(AFP) - 7 hours ago
HARARE - Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai on Saturday said compensation must
be considered for victims of Zimbabwe's political violence as the country
held a weekend of national reconciliation.
"We cannot bring back our loved ones who died neither can we restore broken
limbs but what we can do is pay compensation. Some form of compensation has
to be considered," Tsvangirai said.
He pledged confidence in Zimbabwe's unity government, formed with President
Robert Mugabe in February after months of ruinous deadlock, but warned that
this could change if there was no full commitment from his partners.
"I am very confident Zimbabwe is changing. We have not option but to make
sure this process succeeds," Tsvangirai said in a public update on the unity
"Let there be no doubt that if there is no full commitment by all parties,
we may reach a stage where we may revise our position."
The two former rivals launched the three days of national healing on Friday
when Mugabe called for an end to political violence, standing alongside
Tsvangirai for only the second time in pubic since the government was
Religious leaders at a prayer service on Saturday committed to help the
government move forward, saying Zimbabwe faced "a goliath" of polarisation
"We have been here before, maybe 30 years ago, in 1980. We should never come
back here again," said Goodwills Shana, chair of the heads of Christian
denominations of Zimbabwe, referring to post-independence reconciliation.
"We should never keep repeating the lessons of violence and coming back to
places of reconciliation. We must say once and for all, never again," Shana
told 200 people at a service in the capital.
The peace weekend will mark the start of efforts to find justice for victims
of unrest that left at least 180 dead, mostly MDC supporters, Tsvangirai
told Friday's launch, saying reparation needs to be openly discussed.
The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has reported ongoing attacks
against party members, and Tsvangirai on Saturday spoke out against partisan
targeting of his party.
"Our MPs are being arrested. You cannot have a selective application of the
law. If the MDC is accused of violence what about those from ZANU-PF who
were beating up people," said Tsvangirai.
The issue of the date of the appointment of provincial governors, an earlier
sticking point, had now been settled, but a stalemate over reserve bank
governor and attorney-general posts was awaiting regional mediation, he
The unity government was formed nearly a year after contentious polls, that
saw Mugabe fail to win a majority for the first time in nearly 30 years, to
rescue the country from a bitter political crisis and economic ruin.
The cash-strapped government is seeking more than eight billion dollars in
aid and has so far secured some two billion in loan pledges mainly from
Africa and China.
From Eye Witness News (SA), 24 July
As the cash crunch bites in Zimbabwe government ministers have been told to
stop talking on their cell phones. Finance Minister Tendai Biti is cutting
down on airtime, fuel allowances and foreign trips. Until now, getting a
ministerial post in Zimbabwe meant all sorts of perks but now Biti has told
ministers they are being watched. Ministers will no longer be able to chat
for as long as they want on their government-issued cell phones. They have
been enjoying almost unlimited airtime on contract lines, with the
government footing the bill. That is a huge perk in a country where inflated
fixed line tariffs, mean average phone bills run into thousands of rand.
Biti has told ministers they will now have to have pre-paid lines. That may
mean the ministers will have to scratch telephone-juice cards like nearly
The map above illustrates constituencies where seats are exposed to by-elections as a result of MP deaths and MP convictions. One seat that has fallen vacant is due to Lovemore Moyo becoming Speaker.
In addition to this, there are nine other seats which are currently under threat because of MPs awaiting trail. Two of these nine seats are held by Zanu PF, and three of the deaths were also Zanu PF seats. This means the MDC-T potentially faces 12 by-elections (assuming those awaiting trial are convicted and lose their appeals and imprisoned for more than six months) and ZanuPF potentially faces five by-elections, under the same terms. This means the overwhelming majority of seats which are exposed to by-elections are held by MDC-T, seriously threatening their parliamentary majority.
As we note at the end of this blog, Robert Mugabe is charged with calling the by-elections, and the longer he delays calling the elections, the closer we come to the end of the one year agreement where the three main parties agreed to not field candidates against each other.
