By Alex Bell
06 January 2009
The case against human rights activist Jestina Mukoko and her eight other
co-accused was once again postponed in the Harare magistrates court on
Tuesday, in order for a superior court to rule on the group's arrest.
On Monday a judge ordered that Mukoko receive medical attention before the
case proceeded - the second such order after police failed to comply with a
previous one, stating Mukoko should be taken to hospital so allegations of
torture could be investigated.
But Mukoko and the rest of the group, comprised mainly of MDC and human
rights activists, will now remain behind bars until further proceedings in
the Supreme Court. This after Magistrate Olivia Mariga postponed Tuesday's
remand proceedings until the Supreme Court has ruled on the legality of the
group's arrests and detention. No date has yet been set for the superior
court date, but defence lawyers on Tuesday said they are 'hopeful' the
Supreme Court will release the group.
Meanwhile, a group of seven other abductees is set to face Magistrate Mariga
in court on Wednesday, after their case was deferred on Monday. The group
includes MDC director of security Chris Dlamini; freelance
photojournalist Andrison Manyere; Zacharia Nkomo brother of human rights
lawyer Harrison Nkomo; and Gandhi Mudzingwa a former personal assistant to
MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai. The group also includes Mapfumo Garutsa,
Chinoto Zulu and Regis Mujeyi.
The seven abductees are facing charges relating to the bombing of two Harare
police stations and a railway line in Norton last year. At the time, the
bomb attacks were speculatively linked to a ZANU PF attempt to implicate the
MDC, and since the charging of the seven individuals it is being questioned
whether the bombs created convenient evidence for the case to proceed.
The case was deferred to Wednesday after the defence, led by lawyer Alec
Muchadehama, asked the matter to be postponed pending the outcome of an
urgent chamber application filed at the High Court over the weekend. The
order seeks to have all the accused released to the Avenues Clinic for
treatment after recommendations by private doctors who examined the group in
remand prison last week. The doctors recommended that the prisoners be
accorded full medical attention because remand prison does not have the
facilities they require for treatment.
The state has ardently resisted attempts to have the group released to a
private medical institution, insisting that they be treated in remand
prison. But the defence contends the health of the accused persons should
precedence over the state's desire to have the accused persons remanded in
custody. There were heated exchanges between the state and the defence
during Monday's court session, when Muchadehama accused the state of being
'collaborators' of the torture that was perpetrated on the accused while
they were secretly stashed away after being abducted.
6 January 2009
Human rights lawyers in Harare have issued a blow-by-blow account detailing
how the actions - and inaction - of named Zimbabwean judges, magistrates and
state lawyers have facilitated the unlawful detention of activists who have
allegedly been tortured.
In a statement issued in Harare on Tuesday, Zimbabwean Lawyers for Human
Rights (ZLHR) traces the steps by which lawyers acting for detainees have
tried but failed over a period of two weeks to get the government to obey a
release order issued by a judge on Christmas Eve, or to secure proper
medical treatment for the detainees.
The best-known of the 18 detainees involved is Jestina Mukoko, a former
television newsreader and now director of the Zimbabwe Peace Project, who
became the subject of an international campaign after disappearing from her
home early in December.
In an earlier statement, ZLHR gave an account of how Judge Yunus Omerjee
ruled on December 24 that certain detentions were unlawful, that some
indviduals were being held in defiance of an earlier court order, and that
named detainees should be either released or transferred to a private clinic
In Tuesday's statement, ZLHR says that police refused to comply with
Omerjee's order on the advice of Zimbabwe's director of public prosecution
(criminal division), Florence Ziyambi, on the grounds of an appeal being
In fact, Mukoko and some detainees were moved to Chikurubi maximumn security
and women's prisons, and others were moved to police stations. Two abductees
were removed to a police station despite court submissions by Ziyambi and
Tawanda Zvekare of the attorney-general's office that they were not in
Detainees' lawyers were denied access to their clients at all the police
stations they visited. At Chikurubi they were allowed access only to women
and a two-year-old child who had been abducted with his parents on October
30 last year. However, they were denied the right to consult their clients
in private, as is provided in Zimbabwe's constitution.
On December 29, detainees appeared in court again, where they heard they
were to be charged with banditry, insurgency, sabotage or terrorism, some of
them with bombing police stations and railway lines. The detainees' lawyers
told the magistrate, Mishrod Givamombe, that their clients had been tortured
and how they were blocked from getting access.
Givamombe postponed the case for a day, then ruled that the detainees should
be returned to Chikurubi prison hospital, where they could be examined by
medical practitioners of their choice. But the detainees - including the
two-year-old - were returned to solitary confinement in the maximum security
prison and taken to the hospital only after doctors were brought to see
them. Prison officers refused to allow doctors to see their patients
The medical consultations produced "medical affidavits... for all
individuals," the ZLHR statement continued, "which confirm their statements
of varying levels of torture during their abduction and incarceration at
various detention centres in Harare."
On December 31, magistrate Guvamombe ordered the release of two detainees.
But state counsel Ziyambi told him verbally she would appeal against his
order. Despite the lack of any papers, Guvamombe told the clerk of the court
not to prepare warrants of liberation. (By January 5, no appeal had been
filed. When lawyers tried to make an application for the detainees'
immediate release, magistrate Olivia Mariga refused to hear it.)
On the basis of the medical examinations of detainees on December 30,
detainees' lawyers approached Judge Alphas Chitakunye in the High Court.
On the grounds that until Mukoko's court appearance on December 24, police
had said her case was being treated as a kidnapping, Mukoko's lawyers argued
to Chitakunye that the police should explain their failure to arrest the
perpetrators of the kidnapping. But the state filed an affidavit from state
security minister Didymus Mutasa saying state agents were responsible for
the abductions. He said disclosure of the identities of the kidnappers, who
were under his control, would prejudice national security.
On January 2, Judge Chitakunye accepted Mutasa's argument and refused to
order disclosure of the identities of the kidnappers. However, he did order
that Mukoko be taken to a private clinic for further examination.
On January 3, Chikurubi prison officials refused to act on the judge's
order. Lawyers filed a new urgent court application seeking an order that
all 18 detainees be sent to a private clinic for examination and treatment,
on the basis that they had been tortured and suffered severe injuries.
"Initially, a number of judges seem[ed] reluctant to handle the matter," the
ZLHR statement said. It was eventually set down for hearing by Judge
Anne-Marie Gowora on January 4.
However, at the time set down, lawyers were told Judge Gowora had refused to
hear the matter on the basis that the medical affidavits filed with the
application "are ones used in criminal cases, and not civil, so the papers
are not in order..." Doctors were present at court to give oral testimony,
"but the judge was not moved by this," according to the statement.
The lawyers filed fresh affidavits within an hour. When a clerk tried to
contact Gowora, she had switched off her phone and was unreachable for the
rest of the day. The following day, January 5, she indicated that she
"considers she has finalized the matter" and referred the detainees' lawyers
back to the judge president.
At 5pm on January 5, lawyers were told that the application was in the hands
of Judge Lavender Makoni, who said she was perusing the papers and would
advise the lawyers when the application would be heard.
By Tichaona Sibanda
6 January 2009
The country's political impasse will rumble on deep into the New Year as
Robert Mugabe has taken a month's leave. The ZANU PF leader, who last week
threatened to form a unity government with or without the MDC, is expected
to travel to Malaysia later this week.
The state media quoted Mugabe's spokesperson George Charamba as saying the
vacation was more of a retreat than annual leave.
'He (Mugabe) is very busy reflecting on the new structures that are needed
to deal with the economic sanctions against Zimbabwe, as well as working on
structures of an inclusive government which must come soon,' Charamba is
quoted as saying.
But analysts were seething at the idea of Mugabe leaving the country in the
middle of a raging cholera epidemic that has claimed more than 1700 lives, a
destroyed economy that has forced millions of Zimbabweans to flee the
country, a massive humanitarian crisis and a political power vacuum that has
left the country without an effective government for nearly a year.
It is not known if stalled power-sharing negotiations between the ruling
Zanu-PF and the MDC over cabinet posts will continue, but it seems likely
that further discussions about the formation of a unity government will have
to wait for Mugabe's return.
