Monsters and Critics
Jul 11, 2008, 20:23 GMT
New York - The UN Security Council met Friday to decide whether to take
action on a draft resolution that would impose an arms embargo on Zimbabwe
and other sanctions on President Robert Mugabe and his associates.
China's UN Ambassador Wang Guangya told reporters that the draft's language
was 'unacceptable' to him and his colleagues, whom he did not name.
Russia, Vietnam, South Africa and Libya had voiced objections to the
sanctions, preferring political pressure on Mugabe to hold negotiations with
political opponents to form a government of unity following the debacle in
the presidential elections.
'As far as the language of the draft resolution is concerned, we cannot
accept it,' Wang said. But he declined to say whether he would veto if the
draft were to be put to a vote.
'We think that it is for the political parties to enter into a dialogue to
discuss and sort out their differences,' he said.
Other diplomats made no comments as they entered the council chamber for a
In Washington earlier Friday, the United States said that any country
opposing the resolution 'will be on the wrong side of history.'
'I don't see how anybody, anybody, any country in good conscience can vote
against this resolution after witnessing what has gone in Zimbabwe,' said US
State Department spokesman Sean McCormack.
Mugabe won a runoff election on June 27 after his opponent Morgan Tsvangirai
withdrew from the race, fearing for the safety of supporters who had been
subjected to violent repression in the run- up to the vote.
The United States, Europe and some African countries have rejected the
Christian Science Monitor
As dispute persists in wake of presidential election, the country seems
poised between negotiated settlement and outright civil war.
By Scott Baldauf | Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor
from the July 11, 2008 edition
JOHANNESBURG - With last-ditch efforts to get talks started, Zimbabwe this
week seems perched at possible turning point, with a peaceful negotiated
settlement on one side, and outright civil war on the other.
Starting Thursday, the South African government initiated a new round of
talks between the ruling party of Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe and the
representatives of the opposition candidate Morgan Tsvangirai. Yet Mr.
Tsvangirai issued a statement Friday insisting that he sent a team not to
open negotiations, but to set conditions for any future talks, including the
condition of ending state-sponsored violence against the opposition.
Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change claims that more than 90 of its
supporters have been killed since Tsvangirai won a first round of
presidential elections in March 29. Tsvangirai's victory fell short of the
50 percent required to avoid a runoff.
"We in the MDC are committed to finding a peaceful, negotiated solution to
the Zimbabwean crisis and we will take every opportunity to clarify our
position and to allow the voice of the Zimbabwean people to be heard,"
Tsvangirai said in a statement. "I and my party have stated categorically
that there are no negotiations between ourselves and [the ruling party]
ZANU-PF currently taking place. In addition, we have stated that no such
negotiations can take place while the ZANU-PF regime continues to wage war
on my party and the people of Zimbabwe."
Zimbabwe's continued political crisis - with two parties claiming victory in
the presidential race - looks strangely reminiscent of the Kenyan political
crisis. Yet unlike Kenya, where international and domestic pressure forced
the two sides to talk, Zimbabwe's crisis shows no sign of ending soon.
President Mugabe insists that talks can begin only if the opposition accepts
him as the country's president. Tsvangirai insists that the two parties must
meet as equals, and only after Mugabe ends the campaign of violence. South
African President Thabo Mbeki, the designated mediator but nearly rejected
by the opposition, has his work cut out for him.
"I'm not saying that it is out of the question that MDC would go into a
powersharing agreement, but this is not going to be the route to a
democratic Zimbabwe," says Steven Friedman, a senior researcher at the
Institute for Democracy in Southern Africa, a think tank in Tshwane, as
Pretoria is now called. "If a national unity government is going to have
purchase, it will be where two sides worked out an agreement as equals."
That is not the case between Mugabe - who controls the Zimbabwean military,
police, judiciary, and intelligence services, as well as several private
militias - and Tsvangirai, who merely has the support of Zimbabwean voters.
Mugabe and his generals seem to be using the same tactics used against
Mugabe's rivals in the 1980s, the ZAPU party of Joshua Nkomo. "He crushed
ZAPU, and when it was weakened, he made them junior partners. You beat on
their heads enough till they do things your way."
On Friday, the United Nations Security Council delayed a vote on tougher
sanctions against top members of Mugabe's inner circle. Zimbabwe's
representative at the UN wrote to the Security Council that such sanctions
would likely undermine the present government of Zimbabwe and "most probably
start a civil war in the country." Sanctions would also turn the UN into a
"force multiplier in support of Britain's colonial crusade against
Mugabe's ZANU-PF fought a 10-year war against British colonial rule, which
ended in the dissolution of white-ruled Rhodesia and the creation of the new
black-ruled Zimbabwe. Both in this year's elections and in Tsvangirai's
previous bid for president in 2003, Mugabe derided the opposition leader as
a "stooge" of British colonial rule.
Within Zimbabwe itself, violence against opposition members continues. On
July 5, the burned body of an MDC driver, Joshua Bakacheza, was discovered
on a farm near the town of Beatrice. Bakacheza was last seen in the custody
of state security agents, along with MDC activist Tendai Chidziwo. Mr.
Chidziwo and Bakacheza were ambushed by armed men and driven to an
Army-owned farm before being shot. Chidziwo is recovering from a gunshot
wound to the head.
Last week, South Africa's deputy foreign minister, Aziz Pahad, said that
Zimbabwe would have to end the violence if it wanted talks to succeed. "If
is up to Zimbabwe to take immediate steps to stop the violence," Mr. Pahad
told reporters. "If they do not stop it, we will take action, whatever
action is possible to stop it."
Even opposition leaders who are currently engaged in talks with Mugabe say
that Zimbabwe is perched at the edge of political chaos, if talks fail.
"What is imperative for Zimbabweans is making up their minds on whether they
want an armed revolution or they want to talk to each other," wrote Arthur
Mutambara, who leads a split-away faction of the MDC, in an opinion piece in
the Zimbabwean newspaper. Mr. Mutambara met Mugabe in Harare for talks
sponsored by President Mbeki. Tsvangirai boycotted the talks. "Of course, if
negotiations do not succeed there will be only one option left to the people
of Zimbabwe. We will fight."
Fri 11 Jul 2008, 16:18 GMT
AMSTERDAM, July 11 (Reuters) - Anglo-Dutch oil giant Royal Dutch Shell Plc.
<RDSa.L><RDSb.L> will pull out of Zimbabwe, a spokesman for the company told
Dutch news agency ANP on Friday.
He said Royal Dutch Shell would sell its 50 percent stake in a joint venture
with British Petroleum <BP.L> in that country to South Africa's Engen
The spokesman added it was a strategic decision made after a study conducted
last year into the profitability of all downstream activities and was
unrelated to the political situation.
Zimbabwe warned on Thursday that a proposed U.N. resolution imposing
sanctions on its leadership because of elections marred by violence could
start a civil war and turn the country into another Somalia.
(Reporting by Alexandra Hudson; editing by Rory Channing)
From Business Day (SA), 11 July
Energy Affairs Editor
Petroleum products group Engen announced yesterday it had concluded a sale
and purchase agreement to buy Shell's downstream business interests in
Lesotho and crisis-torn Zimbabwe, where Engen said it was taking a long-term
view that the economy would recover. Engen's foray into Zimbabwe comes as
that country's political and economical outlook becomes even bleaker and
after this week's condemnation of the Harare government at the Group of
Eight summit. The world's richest countries have put pressure on the United
Nations to tighten the noose on the Zimbabwean government through targeted
sanctions. The acquisitions, whose value was not given, come hot on the
heels of another in Gabon, where Engen bought Shell's interest in petroleum
products and distribution company Pizo. In December last year, the company
also acquired Shell's 60% interest in Shell DRC (Democratic Republic of
Engen spokeswoman Tania Landsberg yesterday said the recent acquisitions
were in support of the company's foray into the rest of Africa. "This is
part of our strategy. Our focus is on sub-Saharan Africa. Africa is where
our growth is," Landsberg said. Engen has a presence in 17 African
countries. In Zimbabwe, Engen - owned by Malaysian oil company Petronas
(80%) and black economic empowerment group Worldwide Africa Investment
Holdings (20%) - would purchase Shell's share in a joint venture with BP,
Landsberg said. She said the company acknowledged that the timing of the
deal was sensitive. "We do not get involved in the politics," she said.
