The Sunday Times
July 27, 2008
The president and his cronies face a humiliating end
R W Johnson in Johannesburg
THE president of Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe, has been warned by Thabo Mbeki,
the South African president, that he faces prosecution for the crimes he has
committed during his 28 years in office unless he signs a deal to give up
all effective power.
Mbeki, who has done all he can to shield and support Mugabe for the past
eight years, has come under overwhelming western pressure and has had to
tell Mugabe that he could no longer protect him and his key cronies from
being charged by the International Criminal Court (ICC).
The power-sharing talks between Mugabe's Zanu-PF and Morgan Tsvangirai's
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) are shrouded in secrecy. But The Sunday
Times has learnt that Mugabe, who has vowed that Tsvangirai will never be in
government and that "only God can remove me from power", faces humiliation
over the terms of the deal that he will be forced to sign next month.
He will remain as president in name only and all real power will be held by
a 20-member cabinet under Tsvangirai as prime minister. The opposition MDC
will have 11 cabinet posts to nine for Mugabe's Zanu-PF.
a.. Zimbabwean peace talks begin in South Africa
a.. In for a penny, in for a billion dollars
All Mugabe's senior officials in the army, police and intelligence services,
who have unleashed a campaign of terror since the MDC won a disputed victory
in the elections held in March, will be dismissed.
Observers caution, however, that bringing Mugabe to justice could be
protracted since Zimbabwe does not recognise the jurisdiction of the ICC.
Any investigation would require a referral from the United Nations security
council, which would probably be blocked by China or Russia.
The transitional government will have close ties to a group of western donor
nations known as the Fishmongers Group, set up a year ago on Britain's
initiative. It includes the United States, Japan, Germany, France, Sweden,
Holland, Norway, Canada and Australia. China declined an invitation to join.
The decisive showdown came last week when Mugabe realised that his power was
broken. On Monday Mbeki's emissary, Sidney Mufamadi, a South African cabinet
minister, arrived in Harare to read the riot act to Zanu-PF officials.
According to the officials who were present, he told them bluntly: "You don't
have a government. You can't summon your parliament. You have no legitimate
president and thus you can have no cabinet. You cannot behave as you have
been doing. Real talks have to start right away."
The Zanu-PF negotiators, still congratulating themselves on Mugabe's
spurious "victory" in last month's stolen election, were taken aback.
Worse was to follow. Mbeki flew to Harare and said that Mugabe and
Tsvangirai must meet to sign a memorandum of understanding committing
themselves to serious negotiations and to share power.
The talks, he insisted, must be concluded within two weeks and the two men
must meet, shake hands and sign the memorandum.
Mugabe had never been willing to meet Tsvangirai, let alone shake his hand.
According to leading Zanu-PF sources, he is frightened of going on trial for
human rights crimes, particularly since an arrest warrant was issued against
Omar Bashir, Sudan's president, earlier this month. Under Mbeki's pressure
Mugabe gave in.
He agreed that Tsvangirai should come to State House, the president's
official residence. Tsvangirai refused to attend, saying that to do so would
be to acknowledge Mugabe as the legitimate president of Zimbabwe: he would
sign only on neutral ground.
Mugabe had to be persuaded to leave State House and was driven to Rainbow
Towers, the former Sheraton hotel in central Harare, to sign the document
and glumly shake hands with a triumphant Tsvangirai.
The power of the western donor nations has grown as the Zimbabwean economy
has catapulted towards meltdown. Hyperinflation means that a newly
introduced Z$100 billion note is not enough to buy a loaf of bread.
The latest harvest has been dismal, bread may soon run out and widespread
famine is a threat. The World Food Programme estimates that by early next
year 5.1m people could be facing starvation.
The Fishmongers Group, which is based in Holland, stands powerfully in the
wings and in effect has a veto over the negotiations. Planning is already
far advanced for a post-Mugabe future, with individual countries agreeing to
focus their efforts on education, health and other sectors. A total of £2
billion has been pledged to date.
The transitional government will be obliged to follow edicts laid down by
the group. They will insist that the new government gives full and equal
access to food aid, plans a return to financial stability, restores the rule
of law with an independent judiciary and respects property rights. This will
mean that the farms stolen by Mugabe and his cronies will either have to be
restored to their owners or compensation will be paid.
The group will also insist that the government be committed to freedom of
the press and hold fair elections within 18 months. The group will not
release even a dollar to a government that includes anyone guilty either of
gross corruption or human rights violations. Zanu-PF will be hard pushed to
find nine ministers who qualify.
The new dispensation will bring to a halt the campaign of terror unleashed
by Mugabe since he was defeated in the first round of the presidential
elections in March.
A diplomatic source said: "The toughest part of the negotiations is going to
be the question of immunity from prosecution for Mugabe and, say, the top 20
members of the junta."
Another diplomat said: "It's ironic. Mbeki could and should have brought
Mugabe to heel eight years ago. It would have saved a lot of lives."
Professor Lawrence Schlemmer, South Africa's leading social scientist, said
that the deal would be of "epochal importance" to the whole southern African
region: "The West could have just walked away from another African disaster.
