Posted: 23 July 2009
Thousands of people across the capital of Zimbabwe face the threat of
mass eviction from homes and forced removal from their market stalls,
according to Amnesty International.† The organisation's supporters have
appealed to the authorities in Harare not to proceed with this mass
An estimated 200 people from an informal settlement in the suburb of
Gunhill and thousands of informal traders across Harare in Zimbabwe face
being forcibly removed without being given adequate notice or any
consultation or due process.
Most of those targeted were victims of the 2005 mass forced eviction
programme, Operation Murambatsvina (Restore Order) when about 700,000 men,
women and children were forced out of their homes, or away from their
Four years on, the authorities have failed to provide an effective
remedy to the victims and as a result many continue to be at risk of being
forcibly removed from both their homes and their informal businesses.
In July 2009 the Deputy Mayor of the Harare city council stated that
the city authorities have considered evicting people from 'illegal
settlements and market places to restore order'. The Deputy Mayor claimed
that the targeted people were posing a health hazard and violating city
Amnesty International UK Campaigns Director, Tim Hancock said:
'Hundreds of thousands of people are already suffering from being
forced out of their homes four years ago. They are still living in makeshift
houses which have no doors, windows or even roofs in some instances. The
authorities should be making every effort to ensure that these people are
properly housed, and not be sanctioning another removal of people from their
homes and their only source of income.
'Amnesty International is calling on the authorities in Harare to
immediately stop any pending mass evictions. They should instead make sure
that prior to any eviction no one is made homeless or vulnerable, but
instead take every appropriate measure to ensure that adequate alternative
housing or access to productive land is made available.'
To date, the recommendations made by the UN Secretary General's
Special Envoy on Human Settlement Issues in Zimbabwe which were made in 2005
are still not yet fully implemented.
Index: AFR 46/012/2009
22 July 2009
Fear of more mass evictions in Harare
An estimated 200 people from an informal settlement in the suburb of Gunhill and thousands of informal traders across Harare in Zimbabwe face being forcibly evicted without being given adequate notice or any consultation or due process.
In July 2009 the Deputy Mayor of the Harare City Council stated that the city authorities have considered evicting people from “illegal settlements and market places to restore order.” The Deputy Mayor claimed that the targeted people were posing a health hazard and violating city by-laws.
Most of the people at risk of forcible eviction were victims of Operation Murambatsvina (Restore Order), a programme of mass forced evictions implemented by the Zimbabwean authorities in 2005 which left 700,000 people without homes and livelihoods. Four years on, the authorities have failed to provide an effective remedy to the victims and as a result many continue to be at risk of being forcibly evicted from both their homes and their informal businesses.
Formal unemployment in Zimbabwe is above 90 per cent. The bulk of the urban population, particularly women, survive on informal trade. Further forced evictions would drive these people deeper into poverty. Since Operation Murambatsvina, the city of Harare has repeatedly targeted informal traders, mainly urban poor, seizing their wares and fining them for operating at illegal trading places.
PLEASE WRITE IMMEDIATELY in English or your own language:
* Call on the Mayor of Harare to immediately stop any pending mass evictions from informal settlements or markets in Harare. In particular, the council should give adequate and reasonable notice for affected people prior to any eviction and ensure that no one is rendered homeless or vulnerable to the violation of other human rights as a consequence of eviction. Where those affected are unable to provide for themselves, the council must take all appropriate measures, to the maximum of its available resources, to ensure that adequate alternative housing, resettlement or access to productive land, as the case may be, is available.
* Urge the Minister of Local Government to immediately stop any pending mass evictions by the Harare city authorities and to order all local authorities in Zimbabwe to stop any pending mass evictions.
* Call on the Minister of Local Government to liaise with the Minister of National Housing to ensure that the 2005 recommendations by the UN Secretary General’s Special Envoy on Human Settlement Issues in Zimbabwe are fully implemented.
PLEASE SEND APPEALS TO:
(Time difference = GMT + 2 hrs / BST + 1 hrs)
Mayor of Harare
Cllr Muchadeyi Masunda
1st Floor Town House
P. O. Box 990
Fax: 00263 4 751124
Salutation: Dear Mayor
Minister of Local Government
Hon Ignatius Chombo
Ministry of Local Government
P. O. Box CY7706
Fax: 00263 4 792307
Salutation: Dear Minister
AND COPIES TO:
Deputy Mayor of Harare
Cllr Emmanuel Chiroto
1st Floor Town House
P. O. Box 990
Fax: 00 263 4 751124
Salutation: Dear Deputy Mayor
PLEASE SEND COPIES OF YOUR APPEAL TO:
His Excellency Mr Gabriel Mharadze Machinga, Embassy of the Republic of Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe House, 429 Strand, London WC2R 0JR.
Fax: 020 7379 1167
PLEASE CHECK WITH THE UK SECTION IF SENDING APPEALS AFTER 02 September 2009.
SHOULD YOU MENTION AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL IN YOUR APPEALS? The name of Amnesty International may be used unless otherwise stated in the text above. Letters written in a private or personal capacity may be more effective.
FAX NUMBER NOT WORKING? Officials will sometimes switch off their fax machines to stop appeals arriving - please keep trying. If you can’t get through, please put your appeal in the post. If a number is unobtainable please inform the Urgent Action team.
EMAIL ADDRESS NOT WORKING? Please send a copy of the delivery error report to firstname.lastname@example.org
RECEIVED A REPLY FROM A GOVERNMENT OFFICIAL? Please send it or a copy to the Urgent Action team. If appropriate, thank the official who has replied and ask to be kept informed about the case.
Statement of Charles A. Ray
Ambassador-Designate to Zimbabwe
Senate Committee on Foreign Relations
July 21, 2009
Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee:
It is a privilege and a great honor for me to appear before you today as President Obama’s nominee to be Ambassador to the Republic of Zimbabwe.† I appreciate the confidence the President and Secretary Clinton have demonstrated in me by putting my name forward for your consideration.
If confirmed, I look forward to working with the administration, the Congress, and especially with this Committee, in advancing U.S. interests and our efforts to put Zimbabwe back on the path to democracy, stability and economic prosperity.
My professional and personal interest in the developing countries of the world spans nearly fifty years.† In twenty years of military service with the United States Army, I had a chance to see firsthand the devastation that can be brought upon societies by war and instability.† For the past twenty-seven years, as a Foreign Service Officer, I have served in a number of positions in the developing world, in Asia and Africa, and have seen the important role that America’s engagement can have in lifting countries out of poverty and instability.
Zimbabwe once had a productive economy and effective democratic institutions.† It was considered the breadbasket of southern Africa, with enviable schools and medical facilities.† Today, unfortunately, Zimbabwe is struggling to overcome more than a decade of suffering under authoritarian misrule.† While some significant progress has been made by the transitional government in halting the devastating economic decline and implementing measures to restore fiscal integrity, hardliners from the previous regime that remain in Government continue to violate the human rights of the Zimbabwean people, and have refused to move forward with agreements on senior government appointments, media freedom, and other important reforms.† The former Government instituted policies that have led to the collapse of what had been one of Africa’s richest economies, caused massive food shortages, allowed more than 4,000 needless cholera deaths, and destroyed the institutions that form the basis for effective governance.† As millions of Zimbabwe’s beleaguered people have fled the turmoil of their homeland for neighboring countries, regional stability remains threatened.
If confirmed, I will continue our government’s efforts to assist the people of Zimbabwe in their pursuit of a representative, democratically-elected government that respects human rights, adheres to the rule of law, and undertakes further economic reforms necessary to bring prosperity to Zimbabwe and contribute to growth and stability in the region.
