By Tichaona Sibanda
27 January 2011
Plans are at an advanced stage by the African Union to send an assessment
mission to Zimbabwe to examine electoral conditions before another poll can
be held, a leading pro-democracy activist said on Thursday.
Dewa Mavhinga, regional director of the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition, told
SW Radio Africa from the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa, that a team of
independent technical experts will visit Zimbabwe in the first quarter of
‘The team, to be assembled by the Political Affairs Unit of the AU, is
expected to be dispatched before March to investigate, as requested byCivil
Society Organizations, conditions on the ground.
‘They will seek to establish whether Zimbabwe has a conducive environment
and sufficient reforms to hold credible elections that are free and fair and
without violence or intimidation,’ Mavhinga said.
On Wednesday, representatives of Zimbabwe’s civil society issued a statement
in Addis Ababa, imploring the AU and SADC to conduct independent
investigations in Zimbabwe, to establish whether the necessary conditions
The CSO’s other wish is for fresh elections to be announced only after the
AU and SADC have given them the OK. They argue that the inclusive government
has not carried out sufficient institutional and legislative reforms to
enable the country to hold credible elections.
It’s also reported that the AU will deploy a second mission when an election
date is announced, to assess the conditions in relation to the AU’s own
declaration on the conduct of democratic elections. Reports from these
missions will be sent to the AU chairman, who will then be expected to
propose to the secretariat the deployment of an observer mission to monitor
President Teodoro Obiang Nguema of Equatorial Guinea is the incoming
chairman of the AU, taking over from Malawi President Bingu wa Mutharika.
Of concern to civil society is the fact that Obiang is a close ally of
Robert Mugabe. He presented the ZANU PF leader with the Grand Collar of the
Order of Independence ‘in recognition of the great action by the government
and Mugabe in person for the defence of the interests of the people of
Equatorial Guinea’ in November 2004.
The then ruling ZANU PF government had arrested 68 suspected mercenaries at
Harare Airport while they were in transit to Equatorial Guinea where they
were going to topple Obiang in March 2004.
Mavhinga admitted the chairmanship of Obiang, because of his closeness to
Mugabe, presents a key challenge but he remained optimistic he would not be
‘If you look at the response of the AU to the Ivory Coast debacle there is
growing consensus among Africans that there is a progressive African
strategy to deal with elections, which may be applicable equally to
Zimbabwe,’ he said.
The 53-nation AU, under Mutharika’s chairmanship (also a close Mugabe ally)
has recognised Ivorian opposition leader Alassane Ouattara as having won the
election against Laurent Gbagbo, who has refused to step down.
The standoff between the two bitter enemies is expected to top the agenda of
the AU Heads of State meeting on Saturday.
Spokesman Nelson Chamisa of the Movement for Democratic Change formation of
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai says the party has appealed to Mr Zuma to
ensure among other things that the voters roll is updated
Blessing Zulu & Tatenda Gumbo | Washington 26 January 2011
South African President Jacob Zuma, mediator in Zimbabwe for the Southern
African Development Community, will seek support from African Union leaders
meeting in summit this week to dissuade President Robert Mugabe from calling
snap elections this year.
Diplomatic and political sources said Mr. Zuma is pushing for the
implementation of many reforms before elections are held, including the
drafting and ratification of a new constitution, and electoral measures such
as overhaul of the voters roll.
But Mr. Zuma is on a collision course with Mr. Mugabe who has threatened to
dissolve Parliament and call elections with or without a new constitution in
place, expressing his impatience with the protracted process of drafting a
Diplomatic sources say there are widespread fears a new round of elections
before reforms would lead to a repeat of the political violence seen in 2008
Mr. Mugabe and Mr. Zuma are both expected to arrive at the AU summit
Zuma foreign policy advisor Lindiwe Zulu told VOA Studio 7 reporter Blessing
Zulu that Zimbabawe is not on the AU agenda but it will be discussed
Spokesman Nelson Chamisa of the Movement for Democratic Change formation of
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai says the party has appealed to Mr Zuma to
ensure among other things that the voters roll is updated. Many voters
listed on it are deceased.
Chamisa said that "for this country to hold any free, fair and credible
election there is need for an impartial, professional and independent board,
contracted to come up with a fresh, biometric digitalised voter’s roll, as
is the trend in civilised countries."
He added that the MDC wants a "comprehensive, accurate and credible voters’
roll as a prerequisite for the coming elections" and any other ballot to be
held. A referendum on a new constitution is supposed to precede elections,
but that sequence is in doubt.
In other domestic political developments, representatives of the Joint
Monitoring and Implementation Committee set up to measure compliance with
the 2008 Global Political Agreement for power sharing stepped in after two
members of the MDC formation led by Welshman Ncube were threatened then
District Executive Gift Nengomasha and Phibion Dziva, an MDC activist, were
targeted on Sunday in Chitungwiza, 25 kilometers south of Harare, by youths
who according to MDC spokesman Nhlanhla Dube claimed to belong to Mr.
Mugabe's ZANU-PF party. Nengomasha was assaulted and his home destroyed.
Dziva sustained injuries.
Dziva sought medical attention after the episode but could not do so without
a police report. The police refused to give him one, the MDC activist
MDC spokesman Dube told VOA Studio 7 reporter Tatenda Gumbo that with the
police failing to respond, party officials asked the Joint Monitoring and
Implementation Committee to intervene and the panel sent a representative to
by Jonathan Maromo and Peter Chidembo Thursday 27 January 2011
HARARE -- Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC party has told South
African President Jacob Zuma that a SADC-backed election roadmap would still
fail to deliver free and fair polls in Zimbabwe in the face of resurgent
political violence that has in recent days spread into urban areas.
Zuma is the Southern African Development Community (SADC)’s official
mediator between Tsvangirai and President Robert Mugabe, two bitter foes who
only agreed to form a unity government under immense pressure from the
regional body following inconclusive elections in 2008.
The South African leader is understood to be drafting a roadmap that should
see Zimbabwe hold free and fair elections. Under Zuma’s roadmap, elections
will follow a referendum on a new constitution and will also set milestones
such as electoral reforms, the role of security forces and how to smoothly
But the MDC said escalating political violence perpetrated by hardliner
elements in Mugabe’s ZANU PF party and the military would render Zuma’s
MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa told ZimOnline: “We have seen an escalation of
intimidation tactics by ZANU PF and its functionaries. We have advised
President Zuma. We have indicated that we are worried with certain people
claiming to be soldiers in rural areas. In fact they actually carry guns.
"In a situation where you have an armed section of the population turning
against an unarmed majority it is cause for concern. Elections are
impossible in such an atmosphere.”
The MDC, which alerted Zuma about rising political violence through his
envoys who visited Zimbabwe about two weeks ago, this week also approached
the joint monitoring and implementation committee (JOMIC) over the matter.
The JOMIC is an inter-party organ set up to monitor implementation of the
power-sharing agreement between Mugabe, Tsvangirai and a smaller MDC faction
that gave birth to their unity government. Critics say the body is
Under the power-sharing agreement Zimbabwe’s main political parties
undertook to work to end political violence and human rights abuses.
No date for elections has been set but Mugabe has publicly said they must be
held this year, while the rising reports of political violence suggest a
vote is imminent either at the end of this year or early next year.
According to the MDC, soldiers or people claiming to be soldiers have
stepped up violence and intimidation against ZANU PF’s political opponents
in Masvingo and Mashonaland East provinces.
While in other provinces, soldiers were keeping a presence in communities
and verbally warning villagers that anyone who votes for Tsvangirai and his
party in the next polls would pay with his/her life, according to the MDC as
well as some civil society groups monitoring the situation on the ground.
ZimOnline reported earlier this month that the military is plotting to
unleash unprecedented violence and terror -- worse than seen in the bloody
2008 presidential run-off poll in which at least 200 of Tsvangirai’s
supporters died and tens of thousands of others were made homeless -- to cow
Zimbabweans into backing Mugabe at the next polls.
