23 June 2009
The $8 million in food and educational assistance
pledged Monday by Britain brings the total raised by Zimbabwe Prime Minister
Morgan Tsvangirai to about $115 million. It falls far short of the
seven-to-eight billion dollar figure Zimbabwe government officials say is needed
to rebuild the nation.
Like other countries visited during Mr. Tsvangirai’s three weeks in Europe and North America, Britain told the prime minister it wants Harare to take further steps toward democratization and economic reform, including a new constitution and new elections, before more substantial aid would be forthcoming.
|British PM Gordon Brown & Zimbabwe PM Morgan Tsvangirai at 10 Downing Street, 22 June 2009|
|Zimbabwe's Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai delivers his address to the assembled congregation and Zimbabwean exiles at Southwark Cathedral in London, 20 Jun 2009|
|Zimbabwean protesters at Southwark Cathedral during PM Tsvangirai's visit, 20 June 2009|
THE Commercial Farmers' Union accused Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai of
"playing a game" last night after he said on a visit to England that reports
of fresh farm invasions were exaggerated.
Tsvangirai has faced a torrent of questions about farm invasions since
arriving in the United Kingdom last Friday.
On Sunday, he told the BBC's Andrew Marr Show: "The incidence of so-called
farm invasions . I can count them."
The Prime Minister said there was "no explosion" of farm grabs. "It's not
like we have started all over again to disrupt farm production."
Once again on Monday, at a joint press conference, British Prime Minister
Gordon Brown committed £5 million in aid to Zimbabwe but demanded an
"immediate stop to land seizures".
Trevor Gifford, the president of the Commercial Farmers Union (CFU), told SW
Radio Africa on Monday night that Tsvangirai was "playing a game" in order
to raise financial support for the unity government.
"The government has always wanted the remaining commercial, white farmers
off farms. Farmers are being persecuted and abused in farm attacks that have
been all but legalised in terms of the law, because of offer letters,"
President Robert Mugabe has previously said that white farmers are refusing
to leave land legally acquired for resettlement by the government. The unity
government says new farmers turning up to claim their allocated land are
facing resistance from the former white land owners who then complain of
"fresh farm invasions".
Tsvangirai, concluding his world tour to raise political and financial
support for the government, has been met with scepticism by western leaders
who question President Mugabe's commitment to democratic reforms.
The Prime Minister leaves the UK for France on Wednesday, his last stop
before returning home.
by Patricia Mpofu Tuesday 23 June 2009
HARARE - Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's MDC party will today
meet to discuss what the party said were critical issues affecting it and a
power-sharing government with President Robert Mugabe.
In a statement to the media, the MDC said its national executive committee
would discuss a continuing "crackdown on MDC members characterised by the
unwarranted detention of the party's director-general, Tondepi Shonhe," who
it said was being held on trumped up charges.
"The crackdown (against MDC) has not spared civic society activists,
journalists and lawyers," the party said.
Tsvangirai's party said it would also discuss what it alleges are attempts
to reduce its representation in Parliament by framing some of its
legislators and sending them to jail.
The party's Member of Parliament for Mutare West constituency Shua Mudiwa
was last Saturday convicted of by a court of kidnapping and send to jail.
Several other legislators and activists from Tsvangirai's party face a
variety of charges that the party says are all trumped.
The MDC said it would at today's meeting also deliberate on the death of one
of its senators Patrick Kombayi last Saturday from complications from wounds
sustained nearly two decades ago when he was shot by government security
The MDC, which described Kombayi as a "former freedom fighter and an
advocate for change" did not say whether it would formally request that the
late Senator be declared a national hero which would mean the state would
fund his burial at the National Heroes Acre shrine in Harare.
Only members of Mugabe's ZANU PF or their allies are buried at the shrine.
Kombayi, who was the MDC's Senator for Gweru-Chirumanzu constituency, joined
the party in its formative years. - ZimOnline
by Charles Tembo Tuesday 23 June 2009
HARARE - Zimbabwe remains at risk of a fresh and more deadly outbreak of
cholera once the next rainy season starts in about five months time, health
experts have said, adding that the infectious disease had become endemic in
a country where sewer and water facilities broke down years ago.
International relief agencies and local health officials who coordinated
efforts to combat a cholera outbreak that began last August and was only
brought under control several weeks ago, said the disease could probably not
be completely eradicated in the near future chiefly because underlying
causes remained unattended to.
"We are afraid that we will have a resurfacing of cholera once the first
rains start," UNICEF communications officer Tsitsi Singizi told ZimOnline in
"Water supplies are still erratic in areas such as Budiriro and Glen View
(Harare suburbs), which were the epicentres of the cholera outbreak. Sewage
is still flowing in and the government must repair infrastructure and
correct the water supply," said Singizi.
Singizi, who said even now new cholera cases continued to be recorded in
Harare and other centres, said the UNICEF was already stocking up on drugs
and other supplies to ensure it was ready should there be a new major
outbreak of the disease.
"As UNICEF we have already begun to preposition supplies in preparation for
a cholera outbreak," she said.
Zimbabwe's rainy season starts around the beginning of November.
The last cholera epidemic, which the World Health Organisation labelled the
worst outbreak of the disease in Africa in 15 years, killed more than 4 000
people out of more than 100 000 infections before it was brought under
The United Nations has warned that indications were that a fresh outbreak of
cholera in 2009/2010 could see up to 125 000 people affected by the deadly
disease, or about 25 percent more than the number of infections in the
To help combat and prevent recurrence of cholera the UNICEF has sunk
boreholes in most urban centres to ensure safe drinking water while
international donors continue to assist with supplies of medicines and cash
to pay nurses and doctors to ensure the public health system is functioning.
The cholera epidemic, along with the collapse of basic services such as
public health and education, became one of the most visible signs of
Zimbabwe's unprecedented economic and humanitarian crisis after nearly three
decades of President Robert Mugabe's controversial rule.
A power-sharing government Mugabe formed with longtime foe Morgan Tsvangirai
is pushing to revive the economy, restore basic services such as clean water
and sewerage facilities in cities but reluctance by Western donor countries
to provide financial support could derail the Harare administration's
Western leaders promised more humanitarian support for Zimbabwe during talks
with Tsvangirai who toured America and Europe for the past three weeks.
However, they held back on direct financial support to Zimbabwe until Harare
implements more reforms and acts to uphold human rights. - ZimOnline
www.chinaview.cn 2009-06-23 05:22:37
HARARE, June 22 (Xinhua) -- The Zimbabwean government has appealed
to China for a credit facility to buy more road construction equipment from
the Asian nation, according to local news agency New Ziana on Monday .
Transport, Communication and Infrastructural Development Minister
Nicholas Goche said Zimbabwe needs a Chinese loan at concessionary interest
rates for purchase of the equipment to help rehabilitate most of the
country's dilapidated roads.
"I asked the Chinese ambassador to arrange that we discuss with
his government for more favorable terms to purchase road construction
equipment," he said.
Goche said this when addressing a ceremony to commission 2.7
million U.S. dollars worth of road construction equipment bought by the
Zimbabwe National Road Authority (ZINARA) from China recently.
Goche noted that the 2.7 million dollars worth of equipment
wasbought for cash from the little resources that ZINARA generated from the
levy it charged on fuel.
He said the process to arrange the negotiations had already
started, noting that it was imperative for Zimbabwe to maintain trunk roads
since the country occupied a strategic position in the SADC and COMESA
He said any bottlenecks in the country's road network had a
detrimental effect to these regions.
