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Morgan Tsvangirai tells Britain's Zimbabwean exiles: It is time to come
Morgan Tsvangirai, Zimbabwe’s prime minister, has shown great dignity in
working with Robert Mugabe, the man who spent years trying to eradicate him.
Now, he tells Graham Boynton, it is time for the world to do the same.
The foyer of the Renaissance Hotel in central Brussels is heaving with
Zimbabweans and it has been like this all day.
There are delegates, diplomats, High Commission functionaries, wives,
secretaries and, at the centre of it all, members of Morgan Tsvangirai’s
globe-trotting entourage fresh in from Copenhagen.
It is now mid-afternoon and I have been sitting in the foyer waiting to meet
the Zimbabwean prime minister since 10am. So the hand-slapping, gales of
laughter and general African exuberance — which on a good day I thoroughly enjoy
— are beginning to pall.
The problem is that Mr Tsvangirai’s press attaché has had to fly from
Copenhagen to Brussels via Frankfurt for some reason and not only have I failed
to establish the prime minister’s whereabouts but protocol insists that even if
I do, I cannot approach him until the wayward attaché arrives.
Ominously, the secretary general of Tsvangirai’s party, Tendai Biti, proffers
an African solution to my Western haste: “Some time today or tomorrow your
interview will happen. Be patient.” Wait a minute, mister, I’ve come here from
London with a Telegraph team and we had an appointment.
Then a group of police outriders, lights flashing, sirens blaring, lead
several limousines to the front of the Renaissance and out of one steps the
compact figure of Mr Tsvangirai. I abandon protocol and seize the moment.
Fortunately, he recognises me, shakes my hand and greets me warmly. When I
explain the problem he deals with it in the pragmatic manner that has served him
so well over the past few turbulent years. “Let’s do it. Set up your cameras and
call me in my room in five minutes…”
And so we find ourselves in a quiet corner of a Belgian hotel talking about
Barack Obama, Robert Mugabe and how Mr Tsvangirai’s pillaged, abused, almost
ruined, country is beginning to pick itself up off the floor after a decade of
economic, social and political destruction visited on it by its first
post-colonial leader and his inner circle of violent kleptocrats.
He is in the last week of a tour that has taken him to the White House to
meet Obama and through Europe’s capitals attempting to convince the likes of
Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, Fredrik Reinfeldt, the Swedish prime
minister, and, next week, Gordon Brown, to offer financial help to his bankrupt
His four-month-old coalition government has yet to meet the conditions laid
down by foreign governments to resume aid. Human rights are being violated, farm
invasions are still taking place, and the security services and media are still
firmly in the grip of Mr Mugabe’s Zanu PF party, so it is a hard sell.
And the power-sharing deal, brokered by the 15-nation Southern African
Development Community (SADC), has been constantly flouted by Mr Mugabe and his
ministers, who appear to regard Tsvangirai with the overt contempt they once
reserved for their former colonial masters the British.
Mr Tsvangirai brushes these obstacles aside with a smile and a wave. He
insists that now is precisely the time for the international community to show
its support for the shaky coalition.
“We need support if we are to avoid sliding back to where we were. I am
telling these leaders that I need to re-establish Zimbabwe’s relations with the
outside world – we must be part of the community of nations again and not a
“Look at what we have achieved in the four months of this coalition
government. We have brought inflation down from 500 billion per cent to three
per cent, we have started opening schools that had been closed for more than a
year, and we have reopened hospitals.”
It should be mentioned that the staggering drop in inflation is due to he
abandonment of the Zimbabwe dollar, which has been replaced by the US dollar and
the South African rand. Today the only place you’ll find the famously inflated
Zim-dollar is at Harare airport’s duty free shops, where 100 trillion Zim-dollar
notes are given away as souvenirs with bottles of Scotch.
What is most surprising is Mr Tsvangirai’s almost Gandhi-like attitude
towards Mr Mugabe. He says the president is an important part of the
“In fact, he is an indispensable, irreplaceable part of the transition.”
He says he and Mr Mugabe meet every Monday “and we sit down and discuss
cabinet business, developments in the ministries — or lack of development. It is
a workable relationship, surprisingly. Yes, I am actually surprised. Who would
have thought that sworn opponents like us could sit down and talk about what’s
good for Zimbabwe? It’s an extraordinary experience.”
This is far from the conventional picture of the two men’s relationship. For
daring to challenge his rule, Mr Mugabe has over the past decade visited the
most awful brutality on Mr Tsvangirai, subjecting him to imprisonment and
beatings, and on three occasions charging him with treason. Over the past 10
years Mr Tsvangirai has survived three assassination attempts and after last
year’s rigged elections went into hiding as a fourth had been planned.
The well-educated Mr Mugabe has also labelled his rival an “ignoramus”, a
reference to Mr Tsvangirai’s humble background and lack of formal education. But
Mr Tsvangirai has borne all this with a quiet dignity that even his opponents
acknowledge, and if the future of his beloved Zimbabwe depends on his supping
with the devil then he will do so with good manners.
He says he “understands the historical basis of the obsession with 'Mugabe
the Tyrant’ and I’m obviously not going to defend his past, but we have created
and crafted a new political dispensation in which he is a part”.
His forbearance is constantly being tested by the 85-year-old Mr Mugabe and
his inner circle of Zanu PF extremists, who are clearly not going quietly into
the good night. For example, Mr Mugabe has refused to allow Mr Tsvangirai to
move into the official prime minister’s residence, an insult that Mr Tsvangirai
deflects by saying that he has found perfectly acceptable alternative official
accommodation that he will be moving into as soon as he returns to Harare.
Mr Mugabe has also refused to swear in Mr Tsvangirai’s deputy agriculture
minister, Roy Bennett, a white farmer who has suffered imprisonment and beatings
at the hands of the old regime. Again, Mr Tsvangirai puts his faith in the
SADC-backed agreement: “Roy Bennett will be sworn in when I get back — that is
in the agreement. Mugabe has no political reason to hinder the swearing in.”
