Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe is warily eyeing the recent uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt. Some analysts say those are prompting him to speed up elections and intensify an intimidation campaign against the opposition.
In a normal country, preparations for an election look a bit like this: dozens of eager young activists put up posters, candidates meet with community leaders to seek their support, and middle-aged party members walk door-to-door to meet the voters.
In Zimbabwe, election season means violence.
For months, President Robert Mugabe’s supporters in the military and the police have terrorized villagers in rural areas where many in 2008 supported opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai and propelled him into the seat of prime minister.
And in the past few weeks, the violence has spread to urban areas with the seeming intent of intimidating those who would vote for Prime Minister Tsvangirai and his Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party.
While such tactics long preceded the recent coup in Tunisia that instigated massive antigovernment demonstrations this week in Egypt, analysts say Zimbabwe's strongman president is taking note of North African events as he strengthens his grip. Indeed, President Mugabe, says political analyst Takura Zhangazha, may speed up plans for parliamentary elections to capitalize on a current wave of violence and voter intimidation – conditions he sees as favoring his party.Mugabe loyalists seen behind unrest
MDC members say the offensive, which started last week in Tsvangirai’s political strongholds of Harare and Chitungwiza, involves the police and the military, war veterans of the liberation struggle, and youth militia from Mugabe’s Zimbabwe African National Union – Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) party. All the assailants are known for their unwavering loyalty to Mugabe.
Chitungwiza, a dormitory town of more 2 million people, is 25 kilometers southeast of Harare.
ZANU-PF spokesperson Rugare Gumbo denies that his party is spearheading political violence or that it is working with security forces to decimate the MDC. “We have heard that before every time there is talk of election,” he says. “They are afraid of losing an election.”
The violence is just the latest sign that not all is well with the coalition government, put together in February 2009 after months of political stalemate. Mugabe’s cabinet meetings are reportedly more and more fractious. Meanwhile, MDC members are decrying breaches in the coalition’s powersharing agreement, which divided control of several ministries but left Mugabe in charge of the military and security agencies.
The political squabbling is nothing compared with the violence faced by those on the front lines in villages and towns.Violence spreads to cities
The spread of violence to cities is a recent phenomenon, and a dangerous turn for Zimbabwe politics. In previous election years, political violence was mainly concentrated in those rural areas where ZANU-PF still commands some support.
Presently, at least two MDC supporters are in an intensive care unit at a private clinic. One of them was shot by unidentified soldiers in Budiriro, a suburb of the capital that is touted as Zimbabwe’s own “Baghdad” and is a popular support base for Tsvangirai.
An MDC activist, who identified himself only as Amon for fear of victimization, says he saw his colleague being gunned down by a group of soldiers in Budiriro.
“I saw one of them pointing a gun and I thought he wanted to shoot me so I started running,” he says. “I heard William’s loud cry and I knew he had been shot but I continued running, fearing that they will fire another one.”
In a scene reminiscent of the violent June 2008 elections, 150 MDC supporters huddled together at the party’s headquarters in Harare’s Central Business District (CBD) this week after they were chased out of their homes by ZANU-PF youth militia, soldiers, and war veterans.'You could have another bloodbath'
Police spokesperson Wayne Bvudzijena denies that the police are Mugabe partisans, saying instead that it is the MDC that has provoked ZANU-PF supporters. “In most cases, MDC activists are the ones who provoke and rush then to the police to report,” he says. “The police are never partisan. We are a professional force.”
The surge in politically motivated violence comes barely a week after the MDC secretary-general, Finance Minister Tendai Biti, warned that Zimbabwe could face a “bloodbath” at elections this year if the international community does not help to prevent the crisis.
“The tell-tale signs are already there that you could have another bloodbath,” said Mr. Biti.
MDC spokesperson Nelson Chamisa says ZANU-PF is trying to provoke his party so that the violence degenerates into anarchy.
“Whenever there is an election, ZANU-PF starts a campaign of violence against the country’s innocent citizens,” says Mr. Chamisa, who also heads the Ministry of Information Technology Communication in the coalition government. “It is not a civil way of transacting politics in this day and age.”Why violence started now
The current wave of violence started when ZANU-PF mobilized and bused in youths from rural areas to demonstrate against the slashing of maize crop by Harare City council recently.
Incidents of political violence have continued to rock the country since last month when Mugabe, who has ruled the country with an iron fist for the past three decades, announced his determination to hold elections this year.
Political analyst Takura Zhangazha says that by unleashing soldiers and militia, ZANU-PF was trying to measure its ability to destabilize the MDC ahead of both the referendum and elections.
“Urban areas have been areas of concern to ZANU-PF,” says Mr. Zhangazha. “They are trying to measure their ability to destabilize the MDC well ahead of elections by targeting its leaders and activists.”Mugabe's tactics
Other analysts said Mugabe has, since 1980, when Zimbabwe gained independence from Britain, used violence against adversaries to maintain power. In the March 2008 elections, Mugabe used violence against MDC supporters, hoping to force Tsvangirai to back out of the vote. At least 200 MDC activists were killed by suspected ZANU-PF supporters and state security agents.
