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Top Zimbabwean rights activist poisoned in custody: media

JOHANNESBURG (AFP) - Zimbabwean rights campaigner Jestina Mukoko, who is to
appear in court Monday on charges of plotting to overthrow President Robert
Mugabe, is being poisoned and tortured in custody, the Sunday Independet

According to the paper, Mukoko, who is in solitary confinement at the
notorious Chikurubi Maximum Security prison, is being force fed drugs by
prison personnel.

It said her lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa has called for a toxicology report to
support the allegations.

"Mukoko is psychologically traumatised, it is not certain that she has told
the full story because, every time she speaks to a doctor or a lawyer, a
state official is present," said Mtetwa.

Mukoko was seized from her home on December 3 by armed men who identified
themselves as police.

Last week she made a first court appearence after being detained at an
unknown location for weeks.

A high court on Friday refused an application by her lawyers that she be
taken to hospital for treatment after alleged torture.

She is accused together with 28 members of opposition leader Morgan
Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party of recruiting or
goading other people to undergo military training in neighbouring Botswana
aimed at toppling Mugabe's government.

Mukoko's detention raised particular alarm among international rights groups
and western nations which have accused Mugabe's government of intimidation
and harassment.

The rampant human rights abuse cases in Zimbabwe highlight the country's
deepening political crisis more than three months after Mugabe signed a
power-sharing deal with Tsvangirai.

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Toddler, 2, beaten in prison

      Maureen Isaacson
    January 04 2009 at 10:46AM

Horror stories are emerging from Chikurubi Maximum Security prison in
Zimbabwe where at least 16 human rights activists are being held.

In a shocking revelation, activists report the youngest prisoner,
Nigel Mupfuranhehwe, a two-year-old - who was abducted with his parents
Violet Mupfuranhehwe and Collen Mutamagau - was beaten by security agents
and needed medical attention.

The lawyers of Jestina Mukoko, the director of the Zimbabwe Peace
Project (ZPP), have also called for a toxicology report for fear the
Zimbabwe government is poisoning her.

Mukoko is being force-fed drugs by the army doctor who oversaw her

She is accused of recruiting personnel for military training in
Botswana with a view to unseating the government.

Also in solitary confinement at Chikurubi are at least 18 other

Beatrice Mtetwa, the director of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights,
said the medication Mukoko is taking for anxiety and insomnia has been
prescribed by an army doctor who facilitated the torture she has undergone.

She was taken on December 3 at gunpoint from her home in Norton.

Mtetwa said: "Mukoko is traumatised. It is not certain she has told
the full story because every time she speaks to a doctor or lawyer, a state
official is present."

In papers filed in court on Tuesday, Mukoko said she was the victim of
an unlawful kidnapping and demanded that her "kidnappers" be prosecuted. She
said she was blindfolded each time she was driven from place to place.

She was oblivious to where she was for 19 days.

After denying having trained or recruited for banditry and for working
for the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, she was assaulted, the
court papers stated.

"At first, I was assaulted under my feet with a rubber-like object
while seated on the floor. I was asked to raise my feet on a table and the
other people in the room started to assault me and that lasted at least five
minutes. They took a break and continued the beatings after a few hours.
They were all visibly drunk."

Mukoko said she was ordered "to pull up my clothes and kneel on the
gravel. The interrogation continued while (I was) on the gravel".

Mukoko said for the first 10 days she was not allowed to take
medication for an allergic condition she has.

A Dr Chigumira examined her.

He said he was shocked by her condition. "I was later given
medication," she said.

In a startling affidavit on Tuesday, the minister of state security
admitted Mukoko was "kidnapped" by state security agents.

Responding to an urgent high court application last week, Didymus
Mutasa admitted in an affidavit that state security agents undertook
investigations, which are still ongoing, into the allegations against Mukoko
and others.

Mutasa said allegations present a threat to national security, "which,
if left unchecked, could result in consequences too ghastly to contemplate".

Mtetwa said yesterday: "There is no question that the state has no
right to keep people in detention after an arrest has been made even though
the state has admitted that these were kidnappings and they were
investigating them criminally - they are not being investigated.

"The judge (Judge Alphius Chitakunye) in the high court was too
chicken to ask the police who brought these people to them. He hides behind
the minister of state security's statement that they cannot disclose the
identity of their abductors.

"The judge is saying the high court will not intervene. It is worse
than apartheid South Africa."

Chitakunye granted leave for Mukoko to be taken to the Avenues Clinic
in Harare to be examined for signs of torture. But any treatment should be
administered in prison.

This article was originally published on page 2 of Cape Argus on
January 04, 2009

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Mugabe on leave, may delay new govt

Sun 4 Jan 2009, 12:30 GMT

[-] Text [+] HARARE, Jan 4 (Reuters) - Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe
has started a month-long annual leave, which could delay the formation of a
government which a spokesman has said was being prepared by the veteran
leader, state media reported on Sunday.

Mugabe has fired nine ministers and three deputy ministers from his ZANU-PF
party who lost their seats in March parliamentary elections.

It was the clearest sign yet that he may act on his threat to form a new
government without the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

But by going on leave for the next four weeks, Mugabe may only be ready to
form the new government from early February.

"This is more of a retreat than actual leave. The President is very busy ...
working on structures of an inclusive government which must come too soon,"
George Charamba, Mugabe's spokesman told the state-owned Sunday Mail.

Mugabe traditionally spends his annual leave in the Far East but Charamba
said the 84-year-old leader would only spend a small part of his leave
outside Zimbabwe.

Mugabe, MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara, who heads a MDC
splinter faction, signed a power-sharing pact on Sept. 15 but it has been
held up by a row over cabinet posts.

Under the deal, Mugabe would remain president and Tsvangirai would become
prime minister. But the MDC says a new government cannot be formed because
Mugabe allocated powerful ministries to his ZANU-PF and relegated the MDC to
a junior partner. (Reporting by MacDonald Dzirutwe; Editing by Giles Elgood)

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Tsvangirai wants Motlanthe to mediate

January 3, 2009

By Our Correspondent

HARARE - MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai wants SADC chair Kgalema Motlanthe to
mediate a fresh meeting between himself and President Robert Mugabe in order
to resolve outstanding issues in the stalled power-sharing deal, a sign of
the MDC's loss of confidence in SADC-appointed broker Thabo Mbeki's

Mbeki has had fierce run-ins with Tsvangirai over allegations the former
South Africa President is a dishonest broker taking sides with President
Mugabe's Zanu-PF. The stand off threatens to derail talks to consummate a
fledgling September 15 power sharing deal between Zimbabwe's main political

Tsvangirai wants Motlanthe, the South African President, to mediate the
crisis after clashing with Mbeki over the resolutions of an October 27 full
SADC summit which called for his MDC to co-manage Zimbabwe's Home Affairs
ministry with Mugabe's Zanu-PF party.

The resolution calling for joint control of the ministry - which controls
Zimbabwe's police and is the main sticking point in the talks - was backed
by all 15 members of SADC. The SADC also demanded that a unity government
must be formed immediately.

Tsvangirai described that resolution a "nullity," with Mbeki
uncharacteristically snapping at the MDC leader.

Previously, Tsvangirai had described the SADC leaders as cowards after they
called on him and Mugabe to form a unity government "forthwith".

In a 10-page response which was leaked to the media, Mbeki fell just short
of labelling Tsvangirai a puppet of powerful western countries - an
accusation the MDC leader is highly sensitive to after years of trying to
rebut the same charge made against him by Mugabe.

Mbeki's letter immediately drew sharp criticism from Tsvangirai, accompanied
by a demand that he immediately recuse himself from chairing discussions
over a draft constitutional amendment that Zimbabwe's three main parties had
been deliberating on, which are expected to be brought to Parliament when it
reconvenes on January 20.

Tsvangirai accused Mbeki of "partisan support of Zanu PF," and said it was
detrimental to genuine dialogue and made it impossible for the MDC to
continue negotiating under his facilitation.

In his letter to Mugabe, Tsvangirai categorically stated that he would be
comfortable with fresh talks to resolve outstanding issues only under the
facilitation of Motlanthe.

"I have written in the same vein to President Motlanthe suggesting he
convenes a confidential meeting in South Africa between you and me, under
his chairmanship, so that we can iron out these matters to the satisfaction
of all parties," Tsvangirai said in his letter to Mugabe. "I am sure you are
anxious to proceed to the successful implementation of the Global Political
Agreement, anxiety that I share, but the issues are so profound that we must
act in a logical sequence."

Tsvangirai's December 29 letter scoffs at Mugabe's invitation to swear him
into office as Prime Minister before outstanding issues have been resolved.
Tsvangirai says Mugabe is trying to jump the gun.

Mugabe wrote to Tsvangirai on December 17 inviting him and his two deputies
to take oath of office. But the MDC leader says this can only happen after a
number of outstanding issues have been resolved.

"I acknowledge receipt of a copy of your letter dated 17 December 2008 and
my passport, delivered to me on Christmas Day by the South African High
Commissioner to Botswana, Mr Dikgang Moopeloa," Tsvangirai wrote in his
letter, which was seen by The Zimbabwe Times. "You are aware that the MDC,
through its council resolution, justifiably rejected the recommendation of
Sadc, and that the position regarding fundamental issues of principle have
not yet been resolved.

"It is, therefore, presumptuous to conclude that the MDC accepts the
allocation of ministers as per the schedule that you unilaterally gazetted.

"When the Constitution Amendment No. 19 Bill has been passed into law, the
roles of President and Prime Minister will then stand properly defined
within the law. Otherwise there is no basis for appointments. In the absence
of the above processes, I find your proposal to appoint me Prime Minister

Mugabe, in power since 1980, appears determined to go it alone with the
smaller faction of the MDC.

Mugabe met the leader of the breakaway MDC faction Prof Arthur Mutambara at
State House last Wednesday. Mutambara was reportedly asked to present names
to fill in Cabinet slots. Mutambara is widely viewed as being keen to assume
office as quickly as possible so that he does not miss an opportunity that
many say he does not rightly deserve.

Mugabe yesterday fired nine ministers who lost their parliamentary seats in
the March 29 general elections and are ineligible to hold Cabinet posts.

His spokesman George Charamba insinuated that Mugabe was moving to form a
new government but remained optimistic that an agreement could be reached
with the main MDC. He accused Tsvangirai of taking instructions from US
assistant secretary of State for African Affairs Jendayi Fraser.

"To understand Tsvangirai's position on the invitation to join the inclusive
government, watch Jendayi Frazer's lips," Charamba was quoted in the
official press here.

Tsvangirai, who would become Prime Minister under the power-sharing deal,
has accused Mugabe's Zanu-PF of trying to seize the lion's share of
important ministries and relegating the MDC to the role of junior partner.

Zimbabwe's economic crisis has forced millions of its citizens to flee the
country, many of them moving to neighboring South Africa, Africa's biggest

Zimbabwean state media reported that Mugabe's government would not change
its stance on key cabinet positions and the opposition should accept joint
control of the interior ministry.

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Zimbabwe: Daily cholera update, 03 Jan 2008

 Full_Report (pdf* format - 91.1 Kbytes)

* Please note that daily information collection is a challenge du to communication and staff constraints. On-going data cleaning may result in an increase or decrease in the numbers. Any change will then be explained.

** Daily information on new deaths should not imply that these deaths occurred in cases reported that day. Therefore daily CFRs >100% may occasionally result

1- Highlights of the day:

- 693 cases and 9 deaths added today (in comparison 635 cases and 49 deaths yesterday)

- 46.3 % of the districts affected have reported today (25 out of 54 affected districts)

- 87 % of districts reported to be affected (54 districts/62)

- Rumours of cases in Nyanga district in Manicaland (not previously affected). District shares borders with affected districts Makoni and Mudzi

- All 10 of the country's provinces are affected

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Cholera in Zimbabwe: Please help save the people of Nyahombe and Tokwane-Ngundu

Dear Friends

I write to you in a state of shock, sadness and despair because of what I saw in Zimbabwe.  When I crossed into Zimbabwe on 20th December my intention was to consult with the structures of Zimbabwe Youth Movement on the way forward in our struggle. This trip took me to Bulawayo, Harare, Buhera, Gutu, Chivi and Esigodini. It is however, the cholera crisis at Nyahombe clinic that caught my eye.