"The network provides a link into Durban, Maputo, Trans Limpopo,
Mid Zambezi valley and is very central to the North-South Corridor," he
said, adding the ministry had ambitious programmes to keep the country's
roads in good state.
He said the current deplorable state of roads was a result of
economic challenges that the country experienced over the past few years,
which rendered it costly to maintain them.
Introduction of multiple currencies had since made collections by
ZINARA more meaningful to enable road maintenance programmes throughout the
country to resume, the minister said.
He, however, noted that shortage of equipment and funds was
preventing the process from moving faster.
The commissioned equipment comprised six graders, six tipper
trucks and two water bowsers. Four more tipper trucks and one water bowser
from the same consignment were expected in the country soon.
In May last year, the government commissioned another consignment
of road construction equipment bought from China, which comprised three
tractors, five compactors, two water trailers, two concrete mixers, four
dampers, one disc harrows, four motor graders and two front end loaders.
The Zimbabwe government adopted the "Look East" policy as part of
efforts to overcome effects of the Western imposed sanctions that have
ruined the country's once prosperous economy.
So far transport and communications, agriculture and mining are
among a wide range of sectors that have received equipment from countries
such as China, India, Iran and Malaysia
By Patience Rusere
22 June 2009
Lawyers for Zimbabwean parliamentarian Shuah Mudiwa on Monday were unable to
enter an appeal in Mutare magistrate court of his conviction Saturday on
charges he kidnapped a 12-year-old girl in 2007, or seek bail for him, as
his court docket could not be found.
Mudiwa, who represents the Mutare West constituency for the Movement for
Democratic Change formation of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, faces
Two other MDC members of parliament, Trevor Saruwaka, who represents Mutasa
Central in the House of Assembly, and Mike Makuyana, who represents Chipinge
South, also await sentencing on charges which their party and lawyers say
are politically motivated.
Mudiwa's lawyer, Douglas Mwonzora, told reporter Patience Rusere of VOA's
Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that authorities are "clearly" targeting his client.
By Gibbs Dube
22 June 2009
Members of Zimbabwe's Parliament have started shopping for vehicles based on
indications that the Ministry of Finance will arrange a loan of US$30,000 to
all parliamentarians to allow them to buy a new car to allow them to travel
to and within their constituencies.
The move has angered some Zimbabweans who express concern that the
government cannot afford to extend the loans which total more than US$6.3
House Speaker Lovemore Moyo of the Movement for Democratic Change formation
headed by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has said details of the scheme
are being worked out.
But MP Thabitha Khumalo, deputy spokesperson for the Tsvangirai MDC
formation, said most members are already shopping for vehicles under their
terms of service.
One critic, political analyst Themba Dlodlo, told reporter Gibbs Dube that
lawmakers should use the cars made available to them by the Reserve Bank of
Zimbabwe as the new scheme will drain state resources that should be
directed towards critical capital projects.
22 June 2009
By Natasha Hove
BULAWAYO - Government buses that were ferrying civil servants to and from
work for free have been grounded due to lack of spare parts, thereby
compounding the plight of civil servants. Civil servants said the US$100
they earn monthly was not enough to cater for their food basics, transport
costs, water, electricity and telephone usage.
"It's almost two weeks with no free transport for civil servants as the
government CMED buses are all grounded because of lack of spare parts," said
a mechanic at the Bulawayo CMED.
In interviews, civil servants expressed anger over the failure of the
government to purchase spare parts.
"Our situation has been worsened as we cannot afford the transport costs
with our poor pay. Honestly, how does the government expect us to report for
work, where do we get money for transport?" said Moyo, a civil servant based
at Mhlahlandlela Building. Other civil servants said they would be forced to
absent from work since they could not afford the transport costs charged by
public commuters. In a month, a worker requires about US$30 to travel to
and from work.
22 June 2009
By MDC Media Release
The MDC holds an extra-ordinary national executive meeting in Harare
tomorrow to deliberate on critical issues affecting the party and the
inclusive government. The national executive will deliberate on the death of
veteran politician and Midlands South provincial secretary, Senator Patrick
Kombayi and the continued crack-down on MDC members characterized by the
unwarranted detention of the party's Director-General, Tondepi Shonhe, who
is languishing in prison on an innocuous trumped-up charge.
On Saturday, Mutare West MP, Hon Shua Mudiwa, was "convicted" on a
trumped-up charge of kidnapping as efforts intensify to whittle down the MDC
majority in Parliament.
The crackdown has not spared civic society activists, journalists and
Senator Kombayi died on Saturday after a long-battle with gun-shot wounds.
State security agent Elias Kanengoni and Zanu PF activist Kizito Chivamba
pumped six bullets into Hon Kombayi's groin in the violent election campaign
The MDC Midlands South provincial secretary and Senator for Gweru-Chirumanzu
constituency was a veteran of Zimbabwe's liberation struggle. He joined the
MDC in its formative years and has been a staunch advocate of change and
democracy in Zimbabwe.
The MDC shares this moment of grief with the Kombayi family. His death has
robbed the nation of a fighter, a father, a revolutionary, a patriot and
more importantly, a democrat whose long battle with gun-shot wounds made him
a living testimony of the barbarism of State-sponsored terrorism.
As a former freedom fighter, a victim of State-terrorism and an advocate for
change, his place in history is not contestable.
Together to the end, marching to a new Zimbabwe.
Published on: 22nd June, 2009
By Brilliant Pongo
Ephraim Tapa an expelled member of the MDC UK executive in 2007 is being
accused of leading a rowdy mob of 'planted' people who disrupted the address
by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai at the Southwark Anglican Cathedral in
London on Saturday.
Tsvangirai appealed to exiles living in the diaspora to come back home and
help rebuild the country. But Nehanda Radio can now reveal that a carefully
planned stunt by Tapa's pet organisation, Restoration of Human Rights in
Zimbabwe (ROHR) resulted in a small section of the carefully lined up group
booing the Prime Minister.
While it is generally accepted that most exiles are not willing to go back
to Zimbabwe for now, Tsvangirai's 'come back home' appeal was not considered
outrageous enough to have attracted a booing response. Tapa bitter at his
removal as MDC UK chairman two years ago was determined to get his revenge.
'I was sitted next to Tapa's group inside the church and they all knew each
other and carefully coordinated their stunt. If you look at the television
footage of the disruption you will see it came mainly from the left side of
the church from where Tsvangirai was speaking from and facing,' one student
who attended told us.
In 2007 Nehanda Radio reported how Tapa had secretly set up a website
www.zimdiaspora.com which he used to attack Tsvangirai and his leadership of
the MDC. Despite Tapa denying any links with the site we were able to expose
him as the registered owner along with one Peter Nyoni using domain
Another group blamed for disrupting Tsvangirai's address is the Zimbabwe
Vigil who have essentially created a home for ROHR at their weekly vigils at
the Zimbabwean Embassy in London every Saturday. Coordinator Rose Benton
tried to distance themselves from the disruption by claiming, 'our purpose
was to welcome Tsvangirai but also to remind him of what people in the
Diaspora think needs to be done if Zimbabwe is to win the confidence of
donors and investors and be a welcoming place for returning exiles.'
'The Vigil was there to greet his convoy when it arrived. Displaying our
banners 'No to Mugabe, No to Starvation' and 'End Murder, Rape and Torture
in Zimbabwe', we danced and drummed and sang 'To save Zimbabwe, Mugabe must
go'. The Prime Minister could not have failed to see our posters 'Protect
Human Rights Activists', 'Restore the Rule of Law' and 'End Farm Invasions'.
