President Barack Obama has announced $73m (£44m) in aid for
Zimbabwe. The US president was speaking at the White House in Washington, where he met
the visiting Zimbabwe Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai. Mr Obama said he wanted to encourage the rule of law, human rights and basic
health and education in Zimbabwe. Mr Tsvangirai - who entered a power-sharing agreement with President Robert
Mugabe in February - is on an international tour to seek aid. President Obama said he had "extraordinary admiration for the courage and
tenacity" shown by Mr Tsvangirai, the leader of the former opposition Movement
for Democratic Change in Zimbabwe. Contrast with Mugabe The US president said the power-sharing coalition in Zimbabwe was showing
promise, following what he termed the "very dark and difficult" period the
country had been through. Correspondents say the warm welcome given to Mr Tsvangirai is in sharp
contrast to the attitude towards President Mugabe, who is the subject of a
travel ban and assets freeze by the United States and European Union. Earlier, Zimbabwean Finance Minister Tendai Biti said the country's economy
could grow by between 4% and 6% this year. Mr Biti said steps would be taken to restrict central bank activities such as
borrowing and that Zimbabwe was coping with a lack of foreign aid. The Zimbabwe economy has been battered by years of hyperinflation. Mr Biti was speaking at the World Economic Forum on Africa in Cape Town. "I think we will be able to achieve a growth rate of at least 6%, although
conservatively it will be 4% in 2009," he told journalists. Zimbabwe's economy has been shrinking for years. It contracted by 6.1% in
2007, according to the International Monetary Fund. The power-sharing government has said the country needs about $10bn (£6bn) to
stabilise its economy.
President Barack Obama has announced $73m (£44m) in aid for Zimbabwe.
The US president was speaking at the White House in Washington, where he met the visiting Zimbabwe Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.
Mr Obama said he wanted to encourage the rule of law, human rights and basic health and education in Zimbabwe.
Mr Tsvangirai - who entered a power-sharing agreement with President Robert Mugabe in February - is on an international tour to seek aid.
President Obama said he had "extraordinary admiration for the courage and tenacity" shown by Mr Tsvangirai, the leader of the former opposition Movement for Democratic Change in Zimbabwe.
Contrast with Mugabe
The US president said the power-sharing coalition in Zimbabwe was showing promise, following what he termed the "very dark and difficult" period the country had been through.
Correspondents say the warm welcome given to Mr Tsvangirai is in sharp contrast to the attitude towards President Mugabe, who is the subject of a travel ban and assets freeze by the United States and European Union.
Earlier, Zimbabwean Finance Minister Tendai Biti said the country's economy could grow by between 4% and 6% this year.
Mr Biti said steps would be taken to restrict central bank activities such as borrowing and that Zimbabwe was coping with a lack of foreign aid.
The Zimbabwe economy has been battered by years of hyperinflation.
Mr Biti was speaking at the World Economic Forum on Africa in Cape Town.
"I think we will be able to achieve a growth rate of at least 6%, although conservatively it will be 4% in 2009," he told journalists.
Zimbabwe's economy has been shrinking for years. It contracted by 6.1% in 2007, according to the International Monetary Fund.
The power-sharing government has said the country needs about $10bn (£6bn) to stabilise its economy.
By Jim Lobe* and Katie Mattern
WASHINGTON, Jun 12 (IPS) - Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai
received U.S. President Barack Obama's seal of approval and a promise of 73
million dollars in education, health, and governance-related assistance
after a mid-afternoon meeting at the White House here Friday.
Emerging from the talks, Obama expressed "extraordinary admiration for the
courage [and] the tenacity that the prime minister has shown in navigating
through some difficult political times."
At the same time, he indicated that Washington is not yet prepared to
substantially ease nine-year-old sanctions directed primarily against
Zimbabwe's president, Robert Mugabe, and his top military and political
aides, with whom Tsvangirai has been engaged in an uneasy power-sharing
agreement since February.
"I have committed 73 million dollars in assistance to Zimbabwe," he said,
adding, however, that none of that money will "be going to the government
directly because we continue to be concerned about consolidating democracy,
human rights and rule of law, but it will be going directly to the people in
Despite its not being channeled through the government, he said, "I think
(the aid) can be of assistance to the prime minister in his efforts."