Zimbabwe’s unity government, which comprises Mugabe’s ZANU-PF, Tsvangirai’s MDC, and a rival MDC faction headed by Arthur Mutambara, is facing total collapse because of deep disagreements within the coalition over political reform.
Under the Global Political Agreement (GPA) signed in September 2008 and implemented in February 2009, the three principals are supposed to hold consultations leading to a new constitution, which would then have to be approved by a referendum before new elections can take place.
But Mugabe this week threatened to dissolve parliament and call early elections, without waiting for a new draft constitution.
“I have the constitutional right to call an election on the basis of the old Constitution,” Mugabe said on Monday. “If the constitutional process is not wanted, I will have parliament dissolved and call elections.”
Such a hard line by Mugabe flies in the face of South African President Jacob Zuma, a facilitator in the Zimbabwe post-election crisis, who has been pressing the three principals to come up with and implement a roadmap ahead of elections.African neighbors called to help
MDC spokesperson Chamisa says Mugabe wanted to ambush the MDC into a snap election.
“ZANU-PF has not abandoned guerrilla tactics,” he says. “We suspect he wants an election before our own congress. He [Mugabe] thinks he will catch us flat-footed. No, for us, if one eye closes, the other one is wide open.”
The MDC has expressed concern for the lack of action by the police as “innocent citizens” are harassed for belonging to a political party of their choice. Police are victimizing MDC activists even when they are victims of violence, MDC members say, while they protect ZANU-PF militia from prosecution.
“It is clear that the repeat of June 2008 in an amplified version is inevitable,” Chamisa said in a statement. He has called on the African Union and the Southern African Development Community, who are the guarantors of the Zimbabwe agreement, to take immediate action.
The Monitor's correspondent in Harare cannot be named for security reasons.
HARARE, January 28, 2011- The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe will on Friday lay
off 1,455 of its employees in the largest retrenchment undertaken in the
country since independence 30 years ago.
According to The Herald, the $70 million exercise is being undertaken to
comply with a recommendation over restructuring and refocusing the bank run
by President Robert Mugabe,s loyal cadre Gideon Gono.
Gono told the Herald : "The sad thing though is that this realignment is
resulting in the loss of jobs. What we have done is to realign the bank in
line with the wishes of the legislature".
He said the affected staff members will be given initial pay-offs of $5,000
each with the rest of their dues paid in instalments.Gono’s tenure at the
helm of the Zimbabwean Reserve Bank has been a major sticking point for the
coalition government of President Mugabe, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai
and new leader of MDC-N Welshman Ncube.
The retrenchments will leave the bank with 493 workers from a current
complement of 1,948.
28 January, 2011 04:24:00 OWEN GAGARE
The civil service audit has revealed that there could be as many as 70 000
“ghost” workers on the government payroll impacting heavily the state’s
already dry coffers, union leaders said on Thursday.
Furious civil servants, who this week rejected a government offer to
increase their allowances by between $20 and $25, said they were informed of
the scandal by officials at the Ministry of Public Service and other civil
servants involved in the audit.
There are about 250 000 civil servants on the government pay-roll. It also
emerged that the issue was one of the most contentious ones discussed during
salary negotiations between the government and workers’ unions on Wednesday,
as the unions felt ghost workers were eating heavily into the government
“The audit has revealed that there are about 70 000 ghost workers. It is a
fact. Civil servants were actually involved in compiling that report and
they reported those issues to us.
“Officials at the ministry also confirmed this,” said Takavafira Zhou, the
president of the Progressive Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ).
“So we are saying the money to pay civil servants is there even before we go
to the diamonds and platinum. Get rid of ghost workers and improve the
conditions of the civil servants.”
The chairperson of the Apex Council, Tendai Chikowore, confirmed the issue
of ghost workers was discussed although it was not on the agenda in the last
The Apex Council comprises of the Public Service Association, Zimbabwe
Teachers’ Association (Zimta), PTUZ, Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe and College
Lecturers’ Association of Zimbabwe. Chikowore refused to discuss figures
saying she could only do so after seeing the actual audit report.
“I have heard different figures, so it’s difficult for me to comment or for
us to plan using the ghost workers until we see the report in black and
white,” she said.
PTUZ secretary-general Raymond Majongwe said although he had not seen the
report, senior government officials revealed there were up to 70 000 ghost
“We were told that there are between 45 000 and 70 000 people who could not
be traced and that is a big problem because they are eating into the civil
servants’ money. We also had discussions as workers’ representatives with
(Public Service) minister (Eliphas) Mukonoweshuro and (finance) Minister
(Tendai) Biti and those figures were confirmed,” he said.
“So the money is there, but it’s going into the wrong mouths,” he said.
Mukonoweshuro confirmed on Thursday the audit report was out but declined to
divulge the contents saying it was now before cabinet and could therefore
not discussed with the Press because his hands were tied.
He said the audit report was finalised in November last year and was
forwarded to cabinet in December.