Published on: 22nd June, 2009
By Brilliant Pongo
A Zimbabwean human rights pressure group Restoration of Human Rights in
Zimbabwe (ROHR) is at the centre of an asylum storm in the United Kingdom
after allegations that they are charging £120 annual subscriptions for
'letters of activity' to be used in asylum claims.
Led by expelled former MDC UK Chairman Ephraim Tapa, ROHR has a subscription
policy of £10 per month but will not write any confirmation letters for
anyone who has not been a member for one year. But pay the 12 month
subscription in advance you can get the letter it is alleged.
Tapa runs the organisation from the UK where he does most of the fundraising
while foot soldiers like Stanlic Zvorwadza and Edgar Chikuvire do most of
the donkey work in Zimbabwe, participating in demonstrations here and there
to build prominence and maintain visibility.
For an organisation 'restoring human rights in Zimbabwe' questions have been
asked why ROHR is opening branches in every major UK city. Branches have
been opened in Birmingham, Derby, Milton Keynes and recently West Bromwich.
The natural question to ask is what are these members meant to be doing in
Nehanda Radio spoke to some propsective members of ROHR during the opening
of the West Bromwich branch on the 6th of June this year and they expressed
concern at the high subscription fees. They said they were not allowed to
work in the UK and would struggle to raise the money demanded by the
Defending the subscriptions Tapa claimed they had a lot of financially
demanding activities in Zimbabwe including fees for lawyers especially when
they sued Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono last year for imposing cash
withdrawal limits. He claimed they owed the lawyer US$17 000. A similar
court application in the UK would cost around US$2000.
A UK Home Office spokesman told us they were aware of the controversy
surrounding ROHR but were not at liberty to disclose their internal
mechanism for dealing with faudulent asylum applications. Meanwhile the
desperate asylum seeker is forced to fork out £120 from a group not really
interested in human rights in Zimbabwe but making money.
The Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA) deplores the current confusion with respect to the payments that the residents must make to the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA) for electricity bills for February to May 2009. Despite the directive by the Honorable Minister of Energy and Power Development Engineer Elias Mudzuri that residents in High density and Low density should pay USD30 and USD40 respectively, it appears ZESA employees are refusing to comply. The Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA) continues to receive reports from the residents that ZESA employees are demanding that residents must pay the money as reflected on the bills and not what the Minister directed. Since the beginning of this year, ZESA billing system has been extremely chaotic and rocked with fraud; a sad development that prompted the Ministry to direct that residents pay the USD30 and USD40 for low densities and High Densities respectively. On Tuesday the 16th of June 2009, CHRA leadership met Minister Mudzuri and the ZESA Chief Executive Officer over electricity supply. Issues discussed include the following;
· Exorbitant electricity tariffs
· Chaotic billing by ZESA
· The threat of disconnections
· Unreliability (and sometimes unavailability) of the electricity supply
· ZESA accountability to the residents.
The Minister shared with CHRA information
with respect to the state of affairs concerning electricity. It emerged in this
meeting that ZESA owes a total of USD76 million in debts; a debt which has been
cumulating over the years; and that the suppliers/creditors are threatening to
stop electricity supply to
Exploration House, Third Floor
Landline: 00263- 4- 705114
Tuesday, 23 June 2009
What a difference a year makes. Twelve months ago, Morgan Tsvangirai, the
leader of Zimbabwe's Movement for Democratic Change, was denouncing his
country's presidential elections, which had delivered victory to Robert
Mugabe, as a "violent sham" and his supporters were being attacked by Mr
But this weekend Mr Tsvangirai, having been sworn in as the prime minister
of a coalition government with Mr Mugabe's Zanu-PF in February, was in
London calling for Zimbabwean exiles to return home. And yesterday he
requested an increase in aid for Zimbabwe from Britain. Given that reversal,
we should not be surprised that Zimbabwean refugees gave Mr Tsvangirai such
a hostile reception when he addressed them at Southwark Cathedral on
Saturday. In African politics, such abrupt switches can be an indication of
Mr Tsvangirai denies being "co-opted" by Mr Mugabe and tells an encouraging
story of free elections in Zimbabwe within two years. What the Zimbabwean
government needs from the outside world now, he argues, is no longer
isolation, but support.
It is true there has been an improvement in the condition of Zimbabwe in
recent months. Inflation has come down from the astronomical levels of last
year and many schools have re-opened. Yet there is also plenty of evidence
that Mugabe's grip on the country has not substantially loosened. Amnesty
International says the human rights situation remains "precarious". The
security forces are still largely controlled by Zanu-PF.
It would be naïve to imagine that Mr Mugabe will meekly accept Mr
Tsvangirai's plans for his incremental marginalisation. And the reluctance
of our own Government - and others - to channel any aid directly through
Harare while Mr Mugabe remains president is understandable. But Mr
Tsvangirai, who needs no lessons in the brutality and tenacity of his
coalition partner, has come to the conclusion that it is in the best
interests of the Zimbabwean people for him to work for change within the
confines of the unity government. His judgement merits respect. And, risky
as it might seem, his strategy deserves our support.
That Zimbabwe is not yet fully democratised is beyond debate.The road to a fully
democratic Republic of Zimbabwe has been and still remains long and arduous.It
will be total folly for anyone to think that we have completed the
democratisation agenda in Zimbabwe.If anything,Zimbabwe is at the crossroads.Our
destiny is in our own hands; to make or break our motherland.The struggle to
liberate Zimbabwe from racist colonial bondage was not for the faint-hearted.In
similar measure,the struggle to democratise Zimbabwe is anything but a stroll in
the park.It is a process and not an event.Thus,for anyone to imagine that we can
just wake up one morning and find Zimbabwe fully democratised is an exercise in
futility.In simple parlance,it is called day-dreaming.From around 1890 when a
group of fortune-hunters masquerading as the Pioneer Column invaded
Zimbabwe,this country has had the misfortune of being governed by very
repressive and intolerant regimes.In this context,therefore,Wednesday February
11,2009 marked a defining and historic moment in the political history of
Zimbabwe.This is so because on that day,the present inclusive government was
formed.From that day onwards,Zimbabwe will never be the same again.In my humble
opinion,the formation of the inclusive government inevitably marked the
beginning of the end of totalitarianism in our country.It is simply unthinkable
to imagine that Zimbabweans will ever allow any single person to wield so much
executive State power as was the case prior to the formation of the inclusive
givernment.Put alternatively,I cannot envisage a situation where Zimbabweans
will ever accept to be governed in a despotic,imperial and authoritarian manner
by anyone for that matter.
The inclusive government,if recent scientific surveys are anything to go by,has the support of about 80% of the people of Zimbabwe.This simply means that the majority of the people,both living in Zimbabwe and in the Diaspora,support the concept of the inclusive government.This support is borne out of the realisation that there was no other viable alternative to the inclusive government at this juncture in the political history of our country.I am not doing a public relations brief for the inclusive government.I am merely stating a fact.And in most cases, facts are pretty stubborn.Every right-thinking person knows that the MDC, under the leadership of Morgan Richard Tsvangirai,won the harmonised elections on March 29, 2008.Morgan Tsvangirai won the Presidential election and this is the main reason why it took the thoroughly discredited Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) five weeks to formally announce the results of the Presidential election.This inordinate delay was unprecedented in the history of elections on the whole of the African continent.It was a first and indeed,it deserves to be recorded in the Guiness Book of world records! It is not my intention to whip up political emotions.I am simply relating the cold,hard fact concerning the pathetic and embarassing performance of the ZEC.Surely,if the ZANU(PF) candidate had won the the Presidential election on March 29, 2008, the ZEC would have have proceeded at supersonic speed to announce the results.The biased,partisan and incompetent conduct of the ZEC in the manner in which they handled the Presidential election of March 29, 2008 clearly shows that Zimbabwe is not yet a fully democratic nation.A democratic country doesnot wait for five weeks to know the results of an election where less than three (3) million voters have cast their vote.A country in which elections are run by a partisan and militarised organ is not a democratic country.
