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Zimbabwe opposition challenges protest march ban


Tue 22 Jan 2008, 18:11 GMT

HARARE, Jan 22 (Reuters) - Zimbabwe's main opposition launched a legal
challenge to a police ban on a march against the government of President
Robert Mugabe that it has planned for Wednesday.

The police had initially allowed the march, which the Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) called to protest against a crumbling economy blamed
on government mismanagement, and to press for a new constitution that would
guarantee that elections due in March are free and fair.

On Tuesday, MDC lawyer Alec Muchadehama said the Harare magistrate court
would on Wednesday hear an application to overturn the ban, which police say
was prompted by fears the demonstration would degenerate into violence and

"We are making an appeal against the regulatory authorities' decision to
prohibit the march. We filed the application in terms of the new Public
Order and Security Act," Muchadehama told Reuters.

Zimbabwe has adopted changes to its security laws -- seen by critics as
aimed at suppressing Mugabe's opponents -- to compel police to spell out
their reasons for refusing a political party the right to hold a public

Muchadehama said there was nothing legally standing in the way of
Wednesday's planned march, which police had originally allowed to start at
11:15 a.m. (0915 GMT).

MDC officials were not reachable for comment on Tuesday.

In remarks broadcast on state television, police spokesman Assistant
Commissioner Wayne Bvudzijena said the police would be out in full force on
Tuesday to stop the march.

Zimbabweans have tended to shy away from demonstrations in recent years,
mainly from fear of a heavy-handed response by security forces. (Reporting
by Nelson Banya; Editing by Giles Elgood)

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MDC will go ahead with march


January 22, 2008, 18:00

A showdown is looming between Zimbabwe's opposition Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC) and the police over tomorrow's proposed march through the
capital Harare.

The MDC has vowed to continue with the procession, despite a police order
prohibiting it. But police say they will in turn enforce the law.

MDC Secretary General Tendai Biti says: "The march is going on as planned
even if it means that we get killed."

Police initially gave the MDC march the green light but now they claim the
opposition plans to act against the spirit of their earlier agreement.

Police spokesperson Wayne Bvudzijena says: "The MDC has been making
inflammatory statements and talking about putting more pressure. We think
that they are confusing putting pressure with being violent."

Police say anyone taking part in tomorrow's march will be arrested. The
latest developments fly in the face of concessions made during the Southern
African Development Community mediated talks, which include the relaxation
of laws such as the infamous Public Order and Security Act.

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Retired army generals call on Mugabe to step down

By Lance Guma
22 January 2008

Former army general Vitalis Zvinavashe sent political temperatures soaring
Monday after calling on Robert Mugabe to step down. A report on the Zimbabwe
Times website quotes Zvinavashe saying; ‘By clinging on to power Mugabe was
betraying the essence of the liberation struggle.’ Although the report does
not say where the remarks were made our sources say Zvinavashe, a politburo
member, addressed a meeting of constituents in Gutu on Monday.

Known for his controversial and blunt remarks Zvinavashe is also quoted as
saying; ‘I may also want to be president one day, but if one clings onto
power for too long how do you expect youngsters to be leaders of tomorrow?
The President has played his part and should go immediately to give a chance
to others whom we feel have the guts to shape a good Zimbabwe.’ Zvinavashe
then added; ‘Of course, he (Mugabe) is a hero but now it’s high time he
should go. When we went to war we did not fight for a single person but for
all of us. But what the President is doing now defeats the whole purpose of
our having gone to war.’

It’s reported that at the same meeting another retired senior army official,
Major Kudzai Mbudzi, joined in the criticism. Mbudzi is currently on
suspension from his post as Masvingo party provincial spokesman and also
called on Mugabe to resign before the elections. He likened Mugabe to a
driver falling asleep behind the steering wheel and refusing to relinquish
control, despite the danger he poses to passengers. He said the Zanu PF
leader had been given enough time to prove himself but had failed. In the
weeks gone by Mbudzi, Zvinavashe and another retired army general Solomon
Mujuru have all been linked to reports of a Zanu PF breakaway party, to be
led by former finance minister Simba Makoni. However Mbudzi has apparently
vowed not to leave Zanu PF, choosing instead to change it from within.

The Zimbabwe Times sought comment from Zanu PF political commissar Elliot
Manyika who said, ‘those who criticise the President are rebels but everyone
has the right to form a political party.’ Despite Manyika’s offhand
dismissal discontent within the military ranks and Zanu PF itself is
growing. Just last year Zvinavashe tore into Mugabe during a meeting with
war veterans in Gutu. During that meeting the war veterans demanded the
banishment of the MDC, to which Zvinavashe rebuked them saying the MDC was
an official opposition party. It was during this meeting that he said for
the first time that Mugabe should step down, as he had nothing to offer.

Mugabe’s controversial endorsement as the Zanu PF candidate for the 2008
elections, coupled with reports that Mujuru is sponsoring a breakaway party,
provide evidence all is not well within the party. Up to now the military
has served as Mugabe’s political bedrock. These developments however suggest
a weakening of his grip in the party and in the military. The problem is
that the retired generals might be making all the noise, but no one really
knows whether this is in consultation with serving generals.

Meanwhile more political drama is in store in the province after Zvinavashe
openly dismissed the Zanu PF policy to reserve certain parliamentary seats
for women in the coming elections. Zimbabwe Football Association Chief
Henrietta Rushwayo is thought to be eyeing the new constituency of Gutu
East, but Zvinavashe has said people must choose their own candidates and
not have a quota system imposed on them. It remains to be seen just how the
party decides to choose its candidates, given the simmering tensions over
the selection procedure.

Pedzisai Ruhanya, an analyst with the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition, told
Newsreel that because the retired generals who form the old guard of the
party have started speaking out, it means most Zanu PF members have had
enough. He said the military has played a key role in rigging elections for
Mugabe and for some of them to speak out against him betrays the seriousness
of the situation. Ruhanya said most of the army personnel had benefited from
Mugabe’s regime in terms of money, farms, cars and other perks and this
explained the reluctance of some of them to challenge him.

SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news

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MDC to push case for good governance at AU summit in Ethiopia

By Tichaona Sibanda
22 January 2008

Despite reports that the Zimbabwe crisis is not on the agenda at the AU
summit, there may still be some debate. The 10th African Union summit begins
in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia this weekend.

While analysts believe some leaders on the continent support Robert Mugabe,
thereby limiting debate, the MDC want the AU to tackle the issue of bad
governance during this summit.

