Harare South/Beatrice - Stoneridge and Blackfordby shut down of their own accord. Yesterday there was a break-in at a house near the Beatrice garage 84km from Harare. Thieves stole a small television set and beat to death, Wilhelm Botha, with a crow bar. Mr Botha was an elderly man and was a mechanic for the garage. He was found this morning by the owner of the garage.
Wedza - Another 2 cattle went missing on Sunday on Poltimore. The building of huts continues. The owner of Fair Adventure was told by war vets Chigwadere, Zinyoro, Gibson, Choto and Chiperi that they are returning next week to take more land, and that an ex-farmguard that was dismissed 2 years ago in accordance with the NEC must be paid more money as terminal benefits otherwise they will make things hard for the owner. On Chakadenga 4-5 people were poaching with large number of hunting dogs on Sunday afternoon in the game park. Despite Wedza Security assisted by a micro light aircraft, poachers were not caught. On Rapako the pre-irrigation of tobacco lands is being prevented. The occupiers asked the owner to help them stop people from the Zana resettlement from cutting wood on the farm as they say the farm and trees belong to them. Game and cattle fences continue to be sabotaged. Tree cutting, hut building continue. Building of huts , poaching and tree cutting continue on Shaka. On Ashlyns poachers with 19 dogs were on the farm on Saturday but none of them were caught. Farm invaders continue cutting trees and building huts on Hele. On Makombe occupiers are still building huts. A person from Zana is cutting the fence through Shaka farm, Msasa Estate into Makombe Farm to get gum poles into the resettlement daily. On Fels occupiers have moved into the farm paddocks where they have built huts. They have 2 dogs and are cutting trees daily. More huts have been built on Bickley over the weekend. There has been an escalation of indigenous tree cutting with some wood being carted away by scotch cart. On Anstey occupiers have started building huts on the Anstey/Huish boundary. Gum trees are being cut to build these huts.
Mackeke/Virginia - The area is much quieter. A Huck and Matatsi are meeting with the Governor today to try and resolve the problem.
Bromley/Ruwa/Enterprise - All areas are quiet. There is a war vet meeting today at Atlanta as war vets are unsure about which way to go next. They are demanding transport to Marondera today so that they can meet with the Governor in order to ascertain what is happening and what they are to do next.
Zimbabwe farm mechanic killed in suspected robbery
Reuters - Jul 24 2000 11:02AM ET
HARARE (Reuters) - A white Zimbabwean farm mechanic was beaten to death in his home Sunday in a suspected robbery case, the Commercial Farmers' Union (CFU) said Monday.
The CFU, which groups white commercial farmers in the southern African country, said the killing of Willem Botha was not directly linked to the invasion of hundreds of farms by liberation war veterans.
``I can confirm that Mr Botha, a mechanic on one farm in Beatrice (50 km (30 miles) south of Harare) was killed last night in what sounds like a criminal case,'' a spokesman for the CFU told Reuters.
``We don't have a lot of details at the moment other than that a gang of criminals broke into his house, beat him up badly and stole his television,'' he said.
A police spokesman in Harare said they had no immediate details of the case or of any other violent attacks on the farms where mobs loyal to President Robert Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF, led by veterans of the 1970s independence war, have been terrorizing farmers and their workers since February.
At least 31 people, including five farmers, were killed in a wave of violence that accompanied the farm invasions and was directed at the opposition ahead of a general election last month.
The election, Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF toughest electoral electoral challenge since independence from Britain in 1980, saw the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), win 58 seats and emerge as a credible threat to Mugabe.
Monday July 24 9:43 AM ET By ANGUS SHAW, Associated Press Writer
HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) - A member of Zimbabwe's embattled white farming community was found beaten to death Monday morning, the president of the union that represents the country's white farmers said.
The man was found dead in the Chivhu farming district, about 90 miles south of the capital, Harare, Tim Henwood said. The union released no details, saying the man's family had not yet been notified, and the police had no immediate comment.
Most of Zimbabwe's whites are descendants of South African or British settlers. Since February, militants have illegally occupied or claimed more than 1,600 white-owned farms across the country - an occupation President Robert Mugabe has described as a justified demonstration against unfair land ownership by the nation's whites.
It was unclear whether the dead farmer's property was among the farms occupied by ruling party militants and veterans of Zimbabwe's independence war 20 years ago.
If the killing was related to the occupations, it would bring to 32 the number of people who have died in political violence here since February. The total includes five white farmers allegedly killed by ruling party militants or groups claiming to be veterans of the independence war.
In a newspaper report Monday, the government accused white farmers of holding the country for ransom by threatening to shut down their farms to protest continuing violence by the illegal occupiers.
``We can't have a few people threatening the majority because if they go ahead it will mean that everyone will go hungry,'' Joseph Made, the newly appointed agriculture minister, was quoted as saying in Monday's Herald, a state-controlled paper.
David Hasluck, director of the union that represents the white farmers, said his organization had no intention of coordinating countrywide work stoppages. But, he said, individual farmers had little other recourse a week after the government promised to take action against veterans and squatters.
``We are seeing no action, so more widespread shutdowns are a possibility,'' he said.
Chalkie Van Schalkwyk, a farmer in the Karoi district, 125 miles northwest of Harare, said nobody wants to hold the government for ransom.
``We are the ones being held to ransom,'' he said. ``We just want law and order back. We've had numerous disruptions and we can't continue with potentially life-threatening situations like this.''
Ten farm workers had been abducted by ruling party militants, and a white family was forced to flee Monday after militants threatened him and police failed to respond to emergency calls, Van Schalkwyk said. He said farmer Fin O'Donoghue, his wife and three young children cut through a security fence behind their homestead to escape along a back road.
``Police have been uncooperative. It is very tense and we are getting to where we are going to have to close down the whole system in this area,'' Van Schalkwyk said.
Earlier this month, in the aftermath of parliamentary elections, the government said it would speed up the nationalization of white-owned farms for landless blacks but would also begin removing illegal occupiers and squatters from farms not targeted for confiscation.
About 60 farmers north of Harare shut down operations for three days last week to protest police inaction. Work resumed on those farms during the weekend.
Zimbabwe's ailing agriculture-based economy, facing its worst crisis since 1980, has been hard-hit by the farm occupations that have disrupted tobacco and wheat production. Tobacco is the nation's biggest hard currency earner.
Foreign and local investment dropped this year by up to 80 percent, largely because of economic uncertainty and the politically motivated violence, the state Zimbabwe Investment Center said Monday. Similar losses in tourism bookings were reported last week by the Zimbabwe Tourism Council.
