By Sebastien Berger in Johannesburg
Last Updated: 11:47PM BST 11/07/2008
Russia and China have vetoed a United Nations Security Council resolution to
impose international sanctions on key members of Zimbabwe's government,
damaging diplomatic efforts to isolate the regime.
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe: America and the European Union have
already imposed their own sanctions on Zimbabwe
The resolution would have imposed a travel ban and asset freeze on Robert
Mugabe and 13 of his cronies, plus an arms embargo on the country
But although nine countries, including America, Britain and France, backed
the proposals, five countries voted against, including Russia and China,
which both enjoy powers of veto as permanent members of the Security
"The people of Zimbabwe will not understand the Russian and Chinese veto,"
said the foreign secretary David Miliband, adding that he was "very
The measures were proposed after Mr Mugabe was "re-elected" in a
one-candidate election that was heavily criticised because of the violent
tactics that forced the opposition candidate Morgan Tsvangirai to withdraw.
More than 100 people, mostly opposition supporters are said to have died in
Diplomats at the UN are normally aware of their colleagues' intentions
before a vote is taken, and in the circumstances it is perhaps surprising
that the US, which proposed the resolution, pressed it to a decision.
The result will be seized on by the propagandists of Zanu-PF, Zimbabwe's
ruling party, who insist that Zimbabwe's economic travails - inflation is
estimated at over eight million per cent - are due to Western plots, rather
than Mr Mugabe's mismanagement.
Some UN officials had argued that a parallel mediation process being led by
the South African president Thabo Mbeki should have been given a chance to
succeed without imposing stronger measures.
But without new international pressure, Mr Mugabe will see little need to
make concessions to the opposition Movement for Democratic Change in the
The defeat follows the failure of the African Union to condemn Mr Mugabe,
despite observer missions criticising the election. Some leaders on the
continent even made a point of overtly supporting him.
The veto leaves Mr Mugabe looking ever more secure in office, despite the
blood shed for his 're-election', and demonstrates the difficulty of
ensuring concerted international action - which would have been necessary to
enforce the sanctions even if they had been passed.
Both Russia and China have questionable human rights records of their own,
and have long been reluctant to support international intervention in what
they see as other countries' internal affairs.
The Russian president Dmitry Medvedev had given ambivalent indications about
his country's intentions at the G8 summit in Japan earlier this week. And
China is one of Mr Mugabe's oldest allies and arms suppliers, a link dating
back to the war against Ian Smith's regime, when it backed his Zanu
South Africa, Libya and Vietnam also voted against the resolution while
It is the latest example of South Africa failing to support action against
repressive rulers, despite the ruling African National Congress' own backing
for sanctions when it was leading the struggle against apartheid.
Last year the country voted against a resolution calling for the Burmese
junta to stop attacking ethnic minorities and engage in substantive dialogue
with the democratic opposition.
Earlier yesterday Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the Nobel laureate, expressed
frustration that some leaders on the continent had not condemned Mr Mugabe.
"Obviously it would have been wonderful if there had been unanimous
condemnation by all the leaders of Africa, but politicians are politicians,"
The proposed sanctions on Zimbabwe rejected by the UN Security Council
after vetoes by Russia and China on Friday are the latest examples of a
diplomatic and economic weapon that has a distinctly mixed history of success
and failure. Sanctions sometimes have the appearance of being more about making those who
impose them feel better than making those at whom they are aimed change their
minds. In the case of Zimbabwe, for example, the British and American-led proposal
was that the top 14 people in the country's political and security apparatus
should not be able to travel abroad and should have their assets abroad frozen.
An arms embargo was also proposed. However, those prepared to use force to maintain their positions are hardly
likely to worry about not being able to travel and as long as they have got
their money safely back home, they will continue to live well. Arms embargoes
are often ineffective. In any event, the proposals failed to convince Russia and China, so they were
not adopted. Often the problem with sanctions is they fail to have the effect intended.
Sanctions are an easy diplomatic weapon for governments to reach for. They
have the advantage of helping to quieten domestic critics, even if they do not
actually make much difference. And these days those domestic critics, often in the form of powerful
non-governmental lobby groups, have to be listened to and usually placated. Rhodesian resistance Zimbabwe itself, under its colonial name Rhodesia, provides an example from
an earlier time. The then British Prime Minister Harold Wilson said that sanctions on the
white minority rulers would change things in "weeks not months". It took 12
years and a guerrilla war - led by Robert Mugabe - to effect that change. For many years, South Africa was under an arms embargo. This encouraged it to
develop its own arms industry. In the end it was able to export arms itself.
The question of whether sanctions and isolation convinced the apartheid
rulers that they could not go on is still an issue for debate. Or was it the realisation that apartheid was simply not working that made the
difference? The Cuban example The United States has imposed trade restrictions on Cuba in various forms
since 1960. It did not in any way weaken the position of Fidel Castro, who has
now retired an elderly man. On the contrary, it gave him an excuse for poor economic performance by being
able to blame someone else. Cuba could be an example of sanctions having the opposite effect to the one
required. Another might be the oil embargo imposed by the US on Japan in 1940
after its invasion of southern Indochina. This might have increased Japan's sense that it needed to acquire its own
supplies by attacking oil-rich counties of South East Asia. Iran and sanctions Likewise, in Iran, broad American trade restrictions came in after the US
hostages were seized at the US embassy there in 1979. They have been maintained since. Iran, for example, has not been able to buy
aircraft from the US. But the revolutionary leaders of Iran have not been deterred by these
sanctions and very much remain in power today. They often use US hostility as a
banner around which to rally support. Limited sanctions against Burma have not shifted the ruling junta there. The Arab embargo on Israel has not changed Israeli policy. Targeted sanctions the trend Aware that broad-based sanctions can be pointless, policymakers have turned
more and more in recent years to so-called "targeted" sanctions. These aim at specific items needed by the target government or at particular
people in that government. They avoid the criticism that it is the ordinary
people who bear the brunt of sanctions. Iran is currently the subject, not only of wide US trade restrictions, but of
targeted UN sanctions over its nuclear activities. Specific people, businesses
and organisations are targeted for boycott and isolation. This does seem to have some effect. According to the US Under-Secretary of
State William Burns, Iran has been hampered by restrictions on trade in missile
technology. He told a congressional committee: "As a direct result of UN sanctions,
Iran's ability to procure technology or items of significance to its missile
programs, even dual-use items, is being impaired." What really counts? It is also arguable that sanctions maintained on Saddam Hussein after his
army was ejected from Kuwait in 1991 made it impossible for him to get
technology from abroad, thereby leading to his abandoning any hopes of
developing nuclear weapons and weapons of mass destruction. But his failure in war and UN inspections might have been even more decisive.
And did Libya change course and give up any nuclear ambitions because it was
under sanctions following the Lockerbie bombings? Or did it realise that it
might be attacked by the US, which, with the UK, had found hard evidence of
nuclear smuggling? Another example of targeted sanctions was the 1974 Jackson-Vanik amendment in
the US. It aimed at getting the freedom to emigrate for Soviet Jews by denying
full trading rights for any country that did not allow free emigration. The White House says the amendment was "an extraordinary success in securing
freedom of emigration in the Soviet Union and its successor states". Tit for tat Sometimes sanctions descend into tit-for-tat symbolism. President Jimmy Carter boycotted the Moscow Olympic Games in 1980 following
the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan at the end of 1979. In retaliation, the
Soviet Union stayed away from the Los Angeles Games in 1984. All this had no effect on the situation in Afghanistan, in which the fighting
was the decisive element. Sanctions are not new in international politics, of course. Way back in about 432BC, the Athenians stopped the people of next-door Megara
from trading throughout the Athenian empire. It was over some dispute about
trespassing on sacred land. The result was that Megara's ally, the Spartans, were mightily displeased.
Historians debate whether the Spartans would have gone to war in any case but
they did. The sanctions do appear to have been counterproductive, to say the least. An
World affairs correspondent, BBC News website
The proposed sanctions on Zimbabwe rejected by the UN Security Council after vetoes by Russia and China on Friday are the latest examples of a diplomatic and economic weapon that has a distinctly mixed history of success and failure.
Sanctions sometimes have the appearance of being more about making those who impose them feel better than making those at whom they are aimed change their minds.
In the case of Zimbabwe, for example, the British and American-led proposal was that the top 14 people in the country's political and security apparatus should not be able to travel abroad and should have their assets abroad frozen. An arms embargo was also proposed.
However, those prepared to use force to maintain their positions are hardly likely to worry about not being able to travel and as long as they have got their money safely back home, they will continue to live well. Arms embargoes are often ineffective.
In any event, the proposals failed to convince Russia and China, so they were not adopted.
Often the problem with sanctions is they fail to have the effect intended.
Sanctions are an easy diplomatic weapon for governments to reach for. They have the advantage of helping to quieten domestic critics, even if they do not actually make much difference.
And these days those domestic critics, often in the form of powerful non-governmental lobby groups, have to be listened to and usually placated.
Zimbabwe itself, under its colonial name Rhodesia, provides an example from an earlier time.
The then British Prime Minister Harold Wilson said that sanctions on the white minority rulers would change things in "weeks not months". It took 12 years and a guerrilla war - led by Robert Mugabe - to effect that change.
For many years, South Africa was under an arms embargo. This encouraged it to develop its own arms industry. In the end it was able to export arms itself.
The question of whether sanctions and isolation convinced the apartheid rulers that they could not go on is still an issue for debate.
Or was it the realisation that apartheid was simply not working that made the difference?
The Cuban example
The United States has imposed trade restrictions on Cuba in various forms since 1960. It did not in any way weaken the position of Fidel Castro, who has now retired an elderly man.
On the contrary, it gave him an excuse for poor economic performance by being able to blame someone else.
Cuba could be an example of sanctions having the opposite effect to the one required. Another might be the oil embargo imposed by the US on Japan in 1940 after its invasion of southern Indochina.
This might have increased Japan's sense that it needed to acquire its own supplies by attacking oil-rich counties of South East Asia.
Iran and sanctions
Likewise, in Iran, broad American trade restrictions came in after the US hostages were seized at the US embassy there in 1979.
They have been maintained since. Iran, for example, has not been able to buy aircraft from the US.
But the revolutionary leaders of Iran have not been deterred by these sanctions and very much remain in power today. They often use US hostility as a banner around which to rally support.
Limited sanctions against Burma have not shifted the ruling junta there.
The Arab embargo on Israel has not changed Israeli policy.
Targeted sanctions the trend
Aware that broad-based sanctions can be pointless, policymakers have turned more and more in recent years to so-called "targeted" sanctions.
These aim at specific items needed by the target government or at particular people in that government. They avoid the criticism that it is the ordinary people who bear the brunt of sanctions.
Iran is currently the subject, not only of wide US trade restrictions, but of targeted UN sanctions over its nuclear activities. Specific people, businesses and organisations are targeted for boycott and isolation.
This does seem to have some effect. According to the US Under-Secretary of State William Burns, Iran has been hampered by restrictions on trade in missile technology.
He told a congressional committee: "As a direct result of UN sanctions, Iran's ability to procure technology or items of significance to its missile programs, even dual-use items, is being impaired."
What really counts?
It is also arguable that sanctions maintained on Saddam Hussein after his army was ejected from Kuwait in 1991 made it impossible for him to get technology from abroad, thereby leading to his abandoning any hopes of developing nuclear weapons and weapons of mass destruction.
