relief, so if we’re the biggest obstacle in Zimbabwe, he should stop taking the money that he freely takes. It’s absolutely a farce that Mr Mugabe would say that.
No-one is trying to step in and take over the legitimacy of a country or the sovereignty of a nation. The blatant mismanagement and disregard for his people and now the spread of disease because of him, is no threat of countries outside of Zimbabwe, the biggest threat to Zimbabwe is Mr Mugabe.
VG: And finally, what do you see happening in Zimbabwe?
FD: Well first of all I want to let listeners from Zimbabwe let them know that Physicians for Human Rights will continue to tell their story and their struggle until others listen and intercede, so they can count on us. Number two I think ultimately I do think that the response we’ve got from the world media and governments, we’ve met with government officials from South Africa, there is great interest, much greater interest in the threat that Mugabe is now playing to the region. And I think that the world will not tolerate this much longer.
VG: Frank Donaghue, thank you very much for participating on the programme Hot Seat.
FD: Violet, thank you so much.
Feedback can be emailed to email@example.com
APA-Harare (Zimbabwe) Zimbabwe will next week present its 2009 national
budget to parliament following a two-month delay caused by a deadlock over
the formation of coalition government, the state-run Herald daily said on
Acting finance minister Patrick Chinamasa would present the budget on
The budget is traditionally presented in November but this had been put on
hold in anticipation of the formation of a unity government involving the
ruling ZANU PF and the two factions of the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC).
Prospects of the unity government have dimmed after Monday's deadlocked
meeting between President Robert Mugabe and the leader of the main MDC
faction, Morgan Tsvangirai.
The political leaders failed to agree on an equitable sharing of cabinet
positions between their parties in the proposed coalition government.
The Herald hinted that a deepening economic crisis could force Chinamasa to
break with tradition and come up with a short-term budget, possibly covering
three or six months.
The paper also hinted that the budget could be denominated in foreign
currency in line with developments in all economic sectors where the more
stable United States dollar and South African rand are the preferred medium
for business transactions.
The central bank has since last September allowed some businesses to trade
in foreign currency in a move meant to improve availability of goods and
This has prompted calls by other businesses and trade unionists to call for
the full dollarisation of the economy, including the payment of salaries in
By Tichaona Sibanda
20 January 2009
Desperate beneficiaries of SADC's emergency relief programme have resorted
to milling the maize seed donated to them by the regime, potentially risking
their lives as the seed contains dangerous chemicals.
The agriculture inputs, such as maize seed and fertilizer, were part of a
R300 million humanitarian donation by the South African government, which
was repackaged as part of SADC's emergency relief programme, following the
failure of the formation of the power sharing deal in the country.
But the MDC MP for Mbare, Piniel Denga, said people in rural areas were very
desperate and hungry and were now processing the maize seed into mealie
meal. He has witnessed this practice in Murehwa, Mutoko and Chikomba in
'The maize seed that was distributed was red or green in colour, so people
are consuming mealie meal that is red or green. Some people told me they
washed away the chemicals before taking the seed to the grinding mill,'
The MP said despite taking precautions by washing the maize seed, the
practice remained risky because the seed was generally not for consumption.
The chemicals are added to the seed to preserve it and make it good for
planting but it's not guaranteed safe for human consumption.
The inputs were controversially only donated to ZANU PF supporters, despite
pledges from South Africa's presidential spokesman Thabo Masebe, that they
would be distributed in a manner that would reach all intended recipients,
regardless of political affiliations.
The goods were handed out by SADC's Zimbabwe Humanitarian and Development
Assistance Framework (ZHDAF) but almost all the inputs were distributed to
the regime's supporters as it still has a big say on who gets the relief
aid. The aid was distributed without an agreed monitoring mechanism in
place, involving NGOs and regional governments, to ensure transparency.
There are also doubts as to whether the provision of agricultural inputs so
late in the planting season, would have any benefit for the country's future
food security. Most of the inputs were distributed when the planting season
was almost over.
Over 5 million people in the country (half the population) are in need of
food aid now because of ZANU PF's destruction of the agricultural base of
President Robert Mugabe's government sent troops into the area in late 2008 to flush out the diamond miners, after repeated attempts by the police over the past two years had failed.
The miners have left, but the soldiers remain, their tents dotting a moonscape of pits, and the search for diamonds has not ceased.