The military will run Mugabe’s re-election campaign, sidelining a ZANU PF
party that the generals consider too divided and lethargic to fight an
election against Tsvangirai and the MDC who remain hugely popular with
The military-led campaign will see at least 80 000 youth militia, war
veterans and soldiers deployed across the country to crush the MDC support
base and moblise votes for Mugabe, who turns 87 next month.
ZANU PF denies that the military will run the party’s campaign.
Meanwhile Air Vice Marshal Henry Muchena has told ZANU PF leaders in
Mashonaland West province that the military was taking over the party’s
campaign and that the political leaders will have to abide by a campaign
programme to be designed by the soldiers.
According to our sources in ZANU PF, Muchena who is in charge of the
military’s plan to keep Mugabe in power, met the party’s provincial
executive three weeks ago at Magunje barracks in the province.
“The meeting was tense and Muchena accused us of not campaigning for
President Robert Mugabe in the last elections,” said our source, who was at
“He further said district and provincial members were misinforming the
President that he still has support when what was on the ground is the
opposite. He told us that they are taking over all party business to ensure
that the party wins at all costs.’’
Muchena could be reached last night for comment on the matter.
However, and as earlier reported by ZimOnline Muchena and other senior
military commanders have in recent months met ZANU PF leaders in the various
provinces to tell them to step aside for the military to campaign for Mugabe’s
For example at one such meeting in Manicaland province last November,
Brigadier General Douglas Nyikayaramba and Air Commodore Innocent Chiganze
told the ZANU PF provincial leadership that the military was taking over the
party’s campaign in order to be able to stop Tsvangirai from winning.
Below are some of the cases of violence and intimidation documented by the
MDC over the last three weeks:
* 2 January: A group of soldiers from the 4.2 Infantry Battalion went
and beat up people at Mupandawana Growth Point (rural business center) in
Gutu, Masvingo province. Dozens of people were injured.
* 5 January: More than 30 people were injured and shops were forced to
close at Jerera Growth Point in Zaka again in the same province after
another group of soldiers attacked villagers.
* 5 January: Chiefs in Bubi and Nkayi, Matebeleland North province, are
reported to be telling villagers that soldiers will soon be deployed in the
area as peace keepers ahead of elections.
* 8 January: Elson Mutonhori, the MDC Masvingo South secretary was on
Saturday morning abducted at gunpoint by Major General Engelbert Rugeje and
one Major Toperesu at his Renco Mine home. Rugeje and Toperesu who were
driving an unmarked white Mitsubishi truck took Mutonhori to the Rock Motel
in Chivi some 100 km away, where they interrogated and intimidated him until
midnight for wearing MDC regalia. Mutonhori made a report at Renco Mine
Police Station but police officers refused to open a docket claiming the
issue was political.
* 10 January: Self-styled war veteran Jabulani Sibanda addressed a rally
in Ngundu, Chivi, Masvingo province, and threatened villagers with death if
they voted for the MDC in the next elections.
* 13 January: Scores of ZANU PF youths caused disturbances at the MDC
headquarters, Harvest House, Harare, and attacked innocent shoppers and
* 18 January: ZANU PF militia gave the MDC run Gokwe town council up to
February 11 to leave office and pave way for ZANU PF members or risk violent
evictions. Gokwe town council chairman Darlington Mudondo says Gokwe
councillors were leaving in fear as ZANU PF militia, led by a local
notorious party leader Mike Gwasha, were visiting each councillor’s
homestead with the threatening notices. -- ZimOnline
By Lance Guma
27 January 2011
A retired airforce officer, living in exile in South Africa, has this week
urged Zimbabweans from all walks of life to come together under a united
democratic front and work towards dislodging the ZANU PF regime led by
Solomon ‘Sox’ Chikohwero, who now leads the MDC Veterans Activists
Association, told SW Radio Africa on Thursday that it was imperative for the
two factions of the divided MDC to come together, along with other smaller
political parties, to form a strong alliance. He also said the political
situation as it stood presented an ‘unnecessary division’ in the country.
Chikohwero said members of the different civil society groups also had to
join this alliance and that even people in the army, police and airforce
could also overcome their fear and support such a cause. He bemoaned the
fact that because many civil society groups would lose their funding if the
Zim crisis was resolved, there is no serious effort by some of them to join
such an alliance.
Asked if he was belittling the scale of the policy differences between the
political parties and civil society groups Chikohwero told us; “I have been
taking up studies in conflict resolution and the first thing they teach you
is that you can never run away from a problem. Even this current coalition
government is a grouping of people who differ but were forced by
circumstances to try and work together.”
The veteran activist also gave examples of factions that have weakened the
fight against the regime. He cited the factional fighting in the Zimbabwe
National Students Union, the MDC and civil society in genera, saying ‘ZANU
PF are smiling’ because they helped fuel most of the feuds. “The
organisation of ZANU PF appears cleverer because nobody is organising
seriously elsewhere,” he added.
Meanwhile, showing how other countries are tiring of long running despots,
Yemen, one of the Middle East’s most impoverished countries, became the
latest Arab state to see mass protests similar to those in Egypt and the
ones in Tunisia that toppled the regime there. All three countries share the
similarity of leaders who have overstayed their positions in power. Yemen
and Egypt have had the same leader for 30 years while the toppled Tunisian
leader spent 23 years in power.
The developments have naturally excited activists in Zimbabwe who for the
past month have been comparing notes on how similar protests could be used
to force Mugabe’s regime out. On Monday one activist sent e-mail messages
asking those on his mailing list why they could not mobilize each other on
Facebook, Twitter , Skype and other social networking tools, to stir up
By Tererai Karimakwenda
27 January, 2011
Reports that villagers in remote areas of Zimbabwe are being forced to sign
a ZANU PF ‘anti-sanctions petition’ intensified this week as it emerged that
traditional leaders and soldiers are being used to run the campaign. SW
Radio Africa received reports from Rusape in Manicaland, Gokwe in the
Midlands and parts of Masvingo province.
The campaign is an attempt by ZANU PF to get more than a million signatures
on a petition against the targeted restrictions that were placed on Robert
Mugabe and his close allies by the E.U., the U.K. and the United States.
Calling them ‘sanctions’, Mugabe has blamed the restrictions for his
government’s failed policies and is now using the issue as a political tool
to try to gain concessions from the MDC and the international community.
In Manicaland, MDC-T councilor Loveness Makaure told SW Radio Africa that
Chief Rukwezha gathered all the village heads in his area and gave them
copies of the petition. They were told every villager listed in their books
is to sign it or face violent retribution. “Ticha gura maoko nemazino,” the
villagers were told, meaning ‘we shall be breaking hands and teeth’.
Makaure said most MDC supporters refused to sign at first, but some caved in
after receiving threats of violence. The village heads also threatened to
withhold future donations of farm inputs from those who refused to sign the
petition, claiming that the ‘sanctions’ are limiting supplies.
Councilor Makaure said a group of soldiers was also at Mahere Primary School
on Thursday, forcing villagers to sign the petition.
Meanwhile violent war vet leader Jabulani Sibanda is reported to be
travelling through Masvingo province also forcing people to sign the
petition. According to a report from the Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP),
Sibanda heads a ZANU PF ‘anti-sanctions committee’ that was set up earlier
this month. On Wednesday he was spotted in Gutu West constituency where he
held meetings at Matizha Township, Kanongovere Primary School and Serima
The MDC-T provincial chairman for Masvingo, Wilstaf Sitemere, confirmed
Sibanda’s presence in Masvingo province. He said the war vet leader has been
intimidating villagers in Zaka district. “Sibanda is telling people that
violence will increase ahead of the elections and the ‘sanctions’ affect the
whole country, including ordinary Zimbabweans,” said Sitemere.
In the Midlands, war vets and youth militia, under the direction of the ZANU
PF MP for Gokwe Central Dorothy Mhangami, reportedly force marched villagers
to a rally at Gokwe Centre on Tuesday. According to the Zimbabwe Peace
Project, Mhangami told the villagers to come back with their national
identity cards on January 31st and sign for the removal of sanctions. She
said she was not expecting less than 3,000 signatures from her constituency.
