By Ian Evans and a Special Correspondent in Manicaland
Tuesday, 15 July 2008
Foreign mercenaries have joined so-called "war veterans" and militiamen
attacking opposition supporters in rural parts of Zimbabwe, human rights
workers have confirmed.
Eyewitnesses say the men are more vicious than their Zimbabwean
counterparts, with the marauding gangs attacking suspected members of the
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), forcing them to renounce the party.
They dress in army fatigues, carry Russian-made guns and are accompanied by
interpreters when out with the militias.
Patrick Chitaka, the MDC chairman in Manicaland province in the east of the
country, said the foreigners had been identified in the past two to three
weeks supporting government-backed men.
Mr Chitaka said: "We have observed that some of the people leading the
violence are foreigners because they speak a different language and they do
not understand our local languages.
"Also the tactics they are using are not peculiar with Zimbabweans because
they are cutting out the tongue, removing eyes and genital parts. We are not
sure where they come from."
It is the first time reports of foreigners fighting alongside Zanu-PF have
surfaced. Since losing the presidential vote on 29 March, Robert Mugabe and
an inner circle of military and intelligence chiefs have launched a military
campaign of violence against opposition areas which voted against him and
More than 100 people have been killed, thousands injured and more than
200,000 displaced as gangs target one-time MDC strongholds.
The claims were supported by human rights workers in Manicaland last night.
A spokesman for one group who did not want to be named said observers on the
ground had witnessed "tens, if not hundreds" of foreigners accompanying
government-backed militias. He said the soldiers were not from neighbouring
countries but were more likely from farther north in Africa, possibly
Rwanda, Kenya or Uganda.
Local people claim the irregular forces are Hutus from Rwanda, but the human
rights representative said he could not be definitive. There are an
estimated 4,000 Hutu refugees living in Zimbabwe, some of whom took part in
the genocide of Tutsis and moderate Hutus in 1994.
Many fled the country, seeking asylum after the killings, which destabilised
neighbouring countries especially the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The human rights official said: "These men do not speak any local languages
and are extremely violent. They are attacking people in their homes and as
they get off buses, giving them terrible beatings. We do not know what these
people are doing in Zimbabwe. There is a problem identifying these people.
You cannot go to the police because they say it is political - they are not
The spokesman said observers in two constituencies - Makoni South and Makoni
West - west of Zimbabwe's third city of Mutare, had calculated there were up
to 200 foreigners spread across both areas.
"There are between six and 10 foreigners in each base, and there are 20 Zanu
bases in the two constituencies. They wear military uniform, carry guns
especially shotguns which we think are Russian. They are cruel and brutal.
Each unit has an interpreter who tells them what to do. People here live
close to several borders and they know Portuguese from Mozambique and
languages from Malawi and Zambia. They don't speak any of those or English.
"The tongues are from much farther up north - Kenya, Uganda or Rwanda."
Mr Chitaka added: "People are very scared of them because they know no
bounds. They go house-to-house in MDC areas and beat people and force them
to shout for Zanu-PF. The men then get their victims to beat their
neighbours in the same way.
"They have gang-raped women and abducted them. People are missing but
families are too afraid to look for them."
Rwandan refugees fear they may be sent home if an MDC-led government came to
power. Despite internationally backed efforts to rehabilitate Hutu refugees,
fears remain among exiles that those returning will face persecution from
the government of President Paul Kagame.
Among those Hutus staying in Zimbabwe is said to be Protais Mpiranya, the
former head of the Rwandan presidential guard during the 1994 genocide. He
is on the wanted list of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, but
is suspected to have strong business links with senior Zimbabwe army
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees' representative in
Zimbabwe, Marcellin Hepie, said a change of government would not necessarily
see repatriation of refugees.
Oppression by numbers
*115 Movement for Democratic Change supporters killed in attacks by police,
army, war veterans and ruling party militia
*More than 200,000 displaced by the violence since the elections on 29 March
*Three million at risk of starvation after ejection of aid agencies by
*1,450 documented cases of state-sponsored beatings, torture or assault of
*Inflation now running at two million per cent. There are 350bn Zimbabwe
dollars to the pound
By Chris Gande & Blessing Zulu
14 July 2008
Following last week's defeat in the United Nations Security Council of a
U.S. resolution calling for more sanctions on the Zimbabwean government, the
responsibility for finding a solution to the country's post-election crisis
lies with the Southern African Development Community and the African Union,
U.S. Ambassador to Zimbabwe James McGee said Monday.
McGee said the U.S. and other Western governments will continue to pursue
U.N. action, but added that "SADC and the African Union do have to play the
major role. We're happy that we're starting to see some movement among
leaders in SADC, in the African Union saying the right things about
Zimbabwe. But saying the right things will not resolve this problem in
Zimbabwe - we really do need to see firm action from SADC and the African
McGee said the results of the March 29th first election round, in which the
opposition claimed a majority in the lower house of parliament and Movement
for Democratic Change founder Morgan outpolled President Robert Mugabe,
should be the point of departure for talks on a power-sharing arrangement
between the MDC and Mr. Mugabe's ZANU-PF party.
"Anything after that has clearly been repudiated as an illegal election, not
only by the Western countries but by SADC in their statement and the African
Union in their statement," the ambassador said in an interview conducted
live on Thursday's broadcast of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe by hosts Chris
Gande and Blessing Zulu.
McGee said reports he was receiving squared with information from VOA
sources saying that political violence had subsided somewhat. "From what
we're seeing, yes, that is accurate, there has been a decrease in the
political violence, but it's nothing more than, I think, a lull in the
storm. We're concerned that any violence is too much violence. and there's
no way that this violence has totally stopped. People are still being
displaced from their homes, people are being kidnapped, people are being
murdered. Any, any violence is too much violence."
McGee said the U.S. government would continue to provide "as much assistance
to the people of Zimbabwe as possible," but "the government of Zimbabwe has
to step up" as well.
Political violence has targeted humanitarian activities and that the Harare
government "has to stop this," he said. Non-governmental organizations must
be allowed to operate freely "and until this happens we are going to
continue to have a problem in Zimbabwe."
15th Jul 2008 00:16 GMT
By Chenjerai Chitsaru
THE first secretary-general of the Organisation of African Unity, the
Guinean diplomat Diallo Telli, died in a Conakry jail. He was incarcerated
on suspicion of plotting to overthrow the government of Ahmed Sekou Toure,
one of the founders of the OAU.
The superstitious among some of us loyal, patriotic and often dewy-eyed
admirers of African leadership, have always linked his tragic, undignified,
untimely demise to the misfortunes of, not only the OAU, but its successor,
the African Union.
But others have picked on the allegations of malfeasance against another OAU
chief as having jinxed Africa 's quest for total unity, but particularly for
the urgent economic development of the continent.
Some of this resort to an explanation of our woes originating with what has
been called "black magic" by our detractors suggests most analysts - African
or foreign - are at a loss to ascribe our failures to "natural causes":
short-sighted planning, incompetence, or the leaders'selfishness and greed.
That our progress towards pulling the continent out of the trough of poverty
in which it has wallowed since the end of colonialism has been slow cannot
now be disputed, even by pan-Africanists, who say only the white devils
are to blame.