Engen had taken a long-term view of the Zimbabwean situation. "We believe
that, in the long term, this is a good deal. We believe that Zimbabwe will
recover," she said. Engen CEO Rashid Yusof said yesterday: "While Zimbabwe's
economy has declined sharply over the last decade, it still has good
infrastructure which we believe will form the basis of renewed economic
growth, once the current political situation is resolved."
Engen said it already had seven retail sites in Lesotho and the acquisition
would see the group capture 35% of that country's market. Landsberg said the
group was not in a position to divulge the value of the acquisitions. "It is
part of the confidentiality agreement with the seller," she said. Yusof said
the deals were still subject to the approval of the respective countries'
governments "as well as other regulatory requirements". "Engen welcomes
these investment opportunities. We have the utmost confidence in our future
in both countries," Yusof said. Shell spokesman Dennis Matsane said
yesterday there was nothing unusual about Shell's exit from downstream
markets in several countries. The deals were consistent with the
multinational's "more upstream and profitable downstream" strategy. "We
remain committed to Africa," he said. In its strategy, Shell has said it
wants approximately 80% of its capital investment this year to be upstream -
in the exploration of oil and gas and oil sand projects.
By Alex Bell
11 July 2008
Barclays Zimbabwe has reiterated that it will not pull out of the country,
despite growing pressure by the British government for it to suspend its
Zimbabwe's state run Herald Newspaper on Friday quoted Barclays head of
Corporate Affairs, Valeta Mthimkulu, who said: "Barclays has operated in
Zimbabwe for almost 100 years, serving the interest of the Zimbabwean people
under successive governments, in a way that we believe to be responsible and
ethical". Mthimkulu continued that "wherever we (Barclays) operate, we are
apolitical and we seek to comply with relevant laws".
Lesley Griffiths, a member of the Welsh Assembly in the UK, has written to
senior executives at Barclays Bank UK, calling on them to "make a stand"
against Mugabe's regime by suspending its operations Zimbabwe. She told
Newsreel on Friday that she is "extremely disappointed" with the banks
refusal to pull its business out of the country. She says the bank's defence
of "an historic attachment with Zimbabwe is totally irrelevant given the
Griffiths added she has still not received a reply from the bank's top
executives in Britain, almost a week after sending them her letter, but said
she would continue putting pressure on the bank despite its decision to
continue doing business in Zimbabwe.
Griffiths also added she hoped "other UK businesses with operating ties to
Zimbabwe would heed UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown's call to block the
country, until the crisis there has been resolved".
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
††††July 11 2008 at 06:56PM
The situation in Zimbabwe was not caused by sanctions imposed on it,
French ambassador Denis Pietton said on Friday.
"That the country is in this situation because of sanctions is not
true," Pietton told the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research
(CSIR) in Pretoria, adding that the European Union provided humanitarian aid
He said that "maybe" a unity government would be a feasible solution
to the Zimbabwean situation. President Robert Mugabe regained the presidency
in June following presidential run-off elections.
Pietton also credited South Africa for the role it played in the
initial March 29 elections.
"Sooner than later there should be elections (in Zimbabwe), that is
the position of the EU," said Pietton, whose country assumed the presidency
of the EU at the beginning of July. - Sapa
Fri, 11 Jul 2008 17:15
A ban slapped by Zimbabwean authorities on aid workers over their alleged
involvement in politics ahead of last month's election is expected to be
lifted within days, a top UN official said Friday.
"All indications from the authorities are that it (an end to the ban) is
imminent," the United Nations representative to Harare, Agustino Zacarias,
told AFP. "We believe it is a matter of days."
President Robert Mugabe's government ordered a suspension to all field
operations by international humanitarian agencies and private volunteer
organizations working in the southern African country early last month after
accusing NGOs of siding with the opposition ahead of the 27 June vote.
The measure did not apply to UN agencies operating in the country.
Lancaster Museka, secretary for the ministry of social welfare, could not be
drawn into details of when the ban would be scrapped, saying the decision
rests with cabinet.
"It is just a question of the (social welfare) minister approaching cabinet,
saying now that the election is over, these organisations would like to
resume their operations," he told AFP.
"Once cabinet approves then they can resume." The suspension has raised
fears of a potential humanitarian crisis in the impoverished country.
"There is no food distribution ... and now we are heading into a situation
where people will have no food," said Fambai Ngirande, spokesman of the
National Association of Non-Governmental Organisations of Zimbabwe (NANGO).
"By August/September people will have exhausted their harvest, which was
very lean this year," he told AFP.
Aid agencies cater for between two and three million people, out of the
country's 12 million population.
By Alice Tempo| Harare Tribune News
†††† Updated: July 11, 2008 13:01
Zimbabwe, Harare--A day after he made the cut to the list of ZANU-PF
individuals the United Nations would like to see punished for their
criminality, Gideon Gono, the governor of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, told
Zimbabweans to "rally and unite" against sanctions.
Gono, didn't say why Zimbabweans should rally against international UN
sanctions, when they will only affect him and other people within Robert
Mugabe's close circle of friends.
Analysts have told Gono time and again that unless the political
situation is resolved, there is nothing he can do to fix the economy. Two,
three years ago, Gono refused to accept this advice. Now he has changed his
mind, he has seen the light.
"The time has come for all of us to understand that our national
economy does not exist in a vacuum nor does it exist as another world
separate from our national politics," Gono said, as if he had just
discovered this himself for the first time.
"The economy and politics are inextricably intertwined such that it
does not make sense for any one to expect the RBZ to fix the national
economy somehow and turn it around for the better when political players
continue to play bickering games over the way forward. Therefore, I cannot
imagine, let alone proffer, any way forward in terms of reviving the economy
given the current situation that is not based on and informed by a political
economy of national unity."
It is the first time that Gono has publicly acknowledged that he has
failed in his bid to restore the economy to normalcy. In 2003, when he took
over, he postured all over the place, instituting a host of initiatives that
he claimed would see Zimbabwe's economy stabilize, and then grow.
He fixed the exchange rate to please Mugabe. He took over
responsibilities of the Ministry of Finance. He printed money, 24/7. He gave
loans, which he knew would not be returned, to the corruption ridden
government run companies like the Grain Marketing Body (GMB), Zimbabwe
Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA), National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ)
among others. He jumped into the agriculture sector, giving diesel, earlier,
and seed to the 'new farmers', beneficiaries of the Third (3rd) Chimurenga.
All those initiatives failed. Instead of trying to fix the economy,
these days Gono spends his time plotting, together with other members of the
shadowy mafia like Joint Operations Command (JOC), how to keep Mugabe in
In the recent elections, he diverted funds to the ZANU-PF campaign,
funding the printing of ZANU-PF t-shirts, posters, and buying cars and
computers for Mugabe to donate to the electorate.
Gono has decided to blame his failure on sanctions, hence his call for
the people to unite against them. --Harare Tribune News
• After I received an invitation to today’s discussion, a media friend of mine who is one of the administrators of this club and who is also very active in the MDC Tsvangirai party told me that the reason for the invitation was to enable me to clarify some remarks I made recently at the Bulawayo Press Club which my friend said were too critical of Tsvangirai and about which he said I needed to be roasted.
• In addition, my media and MDC friend said I needed to explain myself in the light of what he claimed were growing reports within both the MDC Tsvangirai and the media fraternity in general that I am on the verge of rejoining Zanu PF as these reports were of major concern to him and many others in the media and opposition politics.
• Well, I shall address the first point in some detail as a substantive issue in a little while because I think it raises fundamental questions about the state of tolerance in our national politics and the future thereof.
• Regarding the second issue, I do not see any reason why I should come here and justify or defend my political affiliation as if I don’t know that freedom of association is a constitutionally protected fundamental right to which each and every one of us is entitled.
• The record will show that I have not and will never delegate my right to freedom of association to anybody whether in the media, opposition politics, Zanu PF or the so-called international community. The right is mine and mine alone. The only people who matter in terms of how I exercise that right are members of my family.