When I arrived at Nyahombe clinic, where my father used to work as a nurse in the late 80s, I just wanted to catch a glimpse of how the place looked twelve years since my last visit. I expected to find the place devoid of any patients as it was the 31st of December but to my surprise I found more than fifteen patients lying on the reception floor waiting for assistance.

I greeted the nurse who was consulting on the day and introduced myself. She told me that she had heard about me before and the fact that I am a biomedical scientist. Immediately she started narrating the ordeal that they are facing at that small clinic.

She told me that, there is a cholera outbreak in the area and it is in its second month.  In those few days there had been 176 recorded cases of cholera infection, 4 institutional deaths and 20 other deaths had been recorded from symptomatic people who failed to reach clinical services. These figures are shocking given the fact that the catchment of this small clinic is about 20km radius with a population of about  15 000 people.

When I asked about the drug supply, she told me that they had not received any supplies from the government medical stores but had managed to get assistance from MSF (Doctors without Borders) who erected two tents for them and gave them a reasonable supply of drugs plus a nurse. She took me to the tents which were guarded by an armed policeman who however allowed me to enter.

In one of the tent was a deceased body of a woman awaiting collection. Because the clinic is so small it doesn't have a mortuary, they did not have anywhere to keep the body  and it was beginning to decompose.

In the other tent were three women and four children all lying on the floor with thin blankets, on intravenous fluids and in a critical condition. They could barely feel our presence. What pained me most was the fact that these patients had no beds and were lying on the floor which was only covered by tent material yet it was raining and very damp. Outside in an asbestos shade were about six other patients who were recovering from the infection and now on oral salt and sugar solution.  I talked to them and all of them were from village 8 in Tokwane-Ngundu resettlement area where they said were no boreholes or clean water.

The policeman allowed me to take quick photos with my phone. They both asked me to do something with the information as they were sure that if nothing is done more people would die.

I am also sure that a lot more people are at risk especially given the fact that the place is secured and a few kilometers from the clinic people do not know of this outbreak. Secondly it is raining incessantly and people are resorting to fetching household water from shallow wells. Another risk comes from the lack of proper food as most of them are relying on mangoes and wild berries which can be reservoirs of the bacteria.

I appeal to those amongst us who have access to resources like drugs, beds, bedding, food and clean water to come in and help not only the people of Nyahombe but millions of Zimbabweans who are at risk in various areas.

It is my hope that someone out there may be the ray of hope that the cholera victims in Nyahombe are waiting for. I have attached the few photos that they allowed me to take.

Peace and love
Freeman F Chari  
 Secretary General
Zimbabwe Youth Movement                                                                                                                                                                        

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Few Children Expected to Go to School in Zimbabwe

By Lisa Schlein
04 January 2009

The UN Children's Fund says school attendance in Zimbabwe has been dropping
at an alarming rate because of the collapse of the country's socio-economic
system, which is affecting students and teachers alike. UNICEF says it is
afraid few children in Zimbabwe will be returning to class when schools are
scheduled to re-open in a couple of weeks.

The UN Children's Fund reports school attendance in Zimbabwe has rapidly
declined from more than 85 percent in 2007 to just 20 percent by the third
term of 2008.

The UNICEF Representative in Zimbabwe, Roeland Monasch, says the cholera
epidemic and the collapse of basic services are adversely affecting the
population. He says children are staying away from school because they have
to help their parents look for food or find ways to earn money to help
support their families.

He says many schools closed about three months early last year because
teachers were no longer coming to work. He says he is afraid they will not
show up when school reopens in mid-January. He says the majority of teachers
are not attending work due to low salaries and bad working conditions.

"What we need to do is we need to make sure that teachers are motivated and
are able to come back to school. And, that really all depends on the support
we can provide those teachers," he said. "It basically means we are working
at the moment with the Ministry of Education in public service to see if
there is a possibility to set up an incentive scheme so that teachers are
willing to come back to school. For that, of course, we need some donor

Monasch says the current situation is further complicated by the HIV/AIDS
crisis in Zimbabwe. He says nearly one in four Zimbabwean children are
orphaned by the disease. And, the ability of support groups to provide care
and treatment to those infected with HIV has decreased.

"So, for example, when I talk about schools are being closed, it also means
that we have over 1.3 million orphans, children who have lost their mother,
father or both parents. Those children need to have a very protective and
stable environment and a stable life. And, schools provide a stable
environment for those children," said Monasch. "And so, we are also working
very closely with the authorities to make sure that the schools open in
January again because we will have a major problem on our hands if the
schools do not open."

Monasch says urgent action is needed to get the school system functioning
again. He says UNICEF is trying to bring more than 100,000 teachers back to
work by raising their salaries and by providing them with food aid.

He says the schools are in a dire state. They must be provided with more
learning and recreational materials. And, he says, the sanitary facilities
must be improved.

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PTUZ Lobbying for Postponement of Schools Opening

MASVINGO, January 4 2009 - The Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe
(PTUZ) has called for the postponement of the first term, scheduled to open
on 13 January, indicating that a lot needs to be done before schools are

"There are a lot of things which should be done before schools are
opened. The opening date for this year's first term is unrealistic. Teachers
do not have money to travel to their stations and parents do not have money
for fees and can not afford to buy uniforms. The grade seven results have
been delayed and even if they were to be released any moment from now,
parents need more than two weeks to look for form one places and buy
uniforms. There are a lot of expenses to be met by parents but they can not
do that within a week.

"As an organisation we think it is proper for the Ministry to delay
the opening until everything is in order," said Munyaradzi Chauke, PTUZ's
provincial coordinator in Masvingo.

coordinator in Masvingo.

He said although teachers are passionate about their work, they can
not afford to go to work unless they are given rescue packages.

"Teachers must be given foreign currency to rescue them from poverty
so that they can start the term. If they are not given the rescue package
which is separate from their salary, I do not see the the first term kicking

Meanwhile, most parents with children at boarding schools dotted
around the province are planning to transfer their children to day-schools
after realising that they will not be able to pay the required school fees.

Most boarding schools are sending letters to parents demanding school
fees ranging between US$100 to US$200 - which should be paid on the opening

Students are also expected to go with a list of groceries that include
sugar, rice, salt and cooking oil among other things.

"I do not think we can still afford to send our children to school,
life for us has become very tough. It would be better if schools are closed
till the economic challenges are completely solved," said Taurai Mandinde of

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Manicaland HIV/AIDS Patients Fail to Access Drugs

NYANGA, January 4 2009 - People living with the Human
Immuno-deficiency Virus (HIV) in Nyanga and Rusape have gone for more than
three years on cotrimoxazole tablets only, as they can not access
Antiretroviral medication, Action Aid in Zimbabwe - a non governmental
organisation which deals with HIV/AIDS, has revealed.

Netty  Musanhu, Action Aid In Zimbabwe's HIV and Aids cordinator said
a recent survey conducted by her organisation in Manicaland province
revealed that shortage of CD4 count machines and the inaccessibility of Anti
Retroviral drugs (ARVs), have resulted in people who tested HIV positive
four years ago, depending on cotrimoxazole only.

"It is saddening to note that HIV positive people in Nyanga and Rusape
rural areas are not on ARVs mainly because there are no CD4 count machines
to test and determine their HIV loads, moreso health centres in the area do
not have ARVs" said  Musanhu.

Musanhu blamed the government and some NGOs for diverting resources
meant for HIV/AIDS to cholera and ignoring HIV positive people whom she said
are most vulnerable to diseases.

"Most NGOs and the government have now shifted their attention to the
cholera epidemic, forgetting that HIV and AIDS is also a national disaster"
she said.

Musanhu said hunger and mulnutrition have also contributed immensely
to the deaths of AIDS patients, indicating that most famillies in the area
are going for more than two days without a meal despite taking cotrimoxazole

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As Zimbabwe burns, SADC trust in Mugabe withers


Posted Saturday, January 3 2009 at 11:03

President Robert Mugabe is no longer trusted by the Southern African
Development Community to distribute humanitarian aid fairly, although China
is giving cash directly to the ruling Zanu-PF government to combat a
national cholera outbreak.

A cocktail of disease, hunger and political stasis in Zimbabwe has embroiled
the country in its worst humanitarian crisis since independence from Britain
in 1980.

According to the UN, 5.5 million people - or about half the country's
population - requires emergency food assistance, while a national cholera
outbreak has claimed the lives of 1,174 people since August and the number
of confirmed cases now stood at 23,712. About five per cent of the cholera
cases were fatal, steeply above the international norm of one per cent.

Chinese deputy ambassador to Zimbabwe He Meng told the state-run daily
newspaper, The Herald, on 24 December 24, 2008: "We initially intended to
donate cholera vaccines worth $500,000, but there were some technical
problems in the distribution and storage of the vaccines."

"Therefore, we decided to donate in cash so that the government can purchase
vaccines on the local market or from neighbouring countries," he said.

The faith placed by China in Mugabe's government to distribute aid on a
non-partisan basis, is not shared by SADC.

A $30 million humanitarian donation by the South African government - with
the proviso that it be released on condition of the formation of a power
sharing government in Zimbabwe - has now been repackaged as part of SADC's
emergency relief programme.

The money is for agricultural inputs such as maize seed and fertilizer and
was initially envisaged as being provided in cash to a government of
national unity.

However, South Africa's presidential spokesman, Thabo Masebe, said SADC
"cannot be sure if it would be distributed in a manner to reach the intended
recipients by Mugabe's government" and it would be handed out by SADC's
Zimbabwe Humanitarian and Development Assistance Framework (ZHDAF).

ZHDAF is comprised of, among others, international and multilateral
organisations such as the World Health Organisation, religious groups and
agricultural unions.

There remains some doubt as to whether the provision of agricultural inputs,
so late in the planting season, would have any benefit for Zimbabwe's future
food security.

South African President and SADC chairperson Kgalema Motlanthe told a news
conference on December 17 in Pretoria: "The $30 million was specifically for
agricultural produce and as you know the planting season is almost over. So,
that is something that needs to be considered once the inclusive government
is in place."

Mr Masebe said: "What President Motlanthe really meant is that it would be
too late to wait for an inclusive government to distribute the agricultural
inputs. So by channelling it through SADC and not through the Zimbabwe
government, it removes the need of an inclusive government to be in place to
release the humanitarian assistance."

The former archbishop of Cape Town, anti-apartheid stalwart Desmond Tutu,
told a British radio station he was "ashamed" of South Africa's handling of

Tutu, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate who recently called for Mugabe to be
removed by force said: "And I have to say that I am deeply, deeply
distressed that we should be found not on the side of the ones who are
suffering. I certainly am ashamed of what they've done in the United

South Africa's tenure on the 15-nation UN Security Council ends in a couple
of days, but during its two-year term South Africa blocked any actions
against human-rights abuses committed by Myanamar and Zimbabwe.

I have been very deeply disappointed, saddened by the position that South
Africa has taken at the United Nations Security Council in being an obstacle
to the Security Council dealing with Zimbabwe," said Bishop Tutu.

"For the world to say no, we're waiting for South Africa's membership of the
Security Council to lapse and then we can take action, that is an awful
indictment of a country that has had this proud record of a struggle against
a vicious system in the way that we did, that we should have been the one
who for a very long time occupied the moral high ground.

"I'm afraid we have betrayed our legacy ... I mean, how much more suffering
is going to make us say no, we have given Mugabe enough time?"