Gokwe-Gumunyu: death of Ephrem Mushoriwa (ZANU-PF)- majority 2945
Matobo North: seat vacated by Lovemore Moyo (Speaker - MDC) - majority 474
Guruve North: death of Cletus Mabaranga (ZANU-PF) - majority 6496
Bindura North: death of Eliot Manyika (ZANU-PF) - majority 8975
Convicted, and under
Zaka North: Ernest Mudavanhu (MDC MT) convicted on charges of abusing subsidised farming inputs - sentenced to 12 months in prison - majority 3366
Chipinge South: Meki Makuyana (MDC MT) convicted of kidnapping a minor - sentenced to 12 months with hard labour - majority 3163
Mutare West: Shuah Mudiwa (MDC MT) convicted of kidnapping a minor - sentenced to 7 years in prison - majority 22
Chipinge East: Mathias Mlambo (MDC MT) convicted of inciting public violence - sentenced to 10 months - majority 2872
Chimanimani West: Lynette Karenyi convicted of allegedly forging her nomination papers - fined - majority 1446*
Mutasa Central: Trevor Saruwaka (MDDC MT) pending trial for kidnapping a minor - majority 4483
Kwekwe Central: Blessing Chebundo (MDC MT) arrested on a charge of rape and on bail awaiting trial - majority 2581
Dzivarasekwa: Evelyn Masaiti (MDC MT) pending trial for abusing subsidised farming inputs - majority 3605
Bikita West: Heya Shoko (MDC MT) pending trial for abusing subsidised farming inputs - majority 19
Masvingo West: Tachiona Mharadza (MDC MT) pending trial for abusing subsidised farming inputs - majority 392
Chivi North: Tranos Huruba (ZANU PF) pending trial for abusing subsidised farming inputs - majority 1949
Chivi South: Irvin Dzingirayi (ZANU PF) pending trial for abusing subsidised farming inputs - majority 3544
Gutu East: Ransome Makamure (MDC MT) pending trial for abusing subsidised farming inputs - majority 989
Gutu North: Hamandishe Maramwidze (MDC MT) pending trial for abusing subsidised farming inputs - majority 702
*NB: Lynette Karenyi, MP for Chimanimani West’s case is slightly different because she was fined, not jailed. However her right to the seat is being challenged in a High Court civil case by her March 2008 ZANU-PF opponent, on the basis of her conviction for involvement in the forgery of a nominator’s signature on her nomination paper [the sentence imposed was insufficient to trigger section 42 of the Constitution]. So although the conviction did not result in a by-election, her opponent is still using the outcome of trial to push for a by-election.
Further, those convicted MPs that win their appeals will obviously be reinstated as an MP for their constituency.
Last month we blogged an alert circulated by Veritas titled MDC-T Parliamentary Seats Under Threat in which Veritas pointed out that:
An MP or Senator convicted of an offence and sentenced to six months or more imprisonment is immediately suspended from Parliament and will eventually lose his or her seat unless the sentence is reduced or set aside on appeal [Constitution, section 42]. Consequently, the seat of any legislator accused of a serious offence must be regarded as under threat.
In a Bill Watch Special Issue on 17th May, Veritas note that:
It is frequently assumed that the IPA lays down that there will be no by-elections until after 15th September [twelve months after the signing of the IPA]. That is incorrect. The IPA states that during those twelve months “should any electoral vacancy arise in respect of a local authority or parliamentary seat, for whatever reason, only the party holding that seat prior to the vacancy occurring shall be entitled to nominate and field a candidate to fill the seat subject to that party complying with the rules governing its internal democracy” [IPA, Article 21.1]. In other words, the three parties agree not to stand against each other in by-elections – but this cannot prevent other parties or independent candidates from exercising their legal right to contest by-elections under the Electoral Act and the Constitution.
Read the full text of Article 21 on the Sokwanele website here.
In Bill Watch 20, Veritas note that some of the by-elections date back to 2008 and that these are very delayed:
These are long overdue – under section 39 of the Electoral Act a by-election proclamation must be gazetted within 14 days of the President receiving notification of a vacancy. Parliament has stated that all vacancies were promptly notified to the President’s Office. A recent newspaper report stated that it was up to ZEC to set the by-election procedure in motion, but that is not so. ZEC has to wait for the proclamations to be gazetted by the President . [Note: This is not a matter in which the President is free to act as he thinks fit; he must act in accordance with Cabinet advice. So the inclusive government as a whole is responsible for these inordinate delays.]
Bill Watch 20 explore the possible reasons for the delays our emphasis added:
Why These Delays in Holding By-Elections?
The Government has put forward no satisfactory explanation for its failure to call the by-elections – in spite of the fact that this has left the constituencies concerned without representation in Parliament for many months, in breach of the Electoral Act and of the constitutional rights of the voters in those constituencies. The law is absolutely clear that these vacancies should have been filled. If the Electoral Act’s requirements for calling by-elections are not complied with, the High Court can order compliance, provided an interested party takes the trouble to go to court; that happened in Bulawayo last year when a by-election was unduly delayed.