• Otherwise, for the avoidance of any doubt, I don’t
mind reminding those who want to know that I am happily the duly elected
Independent Member of the House of Assembly for Tsholotsho North yet to be sworn
in. Nothing is about to change in that regard.
2. TSVANGIRAI & HIS MDC NOT IMMUNE FROM CRITICISM
• But the one question that requires some substantive reflection is about the alleged concern about my criticism of Tsvangirai.
• I must say with all respect to those concerned that I am quite alarmed by the suggestion that Tsvangirai is or should be above criticism and that somehow criticizing him constitutes a political crime.
• The fact is that Tsvangirai is clearly part of the national leadership in this country and all leaders, especially those who aspire to hold the highest office of the land and who, like Tsvangirai, style themselves as democratic and for democratic change, must be subject to serious and enlightened public criticism.
• I do not and will never subscribe to the underdeveloped notion that any criticism of President Mugabe is by definition tantamount to endorsement of Tsvangirai nor do I subscribe to the converse that any criticism of Tsvangirai is ipso facto an endorsement of President Mugabe. There is more to life than that.
• Contrary to emotive claims that the presidential election in Zimbabwe ended up as a sham of a one man race, we all know that the Presidential election that started on March 29 and ended on June 27 had four candidates. I for one have had opportunity to publicly criticize three of those: namely President Mugabe, Simba Makoni and Morgan Tsvangirai in their capacities as acknowledged national leaders.
• I have not had time nor desire to even bother about the other candidate whose name I cannot even remember simply because he is not a national leader and must have been a front of some unknown shadowy force out there.
• Those in opposition politics or in the media who think that public criticism of national leaders should only be restricted to criticising Makoni, Mugabe and other Zanu PF politicians are either naÔve or stupid.
• I have criticized Tsvangirai’s withdrawal and his manner of withdrawal from the Presidential Runoff election not only because there was a rational basis for believing he could win that runoff but also because his withdrawal was an unfortunate vote of no confidence in the electorate.
• In fact, the withdrawal was a betrayal of the electorate and an attack on the democratic process which amplified serious leadership failure on Tsvangirai’s part.
• I shall further explain these considerations
3. CLARIFYING THE QUESTION OF VIOLENCE
• I am aware that the one reason given for Tsvangirai’s withdrawal was that political violence, intimidation and harassment had gotten out of hand and that the withdrawal was necessary to stop that violence and the attendant intimidation and harassment.
• Yes, there is no doubt or debate about the fact that there was indeed deplorable political violence and intimidation in some parts of the country notably in the provinces of Mashonaland Central, Mashonaland East, Manicaland and parts of Masvingo province but certainly not though out the country.
• That violence which should be condemned in the strongest possible terms resulted in the murder of scores of people and injury to many more while some had their houses burnt down leading to the displacement of a number of families.
• And while most of the reported cases of the violence were inter-party, pitting Zanu PF against MDC Tsvangirai and vice versa, there are many unreported cases of intra-party violence and intimidation which took place within Zanu PF during pungwes in Mashonaland Central, Mashonaland East, Masvingo and Manicaland.
• I have been shocked and disappointed by the claim made by Tsvangirai and others in his party, the media, in the UK and the US who have claimed that the political violence and intimidation seen between last April and June 25 has never been seen in Zimbabwe since independence in 1980.
• Even more shocking, this patently false and self-serving claim features prominently in black and white in Tsvangirai’s formal 25 June letter to ZEC withdrawing from the runoff.
• This claim is a very cheap, most unfortunate and utterly scandalous attempt to falsify Zimbabwe’s political and electoral history.
• The fact that is still crying out loud in our country waiting for resolution is that the period leading to and after the 1985 general election was the darkest in the political and electoral history of this country. The political violence, intimidation and harassment against the membership, supporters and leadership of PF Zapu that preceded and followed that election has not been equalled by anything since then.
• There is nothing to be gained in political terms by counting dead bodies in order to turn that into a political manifesto. This is what the MDC Tsvangirai and its British and American supporters have been doing with the political violence that took place in Zimbabwe between April 4 and June 25.
• But it is a well known fact that for some 24 months before the 1985 general election, the Matabeleland and Midlands provinces had the Fifth Brigade deployed there during which some 20,000 people were massacred while many more were tortured, maimed, had their homes destroyed or their livelihood lost. All this happened when the whole country was still under the brutal Rhodesian state of emergency and communities in Matabeleland and the Midlands provinces were under a dehumanising dusk to dawn curfew from 6pm to 6am.
• Victims of these atrocities feel insulted and demeaned by Tsvangirai’s false and politically insensitive claim that the violence that happened in the run up to the runoff is unprecedented in Zimbabwe’s political and electoral history.
• I just cannot bring myself to supporting Tsvangirai’s political falsification of history for his own political gains, as someone who represents a constituency that bore the brunt of the Gukurahundi atrocities when the Fifth Brigade was first deployed in Tsholotsho in January 1983 and continued to suffer those atrocities beyond the 1985 general election.
• Those who cannot understand this fundamental
concern have a problem and they should not expect me to solve their
4. TSVANGIRAI’S WITHDRAWAL FROM THE RUNOFF WAS ILL-ADVISED
• Against this backdrop, I believe Tsvangirai’s withdrawal from the runoff on the basis that there was unprecedented violence and political intimidation against the electorate is not historically justified.
• Whether intended or not, the impact of Tsvangirai’s withdrawal from the runoff was (a) to deny the electorate an opportunity to demonstrate its maturity by expressing itself even under the most difficult circumstances and (b) to hold the electorate in contempt on grounds that it is not mature or strong willed enough to withstand political violence and intimidation and therefore could be trusted to vote its own conscience against all odds.
• What was even more disturbing about Tsvangirai’s withdrawal from the runoff is that there was no consultation over the decision with other democratic forces in the country whose support Tsvangirai, his fundraisers and political surrogates apparently want to take for granted. Their futile expectation was that the MDC cabal would make the decision and everyone else would simply fall in line and support that decision because anything that Tsvangirai does or says must be supported by all progressive and democratic forces without any question or criticism.
• That kind of approach, which really smacks of the same old stuff, cannot foster the development of a new or alternative democratic culture and process in Zimbabwe.
• It did not matter that the decision to withdraw
from the runoff four days before the fact sharply contradicted Tsvangirai’s
widely publicised position that he believed he did not have to campaign at all
and that he could just stay at home and wait for June 27 as no amount of
violence, intimidation or harassment would sway the electorate against him
because in his view it had already made up its mind in his favour.
5. THE CAUSE OF THE POOR DECISION TO WITHDRAW FROM THE RUNOFF
• A question that follows from the foregoing is this: what caused Tsvangirai to make what I believe was a wrong decision to withdraw from the runoff at the eleventh hour without any consultation with other democratic forces and against his own public position in support of the runoff and to the detriment of the growth and development of the democratic process in the country?
• Although this issue remains unexamined in the media, I believe the real reason behind that decision and indeed other poor decisions taken recently by Tsvangirai is because he and his MDC have become victims of their near success on March 29, 2008.
• In particular, since March 29, the decision making process in Tsvangirai and the MDC has been hijacked by some dangerously ambitious outsiders and is now firmly in the reckless hands of the party’s leading fundraisers, namely Strive Masiyiwa and Roy Bennett.
• This is now creating very serious but untold problems for Tsvangirai, creating problems for his so-called kitchen cabinet and creating more problems for the now disempowered MDC structures which can no longer make head or tail of what is happening within the party.
• For example, Masiyiwa has seconded to Tsvangirai Wellington Chadeumbe and George Sibotshiwe who are now at the centre of the MDC’s decision making and communication virtually from nowhere in political terms as far as the MDC structures are concerned.
• As a result, Tsvangirai’s so-called kitchen cabinet and the party structures have been successfully marginalised and sidelined by Masiyiwa and Bennett as they are no longer consulted on key party decisions.
• Tsvangirai himself now typically makes contradictory statements by the day such that in any given week he makes at least seven internally contradictory statements about one and the same thing.
• There have also been glaringly contradictory statements coming from Tsvangirai, Tendai Biti and Nelson Chamisa.
