July 30 2008 at 06:53AM
The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) says it is not going to budge
on its demand for real executive power for its leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, in
the suspended negotiations that are expected to resume later this week.
Zimbabwe's ruling Zanu-PF rejected the MDC's demand in the
negotiations in Pretoria on Monday, offering Tsvangirai only one of three
vice-presidencies in the government. The impasse stalled the negotiations,
though President Thabo Mbeki said on Tuesday they would resume later this
Though Mbeki rarely comments on the secret talks, on Tuesday he
indirectly confirmed the hiccup when he said the Zanu-PF and MDC negotiators
"will be adjourning shortly for a few days because they want to go back to
Harare to consult with their principals about the work that is being done".
Informed sources said that unless Mugabe was prepared to offer
Tsvangirai real executive power, the talks would remain deadlocked.
The MDC wants Tsvangirai to be at the helm of any transitional
arrangement that might be agreed upon.
Alternatively, it wants Tsvangirai to be executive prime minister with
Mugabe demoted to a ceremonial role, although Zanu-PF would have an almost
equal number of cabinet ministers as the MDC.
This article was originally published on page 2 of The Mercury on July
Wednesday, Jul. 30, 2008 By ALEX PERRY
Power-sharing negotiations between Robert Mugabe's government and Zimbabwe's
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) have hit their first
stumbling block: Week-long talks were adjourned after the MDC rejected as
"insulting" the government's offer to make opposition leader Morgan
Tsvangirai one of three vice presidents. (Tsvangirai won more votes than
Mugabe in the first round of presidential polling on March 29; he withdrew
from the runoff race in the face of a campaign of violence against
opposition supporters by security forces and militias loyal to Mugabe.) An
MDC source at the talks in Pretoria, South Africa, told Agence France-Presse
that the government's proposal showed a "complete lack of sincerity and the
need to really address the issues and problems Zimbabwe is facing." Zimbabwe
already has two vice presidents, both high-ranking members of Mugabe's
Zimbabwean African National Union-Patriotic Front (Zanu-PF) party, and both
are confined to largely ceremonial duties. "[The talks are] dead-locked,
according to the MDC guys," said Chris Maroleng, Zimbabwe expert at the
Institute of Stategic Studies in Pretoria. "The position they were offered
is untenable for them."
Breakdowns are to be expected in any negotiations, and Zimbabwe's regime had
shown little interest in ceding power as it unleashed a wave of violence in
the wake of the March 29 poll. The key question now is whether Mugabe is
seriously pursuing an agreement with the opposition, or merely going through
the motions of talking in order to kill off any momentum for sanctions and
other forms of international pressure. Most analysts believe Zanu-PF is
serious - or at least, seriously feeling the heat. "There is a great deal of
international pressure on them," said Maroleng. "They're feeling it. And
that immense pressure does not give them much room to maneuver. They're
Aubrey Matshiqi of the Johannesburg-based Center for Policy Studies said
Zanu was, at the same time, using the talks to buy time, for two reasons: to
renew its rural support base inside Zimbabwe, which has been eroded by the
MDC, and to manage the succession of the 84-year-old Mugabe. "Zanu needs
this process of negotiation for its own reasons," said Matshiqi.
Mugabe has long made a virtue out of his vilification in the West, casting
himself as the champion of a fight against neo-imperialism. But his regime's
blatant abuse of power has drawn rare criticism from fellow African
leaders - a fact that appears to have rattled the man who has ruled Zimbabwe
since overthrowing the racist white Rhodesian government in 1980. At his
inauguration speech last month, Mugabe unexpectedly promised talks with the
opposition on sharing power. Last week, Mugabe met Tsvangirai in Zimbabwe's
capital, Harare, and agreed to begin talks mediated by South Africa's
President Thabo Mbeki. Those discussions began last week in Pretoria, with
some suggesting an agreement was possible within two weeks.
This week's setback simply reflects how unrealistic that prediction was,
given the imbalance in power between the two sides - while the desire to
break out of international isolation in order to save his collapsing economy
has brought Mugabe to the table, inside Zimbabwe, he and his security forces
still hold all the cards. "I'd be surprised if we have an agreement before
the end of the year," said Maroleng. Matshiqi added he expected talks to
take "one to two years." Still, compared to a few weeks ago, the situation
remains hopeful. "The international pressure on Zanu must continue, and
continue to focus minds around the need for negotiations," said Maroleng.
"Because it's working." When was the last time you could say that about
anything in Zimbabwe?
S'Thembiso Msomi: Politics in Command Published:Jul 30, 2008
Despite the current deadlock, negotiations will continue - the antagonists
have no choice
It should come as no surprise that the Zimbabwean negotiations have hit a
Such is the nature of the fierce conflict between Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF
and Morgan Tsvangirai's MDC that it would have been a miracle for the talks
to proceed without hiccups and be concluded within the two-week deadline.
It is difficult to know exactly what has caused the current impasse because
the parties are forbidden, in terms of the memorandum of understanding they
signed last week, from commenting publicly on the talks.
But the sticking point, according to sources close to the process, appears
to be the Zimbabwean presidency.
Mugabe, who insists that the results of his sham presidential run-off
election must be recognised, is prepared to offer Tsvangirai only the
largely ceremonial post of third vice-president (the other two being Zanu-PF
Tsvangirai will have none of it and demands that he be given the top job
because he won most votes in the March 29 election. He boycotted the June 27
run-off because of state-sponsored violence against his supporters.
As things stand, the two parties seem poles apart and President Thabo Mbeki,
who facilitates the talks, and his team have their work cut out trying to
find a workable solution.
But the situation is not insurmountable and the parties could be talking to
each other again in Pretoria in no time.
One of Mbeki's uncelebrated recent achievements was his success in
convincing Mugabe not to appoint a new cabinet before the talks were
To his credit, Mugabe has kept his end of the bargain and resisted the
temptation to follow in the footsteps of Kenyan president Mwai Kibaki, who
showed utter disdain for the unity talks in his own country when he
appointed half the cabinet while talks with his rival, Raila Odinga, were
Mugabe's hand might also have been forced by the fact that,
constitutionally, he could not appoint the new cabinet before the Zimbabwean
parliament was sworn in.
Be that as it may, he is playing by the rules and that, on its own, is a
As for Tsvangirai, he has demonstrated his commitment to the talks by
withdrawing some of the preconditions he set down earlier. These include his
demand for an African Union envoy to "assist" Mbeki in the talks and for
political prisoners to be released before the start of the negotiations.
The compromises made by the two leaders gave hope to the world, but
especially to the long-suffering Zimbabwean population, that the parties
have finally realised they have no other option but to talk to each other.
The current deadlock should not be allowed to degenerate into a permanent
breakdown in the mediation process.
As for the rest of the world, the best we can do now to assist Zimbabweans
in their journey towards national unity and economic recovery is to wait
patiently. They will work out a deal.
They have no option.
The Editor, The Times Newspaper Published:Jul 30, 2008
In SA there was no turning back - and so it will be for the Zimbabweans
Zimbabwe's negotiators have left the table to consult their principals,
apparently deadlocked over whether Robert Mugabe should continue as
Those close to the talks are saying that the MDC's Morgan Tsvangirai has
been offered the position of third deputy president, the equivalent of
offering Barry Ronge a restaurant table next to the kitchen door.
For now, there seems nowhere to go.