Political analyst Bekithemba Mhlanga said while Mugabe had a right to take
time off from work, it was insensitive of him to do so when the country was
'It shows he doesn't care about the ordinary people in the country.
Elsewhere leaders would suspend going on holiday to deal with any pressing
issues in their countries. Obviously Mugabe is extravagant and belligerent
and not the type of person who feels for others,' Mhlanga said.
Political commentator Lovemore Madhuku also criticised Mugabe for taking a
holiday from the crisis-hit country. 'It shows that he is not concerned
about the suffering people. One can only afford to go on leave if one has
done something tangible. Honestly, Mugabe has done nothing that deserves a
rest.' He added; 'Cholera is killing people and the economy is bleeding and
someone decides to abandon the ship and rest. For what?"
Zimbabwe Times columnist Tendai Dumbutshena said Mugabe was going on a
month-long holiday, leaving the country on a downward spiral without a
'After the signing of the agreement Mugabe went to New York to grandstand at
the annual UN General Assembly meeting. There was extremely urgent business
to be attended to at home. He then visited Qatar at a time when the cholera
outbreak was claiming the lives of hundreds of Zimbabweans leaving it to
foreign agencies to solve the problem and heal the sick.'
Analysts have been watching Mugabe's movements with interest as there has
been a general feeling that whether he left the country for a holiday or
not, would indicate how confident he is feeling about his power base. The
mere fact that he is leaving at a time of serious crisis, indicates that he
is feeling very confident indeed.
GENEVA, Jan 6 (AFP)
At least 1,732 people have died in Zimbabwe's cholera epidemic and the
number of cases diagnosed has risen to 34,306, the World Health Organisation
The organisation last Thursday reported 1,586 dead and 31,656 suspected
cases of the water-borne disease.
United Nations aid agencies have been warning for weeks that the number of
cases could top 60,000, with the impending rainy season likely to facilitate
the spread of the disease.
All 10 of the country's provinces have been hit, according to UN statistics,
which remain incomplete because of a lack of local medical personnel and
Zimbabweans are also struggling against hyper-inflation, severe food
shortages and chronic political instability.
by Patricia Mpofu Wednesday 07 January 2009
HARARE - Zimbabwe's new school year, beginning in a few weeks time, could go
to waste again as teachers threatened on Tuesday to boycott classes unless
they are paid in foreign currency to cushion them against runaway inflation.
Very little learning took place at public schools in 2008 as teachers spent
the better part of the year striking for more pay or sitting at home because
they could not afford bus fare to work on their meagre salaries.
Political violence that swept across the country following the defeat of
President Robert Mugabe and his ruling ZANU PF party in elections in March
further disrupted learning, particularly in rural areas as teachers fled to
the safety of urban areas.
The Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ), one of two unions
representing teachers in the country, said it wanted the least paid teacher
to earn US$2 200 per month, claiming that army generals and top government
officials were being paid in hard cash.
Raymond Majongwe, secretary general of the militant union that has led
previous strikes by teachers, told ZimOnline: "We can't work for nothing.
Army generals and other top chefs in government are paid in foreign
currency. Everything is being charged in foreign currency.
"The government should be warned that no teachers will report for duty
unless these demands are met."
The Zimbabwe Teachers Association (ZIMTA) said it had since last October
lobbied the government to pay teachers in US dollars because nearly every
basic commodity or service provider is charging in hard cash.
Paying teachers in hard cash would also help stem a severe brain that has
seen thousands of teachers leave the country for better paying jobs abroad,
according to ZIMTA chief executive Sifiso Ndlovu.
Ndlovu said: "Initially we were pegging our salaries in Zimbabwe dollars
against the US dollar but realising that the Zimbabwe dollar has (become)
obsolete we now want US$2 318.14."
Education permanent secretary Stephen Mahere - who earlier on Tuesday
postponed the beginning of the new term by two weeks in another sign of
chaos in Zimbabwe's once famed public education sector - was not immediately
available for comment on the teachers' demands.
Mahere told state radio the new term will begin on January 27 instead of the
13th to allow completion of marking of last year's public examinations.
Delays in marking examinations were because senior teachers would not mark
them until their were paid more allowances.
With its value eroded daily by the world's highest inflation of more than
231 million percent, the Zimbabwe dollar is nearly worthless, and both
consumers and traders are increasingly shunning the currency in favour of
A collapsed currency is the most visible sign of Zimbabwe's deepening
economic and humanitarian crisis that is also seen in rising acute shortages
of food and basic commodities, amid outbreaks of killer diseases such as
cholera and anthrax.
The crisis has triggered a severe brain drain with thousands of skilled
professionals, among them teachers, bankers, lawyers, doctors and engineers
fleeing Zimbabwe to go abroad seeking better pay and living conditions.
The PTUZ said more than 35 000 teachers left the profession last year in
search of greener pastures in neighboring countries, especially South Africa
The union says the country requires 150 000 qualified teachers for effective
teaching but has plus or minus 75 000 teachers with nearly half of them
A September power-sharing agreement between Mugabe and the two opposition
MDC formations had sparked hope that Zimbabwe could finally emerge from its
But the deal has failed to take off because Mugabe and main opposition
leader Morgan Tsvangirai cannot agree over who should control key ministries
in a unity government outlined in the agreement. - ZimOnline
For example, 2006/2007 was a good year in terms of rainfall but very little food was produced. It is important to look at the prospect of this season now so that proper planning can be done in time.
Any continued planting of maize now should be discounted in looking at the incoming season. If such maize was to mature, that should be taken as bonus. There will be a continued shortage of food this year. It is likely to be on a much higher scale than last season.
There has been a lot of talk about the ‘champion farmer’ programme where we have seen lots of distribution of so called inputs to supposedly many farmers across the country. We have been told that 500 000 ha were put under the programme and that this would produce 2 million tonnes of maize.
We know for certain that while the maize seed required for the season is 50 000 tonnes, there was only 23 000 tonnes available with a further promised import of 5 000 tonnes. So, seed shortage militated against putting sufficient land under maize production. The hectares planted can only be a factor of seed availability.
I know for certain that ‘champion farmers’ across the country got very small quantities of maize seed. While there is maize seed now available in shops, it came in rather late and it is not affordable particularly to small farmers who happen to be the main producers. Like everything, it is sold in foreign currency.
There was no diesel for land preparation this season. The other seasons, farmers applied and got diesel at very low prices. The system was abused as some people who were not farmers were getting this diesel and selling it. Although this was not discontinued, there was no diesel for farmers at all throughout the planting season.
A few of the ‘champion farmers’ were lucky to get a drum or so of diesel right at the beginning of the planting season. Those who were able to plant anything had to use coupons. To get coupons, one had to go to the illegal money market. This shows how unserious the country is with food requirements of the people. What this means is that in addition to seed shortage, the land could not be ploughed since there was no fuel.
Total unavailability of fertilisers was much more acute than seed. Farmers planted without any basal fertilisers. In those areas where rainfall came in time, their crops are now in need of top dressing fertilisers. There is none available.
A combination of unavailability of fuel, insufficient seed and absence of any form of fertilisers can only mean that the crop will be adversely affected. There will be massive food shortage this year. This is compounded by the rainfall pattern.
Over the past week, I have covered the following districts throughout the country: Marondera, Mrewa, Chivu and Wedza (Mashonaland East); Chimanimani, Mutare, Mutasa, Nyanga, Buhera and Rusape (Manicaland); Chirumhanzu, Gweru, Shurugwi and Kwe Kwe (Midlands); Chegutu and Kadoma (Mashonaland West). I have also seen parts of Insiza (Matabeleland South) and UMguza (Matabeleland North).
The situation on the ground as at beginning of January is that there have been good rains in the south of the country. Those who were able to plant have a good crop. The south in this regard includes Masvingo, Midlands, Matabeleland North and South. If rains continue up to March, many people will have at least some food to see them past winter.
The whole of Manicaland, including districts such as Marondera and Wedza, is disastrous. In these areas, their first rainfall was during Christmas week. Farmers were still busy planting.
The early maturing maize varieties take 120 days; by that time it will be too cool for maize. Only hot districts like Buhera, Chimanimani and Marange in Mutare district can still hope that if rains continue, what they planted during Christmas could yield something.