“It’s now going through a cabinet process and I’m sure you know of the
Official Secrets Act which does not allow me to discuss the matter with the
Press. The cabinet will deliberate on the report and I will make a
presentation in the House of Assembly and also hold a press conference when
the time comes.”
Civil servants, currently mulling a strike in protest against meagre
salaries and allowances, have now sought protection from President Robert
Mugabe, himself a teacher.
President Mugabe once berated civil servants for going on strike without
exhausting all channels including meeting him.
Mukonoweshuro on Thursday reiterated that the government did not have money
to pay its workers competitive salaries, but said efforts were being made to
constantly improve their welfare.
“It’s a situation of shared misery, because all the government expenditure
items are starved of funds. When we look at the budgetary allocations, there
is no excess where we could take from, and channel it towards the salaries.
There is equal stress be it in health, education, infrastructural
development and so on,” he said.
“But as a minister I am committed to ensure that civil servants are
adequately remunerated. You will realise that we started with a $100
allowance, then we improved that by having a salary, and later paying
workers according to their experience.
“At each opportunity we have sought to increase remuneration, but it’s not
going to be an event, it’s going to be a progressive journey.” - NewsDay
BULAWAYO, January 28, 2011- Zanu (PF) youths in Bulawayo’s high density
suburbs are reportedly moving from house to house forcing residents to sign
their party,s anti-sanctions petition.
“ Zanu (PF) youths came to my house on Tuesday morning while I and my wife
were at work in town. They asked my maid to sign a brown exercise book
which I learnt later that it was the sanctions removal petition. They also
recorded my house number in the book. This is really worrying because I do
not support Zanu (PF) and my family do not have anything to do with the so
called sanctions, ” said Humphrey Siwela who stays in Magwegwe.
Another resident from Tshabalala high density suburb, Peace Moyo said a
group of Zanu (PF) youths led by Charity Dlodlo, a well known activist in
the area visited his house on Wednesday evening and asked him to append his
signature on the petition.
“I was relaxing in the sitting room with my family when a group of Zanu (PF)
youths knocked on the front door. One of the youth, Dlodlo called me outside
and said I should sign the petition. When I refused to sign, she threatened
me with unspecified action calling me a puppet of the British. After that
they left and proceeded to the house next door to mine where they managed to
intimidate the owner of the house and forced him to sign the petition and
write his national identity number “said Moyo who works for a local
On Sunday church business was suspended at a Johanne Marange church in
Pumula after the church’s leaders ordered all church members to sign the
petition before preaching began. In rural areas Zanu (PF) has already
enlisted the services of traditional leaders to force villagers to sign the
petitions.Some villagers have alleged that some of the traditional leaders
are threatening to deny them food aid if they did not append their
signatures to the sanctions petition.
Speaking during a Zanu (PF) provincial conference at Davies Hall in Bulawayo
on Monday, a senior Zanu (PF) politburo member, Dr Sikhanyiso Ndlovu said
the party is aiming at having seven million signatures on the anti-sanctions
removal petitions countrywide.
By Lance Guma
28 January 2011
The growing number of incidents of ZANU PF perpetrated violence in both
rural and urban areas have given credence to suspicions that Robert Mugabe
wants to call for a snap election this year.
Analysts say Mugabe is worried about the developments in Tunisia where
protesting youths brought down a regime which had been in power for over 23
years. Similar angry protests have since spread to Egypt and Yemen, where
impoverished citizens want their leaders to step down. Just like Mugabe,
both Hosni Mubarak in Egypt and Ali Abdullah Saleh in Yemen have been in
power for more than 30 years.
Mugabe’s regime has traditionally relied on violence, mainly using party
militia, state security agents, soldiers and police to harass, intimidate,
beat up, torture and kill opposition activists. After losing the March 2008
harmonized parliamentary and presidential election, ZANU PF deployed the
army in Operation Mavhotera Papi (Where Did You Vote?), killing over 500
people in the process and torturing tens of thousands.
Signs of a similar campaign have already emerged. MDC activists in their
urban strongholds of Harare and Chitungwiza are being attacked by hordes of
ZANU PF youths, bused in from rural areas. The impoverished youths are
usually offered free alcohol and money to beat up opposition supporters.
Whenever the MDC activists fight back the police and army come in to assist
the ZANU PF youths.
On Saturday two MDC activists were hospitalized in the intensive care unit
of a private clinic following a savage attack by a mob of ZANU PF youths and
soldiers in the Budiriro suburb of Harare. One of them, William Makuwari,
was shot in the left leg by the assailants. He identified Godfrey Gomwe, a
ZANU PF chairperson in the area, as one of the shooters. But, as usual, the
police refused to make any arrests.
Highlighting the intensity of the violence are reports that nearly 200 MDC
supporters sought refuge at the party’s Harvest House headquarters, after
being chased from their homes by marauding ZANU PF mobs. This month even
Finance Minister Tendai Biti has warned; “The tell-tale signs are already
there that you could have another bloodbath,” if elections are held and
there is no outside help.
