Tuesday, 15 July 2008 19:32 UK
Zimbabwe's opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai has told the BBC of his frustration at mediation efforts led by South Africa's leader Thabo Mbeki.
He again called for more African Union (AU) input at talks aimed at forming a unity government after disputed polls.
Mr Tsvangirai reiterated his earlier claim that Zimbabwe was under the control of a military junta as reports of violence continue.
The opposition says it will not enter full talks until the violence stops.
Correspondents say South African mediators want the two sides to start full negotiations before the head of African Union Commission Jean Ping visits Pretoria later this week.
President Robert Mugabe won a run-off election in June unopposed after Mr Tsvangirai, pulled out citing state-sponsored violence.
Meanwhile, UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown has reiterated his determination to maintain the political pressure on Zimbabwe until it returns to democracy.
Speaking to the BBC, Mr Brown said the UK reserved the right to seek a fresh United Nations resolution on Zimbabwe, while pursuing sanctions against President Robert Mugabe's government with Europe and the United States.
Last week, Russia and China vetoed a resolution at the UN Security Council to impose targeted sanctions on Mr Mugabe and 13 of his allies.
South Africa said sanctions would interfere with attempts to form a national unity government.
Mr Brown said that if the mediation efforts by Mr Mbeki failed to yield results, Britain would act.
Mr Tsvangirai said that mediation efforts had been going on for eight years.
"The situation is deteriorating; there's been state-sponsored violence, and yet we have not heard condemnation of these acts," he told the BBC's Focus on Africa programme.
"In fact, we have expressed the fact it has to be an expanded initiative to include the AU and that we will insist that AU participation will give us some comfort."
He said it was frustrating as Mr Mugabe continually failed to allow "a solution to emerge".
Mr Tsvangirai was taking part in a special BBC World Service programme about Zimbabwe in which it was suggested that the military was in real control of the government.
"President Mugabe is there as a figure head," Zimbabwean analyst Alex Magaai told the programme.
The MDC leader said he agreed with the analysis that the Joint Operations Command (JOC) - a committee of Mr Mugabe's military chiefs - was running the country.
"I agree with those who have analysed the political matrix in the country as dominated by the military junta that has taken over since the 8 April," he said.
"You can't ignore the role of the military and how it's been politicised," he said, adding that it would be an important part of any negotiations with Mr Mugabe's Zanu-PF party.
The MDC says 113 of its supporters have been killed,
some 5,000 are missing and more than 200,000 have been forced from their homes
since the first round of voting in March.
International Herald Tribune
The Associated PressPublished: July 15, 2008
PRETORIA, South Africa: Zimbabwe's opposition said Tuesday it hopes a
meeting later this week between the South African president and a top
African Union official will result in an AU mediator joining efforts to
resolve their nation's crisis.
But South Africa's deputy foreign minister said the issue of a mediator
besides President Thabo Mbeki was a "fake argument."
That sharp difference of opinion on what Zimbabwean opposition leader Morgan
Tsvangirai has raised as a central issue does not bode well for Mbeki's
efforts to guide Tsvangirai and Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe toward
ending a deadly political crisis and putting Zimbabwe's ravaged economy on
the road to recovery.
Tsvangirai has accused Mbeki of bias in favor of Mugabe.
"There's no progress (in getting talks started) and there will not be any
progress until there's an expansion of the mediation team," George
Sibotshiwe, a spokesman for Tsvangirai, said Tuesday. He said he hoped Jean
Ping, the AU's chief executive due in South Africa on Friday to be briefed
by Mbeki on his progress, will persuade Mbeki to bring on another mediator.
Last week, Christian leaders in Zimbabwe called on Mugabe and Tsvangirai to
meet face to face to resolve the crisis. The leaders of the Zimbabwe Council
of Churches, the Evangelical Fellowship of Zimbabwe and the Zimbabwe
Catholic Bishops' Conference added in a statement released after a July 8
meeting that they did not believe last month's presidential runoff Mugabe
claims to have won reflected "the will of the people of Zimbabwe."
Tsvangirai beat Mugabe and two other candidates in the first round of voting
in March, but did not win the 50 percent plus one vote necessary to avoid a
runoff against second-place finisher Mugabe. Tsvangirai pulled out days
before the runoff because of violence against his supporters.
In Washington on Tuesday, U.S. President George W. Bush said the United
States is looking at ways to punish Zimbabwean leaders after China and
Russia blocked sanctions at the United Nations last week. Bush said that he
was "displeased" with China's and Russia's actions and added that the U.S.
State and Treasury departments "are now working on potential U.S. action."
The U.S. wants to punish Mugabe's government for the widely discredited
In Zimbabwe, the government and opposition say they are willing to share
power, and Mbeki has made that the goal of negotiations. But Mugabe's
ZANU-PF party wants Mugabe - in power since 1980 and seen as increasingly
autocratic - at the head of any coalition, something the opposition and the
president's critics in the West have rejected.
While some see a coalition government as the solution, rights groups in
Zimbabwe rejected that Tuesday and said the answer was new elections
organized by a transitional body on which neither the opposition nor
Mugabe's party would have a role.
After meeting in Harare, Zimbabwe, on Tuesday, an alliance of more than 40
civil rights, human rights, labor, student, church and reform groups added
that if politicians rejected their call, they would organize protests to try
to stop any power sharing deal.
"Anyone wanting to solve the crisis must work towards a transitional
authority. We are rejecting any quick fix solution of power sharing," said
Lovemore Madhuku, one of the participants in Tuesday's meeting and a leading
rights activist in Zimbabwe.
Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change said Tuesday that 14 of its
members were freed a day earlier when prosecutors failed to produce a key
witness in a political violence case.
More than 1,000 of its activists and officials are in police custody on
"trumped up" charges of political violence, the party said in a statement.
Independent human rights groups have said Mugabe's police, soldiers and
party militants are responsible for most of the violence, though there have
been reports of MDC retaliatory attacks.
The MDC insists on the release of its jailed activists as a condition for
negotiations. Other key conditions are that attacks on the opposition end
and that another mediator be appointed to work alongside Mbeki.
Tsvangirai has repeatedly called for Mbeki to either be replaced or for a
second mediator to be named. Zambia is among the African governments that
also have called for a new mediator. Last week during a visit to South
Africa, Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf praised Mbeki's efforts,
but said another "high profile" African negotiator also should be called in.
The African Union, at a summit in Egypt at the end of last month, endorsed
Mbeki as mediator, a role he took on more than a year ago at the request of
the main regional body, the Southern African Development Community.
South Africa's deputy foreign minister, Aziz Pahad, said the issue of a
second mediator was not on the agenda for the Ping-Mbeki meeting.
Calling for a second mediator "is a fake argument and diverts from the real
fundamental issue," Pahad added. "I don't believe that at this very crucial
moment, adding new bodies ... is what is required. Zimbabweans don't have
the luxury of not finding a solution to which they have all publicly
committed themselves. They have committed themselves to an inclusive
The opposition's participation in mediation so far shows that relations
between the opposition and Mbeki are "very good," Pahad said.
But Sibotshiwe, the opposition spokesman, said there has been no progress
since chief Movement for Democratic Change negotiator Tendai Biti came to
Pretoria last week to lay out the party's conditions for substantive talks.
By Peta Thornycroft
15 July 2008
Three people from central Zimbabwe, under police guard in a state hospital
in Harare, say they were not only beaten, but forced to drink poison when
they were attacked earlier this month. Peta Thornycroft reports that the
three are being charged with attempted murder, although they are the victims
of savage attacks and are severely injured.
The violence against opposition activists and members of the Movement for
Democratic Change continues. Many of those now in hospitals around the
country say they have escaped from military bases run by members of the
ruling ZANU-PF. They are able to identify ruling party members by name.
It has taken several weeks for some to get medical attention in the eastern
city of Mutare. Four people were admitted to hospital Monday with severely
deep wounds. They say they had been held captive since around June 27, when
President Robert Mugabe was the only candidate in a second round of
In Harare, three people are receiving some medical attention under police
guard in the state's Parirenyatwa Hospital. Hilton Chironga his mother
Neria, and a friend Hama Ngowani say they were severely beaten on July 2 in
their home village about 100 kilometers west of Harare.
Hilton's father, Gibbs Chironga, an MDC councilor, was killed on June 20.
They say after their beatings, they were forced to drink a white liquid, and
both still complain of severe stomach pains 13 days later. Neria Chironga is
only able to drink milk.
Farmers say the liquid could be a common and inexpensive insecticide
manufactured in Zimbabwe which can cause severe internal injuries if
The three are all to be charged with attempted murder. Hilton Chironga, with
two bullet wounds, on an arm and a leg, and with a face distorted by
injuries, says he has no idea who they are supposed to have attempted to
He names nine of the approximately 15 people he says assaulted him and
forced him to drink poison.
His sister, Susan, is under arrest at Bindura Prison, also charged with
attempted murder. Neria Chironga only learned Monday that her daughter was
in prison and not dead.
Human rights lawyer Alec Muchadahama said 14 MDC activists and officials
charged with setting fire to an old bus in Harare, have had charges
He said there were between 500 and 1,000 MDC detainees around the country.
He said none had committed any of the charges brought up against them. One
by one, he said, they were being released on bail or charges were being
Lawyers say they cannot recall a single MDC member, among tens of thousands
arrested and charged over eight years, ever being prosecuted and convicted
of any violent crime.
Muchadahama said the conditions in prisons and police cells were inhumane
and a grave threat to detainees' health.
There are no working toilets in the overwhelming majority of police cells
and prisons around Zimbabwe.
Convicted prisoners are reportedly starving in state prisons.
2 hours, 56 minutes ago
WASHINGTON - President Bush said Tuesday that the United States is looking
at ways to punish Zimbabwean leaders after China and Russia blocked
sanctions at the United Nations last week.
Bush said that he was "displeased" with China's and Russia's actions and
added that the State and Treasury departments "are now working on potential
The U.S. wants to punish Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe's authoritarian
government for a widely discredited presidential election. Mugabe claimed
victory in a June 27 presidential runoff in which he was the only candidate.
Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Jendayi Frazer, told a
Senate hearing later Tuesday that the new U.S. sanctions will target both
individuals and government institutions.
She said that the United States is working with European and African
countries to exert pressure on Mugabe's government through sanctions. She
said that Zimbabwe's economy is oriented toward Europe, which can therefore
bring the most pressure to bear.
Frazer criticized China and Russia for their Security Council vetoes. "Most
certainly they enabled Mugabe," she said.
But she expressed hope that international pressure would lead Mugabe to
loosen his grip on power.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice also weighed in on Tuesday, warning that
Southern Africa will face "perennial instability" until the will of
Zimbabwe's people is reflected in its government.
"In the Mugabe regime we see the page of history that Africa must turn: a
leader for independence which inherited a nation full of promises but which
has evolved into a tyranny that values nothing but power," she told the
annual forum of the African Growth and Opportunity Act at the State
She called the instability "Africa's challenge."