But his failure in war and UN inspections might have been even more decisive.
And did Libya change course and give up any nuclear ambitions because it was under sanctions following the Lockerbie bombings? Or did it realise that it might be attacked by the US, which, with the UK, had found hard evidence of nuclear smuggling?
Another example of targeted sanctions was the 1974 Jackson-Vanik amendment in the US. It aimed at getting the freedom to emigrate for Soviet Jews by denying full trading rights for any country that did not allow free emigration.
The White House says the amendment was "an extraordinary success in securing freedom of emigration in the Soviet Union and its successor states".
Tit for tat
Sometimes sanctions descend into tit-for-tat symbolism.
President Jimmy Carter boycotted the Moscow Olympic Games in 1980 following the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan at the end of 1979. In retaliation, the Soviet Union stayed away from the Los Angeles Games in 1984.
All this had no effect on the situation in Afghanistan, in which the fighting was the decisive element.
Sanctions are not new in international politics, of course.
Way back in about 432BC, the Athenians stopped the people of next-door Megara from trading throughout the Athenian empire. It was over some dispute about trespassing on sacred land.
The result was that Megara's ally, the Spartans, were mightily displeased. Historians debate whether the Spartans would have gone to war in any case but they did.
The sanctions do appear to have been counterproductive, to say the least. An old story.
2 hours, 43 minutes ago
UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Russia and China vetoed on Friday a
Western-backed U.N. Security Council resolution to impose sanctions on
Zimbabwe for holding a violent presidential poll that was boycotted by the
The resolution would have imposed an arms embargo on the southern African
country and financial and travel restrictions on President Robert Mugabe and
13 other officials. It would also have called for a U.N. special envoy for
Zimbabwe to be appointed.
Nine countries voted for the U.S.-drafted resolution, five -- including
veto-holding Russia and China -- opposed it and one abstained in the
The result represented a failure by the Western bloc to induce Russia and
China at least to abstain because of the gravity of the crisis in Zimbabwe.
Opponents of the resolution, who also included South Africa, Libya and
Vietnam, argued that the situation was not a threat to international peace
and security worthy of a council resolution. They said talks in South Africa
between Zimbabwe's ruling and opposition parties should be given a chance.
But British Ambassador John Sawers told the council it had "failed to
shoulder its responsibility to do what it can to prevent a national tragedy
deepening and spreading its effects across southern Africa."
Voting for the resolution were the United States, Britain, France, Italy,
Belgium, Croatia, Burkina Faso, Panama and Costa Rica. Indonesia abstained.
(Reporting by Patrick Worsnip; Editing by Doina Chiacu)
2 hours, 13 minutes ago
LONDON (AFP) - Britain on Friday expressed disappointment at the veto of a
draft UN Security Council resolution to impose tough new sanctions on
Zimbabwe, singling out Russia for criticism.
A senior official in Gordon Brown's Downing Street office told AFP the
British prime minister was "very disappointed by the result" -- a view
echoed by Foreign Secretary David Miliband in a strongly-worded statement.
Russia and China joined South Africa, Libya and Vietnam in opposing the US
draft, which would have imposed an assets freeze and a travel ban on
Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe and 13 members of his regime, and an arms
Miliband said: "I am very disappointed that the UN Security Council should
have failed to pass a strong and clear resolution on Zimbabwe.
"In particular, it will appear incomprehensible to the people of Zimbabwe
that Russia, which committed itself at the G8 only a few days ago to take
further steps including introducing financial and other sanctions, should
today stand in the way of timely and decisive Security Council action.
"Nor will they understand the Chinese vote."
The Downing Street official, speaking on condition of anonymity in line with
government policy, said Brown was "surprised" that Russia had not "followed
through" after its help in drafting the G8 statement earlier this week.
He added: "Only last month the Security Council was adamant, issuing a
presidential statement on the need for free and fair elections. Zimbabwe
instead meted out violence and intimidation.
"The council has missed an opportunity to respond vigorously and quickly to
that. It is a missed opportunity for the people of Zimbabwe and for the
people of Africa."
Britain, the former colonial power in Zimbabwe, has been vocal in
criticising Mugabe and his ruling ZANU-PF party over the presidential
elections last month, amid claims of rigging and violence against opposition
Miliband said London would pursue its "twin-track approach" of pressuring
Mugabe's regime and supporting ordinary Zimbabweans, as well as pushing for
greater European Union sanctions against the veteran leader and his
They would also continue to call for the appointment of a UN envoy to
Zimbabwe, saying the world body still had a "key role" to play, he added.
31 minutes ago
LONDON (AFP) - Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe is "happy" at the veto of
a draft resolution to impose tough new sanctions, the country's ambassador
to the world body told BBC television from New York Saturday.
"President Mugabe is happy to know that the United Nations is still a body
where there's equal sovereignty of every member of the United Nations and
there are checks and balances within the system that protects the weak from
the powerful," Boniface Chidyausiku said in an interview.
Earlier, China and Russia joined Libya, South Africa and Vietnam in opposing
the US draft, which would have imposed an assets freeze and a travel ban on
the veteran leader and 13 of his cronies, plus an arms embargo.
The vote, on which Indonesia abstained, provoked strong reactions from
Britain, the former colonial power in Zimbabwe, and the United States. Both
pointed the finger at Russia for reneging on a G8 agreement to back
But Chidyausiku said the blocking of the draft resolution was "great news".
"It's a reflection of the rule of law in the United Nations that nobody has
monopoly on how things should be in the Security Council. Reason has
prevailed," he added.
He said the "machinations" of Britain, France and the United States, as well
as their "flimsy reasons" for fresh sanctions, had been exposed and there
was "no justification for that type of action".
OneWorld International Foundation (OWIF)
Date: 11 Jul 2008
WASHINGTON, Jul 11 (OneWorld) - Marches, petitions, vigils, and press
conferences across Africa are planned for Saturday at the launch of a
Pan-African Campaign of Solidarity with Zimbabwe.
Disappointed that their political leaders failed to step up to the plate and
condemn Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe's brutal tactics during last
weekend's African Union (AU) summit in Egypt, civil society groups are
mobilizing to express their discontent.
"The widespread killings, torture, and assault of perceived opposition
supporters must come to an end in Zimbabwe. Concrete action is long overdue
and African leaders must end their silent acquiescence," said Irene Khan,
secretary general of Amnesty International.
Amnesty and two other groups behind the solidarity campaign believe African
leaders should "make space" for civil society to play a more active role in
"We are needed now more than ever as millions of people face hunger through
growing food insecurity brought on by misgovernance," said Adelaide Sosseh,
co-chair of the Gambia office of the Global Call to Action against Poverty,
a campaign co-sponsor.
The campaign will put public pressure on regional organizations such as the
AU and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to take steps to
rein in Mugabe.
Among the main demands to be put forward by the solidarity campaign are the
establishment of an independent commission of inquiry to explore human
rights violations during the election and appointment of monitors to report
on ongoing rights abuses, restoration of an independent judiciary, and
greater accountability for police and security forces.
In a statement Wednesday, heads of state at the G8 summit of industrialized
countries in Japan agreed on the need for independent investigation, calling
for the appointment of a UN special envoy to report on the political,
humanitarian, human rights, and security situation and support mediation.
Both civil society groups and Western governments had hoped that African
leaders gathered at the AU meeting in Egypt would break with tradition and
condemn the results of the Jun. 27 election in which Mugabe was the only
Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai dropped out shortly before the poll due
to the extreme levels of violence being perpetrated by police, military
forces, and heavily armed vigilantes against supporters of the Movement for
But although a few leaders spoke out against Mugabe, such as Kenyan Prime
Minister Raila Odinga and Botswana's Vice President Mompati Merafhe, who
called for suspending Zimbabwe from the AU, others were content merely to
call for dialogue between Mugabe and Tsvangirai.
Meanwhile, reports from Zimbabwe consistently confirm that violence against
opposition supporters has intensified since Mugabe was sworn in on Jun. 29.
"The torture camps are still in place, and since the beginning of July three
supporters of the MDC have been murdered by ZANU-PF militia and war veterans
at the torture camps. Several women, including a 70-year-old grandmother and
a 15-year-old girl, have been gang-raped, while beatings and displacements
continue. People are being forced to donate goats, cattle, and women...to
avoid being victims," according to an MDC parliamentarian interviewed
Wednesday by the United Nations' IRIN news service.
Sponsors of the Pan-African solidarity campaign plan to use such tactics as
vigils outside Zimbabwean embassies, press conferences, petitions, and
meetings with government officials to express their concern about the
situation in Zimbabwe and urge African governments to take action.
Friday, 11 July 2008 11:27
PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe and opposition Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai have made a dramatic climb-down from their
intransigent positions in inter-party talks under mounting pressure from
South African president Thabo Mbeki, it has emerged.
The move demonstrates Mbeki's increasing leverage in the convoluted
mediation process despite stinging criticism of him for his failure to wring
a solution from the two men over the past eight years.
Sources said after the botched meeting between Mugabe and Tsvangirai
last Saturday, Mbeki has been piling pressure on the two leaders to drop
rigid preconditions to dialogue and dispatch chief negotiators to Pretoria
where crisis talks began yesterday.
The negotiations centre on a government of national unity. The sources
said Mbeki has advised Mugabe to defer the appointment of a new cabinet to
give a chance to the talks because a breakthrough could be found soon.
Mugabe had wanted to announce a new cabinet since last week.
He has been claiming he would not talk unless he is recognised as the
legitimate president, while Tsvangirai has been saying he would not reengage
unless he was also acknowledged as the winner of elections on the basis of
the March 29 results.
Tsvangirai has said he would not talk unless an African Union envoy
was assigned to the talks to partner Mbeki. He also wants to see the
"dismantling of structures of violence" and the release of jailed party
However, the sources said Mbeki - who will next month take over as
Sadc chairman - has prevailed on both sides to drop these demands and
reengage each other to resolve the political stalemate and halt economic
haemorrhaging. Mbeki's party, the governing ANC, is also piling on the
pressure, particularly on Mugabe, to negotiate in good faith.
On Wednesday ANC deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe and
secretary-general Gwede Mantashe met Mugabe and his deputies Joseph Msika
and Joice Mujuru in Harare to increasse pressure for serious engagement.
The ANC and Zanu PF met in Johannesburg last month for talks on the
local crisis. Although ANC leader Jacob Zuma is more critical of Mugabe in
public than Mbeki, it is said they are in constant touch on the Zimbabwe
Zanu PF negotiators Patrick Chinamasa and Nicholas Goche and MDC
emissaries Tendai Biti and Elton Mangoma, who represent Tsvangirai's group,
and Welshman Ncube and Priscillah Misihairabwi-Mushonga for the Arthur
Mutambara camp resumed talks on how to form a government of national unity
After the recent AU summit in Egypt resolved Mugabe and Tsvangirai
must form a government of national unity, the negotiation process has been
gathering momentum although it suffered a setback last week after Tsvangirai
boycotted a meeting at Zimbabwe House.
Sources said the real reason why Tsvangirai pulled out was that he did
not want a group meeting but a one-on-one with Mugabe.
"Tsvangirai wanted to meet Mugabe alone for private talks in the
presence of Mbeki.
