July 1, 2008
The amount required when a pint of beer cost Z$1 million. Yesterday the price of a pint was Z$15 billion in Harare
By Business Correspondent
THE Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, is working on a solution to deal with the accumulation of zeros in monetary transactions the Zimbabwe Times gathered today.
According to Reserve Bank officials who spoke to the Zimbabwe Times on condition of anonymity the bank had engaged an accounting firm which has drafted a solution to the ever increasing number of zeros in Zimbabwe’s currency.
“The issue of digits is the prerogative of the governor and about six zero’s will be removed from the currency,” the official said. “This means eight hundred billion will become, eight hundred thousand.” Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor Gideon Gono recently said he was aware of the problems created by the zeros, saying he would take remedial action soon.
Slashing of the zeros is not a novel phenomenon in Zimbabwe. Two years ago, the central bank slashed off three zeros from the currency in reform exercise. Bank’s which talked to The Zimbabwe Times said they were reconfiguring their systems ahead of the announcement by the Reserve bank governor.
Businessman said they had resorted to opening multiple bank accounts for them to cope with the increased inflows of money into their accounts.
The accumulating zeros have presented challenges to businesses and individuals as prices continue to escalate. Some banks have already resorted to removing at least three or six zeros from prices in order for them to manage the excess digits.
Banks have over the past two week experienced challenges with the Real Time Gross Settlement system because it can no longer handle the growing number of zeros.
Several inter-bank transactions are failing to go through while some may take a number of days, more than the stipulated transfer period of 24 hours.
Banking officials said the current systems could process a transaction of up to $9, 99 trillion meaning any transfer above that would cause a “truncation”.
Truncation occurs when the computer system fails to handle figures above its capacity. Banks were thus finding it easier to transact smaller amounts of less than $5 trillion. If a client makes a transfer of one quadrillion, the bank will have to open 150 additional accounts to facilitate that single transfer.
However, economists say banks should upgrade their
internal systems to contain such transactions.
Hyperinflation is the cause of the preponderance of zeros which has bedevilled Zimbabwe’s currency over the past two years or so.
The latest weekly report circulated by a leading Harare investment broker, carries the following rider: “Kindly note that we have taken out six zeros from our system for ease of transaction.”
by Own Correspondent Wednesday 02 July 2008
JOHANNESBURG - A renowned economist has urged African leaders and
international planners to give serious thought to the "astounding disaster"
of strife-torn Zimbabwe's economy.
"This is one of the most astounding economic disasters in a peacetime
economy in history," said development economist Jeffrey Sachs, speaking on
Tuesday on the sidelines of an African Union summit in Egypt where Zimbabwe's
President Robert Mugabe's weekend election victory has dominated the
Mugabe was the only candidate in the widely discredited presidential run-off
election after opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai pulled out saying
political violence that he said had killed 86 of his supporters and
displaced 200 000 others made a free and fair vote impossible.
However Tsvangirai's name remained on ballot papers after electoral
authorities refused to accept his decision to withdraw saying he had filed
his pullout outside the required period.
The elections have received widespread condemnation from African observers,
African governments and Western countries who urged the African Union that
met in Egypt from Monday to Tuesday to act against Mugabe.
Once a regional breadbasket, Zimbabwe is in the grip of a severe economic
crisis which critics blame on wrong polices by Mugabe such as his haphazard
fast-track land reform exercise that displaced established white commercial
farmers and replaced them with either incompetent or inadequately funded
The economic crisis that the World Bank has described as the worst in the
world outside a war zone is seen in the world's highest inflation rate that
analysts estimate at more than 2 000 000 percent, severe shortages of food
and every basic survival commodity.
Sachs, who is a special advisor to United Nations Secretary-General Ban
Ki-Moon, also underscored the importance of finding a solution to the
southern African country's political crisis, warning that there would be no
economic recovery without political stability.
"It's already in a hyperinflation of more than one million percent year over
year and, until there is a legitimate government, it will not be possible
for them to stabilise the economy," Sachs said, adding that Africa needed to
realise that instability in Zimbabwe will spill over to the rest of the
"The fact of an inflation of more than one million percent a year should be
taken note of by policy makers in Africa, by policy makers in the United
States, by people that are attending to this."
"Already there's a complete collapse of living standards and even the
ability to meet basic needs, and African leaders should understand that,
international leaders should understand," he said.
The 84-year old Mugabe who has ruled Zimbabwe since independence from
Britain in 1980, maintains that the economic troubles besetting the country
are a result of sanctions imposed on him and his ruling clique by the
European Union and the United States after a controversial 2002 presidential
"The sanctions didn't cause the state of the economy, gross rampant
mismanagement caused the state of the economy," said Sachs. - ZimOnline
By Taurai Shava and Patience Rusere
01 July 2008
The central police station in Gweru, capital of Zimbabwe's Midlands
province, turned into a retail outlet on Monday as consumers flocked there
to purchase sugar and other basic commodities which police had confiscated
from stores accused of overcharging for them.
Correspondent Taurai Shava of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe reported.
Economists see no solution in sight for the country's hyperinflationary
explosion of prices.
Tuesday the price of a liter of gasoline more than doubled from Z$70 billion
to Z$150 billion.
Most shop shelves are empty. Bread, if one can find it, fetches up to Z$20
billion a loaf.
Sweet potatoes, now a staple, go for Z$1 trillion a bag.
Economist Tony Hawkins of the University of Zimbabwe's Graduate School of
Management calls the situation "critical" with little hope of improvement so
long as the current government of President Robert Mugabe, inaugurated
Sunday for a sixth term, remains in power.
Hawkins told reporter Patience Rusere that it is hard to pinpoint the
inflation rate given the absence of official data, but he reckons it has
reached about 10 million percent.
By Peter Heinlein
Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt
01 July 2008
A summit of African leaders is encouraging Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe to form
a government of national unity with opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai.
VOA's Peter Heinlein at the summit site at Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, reports a
final summit statement takes no position on Zimbabwe's runoff presidential
election, which many western government have called a sham.
A summit resolution approved after hours of sometimes contentious debate
avoids many of the difficult questions arising from Zimbabwe's election. It
does not endorse the results, and assesses no blame for the violence and
intimidation that prompted observers and many western governments to declare
Robert Mugabe's inauguration illegitimate.
The final resolution encourages Mr. Mugabe and Movement for Democratic
Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai to enter a dialogue, and support the idea of
a Kenya-style government of national unity.
Egyptian foreign ministry spokesman Hossam Zaki told reporters the
resolution was adopted by consensus during a closed door meeting. "There was
a lengthy debate. Many views were put forward, including very critical views
of the Zimbabwe ruling party and the president, and the president of
Zimbabwe made a lengthy intervention in which he explained his position, his
party's position and the developments that took place in Zimbabwe in the
past weeks and months which led to the present situation," he said.
The resolution also encourages the Southern Africa Development Community,
SADC, to continue its mediation efforts.
The resolution was far milder than what several countries had urged.
Diplomats inside the closed meeting say the leaders of Botswana, Nigeria,
Liberia and Sierra Leone spoke in strong terms about the election's lack of
Zimbabwe's neighbor Botswana argued that Zimbabwe and Mr. Mugabe should be
barred from membership in the African Union and SADC.
Senegal and Uganda also favored strong action against Mr. Mugabe than the
relatively neutral position taken in the resolution.
The debate underscored the deep divisions among Zimbabwe's neighbors over
how to respond to Mr. Mugabe's open challenge to democracy, Regional power
South Africa has resisted any condemnation of Mr. Mugabe.
Earlier in the day, a spokesman for Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe rejected
western criticism of the presidential election. spokesman George Charamba
told reporters the west has no right to judge the legitimacy of the election
that returned Mr. Mugabe to power. "They can go and hang. They can go and
hang, a thousand times. They've no claim on Zimbabwe at all, and that's
exactly the issue," he said.
When reporters asked if Mr. Mugabe would give up some power MDC leader
Tsvangirai, Charamba suggested the Zimbabwean leader has no intention of
yielding to foreign influence. "The way out is the way defined by the
Zimbabwe people free from outside interference, and that is exactly what
will resolve the matter," he said.
Zimbabwe's political turmoil, and Mr. Mugabe's presence completely
overshadowed the business of this Red Sea resort summit. Discussions about
meeting anti-poverty and development goals went virtually ignored. Seats
were empty at a news conference to discuss the summit theme, providing
Africa with clean water and sanitation.
An estimated 30 African heads of state and government attended the two-day
gathering at this Red Sea resort.
www.chinaview.cn 2008-07-02 06:07:33
UNITED NATIONS, July 1 (Xinhua) -- China supports the mediation
efforts taken by the African Union (AU) and the Southern African Development
Community (SADC) to try to resolve the Zimbabwe issue, Chinese special envoy
Liu Guijin said Tuesday.
Liu, China's Special Envoy on African Affairs, made the remarks at
a press conference on the sidelines of the high-level segment of the UN
Economic and Social Council, which opened here Monday.
"We hope that the stakeholders in Zimbabwe" -- the ruling party,
the opposition and other relevant political force -- could "work together
and make further efforts to stabilize the volatile situation there," Liu
"That is of the most importance," he stressed.
China has also noticed that the international community,
particularly the AU and SADC, are now paying greater attention to the
situation in Zimbabwe, he said.
Noting that the AU is convening a summit to discuss the situation
in Zimbabwe, Liu said that China supports the African Union, SADC and their
joint mediator, South Africa, for their efforts to mediate the Zimbabwe
"We hope that the situation there in Zimbabwe could be addressed
and the relevant stakeholders ... with the assistance of the regional
countries of the African Union and the international Community" could find a
proper solution, he said.
Jul 01, 2008 04:30 AM
Foreign Affairs Reporter
Carrots or sticks?
So far neither have persuaded Zimbabwe's intransigent leader, Robert Mugabe,
to step aside or share power with his popularly backed political foes.
World leaders are trying to end the massive crisis that has devastated the
country, with a summit of African countries urging Mugabe to open talks with
the opposition, while Canada and others in the West sought new sanctions,
calling last week's runoff election a sham.
But African pressure for a government of national unity may not bring the
changes many are demanding. And, experts say, embargos seldom work at times
when change is urgently needed.
"There's a long history of sanctions in Zimbabwe," said Tim Stapleton of
Trent University, an expert on the region. "They go back to the time of
(Rhodesia's white minority leader) Ian Smith. But it took years before his
Following a runoff tainted by murder and intimidation, Canada ordered new
travel restrictions on senior Zimbabwean officials and their families and
barred Zimbabwean-registered aircraft from Canadian air space.
U.S. President George W. Bush said he was working on new ways of tightening
the noose on Mugabe's regime, and circulated a draft resolution in the
United Nations Security Council calling for an arms embargo on Zimbabwe. It
would also freeze assets of officials close to Mugabe, after violence in
which 90 opposition supporters died, hundreds were injured, and thousands
driven from their homes.