At the same time, Obama took a slap at Mugabe, who has ruled Zimbabwe with
an iron hand since its independence nearly 30 years ago.
"President Mugabe - I think I've made my views clear - has not acted all the
time in the best interest of the Zimbabwean people and has been resistant to
the kinds of democratic changes that need to take place," he said, noting
Tsvangirai had made "progress" in leading his country out of a "very dark
and difficult period politically".
Some Africa activists here had urged the Obama administration to ease
existing sanctions against the coalition government in order both to
strengthen the hand of Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) as
it jockeys for power with Mugabe and his Zimbabwe African National Union -
Patriotic Front (Zanu-PF) party and to ensure that greater and to provide
greater relief to the country's long-suffering population.
"Continuing with these sanctions is a sure way to doom the Inclusive
Government and will only strengthen the hand of hardliners in Mugabe's
Zanu-PF who are working to undermine the Inclusive Government," according to
Gerald LeMelle, executive director of Africa Action.
Even Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry, one of many
Washington luminaries who gave Tsvangirai an exceptionally warm welcome this
week, suggested that Washington should be more forthcoming during a meeting
with the prime minister Thursday.
Noting that the new government had made "real progress in stabilising
runaway inflation and trying to begin to create the conditions for
democracy", he said, "I believe that we should explore our options to
increase assistance for reform. Failure to act now may squander this
opportunity for change, and the greatest beneficiaries will be Robert Mugabe
and the other architects of Zimbabwe's destruction."
Tsvangirai, whose visit to Washington was part of a three-week tour designed
to rally support from western governments, has also warned that he needs to
show tangible results for his efforts in order to bolster his position
within the government and among an impoverished population whose per capita
income is estimated to have fallen 10-fold over the past decade and which is
currently suffering an unemployment rate of some 80 percent.
"We are moving into a new phase, and that's what needs to be rewarded rather
than punished," he told the influential Council on Foreign Relations (CFR)
Wednesday, stressing his hopes that donors would move from strictly
humanitarian assistance to aid designed to spur economic recovery.
"...Already, Zimbabwe is a different place, a significantly better place. As
a society, we were near death, and we have come back to life."
To date, Tsvangirai has succeeded in gaining modest commitments from several
governments, including the U.S., to increase humanitarian aid channeled
through non-governmental organisations (NGOs). The World Bank announced a
22-million-dollar grant this week, while Britain promised 24 million
dollars, and Norway and the Netherlands somewhat smaller amounts.
But, with Mugabe still largely in control of the country's security forces,
donors have made clear they are unwilling to significantly boost assistance
until major political and economic reforms are implemented and appear
Indeed, even while Tsvangirai has been trying to reassure donors about the
new government's direction, Mugabe has appeared to make his mission more
difficult. Just this week, he met with Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir for
whom the western-led International Criminal Court (ICC) has issued an arrest
warrant for crimes against humanity.
The United States first imposed sanctions in 2001 in response to serious
human rights abuses committed by Mugabe-controlled security forces and
Zanu-PF-backed militias. The sanctions, which were expanded over the years
and also adopted by the European Union, have included the denial of visas
and a freeze on western-based assets of Mugabe and dozens of his associates,
and an arms embargo.
The latest round of sanctions were imposed in the wake of a campaign of
violence and intimidation against civil society groups and MDC activists by
the military, police and Zanu-PF militias during elections last spring in
which the ruling part lost its majority in parliament for the first time in
28 years. As a result, Mugabe was forced to agree to a power-sharing deal
After months of negotiations mediated by South Africa with the help of
Zimbabwe's other southern African neighbours, Tsvangirai was sworn in as
prime minister in February 2009. But his relationship with Mugabe has been
difficult, to say the least.
"If it was my wish, 10 to 20 years ago, President Mugabe would have retired
from politics," Tsvangirai said. "We have entered into an agreement with
President Mugabe; let's wait through until such time that the election
process will be the only basis that the people of Zimbabwe will decide if he
will have any role."