There is a worry that waiting for the vacancies resulting from existing MPs being appointed as new provincial governors [end of August, see below] will be another reason put forward for further delays. If by-elections are delayed till mid-September, this would raise the spectre of election violence. The IPA tried to put a moratorium of 12 months on election violence. In Article 21 the three parties declared their awareness of the “divisive and often times confrontational nature of elections and by-elections”, noted the need to allow the IPA to take root amongst the parties and the people, and recognized the need to give people breathing space and a healing period. They accordingly agreed that for a period of 12 months from the signing of the IPA [which period expires on 15th September] should any electoral vacancy arise, “only the party holding that seat prior to the vacancy occurring shall be entitled to nominate and field a candidate to fill the seat”. [Note: this does not rule out by-elections, it is merely an agreement that the three parties will not field candidates against each other – only the party previously holding the seat will field a candidate.]
Another reason why by-elections should be held promptly is that the MDC majority in the House of Assembly is very tenuous and it has already been reduced. The nearer the MDCs come to losing their majority and ZANU-PF to gaining a majority, the more violent by-elections are likely to be if postponed. The by-elections should be held now while there is a moratorium on the three parties of the IPA competing against each other.
The one-year specified, expiring on the 15th September 2009, is less than two months away.
by Lizwe Sebata Saturday 25 July 2009
BULAWAYO - Zimbabwe faces more power outages after regional suppliers
reduced quantities the country can import from them at any given time due to
failure to pay outstanding debt, a top official has said.
Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA) ZESA Holdings business planning
manager, Engineer Patrick Chivaura, said supplies to the country were
reduced because of ZESA's failure to clear arrears by June 30.
Power generators from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Mozambique and
Zambia had given ZESA up to June 30 to clear a total US$57 million debt for
electricity supplies, which the state-owned Zimbabwean energy firm failed to
Zimbabwe owes $40.3 million to Hydroelectrica Cahora Bassa (HCB) of
Mozambique, US$9.8 million to Snel of the Democratic Republic of Congo and
$1.7 million to Zambia's (Zambian Electricity Supply Commission) ZESCO.
A further $5.7 million is owed to Mozambican electricity distribution
company, EDM Power.
"There will be an intensification of electricity blackouts since the amount
of electricity that we can import at any given time has been reduced until
we clear our debts," Engineer Chivaura told delegates attending a conference
on the sidelines of the Zimbabwe's mining exhibition, Mine Entra in Bulawayo
Western and Far East exhibitors snubbed the Mine Entra showcase that began
on Wednesday and ended Friday.
"There is limited power we can access from Mozambique, Zambia and DRC, our
regional suppliers, at the present moment because of our failure to pay on
time," Chivaura added without mentioning when the regional suppliers cut
back electricity supplies to Zimbabwe.
Zimbabwe imports 35 percent of its electricity requirements - between 350
and 500 megawatts -from neighbouring countries.
The country requires about 1 700 megawatts of electricity at any given time
but ZESA that faces myriad challenges is only producing 890 megawatts,
resulting in a shortfall of 410 megawatts, thereby sparking power outages.
Coal shortages have also crippled ZESA's ability to produce enough
electricity from thermal power stations at Hwange and Munyati and in
Bulawayo and Harare.
The country's major coal supplier, Hwange Colliery Company (HCC), reduced
coal supplies to ZESA due to a failure to clear debts for supplies. -
July 25 2009 at 05:15PM
A Zimbabwean-born South African business mogul, whose
multibillion-rand business empire was nationalised by President Robert
Mugabe in 2004, is on the verge of getting his empire back, thanks to
President Jacob Zuma.
And all that Zuma had to do was to invite Mutumwa Mawere to his May
inauguration, at which a chance interaction happened between Mawere, Mugabe
and former president Thabo Mbeki.
Mawere had tried to sue Mbeki in the Constitutional Court to force the
former president to intervene in his case because he was a South African
Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke had dismissed Mawere's case
against Mbeki. Mawere became a South African citizen in 2002, a year before
he fled Zimbabwe after his battles with Mugabe began.
It is not clear in what capacity Mawere was invited to Zuma's
inauguration. But at a luncheon hosted by Zuma for invited heads of state
and government and other special guests, Mawere bumped into Mugabe, who had
once labelled the businessman a "crook".
A friendly discussion began in the presence of Mbeki. Mawere took
advantage of the interaction to argue his case that the seizure of his SMM
business empire, valued at more than $350-million (R2,7-billion) and which
included the third-largest asbestos mines in the world, telecommunication,
agro-manufacturing, property and financial services firms, had been unjust.