In working to achieve Administration goals in this assignment, I will call upon my years of experience representing the United States and working to promote responsible government and respect for human rights in Asia and Africa. I have served as Ambassador to the Kingdom of Cambodia, the first American Consul General in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, and Deputy Chief of Mission and Chargť d’Affaires of the U.S. Embassy in Freetown, Sierra Leone during that country’s transition to elected civilian government.
In these and other assignments, I have always sought to strengthen bilateral relations while at the same time advancing U.S. interests by encouraging democratic reforms and institution of rule of law.† In Cambodia, I worked with the government and opposition groups to stem election violence and to enhance efforts to stop human trafficking.† In Vietnam, I aggressively supported American business interests, while pressing the government of Vietnam on human rights, religious freedom, and support for U.S. efforts to account for our servicemen missing since the Vietnam War.† As DCM and Chargť in Freetown, I worked closely with the military junta and civilian political parties to facilitate the 1996 elections -- the first truly democratic elections in that country’s history.
During the past three years, I have led our nation’s effort to account for missing service members from past wars and to develop a whole of government approach to protecting our people who serve abroad and who are in danger of isolation or capture.† In my approaches to foreign governments on these issues, I have consistently stressed the importance of human rights and rule of law.† If confirmed, I would work diligently to strengthen pro-democracy forces and respect for rule of law in Zimbabwe.††
The prospects for political transformation in Zimbabwe are immensely challenging, but we remain committed to facilitating peaceful change.† U.S. assistance to Zimbabwe focuses on laying the groundwork for a return to democracy and prosperity by supporting democratic forces and civil society and by supporting life-saving assistance, including efforts to mitigate HIV/AIDS and other epidemics.† This aid goes through non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and contractors rather than to the central government, in order to ensure that it reaches the people who need it.† We are mindful of existing legal restrictions on our assistance and will continue to consult closely with the Congress on any new or expanded assistance proposals.
If confirmed, I will continue the strong example of Ambassador McGee in speaking out about the state of human rights, lack of media freedom and rule of law, and the transitional government’s slow pace of progress in these key areas.† Robert Mugabe’s assertions that Zimbabwe is “his” call into question his commitment to democratic principles and reform.† We will, however, continue to support those working for full implementation of the September 2008 Global Political Agreement (GPA), on which the transitional government is based, and to seek ways to ease the suffering of the Zimbabwean people without aiding those forces who cling to power through repression and corruption.† In this vein, our targeted sanctions on those individuals and entities that have hindered democracy in Zimbabwe will remain in place.† Those targeted measures are a key motivator to elicit pro-reform, pro-democracy behavior on the part of Zimbabwean officials, Mugabe included.
The path to democracy, stability, and prosperity in Zimbabwe is long and it will be difficult.† It involves beginning the process of drafting a new constitution, making significant progress on human rights -- including women’s rights -- and the rule of law and rebuilding public sector infrastructure.† In addition to a new constitution, reform of the electoral process and electoral institutions is essential to free and fair elections.† The GPA calls for the completion of a new constitution by August 2010.† Following a referendum on the constitution, internationally monitored elections should take place as soon as feasible to enable the people of Zimbabwe to freely select their President and other representatives.† Parties to the GPA must perform these tasks in a timely manner.† We are willing to work with the transitional government as much as possible, but we must insist on forward movement.† Perhaps the most important challenge the government faces is the restoration of the people’s faith in government.† As I explained, it will not be easy, but we remain committed to the people of Zimbabwe and will continue to support them in their efforts to build better lives for themselves and their children.
The United States has not sanctioned the needy and deserving of Zimbabwe.† We are on their side.† Thus far in Fiscal Year 2009, U.S. humanitarian aid has surpassed $160 million for emergency assistance, including food aid and food security, refugee support, and health, water, sanitation, and hygiene programs.† Our foreign assistance to Zimbabwe also focuses on laying the groundwork for a return to democracy and prosperity by supporting democratic forces and civil society.† In Fiscal Year 2008, we provided more than $186 million in humanitarian assistance to Zimbabwe.† All told, the United States continues to be the largest provider of food assistance to Zimbabwe, and Zimbabweans welcome the solidarity of the United States in their continuing time of need.
Zimbabwe is at a crossroads in its history.† The decisions made by its leadership now will be felt far into the future.† I welcome the opportunity to take on the challenges of this position.† If confirmed, I will do my utmost to protect Americans and American interests, while at the same time, working to help the people of Zimbabwe restore their country to a free and prosperous member of the world community.
Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee, I want to thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today.† I will be happy to answer any questions you have.
By Blessing Zulu
23 July 2009
A new dispute has arisen in Zimbabwe's fractious national unity government,
over the proper division powers between President Robert Mugabe and Prime
Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.
When the government was formed in February a committee was set up to revise
a Cabinet handbook setting out the roles of various members of the
government - among them Mr. Mugabe and Mr. Tsvangirai.
This week Mr. Tsvangirai complained that five months later the committee,
which includes members of all three governing parties including his own
Movement for Democratic Change and Mr. Mugabe's ZANU-PF - has yet to produce
the new handbook while his powers have been diminished as Mr. Mugabe has
acted as head of state and government.
Mr. Tsvangirai in his communication to the panel - which was leaked to the
state-controlled Herald newspaper - said Cabinet ministers should report
directly to him. But the Herald citing unnamed observers called this an
affront to the September 2008 Global Political Agreement based on which the
power-sharing government was constituted.
ZANU-PF sources said Mr. Mugabe has no intention of giving up his
Minister of State Gorden Moyo, attached to the prime minister's office, told
reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that Mr. Tsvangirai
was angered that officials in his government are leaking confidential
documents to the press.
Harare political analyst Charles Mangongera aid the fault lies with former
South African President Thabo Mbeki for mediating an ambiguous agreement
open to abuse.
By Tichaona Sibanda
23 July 2009
Political analysts and various commentators on Thursday dismissed as
baseless and mischievous an article carried by the Herald, accusing the
Prime Minister of trying to seize control of government.
The state controlled Herald reported that Morgan Tsvangirai had challenged
the role of Cabinet and was seeking to strengthen the functions of the
Council of Ministers, which he chairs.
'It is also understood that the changes that the PM is seeking could result
in him having the authority to craft a national budget that would be
administered by his office rather than by the Ministry of Finance and
Treasury,' the paper said.
Tsvangirai reportedly authored a document titled 'Comments and Suggestions
Alterations' which he forwarded to the Cabinet Office recently in an attempt
to correct the way government operates under the Global Political Agreement.
The Herald article tried to argue that Tsvangirai is seeking to make
sweeping changes unlawfully, to the cabinet handbook that guides the
operations of the Executive and its various committees, organs and
Glen Mpani, a political analyst, said the article was trying to inflame
tensions between Robert Mugabe and Tsvangirai. He said what the paper fails
to understand is that when the GPA was signed it introduced the post of
Prime Minister with executive authority, subject to the Constitution and the
'These powers gave him responsibility to formulate government policy,
ensuring that different ministries are able to carry out their day to day
functions,' Mpani said.
'The cabinet handbook that the article is referring to was produced when
previously we had the President without a Prime Minister. So ideally all
ministers would report to the president, but things have changed since the
formation of the inclusive government,' Mpani said.
Article 20 in the GPA clearly states that executive authority of the
inclusive government shall vest in, and be shared among the President, the
Prime Minister and the cabinet. Mugabe therefore cannot be both Head of
State and Government.
'If you read the GPA, it is clear Tsvangirai is not trying to usurp any
powers but trying to correct things that he sees are not right in the
inclusive government. The cabinet handbook should be reproduced or updated
to conform to what is contained in the GPA,' Mpani added.