Professor Elphas Mukonoweshuro, the MDC secretary for International Affairs,
said the AU has to realise there are now pressing issues on the continent
that need to be resolved before more blood is shed on the streets.

‘In the case of Zimbabwe and Kenya, the African Union has been found
wanting. They have failed completely to bring together rivals to talk peace
in the two countries. The results of this failure are there for everyone to
see,’ Mukonoweshuro said.

During the summit, the 53-nation AU is expected to reignite debate on newer
issues like the African diaspora and developments in the continent’s
conflicts. These two issues relate to the problems in Zimbabwe where
millions of citizens based outside the country find themselves unable to
participate in the country’s elections. There also has been no development
in the country since the disputed parliamentary elections eight years ago.

Mukonoweshuro, who is in London on a working visit, said their message to
the AU would be to resolve problems of governance first so that an
environment can be created which would be conducive to economic pursuit and
economic enterprise.

‘It’s a tragedy that the AU doesn’t have a yardstick by which they can
measure effective governance and democratic governance. The continental body
still has a problem of legitimising problematic governments by side-stepping
or totally ignoring issues brought against such regimes,’ he said.

SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news

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Walking for survival

HARARE, 22 January 2008 (IRIN) - It is 4 a.m. and still dark in the
low-income suburb of Kuwadzana, about 10km outside the central business
district (CBD) of Zimbabwe’s capital, Harare. There has been no electricity
in Kuwadzana for around two weeks.

Bobbing beams of light from the flashlights of some 20 men and women are the
only source of light in the inky blackness. They stop near the local
shopping centre, where they speak in whispers. Several members of the group
yawn loudly.

After 10 minutes they move off in the direction of the city, but shrill
whistles pierce the quiet dawn, signalling that latecomers and other
stragglers are being left behind. There is a shout in the darkness and two
men and a woman join their colleagues. The group are all professionals who
can no longer afford the high transport fares in an economic environment
where earnings are wiped away by galloping inflation.

The government has not publicly released official inflation figures for the
last two months but the International Monetary Fund (IMF) estimates that the
rate is now 100,000 percent and still rising.

Granger Phiri, one of the walkers, told IRIN that thousands of workers in
Harare's low-income and middle-density suburbs had formed “walking clubs”
because they could no longer afford the cost of public transport. As they
near the city centre, the group merges with other walking clubs.

"I have been a member of the local walking club for the past seven months,
as all my earnings would be depleted if I used public taxis for 15 days,"
said Phiri, a junior official in the civil service in the CBD. He said he
earned Z$30 million a month (US$15 at the parallel market rate of Z$2
million to US$1), but a single trip to town costs Z$1 million (US$0.50).

Making more money

Why go through the agony of walking 20km every day just to earn US$15 a
month? Phiri smiled and pointed to a bulging knapsack on his back. "There is
one thing that the human body cannot do without and that is food. I sell
plain bread sandwiches to my colleagues. I also sell sliced tomatoes and
cucumbers to colleagues who can afford them, and that supplements my

The telephones at work also come in handy: "I am now known as the person who
can pass messages to friends and relatives in the country and beyond our
borders through the government telephones which I use. Of course that comes
at a cost, which adds to my income."

Phiri said he was not embarrassed at having to resort to unorthodox methods
to earn a living. "Everybody is selling something to somebody in order to
survive. Very little work is ever done. We have colleagues who have turned
to prostitution for survival, while others take annual vacations in
neighbouring countries such as Botswana, Mozambique and South Africa to work
as maids or farm labourers."

He said South Africa was the destination of choice for most civil servants,
because an arrangement between the two governments meant they were not
restricted by stringent visa requirements. "All that is required is a
current payslip and a passport, and that can enable you to work for several
days before returning."

Neglecting workers could do more harm

Wellington Chibhebhe, secretary-general of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade
Unions, (ZCTU), a labour federation, told IRIN that companies and the civil
service were losing a lot of production time because workers were too tired
to work.

According to ZCTU research, workers woke up as early as 3 a.m. to go to work
and only got back home at 11 p.m. "We are calling on employers to meet the
full monthly [transport] costs for the workers because this [walking to
work] creates a scenario whereby employees are subsidising the operations of
companies and the civil service."

Chibhebhe said employers needed to relate salaries to the "poverty datum
line" of Z$200 million (US$200) a month, otherwise they could be exposing
themselves to the risk of theft. "What is obviously evident is that there
are scenarios that workers would steal from employers or conduct private
business using the employer's time and resources, which has a serious
negative impact on productivity."

[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]

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Bank chief fails to turn up at Parliament

The Zimbabwean

 Tuesday, 22 January 2008 12:50

HARARE - Confusion and mystery reigned at Parliament on Monday when
beleaguered Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) Governor Gideon Gono failed to
turn up.
Gono had threatened to attend the Portfolio Committee on Budget, Finance and
Economic Development, where he would name senior government officials he
claimed had been hoarding and dealing in cash on the parallel market.
Parliament Clerk Austin Zvoma was said to be away, but a junior official,
speaking on condition of anonymity said, "Gono himself called the clerk to
inform him to cancel the meeting and others say he got an order to do that
from senior government officials who asked him what he was trying to do."
Several calls to Gono's office failed to produce any official comment, and
an official in the bank's PR department, who declined to provide his name
said: "The Governor is busy with other things".
Chairman of the Portfolio Committee Daniel Mackenzie Ncube, a Zanu (PF) MP
for Zhombe, was not available at Parliament and his mobile phone was not
A Government minister, speaking anonymously, claimed that "Gono was ordered
to stay away from that meeting by his superiors and bosses".
It is further reported that senior government officials had got wind that
Gono intended to name top officials, including one of the vice presidents,
in the cash scandals.
"Mugabe himself couldn't stand it because one of his top campaign chiefs was
going to be mentioned and that would mean action also taken against him
which would affect his campaign strategy," a source said. - Itai Dzamara

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Zimbabwe's only way out


      Peter Fabricius
    January 22 2008 at 04:54PM

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe appeared until recently to be
negotiating in reasonably good faith with the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) for a new political dispensation.

He made some important concessions, including the scrapping of the 30
appointed members of parliament and reforms to the Public Order and Security
Act and the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act which had
given the government undemocratic powers to control political activity and
the media respectively.

Then he dug in his heels on other demands from the MDC that are more
crucial still, including a new constitution, to be implemented before this
year's elections and a postponement of those elections beyond March to allow
all the reforms to take effect.

President Thabo Mbeki, who had been mandated by the Southern African
Development Community (SADC) last March to mediate the political
negotiations, had largely left the job to his aides.