Instead, they are showing a huge commitment to democracy in this region."
A demand by China that the Zimbabwean government "behave" in the run-up to
the Olympics lies behind Robert Mugabe's surprise decision to open
negotiations with the opposition.
By Ian Evans in Capetown and Special Correspondent
Last Updated: 4:02PM BST 26 Jul 2008
Beijing put pressure on Mr Mugabe to begin talks because of fears that the
continuing crisis in Zimbabwe risked overshadowing the Olympics, according
to government and diplomatic sources.
China's leaders, who have have long enjoyed a close relationship with
Zimbabwe's beleagured president, feared growing protests in the run-up to
the Games and so leaned on Mr Mugabe to agree to the historic talks which
began on Thursday.
Their move came after Russia and China together infuriated the West by
blocking a United Nations Security Council attempt to impose sanctions on
members of the Zimbabwean regime.
Mr Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change, met for the first time in 10 years last week after
signing a memorandum of understanding mediated by South Africa's president,
Thabo Mbeki, to form a government of national unity.
But while Mr Mbeki basked in the glow of the diplomatic coup, winning high
praise from the French president, Nicolas Sarkozy - currently in charge of
the EU presidency - Zimbabwean government sources said he had little to do
One government insider said: "The signing of the memorandum of understanding
between Mugabe and Tsvangirai may appear to be a triumph for South African
diplomacy under Mr Mbeki, but the power behind the curtain is China.
"China exerted diplomatic pressure on Harare for the protection of their own
interests in this country, given the threat and risks of their economic
investments under a new government. This explains the sudden change of heart
by Mugabe. This is all choreographed."
The Chinese ambassador to Zimbabwe is understood to have told Zimbabwean
foreign affairs officials in Harare that his government expects Mr Mugabe's
administration to "behave" and help dampen international outrage over the
One diplomatic source said: "Mugabe was told in clear terms by his Chinese
friends that he has to behave and act in a way that will silence the
China does not want a situation in which the Olympics will be snubbed.
"They also warned him (Mugabe) that if British Prime Minister, Gordon Brown
and the US managed to force the tabling of UN Security Council sanctions
against Zimbabwe again, they will be in no position to support Harare. China
has demanded that loyalty back in equal terms."
China has invested billions of dollars not just in Zimbabwe, but across
Africa in its attempts to secure mineral rights to fuel its burgeoning
economy. Its trade with the continent is expected to rise to $100bn by 2010,
a signficant amount of which involves |Zimbabwe's platinum mines.
Beijing has many different sources of leverage on Harare - a fact which has
led to criticism from the West that it could have forced change on the
Mugabe regime long ago.
Chinese soldiers have helped to train the Zimbabwean military for more than
two decades, and many senior members of the ZanuPF ruling party have forged
personal business relationships.
Among them, the vice president Joyce Mujuru, whose husband Simon is a former
head of the armed forces, runs a company thought to export chickens to
Under the deal agreed last week ZanuPF and the opposition MDC have a two
week deadline to agree on forming a government of national unity during
talks in Pretoria.
The sticking point will be the positions of Mr Mugabe and Mr Tsvangirai:
hardliners inside ZanuPF want Mr Mugabe, who has been president for 28
years, to continue in that poisiton with Mr Tsvangirai consigned to a more
junior role as prime minister.
A Zimbabwean government source at the talks said: "Information is going
about that the MDC will be offered the post of prime minister or vice
president as a stop-gap measure to ease Zimbabwe's collapsing economy.
"However this must not be misconstrued as a weakness on the part of Zanu PF
but as a strategy to keep the opposition out of full power. They will
certainly find themselves on the drawing board again after a future
election, because Zanu PF is not willing to relinquish power."
Zimbabwean officials know that aid from the US, Britain and the EU depends
on the outcome of the talks. On Friday President George W.Bush stepped up US
pressure on Mr Mugabe by introducing new sanctions against the
The US Treasury Department was ordered to freeze the assets of 17 business
enterprises controlled by the Zimbabwean government, banned Americans from
doing business with them.
Mr Mugabe won a landslide victory last month in a vote condemned by Western
nations and boycotted by Mr Tsvangirai, who cited government-sponsored
violence and intimidation.
The MDC says 120 of its supporters have been killed by pro-Mugabe thugs and
thousands injured since the first presidential vote, which it won but
without a majority of all votes, on March 29.
1 hour, 45 minutes ago
JOHANNESBURG (AFP) - Negotiations in South Africa between Zimbabwe's ruling
party and the opposition were making progress Saturday, mediators said.
"The talks are proceeding well. They'll aim to be concluded in two weeks
time," said Mukoni Ratshitanga, spokesman for South African President Thabo
Ratshitanga did not reveal any details regarding the contents or tone of the
negotiations, which began Thursday.
Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF party has said its
leader's re-election in a June 27 presidential run-off has to be recognised
for the talks, teed up by an agreement signed with Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai on Monday, to succeed.
Tsvangirai's camp has been advocating a transitional government, with a view
to fresh elections, rather than a unity government solution along the lines
of that negotiated in Kenya.