He again met Mugabe before he left and presented him with a pile of
Mugabe said he had not been apprised of all the facts when he approved
the seizure of Mawere's business empire and promised to look into the case
upon returning to Zimbabwe, which he did. Mugabe promptly appointed Reserve
Bank Governor Gideon Gono to look into Mawere's case and recommend a way
In a dramatic U-turn, Gono, who had earlier led the state case against
Mawere after accusing the businessman of contravening the country's foreign
exchange laws, then recommended to Mugabe that Mawere's companies be given
back to him because the circumstances in which they were seized were unjust.
Gono's full report to Mugabe has sparked a fierce battle between Gono
and Mugabe's ministers opposed to giving the companies back. Several
meetings have been held in the past few weeks in which Justice Minister
Patrick Chinamasa and Defence Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa have opposed
Gono's report. Sources close to the meetings say Mnangagwa and Chinamasa are
shocked at Gono's U-turn because he formulated the charges that led to the
seizure of Mawere's companies. Zimbabwe had, in fact, sought Mawere's
extradition from South Africa to face trial in Harare after he fled the
country in 2003 on the strength of Gono's charges. The extradition bid was
dismissed by a South African court.
But in his report, Gono argued that the main premise on which Mawere's
companies were seized had been illegal. The government had passed a
"Reconstruction Order" to seize Mawere's companies because they were
"insolvent" and indebted to the state.
But Gono argued that the companies were not insolvent and the entities
to which they were indebted were not state entities as claimed.
"It is recommended that your excellency approve the de-specification
of Mr Mawere and his companies, so as to pave the way for a new beginning,
particularly in the context of investment promotion and empowerment in
Zimbabwe," Gono's report said.
Alfas Gwaradzimba, who has been the administrator of the seized
business empire, has hit back at Gono, accusing the central bank governor of
trying to absolve Mawere of his alleged criminal deeds for sinister motives.
Gono has, in turn, accused Gwaradzimba, a close ally of Chinamasa, of
creaming off Mawere's companies by collecting six percent of gross proceeds
from the business empire and disposing of assets.
The ferocious battle among Mugabe's cronies and information emerging
over the goings-on in the operations of the SMM empire have clearly
exemplified the nature of the relationship between politicians and
businessmen in Zimbabwe.
Since Gono is Mugabe's closest ally, sources say his recommendations
will soon be implemented and Mawere will get his companies back. For all
that, Mawere will have to thank Zuma for enabling his chance meeting with
Mugabe which kickstarted the events that have resulted in Gono's
This article was originally published on page 8 of The Star on July
by Tapera Kapuya Saturday 25 July 2009
OPINION: Speaking at the burial of veteran nationalist Akim Ndlovu, ZANU PF
party leader and Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe quipped that the writing
of the country's new constitution will not be a "mass party".
The aged leader has not hidden his liking for the Kariba Draft - negotiated
in secrecy by the ruling political parties' representatives: Welshman Ncube,
Tendai Biti and Patrick Chinamasa.
The Draft was agreed on in 2007 - a year before the September 2008 Global
Political Agreement (GPA) that led to the formation of the unity government.
Reasons for his preference are easy to read and should provide enough cause
for the pro-democracy movement to remain vigilant. The Kariba Draft retains
a system of executive fundamentalism that has so undermined good governance,
nurtured corruption and stifled democracy.
The draft carves for the president unchecked and exclusive authority,
placing him above all citizens and the law. He has unfettered powers to make
all key appointments with the only requirement being that he consults bodies
which he would have appointed himself - a classic treatise on how to consult
These appointments range from ministers, permanent secretaries, judges,
Reserve Bank Governor, Attorney General, ambassadors to chairpersons of
various commissions set out in the Draft - including the Electoral
As if not having learnt anything from our immediate history, the Draft gives
the president exclusive powers over the military including the power to
declare war. No cabinet or parliamentary approval is required, until after
sometime - by which the country would already be at war.
Using existing provisions in the Lancaster House constitution, Mugabe
sacrificed the lives of many of our soldiers in the DRC. This adventure in
1998 depleted over a billion dollars in unbudgeted resources - setting in
motion the collapse of the economy.
The president also has powers to declare a state of emergency and martial
law without Cabinet and Parliament approval. We have had an experience of a
state of emergency and martial law before: 1964 until 1990.
During this time, a number of atrocities were committed under the banner of
preserving state security. Mugabe's admitted "moment of madness" saw an
estimated 20 000 people being butchered in Matabeleland, and several
hundreds disappeared across the country.
Civil liberties were suspended - and political freedoms entertained to the
extent to which they were either state sanctioned or aided the state.