But last week he took personal charge and flew to Harare to meet
Mugabe and the MDC leaders to try to break the deadlock.

Mbeki emerged from a five-hour meeting with Mugabe and told reporters:
"It's work in progress and very good progress."

But Mbeki was apparently obfuscating, referring to past progress
rather than the outstanding issues he had come to Harare to try to resolve.

Because he then apparently went to meet the MDC leaders and told them
Mugabe had agreed to none of their demands on the outstanding issues.

It appears Mbeki himself is sympathetic to the MDC demands.

That would make sense. When he returned last March from the SADC
meeting in Dar es Salaam where he was given his mediation mission, Mbeki
made it clear that his mandate was to help the Zimbabweans agree on "what
should be done between now and those elections to create a climate that will
be truly free and fair, for an outcome that will not be contested by

This was in an interview with Britain's Financial Times, which his
office later referred to as the "official position on Zimbabwe".

For Zimbabwe to be able to hold an election that meets Mbeki's test of
universal acceptability, a new constitution is necessary.

It would include a proper bill of rights and an independent media
commission; would take the vital voter registration process out of the hands
of officials answerable only to Mugabe and generally diminish the
extraordinary executive powers he has given himself, which would allow him
to control and possibly manipulate the elections.

Postponing the election is also critical so that all the necessary
reforms can take effect.

The MDC has been asking for the elections to take place in June. It
will take much longer than that even to restore politics to something like
normality. But those extra three months would at least make a difference.

Mugabe's refusal to budge presents the MDC once again with the
dilemma; whether to contest elections on an uneven pitch or boycott them.

This weekend the two MDC factions were meeting to consider their
options. They were also trying to reach an electoral pact to ensure they do
not stand against each other and thereby hand the election to Mugabe on a
platter, if they do decide to contest.

And, if Mbeki has indeed accepted that he Mugabe is the cause of the
breakdown, what will Mbeki do?

In the same Financial Times interview, he said that if he judged that
"this particular player in Zimbabwe is obstructing the possibility of
finding a political settlement - we will go back to the SADC to say we are
not moving because these ones are obstructing process".

"And of course the region must then make a decision as to what to do."

Will he do that? After being played by Mugabe for so long, will he
finally point an accusing finger at him? It's hard to imagine but what are
his options? - Independent Foreign Service

This article was originally published on page 8 of Daily News on
January 22, 2008

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Questions Over Reported Progress in Zimbabwe Talks

Institute for War & Peace Reporting

Observers can see none of the improvements claimed from the negotiations on
resolving the long-running political stand-off.

By Joseph Sithole in Harare (AR No. 151, 22-Jan-08)

South African president Thabo Mbeki has once again reported progress in the
talks he is mediating between Zimbabwe’s ruling ZANU-PF party and the
opposition in an attempt to end the country’s eight-year political and
economic crisis.

However, analysts say that any headway made in the negotiations brokered by
the Southern African Development Community, SADC, is as imperceptible and
inaudible as the so-called “quiet diplomacy” Mbeki has used in dealing with
President Robert Mugabe.

On January 17, Mbeki met Mugabe for four hours at State House, and then
talked separately with both leaders of the divided opposition Movement for
Democratic Change, MDC, at the South African embassy in Harare.

The South African leader told journalists after these private meetings that
he was satisfied with the commitment of all political leaders to resolving
the long-running crisis.

“You cannot doubt the level of commitment of the Zimbabwe leadership to
ensuring that the country’s problems are solved,” said Mbeki, standing next
to Mugabe, who will be 84 next month.

“This [negotiating process] is work in progress and I must say that there
has been very good progress. There is definitely a lot of light.”

Both sides in the negotiations have refused to comment on the content and
outcome of their meetings with Mbeki, insisting on the blanket of secrecy
they swore to at the start of the SADC-initiated negotiations in April last

Earlier in the week, Mbeki told visiting Irish prime minister Bertie Ahern
that while a breakthrough was close in the talks, there remained certain
“sticking points”.

During the negotiations talks, the opposition have called for a new
constitution, reform of the country’s electoral laws and the right to vote
for all Zimbabwean expatriates, as well as an end to political violence and
repression before the elections scheduled for March.

After Mugabe categorically rejected introducing a new constitution before
the elections, the MDC asked instead for a transitional document designed to
ensure free and fair elections.

However, the opposition recently complained that Mugabe’s ZANU-PF party had
backtracked on agreements to come up with such a transitional constitution
and to postpone the elections to allow reforms to electoral and security
laws to take place in advance.

An analyst in Harare said that it was hard to see what progress Mbeki could
be referring to.

“Perhaps they know something we don’t know,” said the analyst, who also
noted the continuing reports of violence around the country.

“Since they began, the talks have been cloaked in secrecy except for leaks
and occasional complaints by the opposition about ZANU-PF’s failure to meet
fully its commitments. The progress is as imperceptible as the effects of
Mbeki’s ‘quiet diplomacy’ on Mugabe. There is nothing on the ground.”

The MDC also came in for criticism.

Sources close to this week’s talks between Mbeki and the MDC leaders say the
opposition “capitulated” without a whimper when they were informed that
Mugabe had dismissed their calls for a new constitution and for a delay in
holding the elections until June.

Few of the MDC’s other demands have been met by the ruling party. ZANU-PF
has so far agreed on only cosmetic amendments to repressive laws such as the
Public Order and Security Act, which empowers police to unilaterally ban
opposition rallies if they have a reason to believe these might result in

Less than two months before the polls, there is still no sign that
government plans to relax its grip on the state media and allow the
opposition to campaign freely.

From the look of things, said one observer, the MDC had backed down from its
previous militant approach.

“Either they have capitulated or they believe that indeed ZANU-PF can’t beat
them in free and fair elections,” he said.

According to this analyst, who did not want to be named, the MDC have drawn
encouragement from recent events in Kenya, where violence erupted after the
opposition accused the incumbent president Mwai Kibaki of stealing the

Nelson Chamisa, spokesman for the MDC faction led by Morgan Tsvangirai,
recently told a rally in the poor suburb of Dzivaresekwa that there would be
a bloodbath worse than that in Kenya if there is a feeling after the March
elections that the vote was rigged.

The analyst concluded that the MDC may believe the threat of angry protests
will be enough to deter the authorities from vote-rigging in the spring

“They believe ZANU-PF will be loathe to go that route when events in Kenya
are still fresh and Mugabe has not got over the tag of illegitimacy which he
has worn since his controversial re-election in 2000.”