There is a school of thought that in addition to laying the groundwork of
terror in preparation for a chaotic election, Mugabe’s regime has one eye on
discouraging people from contemplating the sort of protests seen in Tunisia,
Egypt and Yemen. Using social networking tools like Facebook and Twitter
activists in those countries have shown that cyber-activism can be
translated effectively into protests on the streets.
Demonstrators are being urged to ‘meet in large numbers in their own
neighbourhoods, away from police and soldiers, before moving towards key
locations.’ Leaflets are also being produced offering advice on how to deal
with police brutality, like using dustbins to protect against baton sticks
and rubber bullets, and wearing scarves to protect against tear gas.
The effectiveness of sites like Facebook and Twitter has been demonstrated
by the the fact that the Egyptian government has shut them down.
With more than 5 million Zimbabweans having access to mobile phones and the
growing use of mobile internet, activists see the potential for some sort of
similar organization, in cyberspace, for Zimbabweans.
By Tichaona Sibanda
28 January 2011
Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara is yet to comment on his re-call from
government, two weeks after he was also ousted as president of his party.
A senior member of the MDC-N, elected at the recently held congress in
Harare, told SW Radio Africa on Friday that there is no need for the
robotics professor to respond to his re-calling by the party.
Mutambara is currently a deputy Prime Minister in the unity government, but
was ousted as President of the MDC-M party which he led for five years.
Welshman Ncube has also said that he will now take over as deputy prime
‘He simply needs to comply and say his farewells to (Robert) Mugabe and
(Morgan) Tsvangirai before Welshman Ncube takes over the deputy premiership,’
the official said.
The Zimbabwe Independent reported Friday that Mutambara last year rejected a
smooth exit package before the party’s congress, insisting that the party
must not ‘subvert democracy.’
That offer made to Mutambara by Ncube and Misihairabwi-Mushonga was that
after the congress he would become deputy president of the party and remain
as deputy prime minister in the inclusive government. But the paper says he
refused the offer and had to suffer the indignity of being demoted outright.
After Ncube announced last weekend that he would be taking over from
Mutambara as deputy premier following his elevation as party leader,
Mutambara has dodged questions over his future in politics or in government.
The MDC-N re-assigned him to the portfolio of Regional Integration and
International Co-operation as Minister, but there are reports suggesting he
is contemplating quitting the party altogether.
But before the congress he told his supporters he would remain a card
carrying member, after he declared that he would not be seeking re-election.
Others reports from Harare suggest that he discussed his future plans with a
senior government official, before leaving Harare for Switzerland to attend
the World Economic Forum. He will be back in Harare on 6th February.
Speculation is rife that he might join ZANU PF or the MDC led by Tsvangirai.
The weekly Financial Gazette reported on Friday that ZANU PF has dangled a
carrot ‘in front of beleaguered Mutambara, following his dramatic ouster as
president of the smaller faction of the MDC.’
The paper said Mutambara’s name is featuring prominently on ZANU PF’s
shopping list of politicians with technocratic backgrounds, whom it wants to
win over to reboot its political fortunes ahead of the make-or-break
elections, scheduled for this year.
Mutambara’s former colleague when the party was still the MDC-M, Job
Sikhala, told us the former militant student leader will not be leaving
politics yet, but was playing his cards close to his chest.
‘The truth of the matter is he will try to fight for his future politically
because he has cultivated political contacts since formation of the unity
‘My own prediction, analysis and understanding of Mutambara, because of his
ideological thrust, which is more aligned to ZANU PF, I think he would be
more acceptable there than the MDC. His political DNA is so divorced from
modern politics of the MDC,’ Sikhala said.
Sikhala as President of the MDC 99, said people have to understand Mugabe’s
personality and the fact that he has great admiration for intellectuals and
academics, which would work in Mutambara’s favour.
‘He (Mugabe) loves professors and doctors, that is why you realise since
1980, his government was always full of these people and Mutambara is no
HARARE, January 28, 2011- The Movement for Democraic Change (MDC) faction
led by Welshman Ncube has resolved to haul before its disciplinary committee
dissident members that have taken its new leader to court.
The disillusioned members, led by former national chairman Joubert Mudzumwe,
last week filed an urgent high court application contesting Ncube, s
election at the congress three weeks ago.The dissidents challenged the
legality of the congress arguing that it was improperly conducted.
Ncube ousted former party leader Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara in a
bloodless coup.But the Mudzumwe faction has maintained that Mutambara is
still the leader of the party which is now known as the MDC-N following
Kuraone Chihwayi, the deputy spokesperson of the MDC-N said on Friday his
party’s national standing committee met and decided to refer the issue of
its “ambitious prodigal sons ” to the party's disciplinary committee headed
by Jacob Moyo.
“All the necessary procedures shall be followed. The party has the capacity
and mechanisms to handle its internal disputes,” said Chihwayi.
“As the MDC-N president (Ncube) stated after the standing committee meeting,
the party will vigorously fight that court application. As a party we
suspect a hidden hand in what they are doing and it has come to our
attention that some of our political opponents are
capitalising on the behaviour of these party rebels to cause confusion, ” he
“The activities of these rebellious comrades have never affected the
operations of the MDC because most of their grievances are baseless, ” he
added. The MDC-N standing committee last week also resolved to recall
Mutambara from the coalition government. Ncube would step into his shoes.
