New York Sun
By JAMES KIRCHICK
June 25, 2008
On Monday evening, the United Nations Security Council finally got around to
doing what countless editorialists, international human rights activists,
and ostensibly "outraged" Western leaders have been urging for years: it
issued a statement expressing its "concern" about the dire situation in
This is a worthy diplomatic accomplishment given the maneuverings of
President Mugabe's chief patron and ally on the Security Council, China, to
prevent such an effort. Granted, Monday's announcement was a meager one-page
statement, not a formal resolution, but any action from the world body at
this point is welcome.
As promising as this week's sally at Turtle Bay may seem, however, the net
effect for the people of Zimbabwe, like so much of what the "international
community" says about that blighted land, will be nil. At this point, the
only thing likely to save Zimbabwe is international military intervention.
"The Security Council regrets that the campaign of violence and the
restrictions on the political opposition have made it impossible for a free
and fair election to take place on 27 June," the proclamation read. A regret
is something you send on nice stationary when you can't make a wedding. It
hardly evokes the sentiment of free people toward the animalistic brutality
the Harare junta has taken against the people of Zimbabwe. The strongest
verb in U.N. nomenclature - the one that the Security Council ought to have
used - is "demand." The Council should have demanded an end to the
amputations, live burnings, and gunpoint executions that have now become an
every day occurrence in Zimbabwe.
Mr. Mugabe stands in violation of the United Nations Charter in the most
fundamental sense: he is illegally occupying the presidency of a member
state. He and his party lost presidential and parliamentary elections held
on March 29 and since that defeat he has unleashed a torrent of brute
violence on his opponents. Nearly 100 people have been murdered, many more
tortured, and thousands driven from their homes. Mr. Mugabe has pledged to
wage "war" on those brazen enough to vote against him in a runoff scheduled
for this Friday. On Sunday, opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai fled to the
Dutch Embassy in Harare, where he remains today in fear for his life.
Rather than express "regret" at the unfortunate circumstances in Zimbabwe,
the United Nations should be working to delegitimize that nation's
pretenders to power and work to seat its legitimate government. As the Sun's
editorial page said yesterday, "it's hard to imagine what is gained by an
American administration, of either party, recognizing the current regime in
Harare or hosting its diplomats in Washington." The United States should
lead the worldwide diplomatic effort to deport Zimbabwean ambassadors from
world capitals, as well as the diplomats comprising Zimbabwe's Mission to
the United Nations.
It has become de riguer in the parlance of international diplomacy that
force should never be the first option used in international affairs. For
more than eight years, Mr. Mugabe has driven his country into the ground,
starving and murdering his own people, all while the "international
community" protested, imposed sanctions, and "pressured" Zimbabwe's
neighbors to convince the dictator to change his ways. Clearly, these
efforts have not worked, and a more robust policy should be given a chance.
America should make the fate of Tendai Biti, the Secretary-General of the
Movement for Democratic Change, a crucial part of its diplomatic approach in
dealing with the Mugabe regime. Mr. Biti was arrested earlier this month on
fabricated charges of treason and "communicating falsehoods" and faces a
potential death sentence. His case should be a cause célèbre for all people
of conscience, and especially those organizations that stand for human
rights. A strong message should be sent to Mr. Mugabe and his cronies that
any injury inflicted upon Mr. Biti will be visited tenfold upon regime
In the wake of the NATO's successful interventions in the Balkans -
undertaken in the face of U.N. intransigence - a group of international
relations theorists and political leaders, foremost among them the foreign
minister of France, Bernard Kouchner, began to propagate a doctrine called
the "Responsibility to Protect."
It stipulates that, "When states manifestly fail to protect their
populations, the international community shares a collective responsibility
to respond." In the case of Zimbabwe, the government has done far worse than
merely "fail to protect" its people. It has raped, impoverished, and
murdered them, and has promised to inflict far worse suffering. How many
more dead Zimbabweans will it take before we try to stop the slaughter?
Mr. Kirchick is an assistant editor of the New Republic.
Friday, 27 June 2008 14:54
By Chief Reporter
HARARE - Zimbabwe's Joint Operations Command has hatched fresh plans
to launch a massive crackdown on the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) if
talks of a government of national unity (GNU) fall through.
The JOC, a think-tank of top security services chiefs which brings
together the army, police and intelligence chiefs, met in Harare Monday, a
day after MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai announced he was withdrawing from
Friday's sham and fraudulent poll.
Top security sources told The Zimbabwean that the meeting did a SWOT
(strengths, weakness, opportunities and threats) analysis of the run off,
which legal pundits say was illegal at law, and lacking all the essential
components of a credible election.