Moves toward new sanctions join a long list of measures taken against
The U.S. has financial and travel sanctions targeting about 250 people and
companies associated with his regime, and Americans are forbidden to do
business with them. There is also a ban on transfers of defence-related
The European Union imposed a visa ban on key regime members and froze their
The International Monetary Fund suspended technical aid to Zimbabwe for
non-payment of arrears and failure to come to grips with the spiralling
economic and social crisis.
The Queen stripped Mugabe of an honorary knighthood, and Zimbabwe was
suspended from the Commonwealth group of nations - from which Mugabe later
Some of the measures were painful. But none has so far been effective in
ending Mugabe's 28-year reign.
"They're a way of making a political statement," said Alex Vines, a former
UN sanctions monitor and head of the Africa program for Chatham House in
London. "But they do more to express international outrage than anything
Individual sanctions targeting members of Mugabe's regime leave little more
room for manoeuvre. And most countries are reluctant to impose new economic
embargos that would harm ordinary Zimbabweans, who are already struggling
with massive employment, homelessness and inflation said to be more than 1
million per cent.
"You could say that Zimbabwe was self-sanctioning," said Kimberly Ann
Elliott, an expert in international sanctions at the Peterson Institute for
International Economics in Washington. "The government's own policies have
done more to destroy the economy than any sanctions could."
Mugabe maintains that sanctions have ruined the country, part of a
neo-colonial plot by Westerners to punish him for taking back land from
white owners. Stapleton, a history professor at Peterborough's Trent
University, said many of Zimbabwe's suffering people believe him.
"Unofficial sanctions have hurt them because Western countries have pulled
out because of lack of confidence. Then they were cut off from some of the
(international) loans on which they were dependent."
Meanwhile, the arms embargo resolution being circulated in the Security
Council has little chance of passing. Veto-bearing Russia and China - the
latter a major arms supplier to Zimbabwe - are likely to oppose it.
"There are enough arms in Zimbabwe already," said Stapleton. "The kind of
violence that has been going on doesn't require high-tech weapons. They can
attack just as easily with sticks and stones."
Wednesday 02 July 2008
Against the odds: Covering Zimbabwe in a climate of fear and physical danger
Report of a Mission to Zimbabwe, 9 - 13 June 2008
A mission to examine close at hand the media in Zimbabwe was undertaken from
8 to 13 June 2008 by a team of African media experts. The mission was made
up of representatives of the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ
Africa Office based in Senegal), Southern Africa Editors' Forum (SAEF),
Southern Africa Journalists Association (SAJA), the Media Institute of
Southern Africa (MISA) Regional Office and the Network of African Freedom of
Expression Organisations (NAFEO) represented by Africa Free Media Foundation
based in Kenya.
The purpose of the mission to Zimbabwe was to ascertain the conditions of
media and freedom of expression in the country in the light of the arrests
of journalists, both local and foreign and the deteriorating freedom of
expression environment. This mission took place in the context of the
forthcoming Presidential election run off slated for 27 June 2008, and
therefore also had the objective to assess the possibilities for the media
to provide the citizens with relevant information and news in order to vote
on an informed basis.
The mission met a number of Zimbabwean journalists, editors and media owners
working in Bulawayo, Gweru, Harare, Masvingo and Mutare and a cross section
of representative's of local civic organisations working countrywide.
2. Current Situation
2.1. Zimbabwe Harmonised Elections
On 29 March 2008 Zimbabwe held joint elections for the Presidency, Senate,
House of Assembly and local government. In the period preceding this
election the political and economic environment had been characterised by
widespread use of repressive laws such as the Public Order and Security Act
(POSA), the Access to information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA), the
Interception of communications Act (ICT) and the Criminal Law (Reform and
Codification) Act (CLRCA). These laws were being used to severely curtail
the right to freedom of expression, information and assembly of the people
of Zimbabwe. Apart from the existence and use of these laws, non-state
actors who include war veterans of Zimbabwe's war of independence in the
1970's, youth militia and Zimbabwe African National Union - Patriotic Front
(ZANU PF) supporters have actively engaged in acts of violence against the
media and opposition supporters.
The Zimbabwe Government had put into place elaborate processes for the
accreditation of election observers leading up to the elections with the
prospective observers having to apply to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
which was responsible for deciding which observers would be allowed into the
country. The electoral management body, Zimbabwe Elections Commission (ZEC),
only invited observers who would have been approved by the government. Local
observers' applications were dealt with by the Ministry of Justice and
Constitutional Affairs which would then pass the names of those approved to
ZEC for processing.
With respect to media coverage for the elections, local and foreign media
was also required to apply for accreditation to cover the elections, with
applications been dealt with by ZEC for local journalists. Local journalists
need to be accredited by the government appointed Media and Information
Commission (MIC) to get election accreditation. Foreign journalists had to
apply to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs before being accredited by the ZEC.
Despite the fact that ZEC said it would accredit all local journalists who
produce MIC accreditation cards, many were denied accreditation.
Organisations such as MISA have it on good record that the Ministry of
Information and Publicity as well as the MIC gave ZEC a list of local
journalists who were not to be accredited.
Just like in the case of observers, the government insured that only those
media considered friendly to the government received accreditation to cover
the elections. The result was that international media groups like BBC and
CNN and South African e-TV were denied accreditation.
The delay in the announcing of the results of the House of Assembly, the
Senate, and even more so the Presidential ballot count have been roundly
condemned as inconsistent with the Southern African Development Community
(SADC) Principles and Guidelines Governing Democratic Elections.
The final announcement on Friday 2 May 2008 of the Presidential poll results
which put the opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai at 47,9 percent of the
total votes cast, Robert Mugabe of ZANU PF at 43,2 percent, has implied the
run-off of the Presidential vote to be held. ZEC has since announced that
the run off would take place on 27 June 2008.
In the aftermath of the 29 March 2008 election, there has been an escalation
in incidents of reported violence against opposition party activists as well
as the continued arrests, intimidation and harassment of journalists.
According to reports presented at the NGO Forum at the 43rd Ordinary Session
of the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights (ACHPR) in Ezulwini,
Swaziland, on 3 May 2008, around 20 people have reportedly been killed in
post election retribution violence notwithstanding the more than 450
arbitrary arrests and detentions of citizens mostly supporters of the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) including that of 120 ZEC
This has led many to conclude that the ruling ZANU PF party had deliberately
been delaying the announcement of results in order to re-organise what have
been termed forces of terror against the people of Zimbabwe. The violence is
mainly carried out by the Zimbabwe Republic Police, components of the
Zimbabwe National Army, the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) and the
ZANU PF youth militia and war veterans.
The period preceding the run-off has continued being characterised by
violence, which has claimed many lives, resulted in many injured and
property destroyed. Many areas in Zimbabwe, especially rural areas and
recently (Mid June 2008) urban centres have seen an increased violence
perpetrated by ZANU PF supporters and retaliatory attacks by the MDC in some
cases. So called bases have been set in rural and urban centres from where
youth militia conduct all night political vigils, gather, harass and beat
perceived supporters of the opposition. Rural and urban areas in Zimbabwe
are under siege and for many a ZANU PF T-shirt, campaign poster and
pamphlets as well as a recitation of President Robert Mugabe campaign
messages is the only guarantor of security.
By 19 June 2008, the MDC reported that at least 70 of their supporters had
been killed since the March 29 elections.
The pre run-off election period has been described by many governments as
the most dangerous in the history of Zimbabwe and calls have been made by
retired African politicians, SADC, UN, African and Western countries for the
Zimbabwe governments to cease the campaign of violence.
At the time of finalising this report, the MDC presidential candidate had
announced that he was pulling out of the June 27 run-off, but the government
insisted that the election would still proceed as planned.
2.2. Media Environment
2.2.1. Media Law Reform
Prior to the holding of the harmonised elections on March 29, 2008, Zimbabwe
had amended some sections of AIPPA and BSA, as part of the inter-party
negotiations between ZANU PF and the two factions of the MDC. However, the
amendments had been dismissed as inconsequential by Zimbabwe media freedom
The government had assured the ACHPR that media would be consulted during
the process leading to the enactment of the amendments, but MISA reported to
the ACHPR that no such consultation had taken place. The Zimbabwe
government has thus maintained the repressive sections of AIPPA, BSA, and
POSA intact and these have been used to harass journalists.
It is AIPPA that was used to ban local and foreign journalists from covering
the March elections and will likely be used to ban journalists from covering
the June 27 Presidential election run-off. The Broadcasting law has been
used to maintain a de facto state monopoly of the airwaves through the ZBC.
POSA is still being used to ban civic society and opposition parties from
assembling, marching or any form of open protest. At the time of writing
this report, Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) activists were in police custody
after marching against state repression in Harare.
Civic society organisations representatives talked to reported that they had
virtually suspended work in outlining areas and meetings of civic groups are
also restricted, and offices often raided and staff arrested. It is evident,
therefore, that media law reform in Zimbabwe remains a critical issue but
more importantly, a culture of appreciating the necessity, role and place of
media in society.
2.2.2. State Media
The mission observed that the state media is under severe control by the
party in power as an exclusive campaign tool. A simple media monitoring of
the content of the state owned newspapers and broadcast news bulletins over
the period of the visit show a biased reporting embedded in hate language.
The Media Monitoring Project of Zimbabwe, in their Weekly Media Update
#2008-163, noted "the frightening transformation of the public media into
becoming the purveyors of appalling hate messages against critics of the
ruling party and its political opposition, the MDC, and particularly its
presidential candidate, Morgan Tsvangirai." The state media is thus
contributing to the heightening of political tensions in Zimbabwe through
its reportage, especially making allegations of political violence allegedly
being perpetrated by the opposition without conclusive police
The mission also noted that harassment of journalists at the state media is
meant to inculcate fear and an unquestioning loyalty within the journalists.
Those journalists working for the state media live in fear of being fired or
suspended for not showing sufficient enthusiasm for the reporting and
coverage of the party in power. At the time of the visit, seven journalists
were under suspension and the ZBC CEO had recently been fired. The purge of
the state media is meant to remove any form of professionalism and create a
compliant and unquestioning reporter.
The mission noted that state media is heavily controlled by the government
is used as an exclusive propaganda tool of the ruling party. Interviews with
media watchers and monitors indicated that this situation was not just for
the election period, but goes back many years. No independent or opposing
views to those of the ruling party are given space to share their
perspectives, but are referred to in disparaging remarks by ruling party
officials and their supporters. Ruling party supporters include the
Chairpersons of the MIC and the NIPC who are provided lots of space to write
articles published in state controlled newspapers attacking the opposition
and private media and media freedom organisations.
The state media also carries reportage embedded in hate language, which is
completely ignored by the MIC whose responsibility includes that of
upholding and developing the freedom of the press, as well as promoting and
enforcing good practice and ethics in the media and ensuring that the people
of Zimbabwe have equitable and wide access to information.