So, to follow that line of least resistance, Africans who die while trying
to cross the oceans to Europe, should blame the Italians, the Spaniards, the
Portuguese, the French, the British and the Greeks for making their passage
difficult, if not impossible. Not often do you hear anyone blaming the
The other day, I watched, with the usual sense of horror, a documentary made
in Bamako, Mali, of another group of Africans condemned to wait forever - it
would seem - for Fate to intervene and allow the Malian government to let
them cross the ocean to Europe to begin go really live as human beings.
All of them have no papers to legitimise their crossing. All of them spent a
lot of money to "buy" their way to Bamako and then, hopefully, to the next,
final destination which would eventually open the way for them to enter
Europe - and salvation from poverty.
It's the poverty that drove them to such desperate straits, as it ahs driven
Mexicans to risk life and limb trying to enter the United States, and
Zimbabweans drowning as they try to cross the Limpopo into South Africa .
One man said he sold his mother's annual harvest to raise the money for the
attempt. He would not return to his home country to explain why he had
failed - that he had spent her money but had not been able to "buy" his way
to Europe. She would beg the ancestral spirits to punish him most severely.
He said he would remain at the "ghetto" in Bamako until he succeeded in his
Meanwhile, he and a colleague were busy trying to launch a career as "rap"
singers, their songs obviously concentrating on their plight as young people
unable to achieve their potential because Africa may be united at the
leaders' lofty level, where they massage each others' egos at every
opportunity, but falls short at the people's level.
At that level, unfortunately, their concentration seems to wander off to
other dimensions, mostly unrelated to the glaring inequities of wealth on
the continent. It must be this capacity for their attention span to wander
off which has enabled them - one is forced to conclude - to dismiss the
crisis in Zimbabwe as a tiff between two governments, Gordon Brown's and
That many unarmed people have been killed in so-called political
disturbances, that others have died in hospitals without doctors, nurses and
drugs, the economy ruined by the government's monumental mismanagement and
millions forced to flee hunger and joblessness to neighbouring countries and
across the oceans seems to be viewed as a natural consequence of this tiff
between Brown and Mugabe.
China and Russia vetoed the Security Council resolution on sanction against
Mugabe and his friends on the grounds that the crisis in the country did not
constitute a threat to international peace and security. It must be assumed
that the AU and the Southern Africa Development Community (Sadc) did not
launch any spirited campaign to apprise these two former bastions of
communism of the true plight of the people of Zimbabwe, apart from the 14
intended to be targets of the sanctions.
At the G8 summit in Hokkaido, Japan, the Russians had publicly joined the
others in endorsing a sanctions resolution at the UN. But since the
communism in the former Soviet Union, very strange people have run things in
But then one must consider Vladimir Putin's robust disinclination to wander
off the Cold War path. He was for a long time a top KGB man. He was for a
long time a top KGB MAN. The West, led by both Britain and the United
States, have recently annoyed the man who still leads Russia, although he is
now only the prime minister, in their bilateral relations, the former over
the poisoning of a former KGB agent in London, the latter over the
stationing of missiles in a former Soviet satellite state.
The next logical step for the people of Zimbabwe could be to confront China
and Russia where it could hurt them the most: their economic interests in
Zimbabwe. It might be dismissed as a mosquito bite, but then the anopheles
does inflict malaria, doesn't it?
Indirectly, this could also challenge Mugabe's arrogance. So far, he has
virtually insulted the people by insisting that "only God can remove me"
from power. The scriptures may not confirm this in straightforward language,
but it stands to reason that if people help themselves, God is bound to come
to their aid.
2 hours, 29 minutes ago
WASHINGTON (AFP) - The United States vowed Monday not to abandon its efforts
to press Zimbabwe to stop attacking political foes after the United Nations
failed to secure fresh sanctions.
The United States will speak to "like-minded countries, in Europe and around
the world, to see what we might do to keep the focus on the issue of
Zimbabwe," State Department spokesman Sean McCormack told reporters.
These include the eight other countries that voted for the US-sponsored
Security Council draft resolution that failed last Friday because of vetos
from permament council members Russia and China.
Voting for an assets freeze and a travel ban on President Robert Mugabe and
13 of his cronies as well as an arms embargo were the United States,
Britain, France, Burkina Faso, Belgium, Costa Rica, Italy, Panama and
"Part of the idea is to work with like-minded nations, not only to try to
influence Zimbabwe, but try to influence those with influence on Zimbabwe
and their decision-making apparatus," McCormack said, referring to South
South Africa, Libya and Vietnam voted against the resolution. Indonesia
"But we'll continue to talk to the Russians and the Chinese, although they
have clearly not expressed the depth of commitment to the issue that we
have, and those other eight countries have," the US spokesman said.
"If Zimbabwe continues down this road, it will continue spiraling downward
economically, as well as politically," McCormack said.
It was the first double veto by Russia and China since January 2007 when
they vetoed a draft resolution in the 15-member council that would have
urged Myanmar to ease repression and release political prisoners.
"Countries who voted against it were on the wrong side of history,"
Sponsors of the draft said the sanctions were needed to pressure Mugabe into
stopping the violence against his political foes and agreeing to a genuine
power sharing deal with opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai.
Mugabe was re-elected in a run-off last month after Tsvangirai pulled out,
citing a campaign of intimidation and violence against his supporters that
had killed dozens and injured thousands.
Middle East Times
By MARC S. ELLENBOGEN (UPI International Columnist)Published: July 14, 2008
RABAT, Morocco, July 14 (UPI) -- African leaders, led by South Africa's
Thabo Mbeki, have blathered diligently and said nothing about the
disgraceful conduct of Zimbabwe's strongman Robert Mugabe. The notable
exceptions are the ANC's Chairman Jacob Zuma and Nigeria's former president,
Olusegun Obasanjo. It is revolting that African leaders can let Africans be
slaughtered by a petty criminal of the highest order.
The grand suggestion to come out of the African Union meeting in Egypt is as
half-witted as it is an insult to African people. You asked Mugabe to form a
unity government in Zimbabwe -- which he promptly and arrogantly rejected,
walking embarrassingly over all of you in the process. WOW, guys, it must
have taken a great deal of brainstorming to come up with that idea. First,
Mugabe steals the votes, murders his opponents, violently beats his own
people -- yours as well -- and then the best suggestion you have is a unity
If the approach to Rhodesia had been as halfhearted as your clarion call in
Egypt, there might just still be a white government in Salisbury. In those
days you fought for human rights, asked for boycotts of Ian Smith's
government. You called for violent action and were even prepared to use it.
I gather, and maybe I am daft, that there is a difference when whites are
slime-bags compared with one of your brethren.
I am wondering if you are suggesting justice is indeed a matter of color.
Whites, it seems, should not be racists or criminal, but it is perfectly
acceptable when it is one of your own. I am more than happy to be corrected
on this issue. Personally, I think racism should be rejected in all its
The fact is that while Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangirai are both Shona, most of
the conflicts in Africa are tribal-based. You can call us racists all you
want, you may call us colonialists, and you may say we cut up your land in
an unfair way.
It is mostly -- and regrettably -- true.
But African leadership since the fall of colonialism has been abysmal. You,
the leaders, have mostly stolen from your own people, treated democratic
principles with contempt, bought as many weapons as you could from anyone
willing to sell them to you while your own people have wasted away.
African culture is old and esteemed. Africa has its own rules. Many of us in
the West do not understand African rituals, tongues and tribal identities.