• All these developments have been particularly pronounced since the MDC’s near success on March 29 and following the rise of the MDC Tsvangirai’s fundraisers to the centre of the party’s decision making.
• One of the consequences of this development which has cost the MDC politically was the decision for Tsvangirai and Biti to leave Zimbabwe in early April, just a few days after the March 29 election, and to remain in self-imposed exile for some six weeks during which the internal structures of the party lost cohesion as all decisions were now being made not only by the party’s fundraisers but they were also being literally made outside the country where Tsvangirai and Biti were.
• Foreign interests that influence things in the MDC, especially the British government, have taken advantage of this situation as they are finding it much easier to work through Roy Bennett and Strive Masiyiwa than through the so-called kitchen cabinet or the more complicated MDC’s structures.
• This has given the British and American governments false confidence to make Zimbabwe’s national politics their business.
• Even the United Nations has, through this window, allowed itself to be used to concern itself with a disputed presidential election as if unaware that most of its membership is well known for holding the funniest elections that are too comical to even worry about.
• I know that there are some or even many in the MDC
Tsvangirai who would deny this with red faces until the cows come home but I can
tell you that I am not making anything up because this is factual and there is
more to it than I have said.
6. WHO IS THE PRESIDENT OF ZIMBABWE: Contrasting legal legitimacy with political legitimacy
• With this background in mind, who is the President of Zimbabwe?
• In terms of legal legitimacy, it is clear that Mugabe is the President of Zimbabwe. One does not need to hold a brief from him to appreciate this point.
• I have heard and read media references to the June 27 runoff as a one horse race or one man election.
• That is not the legally correct position. We all know that there were initially four candidates, then there were two and then there was one who was legally the winner after the other one withdrew.
• There was no legal need to have the formality of an election on June 27 after Tsvangirai formally withdrew on June 25. At the point of that withdrawal, ZEC could and should have declared the winner and spared us from the political formality of an election that was no longer legally necessary.
• In fact, and strictly speaking, Tsvangirai elected Mugabe alone through his ill-advised withdrawal. It is ludicrous for any to unilaterally withdraw from an election four days before it takes place and legally expect to be declared the winner of the same election.
• The ZEC argument that Tsvangirai should have withdrawn 21 days before March 29 to avoid a runoff is nonsensical. The fact of the matter is that ZEC failed to publish regulations specifically dealing with the runoff not least because of its inexplicable and unfortunate delay in announcing the March 29 presidential outcome.
• However, while President Mugabe does have legal legitimacy as President, his political legitimacy is under serious contestation.
• He clearly has a political problem and that is
partly why he has committed himself to a government of national unity and that
is indeed also why there must be negotiations to achieve a political settlement
outside the election process.
7. THE INEVITABILITY OF A GNU
• The major reason that makes negotiations on a government of national unity necessary is because there is no single party in the House of Assembly that has the required minimum number of seats to either control Parliament or form a government.
• While it has been common to find claims in the media that the MDC Tsvangirai has a majority in Parliament, the reality is contrary to that.
• For any party to have the required majority in the House of Assembly, it must have at least 106 seats. The MDC Tsvangirai has 100, Zanu PF had 99 and now it has 98 following the death of one of its elected candidates from Gokwe, the MDC Mutambara has 10 with one Independent.
• One clearest failure of the MDC Tsvangirai is that to this day it does not have a binding or functional agreement with the MDC Mutambara to cooperate in Parliament.
• In fact, the MDC Mutambara formation is continuing to participate in the Sadc dialogue as a fully fledged opposition party with all of its rights still reserved.
• Tsvangirai would have been strategic had he succeeded in ensuring that the two MDCs participated in the dialogue as one voice. He has lost that opportunity and with it he may have lost the opportunity to control Parliament, having already lost the presidency.
• Notwithstanding the grandstanding in the media, it is now obvious that there is no way forward for Zimbabwe outside a government of national unity.
• As I have already mentioned, at the very least the composition of the House of Assembly dictates that.
• I believe that the Sadc mediation process will succeed because there’s no better alternative.
• Indeed, this is the position that has now been taken by everyone who matters in the country, Sadc, African Union, EU and the United Nations.
• What remains to be seen is who will be what in the government of national unity. Some of that will be determined by Mugabe in terms of his legal legitimacy and some of it will be a result of the Sadc dialogue because of challenges to Mugabe’s political legitimacy.
By Trymore Magomana | Harare Tribune News
†††† Updated: July 11, 2008 10:00
Zimbabwe, Harare--Prof. Jonathan Moyo, the political turncoat that
penned, together with George Charamba and Patrick Chinamasa, POSA and AIPPA,
has decided to ditch the fight for democracy in Zimbabwe for a few pieces of
Moyo, severing his ties with the opposition movement, said "Mugabe is
the right person to lead a GNU, because he won the June 27 election" and
that "Tsvangirai lacks leadership qualities."
Moyo, since before March 29, has kept his mouth shut, to enhance his
chances of being appointed into a government, be it that of Simba Makoni,
Morgan Tsvangirai or Robert Mugabe.
Now that he feels the political power pendulum has swung in Robert
Mugabe's direction, he has opened his mouth, pouring forth vitriol to his
sudden enemy Tsvangirai, to guarantee his post in Mugabe's cabinet.
The Zimbabwe Independent said last week Mugabe was going to put Moyo
back into his government as Minister of Information.
Moyo, out to attack the MDC on behalf of ZANU-PF, berated Tsvangirai
for pulling out of the June 27 election, claiming that yes there was
violence, but not at the level as that occurred during the 1985 election.
"Tsvangirai's withdrawal seemed to hold the electorate in contempt on
the grounds that it is not mature enough to withstand political violence and
intimidation and, therefore, it cannot be trusted to vote its conscience,"
He added that Tsvangirai should have taken part in the election,
irregardless of the violence, pointing out that despite the violence, Joshua
Nkomo took part in the 1985 election.
Moyo, of course, didn't bother to explain what happened to Nkomo after
he took part in that election.
These comments by Moyo prove once again that he is a man who will do
anything to gain power. These are the very sick people Zimbabweans are tired
By joining hands with Mugabe, Jonathan has shown his true colors to
those Zimbabweans who thought he had repented for authoring POSA and AIPPA,
acts that have haunted the people of Zimbabwe for the past six
years. --Harare Tribune News
††††July 11 2008 at 04:12PM
By Basildon Peta, Moshoeshoe Monare and Fiona Forde
Zanu-PF and the MDC have advanced tentative power-sharing proposals,
but are still divided on who will lead a possible coalition.
This is the fractious contention between Zimbabwe's two main parties,
who met on Thursday in Pretoria for the first time since the controversial
presidential run-off elections on June 27 .
Zanu-PF dispatched Patrick Chinamasa and Nicholas Goche to represent
the party at the talks, while Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change
was represented by party secretary-general Tendai Biti and his
co-negotiator, Elton Mangoma. Arthur Mutambara's smaller MDC faction was
headed by Welshman Ncube and Priscilla Misihairabwi.
Facilitating the meeting was President Thabo Mbeki's legal adviser,
Mojanku Gumbi; his director-general, Frank Chikane; and his special envoy,
Provincial and Local Government Minister Sydney Mufamadi.
In a telephone interview with The Star on Thursday Tsvangirai said:
"This is not talks. This is talks about talks."
While the contents of Thursday's talks were closely guarded, it is
understood that the main rivals failed to agree on the form and structure of
the coalition government or transitional arrangement that could lead the
country's beyond the current impasse.
As day one of the talks came to a close on Thursday night, Independent
Newspapers was reliably informed that Zanu-PF wants "an inclusive
government" in which Tsvangirai will be given "a senior post", with Mugabe
as an executive president.
For its part, the MDC was pushing for Tsvangirai to be installed as
prime minister, with executive powers, with Mugabe accepting a role as a
ceremonial president until the 84-year-old Zanu-PF leader steps out of
Zimbabwe's political life.
However, Tsvangirai denied that headway was made during yesterday's
"Those persons portraying this meeting as the beginning of
negotiations between the MDC and Zanu-PF are being disingenuous and
exploiting the plight of the Zimbabwean people for political gain," he said.