Meanwhile, the MDC announced demonstrations for January 23 to push for a new
constitution and also to test ZANU-PF’s commitment to non-violence.

The opposition movement, which insists it remains committed to the SADC
talks, has planned a total of 300 rallies to take place this month, starting
with three in the capital Harare at the weekend.

“The march of a million men and women that we intend to hold on January 23,
2008 is a dipstick in an oil tank to gauge the seriousness I have alluded to
earlier on,” said Tendai Biti, who is secretary-general of the Tsvangirai
faction and is representing it at the Mbeki-led negotiations.

“I have to point out that this intended march is in no way prejudicial to
the SADC mediation efforts,” he said. “I have to place it on record that the
MDC remains committed to the SADC talks and we remain hopeful that something
will come out of that process.”

“This is part of Zimbabwe’s democratisation process,” said Biti.

“Now that we have been in the boardroom [with the ruling party] for this
long, we want to take the struggle outside the boardroom and into the
streets, where we will gauge whether there was any seriousness and
commitment to the SADC dialogue on the part of ZANU-PF.”

Joseph Sithole is the pseudonym of a journalist in Zimbabwe.

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SADC ‘must save Zimbabwe talks’

Business Day

Dumisani Muleya

Harare Correspondent

ZIMBABWE’S main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has urged
the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to intervene to break the
deadlock in its stalled talks with the ruling Zanu (PF).

The appeal throws the ball into SADC’s court since the regional body
initiated the negotiations in March last year after MDC leader Morgan
Tsvangirai and others were assaulted while in police custody.

The SADC mandated President Thabo Mbeki to facilitate the talks which all
but collapsed last week after Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe refused to
accept a new constitution before elections in March or postpone the polls to
allow for the implementation of the final agreement.

Mugabe rejected Mbeki’s pleas last week to adopt a new constitution and
delay the polls, in effect ending talks which had been going on for nine

MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa said yesterday the SADC should intervene to
save its initiative.

“The talks were initiated by the SADC. The MDC did everything, worked,
co-operated and compromised to make the dialogue work but Zanu (PF) was
negotiating in bad faith,” Chamisa said. “It’s now up to the SADC to
intervene to save the process. They have to deal with Mugabe’s intransigence
and arrogance.”

The MDC says talks collapsed because of the government’s stubbornness but
the government claims that dialogue stalled on account of land and

Mugabe’s spokesman, George Charamba, said the reported differences between
Zanu (PF) and the two MDC factions were being exaggerated.

“Both parties have agreed on practically all substantive issues. Most, if
not all, of the MDC’s concerns have been addressed. It is on the Zanu (PF)
side where two matters are outstanding, namely a declaration on land and a
declaration on illegal sanctions. It is a small quarrel over procedures and

Last week Mbeki told the visiting Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern that a
breakthrough was almost secured. The MDC is now likely to boycott the polls.
With Reuters

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The big Zim blackout - shape of things to come?

22nd Jan 2008 00:26 GMT

By Chenjerai Chitsaru

THERE must be Zimbabweans who remember the big New York blackout of 1977.
They must have been reminded of that Big Apple incident by last Saturday’s
nationwide blackout, which set some conspiracy theorists’ tongues wagging.

Was this the prelude of a coup of some sort? Would the lights soon return
and the State television and radio, after blasting away with a military
tune, then boom with the baritone of an extremely calm and collected
military officer, intoning solemnly:

“This is the voice of the leader of the National Redemption Council,
announcing that the government of…..”
And so on and so forth.

“No such luck,” one cynic retorted to that theory. “All the likely coup
leaders are deceased…either in an accident at a railway crossing or an
accidental jab with a lethal injection…”

The New York blackout was reported thus:
“On a hot July night in 1977, the lights went out in New York City. The purr
of air conditioners, cooling millions of New Yorkers, was replaced by
stultifying silence - and then the sound of breaking glass. Faced with the
second blackout in twelve years, New Yorkers responded with resilience as
well as violence. Many stories emerged from the night of July 13th that
revealed New Yorkers' divergent feelings about the city in which they lived.
In some places, neighbors helped neighbors, and strangers helped strangers.
Yet, at the same time, neighborhoods throughout New York exploded into
violence. Stores were ransacked, looted and destroyed. Buildings were set
ablaze. And the police, for the most part, stood helpless. In these stark
contradictions, an unusual yet definitive moment left its mark on New York
history - the night the lights went out.”

Fortunately for many Zimbabweans, the blackout was no more than another
dirty chapter in the reckless bungling of their government, under  President
Robert Mugabe.

There have been blackouts in selected cities and towns for years, even after
the state electricity company, the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority
(Zesa), was no longer under the aegis of one Sidney Gata, a relative by
marriage of President Mugabe.

Previously, critics had zoomed in on this seeming nepotism as a reason for
Mugabe’s lack of action at Zesa, in spite of its atrocious record.

But the crisis has worsened without Gata and recently a top official of the
rotting parastatal was relieved of his job amid much publicity in the State

Among rabidly anti-Mugabe and anti-Zanu PF critics, the scourge of power
cuts is aimed at the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) whose
turf is the urban population sector.

Other critics, more politically sober but still not impressed with Zanu PF,
apportion the blame to a government so preoccupied with retaining power it
has taken political and economic decisions which have alienated most of the
countries which could have offered aid on very generous repayment

Zimbabwe receives power from its neighbours, but because of the foreign
currency crunch, it has often run out of funds to pay for the power. A few
of the countries have cut off power as a result or threatened to do so.

To many critics of Mugabe’s government, this is another tragic example of
how the former guerilla leader has failed, literally, to bring the light of
development into the darkness of the people’s lives since independence in

Which might explain why there was feverish speculation when it was reported
by the independent media that Simba Makoni might at last have taken the
plunge and decided to challenge Mugabe in the presidential election this

Some critics scoffed at the very idea of such a challenge, calling it a Zanu
PF plot to muddy the election waters. Makoni has been previously linked to a
faction of Zanu PF led by the Vice President, Joice Mujuru and her husband,
the former army commander, Solomon Mujuru, the so-called kingmaker in the

Theoretically, such an alliance would be quite a challenge for Mugabe: the
Mujuru’s combined support would encompass two large provinces in
Mashonaland – Central and East – and Manicaland, from where Makoni has his
roots and where he could also depend on the support of another anti-Mugae
stalwart, Edgar Tekere.