There, the main opposition figure, Raila Odinga, was appointed prime
minister by President Mwai Kibaki earlier this year following a wave of
political and ethnic violence that killed some 1,500 people.
Tsvangirai pushed Mugabe into second place in the first round of voting on
March 29 but the MDC leader pulled out of the run-off after a wave of deadly
attacks against his supporters.
Tsvangirai believes the outcome of the March ballot should be the starting
point for any negotiations on power-sharing.
The Zimbabwean government, meanwhile, refused to comment on increased
sanctions applied by the United States Friday.
US President George W. Bush said he had "signed a new Executive Order that
expands our sanctions against the illegitimate Government of Zimbabwe,"
targeting entities and individuals linked to repression and corruption
carried out by Mugabe's government.
But a ZANU-PF official, who requested anonymity, said: "We don't want to
comment on the sanctions (while) the talks are still ongoing."
The European Union also stepped up sanctions last week, although French
President Nicolas Sarkozy -- representing the EU presidency at a landmark
EU-South Africa summit -- on Friday showered Mbeki with praise for his
Sarkozy stressed that the talks on Mbeki's turf -- understood to be taking
place in Pretoria -- were the only viable forum for a solution to the
Zimbabwe political crisis.
New York Times
By CELIA W. DUGGER
Published: July 27, 2008
JOHANNESBURG - As negotiators for President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe and
the opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai began power-sharing talks on
Thursday in South Africa, they confronted one seemingly unbridgeable divide:
which man would have the real executive power in a unity government?
Mr. Mugabe's governing party, ZANU-PF, insisted that Mr. Mugabe, as the
victor in a runoff that has been denounced internationally as a sham, would
name any new government, The Herald, a state-owned newspaper, reported
But the opposition says Mr. Tsvangirai, who outpolled Mr. Mugabe in March
elections and dropped out of the runoff, citing murderous violence against
supporters, must be in charge. "Whatever transition we come up with, it must
be led by Morgan Tsvangirai," Thokozani Khupe, vice president of the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change, said in an interview on Saturday.
A collapse of the talks could lead to an accelerating implosion of Zimbabwe's
economy and the flight of millions more people from Mr. Mugabe's
increasingly repressive rule into neighboring countries, potentially
destabilizing the region. The Mugabe government's economic isolation
intensified last week as the United States and the European Union tightened
But a settlement that left Mr. Mugabe or his allies in power would be a blow
to democratic aspirations on the continent after an election that
independent observers from across Africa unanimously concluded was neither
free nor fair.
One of the most remarkable changes to emerge from Zimbabwe's violent
election season is that leaders in Zambia and Botswana have resoundingly
broken the silence of Mr. Mugabe's peers in the region about the human
rights abuses committed by his governing party.
Phandu Skelemani, the foreign minister of neighboring Botswana, which has
refused to recognize Mr. Mugabe's legitimacy, said in an interview on
Wednesday that his country would not be party to what he called "the raping
of democracy" in Zimbabwe.
With rumors swirling that Mr. Mugabe, 84, and Mr. Tsvangirai, 56, are close
to a deal in talks that are supposed to last only two weeks, Ms. Khupe, a
member of Parliament from Bulawayo, Zimbabwe's second city, said she had not
been informed yet about the progress of the negotiations. But she noted that
any agreement from the talks, which are being held at a secret location in
Pretoria, would have to be approved by the party's leadership.
Some African and Western officials worry the opposition may yet get outfoxed
by Mr. Mugabe, who has kept a tight grip on power for 28 years.
Shadowing the current talks is the memory of an earlier set of unity
negotiations. In 1987, after years in which historians estimated that Mr.
Mugabe's military forces killed at least 10,000 civilians in the stronghold
of his rival Joshua Nkomo, Mr. Nkomo joined the government, allowing Mr.
Mugabe to further solidify his hold on power.
The current talks, too, were preceded by a violent onslaught. Since April,
according to doctors who treated the wounded and tallied the dead, thousands
of Mr. Tsvangirai's supporters have been assaulted by Mr. Mugabe's enforcers
and more than 100 have been killed, decimating the opposition's grass-roots
"Tsvangirai may be lured into accepting a power-sharing arrangement which
would lead to Mugabe succeeding himself through puppets from ZANU-PF," Raila
Odinga, the Kenyan prime minister, said in an interview on Thursday. "The
best option for Tsvangirai is to insist that Mugabe becomes a ceremonial
president with executive powers vested in the prime minister" - a position
that would be held by Mr. Tsvangirai.
Mr. Odinga speaks from his own experience with unity talks. The Kenyan
opposition leader became prime minister of the east African country in
February after a deal brokered by Kofi Annan, the former United Nations
secretary general, following a deeply flawed election that some observers
believe was stolen from Mr. Odinga. Mr. Odinga, who has met with Zimbabwean
opposition leaders including Mr. Tsvangirai in recent months, said he had
sent a senior official from his own party to Johannesburg to advise the
opposition during the talks.
Mr. Skelemani, the Botswana foreign minister, said the fundamental issue for
Zimbabwe was who controlled the executive powers held by the president under
the country's Constitution. Referring to the possibility that Mr. Mugabe's
negotiators would try "to do a Nkomo" on Mr. Tsvangirai, Mr. Skelemani
warned that the opposition would "risk emasculation" if it allowed Mr.