By Patience Rusere
23 July 2009
Some Zimbabwean civic activists are dismissing government plans to set aside
three days through Sunday to launch a national healing and reconciliation
program as a political ploy to gloss over continuing violence and rights
violations without consideration for victims.
Non-governmental organizations including the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum
issued a statement saying they are distancing themselves from the official
President Robert Mugabe and the national unity government installed in
February as a way to resolve a national stalemate following traumatic 2008
elections have urged political parties to renounce violence and urge their
supporters to maintain peace in the national interest.
For perspective on the proposed healing exercise reporter Patience Rusere of
VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe spoke with Glen Mpani of the Center for the
Study of Violence and Reconciliation in Cape Town, South Africa, and Gordon
Chavhunduka, president of the Zimbabwe National Traditional Healers
Chavhunduka said it is too early for such a process as the wounds from the
2008 violence are still too fresh and those who committed such violence must
Thursday 23 July 2009 / by Alice Chimora
Five judges in Zimbabwe have had their official top of the range vehicles
confiscated by taxmen after the Ministry of Justice failed to register them.
The Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA) officials grabbed the cars as part of
its intensified clampdown on unregistered cars that were brought to Zimbabwe
duty free. The seizure came after Finance Minister Tendai Biti held meetings
with ZIMRA Commissioner General, Gershom Pasi on the clampdown on tax
This has exposed the administrative bugling by the Justice Ministry as the
cars were by law supposed to have been registered within two weeks of their
importation. Although names of the affected judges whose cars where seized
could not be obtained on Thursday, judiciary sources said the vehicles were
impounded this week.
A regional magistrate also had her car taken away. "It was an embarrassing
scene to see judges reluctantly handing over the car keys to the revenue
people. They had no choice but to comply with the law" said a law offer at
the High Court. She added " It is still not clear why the cars were not
registered before they were given to the judges"
She also said that it was proper for the cars to be seized as several
robbers have often used unregistered cars, "Some one could have stolen the
car and committed crime... only to realise that it belongs to one of the
judges. It would be difficult to prove that the judge was not the one who
committed the crime".
The police have raised concerns over the proliferation of unregistered cars
Contacted for comment, Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa professed
ignorance on the issue. "I am not aware of this issue, but if its true we
will have to intervene soon as we can not have judges who have no vehicles"
Registrar of the High Court, Charles Nyatanga was on Thursday not available
The move might force the government to intervene to save members of the
bench who are custodians of the law from embarrassment. Last year the
controversial Reserve Bank Of Zimbabwe Governor Gideon Gono also made
vehicle, laptops and television set donations to the judiciary.
Several cars were donated to various government ministries including the
ministry of Justice over the past two years to improve working conditions of
civil servants who were leaving Zimbabwe in large numbers.
Investigations this week revealed that some of the vehicles donated to
Ministry of Justice were still to be cleared by the Central Vehicle Registry
because of logistical and clearing issues between the government and its
By Alex Bell
23 July 2009
Yet another government minister has been implicated in Zimbabwe's poaching
crisis, which is threatening to destroy conservation efforts. An un-named
government minister is said to have ordered the illegal shooting of an
elephant in Hwange National Park recently. The minister allegedly told the
park's staff to shoot the bull elephant and then instructed that the meat be
sent to Harare.
This minister joins the ranks of other government officials already
implicated in poaching cases, which have dramatically increased in the past
year. Earlier this month ZANU PF stalwarts Emmerson Mnangagwa and Webster
Shamu, both escaped prosecution in connection with the slaughter of
endangered rhinos earlier this year, after the police docket against the two
mysteriously disappeared. The paperwork vanished from the office of the
Attorney General Johannes Tomana, and when the MDC tried to independently
investigate, the police superintendent in charge of the case was swiftly
transferred to a secluded, rural outpost.
The case against the two notorious officials arose after the arrest of a
Chinese national earlier this year, who was found with six rhino horns in
his car when he was stopped at a police roadblock. It's understood that the
Chinese national implicated a businessman in Kwekwe, who in turn pointed the
finger at Mnangagwa and Shamu. It has been reported that a massive official
cover up is now underway and even prosecutors are too afraid to touch the
case because of the officials involved.
The two government ministers are said to have been launching their poaching
operations from HKK Safaris, a conservancy Shamu co-owns together with South
African based businessman, Charles Davy. Davy has in the past been accused
of violating hunting quotas and foreign currency regulations at another
conservancy, but he was shielded from prosecution by Shamu.
The Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force has launched independent investigations
into the involvement of government minister's in the worsening poaching
crisis in the country. The group's Chairman, Johnny Rodrigues, told SW Radio
Africa on Thursday that "quite a few of the top guys in government are
involved in a very well organised get-rich scheme." He explained that the
reduction in law enforcement in Zimbabwe, and the growing involvement of the
Chinese and Vietnamese in Africa, were driving forces behind the recent
increase in poaching. In traditional Chinese medicine, rhino horn is
believed to treat fever and other common conditions.
The overwhelming threat to Zimbabwe's rhinos has raised international
concern, but not enough to slow the pace of poachers, and in the last week
alone, conservationists have reported that two black rhinos were trapped and
slaughtered. By the end of 2008, eighty percent of Zimbabwe's 460 black
rhinos and half of its 280 white rhinos lived in the country's lowveld
conservancies. These large tracts of land, converted from cattle ranches to
wildlife management areas, were created to safeguard the highly threatened
species. But tragically the conservancies appear to now be the site of
poaching, authorised by top government officials.
The alarm bells have already been rung, particularly over the
zero-conviction rate of known poachers, and Zimbabwe now faces censure from
the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), to
which Zimbabwe is a signatory. A new report by CITES has raised concern
about the low conviction rate, detailing that 12 rhinos are now being
poached each month in South Africa and Zimbabwe.
According to Save the Rhino, the London-based organisation which supports
on-going rhino conservation across Africa, the combined population of black
and white rhinos was about 830 at the end of 2007, but by December 2008, the
numbers had fallen to about 740. The group's Director, Cathy Dean, on
Thursday said the number is expected to plummet once more in 2009.
"The Chinese footprint in Africa has increased dramatically, and as the
wealth in China increases so does the demand for rhino horn," Dean said. "A
censure by CITES will hopefully be pressure enough to force the authorities
to take charge of the situation."
Dean also expressed concern that not a single Zimbabwean rhino poacher has
been sentenced in a court during the past three years. Earlier this month, a
park ranger charged with having killed three rhinos in the Chipinge Safari
Area, was acquitted without any satisfactory explanation for the verdict,
according to three conservation groups who said there was "overwhelming
evidence against him." Meanwhile in September 2008, a gang of four
Zimbabwean poachers, who admitted to killing 18 rhinos, were freed in a
failed judiciary process.
The involvement of top government officials in the plunder of Africa's
natural resources, including the poaching of rare animal spieces, seems to
have become a widely accepted practice in Zimbabwe. Vice President Joice
Mujuru has recently been implicated in an illegal gold deal with her
daughter, who tried to sell the gold, plundered from the DRC, to a European
company. At the same time, the army is still controlling the diamond fields
in Chiadzwa, the government's personal moneymaker, despite being instructed
to leave the fields because of rampant human rights violations there. A
recent delegation from the Kimberley Process, the body charged with stopping
the trade of blood diamonds, instructed the military to leave the area, and
recommended a temporary suspension on Zimbabwe's diamonds. But the two-week
deadline for the army to leave has passed, and still the fields are tightly
controlled by the military.