Also in the agreement is the provision that within the next 18 months a new
constitution will be drawn up — with limits on presidential power and strict
rules for the conduct of elections — and elections will be held. Cynics believe
that Mr Mugabe is using Mr Tsvangirai to go out into the world to drum up
financial aid and to encourage the Americans and Europeans to lift travel
restrictions imposed on the Zanu PF inner circle, after which he will call a
snap election, rig it as he has all previous elections, and cling on to power.
Again, Mr Tsvangirai dismisses this as nonsense: “Firstly, this trip was my
initiative because after four months I wanted Western leaders to hear first hand
what was happening in Zimbabwe. Secondly, the process is under way and after a
constitutional referendum, the president and the prime minister will decide when
the elections will take place.”
Throughout our conversation Mr Tsvangirai is animated, enthusiastic and
passionate about what he sees as his country’s new era. Only when the subject of
his wife’s death in a road accident in March is raised does he become subdued.
He had been married to Susan for 31 years and they had six children, and
although she was not politically active she provided support for her husband,
bringing him food in prison after beatings and nursing him back to health after
he was released. The antithesis of Mr Mugabe’s gaudy, brash wife Grace, Mrs
Tsvangirai was much loved by ordinary Zimbabweans.
Mr Tsvangirai was in the car when it was hit head on by a US aid lorry only
three weeks after he was sworn in as prime minister. There were immediate
suspicions that it had been an assassination attempt. From his hospital bed, Mr
Tsvangirai hastily dismissed the rumours.
“It was an accident,” he says evenly. “It was a terrible experience. Susan
and I had gone through all the trials, the tribulations and the triumphs and she
would have loved to have seen this new Zimbabwe. There was a great outpouring of
grief from the people of Zimbabwe when she died and in many ways her death
“It has been a great personal loss. But I continue and what motivates me to
continue is that my family and my party cannot afford for me to retreat.”
He pauses for a moment and then returns to his main theme – the selling of
the new Zimbabwe. This weekend he will hold a meeting in Southwark Cathedral for
exiled Zimbabweans living in Britain, of which there are an estimated one
million. He says he wants them to come home and help rebuild the country.
“The government needs these professionals,” he says, and then more
pragmatically, “and we also need whatever savings they made to help economic
development. It is time to come home.”
Name: Morgan Richard Tsvangirai
Born: March 10 1952 in Gutu, Masvingo
Education: Gokomere High School. Left school early to seek
Family life: Married Susan Mhundwa in 1978 and the couple
had six children. She was killed in road accident on March 6
Career: At Zimbabwe’s independence in 1980 he joined
Mugabe’s ruling Zanu PF. In 1989 he became General Secretary of the Zimbabwe
Congress of Trade Unions. In 1991 he founded the Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC) to oppose Zanu PF
High point: Sworn in as Prime Minister of Zimbabwe on Feb 11
Best known for: Consistent opposition to excesses of Mugabe
regime with little support from other African leaders. The exception is Ian
Khama, the President of Botswana
Zimbabwe PM jeered by UK exiles
Morgan Tsvangirai's address was repeatedly interrupted by
jeering and chanting
Zimbabwe's Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has been forced to
cut short an event where he was addressing Zimbabwean exiles due to
Mr Tsvangirai was addressing more than 1,000 exiles, whom he urged to return
home to rebuild the country, during an event at London's Southwark Cathedral.
But his appeal was poorly received as questions were raised over assurances
he made about the country's stability.
Mr Tsvangirai's UK visit is the final stage of a tour of Europe and the US.
He has been seeking funding for the unity government he formed with President
Robert Mugabe in February.
Mr Tsvangirai, the leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change
who became prime minister in the power-sharing deal, said the country needed the
exiles' skills and money to help to rebuild Zimbabwe.
During his speech, the prime minister said: "Zimbabweans must come home."
He told the audience that improvements had been made through the creation of
a "transitional" government, and that no-one had been "fooled" or co-opted.
Referring to the power-sharing deal, he went on: "It represented the best
solution to a crisis that has engulfed us as a people."
The Zimbabwean prime minister said inflation had been cut, schools had
reopened and previous scarce commodities were now available, adding that the
government had "made sure that there is peace and stability in the country".
That assertion provoked a noisy reaction from sections of the audience.
Mr Tsvangirai is expected to hold talks with Gordon
He went on: "Our mission is to create the necessary space, the necessary
freedoms for Zimbabweans. Our mission is to make sure that we give the people of
"Zimbabwe is changing for the better, and that change is for you and me to
ensure that we can build a Zimbabwe together."
He acknowledged that no-one should forget the struggles and suffering of the
Zimbabwean people, adding that he, as a victim of beatings and arrests, would be
the last to forget the past.
However, Mr Tsvangirai told the gathering that the plan to work towards a new
constitution and referendum over the next 18 months was the correct one.
The European Union still holds sanctions against Zimbabwe, and EU leaders
have told the Zimbabwean prime minister they want to see improvements in the
human-rights situation in the country before they consider lifting them.
The Foreign Office in London has sounded a similar note, with minister Lord
Malloch Brown saying sanctions would not be lifted until Zimbabwe's transition
to democracy has "reached a point of no return".
Mr Tsvangirai is expected to hold talks with British Prime Minister Gordon
Brown on Monday.
home, Tsvangirai tells expats
Prime Minister comes to London with a message
for the Zimbabwean diaspora
By Daniel Howden, Africa
Saturday, 20 June 2009
On the eve of a
major speech by the Zimbabwean Prime Minister, Morgan
Tsvangirai, in London
today, a leading human rights activist has appealed to
Britain not to
increase aid to the country's unity government.