The Zimbabwean understands that the decision that the election
proceeds despite Tsvangirai's withdrawal was made in that meeting.
The JOC also summoned Registrar General Tobaiwa Mudede and instructed
him to deny Tsvangirai a passport, after pages in his travel book had run
Reserve Bank Governor Gideon Gono was also summoned to the strategy
meeting, which started at 9 am and ended at 5pm, and asked to provide expert
opinion on the potential impact of the expanded European Union sanctions.
In attendance was State Security minister Didymus Mutasa, Zimbabwe
Defence Forces commander General Constantine Chiwenga, commander of the
Zimbabwe National Army, Lt Gen Phillip Sibanda, head of Airforce Air Marshal
Perence Shiri, Army chief of staff Martin Chedondo, Police commisioner
general Augustine Chihuri, CIO chief Happyton Bonyongwe and Prisons head
There were fears in the JOC that proceeding with the poll would
provoke more international condemnation and worse sanctions.
But hardliners in the security thinktank took the stance that they
were proceeding with the poll because "we are under sanctions anyhow."
The JOC was also fearful that US and British governments would want to
invade Zimbabwe using the United Nations and African Union intervention
force as cover for regime change.
"The view of JOC is that Zimbabwe has a well renowned army that cannot
be overrun by anyone in Africa," said our source.
The Zimbabwe crisis has already been put on the agenda of the UN
Security Council, which has expressed alarm at the violence in Zimbabwe and
called on Mugabe to call off the poll. The AU meets in Egypt Monday, and the
Zimbabwe crisis is high on the agenda.
Both the UN and AU Security Council are under pressure to recognize
its responsibility to override sovereignty given the emergency situation in
Zimbabwe - to prevent genocide, arrest war criminals, and restore democracy
because the Mugabe government was either unable or unwilling to do so.
The SADC, African Union, and the UN have all said they will not
recognize whatever government emerges from the June 27 poll.
The Zimbabwean was told that the totalitarian military junta, fearing
an intervention force, has resolved to launch a massive crackdown on the MDC
aimed at forcing the resurgent party to surrender and assent to a government
of national unity with Zanu (PF).
The Zimbabwean can reveal that the JOC has expanded the terror team
that handles "smart operations."
The expanded team now comprises 20 officers from Military
Intelligence, five from the Special Air Services (SAS), five from the
Central Intelligence Organization (CIO), five from Zanu (PF). The team is
being handled by the CIO Internal division.
The Zimbabwean heard that this team has over the past week been
compiling addresses and names of MDC officials.
On Wednesday 50 vehicles were availed to the team including Mazda BT
trucks, Toyota Hilux vehicles and white single cab Isuzu vehicles.
Tsvangirai has said he is not opposed to a government of national
unity to avert the violence as long as Mugabe is not involved.
On the other hand, Mugabe says he is amenable to the idea of engaging
the MDC leader as long as he is not left out of any new arrangement.
On Wednesday Tsvangirai told reporters at his residence: "Let me say
clearly that there is no discussion about moving forward without our
secretary general Tendai Biti, who has been instrumental in all of our plans
and discussions. Tendai Biti is an indispensable asset of the MDC and the
people of Zimbabwe."
On Thursday Biti was granted ZD1 trillion bail or about US$100, and
asked to surrender his passport and the title to his home and report to
police twice a week, according to his lawyer Lewis Uriri.
Despite Mugabe's anti-MDC bombast, his chief election agent Emmerson
Mnangagwa has categorically stated that working together with the MDC was
"unavoidable". There were signs that the military junta was thawing its
relations with MDC, amid mounting international pressure.
This is partly because Zanu (PF) has lost control of Parliament and
that the embattled 84-year-old iron-fisted ruler knows he cannot claim any
form of legitimacy whatsoever from the widely-condemned Friday poll.
Mnangagwa has also stated that there are plans to reinstall the Prime
Ministerial post, which insiders said is earmarked for Tsvangirai as a
sweetener for the negotiated settlement, with Mugabe retaining his position
It explains Mugabe's obsession with proceeding with the Friday
election despite the official withdrawal of his opponent from the poll.
Civic society is totally opposed to this and say there cannot be any
marriage with such a murderous regime.
"We know he wants sheen of legitimacy from this poll, to use his
fraudulent win as a bargaining chip to retain his presidency in a negotiated
settlement," said a Western diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity.