Mugabe to retain the presidency. Asked about Mr. Mugabe's stated desire to
hold on to power, Mr. Skelemani replied, "What power? Power to run the
country into the ground?"
Botswana's increasingly urgent criticism of Mr. Mugabe, along with similar
concerns voiced by Zambia's president, Levy Mwanawasa, highlight what Martin
Meredith, author of "The Fate of Africa: A History of Fifty Years of
Independence," (PublicAffairs, 2005) called an unprecedented development in
the 14-nation bloc of the Southern African Development Community. "This
group of S.A.D.C. countries has always tried to hold on to the image of
unity," he said. "This is shattering it."
Since Mr. Mwanawasa suffered a stroke last month, Botswana has become the
leading critic in detailed public statements about the recent election
violence and rigging. "The atrocities have been corroborated and constitute
the necessary evidence to conclude that the credibility and integrity of the
election process was compromised," according to the report of Botswana's
election observer team.
Botswana's statements carry moral authority: Its democratic traditions
stretch back decades, as does its reputation for spending its wealth from
diamonds to improve the public welfare rather than enrich the governing
Botswana's and Zambia's public statements pose a serious challenge to the
"quiet diplomacy" pursued by the region's most powerful player, President
Thabo Mbeki of South Africa, who is mediating the current talks. He has
resisted domestic pressure here in South Africa to criticize Mr. Mugabe,
repeatedly greeting him in recent months with a handshake and a smile.
Mr. Mbeki held on to control of the Zimbabwe mediation with the endorsement
of the African Union on July 1. But in a meeting of African heads of state
in Egypt, Mr. Mugabe listened with consternation as officials representing
Liberia, Nigeria and Botswana, among others, delivered humiliating critiques
of the political violence that marred the election, according to several
officials who were present. He counterattacked, accusing his critics of
failings of their own.
"You're talking about somebody who's been in power 30 years," Liberia's
president, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, said in a recent interview. "Support wears
thin." Ms. Johnson-Sirleaf, a Harvard-educated economist who became Africa's
first female elected head of state in 2005, added, "There's a lot going on
in S.A.D.C. and the A.U. behind the scenes, much more than was reflected in
the open statements."
Botswana's vice president, Mompati S. Merafhe, sitting just two seats from
Mr. Mugabe, said the Zimbabwean leader should be suspended from the African
Union, Mr. Skelemani said.
Botswana seems to have been greatly affected by its ringside view of the
Zimbabwe crisis. When Mr. Tsvangirai fled Zimbabwe in the middle of the
night on April 8, just 10 days after the general election, citing death
threats, he crossed into Botswana and was granted refuge.
That same month, Botswana's new president, Seretse Khama Ian Khama, asked
Mr. Mwanawasa, president of Zambia and the leader of the Southern African
Development Community, to convene an emergency summit meeting of regional
heads of state on Zimbabwe, Mr. Skelemani said. Subsequently, victims of the
political violence began streaming into Botswana.
The accounts its election observers brought back from Zimbabwe deepened
Botswana's official revulsion. Ruth Seretse, the deputy director of Botswana's
directorate on corruption and economic crime, led the 50-person observer
team. She said in an interview that she saw ZANU-PF youth militia beating
people at a rally for Mr. Tsvangirai in Harare.
"People ran for their lives," she said. "The riot police just stood there."
For two weeks, she monitored faxes and text messages from Botswanan
observers deployed across the country. Some of the most disturbing reports
came from Bakwena Oitsile, a retired major general in Botswana's army. He
said in an interview that in one village in Zimbabwe's Mashonaland West
Province, he found 14 houses, as well as grain stores, burned and reduced to
ashes. Pregnant women and children there had nothing left but the clothes on
In another village in the province, he arrived just hours after an attack on
June 17. In one hut, he discovered the body of a man just beaten to death
and his wife, still alive, with a deep cut on her head. Another woman's
index finger had been cut off. Her hand was still raw and untreated.
"She was in great pain when we were there," he said. "She was screaming."
He said of what he witnessed in Zimbabwe: "I will never forget it. It's all
in my heart and head."
July 26, 2008
By Levi Mhaka
Following Amendment No. 18 of Zimbabwe's Constitution, the President is only
able to appoint five Senators and no person can become a minister without
being elected as a Member of Parliament.
The Zimbabwe Independent newspaper of July 25 reported that the current
constitution would soon be amended to facilitate the envisaged power-sharing
agreement through Amendment No. 19 as a transitional mechanism. The
newspaper claimed that the amendment was largely designed to accommodate
Morgan Tsvangirai and other MDC officials in the new government.
"It is said the number of appointed senators would be increased by six from
five to 11 to create space for appointees who would include Tsvangirai and
Arthur Mutambara as leaders of the two MDC factions. Currently Mugabe can
only appoint five senators and this room is not enough to accommodate losing
Zanu PF candidates and unelected MDC officials", the newspaper said.