"This was agreed, but a mix-up arose when Mbeki allowed negotiators to
Tsvangirai himself confirmed this to journalists during the week.
There is a growing consensus among Zimbabweans, the AU, United
Nations, Sadc and even within the G8 that a negotiated settlement which
produces a power-sharing agreement is the most workable way out for
As a result there has been a flurry of private and informal
engagements on the way forward between Zanu PF and the MDC, as well as Mbeki
and his negotiators
Sydney Mufamadi, Frank Chikane and Mujanku Gumbi.
It is understood Mbeki was in constant communication with Mugabe and
Tsvangirai while in Japan this week where Zimbabwe loomed large in private
and public debates. This led to the reconvening of talks yesterday.
"Mugabe and Tsvangirai were put under tremendous pressure by Mbeki
during the week to accept responsibility to find solutions to their own
country's problems," a reliable diplomat said. "This led to consultations
between Zanu PF and MDC representatives to set a date for talks."
While he was in Egypt, Mbeki did the same. He was in touch with the
parties in Zimbabwe to force them into dialogue. This led to a meeting
between Zanu PF and the MDC formations on June 30 and July 2 in a bid to
organise the failed July 5 first-ever meeting between Mugabe and Tsvangirai.
Mbeki had on July 2 spoken to Tsvangirai about it. It is said he had a
tough discussion on the issue because Mbeki wanted the party negotiators to
meet, while Tsvangirai pushed for a private meeting with Mugabe. Mbeki ended
up yielding but had reservations.
The sources said Mbeki asked Tsvangirai if he wanted to negotiate and
agree a deal with Mugabe himself or leave it to negotiators to work out the
deal under instruction from their principals. But the MDC leader maintained
it was better for him to meet Mugabe first and clear the way for the talks.
The meeting - which was to feature Mugabe, Tsvangirai and Mutambara at
3pm at Zimbabwe House in the presence of Mbeki - was then confirmed. This is
according to the Mutambara faction. However, Tsvangirai pulled out at the
The sources said after that Mbeki pulled out all the stops to get the
talks back on track by intensifying pressure on Tsvangirai, especially after
his grilling by G8 leaders on the negotiations. Reports said Mbeki was taken
to task over Zimbabwe after he claimed there was progress in the dialogue.
G8 leaders reportedly rejected this, including his assurances Mugabe was
going in a few years' time and that he might even accept a ceremonial post
in the new set-up.
Mbeki reportedly said there was no legitimate government in Zimbabwe
and that was why he was pushing for a negotiated settlement to resolve that
By Dumisani Muleya
Friday, 11 July 2008 11:22
SOUTH Africa's African National Congress (ANC) this week intensified
efforts to push President Robert Mugabe to discuss a negotiated political
settlement of the Zimbabwean crisis with opposition MDC leader Morgan
An ANC delegation led by party vice-president Kgalema Motlanthe
arrived in the country on Wednesday to discuss with Mugabe ways of resolving
the standoff between him and Tsvangirai.
A few days ago, ANC president Jacob Zuma described Mugabe as one of
the leaders in Africa who were clinging to power against the electorate's
ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe accompanied Motlanthe to the
meeting with Mugabe and other senior Zanu PF officials.
Mantashe was in 2005 declared a persona non grata after he and 11
members of the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) were deported
from Harare by the government.
The 12-member Cosatu delegation was, at the time, stopped midstream as
they held meetings with their Zimbabwean counterparts, the Zimbabwe Congress
of Trade Unions.
They were bundled into a kombi and driven to Beitbridge where they
were placed under heavy police and army guard before they were eventually
deported to South Africa.
However, this week, despite the fact his ban has not been officially
revoked, Mantashe returned to Zimbabwe.
Informed sources said yesterday the ANC impressed upon Mugabe that it
would send the former Cosatu leader alongside a number of other party
officials for a courtesy call where discussions to help tackle the
Zimbabwean crisis were held.
Sources close to the meeting said yesterday the ANC leaders had
"attempted to show Mugabe the need for a political settlement".
They added that the task was much easier as Mugabe had already agreed
to back down from his hardline stance against the opposition.
"The South African delegation made it clear that bickering between
Zanu PF and the MDC was not going to solve the problems facing Zimbabwe," a
source said. "It (the delegation) reiterated calls by the entire ANC
leadership that Mugabe and Tsvangirai should focus their efforts on forming
a government that would take on board all the stakeholders. Basically, the
ANC delegation was here to step up its pressure on Mugabe to agree to talk
to the MDC."
Another source said Mugabe had given the ANC delegation assurances
that he would engage the MDC in talks but said he had expressed concern at
the actions of MDC leader, Tsvangirai last Friday.
Tsvangirai had agreed to meet Mugabe at Zimbabwe House for discussions
to be chaired by South African President Thabo Mbeki, but boycotted the
meeting after making a last-minute decision not to take part. This would
have been the first face-to-face meeting between the two leaders since the
formation of the MDC in 1999 and the subsequent political standoff involving
the two parties over elections.
By Nkululeko Sibanda
Friday, 11 July 2008 11:21
THE defence counsel representing the leader of the smaller faction of
the MDC, Arthur Mutambara, the Standard newspaper publishers, and the editor
of the paper, Davison Maruziva
, who are facing charges of publishing an article considered
prejudicial to the state and contemptuous of the judiciary, yesterday asked
the court to produce a written complaint from High Court Judge Justice
Tendai Uchena to validate the claim.
Charges against the accused who are facing allegations of publishing
or communicating false statements prejudicial to the state, arose after the
publication of an opinion piece in which Mutambara was critical of the
judiciary after a High Court ruling in April on the delayed release of the
March 29 presidential election results.
Mutambara's lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa said the state should be able to
provide a complaint from Justice Uchena in order to sustain the contempt of
In a letter submitted to the court, the Master of High Court Charles
Nyatanga revealed that he made a statement in response to Mutambara's
article after a request by the police.
"Further reference is made to a conversation this morning between the
Hon Judge President Justice R Makarau and the Commissioner-General of the
Police Cde A Chihuri where it was agreed that a statement from me on behalf
of the judiciary would suffice," he said.
In the letter Nyatanga said the article was "contemptuous of the
Prosecutor Tawanda Zvekare said the state would seek to obtain a
written complaint from Justice Uchena.
The state submitted to the court a statement by Senior Assistant
Commissioner and commander of the harmonised elections and the presidential
run-off, Faustino Mazango, in which he said Mutambara's article was based on
He said: "In his (Mutambara) article he falsely presented information
that there were police deployments in major cities to intimidate ordinary
citizens. He went on to insult the law enforcement agencies as imbecilic and
cynical military junta running the affairs of the country."
"It is my belief and conviction that the country was not at any one
time in the hands of the military as the country was being administered
according to the constitution of Zimbabwe and was being administered
civilly," Mazango said.
Zimbabwe National Army Major General Nicholas Dube in his statement
told the state that Mutambara had lied in his article about the army's
presence in major cities and rural areas during election time
"In the article it was stated that there was heavy army presence in
major cities intimidating ordinary citizens of Zimbabwe and as far as the
Zimbabwe Defence Forces is concerned, there has never been deployment of its
members either in town or rural areas for the purpose of perpetrating
Dube said Mutambara, Maruziva and the Standard should not have
authored, edited and published false information which was likely to
undermine public confidence in the Zimbabwe Defence Forces.
The Media and Information Commission's principal research and
investigations and monitoring officer Academy Chinhamora in his statement
said the editor has an obligation to seek and obtain legal advice on any
content which might breach the law before publishing an article.
"The editor should have also noticed that Arthur Mutambara's piece
attacked a judgement of the High Court. By so publishing the piece, the
publisher is in agreement with the supplied information so had a common
intention with the author and the editor,"Chinhamora told the court.
The accused were remanded out of custody to August 29 by Harare
Magistrate, Morgen Nemadire.
By Lucia Makamure
Friday, 11 July 2008 11:19
THREE South African nationals employed by the British Sky News channel
who were arrested in Zimbabwe carrying broadcasting equipment and were later
sentenced to six months in prison have been freed after a High Court judge
reviewed the sentence and commuted it to a fine.
The three South Africans, Bernet Hasani Sono (34), Resemate Chauke
(46) and Simon Musimani (38) were freed last week after High Court judge,
Justice Maphios Cheda, ordered that they pay fines of $50 billion each.
The three were intercepted and arrested in Mbalabala, 60 kilometres
south of Bulawayo, while transporting broadcast equipment belonging to Sky
News to South Africa. They were charged with "possessing equipment believed
to be used for broadcasting without a licence".
After the South Africans were convicted and sentenced by a local
magistrate, the lawyers representing the three filed an urgent Hugh Court
application seeking a review of the matter after they argued that the
sentence passed on the three was excessive.
In his review, Justice Cheda said the presiding magistrate in the
matter had misdirected himself by imposing a custodial sentence and said the
review called for a non-custodial sentence.
"I have perused the record of proceedings in this matter and note that
indeed the learned trial magistrate misdirected himself by imposing a
custodial sentence in circumstances where justice called for a non-custodial
sentence," Justice Cheda said in his judgement.
"Judicial offices have been advised by both this court and the Supreme
Court that custodial sentences should only be imposed in very serious
offences, of which this one is not. I agree with both counsels that the
sentences passed are unduly harsh in the circumstances where justice called
for non-custodial sentence."
Justice Cheda in commuting the sentence said each of the accused
should pay a fine of $50 billion but maintained that they should forfeit the
broadcasting equipment and the motor vehicle that was transporting the
equipment to the state.
The three South Africans had pleaded guilty to contravening Section 33
(1) of the Postal and Telecommunications Act, Chapter 12.03.
One of the two lawyers representing the three, Tavengwa Hara, said his
clients were deported immediately after paying the fines.
"My clients were deported the same day they paid the fines after the
review by Justice Cheda and we are happy that the High Court saw the initial
judgement as excessive," Hara said.
By Loughty Dube
Friday, 11 July 2008 11:16
PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe is battling for political legitimacy after
most Sadc African countries and the wider international community did not
endorse his presidency after winning the June 27 run-off.
Morgan Tsvangirai of the MDC withdrew from the run-off citing
escalating violence against his supporters, but the Zimbabwe Electoral
Commission went ahead with the poll arguing that the pull-out had no legal
Many African leaders have refused to endorse Mugabe's "victory", while
world leaders this week questioned his legitimacy and have called for both
Zanu PF and the MDC to work for a prompt and peaceful resolution to the
Sadc, the Pan-African Parliament, and the African Union (AU) observer
missions in the run-off said the election was not in line with regional and
international standards. The United Nations also condemned the polls.
African leaders, diplomatic sources said, admit that Mugabe was
legally in power after his inauguration on June 29, but lacked legitimacy.
But key world leaders argued that the 84-year-old president lacked
both legal and political legitimacy, with some of them saying he should
leave office for Tsvangirai who won the first round of the presidential
election in March.
However, there is consensus between African and world leaders on the
need for a negotiated political settlement in Zimbabwe, but they differ on
how to achieve it.
Some world leaders wanted talks to proceed and at the same time impose
sanctions on Zimbabwe, while African countries oppose the move saying it
would worsen the crisis.