The party wrote to President Robert Mugabe informing him of the demotion of
Mutambara who has been ear-marked for the post of minister of Regional
Integration and International Co-operation which was held by the skillful
party cadre and Ncube loyalist Priscilla Misihairambwi-Mushonga, who is to
take over the ministry of Industry and International Trade.
By Staff Reporter
Friday, 28 January 2011 18:50
HARARE - Problems continue to mount for the Minister of Local Government,
Ignatius Chombo as it emerges that police are probing fresh allegations that
he fraudulently acquired and sold prime council land in Glen Lorne.
While police were not available for comment, the matter was reported at
Harare’s serious fraud squad by suspended councillor, Casper Takura
following a discovery by the city fathers that Chombo improperly acquired
The case is being investigated under ER 09/2011.
“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.
"When Minister Chombo sold this land he had no agreement of sale between him
and the City."
“We believe that Minister Chombo connived with Mrs R Pazvakawambwa, who on
his behalf wrote a letter that Minister Chombo was allocated this land in
1995 and there is no evidence of allocation.
“We believe on good grounds that that Minister Chombo connived with
Psychology Chiwanga who tried to assist Chombo by claiming that he bought
the stand on January 1 1997,” reads part of the letter of complaint to the
Takura also complained that 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 and concocted signatures.
But Chombo denied the allegations.
“I know nothing about what you are talking about. I am coming from Masvingo
and don’t know anything that is happening in Harare. Have you been sent to
write the story, anyway go on and publish it,” said Chombo when contacted
by the Daily News.
But Takura insists that Chombo abused his office as the majority of the
documents were generated during his tenure as Minister of Local Government,
Rural and Urban Development and that he used ministry officials for his
Chombo has been involved in a bitter fight with Harare City Councillors who
accuse him of fraudulently acquiring council land in connivance with city
council employees. They also accuse him of unilaterally firing Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) councillors throughout the country to control local
Economist Tony Hawkins of the University of Zimbabwe said that although the
International Monetary Fund has been recommending such a course of action
for some time, Zimbabwe must keep spending in check
Jonga Kandemiiri | Washington 27 January 2011
The International Monetary fund says Harare is right to keep a lid on
salaries for state employees and maintain a balanced budget, offering
encouragement as to future assistance to Zimbabwe in debt restructuring and
IMF Deputy Director for Africa Sharmini Coorey told reporters this week that
dollarization since 2009 has stabilized prices following the country’s
period of hyperinflation, noting that adopting the current hard-currency
regime has imposed fiscal discipline.
The challenge now, said Coorey, is to contain spending, especially state
salaries. The official noted that these were already equal to around 70% of
Coorey offered some encouragement as to the level of support the
international financial institution might be able to provide in future.
"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 ... the Fund is looking forward to further
relations with Zimbabwe," she said.
The IMF policy prescription comes as Zimbabwean civil servants are demanding
that their base salaries be nearly tripled. The lowest-paid public workers
receive $186 a month. Worker representatives want that to be hiked to
A strike has been threatened if Harare does not meet demands.
Economist Tony Hawkins, a professor at the University of Zimbabwe, told VOA
Studio 7 reporter Jonga Kandemiiri that though while the IMF has been
recommending such a course of action for some time, Zimbabwe must keep
spending in check.
Economist Godfrey Kanyenze, director of the Labor and Economic Research
Institute of Zimbabwe, an arm of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, said
a national consensus must be achieved on income levels for public workers.
JASON MOYO - Jan 28 2011 11:41
The invasion on January 21 of lakeside resorts around Chivero, Harare's most
popular weekend retreat and the city's main water source, has been a major
embarrassment to a country still trying to convince the world it is moving
away from its violent past.
But the invasions also reveal how simmering tension among the poor,
frustrated by how fast the gap between rich and poor has widened under the
unity government, can easily be exploited by political figures.
More than 100 people arrived at the Kuimba Shiri bird sanctuary on the
shores of the lake, barricading entrances to the property and to dozens of
other resorts on the banks of the lake.
The attacks were a further knock to Zimbabwe's already tattered
international image and raised fears of similar invasions elsewhere. Owner
Gary Stafford said the group was not violent but demanded to take an
inventory of all the resort's assets, supposedly in preparation for a
takeover under black empowerment laws. Stafford's resort is home to a
world-renowned bird sanctuary.
The invasion provided yet another example of Zimbabwe's many contrasting
faces. Just as it began, tourism minister Walter Mzembi, seen as a Zanu-PF
reformer, was in Madrid, Spain, launching a new marketing campaign to try to
convince wary European tour operators that the image of Zimbabwe as a
lawless wasteland is exaggerated.
The campaign, under the motto "Zimbabwe, World of Wonder", would be taken to
"every tourism fair around the world this year", said Tesa Chikaponya,
marketing manager of the state tourism promotion agency. Tourism has been
one of the key industries to see some recovery under the unity government,
so the invasions were a major setback.