Zanu-PF's negotiators have returned to Harare to brief Mugabe on the
And Tsvangirai is somewhere in Gauteng getting the lowdown from his
But all is not lost. In talks attempting to reshape a country after a long
conflict, it is to be expected that the parties will hit a brick wall from
time to time.
In South Africa, the negotiations about a new constitution were frequently
bedevilled by walkouts, threats, the withdrawal of delegations and so on.
But having started with talks, there was no turning back for either party,
and so it will be for the Zimbabweans.
Should Mugabe withdraw from the negotiations, it will be the final straw
that will break the fragile back of what credibility remains to him, and the
world will be forced to resort to much harsher action against his regime.
This is why it is a good thing that the world pushes ahead with efforts to
isolate Mugabe politically and economically.
He must know that there is metal behind the criticism of his destruction of
the democratic process in his country.
South Africa has years of painful experience with negotiations and the
Zimbabweans will no doubt be persuaded to return to the table.
When they do, they must be made to craft a government that properly reflects
the will of the Zimbabwean people, who gave more votes to Tsvangirai than
Anything else will be a sham.
Tue Jul 29, 2008 11:25pm BST
UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Britain, which backed a failed effort to impose
U.N. sanctions on Zimbabwe, said on Tuesday the Security Council might have
to review its position on Zimbabwe if there is no progress in resolving the
British Deputy U.N. Ambassador Karen Pierce said the Security Council had
received a "sober" report on the situation in Zimbabwe, along with an update
on power-sharing talks in South Africa between Zimbabwe's opposition and
negotiators for President Robert Mugabe, which broke off on Monday.
The opposition Movement for Democratic Change said the talks had deadlocked,
apparently over Mugabe's insistence that he remain president.
An MDC official said the opposition was unwilling to accept a deal that
included only the post of vice president for its leader, Morgan Tsvangirai.
"We wish those efforts well but it's clear that if we don't make progress
soon or don't see progress soon in Zimbabwe, that the council will have to
come back to this issue," Pierce told reporters after the briefing by U.N.
special envoy to Zimbabwe, Haile Menkerios.
"He gave a sober assessment of the transition process, of the negotiations,
of the moods in each of the parties," Pierce said.
South African President Thabo Mbeki, who is mediating in the negotiations,
said in Pretoria that the talks were "doing very well" and denied that they
"Mr Menkerios did not use the word 'deadlock' in his briefing. He did say
the negotiations were difficult," said Pierce.
The U.N. envoy also made clear to the Security Council that the humanitarian
and economic crisis in Zimbabwe was worsening, she added.
Tsvangirai won a first round presidential vote on March 29 but pulled out of
the June 27 second round citing systematic violence, which the MDC says has
killed 120 of its supporters.
Russia and China this month vetoed a U.S.-drafted resolution, supported by
Britain, that would have imposed an arms embargo on Zimbabwe and financial
and travel restrictions on Mugabe and other officials of his government.
(Editing by Chris Wilson)
by Cuthbert Nzou Wednesday 30 July 2008
HARARE - Zimbabwe banking and industry chiefs have appealed to central bank
governor Gideon Gono to slash zeroes from the country's currency when he
announces his half-year monetary policy statement on Wednesday.
Gono had been expected to announce the statement on Tuesday. He shifted the
announcement to today after last-minute consultations on Monday with the
Bankers Association of Zimbabwe (BAZ) and the Confederation of Zimbabwe
Industries (CZI) who pleaded for the removal of zeroes from the currency to
allow a smooth payment system.
Sources said the business leaders asked Gono to remove nine zeroes from the
local currency, which would mean a 100 billion dollar note - Zimbabwe's
highest note - would become $100.
The bankers and industry argued that the country's payment system could not
handle figures above a $1 trillion, hence the need to slash the zeroes.
"The monetary policy statement is now on Wednesday," said a source, who is
an executive with a Harare bank. "Gono had to factor in the appeal made by
bankers and industry. He met them on Monday and agreed to move the date to
Wednesday after considering their input."
The banking executive, who did not want to be named for professional
reasons, said bankers told Gono that their software could only handle
figures below $999 billion. They said some company accounts were now above
$1 quintillion (a figure with 18 zeroes) and existing software could not
read such figures making difficult to transact.
Our source was, however, not sure on the number of zeroes Gono - who is
understood to have wanted to remove only six zeroes from the currency while
also introducing a new $500 billion note - would eventually decide to slash.
Gono, appointed Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor in 2003, is said to have
told bankers and captains of industry that he wanted to consult "his
principals" on their request for more zeroes to be removed off the currency.
Kumbirai Nhongo, Gono's spokesperson at the central bank, confirmed
yesterday that the monetary policy statement would be issued Wednesday.
However, he would not be drawn to disclose further details.
"The statement will be announced on Wednesday at 9 am at the Harare Rainbow
Towers," he said. "The governor had last minute consultations with
stakeholders on a number of issues, which I am not at liberty to disclose."
BAZ president John Mangudya yesterday declined to comment on the matter,
while a CZI spokesperson confirmed that the industry's president Callisto
Jokonya met Gono on Monday but was not at liberty to give details.
Gono reports and gets instructions from President Robert Mugabe and his
relationship with the 84-year-old leader has seen him usurping the powers of
the ministry of finance.
The central bank boss is accused in government of financing quasi operations
resulting in galloping inflation officially said to be over 2.2 million
percent, but estimated by independent analysts to be anything above 9
His long-awaited monetary policy statement is expected to outline how he
intends to curb run-away inflation and the shortage of cash in the country.
However, most analysts have warned that today's policy statement would be
bereft of "sound economic solutions" owing to the central bank's
quasi-fiscal engagements and continued money supply growth, which they said,
was inflationary. - ZimOnline
July 30, 2008
By Our Correspondent
HARARE - The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) threatened unspecified
action against the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) if the central bank did
not raise the daily cash withdrawal limit from banks.
The ZCTU, the country's largest labour federation wrote to embattled RBZ
governor Gideon Gono asking him to do away with the pegging of the maximum
amount one is allowed to withdraw from his or her bank account.
The RBZ imposed cash withdrawal limits some time ago in a bid to stem
illegal foreign currency trading which the central bank blamed for fuelling
inflation which is the highest in the world.
Currently, banks only allow depositors to withdraw a maximum of $100 billion
a day, an amount which can buy only half a loaf of bread. A loaf of bread
now costs $200 billion.
But the imposition of maximum cash withdrawal limits has failed to stem the
illegal foreign currency trade; instead it is hurting ordinary citizens who
are failing to carry out their daily transactions because of the stringent
In a letter addressed to Gono, the militant labour body described the
current maximum cash withdrawal limit of $100 billion as a joke. The ZCTU
said the amount was no longer enough to workers to pay for transport to
"Whereas the monetary authorities pegged the maximum cash withdrawal
allowable at $100 billion and whereas this appeared 'sufficient' in the eyes
of those who have 'unfettered' authority over those accounts, the amount is
a joke given the reality on the ground," reads part of the letter written by
ZCTU secretary-general Wellington Chibhebhe.
"As you may be aware, transport alone, costs around $150 billion, on
average. How then do the monetary authorities expect an ordinary employee to
report for duty and go back home when he or she is allowed to only withdraw
a maximum amount of $100 billion?
"This employee is also expected to make available to his family, bus fare
for his or her school-going children, funds for daily expenditure. It has
also come to our attention that most employees are now spending their
productive time while queuing for cash at the banks."
The labour body proposed that maximum cash withdrawal limits be increased to
$2.5 trillion per day to be reviewed after every three days as the amount
would have been made worthless by rising prices of goods.