If, as expected, most of Matabeleland fell to the MDC, Mugabe and Zanu PF
could be on a very sticky wicket indeed. Unfortunately, Makoni is not
Tekere, although he too was “bitten by mosquitoes” in Mozambique during the
struggle – as the late Eddison Zvobgo used to label the “true freedom

For many Zimbabweans, any new government containing elements of Zanu PF
would be fatally contaminated. This party has performed so dismally that
most people would not be excited if a new government was tainted, even
remotely, by a Zanu PF element – old or new.

Why some have speculated on the so-called new party being a “Trojan horse”
is the mention of Ibbo Mandazas, as being among the luminaries of the new

The former newspaper publisher and ardent admirer of Mugabe is not in Tekere’s
or Makoni’s political league. Although it is his publishing house which
brought out Tekere’s autobiography, in which Mugabe is heavily rubbished, he
is not seen as a “heavyweight critic” of Zanu PF.

So, the political landscape, it would seem, will be dominated for a long
time to come by a cocky Zanu PF, relying on its apparatus of terror and
subterfuge, to take on all-comers, and the MDC, weakened by division at the
top, and easily liable to be hoodwinked by Zanu PF into signing pacts with
the enemy which might turn out to be their final undoing.

Most hard-nosed critics of the government tend to dismiss any radical reform
programmes under Mugabe. They say the president is trapped in a time-warp.
Hardly is he likely to abandon completely the idea of the government having
a hand in the economy.

For instance, although on paper the government has accepted the
participation of the private sector in  its parastatals, including the
national airline, the national railways and the national electricity
company, not many would-be partners would risk it after studying a new law
on the ownership of mines.

Under that law, indigenous people would legally own 51 percent of any new
mining company. That ownership could translate into government ownership, as
there are few Zimbabweans rich enough to invest so heavily on their own in a
mining venture.

Moreover, the suspicion is that most of the indigenous stakes would be
snapped up by Zanu PF heavyweights, as happened with the formerly
white-owned commercial farms.

Mugabe has not abandoned his flirtation with Marxism-Leninism, it would
seem. Although some of his colleagues in the party hierarchy, notably the
Vice President Joseph Msika and the Speaker of the House of Assembly and
Zanu PF chairman John Nkomo, are not too keen on socialism, Mugabe may lure
them into his circle with “goodies”.

All this, as an election platform, would be meaningless to most voters. An
improvement in their lives would hinge on the creation of more well-paying
jobs which would mean foreign direct investment, affordable schools with
well-paid qualified teachers, hospitals and clinics with well-paid doctors
and nurses – and reliable electricity, preferably run by a private company
and not by Zanu PF zealots or relatives of the president.

All this would be topped by a government with zero tolerance on corruption.

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Zimbabwe chief banker fingers banks for 'artificial' cash shortages

Yahoo News

Tue Jan 22, 4:52 AM ET

HARARE (AFP) - Zimbabwe's central bank chief has accused local banks of
creating "artificial" cash shortages by failing to collect money from the
country's main bank and distribute it to clients.

"Nothwithstanding the high levels of cash stocks sitting at the Reserve Bank
ready for dispatch into the market, some banking institutions have been
noted to be engaging in imprudent and unethical practices which are creating
artificial queues for cash," Gideon Gono, central bank governor, told
journalists and bankers in the capital onMonday.

"Indepth analysis of banks' asset-liability profiles has shown the following
glaring malpractices by some banks, non-collection to pay cash for such cash
on collection.

"This inability at some banks is primarily a result of such banks tying
depositors' funds in illiquid speculative investments in the stock exchange,
real estate, motor vehicles, foreign exchange and other forms of non-core
investments," he added.

Last month, Gono threatened to expose high-ranking politicians and top
business executives who he said were hoarding cash to buy scarce foreign
currency on the burgeoning parallel market.

Gono, a close ally of veteran President Robert Mugabe, announced in December
that 200,000-dollar bills (about eight US dollars, 5.4 euros) would cease to
be valid at the end of the year as part of efforts to fight the black

He later shelved the idea and introduced new 250,000, 500,000 and 750,000
Zim dollar notes as part of measures to ease the cash shortages.

He said the central bank will "not sit by and watch whilst banks use the
fictional cash shortages as smokescreens shielding their unethical

"Blaming the government, the reserve bank or the governor all the time is
unacceptable and will be met with serious consequences."

Although Gono introduced the new currency denominations, queues are still a
common sight at banks across the country with depositors sometimes waiting
in vain to withdraw their savings.

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Church officials say it's unlikely Zimbabwean election will be fair

Jan-22-2008 (450 words) xxxi

By Bronwen Dachs
Catholic News Service

CAPE TOWN, South Africa (CNS) -- Church officials said it's unlikely
Zimbabwe will hold a free and fair presidential election this year, since
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has refused demands for a new
constitution to be implemented before the poll.

"Mugabe knows he can play games and get away with it," said Bishop Kevin
Dowling of Rustenburg, South Africa.

The 83-year-old Zimbabwean president "has the security forces on his side,
and his opposition has no protection under the law, so he doesn't need to
make any concessions," Bishop Dowling told Catholic News Service Jan. 21.
Mugabe has rejected the opposition's requests that the election, scheduled
for March, be postponed to June to allow for a new constitution to be put in

Mugabe, who has ruled Zimbabwe since its independence from Great Britain in
1980, "is untrustworthy and does not intend to make significant changes to
bring stability to the country," said the bishop, noting that until a new
constitution that protects human rights is in place "there can be no free
and fair elections."

At mid-January meetings in Zimbabwe's capital, Harare, Mugabe rejected all
suggestions made by South African President Thabo Mbeki, who since March has
been mediating between Mugabe's government and the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change.

"Mugabe has been stringing Mbeki along all this time," said Bishop Dowling,
a member of the Solidarity Peace Trust, an ecumenical group of church
organizations from Zimbabwe and South Africa.

Alouis Chaumba, head of Zimbabwe's Catholic Commission for Justice and
Peace, said he was "not surprised the talks (Mbeki's mediation) have failed
as the (Zimbabwean) government doesn't negotiate in good faith."

Zimbabwe "can't afford to have another election rejected by the
international community," he told CNS Jan. 21. "But, as things stand now,
there is no doubt that Mugabe will win elections in March."

Zimbabwe has the world's highest inflation rate and chronic shortages of
food, fuel and most basic goods.

"The mood in the country is very bleak and people are obsessed with
day-to-day survival," Chaumba said. The people "cannot access cash, and our
incomes are eroded every day," he added.

"Despite a good rainy season, farmers had no fertilizer, so crops have
failed again," Chaumba said. "Electricity and water are in short supply, and
there has been an outbreak of diarrhea in the major cities."