U.S. officials have said they are frustrated that South African President
Thabo Mbeki has not adequately spoken out against Mugabe or pushed for
political change in neighboring Zimbabwe. Frazer said that she expects
greater pressure from South Africa after Mbeki steps down following
elections next year.
In response to U.S. criticism, South Africa expressed irritation Tuesday
with comments it says were made by U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad during
discussion at the U.N. of the Zimbabwe sanctions resolution. South Africa
says the comments amounted to questioning Mbeki's leadership.
"In relation to South Africa, the U.S. representative, outside the Security
Council chambers, went on to suggest that President Mbeki is out of touch
with his own country and then referred to other South Africans who may be
more in touch and therefore he was suggesting that the time was right for
the president to go," South African Deputy Foreign Minister Aziz Pahad told
reporters. "These are not acceptable statements and we will take this up
through the relevant diplomatic channels."
SW Radio Africa (London)
15 July 2008
Posted to the web 15 July 2008
Zimbabweans are facing a future of increasing hunger with dwindling stocks
of banknote paper leading to a very real possibility of money running out in
Fidelity Printers, the state-owned company that churns out banknotes for the
Robert Mugabe regime, was thrown into a crisis early this month after a
German company stopped supplying banknote paper because of concerns over
Zimbabwe's recent violent presidential election. Two-thirds of the
1,000-strong workforce was ordered to go on leave, and two of the three
money-printing shifts were canceled.
Fidelity Printers is regarded as Mugabe's lifeline because it prints the
money he uses to pay the police, soldiers and intelligence organs that keep
the regime in power. But what would happen if the regime can't pay the
security forces on which it relies to keep up its brutal campaign?
On the streets there has been an immediate cash crunch, with the prices of
all items from bread to beer skyrocketing, since the German company pulled
the plug on its relationship with the country.
Independent economic analyst in Harare, John Robertson, told Newsreel on
Tuesday that people's basic spending is far higher than their daily cash
withdrawal limit from the banks. He said for people to make "useful
purchases, they have to queue every day for a week" to have enough money.
But he said "by that point the prices would have gone up anyway, so people
can't keep up".
Robertson said the few remaining companies in the country are facing closure
and have already shrunk in size in an effort to stay open. But he said that
all stock is imported, and because local suppliers are constrained by price
controls "they can't make a profit, as controlled prices are far below the
cost of production".
Robertson added that the government is considering approaching Chinese firms
to import banknote paper, but he says it is likely the country will run out
of currency before then.
The question for Zimbabweans now is how they can keep food on the table,
when there is no money to pay for basic food that already costs more than
the average Zimbabwean earns - that is if they can find it.
Robertson said people have already changed their lifestyles to deal with out
of control inflation. He said "dietary habits have changed and people are
surviving on basics, so malnutrition is already setting in". He added that
"a great many more people will be suffering in the future", because the
reality is, that with Zimbabwe's poor agricultural turnover, people will
have to resort to importing food. But he said "prices are beyond the means
of average Zimbabweans, so many more people will go hungry".
July 15, 2008, 20:00
The head of the body that governs Zimbabwe's medical schemes says inflation
is wreaking havoc with the healthcare system in that country.
Cuthbert Dube was speaking at the Board of Healthcare Funders meeting in
Durban. His organisation covers one in 10 Zimbabweans. Dube says private
hospitals are functioning but has conceded that the sooner a political
settlement is reached between the ruling Zanu-PF and the opposition Movement
Democratic Change, the better.
Meanwhile, Cosatu has vowed to mobilise all South African workers not to
touch any goods destined for Zimbabwe next month. This follows allegations
that South African companies are helping to consolidate President Robert
Mugabe's position by selling goods and providing services to Zimbabwe.
Cosatu leaders held a meeting with the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Union and
the Swaziland Federation of Trade Unions in Johannesburg. Cosatu
General-Secretary Zwelinzima Vavi says their action will take a full week.
He says this will help put pressure on the Zimbabwean government to form a
transitional government. Vavi says they will intensify their action if no
results are seen after a week.
By Staff/IWR | Harare Tribune News
Updated: July 15, 2008 13:58
AIDS orphan Pricilla Moyo, age 8, looks from her
grandmother's hut in the countryside July 13, 2008 in Mwenezi District,
Masvingo Province. The province of Masvingo is drought prone, crops fail
almost every year.
Photo: Harare Tribune
Zimbabwe, Masvingo--The food situation in Zimbabwe's arid southern
province of Masvingo has reached crisis point, with many families unable to
access even basic foodstuffs.
In early June, social welfare minister Nicholas Goche banned
humanitarian agencies from operating in Zimbabwe after accusing them of
"breaching the terms and conditions of their registration".
Since the aid agencies stopped distributing food, the state-controlled
Grain Marketing Board, GMB, has been the only source of the staple maize
meal. But GMB outlets on the ground are unable to meet the demand, and
Masvingo residents say that what maize meal is available it is directed only
to those with close ties to the ruling ZANU-PF party.
Mugabe has been accused of using food aid as a political weapon.
Voters in Masvingo traditionally backed President Mugabe and his party - so
much so that it was dubbed the "one-party province". In the March 29
presidential and parliamentary elections, however, voters here did the
unthinkable and backed the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, MDC.
Masvingo accounts for 27 per cent of Zimbabwe's land area and at
nearly two -million people, has the largest population of any province. It
is a particularly dry swathe of land which scientists rank in the lowest of
five categories for annual rainfall. Even drought-resistant crops do not
grow reliably, so the land is suitable only for cattle and wild game
A miller in Chivi, the most arid district in the province, described
how government officials slanted food distribution towards regime
Licensed millers purchase South African meal from the GMB at the
Beitbridge border post, and then have to take what they have bought to the
office of the District Administrator or DA, a government agent who records
each consignment. The DA invites village heads and ward councillors to
submit the names of residents who need the maize meal. These
grassroots-level officials decide who should be awarded the meal, and either
accept or refuse money from applicants accordingly. The DA then authorises
the sale based on the list of names provided, and only at that point can
millers release the maize meal.
"The system is fraught with corruption," said the miller, who did not
want to be named. "The headman and the councillors alert only their
relatives and friends of the availability of the meal, and those who oppose
them or the [ZANU-PF] party never appear on the lists taken to the DA.
"Senior government officials and the soldiers stationed here during
the election campaign have become the major beneficiaries of the system. The
DA allows them to buy grain from the millers in huge quantities, which they
resell at inflated prices to poor villagers."
These days, villagers are finding it impossible to pay for maize meal
even when it is available.
"We normally only get money from selling our produce but we have
experienced successive droughts over the past few years so there is no money
coming our way," said one elderly man, showing clear signs of malnutrition.
Across Zimbabwe, an estimated 85 per cent of the population are
unemployed, and the problem is especially rife in Masvinga, where the few
existing mines have scaled down their operations and there is little else in
the way of job opportunities.
"In better times we depended on our children in the towns, but they,
too, have been affected and have returned home to live with us," said the
According to a healthworker in Chivi, "Most children and the elderly
are malnourished - they urgently need food aid."
There has been an upsurge in HIV/AIDs-related deaths here, creating
increasing numbers of orphans. Many people are returning from the cities to
die at home in their villages.
The healthworker attributed the high mortality rate in the area to
"Aid agencies used to distribute high-protein, high-energy foods which
kept opportunistic diseases at bay. Without those foods, people quickly
succumb to illnesses," he said. AIDS orphans and the elderly are the most
Villagers believe that now that Mugabe has won the election, he should
allow the aid agencies back into rural areas. The MDC has made the
restoration of aid operations one of its preconditions for talks with
ZANU-PF. Talks have been taking place since last week in Pretoria on the
framework for full negotiations between the two parties.
Many worry that the president is reluctant to allow the agencies back
in, for fear that that they will expose high levels of malnutrition and also
the extent of the violence unleashed in the run-up to the June 27
second-round election..--Harare Tribune News
A. Our economy has been under siege for almost 10 years now since the time we began the land identification exercise as a precursor to the land re-distribution programme in 1997.
That process (land identification) drew adverse reaction from the West, especially Britain, who went on to adversely influence the World Bank, IMF, ADB, as well as other Paris Club lenders not to support Zimbabwe financially and technically.
Although two other factors are cited by the economic historians as having been partly influential to the genesis of our current state of affairs and the two factors are the DRC war where, as part of our responsibility and contribution to regional, continental and international peace and security, we went into that country as part of a regional coalition of states to defend its sovereignty and the payment of unbudgeted gratuities to the war veterans in 1998. To date, the impact of these two events is often conveniently exaggerated and therefore I will not dwell on these two factors as they remain peripheral to the main causes of our situation today.
On the exogenous side are the sanctions that are being applied against the country as a result of the factors I have already cited above as well as, currently the steep rise in the price of oil and other forms of energy, the global warming phenomenon which has produced unpredictable weather patterns, which have brought about frequent droughts and floods detrimental to crop production, and animal husbandry, especially in Southern Africa and Zimbabwe in particular.
These irregular weather patterns have given rise to the current world as well as Zimbabwe food shortages. To this end strategies will have to be devised in order to deal with these external factors, and plans are afoot to do so.
Under endogenous factors, our economy has remained hostage to the lack of unity and lack of one vision among political players in the country, the diminished presence of economic patriotism showing itself in the form of the indiscipline and get-rich-quick mentality by most economic players in the country; in the public and private sectors of our economy.
All these factors have led to the introduction of a raft of extraordinary measures on the part of Government, through its various arms; such as the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, the Grain Marketing Board and other institutions under Government’s control in an effort to survive. Some of those extra-ordinary interventions have flown in the face of conventional economics, while others have, by coincidence, conformed to economic convention or textbooks theories.
In dealing with the challenges before us, especially under a tightened sanctions regime, it will be necessary that pragmatism and reality operate side by side, with technocratic interventions that run side by side with political idealism.
Having said this, however,
there are two fundamental background points arising from your question that must
be understood and underscored.
In the first place, and contrary to the propaganda that is often repeated even by some political groups in the country, that western economic sanctions have been targeted only at some individuals in or believed to be associated with the ruling Zanu PF, it is now common cause that ordinary people in the cities and rural areas are in fact the helpless victims of these illegal sanctions which are specifically designed to cause human suffering by precipitating a humanitarian crisis in Zimbabwe which could trigger a generalised conflict to justify international intervention.
This is being done in the
vain hope that economic sanctions would provoke Zimbabweans into turning against
In the second place, the time has come for all of us to understand that our national economy does not exist in a vacuum nor does it exist as another world separate from our national politics.
The economy and politics are
inextricably intertwined such that it does not make sense for anyone to expect
the RBZ to somehow fix the national economy and turn it around for the better
while political players continue to play bickering games over the way forward.