"Our cursory calculation reflects a figure of $2.5 trillion per day as at 21
July 2008 will be reasonable," said Chibhebhe. "The amount has to be
reviewed after every three days, but still using the public transport cost
as the entry point."
The ZCTU, which has had several run-ins with President Robert Mugabe's
government over the mismanagement of the economy and its disregard for
workers' rights, warned Gono of unspecified action if he doesn't review the
cash withdrawal limits.
"We trust that you take our advice seriously and thus address the workers
and society's concerns, before they take the law into their own hands,"
Meanwhile, Gono is expected to yield to pressure and increase the maximum
cash withdrawal limits when he presents his mid-year monetary policy review
statement today (Wednesday).
Gono will make his presentation to bankers, captains of industry and
commerce and journalists at the Harare International Conference Centre
(HICC). The statement will be broadcast on state-run radio and television.
Insiders at the RBZ disclosed yesterday that Gono was likely to introduce
some currency reforms which could include the lopping off of six zeroes from
the battered currency to help enterprises and the banking public to cope
with complex transactions.
But critics expect nothing extraordinary from Gono as he has failed for the
past five years to arrest the country's stubborn inflation and right the
country's comatose economy, now in its ninth straight year of recession.
By Patience Rusere
29 July 2008
Rates of exchange between the U.S. and Zimbabwe dollars were being quoted in
a wide range Tuesday in Harare and Bulawayo as currency market participants
braced for an announcement from Reserve Bank Governor Gideon Gono this week
on redenominating the local dollar.
Gono was expected to deliver his quarterly monetary policy statement on
Gono was quoted by the state-controlled Sunday Mail newspaper early this
week as saying he would take steps to relieve cash shortages, including
removing "more zeros" from notes which now include denominations of up to
This could mean Zimbabweans will have to surrender expiring banknotes as
they did in such an operation in August 2006 which inflicted financial
losses on many ordinary people.
Those holding large amounts of the outstanding currency, especially parallel
market dealers, might then rush for the exit, cheapening the local currency
against hard currencies.
U.S. dollars were most sought in Harare where the exchange rate reached
Z$800 billion to the greenback. In Bulawayo, the second largest city, the
price for one U.S. dollar ranged from Z$110 billion to $500 billion in
street trading of physical notes.
Black market money changers meanwhile said they suspect their biggest
customers of being runners for the central bank, saying such participants at
times flood the market with large amounts of cash, driving up the local
currency price for the U.S. currency.
One Harare-based black-market foreign exchange dealer, requesting anonymity,
told reporter Patience Rusere of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that he and
other traders have handled new, uncirculated bank notes and even bills still
sealed in RBZ packets.
By Carole Gombakomba
29 July 2008
Poverty is on the rise in Zimbabwe and poor governance is the root cause -
an analysis which emerged in a briefing on Capitol Hill this week by the
CATO Institute, a libertarian think tank.
Zimbabwean market-based analyst Rejoice Ngwenya said hyperinflation, now
estimated by some to be running at 10 million percent, is driving most
Zimbabweans beneath the poverty line.
CATO Africa Analyst Marian Tupy dismissed the Zimbabwean government's
contention that Western sanctions have brought about the economic collapse.
Following the Hill briefing, Ngwenya and Tupy joined reporter Carole
Gombakomba of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe to continue the discussion,
explaining that the solution to the crisis lies with Zimbabweans as there is
only so much the international community can do.
By Tom Burgis in Johannesburg and Tony Hawkins in Harare
Published: July 28 2008 03:00 | Last updated: July 28 2008 03:00
Zimbabwe's economy is unravelling at such a pace that the central bank is
set to slash yet more zeroes from the country's increasingly worthless
State media yesterday quoted Gideon Gono, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe
governor and one of the members of the ruling elite targeted by fresh
western sanctions last week, as saying he would extend a currency policy
that has so far failed to stem hyperinflation.
"This time, we will make sure that those zeroes that would come knocking on
the governor's window will not return," Mr Gono was quoted as saying on
Saturday in a speech to farmers.
Independent estimates put Zimbabwe's inflation rate well above the official
2.2m per cent, prompting the introduction last week of a 100bn Zimbabwean
dollar note. Even state media reported Mr Gono's comments "drew laughter"
from his audience.
The governor is expected to chop three or six zeroes from the currency,
following a three-zero cut in 2006.
Beside the inflationary zeroes haunting Mr Gono, analysts and some
opposition politicians say the crumbling economy in what was once a regional
bread basket is perhaps the single greatest factor that might force Robert
Mugabe, president, into relaxing his grip on power.
Mr Mugabe's negotiators have begun a fortnight of power-sharing talks in
South Africa with leading members of the opposition Movement for Democratic
Change, following the ageing ruler's widely discredited victory as the sole
candidate in presidential polls last month.
United Nations agencies estimate a failed crop and a shortfall of nearly 50
per cent in maize imports have left 2m people in immediate need of
assistance. The figure is expected to rise to 5m people - well over half of
the population - early next year.
Mr Gono also indicated he will raise the daily limit on the amount
Zimbabweans are permitted to withdraw from their bank accounts.
Zimbabwean trade unions wrote an open letter to the central bank governor
last week describing the current cap of Z$100bn as "a joke" with transport
to and from banks alone generally costing on average Z$150bn.
As increasingly desperate Zimbabweans flout a ban on transactions in US
dollars, the central bank's difficulties have been compounded by the
withdrawal of a German company that used to print its bank notes.
The government blames the economic strife on "illegal" sanctions, condemning
opponents who point to violence land seizures that have contributed to a
drastic fall in agricultural output.
July 30 2008 at 06:59AM
In what is regarded as a landmark case for South African farmers and
other citizens with business interests in Zimbabwe the Pretoria High Court
on Tuesday ruled in favour of a Bothaville farmer who lost his farms and
business in that country.
Judge Bill Prinsloo ruled that Crawford von Abo had the right to
diplomatic protection from the South African government regarding the
violation of his rights by the government of Zimbabwe.
Prinsloo ruled that the government should, within 60 days take all
necessary steps to have Von Abo's violation of his rights remedied and to
report back to court regarding the steps it had taken.
The 75-year-old Von Abo has been struggling for more than six years
with the South African government to act against Zimbabwe's confiscation of
land belonging to South Africans.
His pleas fell on deaf ears and his counsel earlier told the court
that Von Abo's endeavours to receive help from the government were like "the
Yellow Brick Road - the road to nowhere".
Von Abo earlier told the court that in 1997 the Zimbabwean government
violated his rights by destroying his property interests in a number of
farms in that country as part of its policy to expropriate white-owned
He was not paid any compensation.
Prinsloo said he regretted to say that "it is difficult to resist the
conclusion that the respondents (government) were simply stringing the
applicant along and never had any serious intention to afford him proper
"Their feeble efforts, if any, amounted to little more than quiet
acquiescence in the conduct of their Zimbabwean counterparts and their 'war
veteran' thugs," Prinsloo said.
He added that Von Abo had demonstrated that his rightful property in
Zimbabwe was unlawfully expropriated under international law and that he
wasn't compensated for it.
Prinsloo said Von Abo made futile efforts to protect his interests by
litigating against the Zimbabwean government in that country.
He said given the almost absolute disregard the government there
showed for orders of its own courts, particularly regarding the
expropriation, no more remedies were available for him.
He added that the SA government dealt with the Von Abo matter in bad
faith and irrationally.