Furthermore, the continued control of state media by the government is
contrary to the provisions of the ACHPR Declaration of Principles on Freedom
of Expression in Africa, especially Article VI4 and VIII (2)5.
2.2.3. Private Media
Article VI of the ACHPR Declaration on Principles of Freedom of Expression
in Africa provides that "State and government controlled broadcasters should
be transformed into public service broadcasters, accountable to the public
through the legislature rather than the government", in accordance with
specified principles that include guaranteed of editorial independence and
protection from political and economic interference, among others.
Article of VIII (2) of the ACHPR Declaration on Principles of Freedom of
Expression in Africa provides that "Any print media published by a public
authority should be protected adequately against undue political
While the government accuses the independent media of biased reporting, the
mission heard from owners of independent newspapers that they are struggling
to survive under crippling state controlled price regime. The government
imposes price restrictions on newspapers and other publications through the
National Incomes and Pricing Commission (NIPC). "The pricing of newspapers
does not take into account the fact that we do not get foreign currency for
plates, consumables and newsprint from the government" said one senior
editor of an independent newspaper. While there exist media laws that
directly affect the operations of journalists like gathering news, other
laws and what might amount to economic sabotage is being used to silence the
independent media in Zimbabwe.
The harsh economic environment especially adversely affects private media
owners as they have grapple with rapidly increasing costs of newsprint,
print consumables and distribution and the need to pay salaries that keep up
with the hyperinflationary environment with inflation estimated to be above
1 million percent. Additionally, almost all production materials are sourced
outside the country at high cost using scarce foreign currency.
The economic challenges that the independent media are facing, combined with
shortages of equipment, print consumables and newsprint, and with the
arrests, threats and harassment has meant that this media is barely
surviving and their impact as alternative sources of information severely
The Independent, the Standard, and the Financial Gazette are some of the
mainstream newspapers that have kept publishing once a week. In the past
five years, four privately owned newspapers were banned.
It is important to note that while a few independent newspapers still exist,
these are seriously constrained in their work hence minimising their impact.
The banned newspapers included the Daily News the most popular and
successful independent newspaper in Zimbabwe since 1980. The remaining
independent newspapers face a plethora of challenges more so violence,
intimidation and arrests.
The Zimbabwean newspaper and some other international newspapers published
in South Africa are widely read in the county. On 24 May 2008, 60 000 copies
and a truck belonging to The Zimbabwean newspaper printed outside the
country were petrol-bombed by unknown assailants. The ZANU PF party and
government has displayed open hostility towards the newspaper accusing it of
being part of what the "regime change" agenda. The Zimbabwean newspaper and
other international newspapers face heavy import duties, payable in foreign
currency, imposed on them by the government since June 2008, that is likely
to prevent them from coming into the country.
2.2.5. Online newspapers and "pirate" radios
Since the closure and the ban from 2003 of four leading privately owned
newspapers the general public in Zimbabwe lack access to information, and in
particular to political related information to empower them to make informed
choices. On the broadcasting front, no commercial and community media has
been licensed to date despite legislation providing for such licenses being
in place since 2002. As a result, many online newspapers have been created
and three "pirate" radio stations have been covering Zimbabwe from outside:
Voice of the People (VOP), SW Africa Radio and Studio 7 of Voice of America.
Only these three short and medium-wave radio stations programmes produced
outside the country provide an alternative to the state radio and
television, ZBC. The signals of these external broadcasts are frequently
2.2.6. Media Practitioners' safety and security
The mission was told of a disturbing increase in the attack of journalists
after the March 29 elections, including the brutal assault by individuals
wearing national army uniforms, on the Zimbabwe Union of Journalists (ZUJ)
president, Mathew Takaona on April 17 and the abduction of freelance
journalist Stanley Karombo6.
The lack of safety and security for journalists means that many are
exercising self-censorship and those still working are confining themselves
to covering urban centres as well as non-controversial subjects. Mainstream
newspapers are not safe as the CIO monitors every activity often threatening
to stop the newspaper from publishing certain stories. Information about
what stories the newspapers are about to publish is obtained through spying
and paid informants in newsrooms. At the time the mission was in Zimbabwe
three South Africa media workers were in state prison charged with violating
the countries broadcasting and telecommunications laws.
Laws that include POSA and AIPPA are being used with impunity to narrow the
operating space for journalists. The mission was told that unlicensed
journalists face a daily task of avoiding arrest. More so, the licensed
journalists cannot travel outside the city centres to cover rural areas
because of fear of security agents and militia who have set up base in rural
areas. The combined effect is that Zimbabweans in general lack access to
election related information to empower them to make informed choices.
In interviews with various players in the media as well as civic
organisations, it is clear that Zimbabwe's media is operating under
tremendous pressure from the state and security agents, as well as non-state
actors such as youth militia, ZANU PF supporters and war veterans.
2.2.7. Freelance Journalists
Freelance journalists constitute an important group in the media fraternity
in Zimbabwe; they work mainly from the main cities of the country (Bulawayo,
Gweru, Harare, Masvingo and Mutare). Most of them lost their jobs following
the closure of four leading newspapers five years ago. They currently
freelance for Zimbabwean online newspapers, the "pirate" radio stations and
for international media outlets.
"Freelancers battle to get accreditation because you have to belong to a
media organisation to be accredited; and there is no way you can claim to
work for the local online newspapers and pirate radio stations and get away
with it. Those who cannot get accreditation are forced to operate illegally
and are usually arrested, beaten up and detained," said one freelancer, who
was arrested, beaten up, detained, his equipments confiscated; and now
released. He faces the court on bogus charges of being involved in illegal
practice, malicious injury and damage to property.
Under those conditions, normal journalistic investigation becomes a
hazardous task. More than a hundred Zimbabwean journalists have fled the
country. A number of the freelancers have had to stop work after receiving
threats or being attacked in the cyber cafés from where they work. "Do not
burn the bridge; you still have to cross it when the rainy season is over,"
one of them was told on the phone by an anonymous caller.
The mission found that freelance journalists operate under the constant fear
of being abducted, arrested, detained or beaten up. They have to battle for
survival in a failing economy that has also placed extreme pressure on the
remaining local media businesses.
Freelance journalist Frank Chikowore was arrested in May 2008, detained for
over two weeks and charged with public violence. Chikowore's crime is that
he was seen interviewing MDC officials after a bus had allegedly been
torched in a Harare suburb.
Chikowore's home was searched and his laptop, camera and other tools of work
confiscated. Chikowore told the mission he is living in fear as he is
sometime followed by unknown persons. Freelance journalists Guthrie Munyuki
shed tears as he explained the economic predicament that he finds himself in
as a result of the intimidation he is facing from a named high ranking
government official. He stated that this has adversely affected his ability
to work and earn a living.
A freelance journalist working from Zimbabwean eastern border town of Mutare
told the mission of an incident in May when he was abducted, beaten and left
for dead by unknown assailants. "They told me I was writing negatively about
the government" he said. The journalist still had physical and
psychological scars from the incident.
2.2.8. Information vacuum
Zimbabwe's media environment as described above is heavily skewed in favour
of the ruling party and government. Not only are the laws mentioned above
used against the independent media but the use of extra judicial methods of
intimidation such as beatings, threats and intimidation have seriously cowed
the Zimbabwe media. Both freelance journalists and independent newspapers in
Zimbabwe say they work under a cloud of fear and uncertainly as anything can
happen any time. In interviews with local journalists this mission heard of
sad stories of journalists who have been waylaid and beaten up, had their
property destroyed and some arrested on spurious charges of public violence.
The repressive media regime has as a consequence of increasing the already
state enforced information vacuum, where the Zimbabwean population has
serious difficulties in obtaining independent news and information on the
electoral process and related developments. Suppression of the media
continues with human rights organisations that continue their civil
education on elections programme by distributing wind-up radios are finding
that the authorities have demanded that villagers in 'Listener's Clubs' hand
over their sets or risk being accused of sabotage.
"People are now hiding their radios in their homes at great risk because
they want to hear what is really happening in the country," said media
freedom activist. Others such as Noel Tichawana, a Harare vendor have been
arrested for listening to Studio 7, a Voice of America daily news programme
focusing on Zimbabwe. Tichawana is set to appear in court on July 15 2008,
charged with being a public nuisance.
Particularly in the rural areas, the lack of information and well-balanced
news is evident, witnessing a situation where the citizens have
state-controlled mass media used a propaganda tool as their main sources of
Reports from civil society organizations indicate that even army barracks
and police compounds are being instructed to take down satellite dishes and
other antennae because these allow listeners and viewers to hear and see
foreign (subversive) broadcasts that are anti ZANU PF.
"There is just no information going out, especially to the rural areas.
Radio signals are being jammed and mobile phone networks disrupted so that
there is an information blackout from any other source apart from
government," a human rights advocate stated.
The arrest of journalists, the harassment of civil society activists as well
as the blanket exclusion of international media organisations in the
electoral period, all bear evidence to the restrictive freedom of media and
freedom of expression situation in the country. By May 5, Reporters Without
Borders (RSF) reported the arrest of the 10th journalist since the March 29
The general working environment of CSOs was also constrained and further
heightened by the recent communication from the government requesting CSOs
to stop carrying out fieldwork. There are concerns about food shortages,
which are further exacerbated by the government ban of food distribution by
While the communication from the government was meant for those NGOs
carrying humanitarian work, others doing unrelated work seem to be
unofficially included at they are harassed when found in rural areas.
At the time of the mission, workers of a media monitoring and advocacy
organisation were arrested and released after four days. They were arrested
for allegedly organising an "illegal meeting".
"There was a time when we had to inform the police that we were holding a
civic education meeting, but this fell away some time ago. Despite this we
always tell them long in advance when we are to hold our meetings and what
the subject matter is," said the released advocate adding: "This time it was
a senior superintendent in the police that made the arrest and he did not
even know why he was arresting us. He had to constantly speak to someone
'higher up' to get clarity on the matter."
Some of the organisations were also being raided during the visit of the
mission resulting in fear spreading among others concerned that they could
be also raided for working with the media against the government.
3. Conclusion and recommendations
The mission came to the conclusion that the media and freedom of expression
environment is severely constrained and further noted that no proper and
professional media work can take place in Zimbabwe under the circumstances
to allow for free and fair elections. The mission expresses its shock at the
level of fear pervading the Zimbabwe media and society at large. The mission
takes note and congratulates brave Zimbabwean journalists and independent
newspapers who still express interest of continuing with their work despite
all these daunting challenges.
The mission calls upon the government to:
1. Stop the arrest and detention of media practitioners and openly condemn
any cases of harassment of media practitioners by non-state actors and
arrest and prosecute such perpetrators.
2. Stop its stranglehold on state media and allow this media to provide the
two contesting parties equal access and space for their campaigns as
provided by the AU charter on democracy8 and SADC Principles and Guidelines
Governing Democratic Elections.
3. Allow unhindered access to all journalists and reporters to election
campaigns, including rallies and other election related meetings.