Agreement between SA and Zimbabwe
Stafford, a South African, should be protected from such takeovers under an
investment protection agreement between Zimbabwe and South Africa. Even
Zanu-PF acknowledged how bad the invasions look and criticised them. Police,
who have traditionally refused to intervene in farm invasions, drove the
invaders off the properties on Sunday.
The obvious economic disparities in the area provide a ripe breeding ground
for further conflict. The clubs and resorts around Chivero are a favourite
haunt for Harare's jet set, who often host wild open-air parties that go on
well into the night.
From the banks of the lake several clubs host waterskiing and jet ski
tournaments and regattas. On an overlooking hill large mansions have
sweeping views of the lake.
But a short distance away from the resorts and exclusive clubs impoverished
fishing communities live off the lake, casting out daily in rusty dugout
canoes on illegal fishing trips, chased by park warders and arrested for
poaching. They are required to have special fishing licences to be allowed
to fish, but few can afford the fees. Their catch is sold on the sides of
highways and in Harare's poor townships.
Aaron Mazvi, the war veteran and local community organiser who led the
invasion, argued that the action was taken on behalf of nearby communities.
Among Mazvi's comrades were local fishmongers and vendors, including some
women carrying babies.
In line with the country's empowerment laws Mazvi argued, the clubs and
resorts in the area should be seized and handed over to local communities
and run by traditional leaders. He said he wrote a letter last week on
behalf of the "Zvimba community at large" to the minister of lands, Herbert
Murerwa, notifying him of his group's intention to "take over properties
along the lower and upper reaches of Lake Chivero".
Poor communities are easy fodder for local bigwigs eyeing a piece of the
lucrative tourism concessions in the area. Some claim the mob was driven by
Patrick Zhuwawo, Robert Mugabe's nephew and the MP in the area, but he and
his party denied any involvement.
The invasions were the work of "criminal elements", Ignatius Chombo, the
local government minister, said. But there was little doubt about who the
invaders themselves support -- they wore Zanu-PF regalia and chanted party
slogans as they entered the facilities.
The Chivero invasions are the second such attack on a tourist site. A week
earlier a mob invaded tourist lodges in Nyanga, in the eastern highlands,
popular for their mountain views and hiking trails.
Change shortages have plagued retailers, commuter "combi" bus drivers and
ordinary Zimbabweans since early 2009 when Zimbabwe abandoned its own dollar
and adopted a monetary regime of mixed hard currencies
Gibbs Dube, Blessing Zulu & Patience Rusere | Washington 27 January 2011
With Zimbabwean small businesses and consumers continuing to face chronic
shortages of small-denomination US and South African bills and coins,
commercial banks say that it would be prohibitively expensive for them to
step in to relieve the public.
But Finance Minister Tendai Biti told VOA that discussions with the US
Treasury about procuring small bills and coins have significantly
Change shortages have plagued retailers, street vendors, commuter "combi"
bus drivers and ordinary Zimbabweans since early 2009 when Zimbabwe
abandoned its own dollar and adopted a monetary regime of mixed hard
currencies. The two main currencies in circulation are the US dollar and the
South African rand.
Bankers said that while they can purchase South African rand coins from the
public, it is not easy for them to source small U.S. bank notes.
Commercial bankers are also struggling to meet minimum capitalization
requirements, so they are not eager to expend precious capital in purchasing
bills and coins.
Banker Samson Nhliziyo said that buying small denomination U.S. and South
African bills in the interbank market is too expensive.
Independent Harare economist John Robertson said banks have not even tried
to import small bills and coins. “They are finding it difficult to source
these currencies from the open market due to high costs,” he said.
Retailers have refused to take up the supply of one-rand coins offered by
the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, saying the exchange rate offered was not in
Finance Minister Biti told VOA Studio 7 reporter Blessing Zulu that the US
Treasury has laid out various options for Zimbabwe to address its small
change problem: purchasing bills and coins from the Federal Reserve, or from
US banking institutions.
Despite Biti's optimism as to an eventual solution, the nation’s consumers
and small businesses could face the problem of change for some time.
Some local remedies have emerged - for instance the spreading use of the
Zambian kwacha in the northern resort town of Kariba for change and
When it launched last year independent daily newspaper Newsday, selling for
50 US cents, issued tokens good for another issue that vendors could give
But many retailers and street vendors hand back chocolates - or
For more on the problem, reporter Patience Rusere turned to Bulawayo
businessman Alex Goosen and Business Forum Secretary Roy Magosvogwe. Goosen
said the lack of sufficient small change is a constant irritant and tends to
By Clifford Chitupa Mashiri, Political Analyst, London. 28/01/11.
I beg to differ with Professor Chan’s views as expressed in his opinion
article ‘Changing international views on Zimbabwe’ (New Zimbabwe, 24/01/11)
because they are unnecessarily provocative, contradictory and inadequately
informed. While, he has written a book about Mugabe, it is not clear how
Professor Chan has drawn so many controversial conclusions about Zimbabwe
which are unempirical and open to question. For example he refers to ‘the
lacklustre performance of Tsvangirai as Prime Minister’.