"For six years or more, in the face of a stream of urgent requests -
they (government) did absolutely nothing to bring about relief to the
applicant and hundreds of other white commercial farmers in the same
"Their 'assistance' was limited to empty promises."
"They exhibited neither the will nor the ability to do anything
constructive to bring their northern neighbour to book."
Prinsloo continued: "They paid no regard, of any consequence, to the
plight of valuable citizens such as the applicant with a 50-year track
record in Zimbabwe and other hard-working white commercial farmers making a
substantial contribution to the GDP in Zimbabwe and providing thousands of
people with work in that country."
Prinsloo said he had thus concluded that Von Abo qualified for
"This may involve effective diplomatic pressure on the Zimbabwean
government to restore the properties to the applicant and his companies and
to pay compensation for losses and damages."
Prinsloo, as part of his ruling, indefinitely postponed Von Abo's
claim for damages against government regarding the farms and business
interests he had lost in Zimbabwe.
In this regard, Von Abo during the trial indicated that the total
conservative damages pertaining to the six farms, including implements and
other assets he had lost, amounted to about R60-million.
Von Abo's lawyer Ernst Penzhorn called his client directly following
the verdict to give him the news.
Penzhorn said Van Abo "is grateful that he could have turned to a
court in his own country to protect his rights. This is comforting if one
looks at how he was treated with no sympathy by members of the executive".
Penzhorn said they would now have to approach the constitutional court
to confirm Prinsloo's judgment.
He said he believed yesterday's judgment would open the door for many
South Africans who had lost all their business interests in Zimbabwe.
Regarding the damages claim he said they will first see what the
response of government is before they act further on the claim.
This article was originally published on page 1 of Pretoria News on
July 30, 2008
HARARE, July 30 2008 - There is chaos in Bulawayo's Emganwini suburb
after war veterans occupied Bulawayo city council land and redistributed it
to "landless people".
Scores of people, who claim to be war veterans and members of the
ruling ZANU PF party have built homes in the outskirts of Bulawayo along
Plumtree Road just adjacent to Emgamwini suburb after being allocated land
by a female war veteran who claims to have been given a go ahead by big
party chiefs in Harare.
The settlers have already started to build their homesteads and others
said they would venture into market gardening.
"We were so excited to be given land because we felt we were left out
in the initial land reform exercise. It's a right step towards the total
empowerment drive," he said.
However, the Bulawayo ZANU PF province and Bulawayo governor Cain
Mathema have distanced themselves from settlers. Mathema accused the woman
in charge of the settlement as trying to cause chaos in Bulawayo.
"She is trying to cause chaos in Bulawayo. We don't want people who
come from their homes in Harare and Mashonaland to come here and cause
disturbances. Our people are peace loving and they know that land belongs to
council. The law will take its cause very soon," said Mathema.
July 30, 2008, 05:00
The torture and murder of Zimbabweans opposed to the regime of President
Robert Mugabe is jeopardising security in the Southern African region. This
is the view of the non-governmental organisation (NGO), Solidarity Peace
Trust which has just released a report into human rights violations taking
place in Zimbabwe.
The dossier is the first comprehensive account of what's believed to be
government-sponsored violence in that country during and after the March 29,
2008 elections. Activist Sharri Eppel says youth militia and war veterans
are believed to be behind the attacks. "We've seen meticulous kinds of
torture. People having their genitals ripped off with barbed wire, people
having needles, threaded repeatedly through their hands."
Eppel further stated that in other instances people would have their hands
and feet smashed repeatedly. People have been abducted, killed and then
their bodies have turned up, sometimes weeks later.
Meanwhile, Britain says the Security Council might have to review its
position on Zimbabwe if there is no progress in resolving the crisis there.
Britain, which backed a failed effort to impose United Nations (UN)
sanctions on Zimbabwe, was reacting to the breaking off of power-sharing
talks on Monday. - Additional reporting by Reuters
HARARE, July 30 2008 - The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) has ordered
the Harare Polytechnic Business department to postpone the end of term
examinations to allow for the students to take part in the BACOSSI census
The RBZ is sending out census teams to evaluate the needs of different
communities around the country and the students have fallen victim to the
shortages on manpower at the central bank. Sources from the RBZ said the
basic food hampers would be sold to the public as soon as the census is
completed and in communities across the country.
A group of students who spoke on condition of anonymity said officials
from the RBZ approached the business department and ordered for the
postponement of exams.
Zimbabwe National Students' Union president Clever Bere on Tuesday
confirmed the development saying the programme was not only affecting
students from the Harare Polytechnic but from colleges doted around the
"It's very unfortunate that our government no longer values education
as a weapon for development. It is the same government again that has
reduced the students into destitutes and they are willing to get money from
anyone, even the devil," said Bere.
"We were supposed to have started our exams this week but we have been
told that we have to take part in the BACOSSI census. Our schooling calendar
has definitely been affected by the move," said one student who said has
been assigned to work in Chitungwiza for RBZ.
The mid year exams are very important and form part of the course
work. Other students however said although the programme had disrupted their
calendar it came in handy for many since they have been promised a lot of
money in return.
"I am told that there will be a lot of money for our work especially
for those assigned to work in the rural areas. The money will be very
helpful to us since we no longer get payouts from the government," said one
Bulawayo province residents' governor Cain Mathema was quoted on
national radio urging people to "corporate with the BACOSSI teams" as that
information will be used in the distribution of the cheap commodities which
were sourced through the RBZ. Efforts to get a comment for the RBZ proved
Wednesday, 30 Jul 2008 00:01
Two of Zimbabwe's leading trade unionists will appear in court later today.
Lovemore Matombo and Wellington Chibebe, the president and secretary general
of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, are charged with "spreading
falsehoods prejudicial to the state".
They were arrested on May 8th for speaking out against state-sponsored
violence in Zimbabwe.
The Movement for Democratic Change, Zimbabwe's main opposition party, has
suffered widely documented persecution from supporters of president Robert
Mugabe during the presidential election runoff campaign.
Its candidate, Morgan Tsvangirai, was forced to pull out to end the violence
which Mr Matombo and Mr Chibebe spoke out against at Dzivarasekwa Stadium on
The pair was also charged with "inciting the public to rise against the
government". After eventually receiving bail they were banned from
addressing political or public gatherings.
The Trades Union Congress is leading British efforts to lobby Mr Mugabe's
government in Harare and is urging unionists to send a template letter to
Zimbabwe's justice minister on the issue.
It demands that "all charges are dropped with immediate effect" and accuses
the government of clearly breaching free speech and freedom to associate
The International Labour Organisation's committee on the application of
standards recently expressed its concerns over the surge in trade union and
human rights violations, the letter points out.
July 29, 2008 10:02 AM
By Scott A. Morgan, Confused Eagle
It is believed that dozens of MDC supporters were tortured and murdered
before the June 29 presidential run-off election in Zimbabwe. Others were
driven from their homes as the politically motivated violence reached a
crescendo. The results were what some had wanted - Robert Mugabe was
"reelected" president of Zimbabwe.
The past few weeks showed more lights into how the campaign of violence was
orchestrated. Two divergent sources reported that the Junta that was running
Zimbabwe between the dates of the elections hired some outside help to
orchestrate the violence. They went to a source that has had success in the
past, but two different nations. They went to the Force Democratic de
Liberation du Rwanda (Democratic Liberation Forces of Rwanda): FDLR. This
group has a history that only a dictator could love.
First of all, who are the FDLR?