The ZPP report said ZANU PF intends to hand over their ‘anti-sanctions
petition’ to the three principals to the GPA and to ambassadors of countries
that imposed the restrictive measures. But observers have said the campaign
will not succeed.
Despite claims by ZANU PF that the international community is targeting
ordinary Zimbabweans, humanitarian assistance has continued to flow into the
country. On Wednesday the European Union announced a Euro 2 million funding
package for Zimbabwe’s provincial and district hospitals. Aldo Dell’Ariccia,
the EU Ambassador to Zimbabwe, said they wanted to help alleviate poverty
and reduce maternal deaths in the hospitals.
By Staff Reporter
Thursday, 27 January 2011 17:45
GOKWE - Zanu PF has begun mobilising people to sign a petition against the
sanctions imposed by the West against President Robert Mugabe and his close
The Zimbabwe Peace Projects (ZPP) reports that the Zanu PF Member of
Parliament for Gokwe Central constituency, Dorothy Mhangami on Tuesday
forced villagers to attend an impromptu rally at Gokwe Centre where she
told them that on January 31, they must all bring their national Identity
Cards and be prepared to sign a petition calling for the removal of
According to a ZPP official who attended the Gokwe meeting, Mhangami said
she was expecting a least 3000 signatures on the petition and threatened
people with unspecified action if they failed to turn up for the signing.
This development is part of the Zanu PF national campaign to have more than
one million signatures on the petition against targeted sanctions that were
imposed by the United States and the European Union against Zimbabwe because
of its failure to uphold human rights and of misrule.
Zanu PF announced recently that it has set up a committee headed by war
veterans leader, Jabulani Sibanda to launch a national campaign to force
people to sign an anti sanctions petition.
The ZPP reports that Sibanda has been moving from one constituency to the
other in Masvingo province, forcing people to append their signatures on
the petition against sanctions.
The petition will be handed over to the three principals of the Global
Political Agreement and to ambassadors of countries that have imposed
sanctions against Zimbabwe.
Although senior Zanu PF officials claim that the sanctions are not
affecting them but ordinary citizens, the truth is that the targeted
sanctions have seen children of people on the black list deported from
countries like Australia, the United Kingdom and the USA where they were
The people on the black list are also barred from travelling to those
Teachers Union of Zimbabwe Chief Executive Officer Manuel Nyawo said his
union has mobilized members to launch a labor action until Harare meets
worker demands, and will ask other unions to join forces with it
Jonga Kandemiiri | Washington 26 January 2011
Following critical talks with representatives of civil servants Wednesday
the Zimbabwean government has agreed to increase housing and transport
allowances but made no commitment to lift salaries, sources informed on the
Tendai Chikowore, chairwoman of the Apex Council which negotiates on behalf
of state employees, said the government proposed to raise transportation
allowances for Grade B workers from US$20 a month to US$28, housing
allowances to US$30 from US$12.
She said the government did not respond favorably to proposals from
negotiators to restore a special allowance for state workers in rural areas.
Chikowore said lowest-paid civil servant was now earning $186 dollars a
month. State worker representatives have demanded that this be increased to
The government has been saying for months that it cannot afford such an
She told reporter Jonga Kandemiiri that worker representatives did not
consider the talks productive, so will continue to seek a meeting with
President Robert Mugabe.
Meanwhile, Teachers Union of Zimbabwe Chief Executive Officer Manuel Nyawo
said his organization's leadership boycotted Wednesday's meeting because
they did not believe that the government was going to put anything
significant on the table.
Nyawo said his union has mobilized members to launch a labor action until
Harare meets worker demands. He said he hopes the Zimbabwe Teachers
Association and the Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe will join in such
by Edward Jones Thursday 27 January 2011
HARARE – The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has said Zimbabwe should put
a tight lid on rising wage demands in the public sector, amid fears the
government may buckle to the calls for higher salaries to appease voters
ahead of possible elections this year.
The southern African country’s economy has started to grow after a decade of
contraction, which analysts attribute to the formation of a unity government
between long time rivals President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan
Tsvangirai in 2009.
IMF deputy director of the African department Sharmini Coorey said this week
dollarisation had ended hyper-inflation and imposed fiscal discipline in an
economy that was marked by money printing by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe.
“The challenge really is to contain spending and particularly wages, public
sector wages. This is a longstanding issue in Zimbabwe and it continues to
be a challenge to get the consensus to hold back public wage increases,”
Coorey Said in response to the media this week.
Zimbabwe’s civil servants are demanding a minimum wage of $500, more than
double the average $200 which most government workers earn and have
threatened to strike to force the government to accede to their demands.
The government has said it does not have the money and already spends 60
percent of its revenues on salaries for civil servants.
Coorey commended the Finance Ministry for raising monthly revenues over the
past year and said the Fund was helping the ministry to rebuild the country’s
public expenditure management to increase transparency and efficiency.
He lauded the government for restructuring the central bank, which now has a
new board of governors and will retrench half its bloated workforce of 5000
Critics blame central bank governor Gideon Gono, Mugabe’s personal banker,
for fuelling inflation by printing money and engaging in quasi-fiscal
activities such as buying agriculture equipment and inputs, leaving the bank
with debts of $1 billion.
“The fund is very closely involved in giving technical assistance also to
the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe to help restore a future central bank, a better
functioning central bank,” said Coorey.
Economic analysts say the economic gains could be reversed if the country
goes ahead with elections that Mugabe and Tsvangirai are demanding to end
their uneasy coalition.
Zimbabwe’s elections have always been marked by violence since independence
in 1980 and there are fears any political instability would knock the
Also, governments usually increase spending in an election year, something
Harare authorities may do to appease voters especially in the public sector
but analysts say the government could run a huge deficit, which it may never
be able to plug.
“If the authorities can strengthen their economic policies, particularly on
the wage side and if there is support among the donor community to
restructure Zimbabwe’s debts, support them financially the Fund is looking
forward to further relations with Zimbabwe,” Coorey said.
“We’ve always stood behind them and along with the donor community we will
certainly work to integrate them back into the global economy.” -- ZimOnline
By Maxwell Sibanda
Thursday, 27 January 2011 18:09
HARARE - Movement for Democratic Change, MDC-T has refuted allegations by
Zanu (PF) that they were frustrating the funding of COPAC.
Zanu (PF) believes the Minister of Finance, Tendai Biti , who is also the
MDC-T’s secretary general is deliberately under funding the process.
Nelson Chamisa, MDC-T party spokesperson said the constitution gathering
process has actually been a casualty of Zanu (PF).
“It is Zanu (PF) that has been mudding the whole process. They are the ones
spoiling the soup by creating excuses and blaming the MDC-T. Our party needs
a new constitution more than anyone else,” said Chamisa.
Zanu (PF) officials have been accusing the MDC-T in various interviews with
the state media of stalling the funding of the constitution making process
as its party controls the finance ministry through Biti.
Chamisa said: “Zanu (PF) should not blame the MDC-T for under funding the
process simply because Biti is the finance minister. Biti is a finance
minister of government.”
Chamisa said every time that Zanu (PF) pointed a finger at the MDC-T,
four other fingers would be pointing at them.
“They have never embraced any democratic process,” he said.
Chamisa said the MDC-T as a party in the inclusive government is fully
supportive of the constitution making process and would not participate in
any elections before a new constitution is in place.
“We have said it before that as a party we won’t be party to any elections
without a clear road map. There has to be electoral reforms first before we
even start talking of the elections,” said Chamisa.
The constitution- making process that began last year has limped from one
month to the next and failed to meet its scheduled completion dates
because of lack of money, maladministration and political bickering among
the three political parties.
Munyaradzi Paul Mangwana, who co chairs Copac with Douglas Mwonzora has on
several occasions said his committee does not have enough money to complete
Jan 27, 2011 (Financial Gazette/All Africa Global Media via COMTEX) -- The
mobile phone industry reaped in excess of 117 500 percent mark up on SIM
card sales during the hyper-inflationary period between 2007 and 2008,
industry experts told The Financial Gazette this week.