Therefore, I cannot imagine let alone proffer any way forward in terms of reviving the economy given the current situation that is not based on and informed by a political economy of national unity. As such, the only way forward for our country is for Zimbabweans to come together and to speak with one voice to foster a national consensus that puts the country’s interests first.
For sometime now my team and I at the RBZ have been calling for a social contract and a spirit of national healing as the pillars of the way forward not just in our national economy but also in our national politics.
Against this backdrop, we have been saddened to see how the outcome of the harmonized elections held on March 29 has led to unprecedented political disharmony in the country. That cannot be good for the economy.
And so, the prevailing the disharmony is very dangerous for our national survival and we need to confront it with an audacious commitment to national unity. For that to happen, the political players across the political divide need to stop being players and start being leaders who do the right thing for Zimbabwe and Zimbabweans.
I honestly believe that our
political leaders know what is right for Zimbabwe and what remains is for them
to seek it with urgency or risk being judged very harshly by history and
Q. What do you expect to be the bottlenecks and the challenges facing the nation as it seeks to turnaround the economy?
know, we are in an extraordinary situation requiring extraordinary measures. The
business-as-usual approach will not do in this situation.
This is because the core issues are no longer about the conventional economic bottlenecks many of which are very well known not least because they have been highlighted in virtually all of my monetary policy statements since December 2003.
Yes, we have to attend to conventional bottlenecks such as foreign exchange reforms, removing pricing distortions that have adversely affected producer viability and we need to revamp the financial position of public utilities while continuing the fight against inflation among other urgent measures.
And even more critically, the current global instability of food prices dictates that we treat national food security as our number one priority and thank God we are well positioned to deal with this challenge because of the considerable success of our ongoing historic and now irreversible land reform programme.
But, in my respectful view, the major if not the only bottleneck in our efforts to turnaround the economy is the absence of the required political will among key national leaders and stakeholders to do and say the right thing for Zimbabwe and its people.
As a nation, we have become too factionalized while some among us have become too foreign oriented in their actions and pronouncements. You cannot have a thriving and vibrant economy in such a situation even with the best of efforts and intentions from the Reserve Bank.
Q. The United States recently drafted a resolution that however failed to pass before the United Nations Security Council. It sought, among other things, to freeze personal assets and to extend and internationalise the current limited travel ban against not only you but President Mugabe and 12 other top government officials. What do you make of this move?
A. While I respect the fact that sovereign countries have a right to take measures in pursuit of their national interests, I have failed to understand how the world’s most powerful nations have been so blinded by the British government which has a hidden agenda in Zimbabwe over the land reform programme they wish to reverse and they have found it within their top priority to make Zimbabwe’s domestic affairs on internally disputed elections their international business to the point of seeking such misplaced and ill-conceived sanctions against Zimbabwe.
It is a fact that many members of the United Nations, including the United States itself under its current President, have for one reason or another held presidential elections with disputed outcomes that have been judged by some observers to be neither free nor fair but which, although internally controversial, have not posed a threat to international peace and thus have not warranted international intervention in terms of chapter seven of the United Nations Charter.
As I see them, the ongoing efforts instigated by the British government and led by the United States to impose sanctions on Zimbabwe on account of a disputed presidential election would set a very dangerous precedent which would itself be a very serious threat to international peace. Conversely, the fact that there are some Zimbabwean political groups or individuals that are supporting those efforts is a clear threat to national unity and stability.
Therefore, while the move you mention at the United Nations was predictable given what we have experienced over the last few years from the same quarters, it is nevertheless quite sad to see that the countries seeking economic and other sanctions against Zimbabwe have abandoned all diplomatic pretence to neutrality and have decided to be part of the so-called Zimbabwean problem by taking partisan positions in support of particular Zimbabwean political players against others instead of bringing them together. Instead of preventing conflict, they are fomenting it and that is very sad to see.
By the way, it is very instructive to note that the anti-Zimbabwe sentiment in the G8 is so full of personal hatred of our national leadership that would lead a neutral observer from outer space to mistakenly conclude that the Government is sitting on a deadly nuclear arsenal that is a threat to world peace when the matter at stake is merely a disputed presidential election which has not provoked any unrest in the country beyond press statements from some aggrieved political quarters.
Indeed, the disproportionate and over the top focus on Zimbabwe by the G8 and their surrogates at the United Nations and elsewhere has led some amazed neutrals to observe that if the G8 were to pursue their 2007 US$25 billion pledge to fight poverty and promote development in Africa by 2010 with the same zeal, vigour, enthusiasm and single-minded determination as they are pursuing the Zimbabwean leadership on account of a domestic affair over a disputed presidential election, there would be tremendous progress in realising the United Nations goals of development across Africa.
At the end of the day, the gist of the matter though is that any sanctions against Zimbabwe and from whatever international forum, and however disguised, will only lead to more suffering of the already suffering ordinary people. It seems to me irresponsible that the United Nations Security Council should even bring itself to entertaining such moves whose only impact would be to widen and deepen the humanitarian crisis in Zimbabwe at a time when the United Nations should be at the forefront of solving the very same crisis in a non partisan manner.
Even so, I remain optimistic that the current wave of irrational excitement over Zimbabwe gripping some members of the G8 and their surrogates will sooner rather than later give way to reason, especially within the United Nations Security Council.
I believe that many rational voices in the United Nations and indeed within SADC and the African Union now realise that punitive economic sanctions and other measures whether personalized or not can only deepen and spread conflict in Zimbabwe at a time when there are now hopes on the horizon for a negotiated home-driven settlement to which His Excellency President Robert Gabriel Mugabe has committed himself and the government. I have faith in SADC mediation led by President Thabo Mbeki and I hope the international community will stop sowing divisions and support his efforts.
Otherwise, it should be clear to anyone who cares about the tense situation in the country that Zimbabwe and Zimbabweans do not need punitive economic sanctions or other divisive measures from the United Nations, rather, they need constructive support to bring about national unity and to lay the foundation for national healing and economic prosperity.
Q. You have been specifically been targeted by Britain and America as being "responsible for funding repressive state policies”. What’s your response?
A. That statement alone is enough to demonstrate that something else is going on here beyond what meets the eye. If the laughable allegation was that I am using my own personal funds to underwrite the alleged repressive State policies, one would pause and reflect for a moment. But I am the Governor of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe which is a State institution and I have discharged my responsibilities from that perspective and in accordance not only with the laws of Zimbabwe as enacted by both Zanu PF and MDC legislators, but also international banking practice.
Of course, I do not expect all leaders to understand banking and economics especially Central Banking but I expected a bit more understanding of the subject matter from former Chancellors of Exchequer and Harvard MBA graduates!
If the expectation at play here is that I should somehow work against the State or use my office to subvert it or be somehow disloyal to the State, then I should make it clear to anyone with an interest in this matter that no such a thing will ever happen. Never!
The reference to “repressive State policies” is a political opinion and not a fact. Besides, the Government of Zimbabwe is entitled to formulate and implement its own policies that it advances during elections and it is only the electorate in Zimbabwe that can support or reject those policies. It is not the business of the British or American government to tell the Government of Zimbabwe what policies to implement or not to implement.
It is now clear that there are some elements within the international community who want to abuse their positions at the United Nations to induce a rebellion in Zimbabwe by publicly supporting certain groups and individuals who are doing their bidding in the country while threatening and demonizing others who are seen as obstacles to that bidding.
As far as I am concerned, as Governor of the Reserve Bank, I stand ready to do what I believe and know is right for my country without fear or favour given the public mandate entrusted on me in terms of my employment contract. I take my instructions from my principals in Government and not from anyone in London, Washington, New York or anywhere else outside Zimbabwe.
If this earns me any punishment or personal hatred, then so be it. What I know and I believe every other fair minded person knows is that the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe has since 2003 taken extraordinary measures to help Zimbabweans across all sectors of the national economy in a transparent manner to enable them to survive the consequences of illegal sanctions. I and the RBZ team will never shy away from helping out where we can and that is a matter of national responsibility and pride.
Q. Can Zimbabwe’s economy take any more battering from more and broader economic sanctions?
A. I have already made it clear that this whole discourse of sanctions is misplaced because sanctions always and everywhere affect the most vulnerable people in society than anyone else. This is food for thought for those bent on forging ahead with what can only be seen as an evil sanctions agenda. The idea that somehow the threatened sanctions would help ordinary Zimbabweans is not even a joke. It is shameful and disgraceful and an act of serious intellectual dishonesty that screams for debate by all fair minded persons.
While the difficulties that would result from further sanctions should not be underestimated or ignored, the fact remains that Zimbabwe will not die because of the threatened sanctions. If anything, those who have imposed economic sanctions on Zimbabwe and are now threatening more, and those locally who are supporting the sanctions, will never ever win the popular favour of Zimbabweans. About that I’m certain.
Otherwise, our economy has a capacity to survive but that capacity can only be triggered by our collective willingness as Zimbabweans to put our country first.
The sanctions will succeed in the interim if we remain divided as a nation and if there are some among us who want to make cheap political capital from being used by the western countries as their instruments or weapons of destabilization.
I must say though that in the long run, our economy and our nation will prevail and that those who think they can make political careers out of the misery of ordinary Zimbabweans shall live to regret their deeds.
Q. What chance does Zimbabwe stand of lessening the impact of sanctions, if any?
A. These sanctions that you are talking about are real and they are not coming from angels above or from our earthily friends. They are coming from enemies of Zimbabwe who are determined to trigger a humanitarian crisis in our country purely for political reasons in pursuit of their hidden agendas.
In that regard, it would foolhardy to go up Mount Kilimanjaro and shout from its top the measures that are in place or will be in place to bust the sanctions. If we did that, then we would not know what we are doing let alone understand the challenges at hand.
All I can say here is that Zimbabwe is standing at a historic moment such that the salvation of our country now lies not only on the determined will of all Zimbabweans but also on our collective ability as a nation to better organize ourselves to extract value from our God given natural resources which may be the reason our country is attracting hostile attention from those who want to impose sanctions.
Swift and radical measures need to be taken to invoke a much quicker supply side response in order to avert further deepening and widening of the economic crisis. It is for us to know what these measures are or will be and to implement them for our enemies to find out after the fact.
Q. The government through the RBZ has come up with the idea of the "People's Shops". Some say it’s a gimmick and question whether it is sustainable. How successful have you been with this project?
A. Well, the term “People’s Shops” is a populist one and understandably so. But there is some very serious strategic thinking behind it. Among ordinary people, especially the vulnerable elements, the availability of basic goods and commodities at affordable prices is the key to the revival of our national economy.
It is for this reason that as the Reserve Bank, we have found it necessary to relieve the strain of the illegal sanctions especially among the vulnerable groups in our country in the rural and high density urban areas by putting in place a “Basic Goods Accessibility Programme” (BGAP).