They were the perpetrators of the worst case of genocide since the end of
the Second World War. In a period of several weeks and estimated 800,000
people were murdered in the presence of United Nation Peace keepers. The
FDLR were driven out of the country by forces led by the current President
Paul Kagame of Rwanda. They were maintaining bases in the eastern Democratic
Republic of Congo.
The activities of the FDLR in Zimbabwe did not come as surprise to many. A
Senior leader of the FDLR, Protais Mpiranya, who was the former Commander of
the Rwandan Presidential Guards is currently under the protection of the
Zimbabwean government. Forces under his direct command are believed to have
sexually assaulted and murdered then Prime Minister Agathe Uwilingiyimana
and 10 Belgian Paratroopers that had orders to protect her.
The actions of the JOC (Joint Operations Command) and ZANU-PF that were
taken to ensure that they won the elections seem to follow some of the
strategies the FDLR used in Rwanda. According to some eyewitness reports,
the Rwandan exiles have been leaving refugee camps to join in the carnage.
According to press reports, the Rwandans have been even more vicious in
their attacks than ZANU-PF supporters and security forces.
This brings up an interesting situation. When Russia and China vetoed the
resolution at the United Nations Security Council, one of the reasons given
was that the situation within Zimbabwe had no international implications.
But the government of Botswana is dealing with hundreds of Zimbabwean
refugees who fled their country as result of economic hardship and political
violence. Moscow and Beijing should understand that the crisis in Zimbabwe
has international implications. Could this be the last straw that breaks the
camel's back with the "mediation" efforts of president Mbeki of South
At the very least, this has been indicative of what depths Robert Mugabe
would take to ensure that he would remain in power. Also it shows to what
steps the security forces were willing to take to ensure that Morgan
Tsvangari would not become president of Zimbabwe which, according to various
sources, was what he did on March 29.
Now a Government of National Unity has been proposed for Zimbabwe. With the
actions of the security forces over the last few months it is not a feasible
idea in the eyes of many people. As long as the FDLR are active in Zimbabwe
no one is safe in the country.
by Mutumwa Mawere Wednesday 30 July 2008
OPINION: On Friday, July 25 2008, while the representatives of
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe's ruling ZANU PF party and the opposition
were in the midst of negotiations facilitated by South African President
Mbeki, United States President George Bush signed an executive order
(http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2008/07/20080725-5.html) to expand
sanctions against individuals and organisations in Zimbabwe associated with
what he calls the "illegitimate" regime of Mugabe.
After 28 years of independence, a precedent that many never thought
possible in post-colonial Zimbabwe has been set whereby the outcome of an
electoral process does not count for much other than to reduce the will of
the people to a negotiating room with six individuals tasked with making
decisions for about 13 million citizens.
The role of the international community in promoting or undermining
democracy in Zimbabwe will continue to occupy the minds of many people not
only in Zimbabwe but throughout the world.
After 28 years of independence, Zimbabwe's standing in the world has
significantly diminished under the watch of Mugabe.
By global standards, Zimbabwe is too insignificant to attract the
attention of the world and yet its crisis continues to occupy the minds of
not only the G-8 countries but the entire UN system.
This unprecedented spotlight on Zimbabwe has assisted Mugabe in making
the case that the political and economic crisis is a direct result of the
land dispossession of white Zimbabweans and the threat of the so-called 100
percent black economic empowerment thrust.
What is the causal link between the targeted sanctions and the
economic meltdown in Zimbabwe? Is it correct to conclude that were it not
for the imposition of economic sanctions, the prospects of the economy would
be brighter? Would an agreement on the political questions between the
negotiating parties be sufficient to incentivise the West to lift sanctions?
In announcing the new raft of sanctions, Bush said that the action was
meant to send a strong message that the US will not permit individuals
closely linked to Mugabe to operate in its financial markets.
A view shared by many and confirmed by Mugabe during the elections is
that the will of the people of Zimbabwe does not matter and the calls by the
international community for the restoration of the rule of law and respect
for property rights can be ignored with no consequences.
The March 29 elections were held in an atmosphere that cannot be
regarded as free and fair and yet the message from the people was that they
wanted a change of direction and leadership.
While it can be legitimately argued that the results of the March
election largely reflected the will of the people, it cannot be denied that
the outcome could have been substantially different in favour of the
opposition had the state been under the control of a neutral person.
The March presidential election did not produce a conclusive outcome,
leading to the controversial run-off election whose timing and legality will
continue to occupy legal and political minds for years to come.
However, the vote that has been condemned by the West and boycotted by
opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai produced an outcome that now gives
Mugabe a locus standi in SADC-facilitated negotiations that have now been
elevated to party talks rather than focusing solely on the presidential
By putting the screws on Tsvangirai and using the state machinery to
deny him of any media, financial and logistical support, the outcome of the
run-off was as predictable as the agenda for the SADC-mediated talks.
What does the EU and US governments know about the current talks that
are not in the public domain? Why would they impose sanctions when the talks
seem to be on track? What is it about Mugabe that makes the West suspicious
of the outcome?
If the sanctions are targeted at stopping politically motivated
violence, why would they take the form of assets freeze? What is so special
about the 17 enterprises that have now been included in the targeted list?
One of the principal reasons that motivated Tsvangirai to withdraw
from the run-off elections was the violence that polluted the electoral
atmosphere and environment.
The mere fact that the new sanctions are linked to the violence issue
suggests that the West's agenda is no more than trying to assist helpless
Zimbabweans against state-sponsored violence.
However, it is not at all clear how targeted financial sanctions will
incentivise the state to stop using violence and intimidation as a weapon to
whip people into line.
In response to the humiliation of March, Mugabe whose intelligence
must have told him about the causal link between the activities of the NGOs
and the electoral success of the MDC, stopped suspected NGOs from being
involved in providing humanitarian assistance to the vulnerable people of
What the EU and US governments are not saying is that they have come
to the inescapable conclusion that Mugabe represents values, principles and
morality that is inimical to the West's shared values.
Unless the talks can produce an outcome that will remove Mugabe, it is
clear that no change will take place in the approach of the West to the
By giving an ambiguous position, as quoted below, on what is at stake
in the current Zimbabwean crisis, Bush is setting himself up to an
embarrassing and untenable position in the event that Tsvangirai agrees to
serve in Mugabe's cabinet:
"Should ongoing talks in South Africa between Mugabe's regime and the
Movement of Democratic Change result in a new government that reflects the
will of the Zimbabwean people, the United States stands ready to provide a
substantial assistance package, development aid, and normalization with
international financial institutions."
What precisely is meant by the will of the Zimbabwean people? Should
the Zimbabwean people through the three negotiating parties agree to form a
government of national unity (GNU) just like South Africa's former apartheid
government agreed with the African National Congress (ANC) and others to an
interim constitution providing for a GNU, what would be the position of the
EU and the US? Should sanctions not automatically be lifted?
How do targeted sanctions assist the cause of freedom for the
suffering Zimbabwean masses? It is evident that the West has been pushed
into a corner from which it is difficult to argue that were it not for the
onslaught on white property rights by the Mugabe regime, the West would not
have a case to stand on.
Surely, Africa has many examples of violent elections that have not
produced the same outrage from the West leading many to question the motives
behind the sanctions thrust.
Will the sanctions produce the desired outcomes? What really are the
It should be sufficient for the West to make the case that the views
held by Mugabe about the role of the state in nation building are offensive
to their own values and principles without seeking to hide behind the
violence issue that has been taken up by Tsvangirai in the face of brutal
attacks by a partisan state.