Produced in South Africa at US$0,17 per unit, mobile phone SIM cards landed
in Zimbabwe at between US$150 and US$200 per unit as the industry cashed in
on acute shortages.
At about 12 million, the mobile phone subscriber base for Zimbabwe's three
mobile cellular companies has increased four-fold since 2009 when government
liberalised the country's economy, triggering price cuts to about US$2 per
Telecommunications Operators Association of Zimbabwe president, Reward
Kangai, confirmed last week that mobile phone networks have been purchasing
SIM cards at less than US$1.
"It depends on the volumes being bought but it (the price) is less than
US$1," said Kangai, the managing director of the State-owned Net*One.
The mobile phone industry is one of only two sectors that phenomenally grew
during the decade-long turmoil that ended in 2009 with the adoption of a
multi-currency regime and the formation of the inclusive government between
ZANU-PF and the two MDC formations.
Another sector that reported tremendous growth was the platinum mining
industry where output increased to 5 496 kilogrammes in 2008 from seven
kilogrammes in 1996.
Mobile phone networks worldwide generate revenues through airtime sells, not
SIM card trade. But in Zimbabwe it was from both Assuming that production
costs have remained at US$0,17 per SIM card, the industry could still be
reaping over 1 000 percent in mark-up.
The exorbitant pricing system, in a country where per capita gross domestic
product is estimated at just US$160, and unemployment is over 90 percent,
according to United Nations statistics, have retarded the growth of the
industry when compared to other African markets.
The International Teleco-mmunication Union (ITU) estimated in 2009 that
mobile phone ownership in Zimbabwe stood at about 13,3 people per every 100.
In Tunisia, the figure was 84.
During the same period, the ITU estimated that for every 10 000 Zimbabweans,
only 0,1 had access to internet bandwidth.
The figure was estimated at 11 in Tunisia.
Market-wide exorbitant pricing during hyper-inflation was seen as a
contingent measure to cushion companies from unpredictable shocks that
frequently raided the defenceless Zim-babwe dollar.
Then, the National Incomes and Pricing Commission was in an uncompromising
mood, forcing companies not to increase prices even as the inflation scourge
intensified, picking to more than 500 billion percent in 2008, according to
the International Monetary Fund.
When pressure mounted on the market to review prices downwards, SIM cards,
like bread, sugar, fuel, mealie-meal and other basic goods and services,
drifted into the black market, the only place where market forces were at
Computer Society of Zimbabwe (CSZ) president, Artwell Mukusha, who sits on
the National Economic Consultative Forum's Information and Communications
Technology committee, said last month they raised the SIM card price issue
with the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority several times to
"We found out that the cost of producing a SIM card was actually US$0,17
when SIM cards were sold at US$150, sometimes even US$1 000 ," he said.
He said claims by the industry that penetration rates reached 60 percent
last year could be inaccurate.
"They say the penetration rate is now at 60 percent, I don't look at it that
way," Mukusha said.
"We have two to three lines per person due to lack of connectivity.
"I think we are much less than that," said the CSZ boss.
Zimbabwe has some of the region's most expensive mobile phone voice and data
But several projects that could see improved service and price reductions
Econet Wireless, the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange-listed mobile phone giant with
73 percent market share, and Africom, are working on a cable connection
project to link the country with the East African submarine cable via
Fixed line network, TelOne, would be connecting to Beira via Mutare while
Powertel has undertaken similar projects in the south western parts of the
By Thelma Chikwanha
Thursday, 27 January 2011 14:42
HARARE - Fuel supplies have improved forcing the price to go down at some
garages which had taken advantage of the scarcity during the past week and
hiked the price by 25 cents per litre.
A survey conducted by the Daily News showed that most service stations had
reduced their prices to between US$1.29 and US$1.40 per litre down from
between US$1.45 and US$1.55 per litre.
Minister of Energy and Power Development, Elton Mangoma who came under fire
last week because of the fuel crisis confirmed that supplies had improved
“Fuel supplies started to improve last Saturday and have become normal,”
He said government had set the maximum selling price for petrol in at
US$1.40 per litre and US$1.30 per litre for diesel. But some garages are
still charging as much as US$1.45 per litre for petrol and US$1.35 for
“When there are shortages, we cannot force garages to reduce their prices
because doing so will send fuel to the black market where it would be sold
at exorbitant prices,” he said.
Last week, the country faced fuel shortages that negatively affected every
sector of business. The ministry of Energy and Power Development attributed
the shortages to the increase in fuel prices on the world market and
governmen's lack of funds to purchase fuel in bulk.
Steve Chigora, a Harare motorist believes that the fuel crisis could easily
be avoided if a policy on energy were put in place.
“In the absence of a policy on energy, scenes like these are likely to be a
common sight as there is no contingency plan in place,” Chigora said.
Minister Mangoma said that plans to have the policy put in place where at
an advanced level.
Kariba resident Gwenelo Ncube said retailers and other traders have found it
convenient to trade in the kwacha alongside the US dollar and the rand
Gibbs Dube | Washington 26 January 2011
Frustrated by chronic shortages of US dollar banknotes and South African
rand in small denominations, residents and retailers in the northern
Zimbabwean resort town of Kariba have started using the Zambian kwacha for
change instead of candies or vouchers.
Small bills and change are in short supply nationwide, hampering consumers,
retailers and street vendors, but Zambia's proximity across the Zambezi
River has provided the lakeside community with a solution of sorts in the
In early 2009 Zimbabwe adopted a monetary regime of mixed hard currencies -
primarily the US dollar, South African rand and to a lesser extent the
One US dollar currently fetches some 4,830 kwacha - or to put it another
way, one kwacha has a value of 0.0002 dollars. The kwacha, which is divided
into 100 ngwee,
Zambian 1,000 and 500 kwacha notes are printed on resilient polymer.
The kwacha is not considered a hard currency readily convertible in a bank
into dollars or rand, but Kariba resident Gwenelo Ncube said retailers and
other traders have found it convenient to trade in the unit alongside the US
dollar and the rand.
Ncube said consumers are no longer obliged to expend their change on items
they do not need, and retailers are no longer rounding up prices in lieu of
Finance Minister Tendai Biti recently asked the U.S. Treasury to help the
country build its supply of small-denomination notes, but that initiative
has not borne fruit. Experts say however that Zimbabwe could readily
purchase bills and coin in the open market.
Traders in Kariba are also using the kwacha for cross-border trading. “There
are many people from this town who visit Zambia to conduct trade and
Zambians too flock to Kariba in large numbers to buy various goods,” she
Kariba Member of Parliament Cleopas Muchacha said it is legal for residents
to use the Zambian kwacha to tackle problems of change. Muchacha said local
residents should be commended for finding innovative ways of solving the
small change shortage.
Economic commentator Masimba Kuchera said the Finance Ministry and Reserve
Bank of Zimbabwe should encourage the circulation of one-rand coins held by
Peta Thornycroft | Johannesburg January 27, 2011
Zimbabweans pass a police cordon to submit their application forms in a
last-minute bid to have their status in South Africa legalized, outside the
Immigration offices in Johannesburg, Dec 31, 2010
Many undocumented Zimbabweans in South Africa were unable to meet the
December 31st deadline to apply to become legal residents, a new study has
revealed. The study says the Zimbabweans did not have enough time to secure
documentation to support their applications.
A study by the African Center for Migration and Society at the University of
the Witwatersrand says during a three-month period it interviewed about
1,000 Zimbabweans who were trying to regularize their stay in South Africa.
It says this process had many "unnecessary bureaucratic hurdles" for
Zimbabweans, many of whom fled their home during the political and economic
crisis of the past 10 years.
The study said the period from September through December was too short for
Zimbabweans to access documentation from home. It also found many applicants
were "confused and uninformed" about the requirements to qualify for a
permit to live and work in South Africa.