The main maize producing districts in Mashonaland West and Central will be affected by lack of fuel, seed and fertilisers. This can be seen by the amount of land lying fallow. Manicaland and Mashonaland East are also big producers but they will have very little.
The sum total of all this is that if rains continue up to the end of the season, I estimate that at best, maize produced will be less than 500 000 tonnes. This means a shortfall of 1.5million tonnes.
There are two issues that need to be considered now. The first one is that the people of Zimbabwe will continue to starve until at least April, 2010. Nothing can be done to change this. The sooner this is realised, the better because plans need to be put in place now.
The second issue is that to avoid a perpetuation of the food shortage and break this chain which has been going on since 2000, THERE IS NEED TO MAKE AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTION PLANS FOR NEXT SEASON NOW.
Of course, the above cannot be done by anybody since there is no government in this country. Politicians need to put the interest of the suffering people of Zimbabwe first; otherwise we could miss 2010 as well.
By Tichaona Sibanda
6 January 2009
The progressive 'dollarisation' of Zimbabwe has extended to rural areas,
where dwellers now sell their fresh produce in U.S. dollars.
Almost everyone in the country is now buying and selling in foreign
currency, rendering the Zimbabwe dollar almost worthless on the domestic
Even bank queues that characterized the daily lives of people last year are
disappearing, as more people turn to using either the South African rand or
The MDC MP for Mbare Piniel Denga told us villagers in Murehwa were selling
maize cobs, tomatoes and their livestock in U.S. dollars. The MP was in the
area on Sunday were he bought a small dish of five mangoes for US$1. He said
three tomatoes cost US$1, and five fresh maize cobs also cost US$1.
'During the festive season I was in Chivhu where people were buying beer and
other drinks in foreign currency. I must admit that the use of our local
currency is fast dwindling and you hardly see anyone using it anymore. For
instance if you use a kombi from Glen View to the city it now costs US$1 as
well, so everything has been dollarised,' Denga said.
The Mbare legislator said Zimbabweans had been forced to abandon the local
currency for the simple reason that the maximum money you are allowed to
withdraw can only buy one small onion.
'Go to any bank now and you hardly see anyone inside. You see few people
here and there but otherwise the days of the Zimbabwe dollar are nearing
their end. This is not a secret, even the government knows that people have
empowered themselves and abandoned their useless dollar. We are headed for
interesting times,' the MP quipped.
It costs US$20,000 to buy a foreign currency licence, which legally allows
businesses to trade in forex. But with the virtually total collapse of the
economy most small business can barely generate enough income to pay their
staff at the end of each month. The Reserve Bank's policies, courtesy of
Gideon Gono, have created a nightmare for most of these small companies and
for the majority of the population who have little access to forex.
With everything now being imported companies have to pay for their inputs in
forex, but if they can't afford a forex licence they legally can't sell in
foreign currency. So Gono's forex police do the rounds of the shops,
impounding 'illegal' foreign currency from these shops. In other words state
The dollarisation has extended to school tuition with private schools
setting fees in US dollars, putting education out of reach of most people.
Chisipite High School in Harare is charging US$1,200 per term, and was
asking pupils to bring fuel coupons worth US$300 with them on their first
day of the term as a deposit.
Roxer Academy primary in Harare is charging US$800 a term, while in
Bulawayo the Masiyephambili Primary School is requiring a fee of US$650.
This almost guarantees that when schools open next week they will be
virtually empty. Families will be unable to send their kids to school and
teachers will have no money for transport.
January 5, 2009
By Our Correspondent
HARARE - Foreign correspondents based in Harare and local journalists filing
for foreign news organisations will now have to pay through the nose to be
able to report.
The government has announced restrictive new licensing fees for journalists
working for foreign media and foreign news bureaus, with authorities
demanding a staggering US$4 000 to practice journalism in Zimbabwe for one
The announcement was made hardly a month after the permanent secretary in
the Ministry of Information and Publicity, George Charamba, threatened to
ban foreign news bureaus in Zimbabwe after accusing them of quoting
President Robert Mugabe out of context following his remarks that the
country had "arrested" the cholera outbreak which has killed over 1 600 so
far and continues to claim more casualties.
Charamba charged in an interview broadcast on State television on December
12 that Zimbabwe had no need to accredit the foreign news agencies as
required under the repressive Access to Information and Protection of
Privacy Act (AIPPA).
Reuters, Agence France-Presse (AFP), BBC, Associated Press (AP), France 24
International and Al Jazeera were singled out as being guilty of "reducing
local reporters to mere runners". Charamba accused them of "playing God with
copy" on Zimbabwe, "in the process rubbishing the letter and spirit of
"There has to be a robust response," Charamba declared.
And that response was evident in the accreditation fees gazetted yesterday
for journalists working for foreign news media.
A journalist must first pay to register with the government as a member of
the press, and must then pay another fee to become accredited to work. The
new regulations are expected to put enormous financial strain on independent
media outlets, which must now pay to register and accredit every journalist
on their staff.
Media organizations must pay an application fee to register with the
government. Once the applications have been accepted, news outlets must pay
another fee to be accredited.
* Zimbabwean journalists must pay Z$1 million and Z$3 million for an
application and one-year accreditation, respectively.
* Local free-lance journalists must pay Z$1, 5 million for one-year
* Local journalists working for foreign media organizations must pay US$1
000 and US$3 000 for an application and one-year accreditation,
* Foreign journalists intending to work temporarily in Zimbabwe are required
to pay US$500 and US$1 000 for application and accreditation, respectively.
* Local media owners must pay an application fee of Z$5 billion and an
accreditation fee of Z$20 billion.
* Foreign media houses must pay US$10 000 for the application and US$20 000
for accreditation, payable only in foreign currency. There is also a
complimentary permit administration fee pegged at US$2 000.
For local journalists working for local media, the penalty for late renewal
of accreditation will be Z$100 000 per day while the penalty for late
renewal for registration has been pegged at Z$500 000 per day.
Curiously, the exorbitant accreditation fees fly in the face of amendments
made to AIPPA in January last year removing the requirement for journalists
to obtain press cards.
In terms of the amendments, the government will reconstitute the Media and
Information Commission (MIC), the licensing authority, whose name will
change to the Zimbabwe Media Commission. However, these changes can only
come into effect after the formation of a new all-inclusive government and
were part of agreements reached by political parties during last year's
The commission will consist of a chairperson and eight other members
appointed by President Mugabe from a list of not fewer than 12 nominees
submitted by the Parliamentary Committee on Standing Rules and Orders.
The commissioners will be chosen on the basis of their experience in the
The commission will then establish a Media Council, which will be
responsible for developing and enforcing a code of conduct and ethics to be
observed by journalists and mass media services.
The Zimbabwe Media Commission will choose one of its members to chair the
Media council. Two representatives of an association of accredited
journalists nominated by one or more associations of journalists that, in
the opinion of the commission, are representative of journalists and are
appointed by the commission will be part of the commission.
Other representatives in the council will be from associations of
publishers, advertisers or advertising agencies, representatives of mass
media trainers, churches, businesspeople, trade unions, women's groups,
youth groups and two lawyers, one practising and another teaching law at a
A new clause in AIPPA specifies more clearly what privileges accrue to
accredited journalists and simplify the procedure of accrediting
Two more clauses will extend the period of registration of mass media
services from two to five years and mitigate the rule that Zimbabweans alone
must wholly own or control mass media services.
Although one of the commission's stated objectives is "to foster freedom of
expression in Zimbabwe," the group is also endowed with enormous powers to
control, license, and accredit journalists and can refuse to register
newspapers and members of the media.
Under the current dispensation, accreditation of media organizations is
valid for two years. Journalists, who need only register once, must reapply
for accreditation once a year.
Last Modified: 06 Jan 2009
By: Channel 4 News
Raw sewage and uncleared waste poses an imminent threat as cholera spreads in Zimbabwe, writes guest blogger Helen.
It's been almost impossible to get an update on the cholera situation over
the Christmas and New Year break and the facts and figures are as elusive as
The World Health organization released figures on the 1st of January: 30 000 diagnosed cases of cholera and 1564 recorded deaths. These are chilling figures and most people believe them to be very conservative.
Witnessing the continued deterioration of sanitation infrastructure on the ground in Zimbabwe makes it very hard to believe that cholera and other water borne diseases are going to be bought under control any time soon.