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The IoS Christmas Appeal: Mugabe tightens grip as cholera epidemic grows

With Zimbabwe ravaged by a disease it is ill-equipped to tackle, its President is ignoring last year's deal with the opposition and putting together a new government

By a special correspondent
Sunday, 4 January 2009


Ignoring a worsening cholera epidemic, economic collapse and a power-sharing agreement signed in September, President Robert Mugabe is starting to form a new government in Zimbabwe without the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), according to state media.

Mr Mugabe has cleared the way for a new cabinet by firing a dozen ministers and their deputies, all from his Zanu-PF party, who lost their seats in the parliamentary election last March, according to the state-owned Herald newspaper. It quoted the presidential spokesman, George Charamba, yesterday as saying: "President Mugabe has already started preparing an administration." But Morgan Tsvangirai, the MDC leader, who is supposed to become Prime Minister under the deal signed on 15 September, refuses to take office until more talks are held on the allocation of cabinet posts. The opposition party wants the Home Ministry, which controls the police, but has been offered only minor posts.

The US says it will no longer support a unity government headed by Mr Mugabe, while Britain has called for him to step down. And as the wrangling continues with Mr Tsvangirai, who has spent most of the past few weeks in Botswana, Zimbabwe has descended into further misery.

All of the country's 10 provinces are now affected by an accelerating cholera outbreak, with nearly 1,000 new cases reported on 31 December alone, bringing the total to more than 32,000. Last week the World Health Organisation (WHO) reported 1,608 deaths from cholera, but many suspect the toll is far higher. The disintegration of Zimbabwe's health service is such that it is feared large numbers of people are dying beyond the reach of treatment, and the rainy season could spread the epidemic further, according to a senior international Red Cross official.

Quoting WHO estimates that the number of cholera cases and deaths could double to 60,000 and 3,000 respectively over the next three months, Françoise Le Goff of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, said: "The worst could be heavy rains, causing not only this cholera to spread, but floods. It means that the water level will cover the fields, that the crops are destroyed, that people cannot travel or we cannot have access to the area."

One aid worker described the situation at a remote clinic in an area that has had 283 cholera cases and 16 deaths. "All 22 new cases are from one village, which has no toilets," she said. "The borehole is not working, so people are using unprotected water sources. There is no road between the village and the health centre, and a river is flooded by the rain, preventing cholera victims being moved to the clinic." Save the Children helped to transport three critical cases, but the rest were being treated on the spot, posing a threat to the rest of the village. Only one health worker out of four was on duty, because they had not been paid and could find no food.


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Zimbabwe Vigil Diary – 3rd January 2009


Happy New Year. We are now well into our seventh year outside the Embassy – more determined that ever. It was cold – the bleak midwinter – but that was the least of our worries. At this time of year it is the separation from our families that is the most painful thing.


We were joined by Sungirayi Shikara, who afterwards wrote to thank the Vigil for the comfort it had given him. He said he had been unable to return home for the funeral of one of his 9-year-old twin daughters. “I say to my daughter Mildred may your little soul rest in peace daddy will always love you sweetheart my angel”.


Competition for the Vigil came from demonstrators campaigning for the suffering people of Gaza. We’re often asked where we stand on issues like this: Gaza, Iraq, Afghanistan etc. The simple answer is that we have no position on anything but Zimbabwe. (We are sorry that both Israel and Arab countries seem to be supporting Mugabe.)


London’s Gaza demonstrators were long gone before we had finished our Vigil in the dark with only our singing and dancing to keep us going – and the companionship of course.


A man came by complaining about all the Mercedes parked outside the Zimbabwean Ambassador’s residence in North London.  He said why don’t we protest there? Good idea . . . perhaps we should liberate some of the cars too.


Chipo Chaya of the Vigil management team continued to collect CVs for the Citizens for Sanctuary campaign for Zimbabweans to be allowed to work in the UK.  These will be presented to 10 Downing Street on Tuesday, 13th January. See “For Your Diary” for details of the event.


Last week we gave a brief account of the Vigil’s activities in the first six months of last year. Herewith the last half of the year.  Next week we will give a summary of the growth of our partner organisation ROHR in 2008. The material is drawn from our Vigil diaries.


5th July 2008

A big crowd attended the Vigil to launch our new petition calling on FIFA to move the World Cup from South Africa: “With the deteriorating situation in Zimbabwe and the likelihood of unrest spreading to South Africa we call upon FIFA to move the 2010 World Cup from South Africa to a safer venue. By the time the World Cup takes place South Africa’s support of the Mugabe regime will have made the whole region unsafe because millions more refugees will flee Zimbabwe prompting further xenophobic violence in neighbouring countries.


11th July 2008

Vigil members took a leading role today in a service at Parliament’s own parish church, St Margaret’s, next to Westminster Abbey, addressed by the Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu.  The occasion was a service of prayer for the people of Zimbabwe called ‘Restore Zimbabwe’.  Chipo Chaya and Luka Phiri of the Vigil management team read a lesson in Shona and Ndebele respectively. Chipo also conducted the Zimbabwean choir and Vigil Co-ordinator Dumi Tutani led dancing below the altar. Vigil members gave testimony as ‘Voices of Zimbabwe’.


8th August 2008

There was big media attendance at the joint demonstration outside the Chinese Embassy in London to coincide with the opening of the Olympic Games in Beijing.  Television teams from British and foreign news organisations spent four hours with us.  It was an uplifting experience working with other oppressed peoples in protest at China’s support of dictators. It is difficult to say how many people attended because the Burmese and Tibetans mobilised at different times but the Zimbabweans and Darfurians were there from beginning to end.  A highlight was a symbolic tableau depicting Mugabe, Bashir of Sudan and Than Shwe of Burma chained to a figure representing China against the backdrop of a black coffin representing the millions of victims of the three dictators. 


20th September 2008

Our doubts about the power-sharing agreement seem to have been borne out.  The word we get from relatives and friends is that ZANU-PF seem to have no understanding of what power-sharing means.  Vigil representatives went to a meeting in London on Tuesday (16/9) organised by the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum. It was addressed by Jenni Williams of WOZA and Abel Chikomo, Executive Director of the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum. A few people expressed misgivings about the power-sharing arrangement but Jenni and Abel and most of the audience were reasonably optimistic. (We weren’t.)

11th October 2008

Friends from times past joined us in brilliant sunshine for the Vigil to launch our 7th year outside the Embassy. Unfortunately Glenys Kinnock MEP was unable to be with us to receive our petition to the EU so we sending it to Brussels by post:

Letter to the European Union

“The Zimbabwe Vigil wishes to submit a petition calling on European Union countries to suspend government-to-government aid to members of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) because of their failure to help the suffering people of Zimbabwe. As you will see, the petition has been signed by thousands of people from all over the world who have recently passed by our Vigil and share our anxiety about the crisis in our homeland. The Vigil condemns SADC for recognising Mugabe as President when SADC’s own election observers criticised the polls this year as deeply flawed. Mugabe consequently feels free to disregard a power-sharing deal signed last month -- despite the deepening humanitarian crisis. The Vigil wants the money saved by our proposal – and it amounts to many hundreds of millions of pounds a year – to be used to finance refugee camps in South Africa, Botswana, Zambia and Mozambique to which Zimbabweans can flee for their lives without fear of prompting more xenophobic violence.”


1st November 2008

Vigil supporters were shocked by the murder of Osborne Kachuru of ROHR. He was beaten to death at ZANU PF's offices in Fourth Street, Harare, after a peaceful demonstration during the SADC talks on Monday. We are told that the Zanu PF political commissar Eliot Manyika was responsible and the Vigil swears to leave no stone unturned to make sure he eventually faces justice.


(Press Report: “Elliot Manyika, the ZANU PF political commissar whose name is synonymous with violence, died on Saturday (6/12) following a road accident along the Zvishavane-Mbalabala road.”) 


26th November 2008

Open letter from the Zimbabwe Vigil to South Africa and the Elders

The dishonesty, hypocrisy and ignorance emerging from South Africa in the past week stabs at the heart of all those working for democracy in Zimbabwe.


The group of three ‘Elders’ spent a couple of days in South Africa talking about Zimbabwe and say they have been shocked by what they have learnt. Where have they been for the past 10 years? Have they read nothing, heard nothing?


Even though they were not allowed into Zimbabwe, they submitted a report to South Africa’s President Motlanthe. He says he was shocked by the report and talks about ‘quibbling over ministries’. Where has he been for the past 10 years? Has he read nothing, heard nothing?


They say the situation is desperate – and so it is – but it is not helped by this dishonesty, hypocrisy and ignorance.

They say the Zimbabwean party leaders must put aside their differences and join in a power-sharing government to resolve the crisis in Zimbabwe – as if another short-sighted and deceitful agreement like the one signed in September will do anything to improve the situation. 


For our part the Vigil wants to see:

1.  No recognition of Mugabe’s illegitimate regime

2.  Neighbouring countries to refuse visas to members of the regime

3.  A freeze on the assets of members of the regime

4.  UN sanctions on the regime

5.  The establishment of refugee camps in countries bordering Zimbabwe where desperate Zimbabweans can seek food, medical attention, shelter and education no longer available at home.


6th December 2008

The leader of the UK Liberal Democrat Party, Nick Clegg MP, visited the Vigil and called for international action to oust Mugabe.  Addressing Vigil supporters, Mr Clegg condemned the brutality of the Mugabe regime. He said it was a stain on the conscience of the world. The UN, he said, must take any measures necessary to remove Mugabe. The Lib Dem leader paid tribute to the persistence of the Vigil and declared ‘you will prevail in the end’.




20th December 2008

There was massive media presence because of the juxtaposition of cholera and Christmas. We were particularly pleased to have the SABC with us because our main message is addressed to South Africa.  We are encouraged that the rest of the world seems to be coming around to our view – both our petitions are aimed at pressing South Africa to take action against Mugabe. Father Cholera had an exhausting time sweating behind his Mugabe mask. When he appeared in his Santa Claus outfit he was mobbed by television crews (Sky, CNN, Channel 4, Aljazeera and others). He cut down from the trees beautifully wrapped Christmas presents and handed them to Vigil supporters representing the people of Zimbabwe. They were labelled: cholera, anthrax, starvation, hunger, violence, murder, rape, torture, greed, injustice, destruction, death,  corruption, lies, inflation, AIDS, malaria, devastation, kleptocracy, terror.


For latest Vigil pictures check:


FOR THE RECORD: 157 signed the register.



·   ROHR Birmingham Fashion Show / Fundraising. Saturday 10 January 2009 at 28 Handsworth New Road, Birmingham B18 4PT. Entry fee £3. There will be raffles including half year subscriptions paid up on your membership. Come and let's revive our country. Contact: Em Zibgowa 07846005120, Des Parayiwa 07815565335, Reb Mlambo 07817585742, Tsitsi Mavhura 07932477842. 

·   Citizens for Sanctuary Campaign for Zimbabweans to be allowed to work.  On Tuesday, 13th January 2009 they will be handing over Zimbabwean CVs to 10 Downing Street.  Participants are asked to assemble at 12 noon in Richmond Terrace opposite 10 Downing Street. Photocall at 12.30 and at 12:45 a delegation of six Zimbabweans will enter Downing Street and deliver a dossier of CVs collected from Zimbabweans in the UK who have skills that are going to waste and want to work.  For more info contact Jonathan Cox, Lead Organiser, CIitizens for Sanctuary Campaign: 07919 484066.

·   ROHR Launch Meeting in Northampton. Saturday 17 January 2009 at Alliston Gardens Community Centre, 2 Adelaide Street, Northampton NN2 6AR from 1330-1730hrs. Contact Anthony Chimimba 07799855806, Shenete Vushe 07818661362, Angeline Nehanda 07915085123.

·   Next Glasgow Vigil. Saturday, 17th January 2009, 2 – 6 pm. Venue: Argyle Street Precinct. For more information contact: Patrick Dzimba, 07990 724 137, Tafadzwa Musemwa 07954 344 123 and Roggers Fatiya 07769 632 687

·   ROHR Newcastle General Meeting. Saturday 24 January 2009 at 61 Bishops Benwell NE15 6RY Newcastle from 1400 - 1730 hrs. Contact: Linda Chingwinyiso 07894142263, Joseph Madziva 07905850073 or Fadzai Mudekwa 07727221873.