South African President Thabo Mbeki, SADC's point man in resolving the
Zimbabwe crisis, is totally for the GNU. He however faces a daunting
challenge in brokering the deal given that Tsvangirai wants Mugabe out of
the picture and Mugabe does not want to be left out of any power-sharing
Friday, 27 June 2008 13:37
PRETORIA,-RULING ZANU-PF's antics to garner undeserved votes for
President Robert Mugabe in Friday's presidential run-off election have been
A Zimbabwean man, who is a member of ZANU-PF, said the party's militia
had embarked on a spate of rehearsals with people in the rural areas to
force them to vote for Mugabe.
"Some ruling party militias, who know opposition members in their
areas, are rehearsing their tricks with voters, to force them to vote for
Mugabe," said the man, who preferred anonymity for fear of victimisation.
He claimed that some people in the rural areas have been duped into
posing as illiterate voters on election day, so that they can be assisted to
cast their votes by pro-ZANU-PF officials.
The man also said some people have been told to feign blindness so
that they can be "assisted" to cast their votes.
Meanwhile, the level of political violence in Zimbabwe was reported to
be worsening despite the opposition Movement for Democratic Change leader
Morgan Tsvangirai having pulled out of the run-off, citing widespread terror
on his supporters.--CAJ News.
Monsters and Critics
By Clare Byrne Jun 27, 2008, 16:13 GMT
Johannesburg - The game is up for Zimbabwe's African neighbours.
Friday's one-man election contest, pitting 84-year-old President Robert
Mugabe against, in his own words, no-one but God, forces them to finally
show their colours.
'God dropped out of the race. It's only Bob against the world now,' a joke
doing the rounds in neighbouring South Africa goes.
But most of the world's major powers have little sway over Zimbabwe, as
eight years of Western sanctions, remonstrations and hand-wringing over
Zimbabwe have shown, meaning it's really just Bob against his African
They're either with him now, or they're against him, in the parlance of US
President George W Bush.
Ironically, Friday's farcical vote, which was boycotted by opposition leader
Morgan Tsvangirai clearing the way for Mugabe to scoop up another five years
in power, was the result of democratic reforms, brought about by none other
than one of Mugabe's closest allies, Thabo Mbeki.
The talks brokered last year by the South African president on behalf of
southern Africa between Mugabe's Zanu-PF party and Tsvangirai's Movement for
Democratic Change resulted in significant reforms that allowed the MDC to
romp to victory in March elections.
The reforms provided, among other things, for the election results to be
posted outside individual polling stations before being collated at the
national level, making it nigh impossible for the votes to be 'massaged' en
route to the national election centre, as happened in the past.
Opposition candidates were also awarded increased media coverage and allowed
to hold rallies in previously no-go Zanu-PF party strongholds.
The upshot was a first-ever defeat for Mugabe's Zanu-PF and a humiliating
second-place finish for Uncle Bob, as he is known in Zimbabwe, to Tsvangirai
in the presidential vote.
But the man who led Zimbabwe to freedom from British rule in 1980, was not,
as he has since hammered home, about to be ousted by a pesky X.
His security chiefs devised a vicious payback campaign against those who had
dared vote for Tsvangirai, deploying youth militia and the soldiers to beat,
torture and displace Mugabe's detractors, killing at least 90.
So effective was Operation 'Where did you put your X' that chastened
opposition supporters trooped back to the polls Friday to 'correct their
vote' and mark the box of the leader with the clenched-fist symbol.
'Where did you put your X' became Operation 'you'd better mark an X' as the
focus of the intimidation shifted to ensuring a respectable turnout in a
contest the leaders of the world's eight most powerful economies have
already snubbed as a farce.
'We will not accept the legitimacy of any government that does not reflect
the will of the Zimbabwean people,' the foreign ministers of the Group of
Eight said in Tokyo.
But it's the reaction of Zimbabwe's African neighbours to his expected
imminent victory declaration that is most keenly awaited.
The reticence of Zimbabwe's neighbours, particularly South Africa, about
eight years of gross human rights abuses by Mugabe has emboldened him in the
face of Western 'colonial' criticism.
Now the days of African countries rubberstamping dodgy Zimbabwean elections,
for fear of inviting scrutiny of their own human rights records, may be
The Southern African Development Community called on Mugabe before the vote
to postpone it, as did South Africa's ruling African National Congress.
Political analysts say isolation by SADC and the African Union is key to
forcing Mugabe to enter a powersharing agreement with the opposition seen as
central to a peaceful transition of power.
Whether Mugabe will get his come-uppance at an African Union summit at Sharm
el-Sheikh, Egypt on Monday, remains to be seen.