To what extent are the views held by Mugabe different from those held
by the labour movement from whose womb Tsvangirai emerged?
At the core of the land reform programme is a belief, strongly held by
Mugabe and his colleagues, that it is an appropriate role of the state to
become an active participant in resource allocation and productive
The contestation for political power is really between the labour
movement and intellectuals with the business community taking the role of
The business community is obviously silent because the risks inherent
in challenging the political elites in government and the opposition are too
Having been one of the most significant black victims of undemocratic
processes using state institutions, I find myself with no choice but to
support the view that unless the rule of law is restored and property rights
are respected, the West is justified in maintaining pressure on the
negotiators to focus on what the country requires to move forward.
On Friday, the US Department of the Treasury's Office of Foreign
Assets Control (OFAC) designated seventeen entities, including Zimre
Holdings Limited, an investment and reinsurance entity that was mine until
the promulgation of decrees and laws that allowed Mugabe's government to
expropriate my shareholding in the company with no compensation.
I challenged the actions of the government of Zimbabwe in the
Zimbabwean courts and regrettably Justice Rita Makarau ruled that a
specified person has no constitutional right to challenge the state from
enjoying the benefits of its own actions.
As at September 6 2004 when a state appointed administrator took
control of all my Zimbabwean companies as a consequence of the operation of
the State Indebted Insolvent Companies Act, I was the controlling
shareholder of Zimre with a combined stake of 46.6 percent.
In January 2005, Zimre proceeded to hold a rights issue whose effect
was to allow the government to follow the rights of my companies resulting
in the government becoming the largest shareholder.
I do hope that by targeting Zimre, a window exists to expose the true
nature of the operations of the government of Zimbabwe in undermining the
rule of law. - ZimOnline
August 2008 |
Robert Mugabe stole the Zimbabwean election with violence and intimidation.
But Morgan Tsvangirai unwittingly helped him. Stephen Chan explains how an
opposition leader lost his bearings
Stephen Chan is the author of Robert Mugabe: A Life of Power and Violence
I left Zimbabwe the day after Robert Mugabe was reinaugurated as president.
Watching on state television as the old man swore fealty to the country he
has ruined, I packed my bag for the long haul back to London. It is winter
now in Zimbabwe, meaning the days are like an English spring in their
lightness and warmth, and the nights plunge to just a few degrees above
zero. Everyone I talk to affects a jaded determination to survive, but there
will be cold nights ahead.
I have seen many Zimbabwean elections. My first was in 1980 when, as a
member of the Commonwealth observer group, I helped monitor the transition
to independence and Mugabe's first electoral triumph. I have attended almost
all campaigns or elections since, including all of this year's polls-the
March elections and the June presidential runoffs. Over the years I have
seen-close up-the hopes of the majority of Zimbabweans dashed by a corrupt
and vicious oligarchy which cloaks itself in the rhetoric of
anti-colonialism and self-determination.
The situation is all the more tragic because this year the opposition
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) handed Mugabe victory on a plate-the
result of a miscalculation, a loss of nerve or both by its leader, Morgan
Tsvangirai. This failure has strengthened Mugabe's hand in the negotiations
over a national unity government now taking place, after the "memorandum of
understanding" signed by Mugabe and Tsvangirai on 21st July. The memorandum
is a reason for cautious optimism-nevertheless, for the MDC the election was
a bitter defeat; for Tsvangirai a personal tragedy.
Mugabe was never going to surrender the presidency without a dirty fight.
Zanu-PF youth gangs and militias were told not to kill too many, but to dish
out exemplary violence wherever they went. These beatings and torture
sessions were interspersed with the constant threat of something even more
violent to come. Entire villages and outlying city suburbs were issued with
death threats. I have friends who were taken from Epworth, one of the
poorest areas of Harare, to a remote location and held in complete silence
for three days. The only thing they were told came at the start of the
ordeal: "We could kill you and no one would even find your bodies." After
sweating out days of fear and uncertainty, the captives became compliant and
their abductors knew that Zanu-PF had nothing to fear from them.
Meanwhile, the anti-Mugabe forces were in chaos. The international community
was divided in its tactics. The western nations-led by the British and the
Americans-condemned loudly and pressed for sanctions, much to the discomfort
of Zimbabwe's neighbours, who feared it might help push the country closer
to civil war. South Africa, Botswana and Zambia have already absorbed large
economic costs from the Zimbabwean meltdown and they feared that the
collapse of Mugabe's dictatorship would lead to anarchy and further
spillover into neighbouring countries. Moreover, western rhetoric didn't
play well with the average Zimbabwean. Seen from the Harare street, Gordon
Brown's performance in the House of Commons after the runoff election
results, announcing a plan to push for new sanctions, was exactly what was
not needed. It was a continuation of the Blair era, when foreign policy
towards Africa could be simultaneously well-meant and supercilious. Few in
Harare have forgotten Clare Short's infamous letter-written during the first
days of the Blair administration-in which the then development secretary
pointed to her own Irish "colonial victim" status and repudiated a British
undertaking to fund land nationalisation: an act that helped create the
climate that later led to violent (and uncompensated) land seizures.
Meanwhile, US attempts to advise the MDC on election tactics had, as we
shall see, disastrous consequences.
If the foreigners were at sixes and sevens, the domestic opposition was
little better. The MDC went into the elections still split from the
divisions of late 2005 and early 2006, when a breakaway faction, led by
Arthur Mutambara with strategic direction from Welshman Ncube, established a
power base in western Zimbabwe and among many of the MDC's intellectual
supporters. The split occurred amid accusations that Tsvangirai was no
longer behaving democratically, taking decisions unilaterally which should
have received the approval of the party's executive committee. Tsvangirai
has always been impatient of process. Perhaps he came to believe he was the
MDC. This was enough to fracture the MDC's brittle unity-and even the
prospect of electoral victory was insufficient to repair it.
The two sides did try to heal their divisions, but Tsvangirai was unwilling
to withdraw from contesting enough seats in Mutambara's western stronghold
to reunite the party. Almost all Zimbabwean commentators agree that this was
a fatal misjudgement on Tsvangirai's part. Had the MDC entered the first
presidential round in lockstep with Mutambara, Tsvangirai might have got the
crucial extra votes to win the presidency outright. As it was, Mutambara
unselfishly refrained from running for president himself, giving Tsvangirai
a clear run (although he did endorse a third-party candidate, Simba Makoni).
But the voting patterns from the western constituencies show that the damage
had been done. Mutambara's people felt slighted and Mugabe did much better
than expected in the west.
Tsvangirai has always been a hit-and-miss politician-capable of strokes of
genius but also prone to periods of wayward and ineffectual leadership. Born
in 1952, Tsvangirai is the son of a rural carpenter-a member of the black
lower middle class and a member of the same majority Shona ethnic group as
Mugabe. Tsvangirai did not complete his education but found work as a nickel
miner in the mid-1970s. He became politically active through his union
affiliation, where he ascended the ladder, gaining a reputation as an
effective negotiator, and eventually became the head of the national union
movement in 1988. Originally an enthusiastic supporter of Zanu-PF, he became
disillusioned after Mugabe's first big authoritarian crackdown in Harare in
1991. The rift deepened in the mid-1990s as Tsvangirai clashed with the
government over the impact on his members of an IMF structural adjustment
programme that crimped the economy.