·   Unite Zimnite. Saturday, 24th January 2009 at 7 pm. King’s College London’s student-led charity Project Zimbabwe is holding a fundraiser for Zimbabwe. The event is an African themed open mic night with over 8 acts coming to perform.  Money raised will go towards their MedYouth Project, a life skills programme being taught to school children in Bulawayo next summer. Venue: Function Room, Walkabout, Temple. Cost: £10/£5NUS. For more information, check:

·   Zimbabwe Association’s Women’s Weekly Drop-in Centre. Fridays 10.30 am – 4 pm. Venue: The Fire Station Community and ICT Centre, 84 Mayton Street, London N7 6QT, Tel: 020 7607 9764. Nearest underground: Finsbury Park. For more information contact the Zimbabwe Association 020 7549 0355 (open Tuesdays and Thursdays).


Vigil Co-ordinators

The Vigil, outside the Zimbabwe Embassy, 429 Strand, London, takes place every Saturday from 14.00 to 18.00 to protest against gross violations of human rights by the current regime in Zimbabwe. The Vigil which started in October 2002 will continue until internationally-monitored, free and fair elections are held in Zimbabwe.




Vigil co-ordinator


The Vigil, outside the Zimbabwe Embassy, 429 Strand, London, takes place every Saturday from 14.00 to 18.00 to protest against gross violations of human rights by the current regime in Zimbabwe. The Vigil which started in October 2002 will continue until internationally-monitored, free and fair elections are held in Zimbabwe.




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A day before Christmas I wondered how many friends at our table would leave
during 2009. I learned during the meal that two more friends would be
leaving Zimbabwe in February - their tickets booked and suitcases standing
waiting to be packed.

In addition to this, a third person at our table recounted stories of many
varied adventures around Zimbabwe in the last few months: camping, fishing,
short breaks in almost defunct resorts. "I'm trying to do as much as I can
before it all comes to an end", he declared. This makes me think he is also
about to leave and that his adventures are a desperate effort to stock-pile
memories. I wanted to tell him he was wasting his time: when he is long
gone, the memories he is building now will never protect him from the pain
of the memories he built as child in this country. There's nothing he can do
but steel himself to confront the loss of what he is leaving when he goes.
There is no buffer from that.

But maybe I'm wrong: maybe he is just adventure-seeking and spending his
money before inflation erodes his value. I hope so because he's a good man.

Apart from these personal tidbits of information, there isn't much more that
I can tell you - the 'festive' season has been bizarre. Life shut down.

At the Christmas dinner table there was almost no talk of politics. I
mentioned Jestina Mukoko to the person sitting to my right, and was stunned
when she asked 'Who is she?' How can a Zimbabwean not know, I wondered?
Turns out that this person doesn't have DSTV and also has no access to email
or the internet. I am reminded again that a Zimbabwean can very easily 'not
know' a lot.

I had a taste of that odd silence myself over the past couple weeks. The
rain knocked out my internet connection for most of the holiday period and
there is little to no chance of 'techie' back-up to fix it during this time
of the year. Town was dead-quiet even on the last days before Christmas, and
when we ventured in shortly after Christmas it was just as quiet. Without
town, the internet or email, it was as if I'd stepped into a twilight zone.
I do have DSTV, but with the horror in Gaza dominating the news, followed by
terrible firework accidents in nightclubs in Thailand, who knows what is
happening in my country - my country being the land beyond the edges of the
fence circling our yard. Crazy not to know what's going on in your own
homeland, but also very easy to be uninformed.

What can I tell you instead?

We had steady rain for days. The lawn is thick and lush and green and the
mozzies are loving it. As wonderful as it is to have rain in this
drought-prone region, I can't help wondering at how it may be exacerbating
the cholera crisis.

I spent several days sitting in an armchair, glad of the imposed break, the
disconnection, wallowing in doing nothing but watch birds in the garden
chasing flying-ants that naively came out with the rain.

I woke up on one of those mornings with a power-cut. The silence seemed
clearer and sharper than ever before. I had nowhere to go, and nothing I
could do, and I'd read all the books I had borrowed and had nothing left to
read. So I lay there and listened to the morning bird-chorus and someone's
child shouting at its sibling next-door.

It's not difficult, in this context, to pretend that everything is OK or to
fantasise about a future when all our Sundays could be just like this.

But I know the peace is deceptive and I know that the tranquility is an
illusion. Beyond the green grass and steady rain and birds chasing
flying-ants in the garden, my fellow citizens are starving and falling ill
every day. There is no break from the simple fact that as beautiful as this
place is even in its most ordinary moments, life in Zimbabwe is also
relentlessly bitter and vicious and cruel. It is this reality that makes
small moments of beauty and ignorance from truth that much more precious.

It's Monday tomorrow, and the first week of work begins. Our spluttering
economy has needs the tiny handful in the formal sector to get up and start
once again to do all they can to kickstart it for the new year. What a joke.
The illusion of tranquility ends and I have no doubt that reality will bite

This entry was written by Hope on Sunday, January 4th, 2009 at 9:00 am

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Laying the Foundation for 2009

The Inconvenient Truths about the West

By Arthur G O Mutambara

Harare, January 5th 2009


The year 2008 was a very difficult year for us as a nation. Since the
inconclusive harmonized elections held on the 29th of March, there has been
a political impasse in our land. The country has been without a legitimate
government. Our economy has virtually collapsed, while disease and
starvation are ravaging our people. Hopelessness and despair characterize
and define the national psyche. There has been complete leadership failure
across the board, within Zimbabwe, in the region and in the international
community. As we start a new year, let us reflect on some of the major
debates that are shaping our politics as we exit 2008. Of particular
interest in this treatise are the uncomfortable realities and challenges
that sometimes we shy away from confronting. In particular we seek to slay
that elephant in the national living room: How ignorant and unstrategic
external involvement in the Zimbabwean discourse does more harm than good.
We seek to argue that in the year 2008, brazen and crass Western shenanigans
have actually undermined the opposition and strengthened Robert Mugabe. More
importantly, it is our submission that the uninformed and reckless foreign
policy positions of Western governments, in particular the US and the UK,
have negatively impacted our national interest. Zimbabweans have to clearly
understand this for our collective fortunes to be different in the year

The Mugabe Must Go Chorus

As we exited 2008, in the month of December, there was a crescendo of
demands for the departure of Mugabe from the political stage. There is
nothing new and creative in this Mugabe must go mantra. The trouble is that
many people and institutions on this track suffer from the disease of the
heart being in the right place, while the mind is not being applied. One
needs both a good heart and a good mind. Some of us have been singing the
Mugabe must go mantra for the past 21 years, to no avail. Incidentally,
Western governments disagreed with us in 1988 when we turned against the
ZANU-PF regime. Now they patronize us, as if they understand why Mugabe must
go, better than us, his Zimbabwean victims. We have been fighting Mugabe for
two decades, where have you been America and Europe? Why did you support
Mugabe in the late 80's when we were opposing him? Why did you actively back
him during Gukurahundi? We never heard you say Mugabe must go during that
period. Instead you gave him prestigious awards on both sides of the
Atlantic. We can understand it if your defense is that you are slow learners
and late bloomers where our matters are concerned. We can accept that. But
it then also means you must take your cue from us who understand the
Zimbabwean terrain better. You must accept that you are essentially
ignorant, unstrategic, and hence ineffective where African matters are
concerned. While you seek to assist us in our struggles for change, your
brazen behaviour effectively undermines us and strengthens our opponents.
You must listen to us and not the other way round.

The December 2008 Mugabe must go chorus was as pathetic as it was both
unimaginative and predictable. It started with Raila Odinga, Bishop John
Sentamu and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, in that order. As soon as they were
done, David Milliband and Condi Rice came in to support the "many" voices of
African leaders. Thereafter, it was Gordon Brown, George Bush, Sarkozy, and
Merkel. Every European leader and their grandmother joined in, supporting
the "many" voices of African leaders. To crown it all, there was an
incompetent dash to the UN Security Council, where everything came crumbling
down; what an embarrassing non-event. Why was anyone surprised by this
unmitigated failure? Was there ever a method in the madness? What was to be
the logical conclusion of the chorus?

First and foremost there was no African leader who had spoken. So whom, were
the Western leaders purporting to support? Soon after Raila Odinga spoke, he
was contradicted by his own Foreign Minister. This means he was not speaking
on behalf of Kenya or Kibaki. Bishop Sentamu does not speak for any African
country. Well, the same for Tutu; he is a good African who speaks for no
African nation. For him to be effective he should work on convincing the
South African political leadership to adopt his views. Interesting enough,
even the usually reckless and unimaginative Ian Khama was not part of the
African voices. So when these American and European leaders went into chorus
who were they supporting? In a continent of 53 countries, the US and UK
could not convince a single African President to be part of their elegant
chorus. If the Western leaders were indeed just supporting themselves why
did they lie that they were supporting voices of African leaders. If they
care about what African leaders think, why did they not spend enough time
convincing the real African leaders of the correctness of Western positions
and thereafter, have the African leaders speak first. Surely if, for
example, Presidents Kgalema Motlanthe, Armando Geubuza, José Eduardo dos
Santos, Jakaya Kikwete and Mwai Kibaki had taken a particular collective
position on Zimbabwe, and Western governments had come in to support them,
there would have been some traction.

But no, the Western powers chose to create their own pseudo African leaders,
and then force a world chorus. This was sure to fail.  Beyond the chorus,
there was no real strategy to resolve the crisis in Zimbabwe. There was no
specific action that the US and the UK were going to take after the chorus.
Would it not have been logical to back the slogans with both procedural
plans and proper African buy-in?  It seems the rationale was that Mugabe was
just going to fall off the Zimbabwe political stage because of the deafening
sound of Western leaders repeating the same meaningless message. How
pathetic! Well, shame on you for trivializing the legitimate struggle of our

The Avenues through which Mugabe Can Go

There are three ways Mugabe can be removed from the Presidency and
leadership of Zimbabwe: (1) use of violence or arms of war (2) peaceful mass
uprising or demonstrations (3) free and fair elections. The use of violence
to drive out Mugabe has been suggested in certain quarters. What has not
been done is an interrogation of what form this will take, its meaning,
consequences and the aftermath. One way a violent overthrow can be envisaged
is to have American and British troops invade Zimbabwe as they did in Iraq.
Of course they can get rid of Mugabe that way. However, Western forces will
have to bleed on Zimbabwean soil in the process. It will not be a walk in
the park. After the US misadventure in Somalia, where American marines were
slaughtered in the streets of Mogadishu, the debate in the US Senate was
very instructive. The key sentiment was quite unequivocal, "That entire
country of Somalia is not worth a single American life. We should never
allow American lives to be lost in defense of these worthless African
countries." That was the attitude then. Has anything changed? Jendayi
Frazer, Condi Rice and George Bush, are you now ready to bleed in pursuit of
African freedom and prosperity? If you are not prepared to have US marines
killed in Zimbabwe, please just shut up on the issue of military
intervention to remove Mugabe.

Let us assume for a minute that these Western leaders are serious players
and not just careless talkers. They can then actually bring their troops
into Zimbabwe and get the job done. After Mugabe is gone the Saddam way,
what happens next? What has US military intervention produced in Iraq and
Afghanistan? Do we have democratic outcomes in these countries? Are they
peaceful, democratic and prosperous nations? Why would the Zimbabwean
outcome be any different? If not, then why should this even be considered as
an option?

In terms of foreign armies invading Zimbabwe, it is only Western nations
that are worth analyzing as we have attempted above. Only two African
countries, Botswana and Kenya have expressed an appetite for physical
confrontation with Zimbabwe. We will not even dignify Botswana's posturing
with too much discussion. They have no army but an incompetent police force
which has no capacity to invade a desert much less a country with Zimbabwe's
military experience. Raila Odinga does not speak for the Kenyan government,
so the analysis ends there. If only he could start by convincing his own
government, we will have more to say about the efficacy of his utterances.