July 23, 2009
By Owen Chikari
MASVINGO - President Robert Mugabe and his business associates have
effectively taken over the Nuanetsi Ranch in Zimbabwe's Lowveld, a sprawling
property which was the first investment venture of a trust set up by his
former political nemesis, the late Dr Joshua Nkomo, leader of PF-Zapu.
Zimbabwe Bio-Energy (Pvt) Ltd, a private company whose major shareholders
are President Robert Mugabe and Defence Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa, has
gone into partnership with the Development Trust of Zimbabwe (DTZ) an
organisation wholly owned by the now defunct PF-Zapu political party.
The two organisations plan to grow sugar cane on 100 000 hectares of land in
the Nuanetsi Ranch for ethanol production. Other ventures in the pipeline
include a giant crocodile-breeding project and cattle ranching.
The $1 billion investment project will displace over 1 000 families already
settled in the Nuanetsi Ranch.
DTZ, which served as the investment vehicle for PF-Zapu, is currently
chaired by Vice President Joseph Msika, who was Nkomo's deputy.
Formed by Nkomo in the early 1980s, DTZ invested in Nuanetsi Ranch as its
In a development that has sparked controversy the joint venture between
Zimbabwe Bio-Energy and DTZ will embark on several other projects in the 300
000 hectare Nuanetsi Ranch. Details of the exact nature of the joint venture
between Zimbabwe Bio-Energy and DTZ, the owners of Nuanetsi Ranch, or what
the President's company paid in return for its acquisition of his former
political rival's venture, are not clear.
Commenting on the joint venture outgoing Masvingo governor Titus Maluleke
said only 100 000 hectares should be developed, not the entire ranch, since
this was bound to generate controversy.
"We are saying the joint venture should only be confined to the 100 000
hectares and not the whole of Nuanetsi because we also want other investors
to come on board", said Maluleke.
"If the project is allowed to take over the whole ranch then there is need
for people to question the logic because we are talking of a huge piece of
land which should not be used by only two companies", he added.
However vice chairman of DTZ Liberty Mhlanga has already confirmed that the
joint venture will take over the whole ranch.
"We are going to have one of the biggest investments in which we would want
to grow sugar cane for ethanol production ", said Mhlanga.
"In addition we will have one of the biggest crocodile projects in the
country and a cattle ranching business.
"We will also build lodges in the ranch in order to attract tourists during
the world cup in South Africa in 2010."
The two companies have already cleared about 60 000 hectares of land since
the project was given a nod in June last year. There are 5 000 herd of
cattle on the property.
Early this year the yet to be displaced 1 000 families vowed to resist
eviction. They claim that they were not consulted when the project was
Zimbabwe Bio-Energy is a subsidiary of Sabot Holdings, a company in which
President Mugabe and Mnangagwa are major share holders, along with business
tycoon Billy Rautenbach.
The controversial Rautenbach has been linked to the Zanu-PF leadership,
Mnangagwa in particular, in mining ventures in the Democratic Republic of
From The Global Post (US), 22 July
By Zimbabwe Correspondent (author cannot be identified because of Zimbabwe's
Harare - President Robert Mugabe is a bitter man. When US Assistant
Secretary of State for African Affairs Johnnie Carson attempted to explain
that human rights abuses in Zimbabwe were blocking the country‚€™s access to
international aid, Mugabe branded him an "idiot." Mugabe, 85, could barely
contain himself when the two met on the sidelines of an African Union summit
in Libya in early July. Mugabe had hoped that Carson, a former US ambassador
to Zimbabwe, would help relieve the country's isolation from the West, as a
reward for the creation of the power-sharing government forged with Mugabe's
long-time foe, Morgan Tsvangirai. But when Carson attempted to suggest the
need for Zimbabwe to improve its governance record, Mugabe flew into a rage
and cut the meeting short. He wouldn‚€™t speak again to "an idiot of that
nature," Mugabe told Zimbabwe‚€™s state media. "I was very angry with him,
and he thinks he could dictate to us what to do ‚€¶Who is he? I hope he was
not speaking for [President Barack] Obama. I told him he was a great shame,
being an African-American."
Mugabe is having difficulty understanding why, given the very visible
representation of black Americans in the Obama administration, there are no
takers for his racial-solidarity mantras. He comforts himself with the
thought that officials such as Carson and recently departed US Ambassador
James McGee are not representative of Obama‚€™s thinking. McGee, who made a
robust defense of US policy in his valedictory speech on July 4, made it
clear where his sympathies lay. "The rule of law and human rights are still
under attack," he said in defiance of a Zimbabwean Ministry of Foreign
Affairs directive not to make a speech. "Innocent Zimbabweans continue to be
arrested and prosecuted." McGee last year led a convoy of diplomatic
vehicles into Mugabe‚€™s heart of darkness - rural hospitals where evidence
of beatings of opposition supporters by the president‚€™s thugs was all too
evident. McGee, a large man, pushed aside officials trying to block him. He
will be succeeded by Charles Ray, an African-American career diplomat who
has served as ambassador to Cambodia and also as deputy assistant secretary
of state for defense.
There has also been a changing of the guard at Harare's British Embassy,
viewed by the regime as unforgivably hostile. Previous British envoys have
been castigated over the land issue, declining to take up what the
government says is the former colonial power‚€™s responsibility to
compensate dispossessed white farmers. Outgoing British Ambassador Andrew
Pocock in a recent statement made it clear that the lawlessness on the land
was the product of Zimbabwe government policy. "Therefore we have no legal
obligation for compensation. We‚€™ve never accepted that and we won‚€™t," he
said. His replacement, Mark Canning, has been transferred from Burma. His
experience in dealing with a recidivist regime is obviously thought useful
by Britain‚€™s Foreign Office. Mugabe is evicting the few remaining white
farmers still on the land in a move bound to compound Zimbabwe's food
The backgrounds of the two incoming ambassadors show that their governments
view Zimbabwe as a trouble spot with a dangerous leader. Both the US and
British governments see Mugabe as in charge of the power-sharing government
and responsible for the lack of progress made in restoring the rule of law
and respect for human rights. If Mugabe had any hopes left of an entente
with Obama, they would have been dashed by the US president‚€™s speech in
Accra, Ghana. He praised the work of the Zimbabwe Election Support Network
which he said "braved brutal repression to stand up for the principle that a
person‚€™s vote is their sacred right." Two days before those remarks,
Mugabe had been telling a meeting of investors that his government had
honored its commitment to pay compensation to evicted white farmers for
improvements on their properties, an economy with the truth that had
commentators gasping at its boldness. Mugabe promised that his government
would uphold property rights when it has seized farms supposedly protected
by bilateral investment agreements with foreign governments.
Business people weren‚€™t impressed either by Mugabe‚€™s claim that his
government‚€™s Indigenization and Economic Empowerment Bill, requiring that
investors permit Zimbabweans to take a 51 percent share in their businesses,
was designed to promote the participation of "our people" in the economy.
"We all know who 'our people' are," one commentator quipped in reference to
the avaricious gang around Mugabe, who have benefited from many other
"indigenization" schemes. Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara, who is
from the opposition side of the unity government, took issue with the
president at the same meeting. He said the government should stop blaming
the West for the country‚€™s decline. Instead it should uphold the rule of
law and safeguard property rights. "For you to be trusted, credible to
investors, we must resolve outstanding matters because if we don‚€™t we lose
credibility," Mutambara said referring to a raft of unfulfilled goals set by
the parties last September. "How can we convince investors if we don‚€™t
respect our own agreement?" Mugabe looked studiously ahead, as if none of
this had anything to do with him. So long as he remains the principal
obstacle to change, Zimbabwe‚€™s prospects of recovery remain slim. The
incoming US and British ambassadors are sure to ram that point home in their
dealings with Mugabe.