However, there is a contradiction when Professor Chan recognises the
‘dominating capacity of Zanu-pf’ which should explain why the PM can’t do
much. While this is no apology for the PM, everyone knows how Mugabe grabbed
nearly everything meaningful save for finance in the GNU including police,
prisons, justice, foreign affairs, defence and security and ensured he was
the head of government. What was then left for the Prime Minister,
Tsvangirai to do when he has even been locked out of Zimbabwe House?
Professor Chan claims ‘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’. Why
Professor Chan sounds so insensitive boggles the mind. What about the people
of Zimbabwe? Are their views not important? What would they want to see in
their country? What type of democracy is Professor Chan propagating?
It looks like Prof Chan is prematurely drawing conclusions based on the
subjective views expressed in some of the cables released by Wikileaks.
Zimbabweans resent being seen as if they are incapable of articulating their
own independent positions. In fact, some powers have been disappointed by
some Zimbabwean leaders’ reluctance to go for hook, line and sinker on
Professor Chan claims the West and China would prefer another coalition
government in Zimbabwe ‘preferably fairly elected and if not fully fairly
elected, cleanly elected, i.e. without violence and naked rigging’. What a
bizarre suggestion being made for us thousands of miles away by
non-Zimbabweans? We have no huge appetite for coalition governments. Thank
you very much.
Professor Chan may need to refresh his memory by reviewing a report by
London-based think-tank, Africa Confidential just released which indicates
that former opposition leader, MDC President, Morgan Tsvangirai “clearly
beat Mugabe” in the first round of voting in March 2008 but was denied power
after a plan to steal some of his votes allegedly hatched by Zanu-pf
military junta in connivance with South African officials (The Zimbabwe
Mail, 26/01/11). In other words, the current coalition government was not
the primary desire of Zimbabwean voters and we have no wish for another
coalition no matter how preferable it may be for some outside observers.
Another contradiction in Professor Chan’s article is when he says ‘Europe,
as a result, will start doing business with Zanu-pf in 2011’ despite noting
in a preceding paragraph that ‘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’. I wonder if that is the official view of ‘Europe’ as
expressed by Professor Chan.
He then says that there is ‘much conjecture that the EU will contemplate
some form of lifting of sanctions’ because ‘they have not worked in any way
to curtail or reduce the dominating capacity of Zanu-pf’ and ‘if isolation
and sanctions have not worked, some form of engagement might’. It’s not
clear what makes Professor Chan draw such hard and fast conclusions which go
against the practical reality as we all know. .
If isolation and targeted sanctions had not worked, why would there be such
a Zanu-pf outcry as demonstrated by Mugabe’s perennial calls for them to be
lifted? Why did SADC presidents led by Jacob Zuma of South Africa join the
anti-sanctions crusade in vain? Why has Zanu-pf launched a multi-million
anti-sanctions petition if the sanctions have not worked?
Professor Chan seems to know more than we do by claiming ‘there has been a
modest increase in contacts between British governmental and other actors
and senior Zanu-pf actors’. As if to buttress his point that targeted
sanctions have not worked, Professor Chan says, ‘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’. So what? Where
Professor Chan forgets is that those Zanu-pf officials are only able to
access Europe by view of the flawed Global Political Agreement and the
We remain to get the official UK Government’s position on Professor Chan’s
claim that ‘The UK would accept, in some ways even welcome, the triumph of
the technocratic wing of Zanu-pf’.
In the meantime, Professor Chan should not underestimate Zimbabweans’ desire
for genuine change and the right to self-determination. It is important to
recognise the unpredictability of political situations even in hither-to
‘stable and peaceful sunshine holiday destinations’ as we have seen of late
in North Africa e.g. Tunisia, Egypt and beyond.
Factors other than geo-politics which will shape the Zimbabwean politik
include events like the following:
‘Zanu-pf sets up bases around Harare’, Daily News, 26/01/11;
‘Villagers forced to sign anti-sanctions petition’, RadioVOP, 27/01/11;
‘Mutasa admits soldiers’ role in politics’, The Standard, 15/01/11;
‘State spy agents trying to hack into COPAC Data’, Radio VOP, 25/01/11.
Clifford Chitupa Mashiri, Political Analyst, London,
Friday January 28th 2011
Rather like a desert wind, the unrest which began this week in Tunisia is
rolling down North Africa. First it was Tunisia, then Egypt and now Yemen
and Jordan. Today is Egypt’s fourth day of unrest; traditionally Friday is a
day of prayer in the Moslem world but all the signs are that the protesters
will be out on the streets again after they have fulfilled their religious
obligations. Indeed the lunchtime BBC News reported just that, with furious
worshippers erupting out of the mosques in at least four major cities to be
met with baton charges and tear gas from the Egyptian police. Significantly,
Internet access has been blocked and social networks closed down but it has
not stopped the demonstrators.