President Mugabe has made a number of political moves to coincide with the opening of the new parliament in Harare. He has been forced to face up to radical changes in the country's political landscape following the successes of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) in last month's elections. The parliament now contains a large opposition bloc of 57 MDC members rather than the previous handful of deputies opposed to Mr Mugabe's ZANU-PF grouping. But for obvious intimidation in the course of the election and a constitution which allows the president to nominate 30 members of the 150-seat house, the opposition might have gained a majority. Recognizing the new balance of forces Mr Mugabe has installed a cabinet of young pro-business technocrats rather than pushing for a more confrontational set of ministers. This may have two effects: firstly the young ministers are likely to be compliant to the wishes of the president and secondly they may be viewed by the opposition as less hostile than a cabinet composed on more traditional lines.
Even the most virulent members of the opposition, while seeing an opportunity to push him to the limits of his flexibility, agree that Mr Mugabe is a formidable political opponent. On this occasion they have seen him move on two fronts. Firstly he has begun to consolidate his own power within ZANU-PF. Possible high-profile rivals have been excluded from the new cabinet. With presidential elections due in 2002 such a manoeuvre is significant. Moreover, his declaration that he will deal with the country's severe economic problems while accelerating the process of seizing white-owned farms will strike a popular note particularly with veterans of the war of independence. The two goals, however, may turn out to be mutually exclusive. Zimbabwe's economy, once a beacon of hope in sub-Saharan Africa, is now in a parlous state, bedeviled by fuel and foreign currency shortages, inflation and record unemployment levels.
By continuing the policy of land seizures Mr Mugabe will consolidate his support amongst veterans. Much of the land farmed by whites was seized from the indigenous population originally. Many of the white farmers imposed a regime of near-tyranny on their black workers. It was to overthrow such a system that the veterans fought their independence war in the first place and the promise of more land will be strongly welcomed in that quarter. The foreign investors so badly needed by Zimbabwe's economy may, however, look on land seizures in a cold economic light. They are likely to view re-appropriation measures as a serious threat to economic stability. In the context of presidential elections in two years' time Mr Mugabe's success, or lack of it, on the economic front will be crucial. It is unclear as yet whether he is working towards his own re-election or engineering a favorable situation for a possible successor. The appointment of Mr Emmerson Mnangagwa, who lost his seat in the election, as Speaker in the new parliament, has been interpreted by many observers as amounting to the nomination of a favored successor. Mr Mugabe might, in fact, serve his country best by gracefully retiring.
Zimbabwe's President Mugabe Considers Resigning, AFP Says
Bloomberg News - Jul 24 2000 3:25AM
Harare, Zimbabwe, July 24 (Bloomberg) -- Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe's president, is considering stepping down at the end of his term in 2002 and a group in his Zanu PF party has been appointed to search for a successor, reported Agence France- Presse, citing Zimbabwe's state-owned news agency, ZIANA. Likely contenders listed by the agency include new finance minister, Simba Makoni, Zanu chairman, John Nkomo, and Zanu finance secretary, Emmerson Mnangagwa. Meanwhile, a judge ordered a recount of votes cast in the Mazowe constituency, east of Harare, won by a Zanu PF candidate in last month's parliamentary elections, on suspicions of vote rigging, reported the Zimbabwe Standard newspaper.
In the elections Zanu PF faced its strongest challenge since taking power in 1980 with the opposition Movement for Democratic Change winning 57 of the 120 elected seats.
Zimbabwe Investment, Currency Reserves Plunge; AFP, Paper Say
Bloomberg News - Jul 24 2000 7:35AM
Harare, Zimbabwe, July 24 (Bloomberg) -- Foreign and domestic investment in Zimbabwe plunged 80 percent to $39.5 million in the first five months of the year compared to the year before, said Agence France-Presse, citing the state-owned Zimbabwe Investment Centre. Investment was hit by the violent run-up to last month's parliamentary elections, which saw the invasion of some 1,650 white-owned commercial farms by armed squatters, and a presidential threat to nationalize the country's mines. Meanwhile, the Daily News newspaper said the country has foreign currency reserves sufficient to meet only two or three weeks of import demand, citing President Robert Mugabe who was speaking at a meeting of senior members of the ruling Zanu PF political party.
In the elections Zanu faced its strongest challenge since taking power in 1980 with the opposition Movement for Democratic Change winning 57 of the 120 seats.
Zimbabwe farm invasions stall commercial agriculture
Reuters - Jul 23 2000 10:06AM ET
HARARE, July 23 (Reuters) - Zimbabwe's white farmers are being forced to stop work in the face of continued threats from self-styled war veterans who have invaded their farms, the Commercial Farmers' Union (CFU) said on Sunday.
But CFU president Tim Henwood denied a report in Sunday's independent Standard newspaper that the union's 4,500 members would close their farms in protest against the invasions.
``No, we cannot confirm that report. But I can say that in some areas like Shamva people have been prevented from working and are stopping work as a reaction to a security problem,'' he told Reuters.
Farmers in Shamva, 90 km (55 miles) north of Harare, have been threatened by black militants who have occupied more than 1,000 farms countrywide since February with the backing of President Robert Mugabe. Last week the union said 60 farmers in the wheat-producing area of Glendale, 60 km north of Harare, had stopped farming after one was forced off his property.
The CFU said militants were still threatening farm labourers and giving farmers ultimatums to relinquish their properties or face violence.
On Saturday, police stood by and watched as four labourers were beaten by veterans at a farm near the Zambezi valley, about 220 km north of Harare, farm owner Jane O'Donoghue told Reuters.
Police had been called to investigate a wave of game poaching on Vuka Estates.
``They allowed the veterans to pick out four members of our labour force and beat them up,'' O'Donoghue said. ``The situation between our labourers and the veterans is getting more tense.''
The CFU said in a statement that some police were trying to be more responsive to land owners' complaints. But it said they were being pressured to side with the invaders, most of whom back Mugabe's ZANU-PF and its promises to seize more than 800 white-owned farms on prime land for black resettlement.
``Of concern is that certain police officials who are trying to do their work are coming under political pressure.''
ZANU-PF narrowly defeated the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) in an election last month that was marked by violence and intimidation. Some 31 people, mostly MDC supporters, died in the run up to the poll.
The violence has battered Zimbabwe's economy, which is enduring its worst economic crisis since independence from Britain in 1980. There are severe shortages of fuel and foreign currency and unemployment is at a record high.
In addition, Mugabe's resettlement plan has damaged the farming sector and discouraged donors from resuming aid.
Analysts have warned that growth in the sector, which accounts for 20 percent of Zimbabwe's gross domestic product and 40 percent of export earnings, could plunge 20 percent if the land crisis is not resolved soon.
A CFU survey showed that as of June 29, 1,525 farms -- 28 percent of all farms owned by its members -- had been invaded.