By Lance Guma
23 July 2009
The country's largest mobile phone operator, Econet Wireless, is finally
launching its commercial 3G service at the end of August. Chief Executive
Douglas Mboweni said the service would initially be launched in Harare,
before being rolled out to all the major cities by the end of the year.
Capacity for the service will initially be limited to 55 000 subscribers.
3G is a short way of saying 'third generation mobile telephone
communications systems technology' and improves the efficiency of data
transferred through cellular phones. This allows increased call volumes and
support for multimedia data applications, such as video and photography. 3G
allows phones to use more sophisticated and bandwidth intensive
applications. The service will also offer high speed wireless internet
access for a population accustomed to very slow internet connections.
3G phones normally have conventional voice, fax and data services, as well
as high resolution video and multimedia services which can be used on the
move. Customers potentially can use services like virtual banking, online
bill payments, video conferencing, online news, maps and positioning
services. The possibilities are endless, with technology firms producing new
applications all the time.
Speaking at a press conference Mboweni said; 'We ran successful 3G tests in
Harare following authorizations from the regulator. As we prepare for a full
launch, we are proceeding into test marketing, where we will offer the
service to a test panel of subscribers while new bandwidth is being built
in.' He said the 3G service was targeted at the top end of the market and
its contract subscribers. Experts say this is one of the major disadvantages
of the service and 3G phones are more expensive than regular phones. You can
also only enjoy some of the benefits with other 3G users.
But this is still a very positive step for the Zimbabwe market and prices
will inevitably come down over time, making the service more accessible.
Meanwhile Econet has reportedly slashed the price of its bundled
handset/SIM/airtime starter-packs, in response to the government's removal
of duty on mobile phones. 'We are grateful to the Finance Minister for the
concession. Our response is to immediately pass this benefit on to the
consumer through this reduction. We are not taking any mark-up on the
handsets. In fact, as a gesture of goodwill we are reducing the price even
on handsets for which we had already paid duty,' Mboweni said.
PRESS STATEMENT: ROHR ZIMBABWE STATEMENT ON THE NATIONAL PEACE DAYS GAZETTED
In an extraordinary government gazette Robert Mugabe declared that 24-26
July will be a period for all Zimbabweans at home and abroad to 'renounce
and report all forms of political violence, in an effort to 'restore peace
and stability in the country'. Therefore the days have been declared
National Peace days for renouncing political violence and promoting national
healing. At a glance the idea seems to be noble and peculiar, but subjected
to further scrutiny the context of the call ebbs all the confidence we had
in the sincerity of both the office and the person of President Robert
Firstly for peace to prevail in any given nation, the state should be
totally transformed into a safe house for every individual. The powers of
the state to carry extra-legal mandates such as militia and para-militia
activities against its people should end. The state should lead its
citizenry and fulfill its duties under the spotlight of sacrosanct values,
ideas and legal instruments that ensures that the bill of rights is elevated
to a supreme position that becomes the campus of how the populace and the
This has not happened in present day Zimbabwe, given the fact that the
police, state intelligence and other arms of the executive are still
carrying out extra-legal activities with impunity. The people of Zimbabwe's
safety remains severely endangered.
That we are coming from a dark age of reprisal and state sponsored human
rights violations and organised state acrimony on those holding dissenting
views is undisputable. What is dismissive from our side is an attempt by the
present day government to create symbolic days and moments in our country
where by the people, region and the international world are misled to
believe that the incumbent is whole heartedly moving the country from the
abyss of terror towards a glimpse of light and peace.
Peace in its totality is a function of political will and maturity on those
who are holding public office and the people of Zimbabwe at large believing
that proper mechanisms of truth and reconciliation have been met. Only after
those who were grieved acknowledge that restorative measures have been done
and those who would have committed acts to terror acknowledging that they
violated other people's rights could peace as a concept be fully recognized.
Mr. Mugabe cannot be the agitator of violence and define peace at the same
time, as if he holds the rod of making the rule as he goes.
One will be forgiven to imagine that the person who boasted of degrees in
violence not so long ago, can easily sublimate the 'ideas' of war and the
funning of violence in a blinker of an eye. We remain cognizant of the need
for national healing, but at the same time the concept of national healing
should be holistic by mainly addressing the following fundamental issues:
The state should be separated from political parties, that is to say, Zanu
PF should disband its infrastructure of violence and its proxies. This is in
light of the tidal wave of violence which erupted at the Rainbow Towers,
instigated by the ZANU PF hoodlums and buttressed by its public relations
outfit, Zimbabwe Broadcasting Cooperation.
The uniformed forces should start to behave accordingly with the spirit and
letter of co-existence to ensure that lasting peace is equally attained.
The state broadcaster should desist from funning hate speech and lies aimed
at prejudicing the public against civil society organizations and other
political parties apart from ZANU PF.
The state should immediately cease harassing human rights and political
detainees within and without the Zimbabwe prisons.
ZANU PF should demobilize and disarm the militia, the proxies of violence
that are still active since the acrimonious epoch of political terror that
claimed more than 180 lives and displaced thousands in 2008.
Known perpetrators of violence must face the law regardless of political
affiliation and rank in society.
The state should immediately stop violence happening at the farms and
respect the ruling made by the SADC tribunal disputed of farms in 2008.
Put differently, peace can never be wished into existence by mere words and
public relations stunts as the Organ on National healing, Reconciliation and
Integration would have the nation believe. The stark reality is that peace
will remain elusive in Zimbabwe as long as the political parties are only as
prepared as to condemn violence through the media yet leave institutions and
infrastructures of violence in position for further instructions.
Furthermore war veterans continue to be violent with the protection of the
police and the public broadcaster as evidenced by the recently disrupted
conference at rainbow towers hotel. The reports made by MDC of violence
against its supporters even after the advent of the inclusive government are
equally worrying. Without taking concrete steps towards restoring the rule
of law, disbanding militia camps, and other recommendations stated above,
the call for observing three days to 'celebrate Zimbabwe's newfound peace
and unity' remains what it really is - a bluff!
Important Note: ROHR Zimbabwe invites you to wear black attire on 24 July to
protest the eclipse of peace in Zimbabwe and to remember our fellow
countrymen who lost lives, property and homes in the political violence that
preceded the June 27 sham elections.
TIME: How real is the transition?
Tsvangirai: This transitional inclusive government can already record some significant progress, in critical areas like education, health, water and sanitation and food. Inflation has gone from around 500 million percent to 3%. But there are very serious challenges, and there is accumulated frustration at the slow implementation of the Global Political Agreement [the power-sharing deal with Mugabe]. But the challenges are not insurmountable. Zimbabwe is changing. It's on an irreversible path of transition. The reforms we have implemented, democratic and economic, are building the foundations for a prosperous future, for a democratic future. In five years, this will be a totally different place. Africa isn't just an opportunity continent. This is an opportunity country. Its potential is huge. The reconstruction will be much faster than anticipated.
TIME: You often sound more optimistic than your people, many of whom
question sharing power with Mugabe.