As few as 10 years ago, Zimbabwe, a major tobacco and maize producer, was
considered one of the most prosperous countries in sub-Saharan Africa.
But since then, in part due to a chaotic land-reform scheme designed to
redistribute landholdings by mainly white farmers and reward ZANU-PF
loyalists, the economy has tanked and is now one of the worst in the region.
Per capita income has shrunk from more than 2,000 dollars in 2000 to around
200 dollars today, according to World Bank and U.N. statistics.
As a result, Zimbabweans have experienced extreme food and fuel shortages.
Hundreds of thousands have fled the country, mostly to neighbouring South
Africa and Zambia.
"Increasingly substantial aid is dependent upon them making political
concessions and fulfilling the agreements that they have already made and in
turning the country back towards more democratic rule," said Johnnie Carson,
Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, earlier this week.
He said Washington hoped to work closely with South Africa's new president,
Jacob Zuma, to "push both sides (in Zimbabwe), but especially Mr. Mugabe,"
to implement reforms, particularly in moving the country forward toward new
elections with international monitors.
Obama himself said the current power-sharing agreement "shows promise, and
we want to do everything we can to encourage the kinds of improvement not
only on human rights and rule of law, freedom of the press and democracy
that is so necessary, but also on the economic front."
"We want to encourage him to continue to make progress," Obama said, noting
that hyperinflation had been brought under control and industrial capacity
had improved in the four months since he was formally installed as prime
*Jim Lobe's blog on U.S. foreign policy can be read at
by Own Correspondent Saturday 13 June 2009
JOHANNESBURG - Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has appealed to
United States (US) private investors to support efforts to reconstruct
Zimbabwe's battered economy, acknowledging that his shaky unity government
with President Robert Mugabe cannot go it alone, a US business body said.
According to a statement from the Corporate Council on Africa (CCA) - an
independent organisation bringing together nearly 180 US companies dedicated
to strengthening commercial relationship between the US and Africa -
Tsvangirai assured business leaders during a luncheon in Washington that
Harare was implementing reforms to promote and protect private investments.
"He enumerated efforts taken in the past three months that have reduced
inflation rates from 500 million percent to minus three percent, increased
government accountability and addressed corruption," read part of the CCA
"He reassured the American audience that his government is working to
establish stability and rule of law necessary to protect private
investments," the statement added.
The CCA - whose members represent nearly 85 percent of total US private
sector investments in Africa - "used the occasion to emphasise that before
investing in Zimbabwe most American companies will need to see a combination
of political and economic reforms to create a sustainable investment climate
in the Southern African country".
The Zimbabwean Premier who formed a unity government with Mugabe in February
is in Washington, US, part of a three-week trip to America and Europe to try
to drum up financial support for the power-sharing government.
Tsvangirai was scheduled to meet with President Barack Obama on Friday to
discuss how the US can support reforms to bring about the rule of law,
respect for human rights, and free and fair elections in Zimbabwe.
Western nations who have long isolated Zimbabwe, accusing Mugabe of
trampling on democracy and ruining a once-vibrant economy, are withholding
direct financial support to the Harare administration unconvinced Mugabe is
genuinely committed to democratic change or to sharing power with his former
The coalition government is seen as offering Zimbabwe the best opportunity
in a decade to restore stability and end a devastating economic and
humanitarian crisis that had seen the once prosperous country suffer rampant
inflation, acute food shortages affecting more than half of the country's
population, record unemployment and deepening poverty.
Harare has appealed for US$8.5 billion it says it wants to fund
reconstruction of the economy and to restore basic services such as health
The southern African nation has raised only US$1 billion in credit lines
from African countries and institutions, while the US and its Western allies
insist on comprehensive political and economic reforms first before they can
pour in aid to Zimbabwe. - ZimOnline
WASHINGTON, DC, USA, 12 June 2009 - UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman
met today with Morgan Tsvangirai, Prime Minister of Zimbabwe, and three of
his government ministers.
At the meeting, Veneman reaffirmed UNICEF's commitment to the people of
Zimbabwe. Discussions focused on the need to improve access to education,
create opportunities for youth and restore the water and sanitation systems
in the country.