The other version of violence that can certainly topple Mugabe is an armed
struggle waged by Zimbabweans themselves in the same way that ZANLA and
ZIPRA executed war against Smith. How feasible and practical is this
proposition at this point in time and within the geopolitical context of the
SADC region? Is it even a desirable alternative for the people of Zimbabwe?
We believe there are no affirmative responses to either of these questions.

The second possible method by which Mugabe can be deposed is through
peaceful mass uprisings or demonstrations. Do we have the capacity as
Zimbabweans to execute these? What do the gallant efforts of the NCA and
WOZA teach us. How many of us join their brave marches? How many Zimbabweans
joined the soldiers when they went on the rampage on the streets of Harare?
It is clear that the appetite for an orange revolution in Zimbabwe has still
to be developed, before a mass uprising becomes a realistic platform to
drive Mugabe out. Our politicians within the opposition movement also have
to be ready to assume the sacrifices that this option entails. Where
political leaders go into hiding at the slightest threat of persecution, we
fail to see how this option can be brought to fruition.

This leaves us with the third and only avenue for the departure of Mugabe,
that is, through free and fair elections. The question then becomes how do
we achieve a free and fair election in Zimbabwe? Certainly not through
demanding harmonized elections today which will be conducted under June 27
conditions. Needless to say in such a plebiscite Mugabe will capture the
Presidency and the current combined opposition majority in Parliament will
be completely reversed. Let us be strategic. Our people and country are not
election ready at the moment. We need to go through a transitional period in
which we resolve the humanitarian crisis afflicting our people, carry out
national healing, begin economic recovery, and more importantly adopt a new
people driven democratic constitution. This is the bridge that Zimbabwe
needs in its march to democracy. After that we can then carry out free and
fair elections. If Mugabe participates in those elections, he will then be
defeated. This is the only practical way that will lead to Mugabe's
departure. The GPA of 15th September 2008 seeks to facilitate such a
possibility. Folks, this is as good as it gets. Unfortunately, Mugabe will
have to be part of the transition, as we explain in the next section. Please
Mr. Brown and Mr. Bush get over your foolish, uninformed and unstrategic
obsession with Mugabe going today. If you cannot explicitly articulate how
you are going to remove him, please just back off, and allow our country to
move on. We have to save Zimbabwean lives that are being lost needlessly.

Why Mugabe Cannot Go Away Through Talks

The election results from March 29th 2008 produced no outright winner both
in Parliament and at the Presidency. The June 27th re-run was an
illegitimate farce, so we are stuck with the March inconclusive outcome. As
democrats we must accept that this means that Mugabe and his party are as
much a factor as Tsvangirai and his Party are. Short of a new set of
elections or change of leadership by their parties, it means neither
Tsvangirai nor Mugabe can be negotiated away. On what basis can we have a
negotiated agreement that excludes Robert Mugabe? If we accept the March
results as legitimate, he is a leader of a party which won 99 MPs vs. 100
for MDC-T, 30 Senators vs. 24 for MDC-T. He came second to Tsvangirai, 43.2%
vs. 47.8%. More importantly Mugabe currently possesses the Presidency of
Zimbabwe, yes illegitimately. Well, at law they say that possession is 90%
of ownership. The fact that Mugabe has this power of incumbency is the
reason why Arthur Mutambara is still on trial in the Supreme Court, Tendai
Biti has treason charges around his neck, activists are being abducted, and
Morgan Tsvangirai, the Prime Minister-Designate, had a torrid time getting a
passport. This means Mr. Mugabe is in charge of the Zimbabwean State. Given
this reality on the ground and the electoral outcome of March 29th 2008
(which because of our lack of strategic thinking we have all sanitized as a
legitimate outcome), it is foolishness to think that you can negotiate
Robert Mugabe out of power, and somehow miraculously achieve a power sharing
arrangement that excludes him. In terms of democratic practice it will be
unjust, and in terms of real politick it will be impossible. Oh yes, on the
basis of the March 29th harmonized results Mugabe should be part of any
power sharing transitional authority in Zimbabwe, since he is President of a
Party well represented in both legislative houses, and he came second in the
inconclusive Presidential race. We might not like these democratic
circumstances, but we have to live with that reality. Politics is an art of
the possible. In the current Zimbabwean political landscape, the
possibilities belong to both Robert Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangirai. They need
each other. We can debate the specific role that Mugabe should play. For now
that debate was settled by Mugabe, Tsvangirai and Mutambara when they signed
the Global Political Agreement (GPA) on the 15th of September 2008. Robert
Mugabe is President Designate and Morgan Tsvangirai is Prime Minister
Designate. But, are we saying that GPA is the only show in town? No,
absolutely not.

Alternative Frameworks to the September 15th GPA

A lot of debates and thinking has gone into crafting alternatives to the
agreement of September 15th 2008. Unfortunately, it has been a comedy of
errors and unsophisticated hallucinations. Even well respected international
bodies like the International Crisis Group (ICG) have been found miserably
wanting. Renowned conflict resolution experts, civic society leaders and
Western pundits have shown astonishing lack of creativity and imagination.
The starting point in establishing an alternative path for Zimbabwe consists
of grasping a clear understanding of why we are having challenges in
implementing the current GPA. The new formulation must then robustly
illustrate how it will avoid these current challenges. Beyond this, the
efficacy, process details, timelines and milestones of any new strategy must
then be clearly articulated. None of the critics of the current GPA has even
begun to do any of the above. Among a number of obstacles to consummation,
the major challenge we have faced in executing the Zimbabwean GPA is the
inability to achieve sufficient buy in from the two major protagonists in
the political impasse; ZANU-PF and MDC-T. They are the critical players in
any national transitional discussion, because any agreed arrangement will
require legal effect through a constitutional amendment in parliament. Such
a change will require a two thirds majority which can only be achieved by
the participation of both ZANU-PF and MDC-T, as a minimum requirement. None
of the proposals from the ICG, the civic society groups (both national and
regional), or the arrogant and ignorant international community has
addressed this simple challenge: How are you going to ensure that both MDC-T
and ZANU-PF will embrace your new grand proposal? If one or both of them do
not accept your framework what are you going to do? Please, this is
commonsensical. Anyone seeking to resolve the Zimbabwean crisis
democratically and within the laws of Zimbabwe must apply their mind to this
critical success factor: the show stopper. The busy bodies at the ICG and in
civic society do not even have the capacity to appreciate the existence of
the problem, much less the intellect to develop the requisite solution. We
are not saying it is impossible to develop an alternative negotiated
framework to the September GPA. We are emphasizing that it will require good
and rigorously working minds to come up with one.

The reasons why we insist on fixing and then implementing the current flawed
and imperfect GPA is because at some point the buy-in between the two key
protagonist was achieved through the signatures of the MOU on the 21st of
July 2008 and the GPA on the 15th of September 2008. Yes, there are
disagreements now, but there are two agreed reference points. The key
players and their teams have been actively negotiating the political impasse
from March 29th 2008, and now four months after signing the GPA there are
still implementation challenges. Yes, this is bad and regrettable. However,
let us be careful not to throw out the baby with the bath water. If we adopt
a completely new process, how and when are we going to convince the two key
players to start working towards an MOU? Are you going to get that MOU
signed soon, and after that how much time will be required to get to a new
GPA of sorts. Furthermore, while we embark on these new processes that
require time and resources what will be happening to the suffering people of
Zimbabwe, the collapsed economy, and the destroyed industrial base? Given
the hardened positions of the two protagonists at the moment can you even
begin to sell the new path to them? The most bizarre, irritating and clearly
ineffective critics of the current GPA are those that premise their
proposals by denouncing one of the two key protagonists. Usually it is
Mugabe and his ZANU-PF who are dismissed. How do you even conceptualize a
negotiated outcome without the involvement of the ZANU-PF group? We thought
it was common cause that you do not make peace with your friends, but with
your opponents.

One would expect someone of Jendayi Frazer's stature to understand all this.
How does she say that the US supports the negotiated power sharing, but
insists that Mugabe must not be involved? Making these statements while
defying the consistent advice that she received from all the South African
leaders that she interacted with means that Jendayi is insulting the SA
leadership at every level. By this disrespectful conduct, she is humiliating
both SADC and the AU. In this situation, with respect to the US proposed
dialogue framework, who will be the principals, negotiators, facilitators
and guarantors? South Africa is the only country with leverage on Zimbabwe.
To bring any kind of change in Zimbabwe you have to work with SA, and not
insult or humiliate them. Anyone serious about the Zimbabwean agenda must
grasp this.

Jendayi, I assume that you are supportive of Mr Tsvangirai and you want him
to succeed. Do you actually have any respect for him? He signed the GPA in
which Mugabe is designated as the President. Is it that you think Mr.
Tsvangirai does not know what is good for him and therefore you have to lead
him every step of the way? By the way, it is not true that the US government
supported the agreement when it was signed. For the record both the US and
the UK were opposed to the GPA from the beginning. They did not like the
fact that Mugabe was both Head of State and Chairman of Cabinet, and they
despised the GPA positions on land reform and sanctions. Everyone knows
this. We are not children. The US and the UK are now taking advantage of the
delay in implementation of the agreement to savage and destroy the GPA.
Jendayi, do you have a workable alternative framework to the current GPA,
together with an enforcement mechanism? And what is this that you said about
the weakness and incompetence of your favorite GPA principal? Did you not
say the following; "Tsvangirai is too weak and incompetent for us to allow
him to be in an inclusive government with Mugabe. He will be completely
outmaneuvered. Tsvangirai is not as strong as Odinga. If he was, we would
have allowed him to get into the GNU with Mugabe?" How can you possibly say
such insulting remarks about your favorite opposition leader? With friends
like these who needs enemies. Incidentally, did you share your views about
Tsvangirai with him? Why not? Anyway, who are you to allow or disallow
African leaders? Does the US government have locus standi to do this? From
where do you derive such legal, political or moral authority? Would a
reverse scenario where international players seek to influence US politics
be acceptable to the US?

Can't you see that you are ruining the opposition you seek to assist, and
strengthening Mugabe that you seek to destroy? You are foolishly confirming
everything that Mugabe has said about the opposition; that we are puppets.
Moreover, Mugabe's strengths are Africa, Pan-Africanism and
anti-Imperialism. Any foreign policy that undermines African leaders and
African institutions plays right into Mugabe's game plan. Why can't Western
diplomats master these basics? Why do we have a premonition that most of the
destructive grandstanding by Western governments is meant for their domestic
constituencies? More specifically, US foreign policy is always characterized
by double standards, hypocrisy and dishonesty all rooted in the pursuit of
US permanent interests. We seriously hope that incoming US President Obama
and his new team will depart from this ignorant, ruinous and ineffective
foreign policy that effectively undermines its intended beneficiaries,
strengthens the targeted villains, while blighting the US standing in the
World. Things have to change in 2009. We are not naïve. We know that the
general thrust of the US foreign policy objective is largely independent of
both the individual who is US President and the Party they belong to.
However, we hope the policy execution, nuances and tactics will be
different. Zimbabweans have great expectations.