Tsvangirai: This arises out of a lack of change of paradigm, among all the people. It is sometimes very difficult to change mindsets. But our people were experiencing struggle fatigue because of the economic and social pressures they were facing. At some point we had to define a roadmap to resolve our national crisis: a transition, a new constitution. If we had not gone into government, what would have happened? Collapse? When we came into government in February, we found $4 million in the state coffers. What government can survive on that? Anything but political cohabitation was suicidal. We are moving from being an opposition movement to positioning ourselves as a party that is trying to change the power matrix of the country. It's not a gamble. It's brave, but it's something calculated. This is not a revolution. This is an evolution, and evolutions are sometimes slow and frustrating. If we had been looking for a revolution, then we would have had it, but with all the consequences of that, all the chaos and conflict. There were people looking for more immediate change, but that was not going to happen. One of the subtler questions facing us is: how do you have national healing without retribution? How do you do that? Each country has its own experience, but we were trying to craft a soft-landing for this crisis. We do not ignore the cries of the victims, but at the same time we do not punish the perpetrators. That's the balance we are trying to manage. And these are hard choices, you have to navigate through conflicting positions, but we were not going to be authors of our own chaos. Zanu-PF [Mugabe's Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front] has entrenched itself in power for 30 years. To prise off those tentacles is going to be a hard slog.
TIME: How much of your success depends on how Zanu can change itself?
Tsvangirai: I don't think Zanu has ever transformed itself. It was a liberation movement based on a military-political power structure, and it just moved straight into government. There was no distinction between the party that came out of liberation and the party in government, and that has cost them over the years. They did not move with the times. And it is the highest of irony that a government that invested so much in education became a victim of people's increasing sophistication. Today, there is no cohesion in Zanu. And Mugabe, to all intents and purposes, is institutionalized in Zanu – and a party that is not able to exist outside an individual is not a party with much to talk about. I don't want an MDC that is not able to fight on if I am not there. Their support has dwindled to 10-20%. They know we beat them last time. They heavily relied on state institutions to back them up – the courts, the police, the army, the electoral mechanisms, all there to serve Zanu. This is the reason why the transition is important – to create the necessary institutional reforms so that the next election is credible.
TIME: How is your personal relationship with Mugabe?
Tsvangirai: It's been a difficult adjustment. I can't hide from the fact that the animosity between us is legendary. We have begun to have some personal chemistry. We are business-like. We are respectful even if we disagree. I am hopeful that can move to trust, but we have not reached that yet. Don't get me wrong. You cannot defend Mugabe's past, especially since 2000, especially the violence, the election rigging, the refusal to give a voice to the people. That part is totally indefensible. But the most interesting part, to me, is how he moved from national hero to national villain. That transformation was quite dramatic. To me, Mugabe in 1980 was totally different to Mugabe in 2000. That transformation is something that preoccupies Western countries. And I can't explain it.
TIME: How is it that so many people can have so many disparate views,
and such extreme ones, of the same country?
Tsvangirai: Some extremists have understandable concerns. If I had grown up in privileged society because of my race, I would probably like to protect that. You feel nostalgia for the past and forget the reality of the present. And there's the other extreme: let's burn down the buildings to cross out the past. That's unacceptable. It's self-destructive. The middle ground is where the majority is. The majority of people are not ideological. They want prosperity and to look after their children.
TIME: How do you try to steer this very vexed transition when, at the
same time, you lose your wife?
Tsvangirai: And my grandson.
TIME: I heard. I'm sorry.
Tsvangirai: It has been a terrible personal loss. It has an effect on your personal stability. I lived with somebody for 31 years, someone who was a pillar through all the trials and tribulations. It [the loss] is not something you can explain. You just live on a daily basis. You experience daily loss. The fount of grief has been lessened by the amount of support and grieving by the whole nation. It relieves you. It is not only your loss. And you throw yourself into your work hoping that you are able to suppress these emotions. But they keep returning.
TIME: When will the transition be complete?
Tsvangirai: The agreement does not mention when an election will be held. We left it out deliberately because our elections are characterized by violence. If you have set a date, you will have a situation of election mode from day one. A constitutional referendum will be conducted in the next 18 months, and at the end of that, the President and the Prime Minister will sit down and set a date for elections.
TIME: Do you worry about a repeat of last year's violence?
Tsvangirai: In Zanu, the hardliners are just a dwindling minority. They are not able to mobilize support. People have seen the light at the end of the tunnel. No one wants Zimbabwe to slide back to where it was in November or December last year. You have to give it to Zimbabweans. Their resolve, their choice of the ballot over the bullet. Their commitment is amazing.
In a report released after a June visit to Zimbabwe, human-rights watchdog
Amnesty International blasted the Mugabe government for continuing to oppress
Zimbabweans despite promises to introduce democratic reforms and to observe the
rule of law. "Persistent and serious human-rights violations, combined with the
failure to introduce reform of the police, army and security forces or address
impunity and the lack of clear commitment on some parts of the government, are
real obstacles that need to be confronted by the top leadership of Zimbabwe,"
Irene Khan, Amnesty's secretary-general, said last month. Mugabe has a long track record of oppressing the people of Zimbabwe, dating
back almost to the day he came to power in 1980. In 1981 he set out to destroy
the main opposition party by creating a special military unit trained by the
North Koreans. Known as the 5 Brigade, it spent the following six years killing,
maiming and terrorizing the population that supported the then opposition
PF-ZAPU. The Catholic Church estimated that at least 3,000 people were killed
before the opposition caved and was absorbed into Mugabe's Zimbabwe African
National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF). (See pictures of political high tension in
Zimbabwe.) History is repeating itself with equally tragic results. Since a new
opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), emerged in 1999,
Mugabe has again terrorized those who dare to vote against him. In September
last year the MDC, led by Morgan Tsvangirai, felt compelled to sign a document
called the Global Political Agreement that saw it join Mugabe's government. So
far, the deal has been more honored in the breach than the observance by Mugabe.
(Read "Can Zimbabwe's Shotgun Marriage Work.") Tsvangirai, now the country's Prime Minister, went on a three-week tour to
the U.S. and Europe last month, making every effort to push the idea that there
is unity of purpose within the government, and asking the West to lift targeted
sanctions on Mugabe and his cronies, as well as to provide aid. Tsvangirai's strategy is premised on the idea that any improvement in the
economy will be credited to him and will give him a boost in the next elections.
He also hopes to circumvent Mugabe's patronage system by setting up a trust that
can be funded by foreign donors but remain inaccessible to Mugabe. Mugabe's plans seem to involve using Tsvangirai to unlock those ZANU-PF
financial resources that are currently blocked by Western powers. It is these
resources that will finance his campaign for the next election. Mugabe also
hopes to get credit for any economic progress that comes with aid. But if Tsvangirai succeeds in having sanctions on Mugabe lifted, that will
simply strengthen his rival's argument that the reason Zimbabwe's economy has
collapsed is because of "evil sanctions" imposed by the West. Mugabe is still in control of most of the levers of state power in Zimbabwe;
his network of patronage remains intact. Tsvangirai, on the other hand, has
stood powerless as farm invasions continue, and members of his own party have
faced abuse at the hands of state security agents. Under these circumstances it would be very unwise for the donor countries to
lift their targeted sanctions against Mugabe and his lieutenants. The democratic
world must compel Mugabe to honor his agreements with the opposition. The West
must also use its aid as leverage to ensure that the government opens up
democratic space for Zimbabweans. A specific roadmap must be developed demanding
that the government deliver rule of law, freedom of the media and a new
people-driven constitution with an enforceable bill of rights. Mugabe's militia
units must be dismantled, and a new independent electoral commission set up.
It must not be forgotten that Mugabe lost the parliamentary election in March
2008 and then proceeded to use violence to get himself re-elected as President.
He has forced the opposition to recognize him as President and to enter into a
deal that preserves his power. This modus operandi is becoming all too
common in Africa — think Kenya — and is leading to a great deal of bloodshed.