We barely know any of your languages, and when we do, probably speak them
But surely you cannot accept the culling of your own friends, families,
children, women and seniors. I know elders are of prime importance in
Africa. Is that why you are not standing up to Robert Mugabe, despite his
revolting criminal behavior?
Students often ask me about Africa. They know I have advised projects there.
They know I invite people of color to give guest lectures. And they -- the
Africans, Europeans and Asians -- do not understand your reaction to Mugabe
at all. I have given up trying to explain it to them. Frankly, I am the
wrong person to do so. They should be hearing it from you, not me.
They should be hearing you -- all of you, and not just the few who have done
so -- condemning Mugabe's actions. They should be seeing you stridently
fighting to bring down his government. They should hear you using words that
give them hope that you believe in human rights, fairness, justice and the
rule of law.
Personally, I think Robert Mugabe deserves to be offed -- before or after a
trial. His actions themselves warrant punishment. His treatment of
Zimbabweans is shameful. I am pained watching it happen. Are you not pained
as well? Some might think he is paying you hush money, and giving you
weapons, and thus it is easy to turn a blind eye to justice. Never mind the
economic, social and health effects it is having on all of southern Africa.
I have met Robert Mugabe. He was a guest of the Global Panel Foundation in
the early '90s. Back then the world thought he would bring his country --
once the breadbasket of Africa -- back to civilization.
At a small dinner he spoke of the need for an independent Africa, good
leadership, the rule of law and integrity. He was indeed charming,
thoughtful and intense. But we all know the flip side of brilliance is
This "white boy" asks you step over your shadow and solve a problem that
only you can solve. Having the Russians and Chinese veto the recent U.N.
Security Council resolution is a pathetic first step.
(UPI International Columnist Marc S. Ellenbogen is chairman of the Berlin,
Copenhagen and Sydney-based Global Panel Foundation and president of the
Prague Society for International Cooperation.)
By KITSEPILE NYATHI, NATION Correspondent in HARARE
Last updated: 4 hours ago
Zimbabwe's churches and civic groups, who are critical of South African
President Thabo Mbeki's mediation efforts, say they have started holding
talks with the major political parties to find a home grown solution to the
political impasse in their country.
This fallows reports that negotiations between the ruling Zanu PF and the
Movement for Democratic Change factions stalled over the weekend because of
continued violence against opposition supporters.
They say the parallel mediation effort led by the Harare based Centre for
Peace Initiatives in Africa (CPIA) a regional conflict resolution and
management centre, would speed up efforts to end the crisis caused by
President Robert Mugabe's controversial re-election on June 27.
Governance in the Southern African country has been in a limbo since Mr
Mugabe's ruling Zanu PF lost its parliamentary majority to the opposition
Movement for Democratic Change in the March elections.
Despite claiming a landslide victory in the presidential run-off election
where the major contender, Mr Morgan Tsvangirai of the MDC was forced to
withdraw because of escalating violence against his supporters, Mr Mugabe
cannot form a new government without the opposition.
Zanu PF and MDC negotiators are currently meeting in South Africa to discuss
possibilities of the two groups forming a government of national unity or a
transitional authority that would lead to fresh elections. But few
Zimbabweans are giving the dialogue a chance because of the seemingly wide
differences between the two parties.
Churches and civic groups complain that the talks are not inclusive enough
and that President Thabo Mbeki has done little to consult other players
outside Zanu PF and the two MDC factions.
"We resolved at a conference that was attended by all political parties
except Zanu PF that there must be a local solution to the problems facing
our country because all along the African Union and the Southern African
Development Community have encouraged us to resolve our differences
internally," said Reverend Max Chinogwida, the CPIA deputy director.
He said the CPIA would use its experience as a conflict resolution center to
facilitate an all inclusive dialogue by inviting all stakeholders into the
"Zimbabweans are very experienced in conflict resolution as they helped
bring peace to Angola, Mozambique and the Democratic Republic of Congo, so
as soon as an opportunity avails itself we will start the dialogue," he
Jens F. Laurson and George A. Pieler 07.14.08, 6:00 PM ET
The tragic situation in Zimbabwe appears intractable, but it shouldn't be
and it isn't. An astute blend of principled involvement and pure
self-interest on the part of African and Western governments can yet rescue
Zimbabweans from the combined tyranny of Robert Mugabe and the Zimbabwe
African National Union (ZANU) that oppresses them.
Too many Western commentators mistook Mugabe's ineptitude in rigging the
first round of Zimbabwe's election for a general lack of ruthlessness or
even a drift toward democracy. Yet that first-round loss reinvigorated
Mugabe and his cronies. All in two days, the run-off election was held, the
votes counted and Mugabe was declared the winner and sworn in--when in March
it took six weeks just to release "official results."
A brutal awakening for those who expected a democratic change of government,
Mugabe and his military backers have returned to violence, suppression,
intimidation and murder. After all, Mugabe--who sees himself chosen by God
to lead Zimbabwe--is above any law. According to him, he and he alone
expresses the "will" of Zimbabweans; no outside pressure, political nor
economic, need be listened to. Perhaps the West's underestimation of Mugabe
was as much strategic as it was wishful thinking. Where optimism rules, kind
wishes and words of support suffice; action isn't necessary. But action
might have made a difference--from the West, which belatedly labeled the
election a farce--but especially from Zimbabwe's neighbors.
With South Africa as the designated mediator, these members of the South
African Development Council and the African Union (A.U.) have failed
utterly, and not for the first time. Fears of a Zimbabwean precedent that
could rebel against them makes African leaders, democratic or not, wary of
direct intervention in Harare's regime change. Only a few, like Kenya's
Raila Odinga, dare call for Zimbabwe's expulsion from the A.U. Odinga, of
course, narrowly won his own election in the face of violence and
intimidation, with the help of outside pressure. He knows the score, as it
Even if the AU and the West don't care enough about the rights of the
Zimbabwean people, who are dying from economic genocide as well as armed
assault (with weapons provided by China and South Africa, whose moniker of
"neutral moderator" ought to have been stripped away long ago), their
self-interest should push them to act before their own countries are
over-run by Zimbabwean refuges. Southern Africa in particular can only
benefit from a democratically elected government in Zimbabwe, one that is
free not just of Mugabe but the ZANU hierarchy that props him up.
At last week's summit, G-8 advocates ratcheted up sanctions on the Mugabe
circle. The U.S. wanted an arms embargo from the U.N. That would have been
fine, but even that was too much for China, Russia and South Africa, which
vetoed the plan. Sanctions alone, however tight, have no record of bringing
about a change in leadership. They helped in South Africa, but only as part
of a multi-front assault on apartheid as a regime and as an abhorrent
political concept. It was in the interest of South Africans, black and
white, to change--and change they did.
In Zimbabwe, as in South Africa, the role of the private sector is key. No
one will invest in an economy in freefall, as Zimbabwe's is. Whether Western
interests (mining, tobacco and finance) should withdraw or set themselves up
as drivers of change is a question that demands careful and urgent
consideration. As hosts of this year's Olympics and the 2010 World Cup,
China and South Africa should understand that they won't profit from serving
as the last props of a defunct yet still dangerous dictator.