Hospitals around the country are paralyzed as doctors and nurses strike for
more pay, and hospitals face "a chronic shortage of drugs," Chaumba said.
Most schools "have less than half their quota of teachers, who can't afford
the bus fare to get to work."

"Nothing is in good shape," he added.

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Zimbabwe May Produce 41% Less Tobacco Than Forecast This Year


Jan. 22 (Bloomberg) -- Zimbabwe may produce 41 percent less tobacco than
forecast this year because of unfavorable weather and a lack of fertilizers,
said Andrew Ferreira, president of the Zimbabwe Tobacco Association.

The southern African nation may produce as much as 70 million kilograms of
the leaf, compared with 120 million kilograms predicted in October, Ferreira
said in an interview today from the capital, Harare. Zimbabwe produced 73
million kilograms of tobacco last year, earning the country $170 million.

``We're expecting a crop of less than 70 million kilograms because drought
in the early season and unseasonably heavy rains more recently have affected
the crop,'' Ferreira said. ``Some growers have opted out of tobacco because
of the problems getting hold of inputs.''

Tobacco production in Zimbabwe, which produces mainly flue- cured tobacco
that rivals the U.S. for quality, has plummeted since 2000. That year the
country produced 236 million kilograms of tobacco, earning Zimbabwe $400
million. In 2001 President Robert Mugabe began seizing white-owned
commercial farms for distribution to blacks deprived of land during colonial
rule, triggering a drop in agricultural production.

Zimbabwe is the world's sixth-largest exporter of tobacco after Brazil,
India, the U.S., the European Union and Argentina. In 2000, it ranked No. 2
after Brazil.

To contact the reporter on this story: .

Last Updated: January 22, 2008 02:59 EST

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Business sector bemoans power outages

The Zimbabwean

 Tuesday, 22 January 2008 16:23

HARARE – The Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) on Tuesday warned
power outages affecting Zimbabwe since Saturday had brought production to a
halt, in an economy in deep recession and saddled with record unemployment
and shortages of basic commodities.

CZI president Callisto Jokonya called for urgent action to end power
shortages as a massive outage – the third since Saturday – plunged Zimbabwe
into darkness including the capital Harare for much of yesterday.   “The
electricity issue is serious. It needs to be sorted out as a matter of
urgency because as we speak now there is no production taking place in the
manufacturing sector and industry is losing out,” said Jokonya, speaking to
ZimOnline moments before power was restored to most parts of Harare around
2.30pm. Jokonya, who said industry has not been able to run meaningfully
since Saturday, did not quantify the losses that could have been incurred by
the manufacturing sector so far. The capital had not had electricity since
early in the morning bringing business to a virtual standstill. The Internet
was down across the country because the main servers are in Harare. Mobile
phones were largely not working and many callers had to rely on the state’s
archaic and perennially congested fixed phone network. Zimbabwe has faced
power shortages since the economic crisis accelerated in 2000 with the
government’s Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA) blaming the
problem on lack of foreign currency to expand generation capacity or to buy
parts for existing power stations. But this is the fist time that the nation
has faced power failures across the country. ZESA has blamed power failures
on what it says was system disturbance on the interconnecting grid that
links southern African countries to a common grid. Power failures have also
been experienced in Zambia and Botswana. However, for long-suffering
Zimbabweans, the electricity cuts are only an addition on a long list of
hardships bedevelling the country in the grip of economic meltdown critics
blame on repression and wrong policies by President Robert Mugabe. Mugabe,
in power since Zimbabwe’s 1980 independence from Britain and seeking another
five-year term in elections in March, denies ruining Zimbabwe and instead
blames his country’s problems on sabotage by Western governments he says are
out to topple him.

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War vets give Heroes Acre tours

The Zimbabwean

Tuesday, 22 January 2008 12:40
… but won't talk about Mugabe's grave

HARARE - Zimbabwe's Heroes Acre is being manned by war veterans with a
crude hatred for the opposition and uncouth language that has no place at a
shrine supposed to espouse the national heritage with dignity and honour.
A visit last week was punctured by uncouth and rude tour guides who
constantly made rude remarks against opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, as
if he was the subject of our visit. Tourists, who were part of our group,
were obviously put off by the remarks, and said the tour guide's language
did not add any value to the tour.
Amid the verbal abuse we suffered at the hands of the tour guides, The
Zimbabwean made startling observations. There are two graves "technically
reserved" for President Robert Mugabe and his second wife Grace, but the two
pro-Zanu (PF) tour guides accompanying us were reluctant to say so outright.
The two blank tombstones are next to the grave of Sally Mugabe, the
much-loved First Lady who died in 1992.
The tour guides, whose party Zanu (PF) has been in power since
Zimbabwe gained independence in 1980, obviously know that Mugabe is mortal.
But it seems they cannot quite come to terms with the fact that their
President, like all mortals, will one day cease to exist.
The guide was however overly eager to say whose body "would never" be
laid to rest at Heroes' Acre - opposition party leader Morgan Tsvangirai's.
"My brother, can you imagine Tsvangirai being buried alongside these
heroes," he said, taking us past the graves of Joshua Nkomo and war veterans
leader Chenjerai "Hitler" Hunzvi, among others.
"This man (Tsvangirai) does not belong here. What has he ever done for
his country? What has he sacrificed for the liberation of his people?"
Tsvangirai, the tour guide said, is an "imperialist stooge" who takes
his orders from Britain and the US. They say they will never allow someone
like him to "dishonour" the Heroes' Acre.
The two apparatchiks are different in their own ways: one is a
liberation war veteran, a retired army officer and a party loyalist still in
search of a farm; the other a youngish Border Gezi youth militia graduate,
pumped full with Zanu (PF) propaganda. They are united in their faith in
Zanu (PF) and in Mugabe.
But what about the thousands of ordinary Zimbabweans who vote MDC, we
ask? The Zanu (PF) guides ignore our question. To them, the idea that there
are people who find parties other than theirs attractive is as much an
anathema as talking about Mugabe's grave. You know it's there; you just
don't talk about it.

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Zimbabwe Boarding Schools in Crisis

Institute for War & Peace Reporting

Parents are pulling their children out of schools which have run out of
food, water, and electricity.

From Nonthando Bhebhe in Harare (AR No. 151, 22-Jan-08)

Millions of schoolchildren throughout Zimbabwe had to endure dreadful
conditions as they began a new term this month, as a result of power cuts
and water and food shortages.