Under this programme, targeted support is being given to the producers of basic commodities such as cooking oil, sugar, soap, matemba, salt, maize meal among others. These products are then supplied to targeted groups, through the so-called People’s Shops, at affordable prices. This programme has started nationwide on a pilot basis and so far it is going on very well and we have no doubt about the sustainability of the programme because it is based on good business sense.
Q. Some economists are saying this idea of the "People's Shops" is inflationary. Do you appreciate their concerns?
A. The same economists have said the same thing about any and every intervention we have made to alleviate the suffering of ordinary people in our country. I guess as economists it is their duty to point out the obvious without necessarily looking at the nuances and long term policy objectives being pursued.
Helping out suffering people may indeed be inflationary in the first instance but that kind of intervention is not inflationary in the long run if it is done in structural terms to stimulate productivity, provide food security, create employment and generate income as intended.
The basic point is that we
are not living in normal times. Ours are extraordinary times requiring
extraordinary measures and I cannot wait for the day the economists you are
talking about will realise this fact.
Q. By all estimates, Zimbabwe’s inflation tops a million percent. Despite your public commitment to fight it, it does look like a losing battle. Dr Gono is the fight still on or have you postponed that fight to another day in future?
A. That fight will remain until victory is achieved. That is our policy objective. What should be understood though is that fighting inflation in polarised political environment and in an economy under growing illegal sanctions cannot be a textbook affair.
Therefore, when we scale up
our proactiveness and adopt extraordinary measures to deal with extraordinary
situations, that does not mean we have abandoned our main objective to fight
inflation as our number one enemy, it simply means we need to be strategic in
that fight which I have no doubt we will win sooner rather than later if we act
together as Zimbabweans with a common heritage and a common destiny.
Q. Governor, the people of Zimbabwe are searching for hope. They have been living under economic hardships for over five years now. While their resilience has been amazing considering the hardships they’ve faced, one wonders whether that resilience will last for any much longer. Is there light at the end of the tunnel and if so, what is it that should keep Zimbabweans hoping that better days are coming?
A. Yes, indeed, there is light at the end of the tunnel and I see it in the eyes of ordinary people I meet everyday who tell me that they are relieved elections are over and that the composition of the elected Parliament dictates that Zimbabweans work together in a spirit of national unity and for the common good of the country. So the hope in the eyes of the people is shining the light on the urgent need for national unity and national healing.
More importantly, I see the light at the end of the tunnel when in his inauguration speech President Mugabe’ called for national dialogue and national unity to find a common ground across the political divide. I was really touched by the self-evident sincerity and pragmatism of that national call.
I believe that President Mugabe’s call will be well received by everyone, especially those in opposition politics, with important roles to play in the political process and that reception stands to create tremendous opportunities for the much needed economic recovery of our country.
So the key lies in the ongoing dialogue under the SADC mediation led by President Mbeki and I have absolute faith in the nationalism, patriotism and commitment of those participating in it and I don’t believe for a moment that they will let Zimbabwe and Zimbabweans down simply because they cannot afford to.
Q. You have the final word Governor.
A. History is awash with actions that have been taken, guns fired, people going to war and people killed or injured on the basis mistaken identity, false intelligence, rumour, stage-managed events, misrepresentations and outright lies on the part of those seeking to achieve sinister agendas which cannot or would not be accomplished if the true situation and facts are presented for all to see and interpret for themselves.
In the same vein Harare has been dubbed, the rumour capital city of the world, particularly when it comes to smearing individuals and the Government with falsehoods, and unfortunately outsiders never take time to verify or check those stories.
Only last week, we had a story in a reputable US newspaper, The New York Times, admitting that they had been fed with lies until they tried to verify the story and that is when it emerged that they had been taken for a ride by a financially stricken lady who was hoping to get financial sympathy!
We also have cases of scribes who will write anything in order to be awarded scholarships or residence permits abroad on account of faking threats to their lives from the Zimbabwean so called “system” for alleged “nasty revelations” of Government misdemeanours. Others are internet lie-contributors doing so under pseudo names for the sake of earning US$50 or US$100 a month depending on how juicy their stories are. So, in short my appeal to the outside world is that they should verify, verify and verify again stories from Zimbabwe before swallowing hook, line and sinker the stories they receive and act upon.
Of course, I am not defending anyone who murders another person; I am not defending anyone who tortures another person or anyone who perpetrates violence on any other person or property for whatever reason. Such people must be punished, by and dealt with through the laws of the land after establishing the real facts on the ground, regardless of who the perpetrator of such murders, violence or torture is.
Ultimately for me, I would like the whole world and Zimbabweans in particular to know that I want to be counted as one of those patriotic sons of the soil who was there for my country, stood for and by my country and countrymen/women at Zimbabwe’s hour of maximum danger, its hour of maximum need and not one who hid behind a finger or heap of lies, or under the desk when the country needed men and women to uphold its laws, preserve and promote peace and stability through whatever modest efforts I am able to make, and contributed to the preservation of the Nation’s legacy as defined by our present and departed heroes and heroines of our liberation struggle.
Saka, sanctions or no sanctions, Governor Gono will stand for, and by Zimbabwe for Zimbabweans at all times. Never doubt that!
By Violet Gonda
15 July 2008
As political parties discuss the future of Zimbabwe, voices of concern are
emerging from civil society about the lack of consultation with Zimbabweans.
43 civil groups attended a meeting in Harare on Tuesday calling for an input
in any dialogue to do with the affairs of Zimbabwe. A statement said: "Given
the present environment of fear and oppression, we declare that democratic
reform must be preceded by the cessation of violence, restoration of law and
order, and facilitation of humanitarian relief. If such conditions are met,
we are prepared to support the installation of a transitional government,
created after consultation with all stakeholders."
Many have said it is offensive to Zimbabweans that no other interested
groups are being briefed about the progress of the meetings that started
last week between the two MDC formations and ZANU PF. South African
President Thabo Mbeki is overseeing the inter party "talk about talks."
The 43 organisations that met include, Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights,
National Constitutional Assembly, Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions,
Zimbabwe National Students Union, Zimbabwe Youth Movement, International
Socialist Organisation, Bulawayo Agenda, Christian Alliance and the convener
of the meeting, the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition.
NCA spokesperson Murdock Chivasa said they will continue to condemn elitist
agreements, that are endorsed without consultations with the ordinary
citizens who have suffered most in the past few months because of these
elections. "We are concerned in terms of how we are isolated from that
process." He said the issue of a new constitution is paramount and this is a
position the civil society will also make known to SADC, the African Union
and the international community.
Chivasa said their members do not agree that because they are from civil
society they should not be involved in the political talks. He said this is
a ploy to reduce the talks to a mere power sharing plot, ignoring the social
issues that affect the majority of the populace, such as lack of health care
and basic commodities. "As civil society we have raised our concerns that
what we are supposed to enter are not only talks to talk about power
sharing, but also to resolve the economic crisis in the country."
The civil groups reject the idea of a power sharing government, but called
for a transitional government with a specific time limit, led by a neutral
body, to pave the way for a legitimate government. They said any
transitional government should be headed by an individual who is not a
member of ZANU-PF or MDC.
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
PRESS STATEMENT ISSUED BY CIVIL SOCIETY FOLLOWING THE NATIONAL CIVIL SOCIETY
We, civil society organizations acting on behalf of the people of Zimbabwe,
today reassert our commitment to the struggle for a transition to democracy.
In doing so, we stand firmly by the principles of democratic
constitutionalism that are embodied in the People's Charter and which
represent the birthright of every Zimbabwean. Given the present environment
of fear and oppression, we declare that democratic reform must be preceded
by the cessation of violence, restoration of law and order, and facilitation
of humanitarian relief. If such conditions are met, we are prepared to
support the installation of a transitional government created after
consultation with all stakeholders.
We believe that a transitional government would provide an appropriate
vehicle for ushering democratic reform. The transitional authority would
have a specific, limited mandate to oversee the drafting of a new,
democratic and people-driven constitution and the installation of a
legitimate government. We wholeheartedly reject the suggestion of a
power-sharing agreement that fails to immediately address the inadequacy of
the current constitutional regime.
The transitional government must be established in line with the following:
1. Leadership by a neutral body. The transitional government should be
headed by an individual who is not a member of ZANU-PF or MDC.
2. Broad representation. Individuals from a broad sector of Zimbabwean
society should be incorporated into the transitional government. This should
include representatives from labor organizations, women's and children's
rights groups, churches, and various other interest groups.
3. Specific, limited mandate. The transitional government should be tasked
with facilitating the drafting and adoption of a new constitution and then
holding elections under the new constitutional framework. It should only
govern the country until such time as the government elected under the new
constitution is installed. The negotiating parties should provide a very
clear timeframe for this process, with no more than 18 months of rule by the
4. People-driven constitutional development. The process of drafting a new
constitution must include broad-based consultation with the public. Interest
groups such as women, labor, churches, and media should be given special
opportunities to provide input. The draft constitution should not be enacted
until it has been ratified by the public in a national referendum.
5. Restoration of good governance. State institutions such as the judiciary,
police, security services, and state welfare agencies should be
depoliticized and reformed. Steps should be taken to fight corruption and
promote accountability for public officials. Restrictions on press freedom
should be lifted and access to state media outlets should be opened.
6. Transitional justice initiatives. The transitional government should
design and implement a system to bring to justice the perpetrators of gross
human rights violations. This framework for transitional justice should be
embedded in the new constitution.
In the event of the above conditions not being met, civil society commits
itself to continue in actions that increase pressure on whosoever will be
holding state power to embrace people-centered democratic process.
Issued on 15 July, 2008
SW Radio Africa (London)
15 July 2008
Posted to the web 15 July 2008
Talks to find a lasting solution to the country's political and economic
crisis may soon be entering a critical phase, once all parties agree on a
draft text before commencing negotiations for a power sharing deal.
The memorandum of understanding document that the three negotiating parties
worked on during the two days of consultations in Pretoria, calls for
electoral reforms that will lead to the adoption of a new constitution. The
draft also proposes a power sharing deal, leading to new elections within 24
months, under a people driven constitution.
Political analyst Glen Mpani said it was now clear the only way out of the
crisis was a power sharing deal between the two MDC's and Zanu-PF.
Nqobizitha Mlilo, regional officer for the Tsvangirai MDC, said
consultations within party structures should be complete by the end of this
week. Welshman Ncube, secretary-general of the Mutambara MDC, said they were
also still busy working on the draft.
The contents of the draft document have remained a closely guarded secret,
but Newsreel understands it lays the groundwork for a prescribed period to
negotiate an inclusive government. There would be a provision for a Prime
Minister in the new government and a ceremonial president, according to a
highly placed source.
'The negotiations will deal with all the important details ranging from
constitutional reforms to the country's security structures. Once they agree
on electoral reforms, a new constitution will be worked on that would allow
the creation of a post for a prime minister,' our source said.
There is a danger however the talks could be derailed by Zanu-PF's failure
to stop the violence by it's structures, including the militia and army. The
Tsvangirai MDC insists they won't sign the draft until their demands are
Apart from an end to the violence the demands include a call for the
appointment of an African Union envoy to the SADC led talks and the release
of all political prisoners.