Basic democratic tenets dictate that the winner of a free and fair Presidential election should proceed to form the next government.That should have been the case in Zimbabwe but we all know what happened between March and June 2008.Zimbabwe ended up having an inclusive government in February 2009 because democracy had failed to be respected.The inclusive government is not what the voters voted for on March 29, 2008; the last credible election held in Zimbabwe.My support for the inclusive government is not a manifestation of my dislike for true democratic tenets.My support for this unique form of government is simply informed by the fact that post June, 2008,this is the only viable type of government that can take Zimbabwe further on the democratisation route.Yes; the inclusive government is a very painfull compromise on the part of Morgan Tsvangirai who clearly won the elections on March 29, 2009.But then we have to look at the bigger picture.We were forced to share power with ZANU (PF) not because that is what the voters decided on March 29, 2009.We were compelled to enter into a marriage of convenience with ZANU (PF) because that was the only peaceful alternative that the MDC had after the electoral losers refused to hand over power after losing a free and fair election.The decision to get into the inclusive government was thus necessitated by the need to save Zimbabwe from total collapse.It was a statesman- like decision that was taken by Morgan Tsvangirai and the leadership of the MDC.
Cognisance should always be taken of the fact that the inclusive government is and indeed, should be a transitional arrangement.Those of us who dream that the inclusive government should last forever are obviously thinking selfishly.They will, no doubt, be disappointed; sooner rather than later.The people of Zimbabwe are keen to choose their leaders through democratic,free and fair elections.They want elections and not boardroom manouvres to determine who should govern them.Infact,the people detest the idea of having electoral losers governing them.Hence,the paramount need to move with speed to ensure that a new people-driven constitution is crafted and put to the people via a referundum.We cannot afford to wait a day longer.Already,it is apparent that the inclusive government is facing tremendous challenges in trying to convince a skeptical world that this unique experiment in governance can work.The people should promptly be given another free and fair opportunity to decide who should govern them.
Prime Minister Tsvangirai's recent visit abroad has shown the level of skepticism that is out there concerning the inclusive government.As long as there is no evidence of genuine power-sharing the people will be very difficult to convince.When the democratisation agenda is being sabotaged at every turn the people get very worried.When the rule of law continues to be bastardised the people continue to be traumatised.When clearly innocent people such as Toendepi Shonhe and Alec Muchadehama are arrested and detained on trumped up charges we all get very concerned.When thoroughly discredited politicians such as Jonathan Moyo start launching scathing attacks on the person and office of the Prime Minister it becomes crystal clear that the beast of political thuggery and totalitarianism has not yet been tamed.Indeed,we should tread carefully.The democratisation route in Zimbabwe is full of booby traps.There are vultures out there.Men and women without a conscience.Unprincipled people who are prepared to defend the indefencable.Pathetic and greedy monsters who will do anything for money.Shame on these people.
We should remain vigilant as a people.We should learn to distuingish between genuine patriots who love Zimbabwe and political prostitutes and turn-coats who are invariably driven by selfish motives in whatever they do in their lives.These characters will always change their colours like a chameleon.Today, they will champion the enactment of draconian laws such as the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act(AIPPA).Tomorrow, they will pretend to be democrats and woodwink the MDC into failing to field a candidate in Tsholotsho North constituency.Comrades,we allowed a lethal snake to invade our household.We should never be this tackless in future elections.A snake is a snake.It always remains lethal.
The inclusive government deserves our support because it takes us further on our democratisation agenda.It is a major step forward instead of backwards.Yes;the inclusive government is littered with imperfections.But then that is the price that Zimbabwe has to pay for failing to respect the results of the Presidential election that was held on March 29, 2008.The inclusive government is certainly not a full loaf.But then, half a loaf is better than nothing.
By Senator Obert Gutu
June 23, 2009
By Geoffrey Nyarota
AT FIRST glance, the arguments propounded to justify the launch of a
newspaper published from Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's office sound
It was suggested that the MDC now has no option other than to publish its
own mass circulating newspapers - given the hostility displayed to the party
and its leadership by the government-controlled mass media - Zimbabwe
Newspapers (1980) Ltd and the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation. The Herald,
the flagship of Zimbabwe Newspapers has been particularly vicious since the
establishment of the government of national unity in February. It has been
particularly hostile since the Prime Minister's departure at the beginning
of his current tour of the United States and Europe.
The launch of the paper is said to reflect the spirit of transparency around
the office of the Prime Minister. This spirit is truly commendable; the
development welcome, given the total lack of transparency and
accountability on the part of the Mugabe regime over the years.
Some may wish to congratulate the MDC leadership for this innovative
initiative, especially given that the newspaper will be distributed freely
among a population that has been impoverished by the economic failure
engendered by mismanagement on the of the Mugabe government.
However, a timely word of caution ought to be sounded to dampen the
political overzealousness that seems to be taking grip of a nation with a
predilection for not learning anything from previous experience or mistakes.
Soon after independence Zimbabweans praised Zanu-PF for what we hailed as
its foresight when the party established the Mass Media Trust and acquired
the majority of shares in the country's main newspaper publishing house,
Zimbabwe Newspapers. This simple act contributed in no small measure to the
entrenchment of President Mugabe in a position of unchallenged tyranny. By
the time the full implications or repercussions of the total control of the
media by Zanu-PF dawned on the majority of Zimbabweans, the rot had become
The major agenda of the MDC in its unique position as a partner in the
government of national unity should be to dismantle the media behemoth built
by Zanu-PF over the years. The party should not seek to build a parallel
media structure to disseminate its own propaganda in an environment of
As a first priority, Zimbabwe expects the MDC to dismantle AIPPA, POSA and
other restrictive legislation through the unfolding constitutional reform
process. It should seek to create an enabling media environment, while
facilitating the establishment of truly independent media, both newspapers
and electronic outlets. Since other newspapers are still required to
register, the MDC has presumably facilitated the registration of the Prime
Minister's newspaper. That is commendable. How about the early registration
of The Daily News, The Tribune and any other independent newspapers that
must be in the pipeline?
This newspaper was launched while the Prime Minister was on an extended tour
of western capitals where he said he was re-engaging the governments of host
nations in dialogue with the government of Zimbabwe. However, his begging
bowl was barely concealed. The average benefactor will view the spending of
good money on this glossy project as ill-advised.
In any case, for a virtually impecunious administration, the launch of a
newspaper to facilitate controlled transparency around the office of the
Prime Minister is a shameful waste of scarce resources, whether the project
is funded from tax-payers' funds, from donor contributions or from the
support of patriotic Zimbabweans.
Ironically, there is one initiative that the government of national unity
can implement at no cost whatsoever to the tax-payer or to the donor
community - that is the removal of Zimbabwe's draconian media legislation,
which would be both a huge confidence-boosting measure and a reflection of
the agreed media reforms cited in the GPA.