Mugabe is demanding that Britain foot the bill for farms the government plans to seize. Britain has offered to pay 36 million pounds ($54 million) towards land reform, but only if the invasions are halted.
HARARE, July 24 (Reuters) - Zimbabwe's new minister for trade and industry said on Monday he believed President Robert Mugabe would give him a free hand and his priority was to regain the confidence of Western donors.
In an interview with Reuters, Industry and International Trade Minister Nkosana Moyo said Zimbabwe could not reverse its economic decline without the resumption of suspended aid flows.
Western donors, led by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank, suspended aid to Zimbabwe last year over policy differences with Mugabe's previous cabinet.
"We have got to find a way of working with the IMF in whatever format because I don't think we have got the resources now to kickstart this economy without doing that. That is absolutely critical and urgent," Moyo said four weeks after parliamentary elections that slashed the ruling party's majority.
He said he hoped Mugabe's new cabinet would make the resumption of aid its priority at its first meeting on Tuesday.
Moyo is part of a new, slimmed down cabinet including technocrats and businessmen, which industry has hailed as "business friendly," but which political analysts fear could be overruled by Mugabe and the ruling ZANU-PF party's politburo.
But Moyo said Mugabe had, at a meeting on Friday, promised him a free rein in his sphere of influence.
"My interpretation of the meeting is that I think the president was saying to me: Go and show us how things can be done within your ministry in a manner which is more aligned to how the private sector operates.
"When you change a team it's an acknowledgement that now, maybe, circumstances are such that we should be doing things differently, maybe it's a different set of skills that is required," he said.
Mugabe, in power since independence from Britain in 1980, says the IMF is being used by his Western opponents, mainly Britain and the United States, to topple his government.
Critics charge, however, that the current economic crisis, including an acute foreign currency shortage, inflation and interest rates of around 60 and 70 percent respectively and unemployment of over 50 percent, is a result of his mismanagement.
IMF TEAM DUE IN AUGUST
An IMF team is expected to visit in early August for talks on how the stalled aid programme can be revived.
Donors have cited as reasons for suspending aid Zimbabwe's costly military involvement in the 23-month-old war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and, more recently, Mugabe's controversial land reform programme.
"What I would like to come out of that is a better willingness on both sides to see things the other party's way and compromises which will allow us to move forward and get a working relationship put in place," Moyo said.
He said the new government would have to move fast to address the foreign currency crisis and punitive lending rates which are stunting growth in the private sector.
Government spending would have to be curbed as it has resulted in a budget deficit averaging 10 percent of gross domestic product over the past decade, he said.
Private economists estimate the government has been running on average just one day's import cover in its coffers as the country grapples with a nine-month-old foreign currency shortage after the poor performance of the export sector last year.
Exporters have been withholding receipts in protest against the artificial stability of the Zimbabwe dollar against the U.S. dollar under controls bankers adopted in January 1999 to forestall more stringent government controls.
The Zimbabwe dollar is pegged at 38 to the U.S. dollar, but trades informally around 60 to the dollar on the streets.
Moyo said Zimbabwe should move away from a heavy reliance on exporting primary commodities, whose generally low prices led to the poor export performance in 1999.
"There is a definite over-reliance on primary commodities and there is no way we can sustain a situation where we are in a deficit situation across the board. That's why we are having problems with fuel because we are not generating sufficient foreign currency," he said.
Harare (Zimbabwe Standard, July 23, 2000) - Dr Timothy Stamps (63) is currently serving his third term as minister of health, which makes him Zimbabwe's longest serving minister of health.
Not only is he a medical doctor, but a qualified legal practitioner. And this, he believes, has helped him in his medical work. He believes the problems in the health sector have been exaggerated by the independent press which he blames for promoting behaviour likely to lead to HIV-Aids. He was born in London on 15 October 1936 to Welsh parents.
His family comprises his second wife, Cindy, and seven children from his two marriages-the oldest being 38 and the youngest nine. When Stamps came to Zimbabwe from Wales in 1968, he was a qualified doctor with 10 years experience.
He was appointed deputy medical officer for health in the capital. His reasons for coming to Zimbabwe were not political in nature, but were linked to his lack of satisfaction with the British National Health service.
"Being in the public health sector, I could not practice gynaecology and obstetrics there, but I could here," he said. His decision to come to Zimbabwe is one he has never regretted.
"After taking citizenship, I knew within weeks that I was in the right country and that feeling has never changed. "Stamps tend to stick, so I don't make a decision and then keep changing it," he remarked.
One of the greatest pleasures of his earliest years in the country, he recalls, was when he opened the first maternity unit, the Edith Opperman, in the high density suburb of what is now Mbare. This, he said, acted as the catalyst for the building of other clinics in the high density suburbs but it also marked the beginning of his political problems for he wanted more money spent on health care for African women and children.
In 1974, he parted company with the public service and started a small private practice in Greendale. His political career took off in 1976 when he became the sitting counsellor for the Highlands and Greendale area.
By that time, he had obtained a law degree from the University of Rhodesia. "I had already been teaching medical students from 1968 and then I got involved in human rights and ethics issues for medical students."
In 1979, Stamps became the chairman of the city council's finance committee, and all the time he kept pushing the council to include more representation from the high density suburbs.
"The myth was that they were not part of the city-just administered by it." In 1976, he helped to ensure the increased powers of the advisory boards in the townships. In these years too, his contacts with the local representatives of the liberation struggle such as Maurice Nyagumbo, James Chikerema and Stanlake Samkange began.
"I got to know them during my contacts at the university," he explained. At independence in 1980, he took a stab at running for one of the 20 seats that the Lancaster House constitution had reserved for whites in parliament.
This was his attempt to break the "monolithic structure" of the Rhodesian Front, and in January 1981, he made a second attempt but missed out by 125 votes. He remained a councillor until 1990.
Asked what he had achieved as counsellor, he said had helped to create a working relationship between people who were politically and socially exclusive from each other (black and white) through, for instance, the introduction of a small bar at which, after the main council meeting, people could mingle unofficially and talk over issues which had been formally discussed. Other lesser successes he cites were the putting up of street lights throughout his council ward and this completed, the diversion of the money to the building of roads in the high density suburbs and of houses in both the high and low density suburbs.
"More houses were built in 1980 than before and since." Among the home ownership schemes generated then, he says were Kuwadzana, Sunningdale, St Mary's, Zengeza and Warren Park. Had this momentum been kept up, he believes, and not become bogged down by bureaucracy and arguments about plot size, there would not be the housing problems which currently beset this country.
"Decent housing is the most effective way of dealing with Aids. There is a need for married couples to have privacy in order to combat the Aids epidemic."