Collapse of the Mugabe Regime

It is clear that the Mugabe regime will not collapse because of economic
decay, mass starvation or epidemics such as cholera. The formal economy
collapsed way back when. The regime survives on the informal sector and
through rent-seeking behaviors. Yes, ordinary people are perishing and will
continue to do so, but the regime will not collapse. Can we all come to
grips with this? The diamonds of Chiadzwa, the Platinum Mines, and
assistance from friendly nations such as DRC, Angola, China and Russia will
see the regime pull through another 5-10 years. Of course this will be at
major cost to the population. Zimbabweans should care about this. However,
to the external players that suggest that we must wait for the collapse of
the regime at any cost, the needless loss of life in pursuit of the
departure of Mugabe is a small price to pay.  After all the lives lost are
Black lives which are not equivalent to White lives. Since September 15th
2008 we have had Western governments encouraging the continuation of
suffering and death of our people in the misguided belief that this will
lead to the collapse of the Mugabe regime.  Well, this will not happen, and
our people are dying in vain. All Zimbabwean leaders must understand this.
We must collectively take responsibility for the calamity afflicting our
country. In particular, Robert Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangirai are equally
culpable for the failure to work together.  They are effectively working
against the interests of their supporters and the generality of our
citizenry. The two leaders are more concerned about a misguided power play
executed at the expense of Zimbabwean lives.  They have blood on their
hands. The US and UK governments who are specifically undermining SADC
efforts to establish an inclusive government in Zimbabwe are complicity in
this crime against humanity. In the case of these Western governments, they
are driven by racism and utter disrespect for African lives. As Africans our
position is that not a single Zimbabwean life should be used as stick to
inflict pain on Robert Mugabe. People's lives are too important to be used
as ineffective political tools and weapons. We all know that Mugabe will not
collapse because of Cholera, mass starvation and a collapsed economy, so why
are we supporting this ineffective strategy?

Nevertheless, let us humour ourselves and assume the game plan works and the
Mugabe regime actually collapses through the existing crisis. Why are we
assuming that such a demise of Mugabe will lead to a democratic outcome? We
saw what happened in Guinea when their dictator died. Did the opposition
take over? Nope. If the Mugabe regime collapses, it is most likely that the
army will take over. Some ambitious and gutsy colonel or general will step
in.  Our democratization processes will, resultantly, regress at least 10
years. There is absolutely no way Tsvangirai and his Party will be the
beneficiaries of the collapse of Robert Mugabe. Quite to the contrary, the
ZANU-PF regime will make sure they collapse together with Tsvangirai and
MDC-T. Do the current abductions, confessions and dubious trials of
activists mean anything to anyone? MDC-T will not exist after the demise of
Mugabe. I hope Mr. Tsvangirai understands this in no uncertain terms. I wish
our brazen and unintelligent Western friends will do more listening and
thinking. This Mugabe must collapse strategy is not in the best interest of
Zimbabwe. A regime change agenda achieved through a scorched earth policy is
not what we need in our country. It will not benefit anyone. As Zimbabweans,
we should think seriously about options that will allow us to continue to
build, brick by brick, our democratic institutions.


The year 2009 presents us with an opportunity for a new beginning. However,
for this to be achieved, we have to learn some difficult lessons from
inconvenient truths. We have to do things differently. We must embrace
self-criticism as part of our best practices, and adopt an interrogative and
questioning attitude to all stakeholders, including those that purport to
support our struggles and our national interest. In the struggle for
peaceful, democratic and prosperous Zimbabwe, it is not enough to be right.
It is not enough to be a victim or to have the higher moral authority. The
victims must behave well. Those with moral high ground must be driven by
principles and values. Those on the right side of history must be thoughtful
and strategic. Those that support victims of despotic regimes must apply
their analytical skills. Good heart, bad mind will not cut it. In all this
we must always put the people first. We must cherish servant leadership.
Only then can we succeed. While external players and events affect our
country, we must take responsibility for our own circumstances. We should be
at the centre of our struggles and be the drivers of our nation building
processes. We must have enough leadership strength to define and determine
both the terms of reference and frameworks through which foreigners
participate in the affairs of our nation. In 2009 Zimbabweans must set the
agenda and own the rules of the game. We must be masters of our own destiny.
The critique of external influences that has been proffered should not be
used to absolve us as citizens. We as Zimbabweans, created the current
socio-political and economic crisis, and we will be the primary drivers and
developers of the sustainable answers. And yes, a people do get a government
that they deserve. Let us all be the change we wish to see in the year 2009.

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What does 2009 hold for Zimbabwe?

Will a government of national unity, if finally formed, be the solution to
the country's problems?

Knox Chitiyo,
Sunday 4 January 2009 12.00 GMT

As Zimbabwe limps agonisingly into 2009, there is one immediate question
which the MDC has to answer; will they join the still notional government of
national unity, or not? Morgan Tsvangirai stated that unless well-known
activists Jestina Mukoko and other civil society and opposition figures are
released, he will ask the MDC's national council to suspend negotiations.

After the tumultuous silence following their abductions, Mukoko and her
co-accused were suddenly produced, rabbit-style, out of the police hat.
Allegedly, the accused were involved in the recruitment and training of
saboteurs to overthrow Robert Mugabe from bases in Botswana. Even if this
were true - and there is as yet no wisp of evidence to support the state's
case - the inhuman treatment of the activists is utterly unconstitutional
and goes far beyond any crimes they have supposedly committed. If the MDC
wish to give force to their ultimatum, they should not allow themselves to
be steamrollered by Zanu-PF, South Africa and Southern African Development
Community (SADC), into joining a Government of National Unity (GNU) just so
they can all feed from the same trough.

"Operation Chimumumu" - the late 2009 assault on opposition and civil
society activists by the Police and Central Intelligence Organisation
(CIO) - is part of the carrot and stick strategy; the carrot is the shiny
new passport for Tsvangirai (and the promise of a seat at the edge of the
high table as Prime Minister if he plays ball). The stick is the inevitable
arrests, abductions and torture of opposition and civil society activists
and the threat of worse to come if the MDC does not co-operate. Oddly
enough, Zanu-PF may have given the opposition succour in making their
choice. High court judge Yunus Omerjee ordered the immediate release of most
of the accused. He also ordered that they be given access to proper medical
treatment (many of them bear the signs of torture), full access to lawyers,
and normal visitation rights. Instead, the state has placed them in the
notorious Chikurubi maximum security prison - a facility originally designed
for the most violent criminal offenders.

There are other issues which need to be resolved - the ministerial posts,
the governorships and the question of who will control the finances. But
both MDC groups should insist on an unconditional end to political violence
as a precursor to a GNU. Zanu-PF has alleged that the MDC is training
military recruits in Botswana. If this is the case, then indeed the MDC has
a case to answer; but Zanu-PF has not yet produced any proof. There is
currently a SADC investigation into these claims. The MDC should insist that
the findings be published before any GNU is formed, otherwise it will simply
be yet another stick that they will be beaten with. The state is also making
a distinction between humanitarian politics and human rights politics.
Humanitarian aid organisations have been allowed ingress into Zimbabwe's
blighted communities; human rights activists, in contrast, have not been
spared the rod. The MDC then, if it were to join a GNU, would need to be
aware of what it was getting into. It can hardly be part of a coalition
government while civilians are being abducted and killed. There is no
"acceptable" level of political violence, and the GNU cannot be Zimbabwe's
redemption if the drums are beaten on human skin.

And what of military intervention? I don't see it happening. The most common
suggestion is a military invasion of Zimbabwe from, or by, a neighbouring
country (possibly Botswana). Idi Amin's removal by Tanzania's Julius Nyerere
in 1979 is cited as a useful precedent. There are many similarities between
Mugabe's Zimbabwe and Amin's Uganda; a brutal leadership, a broken economy,
the flight of millions, and a restive military. But there are some vital
discrepancies - Amin provoked Tanzania and sent Ugandan forces into his
neighbour's country in a hunt for Ugandan "dissidents". Mugabe has been very
careful not to overstep the mark in his war of words with Botswana, and it
would be difficult for the Botswana Defence Forces or other neighbouring
country to justify invading Zimbabwe, other than in self-defence.

That leaves the UK and the United States to mull the challenge of direct
intervention. This won't happen; UK and US forces are at full stretch in
Iraq and Afghanistan, and the Caucasus and Middle East will always be
considered more important than Africa; there is also little public or state
appetite further military adventures in far away places. It would be a huge
operation and there is little indication that anyone is willing to pay the
costs. In addition, humanitarian military intervention is best applied when
civilians are clustered in readily identifiable camps or zones which can be
cordoned off and protected by an international mission. This is not the case
in Zimbabwe at the moment - although there has been tremendous dislocation,
most people are still in their rural or urban homes, and this makes it
difficult to imagine how an operation such as this would work. More
importantly, at the first intimation of a major military offensive against
it, the security sector in Zimbabwe would target the opposition leadership
for elimination or for use as hostages.

This is not to say that Zanu-PF will not face a military threat. Growing
dissatisfaction within the rank and file of the security establishment,
increasing indiscipline and possible small-scale mutinies might be
complemented by a possible "third force" of anti-state military operatives
beginning a campaign of violence if the politics remain unresolved. This
third force, if it comes into being, would be a threat to both Zanu-PF and
the MDC. It would not be an MDC organisation, but its existence would be
used by Zanu-PF to justify further repression. For Zanu-PF, an open military
challenge would bind supporters together, but it would also widen the
fissures in the security sector periphery and lead to overstretch.

The year 2009 will start the way 2008 ended; with the Zimbabwe question
unresolved. Zimbabwe will be on the SADC agenda in its January meeting, and
it will also feature at the UN Security Council meeting early in 2009.
Although the regime v opposition polemic will continue, for ordinary people
what really matters is how their daily lives can be transformed for the
better. In this regard, it is local and international aid workers and
non-political social activists who will likely be the real agents of change
in Zimbabwe in 2009.

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Zimbabwe: Banana republic or casino economy?


Posted to the web: 04/01/2009 18:43:37

THE advent of the New Year provides us with yet another opportunity to
reflect on what has gone wrong in Zimbabwe.

Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono, for self-serving purposes, has chosen to
describe the economy that he inherited five years ago as a "casino economy"
without addressing his role in undermining the rule of law.

Equally, the implementation of the GPA signed on September 15, 2008, is
stalled over a dispute regarding the sharing of executive power but what is
significant is that the state machinery continues to be used as a vehicle
for intimidating opponents and theft of private property in violation of the
provisions of the Constitution.

Whether Zimbabwe at this defining hour can be described as a "casino
 economy" or a "banana republic" will continue to be a subject for

A banana republic is used typically to describe a small country that is
economically dependent on a single export commodity, such as bananas, and is
typically governed by a dictator or the armed forces.

Although President Mugabe would argue that he is not a dictator, the victims
of the regime over the last 28 years would tell a different story starting
from Edgar Tekere to Jestine Mukoko.

During the last 24 months, I have chosen to devote a portion of my time to
share my insights into various subjects including the political economy of
Zimbabwe in the firm belief that I also have an obligation to contribute to
the conversations of our time.

President Mugabe has framed the conversation for Zimbabweans around the
issue of race and colonial injustice.

He has attempted to justify his administration's actions on the basis that
there is no alternative to the policies adopted given the purported
intransigency of the white propertied class to issue around economic

By craftily framing the issue around race, Mugabe has many supporters on the
controversial land reform issue. Having framed himself as the last defender
of indigenous rights and not the "Last King of Scotland", Mugabe has sought
to argue that the justice of his cause is the justice of his methods, and
more significantly that the end justifies the means.

In the final analysis, the argument presented is that blacks will control
the land under the umbrella of a benevolent government whose centre of
gravity must never be allowed to shift from the true liberators - Zanu PF.

For many Zimbabweans, this argument makes sense to the extent that there is
real fear that any regime change would mean a reversal of the so-called
gains of the revolution.

To the extent that the majority of the Zimbabwean population is rural-based,
such an argument makes sense.

After making the argument that all whites who own property in Zimbabwe must
have stolen without compensation from the rightful owners, Zanu PF
effectively took control of the political agenda and the kind of change that
Zimbabweans ought to see.

It has, therefore, been easy for opponents to be labelled as apologists of
the Western agenda. As a businessman, I also could not escape labelling only
that I fell into the category of "parasitic capitalist" or a "robber baron".

For how could I claim to have acquired significant assets without the active
support of the government of Zimbabwe? Even if the acquisition was
legitimate as confirmed by the recent ruling of the English Courts, I could
not escape being labelled a "thief" merely for being in big business.