The appeal to self-interest isn't cynical, nor does it presume a lack of
idealism among Zimbabwe's neighbors and commercial associates. The West
operates the same way: principles shrouded by cheap talk and actions that
result only from self-interest. Merging the two can bring splendid results,
and may yet do so for Zimbabwe. The country has ample natural and human
resources, albeit not the strategic kind, like oil, that really motivate
potential interveners. For better or worse, only self-interest will turn
meaningless statements and bold rhetoric into real action. The landmarks of
shame--Rwanda, Kosovo, Darfur--are too many already. We don't need any more.
For Europe and the U.S., realpolitik means understanding they can never
outbid China, Russia or any other conscience-free competitor in supplying
investment-as-aid to Southern Africa. Nor can they live off talk and symbols
alone while still retaining the respect of Africans. For the West, the trump
card is freedom and democracy, nurturing the aspirations of Zimbabwe's
suppressed population and among the country's true friends. You might even
say that is what the Bush doctrine demands.
Jens F. Laurson is editor in chief of the International Affairs Forum.
George A. Pieler is Senior Fellow with the Institute for Policy Innovation
by Mutumwa Mawere Tuesday 15 July 2008
OPINION: The veto of a draft United Nations resolution sponsored by the US
and UK governments to impose an arms embargo against Zimbabwe as well as an
asset freeze and travel ban on President Robert Mugabe and 13 of his
colleagues was as predictable as it was inevitable given the composition of
the Security Council.
Naturally, Mugabe must have been excited in learning that what he considers
to be a plot by his Western detractors to effect regime change by any means
necessary had failed.
Zimbabwe exposed the emergence of a new cold war at the world stage
characterised by a contestation on what kind of values ought to dominate and
inform global conversations on the role of the UN in a world characterised
by a lack of universally agreed standards on how to handle absurd situations
as that prevailing in Zimbabwe where an incumbent is determined to cling to
power at all costs.
It would have been naïve to expect Russia and China to support a resolution
whose long-term implications on countries that do not fully subscribe to
democratic principles and values could be devastating and poisonous.
If Mugabe was Chinese or Russian, there is no doubt that he would have been
considered a hero of the national democratic revolution. It would be absurd
to expect the Chinese and Russians to find anything wrong with what they
generally consider to be a domestic housekeeping issue.
The Chinese and Russians may not fully agree with Mugabe's naïve approach to
democracy in that he allowed the situation to get out of hand by not
successfully rigging the elections.
Former President Vladimir Putin and now Prime Minister of Russia
demonstrated that succession can be manipulatively managed.
The Chinese political system is not capable of creating a person like Morgan
Tsvangirai and it is the case that they are not used to a situation where an
incumbent deeply rooted in an ideology where citizen choice is not an
operative word in political decision-making is successfully challenged by a
person supported by the West.
If Tsvangirai was a Russian or Chinese opposition leader, his fate would not
lie in a negotiated settlement mediated by a foreign party.
By allowing the situation in Zimbabwe, Mugabe is generally seen as having
betrayed the cause and creating a dangerous precedent for the club of
leaders who believe that equality, freedom and justice are luxuries.
The AU has not found any fault with the manner in which Mugabe handled the
run-off election and it is evident that he enjoys the support of many in
salvaging a situation that had gone out of hand.
Many of the people who support the notion of a government of national unity
are fully convinced that Tsvangirai does not fit the profile of what they
would like to see as a successor to Mugabe.
In Africa as it is in many developing countries, anyone who is disliked by
the West easily enjoys the support of those that seek to change the global
distribution of power and the foundation of the multilateral institutions.
The energy crisis has repositioned the Chinese and Russian brands.
The emergence of sovereign wealth funds as drivers of the global economy
suggests that the US and Europe must revise the manner in which they relate
to global issues including attempts to impose their value system in a world
where the powerful always have their way.
Mugabe will argue convincingly that if George Bush and Tony Blair could have
their way in Iraq and Afghanistan, he should not be treated differently in
terms of suppressing and intimidating his adversaries.
Although China and Russia have not proved themselves as reliable development
partners to Africa, it is not clear how Zimbabwe will benefit from the show
down on the sanctions issue particularly if Mugabe wants sanctions to be
lifted by the very countries that are opposed to his ways.
The fact that the targeted persons were all black notwithstanding the fact
that the economy of Zimbabwe is still sustained and driven by companies
whose owners are domiciled in the West leads many to question the motives
behind the push for sanctions whose real impact has more to do with
embarrassing Mugabe and his colleagues than promoting real change.
The targeted sanctions have so far failed to produce the desired results.
If anything, they have helped bolster Mugabe's assertion that the Zimbabwean
political and economic crisis is a creation of the West.
Mugabe has not accepted that he bears any personal responsibility for the
economic decay and he still holds the view that his continued leadership is
indispensable to the survival of the nation.
It is instructive that His Excellency Boniface Chidyausiku, Zimbabwe's
Permanent Representative to the UN greeted the blocking of the draft
resolution by saying: "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. Adopting this resolution will set a dangerous
precedence and will only serve to undermine the ongoing dialogue between the
political parties, and risks worsening the political and socio-economic
situation in the country, and will affect other countries in the region."
What may not be obvious to Chidyausiku is that it has been generally
accepted that the rule of law in Zimbabwe is now a luxury for a few who
believe that they are more Zimbabwean than others.
It must be accepted that the climate in Zimbabwe is now so poisonous that it
will take more than negotiations of the three political parties to restore
the country to normalcy.
Even the Chinese and Russians would agree that Zimbabwe needs to turn a new
page and the future of the country lies in a renewal of leadership.
It is now universally accepted that losing will never be part of Mugabe's
He knows no limit when it comes to the energy and tactics he will use to
stay in power no matter how distasteful.
Mugabe is a natural warrior, never more energised than when faced with a
Mugabe came into the March 29 election confident and in the June 27 run-off
emotionally scarred by the loss.
He must be bewildered and deeply hurt by the personal attacks on him and his
targeting as a "bad boy" when he thinks that he has been the best leader for
He has accumulated more than enough repressed anger to fuel him to go
through a 1 000-year war oblivious of the damage his reign has on the
country he purports to love.
He remains unapologetic about his actions and must be angry to be accused of
human rights abuses by the West.
He genuinely believes that sanctions must be imposed on Bush, Blair and
Gordon Brown rather than on him.
To Mugabe war is an important metaphor. He believes that politics is war and
that war means any instrument, any tool, any means to achieve his end.
He is a fighter and regards the Security Council victory as a vindication of
the justice of his methods.
Whether Zimbabwe's better day is still possible with Mugabe at the helm is a
question that should occupy the minds of Zimbabweans rather than the
The Zimbabwean case is an unusual one requiring a creative and innovative
way to release the country from its current political gridlock.
Mugabe had calculated after the negotiated constitutional amendments
effected before the elections that he was going to win the election and
would then proceed to amend the constitution with a parliamentary majority.
The current arithmetic of the composition of the new parliament does not
give him much room to manoeuvre.
As a crafty politician he will argue that any negotiation must start from
the premise that he is the legitimate head of state and the March election's
outcome had constitutional consequences including the run-off.
The outcome of the Security Council vote on sanctions may have the effect of
giving him new hope that he can have his way with impunity.