"These soldiers who were deployed to remove the makorokoza [illegal miners] are now looting the diamonds, but they are doing so in such a way that it is difficult for outsiders to notice it," a resident of Marange village, where the mine is situated, told IRIN.
These soldiers who were
deployed to remove the makorokoza [illegal miners] are now looting the
"When we get to the diamond field, we are always reminded that if anyone asks what we are doing there, we should tell that person that we are filling the pits that were left by the makorokoza," Simon said.
The villagers are forced to dig for diamonds in the numerous existing pits and also to excavate new ones. "We are too scared to report this form of forced labour because the soldiers who are camped at Chiadzwa have warned us that top army officers are involved and if we leak the information, soldiers will be sent to beat us up."
The forced labour lasts from dawn to dusk, so Simon cannot tend his fields. "We experienced famine and untold hunger last year [when the harvest failed in the 2007/08 season]. The rains are better this year [2008/09], but some people have decided to turn us into cheap labour for their own gain," he said.
After the day's work, the soldiers search the villagers to ensure that they do not have any hidden diamonds.
Bright Tigere, 24, a Mutare resident originally from Marange village, voluntarily offered his services. "I heard that the soldiers were forcing people to pan for the diamonds and decided to return to my village so that I would be one of the people participating," he told IRIN.
"Once in a while the soldiers give us some diamonds to bribe us and I am selling them for my upkeep," said Tigere, whose livelihood had depended on working in the diamond fields before he was evicted.
The fruits of diamond mining had afforded him a luxurious lifestyle and he used to cross regularly to Musina, a large town in neighbouring South Africa, to sell the diamonds and go shopping.
But the effects of the military crackdown on diamond mining in Mutare, which had helped the city weather Zimbabwe's economic malaise, are seeing it sink back into the poverty that has become the norm for almost all Zimbabweans.
The expensive cars of diamond dealers that once teemed in Mutare's streets have disappeared, shops have become deserted and there are few currency dealers.
It was from rags to riches and
back to rags again, and that is painful. That is why I am more than ready to
return and be used by the soldiers because, at least, I am guaranteed food on
The soldiers, easily identified in the shebeens and taverns by their uniforms and the assault rifles slung across their backs, see their tour of duty in the diamond fields as a privilege.
"I am happy to be among the soldiers who were chosen to come here to Chiadzwa even though, initially, I resented the assignment because we were not given a chance to even say goodbye to our families," one soldier, who declined to be identified, told IRIN at a shopping centre.
"As a soldier, just like most people in this country, I am poorly paid and my salary can hardly see me through three days of a month. When I get a chance to loot, I grab it without hesitation. I am sick and tired of the top guys being the only ones with all the riches, even though it's us who do the dirty work," he said.
The soldier said he frequently applied for leave and would go to the capital, Harare, to sell the diamonds. "Our superiors back in the barracks are fully aware of what we are doing, and they let us continue because they benefit from this illegal mining of the diamonds," he said. "Every week, we surrender a substantial amount of the mineral to them."
One of his commanders, he said, had good connections with dealers in India and often travelled to the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, to meet with middlemen. "Word coming from Harare is that it is easy to sell the diamonds in India, where they are polished and used in making ornaments."
There have been reports that Chiadzwa's diamonds have also turned up in Lebanon, Russia and South Africa.
A Bulawayo-based economist, Erich Bloch, said the alleged involvement of soldiers in Chiadzwa would increase the chances of the country being struck off the Kimberley Process register of diamond exporting countries.
The Kimberley Process is an international certification scheme designed to prevent diamonds mined in conflict areas from entering the multibillion-dollar market.
"If the troops are actually looting the diamonds, and given the adverse reports of their presence at Chiadzwa, Zimbabwe could soon be blacklisted by Kimberly Process," Bloch told IRIN.
In late 2008, international civil society, led by Global Witness, a non-governmental organisation that orchestrated the campaign to set up the Kimberley Process, began lobbying for an urgent inquiry into Zimbabwe's diamond industry.
Soldiers have no business at a
The government should just act quickly to ensure that a reputable company moves in to do the mining
"It is reasonable to suspect that the government is using the illicit mining of diamonds to fund an already disgruntled army," he said. "It is highly possible that government officials are fattening their pockets using the Chiadzwa diamonds."