The MDC leader vowed that talks could not begin in earnest until
preconditions were met, which included an end to all political violence
against his supporters; the withdrawal and disbanding of Zanu-PF militia
groups; the release of about 1 500 imprisoned MDC members; and the
appointment of an African Union envoy to aid Mbeki's mediation.
This article was originally published on page 1 of The Star on July
Marowa, 24, unemployed and living the dormitory town of Chitungwiza, 30km south of the capital, Harare, told IRIN that he had engaged in acts of torture against supporters of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) after the 29 March poll, in which the ruling ZANU-PF party lost its majority in parliament for the first time since independence in 1980 and its leader, Robert Mugabe, came off second best in the presidential poll.
Marowa told IRIN he was "conscripted" by ZANU-PF into a youth militia, and was tasked with identifying and torturing MDC supporters in St Mary's, a suburb of Chitungwiza.
"My victims reported me to the police for beating them up and stealing from their houses and, at that time, I thought that the police, as in the past, would take no action."
But after Mugabe, as the sole candidate, won the second-round presidential runoff on 29 June, Marowa found things had changed.
"When I asked [ZANU-PF] party leaders in my area to intervene, they told me that they could not protect me since the elections were over and Mugabe had won," said Marowa, who has appeared in court on charges of housebreaking and assault. "I am now alone, I have been cheated and I don't think the feeling of guilt that I have now will ever go away."
When I asked [ZANU-PF] party
leaders in my area to intervene, they told me that they could not protect me
since the elections were over and Mugabe had won. I am now alone,†I have been
cheated and I don't think the feeling of guilt that I now have will ever go
Mugabe, who has ruled the southern African state for 28 years, denied any complicity in election violence. "I instructed them to go and campaign for me, not to beat up people," he said, and has also blamed the MDC for the violence.
Marowa said he and scores of other youth militia had operated from a base that had since been dismantled; his colleagues, fearing arrest, had fled to rural areas - where political violence is still being reported - to escape prosecution.
"I am now being treated like a leper or murderer [by the community] simply because I was too stupid to know that I was fighting other people's war on the basis of empty promises."
He said local ZANU-PF leaders had promised him rewards for his handiwork, such as scholarships to study overseas - even though he failed his exams - or a job in government, if Mugabe was re-elected.
While Marowa has turned to the church for redemption, the victims of political violence said their experiences were too raw to contemplate forgiveness.
"How does it feel to lose a relative, to be maimed or raped and to lose your property, simply for exercising your vote? Why would these militias be so ready to participate in this war of attrition, particularly when they are neighbours?" said Grange Mairos, 68, who lives in St Mary's suburb.
No forgiveness from victims
"We told them chickens would come back home to roost, and that is what is happening, exactly." He said he helped his daughter open a case of rape against another member of the militia, "but when reporting, you need to be careful and stay away from politics as much as possible, otherwise you can frighten the police from recording your case," he told IRIN.
Mairos has not managed to visit his home in rural Masvingo Province, in southeastern Zimbabwe, since the beginning of May, for fear of attack, but he has been told by relatives that the militia killed his three goats and took his grain to use as food at their bases, which were also used as torture camps.
"Once the dust has settled, those who stole my livestock and grain will have to compensate me or face jail; I know them," Mairos said.
David Chimhini, the director of the Harare-based Zimbabwe Civic Education Trust, said it would be difficult for victims to forgive their "enemies", but it was important that political parties "invest their efforts in a process of national healing and promote a culture of tolerance and forgiveness, if we are to pull out of this mess".
"You can't underestimate the urge for revenge among victims, now that they have a sense of boldness as the election fever subsides. But retaliation would be regrettable, given the sorry state that post-election violence has left our country in. Political parties and civil society should come together and build the capacity in communities for co-existence," Chimhini told IRIN.
He said it was "unfortunate that innocent people were turned into murderers by political leaders who just want to safeguard their personal interests", but also conceded that some of the perpetrators of violence were "settling personal scores with their enemies, yet others were naively overzealous".
[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]
Fri 11 Jul 2008, 15:07 GMT
By Barry Moody
JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - The West has a limited arsenal in trying to bring
change in Zimbabwe despite unprecedented international outrage over bloody
elections last month that returned President Robert Mugabe to power.
In fact, pressure by former colonial power Britain and the United States to
impose sanctions on the Zimbabwean leadership could be counterproductive as
well as ineffective, analysts say.
"For people in the West to think the United States or the U.K. in particular
could throw a switch and all of a sudden Zimbabwe is going to change, that
is just not going to happen," said Mark Schroeder, sub-Sahara director of
risk analysis firm Stratfor.
Mugabe, 84, stood unchallenged in the June 27 election after the opposition
pulled out a week before, saying a brutal campaign by pro-government
militias made a fair vote impossible.
The veteran leader's decision to press ahead and extend his 28-year-rule
provoked a wave of condemnation that included several outspoken African
countries--extremely rare in the continent's politics.
But translating that wave of condemnation into practical action to force
change looks like being a difficult process.
Disagreements in the 15-member U.N. Security Council have already this week
delayed a vote on a U.S.-drafted resolution that would impose an arms
embargo and financial and travel restrictions on Mugabe and his entourage.
Washington had wanted a vote by Wednesday and Western backers are now hoping
for one on Friday, but veto-holding powers China and Russia are sceptical
Mugabe and his inner circle have been subjected to targeted Western
sanctions for years without budging and experts say they have already
adjusted their travel and the way they move their money accordingly.
At the same time, lingering resentment of former colonial powers makes many
African nations prickle when Britain or other Western countries raise the
rhetoric against Mugabe, a former liberation hero.
"There is a sense of frustration in the African Union that elements within
the West are obsessed with Zimbabwe given the other problems and crises in
Africa, " said Tim Cargill of Britain's Chatham House think tank.
"That makes it harder to agree on U.N. resolutions," he said.
Schroeder agrees. "It is almost obligatory for the United States, U.K.
Europe...to apply sanctions but it is largely for their own
consumption...those sanctions by themselves are not likely to bring a change
Fierce attacks by Britain in particular are exploited by Mugabe, whose use
of London and white farmers as universal scapegoats still resonates in
"Especially when Britain is going to lead the charge, that is fantastic for
propaganda purposes," Schroeder said.
At the same time, the collapse of Zimbabwe's economy and the plunging of
much of the population into poverty and hunger make broader sanctions
unlikely without risking an even bigger humanitarian disaster.
The key to bringing change in Zimbabwe is South Africa and a small group of
countries that seem highly unlikely to take the draconian action that would
be needed to speed change.
Zimbabwe is landlocked and dependent on South Africa and to a lesser extent
Mozambique not only to export its vital minerals, including platinum, but to
import mining machinery and to move money through financial institutions.
Despite a crisis that has flooded South Africa and other neighbours with
millions of economic migrants -- contributing to an upsurge of bloody
xenophobia earlier this year -- President Thabo Mbeki has stuck steadfastly
to a policy of discreet negotiations that critics say favour Mugabe.
There seems scant chance that Mbeki will change his tactics to apply tougher
pressure, despite increasingly vocal criticism even from his own ruling
African National Congress party.
"They are not going, as far as one can tell, to muscle the way towards
that...it is not clear to me that the situation is going to change in a
hurry," said Paul Graham, director of the Institute for Democracy in South
Leaders from the opposition Movement for Democratic Change and Mugabe's
ZANU-PF held their first talks since the election in Pretoria this week.
But the MDC says there can be no substantive negotiations until several
conditions are met, including the end of attacks it says have killed 113 of
Schroeder says that in addition to South Africa, Mugabe's survival depends
on support from Angola and Equatorial Guinea -- who supply oil -- and
Mozambique, which provides another outlet to the sea through the port of
He said that tough recent criticism from neighbouring Botswana, Kenya and a
group of Anglophone West African countries including Nigeria and Liberia
would make little real difference.
Mozambique, South Africa and Angola would find it difficult politically to
cut off Mugabe because of powerful links forged during the struggle against
colonial and apartheid rule.
"It is one thing for the up and coming leadership in Botswana and Kenya to
criticise. They did not grow with the support that Mugabe and the region
provided. It is another thing for countries in the region to sanction the
regime," Schroeder said.