If he cannot get the sanctions to be lifted by the West, there may be no
real incentive for him to negotiate in good faith, especially when he knows
that any outcome that may leave him with unfettered powers may not be
acceptable even to his friends in Africa. - ZimOnline
From the Zimbabwe Vigil
14th July 2008
Our partner organisation in Zimbabwe, Restoration of Human Rights (ROHR), is
launching an ongoing arts festival in an effort to counter political
violence. It is working with Zimbabwe Poets for Human Rights (ZPHR) and
their first event will be held in Kadoma (Rimuka Hall/ John Mack Hall) on
Saturday, 19th July.
a) To promote active participation of citizens in the healing process of
the nation through promoting tolerance and urging citizens to work as one.
b) To encourage the youth to desist from any kind of sponsored violence.
c) To nurture a culture of peace and one love in the post run off
d) To advocate for the respect, recognition and restoration of human
rights as the basis of achieving one love, one people and one nation.
For further details check the ROHR page on the Zimvigil website.
The Vigil, outside the Zimbabwe Embassy, 429 Strand, London, takes place
every Saturday from 14.00 to 18.00 to protest against gross violations of
human rights by the current regime in Zimbabwe. The Vigil which started in
October 2002 will continue until internationally-monitored, free and fair
elections are held in Zimbabwe. http://www.zimvigil.co.uk
Last Updated: 12:01am BST 15/07/2008
The situation in the African country is worsening by the day - but
people in Britain can still take action, writes Alice Klein
With unemployment rife and poverty now affecting 80 per cent of the
population, Zimbabwe is a human catastrophe unfolding before our eyes. As
Russia and China veto UN security council sanctions against the country, it
may feel like little or nothing can be done to help.
Yet small acts can make a big difference, as was demonstrated earlier
this month, when we featured The Zimbabwean - an independent newspaper
edited in the UK but distributed in Zimbabwe.
It says there was a terrific response from readers, many of whom
bought gift subscriptions and wanted to know what else they could do. Here
are 10 other simple but significant suggestions that can have a real impact:
1. Donate to charities such as Zane (www.zane. uk.com) and Homes in
Zimbabwe (www.justgiving.com/hiz), which work with people on the ground to
provide medication, care and food to elderly British nationals who are
living in residential homes or on their own farms.
2. Send a message of support via the faith-based charity Tearfund,
which is still operating through local churches
(www.tearfund.org/zimbabweprayer). Karyn Beattie, of Tearfund, says: "Every
time I forward on these messages, I get a reply saying 'Thank you', as it
means so much to know that people in the rest of the world have not
forgotten about them."
3. GardenAfrica (www.gardenafrica.org.uk) trains teachers, parents and
rural smallholders to cultivate food on a small scale within fenced-off
school grounds, with techniques that use less energy and water. This means
people can use their new skills at home to grow fruit and vegetables, which
is especially important for those living with HIV since it helps them to eat
a more nutritious diet.
4. Take out a subscription with the independent Zimbabwe-owned Mail
and Guardian (www.mg.co.za) or The Zimbabwean (www.thezimbabwean.co.uk), as
5. Donate old clothes, shoes, blankets and toothbrushes to Vimba
(www.vimba.co.uk). Run by five UK-based Zimbabwean and South African women,
the organisation is sending a shipment to an orphanage in Zimbabwe at the
end of this month.
6. Zimbabwean nurse Coral MacKenzie worked for the Island Hospice in
Harare for 14 years before emigrating to England in 2000. She sends medical
equipment back to Zimbabwe and will be grateful for items like unused
dressings, bandages, plasters, catheters, cotton buds, syringes and
scissors. Send information of any equipment that you could donate to
7. Earlier this month, London Mayor Boris Johnson terminated Transport
for London's contract with the Munich-based firm Giesecke & Devrient, which
was manufacturing Oyster cards, after the company was found to be providing
banknotes to Mugabe's central bank. Write to your local MP and ask them to
demand a boycott of any other companies with links to Zimbabwe. If you do
not know the name of your local MP, try
8. Join the Zimbabwe Vigil Coalition, a group that has been meeting
outside the Zimbabwe Embassy in London every Saturday since 2002 to protest
against human rights abuses under Mugabe's regime (www.zimvigil.co.uk).
9. Do not travel to Zimbabwe. Not only does the Foreign Office advise
against it on safety grounds, but the money you spend on an entry visa (£35)
and travelling within the country will all go to prop up Mugabe's regime.
10. Write to Zimbabwe's government and ask them to lift the ban on
non-political charities and aid organisations so they can continue their
work (HE Mr Gabriel Mharadze Machinga, Embassy of the Republic of Zimbabwe,
Zimbabwe House, 429 Strand, London, WC2R 0JR).
Meanwhile, continue donating to charities such as Oxfam, which is
supporting some 7,000 Zimbabwean refugees in South Africa, and Save the
Children, which is waiting to resume the delivery of health care, clean
water and basic sanitation supplies to vulnerable children.
By Carole Gombakomba
14 July 2008
Health experts and others in Zimbabwe say rape and other forms of sexual
abuse have become common as ruling party youth militia continue to terrorize
rural and urban communities.
The opposition Movement for Democratic Change formation led by Morgan
Tsvangirai says some 2,000 members were raped or otherwise sexually abused
following March 29 elections.
Former Harare North member of parliament Trudy Stevenson has launched a
campaign to raise awareness, saying she feared that rape as a political
weapon would continue, urging women and girls affected to seek medical
treatment to minimize the risk of infection with HIV.
"It is important for these victims and all potential victims...to know that
they can get help and that they need to act quickly for the anti-HIV and
emergency contraception medication to be most effective," Stevenson wrote
recently in an open letter.
Dr Douglas Gwatidzo, chairman of the Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for
Human Rights, told reporter Carole Gombakomba of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe
that many victims may not be reporting rape due to cultural taboos, but may
be in serious need of medical attention.
Tuesday, 15 Jul 2008 00:01
Zimbabwe's ruling Zanu-PF party is seeking to completely destroy all further
political opposition, it has been claimed.
Author Lauren St John told inthenews.co.uk youth militia and party
operatives have been systematically targeting those who did not vote in the
June 27th runoff vote, punishing them with beatings and torture.
Operation Red Finger, as it is called, saw those who did not back Mr Mugabe
subjected to horrific abuse in a campaign "which will not now finish until
all opposition is destroyed".
"Everyone that did vote had their finger dipped in indelible red ink. So
they could hunt those who did not," she explained.
"My father was confronted by a war veteran. They came for my Dad. He told
them, legitimately thank God, that his authorised polling station was more
than an hour's journey away and he didn't have the petrol to get to the
Ms St John's comments come as she publishes a book on her own experiences in
the country, Rainbow's End: An African Memoir.
Her father's neighbours, the Campbells, were recently abducted by Zanu-PF
because of their support for the opposition Movement for Democratic Change
Members of their family are now mounting a legal challenge to the situation
"People are so incredibly desperate, I can't tell you," she added.
"What's disturbing is that the same people that were fighting for freedom
and for justice and for equality are now the same people that are
destroying. and have no truck for equality and seem intent in reducing the
country to famine."
Ms St John is concerned by the rate of hyperinflation is helping cement Mr
Mugabe's position in power. At around 100,000 last year, inflation is
expected to hit eight billion per cent this year.
"Given that a minimum of 80 per cent of people are out of a job. anyone that
can get work by helping Zanu-PF probably will. The tragedy of Zimbabwe is
not just the horror of what's happening - we're in completely uncharted
Mr Mugabe has cut international aid from abroad amid harsh criticism from
the global community.