By Alex Bell
20 January 2009
While wage earners across the country have been up in arms over their
continued payment in the now worthless local currency, the country's
students have launched a campaign to stop the dollarisation of their school
Many schools and tertiary institutions have proposed new fees in US dollars,
with Midlands State University reportedly set to charge more than US$600 per
term, excluding accommodation costs. The fee increments come as the country's
economy has become almost completely dollarised, as rampant hyperinflation
has destroyed the value of the local dollar.
But with the majority of Zimbabweans still earning the local dollar, the
proposed fee changes are set to put the future education of thousands of
students at risk. Blessing Vava, the spokesperson for the national student's
union ZINASU, explained on Tuesday that it was unrealistic to expect
students to pay fees in US dollars when people are still earning the local
ZINASU last week launched a campaign against the dollarisation of education
in Zimbabwe and Vava said the campaign will only stop "when our demands to
pay affordable fees in local currency are met." The campaign also saw the
union writing a petition to the Ministry of Higher Education regarding the
proposed fees by state institutions, and the Ministry has since dismissed
the new fee structure proposed by some state universities.
"We feel that thousand of students will drop out if fees are posted in
foreign currency," Vava said. "The government will be performing academic
genocide if it allows the dollarisation of the education sector to
Meanwhile it would appear that 'academic genocide' as long been underway,
after school pupils were estimated to have received only 23 days worth of
learning in 2008. The destruction of the education sector has already
continued in 2009, with the postponement of the reopening of schools, a
reopening that teachers unions have predicted is unlikely to take place.
Helen Coonan | January 21, 2009
Article from: The Australian
WHAT will it take to motivate Prime Minister Kevin Rudd to harness his
"middle power" diplomacy to help the desperate people of Zimbabwe? With more
than 42,000 people infected with cholera and 2200 already dead, inflation
running at 231 million per cent, half the population reliant on food aid and
80per cent unemployed, the survival of this once prosperous nation is now
down to the voices and actions of a concerned international community, yet
Rudd is strangely silent.
Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe, the architect of this humanitarian disaster,
refuses to stand aside as half the population starves and the country
descends into economic ruin.
This deepening devastation cannot be resolved without a concerted effort by
the international community speaking as one voice to pressure the South
African Development Community to toughen its stand against Mugabe.
Talks resumed earlier this week, but late yesterday, with no progress made,
they stalled. The US has already retracted its support for Mugabe and the
power-sharing deal orchestrated four months earlier between ZANU-PF and the
two factional leaders of the opposing Movement for Democratic Change, Morgan
Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara.
Yet, in contrast to the robust diplomacy of Britain, the US and the European
Union to galvanise international support for the isolation of the brutal
Mugabe regime, Australia's Prime Minister has had nothing to say about
Zimbabwe since June 2008. The Prime Minister has been uncharacteristically
coy on the unfolding humanitarian disaster spreading throughout Zimbabwe.
For example, in December, in the week marking the 60th anniversary of the
UN's Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Rudd Government sought to
reaffirm "Australia's strong record in the protection and promotion of
international human rights". Yet the Prime Minister had nothing to say about
protecting the lives of hundreds of thousands of Zimbabwean children
threatened by malnutrition, a lack of clean water and the risk of disease.
And as the Government made much of a $1.5 million contribution to promoting
democratic freedoms in the Asia-Pacific, Rudd expressed no view about what
more Australia should be doing to stem the cruel and callous policies of one
of the world's most despicable regimes.
In fact, the Rudd Government's only contributions in recent months have been
largely limited to small increases in food aid to Zimbabwe through UN
agencies in November and a $1 million boost in funding for emergency relief
Under the Coalition, Australia took a leading role in international efforts
to exert diplomatic and financial pressures on the Mugabe regime. We froze
the financial assets of key figures in the Mugabe regime, restricted visas
for travel to Australia by Mugabe's ministers and senior officials, and
banned adult children of leading regime figures from continuing their higher
education studies in Australia.
In contrast, Rudd's silence exposes Australia to the perception that it is a
mere bystander, timid and disengaged on this humanitarian crisis.
Australia should be doing more.
By establishing a special envoy to make representations to the SADC, for
example, Australia could add to its diplomatic muscle. Rudd should also
declare unambiguously Australia's strong support for pressure to bring the
nightmare of the Mugabe regime to an end. This should be reflected in direct
representations to South African President Kgalema Motlanthe and his
predecessor, Thabo Mbeki, before they again attempt to broker a
power-sharing deal between Mugabe and Tsvangirai this week.