Jenni Williams, whose
Women of Zimbabwe Arise movement (Woza) has been at
the forefront of
protests against Robert Mugabe's regime, denounced the
coalition as a "failure" and warned expatriate Zimbabweans not
Mr Tsvangirai, the former opposition leader, is expected to make an
emotional appeal at Southwark Cathedral to the Zimbabwean diaspora living in
Britain to return to the impoverished southern African nation. But Ms
Williams condemned the initiative.
"How can he ask Zimbabweans to
come home when his own people are being
beaten for saying they are refugees
in their own country?" she said in
Eleven members of Woza
have been arrested and tortured since Thursday, she
said. Four in Harare
were released needing hospital treatment and seven were
being refused bail
in the western city of Bulawayo.
"These women were brutalised by Morgan
Tsvangirai's police," she said.
Mr Tsvangirai's supporters argue that his
faction does not control the
security forces, which are still run by
President Mugabe's lieutenants, and
that he cannot be judged on their
actions. Ms Williams said this excuse was
"not good enough" from a man
supposed to be the Prime Minister.
While many of her contemporaries have
left the shattered country,
56-year-old Ms Williams, of Irish-Ndebele
extraction, has led a grass-roots
movement which has staged peaceful
demonstrations throughout the worst of
the Mugabe years. She has been
arrested more than 30 times and, along with
hundreds of Woza members, she
has been regularly beaten. The movement, which
has 60,000 members, focuses
on non-violent protest and does not contest
Ms Williams dismissed as a "complete failure" the unity
government formed by
Mr Mugabe's Zanu-PF party and their former opponents,
the Movement for
Many of the reforms called for in
the unity deal brokered by South Africa to
end a post-election crisis have
not been implemented, she said. "The
agreement is there. It doesn't need
money - what it needs is political
Other groups echoed Ms
Williams' warning that little has changed in
Zimbabwe. "I am very much
afraid that Tsvangirai is being used by Mugabe as
a facade to attract EU
donor money and that they will do away with him and
his party once they have
got what they want," said Fambai Ngirande, from
association of non-government organisations.
Western countries have
stopped giving Zimbabwe development aid in the past
eight years as the
Mugabe regime used increasingly violent tactics to stay
in power. Personal
sanctions such as travel bans have also been placed
against many of those in
Mr Mugabe's inner circle.
However, humanitarian assistance that bypasses
the government has continued,
despite the government's attempts to portray
itself as the victim of
Mr Tsvangirai has been
attempting to convey to the world that the unity
But Abel Chikomo, the director of a human rights forum in
"There is no reason for the EU to lift their measures that
ban the Zanu-PF
cadres, including Mugabe, from travelling to the EU and
freeze their assets
until Mugabe, his party and the military abide by the
rule of law and show
tangible commitments to the unity
*Jefta Madzingo lives in Birmingham, but
feels firmly Zimbabwean - so much
so that he founded the Diaspora Vote
Action Group, to campaign for the right
to vote for expatriots in the last
*The England cricket team's new coach, Andy Flower, is only the
of an illustrious set of cricketers to have left the country.
Also in their
number are Graeme Hick and Henry Olonga.
writer Brian Chikwava won the 2004 Caine Prize for African
Writing for his
short story "Seventh Street Alchemy" - but lives in London.
Stocking: Country faces yet another famine year
The Zimbabwean Prime
Minister, Morgan Tsvangirai, arrives in the UK this
weekend, riding a wave
of optimism about the Government of National Unity
(GNU). While US President
Barack Obama has committed $73m to assist in
Zimbabwe's recovery he made it
clear that this aid will be channelled
through NGOs instead of going
directly to the GNU, because of concerns about
human rights and the rule of
It is aid Zimbabwe desperately needs. The cholera epidemic that
than 4,000 people and infected more than 98,000 will re-emerge
in the next
rainy season if that country's water and sanitation system is
not fixed. The
UN warns that a fresh outbreak could kill as many as
Last year's food crisis left five million people depending on
food aid. This
year's harvest is predicted to be better but still not
enough, and in the
"hungry season" before the harvest, starvation will soar
among the most vulnerable members of the
An Oxfam staff member told me how, on a recent visit to
Bulawayo, she had
met an 80-year-old woman who had borne the brunt of the
food crisis. She
recounted how she had often not eaten anything for days.
"Then I would just
boil water and drink it while it was warm to fill my
stomach. My skin was
hanging off me."
She also told how the
dollarisation of the economy - in which foreign
currencies replaced the
hyperinflationary Zimbabwe dollar - has helped to
curb inflation and ensure
shelves in shops are stocked. But for people who
have no access to currency,
particularly orphans, the elderly and people
with disabilities, this has
made life even harder than it was before.
The British Government must
begin to look for ways to fund recovery, even if
they do not yet want to
channel funds directly through the government. This
could be by providing
technical support to particular ministries or
channelling funding through
the United Nations and non- governmental
For its own
part, Zimbabwe's government must uphold the rule of law, repeal
repressive laws and give the space to civil society groups to engage on
Barbara Stocking is the chief executive of Oxfam
Mugabe bodyguards in Hong Kong assault case face work visa
Posted : Sat, 20 Jun 2009 02:41:37
Author : DPA
Hong Kong - Police in Hong Kong investigate whether two bodyguards
protecting the Zimbabwean president daughter Bona Mugabe were working
illegally on tourist visas. Zimbabweans Mapfumo Marks and his female
colleague Manyaira Reliance Pepukai were spared prosecution for their allged
February 13 assault of two newspaper photographers outside a house where
Robert Mugabe's daughter lives while studying in Hong Kong.