But despite the UN security council's vetoed resolution punishing his
regime, Ms St John remains positive about the international response to
recent events in Zimbabwe.
She fears the actions of other countries will not make a real difference on
the ground, however.
"The rhetoric of the outside world will not be any help to somebody who has
no idea where to get tonight's food," she explained.
By Patience Rusere
14 July 2008
Zimbabweans are again facing acute cash shortages and long lines at banks, a
development economists attribute to unremitting hyperinflation combined with
last month's decision by a German printing firm to cut off the central
bank's supply of banknote paper.
Sources in Harare reported long lines at banks and other financial
institutions with few automated teller machines in service.
In Bulawayo most people are said to be relying on the parallel market to
obtain cash - only companies and civil servants are turning to banks to meet
Sources in Mutare, in eastern Zimbabwe, said most consumers are trading in
and out of hard currencies like the dollar to preserve the value of their
money against roaring inflation.
Economist Godfrey Kanyenze, director of the Labor and Economic Development
Research Institute of Zimbabwe, told reporter Patience Rusere of VOA's
Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that hyperinflation has combined with the loss of the
paper source to create a cash crunch.
Mutare resident Brendan Dhliwayo explained how he is coping with the
By Jonga Kandemiiri
14 July 2008
Post-election political violence in Zimbabwe has diminished in some parts of
the country from the levels seen in May and June, nongovernmental and
political sources said, but others noted that attacks on members of the
opposition continue at a high rate in certain districts.
Violence remains a common occurrence in Shamva North constituency of
Mashonaland Central province, and parts of Mashonaland East province
continue to see violence though most of the "torture bases" set up by ruling
party militia are said to have been dismantled.
In Manicaland, reports of violence continued to emerge from Buhera and
Makoni South, but sources familiar with the area said conditions were
Officials of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change declined to
comment as to any decline in violence, cessation of which is an MDC
precondition for entering into substantive discussions with the ruling
ZANU-PF party on sharing power.
Political violence sprang up after the March 29 general and presidential
elections in which the MDC claimed a majority in the lower house of
parliament and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai outpolled incumbent
President Robert Mugabe. Attacks on rural communities that voted for the
opposition gave way to more targeted assaults on opposition supporters and
officials, more than 100 of whom the MDC says have been killed since March
Opposition lawyer Tapera Sengweni of Gokwe, Midlands province, who this week
visited some opposition victims of violence who have been denied treatment
in a local hospital, told VOA reporter Jonga Kandemiiri that Gokwe-Kabuyuni
remains a troubled area
Thanks to the pusillanimity of the African Union and the Southern African Development Community, insufficient pressure has been brought to bear on Robert Mugabe to force him to agree to an acceptable power-sharing deal.
As a result, the crisis will bleed on for many more months, as the collapsed economy leads to mass starvation and hundreds of thousands more desperate refugees flee into neighbouring countries, particularly South Africa. That's the view of veteran journalist Allister Sparks who expresses hope that President Thabo Mbeki, 'whose timid mediation is largely to blame for this alarming situation', has a plan in mind to accommodate this human flood so that South Africa doesn't experience a recurrence of the xenophobic violence that did so much damage in May to the country's battered international image. In a column in The Star, Sparks says Mugabe will not agree to serve in a unity government of which he is not the leader - and certainly not in one led by Morgan Tsvangirai. 'Tsvangirai will not agree to serve in a unity government led by Mugabe, whom he beat decisively in the March 29 election. He is not fool enough to be emasculated the way the old Zapu leader, Joshua Nkomo, was when Mugabe sucked him into a unity deal in the 1980s. He also knows his party would reject him if he headed that way. The crunch may well come when the Mugabe regime - which we now know is in fact a military junta - runs out of money and can no longer pay its soldiers. But that is still some distance away. Meanwhile, the refugees are on their way.'
Full column in The Star
Also see an assessment in Business Day
By Tatenda Moyo
Monday 14 July 2008
The majority of Zimbabwe's baking companies, about 80 percent, have
temporarily ceased operations as the country faces serious flour shortages.
The country's leading bakers Lobels, Bakers Inn and Superbake, which employs
more than 50 percent of the industry's total labour force, are among the
As the country runs out of wheat after a failed winter wheat season last
year, ZimDaily has learnt that 368 bakers, members of the National Bakers'
Association (NBA) have not received adequate flour supplies from millers.
An NBA official who spoke to ZimDaily said work stoppages are continuing
"If the situation continues like this we are going to see a total extinction
of bread from our shops," said the official.
The official also said efforts to import flour had hit a snag after the
government added rolls and twists on the controlled products list.
The controlled selling price of bread is $440 million a loaf but bakers get
flour from millers at over US$35 (ZW$2, 1 trillion) per 50kg.
Meanwhile ,the country's largest retailers have reduced their opening hours.
Some shops have reduced the number of shelves to accommodate the few
commodities in stock.
Zimbabwe's economy is going through its darkest hour as the Robert Mugabe
regime continues to effect its repressive economic policies against a
background of political strife.
Analysts have warned that the country's economy of over 10 million percent
will not allow business to operate any longer.
Los Angeles Daily News
By Michelle Faul, The Associated Press
Article Last Updated: 07/13/2008 09:04:21 PM PDT
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa - Robert Mugabe's brazen power grab in Zimbabwe's
election saga has left cracks in one of African leaders' unspoken rules:
Never turn on one of your own.
The fact that even several nations are refusing to recognize Zimbabwe's
ruler of 28 years marks an unprecedented change in Africa that offers a
glimmer of hope for a brighter, more democratic future.
A younger generation of African leaders appears willing to break from the
clubbiness that has characterized the governing elites on this continent
where authoritarian rule has long been the norm.
Among the most outspoken has been Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the Liberian
president who is the continent's only female leader.
On a visit to South Africa this week, she was the first African leader to
support proposed U.N. sanctions against Zimbabwe's leaders, saying they send
a "strong message" that the world will not tolerate violence to retain
"It's important, because it's the first time that we are seeing on the
African continent that leadership has transitioned from the old
perceptions," said Chris Maroleng, a South African political analyst.
"We're seeing more leaders beginning to embrace their own democratic
notion," he added.
They include Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa, a lawyer who is his country's
third leader since independence in 1964; former army commander Seretse Ian
Khama of Botswana, Africa's most enduring democracy; and Nigeria's Umar
Yar'Adua, only the third civilian leader since 1966, though he still is
fighting a court battle over his fraud-riddled election.
Mugabe's June 27 runoff "was neither free nor fair and therefore the
legitimacy of his presidency is in question. He cannot wish that away,"
Kenya's Foreign Minister Moses Wetangula told The Associated Press.
Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, who won the most votes in March
elections, withdrew from the runoff against Mugabe after weeks of
military-orchestrated violence left dozens of his supporters dead, thousands
severely beaten and thousands more homeless as they were chased from
villages, fled attacks or had their houses burned down.
Two days after the vote, Mugabe was declared the winner and flew to an
African Union summit in Egypt where he was seen hugging many leaders,
gaining the veneer of legitimacy that he sought.
"President Mugabe was accepted by his peers ... so he is legitimate,"
Congo's Foreign Ministry spokesman Claude Kamanga Mutond said.
But a few voices of dissent have cropped up across Africa.
"The violence that preceded the election was so intense that the results did
not reflect the wishes of the people of Zimbabwe," Sierra Leone's Foreign
Minister Zainab Bangura said.