4. Allow Human Rights organisations dealing with civic education on
elections immediate and unhindered access to the rural areas to effectively
provide the necessary information to the rural masses so that citizens can
make informed choices in the election. This also relates to media
practitioners having unrestricted access to the people.
5. Repeal AIPPA and enact an Access to Information law that meets meet
6. Allow the operation of the Voluntary Media Council of Zimbabwe
established by the media10 based on their own Code of Conduct and
self-regulatory mechanisms, independent of political and commercial
7. Earnestly and expeditiously pursue the transformation of state-controlled
broadcaster, ZBC, into a public service broadcaster as provided by ACHPR.
8. Amend the BSA to ensure a truly independent broadcast regulator as
provided by the ACHPR.
9. Open up the broadcasting sector to enable the licensing and operation of
commercial and community broadcasting services in line with the ACHPR
Declaration on Principles of Freedom of Expression in Africa.
3.2. SADC and AU
The mission calls on SADC and AU to:
1. Ensure that the SADC and AU observer missions monitor the reportage and
coverage of the election process by the state media to ensure compliance
with the SADC and AU principles and guidelines.
The AU Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance provides under Article
17 (3) that state parties shall "Ensure fair and equitable access by
contesting parties and candidates to state controlled media during
The SADC Principles and Guidelines Governing Democratic Elections of 2004
provide that "SADC Member States shall adhere to the following principles in
the conduct of democratic" and state under 2.2.5 that "Equal opportunity for
all political parties to access the state media."
Article IX (3) of the ACHPR Declaration on Principles of Freedom of
Expression in Africa recommends self-regulation as the best system for
promoting high standards in media.
2. Continue to maintain pressure on the government of Zimbabwe to resolve
the deepening political and economic crisis in the country that affects the
ability of the media to perform their duties in informing the people of
3. Ensure the SADC and AU observer missions should prevail upon the
government of Zimbabwe to ensure the safety, security and freedoms of
journalists and the media in Zimbabwe during the presidential run-off. They
should also demand that the media be afford access to official sources of
information before, during and after the presidential run-off election.
4. Make preparations to assist Zimbabwean journalists and media who might be
forced into either leaving the country or seeking medical or legal
assistance outside their country.
3.3. International community
The mission calls on the international community to:
1. Monitor the situation of journalists and media and ensure that this issue
is maintained on the regional and international public agenda.
2. Ensure that political and economical support are provided for journalist
and media workers under threat and physical risk.
3. Support Zimbabwe media development through assisting the media itself, as
national, regional and international organisations involved in media
development, legal support and training.
4. Contact Details
For further details about the mission and report please contact one of the
following participating organisations:
Gabriel Baglo, Africa Director, International Federation of Journalists,
Africa Regional Office, e-mail: email@example.com, website:
Rob Jamieson, Chairperson, Southern Africa Editors Forum (SAEF), e-mail:
Kaitira Kandjii, Regional Director, Media Institute of Southern Africa
(MISA), e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, website: http://www.misa.org
Saidou Arij, Coordinator, Network of African Freedom of Expression
Organisations (NAFEO), e-mail: email@example.com, website:
Sam Mbure, Programme Director, Africa Free Media Foundation (AFMF), e-mail:
firstname.lastname@example.org, website: http://www.freemediafoundation.org
Mzi Memeza, Coordinator, Southern Africa Journalists Association (SAJA),
e-mail: email@example.com -- ZimOnline
For beleaguered Zimbabweans, a slight respite as Mugabe makes waves at the
African Union summit in Egypt.
By Rod Nordland | Newsweek Web Exclusive
Jul 1, 2008 | Updated: 5:42 p.m. ET Jul 1, 2008
Some details, such as timing and description of movements, in the following
are altered for the safety of NEWSWEEK's reporter.
Here's a humorous interlude while Bob, as everyone here calls the Zimbabwean
strongman, is off in Sharm el Sheikh trying to hug any African heads of
state who get within arms' reach, calling Britain's Gordon Brown the prime
minister of Zimbabwe and screaming abuse at the British journalist who
flustered him into that gaffe.
How can you tell a drunk driver in Zimbabwe? He's the one who's driving in a
straight line. (This country, which was not so long ago famous for having
some of the best paved roads in Africa, now vies with part of Mogadishu for
density of potholes.)
How to distract policemen who, in the good English so commonly spoken here,
are demanding to know your business? Try "Russky, nyet Ingleski. No speak
English. Speak Russky?" and pray you don't get a Russian-speaking cop. Since
Mugabe has good relations with the Russians (plus the Chinese and a few of
the Axis of Evil members), that's a pretty effective foil.
How to enjoy a billionaire's lunch: At a fast-food joint selling burgers and
fried chicken, a double cheeseburger was 50 billion Zimbabwean dollars
yesterday; with fries and a Coke it was 80 billion. The lady waiting on me
wore a name tag that said "Nomatter." "Whatever were your parents thinking
when they gave you that name?" I couldn't help but ask. "Well, they wanted a
boy, but when they saw it was a girl, they said 'no matter'!" and she burst
into laughter. I can imagine how many times she's told that story.
People laugh easily here, but you have to wonder how they keep their sense
of humor, as life gets more difficult every day-about 20 percent more
difficult to be exact. The Zimbabwean dollar has continued its galloping
slide, pitting 25 billion Zimbabwean dollars to a single U.S. dollar
today-another new low-which leaves them with only one more denomination
higher than the U.S. dollar equivalent (currently the 25 billion and 50
billion notes are the largest in circulation). Rumors are widespread that
the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe will just suddenly announce that it is lopping
six or even nine digits off the paper money but, as one economist said,
"that will only last a few more months before it's back." Devaluing
hyperinflated currency usually has a bounce effect, driving it back up even
more quickly than it had previously been rising.
The current rate of exchange will mean that from tomorrow, Zimbabweans will
only be allowed to withdraw from their bank accounts about $1 U.S. a day-the
limit is 25 billion Zimbabwean dollars daily. That's only the beginning of
the problem, and there are many ways around it, of course. The more pressing
concern is how to spend, as quickly as possible, whatever Zim dollars come
your way. The money I had in my pocket 10 days ago, a thick wad of extremely
large-denomination notes, just evaporated in place. It had started life as
$100 U.S., and I spent about half of it on various things and then found
today that although I still had a big pile, it was just enough to tip the
parking attendant. He had been graciously winking at the way we had been
using his lot for clandestine rendezvous.
With Mugabe off in Sharm el Sheikh and the purple ink fading from voters'
fingers by now, the level of violence has apparently trailed off-though
there are some reports of reprisal attacks in high-density black suburbs,
which are normally opposition MDC strongholds. And of course there was the
attack on the white farmers Monday night. Still, it does seem to have
quieted down for the moment. Morgan Tsvangirai, opposition candidate for
president, left his self-imposed refuge at the Dutch embassy and returned to
his home in Harare today.
Perhaps things will change when Comrade Bob gets back. He can't be in a
terribly good mood. His exchange with the British journalist in the
corridors of the African Union (AU) summit in Egypt appears to have been
particularly distressing. At one point, the Zimbabwean president appeared
ready to lunge for the reporter, with bodyguards in the fore pushing the ITN
correspondent away. Mugabe took umbrage at being asked on what basis he
considered himself president of Zimbabwe, to which he retorted, "On the same
basis as Mr. Brown regards himself as prime minister of Zimbabwe." (Mugabe
meant Britain, of course.) After shouting, "You are bloody idiots" at the
journalist and those around him, Mugabe stalked off.
Apparently Mugabe did not have a very good time behind the closed doors of
the African Union summit either, with Botswana calling his presidential
election invalid and several other countries criticizing his conduct of the
elections. In the end, the A.U. produced a call for negotiations between
Mugabe and Tsvangirai in a compromise statement that was relatively
moderate, but as the A.U. goes, it was pretty strong stuff-especially
considering how many of its members are dictators and potentates themselves.
Mugabe had vowed to go there wagging his finger at anyone who dared to
accuse him of electoral shenanigans, but in the end he left humbled and
humiliated, looking like a bitter old man who wasn't all there. A lot of
people here are now worrying that he'll take out his bile on his own people,
who can't do much about it.
By Jonga Kandemiiri
01 July 2008
The Zimbabwe Peace Project said in a new report issued Tuesday that it was
appalled by the levels of violence and intimidation that accompanied
Friday's presidential runoff ballot, saying violence and intimidation kept
most Zimbabweans from exercising their right to vote.
The project said violence continues across most of the country with
villagers from Chikunguru village in Nyika, Bikita, Masvingo province, being
beaten on Monday by ruling ZANU-PF party militia after they failed to
account for six opposition votes cast in the run-off.
Elsewhere, officials of the Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe and the
Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions voiced distress at violence against their
In statements issued Monday, the two organizations said their leaders are
now living in fear as they face abduction, harassment, torture and worse by
Progressive Teachers Union President Takavafira Zhou told reporter Jonga
Kandemiiri of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that the union lost six members to
political violence while many others have been displaced from their homes.
BILL WATCH SPECIAL
[30th June 2008]
OFFICE OF THE AU OBSERVER MISSION TO THE PRESIDENTIAL RUN-OFF
AND HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY BY-ELECTIONS IN ZIMBABWE
PRELIMINARY STATEMENT OF THE AFRICAN UNION OBSERVER MISSION
In response to an invitation from the Government of the Republic of Zimbabwe, the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, H.E. Jean Ping, appointed and sent an Observer Mission to Zimbabwe to observe the Presidential Run-off and House of Assembly by-elections conducted on 27 June 2008. In accepting the invitation, the African Union was mindful of the fact that the conclusion of the electoral process which started with the March 29th Harmonized elections was of paramount importance for the consolidation of democratic governance and the enhancement of the rule of law in the country.
The Observer Mission is led by H.E. Dr Ahmad Tejan Kabbah, former President of the Republic of Sierra Leone. Other members of the mission include Pan-African Parliamentarians, high officials of election management bodies (EMBs), prominent individuals and members of civil society organizations (CSOs) drawn from various African countries. The Mission also includes a support team of officials and technical personnel from the African Union Commission.
Upon arrival in Harare between 15 and 21 June 2008, the Observer Mission, in accordance with African Union Election Observation Guidelines proceeded to meet and consult with various stakeholders of the electoral process, including officials of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC), officials of the principal competing political parties and members of other election observer groups.
The African Union Mission noted with concern the withdrawal of the MDC-T candidate on the 22nd June 2008. This unexpected development led the African Union Mission to undertake a number of contacts with the judiciary authorities of Zimbabwe to seek clarification of the legal implications of the withdrawal.
Subsequently, the AU Observer Mission deployed its members to the following provinces: Harare, Midlands, Mashonaland East, West and Central, Bulawayo, Matebeleland North and South, Manicaland and Masvingo. As members of a neutral and non-partisan mission, AU observers went out to make an honest, independent, impartial and objective observation and assessment of both the political environment and the actual organization and conduct of the elections.