The study also said the Home Affairs Department lacked uniform standards and
some department officials rejected applications from Zimbabweans without
even submitting them for adjudication.
Senior researcher Roni Amrit reported that as a result of so many hurdles
many Zimbabweans living illegally in South Africa "will remain
Many Zimbabweans complained their government could not produce passports for
its citizens in South Africa, others did not have identity documents or even
South Africa’s Home Affairs Department said 277,000 Zimbabweans living
illegally in South Africa completed their applications for residence and
work permits by the deadline.
Statistics for the International Office for Migration say one-million to
one-and-one-half-million Zimbabweans are illegally in South Africa. The
Zimbabweans it has counted include many who fled during and shortly after
the liberation war ended more than 30 years ago. It also includes those who
fled Zimbabwe's economic crisis since 2000.
The South African government says it will only resume deportations of
illegal Zimbabweans after it has considered the 277,000 applications it is
HARARE, January 27, 2011- City councillors on Thursday reported the Minister
of Local Government Ignatius Chombo to the police on allegations of
defrauding the council of prime land in Harare.
The councillors who were suspended recently by the ministry filed the report
(Case Number ER -09/2011) at the Harare Central Police
Station imploring the police to investigate charges that Chombo
fraudulently acquired and disposed Sub-Division K of Nthaba in Glen Lorne.
"We have evidence to believe that Minister Chombo connived with his Ministry
and Harare City Council officials to sell the Sub – Division K of Nthaba in
Glen Lorne to a Mr Alois Chimeri. This stand belongs to the City of Harare
by virtue of a 08-10-1973 endorsement on title deed number 3662/1954," wrote
Councillor Casper Takura in a letter addressed to Officer Commanding Harare
Central Investigations Department.
"When Minister Chombo sold this land he had no agreement of sale between him
and the City." The councillors said the "lease to buy agreement " that
Chombo produced as evidence of the transaction has many flaws some of which
include a wrong government date stamp, concort facts, forged documents and
"We believe on good grounds that Minister Chombo connived with Psychology
Chiwanga who tried to assist Chombo by claiming that Minister Chombo was
sold this stand on 1 January 1997," wrote Takura. "We also believe that
there is further connivance between Minister Chombo and ZIMRA officials -
Theresa Chenjerai and Elias Fototo in obtaining a Capital Tax Gains
We also believe that Chombo abused his office because the majority of the
documents were generated during his tenure as Minister of Local Government,
Rural and Urban Development and his use of Ministry officials for his
Takura is part of the seven councillors who were recently fired from Harare
City Council on allegations of misusing council funds. The councillors
however maintain that their expulsion had nothing to do with any council
funds but their investigative work into how Chombo used his position over
the years to acquire vast tracts of council land in the capital.
Chombo already stands accused of fraudulently acquiring housing
stands, businesses and houses around the country using his position as the
Minister of Local Government. His wife Marian exposed his dealings in court
papers during hearings of a divorce case last year.
Solomon Chikowero, an ex-soldier and head of the Movement for Democratic
Change Veterans Association, charged that rather than moving to downsize,
the army is actually reinforcing its ranks
Patience Rusere | Washington 26 January 2011
Defense Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa has been quoted as saying his ministry
is thinking about downsizing the army by 18 percent to match its budget
allocation for 2011.
Media reports said Mnangagwa, a close political associate of President
Robert Mugabe, made the statement at a function Tuesday at the Zimbabwe
Staff College in Harare.
Such a cut would reduce troop numbers from 55,000 to 40,000.
But Solomon Chikowero, an ex-soldier and head of the Movement for Democratic
Change Veterans Association, told Patience Rusere that the army is in fact
JOHANNESBURG, January 27, 2011- South African based Leaders of the militant
Mthwakazi Liberation Front (MLF) have vowed to continue with their campaign
to free the people of Matabeleland from the repressive government of
President Robert Mugabe even if it means going to jail or dying in the
MLF leaders were responding to reports that Police Commissioner Augustine
Chihuri has instructed all his commanders in Matabeleland to monitor the
activities of the group and arrest its leaders who have launched a campaign
to secede from Zimbabwe claiming that the government has marginalized them
for too long since independence in 1980.
“ We expect Chihuri and his Gukurahundists to be deploying resources to
solve Mthwakazi's socio-economic marginalisation instead of threatening to
arrest the true representatives of the down throdden Mthwakazians. ”
“ Can they tell us when the state sponsored destruction of Mthwakazi ethnic
groups like Tonga, Nambya, Kalanga, Xhosa,
Tswana,Nguni,Sotho,Dhombe, Hlengwe,Thwa, Leya, Jahunda, Shangani and Venda
is going to end , ‘’ said the group in a statement to Radio Vop on Thursday.
MLF also called on the government to stop grabbing land in Ndebele regions
and giving it to people from outside Matabeleland in a reference to recent
invasion and occupation of a ranch owned by farmer Gabby Rossenfells in
Plumtree last week.
“ Can they tell us why the people of Mthwakazi cannot enjoy their political,
economic, social and cultural rights within the Zimbabwean territory?Those
are legitimate questions that all normal Mthwakazians ask everyday and that
is why we have dedicated ourselves to pursue our people's right to
self-determination externally. ” added the statement signed by the
organization,s secretary for legal affairs, Sabelo Ngwenya who is a lawyer
He said it was shocking that in Zimbabwe people were being arrested for
complaining about oppression, marginalization and discrimination.
“ If there is anybody who has to be arrested, it is Robert
Mugabe, Augustine Chihuri , Perence Shiri, and other genocidists for their
vampiric acts of murder, rape and torture otherwise known as the Gukurahundi
genocide. ” read part of the statement.
Published on: January 27, 2011 at 23:30
HARARE : Zimbabwe’s new commodity exchange, Commodities Exchange of
Zimbabwe (COMEZ) is yet to start trading operations nearly two weeks after
The long awaited Commodity Exchange in Zimbabwe (Comez) was finally launched
last week after more than two years of planning .This is a major positive
step for Zimbabwe’s financial and agricultural sectors as it will greatly
assist in mobilizing financial resources required in funding agricultural
products and eliminate monopolies enjoyed by various entities in marketing
and purchase of agricultural products.
To start with the new commodities exchange will trade only grains, cereals
and oil seeds. The chairman of Comez, Wilson Nyabonda (the previous
president of the Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers Union) said that private
investors would be able to acquire shares in COMEZ.
The newly launched Comez is expected to play a key role in unlocking funding
for agriculture and facilitate the orderly trading of commodities in
Zimbabwe. Commodity Exchange in Zimbabwe (Comez) will offer spot markets,
where the payment as well as delivery is immediate while there is also a
The Exchange will provide information and hints as to which crops have a
deeper market and greatest profit margin before investment is made by the
farmer or market participants.
The key advantage of the market is that it brings in more players and
reduces monopoly power since new players are attracted into this market due
to the increased liquidity presented by the presence of a clearing house .
Zimbabwe previously had a thriving Commodity Exchange, which was closed in
2001 when the Government gave the monopoly on corn and wheat trading to the
Grain Marketing Board. COMEZ will end the GMB monopoly, although the State
will continue to play a strong role.
Zimbabwe needs 2.09 million metric tons of corn (maize) the staple food
according to the UN World Food Programme and the Food and Agriculture
Organization, but the last harvest was 1.35 million metric tonne (mt) and
1.68 million Zimbabweans depend on food aid. The winter wheat requirement is
stated at 410,000-450,000 according to some sources, and the harvest was
reported at 10,000 mt.
There is a trend to set up commodity exchanges, with strong backing from
donors. The leader in Africa is SAFEX, the commodities and futures arm of
South Africa’s JSE Ltd. Next is the new and fast-growing Ethiopia Commodity
There is an Agricultural Commodity Exchange for Africa (based in Malawi but
serving smaller farmers in 5 countries) and Nigeria has Abuja Securities and
ZamACE in Zambia is active , followed by Uganda Commodity Exchange. Malawi
and Kenya ACEs for the domestic market appear to have run out of donor
funding, According to web reports and the Kenyan Government and the East
Africa Grain Council are considering a replacement in Kenya. Projects and
studies are underway in Ghana and Tanzania and Sudan is watching
developments with interest.