Tsvangirai is on a tour of Europe and the United States to seek financial
support for his country's new power-sharing government. Veneman visited
Zimbabwe in January, meeting with President Robert Mugabe as well as key
ministers and stakeholders.
From collapse to renewal
Zimbabwe faced myriad problems in 2008, including a collapse of basic social
services. Eighty per cent of schools closed as teachers were unable to go to
work, while nearly all clinics and hospitals were closed with major impacts
At the end of the year, the country was hit by a devastating outbreak of
cholera, responsible for almost 100,000 cases of illness.
This year, there are signs of renewed hope for Zimbabwe. Thanks to an
incentive programme launched by UNICEF, in collaboration with partners and
through emergency programme funding, health workers were back in hospitals
by the end of January. UNICEF also procured and distributed 70 per cent of
the essential medicines needed for 1,400 clinics and hospitals.
Massive humanitarian effort
Today, children are able to have access to basic health services again.
National Immunization Day campaigns are allowing 2 million children to
receive measles and polio vaccines, along with vitamin A supplements, to
compensate for the immunizations they missed last year.
The cholera outbreak is also under control through water, sanitation,
hygiene and health interventions led by UNICEF.
UNICEF was instrumental, as well, in brokering an agreement between the
national teachers' unions and the Ministry of Education. Teachers have
returned to school and over 3 million students have access to education in a
safe and protective environment. More than 300,000 orphans and other
vulnerable children have been assisted by UNICEF.
In 2009, UNICEF is spending over $100 million on this humanitarian response,
ensuring the delivery of basic social services and the protection of
Zimbabwe's most vulnerable children.
by Nokuthula Sibanda Saturday 13 June 2009
HARARE - One of the world biggest humanitarian organisations, Oxfam has said
the international community must find ways of supporting Zimbabwe as the
inclusive government has inherited a government which had no known legacy of
The call by Oxfam comes as Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai is on a
three-week tour of Europe and the United States (US) where he is looking for
"While donor countries have been generous in supplying emergency relief,
they must begin to look for ways to fund the longer-term recovery process in
Zimbabwe," Oxfam country director Peter Mutoredzanwa said in a statement in
reference to Tsvangirai's tour.
"Emergency aid for cholera and the food crisis is still necessary but
assistance that is focused solely on immediate needs is simply not enough.
"The government of national unity (GNU) has obviously inherited a legacy of
a lack of financial transparency and accountability. While we understand
donors' hesitance to finance the new unity government, they need to find
ways of helping put the country back on the road to recovery.
"This might be through channelling funding directly to local level
government structures, the United Nations, or non-governmental
organisations, or by providing technical support to specific ministries."
Tsvangirai left Zimbabwe last week on a tour which he would use to galvanise
for support to aid his government.
The Prime Minister joined one time political rival President Robert Mugabe
in a power sharing government in February after a deal brokered in September
by former South African President Thabo Mbeki.
The new government has appealed for US$8.5 billion from the international
community, but the West has adopted a wait and see attitude saying it needs
to see real change on the ground before committing any substantial funding.
To date, the government has raised over US$1 billion largely from funding
from continental organisations.
Mutoredzanwa said donors ought to find ways to channel additional money to
bring about real change in the country, adding that the broken water and
sanitation systems that caused a deadly cholera epidemic to spread rapidly
must be fixed to prevent another crisis emerging this year.
"Support for the health services, education and the agricultural sector is
urgently needed. If this support is not given, Zimbabweans will find
themselves at serious risk from preventable diseases and hunger again, and
the education system will disintegrate completely.
"For its own part, the GNU should uphold the rule of law, repeal all
repressive laws and give the space to civil society groups to engage on all
fronts," said. - ZimOnline
June 13, 2009
By Our Correspondent
CAPE TOWN - Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara has said Zimbabwe needs
investment than aid to ensure that all sectors of the economy started
Speaking during a debate on investment risk in Zimbabwe and Africa at the
World Economic Forum (WEF) on Africa, Mutambara insisted that although
Zimbabwe was asking for aid what the country really needs is investment.