Talks between Zanu PF and the MDC to resolve the crisis are already
underway and were initiated by Sadc and mediated by South Africa President
Thabo Mbeki. The AU, the UN and this week's G8 summit in Japan endorsed the
Botswana, Zambia, Kenya, Nigeria, Liberia, Uganda and Tanzania were
some of the African countries to slam Zimbabwe's presidential election
Zambia and Botswana have been key allies of Zimbabwe but both have
spoken out against the outcome.
Botswana was the first country in Sadc to say it did not recognise
Mugabe's "victory" and requested the regional bloc to bar the country from
participating in its meetings.
"As a country that practises democracy and the rule of law, Botswana
does not, therefore, recognise the outcome of the presidential run-off
election, and would expect other Sadc member states to do the same,"
Botswana's Foreign minister Phandu Skelemani said last week. "It is against
this backdrop that Botswana urges Sadc to assume its responsibility by
taking proactive steps that are consistent with its principles and
objectives. It is, therefore, Botswana's position that Zimbabwe should not
be allowed to participate in Sadc meetings until such a time that they
demonstrate their commitment to strictly adhere to the organisation's
Mozambique, another key ally of Zimbabwe during the liberation
struggle, has remained mum on the crisis, but its central bank this week
said the political and economic turmoil has the potential to put the brakes
on economic growth throughout the whole of the southern African region.
During the AU summit, Nigerian Foreign minister Ojo Maduekwe said his
country did not recognise Mugabe's legitimacy.
"It is our view that enduring peace could only be achieved in Zimbabwe
if the country returned to the status quo before the presidential run-off,"
While many African leaders did not publicly speak out on the
legitimacy of Mugabe during the summit, the continent's longest serving
president Omar Bongo of Gabon endorsed the former guerilla leader.
"He was elected, he took an oath, and he is here with us, so he is
president and we cannot ask him more," Bongo said. "He conducted elections
and I think he won."
Asked about calls by the international community to condemn Mugabe,
Bongo who has been in power for over 40 years said: "Africans are able to
decide for themselves. We have even received Mugabe as a hero."
Lesotho Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili, Venezuelan President Hugo
Chavez and his Iranian counterpart Mahmoud Ahmadinejad also endorsed Mugabe's
Mosisili on Wednesday said: "It is high time countries and states
respect the sovereignty of other countries. Whoever is saying it does not
confer legitimacy on the government of Robert Mugabe, who is he or she to do
Mosisili said that any government in Zimbabwe had to have the support
of the armed forces.
"I don't care who rules Zimbabwe but he must be acceptable to the
armed forces because he needs their support, but even they must respect the
will of the people," he said.
But Mbeki, long seen as Mugabe's closest ally, this week reportedly
told Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda during the G8 summit that there
was no legitimate government in Zimbabwe, and that was why a government of
national unity was needed.
On Monday, the Zimbabwe crisis dominated a meeting between G8 leaders
and the presidents of Algeria, Ethiopia, Ghana, Nigeria, Senegal and
After the meeting, Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete said the AU was
concerned by the Zimbabwe situation. He said although "many leaders" in
Africa had "expressed their dissatisfaction at the way things happened in
Zimbabwe", they differed with G8 leaders on the way forward.
The G8 leaders this week said they would take financial measures
Britain, France and the US were last night expected to push for the UN
Security Council to adopt a sanctions resolution on Zimbabwe. But the
Russian delegation is reportedly not comfortable with such a resolution.
The three countries have since said they do not recognise Mugabe as a
legitimate president and wanted Tsvangirai to takeover on the basis of the
March 29 presidential election result.
Other permanent Security Council members - Russia and China - were
likely to veto the proposed resolution.
The UN deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro on Tuesday said
Mugabe's government was elected illegitimately and as such there was need
"It is clear that Zimbabwe will have to go through a political
transition bringing together its people around a common project," she told
the UN Security Council. "It will also need a process of national healing
and reconciliation that should include wide-ranging and participatory
By Constantine Chimakure
Friday, 11 July 2008 11:14
MDC refugees who claim to be victims of political violence and were
taken to Ruwa Rehabilitation Centre after being moved from the South African
embassy in Harare were this week victimised a second time while in camp by
unidentified armed men, some of whom wore masks, opposition party officials
The MDC said the hundreds of refugees who comprise men, women and
children who had fled mainly from Epworth, were allegedly attacked by seven
armed men dressed in army uniform, some in masks, last Sunday midnight.
Police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Wayne Bvudzijena declined
to comment on the alleged attack. Instead, he referred the reporter to
comments made by Labour minister Nicholas Goche in the state media.
Goche in the Herald on Wednesday dismissed the allegations raised by
the MDC saying a "stampede" was stage-managed so as to put Zimbabwe in the
spotlight at the G8 summit in Japan earlier this week and push the British
agenda to effect a regime change in Zimbabwe.
MDC spokesperson Nelson Chamisa confirming the incident said the party
was worried about the safety of the refugees and that it was unrealistic for
them to stage-manage the attack as claimed by the government.
"How can we honestly beat up our own people? We are talking of people
who have serious scars," Chamisa said. "What would we want to prove to the
extent of us beating our own people? It is very unfortunate and sad that a
minister chooses to say that such a thing did not happen. Mr Goche is aware
of the facts. We neither have the stage nor management to do that," Chamisa
Acting head of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red
Crescent Societies Zoran Filipovic said though he had heard stories about
the incident he could not comment on the case and referred questions to the
Zimbabwe Red Cross.
Efforts to get a comment from the Zimbabwe Red Cross were fruitless as
its information officer was said to be doing field work while the head and
his deputy were said to be out of the office.
An official at the South African embassy said they regretted the
incident that occurred to the refugees at the Ruwa Rehabilitation Centre.
"We obviously regret the incident that happened to the refugees," he
said. "When these people came to our embassy we negotiated the best safe
haven with the Zimbabwean government, different UN organisations, Red Cross
and churches. Subsequently we regret, as an embassy we cannot guarantee
their safety," he said.
According to an escapee who wanted to be identified as William
Madanhire, the refugees were attacked on Sunday night after days of living
in a suspicious environment.
Narrating how they got their way to the South African embassy,
Madanhire said they sought refuge at the embassy after their houses had been
destroyed in Epworth by suspected Zanu PF militia.
"Harvest House (MDC headquarters) was not a safe place to go following
the raids so we decided to go to the South African embassy and seek
protection since their president (Thabo) Mbeki had said that there was no
crisis. Nobody took us there, we went there on foot all the way from
Epworth," said Madanhire.
He said after being reassured by the South African embassy, the
government, different UN organisations and Red Cross, they were taken to
Ruwa Rehabilitation Centre on June 27.
By Wongai Zhangazha
Friday, 11 July 2008 11:12
THE Movement for Democratic Change has accused the police of launching
a "massive crackdown" that has seen over 1 500 activists including MPs and
parliamentary candidates either arrested for inciting political violence or
in hiding fearing for their lives.
MDC spokesperson Nelson Chamisa in a statement this week said that the
alleged crackdown aims to "decimate" the party and its structures and that
the continued violence against its supporters and members would hinder any
meaningful dialogue with Zanu PF.
"The continued onslaught of our structures shows that Zanu PF is not
sincere in the so-called dialogue it says it wants with the MDC. The regime
cannot talk dialogue when it is acting war across the length and breadth of
the country," Chamisa said, adding that the government could not be allowed
to pretend that it wants peace when it is acting violently on the ground.
"Thousands of our supporters are still in the mountains, fearing for
their lives while others are still in hospital nursing serious injuries
sustained from Zanu PF and state security agents."
Chamisa said the arrests came at a time when 103 supporters have been
allegedly murdered by Zanu PF supporters but without anything said on Zanu
PF members being arrested over the murders and violence.
However, police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Wayne Bvudzijena
denied that there was a crackdown on MDC officials. He made it a point that
the police would not hesitate to arrest anyone who committed crimes
regardless of which political party they are aligned to.
"When a person commits a criminal offence that invites the police, he
or she will be arrested," said Bvudzijena. "The MDC can claim anything or
say anything but the police only follow someone or people who would have
done something against the law. No matter them being MDC or Zanu PF
supporters, if they commit criminal offences the police will arrest them."
According to MDC records, the MPs who have been arrested since the
March 29 elections include Tendai Biti, the party's secretary-general and
MP-elect for Harare East, Misheck Shoko, MP-elect for Chitungwiza South who
was arrested in Mberengwa for campaigning for MDC during the run-off period,
Trevor Saruwaka, MP-elect for Mutasa Central who was arrested on political
violence charges, MP-elect for Mutare West, and Shuwa Mudiwa who was
arrested on charges of kidnapping a 13-year old.
MP-elect for Mkoba Amos Chibaya was arrested on allegations of
inciting the police to revolt against the government during a rally, Heya
Shoko, MP-elect for Bikita West, Ian Kay MP-elect for Marondera central and
senator elect for Kariba John Masaba were all arrested on charges of
inciting political violence.
The opposition party said those in hiding included Naison Nemadziwa,
MP-elect for Buhera South who was abducted last week and later found at a
police station and released on a $100 billion bail after police charged him
with inciting violence in his constituency, Pearson Mungofa, MP-elect for
Highfield East who is wanted for causing discontent among security officers,
Edmore Marima, MP-elect for Bikita East who is wanted for inciting political
violence and attempted murder, Shepherd Mushonga, MP elect for Mazowe
Central, and Broadwin Nyaude, MP elect for Bindura South who are wanted for
inciting political violence.
Eric Matinenga, MP elect for Buhera West who was earlier arrested on
charges of political violence, Elton Mangoma, MP-elect for Makoni North, and
Pineal Denga, MP-elect for Mbare are wanted for inciting political violence.
Candidate MPs Godfrey Chimombe from Shamva North and Biggie Haurovi
from Hurungwe East who lost in the parliamentary elections were arrested on
charges of inciting political violence.
The MDC fears that parliament might be sworn in with some of the MPs
still in hiding.
The MDC said in Mashonaland Central 145 of their supporters were in
prison or police custody while Masvingo has 356, Midlands North has 57,
Mashonaland West 114 and 476 in Manicaland.
In Harare MDC said 31 of its supporters were arrested while
Matabeleland South had 63, Matabeleland North 59, Mashonaland East 184,
Chitungwiza 11, Midlands South 69 and Bulawayo nine.
By Wongai Zhangazha
Friday, 11 July 2008 11:10
THE state has amended charges against six men who were arrested last
year for allegedly plotting to overthrow President Robert Mugabe's
government and replace him with Rural Housing minister, Emmerson Mnangagwa.
The six, Albert Matapo, Nyasha Zivuku, Oncemore Mudzurahona, Emmanuel
Marara, Patson Mupfure, Shingirai Mutemachani and Rangarirai Mazivofa, who
are due to appear in court on Monday, are now being charged with instigating
members of the security forces to overthrow Mugabe's government.
In a court record made available to the Zimbabwe Independent, the six
accused approached members of the Zimbabwe National Army and the Airforce of
Zimbabwe to oust Mugabe's government.