The Rudd Government has stated publicly that it wants broader and deeper
links with Africa. Yet on a critical humanitarian challenge facing southern
Africa, Rudd has refused to speak out.
Worryingly, this is feeding a perception that the Australian Government's
reluctance to involve itself more forcefully and directly in the
international efforts to bring change to Zimbabwe is related to Rudd's
personal campaign to garner votes for a seat on the UN Security Council for
Instead, Rudd should be at the forefront of international efforts to rescue
Zimbabwe from the misrule of a discredited and dangerous regime.
Prime Minister Rudd should not only be saying so forthrightly, but the
Australian Government should stand shoulder-to-shoulder with other
governments determined to ensure the regime is held to account for its many
outrages against its own people.
If the people of Zimbabwe are to be saved from disaster, Mugabe must go.
Helen Coonan is the Opposition spokeswoman on foreign affairs.
Police on alert as soldiers embark on a go-slow after promises of foreign
currency payments are not kept.
By Rosalie Moyo in Harare (ZCR No. 176, 20-Jan-09)
Soldiers are furious at President Robert Mugabe's government for refusing to
pay them partly in foreign currency, a move which was meant to avoid a
repeat of the December riots, which saw hundreds of them go on a rampage in
When they received their salaries last Friday, January 16, one day late,
they were paid only in local currency,
The government has been debating paying soldiers allowances for overtime,
transport, housing and education in hard currency to try and contain growing
discontent within the armed forces.
During a commander's parade last week, Brigadier-General Douglas
Nyikayaramba told soldiers not to expect salaries in foreign currency
because the government did not have adequate hard cash to pay the
25,000-strong force - but it was considering paying allowances this way. He
did not specify when this would start.
The non-taxable allowances are paid in addition to their basic pay to
cushion the soldiers, who are not housed by the government and are not
provided transportation to and from work.
With the unofficial dollarisation of the economy, the soldiers wanted at
least part of their payment in January to be in hard currency. In addition
to the usual subsidies for transport, housing and education, they expected a
hardship allowance to relieve them in an economy where all transactions are
now in foreign currency.
It's understood that troop representatives want the lowest-ranked soldier to
be paid a minimum of 2,000 US dollars a month. Privates, who are the
lowest-paid soldiers, receive monthly payments of about 13 dollars.
The paltry payments in Zimbabwe dollars came as a grave disappointment. A
corporal at 2 Brigade in Harare, who asked not to be named, said, "Aren't
they selling things in US dollars? That's the money we want. We need to buy
food and pay our children's school fees in foreign currency."
If not dealt with properly, a captain at a Harare barracks, who refused to
be named, told IWPR that the government might face worse riots than what
Harare saw in December last year.
Already, he said, he had received reports that some angry soldiers attacked
Reserve Bank Governor Gideon Gono's farm close to Norton, 40 kilometres west
of Harare in Mashonaland West province. They took cabbages from the field
and nearly 200 chickens and some goats, which they said they would sell to
get the foreign currency that he denied them.
"The government has to find a way to deal with this anger," he said. "The
soldiers had been looking forward to their salaries in foreign currency but
when they were told that it was out of the question, they were furious. This
anger is not healthy for the government, whose greatest strength has been
In December's unrest, disgruntled rank-and-file soldiers, frustrated at not
receiving their meagre salaries because of acute cash shortages, ran through
the streets of Harare, looting shops and attacking black market foreign
The riots were viewed as the first spark of a military rebellion against
Mugabe, prompting some civilians to join in. Close to 150 soldiers, mainly
from 2 Brigade, were arrested and now face court martial proceedings.
What is angering the low-ranked soldiers the most were rumours that top army
officers were getting part of their salaries in foreign currency.
In a secret operation to secure their loyalty, the government is said to
have partly paid the salaries of soldiers ranked from colonel upwards in
hard currency, with the lowest taking home 2,000 US dollars per month.
"The senior officers get everything, they got the big farms and they get a
lot of things cheaply and now they are being paid in foreign currency," said
the captain, who wished to remain anonymous.
" It's just not fair and the junior officers are watching and they don't
like what they see."
One junior officer, who asked not to be identified, said, "We can't even
afford public transport. The fact that they raised our hopes and quickly
dampened them just makes us furious. We also have to buy groceries, fuel and
pay rent in foreign currency.
"Yes, as soldiers we have to obey but unfortunately we are not immune to the
economic hardships facing everyone else. They are the ones that dollaralised
the economy. How do they expect us to survive on 13 US dollars a month?"