Commodity exchanges are part of a move to try to revitalize agricultural
productivity in Africa and should be seen as part of a holistic solution,
including agricultural extension, support infrastructure for small farmers
including quality warehousing, and finance as well as market price
Bulawayo City Council asked the central government to mediate but talks are
said to have collapsed with the city saying it can only pay US$600,000 a
month not the US$4 million demanded by the electric utility
Gibbs Dube | Washington 26 January 2011
Bulawayo City Council remains without electric power to its offices
following its cutoff by the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority which is
demanding the country's second largest city pay at least US$4 million on
what it says is a delinquent bill of more than US$9 million.
Bulawayo officials have asked the central government to mediate, but talks
are said to have collapsed. The city says it can only afford to pay US$600
000 a month.
In the meantime Bulawayo City Hall is running on power from a generator.
Bulawayo Mayor Thaba Patrick Moyo said his council is engaging Finance
Minister Tendai Biti and Energy Minister Elton Mangoma in a bid to settle
Moyo said the council has asked the ministers to pay the city US$9 million
it says it is owed in unpaid charges for water and services so it can pay
off its electric bill.
“We have done this because we cannot pay US$4 million which is being
demanded by ZESA as a down payment before they reconnect power to our vital
institutions,” he said.
Written by The Zimbabwean
Thursday, 27 January 2011 17:52
Question Asked By Lord St John of Bletso
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what measures they are taking to assist the
Government of Zimbabwe to expedite the processes enabling free and fair
elections under the new constitution.
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of
Guildford): My Lords, the United Kingdom has contributed to UN funding of
the constitutional review process, with a referendum due to be held in the
summer of this year. We are also working with international partners,
particularly the Southern African Development Community, on a process to
seek to ensure that elections, when held, will not see a repeat of the
violence of 2008. The prospects for credible elections will be greater if
sufficient time is allowed for important reforms to be implemented.
Lord St John of Bletso: My Lords, I am grateful to the Minister for his
reply. Does he agree that, while there have been considerable advances in
the revival of the economy in Zimbabwe, it is vital that there is, for the
future sustainability of the country, a clearer political road map? In this
regard, while I appreciate that there should be African solutions for
African problems, does the Minister not agree that it is highly unlikely
that there will be free and fair elections in the country until such time as
the new constitution is agreed by referendum by the peoples of Zimbabwe,
with a complete overhaul of the rigged voters’ roll and, finally, a
cessation of the ongoing intimidation tactics of the hard-line ZANU-PF
Lord Howell of Guildford: Yes, I agree with the noble Lord’s assessment. On
the economic side, things are looking much better. There was 8 per cent
growth last year, with a similar rate of growth or even higher this year,
albeit from a very low base. On the political side, however, the progress
has not been so good. Mr Mugabe seems to be pressing for early elections,
but at the same time there is very clear evidence of intimidation and
violence rising again. We strongly believe that, as the noble Lord has said,
the constitutional process must be carried right through, with the support
of SADC, with the new commissions being formed and a system being created in
which elections can take place. Those, more properly, should be later on.
Lord Avebury: My Lords, what action is being taken by the AU, SADC or Mr
Jacob Zuma about the growing violence and intimidation? Also, what action is
SADC taking against the illegal diamond smuggling by the army into
Mozambique, which is being carried out to fund the ZANU-PF campaign of
Lord Howell of Guildford: Mr Jacob Zuma has said, while leading SADC’s
support programme, that he will take personal responsibility to see that the
constitutional process goes forward and that the country is properly
prepared for elections. We support him in those aims; that must be the right
way forward. As to the diamond smuggling and the influence of diamond sales
on the whole scene, we have continued to push for compliance with the
Kimberley process standards, which include the continued supervision of
exports. Frankly, our European Union colleagues have not been so helpful
lately in upholding the supervision of exports, which is needed to check the
kind of smuggling to which my noble friend refers. Obviously, as far as this
country is concerned, we have our smuggling controls at our ports, but the
overall supervision of smuggling needs to be strengthened. We are continuing
to push for that to happen in the Kimberley process.
Lord Hughes of Woodside: My Lords, I accept that the problems of Zimbabwe
have to be solved within Africa itself, but is the noble Lord aware of the
reports of violence and intimidation growing day by day? While it is right
that President Zuma has accepted responsibility, does the Minister agree
that there is an important role for the Commonwealth in this? What is he
doing to pursue that?
Lord Howell of Guildford: I am indeed aware of the reports that there is,
once again, growing violence. That is very disturbing indeed. Like the noble
Lord, I am constantly raising the role of the Commonwealth. At the moment,
SADC is leading in these matters but there is considerable Commonwealth
interest and, if we are able to get some improvement not only on the
economic side but on the political side, the Commonwealth could collectively
play a much more forward role in the recovery of that great and potentially
prosperous but sadly depleted country.
Lord Elystan-Morgan: Can the Minister kindly tell the House what technical
assistance Her Majesty’s Government are giving to the Electoral Commission,
the Human Rights Commission and the Media Commission in Zimbabwe?
Lord Howell of Guildford: There is a lot of assistance, although it is not,
of course, to the Government of Zimbabwe—no assistance goes to them.
However, considerable assistance goes through the UN and the
non-governmental organisations. Indeed, our programme of aid for the kind of
developments that the noble Lord has described is substantial; I think that
it is in the region of £66 million in the past year. While I cannot go into
the precise technical details of that now—I will certainly write to him with
more information—the overall thrust of our aid is considerable and rightly
focused on those kinds of improvements.
Baroness Kinnock of Holyhead: My Lords, does the noble Lord agree that it is
highly unlikely that Zimbabwe or, indeed, President Mugabe will issue an
invitation to the European Union to observe any future election and that any
such election, if and when it occurs, will be credible only if it involves
having that EU observation mission there? Also, is the noble Lord aware
that, in the forward planning that the EU has already done for 2011,
Zimbabwe appears only as a country to follow?
Lord Howell of Guildford: I most certainly agree with the noble Baroness
that there must be proper monitoring by the EU, and perhaps by other
organisations as well, when these elections take place. The issue at present
is when that will be. The sensible view, from the point of view of all the
reformers and those who want to see Zimbabwe prosper, must of course be that
that comes after the constitutional process has been completed. We are all
entitled to be worried at the suggestions that Mr Mugabe may try to push for
much earlier elections, particularly in the light of all the violence.
However, EU monitoring must play a part. The noble Baroness is absolutely
correct on that and, when the elections come in sight, that is something
that we will certainly be urging.
APA-Harare (Zimbabwe) Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe left Harare on
Thursday for Ethiopia to attend the 16th Ordinary Summit of African Union
Heads of State and Government which begins in Addis Ababa on January 30.
He would join about 30 other African leaders expected to attend the summit
whose theme is "Shared Values".
The summit is expected to open with a discussion on shared values, such as
human rights and the rights of citizens to a representative democracy. The
summit is also expected to discuss several key political issues such as the
situations in Ivory Coast, Sudan and Somalia.
A special mini-summit on Ivory Coast is scheduled for Sunday and would be
co-chaired by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Nigerian
President Goodluck Jonathan and AU Commission Chairman Jean Ping.
Journalist Ezra Sibanda sits in London with lists of Zimbabwean cellphone
numbers. These are his notes for his radio show which he broadcasts to
Zimbabwe via short wave (and the internet). From London’s East End he draws
a massive rural listenership by dragging a finger down his list of 45 000
numbers and calling Zimbabweans at random. Sibanda speaks with a slow,
intelligent accent, but for most of his show he lets his listeners do the
talking: anonymously and freely about what’s happening in their country.
They have become the country’s reporters.