"Aid is usually for consumption," he said. "Zimbabwe needs investment in all
sectors; investment that creates jobs, revives industries, improves service
delivery and improves our infrastructure.
"The past is a bad place, but the future is glamorous. What we need in
Zimbabwe and Africa are reforms that attract investments. This is the only
way we can be more competitive."
Mutambara said limited access to investment and financial services remained
a major obstacle for Zimbabwe and African enterprises. But underdeveloped
infrastructure, limited healthcare and educational services, and poor
institutional frameworks also made the continent less competitive in the
He, however, said that within the Southern African Development Community
(SADC), there might be a more positive attitude to multilateral actions to
fight the recession.
"The future of our country doesn't depend on aid," he said. "The future of
our country belongs to investments. We look to develop through profits."
In reference to the international tour by PM Morgan Tsvangirai to the EU and
US, Mutambara said the trip itself was a victory for the former opposition.
"The simple fact of the meeting with Mr Obama itself constitutes a victory,"
Speaking at the debate former United Nations secretary general Koffi Annan
said: "The countries that sit on the boards and have the bigger voice in the
decisions being taken will have to reflect on how much they are prepared to
give up to make the participation of the emerging nations and the poorer
"Speaking as someone who tried desperately to reform the UN Security
Council, I can tell you that reform is difficult, but essential.
"I hope we will not ignore the needs of the poor, because if we do, whatever
system we create will not last long."
South Africa's President Jacob Zuma lamented the slow progress in reforms,
reiterating that a critical lesson from the current global economic crisis
was the need for a transformed global financial system.
"Reform of the so-called Bretton Woods institutions, would reflect changing
economic realities and providing a voice for emerging and developing
countries." Zuma said.
More than 900 participants from 50 countries participated at the 19th World
Economic Forum on Africa in Cape Town under the theme 'Implications of the
Global Economic Crisis for Africa'.
by Own Correspondent Saturday 13 June 2009
JOHANNESBURG - Zimbabwe and neighbouring South Africa are expected by end of
this month to sign a vital agreement guaranteeing protection of private
investment after the parties agreed on the wording of the pact, a top Harare
official has said.
Speaking during a session of the World Economic Forum on Africa in Cape
Town, Zimbabwe Finance Minister Tendai Biti said the agreement, initially
scheduled to be signed in April in Polokwane, had to be delayed because of
land ownership concerns arising out of Zimbabwe's land-reform process.
Biti said after his meeting with South African Trade and Industry Minister
Rob Davies on Thursday there was now "an understanding" on the wording of
"The principle, basically, that was at play, was what is the application of
the (agreement) in respect of land that was acquired in terms of the
(Zimbabwe) land-reform programme.
"I think the South Africans were generous to accept that the land reform has
happened. But actualising that into a legal phrase was the problem. I'm
quite sure that that agreement should be signed before the end of June
2009," Biti said.
South Africa, the region's biggest economic power and which facilitated
power-sharing negotiations between President Robert Mugabe and Prime
Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, has offered to make credit lines worth R2.75
billion available to Zimbabwe in a bid to help its troubled neighbour
recover from a decade of acute economic recession and humanitarian crisis,
but this would not happen without the agreement.
Similarly, companies, including First National Bank and Netcare, would only
move in once the agreement was signed, Biti said.
South African mining magnate Patrice Motsepe in April led a delegation from
Business Unity South Africa (BUSA) to Zimbabwe and called for firm
guarantees and policy consistency from the Harare authorities to ensure
foreigners investing in Zimbabwe do not end up losing their properties.
Several foreign-owned companies have pulled out of Zimbabwe over the past
decade, galled by Mugabe's controversial policies, including the seizure of
white-owned farms to resettle blacks, which have called into question Harare's
commitment to uphold property rights.
Mugabe - who often accuses foreign-owned businesses of plotting with his
Western enemies to bring down his government and externalising foreign
currency earnings - has also rattled foreign investors by threatening to
force them to sell controlling stake to indigenous blacks.