Rwanda also condemned the election, as did Senegal.
While some presidents were reported to have had harsh private words for
Mugabe, the vast majority chose the traditional path of not putting public
pressure on a fellow leader, ignoring U.N. and Western calls for tough
Many feared being seen as doing the bidding of the West. And Mugabe, despite
his destruction of his country, still is seen by many Africans as a hero who
defeated the white-minority rulers of then-Rhodesia and then drove whites
off land considered stolen from blacks. Mugabe's seizure of commercial
white-owned farms broke the backbone of the country's economy.
Youth Forum Position on the veto decision by Russia and China on Zim
Youth Forum Zimbabwe is greatly disturbed by the decision taken by the above
stated countries in line with travel ban and financial sanctions on Mugabe
and 13 of his top cronies. We totally concur with UK foreign minister's
sentiments that, ' China and Russia 's stance is incomprehensible' and the
statement by Sir John Sawers that, 'the people of Zimbabwe need to be given
hope that there is an end in sight to their suffering', yet it is totally
opposite to such expectations. ' Russia and China have indeed stood with
Mugabe against the people of Zimbabwe .' Countries with double standards
like Russia are really a threat to global development and partnership with
such countries must be done with ultra care. We take this as promotion and
licensing gross human rights abuses, for China it is not the first time, it
is less than two months ago when they sold arms to this nation despite being
fully aware of the abuse of such weapons by the state and it is
disappointing that Russia has also joined the bandwagon.
With 113 people having been killed, 5000 missing and 200 000 displaced by
the Mugabe regime we expect the international community to take a leading
role in condemning the political mess which is being perpetrated by ZANU PF
under the auspices Robert Mugabe's sovereignty and empowerment. As youths we
are the most vulnerable age group since the majority of us are poverty
stricken despite being the greater part of the population. The political,
social and economic conditions have persistently deteriorated to pariah
levels and we cannot imagine the levels to be reached in the next two months
at most with Mugabe a failure, tyrant and a saboteur at the helm. We urge AU
and SADC to be rational enough to see that the majority of Zimbabweans
cannot take anymore of Mugabe's nonsense. The pressure on Mugabe should
increase as each day progresses. This nation can no longer afford even a
single minute with Mugabe as a leader. It is only Mugabe and his cronies who
are holding this country at ransom against the will of the people as
expressed by the March 29 harmonized election. We maintain that real talks
can prevail if human rights violations being perpetrated by the state come
to an end without such a scenario it is just a a waste of time to look
forward to find a lasting solution from the 'talks'. We also insist that
they should reflect the people's will and not the politicians' will.
Youth Forum Information and Publicity Department
Contact: +263 913 014 693, +263 913 022 368
Date: 14 Jul 2008
Trócaire, the overseas development agency, has said today that it is
bitterly disappointed at the failure of the UN security council to impose
sanctions against Zimbabwe.
'Once again the international community has failed the ordinary people of
Zimbabwe,' said Justin Kilcullen, Trócaire's director. 'Failure to introduce
sanctions means that the illegal regime can still purchase arms, can send
the country's wealth into banks abroad and Robert Mugabe and his cronies can
travel the world with impunity.'
'Meanwhile the ordinary people of Zimbabwe continue to be subjected to
violence at the hands of the regime, experience massive inflation and a
shortage of basic items including food,' Mr. Kilcullen continued. 'How can
we take international institutions such as the UN seriously when they fail
to protect vulnerable people when it is in their power to do so?'
Mr. Kilcullen concluded, 'China and Russia bear particular responsibility
for the continuation of a totally unacceptable situation in Zimbabwe.'
Robert Dreyfuss Mon Jul 14, 10:59 AM ET
The Nation -- There's no defense for the ugliness in Sudan and Zimbabwe. But
US policy in connection with those two problematic nations is running into a
buzzsaw. In both cases, the United States is acting clumsily, and it is
facing stiff opposition from Russia, China, and many African nations.
Two obvious conclusions: the Bush Administration's muddled pursuit of
democracy-by-force has made the entire world suspicious of America's motives
in world crises, especially when they're tied to possible armed
intervention. And confronting nations' real-world strategic interests, such
as China's interest in Sudan, under the guise of humanitarian concerns won't
fly, after Iraq.
First, there's the indictment today of Sudan's President Bashir by the
International Criminal Court (ICC), the Hague-based body that was rejected
by the Bush Administration but is now embraced by Washington over Sudan. The
indictment, not a surprise, was widely feared by world diplomats, who
concluded that the consequences of indicting the Sudanese president were
unpredictable and probably both dangerous and counterproductive.
It's the first indictment of a sitting head of state since the ICC was
founded in 2002. But Bashir will resist the charges, and no one is going to
charge into Sudan to arrest him. Meanwhile, UN diplomats and peacekeepers
worry that Sudan will react forcefully, making the situation in Darfur in
southwestern Sudan worse. The African Union issued a statement over the
weekend warning against "the misuse of indictments against African
leaders" -- perhaps thinking, too, of Zimbabwe. Both Russia and China (which
has close economic ties to Sudan and its oil) were against the indictments,
Australia is already reconsidering its planned deployment of peacekeepers to
Sudan, fearing greater violence. The Arab League is having an emergency
meeting over the crisis.
Then, Zimbabwe. Over the weekend, Russia and China cast a double veto
against proposed economic sanctions against Robert Mugabe's government.
Ambassador Zalmay Khalilizad, the one-man wrecking ball and neocon
strategist who represents the United States at the UN, blasted Russia for
its veto. "The U-turn in the Russian position is particularly surprising and
disturbing," said Zal-Khal. "They decided to make a point on this issue, to
say nyet. Something happened in Moscow." Zal-Khal also accused South
Africa's President Mbeki of trying to start fake negotiations to bring about
a coalition government in Zimbabwe. Fake or not, the talks are stalemated,
Russia has flatly denied making any "U-turn." And Russia's top diplomats are
blistering Khalilzad. Not a good omen.
By staff writers
14 Jul 2008
The United Reformed Church (URC) has urged local congregations to take
action to support Zimbabweans living in Britain, as its national officers
pledge to bring influence to bear on government over the continuing crisis
in the southern African nation.
The URC has warned of the gradual "implosion" of Zimbabwe. The Church
condemned tactics employed by the ruling ZANU-PF party, and added its voice
to those calling for the establishment of a transitional government to
negotiate a framework for political and economic recovery.
Simon Loveitt, URC convenor for church and society, introducing a resolution
to the Church's general assembly, meeting in Edinburgh on Saturday 12 July
2008, declared: "We have all watched with growing alarm and disbelief,
Zimbabwe gradually imploding. The increasing violence and intimidation by
government supporters of its citizens, has been very distressing to witness".
In response, the URC agreed to ask local congregations to offer hospitality
and support to Zimbabweans living among them, and to continue praying for
justice and peace to be restored to Zimbabwe.
A delegation will seek to discuss the Church's concerns with Britain's
Foreign Secretary as soon as possible.
Other British churches are also discussing and coordinating their response
ecumenically through Churches Together in Britain and Ireland (CTBI).
Despite the paucity of statistics in
Zimbabwe due to the near collapse
the system, it is possible to analyse the present economic situation
on what we know of the fundamentals.