Meanwhile the United States heaped more pressure on African nations to make
Robert Mugabe accountable for his actions.
US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice told African leaders at a conference
in Washington that Southern Africa will face perennial instability until the
peaceful aspirations of all Zimbabweans are respected and reflected in their
She said the situation in the country was 'heartbreaking' due to Mugabe's
actions and his disputed re-election last month.
'It is hard to imagine how Africa will ever reach its full potential until
all of it's leaders are accountable too and respectful of the will of it's
people," Rice said.
Comment from The Cape Times (SA), 14 July
Zimbababwe's ruling Zanu PF and opposition Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC) are reported to be about to meet again on Wednesday in Harare where
they are expected to sign something like the Groote Schuur Minute which
formally kicked off negotiations between the old National Party and the ANC
on May 4, 1990. That is both good news and bad news. Good because it
suggests the two sides are serious about negotiating. Bad because if we are
only at the Groote Schuur Minute, we could have an awful long way to go. It
took another three and a half years after the Groote Schuur Minute for the
ANC and NP to clinch the deal that allowed the country's first democratic
elections to take place in April 1994. True, the ANC and NP were negotiating
away about 350 years of white rule in SA, while Zanu PF and the MDC are both
fully-fledged political parties within what is already ostensibly a
In a sense though, that is the problem. The NP, for all its past sins and
the hedging still to come, essentially realised the game was up when FW de
Klerk unbanned the ANC and released Nelson Mandela in February 1990. Whereas
one does not get quite the same sense from Robert Mugabe. In a way, Zimbabwe
has put the cart before the horse by introducing the trappings of democracy
before Mugabe and Zanu PF accepted the concept in all its implications.
Mugabe is not a democrat, never has been one and never will be one. While it
suited him to masquerade as a democrat, he was happy to do so. When it
started to backfire on him in 2000, he resorted increasingly to undemocratic
methods, while retaining the increasingly-threadbare trappings of democracy.
The Groote Schuur Minute was about matters such as releasing political
prisoners, ending the armed struggle and normalising politics so that
negotiations about how to create a democracy, in effect how to transfer
power - could take place. Much anguish was to follow the Groote Schuur
Minute as the ANC and NP wrangled about when to release political prisoners,
how to reassure apartheid-era securocrats they would not be persecuted and
so on - the nitty-gritty of a transfer of power. Such negotiations should
not, in theory, be necessary in an ostensible democracy like Zimbabwe but
since it is a sham democracy, where Zanu PF's securocrats are perhaps more
in control that those of the NP, they probably are. Presumably one of the
major issues the imminent Zimbabwe negotiations will have to address will be
what happens to the generals and other high officials who are guilty of
atrocities against the Matabele in the 1980s and the MDC more recently.
If the Zimbabwean negotiations do follow something like this track, it may
prove a liability that SA on Friday helped defeat a US and UK-inspired
attempt to impose United Nations Security Council sanctions against
Zimbabwe. If one casts one's mind back to the SA negotiations, the ANC had
several cards in their pack, including the armed struggle and sanctions,
which they could use as leverage in negotiations. The ANC held them in its
hand until it felt that the process of negotiations had become irreversible.
In the case of sanctions they called for them to be lifted at the moment
when they knew they would soon be at the helm and so it became in their
interest not to hurt the economy any more. The MDC holds neither of these
cards in its hand and one wonders what they can do to bring pressure to bear
on Mugabe. The SA government's argument for voting against the sanctions
resolutions was that it would probably make Mugabe recalcitrant in
negotiations. But he has shown no real signs of a genuine willingness to
negotiate himself out of power anyway. If the ANC was thinking strategically
on Friday, rather than fraternalistically, perhaps it might have voted
The Citizen, SA
JOHANNESBURG - Cosatu Secretary-General Zwelinzima Vavi yesterday called on
African governments, trade unions and civic organisations to take rolling
action against Zimbabwe.
Vavi was speaking at a briefing attended by Cosatu's president Sdumo Dlamini
and the president of Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, Lovemore Motombo.
Cosatu's plans include:
A demand that SADC leaders and AU governments withdraw their recognition of
"a government that has no mandate to rule following their defeat on March
29, but is clinging to power by brute force";
Mobilising a blockade of Zimbabwe to protest against the violence President
Robert Mugabe has unleashed against his own people. This will include a
week-long refusal to handle goods for Zimbabwe;
A call on all Cosatu's affiliates and civil society organisations, to commit
to a human rights programme and to organise rallies during July. This
includes a call on the ANC and SACP to take similar action;
A call on workers in SA, SADC, Africa and the world over, as well as all
progressive citizens, to work towards a total isolation of Mugabe and his
Efforts to ensure Mugabe and his "government" is not served at airports,
restaurants, and shops. "Further we call on all workers and citizens never
to allow Mugabe to set foot in their countries".
COSATU supports trade union action to indict Zimbabwe under the
International Labour Organisation's articles.
Vavi said in recent weeks the crisis in Zimbabwe has scaled new heights.
"The elections held on March 29 seem with hindsight to have been relatively
free and fair.
"But let us not forget that throughout the period preceding those elections
it was normal practice for police to raid the offices of the ZCTU and of
other political activists, particularly of MDC, harassing, threatening and
beating staff, searching offices and seizing fliers, files and videotapes,"
Vavi said both Zimbabwe and Swaziland pose a massive challenge to the people
"Recent developments threaten to roll back the spreading trend towards
democracy in Africa. That is why this solidarity conference is so
The conference is due to take place on August 10 and 11, but the venue is
still to be decided.
"It is an opportunity for the workers of Africa to lead a campaign of the
people of Africa to demand the establishment of democracy and respect for
human rights in two countries where these concepts have been trampled upon
recently," said Vavi.
Institute for War & Peace Reporting
Central banker prescribes political harmony as the cure to Zimbabwe's
political ailments, but critics say he is part of the problem.
By Joseph Sithole in Harare (ZCR No. 155, 15-Jul-08)
One of President Robert Mugabe's closest allies has issued a sharp rebuke to
Zimbabwe's leaders for allowing political and economic problems to fester.
Gideon Gono, governor of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, told the state-owned
Herald newspaper in an interview last week that the country would not
achieve an immediate economic turnaround unless key stakeholders found the
political will to deal honestly with the country's crisis.
People should not expect the central bank to solve the country's problems
"while political leaders continue to play bickering games", he said.
Gono's interview, published on July 10, coincided with the beginning of
talks in Pretoria at which ZANU-PF and the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change, MDC, were supposed to hammer out a basis for full
negotiations that might lead to a power-sharing deal. His remarks may have
been intended to steer the ruling party towards compromise rather than a
continuation of the destructive policies which have brought pushed the
country to its knees.
Without accusing any individual, he said, "Our economy has remained hostage
to lack of unity and lack of one vision among political players in the
He warned that the Zimbabwean economy did not operate "in a vacuum; nor does
it exist as another world separate from our national politics".
Gono could not conceal his frustration that this year's elections had failed
to offer Zimbabwe a new start, and he said there was a need for "national
healing" to get the country functioning again.
"The only way forward for our country is for Zimbabweans to come together
and to speak with one voice," he said. "We have been saddened to see how the
outcome of the harmonised [first-round] elections held on March 29 has led
to unprecedented political disharmony in the country. That cannot be good
for the economy."
As the controller of monetary policy, Gono has been a central pillar of
Mugabe's economic policies. He is senior enough to be included in the 13
associates of the president targeted by United States sanctions.
Since he took over as Reserve Bank governor, however, the annual inflation
rate has gone from an already massive 619 per cent to the current 10 million
per cent. Mugabe's land appropriation scheme devastated agriculture, and
economic collapse across the board has led to a situation where eight out of
ten people are unemployed and even the most basic commodities are in short
A senior ZANU-PF official who sits on the party's governing body, the
politburo, said the views expressed by Gono reflected those held by many
members of the ruling establishment, who were becoming increasingly
frustrated with Mugabe.
"The majority of people in the politburo and the [ZANU-PF] central committee
are against Mugabe's policies and his continued stranglehold on power, but
there is a small but powerful cabal of people who call the shots," said the
official, who did not want to be named. "They include Gono himself and they
have continued to prop him up."
This official claimed that many senior ZANU-PF members - himself included -
were unaware of the violence perpetrated in the party's name.
"The majority of us in the politburo did not have a clue as to how the
violent crackdown on the opposition was planned and who spearheaded it," he
said. "But now that it seems the chickens are coming back home to roost.
Even those who are closest to Mugabe, including Gono, are beginning to see
the futility of their effort and seem to be applying tentative pressure on
him to rescue the country from its plight."
Analysts said it was obvious that Gono's comments amounted to an attack on
Mugabe, but criticised him for not naming names.
Eldred Masunungure, a politics lecturer at the University of Zimbabwe, said
the central banker should have come straight out and said who was really to
blame for the crisis.
In the interview, Gono appeared to suggest that the ZANU-PF and the MDC were
both to blame for failing to come to terms and find common cause so as to
turn the economy around.
"The trouble is that Gono is being dishonest in his diagnosis of the causes
of the crisis," said Masunungure. "He wants to play the role of a middleman
in brokering peace but speaks as if both parties [ZANU-PF and MDC] are
equally culpable. If he wants to gain our sympathy, he must come out in the
open about what his principals [superiors] have done to the economy."
Masunungure said the central bank chief had realised rather too late the
limitations of his own approach to the crisis. When he came onto the scene
in 2003, he thought he could "de-link the economy from politics", said
Masunungure, but instead found himself embroiled in political matters, and
at times at loggerheads with Mugabe.
"Gono got everything upside down from the start," said Masunungure. "He
thought he could achieve an economic turnaround before a political
turnaround, which is what Zimbabwe needs. Now he has seen the light, that he
was wrong, but still will not tell his principals the truth.
"The only positive thing is that at least he has learnt something, albeit
late. It's better late than never."
The lecturer said it was vital for Gono to make ZANU-PF understand it could
no longer govern the country without cooperating with the opposition,
especially now that the MDC controls the lower house of parliament.
Despite Gono's appeal for harmony, few Zimbabweans view him as a
"If he had remained just a central bank governor and not a politician, our
economy would have been managed better," said Abel Gaba, a shop assistant in
Harare. "He is saying what he is saying in an attempt to distance himself
from the mess he has helped to create. He should have spoken about national
healing before June 27 [second-round presidential election], not now when we
all know his role in the bloodbath."
He said, however, that more and more of Mugabe's allies should add their
voices to the chorus already pressuring Mugabe to change his ways.
A businessman in Harare said Mugabe would need to come under a little more
pressure from his most trusted lieutenants is he was to soften his stance.