In normal democracies, parliament is meant to provide checks on the
executive in addition to its duty of law making. A president who violates
the constitution or deliberately fails to defend it can be impeached.
Yet in Zimbabwe, the drafters of Kariba sought a constitution that removes
any parliamentary sanction against him. Instead, the president is handed a
sledge hammer to smash parliament: powers to dissolve parliament. This power
can be exercised as he wishes - without need to consult or show reason.
Such powers are as enticing to politicians seeking to retain political power
as they are to those seeking to acquire it. The same can not be said for the
country - the less power politicians have, the healthier the nation.
The Draft is a perfect tool for dictators and a monumental retard of
This is the draft that in all likelihood will be presented to the people.
The other parties to the GPA have been trying to convince Zimbabweans and
the world that this will not be case. But experience militates against their
For a start, few Zimbabweans would have believed that the Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) party would sign such a scandal as the ill-named
GPA. Any reading of the document proves that ZANU PF had an upper hand.
Even after losing the 2008 elections, Mugabe walked away being both head of
state and head of government. He chairs Cabinet. Morgan Tsvangirai, the
winner of the elections has had to live with being reminded by some
ministers and security chiefs that they take orders "only from the
Issues remain unresolved. Mugabe refuses to swear in the MDC nominee for
deputy in the agriculture ministry, Roy Bennet; Gideon Gono and Johannes
Tomana remain in office; Mugabe's appointees remain as permanent
secretaries, giving Mugabe control of the administration of all ministries
and; Mugabe refuses to convene the National Security Council.
In the past months, we have witnessed the use of the courts to decimate the
MDC lead in the House of Assembly. Seven MDC Members of Parliament have been
conveniently convicted or are facing trial on charges that carry custodial
sentences that disqualify them from Parliament.
In all these situations, the MDC has done little apart from releasing
statements and "referring matters to SADC". As the party waits for a
response from SADC, Mugabe's onslaught continues.
It is not difficult to see where power lies in this government: The MDC
looks like guests of a delinquent.
The GPA sets a number of areas of focus and deliverables. Most of these
require nothing but goodwill to achieve. These include the unlocking of
civil and political liberties, allowing the free movement of humanitarian
aid, freeing the media and stopping political violence.
Five months into the life of this transitional regime, we are yet to see any
signs of these matters being addressed.
Considering that the MDC is failing to win on these issues, it is difficult
to imagine the party gathering enough strength and conviction to fight off
the possible imposition of the Kariba Draft. Mugabe has since reminded
everyone that they agreed to the Kariba Draft.
On its part, the MDC has developed the narrative of "incremental change". It
Some elements in the party are of the thinking that the "constitution making
process" currently going on must not be challenged no matter how bad it is
or how bad the content will be.
The idea is that this unity regime concludes at the delivery of a
constitution, with elections being held and a popular government being
This line of thought feeds on the hope that the MDC would win the election -
and then as a new government, will create space and resources for a
thoroughly people driven democratic constitution.
MDC MP for Nyanga Douglas Mwonzora, one of the chairpersons of Parliament's
Select Committee has even gone further to suggest that opposing the process
is tantamount to supporting Mugabe.
Already many within the broader democracy movement have heeded this
scaremongering and are slavishly following the road to the butcher's house.
Without the constitution hurdle being passed, there will be no elections we
are told. So in theory we must all support the parliamentary process
chicanery and the Kariba Draft it seeks to legitimise.
This builds on the same defeatist theory that saw the people's party being
pushed into an unfair and anti-democratic deal with ZANU PF.
Then, people's hunger and suffering was used to capitulate and compromise
democratic principles instead of being seen as the objective factors upon
which the struggle for democracy would be fought and achieved.
This school of thought has been opposed by our democracy movement since its
inception. The 2000 Chidyausiku Draft Constitution could have been accepted
if it were for Mwonzora and his kind.
The same reasons they raise now applied then. Even better. At least the
Chidyausiku Commission managed to project a façade of popular consultation
whilst masking Mugabe's imposing hand.
The same can not be said of the Select Committee cronies.
In voting No against Chidyausiku's draft in the 2000 Constitutional
Referendum, Zimbabweans were making it clear that undemocratic processes can
never give birth to sustainable democratic outcomes. They won.
Worse, it is even hard to believe an MP touting the "elections after
constitution" carrot when MPs are scrambling for 5-year US$30 000 vehicle
loans. Save for a few, Parliament is their only source of livelihood for our
In opposing this, the democracy movement has long argued that constitution
making is about qualifying our democracy, putting in place a template that
will give it meaning.