Out of so many Zanu-PF representatives in both the House of Assembly and the
Senate, why should President Mugabe fail to find ministerial material? If
those from the MDC parties are deemed to be too new to be ministers, why
should he not work with those of his party who are new? What is so special
about any of the Zanu-PF candidates who lost in the party's primaries or
March 29 election?
What is most surprising is that the public media, economists, political
analysts and civic organisations have not taken a position against the
looming BIG government and potential for profligacy through recklessly
wasteful and wildly extravagant spending. A big government is economically
harmful. When politicians give each other jobs and create new positions,
ministries and department, they are hardly doing so by a cost-benefit
analysis to determine if the money is being well-spent. Governments spend
funds which they get from taxes or through borrowing or from printing money.
Unfortunately, politicians create positions and allocate public funds on the
basis of political and personal rather than economic considerations. This
inevitably weakens economic performance. If we care so much for the least
advantaged part of the citizenry, we must leave enough money for government
social programmes not structures and personnel. The first measure is to
re-examine government structure, ministries, departments, bureaucracy and
state-owned enterprises. We must deal with duplication, overlapping,
abrogating the role of the private sector and dealing with every issue by
creating a ministry or department. Sometimes a task-based office or 'desk'
would be sufficient. We must now interrogate the role of deputy ministers in
an economy that is in serious trouble like ours instead of being
pre-occupied with accommodating the various political partisan formations.
One wonders why the President must reward persons using public funds through
ministerial appointments when that person lost electoral mandate to become a
member of parliament. Is the government a charitable home for those who have
become idle after losing an election? Both Zanu-PF and the MDC formations
must guard against paternalism. The smaller MDC formation led by Arthur
Mutambara should be an exception since the leadership of the party lost the
Unconfirmed reports circulating in Harare are saying that the Reserve Bank
of Zimbabwe (RBZ) governor, Gideon Gono is alleged to be trying to secure
for himself the position of Minister of Finance, to protect his cronies who
will be running the RBZ and his vast array of business interests through
ill-gotten wealth. He is alleged to be presenting himself as the neutral
person for that position while he is alleged to be manipulating President
Mugabe by presenting himself as the guarantor of his financial interests.
He is also alleged to be endearing himself with the Tsvangirai-led MDC so
that they do not find him objectionable either as the Governor or as
According to the MDC, the central bank has malfunctioned because of lack of
independence from political and partisan interests and impartiality as a
national institution. Gono's survival tactics follow the realisation that in
the new political dispensation, there is likely to be an end to his role as
the de facto Prime Minister, Minister of Finance, Industry and Commerce, as
well as special advisor and banker to the President.
No amount of posturing can rehabilitate Gono from the state of 'drunkenness''
with political and financial power and influence he has amassed during his
Gono was accountable to no one except minimally to the President whom he
overwhelmed for personal benefits. Only his actions and policies have been
so poisonous that they caused more damage that the action or non-action of
the government since independence in 1980. His term of office that comes to
an end in December 2008 must not be renewed. As is the practice, when the
incumbent governor's term is ending, he should go on leave pending
While he has deputy governors, he has been running the RBZ with people who
are not career bankers and have become so powerful to become de facto deputy
. Munyaradzi Kereke (Advisor and Executive Assistant to the Governor)
. Mirirai Chiremba (Divisional Head - Financial Intelligence Inspectorate
. Millicent Mombeshora (Divisional Head - Special Projects and Strategic
. Mrs. W Mushipe (Division Chief National Development and Productive Sector
The first two were named on the new EU sanctions list as a diplomat and
foreign affairs ministry official, respectively. While the immediate
reaction is that the EU got it wrong, it has been said that the two actually
have diplomatic passports and travel and pose not as RBZ employees for
alleged nefarious activities on behalf of the Governor to do with the
foreign currency movements that is bought from the street and unaccounted
While we are not privy to what is going on South Africa, we must still add
value to the talks by raising pertinent issues requiring attention by the
July 26, 2008, 16:15
The Botswana government has openly refused to recognise President Robert
Mugabe as the true leader of Zimbabwe.
The country has been vociferous in its criticism of Mugabe's one-man
election on June 27, which was boycotted by the opposition Movement of
Democratic Change. Botswana's Minister of Foreign affairs, Phandu Skelemani,
says there is currently no legal government in Zimbabwe but only leaders of
different political parties seeking a political solution.
He says, however, that Botswana supports meditation efforts by the South
African government. Responding to bilateral agreements between Botswana and
Zimbabwe, Skelemani said the deals will stand.
Meanwhile, talks to resolve Zimbabwe's problems are continuing in South
Africa. Presidential spokesperson Mukoni Ratshitanga says the MDC and the
ruling Zanu-PF are meeting behind closed doors at an undisclosed venue.
Ratshitanga says he is optimistic that the parties will have reached an
agreement after two weeks. Mugabe and MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai signed an
agreement earlier this week, committing themselves to finding a viable
solution to the political crisis in Zimbabwe.
July 26, 2008
THE current talks between the two Movement for Democratic Change parties
(How I loathe the word "formations") and the almost ruling Zanu-PF are to me
a vivid reminder of the Lancaster House Conference, which heralded the
declaration of Zimbabwe's independence from the stranglehold of a rebel
minority white regime in 1980.