The record reads: "Albert Matapo, Nyasha Zivuku, Oncemore Mudzurahona,
Emmanuel Marara,Patson Mupfure,Shingirai Mutemachani and Rangarirai
Mazivofa.in concert with a common purpose unlawfully and with the intention
of overthrowing the Government of Zimbabwe instigated Captain Shepherd
Maromo, Captain Olivine Maroala, Corporal Elias Gapare, Charles Nyashadzashe
Mufudze, Sergeant Owen Bafana and Ronald Matanga, members of the Zimbabwe
National Army and the Airforce of Zimbabwe, to cause the armed forces to
overthrow the constitutionally elected Government of Zimbabwe by staging a
In May last year when the six were arrested, the state charged them
with conspiring to plot a coup against the government.
"Albert Matapo who is a former member of the army conspired with his
co-accused and recruited members of the security forces, that is members
from the Zimbabwe National Army, the Airforce of Zimbabwe and the Zimbabwe
Republic Police whom he gave some tasks in preparation of a coup," reads the
initial charge sheet.
Investigations into Mnangagwa's involvement in the alleged coup last
year hit a brickwall after it emerged that the police were not able to
substantiate the claims.
Superintendent Simon Mundondwa, the officer commanding Law and Order
in Harare who is the investigating officer in the case, told a court while
under cross examination that suggestions that Mnangagwa was linked to the
coup had proved false as no evidence was found to support the claim.
The trial of the six men failed to start on Monday when the lawyer
representing them, Charles Warara of Warara & Associates, asked the court
for more time to interview witnesses in the case.
Matapo and his co-accused have been in custody since their arrest in
May last year.
By Lucia Makamure
Friday, 11 July 2008 11:05
LACK of political will to help Zimbabwe's economy onto the recovery
path on the part of politicians is likely to see the nation suffering from
economic stress for the next 10 years, economists have noted.
The economists say there was need for all stakeholders to ensure the
economy regains its strength to pre-1996 levels where inflation was in
With inflation at 9 000 000%, unemployment estimated at 80%, industry
utilisation at less than 10%, and the Zimbabwe dollar trading at $38 billion
to the United States dollar on Tuesday, the country's long and uninterrupted
period of economic decline will require more resources to get the economy on
a growth path again.
The next government is thus faced with the daunting task of coming up
with an economic blueprint that is developed beyond any party or political
They noted that reversing the legacy of destruction largely blamed on
the Zanu PF government will need a complete restructuring of state apparatus
and replacing institutions to ensure better forms of governance and economic
Economic analysts said the economic vision blueprint to be adopted by
the new government should act as guideline to mobilise financial, human and
other resources necessary to get Zimbabwe's economy to work at full throttle
to create jobs and produce basic commodities currently in short supply.
Lance Mambondiani, an investment executive at Coronation Financial
Services, said there was need for a climb-down from the prescriptive
"we-know it all" policies, the command monetary and fiscal policies and the
megaphone conspiracy theories of yesterday, to embracing the contribution of
various economic agents in a "functionally symbiotic nexus of contracts" if
the next blueprint is to bear any fruits.
He said tension rising from economic frustration had the capacity to
foment intolerable dissent which cannot be redressed by a mere election.
Zanu PF's economic manifesto encourages government to concentrate on
an effective and systematic coordination of polices and programmes for
sustainable economic growth.
A government official told the Independent this week that haphazard
implementation of economic policies had slowed down the pace of economic
recovery in the past, hence the need for a roadmap which is drawn up outside
"The next government should lay down a national policy and identify
key national programmes and projects across all sectors of the economy for
implementation," he said.
The official said apart from political decision prevailing ahead of
technical facts, previously government had been hamstrung by inadequate
monitoring and accountability mechanisms - a situation that has created a
huge gap between policy decisions and their implementation.
"This year, the economy is forecast to decline further due to
inconsistent economic polices. It is now critical that government exercises
extreme fiscal discipline and ensure policy initiatives are instituted as
reflected by the blueprint that government plans to adopt," the official
The government has so far adopted nine economic plans over the past 10
years - a situation that some analysts said had worsened the situation
because of inconsistency and confusion at implementation stage.
The government touted the blueprints as ultimate solutions to the
Critics say government has never seriously sought to implement any of
the economic plans.
Some of the previous blueprints include the Zimbabwe Economic
Development Strategy (ZEDS), Zimbabwe Economic Stabilisation and
Transformation (Zimprest), the Millennium Economic Recovery Plan (Merp), the
10-Point economic plan, the National Economic Recovery Plan (Nerp), Vision
2020, Economic Structural Adjustment Programme (Esap) and the National
Economic Development Priority Plan (NEDPP) in reverse order.
The economy has over the past 10 years been riddled with distortions
and encumbrances, which provide a fertile breeding ground for corruption.
Ultimately all these inauspicious developments have conspired to make
Zimbabwe an uncompetitive investment destination to many foreign investors.
Labour Economic and Development Research Institute director Godfrey
Kanyenze said the improvement of the economy regardless of the blueprint to
be adopted will depend on the country's political environment.
"The economic prospects remain fragile and the sustainability of
current efforts is dependent on the extent to which the political
environment improves," he said.
Commenting on the inconsistency of economic policies adopted by
Zimbabwe in a paper entitled: The Zimbabwean economy in 10 years of
regression, economist Peter Robinson said recovery would not be achievable
by government's unwillingness and incapability to formulate policies and
programmes that address the issue of boosting production and building
confidence in the people.
"Our current position is like falling into the bottom of a well and
trying to get out with little prospects of success because we keep falling
back.Politics and governance are our major problems not technical
economics," said Robinson. With the shrinking of the formal economy, it is
the informal economy that has taken over as the mainstream economy. Jobs in
the formal economy are insecure, unrepresented, unregistered and generally
suffer from decent work deficits as companies can simply close down without
any relief for the worker.
Gilbert Muponda, an entrepreneur, last week said: "There was need to
involve more stakeholders in developing a national economic vision which
will have their support since it will be a result of wider consultation."
He said whilst land was important, there was need to look beyond it
(the land) and exploit other advantages that the country has including the
well-developed education sector and communications infrastructure.
"A national economic vision will then act as the leading vehicle to
mobilise international resources not only in donor form but investment
commitments from various sources including Sovereign Wealth Funds which are
currently awash with funds seeking suitable investment destinations,"
By Paul Nyakazeya
Friday, 11 July 2008 11:00
FAMILIES in Zimbabwe have to spend almost $500 billion extra every
week on food and transport because of high inflation and depressed
The increases in the price of basket essentials is surging by an
average of 55% every week according to the businessdigest Cost of Living
The weekly rate of increase has jumped alarmingly from 9,5% in January
to 55% during the first week of July, a 45,5 percentage point rise inside
There is now a countrywide crisis over supplies of basic commodities
and affordability of the few that are available in shops.
A family of five which spent $400 billion a week on
food last week now needs $627 billion for the same products this week.
The same family will need about $960 billion next week.
Two litres of cooking oil cost above $300 billion this week from $245
billion last week. A loaf of bread - if available - costs $45 billion from
$30 billion last week. Two litres of Mazoe, which is no longer affordable
for most households, this week cost above $130 billion from $90 billion last
The Consumers Council of Zimbabwe said it was no longer publishing the
monthly consumer basket as it did not make sense to come up with one at the
rate prices were rising.
Government's Central Statistical Office has also stopped compiling
poverty datum line figures in what critics said was an attempt to hide "an
Most consumers are performing what appears to be carefully
choreographed dance routine: pick up, sigh, put down and move out of the
With banks restricting withdrawals for individual to $100 billion a
day, shopping has become something Zimbabweans dread as prices continue to
Figures from Caltex show that the cost of fuel had risen by from $35
billion a litre last week to $60 billion.
Motorists are a victim of international oil speculators and a weak
The higher fuel prices are dragging up the cost of basic commodities
The rise in the prices of most basic commodities has been blamed
largely on speculative tendencies in the country's frail economy now in its
ninth year of recession.
But economists said the dwindling production levels on the back of
increased money supply growth and a weak currency has resulted in too much
money chasing too few goods, and this has been worsen by acute foreign
currency shortages which have triggered a run on the Zimbabwe dollar.
Business lost confidence and trust in government following its
decision to direct retailers to reduce the price of goods by 50% last year.
By Paul Nyakazeya
Friday, 11 July 2008 10:58
THE recently announced interest rates regime and a halt in government's
ballooning expenditure could soon force banks into serious cash shortages, a
leading bank has warned.
Reserve Bank governor, Gideon Gono last week revised secured
accommodation rates to 8 500% from 6 500% in an effort to mop up excess
liquidity on the money market. Unsecured rates were adjusted from 7 000% to
In a market report Kingdom Financial Holdings Limited described the
new interests rates as "out of synch" with inflationary trends.
"The rates are too ghastly to contemplate if one takes into account
their effect on bank survival in the event of a money market liquidity
crunch which will force banks to go to the central bank for accommodation,"
the bank said.
"The high policy rates have created a situation whereby banks are now
dangerously vulnerable to the continued existence of high expenditures by
the authorities because any slow down in their fiscal and quasi-fiscal
activities will cause weeping and gnashing of teeth by banks and their
When contacted for comment the Bankers Association of Zimbabwe (BAZ),
however said the new interest rates would not affect the financial position
"There is no bank that will be affected by these new interest rates,"
said BAZ president John Mangudya.
"These interest rates only discourage people from speculative and
He said the long queues at banks resulted from "frequent transactions
for daily purposes" adding that the association had brought this issue to
the attention of the Reserve Bank.
This week businessdigest observed long queues of customers seeking
cash withdrawals from various banks around the central business district.
Customers said these queues were a result of an inadequate maximum daily
The central bank recently reviewed the daily limits to $100 billion
from $25 billion in response to runaway year-on-year inflation now estimated
to be over 10 000 000%. Since the announcements of the interest rates,
foreign exchange interbank rates have momentarily stabilised closing just
below the $20 billion mark yesterday.
"We are fast heading towards the pre-Christmas problems we faced last
year," complained one customer at Barclays bank branch along First Street.
"This money (maximum withdrawal) can only pay my bus fare for two
Other financial analysts who spoke to this paper on condition of
anonymity said the recurrent cash shortages were attributed to a decision by
a German money printing company to cease business with President Robert
Mugabe's administration amid calls by European Union to impose stiffer
economic sanctions on Zimbabwe.
With one of the largest cabinet in the world, the government meets
daily debts that include tobacco and gold purchases, civil service salaries
and concessionary funds. Five years ago, the country's financial sector was
hit by a liquidity crunch that resulted in the closure of more than 10-asset
management companies and about six building and commercial banks.
By Bernard Mpofu
Friday, 11 July 2008 10:53
THE cost of living for consumers in Bulawayo has become more expensive
as most businesses are now charging for their goods and services in foreign
currency, as the fragile Zimbabwean dollar continues to tumble against major
However, it has emerged that the government and the Consumer Council
of Zimbabwe (CCZ) have set up a taskforce to bring businesses and
individuals charging for services and goods in foreign currency to book.
A survey by businessdigest this week revealed that most shops in the
city centre have priced their goods in South African rands and are refusing
to sell their goods and services in the local currency claiming they would
make losses if they traded in the local currency.
Basic commodities such as mealie meal, sugar, cooking oil and salt are
being sold in South African rands. Landlords have also been renting out
their properties for R1 000 or more a month for a house in the low density
suburbs of Bulawayo although government has threatened to take stern
measures against those charging rentals in foreign currency.