In the light of these consultations and observations, the African Union Observer Mission to the Zimbabwe Presidential Run-Off and House of Assembly By-Elections notes that:
· The poll was peaceful and held in accordance with the electoral laws of Zimbabwe;
· There was violence in the run down to the elections;
· The fear of violence deterred popular participation in the electoral process;
· There was no equitable access to the Public Media.
Against the backdrop of the foregoing factors, in the context of the AU Declaration on the Principles Governing Democratic Elections in Africa, it is the considered view of the African Union Observer Mission that the Election process fell short of accepted AU standards.
The African Union Observer Mission is however encouraged that both parties have shown willingness to engage in constructive dialogue as a way forward for ensuring peace, stability and development in Zimbabwe.
ISSUED IN HARARE, ZIMBABWE ON 29th JUNE 2008
[Statement released at 11 am on 30th June]
Veritas makes every effort to ensure reliable information, but cannot take legal responsibility for information supplied.
July 1, 2008
400 displaced MDC people detained in Ruwa
NOT less than 400 MDC supporters who fled their rural homes and sought
refuge at the Movement for Democratic Change offices in Harare until last
week are now sheltered at Ruwa Rehabilitation Centre, about 25 km east of
The centre is just across Chiremba Road from Ruwa suburb. The choice of the
centre is quite strategic in that it closes all doors to international eyes.
UNICEF is providing facilities to these people.
Security is tight at the centre; the usually widely open gates are locked
and there is a heavy presence of Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) details. It
is now common knowledge to the residents of Ruwa that MDC supporters are
currently detained at the centre, but it's not something people talk about.
Ruwa Rehabilitation Centre was built at independence in 1980 to cater for
those that had been injured or handicapped during the war. It lies on a
large expanse of land and has nice facilities including a hospital. Of late
the infrastructure has lacked maintenance and standards have generally
deteriorated. This has been aggravated by the economic situation facing the
country and the water problems facing Ruwa.
Currently the centre offers vocational training to the physically challenged
and those in albinism. The students are on holiday now. The hospital,
complete with male and female wards, an outpatients department and a
physiotherapy section, caters for the surrounding areas and bed-ridden
patients that need physiotherapy. The centre is a quiet and serene place
with a high security wall around it.
When I got wind of the presence of the MDC supporters, I decided to go and
find out. The tell-tale presence of ZRP officers outside the gate and the
locked gate signaled to me that the usually public-thoroughfare-gate was now
a gate into a cantonment area. Three police officers were outside, four at
the gate and several were inside; in addition to the three security persons
of the centre.
"What do you want?" was the first authoritative question. I faked a cold and
said I wanted to go to the hospital Out Patients Department. Some of the
policemen at the centre know me personally so I was admitted and told to go
straight to the hospital and there only.
There right in front of me were about 100 vehicles belonging to NGOs, all
identifiable by their characteristic white number plates. Quite an unusual
sight. I saw more police officers and big plastic tanks and make-shift
toilets marked UNICEF. Many people were moving around the campus aimlessly.
Basketball nets have been erected and others were playing basketball. I said
to myself, they need that recreation lest they get stressed up.
There was no familiar face. I didn't talk to anyone of them because police
were everywhere. So I went to the hospital.
There I met someone in the hospital administration who is know to me and
asked quietly, "Kwakanaka here?" ("Is everything alright around here?") This
person looked busy. After a short pause, a smile and little looking around,
the reply came. "Internally displaced people, almost 400. We have a number
of things to organize. We don't know what we will do if the students come
back." Then he went about his business.
Later someone else told me that these were the same people who were housed
at the MDC offices in Harare last week.
Meanwhile President Robert Mugabe was attending the AU summit in Egypt as if
all was well. He is not even ashamed. He is trying to convince everyone
there that the MDC "is chaperoned from London", and that the majority of us
Zimbabweans is wrong, while he and his cronies are right. We wonder who he
is representing in Egypt. Who do the AU people think they are entertaining?
Zimbabwe is not represented at AU period!
Tuesday, 01 July 2008 11:38
On Thursday at the house of commons at about 10;30am in the morning
the MPs will be debating about Zimbabwe. It is our chance as Zimbabweans to
encourage our MPs by telling them that they should take part in the debate.
You can either email or fax to your MP and say your views about the current
situation and you may highlight the right to work for Zimbabwean asylum
You may go to the following website to find the contact details of
your MP. http://www.parliament.uk/directories/hciolists/alcm.cfm
Please note that in two weeks time we will be having a demo for the
right to work with the Arc Bishop of York leading the demo and having a
prayer meeting as well. Keep in touch for more information about the dates
and details of the planned march.
July 01, 2008 Edition 2
PATRICK HLAHLA and basildon peta
The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), which withdrew from last Friday's
presidential run-off, said it would not boycott its seats in parliament.
MDC spokesperson Nelson Chamisa said yesterday his party had taken control
of parliament for the first time since 1980.
It would be unwise to boycott parliament when it was eventually opened. "We
will not forfeit our parliamentary majority," said Chamisa.
Morgan Tsvangirai's MDC controls 100 seats after three by-elections held
with the presidential run-off on Friday. Tsvangirai won one and Mugabe's
Meanwhile, Social Development Minister Zola Skweyiya has warned of the
possibility of genocide in Zimbabwe.
Speaking at the launch of the 17th African Human Rights Moot Court
Competition at the University of Pretoria last night, Skweyiya said no
discussion on human rights in Africa was possible without mention of the
tragedy unfolding in Zimbabwe.
"As the government of South Africa and the ANC, we remain opposed to the
flagrant violations of human rights by the country's erstwhile liberator,"
It remained to be seen how the African Union would deal with the issue,
"especially when we as South Africa have gone all the way in promoting human
rights, democracy and the African Renaissance".
Skweyiya said basic human rights were violated in Zimbabwe, especially
during the elections which were neither free nor fair.
"South Africa's standing in the international community will be judged in
the way it reacts to the present situation in Zimbabwe.
"Posterity will condemn us if we take any other stand that undermines
democracy in Zimbabwe," Skweyiya said.
He said when South Africa celebrated its democracy in 1994, genocide began
"Today, in as much as we in South Africa pride ourselves on having the best
constitution on the continent, if not the world, we are nevertheless
confronted by human rights abuses, as the recent unsavoury incidents of
xenophobia have shown," he said.
Skweyiya reiterated the government's "fervent condemnation of these
He said: "These acts have taught us to believe and accept that we have not
done enough to teach our people political understanding. These acts came as
a shock to South Africans, especially those who lived in Africa where we
were fed and educated," Skweyiya said.
Professor Robin Crewe, the university's vice-principal, said the competition
aimed to prepare participants to become better lawyers - and lawyers with an
appreciation of and sensitivity for human rights of the people they would
"It provides them with an opportunity to become lawyers who do not regard
their profession as an easy avenue to riches and status, but as a mechanism
to realise the value of human dignity," said Crewe.
Norman Taku, an assistant director at the university's Centre for Human
Rights, said it was significant that the competition was held in South
Africa this year.
"The recent xenophobic violence has laid bare the aching soul of our nation
and challenged each one of us to re-examine what we are doing to preserve
the delicate social fabric of the new South Africa," Taku said.
Tuesday, 01 July 2008 06:06
House of Lords
Monday 30 June 2008
Lord Blaker asked Her Majesty's Government:
What is their assessment of the incoming Government of Zimbabwe.
Lord Bach: My Lords, it is clear to the world that the so-called
election last Friday was a complete sham and that, as African observers have
already said, it did not reflect the will of the people. It is not
surprising that Morgan Tsvangirai and the MDC felt that they had to
withdraw, given the horrendous levels of violence and intimidation. We will
continue to press for a resolution that reflects the political choice of the
people as they voted on 29 March.
Lord Blaker: My Lords, there are so many threads in this picture that
it is difficult to know which ones to pick up but I shall briefly mention
three. The first is that support is flowing away from Mugabe. He has been
criticised by Mandela, two archbishops, the Secretary-General of the
Security Council, the G8, the EU, SADC observers, which is significant, and
the African Union, which is also significant. Therefore, it is a case of
Mugabe against the world. The second is the position of Mugabe's military,
which played a very big role in the terror over the past weeks in return for
Mugabe giving up his idea of retiring. Finally-
Noble Lords: Question!
Lord Blaker: My Lords, does the noble Lord agree that it is important
that we should not play too big a role in this scene and that it is for the
Africans to deal with?
Lord Bach: My Lords, I agree with everything that the noble Lord said.
We should not play too big a role, and it is important that the Security
Council, the African Union and SADC work together on this. However, we do
have a role and a strong view on this, and anything that we can do to help
to resolve this outrageous position, we will do.
Lord Elystan-Morgan: My Lords, in the light of the fact that the
second presidential election in Zimbabwe was held beyond the 21-day limit
legislated for in the constitution and that it appears that the MDC and its
allies have an overall majority of about nine in the Zimbabwean Parliament,
is there any possibility of the Parliament being able to exercise any
practical pressure on Mugabe and his henchmen, who usurp power in that
Lord Bach: My Lords, the noble Lord's points are good ones. There is
no doubt that in the legitimate elections held in March the MDC won a
majority in Parliament and the opposition candidate for president certainly
got more votes than President Mugabe. I pay tribute to the bravery shown by
MDC opposition politicians over a long period and to those who voted for
them last week. Whether the politicians who make up a majority in the
Parliament will feel able to take a stand is very much a matter for them,
but we need to understand the appalling situation that exists in that
country in terms of the number of people who have already died and the
violence and threats that made up the election that was supposed to take
place last Friday.
Lord Trimble: My Lords, in view of the point made in the previous
question that the run-off election was outside the due time under the
Zimbabwean constitution and that in the legitimate elections Mugabe was
beaten both in the presidential election and in the parliamentary election,
why do the Government not just simply withdraw recognition of the regime?
Lord Bach: My Lords, it is extremely tempting to do so, but we have to
think very carefully whether that is sensible at this time. All options are
possible. We recognise states, not governments, and Mugabe is not a
legitimate president. However, 14,000 or so British citizens live in
Zimbabwe. At present, we believe that it would be wrong not to have some
representation for those people, especially given the very difficult
circumstances that I have tried to outline.
Lord Avebury: My Lords, are we ready to tighten the screws on the
ZANU-PF elite, for example, by halting the three-times a week flights by Air
Zimbabwe from Zimbabwe into Gatwick and by persuading the Germans to halt
the printing of bank notes, which have fuelled the 9 million per cent
inflation? As it will be impossible to send Zimbabwean asylum seekers back
there in the near future, will the noble Lord answer the question which has
been put to him by my noble friend Lady Williams about allowing Zimbabwean
refugees in this country to work, particularly in activities that will
contribute to the rebuilding of their country when they are able to go home?