A former Zimbabwean state media executive once described George Charamba,
President Robert Mugabe's acerbic spokesman as "an idiot in a suit".
The epithet followed Charamba's acquiescence to the 2001 dismissal of some
state media editors Information Minister Jonathan Moyo had not been fond of,
and the pleasure the spin doctor seemed to derive from administering pain
and suffering on luckless journalists.
Thus Charamba's infantile tirade during a recent interview with a London
based radio station and his theatrics at the Africa Union Summit on Tuesday
gave the world a quick glimpse into the measure of the cabal that is
ensconced in Munhumutapa Building, and the desperation that now pervades the
In a fit of pique, Charamba badgered and howled rabidly at Zimbabwean exile
Violet Gonda of SW Radio, in consequence vindicating Robert Mugabe's growing
band of critics who believe the administration has lost the plot: and its
marbles, it would appear.
Charamba, aping his equally coarse boss, flew off the handle after Gonda
asked him uncomfortable questions on the state of the economy, 2 000 000
percent inflation, unmitigated violence, the controversial election runoff,
growing paranoia in Zanu PF and the belief within his party that it was
ordained by God to govern Zimbabwe in perpetuity.
Clearly frothing at the mouth and punching the air with a clenched fist as
he is wont to, Charamba trotted out tired arguments that targeted Western
sanctions had crippled the economy; that anyone who dared criticise Mugabe
was a stooge of the West; that the British wanted to re-colonise "my
†country", and - for good measure - that he would "fight again" to preserve
Still in his early 40s, Charamba was too young to have fought in the 1970s
Zimbabwean liberation war, placing him in the same bracket as modern day
"war veterans" - Mugabe's callous rag-tag reserve army that is renowned for
committing heinous crimes; and is reminiscent of former Malawian strongman
Kamuzu Banda's Young Pioneers.
Ironically, Charamba's rise to national prominence - and infamy in equal
measures - coincided with the downward spiral of Zimbabwe's wellbeing: the
economy, politics and social health came cascading down as Mugabe and his
acolytes became increasingly petulant and repressive.
The sea change in the administration's temperament followed the emergence
the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), of a broad-based opposition
political party which threatened to wrench power from the rapidly declining
Zanu PF; and the record loss in the 2000 referendum on a new constitution.
Before then, Zanu PF had never lost a national political contest.
As if on cue, Charamba transformed himself from an affable and decent
government information officer into an angry freak, given to stomping around
newsrooms of state media barking orders and demanding total obedience from
editors and their underlings on pain of punishment.
Like a child mistakenly given a sword on its birthday, Charamba - swinging
from the coat-tails of his former storm-trooping boss Jonathan Moyo - set
about scything down journalists perceived to be too "independent and
professional" to control, leaving the public media bereft of depth and
As a result, Herald House, Pockets Hill and Media House lost their best and
most experienced journalists; and nearly a decade later, Zimpapers, ZBC and
the re-named New Ziana, are still feeling the effects of the Moyo-Charamba
Thus Zimpapers titles, especially its flagship The Herald and The Sunday
Mail, are now weak excuses of their former selves, and should fittingly be
used to show journalism students 'how not to practice journalism'.
Today, the papers are run by poorly educated rookies who lack history,
excessively breach ethics, scramble to outdo each other in peddling
government propaganda and keep their jobs by dint of patronage.
Hence, the Herald perfectly mirrors the rot that pervades the state media;
where the doyens of Zimbabwean journalism who plied their trade in the third
floor newsroom during the first two decades of independence from Britain in
1980, have given way to Zanu PF apparatchiks, typified by the efforts of the
inimitable Caesar Zvayi.
The other Zimpapers titles based in Bulawayo and Mutare are mere footnotes
run by straggling minions, given to parroting their more recognised stable
mates in Harare.
At Pockets Hill, however, the decline has been rapid and more surreal.
The finesse of Joseph Madhimba, David Mwenga, Gavin Reddy, Anani Maruta,
Busi Chindove and Godfrey Majonga that epitomised the professionalism of
electronic journalism in Zimbabwe, has been replaced by the fecklessness of
Reuben Barwe and the pedantic Judith Makwanya.
To their credit, though, Barwe and Makwanya, who have perfected the art of
bootlicking, have done well for themselves: they have amassed immense wealth
due to frequent travel abroad serenading Mugabe; and by using their
camaraderie with Charamba to access state assets like prime farmland and
at the turn of the century, the rotund Barwe, lived in a tiny township flat
he had bummed off former Housing Minister Enos Chikowore, but now lists a
spacious mansion in leafy Belvedere, a luxurious German car and an expansive
farm next to Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono's property in the fertile
farming district of Norton among his many prized assets.
But If Charamba and Moyo's "re-organisation" of Zimpapers and ZBC was
chaotic, then their handiwork at Ziana was novel. The tag-team reshaped the
organisation in its own image, which to say the least was, well, ugly.
Once flaunted as the pride of Africa, under Farayi Munyuki and Wilf Mbanga,
Ziana is now a caricature of a news agency. The new New Ziana suffers
chronic funding problems, and like Zimbabwe itself, has haemorrhaged top
notch journalists to the diaspora and Charamba's sword.
Zimbabwean journalist Mthulisi Mathuthu likens charamba to someone locked in
a time warp: "This is a lowbrow fellow who apparently represents a whole
retinue that is hostage to an archaic Victorian character who resents new
things and is as irascible and malevolent as the Kings of that time".
Mathuthu believes Mugabe's wordsmith lacks the acumen to formulate his own
ideas and will dutifully mimic his boss, regurgitating Marxist mantras and
staid revolutionally slogans which are bound to declared dead on arrival
even in post Cold War Russia and China.
"Generally, tyrants want navigable front men who hardly question anything.
The type of service people who never bother to prowl for other ideas outside
the dictates or the syllabus of the leader," he adds in article for New
Zimbabwe.com, an online newspaper.
The demure Gonda need not be horrified by Charamba's antics as his actions
are now the stock-in-trade of the struggling regime. When cornered, it spews
out unvarnished venom in the hope of scaring off its detractors as Kenyan
Prime Minister Raila Odinga discovered on Tuesday.
Odinga, who has harshly berated Mugabe for stealing the recent plebiscite,
got a mouthful of Charamba's undiplomatic invective in Egypt, thus:
"Odinga's hands drip with blood, raw African blood. And that blood is not
going to be cleansed by any amount of abuse of Zimbabwe. Not at all."
And of his former Western benefactors Charamba shrieked: "They can go and
hang. They can go to hang a thousand times. They have no claim on Zimbabwean
politics", shocking even the hardened journalists at the press conference
into an eerie silence.
His ire was raised after the West branded Mugabe an election thief and,
In a twist of fate, Charamba, who liberally sprinkles his tortuous
'Nathaniel Manheru' column in The Saturday Herald with bombastic and uncouth
language, was partly educated at Cardiff University, in Wales - on British
Cynics, however, equate Charamba's increasingly bizarre behaviour to that of
slain Iraq leader Saddam Hussein's last Information Minister, Mohammed Saeed
al-Sahaf fondly dubbed 'Comical Ali' for his wild claims and colourful
Even as American tanks rolled into Baghdad in 2003, al-Sahaf insisted,
"There is no presence of American infidels in the city of Baghdad." Adding:
"There is no presence of the American columns in the city of Baghdad at all.
We besieged them and we killed most of them."
Maybe Mugabe's spin doctor should shed off his Saville Row suit for al-Sahaf's
more appropriate military fatigues, because the MDC is now at the gates to
Institute for War & Peace Reporting
Britain is home to hundreds of thousand of economic and political exiles,
who follow developments in Zimbabwe with a mixture of fear and dread.
By Jennifer Koons in London (ZCR No. 154, 11-Jul-08)
The large-scale migration of Zimbabweans to the United Kingdom in recent
years has earned London the nickname "Harare North".
The exact number varies but experts suggest that roughly one million
Zimbabwean expatriates, most fleeing rising economic and political
instability in their home country, now reside in the UK.
Between 2000 and 2007, there were an estimated 20,600 asylum applications
and about one-third of those have received some sort of status to remain in
the country, according to Soneni Baleni, an expert with the Zimbabwe
Association, an organization that describes itself as a support group for
Zimbabwean asylum-seekers and refugees in the UK.