Driving on an urban road in my home town yesterday a stream of sewage flowed out of a block of flats, down the sandy driveway and onto the main road.
Unlike the horrific photographs of human excrement flowing down roadsides,
this overflowing sewer looks more innocent but is just as deadly as it pushes
out a steady stream of foul smelling green water.
The stench is horrific and hangs in an invisible fog for two blocks in all directions. In one place the effluent runs across the tar road and into an area of spongy wetland.
This in turn eventually seeps down into one of the little streams where residents can collect water in buckets on the numerous occasions when the town's taps are dry. In another place the stinking green water sits in a dip in the road in a foul and stagnant pool with thick green sludge.
I winced as a car approached me from the other direction. It was coming at considerable speed and I tried but failed to shrink away from the splash left in his wake.
A spray of stinking water landed on my arm and shoulder and the smell left me
in no doubt that this was water straight from a blocked toilet.
My disgust and discomfort is nothing compared to that of the people living in the block of flats. Washing hangs on the line behind the building, maize plants grow alongside the driveway and children play barefoot in the sand.
Night and day the residents have no choice but to live with the smell of the sewage and the constant fear of disease.
One street up and on the corner of a main road in the town, a pile of sodden, stinking garbage lies just off the pavement. Flies swarm over decaying waste, plastic bags and mushy litter.
The pile of uncleared waste is surrounded by thick roadside grass which hasn't been cut and undoubtedly hides rats, mosquitoes and unseen disease.
The town's sanitation offices are just two blocks away from the overflowing sewer and one block away from the pile of garbage but nothing is done to clean them up and ensure urban health.
The problem of the blocked sewer has left stinking water bubbling out onto the road out since before Christmas.
A phone call to the local Municipal offices requesting attention to these obvious health risks results in a string of excuses which has become Zimbabwe's familiar, tired litany: no money, no spares, no qualified staff, no vehicles, no fuel.
Its a chilling chorus in a time of cholera.
Life-line South Africa
They pronounced their marriage vows in the evening. It all had to happen
very quickly. The bridegroom was in the country for just a week. Wedding
concluded, with the brand-new marriage certificate in his pocket, the new
husband was on the road again, back to South Africa, the next morning. Lucky
to have a job, his employers could not spare him any longer. Zimbabwe is
dead, is gives no life support. The only life-line is our neighbour to the
A few Zimbabwean workers toiling away in South Africa came for Christmas.
They do the jobs the South Africans are not so keen on, like domestic work.
Xenophobia? Seems to have simmered down, no longer a major problem. How do
you get into SA in the first place? Visas are hard to come by and too
expensive. Many bribe the officials at the border, and thus get into South
Africa and a precarious illegal existence.
Though a life-line, it is also a strain on families and marriages: children
grow up without fathers, wives worry about husbands.
We distributed this week water purification tablets to the leaders of our
neighbourhood groups, one small contribution in the fight against cholera.
We are the victims of a non-functioning government that does not do its
work. We wait for a government that will rebuild the infrastructure of the
country, neglected, worn-out, collapsed. That can only be done if there is a
productive economy. It needs a government with an entirely new mindset: the
aim should not be, as at present, to exploit the resources and in the
process eat them up until nothing is left, but to make them productive. A
complete transformation of our thinking and acting will be needed. Our
exiled friends and relatives who have worked in productive economies will
have to lead the way.
Mbare is always noisy. The firecrackers greetings the New Year made it even
worse. Were they trying to drive the evil spirits of 2008 away or welcome
the good spirits of 2009?
Many are still suffering from the wounds inflicted on them in May and June.
Without noise, in peace and quiet, attempts are under way to heal the
traumas of people whose bones were broken, whose bodies were bruised, above
all whose minds were crushed. In sharing their pain they learn once more to
walk upright and hold their heads high.
Oskar Wermter SJ
Soaring fees and teacher exodus threaten education of Zimbabwe's children.
By Jabu Shoko in Harare (ZCR No. 174, 6-Jan-09)
A Zimbabwean teachers' union is calling on the government to postpone the
start of the upcoming academic year, warning that economic turmoil will mean
a low turnout of both staff and pupils
"The date [of January 13] for this year's first term is unrealistic," said
Munyaradzi Chauke, a representative of main teaching union, the Progressive
Teachers Union of Zimbabwe, PTUZ.
"Teachers do not have money to travel to their [schools] and parents do not
have money for fees and cannot afford to buy uniforms.
He urged the authorities to address the situation before term begins, "As an
organisation, we think it is proper for the [ministry of education] to delay
the opening until everything is in order."
Zimbabwe's education system, once the finest Africa, is in chaos due to
severe staff shortages and dwindling resources in government-funded schools.
Even private ones are now losing staff, as impoverished teachers look for
more remunerative positions in neighbouring countries.
Hundreds of thousands of teachers have reportedly left for countries such as
South Africa and Botswana. Others have simply abandoned the profession for
better paid, though often more menial jobs.
Most teachers here earn about 10 billion Zimbabwean dollars a month, which,
in this hyperinflation-racked country, is worth less than one US dollar.
By comparison, their colleagues in South Africa receive roughly between
7,000 and 10,000 rand a month (740 - 1,058 US dollars). South Africa is
reportedly looking for at least 94,000 qualified teachers.
Zimbabwe teachers' unions blame the low state salaries on offer to teachers
and lecturers for a brain drain of skilled personnel.
Teachers are now demanding wages of 2,500 US dollars a month - a reasonable
sum, they say, considering hyperinflation, estimated at 231 million per
cent, and the increasing "dollarisation" of the economy, as many traders now
insist on being paid in the American currency.
Meanwhile, observers say that prohibitively expensive school fees mean that
growing numbers of children are being denied an education.
Both private and public schools are charging fees for the upcoming term in
US dollars, demanding anything from 200 to 2,500 for primary and secondary
education - sums the vast majority of people can only dream of being able to
The collapse of the country's socio-economic system has had a devastating
effect on school attendance, according to a recent report by the United
Nations Children's Fund, UNICEF.
It stated that just over 20 per cent of children attended school in 2008, a
drop from more than 85 per cent in 2007.
UNICEF representative in Zimbabwe Roeland Monasch pointed out that many
schools closed three months early in 2008 because teachers were no longer
coming to work.
He said he feared that teachers would not show up when the schools reopen
for the new term, and stressed that they had to be given more financial
"What we need to do is 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.
UNICEF is working with the education ministry to investigate the possibility
of setting up an incentive scheme to encourage teachers to return to their
posts. The hope is that more than 100,000 can be encouraged to go back to
work, by raising their salaries and providing them with food aid.
"For that, of course, we need some donor support," said Monasch.
Clever Bere, president of the Zimbabwe National Students Union, ZINASU,
called for the government to tackle swiftly the shortages of qualified
lecturers, learning materials and accommodation before the start of the new
"The government must get its act together and ensure that the education
sector is restored to its former glory," he said.
"Virtually no learning took place in our schools, colleges and universities
Bere said that many still hope the shaky power-sharing deal signed by
President Robert Mugabe and two leaders of the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change, MDC, in September 2008 will eventually be implemented and
lead to the recovery of the education sector.
Since the agreement was signed more than three months ago, the parties have
been unable to form a government, largely due to disputes over the
allocation of key ministries.
"The agreement, as flawed as it is, provides the only opportunity to take
Zimbabwe back to her glory days. The economy is bleeding, there is a
desperate humanitarian crisis, the nation is deeply divided, and there is
lack of confidence," said Bere.
"Only through the implementation of this agreement can the country be
Jabu Shoko is the pseudonym of an IWPR reporter in Zimbabwe.
By Richard Giedroyc, World Coin News
January 06, 2009
Zimbabwe is back in the numismatic news. Despite having removed a whopping
10 zeros from each currency denomination on August 1 inflation has continued
The Zimbabwe government of President Robert Mugabe has officially put
inflation at 230 million percent for July, the month prior to this so-called
currency reform. The Cato Institute in Washington says the southern African
nation's inflation is actually at a staggering 10.2 quadrillion percent.