Lord Bach: My Lords, on asylum, I make it clear that we have no
current plans to enforce returns to Zimbabwe and will not do so until the
current political situation is resolved. On the work position, as my noble
friend Lord Malloch-Brown, who, as we speak, is at the AU meeting in Sharm
el-Sheikh, said last week:
"We are looking at the support that we may need to give Zimbabweans in
this country, particularly at the ban on refugees taking up work".-[Official
Report, 23/6/08; col. 1258.]
Lord St John of Bletso: My Lords-
Lord Morris of Handsworth: My Lords-
The Lord President of the Council (Baroness Ashton of Upholland): My
Lords, it is the turn of the Labour Benches.
Lord Morris of Handsworth: My Lords, I declare an interest as a member
of the England and Wales Cricket Board. I welcome the decision to stop
Zimbabwe's cricket team playing bilateral matches with England. Are there
any plans to stop the Zimbabwean cricket team visiting England for the
Twenty20 World Cup next year? If not, what will the position be if England
meets Zimbabwe in the finals?
Lord Bach: My Lords, there are no sporting sanctions as such on
Zimbabwe. However, international sport should never be a way for dictators
to publicise their misrule. As my noble friend says-I am grateful for his
comments-we have made it clear that we do not want the bilateral tour to go
ahead and that we will do all in our power to prevent it from going ahead.
We have also-I hope this answers the question-asked the ECB to represent to
the International Cricket Council our serious concerns about the situation
in Zimbabwe and ask the ICC to reconsider its inclusion in the Twenty20
Lord St John of Bletso: My Lords, can the Minister please elaborate on
what measures can be taken to allow duly elected MDC Members of Parliament
to take their seats?
Lord Bach: My Lords, I wish I could. Given the state of government in
Zimbabwe at present, anything I said on that would have every prospect of
not being accurate. One hopes that those properly elected Members of
Parliament will be allowed to take their seats and to exercise their powers
in the proper way. We hope for so much for that country, and so far we have
seen so little.
Lord Roberts of Llandudno: My Lords-
Baroness Ashton of Upholland: My Lords, we are in the ninth minute.
The noble Lord must sit down.
July 1, 2008
By Raymond Maingire
HARARE - Embattled opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai is now out of the
Dutch embassy where he has sought refuge since June 22.
Tsvangirai, who pulled out of Zimbabwe's violent presidential run-off
election on June 22, claimed his life was under threat from President Robert
MDC spokesperson Nelson Chamisa confirmed the MDC leader was now back at his
Harare residence but refused to discuss the matter further for security
"What I can confirm is that I saw him at his house this morning," said
Chamisa, "But these are security issues. You do not want to go into detail
on such sensitive matters."
Tsvangirai told reporters last week he would continue assessing the
situation around his safety before making any substantive decisions.
President Mugabe's government has scoffed at Tsvangirai's claims, suggesting
the opposition leader was making baseless claims, while playing to the
gallery of the international community.
Deputy Minister of Information and publicity Bright Matonga told state
controlled television last week his government would not be "stupid enough"
to harm the opposition leader at a time the international community was
focusing all its attention on Zimbabwe's turbulent presidential race.
Until the outbreak of state-sponsored violence in April, the MDC leader was
the leading contender in the run-off election after defeating Mugabe in the
first round of the plebiscite on March 29.
Tsvangirai's tally was not large enough for him to avoid a rerun of the
The shock defeat of Mugabe sparked massive violence throughout the country.
The MDC claims at least 86 of its supporters have since died at the hands of
state agents and President's Mugabe's vindictive supporters. Thousands more
have been admitted to hospital, some maimed for life from the injuries while
an even bigger number has been internally displaced.
Mugabe denies his supporters have instigated the incidents of brutal
violence. Instead, he accuses the MDC of being the culprits.
Meanwhile, the MDC has denied that there are talks between the party and the
ruling Zanu-PF seeking to achieve a Government of National Unity.
In a statement Tuesday, MDC secretary general Tendai Biti said the
suggestion was malicious.
By Tendai Maphosa
01 July 2008
Analysts say the political crisis in Zimbabwe is not likely to go away any
time soon. Increased diplomatic pressure for dialogue within Zimbabwe is one
option being proposed by the international community, but some leaders are
discussing more direct intervention. However, as Tendai Maphosa reports from
London, military intervention seems the least likely route at the moment.
As heads of state and government gathered for the African Union summit in
Egypt, it was clear that the crisis in Zimbabwe would dominate the session.
African leaders are divided over how to react to Zimbabwe's political crisis
and its very flawed election which handed Robert Mugabe a 6th presidential
term. Some wanted strong condemnation; others were reluctant to openly
criticize Mr. Mugabe.
There has been increasing international pressure to do something about
Zimbabwe, with further sanctions and pressure for a dialogue between the
government and the opposition the most likely options.
But others have gone further. In Nairobi, Kenya's Prime Minister Raila
Odinga issued one of the latest calls for military intervention on Monday.
He went further and asked the African leaders gathered in Egypt to suspend
"The situation in Zimbabwe calls for nothing less than an intervention by
the African Union. It is necessary for the African Union to show leadership
by appointing a team of mediators to go to Zimbabwe," he said. "It is
necessary also to send a peacekeeping force to Zimbabwe to preside, or to
help to create normalcy, so that free and fair elections can take place in
Prime Minister Odinga joins a growing list of those advocating direct
intervention in the troubled southern Africa country. On Sunday South
African Archbishop Desmond Tutu made a similar call.
But Peter Hain, a former British minister for Africa and leading
anti-apartheid activist, dismisses the idea of a Western-led military
intervention in Zimbabwe.
"I think talk of a military intervention is just fanciful. However, I do
believe that there may be a role for African soldiers, African peacekeepers
not those from Europe or America to go in at some point to police and
support an orderly and peaceful transition to a new government," said Hain.
Christopher Alden, an expert on international relations with the London
School of Economics, agrees that military intervention is not likely any
time soon. Alden adds that if conditions in Zimbabwe do worsen, military
action will only happen with the blessing of Africa's leaders.
"The UN will take its lead from the African Union which is meeting. If the
African leaders see this crisis as they did with Darfur, if they see it as
an equivalent kind of crisis that it's reached that stage, they will give
the green light that will enable the UN to step in. So I think a lot of the
pressure is really on the African leadership which up until now has been
privately critical but publicly largely supportive of Mugabe," said Alden.
In a related matter British supermarket chain Tesco has announced it will
stop importing products from Zimbabwe while "the political crisis persists."
Tesco buys about $2 million worth of imports a year from Zimbabwe, including
vegetables. The announcement follows a call by a British Foreign Office
minister to "look carefully" at investments in Zimbabwe.
SW Radio Africa (London)
1 July 2008
Posted to the web 1 July 2008
Harare councillors who were elected on March 29 have finally been sworn into
office, and are expected to have their first meeting this week to elect a
mayor and deputy mayor.
The law in Zimbabwe stipulates that newly elected councillors should be
sworn in within 48 hours after they are declared winners in an election. But
the government has been operating outside the law and it has taken 3 months
to conduct this simple ceremony, where they take an oath of allegiance and
vow to serve the city. It is not clear whether councillors were sworn in
other parts of the country.
Mike Davies, chairman of the Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA)
attended the ceremony at the Town House on Tuesday. He said the 3-month
delay shows the Mugabe regime's contempt of the law. The government claimed
that they were waiting for the results of the presidential runoff election
before councillors could take office. Davies said one thing has nothing to
do with other.
Of the 46 council seats that were contested in March, the MDC won an
overwhelming majority of 45 of them. Davies described the Council as a
policy making body, governed by the Urban Councils Act, with wide ranging
powers to determine how the city is to be run. Councillors make decisions
about issues such as budget approval, service delivery, employment policies
and city planning. This means vital services like running water, refuse
collection, road repairs and sewerage all fall under the responsibility of
It is hoped that the ruling party will not interfere with council
operations, as they did when the local government minister Ignatius Chombo
illegally removed the MDC Mayor Elias Mudzuri and the entire council 4 years
ago. Since then the capital has been run by ZANU-PF appointed Commissions
that have not been accountable to the ratepayers. Chombo also removed the
Mayor and councillors in Mutare, Masvingo, Gweru and Kwekwe.
Service delivery deteriorated drastically as rates charged to residents
skyrocketed. CHRA has been advocating a rates boycott which will now end.
Davies said he hopes this will be a "new dawn" for the city that was once
known as the "Sunshine City". But the council cannot resolve the broader
political and economic crisis that has resulted from the failed policies of
the Mugabe regime. Inflation is about 4 million percent and there are
frequent power cuts and no running water for extended periods. There are
also serious shortages of fuel and basic commodities. Davies said: "It is
important that people have no false expectations."
PARIS, July 1 (AFP)
European governments are looking at a raft of sanctions to be imposed on
Zimbabwe after President Robert Mugabe was elected in a vote denounced as a
sham, French officials leading the EU presidency said Tuesday.
The new measures could include broadening visa restrictions and asset
freezes on members of Mugabe's entourage, said French foreign ministry
spokesman Eric Chevallier on the first day of the French presidency of the
The European Union last toughened sanctions against the Mugabe regime in
2007, slapping visa bans on members of his inner circle and an asset freeze.
Governments are now considering adding names to the EU's blacklist of 131
people, topped by Mugabe and his wife Grace, who can no longer indulge in
regular shopping trips to London.
"European consultations are under way, including today on a technical level
to look at the full set of measures to be considered so that Europe faces up
to its responsibilities," said Chevallier.
"There is a full raft of options that are being looked at," he said.
But EU governments appear to have rejected a proposal by Italy to recall all
European ambassadors in Harare to protest the runoff on Friday that was
boycotted by opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai.
"Many countries, who have a firm stance in refusing to recognise the
election outcome, nevertheless do not think that recalling ambassadors would
be a good solution," said Chevallier.
Mugabe, 84, was sworn in for a sixth term after being declared the winner
with more than 85 percent of the vote in a race observers said was marred by
violence and voter intimidation.
The United States announced on Monday that it was preparing a draft
sanctions resolution to present to the UN Security Council in the coming
Among the steps under consideration were a travel ban on regime officials,
economic sanctions aiming to starve the regime of money, and possibly an
EU sanctions could be extended to persons involved in recent violence and
others in the entourage of people who are already targeted by sanctions,
The foreign ministry official also suggested that the European Union was not
considering a trade embargo, saying Europe would act "carefully so that the
sanctions regime does not punish the people who have already much suffered."
The EU's executive, the European Commission, described Mugabe's election
victory as an "exercice in power-grabbing" that cannot be recognised.
EU Development Commissioner Louis Michel called on the African Union to
intervene and help find a political solution to the Zimbabwe crisis.
Mugabe's spokesman George Charamba said the West can "go hang" over its
criticism of the election, as he met with African Union officials in
Sharm-el-Sheikh, Egypt on Tuesday.