So what is it apart from their African identity and their religious beliefs
that these countries have in common? What is it that has brought thousands
of young people out on the streets in angry demonstrations? It appears that
the one common factor is the presence of ageing leaders who hold onto power
too long and whose misgovernance causes endless suffering for ordinary
people. President Hosni Mubarak, for example, is 82 years old and has ruled
Egypt for close on thirty years. In all that time he has had the support of
the west and the US in particular because they saw him as a bulwark against
Islamic fundamentalism. This consideration became even more pressing after
9/11 and now the Americans and the west generally find themselves between a
rock and a hard place. If they continue to support the ageing leader then
the perception is that they are against democratic reform and the will of
the people. Reporting on the demonstrations, Robert Fisk writes in today’s
UK Independent, “But you don’t need to read the papers to see what has gone
wrong, The filth and the slums, the open sewers and the corruption of every
government official, the bulging prisons, the laughable elections, the whole
vast sclerotic edifice of power has at last brought Egyptians on to their
streets.” A Cairo daily reports that one of Mubarak’s top advisers has fled
to London with 97 suitcases of cash; true or not, the report sounds very
familiar to Zimbabweans accustomed to similar stories about our own
So, what is there for Zimbabwe to learn from all this unrest in the north of
the continent? Coincidentally, a retired Zimbabwean airforce officer
reminded the people that for change to come about mass-mobilisation is
required, it just needs the people to get angry enough to take to the
streets and demand their rights to a better life under a democratically
elected government. I cannot believe that Zimbabweans are any less
courageous than other people anywhere in the world or that the obstacles
facing them are any bigger. Despite the presence of marauding ‘war veterans’
in the rural areas and at tourist resorts, partisan police and soldiers
beating up innocents citizens and a repressive regime led by an ageing and
autocratic ruler determined to hold onto power, I continue to believe that
ordinary Zimbabweans will find the courage one day soon to stand up and say
Enough is Enough. Robert Mugabe and his cronies may for now be totally
unconcerned about events in the north, so arrogant are they in their belief
that they have a god-given right to rule Zimbabwe in perpetuity but the
sound of thousands of feet pounding down Samora Machel Avenue and thousands
of voices raised in anger will awaken the ‘whole sclerotic edifice of power’
to the reality of democracy in Africa.
And in another part of Africa, Zimbabweans are entitled to wonder why the
international community has rightly recognised Alassane Ouattara as the
winner of presidential elections in Ivory Coast while doing nothing about
the illegitimate presidency of Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe. Only by taking to
the streets in their thousands will Zimbabweans demonstrate to the rest of
Africa and the world that Mugabe, after thirty one years in power, is no
longer their democratic choice.
Yours in the (continuing) struggle PH. aka Pauline Henson author of Sami’s
Story, the story of Murambatsvina as seen through the eyes of a young boy,
available on Lulu.com.
The following is part of a series of Shona lessons provided by http://www.learnshona.com. The audio versions are available at learnshona.com. Please note that learnShona.com courses are designed to teach you by listening and repeating the words, as this is similar to the highly effective and proven Pimsleur technique. As such, it will be more difficult, and much slower, to grasp by reading alone. We recommend downloading the audio course to listen and repeat.
We welcome your
feedback and hope that you find this useful.
This week’s lesson includes discussing age, occupations and related grammar. The read (listen) and repeat formula is designed to increase your intuitive understanding of Shona sentence structures.
How old are you? (How many years do you have ?) - Une makore mangani?
A year - gore
Years - makore
You have - Une/Mune
I have - ndine
I am 20 years old(l have 20 years) - Ndine makore makumi maviri
When - Rini
When is - Riri rini
Your - rako
Day - zuva
Birthday (your day of being born) - zuva rokuberekwa/rokuzvarwa
When is your birthday - zuva rako rokuberekwa riri rini?
Is on the - riri musi wa……
My birthday is on the 5th of January - zuva rangu rokuberekwa musi wa5
To be born - kuberekwa/kuzvarwa
I was born - ndakaberekwa/ndakazvarwa
You were - waka……..
She/he was born - Akazvarwa
You were born - wakazvarwa
We were born - Takazvarwa
They were born - vakazvarwa
Where were you born(You were born where) - Wakazvarirwa kupi
I was born in South Africa - Ndakazvarirwa kuSouth Africa
To do - kuita
You do - Unoita
What? - Chii?
Work(n) - basa
What do you do?(What work do you do?) - Unoitei?/Unoita basa rei?
Your - rako
Job - basa
What’s your job(Your job is about what?) - Basa rako nderei?
I am a - Ndiri
I’m self-employed - Ndinozvishandira
I’m unemployed - Handishandi
I am a housewife - Ndinogara kumba
To work - Kushanda
You work - Unoshanda
Where? - Kupi?
Where do you work? - Unoshanda kupi?
l work - Ndinoshanda
I work in - Ndinoshanda mu…..
I work in a bank - Ndinoshanda mubhengi
I work in a school - Ndinoshanda pachikoro/muchikoro
I work for - Ndinoshandira
I work for a phone company - Ndinoshandira kambani yenhare
I work at the hospital - Ndinoshanda kuchipatara