"So many Zimbabweans come to the UK because of the colonial link," said Rose
Benton, the co-founder of a London-based advocacy group, the Zimbabwe Vigil.
"Zimbabweans speak English and are educated under an English system. It
makes perfect sense that they settle here."
A 2006 survey of 500 Zimbabweans living in the UK found that their high
skill levels and ability to speak English fluently directly contributed to
The ability to actually find work, however, depends greatly on ones legal
Asylum-seekers, most of whom are black Zimbabweans, not allowed to work or
even volunteer unless they have been granted refugee status.
Many white Zimbabweans, in contrast, have relatives in the UK, which in many
cases allows them to move here and secure employment relatively easily.
Those who await refugee status are therefore in constant fear of being sent
home where their safety will be compromised if the government realises they
claimed asylum in Britain, said Baleni.
"People try to keep to themselves because they feel frightened," she said.
"If the next person knows what your situation is like, you have no control
over what they do with that information."
Baleni said most Zimbabweans fleeing their country's dire economic climate
will head to neighbouring South Africa but London has become the most
popular spot for those seeking political refuge.
"You'll find that most Zimbabweans want to talk about what's happening at
home and they have strong opinions but they are very scared to say anything
in public gatherings," she said.
Even after they are settled, there remains concern about the threat posed by
Zimbabwean strongman Robert Mugabe's secret services.
"There is a belief that members of Mugabe's Central Intelligence
Organisation are everywhere and if you say anything, you and your family
will be in danger," said Baleni.
That fear only increased during the violent lead up to a widely discredited
run-off election in late June in which Mugabe ended up as the only candidate
on the ballot.
Many Zimbabweans living abroad had hoped opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai
would oust Mugabe from office and bring about peace and stability to the
country so that they might return home.
Tsvangirai withdrew from the election shortly before the vote, however,
citing concerns for the safety of his supporters.
"For a while you keep thinking that this can't go on for any longer," said
Baleni. "There was a lot of optimism with the [Tsvangirai's Movement for
Democratic Change] party, but this is the second election that Mugabe has
overtaken and now all of that optimism has just turned to despair."
In the past, families would leave Zimbabwe together, but Baleni said that
nowadays most Zimbabweans come to the UK alone so as not to arouse
"It would be difficult to come as a family because the embassy is well aware
of what is happening back home and they will start asking questions if a
family suddenly says they want to go on holiday to Britain," she said.
"Unless someone is really well-off, most often one member of the family will
leave and then try and send money back for everyone still back home."
Jennifer Koons is an IWPR reporter in London.
Institute for War & Peace Reporting
Award-winning reporter Sandra Nyaira says she'd be reduced to selling
tomatoes on the street if she returned.
By Jennifer Koons in London (ZCR No. 154, 11-Jul-08)
It's the bustle of the newsroom that she misses the most.
As the political editor of the Daily News in Zimbabwe, Sandra Nyaira spent
most days tackling hot-button news stories with fellow journalists in an
environment that she recalls "felt alive with energy".
Six years later, she does most of her reporting from her home in the United
Kingdom. While earning a masters degree in international journalism from the
City University in London in 2002, Zimbabwean authorities shuttered the
Daily News along with other independent newspapers in the country.
"It's very different working outside of Zimbabwe in that you don't get the
newsroom experience," she said. "Now I write stories from my bedroom and I
don't speak to anyone else. When I was at the Daily News, we would all sit
around and discuss story ideas or brainstorm how to tackle a particular
At 22, she took her first reporting job with a government-owned paper and
then moved on to the state-run Zimbabwe Inter-Africa News Agency, where she
won four national awards as well as a Reuters' award. In 1999, the Daily
News editor in chief hired her and she went on to become Zimbabwe's first
woman political editor.
Her career continued its upward trajectory when, at 27, she won the
International Women's Media Foundation Courage in Journalism Award. But
everything changed later that year when she lost her job at the Daily News
and struggled to make ends meet as a foreign reporter in the UK.
Determined to succeed despite her changed circumstances, she slowly
established herself as a respected freelance journalist. In the past few
years alone, her work has appeared in the Sunday Times, the Guardian, the
British Journalism Review and elsewhere but she spends most of her time
writing for the Association of Zimbabwean Journalists, an organisation which
she helped found, and working as a correspondent for Studio 7, a radio
service on the US-government funded Voice of America in Washington DC.
"I prefer reporting from Zimbabwe and writing for my own people," she said.
"I guess it is good to write for an international audience, but not everyone
who reads my stories is interested in Zimbabwe. When I was writing for my
own people, they would want to know what is happening in their old
She said that she, along with many other Zimbabwean journalists working
abroad, would return to their home country to report if that was an option.
"Everyone I knew who is part of the Zimbabwe journalism community here wants
to go back," she said. "The main reason we're not in Zimbabwe right now is
that we have no jobs to go home to. The newspapers where we worked were
closed down so it did not make any sense to go back when you were not going
to have a job."
Leaving home did not come without its personal costs.
"My whole family is back in Zimbabwe - my siblings, my mother and father,"
she said. "I have two nephews who have been born since I've been gone - one
just turned two and the other one will be two in October. It is hard. I try
to get the little ones to say something on the phone because I can hear
their voices in the background. I just want to be with them."
But returning home would not only leave her without a career but would also
find her without an income to help support the loved ones who she has left
"I could have returned to sell tomatoes on the streets," she noted ruefully.
"If I wasn't here working, I wouldn't be able to buy anything for my family.
It's a catch-22."
With no signs of the political and economic environment improving any time
soon, Nyaira will head to Washington DC in the fall to do a media
Should the situation for reporters change, she said she would eagerly return
"If they repeal the draconian media laws that have prohibited journalists
from doing their work, many newspapers would be formed," she said. "So many
people are waiting to invest in their own country. When I go back home
someday, I'm going to start my own project, my own TV station."
Jennifer Koons is an IWPR reporter in London.
Institute for War & Peace Reporting
Formerly a teacher in a private school, Joseph Masunungure can only dream of
taking up a similar job in the UK.
By Jennifer Koons in London (ZCR No. 154, 11-Jul-08)
Joseph Masunungure is a teacher. His classroom is a dimly lit kitchen where
he writes up lesson plans while his sister-in-law makes breakfast. He waits
all day for his two pupils - his niece and nephew - to arrive home from
school so he can help them with their assignments.
Four years ago, he taught mathematics to 45 primary school students at a
private academy in Zimbabwe.
"We had maps on the wall and exercise books," said Masunungure, who asked
that his name be changed for his safety. "This may not seem like a lot to
most people living in London today but it meant a great deal that every
student had a desk. They were eager to be there and so was I."
Then one afternoon, one of his pupils told him that he could no longer
attend the class since his father believed Masunungure sympathised with the
Movement for Democratic Change, MDC, the main opposition to President Robert
That was his last day at the school near Bulawayo where he had taught for
seven years. That night, he and his parents decided it would be best if he
left the country. There had been rumours for several weeks that he was under
surveillance. His brother had worked for the MDC and fled a few years
Soon Masunungure joined him - and his UK family - in London.
"I was lucky," he said. "So many of my people are being forced to flee to
strange lands. I had a place to go. I had someone to take care of me."
But the move hasn't been without its complications. Several years have
passed and Masunungure hasn't received official papers granting him refugee
status, which means he can't legally work.
"I worry about not being able to help my brother and I miss my students," he
said. "It is strange trying to occupy yourself like this all day. But my
brother says that in a way I am lucky. He was a development worker in
Zimbabwe, but now he is a store clerk."
Masunungure sleeps on a pull-out couch in the family's one-bedroom flat near
Brick Lane. He spends most days at home reading or walking around the
neighbourhood. While there may be no practical need to do so, he still
dresses the part of an academic and - even on weekends - wears a button-up
dress shirt and slacks.
Although soft-spoken, he looks you in the eye when he talks and, like a good
teacher, he will repeat himself until he is sure you have understood what he
is trying to say.
He said he would like to return to his home country someday if only to help
the students who he feels sure have been abandoned.