It is clear that inflation is now at record levels exceeding the
experience of other countries who have gone
through such a phase and that economic activity has slumped to new
lows. The traffic in the towns are a clear indication of this.
If what we believe is happening, the GDP will have slumped to a new
low of about 40 per cent of the level achieved 10 years ago. It certainly
will decline by 12 per cent or more this year alone. This process is being
driven by falls in the real output of all industries and sectors of the
economy.Even mining, despite high international prices and demand and some
new investment in the platinum sector, physical output is falling.
Industry seems to be the most affected at present and whereas output
last year would have been about 60 per cent of 1998 levels, by the end of
2008 it will be perhaps half of this - driven by a cocktail of problems from
power shortages, to foreign exchange shortages and price controls. Tourism
no sign of recovery and if it is actually possible, farm output is in
steep decline driven by insecurity and lawlessness, low prices and the
shortage of virtually all inputs.
The inflation spiral we are in is being fed by a massive budget
deficit -funded by printing money mainly, and by the abuse of the foreign
exchange system. The latter is being managed both to reduce the real value
of remittances to Zimbabwe and to allow those associated with the regime to
secure hard currency at very low "official exchange " rates. This is
tantamount to printing money as the RTGS system is used to buy hard currency
on the local market at massive premiums.
Unable to cope with the very rapid depreciation of the currency and
watching their working capital being consumed by inflation, business
organisations are now simply closing down. Major wholesalers and retailers
are particularly affected as there are no credit facilities available and
they are unable to finance their stocks. A serious breakdown of the
distribution chain has taken place. Manufacturers are not far behind and
only those who are exporting a majority of their output are surviving.
In the mining sector, threats of nationalization without compensation
together with the continued control of marketing and the use of the
interbank rate for the payment of local currency for a proportion of export
sales and the maintenance of an artificial price for gold, is
affecting returns and confidence. This, coupled to shortages of essential
inputs and electrical energy, are further curbing output and investment.
In the agricultural industry, maize production in the past season is
now estimated as only 425 000 tonnes while winter cereal production looks as
if it will only be a fraction of last years output. This is due to a
shortage of inputs as well as continued farm invasions and insecurity.
Tobacco sales are down on last year and it is expected that output could
decline again this year due to uncertainty and the non-availability of
essential supplies and electricity. Oilseed production is down and for the
first time there is
a shortage of tea, fruit and sugar - all normally in free supply.
One immediate consequence of this situation is a critical shortage of
all basic foods. What little is available is now priced at levels
significantly above those prevailing in South Africa - a reversal of the
relationship. This situation is so serious that it is likely to result
in mass starvation if it is not attended to soon. Political controls over
the supply and sales of food are now universal and seriously affecting the
welfare of those in the cities and in the rural areas who supported
One of the new consequences of this state of affairs is the inability
of staff in all State controlled institutions to cope with the
situation.Poorly paid at best and with salaries that simply cannot keep up
with the inflation, they are unable to maintain their standard of living.
Many State departments and services are collapsing. How the PTC and ZESA are
maintaining their activities is anyone's guess.
Couple this situation with the widespread violence and intimidation
can understand why millions of people are on the move. They are
trying to get out of the country - to anywhere that might offer a
support and shelter. South Africa is the main destination and I simply
cannot even imagine how many people are moving south on a daily basis.
Today a local businessman said to me that traffic from South Africa to
Bulawayo was running at 25 pick ups per hour to the City and 4 times
number to Harare. This is as South African migrants respond to the
increasing desperation of their families at home.
The Zanu PF regime shows no sign of understanding or being even
do what is required to bring this situation under control. I cannot
that they do not know what to do - its quite simple really but needs
political will and a determination to get things right. Both seem to
almost completely absent.
I said to a friend recently that Mugabe and Zanu PF are like a small
has been chasing a large bull in a field. At last the bull has stopped
they have the bull by the tail - but they have no idea what to do with
and run the risk that this will annoy the bull that, with further
irritation, might turn around and toss the kid into the bush with its
The other danger for the kid is that the bull will do what comes
and Zanu PF will find itself covered in you know what!
Whatever, the kid is not in charge of the bull and they know it - but
simply do not know what to do - the wise thing would be to drop the
run. But then Zanu PF is not given to wisdom - in any field.
Bulawayo, 12th July 2008
July 14, 2008
On the day the Colombian military freed Ingrid Betancourt and 14 other
long-held hostages, the Italian Parliament passed yet another resolution
demanding her release. France had made her an honorary citizen of Paris,
passed several resolutions and held many vigils for her.
Europe had long ago adopted this French-Colombian politician as a cause
celebre. Unfortunately, karma doesn't easily cross the Atlantic Ocean.
Betancourt languished for six years in cruel captivity until freed by a
brilliant operation conducted by the Colombian military, intelligence
agencies and special forces -- an operation so well executed, the captors
were overpowered without a shot.
This, in foreign policy establishment circles, is called "hard power." In
the Bush years, hard power is terribly out of fashion, seen as a mere
obsession of cowboys and neocons. In Europe and America, the sophisticates
worship at the altar of "soft power" -- the use of diplomatic and moral
resources to achieve one's ends.
Europe luxuriates in soft power - nowhere more than in l'affaire Betancourt,
in which Europe's repeated gestures of solidarity hovered somewhere between
the fatuous and the destructive. Europe had been pressing the Colombian
government to negotiate for the hostages. Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez
offered to mediate. Of course, we know from documents captured in a daring
Colombian army raid into Ecuador in March -- your standard hard-power
operation duly denounced by that perfect repository of soft power, the
Organization of American States -- that Chavez had been secretly financing
and pulling the strings of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia. These
negotiations would have been Chavez's opportunity to gain recognition and
legitimacy for his terrorist client.
Betancourt was, however, only one of the high-minded West's many causes.
Solemn condemnations have been issued from every forum of soft-power
fecklessness -- the European Union, the United Nations, the G-8 foreign
ministers -- demanding that Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe stop butchering his
opponents and step down. Before that, the cause du jour was Burma, where a
vicious dictatorship allowed thousands of cyclone victims to die by denying
them independently delivered foreign aid - lest it weaken the junta's grip
on power. And then there's Darfur in Sudan, a perennial for which myriad
diplomats and foreign policy experts have devoted uncountable hours at the
finest five-star hotels to deplore the genocide and urgently urge relief.
What's done to free these people? Nothing. Everyone knows that it will take
the hardest of hard power to remove the oppressors in Zimbabwe, Burma, Sudan
and other godforsaken places where the bad guys have the guns and use them.
And who's going to intervene? The only country that could is the country
that in the past two decades led coalitions that liberated Kuwait, Bosnia,
Kosovo and Afghanistan: America. But having sacrificed much blood and
treasure in its latest endeavor -- the liberation of 25 million Iraqis from
the most barbarous tyranny of all and its replacement with what's beginning
to emerge as the Arab world's first democracy -- and having earned
near-universal condemnation for its pains, America has absolutely no
appetite for such missions.
And so the innocent languish, as did Betancourt, until some local power -
inexplicably under the sway of the President Bush notion of hard power, gets
it done -- often with the support of the American military. Upon her
liberation, Betancourt offered profuse thanks to God and the Virgin Mary, to
her supporters and the media, to France and Colombia and just about
As of this writing, none to the United States.
Krauthammer is a columnist with The Washington Post. Send e-mail to