Ian Khama, the President of the oldest democracy in Southern Africa, Botswana,
has denounced power sharing as a means of keeping losing parties in power. In a
recent interview, he said: "If a ruling party thinks it's likely to lose, and
then uses its position as a ruling party to manipulate the outcome of the
election so that it can extend its term in power, [it is] not the way to go …
this power-sharing thing is a bad precedent for the continent." Especially when
it means more of the same. Moeletsi Mbeki is deputy chairman of the South African Institute of
International Affairs and author of Architects of Poverty: Why African
Capitalism Needs Changing See pictures of political high tension in
In a report released after a June visit to Zimbabwe, human-rights watchdog Amnesty International blasted the Mugabe government for continuing to oppress Zimbabweans despite promises to introduce democratic reforms and to observe the rule of law. "Persistent and serious human-rights violations, combined with the failure to introduce reform of the police, army and security forces or address impunity and the lack of clear commitment on some parts of the government, are real obstacles that need to be confronted by the top leadership of Zimbabwe," Irene Khan, Amnesty's secretary-general, said last month.
Mugabe has a long track record of oppressing the people of Zimbabwe, dating back almost to the day he came to power in 1980. In 1981 he set out to destroy the main opposition party by creating a special military unit trained by the North Koreans. Known as the 5 Brigade, it spent the following six years killing, maiming and terrorizing the population that supported the then opposition PF-ZAPU. The Catholic Church estimated that at least 3,000 people were killed before the opposition caved and was absorbed into Mugabe's Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF). (See pictures of political high tension in Zimbabwe.)
History is repeating itself with equally tragic results. Since a new opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), emerged in 1999, Mugabe has again terrorized those who dare to vote against him. In September last year the MDC, led by Morgan Tsvangirai, felt compelled to sign a document called the Global Political Agreement that saw it join Mugabe's government. So far, the deal has been more honored in the breach than the observance by Mugabe. (Read "Can Zimbabwe's Shotgun Marriage Work.")
Tsvangirai, now the country's Prime Minister, went on a three-week tour to the U.S. and Europe last month, making every effort to push the idea that there is unity of purpose within the government, and asking the West to lift targeted sanctions on Mugabe and his cronies, as well as to provide aid.
Tsvangirai's strategy is premised on the idea that any improvement in the economy will be credited to him and will give him a boost in the next elections. He also hopes to circumvent Mugabe's patronage system by setting up a trust that can be funded by foreign donors but remain inaccessible to Mugabe.
Mugabe's plans seem to involve using Tsvangirai to unlock those ZANU-PF financial resources that are currently blocked by Western powers. It is these resources that will finance his campaign for the next election. Mugabe also hopes to get credit for any economic progress that comes with aid.
But if Tsvangirai succeeds in having sanctions on Mugabe lifted, that will simply strengthen his rival's argument that the reason Zimbabwe's economy has collapsed is because of "evil sanctions" imposed by the West.
Mugabe is still in control of most of the levers of state power in Zimbabwe; his network of patronage remains intact. Tsvangirai, on the other hand, has stood powerless as farm invasions continue, and members of his own party have faced abuse at the hands of state security agents.
Under these circumstances it would be very unwise for the donor countries to lift their targeted sanctions against Mugabe and his lieutenants. The democratic world must compel Mugabe to honor his agreements with the opposition. The West must also use its aid as leverage to ensure that the government opens up democratic space for Zimbabweans. A specific roadmap must be developed demanding that the government deliver rule of law, freedom of the media and a new people-driven constitution with an enforceable bill of rights. Mugabe's militia units must be dismantled, and a new independent electoral commission set up.
It must not be forgotten that Mugabe lost the parliamentary election in March 2008 and then proceeded to use violence to get himself re-elected as President. He has forced the opposition to recognize him as President and to enter into a deal that preserves his power. This modus operandi is becoming all too common in Africa — think Kenya — and is leading to a great deal of bloodshed. Ian Khama, the President of the oldest democracy in Southern Africa, Botswana, has denounced power sharing as a means of keeping losing parties in power. In a recent interview, he said: "If a ruling party thinks it's likely to lose, and then uses its position as a ruling party to manipulate the outcome of the election so that it can extend its term in power, [it is] not the way to go … this power-sharing thing is a bad precedent for the continent." Especially when it means more of the same.
Moeletsi Mbeki is deputy chairman of the South African Institute of International Affairs and author of Architects of Poverty: Why African Capitalism Needs Changing
See pictures of political high tension in Zimbabwe.
By Alex Perry / Harare Monday, Aug. 03, 2009
My neighbor on the flight is chatty. When I ask why he's going to Harare, he
tells me he is an investor. I'm curious. Zimbabwe's economy has collapsed.
The government of President Robert Mugabe has destroyed the country's
currency. Several million people need food aid, millions more have fled, and
an outbreak of cholera--that sure mark of destitution--has killed close to
5,000 and infected 20 times that number in the past year. What's to buy in
Zimbabwe? "Graves," my neighbor replies. "Private cemeteries. Other places,
I'll do minerals, farms, forests. In Zim, I'm in death."
In the past decade, Zimbabwe has become a repository of stories of the
nightmarish and grotesque. The southern African nation is (or should be) a
place of plenty, a former food exporter that was ruined, beaten and starved
by the ineptitude, corruption and paranoia of its aging dictator, a
liberation hero who led Zimbabwe to independence but--in a familiar African
refrain--came to personify all the tragedy and broken promise of a
continent. I'd had my own brief disaster there in April 2007, when, the day
after I arrived, the subject of my very first interview asked me to wait
while he ran to do a quick errand, returning minutes later with two
policemen. I spent five days in jail before I was tried and fined for
reporting without accreditation. Now, on my first trip back, my companion
seemed to be confirming that Zimbabwe's long night endured.
That was certainly my expectation. Zimbabwe's history has been marked by
turbulence since 1965, when the white minority government of the country,
then called Rhodesia, unilaterally declared independence from Britain. After
a long and bloody guerrilla war, the black majority finally took power in
1980, with Mugabe as independent Zimbabwe's first leader. He has ruthlessly
held on to the position ever since. In March of last year, his Zimbabwe
African National Union--Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) lost a general election to
Morgan Tsvangirai's opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).
Refusing to accept the result, Mugabe turned his security forces on his own
people, killing more than 100, arresting thousands and displacing tens of
thousands. But this February, with the economy in free fall, Mugabe agreed
to share power with Tsvangirai. Mugabe would remain President, Tsvangirai
would be Prime Minister, and their parties would split the ministries and
On a continent where democracy is taking root more firmly each year, the
deal was welcomed as an important step away from the habits of the past.
Ever since, however, Mugabe and ZANU have blocked and delayed Tsvangirai and
the MDC. When I caught my plane to Harare, the new state was still only
partly formed and Mugabe was deriding the MDC as "insolent." Worse for
Tsvangirai's supporters was the sight of their leader smiling and shaking
hands with a man whose forces had repeatedly tried to kill him--and them.
For years, Tsvangirai had told them that a new era awaited one thing:
Mugabe's departure. If Zimbabwe really was a nation in transition, as
Tsvangirai insisted, how come the old tyrant was still in charge?
My journey to seek an answer to that question started with a surprise. The
former driver of some ťmigrť friends of mine met me at the airport, and soon
we hit a traffic jam. Two years earlier, traveling in Zimbabwe had been a
logistical feat that involved prearranging fuel stops. Now I was stuck in a
line of cars outside--another surprise--a packed mall, complete with
restaurants, furniture stores and a buzzing supermarket.