"So many students can no longer go to school," he said. "They are forced to
pay for their own classroom materials - and they can't. They do not even
have food to bring with them and I have heard stories of students fainting
during class. They need good teachers but all of the teachers have been
pushed out like me."
While the world's attention is focused on Mugabe, Masunungure said others
within the government are more to blame and are the reason that the
unpopular ruler has remained in power.
"Things aren't going to change - not because of Mugabe but because of the
people under him," he said. "Mugabe can find protection in any African
country. But the people who hold the top security posts can't leave because
they won't be protected for the crimes they have committed."
Masunungure said people in Zimbabwe fear law enforcement officers and other
officials. "The police are part of it," he said. "Everyone is a part of it."
He added that he has lost confidence in the ability of other leaders in the
region to offer much assistance.
"Mugabe is a bully," said Masunungure. "He is a freedom fighter, and because
of that, the others, like [South African President] Mbeki, won't stand up to
One consolation for him is that the current regime has not interfered with
the transfer of money to his family back home.
"My brother transfers money back for my parents and two sisters ever few
weeks," he said. "With everything that has happened recently, we are very
worried that eventually they won't get what we send them. So far, they are
It's almost four o'clock, and it is time for Masunungure to go. His niece
and nephew will be home from school soon.
"My nephew struggles with maths," he said, smiling. "That is OK though. I am
happy to help him."
Jennifer Koons is an IWPR reporter in London.
Institute for War & Peace Reporting
Grace Chouriri cares for fellow exiles because she says it makes her feel
that she's doing something good for her community.
By Jennifer Koons in London (ZCR No. 154, 11-Jul-08)
Grace Chouriri, not her real name, laughs bitterly when asked whether she
will ever return to her native home.
"How can I go back and crucify myself?" she asked, shaking her head.
She will talk at length about her objections to the current regime. But she
grows quiet when asked personal details about herself and her former life as
a healthcare worker in Harare.
Eventually, she divulges rapid-fire details, a bullet-point list of her life
so far: she is the youngest of seven children. Two brothers died of AIDS
when she was younger. She left her family's rural home for an urban life
where she met and married her husband, who she said also died of AIDS a few
years after they were married.
"I became angry at the lack of options for people who are sick and I started
to associate with people who were also angry," she says matter-of-factly.
The "people" she refers to were members of the Movement for Democratic
She refuses to go into what kinds of activities she participated in while
she was an activist in Harare, but she offers that "one morning I was told I
had to leave for my safety. So I left".
Nearly eight years have passed and she has created a life of stability for
herself as a soft-spoken but committed member of the MDC community in
London. Through her work with the group, she met her partner, a man who she
will describe only as "kind and hard-working".
He works two full-time jobs, she said. They had lived with friends for
several years but last fall they moved into their own studio near West Ham
in east London.
While she said she does not personally plan to return home, she is committed
to helping those who she had to leave behind.
"I do not wish to go back," she said. "They have ruined my country for me. I
would not be safe. But I want more for my people. [Morgan] Tsvangirai would
have made things better. He was our hope."
Tsvangirai, the MDC opposition leader who beat Mugabe in a March election,
pulled out of a June run-off because of escalating violence.
Chouriri said many of her friends in London's Zimbabwe activist community
have stopped speaking out in recent weeks because of concern for their own
"We are definitely being watched by Mugabe's security forces," she said. "We
are being careful. But we left our country so we wouldn't have to hide and
we do not want to hide here."
She begins to open up when asked about her plans for the future.
"I have my refugee status. I want to get back to my health field," she said.
"AIDS does not kill people so quickly in this country like it does in mine.
There is hope in this country when you are sick."
At the moment, she is not working. She said she has tried different odd jobs
over the years but ends up losing them when she takes off too much work to
care for ill neighbours and friends.
"People know about my background," she said. "They will come to me. They
will want me to look after their children. And I do it. It makes me feel
that I am doing something good for my community here."
She said she is not in regular contact with her family back home but tries
to send money to her parents as often as she is able.
"They have nothing," she said. "I heard that after the March election, two
of my brothers were badly beaten. They had broken bones. And we were
grateful. Broken bones are not so bad."
She said one of her parents' neighbours had been killed in April by a mob of
men belonging to the ruling Zanu-PF party.
"He was older than my father and they dragged him from his home and killed
him," she said.
When asked whether she thinks her family will flee the violence, she shakes
"They were born there, and they will never leave," she said. "They did not
understand when I went to [Harare] and they did not understand when I came
to London. It is there life there. This is now my life here."
Jennifer Koons is an IWPR reporter in London.
Institute for War & Peace Reporting
Veteran human rights activist Rose Benton is resigned to more years of
drawing attention to abuses in home country.
By Jennifer Koons in London (ZCR No. 154, 11-Jul-08)
On June 27, life was supposed to get easier for Rose Benton.
On that day, opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai was presumed to win the
presidential election in Zimbabwe, ousting President Robert Mugabe. And
after that, Benton would be able to take a break.
For almost six years, she has coordinated the weekly gatherings of a
London-based group called the Zimbabwe Vigil. She co-founded the
organisation in October 2002 in an effort to draw public attention to human
rights violations in her native country.
Every Saturday from midday to early evening, members gather outside the
Zimbabwean embassy. They sing and dance in peaceful protest and encourage
passers-by to sign various petitions relating to the hardships back home.
Several long-time attendees arrive early for the vigil on this bright
Saturday afternoon. They greet each other warmly and share their dismay at
the current state of affairs back home.
"The preparation will start when Rose arrives," said one woman.
Eventually, a small brown car pulls to a stop along the side street and
three men who had been standing around hurry over to help unload what looks
to be a trunk overflowing with cardboard posters and large Zimbabwean flags.
"I need help getting out of this car," said a woman, and one of the young
men pulls her up.
Rose Benton is ready to take charge. An assembly-line forms as she starts
passing out materials that others will then post along a metal fence that is
to become their protest pen. She grabs some tape and starts hanging signs
but keeps getting interrupted by men and women who come up to greet her.
Then the questions start. "Where should these fliers go?" "Who should handle
the petition today?"
Benton is unfazed. She has been doing this for many years.
"I work two full-time jobs," she said. "This is all voluntary. I thought the
election would happen and I'd have a chance to step back. My daughter is
expecting her first baby this summer."
No one seems to know what will happen next in their native country. But
while the uncertainty remains, Benton said she will continue to hold the
Benton said she left Zimbabwe in 1969 "because I didn't like what as
She taught history and English to high school students before she met her
husband, a British citizen who grew up in South Africa, and the two decided
to come to London.
"We met at a university party in Cape Town have been married ever since,"
Finding a job in the UK at that time proved fairly easy
"I was a Rhodesian and I had dual citizenship," she said. "I found a job in
a research department very quickly."
She said Zimbabweans coming to London today face far more difficult
"When I came, you could get your papers sorted out very fast," she said. "It
is much more difficult nowadays, particularly for black Zimbabweans who have
no ancestral help. A lot of white Zimbabweans have help from relatives. They
have grandparents who are British. Black Zimbabweans don't have that."
She said she has two sisters still living in Zimbabwe and it was with their
encouragement that she got involved in advocacy work.
"I was chatting with my sisters in 2000 and they were saying that things
were going very badly and they asked me to do something from here," she
said. "It was really quite difficult to find anyone doing anything here at
"There were a couple of demonstrations out in front of the embassy. They
were really small - just a handful of people. And then someone said there
was a regular forum on Monday night. I started going to that."
Eventually she was asked to take a leadership role in what would become the
"I never meant to get so heavily involved," she said. "Somehow or other you
can't drop it. Once it's started it has to continue."
She said the number of attendees each week grew as the date for the run-off
election neared, but she is not sure how people will react with the current
turn of events.
"People are anxious," she said. "We may see even more involvement. It's just
hard to predict."
What is certain is that she will eventually need to train someone to take on
a greater leadership role within the organisation.
"I have to slow down and look at what other people can do," she said. "You
never want to see that fail. The vigil has become a much bigger thing. There
are far more e-mails coming in with ideas and requests. But it's funny how
few of them offer help."
Jennifer Koons is an IWPR reporter in London.