In 1990, he became one of Zanu PF's non- constituency members of parliament and in the same year, was made minister of health-the sixth such minister in nine years.
How did he come to the attention of the president? "You would have to ask him that," he replied. "I met the president during the 1980s and the late First Lady, particularly through the child survival programme. She had great feeling for the disadvantaged."
He says on his appointment it was predicted that he would last just two years, but he managed to defeat this assessment and deal with outstanding structural development problems largely through ensuring that the ministry worked as a team and by maintaining contacts with local authorities around the country. Thus, in his first term he was able to put forward the district hospital programme conceptualised by former health minister Dr Sydney Sekeramayi and his assistants, but believes that bureaucracy and delays have often hampered progress in the ministry, although he has managed to deal with corruption on a team level.
He has a close relationship, he says, with colleagues in the SADC region so that they have been able to approach the World Health Organisation as one. One of his achievements in the international field was in helping to ensure the relocation of WHO Africa to Harare from Brazzaville because the latter had failed to be an effective voice for African health concerns because of the civil war there, and its relative inaccessibility.
He serves on the executive board of WHO. On whether, due to his long involvement with the organisation, he would consider putting himself forward for election as director-general, he replied: "I have no interest in being an international civil servant at any level. You get paid well, but you sell your soul."
Asked to explain what his achievements have been as minister of health, he replied: "An achievement for which I am notorious is that I highlighted Aids as a concern when it was not politically correct to mention it."
For these efforts, Stamps earned the nickname "Killjoy". Secondly, he says, he ensured that Zimbabwe had the best blood transfusion service in Africa so that "the transmission of infections through the blood is now virtually impossible in Zimbabwe."
He cited his third success as the child immunisation programme.
"With the exception of tuberculosis, we brought under control the major infectious disease threats to infants. And until the recent forex exchange problems, we were able to buy our own vaccines. The standard of child health care is very advanced." He added that the health care of the over 55s has also advanced because of concentration not just on medical services but on social health services too-"on teaching people the right way to live" and consequently Zimbabweans had more knowledge of health matters than any other nation in Africa. His challenges for the future include giving prominence to HIV/Aids issues, making pregnancy and child birth more safe, controlling threats to human health from the environment especially in urban areas, and ensuring food hygiene.
Asked to explain why it was that health had been cited as one of the biggest failures of the government, and in some circles is regarded as the biggest failure, he replied rather heatedly: "The biggest failure is how the media picks on events and difficulties. I go by practical results and not by examples such as a person waiting a long time for the doctor."
He added: "Recently, Parirenyatwa Hospital has been struggling under difficult financial circumstances. Yet the emergency system worked exactly as it was meant to after the disaster at the sports stadium. But there was no praise in the independent press for how the hospital had saved the lives of all those who had arrived there alive.
They dealt with 200 patients in two hours-five were admitted to intensive care and another 18 were admitted to the wards. And as I speak, only one remains, the rest were successfully treated and discharged-that's not a health system that's a failure.
"There are few hospitals and clinics in the country that I have not personally visited. They mostly function as they should. There are difficulties like distribution, transport, drugs, forex. . .but this does not mean that it is a health service that is collapsing."
He criticised The Standard for not being "objective" in its analysis of health sector problems and for, in his opinion, doing nothing to improve the sexual behaviour of people, for corrupting the youth and for promoting sexual crime by including sexually explicit stories on its entertainment pages. He was not prepared to accept the argument that anyone who went on to commit a sexual crime after reading an article in a newspaper had to be already sick and that newspapers were there to inform the public and help ensure an open and free society.
On the rising costs within the health sector, he had this to say: "It is more expensive but that is inevitable. It's going up internationally and those who can afford it are expected to pay."
He added that he is often angered when he hears people in the bar complaining about having to pay for the health of their children.
"As far as spending their money is concerned, the media has made them believe that it is beer first, beer second, and beer third and that the government has to pay for all health care."
On the often repeated concerns regarding the health care system such as overcrowding in hospitals, lack of beds and food, he said: "Even if there are no beds, this does not mean that the hospital system is not working. If that was so, the hospitals would be closed and the beds would be empty."
On why he was chosen for a third term as health minister, he replied: "Again, only the president can answer that. I like to think that the president has confidence in me. The BBC saw the appointment as one of window dressing. If that was the case, they would have appointed me a minister without portfolio. It was a ludicrous statement. Health is a politically sensitive portfolio."
Asked whether he had met with his shadow minister from the MDC, Blessing Chebundo, he replied: "We met and shook hands when we were sworn in. I trust we can work together provided there is correct information and openness, with the correct balance. There is no need for negative aspects to always be highlighted."
He believes that his strong faith in Jesus Christ, as well as the strong support of his wife, have given him the strength to deal with the challenges he has faced in his work. He admits that before the elections, he received much pressure from the churches to resign from Zanu PF, "on the basis of political violence as they put it which they said had led to the breakdown of law and order.
"But," he added, "I do not see it in that light but as a demonstration of people deprived of their fundamental rights. . .an attempt to restore the balance."
On the resultant loss of life he said: "In Kwazulu Natal, over 1 000 people were killed in the elections there and these were, without question, politically motivated. But the elections were declared free and fair."
Explaining the story, which was later disproved, of his so-called marriage to an under-aged rural girl a few years back, he said he had simply been role playing, doing a drama to show that traditional culture protects young women from HIV.
"There was no marriage that was actually going on. I am not interested in young girls. I have a long and faithful commitment with my wife."
In his spare time, Stamp enjoys dairy farming, stamp collecting, snooker, and cricket.
By Benhilda Chanetsa
Harare (Zimbabwe Standard, July 23, 2000) - It was clear from the consternation among Zanu PF parliamentarians when the MDC opposed the nomination of fallen giant, Emmerson Mnangagwa, for the speaker's chair, that the ruling party was yet to come to terms with the new state of affairs-the presence of a real opposition in parliament. This was on Tuesday during the swearing in ceremony for the parliamentarians by the clerk of court, Austin Zvoma.
This is probably the first time that Zanu PF has had to go for an election to choose the Speaker for the House. Members to the house were elected late last month and Zanu PF pulled a marginal victory over the MDC.
The ruling party got 62 votes ahead of MDC's 57. The other seat went to Zanu. The MDC has been in existence for only nine months. Indeed, the MDC has ushered in a new era in Zimbabwean politics, and the sooner Zanu PF comes to terms with it, the better.
Asked a man who was sitting in the public gallery: "Does Zanu PF think it is the only party in parliament? They cannot force the MDC to accept their choice and from now on they will have to go with that. This is a party that has been used to monopolising the country's political affairs."