Last year, when South Africa’s media was decidedly rickety, Sibanda
considered the possibility of having to double his broadcast time and offer
a similar covert radio service to South Africa. Sibanda watched media
freedom disintegrate under Robert Mugabe and though South Africa has some
durability in the basement that Zimbabwe has never had it’s hard to ignore
that Sibanda’s radio show — a mixture of personal stories and pointed
instruction — contains the crucial, often absent, elements that any country
needs from its media.
Sibanda’s early broadcasts reassured people that by voting for the
opposition they weren’t in danger. There was the rumour of cameras recording
which box you marked on your ballot. Subsequently you’d be hunted down if
you voted against Mugabe. This shows the mediating level of control when
running a dictatorship: you don’t need to install actual cameras — though
you feasibly could — when you can make people believe that the cameras
It isn’t like Mugabe hasn’t tried his best to shut SW Radio down. Back in
2000 the Zimbabwean government’s broadcasting monopoly was challenged in the
Supreme Court and Gerry Jackson won the right to open the country’s first
independent radio station. This was forcibly closed after six days of test
broadcasts. In 2002 an Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act
was passed. It’s been impossible to open an independent radio station in the
country since. The Daily News was shut down that same year. “Reporters
Without Borders” made claims of the country’s media being victim to threats,
imprisonment, censorship, blackmail, abuse of power and denial of justice.
Before SW Radio relocated to London, regional countries like South Africa
were possible options but access was denied. “Because in their own way they
have given in to Mugabe,” says Sibanda.
From these London-based broadcasts people have gradually learnt a selection
of truths. When Sibanda returned recently to Zimbabwe he stayed in rural
towns where he saw locals gathered around radio hubs — like students in the
fifties eager for pop music, but these people wanted news and debate. In
hostels owners took information from SW Radio’s website and stapled sheets
into the government-controlled daily newspaper so people could get proper
context on events.
With an increase in internet content and slashing of media budgets this idea
of a trusted mouthpiece, which SW Radio has become, is fading worldwide. In
the UK it flat out doesn’t exist. The MRR vaccine health scare during the
last decade proved that a campaign of incorrect media can escalate into a
public health concern. When your media coverage is causing sickness in
children — through irresponsible reporting — where are the benefits of a
free press? In the early 2000s British anti-MMR lobbyists intentionally
targeted generalist journalists, instead of health correspondents, hoping
that their information on vaccines causing autism would not be scrutinised.
Once the story became feverish the editors avoided any evidence that was
contrary to their original, incorrect stance and ran with it. “People make
health decisions based on what they read in the newspapers, and MMR uptake
has plummeted from 92% to 73%,” says Ben Goldacre. “We have already seen a
mumps epidemic in 2005, and measles cases are at their highest levels for a
Really what SW Radio has created is a tin-can version of Twitter with the
necessary bonus in that it’s mediated by a professional. In the sparseness
of Zimbabwe’s media it’s easy to see how a relied upon, comforting Fairy
Godmother like Sibanda is necessary. Unfortunately, this only occurs when
you are on the brink of a propaganda implosion. You get a comforting “cops
and robbers” simplicity and it’s easy to know which side is right. Zimbabwe
occupies a space in the frantic South African’s imagination as a
worst-case-scenario. And it is true that if SW Radio was corrupted they
could lead their listeners to eat their own children, but their intentions
are noble, rather than commercial. Ironically, this works because they don’t
have to think commercially — there is no competition or market. There is a
scant 12 million people in Zimbabwe, but there are easily that many people
who would benefit from an SW Radio type service in South Africa or anywhere
SW Radio is in the same part of London as the HQ for the British National
Party. On the street there are pockets of white, thuggish kids hanging on
like barnacles as waves of black people come out every few seconds from the
train station. It is rush hour and folk are coming home from their jobs. The
rich, fatty smell of a kebab shop is why this can’t be Africa, not even
Johannesburg. There are a few words of French and a couple of Xhosa clicks
from the crowd, but that kebab shop is the smell of England. For Sibanda
there’s nothing to report here. Broadcasting from another continent means
you lose the luxury of thorough, face-to-face investigation. And though
richer, more established countries have that kind reporting — does it
matter? Not if there isn’t a media outlet that garners an opportunity for
Debate on the abolition of the death sentence in Zimbabwe
Amnesty International in conjunction with Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum
held a two day workshop from Monday the 24th to 25th of January to stir
debate on exploring and developing concrete strategies for campaigning
against the death penalty in Zimbabwe. The meeting was attended by Ms Dupe
Atoki a Commissioner with the African Commission on Human and People’s
Rights (ACHPR), traditional leaders, the two legal secretaries from the two
MDC factions Minister Gonese, minister Coltart to give their party
submissions with minister Mnangangwa from ZANU Pf failing to turn up.
Forming part of the participants were lawyers, human rights defenders and
members from various civil society organizations, among them NANGO, ZLHR,
ROHR Zimbabwe and ZimRights.
Resounding consensus emerged among the participants that the death penalty
should be abolished to uphold the unqualified right to life as guaranteed by
regional instruments which include article 4 of the ACHPR, article 5 on the
Rights and Welfare of the Child 1990, article 5 of the Arab Charter on Human
Rights 1994 and international instruments among them article 3 of the
Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948. Mr Maja a lawyer and Lecture
with the University of Zimbabwe pin pointed that it was pertinent for the
courts to infuse human rights on their interpretation of the law to make
sure that the law should not impede on the right to life. In his
presentation, Mr Maja also highlighted that there were 52 inmates in
Zimbabwe’s Prisons that are currently waiting on the death row with others
having spent more than a decade without knowing their fate. He further
bemoaned the squalid inhuman conditions that amount to undermining of human
dignity, prevalent in the prison cells for the inmates on death row.
Executions were last carried out in 2004.
Participants unanimously agreed to come up with strategies and tools to
influence key stakeholders to support the call for the abolition of the
death penalty in the new constitution and other platforms like applications
to the Supreme Court.
It was noted that there is a huge need to conduct civic education on the
critical mass to conscentise them on the debate and equally important to
present them with other available options available to the death penalty
without necessarily advocating to take life as a form of sentence.
Traditional leaders denounced death penalty as a western idea brought about
by the settler colonialist regime and submitted that it was un-African to
kill as that the African culture places sacred importance to the right to
For Peace, Justice and Freedom
by Prof. Stephen Chan Thursday 27 January 2011
THERE is no single view of Zimbabwe internationally. As 2011 begins, the
many views fragment or develop internal variations almost as a parallel to
the fracturing of the Zimbabwean political landscape.
The fissures within Zanu PF and MDC-Mutambara, the readvent of ZAPU, the
lacklustre performance of Morgan Tsvangirai as Prime Minister, and the
self-seeking demeanour of elected parliamentarians on all sides, have
created an international sense that there is neither predictability nor
governmental capacity in the present or near-future Zimbabwe.
Africa has long had its own divided opinions about Zimbabwe and about Robert
Mugabe. There is still a surly endorsement among what might be loosely
called the ‘African general public’ of Mugabe’s standing up to the West, but
this has always been matched by a huge disenchantment with government
leadership in all countries. Mugabe may have stood up to the West, but he is
as corrupt as any African President and as untrustworthy.
Times have marched on in any case. The power-sharing deal brokered by Thabo
Mbeki would not have been possible today – and perhaps even yesterday – in
West Africa. The somewhat more robust – even if, at time of writing,
rhetorical – reaction of ECOWAS to the crisis in Cote d’Ivoire, compared to
that of SADC to the stolen Zimbabwean election, is the case in point.
But the West has also moved on. In 2010, elections were patently stolen in
both Rwanda and Ethiopia. Electoral majorities in the 90% range are just not
credible, especially when opposition leaders disappear and are later found
dead. But, for the West, stability and the assurance of no immediate wars in
Rwanda and Ethiopia, plus the clear sense that the ruling elites are able to
deliver discernible developmental benefits, proved stronger emblems of
acceptability than democracy.