"Gono's statement might be a question of too little, too late, but Mugabe
needs quite a little bit of prodding from his allies because they realise -
like business realises - the economy has reached the point of no return," he
Mugabe's victory in the second round, following opposition leader Morgan
Tsvangirai's decision to pull out, has been dismissed as a sham by some
members of the Southern African Development Community and the African Union,
as well as by the European Union and the US.
The US and Britain called for tougher sanctions against Mugabe and 13 key
officials, including Gono, but a draft United Nations resolution was vetoed
by China and Russia on July 11.
Joseph Sithole is the pseudonym of a journalist in Zimbabwe.
Institute for War & Peace Reporting
Zimbabwean leader appears desperate to shore up support at home in the face
of mounting criticism abroad.
By Hativagone Mushonga in Harare (ZCR No. 155, 15-Jul-08)
In the face of growing condemnation from the international community,
President Robert Mugabe is appealing to the Zimbabwean public for support as
he battles for legitimacy.
In what amounts to an after-the-fact election campaign, the state-owned
media have gone into overdrive to try to salvage Mugabe's battered image
after the second-round presidential election held on June 27.
The run-up to the ballot was one of the most violent election periods the
country has seen, with the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, MDC,
saying 113 of its supporters were killed and thousands of others beaten,
tortured and displaced.
The election had been conceived as a run-off between Mugabe and the MDC
candidate Morgan Tsvangirai - who won more votes than the incumbent in the
first round on March 29, but according to the official returns, not the
majority required to be elected outright. However, Mugabe ended up as the
sole candidate when his rival withdrew from the contest, citing fears that
more MDC supporters would suffer acts of violence.
Advertisements now being aired on public radio every 20 minutes or so
feature Mugabe thanking the nation for voting for him and for their "faith
and confidence" in him.
"I feel honoured and humbled," he says. "Our challenge today and in the
years ahead is to move forward in unity, regardless of our diverse political
affiliations, united by the sense of a common vision and destiny for a
Full-page advertisements in state-run newspapers feature a younger-looking,
smiling Mugabe, saying, "The people of Zimbabwe have spoken. Let us
therefore continue rebuilding our nation. Thank you for rejecting
recolonisation of our precious Zimbabwe by the western powers. I know you
believe and I believe that all good things are possible. God bless Zimbabwe.
Thank you for voting for me - thank you for voting in peace."
The advertisements portray Mugabe as the champion of the Zimbabwean people,
someone who has fought relentlessly for their sovereignty and has once again
won a mandate to govern them.
However, despite this media blitz, observers say Zimbabweans will not easily
forgive the president for masterminding the bloodletting in the run-up to
the polls, or for the humiliation he inflicted on the electorate.
A veteran Zimbabwean journalist, who requested anonymity, told IWPR that
Mugabe appeared desperate to win the legitimacy the international community,
including some former allies in Africa, have refused him after what is
widely seen as a sham election.
"The main aim of the advert is to prop up and polish Mugabe's image. He
seems desperate for acceptance from Zimbabweans and for them to recognise
him as the legitimate president. This is the first time Mugabe has shown
himself so desperate for public support," said the journalist.
A senior official with a non-governmental organisation, who asked not to be
named out of concern for his security, believes Zimbabweans will find it
difficult to forgive and forget.
"His advertisements would have been more effective if he had acknowledged
the violence, demanded an immediate end to it and issued a stern warning to
those who continue to engage in it," said the official.
Aside from the violence, the prospect of continuing hardship is a major
concern for the electorate. With no resolution to the political crisis in
sight, the government looks unlikely to find any way out of the country's
deep-set economic problems.
Rutendo Ruzvidzo, a primary school teacher, blames Mugabe for the
long-running economic meltdown, and specifically for the fact that she is
unable to survive on her salary and is living in near destitution.
"As long as people continue to suffer, Zimbabweans will not be able to
accept Mugabe, who they believe cheated them. A thank-you message alone,
without offering a solution to the economic crisis, will not win him the
acceptance he wants," she said.
"Personally, I would have preferred a message saying, 'Thank you,
Zimbabweans, for voting for me, but for the sake of national interest and
for the love of my people, I have decided to step down.' Such a message
would have earned him some respect and restored him some dignity, which he
desperately needs from the people of Zimbabwe."
Alex Mukaka, who comes from the southern province of Masvingo but is
currently in the capital Harare recovering from wounds he sustained during
the violence, said people in the countryside would never again fully accept
Mugabe because of the violence perpetrated by his security forces and youth
"We were stripped of our dignity during the run-up to the election and also
on election day itself. We were driven like beasts into torture bases every
day. We spent whole nights in the mountains where we were intimidated and
humiliated by mere youths who were not born at the time of the [1970s]
liberation war. On voting day, we were herded like sheep into the polling
booths where we voted against our will," he said. "We are people who think
to be treated like animals was very insulting."
The president's sudden desire for public approval comes against a backdrop
of crumbling support from African leaders who were formerly sympathetic to
his robust defiance of external criticism.
That includes countries in the immediate neighbourhood, which are members of
the Southern African Development Community, SADC. One of these, Botswana,
has refused to accept the results of the election, and is urging its
neighbours not to recognise Mugabe as president and to suspend Zimbabwe from
both the SADC and the African Union.
"As a country that practises democracy and the rule of law, Botswana does
not... recognise the outcome of the presidential run-off election, and would
expect other SADC member states to do the same," Foreign Minister Phandu
Sekelemani said on July 4.
The Zimbabwean authorities, he said, should not be allowed to participate in
SADC meetings "until such time as they demonstrate their commitment to
strictly adhere to the organisation's principles".
Hativagone Mushonga is the pseudonym of a reporter in Harare.
Released: 15 July 2008
POSITION ON THE PREVAILING POLITICAL SITUATION IN ZIMBABWE The membership of
the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) met on 9 July
2008 following the events of 29 March 2008 and 27 June 2008 to consider and
resolve the organization's position on recent events and a roadmap for the
way forward for Zimbabwe.
The general membership takes the position that:
1. The prevailing situation throughout Zimbabwe in the period from 29 March
2008 to date has been characterized by grave human rights violations and a
concerted suppression of the fundamental rights and freedoms of the people
of Zimbabwe. In particular, ZLHR notes that the right to public
participation in the government of the country has been severely damaged.
2. ZLHR, which has as its main objective the fostering of a culture of human
rights in Zimbabwe and the wider region, unreservedly condemns such
suppression of individual freedoms by the state and its functionaries.
3. ZLHR takes note that the preliminary reports of the African Union
Observer Mission, the Pan-African Parliament Observer Mission and the SADC
Election Observer Mission all failed to lend credence and legitimacy to the
events of 27 June 2008 as a free, fair and credible election which expressed
the will of the people.
4. This is in accordance with the general findings and position of the ZLHR
5. In light of the prevailing political, social and economic climate which
continues to deteriorate by the day, ZLHR supports the call for a negotiated
settlement establishing a transitional authority, which:
a. Will be time-bound, and which will exist for a period not exceeding 18
b. Will address during its existence, through inclusive, people-oriented and
people-driven (rather than elite) processes, the key issues of
constitutional reform, reform of state institutions (including the Zimbabwe
Republic Police, the Zimbabwe National Army, the Zimbabwe Prison Service,
the Judiciary, the Attorney-General's office, the Zimbabwe Electoral
Commission, the Registrar-General's office, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe,
the Zimbabwe Media Commission and the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission) and
alleviation of the economic and humanitarian crises;
c. These reform processes will be done in order to ultimately, and within
the stipulated time frame, hand over power to a democratically elected
government through free and fair elections under the new constitutional
dispensation and which elections must comply with regional and international
electoral and human rights standards.
6. ZLHR believes that such negotiations and ultimate settlement can only
take place in a climate where there is:
a. An immediate end to all forms of political violence and particularly the
involvement of the security forces and law enforcement agents therein;
b. Disbanding of youth militia forces and the bases from which they and
others, including war veterans and intelligence operatives, are operating;
c. An immediate end to extra-judicial executions and enforced disappearances
which constitute a grave violation of international law;
d. Immediate and unrestricted access to all internally displaced persons and
other victims of political violence by humanitarian organizations and other
service providers so that victims may realize their fundamental rights to
medical treatment, food and water, other social services, and legal
e. An enabling environment for the legal profession to carry out its
professional duties on behalf of all clients throughout the country in order
that all people can be provided with their fundamental right to legal
representation and have their liberty, security and other fundamental rights
and freedoms properly protected. This includes the immediate cessation of
harassment and targeting of lawyers carrying out their professional duties,
respect for and compliance with court orders, unimpeded access by lawyers to
their clients, and an immediate return to independence and professionalism
by all law officers and officials in the office of the Attorney-General;
f. An immediate end to use of the public print and electronic media for
party political purposes and to foment hate and incite unlawful action
against legitimate political activists, political parties and human rights
7. Whatever political settlement is ultimately reached, ZLHR considers the
following issues essential and non-negotiable in achieving a lasting peace
and secure environment in which a culture of human rights can flourish and
all people of Zimbabwe will be protected, and as further articulated in the
Zimbabwe Peoples' Charter:
a. A new constitution which is people-driven and oriented, and which is
accepted through a referendum before any further elections are held;
b. A return to the rule of law and adherence to the principles of
constitutionalism and separation of powers;
c. Reformed state institutions which are independent, impartial and
accountable and which protect and promote the fundamental rights and
freedoms of all people of Zimbabwe without fear or favour;
d. Elections which comply with best regional and international practices,
administered by one independent, impartial and accountable national election
e. An independent, responsible and accountable public media and a vibrant,
independent and accountable private media which place emphasis on freedom of
expression and information;
f. A rights-oriented legislature which will have as its priority the swift
amendment and/or repeal of repressive legislation and the promulgation of
further legislation which will empower the people of Zimbabwe and ensure
social, political and economic justice for all;
g. An end to politically-motivated violence and the culture of impunity
which has become so pervasive within our society, and which can only be
achieved through victim-oriented processes of justice for human rights
violations, reconciliation, reparations, rehabilitation and reintegration;
h. An end to economic impunity and in particular the use of state resources
to benefit the few at the expense of the majority, to contribute to and
ensure social and economic justice for all;
i. An open, tolerant and democratic system of governance which recognizes
the important role of civil society in human rights, governance,
humanitarian and democratization issues;
j. A national value system that recognizes the humanity of every single
individual and the diversity of cultures within our society;
k. Gender equality, recognized equally by men and women, in all processes
l. Recognition of the importance of including and empowering the youth in
our society in all activities, and protecting and promoting their rights in
order for each generation to bequeath to the next a country that remains the
epitome of hope, democracy and sustainable livelihoods.
Tuesday, 15 July 2008 15:52 UK
Many villagers are still hiding in the bush and mountains, their hopes of a return to peace fading with reports of continuing intimidation.
Over the last few months, many suspected opposition supporters have had their homes torched.
Goats, chickens and cows - symbols of wealth in the rural areas - were taken away to feed ruling party militia at their party bases.