A 20kg bag of mealie meal at the local bus terminals is being sold for
R100, cooking oil is being sold for R50 per one litre bottle. A two
kilogramme bag of sugar is going for between R30-R50. The sales persons say
the prices are negotiable.
The official gazetted price for 20kg of mealie meal is $2 billion and
750ml of cooking oil is $3 billion.
Comfort Machekeza, the regional manager for the Consumer Council of
Zimbabwe, said that the local currency is still legal tender despite its
depreciation in value and also added that it is illegal for business to
charge in foreign currency without the necessary permission from the
monetary authority. He added that a special taskforce, which is already
operational, has been set up together with members from the Zimbabwe
Republic Police with the sole purpose of bringing "sanity" back into the
economy and warned businesses that they will face steep penalties if
"The Zimbabwe dollar is still legal tender in this country and it is
illegal for business to charge for their goods and services in foreign
currency without the permission and clearance from monetary authorities,"
said Machekeza. "We have already set up a taskforce which is already
operational in order to bring those unscrupulous traders to book."
In Zimbabwe business owners who are convicted of contravening the
Foreign Exchange Act risk having their operating licences revoked or may
Friday, 11 July 2008 10:51
WHEN a local retail shop increased the price of a 500g of beef for the
third time inside one week, David Murambiwa and his family knew they would
invest more in soya chunks.
Now, as everything from sugar, milk and bread drive up their cost of
living, David and his family are planning their most radical lifestyle
"I never thought I could be in this position counting every dollar.
Common-sense has unfortunately become an endangered commodity in Zimbabwe's
hyperinflationary atmosphere," Murambiwa said.
Across Zimbabwe, people from high income earners, indigenous and low
income earners are coping with a growing sense that they are being pushed to
the margins like never before, as a combination of rising costs and stagnant
wages and high inflation erode their purchasing power.
"Prices have by far outpaced my salary which is linked to official
rates in this hyperinflationary environment. I have been cycling against the
wind since January. I have to pedal faster so we do not slow further," he
said. But pedalling faster with an inflation rate of 9 030 000% does not
mean necessarily mean he will go faster.
Families that once maintained pleasant lifestyles afforded by one
income find the rise in cost not affordable by even ten salaries earned in
More worrisome a generation of Zimbabwean youths and the middle aged
is grappling with a rising sense of injustice as they face the reality that
they have become worse off, not better than their parent.
Economists Tony Hawkins described the price increases as "very sad for
every one" adding that nobody wants to hold Zimbabwe dollars because it was
increasingly worthless as a result of the very high rates of inflation.
"Clearly nobody wants to hold the currency like that which is losing
its value by the hour and in that situation there has been a scramble for
anything else," he said.
Even holding two masters degrees, has become less of a guarantee
against economic hardship. That in turn is igniting concerns of an even more
uncertain future for their children.
By Paul Nyakazeya
Friday, 11 July 2008 11:02
AFTER recently storming back to power in a discredited one-man
election, President Robert Mugabe is finding out that things are harder than
he thought. He has suddenly become amenable to talks.
Mugabe is faced with fundamental questions he cannot resolve even
after claiming a "landslide" victory in the poll. He has to deal with his
now glaring lack of legitimacy and an economic crisis. He also has to deal
with mounting pressure for him to reform or go. Besides, Mugabe needs to use
his pyrrhic victory to resolve his succession crisis and a renewal of his
This has put him in a position in which he has no choice but to talk
to the opposition, even though his motives remain how to retain the levers
Terrified by his disastrous leadership failures and the looming
prospect of rejection at the polls, Mugabe cited some bizarre reasons why he
would never allow his bitter rival, Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
leader Morgan Tsvangirai, to rule even if he won. Zanu PF then unleashed a
campaign of terror to stop him. At least 100 people were reportedly killed,
while thousands of others were displaced and injured in the brutal campaign
However, the stark realities of lack of legitimacy and economic
meltdown are now haunting Mugabe, making him open to dialogue, including
with Tsvangirai - the man he often describes as a "front" and "stooge" for
Western powers bent on regime change in Harare.
Tsvangirai last Saturday actually stood up Mugabe at Zimbabwe House,
showing things have changed, although the move by the MDC leader is seen in
some circles as evidence of his chronic lack of strategic thinking.
Negotiations are a very useful tool in resolving conflicts and should
be pursued when appropriate. In situations where no fundamentalist issues
are at stake like in the case of Zimbabwe today, and therefore a compromise
is plausible and acceptable, negotiations are a relatively better way out.
Tsvangirai's supporters claim it was a good move to boycott the
meeting with Mugabe at Zimbabwe House - the president's official residence -
because he denied South African President Thabo Mbeki a propaganda coup
ahead of a crucial G8 summit in Japan this week. Mbeki was grilled by
sceptical G8 leaders who questioned his mediation record after he reportedly
claimed the talks were proceeding well.
It was also reported he said Mugabe was not legitimate and the whole
point of his push for a government of national unity was to address that
problem. It was further reported that he had said that Mugabe would be
leaving anyway in a "few years" and is prepared for a ceremonial role in the
new set up.
While some of these claims sound far-fetched, Mbeki appears to have
been put under pressure to justify his role. However, he succeeded in the
end in keeping the mediation under his control as shown by the G8 leaders'
support despite threats of "further steps and measures" against Harare with
United Nations approval.
The African Union also backs the initiative although it wants to be
involved. Mbeki has stymied attempts by some AU leaders to challenge his
There is growing consensus in Zimbabwe, the region, Africa and at the
UN that a government of national unity is the most viable way out for this
country. This is what Mbeki has been pushing for despite his failure so far.
Only the United States and European Union - admittedly the real powers
although their influence on the issue is limited - seem to be taking a
Mbeki's critics say his attempt to secure a meeting between Mugabe and
Tsvangirai was designed to stall international efforts to isolate Mugabe's
regime. They also claim it was meant to dupe the MDC into unwittingly giving
Mugabe tacit recognition.
However, this is not entirely true because Tsvangirai, as it now
transpires, actually asked Mbeki in a telephone conversation on July 2 for
the meeting which was confirmed on July 4. It has also now come out
Tsvangirai was also very much aware the meeting would be at Zimbabwe House.
This effectively scotches the widely held claim, among others, that he
boycotted the meeting because did not want to enter the venue fearing he
would legitimise Mugabe.
The meeting was organised by Mbeki after consultations between Zanu PF
and the two MDC factions on June 30 and July 2. The point is that Tsvangirai
boycotted the meeting not because of all these assumptions but for reasons
best known to himself.
This has tended to cloud issues and lead to mystifying speculation,
although a clear picture is emerging again.
Zanu PF and MDC negotiators resumed talks for a possible government of
national unity in Pretoria yesterday amid fast growing pressure for a
resolution of Zimbabwe's drawn-out political impasse.
The resumption of talks in the midst of mounting pressure and a
worsening economic meltdown is likely to accelerate the search for a
breakthrough which has been hard to pin down.
Informed sources said Zanu PF and MDC negotiators are discussing
urgent ways of a power-sharing agreement to end the country's problems. The
talks seem to be serious now because of the deteriorating situation on the
ground and exhaustion of battling parties after nearly 10 years of non-stop
The Zanu PF politburo met on Wednesday reportedly to approve the talks
and discuss looming international sanctions against Harare. This came a day
after Mugabe's old cabinet met to tackle the same issues. The MDC factions
have also been holding consultations.
Zanu PF and the MDC negotiators have been talking informally about the
negotiations after the failure of last weekend's meeting organised by Mbeki
between President Mugabe and Tsvangirai.
Mugabe says he would not talk unless recognised as the legitimate
leader. Tsvangirai has also threatened the same, creating a potentially
explosive engagement between Zanu PF and the MDC. However, the gravity of
the crisis and international pressure is slowly forcing them to soften their
The UN deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro told the Security
Council in New York on Tuesday the creation of a government of national
unity enjoys broad support in the region. The UN secretary-general Ban
Ki-moon strongly supports the plan and has called for the intensification of
This has put Mbeki, despite widespread criticism of his role, in a
firm position to push for a resolution of Zimbabwe's crisis. The irony is
that Mbeki still stands a better chance of finding a breakthrough to the
deadlock than anybody else regardless of understandable anger and criticism
of his approach.
Although the power relations still favour Mugabe in this conflict and
it should not be surprising that the outcome of the talks would leave him
with larger material power in the end, he is in a tight spot and with
strategic thinking Tsvangirai could wring critical concessions and some
substance of power from his embattled and weakened rival after his
By Dumisani Muleya
Friday, 11 July 2008 09:56
THE government's irrationality on economic issues is intensifying
exponentially, with cataclysmic consequences.
It is so myopically oblivious of the realities of Zimbabwe's
catastrophic economic circumstances that it not only fails abysmally to
address them, but through its dogmatically paranoid beliefs that all of
Zimbabwe's economic ills are attributable to the machiavellian machinations
of others, it compounds those issues unendingly. Moreover, it has such
deep-seated convictions of its absolute and total omnipotence that it is
determinedly deaf to all representations targetted at motivating the
critically essential changes to policies as would reverse the appallingly
deteriorating economic circumstances which are devastatingly afflicting all
Zimbabweans (other than the political hierarchy, their families and cronies,
who thrive from the economic morass that government has created).
The harsh economic facts are:
*Year-on-Year inflation now exceeds 9 000 000%, with it rising by
geometric progressions on a daily, or even more rapid, basis. Current
escalation trends are such that inflation is likely to exceed 100 million%
by September, 2008, being the second highest rate of inflation in recorded
history. Already, monthly inflation is in the region of 1 000%.
*Actual inflation impacting upon most of the populace is markedly
greater than indicated by official rates, for virtually all shops are barren
of almost all essential commodities. If at all available, the basic
necessities of life can only be sourced in the Black Market, at prices
considerably greater than the notional prices applied in the determination
of the Consumer Price Index (CPI) and therefrom of the Inflation Rates.
Maize meal, flour, bread, sugar, salt, cooking oil, soaps and detergents,
candles, meat, poultry and eggs, and petroleum products, are but a few of
life essentials which, if at all obtainable, are only available within the
*So great is inflation that all Zimbabwean currency is devoid of any
meaningful substance. Any monetary transactions are denominated in billions
and trillions, with neither the financial or commercial sectors able to cope
with the necessary plethora of zeros. The banks are unable to produce
meaningful statements of accounts, no computer programmes, desk calculators
and cash registers are operating effectively, and housewives and other
shoppers are unable meaningfully to quantify prices and their movements. To
an ever increasing extent, with total disregard for law, economic
transactions are being (unofficially) denominated in foreign currencies,
suppliers of goods and services declining to transact unless payment is
effected in such currencies. Concurrently, because of the rampant pace of
inflation, ever fewer enterprises are willing to accept payments by cheque,
or even by interbank transfers, demanding to receive cash before the value
thereof falls yet further. In the rare instances when cheques are accepted,
a massive premium is generally demanded over the cash price.
*The infrastructure is collapsing increasingly, with many industries
losing 20 or more hours of production each week as a result of
non-availability of electricity, and in some instances exacerbated by
erratic supplies of water. Roads have become pot-holed obstacle courses,
inflicting endless damage to motor vehicles, and telecommunication services
have become unreliable in the extreme, be they land-line or mobile services.