Jane Musekiwa, whose daughter Nyarai is in the first class at a mission
boarding school in Mutoko, about 150 kilometres northeast of Harare, said
the trip to her child’s school turned into a nightmare when she realised
what kind of life her daughter would have to endure there.

“What I saw was not what I had bargained for,” said Musekiwa.

In the past, it was prestigious for middle-income families such as hers to
send their children to boarding schools.

But Musekiwa described how she almost cried when she discovered that for the
three-month term, her daughter would be drinking and bathing with water from
an unprotected source, and would spend long hours without the electricity
needed for study and entertainment.

According to Musekiwa, on opening day, the school was bereft of basic
foodstuffs such as the staple “sadza maize meal, chicken, beef and greens.

She said there was no bread, let alone eggs, for breakfast, and the school
headmistress had no idea when the situation would return to normal.

Musekiwa said one teacher told her privately that the problems had also been
there the previous term.

“Last term, the only sounds at night in the dormitories were of girls crying
themselves to sleep. Some were even threatening to commit suicide if their
parents did not pull them out of the boarding school,” she said, quoting the

Nyarai is just one of the hundreds of thousands of scholars braving harsh
conditions at boarding schools as a result of problems brought on by the
collapse of the country’s economy over the past nine years.

Zimbabwe’s inflation rate is now over 8,000 per cent as prices rise every
day, and most foodstuffs have to be sourced from the black market.

A price freeze ordered by President Robert Mugabe's government in July 2007
that was meant to ease the plight of consumers has only worsened the
shortages of basic commodities, and this is hitting boarding schools hard,
with most facing difficulties in getting food, electricity and water.

The authorities at Kwenda High School in Wedza, some 150 km from Harare,
have advised pupils not to return until further notice this term, because
the school has had no power since rains damaged electricity cables in the

Without electricity, the school cannot pump water from boreholes for
sanitation or to prepare food. It is also missing basic foodstuffs such as
maize meal for its boarders.

As well as power and water, schools also face a serious shortage of books,
with some relying on cross border traders who import teaching materials from
Zambia and sell them at exorbitant prices.

Parents are now faced with a tough choice between leaving their children to
endure difficult conditions at the once-fashionable boarding schools, or
taking them out and spending millions on transport to get them to day

Many parents are still frantically looking for places at day schools closer
to home, as they try to spare their children from suffering three months of
hell at boarding school.

It now costs between 2.5 billion and six billion Zimbabwean dollars, ZWD, a
term for private boarding school fees, or between 500 and 1,200 US dollars,
calculated at the more realistic black-market exchange rate.

Parents who send their children to state schools still have to fork out
between 1.2 and two billion ZWD a term

Boarding schools are now demanding payments of half the fees up front to
allow them to buy in groceries from neighbouring South Africa. The money is
used to buy South African rands on the black market, and the schools then
send runners across the Limpopo River to buy the foodstuffs.

George Mhandire, another parent whose child attends a private school in
Masvingo, 300 km south-east of Harare, is desperate to the 2.6 billion ZWD
the institution is demanding in advance for his son’s place.

“I just don’t know what to do now. The school wants half the levy in cash
and the other half electronically transferred into their account. I don’t
know how I am going to raise that money.”

Mhandire said that while he understood why schools resorted to this
practice, he was still unable to find the cash.

“If they don’t do that, our kids will starve, he said. “Some parents are
already paying the fees in foreign currency but this is too much for me.”

Others can no longer afford private school fees and are trying to secure
places at government schools, where the quality of education has
deteriorated over the past ten years due to a loss of teachers and shortage
of teaching materials.

Frustrated and demoralised by low government salaries and inadequate
teaching aids, teachers have left state schools in droves. They have either
been poached by private schools or have crossed the borders to neighbouring
countries in search of greener pastures.

Granny MaMoyo, from the working class suburb of Highfield, Harare, whose
grandson attends a private school in Chegutu, 100km away, told IWPR that her
daughter in the UK could no longer afford the 2.6 billion ZWD she has to pay
for this term.

Many families like hers depend on relatives scattered all over the globe for
financial support.

“It is just too much money, even for my daughter in the UK. She can’t afford
it. She wanted the best for her son but it looks like we have to transfer
him to a government school regardless of the poor facilities,” she said.

MaMoyo said the demand for places meant she was struggling to find a new
school for the boy.

“The problem is that schools opened this week but I still haven’t found a
place for him,” she said. “The scramble for places is intense.”

Nonthando Bhebhe is the pseudonym of a journalist in Zimbabwe.

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Foreigners flee from Soshanguve: report


January 22, 2008, 09:15

Frightened foreigners in Soshanguve South, Pretoria, are moving out of the
area fearing for their lives following a spate of violent attacks on
Mozambican and Zimbabwean nationals, a daily paper reported today. Several
businesses belonging to foreigners have been looted and their shacks
destroyed by residents who accuse them of being behind crime in the area.

Four people - two foreigners and two locals - have since died and several
people have been injured in the violence which started a month ago. Police
spokesperson Captain Solly Marindi confirmed that two residents aged 45 and
17 were killed on Friday night at extension 5 and extension 4 respectively
in what residents believe was a revenge attack by foreigners.

Zimbabwean spaza shop owner, John Dludlu told the Sowetan that he watched
helplessly last Saturday as a group of residents looted his shack and
business, taking electrical appliances, power tools and stock worth R9 000.
"I was so scared I just stood there as they looted and destroyed my
property. I realise that the situation would not get any better so I sent my
wife and children back home to Zimbabwe.

"I have also moved out of the area. If they do not want us here anymore,
they should at least give us time to move out instead of killing us and
destroying our belongings," Dludlu told the newspaper. Dludlu said the
problem started when four foreigners broke into a spaza shop owned by a
Soshanguve resident. He said residents apprehended and necklaced one of the

Ward councillor Mpho Lamola was quoted as saying that a meeting with the
community was held on Sunday where residents were asked not to resort to
violence when trying to sort out their problems. "We have also approached
the Department of Home Affairs to educate people about the status of
immigrants. Residents feel that illegal immigrants are responsible for crime
in the area because they are untraceable," said Lamola.