To some of us it was predictable that the MDC would succumb to the
temptation of wanting to exercise its own control over the media. It was
fairly predictable that had the MDC won the election outright The Herald and
ZBC would by now have been put under pressure to transfer their allegiance
from Zanu-PF to the new authorities. As for the so-called independent
newspapers, they would continue to be relegated to the periphery, if not
regarded as unpatriotic enemies.
Unfortunately, with 40 000 copies of its own newspaper circulating freely
every week there is a danger the Tsvangirai administration may feel
adequately represented in terms of media coverage. The appetite or stamina
on the part of the MDC for a campaign to achieve really meaningful media
reform might well diminish.
When the Herald was a truly independent newspaper before independence, the
government of the day introduced a newspaper of its own to win the hearts
and minds of the African people, at a time when the nationalist movement was
beginning to flourish.
The Ministry of Information of the day, the publisher of The African Times,
claimed the paper enjoyed the readership of a million African readers, which
of course, was all propagandist baloney. The newspaper which, like Prime
Minister Tsvangirai's new publication, was freely circulated, failed to stem
the tide of the revolution, which culminated in the declaration of
independence in 1980.
Likewise, control of the Herald and the ZBC by the Mugabe government did not
prevent Tsvangirai and the MDC from winning the elections on March 29, 2009.
It is a paradox that the office of the Prime Minister felt obliged to launch
its own newspaper to counter the propaganda spewed out by The Herald, a
newspaper that is loyal to President Mugabe, Tsvangirai's partner in the
government of national unity. Tsvangirai has been at pains to convince an
increasingly sceptical audience, both at home and abroad, that a cordial
relationship now exists between him and the President.
Therefore, publishing his own newspaper to challenge the President's is
totally inconsistent with the image of unity that he has tried to portray.
Sadly, it would appear the MDC merely pays lip service to the notion of
press freedom after all. If Finance Minister Tendai Biti made a secret
disbursement to the Prime Minister's office for this sinister project, he
erred. He must immediately reverse the decision and allocate the funds to
worthier causes in the national interest.
If the MDC helps to fix the media environment, as the Prime Minister told
the BBC will happen very soon, then his pet project will be rendered
superfluous to the needs of a democratic Zimbabwe. A private newspaper for
Tsvangirai cannot be the democratic change that the MDC has promised long
suffering Zimbabweans over the past 10 years.
What Zimbabwe needs is a free and democratic media environment, where
newspapers and the electronic media operate within a context of genuine
freedom, where they have free access to government news sources and enjoy
the liberty to publish without let or hindrance; where journalists going
about their lawful and challenging duties are not regarded as enemies of the
Zimbabwe certainly does not need a newspaper published in the office of the
Prime Minister and put together by journalists who bear allegiance to the
Prime Minister, in other words by the paid praise-singers of the Premier.
No; that is certainly not the transformed Zimbabwe that we struggled and
This is clearly a retrogressive step. George Charamba and Webster Shamu must
be celebrating a development which vindicates their own abusive control of
The Herald, The Sunday Mail and The Chronicle.
The Prime Minister should desist from emulating President Mugabe, mindful of
the fact that he emerged from among the people and, therefore, belongs to
the people, unlike the President who was parachuted into State House from
Maputo and has come to believe that he owns the people of Zimbabwe.
Zimbabwe urgently needs and deserves a free media environment that holds all
politicians to account for their stewardship - not another politically
sponsored newspaper, with the blessing of a Prime Minister who should be
totally focused on executing challenging government business rather than
trying to varnish his own party's image using a one-sided view to challenge
Zanu-PF's media monopoly.
Any country that is serious about democratic progress needs a free press. So
the Prime Minister should forget this needless, mistaken and expensive
venture into a specialist area that should be the preserve of the
independent media and the marketplace. If this is the Prime Minister's idea
of a free press then he is clearly mistaken.
Tsvangirai should be reminded that former President Thabo Mbeki embarked on
a similarly futile journey. He launched a website where he granted himself
maximum publicity while routinely intimidating and lambasting supposedly
The website did not save him from falling from both power and grace. The
most effective strategy for securing positive publicity for a government is
good governance, not control of newspapers.
June 23, 2009
TRANSCRIPT of interview between Violet Gonda of SW Radio Africa's Hot Seat
programme and outgoing United States ambassador to Zimbabwe, James McGee.
He says the US has not witnessed enough changes in Zimbabwe to consider
removal of targeted sanctions and that the country will not receive full
developmental aid until issues such as the appointments of RBZ governor
Gideon Gono and Attorney General Johannes Tomana are resolved. McGee says:
"Things that need to be done to remove sanctions don't cost any money. All
it costs is political goodwill."
(Broadcast: 19 June, 2009)
Violet Gonda: James McGee the outgoing US ambassador to Zimbabwe is my guest
on the programme Hot Seat. How are you Ambassador McGee?
James McGee: Very good Violet, thank you.
GONDA: Let's start with your overview of where Zimbabwe is at present.
McGee: Violet we have made tremendous progress. As a matter of fact I was in
meetings yesterday and just reminiscing about where we were a year ago.
Things in Zimbabwe have changed so much in that last year I think no-one
would believe on June 18th 2008 that we would have a unity government, that
we would have Morgan Tsvangirai as the Prime Minister of Zimbabwe, Tendai
Biti as the Minister of Finance. Things have really changed in Zimbabwe but
that's not to say Violet that everything is going well in Zimbabwe. We still
have a lot of challenges that need to be overcome, we still have a lot of
people who don't want to see a change in the status quo. No doubt we have
people of goodwill who are working to move in the right direction.
GONDA: Now can you be more specific though on what changes you have actually
seen and what are some of these challenges that you mentioned - that we
still have quite a lot of challenges ahead of us?
McGee: Violet I think the most positive changes that we've seen are in the
financial area. We were talking about hyper-inflation with numbers in the
quadrillions of percentage, percentage points, figures I've never even heard
of before and that's changed. As a matter of fact over the last two months
we've had negative inflation here in Zimbabwe. Now that's very, very
positive. The economy has been dollarised, or in many cases pula or rand are
being used and that's a positive change.
Store shelves are stocked, we're starting to see the rebirth of the retail
industry here in Zimbabwe. So those are some very, very positive changes.
Revenue streams for the government are improving. On the negative side we
still see the illegal farm invasions although part of the government had
said they would stop these activities, they still continue. Political
activists are being hassled and harried. The judicial system is still not
working to meet the needs of the people of Zimbabwe, so there are major
challenges out there.
GONDA: I will talk to you a bit more about what is happening on the farms
and the political arrests but I just wanted to get your comments first about
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's recent trip to the US. Now as the
representative of President Obama what is the perception of White House, or
rather, what is the US government's impression of Mr Tsvangirai?
McGee: Well we thought that Morgan Tsvangirai's visit to the United States
was a very successful visit. He came in, he had very successful and fruitful
talks with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and with President Obama
himself and it was an opportunity for the Prime Minister to pass his
impressions on to the leadership in the United States of how things were
going in Zimbabwe, where we could assist and be of potential assistance to
Zimbabwe in its effort to move toward free and fair elections after the
constitutional process is completed in this country. At the same time, our
leadership was able to pass on to Prime Minister Tsvangirai the exact
reality of where we are in our relationship with Zimbabwe and how far we
could go. So I think right now we have a clear understanding on both sides
of where we are in this relationship and what to expect in the future.