While the major objective of the two initiatives is virtually the same -
that is to bring "warring" political movements to a round table to negotiate
a peace deal - there is so much that is different between that landmark
conference and the current Pretoria talks.
The Lancaster House Conference brought the recalcitrant rebel leader, Ian
Smith, face to face for the first time with the leadership of the two
guerilla armies that had waged a relentless campaign against the last
vestige of colonial rule in Rhodesia, his Rhodesia Front government. The
signing ceremony of the Memorandum of Understanding on Monday, July 21,
brought the equally intransigent President Robert Mugabe face to face for
the first time with the leadership of the forces of democracy that have been
campaigning for long-overdue change and salvation from the ravages of the
dictatorship of the Mugabe regime.
There the similarity essentially ends.
Lord Soames, representing great Britain, the former colonial power of
Zimbabwe, presided over the Lancaster House Conference, while the Pretoria
talks are being held under the watchful eye of South Africa's President
Thabo Mbeki. He is an eminent pan-Africanist and portrays himself as an icon
of Africa's post-colonial battle against neo-colonialism, of which President
Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe similarly casts himself as one of the most ardent
While the many sessions of the Lancaster House Conference were not exactly
held under the glare of television cameras the whole process was held in an
atmosphere of exceeding transparency. At the end of each day the main
participants, the internal Zimbabwe-Rhodesian delegation led by Smith and
Bishop Abel Muzorewa of the UANC, as well as the foreign-based Patriotic
Front delegation representing Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF and PF-Zapu of Joshua
Nkomo each called a press conference where the attendant army of journalists
was brought to speed on the proceedings of the day.
It was at the Lancaster House press briefings that the landslide defeat of
the internal parties, including Rev Ndabaningi Sithole's ZANU and Chief
Jeremiah Chirau's ZUPO, at the forthcoming landmark general elections was
essentially set in motion. For example, David Mukome, the affable but
ineffectual spokesman of Muzorewa's UANC, was quite clearly no match for the
fiery eloquence of the oratory of the spokesmen from Maputo and Lusaka,
Eddison Mudadirwa Zvobgo and Willie Dzawanda Musarurwa.
Representing Zanu-PF and PF-Zapu, respectively, Zvobgo and Musarurwa became
the darlings of the press corps covering the conference.
Zvobgo, in particular, was on a daily basis relied upon to articulate either
a quotable quote or issue a headline-grabbing statement. The Lancaster House
conference was conducted in such an atmosphere of transparency that even The
Herald dispatched a representative to London from September to December
1979 - the duration of the conference. The newspaper's man at the conference
was its then political editor, the late Tonic Douglas Sakaike, who became
one of the earliest victims of Zanu-PF's intolerance.
Zvobgo and Musarurwa, both heroic and patriotic sons of Zimbabwe, also
became victims of Mugabe's relentless wrath. Musarurwa, Zimbabwe's finest
journalist in his time, was nearly destitute by the time he died in 1990.
Mugabe still had the temerity to inter his remains and those of Zvobgo at
the national Heroes Acre in Harare. Mugabe and his cohorts will one day
suffer the consequences of supernatural activity at that shrine, unless they
atone for their sins against the people of Zimbabwe and immediately release
them from ongoing bondage and torture of black man by black man.
The much-touted Memorandum of Agreement cast a shroud of secrecy over the
current Pretoria talks which are being conducted at a secret venue,
somewhere around Pretoria, to the frustration of the hordes of journalists
anxious to be the first to break the big story.
Much to the chagrin of the press corps, it is a condition of the MoU that
none of the negotiating parties shall communicate the substance of the
discussions to the media.
"The parties shall refrain from negotiating through the media, whether
through their representatives to the dialogue or any of their party
officials," the document stipulates.
This stipulation is not surprising given the obsession of negotiation
facilitator, President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa with secrecy. But this is
clearly undemocratic. The people of Zimbabwe will have no recourse, in terms
of the MoU, should the negotiating teams reach an agreement that is totally
unacceptable to them.
The Pretoria talks are being conducted against a backdrop of the protests of
civil society organisations that they have been excluded from the process of
negotiation. Dr Lovemore Madhuku the chairman of the National Constitutional
Assembly (NCA) has protested that Zanu-PF and the MDC have excluded civic
society from the talks. ZCTU secretary-general, Wellington Chibhebhe,
immediately echoed Madhuku's sentiments.
"Zimbabwe is not made up of supporters of Zanu-PF and MDC alone," Chibhebhe
said, "We call upon the facilitators of the dialogue process to include
civic groupings, churches, labour and political parties in the negotiation
Many supporters of the MDC that I know are God-fearing people who are
regular worshippers. Why they would want their pastor to represent them at
the talks as well is something that eludes my comprehension.
In any case, by way of comparison the relative success of the Lancaster
House conference was achieved by the political parties in the absence of the
participation or the intervention of civic society. In fact the flourishing
civil society organisations of today were largely non-existent in Ian Smith's
Apart from the daunting cost, the sheer logistics of bringing all civic
groupings, churches, the labour movement and all political parties under one
roof in Pretoria would be prohibitive.