Captain Marindi said police will continue to hold meetings with residents in
an attempt to bring calm to the area. Nineteen residents were arrested and
charged with public violence on January 13. They were expected to appear in
the Pretoria North Magistrate's Court on Tuesday, the Sowetan said. - Sapa

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Today's 'imperialists' were those who nurtured Mugabe

From The Sunday Independent (SA), 20 January

History shows that the Zimbabwean president might not have been in his
present position without the help of the British government, writes David

Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe claims to have been locked in conflict with
all things British for a long time. Celebrating the European Union's
decision to welcome him to the Lisbon summit with African heads of state
late last year, he gloated at the "disintegration" of Britain's "sinister
campaign … to isolate us". At the United Nations general assembly meeting in
September, he declared Zimbabwe "won its independence … after a protracted
war against British colonial imperialism which denied us human rights and
democracy". Mugabe said that British colonialism was - and is - "the most
visible form of [western] control" over Southern Africa, the negation of
"our sovereignties". He decried the "sense of human rights" of George Bush,
Tony Blair and Gordon Brown which "precludes our people's right to their
God-given resources".

Yet, an investigation of Mugabe's history with the British "colonialists"
shows he was eager to co-operate with them. He embraced their notions of
human rights and justice. Archival evidence shows he was close to these
"sinister" forces in 1970, writing personal letters and telegrams from
Salisbury's jail to Prime Minister Harold Wilson to support his wife's stay
in England. The British also helped him eliminate a group of radical young
guerrilla soldiers threatening his precarious hold on the Zimbabwe African
National Union (Zanu) later in that decade. In 1967, Mugabe's wife Sarah,
often called Sally, received a scholarship to study secretarial science in
London while her husband was imprisoned. The Ariel Foundation was her
sponsor. Ariel, founded by Kenneth Kaunda's one-time adviser Dennis Grennan
and funded largely by the tobacco-enriched Ditchley Foundation, was devoted
to introducing African nationalists to western politicians and capitalists.

Sally needed special authorisation from the British foreign and commonwealth
office (FCO) for her studies. The FCO telegram to Accra (where she, a
Ghanaian, was residing while her husband was in jail) authorising her entry
permit says Ariel "is well known to us". In scribbles, it asks: "Would you
wish to have this on your files? If not, it can be destroyed." Sally studied
for the next two years, while also working as the director's personal
assistant and a dress-making teacher at the Africa Centre in Covent Garden.
However, by the end of 1969 Mervyn Rees, the home secretary, wanted her out.
Her marriage to Mugabe did not allow her citizenship in the illegally
independent state; thus, the British owed her none of the protection due to
the pariah's residents. The home secretary told her to return to Ghana.
Grennan, in whose home Sally lived - "she was like a sister to my children",
he said in an August 2007 interview - mounted a petition campaign for her to

Colin Legum's articles in The Observer helped too: referring to examples of
white Rhodesians living in England with dubious legality, Legum suggested
things might have been different if Sally had shared then Rhodesian prime
minister Ian Smith's race. The petition garnered nearly 400
parliamentarians' signatures. Victory ensued. Legalities notwithstanding,
Sally could stay. Perhaps Mugabe's telegram and letter to Wilson helped too.
His and Sally's entreaties to various "imperialists" indicated their
willingness to utilise the empire's services. Hoping humanitarian persuasion
would dissolve legalities, they employed the moral imperative of human
rights discourse. On February 23 1970, Sally wrote to Maurice Foley, the
Royal African Society director who had been importuned by Ariel Foundation's
executive secretary Anthony Hughes to take up her case. She wanted Foley's
advice on how to "touch the hearts of the decision makers".

Hughes had said to Foley that Sally's case was "exceptional" due to "human
and political factors": her trials and tribulations had brought her to a
"breakdown". In any case the British state should take on responsibility for
the residents of a rogue state. "Surely," he wrote, "Britain has a moral
duty to alleviate, not worsen, her unhappiness." In a letter to MP Bernard
Braine, Hughes refers to "Robert" as if they were mutual friends. He reminds
Braine that "for … personal reasons" the Ariel Foundation thought it
"appropriate to bring Mrs Mugabe to Britain in order to help her obtain
further skills". Robert Mugabe's June 8 1970 telegram, addressed directly to
Wilson at 10 Downing Street appeals that "you recognise her status and grant
residence permit till my release from political detention". A three-page
letter follows a day later, documenting the case's history. Mugabe pleads on
legal grounds, but ends with "more than that" - that is, the British state's
"moral responsibilities towards … persons in my circumstances [and] their
wives …"

He closes with a request: "Sir, that you personally exercise your mind on
the case … so that justice is done to my wife and myself". The postscript
follows: "I regret that the consequences of my writing this letter will
inevitably be a surcharge on you, Sir …" Mugabe's and his interlocutors'
language is laden with the human rights discourse so derided in his speeches
of today and used with such slipperiness by the West. Mugabe's words are
Victorian and moralistic, pleading yet almost secure in assuming idealistic
yet rational and middle-class action. His appeal to justice goes beyond the
letter of the law and the strictures of sovereignty. It's no wonder that his
London friends lauded his cool intellect and asceticism (in contrast to
Joshua Nkomo spending all their money on women and drink, Grennan said). Six
years later, in the aftermath of the assassination of Herbert Chitepo,
Zanu's national chairman, and the leadership vacuum it left, Mugabe's climb
to the top of the party's hierarchy seemed threatened by a group of young,
radical guerrilla soldiers.

The Zimbabwean People's Army (Zipa) had taken the liberation struggle back
from the hands of those who had engineered a "détente" process intended to
create a pliant state to replace Smith's, and had come close to uniting
Zimbabwe's rival nationalist parties to boot. Archival evidence suggests the
British helped Mugabe win this battle against the Zipa soldiers. Zipa was
resisting going to the Geneva conference organised by Henry Kissinger, the
United States secretary of state, behind one leader. They supported a united
front. As arrangements were being made for the conference, on September 29
1976, Ted Rowlands, the minister of state for the FCO, telegrammed home from
his Gaborone meeting with Nkomo, the leader of Zimbabwe's "other" liberation
movement, that "Mugabe was … controlled by the young men … in Mozambique".

The British were worried that they were too radical for a conference
designed to usher in a Zimbabwe compatible with their hopes for their last
colony. It would be essential to convince the "young men" controlling
Mugabe - who could, as the British ambassador in Maputo put it, "turn out to
be African Palestinians" - to lay down their arms and go to the conference.
One way to do this would be to offer their host - President Samora Machel of
Mozambique - some assistance if he co-operated. Sure enough, an
interest-free loan of £15 million (in two parts) was arranged and Machel
told Zipa's leaders to go to Geneva. On their return, he agreed with
Mugabe's request to jail them. Mugabe was no longer under their control, and
went on to consolidate his leadership of Zanu PF. The rest, as they say, is
history - a history for which Mugabe has much to thank the British, who
managed to create their own form of "blowback".

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