Tsvangirai has always been a man of action and used to like teasing
Zimbabwean intellectuals for thinking too much. He can be ruthless, as in
the late 1990s when the MDC arose from, then split with, the National
Constitutional Assembly (NCA), just when that body was becoming the largest
civil society group Zimbabwe had ever known. Many in the NCA took a long
time to forgive him, but the secession of the MDC decisively tilted the
struggle against Mugabe and Zanu-PF into the realm of party politics, rather
than grassroots action. Yet Tsvangirai's flashes of ruthless decisiveness
can be accompanied by protracted hesitation. The MDC has often seemed
rudderless. In fact, the captain is at the tiller but not steering the ship.
I admire Tsvangirai. I wrote a book about him, based on many hours of
face-to-face interviews, which was distributed underground in Zimbabwe to
help the MDC's 2005 campaign. I attended those elections and acknowledged
the book was mine. I was and am prepared to stand up for Tsvangirai. But I
also want to say that he screwed up.
Tsvangirai should have remained inside Zimbabwe for longer periods-
especially between this year's first and second polls. While he and his
deputy Tendai Biti courted international support, they left their party
leaderless. The split in the MDC had left Tsvangirai's party as the larger
of two factions, but Mutambara and Ncube had most of the politically astute
thinkers in their group. Tsvangirai relied increasingly on advice from Biti,
and with both of them travelling outside Zimbabwe, there was no second tier
to hold the MDC together and give party workers strategic direction. There
was also an undercurrent of suspicion, fanned by Zanu-PF, that Tsvangirai
had lost his nerve and was putting his personal safety above the welfare of
his people. The loss of MDC morale was clear.
Tsvangirai's main source of advice was the US embassy in Harare, especially
after Mugabe's government arrested Biti on treason charges and imprisoned
him two weeks before the runoff. The deliberate effect of the arrest was to
deprive Tsvangirai of local guidance during the crucial closing stages of
the campaign. This became a test of nerve: Zanu-PF wanted to break
Tsvangirai's will by isolating him and threatening him physically. The US
embassy sought to fill the gap, and was complicit in Tsvangirai's decisions
to withdraw from the elections and seek refuge in the Dutch embassy. The
plan was to hand Mugabe a hollow victory which the west could then attack.
The US analysis was that the polls had already been fixed so a Tsvangirai
victory was impossible. Participation would only legitimise a brazen
"steal." The idea was also to create an image of such great intimidation
that even a leader of the opposition could find safety from assassination
only on diplomatic soil.
I want also to say unequivocally that the Americans screwed up. When
Tsvangirai withdrew, Zanu-PF could hardly believe their luck. They were
beginning to realise they were on the verge of overplaying their only hand,
that of violence. Then, out of the blue, Tsvangirai solved all their
problems for them.
Contrary to western information, Tsvangirai's consultation of his own party
members, who did indeed protest they didn't want to die for nothing, was
brief and sketchy. When the "consultation" took place, there was only a week
to go before the runoff poll. At that point, the worst was probably over.
Zanu-PF was under pressure to reduce the violence in the face of external
African criticism. The party would have still sought to rig the count, but
the result would have been at least more contestable and, at best,
Thabo Mbeki was reluctant to push too hard on Zimbabwe not just because of
his complex attachment to Mugabe, but also because he never believed
Tsvangirai would make an effective leader. This is unfair, as Tsvangirai has
clearly matured, both politically and morally. He has taken almost all that
Mugabe could throw at him. It may be, however, that Mugabe and Zanu-PF
finally found the cracks in a very brave man, and levered them open.
This will all be debated for a long time. But Tsvangirai took the
assassination rumours seriously enough to take his family into exile. Eleven
years ago, he came within inches of being killed as government agents tried
to push him out of a tenth-floor window high above Harare. He has been on
trial for his life on treason charges. This time, there almost certainly was
a plan to kill him. It is unlikely to have been activated while the world's
attention was focused on Zimbabwe. In that gaze, he was probably safe, but
the weeks of drip-feed rumours finally did their work.
The net effect is that Tsvangirai is a diminished leader, even within the
MDC. He is universally regarded as courageous; even his Zanu-PF foes give
him that. But a huge strand of Zanu-PF propaganda and covert action has been
devoted to probing and exploiting his weak points. Few people would not have
Following the disappointments of recent weeks, Tsvangirai needs to rally his
battered forces. The split in the MDC must be more fully healed and all its
leaders brought back into the tent if the party is not to be outmanoeuvred
again. But Tsvangirai may no longer have the prestige to cement a
The election has rammed home his dependence on colleagues, even those who
were rivals, such as Ncube and Biti. Ncube has the feel for both long-range
strategy and policy. A professor of law, he has a strong sense of procedure
and was one of the first to become alienated by Tsvangirai's liberties with
the way the MDC operated. Biti, who remained with Tsvangirai, is also a
lawyer and was long prominent in the fight for civil liberties and political
freedom. But Biti's thinking is more like that of a barrister-brief by
brief. He is a tactician to Ncube's strategist, and both will be needed in
any new unity government. The exact form of such a government is the next
chapter in the story.
I am sitting in the Oliver Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg, and
can feel the tension seep out of my pores. I left Harare awash with
speculation, habitual cynicism competing with bursts of hope. I have left
behind many desperate people. The biggest difficulty is not the incredible
inflation-where a Z$50bn note will buy just two cups of coffee (at time of
going to press this is now Z$200bn)-or even the recurrent shortages of food,
electricity and treated water. It is the lack of medical supplies. People
dying of Aids and cancer will be given codeine as an analgesic in the doses
we would take for headaches. There are many unpretty endings to life in
Zimbabwe, not all at the hands of government party thugs. Many more will die
if sanctions are stepped up.
As for the long-term result, the gossip of the African observers at the
airport as they flew out of Harare seems about right. Having won the
election, Mugabe will accept that it was his swan song. The observers
confidently believe the negotiations towards a unity government will
succeed. Sure, there will be a Zanu-PF president, though the identity of any
long-term incumbent will be decided only after a power struggle among
several unsavoury characters. There will have to be a constitutional
amendment to create a Kenyan-style prime minister-this might be Tsvangirai's
prize. The negotiations will determine how much power the premier holds
versus the presidency. Zimbabwe will recover slowly, again like Kenya, as a
land of promise but one riven with deep scars and huge inequalities.
A few days later, the African Union's Egyptian summit has finished and
Mugabe is flying home. Zambia and Botswana were highly critical of his
"victory." They were joined by Kenya, Nigeria and Senegal. But only one plan
remains on the table for a post-Mugabe regime in Zimbabwe-and that is the
South African plan for a unity government.
Mugabe was on his best grandstanding form in Egypt. He gave a long,
impassioned and, apparently, moving piece of oratory, discoursing on the
long historical cycle that would one day vindicate his nationalist mission.
But his subsequent willingness to enter into talks with Tsvangirai shows
that even he must know that the time has passed when appeals to
anti-colonial solidarity could rally the African Union, even if his
sentiments struck residual heartstrings. His lieutenants must also know
that, at the age of 84, he is of little further use to them. They are all in
their 60s and want a secure future for themselves as well as the fruits of
their financial looting. It is these insiders-four top generals; Emerson
Mnangagwa, the minister in charge of internal security; and Gideon Gono, the
governor of the reserve bank-who will determine the endgame.