Gono has sought to defend his conduct as the Governor but nowhere in his
book Zimbabwe's Casino Economy: Extra-ordinary Measures for Extra-ordinary
Challenges does he mention that the government of Zimbabwe is dirty and
often approaches the courts with dirty hands.

Many have questioned my motives in writing about my own story and, indeed,
the calls for me not to write anything have come from the unlikely of all
sources including the very people who claim to be championing the change

I have not been distracted and have continued to tell the story in the
belief that I owe it to future generations to know the real stories of our
time lest they will conclude that the actions of the government were
justified to the extent that they are intended to correct a colonial injury.

Many have wondered how the state came to control my companies through the
appointment by Patrick Chinamasa of an Administrator, Afaras Gwaradzimba, on
September 14, 2004, although he started his duties on September 7, 2004.

The role of the RBZ in making this possible has not been previously unpacked
and as we read the propaganda from Gono, we also have to appreciate his
personal role in crystallising the formation of a "casino economy".

He has sought to argue opportunistically that Zimbabwe is a victim of
Western imposed sanctions and, therefore, his actions must be evaluated with
this background in mind.

However, I should like to believe that the actions of the government of
Zimbabwe in respect of my affairs were not sanctions-related but driven by
some ulterior motives.

The primary relevant jurisdictional fact in my dispute with the government
of Zimbabwe in so far the nationalisation of my assets is that it was the
contention of the President that SMM Holdings Private Limited (SMM) was a
state-indebted company that was unable or was unlikely as at September 6,
2004, when the expropriation decree was promulgated, to be able to make any
repayment of a credit to it from public funds on a date when repayment is
due or the state has become or likely to become liable to make any payment
from public funds in terms of a guarantee issued in favour of a
state-indebted company.

For those who have the time to read the court documents on this matter, it
will become apparent that the Minister of Justice relied on a series of
commercial debts that the company borrowed in the ordinary course of
business. Such funds included amounts disbursed through the commercial banks
as Productive Sector Facilities that were introduced by the RBZ after Gono
assumed office.

In respect of all the indebtedness on which Chinamasa purportedly relied
upon in issuing the reconstruction order, none falls within the concept of
the debts required to enable a reconstruction order to be issued. SMM was
not a "state-indebted" company.

On January 7, 2006 or 15 months after the placement of SMM under
reconstruction, Parmanathan Mariemuthu, a director of SMM's English parent
company, SMM Holdings Limited (SMMH), wrote a letter seeking to establish
the basis upon which loans advanced by commercial banks were now treated as
if they originated from the state.

After the UK judgment, I took the time to review the correspondence that
became available to ARL challenging the factual and legal basis of the
contention by the government of Zimbabwe that as at September 6 SMM was
indebted to it in respect of commercial loans that were granted by banks.

It was always clear to the government that there was no legal basis for the
placement of SMM under the control of a state-appointed administrator
without the active support of Gono.

So precisely how was Gono supposed to assist? He then constructed a scenario
that converted commercial loans into state loans, albeit after the
appointment of the administrator, confirming that at the time SMM was placed
under reconstruction, there was no debt legally due to the state directly or
indirectly through the RBZ.

The construction must have gone as follows:

1. On September 20, 2004, Elisha Mushayakarara, CEO of Finhold, writes a
letter to Gono regarding a disbursement of Z$30 billion that took place
prior the placement of SMM under reconstruction.

2. On November 3, 2004, Winnie Mushipe writes a letter to Mr. N. Molai of
Zimbank confirming the concocted Gono version that all the funds disbursed
under the Productive Sector Facility were now to be recorded not as a
liability in Zimbank's books.

3. Through this rewriting of the facts of the SMM, Gono had created a nexus
for state intervention fully knowing that this was a manufactured outcome.
Copies of the above-mentioned letters are attachments to Mariemuthu's letter
referred to above.

On January 26, 2006, well after the confirmation of the reconstruction
scheme by a Zimbabwean court order, Fortune Chasi on behalf of the RBZ
confirmed Gono's version to the effect that commercial loans advanced to SMM
in the ordinary course of business were unilaterally converted to direct RBZ

On February 13, 2006, Mariemuthu responded to Chasi requesting clarification
of issues arising from his letter of January 26.

In October 2007, ARL's lawyers were able to obtain letters from SMM's banks
confirming that the loans were not due and payable at the time SMM was
placed under reconstruction. What emerges from the letters is the direct
role of Gono and Gwaradzimba in manufacturing the circumstances that
justified the intervention of the state.

Gono has sought to argue that he inherited a dysfunctional economy infested
by thieves and yet the evidence in the documents available upon request
through my email confirms the contrary. Here we see a state institution
being abused in expropriatory activities.

As we start a new year, I though this information would assist in better
evaluating whether, in fact, President Mugabe erred in extending the term of
Gono when the evidence is available is that he will stop at nothing to
create circumstances and even manufacture facts that suit the version that
he should be a trusted "cop".

As I reflect on the events of last year, I am satisfied that the battles of
the last four years have been worthwhile not only for me personally but in
helping expose the often misunderstood and ignored corporate tyranny that
has been prosecuted principally by Gono over the last five years to distract
attention from his misguided policies.

I do hope that people will take the time to read the correspondence and I
have no doubt that the conclusions drawn will confirm a deeply held view
that an inclusive government that is designed to gloss over some of the
glaring abuses of the state is not only a danger to the future of the
country but potentially undermines the integrity of those who have dedicated
their lives to a genuine change agenda.

Mutumwa Mawere's weekly column is published on New every
Monday. You can contact him at:

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Welcome home

Saturday 26th January 2008 [I think it means 3rd January...]

Dear Family and Friends,
It's not hard to spot the Zimbabweans heading home at the international
airport in Johannesburg. They are the ones buying bottles of water, loaves
of bread and whatever basic foodstuffs they can still squash into their
bulging bags. Other travellers passing through the airport are buying gifts,
souvenirs and treats but not us - we are still scrabbling for essential food
and trying to survive the madness of Zimbabwe. Distinctly third class
treatment begins as soon as you get to the departure gates: shouted
announcements, dismissive airport staff, not enough seating and overcrowded
buses."This Is Africa," you hear people saying, a shameful excuse which
disguises bad manners and bad service. It doesn't bode well for
international attention coming to South Africa with the 2010 world cup

It is an eye opener looking down on Zimbabwe from the air this January 2009.
There is a lot of water to see and the rains must have been good. Rivers are
flowing, dams filling and green is everywhere - but that's all. Gone are the
views of neat fields filled with crops; gone are those giant cropping
circles carved out into the red soil. The view from above is only of trees,
bush encroachment and scrubland and the feeling is of a broken land whose
fields are untended. Welcome home to a country still in waiting.

Waiting in line at passport control at Harare airport a woman in front of me
struggled to carry three bags filled with bread. "I don't want to be here,"
she said. "How much longer must this go on? I want to bring my Mum
chocolates and perfume, not bread." Her words spoke volumes. In front of us
on the wall two stern, grim faced portraits of Mr Mugabe stare down at weary
travellers who are already bracing themselves for the nightmare that awaits.

At the exit boom of the airport car park the attendant says I can pay in
South African Rand or US dollars; he takes the foreign bank notes but has no
change and does not give a receipt - welcome home to street law.

At a road block on the journey home a painfully thin Police woman in uniform
comes to the car window. She does not check the vehicle, licence or papers
but instead says: "Happy New Year, have you got anything for me?" Welcome
home to a hungry, broken civil service.

Despite being well into the rainy season the view from the window is of
scrawny, yellow, ankle high maize plants in a sea of weeds. Maize plants
which should by now be waist high, deep, dark green and about to silk.
Welcome home to another year of hunger.

Zimbabweans have only one wish for 2009 and that is for an end to this
horrible state of affairs.
Until next week, thanks for reading, love cathy

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Matabeleland should be given autonomy

04 January 2009

By Bridget Tapuwa

They say that whatever you are trying to avoid won't go away until you
confront it. This being so and focusing on Zimbabwe, It is of grave concern
that the Government of Zimbabwe has failed to address the plight of
Matabeleland, a big province in Zimbabwe.

In Zimbabwe there is a general tendency to evade or discard as baseless,
some issues; issues which however matter so much to some of the Zimbabweans.
Not only that, but there is a general tendency to discard as junk or
belittle, views by some other Zimbabweans. It is such attitudes which then
lead to some unending disgruntlement within certain constituencies. And
Matabeleland falls as one such.

I am no Ndebele, yet upon some reflection; I realize that Matabeleland is
best given autonomy; best declared an independent state; distinct and
separate from the rest of Zimbabwe.
It is pertinent to raise this issue of autonomy at this point in time,
because Zimbabwe appears to be at cross roads, and it is during such periods
that such pertinent issues should naturally be tackled and addressed.

The granting of independence to Matabeleland matters to most of the Ndebele
people. I have not really given myself time to follow their line of argument
for their autonomy, however some brief discussions with some has reflected
that some Ndebele's really opt for the merging of Matabeleland and South
Africa as a better option than to continue to be abused by Zanu pf led
central government.

Matabeleland has for the longest time been discriminated and deprived of a
fair slice of her cake despite her generating a significant portion of
Zimbabwe's Gross Domestic Product (GDP). For instance, a reflection on the
Mac'imbi production, a very nutritious product particularly for the
Zimbabwean HIV/AIDS sufferers is one such productive activity among many
other lucrative ventures in Matabeleland, ventures which are quite
underrated, undeservedly so, in Zimbabwe. Yet very little is ploughed back
to the province.

She has seen insignificant developmental projects come to fruition under the
guidance of the Central Government. Take for instance the Matabeleland
Zambezi Water Project (MZWP) which was first mooted ages back in 1912 and to
date lies an idle unfinished project. Other projects which could be of great
benefit to Matabeleland include, a potato and fruit juice project initiated
by the late vice-president Joshua Nkomo at the Balu Estate just outside
Bulawayo which also remains an unfinished story.

From an economic spectacle; this falls as daytime robbery, and such thieving
should be stopped. Justice can only reign if Matabeleland retains power and
tax money rather than sending it to the Central Government.

The failure by the Government to also recognize Ndebele as one of Zimbabwe's
national languages other than Shona is another burning issue. Both Shona and
Ndebele languages should have been incorporated in all the education syllabi
stretching from primary education; and each and every Zimbabwean should have
been bilingual.

The lack of respect for Ndebele as one of Zimbabwe's languages has also been
exposed by the failure of the Zimbabwean Broadcasting Cooperation (ZBC) to
run at least two distinct broad television and radio channels, the Shona and
the Ndebele channels to cater for the two dominant different language

It is against this background that Matabeleland is best able to stand and
'do it or go it' alone. Zimbabwe is not too small to be divided. The world
has some even smaller countries with less people, so propounding such an
argument against the split up of Zimbabwe is but baseless.

The granting of autonomy to Matabeleland will not only benefit Matabeleland.
The split will also augur well, healthily so for the rest of Zimbabwe in
many ways to pick up a few; more transparency, fewer squabbling when it
comes to the scramble for limited resources, which include enrolment places
at tertiary institutions. And of cause on this note, we should not forget
the long thwarted squabble, involving the Tertiary colleges in Matabeleland
enrolling more Shona candidates than the Ndebele candidates.

Discussions with other Zimbabweans has within some quarters raised concern
that allowing Matabeleland to be declared an independent state could bolster
other ethnic and linguistic minorities in Zimbabwe to also rise up and seek

On a positive note it is greatly commendable that some pressure groups
pressing for the independence of Matabeleland have been born. Such pressure
groups should muscle up more, sell themselves more and give unending heat on
the relevant authorities through pushing hard for their independence; if at
all Matabeleland is to get sanity. And the muscling up has to begin right at
grass root level. Otherwise, as a province of Zimbabwe, I fail to see how
else her interests could ever be justifiably catered for.

A couple of weeks ago, the Editor of New Zimbabwe, Mduduzi Mathuthu opened
up an interesting debate on the issue of How feasible the prospect of a
Ndebele president for Zimbabwe is. And a Daniel Fortune Molokele reacted
mainly arguing that with an appealing package and ability to market their
political vision so well, a Ndebele candidate could make it into the highest
political Office in Zimbabwe.