It is about defining the relations between citizens, managing their
competing interests whilst promoting common interests.
It is about establishing their relations with the state and apportioning the
degrees of power to those privileged to run their public affairs.
The latter part clearly calls for careful thought and need for thorough
restraining. To give those who have this power a free reign to decide the
nature of power and how it should be used is a disaster.
Our experiences with a constitution made for the moment has taught us the
hard way. Being so, people have to be at the centre of this struggle. They
have to write the constitution themselves - as citizens, not serfs.
The National Constitutional Assembly, Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions and
some in the MDC executive council have given guard to this truth.
They have asked Parliament to back off from leading the constitution making
exercise and called for the establishment of an Independent Constitutional
The Commission should be established through an open and transparent
process. Such a commission should not only be independent but also be seen
to be independent.
No group - whether political parties, the executive, Parliament, NGOs etc
should have more privileges than others in this process.
All citizens irrespective of social, economic or political status should be
equalised, and their opinions and views must be held with the same weight.
This is the principle upon which a people driven constitution is made.
Parliament's role should be to safeguard the independence of such a
commission from the "obvious hand" of the executive. The executive has a
significant role in ensuring that the necessary resources are allocated,
through Parliament, to the Commission.
In participating in the processes of the Commission, members of parliament
and the executive would do so as any other citizen would.
The struggle for a new constitution should not be seen as an aside battle.
It is the soul of the last decade's fight for democracy and change.
The moment we are in provides ample space to re-engage the masses of our
people and reaffirm that the tragedies of 1979 at Lancaster will not be
Such a call requires us to look at the transitional arrangement not as a
seat of compromise, but a platform to advance the frontiers of the fight for
freedom and the end of tyranny.
So the next time Mugabe's kind tell us that there will be no "mass party",
we should be able to shout back for generations to hear that: writing a
constitution is not dinner for three. - ZimOnline
***Tapera Kapuya writes in his personal capacity
The west's reluctance to offer aid to Zimbabwe, while China steps in, could
badly damage any chance of reform
Saturday 25 July 2009 17.00 BST
When Zimbabwe's prime minister Morgan Tsvangirai visited western countries
last month, leaders greeted him with great encouragement and
congratulations - but with very little money. When he returned to his
country, he was welcomed with a $950m credit line facility from China. The
unity government of Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and
Zanu-PF of Zimbabwe's president Robert Mugabe was more than happy to accept
China's offer and begin negotiating a separate $5bn deal involving the
mortgaging of Zimbabwe's vast platinum concessions.
With Tsvangirai's western tour netting only $500m, all of which was
humanitarian assistance, the fear is that all this could undermine
Zimbabwe's reform elements battling to promote democracy in the
While Chinese investment could give the transitional government breathing
space to pursue much-needed reforms, it does not benefit Zanu-PF and the MDC
equally. The fact that Mugabe negotiated the Chinese financial aid which, if
concluded, would ultimately go down as the major injection to prop up the
inclusive government, strengthens his position. Having the ability to
engineer financial aid for the inclusive government puts him in a very
strong position to manipulate the pace of reform to his advantage and could
strengthen his quest to perpetuate his dictatorial reign. Moreover, Chinese
investment will go through the traditional corrupt channels where the ruling
Zanu-PF clique will have access to it. The funds are likely to benefit
selected institutions that consolidate Mugabe and Zanu-PF's stranglehold on
At the same time, Tsvangirai's standing within the balance of forces in the
government could be weakened by the Chinese deal. Mugabe has publicly
boasted that he initiated the deal that Tsvangirai and the MDC are now
clutching onto, while Tsvangirai's western tour is painted as a failure by
Zanu-PF. The failure by the west to respond generously to Tsvangirai's plea
raises doubts about its commitment to fully back pro-democratic forces in
China's decision to activate the financial package right now, during the
tenure of the inclusive government, and through Tsvangirai, illustrates its
will to strategically position itself for future relations with someone who
could be Zimbabwe's next president. It also allows China to balance the
criticism it has received for its proximity to Mugabe.
China is effectively having its cake and eating it: its relationship with
both parties is flourishing. Plans are afoot to invite the MDC to Beijing
for political and investment talks. By choosing to engage the government as
a whole, China will be able to exert leverage on both Zanu-PF and the MDC,
something western donors might not achieve.
The MDC has also been quick to accept this new friend. Now, as the Prime
Minister recently put it, Zimbabwe is "prepared to work with any country".
After lukewarm support from his traditional European supporters, Tsvangirai
has left his options open as he steps up efforts to secure desperately
needed financial aid.