Hong Kong's Director of Public Prosecutions Grenville Cross defended
Department of Justice's decision not to prosecute, saying bodyguards
as they did because they were "genuinely apprehensive for the safety
However, sources close the investigation say the
bodyguards were both
on three-month visitor visas that made it illegal for
them to work in Hong
Kong. Working on a tourist visa is punishable by up to
two years' jail. An
investigation has been ordered.
bodyguards returned to Zimbabwe when their visas expired. They
been replaced by two different bodyguards who are understood to
also be on
visitor visas while protecting 20-year-old Bona Mugabe.
development reignites a controversy over the Mugabe family's
Hong Kong. Robert Mugabe's wife Grace was granted diplomatic
an alleged assault on another photographer who took pictures
of her shopping
in January. Tim O'Rourke, one of the two photographers
by the bodyguards, said: "I find it absolutely
extraordinary that no one
checked on their visa status. All they had to do
was look at their
Lawyer Michael Vidler, who represents the photographers,
said the case
was particularly disturbing after the case involving Grace
"The whole Mugabe saga is sending out a very negative
Hong Kong to the rest of the world," he said. "It is adversely
reputation as a place that is safe to live and where the law
equally, irrespective of who you are or how powerful your
A justice department spokeswoman confirmed the visa
case had been
passed back to police to investigate but insisted their visa
not have affected the decision not to prosecute.
police spokeswoman refused to say if police had checked the visa
the two bodyguards, saying: "The immigration status of the two
concerned was not the focus of the investigation."
causes magistrate to abandon case
June 20, 2009
HARARE - Nyanga magistrate, Clever Tsikwa has been forced to
abandon a case
involving 108 Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) accused
persons due to
persistent attempts to influence the outcome by the Central
The MDC supporters, all of them
villagers in Manicaland's Nyanga District,
are alleged to have gone around
the area early this year to demand back
property, including livestock, that
was seized by Zanu-PF supporters during
the violent period leading to the
June 27, 2008 Presidential run-off
They appeared at the
Nyanga magistrate's court on Monday this week to answer
to charges of
But Tsikwa, the presiding magistrate said he could no longer
the case due to "external interference". The magistrate,
did not reveal the details of the interference. But he
the accused to September 30, 2009.
He said he had
already requested to be recused from handling the case.
legislator, Douglas Mwonzora took the matter to Parliament
demanded State protection for the magistrate.
Jessie Majome, the deputy
Minister of Justice said she was not aware of the
matter. She asked
witnesses to submit details of the matter to her office in
order for her
ministry to launch an investigation.
Meanwhile, MDC lawyers say they are
now taking the matter to the Supreme
Court to seek a determination on
whether it was still possible for their
clients to receive a fair trial when
it had become apparent the State had a
direct interest in the outcome of the
"It has become clear to us that there are powerful forces bent on
influencing the outcome of this case," said Mutare-based human rights lawyer
"It is on that premise that we are taking the
matter to the Constitutional
Court to ask it to decide if it is still
possible to get a fair trial in the
Fear of possible State
persecution among court officials has been evidenced
by a pattern of what
have been described as patently biased recent court
rulings passed against
Cases abound of some magistrates being subjected to death
others have been assaulted by militant Zanu-PF supporters
after they passed
rulings against the party.
It has emerged that the
State is intent on suppressing cases relating to
last year's political
violence, fearful of a backlash from thousands more
victims anxious for
their tormentors to be brought to justice.
The MDC supporters are said to
be concerned at the open bias by the State.
It is reported some of the
victims of violence and theft have threatened to
spurn current national
healing overtures by the new coalition government if
they are to live with
the agony of seeing their erstwhile tormentors
flaunting property stolen
form them which they are barred from repossessing.
supporters went around and seized livestock and other
property during the
two-month orgy of political violence.
The violence, which resulted in the
death of 200 people, most them MDC
supporters, was ignited by President
Robert Mugabe's humiliating defeat by
long-time rival Morgan Tsvangirai,
leader of the MDC.
Zimbabwe is yet to witness any prosecution of Zanu-PF
activists arising from
the violent acts. Instead, thousands of MDC
supporters are languishing in
jails on charges of reacting to the
Amnesty International Secretary General, Irene Khan warned
Zimbabwe could plunge into an orgy of retributive violence if
continues to ignore calls to prosecute perpetrators of political
Junior police officers have reportedly been barred by partisan
from investigating political violence reports filed by MDC
1 000 villagers to make way for transfrontier park
Sebatha Saturday 20 June 2009
HARARE - Close to 1 000
villagers will next month be evicted from Zimbabwe's
Park to pave way for a multi-billion dollar
transfrontier park that spans
over three countries.
Harare had dragged its feet on evicting the
villagers - who moved into
Gonarezhou in 2000 at the height of
government-backed land invasions - due
Sources told ZimOnline that government officials told
families who settled
in the park that they would be removed starting next
month apparently after
unnamed non-governmental organisations chipped in
with funds to help
re-locate the settlers.
"The government has got
funding from non-governmental organisations for the
that is expected to start from next month," a tourism
source said, adding
that indications are that "the villagers will be
resettled the nearby
Gonarezhou is part of the Great Limpopo Trans-frontier
Park that links up
the Limpopo national park in Mozambique and South
Africa's Kruger national
Environment and Natural Resources
Minister, Francis Nhema confirmed the
government was planning to evict the
villagers from the park but would not
say when exactly this would be
"The families will soon be moved and resettled elsewhere outside
national park," Nhema said.
The Transfrontier Park project is
expected to generate millions of dollars
in hard cash, when fully developed.
But land invasions and poaching in
Zimbabwe has slowed down development of
the giant park project for years.
According to conservative estimates,
Zimbabwe has lost more than 50 percent
of wildlife to poaching since
supporters of President Robert Mugabe and his
ruling ZANU PF party began
invading private game conservancies and national
parks in what Mugabe said
were demonstrations of hunger for land by blacks.