Villagers say the youth militia wearing ruly party T-shirts and bandanas showing President Robert Mugabe's face, are still roaming free and attacking with impunity.
Although talks are under way between the ruling Zanu-PF and opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), in rural areas where there are few radios, that has little consequence.
"The militia are telling us that during the elections they 'chopped tree branches', now they say 'it's time to uproot them'," says Muchadei (not his real name) an electoral officer in Mashonaland Central, an area hit hard by the electoral violence.
'Pockets of resistance'
The MDC says 113 of its supporters have been killed, some 5,000 are missing and more than 200,000 people have been forced from their homes since the first round of voting in March.
"The militia say they want to attack and remove all pockets of resistance," Muchadei says, referring to MDC voters.
The situation has not changed at all in the province since Robert Mugabe was sworn-in again as president, he says.
"People still can't express themselves freely. Others are missing. It's not clear if they are dead or alive," he says.
Church leaders say they "are saddened by reports of continued violence two weeks after presidential run-off".
In parts of Harare's townships, however, the police have been attacking the ruling-party militia and destroying their bases.
This has meant that hundreds of Zanu PF militias have now lost their livelihoods and police have confirmed that some of the militia are now transforming themselves into criminal gangs.
But the crackdown has come as a huge relief to those living in the townships, where many residents had been forced for "re-education" at Zanu-PF bases.
"I need peace of mind, I was leaving work early out of fear of victimisation," says a resident of Kuwadzana township.
She says queuing for bread every morning together with the cost of travelling into neighbouring South Africa and Botswana to buy food are already enough of a burden.
Inflation, which officially stands at 165,000%, is thought to be well into seven figures now.
The long wait
Thousands of people are trying to find alternative ways of making a living because the manufacturing industry has shrunk by around 60%.
Harare's central Fourth Street and Chinhoyi Street are now packed with dealers trading in foreign currency on the black market.
One of them is Richie who told me he had given up his job at a state-run company to join them.
"Salaries are eroded by inflation every day, there is no point in working, you just have to work for yourself now," he said.
The talks between Zanu-PF and the MDC mean nothing to him.
"As long as Mugabe is in power, nothing changes. It will take time for things to normalise given that the old man has no intention of giving up power," Richie told me.
"He has created a mess, and we will be in this mess for a long long time."
Despite this, he still believes it is not a situation that can last forever.
"One day the situation will stabilise, maybe I will get a job in a bank and have a normal working life again."
Talks between the two parties are going on behind closed doors, and no-one in Harare really knows what is going on.
Rumour that opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai has been co-opted into a government of national unity abound in townships, but few believe that.
Most people simply want life to return to normal and have few kind words for President Mugabe.
In any crisis there comes a moment when all the parties to a situation must
face reality and make decisions. The crisis in Zimbabwe is at just such a
juncture. It is no exaggeration to say that the future of the country will
be decided in the next few days.
We have just seen the failure of the G8 States to persuade their
international colleagues to back tough sanctions on Zimbabwe. This was
partly engineered by South Africa who rushed the commencement of talks about
talks in South Africa so as to be able to say at the UN that "talks" were
under way and the Security Council should give the parties involved time to
try and resolve the crisis along the lines agreed by the AU.
By doing so, Mbeki has in fact both played the ball back to the western
States who backed the tough stance and also put himself in the situation
where he has full responsibility for the next play - in fact the final set
in this particular match. He may live to regret that particular outcome.
James McGee said as much when he stated yesterday that "it was now up to the
SADC States" to find a solution.
Mbeki has come back from the G8 summit in a hurry to get things moving. He
virtually forced the start of talks about talks last week and after two days
of fruitless discussion, he set up a meeting of the SADC Organ on Politics
and Security chaired by Angola, now scheduled to take place on the coming
Friday. Ping (from the AU) fell ill in Japan and will himself only come to
South Africa on Thursday for talks with Mbeki prior to the SADC meeting on
It seems to me that all those involved - from the international donors who
are vital to any recovery process here, to the SADC and the AU and indeed
even the G8 leadership, that all are singing from the same hymn sheet. The
call is for a transitional government with a limited mandate and life
(maximum of two years) with Mugabe as a titular President and Tsvangirai as
a substantive Head of Government or Prime Minister. The power structure of
the new government to be based on the outcome of the 29th March election.
It is envisaged by all that this transitional arrangement would last until a
new national Constitution had been agreed, signed and implemented and fresh
democratic elections held under normal conditions. It is further envisaged
that during this period, a start would be made on the whole process of
stabilisation and recovery.
Clearly, such a transitional arrangement is not acceptable to the new power
brokers in the present regime. The Joint Operations Command made up of a
military Junta with elements of the Zanu PF Party, know full well that this
would represent the end of the road for them in every respect. If they were
to accept such an outcome they would have to either go into exile or seek
refuge in a country that agreed to have them and to provide them with
security and protection from prosecution.
The Zanu PF negotiators know this and Mbeki is also fully aware of just what
he is up against. He knows that neither Mugabe nor his JOC associates can be
trusted to abide by any decisions reached at the negotiating table.
Therefore, what is at stake here is not just the issue of negotiations
themselves but also the future and security of the men (and women?) who have
orchestrated Zimbabwe's freefall into collapse and international ostracism.
The real talks are therefore likely to be between the facilitators and the
JOC rather than between the Zimbabwean Political Parties.
The JOC have their own ideas - they want to keep to their present course. If
left to their own devices they will dissolve Parliament and hold fresh
elections in August or September, maintain or intensify the violence and the
campaign against the MDC and even deepen the crisis here. They do not care
about the economy - a small group of some 2 000 individuals can live very
well on the mines alone thank you, or the human welfare of the millions of
people who live in the cities and towns.
So we are down to the wire. For South Africa the issues are clear. As I
write, millions of Zimbabweans are planning their flight to other countries.
A lethal cocktail of circumstances here is driving this process - the
violence and genocidal attacks on ordinary people across the country; the
economic collapse that is making it impossible to live on a salary even if
you have a job; and the almost complete absence of basic foods, even if you
can afford them. I would say that right now the majority of those who live
inside Zimbabwe have no choice but to consider flight - and South Africa
will be the preferred destination.
This forced migration could become the largest mass movement of people in
recent African history and all the signs are there that it is under way.
Such a migration would tip South Africa into instability and chaos as the
squatter camps resist the influx. Pictures of the South African police
firing bullets and tear gas into crowds would appear on television screens
across the globe. Investors and financial managers all over the world would
downgrade South Africa as an investment destination and FIFA might pull the
soccer World Cup. An exaggerated view, I do not think so anymore!
Inside the country we simply cannot take much more punishment and any
further deterioration in the economic and humanitarian situation will create
conditions from which it will take years to recover. Like an outbreak of
armed resistance, the economic collapse that is now underway will make
things that much worse very quickly - we have weeks not months left in this
respect. Right now in Bulawayo we have 42 000 tonnes of food aid sitting in
sealed warehouses - it cannot be released because the donors will not allow
Zanu PF to control its distribution on a political basis. Tell me if that is
not a crime against humanity.
The US and the UK were quite right in their analysis of the crisis in
Zimbabwe as a threat to regional stability and peace. Mbeki knows that and
partly because of his own actions, he now has to face the Zimbabwe crisis
without western allies at his back. He is left with SADC and the AU.
That is where the Zimbabwe crisis belongs and the biggest test of the Mbeki
Presidency is about to take place. Does African leadership have what it
takes to make the tough decisions that time and history and geography places
on their shoulders. If they do have what it takes (and all the signs are
there that they do), then does Mbeki have the political courage to use his
power as President of South Africa and a key player in the SADC region, to
enforce compliance across the Limpopo? There is no confidence that he will
do so, but we may yet be in for a surprise.
Bulawayo, 15th July 2008
July 12 2008 at 01:38PM
By Justine Gerardy
South Africa has defied a United Nations call to halt deportation of
Zimbabweans and has sent 17 000 people back to the troubled country in 40
This has raised fears that Zimbabweans fleeing political violence are
being returned to face persecution and are unable to use South Africa's
internationally guaranteed asylum-seeking processes.
Zimbabwe's opposition MDC party reported on Friday that at least 113
of its members had been killed in political violence since the country held
its first round of presidential voting in March.
"Given the situation in Zimbabwe now, no one can deny that people are
at risk," said Dr Loren Landau, director of Forced Migration Studies at Wits
The number of Zimbabweans seeking asylum had doubled to more than last
year's total figure in the first quarter of this year, he said.
However, since 2000, the South African government has granted full
refugee status to only 710 Zimbabweans.
Over the same period, a total of 66 578 Zimbabweans applied for asylum
with 4 040 rejections in the same period. Over 62 000 cases remain pending.
On Friday, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said South
Africa had sent 17 000 Zimbabweans through the Beit Bridge border post in
the past 40 days.
This was despite earlier calls to suspend all deportations, said
regional spokesperson Yusuf Hassan.
This also follows an assurance from Home Affairs Minister Nosiviwe
Mapisa-Nqakula early last month that illegal immigrants would be
"temporarily exempted" from deportation until the dust had settled on the
recent xenophobic violence in South Africa.
At the time Mapisa-Nqakula announced that any foreigners illegally in
South Africa would have two months to leave.
The UNHCR on Friday reiterated appeals to South Africa to
exceptionally grant Zimbabweans temporary legal status and to ensure those
seeking asylum have access to procedures.
The numbers of Zimbabweans fleeing to South Africa increased after
that country's March general and presidential elections.
This worsened after a subsequent crackdown on opposition supporters
and last month's one-man presidential run-off.
Hassan said 3 000 to 4 000 Zimbabweans were flocking to the Refugee
Reception Office in Johannesburg each Thursday and Friday - asylum
applications are processed regionally.
The UN had also strengthened its presence at the border and is making
daily visits to the Musina detention centre to identify Zimbabwean asylum
seekers and refer them to correct authorities.
"There are so many people who are deported on a daily basis, we are
simply unable to interview 95% of them," said Camilla Kragelund, head of the
UNHCR office in Musina. "The only Zimbabweans who are getting asylum are
those who come into contact with UNHCR or our partners."
Aid workers in the border town have also reported that entire
Zimbabwean families are now fleeing political violence. Previously, 90
percent of migrants were young, single men seeking better economic
South Africa is signatory to domestic and international legal
obligations to not return people to danger or possible persecution.
Zimbabweans were also among the tens of thousands of foreigners
affected two months ago in attacks that left more than 60 people dead.
Camps in Gauteng housing thousands of people are due to be dismantled
by next month.
Thousands of people are also being accommodated in Cape Town where a
meal at one shelter was sent for testing this week after it appeared rotten.
Additional reporting by Helen Bamford, Sapa-AP-AFP
This article was originally published on page 1 of Cape Argus on July
July 15, 2008
Zimbabwe is still technically a democracy, but its citizens are in a
They tried, but they weren't permitted, to vote longtime leader Robert
Mugabe out of power. Political dissent is being met with deadly force.
Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, who actually defeated Mr. Mugabe in
initial voting, withdrew from a runoff in an effort to quell the violence.
Meanwhile, Mugabe policies that have enriched a few also have left
Zimbabwe's once vigorous economy in ruins.
The suffering of ordinary Zimbabweans is likely to continue. In the U.N.
Security Council, China and Russia vetoed U.S.-backed sanctions, which some
felt could pressure Zimbabwe's once-revered liberator to abandon his
The Russians and the Chinese argued that sanctions (like an international
travel ban on Mr. Mugabe and his top lieutenants, whose personal assets
would have been frozen) overreached the U.N.'s mandate. They warned against
exaggerating an internal political dispute into a threat to international
peace. And Zimbabwe's neighbor, South Africa, led the opposition to
Sadly, this reluctance to deal more boldly with the Mugabe regime means the
international community will miss an opportunity to speak loudly, and with
one voice, against Zimbabwe's violence and repression.
China and Russia may benefit, in the short run, from currying favor with Mr.
Mugabe and those around him, given that both nations covet Zimbabwe's rich
resources. But the people of Zimbabwe will pay a heavy price.
Tue 15 Jul 2008, 15:47 GMT
By Laura MacInnis
GENEVA, July 15 (Reuters Life!) - China won the right at a U.N. wildlife
meeting on Tuesday to import elephant ivory from Africa under strict
conditions, a U.N. spokesman said.
Four countries -- Botswana, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe -- are
permitted under a deal reached at The Hague last year to make one-off sales
of registered ivory stocks.
"China was accepted as a trading partner to import ivory from the four
authorised countries in southern Africa," said Juan Carlos Vasquez of CITES,
or the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna
To gain permission, Beijing had to prove it had the capacity to fight
illegal domestic trade in ivory, which is used mainly in jewellery and
The CITES committee agreed that the four countries would be allowed to sell
a combined total of 108 tonnes of the raw ivory, which comes from elephants
that died from natural causes or were killed in population-management
"That is the total that the four can sell, and they can sell that ivory to
Japan or to China," Vasquez said, noting CITES members briefly considered
then set aside the idea of reviewing Zimbabwe's allocation given the recent
political turmoil there.
Japan had been previously approved as an importer of ivory from those
Populations of elephants, the world's largest land mammals, are under
pressure in many parts of Africa from poaching, loss of habitats to farms
and towns, pollution and climate change.
But Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe and South Africa all say they have rising
elephant populations, causing increasing conflicts with people in rural
Under the CITES deal struck last year, the four are allowed to sell ivory
from stockpiles that were registered on Jan. 31, 2007, and then are barred
from seeking exports for nine years. The cash raised is used for
conservation and local communities.
China has invested heavily in oil- and mineral-producing African countries
in past years as its economic might has grown, and many Chinese companies
are active on the continent.
Conservation groups WWF and TRAFFIC said China should pair its purchases
with conservation awareness programmes to let Chinese nationals abroad know
that it is illegal to buy and bring home ivory from Africa.
"The sight of ivory openly and illegally on sale in many African cities is
likely to be a far more powerful encouragement to those contemplating
poaching and smuggling, than a strictly controlled one-off sale," Susan
Lieberman, director of WWF International's species programme, said in a
"The only way to end elephant poaching is through an effective clampdown on
illegal domestic ivory markets."
By Violet Gonda
15 July 2008
The 'luxury' tax on foreign newspapers imposed by the Mugabe regime last
month is crippling the UK based Zimbabwean newspaper. Editor Wilf Mbanga
said the punitive taxes are being imposed deliberately to squeeze the
newspaper out, resulting in him now running at a loss. He said he is paying
more than 40% of the value of the paper in tax.
The June taxes cost Mbanga SAR500,000 (£37,000) and he said these costs have
already led to the suspension of The Zimbabwean on Sunday and a reduction in
the print run of The Zimbabwean from 200,000 copies a week to 60,000.
Mbanga says this is just another way the regime is curbing freedom of
expression and access to information. "We know they are jamming your station
and other radio stations and this is now their way of jamming newspapers,"
The World Association of Newspapers (WAN) and the World Editors Forum (WEF)
wrote to the Zimbabwean government asking them to repeal this tax on foreign
papers. "Restricting access to information by punitive taxation constitutes
a clear breach of the right to freedom of expression, which is guaranteed by
numerous international conventions, including the Universal Declaration of
Human Rights," said the Paris-based WAN and WEF, which represent 18,000
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
Tuesday, 15 July 2008 13:43
By Gregory H. Stanton, President, Genocide Watch
Classification Symbolization Dehumanization Organization Polarization
Preparation Extermination Denial
Genocide is a process that develops in eight stages that are
predictable but not inexorable. At each stage, preventive measures can stop
it. The process is not linear. Logically, later stages must be preceded by
earlier stages. But all stages continue to operate throughout the process.
1. CLASSIFICATION: All cultures have categories to distinguish people
into "us and them" by ethnicity, race, religion, or nationality: German and
Jew, Hutu and Tutsi. Bipolar societies that lack mixed categories, such as
Rwanda and Burundi, are the most likely to have genocide. The main
preventive measure at this early stage is to develop universalistic
institutions that transcend ethnic or racial divisions, that actively
promote tolerance and understanding, and that promote classifications that
transcend the divisions. The Catholic church could have played this role in
Rwanda, had it not been riven by the same ethnic cleavages as Rwandan
society. Promotion of a common language in countries like Tanzania has also
promoted transcendent national identity. This search for common ground is
vital to early prevention of genocide.
2. SYMBOLIZATION: We give names or other symbols to the
classifications. We name people "Jews" or "Gypsies", or distinguish them by
colors or dress; and apply the symbols to members of groups. Classification
and symbolization are universally human and do not necessarily result in
genocide unless they lead to the next stage, dehumanization. When combined
with hatred, symbols may be forced upon unwilling members of pariah groups:
the yellow star for Jews under Nazi rule, the blue scarf for people from the
Eastern Zone in Khmer Rouge Cambodia. To combat symbolization, hate symbols
can be legally forbidden (swastikas) as can hate speech. Group marking like
gang clothing or tribal scarring can be outlawed, as well. The problem is
that legal limitations will fail if unsupported by popular cultural
enforcement. Though Hutu and Tutsi were forbidden words in Burundi until the
1980's, code-words replaced them. If widely supported, however, denial of
symbolization can be powerful, as it was in Bulgaria, where the government
refused to supply enough yellow badges and at least eighty percent of Jews
did not wear them, depriving the yellow star of its significance as a Nazi
symbol for Jews.
3. DEHUMANIZATION: One group denies the humanity of the other group.
Members of it are equated with animals, vermin, insects or diseases.
Dehumanization overcomes the normal human revulsion against murder. At this
stage, hate propaganda in print and on hate radios is used to vilify the
victim group. In combating this dehumanization, incitement to genocide
should not be confused with protected speech. Genocidal societies lack
constitutional protection for countervailing speech, and should be treated
differently than democracies. Local and international leaders should condemn
the use of hate speech and make it culturally unacceptable. Leaders who
incite genocide should be banned from international travel and have their
foreign finances frozen. Hate radio stations should be shut down, and hate
propaganda banned. Hate crimes and atrocities should be promptly punished.
4. ORGANIZATION: Genocide is always organized, usually by the state,
often using militias to provide deniability of state responsibility (the
Janjaweed in Darfur.) Sometimes organization is informal (Hindu mobs led by
local RSS militants) or decentralized (terrorist groups.) Special army units
or militias are often trained and armed. Plans are made for genocidal
killings. To combat this stage, membership in these militias should be
outlawed. Their leaders should be denied visas for foreign travel. The U.N.
should impose arms embargoes on governments and citizens of countries
involved in genocidal massacres, and create commissions to investigate
violations, as was done in post-genocide Rwanda.
5. POLARIZATION: Extremists drive the groups apart. Hate groups
broadcast polarizing propaganda. Laws may forbid intermarriage or social
interaction. Extremist terrorism targets moderates, intimidating and
silencing the center. Moderates from the perpetrators' own group are most
able to stop genocide, so are the first to be arrested and killed.
Prevention may mean security protection for moderate leaders or assistance
to human rights groups. Assets of extremists may be seized, and visas for
international travel denied to them. Coups d'état by extremists should be
opposed by international sanctions.
6. PREPARATION: Victims are identified and separated out because of
their ethnic or religious identity. Death lists are drawn up. Members of
victim groups are forced to wear identifying symbols. Their property is
expropriated. They are often segregated into ghettoes, deported into
concentration camps, or confined to a famine-struck region and starved. At
this stage, a Genocide Emergency must be declared. If the political will of
the great powers, regional alliances, or the U.N. Security Council can be
mobilized, armed international intervention should be prepared, or heavy
assistance provided to the victim group to prepare for its self-defense.
Otherwise, at least humanitarian assistance should be organized by the U.N.
and private relief groups for the inevitable tide of refugees to come.
7. EXTERMINATION begins, and quickly becomes the mass killing legally
called "genocide." It is "extermination" to the killers because they do not
believe their victims to be fully human. When it is sponsored by the state,
the armed forces often work with militias to do the killing. Sometimes the
genocide results in revenge killings by groups against each other, creating
the downward whirlpool-like cycle of bilateral genocide (as in Burundi). At
this stage, only rapid and overwhelming armed intervention can stop
genocide. Real safe areas or refugee escape corridors should be established
with heavily armed international protection. (An unsafe "safe" area is worse
than none at all.) The U.N. Standing High Readiness Brigade, EU Rapid
Response Force, or regional forces -- should be authorized to act by the
U.N. Security Council if the genocide is small. For larger interventions, a
multilateral force authorized by the U.N. should intervene. If the U.N. is
paralyzed, regional alliances must act. It is time to recognize that the
international responsibility to protect transcends the narrow interests of
individual nation states. If strong nations will not provide troops to
intervene directly, they should provide the airlift, equipment, and
financial means necessary for regional states to intervene.
8. DENIAL is the eighth stage that always follows a genocide. It is
among the surest indicators of further genocidal massacres. The perpetrators
of genocide dig up the mass graves, burn the bodies, try to cover up the
evidence and intimidate the witnesses. They deny that they committed any
crimes, and often blame what happened on the victims. They block
investigations of the crimes, and continue to govern until driven from power
by force, when they flee into exile. There they remain with impunity, like
Pol Pot or Idi Amin, unless they are captured and a tribunal is established
to try them. The response to denial is punishment by an international
tribunal or national courts. There the evidence can be heard, and the
perpetrators punished. Tribunals like the Yugoslav or Rwanda Tribunals, or
an international tribunal to try the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, or an
International Criminal Court may not deter the worst genocidal killers. But
with the political will to arrest and prosecute them, some may be brought to