Regardless, it is the worst inflation in the world, likely being the worst
inflation anywhere in history.
zimbabwe re-introduced coins alongside new bank note denominations in
August. According to a Nov. 3 Reuters news report, Mugabe's government has
announced it plans to "ease the effects" of hyperinflation by introducing
new higher denomination bank notes in values up to $1 million Zimbabwe.
No one in Zimbabwe is stepping forward with a new plan to tame inflation,
just to "ease its effects". The government plans to ease its effects by
issuing bank notes in denominations of Z$100,000, Z$500,000 and Z$1 million.
THere has been no mention of coins, which shouldn't come as a surprise since
a loaf of bread at the time this was being written was priced at more than
Z$50,000. At that price a coin wouldn't even purchase a single slice!
Perhaps Zimbabwe's citizens should take a page from India and Bangladesh,
melting metal coins for their intrinsic value.
As of Oct. 15 the highest denomination bank note in circulation was the
Z$50,000. Banks were reported by Voice of America to be limiting daily cash
withdrawls to this amount. Banks in the city of Mutare were reported to be
issuing bank notes in denominations of Z$20,000 despite the availability of
the higher denomination by the Central Bank of Zimbabwe. Power outages in
Bulawayo and Mutare were said to be limiting the capabilities of automated
At the root of the problem is Mugabe's economic policies, which have been
worsened by a failure to agree with opposition rival Morgan Tsvangirai over
power sharing. Until this crisis is resolved coins will not circulate and
bank notes will continue to be worth less than the paper on which they are
APA-Harare (Zimbabwe) The UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) said on Tuesday it
plans to set up "advice service centres" along the South African border to
assist children escaping economic hardship and cholera from Zimbabwe, APA
learnt here Tuesday.
UNICEF said three \'Advice Service Centres\' would be established in South
African villages and farming areas along the Zimbabwe border.
Some 2,800 unaccompanied Zimbabwean children have crossed the border and are
currently living in the Musina area of South Africa. Most of the children
are living on the street or in dangerous conditions.
Many arrive alone, hoping to go to a city where they could find a job or
search for a relative. Young girls are often sexually exploited or taken
into houses as domestic workers.
"Children will receive legal advice, information on health and basic food
and hygiene packages that can help them to better cope in their new
environment," the UN agency said.
UNICEF South Africa also has launched a US$1.4 million appeal to improve
water and sanitation in the border area.
"With the tide of people, including children, fleeing into South Africa
unlikely to end soon, UNICEF South Africa has just appealed for US$1.4
million to better provide water, sanitation, hygiene, education and
protection for the women and children affected by the crisis," the UN agency
Cholera was first detected in Zimbabwe in August 2008 and has since killed
1,700 people in the country as well as claim more than 12 in South Africa
and 11 in Malawi.
25 December 2008: 26 – 27 December 2008: 28 December 2008: 29 December 2008: 30 December 2008: 31 December 2008: 2 January 2009: 3 January 2009: 4 January 2009: 5 January 2009: Points of Information: Via Press Release
25 December 2008:
26 – 27 December 2008:
28 December 2008:
29 December 2008:
30 December 2008:
31 December 2008:
2 January 2009:
3 January 2009:
4 January 2009:
5 January 2009:
Points of Information:
Via Press Release
Posted : Tue, 06 Jan 2009 16:06:18 GMT
Author : DPA
Durban - Six months after violent xenophobic clashes in South
Africa, renewed tensions between locals and foreigners were reported in the
port city of Durban on Tuesday. At least three people were killed in the
Albert Park area at the weekend when a mob of around 150 locals carrying
machetes and other weapons stormed apartment buildings inhabited by
foreigners, forcing several to flee by jumping out of windows, according to
The Mercury newspaper on Tuesday reported that a Malawian man
died after jumping from the sixth storey while two others sustained serious
injuries. Police later said the two injured foreigners, a Mozambican and a
Zimbabwean, later died in hospital.
Heavily-armed police were called in to intervene in a hostile
confrontation involving locals and foreigners from other parts of Africa who
live in the area, the newspaper said.
Politicians meanwhile spoke of at least two similar attacks in
Durban, located in the eastern KwaZulu-Natal province.
Councillor Vusi Khoza told the South African Press Association
(SAPA) a mass meeting was scheduled for Tuesday to discuss the Albert Park
"We will have representatives from the community policing forum,
the police and foreign nationals during the meeting. We want to find a
solution to this problem and to explain to our people that these attacks
should stop," Khoza was quoted as saying.
Khoza told SAPA that foreign nationals from the area had on
Friday told him of an alleged plan to attack them.
A shopowner said that every night for the past three days, armed
groups had been threatening foreigners in his neighbourhood.
The Mercury showed images of armed men and women marching into a
building, under a report headlined, "Mob forces men to jump."
At least 60 people were killed and about 100,000 displaced in a
strong wave of xenophobic violence throughout South Africa in May. Most the
refugee camps that were established at the time, have been closed and
foreigners deported, or forced to reintegrate.
By Peter Clottey
06 January 2009
Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe is coming under intense criticism after
going on a month-long vacation trip outside the country. The former finance
minister is sharply criticizing Mugabe for leaving the country in economic
ruins while he embarks on a holiday. Simba Makoni said Mugabe can afford to
use state resources to go on vacation while the ordinary Zimbabwean is
saddled with abject poverty and dying from the recent cholera epidemic. The
criticism comes after President Mugabe announced Monday that he would be
forming a new government following his invitations to the opposition
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) to join on the basis of the
power-sharing agreement signed last year. From Zimbabwe's capital, Harare
Makoni tells reporter Peter Clottey that President Mugabe is deriving
pleasure as the people he claims to be serving are suffering to the point of
"The amount of money he spent on going abroad on holidays could save lives,
could plant hectares of crops and could pay doctors who are not working in
hospitals. It does show his regard or disregard for Zimbabweans lives and
welfare," Makoni noted.
Zimbabwe's government-controlled Herald newspaper reported that Mugabe plans
to go ahead to form a new government by the end of February by which time it
is expected that the three parliamentary political parties will have passed
constitutional Amendment Number 19 Bill and Mugabe will have signed it into
law. Simba Makoni says Mugabe's move to form a new government in February
buys him time to outmaneuver the opposition politically.
"Firstly, the news item said he intends to form a new government by the end
of February. He is giving himself two solid months, which suggests to me he
intends to consult with Morgan (Tsvangirai the opposition leader) and
hopefully to persuade Morgan to join the government. So it doesn't suggest
to me that he wants to go it alone," he said.
Makoni said the constitutional amendment that President Mugabe is seeking
could only be implemented with the help of the opposition.
"He would only do so (form a government) when Amendment Number 19 has gone
through parliament. Amendment Number 19 cannot go through parliament without
the support of the MDC legislators because it requires two thirds majority.
My take on the point is that he is giving himself enough time to bring
Morgan on board so that Morgan can in turn bring his parliamentarians on
board, on Amendment Number 19. He is not going to go it alone," Makoni
He said the opposition would only be part of a unity government provided his
demand of full implementation of the recently signed power-sharing agreement
with the ruling ZANU-PF party is adhered to by President Mugabe.
"I think conditions Morgan is demanding before taking up the position are
important. He is not refusing to take over the prime minister's position,
but that he wants the terms of the global political agreement implemented
fully to the letter and spirit, which Mugabe is not doing. And my reading is
that Mugabe is buying himself enough time to satisfy Morgan's concerns about
the global political agreement so that Morgan can come on board, and then he
would form an all inclusive government," he said.
Meanwhile, Nicholas Goche, who is the ruling ZANU-PF's secretary for
national security in the Politburo and Public Service Minister, was
reportedly in South Africa to brief the facilitators including former South
African President Thabo Mbeki on recent developments and to map the way
forward. Makoni says he doubts that President Mugabe is willing to form a
unity government with the opposition MDC.
"I'm not confident that Mugabe wants to form an inclusive government. I am
confident that Mugabe cannot go it alone," Makoni noted.
He said what is delaying the forming of a unity government could be
attributed to Mugabe's failure so far to implement the recently signed
power-sharing agreement with the opposition.