A senior policeman told IWPR that officers had been on high alert from last
week after it was confirmed that rank-and-file soldiers were no longer
receiving any part of their salaries in foreign currency.
Rosalie Moyo is the pseudonym of an IWPR-trained journalist in Zimbabwe.
COSATU demands SADC backs democracy in Zimbabwe
The Congress of South African Trade Unions is alarmed at reports that the
talks to form a new government in Zimbabwe are on the brink of collapse.
It is now nearly ten months since the people went to the polls on 29 March
2008, when - despite huge levels of intimidation and attempts to rig the
election - they voted for a government led by the Movement for Democratic
Yet the ZANU-PF party that lost that election remains in power and is
clearly refusing to agree to any new government that reduces that power. It
remains in control of the army and police, who have been ruthlessly
abducting and torturing trade unionists, MDC members, NGO activists and
anyone they regard as their political opponents.
The blame for this situation lies squarely with the leadership of the
Southern African Development Community (SADC) who continue to treat the
loser, ZANU-PF leader Robert Mugabe, as a bona-fide 'President', despite
having lost the elections. His 'victory' in the 'Presidential election' on
27 June 2008, was condemned by everyone, including SADC's own and the
African Union's observer missions, as unfree and unfair.
The new government that ZANU-PF is demanding would entrench the election
losers in power while giving a purely ceremonial role to the winners. It is
pure window-dressing. The MDC is quite right to reject such a government.
Yet SADC refuses to demand that the MDC must be given at least an equal
share of power, and thus gives Mugabe the confidence to refuse to
SADC leaders also gave credibility to the ZANU-PF lie that the MDC, trade
unions and NGOs were agents of Western imperialist forces. It is precisely
because of this stance which informs the SADC and their mediators' political
approach, which Mugabe has used to brutally stay in power despite having
been rejected by his people.
It is symptomatic of their failure that SADC appointed King Mswati III chair
the SADC Organ Troika (for peace and security), which is principally
responsible for the defence and promotion of democracy in the region,
including trying to resolve the crisis in Zimbabwe. How can this absolute
monarch be capable of promoting democracy in Zimbabwe, when he is brutally
crushing the democratic opposition in his own kingdom?
Meanwhile the people of Zimbabwe are being engulfed in a humanitarian
catastrophe. Workers are not getting paid; shops are running out of food.
The economy is at a standstill. Thousands are flooding out of the country,
where a growing number are reduced to begging in the streets as the only way
to feed themselves and their families.
Yet Grace Mugabe can spend trillions of Zim dollars on a shopping spree in
Hong Kong. She even allegedly severely assaulted a photographer who was
taking pictures of her at the shopping centre.
Worst of all is the health disaster. The cholera epidemic, which is now
rapidly spreading into neighbouring countries, is just one serious outbreak.
Physicians for Human Rights have also identified an outbreak of anthrax,
worsening HIV/Aids and TB infections, maternal mortality and morbidity,
malnutrition and vitamin deficiency.
With no government in place the nightmare for the Zimbabwean people can only
COSATU welcomes the convening of a SADC Summit meeting on Monday and demands
that the Southern African leaders give the kind of leadership which they
have failed to provide so far. They must stop treating Mugabe as a
legitimate head of state and insist that either any new government reflects
the will of the people as expressed on 29 March, or that fresh elections be
held, under international supervision.
COSATU will be stepping up its campaign of solidarity with the people of
Zimbabwe in the coming weeks.
Patrick Craven (National Spokesperson)
Congress of South African Trade Unions
By agency reporter
20 Jan 2009
More prayer is needed for Zimbabwe, according to Christian relief agency
Tearfund who are supporting local churches to meet the desperate needs of
thousands of families in Zimbabwe.
As Zimbabwe's president and opposition leader begin make or break talks in
Harare to resolve the political deadlock Tearfund is urging Christians in
the UK to pray.
Tearfund's International Director, Peter Grant said, "We can pray for a new
hope around many urgent issues, especially as a new US president steps up to
multiple challenges. Zimbabwe is one of these and we know that prayer can
overcome injustice. The need is urgent. As Christians and churches pray for
Zimbabwe there remains the 'audacity of hope' for those whose single
challenge this week is to survive."
This weekend the All Africa Conference of Churches (AACC's) is calling for
churches around the world to pray for Zimbabwe.