The west's wait-and-see attitude and the lack of accelerated aid beyond
humanitarian assistance risks thwarting the real changes it is seeking for
Zimbabwe and weakening the hand of Tsvangirai, the MDC and moderates in
Zanu-PF. The west now risks being superseded by China, which does not attach
any governance reform strings to its assistance, because it failed to take
decisive action when it was most needed.
Western governments should rise to the challenge of the Chinese deal and
make decisive financial engagement in Zimbabwe through transparent and
accountable mechanisms to ensure it would benefit the entire population and
democratisation. They should expand assistance under the "humanitarian-plus
strategy" to support the revival of the education, health and water
sanitation sectors, strengthen civil society, help rebuild key
infrastructure, and support reform for politicised government institutions,
including the judiciary and the police.
Critically, many years of effort for the full restoration of democracy could
be lost, leaving the opportunity for countries with blighted human rights
and good governance records like China to play an unchallenged leading role,
entrenching the reign of dictators like Mugabe and undermining the pace of
desperately needed reform towards economic and political recovery.
Jul 25, 2009
Zanu was launched in a small home in Highfield, a high density township on
the outskirts of Harare. The small group of activists and intellectuals that
took that fateful step that day could hardly have imagined the journey that
lay ahead of them. In the next half century they were to be imprisoned and
exiled, driven into the arms of war in 1972 and then forced by regional and
international pressure to negotiate a deal with their enemies.
They took over a battered, but functional economy in 1980, had the backing
and admiration of the whole world and access to massive resources. They were
the cream of our emergent indigenous community - many with good degrees from
great universities, many with the scars of conflict. To get there they had
suffered great sacrifices - family, freedom, and a normal life in suburbia
They held fine beliefs - they were the defenders of the poor and the
marginalised, they sought freedom and equal rights for their people. They
were fighters for democracy and human rights; they were the custodians of
African pride on a continent that was still unsure of itself and fearful of
Many were fine people - George Nyandoro, Nathan Shamuyarira and many others.
They wanted the best for their country but somewhere along the path of
history they got lost. Perhaps the temptations were just too great, perhaps
the simple lust for power and privilege overcame their finer senses, but
after a brief honeymoon they led Zanu into a dark jungle of dark secrets. In
vain they pulled a curtain across the secret rooms they were in but were
unable to keep the light from the world outside.
First came Gukurahundi - a savage campaign to crush Ndebele opposition to
Zanu led government. Tens of thousands died and hundreds of thousands were
beaten and imprisoned and driven from their homes. The campaign marked the
first tide of human economic and political refugees from post conflict
This was followed by less dramatic but equally savage attacks on any
fledgling opposition, the Centre Party, ZUM, the Forum Party and others.
Victims of national programmes of intimidation and subversion conducted in
secret by State agencies. During this phase there were many extra legal
killings - now long forgotten by all but their families.
While Zanu fought these political battles to maintain its dominance of the
political playing field, they lost their way in other areas. Corruption and
the abuse of State resources began slowly at first - a bit of a margin on
State purchases and contracts then gradually the systematic looting of the
country. Great wealth was acquired, not by business people with energy and
acumen, but people with powerful connections who used their power and
influence to secure assets and in many cases secreted them abroad.
Men and women who became independently wealthy and powerful by the simple
application of their skills and acumen were recognised as dangerous and many
were vilified and driven out of the country. It became the norm that if you
were to enjoy success or even financial security, you needed to pay tribute
to Zanu in some form.
When this happened many who had started out on this road with Zanu, quietly
packed their bags and left. Stopped paying their dues to Zanu and grieved
for hopes lost and visions dimmed. They did not immediately join the
opposition, but hibernated and grieved.
Then came the Movement for Democratic Change, led by working men and women,
the poor and disadvantaged, who had held so much hope for Zanu in the early
days. They had nothing so had nothing that could be taken from them except
their lives and families. Initially Zanu treated the new movement with
distain - the President was a train driver and its Secretary General a man
with two years of formal education. "How can these people hope to lead the
nation" Mugabe scoffed, Tsvangirai retorted "at least Sibanda keeps his
trains on the track."