Dozens of conservancies
were also seized by the government under its
redistribution programme and given over to top officials
of ZANU PF and the
government who have wiped out most of the game through
Runway Glitch Grounds SAA Flight
18 June 2009
Harare — A SOUTH African Airways flight to Johannesburg, on which Finance
Minister Tendai Biti and African Development Bank president Donald Kaberuka were
passengers, could not take off from the Harare International Airport last
Tuesday evening after the runway lighting system developed a fault.
The two, who were among business people connecting to Cape Town for the World
Economic Forum, had to leave Harare the following day.
Runway lighting systems are some of the most critical aircraft control
devices installed at airports to give an outline of the runway and must be seen
from the air to facilitate take-offs and landings at night.
Passengers who had boarded the same flight told The Financial Gazette that
the plane left the loading bay at 1745hrs, but returned a few minutes later due
to poor visibility.
David Chawota, the chief executive officer of the Civil Aviation Authority of
Zimbabwe (CAAZ), which manages and operates the country's airports, said the
incident was caused by a fault in the runaway lighting system, currently under
"The lighting system has over-lived its useful life," Chawota said.
"We have embarked on a project to rehabilitate the ground lighting system. So
far we have completed two runways measuring one kilometre and 1,1 kilometres
each and about three kilometres remains to be done. We don't have the money
An estimated US$30 million is required to repair the three-kilometer strip,
which must be completed before an audit team from the International Civil
Aviation Organisation visits the country to assess the airport's compliance with
international safety standards.
The team is expected before the end of the year.
Although the Harare International Airport was upgraded and expanded in 2001,
CAAZ has struggled to maintain the airport's modern equipment and installations,
including flight information monitors, due to poor cash flows linked to a harsh
operating environment and a massive pull-out by international airlines.
Apart from Air Zimbabwe, currently only one international airline and 12
regional airlines use the country's largest international airport, which used to
be a regional flight hub.
Despite these challenges and the absence of a taxiway to link runways with
other ground facilities, the airport is still rated the fourth largest
international airport in Africa after South Africa's Oliver Tambo; Ethiopia's
Bole and South Africa's Cape Town.
Zanu-PF Hawks Plot Mzembi Ouster
18 June 2009
Harare — HAWKS in ZANU-PF are sharpening their knives against Tourism and
Hospitality Minister, Walter Mzembi, who they suspect could be switching
allegiance to the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC-T) after accompanying
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai on his maiden trip to Europe and the United
Mzembi is part of the Premier's high-powered delegation on a three-week
mission to re-engage a skeptical international community that has been
withholding aid and lines of credit from the country despite the consummation of
a unity government between President Robert Mugabe and his long time rival and
MDC-T leader, Tsvangirai.
But in what exposes the deepening mistrust in ZANU-PF and the residual
resistance in the party against the coalition, daggers have been drawn for the
Masvingo South legislator for embarking on the trip despite it being sanctioned
by the President and Cabinet.
Mzembi is the only person from ZANU-PF in the mission after Foreign Affairs
Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi, another ZANU-PF appointee, was denied a visa to
travel with the delegation.
Leading the onslaught against Mzembi are war veterans, a constituency that
normally comes in handy for ZANU-PF when the party wants to quell dissent.
The boisterous war veterans, who led the chaotic land reform programme in
2000, were instrumental in securing ZANU-PF's previous election victories.
This time the war veterans, who are being backed by some senior members of
ZANU-PF, said they were planning countrywide demonstrations, starting in
Mzembi's hometown of Masvingo, to influence the party's leadership to oust the
minister from office.
Joseph Chinotimba, the war veterans' deputy chairman, this week accused
Mzembi of betraying the party and fighters of the country's liberation
The war veterans have been at loggerheads with Mzembi who is seen as one of
the progressive forces in ZANU-PF ever since he was appointed Tourism Minister
on February 13.
In April, Mzembi clashed with Chinotimba when he blasted the war veterans'
leader for continuing to tarnish the country's image through renewed farm
disturbances at a time Zimbabwe is trying to attract tourists ahead of the 2010
World Cup to be hosted by South Africa.
"War veterans are not happy with Mzembi. We have written to him about his
conduct, but he has not yet responded. We are going to demand that the party
(ZANU-PF) recalls him as a last resort. We had decided not to fight him in the
papers anymore, but instead confront him directly and we think it was good for
him that he was thrown out of the meetings with (United States) President Barack
Obama," said Chinotimba.
"We can't work with him either as ZANU-PF or as war veterans. I don't think
he is still ZANU-PF and he seems not to be interested in ZANU-PF anymore. We are
going to take action against him over his new stance."
Mzembi was barred from White House because of his affiliation to ZANU-PF.
This has drawn the ire of the party which is accusing Washington of double
standards in its dealings with the inclusive government.
The Tourism Minister, who piggybacked his way into politics through his
relative, the late nationalist Eddison Zvobgo, seemed unperturbed by the war
In a recent interview with SW Radio Africa Mzembi said he will not be
bothered by a few people who are against progress.
"This programme that we are embarking on is a programme that has detractors
across the party divide, but it has very little critical mass in the country,
maybe five percent or so of the people ... out of the entire nation do speak
"But they do speak like that because they are not part of this trip. If they
were part of this trip, they would be busy working. So I'm not going to pay
attention to people who have nothing else to do than to walk the streets of
Harare looking for and pursuing negativities.
"I am here (on the trip) with Cabinet authority from the President of the
Republic of Zimbabwe, his Excellency Comrade Mugabe. He's the one who approves
these trips, so he is the one who has deployed me here with the Prime Minister
of Zimbabwe, Richard Morgan Tsvangirai, as the head of delegation so that debate
(over why he was on the trip) is misplaced.
"It is the debate of shallow minds. I'm hearing that through various
telephone calls that I get here from kumusha (back home) and online news. It is
a debate that is in the minds of very, very shallow people in my country who
seek to press self-destructive buttons all the time at the expense of the
national interest," said Mzembi.