"We have not had the inclusive government yet because Mugabe has not
implemented the full provisions of the global political agreement. I would
think the purpose of (Nicholas) Goche going to see President Mbeki is to
ensure that both the facilitator and President Mbeki be guarantors and SADC
(the Southern African Development Community) and the African Union are
satisfied that the global political agreement is being implemented," he
January 5, 2009
By Owen Chikari
MASVINGO - Ordinary and Advanced level examinations for 2008 are yet to be
marked after markers failed to turn up claiming that the allowances paid by
the Zimbabwe Schools Examinations Council were too low.
The markers were supposed to assemble at different marking points last
weekend but there was a general no-show amid reports that they were
demanding payment in foreign currency.
It also emerged yesterday that the Grade Seven examinations were marked but
no compilation of marks had been made as markers were also demanding payment
in foreign currency.
A spokesman for the markers who requested anonymity yesterday said that they
will not turn up for duty unless their demands were met.
"We are not going back to mark the examinations unless we are paid what is
commensurate with our services".
"We are demanding US$2 per script while ZIMSEC says it will only announce
the figures after we have finished marking; something that we will never
Buses hired by the country's sole examinations running board to ferry would
be markers in different parts of the country returned to Harare empty as no
one had turned.
ZIMSEC Director Happy Ndanga yesterday confirmed the impasse and said a new
package for those who turn up would be announced.
However Ndanga ruled out any prospect of the markers being paid in foreign
"We are urging all markers to return back to work as we try to come up with
attractive incentives", said Ndanga.
"But as ZIMSEC we do not foresee a situation where we would pay anyone in
Ndanga also said that the Grade Seven examinations had been marked but no
compilation of marks had taken place as markers downed tools midstream.
Under normal circumstances the Grade Seven results would have been out by
last month while O and A level results would be out in February.
Because of the work boycott by the markers it appears results will take
longer than usual to be announced or even fail to come out.
The country's November examinations were written under the supervision of
the army, the police and other sate security organisations after teachers
refused to go back to work citing poor salaries.
The uniformed forces were being bankrolled by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe.
January 5, 2009
By Our Correspondent
BULAWAYO - Two young Zimbabwean workers returning to their jobs in Gaborone
after the Christmas holidays were on Saturday barred from entering Botswana
by state security agents at the Plumtree border post.
The pair was accused of being members of the Movement for Democratic Change
going out to receive training as bandits in preparation for a plot to topple
the government of Zimbabwe.
President Robert Mugabe and his government have recently accused
neighbouring Botswana of training militias to stage a coup against the
84-year-old Zimbabwean leader. Botswana denies the charges.
The government of Zimbabwe has insisted on its claims, prompting the
regional bloc, the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC), to dispatch
a fact-finding mission of its organ on security.
Jestina Mukoko, director of Zimbabwe Peace Project, and 32 MDC activists are
currently in custody facing allegations of recruiting and training bandits
in Botswana for the same purpose.
On Saturday the two men from the Buhera District, Doughty Nyamande, 25, and
Energy Chira, 24, were dumbfounded when they were accused of being MDC
Nyamande and Chira, who were returning to their jobs in Gaborone, Botswana
after the Christmas holidays, told The Zimbabwe Times in Bulawayo that their
passports were confiscated by Zimbabwe immigration officials at the border
The two were interrogated by members of the Central Intelligence
Organization (CIO) and subsequently barred from proceeding across the border
to Ramakwabane border post on the Botswana side.
"On our arrival at Plumtree border post our passports were confiscated by
immigration officials," said Nyamande. "We were taken to a small office at
the border post, where we were questioned by seven men about the purpose of
our visit to Botswana.
"After the two-hour interrogation, we were just lucky that we were not
arrested. But they did not give us our passports back. They told us to go
back home as we were suspected of being some of the MDC youths who are going
for military training in Botswana."
Nyamande and Chira, who both work for a construction company in Gaborone,
said one member of the CIO, told them openly that since their passports
showed that they were from the Buhera District of Zimbabwe they could not
possibly be allowed to enter Botswana.
Mainstream MDC leader, Morgan Tsvangirai hails from that district.
"One of these officials told us openly that the main reason why we were
suspected of being MDC members going to Botswana for military training is
that our passports show that we are from Buhera District, where the MDC
leader, Tsvangirai, comes from," said Nyamande.
Didymus Mutasa, who continues to serve as State Security Minister, refused
to explain whether it was now official policy that members of the MDC or
citizens originating from Buhera could no longer travel to Botswana,
Zimbabwe' neighbour to the west. He said he was on holiday.
"Who told you that?" asked Mutasa. "I am on holiday and, anyway, I don't
discuss security issues with journalists."
06 January 2009
By Alex Henderson
On Tuesday 13th January a demonstration organized by Citizens for Sanctuary
will march to 10 Downing Street, where a Zimbabwean delegation will hand
over a pile of CVs to highlight their dismay of Zimbabweans who are not
allowed to work in the United Kingdom under current immigration laws.
Citizens for Sanctuary is a UK based organization that defends the rights of
asylum seekers, of which I believe is a noble cause. But I an concerned at
the calls and response of Zimbabweans living in the UK to attend this
demonstration, it is sending out the completely wrong message.
With the number of cholera deaths constantly increasing, and Robert Mugabe
still looking comfortable in his position as "president", is this really the
time to be demonstrating for the rights of Zimbabweans living in the UK?
This is the time when Zimbabweans in the UK should be rallying together and
protesting at pathetic response of world governments to Mugabe's murderous
regime, not trying to make life even more comfortable for themselves.
If the inept MDC-UK branch could organize this, I believe it would be well
attended. Just look at the response of the British public during the
farcical Olympic torch relay in London last year.
Or the well attended Zimbabwe Vigil held across the UK every Saturday. If
all a mass demonstration would do is raise awareness of the plight of
Zimbabwe, I would certainly attend as would other Zimbabweans from all
around the UK.
But as Zimbabwe once again slips out of the headlines and newspapers, the
suffering continues. How can we expect the world to help us when we won't
even try and help ourselves.
Alex Henderson was born in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe and currently studying at King's
College London in the United Kingdom.
For more on the campaign he is talking about:
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:
January 6, 2009
By Tendai Dumbutshena
THE media gave ample space to MDC leader Arthur Mutambara to articulate his
views on the future of Zimbabwe as its people desperately seek a lasting
solution in 2009.
Unfortunately the space was wasted on a rambling diatribe against the West.
Mutambara, Zimbabwe's youngest political leader, has obviously come to the
conclusion that bashing the West is the best way he can bolster his
credentials as an anti-imperialist Pan-African progressive leader. His
overweening ambition blinds him to the sterility of this type of politics.
Zimbabwe is in a terrible mess caused by the selfishness, ineptitude and
decadence of the Zanu-PF leadership. This is where Mutambara should direct
his vitriol instead of begging Robert Mugabe to appoint him deputy prime
minister. The majority of Western leaders he hopes to get political capital
from attacking have a peripheral interest in Zimbabwe.
Mutambara has total faith in the Global Political Agreement (GPA) signed on
15 September 2008. In his article, "The inconvenient truths about the West
and Zimbabwe' he fails to explain why four months after the signing the
proposed inclusive government has not been formed. He insinuates that the
other MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai is, at the behest of the West, stalling
the process. Mutambara is now at one with Mugabe in viewing Tsvangirai as a
lackey of the West. He refuses to apportion any blame on Mugabe despite the
fact that he holds all the ace cards. Where does the responsibility, at
least the lion's share of it, lie?
After the signing of the agreement Mugabe went to New York to grandstand at
the annual UN General Assembly meeting. There was extremely urgent business
to be attended to at home. He then visited Qatar at a time when a cholera
outbreak was claiming the lives of hundreds of Zimbabweans leaving it to
foreign agencies to solve the problem and heal the sick. Now he is on a
month-long holiday leaving the country on a downward spiral without a
Furthermore, he made no attempt to hide his contempt for the agreement and
its other two signatories. In violation of the spirit and letter of the GPA
he unilaterally allocated ministries to the three parties and appointed all
10 provincial governors. Gideon Gono's contract as Reserve Bank governor was
unilaterally extended and a new Attorney-General appointed.