Jul 1st 2008 | JOHANNESBURG
To their shame, African leaders fail to act against Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe
ROBERT MUGABE was due to address his fellow leaders from the continent at a
summit of the African Union (AU) on Tuesday July 1st, two days after he was
sworn in again as president of Zimbabwe. Some of the statesmen from the rest
of the continent might have felt awkward in their seats-some African leaders
did condemn violence employed by Mr Mugabe's thugs ahead of the voting. Mr
Mugabe keeps power thanks only to the use of murder and intimidation, which
eventually forced the winner of the first round of voting in March, Morgan
Tsvangirai, to quit the race. The Zimbabwean opposition says that
pro-government militias killed at least 86 people and detained, injured and
displaced tens of thousands more. Nobody believes that the election in
Zimbabwe was fair. Yet Africa's leaders, for the most part, have remained
African observers, who in the past have been quick to endorse Zimbabwe's
flawed and rigged elections, all slammed the poll as undemocratic and out of
line with the region's own election guidelines. The AU teams and observers
from the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC), a regional block of
14 countries usually loth to criticise Mr Mugabe, suggested the vote was
unsound. Mr Mugabe claimed 85% support, on a low turn-out, from his
one-horse race on June 27th.
South African trade unions, human-rights groups and Western countries have
all called for Mr Mugabe to be shunned. Raila Odinga, the Kenyan prime
minister whose own presidential electoral victory was stolen a few months
ago, wants Zimbabwe to be suspended from the AU. Several respected African
individuals, including Nelson Mandela, Desmond Tutu and Kofi Annan, have
asked for the AU to provide "leadership, wisdom and moral courage". They
want the results of the run-off to be declared illegitimate and to see the
appointment of a special envoy to lead mediation, and to prepare for a
transitional government and for new, fair, elections. Zimbabwe's opposition
wants the AU and the SADC to lead a mediation team that would help to find a
political solution based on the results of the first round.
Mr Mugabe's shameless response, via a spokesman at the summit in Egypt, has
been to tell his critics in the West to "go hang a thousand times". African
governments are cautiously suggesting that the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change and Mr Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF party should now sit
together and negotiate a solution. The opposition at least has control of
parliament in Zimbabwe. But more powerful pressure from the continent is
unlikely. Many AU members are hardly paragons of democracy themselves: for
example Gabon's President Omar Bongo, who has been in power for decades, was
reported as saying that Mr Mugabe should be recognised as Zimbabwe's new
One of the few presidents openly taking a stronger line against Mr Mugabe,
Levy Mwanawasa of Zambia, who is also the chair of the SADC, was rushed to
an Egyptian hospital after a stroke on Sunday. South Africa's President
Thabo Mbeki, who has long appeased Mr Mugabe in the hope of negotiating a
power-sharing deal between Mr Mugabe and the opposition, is sure to continue
with his line. South Africa, together with China and Russia, are likely to
oppose UN sanctions targeted at members of Mr Mugabe's regime, which are
expected to be debated at the Security Council on Wednesday.
Mr Mugabe, as he has said many times before, declares he is willing to
consider more talks with the opposition. But in the past these came to
nothing and there is no reason to expect the Zimbabwean president will allow
himself to be talked out of office. For its part, the opposition says it
will not accept any arrangement that would leave Mr Mugabe in charge. Sadly,
the rest of the continent seems quite ready to accept precisely that.
By Grace Moyo & Trymore Magomana | Harare Tribune Correspondents
Tuesday, July 1, 2008 15:59
Zimbabwe, Harare --The German based firm that has been supplying money
to the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ), said today that in view of the
"deteriorating" situation in Zimbabwe, it will no longer do business with
the government of Zimbabwe. The decision by the firm is in response to part
of a wide regime of sanctions that the European Union (EU) is drafting up on
the government of Robert Mugabe.
In a press statement distributed to the media, the company said: "The
Management Board of Giesecke & Devrient GmbH, Munich, today decided to cease
delivering banknote paper to the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe with immediate
The move will temporarily halt Gideon Gono's, the governor of the RBZ,
continuous supply of money into what remains of the Zimbabwean economy.
The galloping annual inflation, now estimated at 8 000 000 %, has
largely been fuelled by Gono's unrestrained supply of money into a shrinking
economy. In turn, the inflation has rendered the Zimbabwean Dollar,
worthless. Yesterday, the dollar was trading at around ZW$55 000 000 000 to
the single US dollar.
"Our decision is a reaction to the political tension in Zimbabwe,
which is mounting significantly rather than easing as expected, and takes
account of the critical evaluation by the international community, German
government and general public," explained Dr. Karsten Ottenberg, Chairman of
the Management Board and CEO of Giesecke & Devrient GmbH.
For a week, reports from Germany had showed that the Development
Minister Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul reportedly wrote to the firm asking it to
immediately stop the shipments of paper to Zimbabwe.
A spokesman for the Germany development ministry said his government
was seriously concerned that the supplies were "providing additional support
to the system in Zimbabwe, which from (their) point of view is not
He said Germany could have taken the step in-line with recent remarks
by its Chancellor Angela Merkel who has urged the international community to
take a firmer stance against President Mugabe.
Local sources here in Harare said the RBZ was had already buying back
old bearer cheques, which had become useless, in response to the
The cessation of money supply, analysts indicated, will worsen the
cash crisis that has been bedeviling the country for almost a year now.
Analysts warned last week that mending the tattered economy is beyond
the capacity of Mugabe and his lieutenants without the assistance of all
"We are not going to overcome problems until we make big political
changes," said John Robertson, an independent economic analyst. "For the
last nine months the government has been talking of elections while
neglecting the country's problems."
Production in industries is at an all time low since 1980 as raw
material shortages and obsolete equipment take their toll on one of the
largest employers at independence.
Policy inconsistencies have haunted the economy creating uncertainty
at a time Zimbabwe's regional neighbours are instilling confidence in their
The exchange rate liberalisation introduced on 30 April has lost steam
after authorities attempted to tinker with it nearly two weeks ago.
Attempted interventions came as the battered Zimbabwe dollar continues
losing value at an alarming rate. From $160 million per US$ in May, the
Zimbabwe dollar has depreciated to $17 billion per US$, pushing prices to
Analysts say conditions on the ground do not stabilise the exchange
rate and the central bank is in a fix on how to handle the situation.
"If they stop it (interbank trading), there will be chaos," said Dr
Daniel Ndlela, an independent economist. "If they don't stop it, the chaos
Robertson says as a first step, the new government has to remove all
attempts to regulate or direct activities of the business sector but warned
that past experiences have shown that the government is unwilling to discard
Businesses have never recovered since the populist price blitz in June
last year. The business sector has since last year been accused of being
part of a "regime change" agenda through hiking prices at alarming rates.
But analysts dispute the assertion and instead blame excessive printing of
money for driving prices.
"There is a misunderstanding of where the problems lie. What caused
the difficulties is not the business sector but government caused price
increases through printing money," Robertson said.
The tough hurdle awaiting the new government is how to tame inflation
which has single handedly reduced citizens to paupers.--Harare Tribune News
1 July 2008
Posted to the web 1 July 2008
The Southern African Development Community (SADC) Observer Mission has
announced that the process leading up to the Zimbabwe presidential run-off
elections did not conform to its principles and guidelines governing
A report presented by Angolan Minister of Youth and Sport, Jose Marcos
Barrica, who headed the SADC election observer mission in Zimbabwe, noted
that the pre-election phase was characterised by politically motivated
violence, intimidation and displacements.
"Based on the above mentioned observations, the mission is of the view that
the prevailing environment impinged on the credibility of the electoral
"The election did not represent the will of the people of Zimbabwe," Mr
On Sunday, Robert Mugabe was sworn in as President of Zimbabwe following a
one-man Presidential run-off election held on Friday.
Opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai had withdrawn citing violence against
The SADC mission has since pledged its support and solidarity to the people
of Zimbabwe during this time.
"We strongly recommend that SADC mediation efforts should be continued in
order to assist the people and leadership of Zimbabwe to resolve the
problems they are facing and bring the country to normality," said Mr
Mr Barrica said the period leading up to the run-off was also charectarised
by politically motivated violence, resulting in loss of lives, damage to
property, and serious injuries sustained during political activities.
"All role players have acknowledged the existence of politically motivated
violence but differed regarding the nature, extent, causes and origins of
this violence as well as its impact on the electoral process," he said.
He added that on numerous occasions, victims of politically motivated
violence alleged that the security forces did little to stop the violence or
arrest the perpetrators.
The violence was most acute in Mashonaland East, West and Central,
Manicaland, Masvingo, and Harare.
"This politically motivated violence has led to the internal displacements
of persons and impacted negatively on the full participation of citizens in
the political process and their freedom of association."
On 25 June, the SADC mission had issued a statement expressing deep concern
at the widespread politically motivated violence and appealed to the
relevant authorities, particularly supporters of political parties, to
refrain from all forms of violence.
The mission had also urged the law enforcement agencies to ensure that there
was law and order in the country.
President Robert Mugabe is currently in Sharm-El-Shaikh, Egypt, attending
the AU Heads of State Assembly.
Tuesday, July 1, 2008
The only people who shouldn't be surprised by Zimbabwe's descent into the
abyss are the people who put them on the road to hell.
The list is a long one, beginning with weak men in the British Foreign
Office, always fearful and often duplicitous, eager to wash their hands of
their legacy in Africa. They gave little thought to what would happen to the
tribes who had trusted them. "A typical piece of British diplomacy," Ian
Smith, who presided over the birth of the Rhodesian republic, once said of a
similar betrayal. "Dishonest, but effective."
Zimbabwe was unique in Africa: a nation that actually worked, whose
efficiently managed farms had become the breadbasket of a continent and
whose government was a model for nations in transition from colonial
outposts to real democracies. Buffeted by sanctions meant to bring the young
republic to heel, Rhodesia, as it was called then, was nevertheless
thriving. Still run by whites, it was nevertheless moving toward the day
when sheer numbers would decree that it would become a black republic, to
show others that Africans could, too, govern themselves freely and fairly,
despite the lethal complications of ancient tribal loyalties.
But the West, and particularly the weary British, wanted the immediate
gratification of being rid of the responsibilities of colonialism. The white
settlers (many of whom had been Rhodesians for centuries) and the black
masses were left to the tender mercies of Robert Mugabe, who could manage
only the imposition of misery, privation and hopelessness. The pearl was
ripped from its setting and cast to the swine.
Robert Mugabe set about over the weekend to set fire to what's left of the
land he ruined. He turned his mobs against the remaining white-owned farms,
determined to drive them out of Zimbabwe once and for all, beginning with
the women and children. He would tolerate no mercy for whites. Three senior
police officers were suspended for giving white farmers, jailed for
unspecified crimes, blankets and sufficient clothing against the chill of
the African winter.
Black farm workers, trying to keep the farms running in the absence of the
fleeing white owners, were beaten severely. When a farmer begged the police
to restore order, a police superintendent told him: "These issues are
political and the police cannot therefore become involved."