GONDA: So where are you now in this relationship and where do you think you
McGee: We are still in a wait and see mode. Now I say wait and see and that's
a partial wait and see because we still continue to provide a massive, and I
use the word massive amount of assistance to Zimbabwe. I think the last time
we talked Violet I talked about how we'd given over 250 million dollars last
year to Zimbabwe. This year those figures will be at least that much and
possibly even more. And this is all in humanitarian food and medical
assistance to the country of Zimbabwe.
We're looking to make certain that the people of Zimbabwe don't starve, that
they have the medications especially in the HIV and Aids field necessary to
deal with the pandemic that's struck here in Zimbabwe. We're also looking at
creative ways to move forward and assisting the government. Now what we
cannot do, it's against US law, we cannot pay civil service salaries. In
Zimbabwe, South Africa or any other country in the world as far as that
goes, so this is nothing against Zimbabwe, it's just against the US law for
us to pay those types of stipends.
GONDA: I understand that the humanitarian assistance is not going to go
through the coalition government but through specific groups. Now how is
this humanitarian support implemented at ground level if you're going to
bypass the government of national unity?
McGee: Well this is nothing new Violet. We've always used implementing
partners on the ground here in Zimbabwe and in many other countries. It's
very rare that we ever, ever give any type of assistance directly to a
government. History has proven that that creates problems, so we work
through NGOs typically. We work through some civic organisations within the
country but mainly through NGOs. And we set up operating schemes, we set up
contracts with these folks on what they have to do, how they're to be paid
and how they have to report on the goods and where they're received, who
receives them. We have extensive reporting requirements that we can go back
and check to ensure that the donor assistance that's going to Zimbabwe or
any other country is actually reaching the intended recipients.
GONDA: So who are the beneficiaries?
McGee: The beneficiaries are the people of Zimbabwe. The government itself I
think Prime Minister Tsvangirai just used a figure that Zimbabwe will have a
shortfall of about 600 thousand tonnes of grain, of maize this year. I
forget the exact figure on wheat but again it's in the hundreds of thousands
of tonnes of wheat that this country will have shortfall. The people of
Zimbabwe again are going to be hungry and we're hoping to be able to step in
and alleviate much of that hunger through the programmes that we have on the
ground in Zimbabwe.
GONDA: Now the reason I was asking that question is because it's been said
that some donors have been targeting particular groups for aid, whether it's
in the health sector, even helping paying doctors or teachers and that not
all sectors are getting this and so my question is how does this auger with
the process of national healing and cohesion in your view?
McGee: I can't speak to what other governments are doing, I can only speak
to what the United States government is doing Violet and that's because I'm
just not certain what other governments are doing - but as far as the United
States government is concerned, our assistance is across the board. We do
not withhold assistance to anyone based upon their political party or who
they voted for, nothing like that, that's just not the way the United States
government operates. If you show a need, if you show that you need
assistance, we're more than happy to provide that assistance.
GONDA: Can there ever be full developmental aid if outstanding issues like
the appointment of the reserve bank governor Gideon Gono or the attorney
general Johannes Tomana remain unresolved?
McGee: No. We have put out the principles under which we will move back into
full development assistance and these are the principles as enunciated back
in 2007 and we still want to see positive movement, positive and verifiable
movement on these principles. Now once that happens then we're willing to
look at rapidly restarting our development assistance programme.
GONDA: The MDC says there's no generalised violence in the country at
present, just isolated incidents, but it also appears that the new
government has agreed that there are no fresh farm invasions that are taking
place right now but earlier on you actually said there are illegal farm
invasions carrying on. And there were reports quoting some Zanu-PF Ministers
recently saying that all the remaining white farmers should be chucked off
their farms. What is the US attitude towards this?
McGee: The US attitude is this - this is a rule of law issue. The land
redistribution issue is a very strong issue here in Zimbabwe, it's an
emotional issue, it's one that has to be done correctly Violet. We are not
here to dictate to the people of Zimbabwe how it should be done. All we're
saying is this, do it in a way that does not ruin the agricultural sector in
Zimbabwe. We all remember as recently as six, seven years ago, Zimbabwe was
a net exporter of food and just as we discussed less than two minutes ago
the country is now having to import food just to feed its own people. So
something has gone terribly wrong along the way and the agricultural sector
which used to be one of the best, maybe the second best behind South Africa
in all of sub-Saharan Africa, is a total shambles. I drove from Harare to
Johannesburg about a month ago and I was appalled to see the number of
fields and farms just lying fallow between Harare and Beit Bridge. Of course
when I crossed the border into South Africa it was like moving into a
different world with all the beautiful farmland that I saw. So there is a
problem with this.
GONDA: And if you could also give us some examples of what really needs to
be done before, for the US to actually give full support. We mentioned the
Gono/Tomana issue but what .
McGee: Those are really side issues. We not even going to put names onto
those. Those are two people who have created some issues here but we're not
saying personalities have to change, what we're saying is policies have to
change. We want to see a stop to the harassment of political activists. When
the government is actually giving out assistance to the people of Zimbabwe,
we want to see everybody share equally in that assistance. People should not
have to display their party membership card to get food assistance from the
government of Zimbabwe. We want to ensure that there's free access to
education for everybody in this country, that human rights are being
observed in this country, that the rule of law is being observed.
I think it's very important Violet for me to mention that I had a very
prominent American businessman in town last week and he gave a speech to
about 60 of the most prominent business people in Harare and he was saying
that US investment is not going to come back to Zimbabwe until the rule of
law is respected here. Capital is a coward is the line I think he used and
people are not going to put their money where they stand to lose it. So the
laws have to be the same today, tomorrow, next week, next month, next year
and until businesses are sure that they will be treated in a fair and
equitable manner, investment is just not going to flow back into Zimbabwe.
GONDA: Right. And is it still a major challenge for the US and even for the
western world in general to come to terms with supporting a government that
includes Zanu-PF, a regime that has been in isolation for the last decade?
McGee: No. We have worked with governments that are a lot worse than
Zanu-PF - maybe not a lot worse, that maybe too, giving them too much
credit. But no, we can work with Zanu-PF. You know Morgan Tsvangirai in his
group has moved into a unity government. We think that this unity government
needs to work for this country to move forward in partnership with Zanu-PF
as long as long as Zanu-PF is a willing participant and not trying to
undermine the efforts of this government, this unity government, we can work
GONDA: So why was the Zanu-PF Minister, Walter Mzembi barred from attending
the White House meeting with the Prime Minister?
McGee: You'll have to ask the White House that. I can't give you that
answer. Let me put it this way, we are talking about the Minister of Tourism
from Zimbabwe trying to dictate to the President of the United States who
should come into a meeting. I'm sorry Violet, but that just doesn't work.
That would be like me coming to President Zuma and insisting that he have a
meeting with me, I mean that's foolishness.
GONDA: Is that what happened?
McGee: Again, I can't give you exactly but I'm reacting to the press stories
that I'm seeing in the press here in Zimbabwe and if they're any way
accurate, it would be the height of folly for a Minister of Tourism to
insist on being included in a meeting with the President of the United
GONDA: But as the representative of President Obama, would you not have an
idea as to why the Minister did not attend this meeting when he attended a
meeting with Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton?