Too many cooks spoil the broth.
From a different prospective the politicians participating in the current
talks received the mandate of the people in recent elections. That, of
course, is with the notable exception of the delegates representing the
breakaway faction of the MDC led by Professor Arthur Mutambara. Professor
Welshman Ncube and Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga, as well as Justice
Minister, Patrick Chinamasa, representing Zanu-PF, who were totally rejected
by voters in their constituencies on March 29.
By some coincidence, only 50 percent of the delegates enjoy the mandate of
the people to represent them. These are Tendai Biti and Lovemore Mangoma of
the mainstream MDC led by Tsvangirai, as well as Nicholas Goche of Zanu-PF.
The other 50 percent are not mandated representatives of the people.
Neither are Madhuku and Chibhebhe.
As if not to be outdone, Ncube and Misihairabwi's leader, Mutambara, quickly
crafted and volunteered what became the first, if unofficial, and so far
only concept paper for the Pretoria talks. Clearly carried away by the
euphoria generated by the surprise appendage of his own signature to the
MoU, Mutambara proposed that Mugabe and Tsvangirai should travel hand in
hand to every corner of Zimbabwe and address joint rallies to demonstrate
their commitment to a peaceful and prosperous future Zimbabwe.
One difference between Lancaster and Pretoria is dramatic. Muzorewa, Chief
Chirau and Sithole returned from the Lancaster House Conference to endure
humiliating defeat in the 1980 elections. Twenty-eight years later,
Chinamasa, Ncube and Misihairambwi endured equally humiliating defeat in the
2008 parliamentary elections and then skillfully maneuvered their way to
sitting around the negotiating table in Pretoria.
There are one or two other areas of similarity between the Lancaster House
Conference and the ongoing Pretoria talks, though.
Smith accused Mugabe of being totally incapable of thinking for himself and
suggested that he was totally under the control of the communist East.
Mugabe suggests that his rival, Tsvangirai, is quite similarly incapable of
any original thought. He accuses the West of casting a spell over
Smith declared, "Not in a thousand years,"" and then proceeded to shake
Mugabe's hand at Lancaster. Mugabe vowed, "Never, ever, ever," and then
proceeded not only to shake Tsvangirai's hand, but also to wine and dine
with him at the Rainbow Towers in Harare just before Pretoria.
Lancaster House heralded Zimbabwe's independence from colonialism on April
18, 1980. Hopefully the current negotiations in Pretoria will be the
harbinger of Zimbabwe's independence from post-independence dictatorship.
Failure is clearly not an option as the consequences would be too ghastly to
contemplate. As Mutambara stated, all delegates, especially, in my view,
those without a mandate, must place nation before self.
A question that I hear being asked repeatedly since the announcement on
Wednesday of the extension of the list of Zimbabweans targeted for sanctions
by the EU is: "How does the applying of sanctions on Joseph Chinotimba and
other minions of Zanu-PF, who in all probability do not even hold a valid
passport bring pressure to bear on President Robert Mugabe to place nation
It is to be hoped that some of these measures are not calculated more to
assuage the conscience of the West, than to alleviate the plight of Zimbabwe's
long suffering citizens.
EU - European Union
UANC - United African National Congress (Bishop Abel Tendekayi Muzorewa)
ZANU - Zimbabwe African People Movement from which ZANU-PF broke away in
1963 (Rev Ndabaningi Sithole)
Zanu-PF - Zimbabwe African National Union - Patriotic Front (Robert Gabriel
PF-Zapu - Zimbabwe African Peoples' Union - Patriotic Front (Dr Joshua
ZUPO - Zimbabwe United Peoples' Organisation (Chief Jeremiah Chirau)
Mail and Guardian
CHRIS MCGREAL - Jul 28 2008 06:00
Millions of Zimbabweans face starvation after the widespread failure of the
latest harvest brought on by the government's disastrous mishandling of land
redistribution and food shortages in shops caused by hyperinflation.
The United Nations says hundreds of thousands of people require food aid
immediately because they have harvested little or nothing in recent weeks.
It has warned that up to five million will need assistance in the coming
months. A third of the population is chronically malnourished.
But attempts to assist them are blocked by a ban on foreign aid agencies
working in rural areas after Robert Mugabe said they were fronts for "regime
change" by Britain and the United States.
Aid workers pointed to significant population movements and children
arriving at hospitals suffering from kwashiorkor. Many families are reduced
to one meal a day, with some living on wild berries.
The UN says that it has seen a significant rise in the number of entire
families fleeing to South Africa.
Food availability has also been hit by hyperinflation, which economists say
is running at above 10-million percent. The central bank issued a
Z$100-billion note this week, worth less than R100.
Mugabe defiantly continues to blame the shortages on an anti-government
conspiracy, accusing companies of deliberately withholding fertiliser and
other agricultural necessities. He has threatened to jail those he says are
A medical worker in Matabeleland, where the maize crop failure was almost
total, said that there were widespread food shortages. What arrived was
mostly given to Zanu-PF members.
"The situation is extremely severe in Matabeleland. Hunger is extreme. The
odd maize deliveries only go to people with Zanu cards. Where there is food
people can't afford it," she said.