But the new power-sharing government is on drive to woo back foreign
investors and repair strained relations with the West as it battles to end
an unprecedented economic and humanitarian crisis seen in growing
unemployment, acute shortages of food and hard cash, amid an outbreak of
killer diseases such as cholera and anthrax.
Earlier, Zimbabwe Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara told the same
session that Zimbabwe's power-sharing government was reforming its role to
be an enabler and facilitator, leaving the private sector to be the "doers".
"We must partner with the private sector," said Mutambara, acknowledging
that government could not provide infrastructure, such as roads,
telecommunications and electricity, on its own.
Mutambara, who leads a faction of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
party that broke away from Tsvangirai's main group, said government owned
parastatals were in a dire state, or under-performing badly.
"We are saying, as a government, we are no longer keen on owning 100 percent
of a rat. It's better to own 10 percent of an elephant.
"We are prepared to partner with the private sector in Zimbabwe, partner
with the private sector in South Africa, the region, and globally," he
said. - ZimOnline
A power-sharing deal aimed at restoring democracy has mostly shored up
strongman Robert Mugabe.
Saturday, June 13, 2009
FOUR MONTHS after African nations brokered the formation of Zimbabwe's
coalition government, strongman Robert Mugabe must be pleased with the
results. Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, whose victory in last year's
presidential election was nullified by violence and fraud, is now charged
with managing the economy; with help from foreign donors, he has managed to
bring it back from the dead. World-record hyperinflation has been stopped;
shops, schools and some hospitals have reopened; and a cholera epidemic has
eased. Zimbabweans are finding it easier to obtain food and medical care and
to send their children to school.
At the same time, Mr. Mugabe's control over the state remains unbroken. He
still commands the army and security forces and has violated or ignored most
of the political provisions in the coalition agreement. Opposition leaders
still face arrest and prosecution on trumped-up charges, white-owned farms
still are being illegally seized and restrictions on the media have not been
lifted. The 85-year-old president and his coterie of thugs evidently have no
intention of complying with a plan to hold new elections under a revised
constitution two years from now.
Now Mr. Tsvangirai is on a three-week tour of Western capitals -- including
this week in Washington -- to campaign for fresh economic aid that Mr.
Mugabe could not dream of obtaining on his own. Mr. Tsvangirai should not
get any. Though he has eased Zimbabwe's humanitarian crisis, Mr. Tsvangirai
is not able to offer any tangible evidence to back his assertion that his
country has embarked "on an irreversible transition to democracy." On the
contrary, most of his actions as prime minister have been defensive:
obtaining the release of his party members or journalists after they are
arrested by security forces. He has appealed for intervention by the
Southern African Development Community, the sponsor of the power-sharing
deal, because of Mr. Mugabe's refusal to honor a provision that would have
replaced the attorney general and central bank governor.
The Obama administration so far has correctly held off on aid to Zimbabwe
beyond the $260 million in humanitarian assistance the United States is
providing through the United Nations and other nongovernmental channels. The
administration should be urging South Africa's new president, Jacob Zuma, to
enforce the agreement crafted by his predecessor, Thabo Mbeki, and to push
Mr. Mugabe toward retirement. Until Mr. Mugabe yields power, nothing should
be done that would serve to prop up the current government -- even if it is
headed by a more palatable politician.
12th June 2009
'While the cat's away the mice will play' goes the old English proverb. I'm
pretty sure there's a Shona equivalent - something involving the endearing
'kitsi' no doubt! But whatever the language, there's a deal of truth in the
old proverb. As soon as Prime Minister Tsangirai boarded that plane to take
him away for three weeks it was clear that the mice - for mice, read rats -
would indeed come out to 'play'. And so they did, though if truth be told,
they would probably have done much the same if he had been in the country.
These malcontents are out to prove that the only power they respect is the
power of the gun, the bullet and the clenched fist. Time and again we have
seen that the law means nothing to them; why should it when they know that
the police themselves ignore court orders? To hear James Maridadi, the MDC
spokesperson, describe Zimbabwe as "a country that respects the rule of law",
you could be forgiven for wondering what country he was talking about.