Mzembi is seen as one of the reform-minded young turks in ZANU-PF. He has a
strong power base in Masvingo where he once chaired the party's District
Coordinating Committee before being suspended in 2004 for undermining the
He bounced back into the limelight leveraging his political fortunes on the
pro-Zvobgo faction whose members included Dzikamai Mavhaire.
ZANU-PF insiders this week said heavyweights within the party were setting
traps on Mzembi.
"You see, the Prime Minister is asked to draw a list of people he would like
to travel with and then it is approved by Cabinet. But what Mzembi doesn't
realise is that it is a way of identifying those in ZANU-PF close to the Prime
Minister. Questions arose in our circles. Why him and why is he not on the
sanctions list ever since he became deputy minister?"
The premier's delegation is on a tour to request the lifting of what western
countries say are targeted sanctions against President Mugabe and his inner
circle but which the Zimbabwean government contends are hurting the ordinary
So far, the delegation has been to the US, German, Sweden and Holland. The
team is yet to visit Britain, France and Belgium.
While Zimbabwe needs US$8,3 billion to revamp the battered economy, the US
has pledged US$73 million and Germany 20 million euros in support of the
inclusive government's reconstruction initiatives.
Harare Battles to Regain Sunshine Status
18 June 2009
Harare — HARARE residents have been at loggerheads with the city fathers
over poor service delivery in the capital. Issues raised include poor responses
to burst sewer and water pipes, potholes, garbage collection, health service and
dysfunctional traffic lights. The Financial Gazette's News Editor Brian
Mangwende (BM) sought explanations from the council's public relations manager,
Leslie Gwindi (LG) on these contentious issues.
BM: Why these issues? How did we get to where we are today? Where did
the wheels come off?
LG: It is important to underpin our responses to the historical background
and it is also essential to note that the City of Harare is not an isolated
entity and that it operates in the global Zimbabwe economic environment.
Over the years, the city has not been able to re-invest in plant and
equipment to enable it to execute its mandate and that is because of the
erosion, at an increasing rate, of the Zimbabwe dollar. And because of that we
found it literally impossible to source foreign currency, which is critical for
the purchase of all our inputs. The city was also unable to access loans and
grants as given by institutions such as the World Bank and related
BM: What about such areas as waste management and water?
LG: The city's last investment in refuse collection vehicles was nine years
ago and it is a general rule that these vehicles be replaced after a maximum of
three years of service.
Therefore of the nine trucks that were bought last, we have been operating
with less than that number in the last five years due to breakdowns and during
that period there has been an accumulation of refuse thus we are faced with
Our (refuse) collection in the suburbs over the years has dropped as a result
of lack of commercial vehicles. The city needs not less than 60 collection
vehicles. With respect to water, there is a very serious gap between supply and
demand. Demand has totally outstripped supply because the city has not developed
alternative water sources whereas the population for the City of Harare has
continued to grow. Our dependence on this singular water source (Lake Chivero)
has led to the deterioration in water quality which has meant that the city
needs a sizeable chemical regime to be able to treat water coming from Lake
Chivero. The other important fact is that our water purification plant -- Morton
Jaffray -- requires revamping and modernisation, maybe moving from that water
purification system entirely. Finally, the water piping underground is so old
that we lose not less than 40 percent of the purified water underground during
delivery. We are also faced with major difficulties in delivering to some high
ground suburbs to the extent that some go for long periods without water. It
must be noted that currently we will always have a deficit in water supply due
to the above reasons and also the fact that we deliver water to Chitungwiza,
Ruwa and Norton.
BM: What is the impact on the non-availability of treated water and
doesn't this pose a real danger to a new cholera outbreak?
LG: It is obvious that lack of clean, disease-free water causes very serious
public health challenges. We have, as a city, emerged from one such challenge
lately, but we need to keep the current pressure on managing it, thanks to a
very large extent to donors and the government. The onset of the rains presents
another new challenge to this epidemic.
BM: What strategies do you have in place to prevent a similar
LG: We need to improve clean water supply and I am glad the city has embarked
on a major refurbishment of aquifers and filters at Morton Jaffray. We also have
education campaigns about the management and avoidance of this water-borne
disease and making sure that we always provide clean water.
BM: How long is this going to take to complete this
LG: It's an ongoing process.
BM: Drivers are having a torrid time negotiating potholes on the
city's roads and the results at times bear tragic consequences. What is council
doing to address this and other problems such as malfunctioning traffic
LG: There has been concerted effort to engage partners in the area of pothole
filling, road reconstruction and traffic lights signal provision and I am glad
to say this has realised fruitful results. We will be gladly providing street
lights shortly and pothole filling is on going.
BM: And the health delivery system in council
LG: The area of health service has been a beneficiary of donor funding and
while our structures have been stretched to the limit, they have matched some of
the challenges that we face. The city has had successful programmes in the areas
of TB treatment, HIV and Aids counseling and management, antenatal, dental as
well as general health awareness among other programmes. A lot more can be done
in this area and we will continue to share a very healthy relationship with our
BM: How do you see service delivery in general in
LG: The outlook is bright, but is dependent on quite a number of issues;
adherence to modern day urban planning procedures and enforcement of the
statutory requirements that make such activities as vending, unsanctioned
structures, operating without licenses as well as non payment of tariffs
illegal. The city will exercise its fiduciary responsibility of enforcement and
should be left to do so without interference.
BM: Council was actively involved in the clean-up exercise dubbed
Operation Murambatsvi-na in 2005. What was your role and what was the real
reason behind the clean-up exercise?
LG: It is the local authority's mandate to enforce and ensure that by-laws
are adhered to and it was against that background that the clean-up exercise was
carried out and I am glad to say that the exercise led to improved hygienic
living standards in Harare and its suburbs and a better delivery then of such
things as water and public health conditions and we are all agreed that there
was a general improvement soon after the campaign.