McGee: What I do know Violet is this, he attended meetings with the
Secretary of State, he attended other meetings that were set up for him
specifically. The White House sets its own agenda and it's a very small
group of people who typically get in to the White House meetings, to meet
with the President. And that's for security as well as for the ability to
move the schedule along. The President has a huge schedule each and every
day, it's scheduled 30 days in advance and literally every step of the day
is laid out for the President. If the White House deemed that it was not
necessary for the Minister to be involved in these meetings, that was the
White House' decision. The White House did see it was necessary for Prime
Minister Tsvangirai and at least two other, maybe three other people from
his group to be involved in that meeting with the White House and they set
that tone, they set that number.
GONDA: Do you think to some extent this 'snub' could mean that the White
House only recognises the one half of the government represented by Mr
McGee: No, no. That's absolutely not the case. We have said and the
President has said that he's pleased to work with the coalition government,
not with the MDC faction of the government but with the coalition
government, the government of national unity of Zimbabwe. So that's exactly
our position in the United States. We want to see this government of
national unity work. All parties within that government of national unity
have to be willing to move forward and that's what we're looking for.
GONDA: You've concluded your term, I understand that you've got under three
McGee: Yes that's correct. I'm leaving Zimbabwe in early July.
GONDA: OK, so what do you think you have achieved?
McGee: I think that we have been instrumental in helping put together this
government of national unity. As I started, I'm very proud of the fact that
we have been there, assisting every step along the way to show the excesses
of the former regime between the two elections. The first election we were
there trying to ensure that everyone had the right and the ability to vote,
to participate in a free and fair election. I think that the results of that
election showed that the vast majority of people did have that right. If you
look at the numbers, the pure numbers of people who voted against the former
administration here in Zimbabwe, it was the majority. The majority pf people
voted against Zanu-PF and what that says is that they did not appreciate the
policies nor practices of that party. And I think that the United States
government, my embassy in particular were very instrumental in making
certain that people did have that ability to get out there and vote in a
free and fair election.
The other thing that I'm most, most proud of Violet is the fact that we
continue to provide humanitarian assistance to the people of Zimbabwe who
are in need. Despite the political differences that we had in the past and
some issues that we still have even today, the people of the United States
have stepped up and provided critical assistance, humanitarian assistance to
the people of Zimbabwe and we will continue to do that and that makes me
very, very proud.
GONDA: Do you have any regrets?
McGee: None whatsoever. I would not do one thing different.
GONDA: The US foreign policy was to achieve regime change in Zimbabwe and
even the Mugabe regime has said this so many times, especially after last
year's controversial elections - do you think you have managed to do that?
McGee: Well first of all, Mr Mugabe and his folks do not determine what US
foreign policy is. We have never said regime change. What we said what we
want is a regime that works for the people of Zimbabwe. Our policy in no way
says that we want regime change. We are not involved in that whatsoever.
What we want to see is a regime that is reflective of the will of the people
of Zimbabwe. Illegal regimes, regime change can be handled by the people of
Zimbabwe. So that's where we are on that issue. We're not trying to change
any regimes here in Zimbabwe nor have we tried to change any regimes here in
Zimbabwe, we're just trying to make certain that the people of Zimbabwe have
the ability to express their own will.
GONDA: And of course Mr Mugabe has said that things have changed since the
formation of the unity government and that you should now remove the
sanctions. Your thoughts on this?
McGee: Again. Mr Mugabe does not make United States government policy. Yes,
as we've discussed we have seen some change, we have not seen nearly enough
change to even begin to think about removing the sanctions against Zimbabwe.
And Violet, this is an extremely important issue. If you look at the broad
based sanctions such as ZIDERA, you know ZIDERA came into place two years
after Zimbabwe had pretty much been cut off from accessing loans from the
international financial institutions.
The reason that Zimbabwe cannot get a loan from the World Bank, from the
African Development Bank or the International Monetary Fund is not because
of ZIDERA but because collectively, Zimbabwe owes those three institutions
over 1.5 billion - that's a 'b' - billion US dollars. And those
institutions, I was just in a meeting with the President of the African
Development Bank last week and he was telling me that it's illegal for the
African Development Bank to extend any further loans to Zimbabwe until they
service the debt under outstanding loans.
GONDA: But there are many countries that have defaulted on their loans in
the past but continue to borrow. So why is Zimbabwe different?
McGee: Well I don't think Zimbabwe is different. These other countries have
made agreements with the lending institutions - the government of Zimbabwe
so far has been unwilling to do so. Been unwilling to do so, so until the
government of Zimbabwe sits down with the international financial
institutions and works out some type of agreement that will eventually pay
off their loans or seek debt relief which is a possibility, nothing is going
to move forward.
But it's absolutely erroneous to say that US sanctions have stopped Zimbabwe
from accessing these loans. Again, all you have to do is look at the timing
and you can see that Zimbabwe lost that ability two years before ZIDERA was
ever passed. As far as the individual targeted sanctions against the 208
individuals, those sanctions are not going anywhere Violet. Those sanctions
will remain in place until we see absolute proof that this government is
moving in the right direction.
GONDA: And what are the possibilities that the sanctions could actually be
extended, with this new government in place?
McGee: President Obama has already extended for one additional year some of
the sanctions on Zimbabwe. We have a requirement that the President has to
extend these sanctions each year and he's already done that. He did that two
months ago. One of the first moves that he made when he was in office was to
extend existing sanctions against Zimbabwe for another year. This time next
year we'll review those sanctions and see if things have changed
significantly enough for us to take those sanctions away.
GONDA: Now what about Mr Tsvangirai's comments or appeal to western
governments to remove the sanctions and he actually says that the new
government cannot work with the restrictions still in place. What are your
views on this?
McGee: Well our views are very simple. Our sanctions, we've talked to the
unity government, they know why the sanctions are there and we plan to keep
those sanctions in place. Pure and simple. The things that need to be done
to remove the sanctions don't cost any money, all it costs is political
goodwill. The rule of law, respect for human rights, those are all issues
that don't cost the government of Zimbabwe one penny and if the government
of Zimbabwe moves in a positive direction on these issues, then sanctions
will be taken care of, there's no question about that.
GONDA: To what extent is the US policy on Zimbabwe co-ordinated with that of
McGee: We talk to our friends, nations that we have friendly relations with
on all types of issues but at the end of the day, the US/Zimbabwe policy is
that, it's the US/Zimbabwe policy. Our policy towards any country is
reflective of the needs of the United States of America. If those needs
happen to dovetail into needs of other countries, that's fine and dandy but
we are not going to create nor execute our foreign policy based on the needs
of any other country.
GONDA: Right and we talked a bit about what is happening on the farms and
the arrests but from your observations is there generally a spirit of
tolerance now in the country as a whole?
McGee: I think overall there is. I think overall there is a spirit of
tolerance, people want to see, in some cases they want to see justice, they
want to see retribution, they want to be paid back for their homes that have
been burned, for their crops that have been destroyed, their cattle, their
livestock that have been stolen and that's only natural. But overall I think
I'm starting to see a sense of healing in Zimbabwe. People are talking. I
was just reading a report yesterday where MDC people whose homes and
livestock had been destroyed and stolen met with the Zanu people who had
done these, who had perpetrated these acts and they've reached agreement on
how to move forward. Now that's positive. That's the type of thing that we
need to see happening all across the country, this sense of healing, this
sense of reconciliation.
GONDA: The last time we spoke, you mentioned that you had not communicated
with senior Zanu-PF officials in a long time, so what is the situation now?
Are you conducting normal business with the government now, with Zanu-PF?