Tsvangirai was giving a speech the following day in Gweru, three hours
southwest of Harare, and I drove down. A priest began the event with a
prayer: "Visit this place, O Lord, and drive far from it all the snares of
the enemy and rescue our nation from all the humongous problems we are
facing." Tsvangirai was more upbeat. He acknowledged that Zimbabwe's
transition was "not an easy one" and said the country was in a "period of
uncertainty and anxiety, exacerbated by hard-liners who respect no rule of
law and care nothing for the national good, putting personal wealth and
power above all other considerations." Nevertheless, he said, change was
visible. The economy was reviving. Schools and hospitals had reopened. Now
that the Zimbabwean currency had been replaced by the U.S. dollar and the
South African rand, inflation has fallen from 231,000,000% to 3%. And while
Mugabe and ZANU were the problem and "pose the greatest threat to our
nation's future," Tsvangirai argued, they were also part of the solution.
"We must realize and accept that these individuals are Zimbabweans, and we
must understand their fears in order to accommodate them," he said. "We seek
This is Tsvangirai's gamble. He wants the people who tried to kill him to
believe he bears no grudge. (Since his wife died in March in a car accident
in which he was also hurt, Tsvangirai finds himself repeatedly assuring his
supporters that the crash was not another murder attempt.) He wants
Zimbabweans and the world to rethink how they deal with Mugabe and other
African Big Men. Demonizing them may be principled and cathartic, Tsvangirai
believes, but it is ineffective. Criticism has done nothing to dislodge
Muammar Gaddafi in Libya (in his 40th year in power) or Josť Eduardo dos
Santos in Angola or Teodoro Obiang in Equatorial Guinea (both in their
30th), while Africa's most enduring autocrat, Gabon's Omar Bongo, died in
June in his 42nd year in office. Criticism has actually strengthened Mugabe,
allowing him to cast himself as a heroic defender of Africa taking up the
cudgel, just as he did when he led the fight for independence against racist
Don't think of Mugabe as a madman and Zimbabwe as a country in flames, says
Tsvangirai. (And he is right that Mugabe has always displayed a consistent,
if despotic, logic and that the toll from last year's violence would amount
to little more than a bad afternoon in Somalia or the Democratic Republic of
Congo.) And don't seek rebellion or assassination--that's precisely what has
hobbled Africa for 50 years. Instead, try showing your enemies respect and
turning them into colleagues. Leave the old arguments and conflicts where
they belong: in the past. Try peace. Try the future. As Tsvangirai told me a
few days later in Harare, "This is not a revolution. This is an evolution."
The trouble with evolution, as the Prime Minister went on to say, is that it
sometimes can be "slow and frustrating." In the interview, Tsvangirai gave
himself five years to transform his country. That may be realistic, but the
pace can also make Tsvangirai's optimism feel premature. The power-sharing
deal set out a timetable for a new constitution by October 2010, but that
schedule is already slipping. The more obstacles Mugabe throws in
Tsvangirai's way--the latest came on July 13 when protesting ZANU supporters
forced the postponement of a conference on constitutional reform--the more
what the Prime Minister calls an "irreversible path of transition" begins to
feel agonizingly never ending. On a recent tour of the U.S. and Europe, the
Prime Minister picked up what the MDC says is $500 million in aid promises,
a small fraction of the amount his Finance Minister, Tendai Biti, says
Tsvangirai needs to revive the country. The money was a message, says a
Western diplomat in Harare, that the world wants more speed.
In Gweru, the sense of frustration was palpable. "Are we all doomed?" one
audience member asked Tsvangirai. The day after the speech, I meet a group
of MDC supporters in Bindura, an area of yellow-grass farms and bare granite
hillsides an hour north of Harare, who share the gloom. MDC members there
were among the worst affected by last year's violence. Mangezvo Chenjera,
38, an MDC village councilor, says that last June a ZANU mob smashed through
the walls of his house, dragged him out, broke both his legs with iron bars
and left him for dead in a ditch. "Tsvangirai," he says, "can say what he
wants, but it's just talk. The people who beat me still walk freely around
here." A short drive away, in Chiveso, Gabriel Mangurenje, 39, says he has
been beaten out of his home by ZANU mobs five times since 2000 and has lost
two brothers, both MDC activists, to the violence. "Of course we want to see
a peaceful approach," he says, "but we also want to see light at the end of
Tsvangirai's focus on a bright, distant future also takes little account of
how firmly Zimbabwe--a place of first-generation Toyota Corollas and
jukeboxes playing Sade and early Madonna--is stuck in the past. To this day,
state newspapers and radio stations lead the news with profiles of ZANU
heroes who have been dead for 30 years. Mugabe's men obsessively blame
Britain, the old colonial power, for all Zimbabwe's problems today.
Mugabe--a man who wears impeccable suits and drinks afternoon tea--is "half
African and half British," says his biographer Heidi Holland, "and the two
halves hate each other." In a Harare hotel, I meet Christopher Mutsvangwa, a
ZANU supporter, businessman and former ambassador to China, whose clock
seems to have stopped at independence in 1980. "Losing [Zimbabwe] was a very
traumatic experience for British imperial pride," he says, "and they feel it
needs to be reversed." Hyperinflation, he insists, was a British
fabrication. "It wasn't generated by anything the government did. It was
generated by a British computer."
Many of Zimbabwe's old white Rhodesian settlers are just as riveted by the
past. They argue that until Mugabe and his supporters give back farms that
were appropriated from whites--something no Zimbabwean leader endorses as
either practical or just--there is no hope for economic recovery. When that
argument is put directly to Mugabe at an investors' conference, the
President, 85, answers with a fluent 14-minute history lesson on how
Zimbabwe won its independence. The point of this polemic? The responsibility
for any problems with land reform, concludes Mugabe, "is a British one."
Change Is Coming
A country so fixated on the past and so unwilling to take responsibility for
its own condition will have difficulty perceiving its future. A people
desperate for change might not recognize gradual adjustment as the real
Yet change is indeed coming. Even the glummest Zimbabwean will acknowledge
the reopening of schools, hospitals, shops and factories. And Tsvangirai is
adjusting well to his new role, successfully seizing the political
initiative from the man who has held it for more than a generation. The
contrast between the two leaders was never greater than on Tsvangirai's
recent foreign tour, during which he was feted by President Barack Obama,
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and German Chancellor Angela Merkel. At
an African Union summit in Libya, meanwhile, Mugabe stormed out of a meeting
with U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Johnnie Carson,
calling him an "idiot" for trying to "dictate to us."
And 30 years after the party's glory days, ZANU's power is finally waning.
Partly this is economic; there are fewer spoils to go around. Tsvangirai
told me that when he took office in February, the state's entire resources
ran to just $4 million. Last November, several hundred soldiers rioted in
Harare over poor pay and conditions. Even if Mugabe called on troops to
stage a coup and suppress dissent, it's no longer clear they would obey him.
"The emperor is wearing no clothes," says Leonard Makombe, a politics
lecturer at the mothballed University of Zimbabwe.
Even now, most Zimbabweans seem to find it hard to admit that their
emperor--the man who Tsvangirai acknowledges was a "national hero"
once--might be naked. But for how long? As I drive back to the airport,
Mugabe's voice comes on the radio. He is speaking at the funeral of yet
another hero of the fight for independence. "I have delivered to my nation,
my people, a Zimbabwe that is free," he says. "We call ourselves Zimbabweans
now, and we never called ourselves Zimbabweans before. We never had a flag
before, did we? No. We never had a national anthem before, did we? No." A
name, a banner and a song--the proud appurtenances of Africa's heroic
struggle against its colonial oppressors. Mugabe may be the last man in
Zimbabwe who thinks they are now enough.