*The productivity of the manufacturing sector is not only suffering as
a result of the deteriorating infrastructure, but also due to a combination
of irregular availability of essential manufacturing inputs, occasioned
primarily by inadequacies of foreign exchange availability, and the
immensely rapid decline in worker motivation and morale, with all employees
endlessly despondent as a result of the horrendous impacts of inflation, of
fast falling employment security, of constrained domestic circumstances due
to the economic and political environments, and much else.
*More than a third of Zimbabwe's population has departed the country
in desperate endeavours to generate livelihoods to support themselves and
their families. The magnitude of the "brain drain" is collapsing all sectors
of the Zimbabwean economy, and of society. Not only is the gargantuan loss
of skills destroying the operational ability of industry, mining, tourism,
financial services, commerce, and agriculture, but it has reduced to the
point of near-total destruction Zimbabwe's health and education services.
*The aforegoing, and many other, factors are causing ever-greater
numbers of businesses to discontinue operations or, at best, to downsize
their operations, thereby intensifying the pronounced unemployment,
weakening further the economy, and aggravating yet further the hardships of
the population in general.
To such limited extent as government is even prepared to recognise
these, and innumerable other economic ills, it ascribes them to
non-existent, or minimal, international sanctions and other actions of the
European Union in general, and the United Kingdom in particular, allegedly
aided and abetted by the USA, and various Commonwealth countries, and to
conspiratorial interaction with them by the business sector (which
Government claims is deliberately raising prices in pursuit of profiteering
and to motivate the populace to enforce a regime change. Presumably that is
why the State-controlled newspapers last week increased their prices from
$200 million to $8 billion!).
Concurrently, the Zimbabwean government embarked upon more than a
decade of profligacy, spending vastly beyond its means, accumulating
ever-greater levels of debt, which it could not service, whilst vigorously
fuelling inflation. It progressively reduced the already inadequate autonomy
and independence of the Central Bank, shifting much of its funding burdens
to it by forcing it to engage in quasi-fiscal operations.
And, at the same time it increasingly distanced itself from the
international community, taking extreme exception to even the most muffled
of criticisms, and responding with vitriolic, vituperative insults. As a
result, international funding support progressively declined, and Foreign
Direct Investment (FDI) became ever less. In the last week government has
done even more to discourage FDI by its petulant reaction to voices in the
UK calling for economic sanctions against Zimbabwe, inclusive of investment
barriers. Government's reaction has been childish outpourings that Britain
is welcome to withdraw its investments, disregarding that FDI is one of the
prerequisites for Zimbabwean economic recovery.
The harsh fact is that, as unacceptable as it is to government, it is
almost totally culpable for Zimbabwe's economic woes, and those woes will
become ever greater until government is prepared to face up to realities,
climb down from its high horse of self-edification, be willing to accept
guidance from others, interact constructively with the world at large, and
restore genuine democracy and respect for law, justice, and human and
Friday, 11 July 2008 09:53
Have you noticed how an increasing number of columnists in the state
media are based abroad?
They are obviously not prepared to share the sacrifices of their
compatriots back home. But Muckraker would be keen to know if people like
Peter Mavunga and Reason Wafawarova returned home to vote in the
presidential run-off. We would hate to think these super-patriots were
hiding in the comfort of their imperialist refuges!
Mavunga was the subject of an investigation by the Daily Telegraph
this week. Its article was headed "A Robert Mugabe supporter who is said to
use a newspaper column to attack Britain and the West is receiving tens of
thousands of pounds a year of taxpayers' money."
"The Ministry of Justice said it was investigating the affair as a
'matter of urgency'," the Telegraph reported.
"Peter Mavunga, 54, allegedly uses his column in the pro-Mugabe Harare
Herald newspaper to attack the Zimbabwean dictator's opponents and rant
against the UK and the West.
"Yet it was reported (on Tuesday) that Mavunga earns £25 000 from
British taxpayers as a court probation officer for the Ministry of Justice.
"One UK-based opposition activist said: 'It's rich that he criticises
the British government yet is happy to make a living working for them'.
"Anti-Mugabe campaigner Dumi Tutani, 38, who fled to London in 2001,
added: 'Mavunga is putting down the country that offered him sanctuary. He
knows he can say what he likes because this is a democracy. If he's such a
big fan of Mugabe's, why doesn't he return to Zimbabwe to live?'
"Mavunga is thought to have come to Britain to study journalism in the
1970s," the Telegraph reported. "In his column he is said to have claimed
this year's rigged polls - in which government mobs killed dozens of
opposition workers - were 'held in an atmosphere of peace and tranquillity'.
"Last week, Mavunga, who lives in Newham, East London, allegedly
accused one woman of lying about her torture to win UK asylum.
"In April he reportedly branded opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai's
MDC 'liars and hypocrites' and added: 'They've become so used to lying that
it's part of their vocabulary'.
"A spokesman for the Probation Service said: 'These views have been
expressed in an individual capacity; these are not the views of London
Probation. We are looking into this as a matter of urgency'."
Zim can solve its own problems", the Herald reported Patrick Chinamasa
as saying last weekend. If Britain, the United States and the European Union
stopped "interfering" in Zimbabwe's affairs, "Zimbabweans would soon find
solutions to the country's problems"
So why haven't they done so to date? Has Zimbabwe solved the problem
of inflation? Has it solved the problem of growing unemployment? Has it
solved the problem of political violence?
All these problems persist precisely because we have in office a
government that refuses to solve them. It is not the British and Americans
who are fuelling inflation by printing money and squandering resources. It
is not the British and Americans who are making conditions impossible for
business. And they are certainly not unleashing retribution against the
opposition because it had the temerity to win an election in March.
These are all home-made "problems" that can be squarely laid at the
door of the party Chinamasa represents.
President Mugabe was the president of Zimbabwe because he won the
second round with a "resounding majority" in an election that was held in
accordance with Zimbabwe's laws, Chinamasa claimed.
Does he really believe that? What laws permit abduction, assault, and
Mugabe won the second round because his party embarked upon a campaign
of systematic violence when it became evident he would lose.
This is what Botswana's observer team had to say:
"Under postal voting ZEC informed the observers that in the March 29
elections 8 000 people had applied for postal voting, but that in the
presidential run-off elections this number had increased to 64 000. The
observer teams were however not able to observe the postal voting process
because information about it was not forthcoming from ZEC. Even where the
observer teams got information about postal voting taking place they were
denied access to the polling stations by the commanders at the police
stations where most of this postal voting was taking place. When the
observer teams enquired about this with ZEC we were informed that it was
within the discretion of the commanding officers to either grant or refuse
"Worth noting however was that the observer teams received reports
that postal voting took place in the presence, and under the directions, of
commanding officers who instructed their juniors to vote for the Zanu-PF
candidate or risk losing their jobs.
"The team observed that the holding of rallies was a preserve of the
ruling Zanu-PF, whilst the MDC-T's political rallies were systematically
disrupted by the Zanu-PF militia and youth.
"For instance, on Sunday June 22, the team witnessed first hand how a
planned "star rally" organised by Mr Morgan Tsvangirai was prevented from
taking place by a group of youths wearing Zanu-PF regalia armed with sticks,
stones and sjamboks. They chased and indiscriminately beat all the people in
the vicinity of the venue where the rally was taking place. All this was
done in full view of Sadc observers. Riot police passively witnessed these
attacks making no attempts whatsoever to intervene. After completing their
task, these youth retreated to the Zanu-PF headquarters where they were
treated to food.
"Other incidents of politically motivated violence by the team
included the following:
"People believed to be associated with the MDC-T party were subjected
to severe beatings, harassment, torture, killings and general threats of
violence. The police also appeared not to be enforcing law and order, and
the Zanu-PF youth and militia mounted illegal road blocks, forcing people to
attend Zanu-PF rallies and had bases where they tortured perceived opponents
under the guise of re-educating them. In contrast Zanu-PF supporters
received the full protection of the police as their rallies were never
disrupted nor did they report any incidents of harassment to the observer
Because of this blatant breach of the Sadc electoral principles and
Zimbabwe's own laws, the international community has drawn a line in the
sand and will now tighten sanctions.
That is a disaster for Zimbabwe. But it is one that has been invited
by lawless behaviour.
As for the role of the British and Americans, the MDC is entitled to
cultivate friendships with those countries that will provide investment and
the means of recovery once a settlement is agreed.
Zanu PF has China and Cuba. Why can't the MDC befriend Britain, the US
and EU states? Every other African country understands the benefits of good
relations with the EU under the Cotonou convention.
And let's not forget those African countries who have refused to
swallow Mugabe's claims to legitimacy. Botswana, Zambia, Kenya, Nigeria,
Sierra Leone, Senegal and Liberia have agreed with Sadc observers that the
June election was not free and fair.
Mugabe used to celebrate how Africa invariably lined up behind
Zimbabwe in confronting the US and EU. Now all he can do is hurl insults at
the growing number of African states who have "betrayed" him. Appeals to
revolutionary solidarity have fallen on deaf ears.
We are informed that in the AU closed session Mugabe's attempts to
point to the beam in the eye of his accusers made no impression on African
leaders. Africa is being discredited by a stolen election, he was told.
Botswana's vice-president made a significant intervention pointing out
Zimbabwe's electoral shortcomings.
Relieved that African leaders didn't put their straight-talking into a
resolution, Mugabe returned to a "heroic" welcome from a crowd rounded up in
Mbare and driven to the airport on Saturday morning.
But, as a Zanu PF advert nicely put it, "the writing is on the wall".
Evidently, the party's publicity department doesn't understand that
usage. But we do. The writing is indeed on the wall.
Many people will have been unimpressed with Arthur Mutambara's
accommodating grin when greeting Mugabe, carried on the front page of the
Sunday Mail. How many MDC supporters have been killed? How many seriously
injured? How many people have lost their homes?
Come on Arthur. We want to see a principled stand if you must talk.
And that doesn't include beaming from ear to ear. Has anybody noticed, by
the way, that all those meeting at Zimbabwe House last Saturday were March
29 losers: Arthur Mutambara went down to defeat in Zengeza West; Priscillah
Misihairabwi Mushonga was a notable casualty in Glen Norah; so was Welshman
Ncube in Makokoba; Patrick Chinamasa lost his bid for a seat in Makoni; and
most notably President Mugabe was defeated by Morgan Tsvangirai in the first
Perhaps we should mention Thabo Mbeki's defeat in Polokwane a few
The odd man out - Nicholas Goche who kept his seat.
Which brings us to the role of the press in covering talks between the
parties, assuming they get off the ground. We cannot have a situation in
which Zanu PF ministers use the state media to attack the very people they
are negotiating with. Some of those ministers have an axe to grind because
they lost their seats to the MDC and are now bitter.
The public media needs to be reminded of its duty to serve the public
by professional and non-partisan reporting. That means providing space for
other voices. And let's see an end to the dishonest nonsense about sanctions
being responsible for Zimbabwe's problems.
So long as Zanu PF continues to misrule this country there will be
sanctions imposed upon it. That is the sad reality. Killing and maiming
political opponents is not acceptable to the rest of the world. It is Zanu
PF that must lift sanctions by putting an end to the violence and toxic
business climate. The MDC cannot do that for them.
The Sunday Mail published a cartoon last weekend depicting Raila
Odinga brandishing a bow and arrow, claiming "1 500 die in post-election
violence". His arrow was dripping with blood.