Robert Mugabe has said that talks about a proposed government of national
unity would end if the opposition failed to accept the terms of his ruling
party Zanu PF. The government has been unprepared to make concessions.
Opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, who returned to Zimbabwe last weekend
after two months absence, refuses to accept a proposal that leaves Mugabe in
control of key ministries including responsibility for the police and
ruthless security forces.
As the talks led by regional leaders, including South Africa, continue, so
does the intense suffering for the majority of Zimbabweans.
The cholera death toll is now at over 2000 with thousands more people sick
with the disease and unable to get basic treatment.
Tearfund staff visited recently and found rural hospital staff struggling to
cope with practically no medical supplies and makeshift equipment. Acute
hunger is widespread as the poorest families search anywhere for anything
they can eat. Tearfund has reported stories of people surviving on wild
birds and leaves - and even boiling the leather hide of livestock when there
was nothing else to eat.
However, many families are getting the help they need. Churches often know
who is most in need of help and they respond bringing food or water, or by
helping to fix a water pipe system. But church pastors in the thick of this
relief effort suggest prayer enables provision of a 'higher power', says
"We must pray. You must pray in these days," says Pastor Promise, who works
with one of Tearfund's partner agencies. "More than ever these are critical
times for Zimbabwe. Please pray with us for justice and spiritual
transformation - that the strangle-hold on the poorest people would be
released. The people are needlessly suffering and dying."
Thanks for your great website that keeps us posted.
I have years ago launched a web site that I would love mentioned in one of
I talk at colleges, business groups and any where I can to inform the
American people about the Mugabe regime.
By Denzyl Janneker, Kansas City Star Midwest Voices columnist 2009
I'm trying to imagine what might be happening in the Mugabe household as
President-elect Barack Obama's inauguration unfolds.
Grace has her hand on the television remote, occasionally adjusting her
diamond-encrusted rings which are still sore from her alleged beating of two
photographers on a shopping trip in Hong Kong.
How dare they question her extravagant shopping habits and contrast it to
the suffering of millions of starving Zimbabweans?
Grace has been ... well, disgraced. If it happened in Zimbabwe, within a
flash those photographers would be thrown in jail.
Husband Robert delighted in hearing her account of the fracas. That'll teach
those nosy paparazzi, he cheered.
It's about the only news that's given him comfort recently. He wishes he had
more of his wife's feisty spirit to deal with the supposed intransigence of
his nemesis, Morgan Tsvangirai.
The stalemate in reaching agreement on a coalition government has ruined his
appetite. And with these southern African leaders in his country to help
broker a deal ... well, he's just about had enough of other countries
meddling in his affairs.
He pushes his half-eaten steak aside and joins Grace on the sofa. She wasn't
feeling hungry. Something about an upset stomach from dining in Hong Kong.
They watch the thousands of people at Obama's inauguration.
The Rev. Rick Warren is scheduled to recite the invocation. Grace tells Bob
she was inspired by the pastor's best seller, to which her hubby responds
that the cleric's views on gays were not unlike his own homophobic
The two laugh at how he (Bob) once told the British government it had set
"gay gangsters" on him. They marvel at the audacity of people who have
protested against them. Bob ends by saying he hopes Warren stands up to his
Just like he has weathered a global storm of protest in the nearly three
decades he has been in power. Once considered the breadbasket of Africa,
Zimbabwe has now earned the dubious distinction as the basket case of the
continent - the result of controversial land reform measures which impacted
on agricultural production. Food shortages are so severe that half the
population faces a famine. Inflation stands at 231 million percent and
Bob has maintained power through brute force, suppressing dissent wherever
it has arisen. Elections have been rigged and the rule of law subverted to
advance the ruling elite. With the economy in tatters and a cholera outbreak
adding to the country's woes, the 84-year-old leader (he turns 85 next
month), is showing no signs of relinquishing authority.
He has been at the helm since the days of former President Jimmy Carter.
Today, he will have witnessed the sixth American president to take office
during his tenure. The Berlin Wall has crumbled, communism has fallen, yet
Bob's regime remains intact.
He's already sent a congratulatory message to Obama though he hasn't taken
too kindly to what the young upstart and his nominee of UN ambassador, Susan
Rice have had to say about tighter sanctions on his country. The two even
seem intent on isolating him.
"Grace, can you change the channel? No, wait. Go back. Ah ... yes. Law and
Order. My favorite."