While the Prime Minister travels the world trying to convince wealthy
western democracies that after four months of the GNU, Zimbabwe is already a
different country, at home, President Mugabe and his followers continue in
their bad old ways. The photograph of Robert Mugabe standing alongside Mwai
Kibaki and the Sudanese President al Bashir (see The Zimbabwean 11-17 June)
illustrates very clearly the truth that democratic rights mean nothing to
Mugabe and his friends. Kibaki rigged the Kenyan election back in 2007 which
led to the bloody upheaval that rocked Kenya and resulted in an uneasy
power-sharing government with the opposition leader, Raila Odinga. As for
Sudan's al Bashir, he is facing an arrest warrant from the ICC for crimes
against humanity involving thousands of victims in the Dafur region. None of
this makes any difference to Mugabe; he has never been particular about the
'friends' he chooses, as long as they share his anti-western paranoia he
will happily disregard their human rights record. It was a North Korean
Minister a few weeks back and Mugabe's mouthpiece The Herald, this week
devoted a double page spread in defence of North Korea's nuclear tests.
It's hardly surprising then that Morgan Tsvangirai is facing an uphill task
trying to convince the west that Zimbabwe has changed for the better. Inside
the country there are too many examples that, in the areas of human rights
and media freedom, little has changed. Even though they had a High Court
order allowing them the right to cover the Comesa Summit on the grounds that
they no longer required MIC accreditation, since that body had ceased to
exist, four journalists were still refused entry to the Summit. It was a
clear slap in the face for the Prime Minister's authority; he had very
clearly stated that MIC accreditation was no longer necessary before he left
the country. 'While the cat's away.' Lawyers too, continue to be harassed
and charged. The brave Alec Muchadehama, incidentally the lawyer defending
Jestina Mukoko and others, himself faces charges of attempting to obstruct
or defeat the course of justice; another clear example of Mugabe's
hand-picked Attorney General seeking to silence independent minded lawyers,
especially when the are defending MDC and civil rights activists. The
continuing land invasions further exemplify Mugabe's vice-like grip on
power. When an army Brigadier and dozens of uniformed soldiers can march
onto a farm, with no paper work, no title deeds and no court decision in
their favour, it is very obvious that the rule of law has broken down in
Zimbabwe. The farmer in question had been acquitted of charges against him
of 'illegal occupation'. He had every legal right to be there on his own
property but it made no difference, the Brigadier went ahead and took what
did not belong to him anyway while the police looked the other way.
But it is the identity of another farm invader that has obsessed the media
in Zimbabwe all week; the pretty woman who was seen walking with Morgan
Tsvangirai at President Zuma's inauguration. Is she Tsvangirai's niece or is
she not? That's the question! For myself, I could not care less, in fact I
rather agree with James Maridadi on this one: Tsvangirai can hardly be held
responsible for the behaviour of a 52 year old relative! All I know is that
as soon as I heard the usual anti-white rhetoric coming from her lips in an
interview with Violet Gonda on SW Radio, I knew the woman was a product of
her thirty years in the States. When she was asked whether the alleged
racist language from the white farmer in question justified her taking his
farm she replied with the standard Zanu PF justification that land invasions
are all about 'righting colonial injustices' Anyone who still believes that
lie must be totally ignorant of the reality on the ground. As for the
behaviour of the white farmer and the racist language he is alleged to have
uttered, I find that pretty hard to believe too. Ten years ago it may well
have been the norm for white farmers to talk like that - but today, I think
not. For the most part, the farmers who thought that way that have long
since left the country; most of them, now are too terrified to open their
mouths, let alone use racially abusive language of the sort the pretty woman
describes. Rumour has it that she has now dropped her claim to the farm in
question but to my mind the whole incident was yet another example of Zanu
PF dirty tricks to discredit the MDC leader - especially while he was out of
the country. 'While the cat's away.'
Yours in the (continuing) struggle, PH.
Saturday, 13 June 2009 01:53 UK
An Oxfordshire vet who has dedicated more than 20 years of his life to black rhino conservation is appointed OBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours list.
John Gripper, 79, set up the Sebakwe Black Rhino Trust in 1989 which works to preserve the species in Zimbabwe.