The only problem with this is that Odinga was not prime minister or
indeed in any other position of responsibility when the Kenya violence took
place in January. Why don't we ever see a Sunday Mail cartoon telling us who
was prime minister of Zimbabwe when over 20 000 people lost their lives in
the 1980s? That might put things in perspective.
Readers may be interested in recent remarks by Zambian Information
Minister Mike Mulongoti who said last weekend that Mugabe risks going down
in history as a leader who refused to give up power and oppressed his
In an interview with AFP TV, Mulongoti first paid tribute to Mugabe
for "standing up against colonialism" and winning Independence for the
former Rhodesia in 1980. "But now you cannot transplant colonialism for
oppression," he said. "If you oppress people, what's the difference between
you and the colonialists? So, I do not know whether - when we write history
books - he shall go down in the history books as our hero or we should begin
to cast doubt as to whether the services he's supposed to have rendered he
took away himself by overstaying and doing certain things that were
unacceptable in a civilised world."
Those "certain things" received some exposure last Thursday when
Matabeleland North governor Sithokozile Mathuthu addressed a meeting of
Joint Operations Command members and civil servants in Lupane.
"We are very happy," she said. "For most of us the campaign was very
personal because we were not campaigning for Cde Mugabe but for our father.
As you know you can kill for your father, but I'm glad that we campaigned
peacefully and not a single soul lost his or her life in Matabeleland
North." So that's OK then.
Muckraker was intrigued to note from the Sunday News that you can be
arrested and prosecuted for saying President Mugabe is old and should step
down from power.
A headmaster from Tsholotsho, Hlozamandla Moyo, expressed this view
while travelling on a bus. He was unaware that a security agent was sitting
He was subsequently arrested and charged under the Criminal Law
(Codification and Reform) Act with undermining the authority and office of
Public Prosecutor Fritz Madida said Moyo was alleged to have
said that President Mugabe was "now old and medieval in outlook and
should step down from power".
Moyo is also alleged to have said the president was "a central striker
in the destruction of the Zimbabwe economy because of his policies". Moyo
claimed Mugabe was using people's shops as an electoral gimmick.
This case should be followed with interest by human rights lawyers to
test exactly what you can or can't say about a candidate in a presidential
And by the way, are state newspapers not pursuing a regime-change
agenda when they increase their cover price from $200 million to $8 billion?
Friday, 11 July 2008 09:46
WHAT should be the cost of a newspaper? US$2? A penny? The same as a
cup of coffee? Others believe different amounts for different people.
All answers are applicable today depending on the cost structure at
play; at least in normal economies where it is still possible to predict
what tomorrow holds.
Forces at play in Zimbabwe over the past five years have however been
such that pricing models for newspapers have gone out of kilter with
generally accepted international norms mainly premised on affordability.
There is a strong case for concluding that newspapers in Zimbabwe have
become very expensive both in real terms and in hard currency terms.
Last week the cover price of the Zimbabwe Independent went up to $70
billion and the reaction from the readership was predictable. A regular
reader confronted me with facts and figures on Saturday.
He said the Independent now cost R20 or US$2,50 at the parallel rate
conversion! He pointed out that the Star in South Africa cost R4,50, the
Mail & Guardian R16,50 and the Sunday Times R12,50. I can as well add that
the Washington Post cost US50c and USAToday US75c.
The situation obtaining in the pricing of our newspapers resonates
throughout the economy. There are fundamental problems in this economy which
have worsened since the last election. Prices of goods and services have
gone up; not just in sync with the Zimbabwe dollar's daily rollercoaster
drop but in real terms.
The problems in the newspaper sector are dire and worsening by the
day. Advertisers and readers have no doubt been concerned at the movements
in the cover prices and advertising rates of our newspapers. The Zimbabwe
Independent does not own a printing press where we can control the costs of
production . All our printing is subcontracted to commercial printers who
charge for this service.
It is the movement of printing charges which has been the major driver
of the steep rise of the cover price. The printing charge as at the end of
May was $454 billion to print one section (eight pages). At the end of the
first week of July this charge had risen to $61,5 trillion, an increase of
The high printing costs are despite the fact that we supply the
printer with consumables like plates and film which are all imported.
Comparatively, in the same period the cover price went up from $800 000 to
$70 billion. This has necessitated a weekly increase in cover prices and
advertising rates in order to cover these escalations in printing costs.
Similarly most of our newsprint is imported and we pay huge amounts in
customs duty that is calculated at the inter bank rate. In a period of just
six weeks between May 27 and July 8 the inter bank rate moved by 3 128%.
However, over the same period both the Old Mutual implied rate and the
parallel rate in which goods and services are priced in the country have
moved more than five times this rate. Huge increases in costs of printing
plates, fuel and other consumables have further compounded the problem.
These movements in prices are having a devastating impact on the
viability of our publications as the cost of producing a newspaper literally
doubles each week. However, we are often unable to increase our cover prices
and advertising rates immediately in response to this. In the case of
magazines and supplements this is further worsened by the time lag between
the sale of advertising space and actual production that at times runs into
months. A case in point is the Quoted Companies Survey Magazine, where
selling for adverts was completed in May for the launch in June, which has
had to be postponed due to the election run-off. Meanwhile the cost of
printing the magazine continues to escalate exponentially.
But there is no hiding the fact that the newspaper industry in
Zimbabwe is at the mercy of exogenous factors which have raised the premium
on information to become a luxury commodity. This is a worrying phenomenon
in a world environment where newspapers are under pressure from free sheets
and the internet. Publishers and editors today believe readers should not
pay more for news. In fact others are throwing freebies at readers in the
form of free sheet and online news.
Two years ago - Rupert Murdoch, who instigated the price battles of
the 1990s by slashing The Times to 10p - introduced a new free newspaper
thelondonpaper, while Associated Newspapers responded with its free version
of the Evening Standard - London Lite. London commuters suddenly found
themselves with two free papers thrust at them on their way home, all
without putting their hand in their pocket.
This was the culmination of a media price war which Murdoch made and
subsequently ended. The introduction of free sheets could be a brilliant
marketing ploy in the cutthroat competition of the UK market but definitely
a suicide note for the local industry where the price of inputs has
conspired to make news expensive.
Mugabe Wants GNU For Selfish Reasons
Friday, 11 July 2008 10:35
THIS government of national unity (GNU) is a charade that anyone with
common sense should be able to see through.
Mugabe is seeking to use the GNU to achieve legitimacy which he failed
to get through the sham poll. A GNU is not about a few cabinet posts for the
opposition. It has to do with government objectives and strategies on how to
achieve those objectives.
There is no indication whatsoever that Mugabe has the economy in mind.
There is no doubt that the welfare of the Zimbabwean people is of little
concern to Mugabe.
All he is interested in is gaining legitimacy and ensuring that he
will not be court-martialled for crimes against humanity. These are the
priorities for Mugabe. Let no one be fooled.
The whole concept of a GNU with Zanu PF is not feasible.
Farai D Majuru,
MDC Should Unite Before Negotiating
Friday, 11 July 2008 10:34
FOR any progress to be made in Zimbabwe, the MDC factions should unite
and speak with one voice. Mugabe will use the divide and rule game. It has
served him well in the past.
Carrots will be dangled before the Mutambara faction leaders who will
then be absorbed and paralysed. Diversity in all respects is good as it
Homogeneity is dangerous. But at this time entering the negotiations
as a divided front for the opposition is not helpful.
The Mutambara faction should be behind Morgan Tsvangirai. They should
refuse to recognise Mugabe as president after his "sham" election and join
Tsvangirai in negotiations to ensure restoration of democracy.
Every capable Zimbabwean will have an opportunity to lead under free
and fair conditions.
Come To Kenya And Get The Truth
Friday, 11 July 2008 10:33
I HAVE been an ardent reader of your Candid Comment column over the
last year and a half. It really has some candid comments on a host of
I refer to last week's Candid Comment (Zimbabwe Independent, July
4-10) headlined "Bloody idiots and a good Bongoman"' However, with respect
to what used to be the "White Highlands" in Kenya (equivalent to the Eastern
Highlands of Zimbabwe but almost "doubly" beautiful), you were guilty of
vertical exaggeration if not irresponsibly dishonest.
The white "Bwana" of yore is a relic of the days before 1978. The poor
Kenyans you saw butchered in the political thuggery of early this year were
beneficiaries of small plots on what used to be the white farms. In Kenya
the white man was not given a 20-year moratorium after Independence.
Kenyans had a very clear view of what they wanted and it was land. If
you seriously want to be helpful to Zimbabweans on the issue of land, you
should travel around Kenya's highlands for a week - and then write a
masterpiece. I believe Zimbabwe's newly settled small-scale farmers would
thank you for it.
As for Mwai Kibaki, please remember the man has been elected to the
Kenyan parliament successively ever since 1963. He left a teaching job
(Economics) at Makerere University, Uganda in 1962 to become the National
Executive Officer of the Kenya African National Union (Kanu), and won his
seat in the 1963 Independence elections.
He served in the Jomo Kenyatta administration as assistant Finance
minister and later Finance minister for 15 years. He was Vice-President of
Kenya under President Moi for 10 years. That is not exactly what one could
seriously "sell" as a "foreign creation".
That is not to say that I condone the post-election violence that
I do not think that in this day and age you can condemn all Siamese
twins the way you seem to think. Thanks to science, several have been saved
and I hope many more will survive in the future.
If you care so much about the truth, please publish this rejoinder.
We Are Now Waiting For The Promised 'Good Things'
Friday, 11 July 2008 10:31
THERE is no doubt now that the situation in Zimbabwe is no longer
Even the so-called resilience attributed to the people of Zimbabwe is
fast wearing thin. What with transport costing close to $60 billion to and
from the city per day, beef at $600 billion per kg, a pint of beer at $75
billion, two litres of cooking oil at $200 billion . . . the list is
What I would like to state is yes there was a run-off presidential
election last month, albeit a one- man race. Yes President Mugabe was
"re-elected" for a further five year term and duly sworn in hours after the
It is highly likely that a new cabinet will shortly be announced.
Given the above scenario where prices of every conceivable thing is
sky-rocketing beyond the reach of almost all Zimbabweans, what plan is there
to arrest this monstrous stagflation? We are being asked to believe that all
good things are possible. Yes, but when are they going to be possible?
Is it really possible to empower 100% a starving man? In the last
run-off Zanu PF used every trick in and out of the book to get re-elected.
Their candidate was "duly elected". So now why the stampede to get MDC-T
into nter-party talks? I thought they had ready solutions to our economic
Luka Phiri Crossing
Archbishop with Vigil Supporters Kate Hoey On way to present petition
took a leading role today in a service at Parliament’s own parish church, St
Margaret’s, next to Westminster Abbey, addressed by the Archbishop of York, Dr
John Sentamu. The occasion was a service
of prayer for the people of
said he hoped the international community would wake up to what was happening in
The church was full to capacity for the service and the congregation afterwards gathered in Parliament Square where they heard Kate Hoey, Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Committee on Zimbabwe, say she hoped they would soon be back in St. Margaret’s to celebrate change in Zimbabwe. About a thousand Zimbabweans and supporters then formed a procession to deliver a petition to the British Government calling for the right to work.
The Vigil, outside the
Zimbabwe Embassy, 429