BritaVoice however notes that Zimbabweans are still quite politically
immature to cross ethnic boundaries and vote for a President from the
minority group as the Ndebeles. If even the Zimbabweans who are learned and
have had the taste of democracies in the Western world, can be insulting
each other on the internet over who supports MDC and who supports Zanu pf,
and if back home, a Zimbabwean is still stoned for wearing an MDC t shirt,
then there is still a lot of hammering to be done on the mind of a
Zimbabwean before political maturity can be achieved and before a Shona can
vote for a Ndebele into the highest political office.

A lot of sensitization still has to be done in Africa as a whole. The
problems associated with ethnicity and tolerance as a whole in Africa are
inexplicable, and continue to threaten peace and stability in Africa.
Zimbabwe is no exception. Even in Zimbabwe today, Ndebeles and Shonas in
Matabeleland still treat each other with some kind of suspicion, years after
the Gukurahundi. This symptomises unspoken anger, bitterness and rage, an
issue which makes it difficult for some Zimbabweans to cross their ethnic
background in voting.

The revival of ZAPU is highly commendable, thrives well for democracy;
Zimbabwe having more and more political parties, but we only hope that maybe
as a political party they should adopt as one of their priority areas the
granting of independence to Matabeleland. We wait in eagerness to see what
unique issues Dumiso Dabengwa and crew are going to offer on the Zimbabwean
electorate table. Yes, the very fact that they are choosing to go it alone
outside of the already standing opposition parties means they are vowing to
sell better policies.

To therefore dream of a Ndebele President for Zimbabwe for now may still be
quite far fetched. In that light BritaVoice strongly advocates for the
granting of autonomy to Matabeleland.

The writer, Bridget Tapuwa is based in Belgium and she can be reached at

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What this year's Christmas meant to the Zimbabwean Diaspora

Sunday, 04 January 2009 18:15 Sarudzayi Chifamba-Barnes

In Shona, we have a saying that a mother with a child strapped on her back
is burning on her backside, while the child is burning on the stomach. Amai
vatsva musana, mwana atsva dumbu.

This has been the case with this year's Christmas and New Year for many
Zimbabweans in the Diaspora, who have been providing financial and medical
assistance to families and relatives left behind in Zimbabwe. Christmas is a
time of celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ with friends and relatives and
buying presents for one another, but this year's Christmas has been tough
for many Zimbabweans back home and in the Diaspora. With the cholera
epidemic and  hunger, coupled with the  credit crunch  gripping our host
countries and first world economies  sliding into recession, surely it was
not easy, and can not be easy for Diasporas to continue repatriating funds
and food to starving relatives in Zimbabwe.

Many Zimbabweans in the UK admit that this year things have been very
difficult for them, and they have not been able to celebrate Christmas as
they have done in the past. With job cuts and rising costs of living, it is
difficult to look after themselves and their families in the UK, let alone
relatives and families left abroad. It is even worse for people waiting for
their asylum cases to be decided, and those whose claims have been refused,
as most of them lead a life of destitution and survive on handouts from
friends and churches.

This year the Zimbabwe Association (ZA), which is a charity working for
Zimbabwean asylum seekers and refugees in the UK, organised an event called
Singing for Our Supper on the 13th of December 2008. "After years of being
stranded in the limbo of a seemingly endless asylum process, hundreds of
Zimbabweans in the UK are now destitute and without support. Zimbabweans
will sing a combination of well known carols..throughout the UK", read their
press release statement for December 2008.

Molly, a Zimbabwean living and working in Surrey, works in a nursing care
home for the elderly. She said this year's Christmas was a hollow event ,
and instead of sitting around with friends and celebrating, she went to work
to ease away the pain of not being able to send money to relatives in
Zimbabwe as she has usually done. Rather, she worked for five long days, 12
hours per day for the entire Christmas period. She blames the UK government
and other western countries for failing Zimbabweans here and those back

"I think instead of talking about sending aid to Zimbabwe, this government
should help the situation by giving all the Zimbabweans in this country the
permission to work. Every Zimbabwean in this country looks after more than
three families in Zimbabwe. That way, it will be a new form of aid, that
will reach the people, and not this bilateral aid which goes through the
government and ends up lining up the pockets of corrupt political leaders,"
she said.

Chipo is a Zimbabwean freelance journalist based in the UK, and  works in
old people's homes. She says this year's Christmas was a  nightmare, as she
could not afford to send money to her parents and siblings in Zimbabwe.  She
has been the bedrock of the family since she came to the UK in 2000,
remitting money, clothes and food to her extended family members, but this
year's credit crunch meant that like many people in Britain, she has to
revise her expenditure by tightening her purse. She  feels guilt for letting
her family down at a time when they need her most. She failed to secure them
maize seed and fertiliser for this planting season, meaning  another year of
economic hardship for her since without a good harvest, the burden of
feeding the family in Zimbabwe can only be worse for her in 2009.

"With this year's winter  being  the  coldest in Britain, buying gas and
electricity alone has become a priority, and  takes a lion's share of our
[my husband's] earnings. We spend £50 per week on electricity, compared to
£20 we spent per week in the summer. Things are now very expensive in the
shops, and we have resorted to buying only necessities. We have had to pull
out our children from nurseries and make do with cheap unregistered care,
which is a risk on its own," she said.  This year she did not buy Christmas
cards for her neighbours and colleagues, something she has never done
before, and had to wait for the Boxing Day bargains to buy her children
clothes. She lost a family member to cholera just before Christmas, and to
her Christmas was a mourning period. Worse still , she can not afford to buy
the medicine that helps to control her ageing mother's blood pressure,
something she has always done.

Cleo is a Zimbabwean who works in Angola. He admits that this year has not
been easy for him either, and  he says the amount of money  he spent sending
to Zimbabwe this year alone was five times more than he did in previous
years. He lost a  cousin's child to cholera, and his nephew and nephew's
wife are currently in hospital because of cholera. "So I can say this Xmas
is the worst ever because the amount that I have spent sending home is more
than 5 times I used to send ,because of the ridiculous prices being charged
in Zimbabwe. Previously, sending hard currency was great but now we have to
send groceries plus cash because ma one (it's tough)" he says.

Sarudzai Mubvakure, a UK based Occupational Therapist and writer of the
debut novel, A Disappointing Truth, The Tragic Story for Sarah Witt, said it
is becoming difficult to look after loved ones in Zimbabwe   without putting
a strain on herself, because of the US dollarization of the Zimbabwean
currency.  "For instance I paid £100 pound sterling for a bag of mealie
meal, a bag of rice, a bag of beans, a bag of sugar, a bag of flour, five
bottles of cooking oil and three small bags of matemba. I thank God that I
was able to provide however, I still believe that   £100 should have gone
further than it actually did," she said.

Tinashe Mushakavanhu is a PhD student (literature) at the University of
Kent, and for him, this year's Christmas was filled with sad memories of a
grandfather who succumbed to the cholera epidemic. Even an invitation to
celebrate Christmas with friends in Wales did not ease the pain as he found
it strange to celebrate Christmas in the time of cholera, and  often wonders
if cholera will not strike another family member again. "It's strange to
celebrate Christmas in the time of cholera, to celebrate when there is pain
and sadness in your heart. For me, Christmas, was a time to reflect on the
year, the struggles I went through while in Zimbabwe and that triumphant
moment when I arrived at Heathrow Airport, because I knew I was free to
dream again..Christmas in this year of cholera was never the same for our
family. We lost our grandfather, the great patriarch of the family to
cholera, a few weeks ago. He was in his late 70s. This was a man who was
supposed to live up to 84, or even beyond, and enjoy the privileges of old
age but lack of sanitation, lack of clean of water, lack of drugs in
hospitals has certainly not helped the situation," he said.

Viola is a Zimbabwean nurse working in the UK. For her, Christmas passed in
a blur as she sat with her patients consumed with guilt and pain, since this
year was the first year, in the  fifteen years of her working life, that she
failed to buy groceries for her elderly parents in Mhondoro.

Thandiwe, a law student and self employed Zimbabwean living in the UK says
that the dollarization of the Zimbabwean currency and the high prices
charged by people in Zimbabwe has meant that instead of sending the usual
£100 per month to her parents, this year she has had to send on average £300
per month, putting her life here on-hold. "It's difficult to cope with the
cost of living in Zimbabwe. How can a president declare himself a president
when he sits and watches his currency and financial system overtaken by the
Rand and the American dollar, and yet he continues to pay people in the
useless Zim-dollar? Certainly this year has been very hard for me, and I can
not envisage what 2009 will be like" she said.

Mathew lives and works in Coventry. He said  this year was difficult for him
to even manage to buy himself a bar of chocolate, because his mind was with
the people suffering in Zimbabwe. He remitted over £1000 to relatives this
month alone, as they all look up to him for financial support. This also
includes cousins who fled the political and economic meltdown in Zimbabwe to
South Africa in search of greener pastures, but found the pastures dry
because of the asylum process in South Africa.

Emmanuel Sigauke, a Zimbabwean writer and lecturer of English at  Cosumnes
River College in California, says that although all his  Christmases tend to
be low-key, this year things are also hard for him as  it has become
increasingly difficult to help everyone who needs help back home. He now
prioritises between those relatives who are completely dependent on him, and
has recently asked one relative to move from Harare to the rural areas
"since I will not be able to continue paying her rising rent. Of course, she
informs me things would be worse in the rural areas.   I have also begun to
dread that phone call from Zimbabwe that comes in the middle of the night
when I am asleep. I just can't afford to help everyone who calls me," he

Given such a situation and the current predictions that the UK and USA
economies will shrink further this year, one is left to wonder who will
extinguish the fire burning both the mother and the child on her back . Even
the old adage  kutsva kwendebvu varume vanodzimurana (when one man's beard
catches fire, another man is ready to extinguish it)  is now hard to
contemplate since it will  now be a situation of each man for himself and
God for us all.

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'The book will be published in Zimbabwe ... no one will buy it'

The novelist: Brian Chikwava
Olivia Laing
The Observer, Sunday 4 January 2009

Brian Chikwava is worried about the possible effect of his first novel. "I
don't want to traumatise people," he explains. "I keep thinking maybe I
should have written something nice." It's hard to reassure him: Harare
North, published by Jonathan Cape in April, is unlikely to soothe any reader
to sleep. It tells the story of a young Mugabe supporter who comes to
Brixton (dubbed Harare North because of its popularity with Zimbabwean
expats) in order to raise $5,000 - by hard graft, blackmail or even murder.

The unnamed narrator is brilliantly, terrifyingly unreliable. He spends most
of his time lurking in a squalid squat, reminiscing about his days in the
Green Bombers, Mugabe's youth militia, where he meted out "forgiveness" to
"enemies of the state". It's the darkest of comedies, fuelled by an
electric, wholly convincing voice.

"I was interested in the young supporters of Mugabe," Chikwava says. "Those
people who come into your house and you say, 'I am a good person' and they
say, 'Yes, we see you are a good person, so we will take your equally good
kitchen knife, cut your throat and have a good story.' Frightening people. I
wanted to know how they become like that."

Chikwava had a privileged childhood. Born in Victoria Falls in 1972, he went
to boarding school in Bulawayo and studied civil engineering at Bristol
university before falling in with a group of writers and artists and
beginning to write himself, first poetry ("bad", he claims) and then short

He won the Caine Prize for African Writing in 2004 and received a
scholarship to the University of East Anglia, where he "very
enthusiastically" began to write Harare North. Brixton has now become his
home. "The Zimbabwe I knew no longer exists. The book will be published
there but no one will buy it. No one buys books now. They are no longer a

He hasn't decided yet what his next novel will be about. "I keep starting
things and then I think do I really want to spend two years on this?" He
giggles and shakes his head, mock-despairing. "It's a very wasteful

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