A number of people who witnessed the swearing in ceremony could only agree that the face of parliament had changed, and gone are the days when issues affecting the nation were discussed in the Zanu PF caucus, only to be rubber stamped in parliament.
The MDC challenged Zanu PF nominations for the post of Speaker and his deputy. While Zanu PF nominated Mnangagwa, the MDC challenged the nomination and in turn, nominated respected former parliamentarian, Mike Mataure.
For the speaker's deputy, MDC challenged Edna Madzongwe's nomination by the ruling party and instead nominated the party's election director, Paul Themba Nyathi. So whipped into line were Zanu PF MPs, that the result was a huge disappointment for those who had expected a close contest, especially between Mnangagwa and Mataure.
Mnangagwa polled 87 votes against Mataure's 59. The results were a clear indication of the actual parliamentary poll resuLt. Themba Nyathi did slightly better, getting 60 of the possible 148 votes.
While it is not a secret that some of the Zanu PF MPs did not particularly favour Mnangagwa to take over the post, it also emerged that it would take some time before Zanu PF MPs can actually rebel against their party bosses' command. They are still prepared to be whipped into line, at least for now.
Ruling party gurus did not take too kindly to the realisation that two of their members had voted against their candidates and openly showed their displeasure during a break. Some Zanu PF legislators even wanted to whip the MDC into their party line and did not take kindly to MDC's challenge.
"Ah, imi vanhu makaitwa sei? Muri kuisa munhu apa hamuzivi kuti munongorohwa here? Ingoregedzai nokuti takahwinha kudhara." (Why are you wasting your time nominating someone, when you know your candidate will be beaten?) Zanu PF's intolerance for the opposition could also be seen in war veterans leader, Chenjerai Hitler Hunzvi. While it was proper for him for Zanu PF members to sing the war song, Zanu ndeyeropa, after their victory in the election for the speaker, Hunzvi could not accept MDC singing their own slogans.
They were supposed to be quiet, he seemed to think, and to this end had a heated exchange with MDC spokesman and Kuwadza-na MP, Learnmore Jongwe. "He told me to keep quiet and I asked him on what grounds he would silence me.
"It was then that he appeared incensed and started shouting abusive language and threatening to deal with me. I answered him back because I cannot be intimidated by him.
It seems Zanu PF is not yet prepared to accept the opposition," said Jongwe. Jongwe immediately took up the matter with the clerk of parliament, who asked him to write a report.
Jongwe also said the challenge they posed to Zanu PF on Tuesday was just a taste of things to come: "We will challenge anything that we do not go along with and the sooner Zanu PF get used to that, the better."
By Farai Mutsaka
Zimbabwe, the success
Its race relations are good, its judiciary unbowed, its civil society vibrant. Its leaders are a problem though
Zimbabwe: special report
Wednesday July 12, 2000
Now that the furore over Zimbabwe's election has abated, let's draw a deep breath and admit it. Zimbabwe is an African good-news story.
The country has a literacy rate of around 90%, one of the highest on the continent. Its race relations are excellent. The attempt to fan black hostility against white farmers during the election campaign was a failure, and a European can move comfortably around in Harare's African townships or the so-called communal areas where most rural Africans live without hassle or fear.
The political tension which once divided the country's two main ethnic groups, the Shona and the Ndebele, has almost disappeared. Zimbabwe's civil society is vibrant. A plethora of civic groups deal with issues from gender equality and human rights to job creation and poverty reduction.
Zimbabwe's judiciary is as firm and unbowed as it was during the colonial era. There are powerful trade unions and, though the ruling party maintains iron control over broadcasting and routinely rejects licences for independent radio stations, there is a thriving independent press.
The elections have given the country a two-party system with a strong opposition for the first time in its history. Zanu-PF's terminology may have an antiquated feel with its politburo, central committee, and comrades, but a series of government ministers and officials are welcoming the arrival of pluralism. Nathan Shamuyarira, Zanu-PF's secretary for information, expects it to "produce lively debates in parliament". This change of official tone has already had an effect on the state-owned media with unprecedented space suddenly being given to opposition views and criticism of the government.
Few other African states can rival Zimbabwe's natural advantages. It has a tourist potential which is bound to revive as the election images of intimidation fade. This year, too, the dams are full and the country is not going to starve, whatever Peter Hain may gloomily predict.
Still, there is a downside. Zimbabwe faces three major problems, and only one can plausibly be blamed on President Robert Mugabe. It is suffering from the Aids crisis more than almost any other country in Africa. About a quarter of the adult population, both rural and urban, is infected and 1,000 people are dying every week.
One key reason for Zimbabwe's vulnerability is the colonial system with its preference for migrant African labour. One of the last great crimes of the racist Ian Smith regime is the town of Chitungwiza, built 20 miles from Harare to keep the workforce well away from the European suburbs. The huge number of men forced to live on their own produces a sex industry and a climate ripe for Aids.
Controlling the disease is not helped by Zimbabwe's second strategic problem. It is an overwhelmingly patriarchal society, where women still curtsey to men. HIV-positive men go home to their villages and soon infect their wives. Only a massive expansion of sex education in schools and a shift in gender relations will have an impact.
The third difficulty is the weakness of the economy in the face of global tendencies, including the ideological havoc caused by the first wave of neo-liberal thinking in the 90s. Zimbabwe began life as an independent state a decade earlier. The massive spending on health and education in the 80s resulted in a high budget deficit, which was not helped by lower than expected foreign investment and poor prices for export commodities. This was not a case of government mismanagement but of adverse factors beyond its control.
In 1991 the government accepted an IMF structural adjustment programme which devalued the Zimbabwean dollar, opened the way to more imports, and cut the government deficit by charging for welfare services, including schools and medicine. The infant mortality rate in Harare shot up from 23.6 per 1,000 live births in 1989 to 43.2 in 1992.
The economy's liberalisation did not attract the new investment the IMF predicted. In the mid-90s, the IMF and World Bank shifted their emphasis to poverty reduction and sustainability. But in Zimbabwe the damage was done and the Zanu-PF government reacted with a volatile love-hate approach to the international financial institutions.
The crisis over white-owned land is the climax of these frustrations. But, as many Zimbabwean NGO experts on land reform point out, the government's plans are dominated by statist thinking.
Therein lies Zimbabwe's current tragedy. It is run by a generation of elderly men who have not been able to move on from the liberation struggle. Challenged for power, they fall back on a single issue, and increasingly on racism. The intimidation in the latest elections was the reflex defence of people threatened by loss of power and too inflexible to find ways of achieving consent through dialogue and compromise.
But Zimbabwe is in transition to a new generation, a new style of government, and perhaps in two years' time to a president from a new party. Coupled with its many inherent advantages, this is a story of African success.
election is over. A substantial number of results may soon be contested in the
courts. President Mugabe has appointed what may turn out to be his last Cabinet.