When this motley collection of workers defeated Zanu in February 2000, the
gloves came off and all the niceties of Zanu's ideological and political
beliefs were brushed aside and a "total onslaught" on the MDC and its
supporters launched. Commercial farmers and their 350 000 workers were
identified as having supported the MDC. Zanu simply destroyed the industry,
handing over to those responsible for the violence and mayhem, the fruits of
When it became apparent that the population of the towns and cities was
growing fast and that the demographic balance between the urban (MDC) and
rural (Zanu) areas was being reversed, they launched Murambatsvina - an
astonishingly efficient programme to destroy the homes and livelihood of the
urban poor. In a period of three months, watched by an aghast world, they
destroyed 300 000 homes and the informal businesses of over a million
people. Then they simply carried the visible evidence of this atrocity and
dumped then in remote villages along the side of the road with the threat
that should not go back to town.
The collapse of the economy and the battles being fought in all contested
areas of the country led to the next wave of human migration - eventually
swelling to 5 million people in the diaspora. With the majority of skilled
and experienced people joining in the migration, social services collapsed
and death rates rose steadily eventually leading to 3 million deaths from
TB, Malaria, Aids and a myriad of other diseases. Our population slumped by
nearly half to 9 million people, our GDP, in 1997 standing at three times
the GDP of Botswana fell to US$2 billion while that for Botswana rose to
US$14 billion - seven times the GDP of Zimbabwe with 15 per cent of our
While these horrific human statistics were being generated, the government
slipped into the role of a straight kleptocracy, its members concentrating
of the accumulation of vast fortunes in looted wealth to the exclusion of
all other considerations. Zanu had abandoned it last remaining shred of
respectability and accountability to the people.
For the veterans of Zanu, the remnants of those who started out on that
journey all those years ago in Highfield it is the final humiliation and
disgrace. How do they face their children and more importantly their
grandchildren? What do they say, how do they excurse their behaviour?
The answer is that they cannot and this is the nightmare that now faces
Zanu. They are on a train into the future, designed and built by the region,
from which there is no exit and when it reaches its destiny, they will be
forced to embark and face the nightmares they themselves have created. On
the platform, witnessed by the whole world will be their victims and those
they distained. But worst of all there will be the people they failed. I
actually feel quite sorry for them; it's not an experience I would want. At
least I can look my grandchildren in the face and tell them what I did with
pride, because it was the right thing to do, no matter what the cost to us
personally has been.
Harare, 25th July 2009
Dear Family and Friends,
Late in the afternoon a friend got a call on his mobile phone. The
words were garbled and broken up, the call lasting just a few seconds
before cutting off. The musukuru (grandson) is serious, come now. You
have to be a Zimbabwean perhaps to know that the word 'serious'
usually means very sick. What would be a problem, even an emergency
in the "normal" world was destined to be a nightmare in our broken
Again and again my friend tried to phone for more information about
his grandson but after numerous attempts gave up. He was wasting
time. His grandson is in a rural village, it was almost dusk and he
knew he must go. A fifteen kilometre bicycle ride got him to the
village. It was completely dark when he arrived. By the light of a
candle he looked at his precious little musukuru. Teeth clenched,
face in a grimace, body curled in taut foetal position, the two year
old boy obviously needed help. He had been vomiting copiously,
shaking and arching his back and now the slightest movement caused
him to scream in pain.
The nearest clinic is 3 kilometres away. There is no transport,
private or public. No telephones. No electricity, not even any
running water to wash away the vomit. An ambulance will not come from
the nearest town, not unless you can pay cash, in advance, up front:
50 US dollars.
As gently as possible the musukuru was laid in a box which was lifted
onto the back of the bicycle and tied securely with strips of old
car-tyre inner tubing. Blankets underneath and on top of the musukuru
in the freezing cold winter darkness, the journey from hell began.
Every stone, bump and gully on the disintegrating gravel road caused
a scream of agony from the child. Words of comfort were measured
against the urgency of the journey. At the clinic at last, there was
no sign of attendance. Calling, shouting, knocking finally produced a
youngster: No nurses here, he said.
The next clinic is another 7 kilometres away. The grandparents
finally arrived, pushing their grandson in the box on the bicycle at
2 in the morning. Shivering and with frozen fingers their lifted
their precious musukuru into the hands of the nurse. They knew what
to expect and had bought a small sheet for the bed, their own
blankets, a towel and even maize meal and a small pot to make
porridge for the child. A drip went in, that's 14 US dollars, payable
immediately. An intravenous antibiotic was given, that's 12 US
dollars, payable immediately.
Two days later my friend was back in town and stone broke. The
musukuru is still in the clinic, still on a drip and still has a
problem. There are no doctors there. The nurses say that sekuru must
pay for more drugs. His cell phone is flat. He has no money, no
airtime left and back there, down the dusty pot-holed road the life
of his little grandson is in his hands.
Until next time, thanks for reading, love cathyCopyright cathy
buckle 25th July 2009.