When ruling elites do not and will not commit themselves seriously to the
benefit of citizens, democracy becomes in the second decade of the
millennium the scourge with which to whip chosen miscreants. It is selective
and Zimbabwe is selected for historical reasons but also because Zanu PF has
clearly no interest in fiscal probity, fiscal transparency, developmental
equity, financial dissemination or facilities for development except as acts
of patronage and, of course, purchasing of votes.
Even so, there are two hugely countervailing forces. The first is the abject
performance of the MDC as part of government. The second is that the West is
itself in a fiscal crisis. Suddenly, all of Europe needs Zimbabwe as a
trading partner, as a business partner, as an investment partner, as a
customer and as a purchaser of European goods and services. Europe, as a
result, will start doing business with Zanu PF in 2011.
There is much conjecture that the EU will contemplate some form of lifting
of sanctions. This will be for the two reasons listed in this paragraph, but
also because they have not worked in any way to curtail or reduce the
dominating capacity of Zanu PF. The concomitant is that, if isolation and
sanctions have not worked, some form of engagement might. The exact form and
parameters of that engagement have not yet been agreed.
But this leaves the UK in a difficult position. It has been the most
critical – sometimes histrionically so – of the Mugabe regime. The UK cannot
be alone in Europe with sanctions in place. That would give every other
European country a clear run at reinvestment and trading opportunities. The
UK wants to have a part in those opportunities, so finds itself on the horns
of a dilemma. The US will certainly not move towards a new regime of
relations with Zimbabwe until the UK moves.
For the UK, the diplomatic search goes beyond devising a ‘form of words’ to
explain the about-face. The UK seeks a symbolic moment and, at time of
writing, Whitehall still has its heart set on a rather grand symbol – and
that is the (phased, if need be) retirement of Robert Mugabe, with full
dignities, even if a lifting of the ICC indictment cannot at this stage be
specified. As with Sudan’s Al Bashir, the indictment can die a quiet death
by way of being forgotten.
But even this grand symbolic moment is a grand climbdown from a position of
obdurate opposition to Mugabe and a wish to ‘bring him to justice’, strip
him of his corrupt gains, and end the hegemony of Zanu PF. Basically, it
allows Zanu PF to remain in the game – under new management to be sure, but
unpunished; not deconstructed but reconstructed. The UK would accept, in
some ways even welcome, the triumph of the technocratic wing of Zanu PF. The
‘new’ Zanu PF would of course have to fight elections honestly – but no one
in Europe seriously anticipates anything but some form of coalition for
years into the Zimbabwean future.
In a way, this scenario seeks to match an aspirational vision of a
compromised Zimbabwe – but a compromise with which ‘all’ can live. Whether
events on the ground have far outstripped this vision, with securocrats
firmly in control and going nowhere, is an open question. Nevertheless,
there has been a modest increase in contacts between British governmental
and other actors and senior Zanu PF actors. Even some figures named on the
sanctions list, and normally thereby off-limits, have been included in what
are, at this stage, conversations about conversations.
The notion seems to be that Zanu PF has to put some sort of symbol on the
table for the conversations to move on. The UK Minister for Africa has
spoken publicly about the desirability of reinvestment in Zimbabwe. This is
always couched in language of progress and change occurring, but it is clear
to his audiences that the extent of this change has shrunk dramatically. The
problem at time of writing, the first part of January, is that nothing is
specified and that, of course, when conversations about specifics begin,
they will get bogged down.
Zanu -PF – for the MDC makes no serious movements in the international
arena; its diplomatic outreach is either cursory or ham-fisted or
non-existent – relies upon Europe and, of course, China, to outflank and
force the hand of the British and, through them, the Americans. But its own
diplomacy is often maladroit in Europe. What is driving the process slowly
forward is the need for economic remodelling within Europe itself. This has
been a very serious recession. And Zanu PF relies upon China. Let me now to
turn to a word about China.
Like Britain, China has historical reasons for its actions in Zimbabwe.
There really was a version of the ‘kith and kin’ mythology in the British
response to the farm invasions that began in 2000. The eviction of black
farmers would simply not have aroused such a response, either in shrillness
or extent. There would have been a strong response – let me make that
clear – but different in its quality. The Chinese supported both ZANU and
ZANLA in the war of liberation. They feel a genuine kinship which stems from
that historical moment, but which has also been overladen three decades on
by nostalgia and romance.
The Chinese understand that romance is not cost-effective, and that is why –
despite significant liquidity flows – there has never been, and never will
be, a Chinese alternative to all that the West can provide. The Chinese need
the West more than it needs any part or every part of Africa. They are more
prepared to rescue the United States, drowning in its toxic debt swamp, than
to bail out Zimbabwe. The Chinese have staved off recession only by playing
fiscal brinksmanship with the West over currency rates and balance of trade
ratios. The Chinese are prepared to do some ‘queering of the pitch’ in
Zimbabwe to make it harder for Western reinvestment to dominate the scene as
it did before – the new scene will have far greater plurality – but the
Chinese will not put themselves out on a financial limb for Zimbabwe.
The reason for this is simple. It didn’t take me long to uncover the figures
in Beijing. I was simply surprised that no one in the Zimbabwean Embassy had
bothered. Even Zanu PF diplomats, it turns out, are simply amateurs. The
reason is that the Chinese financial intelligence simply rates Zimbabwe as a
disaster zone. It is a disaster zone with peripheral opportunities and
bridgeheads for future investment, but it is not a zone where serious good
money should be thrown into bad situations.
In the Chinese balance sheets, there have to be concrete and immediate
returns. Not full returns all at once – the Chinese really are
extraordinarily patient – but there has to be a properly costed expectation
of phased returns that are reliable.
This analysis is of course now changing. But it is changing at the same
moment that European outlooks are also changing. So the Chinese will be an
important part of the pack, but only one part of the pack.
What the West would like to see is of course an MDC government. It would
like this in the full anticipation that it will be an incompetent government
which will become corrupt quite quickly. The corruption template is
established and not difficult to board. What the West could live with, and
what the Chinese could easily adjust to – so no conflict of interests here –
is another coalition government, preferably fairly elected and, if not fully
fairly elected, cleanly elected, i.e. without violence and naked rigging.
Within that coalition, the preference would be for greater MDC power and
influence, but Zanu PF ministers, especially of a technocratic sort, would
not be unwelcome. The MDC, after all, still doesn’t have a technocratic
front bench. A variation of the coalition theme, one with a Zanu PF
domination, would be plausibly acceptable if it were technocratic, if the
securocrats were marginalised, if Mugabe were retired or made ceremonial.
To a very real extent, the personality of Mugabe still looms large over how
much progress can be made in terms of the international arena and Zimbabwe.
Were he to step down – and a richly-endowed immunities formula is pretty
much already on the table for both him and the securocrats – there would be
a rush to reinvest that would leave everyone breathless. A bit of naked
global capitalism would briefly swagger into what has become an isolated,
parochial and financially provincial and peripheral town.
But no one fully anticipates he will step down any time very soon, and
nature doesn’t seem to be taking its natural course – even if the embassies
in Harare all report on every health rumour concerning the President, and
how far the President can walk in a straight line, how many steps he can
climb up or even down. Mugabe-watching has replaced the old Kremlim-watching
for its sense of fascination and mortality. And, after all, they all thought
Brezhnev was embalmed even while he was still (just) alive. In a very real
way this trivialises what could once again be a serious country.
But perhaps, at this moment in history, the international view of Zimbabwe
is not misplaced. It is a country which has lost its way – whether for good
or bad reasons, or a curious mixture of both – it is a country which has all
manner of reinvestment possibilities, but all these are contingent on a
number of political as well as financial conditions. The political
conditions could be ameliorated with a symbol or two.
Perhaps, curiously if not actually tragically, a country’s fate depends on
an old man, his vanity, the need of his most oligarchic followers, and an
agenda which may not translate well in a new millennium of global toxicity
Stephen Chan is a professor of International Relations at the School of
Oriental and African Studies in the University of London. Yale University
Press will release Professor Chan’s Southern Africa: Old Treacheries and New
Deceits in 2011. A South African edition will be published by Jonathan Ball