Focusing on individual
personalities, our over-optimistic political commentators have hailed what they
see as the arrival of a different, professional, lean and new blooded Cabinet
which should perform better.
Strangely, none of these commentators seem to recall the circumstances surrounding the elevation of some among those new ministers who must now steer our ship of State.
They seem to forget how our President, even with ample majorities, always has to scrap the barrel of his party for suitable people to appoint to certain posts in his Cabinets.
In so doing, the portfolio of Minister of Finance has always caused him so much grief one wonders why the President does not just keep it to himself, given his self-proclaimed prowess in economic management.
When Enos Nkala was appointed Zimbabwe's first Finance Minister in 1980, he had to be appointed to the Senate to qualify, having been soundly rejected by the electorate in his Matabeleland South province.
Again, when someone familiar with the economics of the International
Monetary Fund and World Bank was required to administer Esap, Dr Bernard Chidzero, a patently non-political United Nations economics mandarin, had to be recruited through the Senate just to make it to the Treasury before being imposed on the voters of Harare Central.
Upon Chidzero's retirement, the same pattern of outside recruitment for the top post in the National Treasury continued. Ariston Chambati, who had to be poached from the private sector, where he had found solace after electoral defeat, briefly took over the Treasury before his death.
Then Herbert Murerwa, who had hardly completed his apprenticeship at the Ministry of Environment and Tourism after being recalled from the relative comfort of Zimbabwe House in London, took up the key ministry, which gave him quite a bruise. May he have better luck at Higher Education with those feisty student unionists!
Curiously, Zanu PF's own secretary for finance, Emmerson Mnangagwa, an elected parliamentarian until recently, only occasionally acted as Minister of Finance.
Things were not going very well for Simba Makoni when he left the Industry and Energy portfolio to run Sadc, where he spent two terms.
They did not go much better when he had to contend with the late Editor of The Herald, Charles Chikerema, at Herald House, whence he beat a hasty retreat.
His recent attempts to return to the political fray through Zanu PF ranks collapsed suddenly, and now without the slightest vetting by this heavily taxed electorate he becomes our top taxman.
Why is it that our Treasury must always be headed by electoral casualties?
Would our Ministers of Finance not be more sensitive to taxpayers' interests if we had to elect them directly as Members of Parliament?
New blood, really? What is this new portfolio in our Cabinet called 'Youth Development, Gender and Employment Creation' all about?
The incumbent himself is the best clue. Feminists beware: Border 'Madzibaba' (Patriarchy) Gezi now heads Zimbabwe's Ministry of Gender! And what does this neologism 'Youth Development' really mean in the Zimbabwean context?
Again the incumbent's role in recent elections illuminates. During the electoral imbroglio with the opposition, 'Madzibaba' distinguished himself as the star gangster in the mutation of Zanu PF youth into a local 'brownshirts' posse.
Whatever 'employment creation' programmes 'Madzibaba' now proposes for the nation must be understood in the context of the violence that he enthusiastically helped unleash upon the rural masses in the run-up to the recent parliamentary election.
Their 'gender content' will be inseparable from the raping of many young women in those areas.
Hitler Hunzvi, don't cry. Your association's ministry is alive and well after all. Your services will be badly needed in the impeding presidential election.
Not long ago, Nkosana Moyo appeared like a highly electable independent, a real non-partisan prospect for Harare Central. Then he suddenly withdrew without explanation, only to miraculously emerge as another surprise guest at the high table.
Had he remained non-partisan and entered Parliament democratically, his appointment as minister might have carried more weight. Are such people best for our country?
Francis Nhema is a nice, smooth-talking young man. A veteran information attache to some of our foreign missions as well as a former official in his present ministry, he rose into the ranks of ruling elite quite strategically. The collapse of the Zimbabwe Building Society under his directorship makes his direct passage to Cabinet rather risky, his own legal problems, which Mugabe referred to, notwithstanding.
The appointment of Jonathan Moyo to head the Information and Publicity
Department in the President's Office is the most ominous one. Moyo is the natural successor to the Big Cockerel himself. Who better to carry the tradition of mocking 'totemless' foreigners in those undisciplined ghettos in future elections than this professor?
What better medium to express the deepest-felt hostilities towards 'the enemy and everything close to him' than this ferocious genius, the repository and expression of the most virulent hatreds that have corroded the human breast?
Harare (Zimbabwe Standard, July 23, 2000) - Morgan Tsvangirai, president of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), has called on all patriotic Zimbabweans to desert Zanu PF as it is now an irrelevant and totally discredited party. Addressing thousands of people who attended a victory celebration party for Trudy Stevenson, the new member of parliament for Harare North, at Hatcliffe grounds last Sunday, Tsvangirai said Zanu PF was now an irrelevant rural party which was rapidly turning into an anti-worker organisation.
"Zanu PF has distinguished itself as a failure. The time has come for people with vision to leave Zanu PF and join the MDC," Tsvangirai said, drawing thunderous applause from the residents of this famished suburb.
The MDC president said Zanu PF no longer had much to offer to the people of Zimbabwe, who, he said, were now fed up with the ruling elite's unfulfilled promises. He told the gathering that his party had a progressive programme which was set to salvage Zimbabwe from its current state of poverty.
"MDC has come up with a programme for change which, if given a chance, will turn Zimbabwe into a vibrant social democracy. We have a relevant programme geared towards ending the problem of homelessness in urban areas," the MDC leader said in reference to what has been dubbed the Hatcliffe squatter problem.
He added that employment creation was part of MDC's social agenda which, he emphasised, was created with the idea of upholding social stability in the country. Turning to Trudy Stevenson, Tsvangirai urged the parliamentarian to come up with a strategic plan that will address the needs of the Harare North constituency.
"It is good that the people have elected you into office. Now you should come up with a strategic constituency plan to improve the residents' lives," Tsvangirai said, drawing cheers from Hatcliffe women who entertained the crowd with revolutionary song and dance.
Commenting non the recent parliamentary elections, Tsvangirai said MDC was robbed of victory. "It is abundantly clear that we won the election.
Zanu PF rigged. We were robbed of victory," he said of the June 24 and 25 polls in which Zanu PF was nearly walloped by the nine-months-old MDC.
Tsvangirai said that the post-election period had seen the ruling party venting its anger on urban dwellers who, he said, voted en masse against "Zanuism".
"The presence of soldiers in residential areas is highly unnecessary. It is an act of desperation aimed at punishing the people who said 'no' to Zanu PF's promises and lies," the MDC president said in reference to the deployment of Zimbabwe National Army personnel in residential areas of Harare and Kwekwe. He said the deployment of the army to the high density suburbs showed the ruling party's lack of commitment to peace.