BM: A lot of structures destroyed during the clean-up exercise are
sprouting back and council seems indifferent to the latest development. What do
you have up your sleeve?
LG: The city is soon going to embark on another clean-up exercise. We will
issue warnings prior to requesting the illegal occupiers or businesses to desist
from those illegal activities
State's Unmarked Vehicles to be Impounded
HARARE, June 20 2009 - The
government says it will soon start
impounding its notorious Nissan "CAM"
double cab vehicles which have gone
for months without licence
The unmarked vehicles were allegedly used by state
squads to abduct Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
activists during the
violent period leading to the June 27, 2008
presidential run off election.
Home Affairs co-minister Giles
Mutsekwa, told parliament Wednesday
that his ministry was equally concerned
that the vehicles had gone for long
without licence plates.
"We are as a ministry trying to ensure that whenever they are found
will be impounded," he said.
Mutsekwa was responding to a
question by Mutasa Central legislator
Trevor Saruwaka who wanted to know
what his ministry was planning on
"unmarked vehicles, which were used to
commit heinous human rights abuses
and murder in the run up to the June
presidential run off election".
The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe
distributed the cars to ministries early
Mutsekwa, an MDC official, said he did not know why the vehicles were
without licence plates, saying the transport ministry was responsible
Police on their part have in the past few
months, embarked on an
operation to impound ordinary vehicles without number
Police say criminals who commit robberies are using
They have however, spared the Nissan CAM
An estimated 200 people most of whom were MDC
supporters, died in the
hands of vindictive ZANU PF supporters and the
military for rejecting Mugabe
during the March 2008
Mugabe, Zimbabwe's only ruler since independence
from Britain in 1980,
lost to the MDC's Morgan Tsvangirai.
Tsvangirai pulled out at the eleventh hour citing the impossibility of
holding a free and fair election after an increase in state sponsored
violence on his supporters.
Mutsekwa said politically
motivated detentions or arrests would now be
a thing of the
"As an inclusive government, we hope and have instructed
the police to
carry out their duties diligently without
He was responding to a question by Zengeza East
Musundire who wanted to know the government's position on
of MDC officials by Zimbabwe's partisan police
Musundire cited this week's arrest of Toendepi Shonhe,
director general on perjury allegations.
said he was "keen to investigate" and find out circumstances
Shonhe was arrested on Tuesday after he allegedly swore
that three MDC abductees from Banket area had been re-abducted by
It turned out however that the three
had been taken to Harare where
they were subpoenaed to attend court to
testify against their colleagues who
are being accused of seeking the
overthrow of President Mugabe.
But Mutsekwa's claims that his
ministry was in control of the police
was contradicted by Amnesty
International Secretary General Khan, who at the
end of her six day
humanitarian mission to Zimbabwe, revealed that
Zimbabwean politicians were
not willing to end impunity in Zimbabwe.
"The culture of
impunity remains deeply entrenched at every level of
the state," Khan told
journalists on Thursday.
"No major investigation or prosecution
has been brought against those
responsible for State sponsored political
"Despite the pledge in the Global Political Agreement
to bring all
perpetrators of political violence to justice, senior ministers
parties told Amnesty International that addressing impunity was
priority for the government.
"Police officers had
been instructed by the superiors not to
investigate cases involving MDC
office launches newspaper
June 20, 2009
HARARE - Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's office has
launched a weekly
newsletter which will be distributed freely to "update
people on the
progress and problems" in the new government.
issue of the newsletter with a print-run of 40 000 copies, was
"This is in line with the new governance culture of
accountability, which is one of the key commitments of the
agreement," the newsletter read.
Minister's office said the newsletter was an opportunity for
people to air
their views and opinions about the new inclusive government.
Zanu-PF said there was an order not to give Tsvangirai to much
publicity as the expense of President Robert Mugabe.
The newsletter which
will start with between four and eight pages will
increase in size as time
goes by, it is said.
The development however highlights the inability of
the state owned media to
embrace Zanu-PF's partners in the coalition
government, and to report
objectively on their efforts. Tsvangirai's world
tour, for example, has been
projected as an 'assignment from Mugabe' for the
Prime Minister to go and
have targeted sanctions against Zimbabwe's ruling
Even after the unity deal was sealed in February this year
the MDC has
continued to receive negative coverage from the state media.
Last week the
MDC was forced to issue a denial after the Herald newspaper
that their ministers had snubbed the recent COMESA
"The malicious fabrications betray the reality that there are
some people in
certain political parties who continue to abuse the state
media to mislead
the nation," a party statement read. The MDC added that
this was coming from
people who wanted to derail the coalition.
week MDC legislator for Mbizo, Settlement Chikwinya tabled a motion in
Parliament calling on the Executive to bring before Parliament a repeal or
amendment of any pieces of legislation that curtail media freedom.
motion also raised concerns over the continued abuse of the
state media. He
called on Parliament and the Information Ministry to
the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe, and grant
licences to other players
in the field.
Newsreel spoke to Crisis in
Zimbabwe Coalition director Mcdonald Lewanika
who noted that it was a bit
strange for the Prime Minister to have to use a
newsletter to counter media
that was owned by the state.
He however said the plus side of the move
was that it showed Tsvangirai was
pursuing a policy of being transparent in
his work, something Lewanika felt
Asked why the
state media continued to paint a negative image of the MDC, he
said it was
all about the next election and Zanu-PF was not willing to build
Tsvangirai really co-exist with Mugabe?
By Michael Gerson
WASHINGTON - Zimbabwe's
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai is attempting
something rare and difficult
- sharing power with the man who tried to
morning, Tsvangirai conducts public business across the table
Mugabe, Zimbabwe's president, founder and oppressor. During a
interview in Washington, Tsvangirai observed to me that the
Mugabe "is someone who can be charming when he wants. I am on
guard when he
becomes charming. It is when I'm most suspicious of his
Mugabe has a long history of co-opting his political
opponents - or
allegedly killing them.