"In St Luke's hospital in Lupane, 16 children aged five to 12 have
kwashiorkor. That's significant because in children of that age it's usually
not related to HIV. It's almost certainly because of malnutrition. These are
the ones who made it to hospital. Most wouldn't."
In the Masvingo area in the east, witnesses say newly settled farmers are
abandoning their land after the crop failures and are heading for the towns.
A Zimbabwean official said many people were now resorting to desperate
measures to survive, including selling off precious livestock that often
represented most of a family's wealth.
"They get five kilos of maize for two goats; for a cow it's 300 kilos," the
official said. "People are no longer interested in politics. They are
talking about how to survive, how to get money or food."
A report last month by the UN's Food and Agricultural Organisation and World
Food Programme estimated that the recent maize harvest was down 28% on last
year, which itself fell 44% from 2006.
The former white-owned farms are producing just 10% of the food they did a
decade ago and long-established communal farmers, who used to grow the bulk
of Zimbabwe's maize supply, are now growing about 25% of former production
The UN report blames the crop failure on a combination of poor weather, a
collapse in productivity on redistributed white-owned farms and government
policies that have helped created shortages of seeds and fertiliser and have
led to the collapse of the power supply and irrigation. State rice controls
have also undermined the market.
The Food and Agriculture Organisation/World Food Programme (FAO/WFP) report
said two million people will need assistance in the coming weeks as what
remains of their food stocks runs out. That number will rise to five million
early next year.
A WFP spokesperson, Richard Lee, said the principal obstacle to food
delivery was the ban on foreign aid organisations that handle distribution
on the ground. "The issue is the continuing ban on NGO activity. We were
rounding up 300 000 of the most vulnerable people, but because of the
restrictions we're only able to reach about 135 000. NGOs are crucial to our
ability to deliver," he said.
The UN is pressing the government to lift the ban, although some foreign aid
agencies feel it is not pushing hard enough. Lee said that the WFP was
hearing anecdotal evidence "that the situation is worrying in many areas".
"We're hearing ... stories about reduction in meals earlier than usual. It
is worrying that it is happening so close to the harvest," he said.
Agriculturalists warn that the situation is not likely to improve with the
next harvest. Zimbabwe requires 27 000 tons of maize seed for a season's
planting. This year's yield looks likely to fall to 2 500 tons, leaving
farmers little to plant. -- © Guardian News & Media Ltd 2008
By staff writers
26 Jul 2008
Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu has led pleas for repentance,
reconciliation and forgiveness following outbreaks of xenophobic attacks by
some South Africans on refugees coming from Zimbabwe and elsewhere in
At a Christian service with multi-faith participation at St John's College
in Johannesburg earlier this week, the Nobel Peace Laureate asked for
forgiveness and repentance among those involved in violence, and stressed
the practical commitment of the churches, notably his own Anglican one, to
repair the fractured relationships and lives.
"The diocese of Johannesburg called together its people and said we need to
repent and so that was a service to repent in which we confessed our sin of
Xenophobia and they are saying we won't tolerate this and we want to tell
those who have been victims that we are sorry and we pray that we will not
repeat what we did," said Archbishop Tutu.
Dr Tutu also mentioned that South Africans were welcomed as exiles, refugees
and as freedom fighters in African lands and wondered if people could have
forgotten so soon. He reminded South Africans that they were once held in
high esteem, particularly for their forgiving and reconciling behaviour
He questioned the direction of the nation in relation to the level of crime
and an accepted trend of leadership without responsibility, referring to
recent controversial utterances by some leaders.
Archbishop Tutu stressed it was important that South Africans roll out the
welcome mat for their African neighbours.
He said this was a human duty, but also a Christian one.
1 hour ago
MBABANE (AFP) - Swaziland has invited Robert Mugabe to attend a royal day of
celebration marking 40 years of independence from Britain and King Mswati
III's 40th birthday, media reported.
While world leaders have condemned as a sham Mugabe's victory in a
Zimbabwean presidential run-off, Africa's last absolute monarch is "looking
forward" to hosting its neighbour's president on September 6.
Swazi News, a weekly paper published on Saturday reported that Mugabe was
one of 13 Southern African Development Community leaders invited to attend
the day of royal festivities.
"The invitations were sent before the Zimbabwean presidential run-off. We
are looking forward to hosting the one who is president of that country if
he accepts our invitation," Foreign Ministry Principal Secretary Clifford
Mamba told the weekly.
The cost of the festivities would cost close to 50 million emalangeni (4.2
million euros or 6.5 million dollars).
An official speaking on condition of anonymity told AFP that a fleet of new
German-made cars were on their way to Swaziland and would be unveiled during
the double celebrations popularly known as 40/40.
"New cars for the King, the Queen Mother, his wives and other senior royal
family members have already been ordered and they should be arriving
mid-August," the source said.
King Mswati III offended Mugabe when he chaired a meeting of regional
leaders which called for the run-off election to be postponed.
Addressing a rally just before the run-off, Mugabe told thousands of his
supporters that leaders like King Mswati III cannot teach him anything on