Said Tsvangirai: "MDC is committed to peace. There is no need to turn Zimbabwe into another Rwanda. We must remain a peaceful country."
He said the police action which culminated in the deaths of 13 football fans at the National Sports Stadium on 8 July was politically motivated. "Some politicians are interfering with the professional duties of the Zimbabwe Republic Police," said Tsvangirai.
He reiterated that his party would always respect professional members of the army and police. Addressing the same gathering, Isaac Matongo, the MDC's national chairman, said those who voted Zanu PF were free to join MDC in celebrating the party's good showing in the elections.
Matongo urged MDC cadres to woo Zanu PF's remaining supporters to the labour- backed party.
"Zanu PF is as good as a sinking ship. As custodians of a better Zimbabwe, we have an uphill task of convincing every Zimbabwean that the MDC gospel is the gospel for the salvation of Zimbabweans. Tell our brothers and sisters, who are still at Zanu PF to come over to MDC. They need MDC and MDC needs them," Matongo told the gathering.
By Earnest Mudzengi
HARARE (July 21) XINHUA - Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe Friday mourned the loss of 58 seats to opposition parties in the county's fifth parliamentary election, saying that signaled a protest against the party.
Mugabe, also First Secretary of the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Font (Zanu-pf), opened the party's Central Committee meeting in Harare, describing the loss as a political disaster.
He said, "In most of the constituencies which the party conceded to the opposition, the margins of defeat were quite wide, possibly indicating that the protest was quite strongly felt."
"This could very easily translate into a deep chasm between such disgruntled supporters and the party," he said, adding that " such a development would be inauspicious for the future of our party,"
In the country's parliamentary election on June 24-25, the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) gained 57 seats and Zanu (Ndonga) garnered one seat.
MDC swept almost all the urban seats and gained almost all rural seats in the Matebeleland region of west Zimbabwe.
Mugabe said it was clear that Zanu-pf had lost in urban centers because of the adverse economic conditions prevailing in the country.
"It was difficult to see how the party would escape the winter of urban discontent and the harsh political verdict that this brings about in electoral terms," said Mugabe.
He said, "Little wonder then that the bulk of the support and vote for the opposition came from urban or peri-urban dwellers, chiefly from among the unemployed or frustrated youths."
The president noted that the country was facing a difficult macro-economic condition, causing high inflation to raise the cost of living and the erosion of real wages and incomes for the workers.
In that situation, he said, the opposition did not need to present any new policies because voters were more interested in registering their unhappiness against Zanu-pf.
He said the greatest weakness facing Zanu-pf was that it lacked strong structures needed for communication and mobilization.
It is reported that Zanu-pf has been rocked by factionalism in almost all the provinces with members attempting to dislodge each other from provincial structures.
Harare (Zimbabwe Standard, July 23, 2000) - When we go back in time to 1980, we recall how some of us embraced the attainment of Zimbabwe's independence, some with pride, others with apprehension, and some with nonchalance.
I, for one, was optimistic in that having been around long enough to see the disastrous independence farces of some of the countries on the African continent, ours would be one of the better examples of governance. Surely, our leaders would have learnt by others' mistakes? But no, they chose to tread that same chaotic road and we are now paying dearly for trusting them with our destiny.
On 18th April, 1980, we were subjected to, in a national broadcast by Mr. Mugabe, the embracement of our newly won liberation. He said: "As we become a new people, we are called to be constructive, progressive and forever forward- looking.
For we cannot afford to be men of yesterday, backward looking, retrogressive and destructive". He was young then, spirited, and willing to give it a jolly good bash.
The pent up feelings were kept in check. Dormant, so they would lie until. . .? Mutereri Muchenjeri was right when he said: "You are rich. Wealth is words. No one can take that wealth away from you. Events and processes that are part of our lives are so eloquently narrated down the 'family line'. Yes, even our names are history."
Any event from time immemorial is recorded by word of mouth until its subsequent translation into written memorabilia-history. Our president is rich in words. Every time he opens his mouth, he speaks fluently.
Anybody can be taken in by his assumed judicious eloquence, but after his apparent show of magnanimity, after his resounding humiliation of the nation's rejection's draft constitution in February, we became alert to many things. Again I quote from his address to the nation on 18 April 1980: "If yesterday I fought you as an enemy, today you have become a friend and ally with the same national interests, loyalties, rights and duties as myself. . .If ever we look to the past, let us do so for the lessons the past has taught us. Oppression and racism are iniquities that must never again find scope in our political system. It could never be a correct justification that because the whites oppressed us yesterday when they had power, the blacks must oppress them today. An evil remains an evil whether practised by white against black or by black against white."
It is now time to congratulate the winners of our recently held parliamentary elections, albeit its glaring dubiety. Their measly victory is truly controversial, but I will say here and now and I am of the opinion that 80% of our nation will concur with my affirmation that our nine-month-old baby is the winner of the June 24/25 polls; our own, healthy bouncing baby, the Movement for Democratic Change.
And hearty congratulations are thus conveyed to all the members of MDC for a valiant effort; a glorious victory against a government that refused or refuses to accept reality and acceptance of its inevitable demise. The nation has spoken.
The torture and rape of our people, unarmed and helpless, the rampant and callous destruction of property, theft and the ultimate crime against the human race-murder-has put paid to this destructive machine that is Zanu PF and its inveterate principle of anarchy. Ian Smith's rhetoric failed because the realisation by the people of racist divisive drivel, was the cornerstone to the liberation uprising and the consequent sanctions.
His was thrown out as is becoming the case with the Zanu PF destructive machine. But what is the reason for our president's maniacal lust for power? What is the motive for destroying this land, a land that is blessed with a multiplicity of riches? What is the reason for the continued harassment of the people? His inability to accept rivalry and defeat seems to border on paranoid schizophrenia.
It is beyond the scope of normal explanation. We can only conclude that Mr. Mugabe has no feelings for anyone but himself and his glory.
His opportunism is dangerous, and it makes us think that these displays of hatred and aggressiveness against people who are fellow countrymen and with whom he can identify with, are the resultant actions of a psychopath. Healthy people are not this hostile.
Secure people are not as hostile. The deployment of the military to the suburbs and elsewhere must be reversed.
The police must now carry out their normal duties with professionalism and diligence. They must be an impartial body, as must be the soldiers.
President Mugabe does not have the power, nor the will to govern this country, neither will he lead it out of its present quagmire. As our head of state, he has lost not only our respect, but that of the international community as well.
Many a man in these circumstances has failed because he had his wishbone where his backbone should have been. We trust that democracy and its ensuing principles will be accorded to the nation, as is desired and called for, by the recent poll results.