The state-controlled media continues to pour scorn on Tsvangirai treating
him as an enemy and not a partner. Violence against members of the MDC and
civil society which reached savage levels after the March 29 election
continued. Today many people are still unaccounted for while over 40
languish in jail facing trumped up charges. All indications are that Mugabe
is laying the ground for a massive crackdown on Tsvangirai's MDC as soon as
the GPA is officially buried. Add to that the embarrassing spectacle of
South Africa having to intervene to get Tsvangirai issued with a passport.
Yet Mutambara ignores all of this to put the blame on the West. This may
earn him cheap popularity in certain quarters but will not impress ordinary
Zimbabweans who are sick and tired of leaders who simply will not accept
responsibility for their own actions.
This column has repeatedly pointed out that the GPA was a bad deal because
it disregarded the will of the people by giving Mugabe a full five-year
presidential term. Mutambara and Tsvangirai blundered by signing it. They
were sold a dummy by Thabo Mbeki. It is a measure of Mugabe's attitude that
despite the GPA being in his favour he is not prepared to act in good faith
to get it off the ground. His aim is to collapse the deal and blame it on
Tsvangirai or form the inclusive government on conditions that thoroughly
disempower and humiliate the MDC leader. What he is not prepared to accept
is a power-sharing arrangement in which the MDC will have some say in how
things are done. It is Mugabe's role in all of this that Mutambara should
focus on instead of trying to outdo the old autocrat in denouncing the West.
At this critical juncture Tsvangirai and Mutambara must face up to the
facts. The GPA is a dead horse and there is no point in flogging it. There
is now talk of forming a government at the end of February after Mugabe and
his family have enjoyed their annual Asian safari. In most countries leaders
cancel official engagements abroad to attend to domestic crises. In Zimbabwe
Mugabe is all too willing to leave behind a dysfunctional state with no
government to boost his ego in foreign lands. The two MDC leaders should
stop misleading people through disinformation. Both factions peddle the lie
that the proposed inclusive government is transitional.
The fact is that it will serve a full five-year term with Mugabe as both
head of state and government. In a recent article Eddie Cross of Tsvangirai's
faction said if their conditions for joining the government were met his
party would be in charge. Nothing could be further from the truth. The GPA
vests all executive authority in Mugabe for a full five years. Tsvangirai
will be a prime minister with no executive powers. The Council of Ministers
he chairs will be an irrelevant talk-shop far removed from executive
The MDC factions should stop pretending that the GPA offers a solution. On
the contrary it only prolongs and legitimizes Mugabe's rule. They should
have the humility to admit that the country is living with the consequences
of their folly.
Mutambara must also realize that the West was given the opportunity to
engage in the Zimbabwe issue by the inaction of SADC leaders since 2000.
Ironically the little they have done to find a solution has been as a result
of pressure from the West. When the crisis began in 2000 SADC leaders chose
to turn a blind eye on Mugabe's brutal excesses and wilful violations of his
country's laws and constitution. They applauded him as he ranted against the
West while presiding over the destruction of his own country. In what was a
total abdication of their responsibilities they allowed Mugabe to violate
SADC protocols on governance, human rights and elections.
It is this failure to act that gave the West the space and opportunity to
get involved. It will continue to do so as long as African leaders cannot
summon enough guts to deal honestly with the Harare regime.
It is not too late for SADC leaders to put things right. A few truths have
to be acknowledged. As stated above the GPA is a dead horse. It must be
discarded. A solution predicated on the supremacy of the will of the people
must be pursued. A UN sanctioned transitional authority must be put in place
to prepare the country for free and fair elections. This way people are at
the centre of determining the future of the country. The GPA is a back room
deal that gives power on a silver platter to Mugabe which he could not get
through a free and fair election.
For that reason alone it is a bad deal.
Mutambara must wake up and smell the coffee. The fault for Zimbabwe's mess
lies not in the West but in the man he once opposed but now reveres. Mugabe
does not want this inclusive government. Stop writing groveling letters to
"Your Excellency" humbly requesting to be appointed deputy prime minister.
This may meet your needs but it certainly is not the solution the country
seeks. Put people at the centre of a solution based on a free expression of
Last month my to do list was long like there's no tomorrow. It was full of
errands mostly associated with preparing to pack up and relocate myself back
in the US. In Zimbabwe, seemingly simple to do items like get cash, pay
bills, get mixers for cocktails, etc. can take amounts of time which are
unfathomable. At least (after the frustration and exhaustion) some humor
can be found. Like how I nearly had a temporary Zimbabwean husband, for the
purpose of getting Tel One to accept a third party cheque as payment.
And sometimes it's not so much humor. More that it can be enlightening, the
little nuances of how moving through a to do list plays out. After
completing a to do item in Eastgate Mall, I found myself frozen amidst
people bustling this way and that way. I was wanting to follow the Eastgate
routine I had established. An exit route geared toward stopping in
specific shops to see what was on the shelves and/or if there were good
deals. But, no reason for the routine because it's not like I needed to
fill my suitcase with basic goods as part of returning to the US. My
frozenness lasted a good many minutes. Then the strangest thing happened.
There was a magnetic force which sucked me into the shopping routine.
Nothing good at Chipos Supermarket or the zhing zhong shops. But in Clicks,
my gosh good golly, they had more shampoo, conditioner, and liquid bath soap
than I had ever seen on a single Zimbabwean shelf. Fairly priced to boot!
A gold mine! Without skipping a beat I was strategizing how much I needed
to buy and which scents would be the most soothing. Once I realized buying
was not needed, I thought to myself: Shame I'm leaving Zimbabwe with all
these good bath products available. A different kind of humor playing out
here. Humorous that I became so well trained with my shopping routines and
strategies. And curious that I found it easier to be emotional about
leaving behind a gold mine of bath products and much harder to express my
feelings about leaving behind my work, colleagues, friends and all the ways
living in Harare enriched my mind and my heart.
One more thought about to do lists. Seems that Mugabe started 2008 with a
small voice which got bigger and bigger as he moved through a carefully
calculated set of to do items. A few of the items that got ticked off the
to do list include: manipulate voters roll, ignore elections if not
victorious, blame problems on west, use herald as mouthpiece, eliminate
opposition, take grace shopping, ignore agreements, brainwash youth, keep
all power, pay military, dictate. Me and a whole lot of millions of other
people are ticked off about what Mugabe's 2008 to do list included. Looking
for a fresh list for 2009 with items such as: share, play fairly, food aid
for all, return to rule of law, downsize motorcade, get kids back in school,
admit cholera is problem, pay civil servants fair wages, be realistic about
hyperinflation, enforce one person one farm policy, involve all in
constitutional revisions, take foreign aid yet remain sovereign, fade into
distance, transition to peace.
This entry was posted on January 6th, 2009 at 11:29 am by Susan Pietrzyk
Jan 06, 2009 04:30 AM
Patience is a virtue; it's no panacea for problems that threaten global
peace and personal security. For case studies look no farther than Gaza and
In those sorry places the present is as much a result of the world's past
complacency and impotence as it is a grim predictor of the future. From the
Middle East to southern Africa, local, regional and international players,
including Canada, repeatedly ducked the hard choices progress demands.
Gaza, a relatively quiescent early '80s hellhole of poverty and occupation,
now projects eerily similar images to those that flashed from Lebanon's
civil war. Smoking ruins and wailing grief are the common denominators.
Zimbabwe, once a breadbasket as well as a black hope for post-colonial
equality and justice, is a singular disgrace that distorts the continent's
significant achievements. Mad Robert Mugabe rules a ruined Eden where plenty
is gnawed to the bone by economic failure, corruption and now cholera.
Along with despair and intransigence, Gaza and Zimbabwe share the world's
misplaced indulgence. For starkly different reasons, neighbours and the
international community consistently reached the same conclusion: the nettle
was always too sharp to grasp.
It would be ridiculous to forget that events from the collapse of Communism
and apartheid to the rise of globalization reframed both situations. It
would be no less ludicrous to ignore that conundrums that seemed beyond
solution in, say, 1985, have shrunk in retrospect and by comparison to the
events now holding the world's attention.
Twenty-odd years ago Israel's enemy was the secular PLO, led from a distance
by the often ineffectual if always resilient Yasser Arafat, supported by
mostly ambivalent Arab states. Today it's fundamentalist Hamas, guided from
within and succoured by messianic, determinedly meddling Iran.