McGee: I have excellent access to those corridors now Violet, I'm meeting
almost too often with them. No you can never meet too often with these
folks. Things have changed, I am meeting with the absolute top levels in
Zanu. I'm not going to pinpoint, I'm not going to get into any more
specifics on that, we will not conduct our foreign policy through the media
but suffice it to say that yes, those doors have opened for me.
GONDA: So if you were to give advice to Zanu-PF, what would it be?
McGee: Work towards the will of the people of Zimbabwe. Listen to the people
of Zimbabwe. Meet their needs. That's what any government, there's no need
for government if government does not meet the needs and the will of the
GONDA: You are leaving next month, what are you going to do from here? Are
you going to go back to the military?
McGee: I'm going back to Washington. No I'm a state department employee, I
work for the department of state, I've worked for the department of state
for the last 28 years. For the next year I'm going to be working at the
National Defence University in Washington DC and it's part of the department
of defence but I still remain a state department employee. I will be
lecturing and doing other duties over there with a concentration on Africa.
GONDA: And will you still be involved to some extent on what is happening in
Zimbabwe or you'll disconnect yourself.
McGee: Undoubtedly. No undoubtedly, undoubtedly but not as far as policy
formulation or implementation, it will be more from an academic perspective
than on policy formulation or implementation.
GONDA: And finally, what are the options for the international community
given your assessment of the situation in Zimbabwe right now?
McGee: I think the options are very, very clear Violet. We need to continue
to provide assistance where we can to move this unity government along. SADC
and the African Union have both said that Zimbabwe needs to develop a
constitution, hopefully within two years and soon thereafter, hopefully
within six months after that, the country should move towards free and fair
elections. I think the international community just needs to try to ensure
that this country moves forward towards those two worthy goals.
GONDA: Just on that time frame, I had heard and even Dr Lovemore Madhuku,
the chairperson of the National Constitutional Assembly said the politicians
are not planning to have elections after 18 months or two years but after
five years. Would the international community support this?
McGee: You know, again at the end of the day that's a decision for the
people of Zimbabwe to make. All I can say on this is there are plenty of
other countries that need assistance and Zimbabwe needs to carefully look at
where it stands in respect to all the countries, not only here in Africa but
around the world. We want to continue to provide assistance to Zimbabwe, but
the assistance dollar is limited and those countries who show progress are
going to be those countries that get the benefit of the assistance dollar
whether it's from the United States or from another donor nation.
GONDA: A final word Ambassador McGee?
McGee: The final word is I'm going to miss Zimbabwe, I'm going to miss
Africa. As I mentioned to you before Violet, I've been here for the last 11
years of my life. I started out in 1998 serving in Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire
and since then I've gone on as ambassador to Swaziland and then to
Madagascar and the Comoran Islands and now here to Zimbabwe and it's been
wonderful. The continent of Africa has unlimited potential, unlimited
potential and I wish nothing but the best for the people of Africa.
Gonda: Ambassador James McGee, we wish you well and thank you very much for
speaking on the programme Hot Seat.
McGee: Thank you Violet. Good talking to you as usual.
Feedback can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
The Obama administration has to address a fundamental question: Given the
circumstances outlined in the June 13 editorial "Zimbabwe's 'Transition,' "
what U.S. government actions will strengthen Zimbabwe's democrats? For
TransAfrica Forum, the answers must include (1) Humanitarian support for the
country's most vulnerable; (2) resources to repair the country's decayed
health, education and transport infrastructure; and (3) use of the World
Bank's newly created multi-donor trust fund to ensure that funds reach the
intended recipients as opposed to the bloated security sector.
Additionally, appointing a special envoy charged with formulating a new
policy that moves beyond the narrow focus on "regime change" toward a
comprehensive approach that recognizes the region's multiple, intersecting
and complex crises, for which many actors -- both internal and external --
share some blame and responsibility.
Zimbabwe's military elite was forced to the negotiating table, but it has
not conceded power. It retains a declining but still significant level of
popular support. On this uneven playing field, donor nations demand that the
coalition government produce concrete evidence of change. Yet those seeking
change are handicapped by both a lack of access to resources and the
intransigence of the Mugabe forces.
Zimbabwe remains extremely unstable; continuing the Bush administration's
policy is likely to undermine the very actors on which change depends.
Senior Director for Public Affairs
RWANDAN President Paul Kagame has an interesting take on Africa's position
in the current financial crisis. He maintains that while Africans pride
themselves on the fact that they are not responsible for the crisis, their
freedom from blame and thus relative safety from the meltdown simply
highlights the fact that Africa is not a significant player. And as it is
not a cause of the problem, it is also not going to be part of the solution,
he told the recent World Economic Forum meeting in Cape Town.
That leaves Africa pretty much where it always has been - marginalised, for
better or worse.
Kagame is among those who believe that rather than looking for external
factors for the continent's marginalisation, Africans needed to examine how
they marginalise themselves.
A good start would be analyse why Africans continue to accept poor
leadership rather than demanding visionary leaders who act in the interests
of citizens. The defensive solidarity of politicians when threatened by
critics has been bad for Africa as it fails to prioritise right and wrong
over self- interest.
President Jacob Zuma, in a leadership debate at the forum, asserted that
with new global challenges, African leaders needed to find new ways of doing
He is right. But he then lapsed into sentiments that conveyed a sense of
business as usual - urging non-Africans not to criticise African leaders by
name, emphasising the benefits of quiet diplomacy and suggesting
"collective" responses to problems. However good collectivism might be, it
has allowed poor leadership to thrive.
Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe, in a debate about Zimbabwe, hid behind
just this notion.
He maintained the Southern African Development Community had a "clear grasp"
of the problems in Zimbabwe, which is why it had been able, collectively, to
"patiently help all parties come to an understanding of the gravity of the
In fact, Zimbabweans had a clear understanding of the gravity of the problem
long before the SADC did.
But leadership solidarity trumped decisive action.
Blaming "the West" for Africa's problems has prevented a search for
home-grown solutions to internally created problems.
Transforming the continent needs to start with an acknowledgement that
governments are a big part of the problem. A lack of vision of what the
continent should look like in 30 to 40 years is lacking. Development
initiatives appear to be limited to political tenure. Putting in place
mechanisms for decades to come just does not buy votes. So while it is
politically correct to draw up a "Vision 2020" (every country seems to have
one), politicians prefer to keep their eye on goals they can get immediate
Suspicion of the private sector underpins policy underperformance. A failure
to cultivate private sector-led growth and investment in favour of over-
regulation has long held back development.
Graham Mackay, CEO of SABMiller, says despite the company's large
investments across Africa, it has seldom been asked by governments what it
would take to attract more investment.
Although border initiatives are regularly mooted as a way to strengthen
Africa's capacity and infrastructure delivery, this, too, has not found
favour with many governments.
A United Nations official from west Africa recently bemoaned the tendency
towards "national chauvinism" in infrastructure, with officials blocking
cross- border projects in favour of national short-term plans.
Regional integration continues to be dogged by protectionist behaviour, with
governments failing to honour agreements and being tardy in harmonising
cross-border operating requirements, making intra-African trade expensive
and unnecessarily difficult.
I have heard a lot about how the global crisis has given Africa a chance to
forge a new destiny. But sadly there seems to be little new thinking about
what it can do differently. What the continent does not need is old
practices packaged as new solutions. A common interest in greater global
relevance requires a bold leap forward, not a hunt for scapegoats. And, of
course, it requires delivery.
As somebody said recently about Africa, paraphrasing a certain US president:
"Yes we can - but we don't."
Dianna Games is CE of Africa@Work, a research and consulting company