We must, however, beware of the man who over emphasises his desire to be fair and honest. Fear is an unpleasant emotion.
Everyone fears death, because it is an unknown destiny to all. It is a certainty into the unknown.
We are now at the crossroads, but our destiny is still to be decided. We are apprehensive.
We are afraid, yet we should not be given the opposition to democracy that we now face. Ours is an acceptable fear, because we know the bunch that governs us and the horrendous atrocities they have meted out in the past and are meting out now, nationwide.
However, theirs is another fear. Theirs is a fear of the 'known'.
The heat has been turned up now and the gravy in the pot is evaporating, burning up, and there is no way that the gravy pot is going to be replenished. This is what happens when you mess up your food supply (with farmers displaced during the farm invasions).
This is what happens when financial suppliers are lied to (the IMF and World Bank). There are no more world jaunts, no more prestige.
Not even begging trips to beg or borrow. No more shamwaris, just because of arrogance, greed, hypocrisy and fear.
What is so disastrous about losing votes? Why the panic and morbid aversion to being an ordinary citizen in graceful and honourable seclusion? Is it the fear of being a nobody, an ordinary somebody? We are looking at a nation that has been divided, not by ordinary people, but by its head of state. We are divided by flagrant, racialistic and tribalistic outbursts by all and sundry in the Zanu PF camp.
The one party state will be no more. We thank you, the nation, for your undeniable support and trust.
We thank you for the forward thrust. It is going to take a very long time to regain our esteem as a safe and viable country and a destination for many others.
The new 'Turks' in Zanu PF must now prove their worth. The 'babies' in the opposition must also prove that theirs is an arduous, but attainable task.
The onus is now on them to make the necessary contributions in parliament and government, for Zimbabwe's resurrection. Democracy in Zimbabwe must be a democracy with no short-cuts.
Clarity must be forcefully exercised and the will to rule effectively, instituted. How many real war veterans are really proud of Zanu PF's land acquisition and land-grabbing strategy? I am prepared to bet that some, even in the top echelons in the nation's current national disaster-Zanu PF-are not proud of the way this operation is being conducted.
But they too are afraid or spineless to stand up and express their dissension, lest they lose their rights, privileges, and whatever freebies they get. Money is the root of all evil.
A recent news item revealed a 'war vet' admitting that he participated in the farm invasions for a paltry $3 000. Life and limb were lost, for that much.
A national food crisis is looming because of these fools' greed and stupidity, for a measly amount of money sourced from where? And how many of these sleazy, greedy illiterate 'war vets' were paid this lousy $3 000? Damages to Zimbabwe's economy far exceeds these measly sums of monetary bonuses paid to irresponsible layabouts, the stench of a decadent dictatorship. It is alleged that $20 million dollars was dished out as payment to these land disrupters.
Some are now actually demanding their stipend. We have a coercive government and I would have been utterly ashamed to acknowledge a victory under these auspices.
The defection fever is around, and my advice to Morgan Tsvangirai and his party, is to be wary of these deserters to your ranks. Claims of vast experience by some who have thoroughly messed up their places of work must be vetted.
What is not wanted in any organisation are opportunists and surreptitious agitators in the MDC. Some people will defect to MDC, simply to cause in- fighting therein, whilst others may be genuine seekers for democratic principles.
Members who express denial of party membership must be screened as well. The people will not feel secure if all and sundry are to be accepted into the MDC stable, especially those who fell by the wayside during the recent polls.
However, democratic principles must prevail and any new membership applicants must be treated with respect. We have seen the postulation of moral standards to which some of the ministers' and the president's behaviour does not conform.
That is hypocrisy. We Zimbabweans do not want to entertain, nor be entertained by, spurious personalities.
We do not need a circus or animal farm programme.
By Mealan R Zerf
Harare (Zimbabwe Standard, July 23, 2000) - Paddington Japajapa, Zimbabwe's self-styled "minister of war", has joined the multitudes of former Zanu PF stalwarts who are trekking from the ruling party to the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).
Japajapa, who contested as an independent for the Dzivarasekwa constituency in last month's general election, after losing in the Zanu PF primaries, confirmed to The Standard on Wednesday that he had joined the nine-month-old labour-backed party as an ordinary member. The MDC nearly upset Zanu PF when it scooped 57 seats against Zanu PF's 62 and Zanu's one seat in an election that has generally been described by observers as heavily flawed in favour of the ruling party.
"It's now or never. I will not go backwards, come death or violence," said Japajapa, who claims to be the second largest employer in Harare's Warren Park suburb.
"I have been in the wilderness for the past 10 years supporting a party dominated by bullies. The party (Zanu PF) has failed to stimulate economic growth and has ruled the country for the past 20 years with an iron fist," he told The Standard.
Japajapa said it would be political suicide for him to remain in Zanu PF as people no longer trusted Zanu PF, adding that President Robert Mugabe was going to be humiliated by the MDC's Morgan Tsvangirai in the 2002 presidential election. "In the last election, Zanu PF survived through intimidation, but now the people have come to realise that they can vote for another party and still survive.
The winds of change are sweeping across Africa. All governments related to liberation struggles are being swept away because the youth now constitute the majority of voters.
Most of the dinosaurs will be out of politics very soon because their politics is no longer appealing to the youth. You can't preach to them about war and land-they want to know what they are going to eat tomorrow," he said.
Japajapa dismissed the 'land issue', which has been persistently used by Zanu PF as its election campaign trump card, as secondary.
"The land issue is secondary to the youth. They want their immediate problems to be solved. The unemployed youths are a dangerous lot because they are lying idle, yet they are educated, hence they can become radicals. Even if a rebel movement is formed to oust the government, they will join it as they are a frustrated lot."
Japajapa, who said being a "minister of war" meant he was at the forefront of the struggle for black empowerment, said while the recently appointed cabinet was composed of men of integrity, not much could be done as long as Zanu PF was in power. "Even if it performs beyond the wildest expectation, it is doomed to fail because the name Zanu PF is no longer wanted. It's now equated to Satan by some people."
He also took a swipe at President Mugabe for neglecting the masses by not including an indigenisation ministry.
"We have been cheated by the president who did not put a ministry responsible for indigenisation. A lot of money has been put for research by various organisations, such as the UNDP. What is going to happen to that money. He has cheated us. He campaigned on an indigenisation card, but now that he has gained 62 seats, he ditches us."
Japajapa suggested that the indigenisation portfolio be slotted together with the ministry of youth and development.
"What do we need a ministry of gender for?" he said with reference to the new ministry of youth development, gender and employment creation. "A ministry of he's and she's? Do we have a shortage of men and women in Zimbabwe?"
By Staff Writer