It will be messy, of course, and will require Zanu-PF to be persuaded not to
create a merely cosmetic unity government. For the MDC, one of the key
points of the July memorandum was that regional brokers others than Mbeki
will play a more prominent role. Time will tell if this promise is honoured,
but those now in the frame include Jean Ping of the African Union. Any
mediator needs to be able to dangle some carrots. The only constructive role
the west can now play is in underwriting the cost of economic recovery. This
is a bitter pill. It will involve underpinning the prosperity of many who
have stolen and plundered.
Many of Mugabe's supporters will demand influence around the table. Much of
his core support is still voluntary-and even enthusiastic-and accounts for
up to 40 per cent of the electorate. Although Zanu-PF's supporters are in
the minority, they make up important sectors of society: probably the
majority of the intellectual class, because of Mugabe's nationalist
ideology; the huge majority of the senior military personnel from the
liberation war; the urban oligarchies who have profited from manipulating an
economy in free fall; village headmen who have never understood the MDC's
largely urban appeal and who have been well rewarded in return; and a small
but appreciable group of peasants who have finally gained ownership of
patches of land-an issue that remains hugely important in Zimbabwe. The MDC,
by contrast, is overwhelmingly the party of Harare and, to a lesser extent,
the other big cities such as Bulawayo and Mutare. Its backbone is the
salaried middle class, which has been the biggest loser from the economic
Despite holding many of the cards, Zanu-PF and its backers will have to
display restraint. Among the MDC, the key senior players such as Ncube and
Mutambara will need to be awarded significant ministries. And the best of
the technocratic wing of Zanu-PF, people like Simba Makoni, Mugabe's other
challenger for the presidency, will need to be on board. The west has always
been prepared to do business with Makoni-a technocratic paragon of
"Zanu-PF-lite" who many feel never really left the party-and might insist on
his ministerial inclusion.
Of course, there will be arguments about Mugabe's eventual departure: about
the length of any transition and whether he should retain a titular
presidency. Although this would be largely ceremonial (Mugabe as the "Queen
of Zimbabwe"), Zanu-PF would fight to retain the "commander-in-chief" role,
meaning Mugabe, and Zanu-PF, would retain ultimate control of the military.
The elephant in the room is of course what role might be offered to
Tsvangirai. Ironically, the real threat to his long-term future may not come
from Zanu-PF but from within his own MDC. It is here that personal and
political tragedies intersect. Many within the party are disillusioned with
his recent performance. It is by no means certain he will remain at the top.
If there is a succession, this will involve as many factional fights within
the MDC as are likely to occur in a post-Mugabe Zanu-PF. The political
careers of Makoni and Biti may have some way to run.
Whoever ultimately runs Zimbabwe will, of course, inherit an economic
disaster. And whatever the political settlement, things will get worse
before they get better. Gideon Gono has been printing money to cover the
cost of his currency purchases and the result is Weimar-style inflation. US
dollars or South African rand will need to be imposed as a viable currency,
if not directly, then via a new Zimbabwean dollar tied directly to one of
these currencies and underwritten by the international community for at
least three years.
The agricultural sector will take time to regenerate. Other African
providers have seized Zimbabwean markets; local infrastructure has decayed;
there are few agri-industrial experts in either Zanu-PF or the MDC; and
basic farming infrastructure has fallen apart. The mining industry is too
small to lead an economic revival. And tourism is dead. The international
community must invest heavily and provide balance-of-payments support. Debts
owed to other states will need to be rescheduled. And reindustrialisation
cannot depend on the South African grid, as Zimbabwe's southern neighbour is
itself suffering electrical shortages.
Many in the 4m-strong Zimbabwean diaspora will come back as soon as an
agreement on a unity government is declared, but a huge number will wait.
For the sake of the transitional economy, they need to stay out. Their
remittances keep afloat possibly a majority of families, even those with
Zanu-PF sympathies, and will be needed for some time to come. But the longer
they stay out, the more their vital skills will be missed in Zimbabwe.
Repairing the economy will require extremely painful measures, and any
"unity leader" who implemented them would risk becoming unelectable in any
future "honest" elections. Paradoxically, this may be a reason for a sort of
cynical hope. Zanu-PF knows the economy must be rebuilt. It may therefore be
willing to surrender the top executive post to an MDC leader-hoping to dodge
the unpopularity and pave the way for a future return to power.
Of course, this brings us back to Mugabe's state of mind. Will he, or his
inner circle, be able to accept any real political change? The Zanu-PF
publicity on the eve of the election stressed Mugabe's relationship with
God. Full-page advertisements likened him to Moses, then to King David.
Tsvangirai was compared to David's rebellious son, Absalom. (Someone should
have a word with Mugabe's researchers. After all, Moses never reached the
promised land, and Absalom rebelled against his father on a platform of
justice.) That said, Mugabe probably will go. Having delivered his party one
last electoral "victory," he will be 89 by the next elections. His party
knows a younger leader must be found before then, and the economy must be
stabilised. Mugabe will be encouraged to bow out by his own people. Look to
the September meeting of the Zanu-PF central committee to outline a
timetable for departure, and the December party congress for the last great
standing ovation from faithful followers. Beyond December lies the 2009
South African election. A Jacob Zuma presidency, much more heavily critical
of Zanu-PF, must finally mean the end for Mugabe. It is also Tsvangirai's
tragedy that this endgame may also encompass his own political demise.
July 30, 2008
ZANU-PF is now on its last foot and what is required now is a political move
for the jugular. First we must recognise that these power-sharing talks are
a time giving device for what ever is left of the party to regroup again.
To beat Zanu, you have to be unpredictable and MT has been good at it
recently. Zanu-PF thinks they can corrupt or buy anyone. That is the
predictable outcome. They cannot think beyond that. So, to move out of the
current Thabo Mbeki initiated false talks, the MDC, that is both factions,
must all go into exile in South Africa. In this case, I mean the whole lot,
including women and kids. Mass movement of a people otherwise there will be
mass killings if any members are left behind.
This will be the ultimate killer blow to the regime. If I was George
Chiweshe of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, I would have left long ago.
The secrets he holds must remain as such. There is no honour among thieves.
I implore the MDC to really work up to the fact that you cannot work with
Mbeki and Zanu-PF. There is no sincerity whatsoever.
To the ANC, the sooner you get rid of Mbeki the better before he really
messes up the country big time. The man is a danger to himself.
July 30, 2008
MR NORMAN Ngwenya, you may be surprised to find that many people who could
be called ex-Rhodesians (but prefer to be Zimbabweans) agree with you. Like
The settlement of 1980 brought no lasting peace to Zimbabwe because among
other reasons, there was little opportunity to expose the inhuman violence
that had been inflicted by both sides (Rhodesian forces and ZANLA/ZIPRA)
against civilians seen - respectively - as colluding with "terrorists" or as
"sellouts". There was no Truth and Reconciliation Commission to give the
victims their voice and their dignity back and to force those who had buried
their heads in the sand of the veld, to face what had been done in their
Thus, one violent elite handed over to another, and on we go.
David Coltart, in a very thought-provoking article, has described the long
history of state sponsored violence in Zimbabwe and the resulting
idealisation of violence, 'kragdadigheid' and the gun. It's time it ended -
in Zimbabwe and in South Africa too.
So, let us go ahead. Call them to account - all of them, black or white,
wherever they are if they are still alive or even if they're not. Let a
respected, neutral body decide if amnesty is justified and let the survivors
be heard. Their tales will break our hearts and their tears will wash us
Until we're brave enough to do that, we should forget about criticising
Western leaders who, after all, are only responding to pressure from their
own constituencies - it's called democracy!