Robert Mugabe was once a revolutionary with the grudging respect of his
enemies, a man who seemed sincere if foolishly misguided by Marxist
troublemakers from abroad. He quickly gave in to the temptation to follow
the example of Idi Amin in Uganda, and was soon addicted to flashy uniforms
decorated with medals signifying nothing, long black limousines and houses
fit for kings. Goons and high fences keep out the squalor. Like his generals
and his toadies, he waxed fat while his people starved in a land that once
flowed with milk and honey.
There's no longer honey but plenty of money, and none of it is worth
anything. A loaf of bread, when someone finds it, costs a million Zimbabwean
dollars. No one really knows how to measure the inflation rate, which has
crashed through 150,000 percent annually. Soon not even Mugabe and his thugs
will be able to dine on meat: Mobs raging across white-owned farms broke
down fences and hundreds of diseased cattle quarantined for foot and mouth
disease ran loose among uninfected stock. Beef exports to Europe and South
Africa, one of the last remaining sources of income, were doomed.
Zimbabwe is a land ruled by clowns trained by Kafka. When a judge ordered
several white farmers released in bail, the clerk refused to take the money
because he didn't have time to count the billions of dollars of Zimbabwean
currency. The lawyers returned with a check, and it was not accepted because
it was not issued by a recognized bank. A cashier's check was then refused
because "we must know the bank actually has the money." The farmers are
still in jail.
The sham elections on Friday rendered Robert Mugabe a pariah, even in (most
of) Africa. Nelson Mandela finally managed a mild rebuke ("a tragic failure
of leadership") but in London, Washington and other Western capitals there
was only a ritual wringing of hands. A columnist in London's Guardian, the
voice of the terminally wet, set the tone with his suggestion that "we
through our elected governments can work for a second United Nations
resolution, stronger than the last." No satire intended.
Wesley Pruden is editor emeritus of The Times.
02 July 2008
South Africa blocking UN sanctions against those responsible for the
violence in Zimbabwe
JOHANNESBURG - South Africa is the main obstacle to the implementation of
United Nations sanctions against those responsible for the recent violence
in Zimbabwe, as well as the imposition of an arms embargo against that
A draft Security Council resolution drawn up by American officials would
impose an arms embargo on Zimbabwe, as well as place travel and financial
restrictions on key members of the Zanu-PF regime. The New York Times, which
was given sight of the draft, reports that sanctions would be targeted
against those individuals who "engaged in or provided support for actions or
policies to undermine democratic processes or institutions in Zimbabwe
including having ordered, planned or participated in acts of
Opposition to the resolution is being led by South Africa's permanent
representative to the UN, Dumisani Kumalo. In an interview with Bloomberg he
said "The text is too over the top, I don't think this is the kind of
pressure that will work."
As permanent members of the Security Council China and Russia have the power
to veto the resolution. Envoys from these countries have indicated they will
defer to South Africa's lead on this issue.
In reply to a question about Kumalo's opposition to the resolution, Russian
ambassador Vitaly Churkin told Bloomberg: "If there is any kind of threat
they should be in a better position to tell us if it is proper for the
Security Council to move in that direction. I don't recall a precedent for
the Security Council to consider a sanctions resolution on the basis of
The resolution is due to be discussed by the Council later today
On Monday last week Kumalo worked to water down the presidential statement
issued by the Security Council on Monday last week, after MDC leader Morgan
Tsvangirai announced his withdrawal from the presidential run-off.
On Friday he tried to stop the Security Council issuing any statement at all
on Zimbabwe's one-man presidential run-off. Again, he managed to secure a
watered down version, this time expressing "regret" at the poll.
The Sunday Telegraph (London) quoted one Western diplomat as saying of South
Africa's attitude: "We talk to the South Africans endlessly but we just hear
rants about colonialism. They don't care that Mugabe is damaging the
reputation of Africa - for them it's all about solidarity. They've done
nothing. It's pathetic."
On Sunday the Zanu-PF leader, Robert Mugabe, thanked President Thabo Mbeki
profusely in his inauguration address. "We are grateful to SADC", he stated,
"and the role of statesmanship played by President Thabo Mbeki, the
SADC-appointed mediator of the inter-party dialogue between Zanu-PF and the
two MDC formations. Zimbabwe is indebted to his untiring efforts to promote
harmony and peace."
In an apparent reference to South Africa's efforts on his behalf at the UN,
Mugabe also acknowledged the support from "[our] allies and friends in the
United Nations Security Council ... and thank them for their unwavering
solidarity with us."
July 2, 2008
David Wighton, Business Editor's commentary
It is dangerous to stand in the way of politicians rushing for the moral
high ground, as British multinationals operating in Zimbabwe have discovered
in the past week.
As pressure on Robert Mugabe's regime has increased, politicians have
questioned the role of foreign companies operating in Zimbabwe.
The Prime Minister suggested they "reconsider" their position while the
Africa Minister hinted that British companies could be "pressured" to quit
Zimbabwe as part of a package of tougher sanctions.
This language spooked a number of companies, which called the Foreign Office
to seek clarification on what they should be doing. They were told not to
worry and to keep on with business as usual.
Not for the first time political rhetoric has run ahead of diplomatic
reality. The current sanctions on Zimbabwe extend only to a ban on arms
sales and the travel plans of Mugabe's henchmen.
There are almost no limits on companies that want to do business in Zimbabwe
and a number have expressed annoyance that they have been treated like
collaborators with the Mugabe regime for simply following the rules.
This is understandable but it is also a rather naive view of the situation
engulfing Zimbabwe. Hiding behind the Foreign Office's by-the-book advice
should not absolve companies from their duty to question whether it is right
to do business in Zimbabwe.
Tesco has already decided that it is inappropriate to continue sourcing food
from Zimbabwe and companies with brands to protect, such as Barclays, must
be calculating whether staying in the country makes good sense. Nobody wants
to be seen to be supporting a tyrant.
Then there are other companies such as Rio Tinto, the miner, which has
effectively mothballed operations until Mugabe has been ousted. This
contrasts with Anglo American, which is ploughing ahead with its $400
million investment in the country.
Ultimately, it is for the boards of these companies to decide which of these
strategies is appropriate for Zimbabwe: stay, go or expand. They would do
well to remember, however, that when politicians run for the moral high
ground it is usually because the rest of the population has already camped
Those still at base camp will come under fire even if they are following the
letter of the law.
July 2, 2008
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has told leading British companies that
they should continue to operate in Zimbabwe despite political pressure on
them to withdraw.
Both Gordon Brown and Lord Malloch-Brown, the Foreign Office Minister, have
questioned whether companies should still be operating in Zimbabwe amid
concern that they could be helping to prop up the regime of Robert Mugabe.
The French Foreign Ministry said yesterday that European governments were
considering widening a visa ban and asset freeze on members of President
A number of large corporations have contacted the Foreign Office in the past
week to check the latest advice following the statements by the Prime
Minister and Lord Malloch-Brown but were told that nothing had changed.
One businessman said: "We were told not to leave Zimbabwe and to take no
action as long as there were no ethical trading issues. The politicians
appear to be saying one thing and the Foreign Office another."
The Foreign Office's official sanctions against Zimbabwe prohibit only the
sale of arms. There are also travel bans and asset-freezing orders on senior
members of the ruling Zanu (PF) party.
However, as supporters of Mr Mugabe unleashed violence before last Friday's
rigged election, leading political figures had questioned whether Western
companies should be in the country at all.
Lord Malloch-Brown said last week that Britain was considering whether to
put pressure on companies doing business in Zimbabwe to withdraw as part of
wider package of sanctions.
The Prime Minister then told Parliament: "We do not want to do further
damage to the Zimbabwean people, but when businesses are helping the Mugabe
regime, they should reconsider their positions."
The Prime Minister's comments came after The Times revealed that Anglo
American, one of the world's largest mining companies, was investing $400
million (£200 million) in Zimbabwe.
The company is building a platinum mine at Unki in central Zimbabwe, a move
that has been condemned by the opposition Movement for Democratic Change
The MDC believes that companies such as Anglo are helping to prop up the
Mugabe regime through the transfer of foreign exchange and payments for
Some of the largest companies in Britain have a presence in Zimbabwe
including Barclays bank, SABMiller, the brewer, and British American
Tobacco, which makes Benson & Hedges cigarettes.
Those that have sought the Foreign Office's advice have been left with the
impression that they should not leave Zimbabwe. Another businessman said:
"We were told leaving could hurt the people of Zimbabwe, so we shouldn't.
The politicians want to sound as though they are doing something without
actually doing it."
However, some companies, including Tesco, have already decided to quit
July 2, 2008
Richard Hobson in Dubai
English cricket stands to lose an estimated £10 million if the ICC World
Twenty20 is moved elsewhere next year because Zimbabwe are not allowed in to
participate. Against this background the ECB must persuade ICC members at a
critical meeting today that the crisis in the country warrants Zimbabwe's
removal from the international schedule.
According to an ECB spokesman, tickets have sold strongly since being put on
the market on Monday and although the board will keep only a share of the
income, they are also guaranteed a staging fee of about £1 million from the
ICC with spin-offs from corporate entertaining and catering next June and
The ECB delegation of Giles Clarke, the chairman, and David Collier, the
chief executive, will be able to use the rush for tickets to show that the
event in 2009 could be even better than the inaugural tournament in South
Africa last year, which was a huge success despite grounds being half-full
on occasions. But the ICC will move the tournament away from England if
Zimbabwe are denied visas.
While the Government is yet to state categorically that the squad will be
barred from entering the country next year, its position would look
contradictory if it did allow them entry having said last week that Zimbabwe
will not be permitted to play in a bilateral series next May.
a.. ICC's creditability on the line over Zimbabwe
a.. India must show it cares about more than money alone
a.. The day I shook hands with Mugabe
England players and the ECB welcomed the government directive and it is
unlikely that they would participate in the World Twenty20 event if it is
held in another country as long as Zimbabwe compete, even though the teams
are not seeded to meet in the first stage and Zimbabwe would struggle to
make the Super Eights.
The ECB wants the initiative at the meeting to come from elsewhere and have
adopted a policy of quiet diplomacy around the Asian bloc of countries who
hold the key to the outcome. Last night, ICC delegates gathered at a
function in Dubai, well aware of the policy they adopted last year that
politics and sport should not mix.
The best hope for the ECB appeared to be in informal talks between Cricket
South Africa (CSA) - the prime movers in the decision to put the item on the
agenda - and Zimbabwe. The countries have worked closely in the past and
CSA, with African opinion hardening against their neighbours, may be able to
persuade Zimbabwe to accept some form of compromise.
The ECB and the Government want Zimbabwe's expulsion from all international
matches, but this would need support from seven of the ten countries. An
alternative is for Zimbabwe, already out of the Test fold, to accept
suspension from all one-day cricket because of poor performances. They could
then retain their ICC voting rights and status and continue to receive a
share-out of money.