"He has not co-opted me," says
Tsvangirai. The killing part is not for want
of trying. In 1997, regime
thugs attempted to throw Tsvangirai out of a
10th-story window. In 2002, he
was charged with treason and threatened with
a death sentence. In 2007, he
was beaten bloody during a protest. And the
presidential election that
Tsvangirai won last year was clearly stolen by
is now part of an unlikely power-sharing agreement with
prime minister in a unity government. It is, he admits, a
Tsvangirai describes two calculations. First, he was concerned
Zimbabweans were too weary to take to the streets to contest a stolen
election. "You don't want people to reach struggle fatigue. People wanted to
try this cohabitation, to ease their economic plight."
Tsvangirai is making the extraordinary calculation that "Mugabe is
the solution." While most of the rest of the world insists that
go, Tsvangirai believes his presence is necessary "to create
peace during the transition". The alternative, he fears, could
destructive militarization of the conflict. And he hopes that the aging
Mugabe is considering his own legacy - choosing to finish his career as the
founder of his country, not as the villain of his country.
Mugabe's history, this smacks of naivete. But Tsvangirai believes he
realistic political approach.
"You don't expect people who were violent
yesterday to wake up one morning
and become peaceful." So his strategy is to
"build institutions in the
course of time" - particularly through the
process of writing a new
constitution, leading to new elections. Tsvangirai
talks again and again of
"institutions" and "mechanisms" and "political
architecture" as the methods
to make democracy irreversible. His intention
is to fight arbitrary and
personal rule with the weapons of process - a
Madisonian response to a
Four months into the
unity government, the results are mixed. The prime
minister deserves credit
for beginning to stabilize the economy,
particularly controlling Zimbabwe's
legendary inflation. In August 2008,
Zimbabwe's central bank revalued its
currency by removing 10 zeroes from its
currency; five months later, it
removed 12 more. Now the country has
essentially scrapped its currency and
moved to an economy based on the
American dollar and the South African rand.
While 70 percent of the
population still depends on food aid, goods are back
in the stores.
But Mugabe's ruling party remains in charge of the secret
police and key
ministries. It continues to harass opponents and confiscate
Tsvangirai optimistically calls these elements a "dwindling
remnant" - but
it hard to imagine that they will dwindle without a fight.
And Mugabe has
asserted his dominance with the appointment of political
cronies in blatant
violation of the power-sharing agreement - so far with
It was this point that Tsvangirai emphasized during
his recent U.S. visit,
calling on Mugabe's brutal attorney general and
corrupt reserve bank
governor to step down - and the world to insist upon
these outcomes. This
represents a test for South Africa's new president,
Jacob Zuma: Will he
abandon the "quiet diplomacy" of his predecessor, which
often amounted to
permission for Mugabe's abuses, and insist that the
be enforced? It is a test for President Obama: Will
he pressure Zuma to do
the right thing? And it is a test for the power-
sharing agreement itself. A
stalemate on these appointments, Tsvangirai
admits, would "undermine the
credibility of the new
Tsvangirai's strategy - using a power-sharing arrangement
with a tyrant to
gradually end a tyrant's power - has little precedent of
Tsvangirai fails, he will be just another victim of Mugabe's
ruthlessness. But if the prime minister succeeds, he will be an
statesman, who set aside his own claims of justice for the peace
progress of his country.
And he would become Zimbabwe's true
(Michael Gerson is a Washington Post columnist.)
A rhino called Tatenda
Dear Family and Friends,
the scenes, out of the spotlight and against the most
overwhelming odds, some
amazing things have been going on in Zimbabwe
these last nine years. This
week we saw proof of one in the form of a
documentary about a black rhino
called Tatenda. Hand reared from a
baby, Tatenda was orphaned when he was
just a few weeks old. His
mother, together with another heavily pregnant
female and a male
rhino were all shot and killed one night in November 2007
on a game
farm outside Marondera. The slaughter was for a small handful of
supposed to have medicinal properties. The tragedy came after years
breeding and re-introducing black rhino to the wild.
survived the massacre, was nurtured and protected by John and
and their family and staff and his early life is
immortalized in this
enchanting Animal Planet film: "There's a rhino
in my house. "
hand rearing one animal doesn't sound like such a spectacular
sorts of things happen all the time in Africa, but the
fact that an
endangered orphaned black rhino could be saved here, at
this time in our
history, is astounding. Farms ravaged by ongoing
land seizures, rampant
unchecked poaching, shops without food,
filling stations without fuel.
Everything involved in keeping Tatenda
alive was surely a major undertaking.
Game cubes, milk powder, even
rubber teats had to be sourced and imported
from other countries.
This film isn't just about a baby rhino, it's
devotion and a vision for the future. Throughout the film
there is no
bitterness, blame or anger but only compassion and a
save a species for the next generation. Enchanting images of
children from Numwa School coming to a Rhino's birthday
squirming and giggling as they stroke his hard grey skin are
picture of the real Zimbabwe that we all love so much
many stories within this story; many people who helped,
donated and were
involved behind the scenes. One who must be
mentioned is Johnny Rodrigues and
his family and their ZCTF (Zimbabwe
Conservation Task Force). Always on the
move, fetching and delivering,
monitoring and recording, this family are
determined to expose what's
been going on this last decade and to save
Zimbabwe's wildlife. Like
many of Zimbabwe's little known heroes, their own
life has been on
hold while they've sacrificed all for love of their country
flora and fauna.
As desperate as the plight of the people of
Zimbabwe is right now,
the state of the environment and the animals is even
For Tatenda and everyone involved in saving him, we are
Until next time, thanks for reading, love cathy.
cathy buckle 20th June 2009. www.cathybuckle.com