Back then Zimbabwe's problems, too, were on a smaller, more manageable
scale. Only the minority Ndebele, and from time to time white farmers, were
Mugabe victims, not everyone outside the grasping, murderous inner circle of
Looking away always has a rationale. Cold war manoeuvring and U.S. domestic
politics made it difficult to knock Middle East heads back when the issues
were mainly land and water and before each fresh horror entrenched a new
hatred. Ignoring Mugabe's descent into despotism was the price, along with
generous, blinkered aid, of pushing South Africa's privileged whites toward
Whatever the justifications, the outcomes are now inescapable. Israel, after
being drawn into a blundering 2006 adventure in southern Lebanon, is again
trying to prove that disproportionate retaliation will discourage opponents
with deep historical grievances and current existential fears. Zimbabwe is
home to a humanitarian catastrophe made more poignant by state incompetence
and Mugabe's icy indifference.
There's more to all of this than hand-wringing and hindsight. Rethinking
what the world is willing to tolerate is as much a priority as rebuilding
confidence in the global financial order. It requires reconsidering how and
when to best intervene when one country's crisis becomes the world's
To miss the urgency is to miss the concentric rings of extremism radiating
from the Middle East to Afghanistan and as far west as North America's
diasporas. To miss the importance is to miss the suffering of Darfur.
There is some hope. Canada's diplomatic response to Gaza is more
sophisticated and measured than Stephen Harper's reflex reaction to the
Lebanon incursion. Africa is increasingly willing and able to confront its
Still, that's barely a beginning. Changing the future demands learning from
the past: today's untended garden will be tomorrow's field run riot.
It is with deep pains I write to offer you two gifts for the year 2009. The
first gift is for you to learn the word 'sorry' and the second is for you to
kindly consider that there could be life outside State House. I offer these
gifts on behalf of those who feel my pain as well as those who have been
numbed by deeper pains.
I have known of you since the mid-seventies when most of us Africans owned
your liberation struggles as ours. We admired your quest and perseverance
for an independent Zimbabwe for indigenous Zimbabweans. We therefore
celebrated with others worldwide when Zimbabwe became independent and you
assumed leadership first as Prime Minister and later as President. Your
efforts at nation building, particularly in the first ten years of your
reign was widely appreciated even though one could not say all was well for
all Zimbabweans. Perhaps it was your independent mind and eloquence that
wowed all of us. There is no doubt that you the most eloquent President
Africa has ever had. Yet there is much more to life than eloquence.
I came to observe you and your nation at closer quarters as a resident in
Zimbabwe between August 1998 and December 2007. I was struck by the beauty
of Zimbabwe, the effectiveness of its infrastructure and the basic pride of
the average Zimbabwean as they walked shoulder high. Compared to most
African nations, Zimbabwe was in a class of its own with the high level of
literacy, good infrastructure, natural tourist resources and basic human
security. In the nine and half years I lived with my family in Zimbabwe we
lived on York Road in Greendale and for the first six years, our compound
had no walls or fence apart from a flower hedge. Unlike most West African
troops, the Zimbabwean police and military we knew in the late nineties were
a disciplined humane force.
Most of this is now history as we first had a wall and eventually razor wire
to keep out potential intruders to our home. By the time we packed our load
and moved out end of 2007, Zimbabwe was no longer what it used to be. Few
Zimbabweans could walk with their shoulders as high as it used to be. The
pangs of hunger, petrol shortage and failed currency, and world record
inflation have taken a toll on Zimbabwean life and dignity. Under your
leadership and the unique opportunity you had to impact Africa with
Zimbabwean resources and goodwill, you literally killed the nation. Who
could have imagined that Zimbabweans would become the scourge of the earth
as they flee from home to pastures they once despised. Who could have
imagined that some Zimbabweans would prefer what they went through in the
seventies to what they are going through now?
This is not the Zimbabwe we used to know and this is not the Comrade Mugabe
we used to know. Your Excellency- or what is left of it, what has happened
to you? How much longer can you live in denial of the groans and anguish of
your people? How far must the cholera outbreak go before your heart is
touched? How much longer must you find scapegoats for your escapades? You
once used White-but legitimate Zimbabweans- as your scapegoat and a world
that did not know you hailed you as a nationalist. Then for years you beat
the drum of Tony Blair, George Bush, Gordon Brown and the Western World's
atrocities against you. Only the blind, dumb and deaf were fooled by this.
Blair, Bush and Brown are hardly distracted from their food and sleep by
your drums of blame. Then strangely, you have in the past five years taken
full armour against 'a fly' like Morgan Tsvangirai? Who would have thought
that a warrior like you would be as obsessed as you have been with stopping
Tsvangirai at all costs from fulfilling his own destiny? Who would have
thought that you who 'love Zimbabwe so much' would offer your children ,
grand children, great grand children and their generations on the altar of
sacrifice to defend your turf against Tsvangirai?
The basic question I want to ask now is 'how much longer must you live in
your world of denial?'I am reliably told that you have said 'only God can
remove you' Yes, God will, sooner or later- perhaps sooner than you think
but what would you have gained? I can assure you, when you go the way of all
men, there would be nothing unique about that. On the contrary, there would
be parties and endless celebrations. Ask the Nigerians post Abacha. But it
needs not end like this. There is probably a word that does not exist in
your dictionary. This is the word I want to offer to you as a gift for 2009.
The word is 'sorry'. You may know of its existence but possibly have never
used it. Would you kindly consider using it for all Zimbabweans? Would you
consider using it for all who once saw you as a hero but have been let down?
Would you please consider using it for all those who have been recipients of
your anger, injustice and dehumanising acts? Would you please consider using
it towards your maker? If you do not learn to use that word now in the
phrase "I am sorry", all of eternity would not be enough to learn it.
Would you also kindly consider the thought that there could be life outside
State House? I was recently in Kabarak Kenya and had the privilege of
observing former President Daniel Arap Moi at close quarters. I saw a
newness of life in his passion to influence the younger generation through
his investment in educational institutions and values that flow from the
depths of his heart as spent time with ordinary people like me. I can assure
you that the Mzee Moi I saw in Kabarak was more at peace than the Moi of the
Kenyan State House. Dear Sekuru, would you consider using the word 'sorry'
and have even a little taste- if possible- of life outside State house? I
now live in Ghana and President John Kufour is about to step down for
another John to succeed him in State House. Like Moi, he has done his bit.
So has Alpha Omar Konari of Mali, Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria, Festus
Gontebanye Mogae of Botswana and your fellow Comrade Joaquim Chissano of
Mozambique - like Nelson Mandela before them all.
Would you kindly consider my 2009 gifts to you? Should you take my first
gift of the word sorry you can indeed surprise us all by packing out of
State House to be a good Sekuru in the time left to experience that.
Regardless of whether you do or not, you are likely to still fill the
vacancy assigned to you in the Heroes Acre. Regardless of when or how you
get there, you will no doubt discover that the graveyard is full of 'heroes'
who did not know when their time is done.
Yours with warm regards,
The article of today attributed to Harare Tribune "Making a living;Selling
snakes' was a wondeful piece which seeks to tell people what ordinary
persons have been reduced to in order to make a living in zimbabwe.
I think the level of daring,(me thinks what is being reffered to as an adder
is a gabon viper, a green likeness to the common adder, this one is said to
be the most dangerous snake in the land) skill and entrepreneurial skills
exhibited by this gentleman is breathtaking and heart wrenching at the same
time. My view is instead of this guy exporting his product maybe he could
set up a place modelled on the "Snake World" based in Harare(Gone to the
dogs in recent years). To mantain eco-balance in the mountains these snakes
are vital as some of them will be breeding etc and this is one way our great
entrepreneur could be helped.
May I therefore use your good pages to appeal to well wishers who have the
largeness of heart and the means to hep this guy set up this place where our
children will not only see these reptiles but are also taught about the
importance of these much maligned creatures(here I say this toungue in
cheek). He could set up such a place in Mutare.I do not think Mutare has
such a place presently.
In conclusion one wishes zimbabwesituation.com could dedicate a column to
these adventurous enterpreneurs in their various fields of endeavor. Who
knows what you might find and the resultant help that could flow to these
creative geniuses.This way this creative enterprise in our people could
reproduce itself through out the land as opposed to waiting for the