But he appears to gearing up for a dressing down: 'I want to say to any
country which will raise its finger in the AU, our elections have been
By David Gollust
27 June 2008
The United States Friday expressed deep disappointment that Zimbabwe's
presidential runoff election went forward even though incumbent President
Robert Mugabe was the only candidate. U.S. officials say they will pursue
new bilateral and international action against the Mugabe government. VOA's
David Gollust reports from the State Department.
U.S. diplomats were only able to observe voting in a few neighborhoods in
the Zimbabwean capital, Harare. But State Department Deputy Spokesman Tom
Casey said it is clear, even from that small sampling, that the election is
being conducted in what he termed "a true climate of intimidation and fear."
He says the Mugabe government, whatever it may say about the election, will
emerge from the "sham process" with no legitimacy in the world community.
The comments were some of the strongest to date from the Bush
administration, which stepped up its criticism of the Harare government
after opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai's departure from the race earlier
this week amid a wave of government-inspired violence.
Spokesman Casey said the situation has generated international concern and
disappointment even among longtime defenders of Mr. Mugabe in the southern
African regional grouping SADC, and the African Union.
He said he hopes the AU, discussing the Zimbabwean situation in a weekend
summit in Egypt, will push for a political solution to the crisis:
"We would hope they would continue to speak out in opposition to this
completely fraudulent electoral process that is now under way, and put their
weight behind international efforts to reach some kind of political
solution," he said. "At this point, I am not prepared to tell them what
specific measures they ought to take. But clearly we're looking for them to
speak out and do what they think is appropriate, and take what steps they
can to be able to put pressure on the regime to change its approach."
Echoing remarks by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice at the G8 foreign
ministers meeting in Japan, Casey said the United States will seek
additional action in the U.N. Security Council beyond the president's
statement from the council earlier this week condemning Zimbabwe election
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Zalmay Khalilzad completes his
one-month term as rotating Security Council president next Monday. But Casey
said the Bush administration does not see a need to push for further council
action by Monday, saying world concern about Zimbabwe will not suddenly go
He also said there are "a lot of things" the United States can do
bilaterally, beyond targeted U.S. sanctions against the Harare leadership
already in place, to underline its displeasure over the latest events.
Fri, 27 Jun 2008 17:30
The South African government was tight-lipped on Friday over whether it
would recognise the outcome of Zimbabwe's controversial run-off presidential
"Concerning the question of recognition, South Africa's approach to the
matter - moving from the premise that this is an African issue - will indeed
be guided by the collective wisdom of the Southern African Development
Community (Sadc) and the African Union (AU)," said foreign affairs
spokesperson Ronnie Mamoepa.
He was reacting to numerous queries about the government's stance on the
election, which took place in Zimbabwe on Friday.
The leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), Morgan
Tsvangirai, won the initial presidential vote, but not by more than the
required 51 percent, necessitating a run-off.
He pulled out of the race on Sunday amid claims of widespread torture and
intimidation of MDC supporters.
However his name remained on the ballot, alongside that of Zanu-PF leader
Robert Mugabe, who has served as Zimbabwe's head of government since 1980,
prime minister from 1980 to 1987, and president since 1987.
"South Africa is continuing to monitor the situation in Zimbabwe very
closely..," Mamoepa said from Pretoria on Friday.
The government's principal and strategic task at this stage was to ensure
the leadership of Zimbabwe - both Zanu-PF and the MDC - could jointly engage
in a process which sought to address its political and economic challenges
and to chart a way forward out of the present impasse.
"Inasfar as the reported violence is concerned, we reiterate our unequivocal
condemnation of violence irrespective of who the perpetrators are," he said.
Fri, 27 Jun 2008 16:37
Opponents of Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe held a noisy demonstration
and mock election outside the country's embassy in London on Friday as their
countrymen went to the polls.
Some 30 protesters, many from the opposition Movement For Democratic Change
(MDC) which withdrew from the presidential run-off after threats and
violence, sang songs, danced and chanted slogans like "New Zimbabwe, New
They said the vote would not be free and fair and were also protesting
against South African President Thabo Mbeki's softly, softly approach to the
crisis ahead of a march on the nearby South African High Commission later.
"We're trying to send a message straight to Thabo Mbeki's head that he has
to stop treating Mugabe with kid gloves," protestor Dumi Tutani said,
describing Mbeki as "a disgrace to the region".
"Had Mbeki been firm with Mugabe, this wouldn't have happened."
The mock vote was to highlight claims the election is being manipulated in
Mugabe's favour. The march to South Africa House was to include a coffin
symbolising what they say is the death of democracy in Zimbabwe.
At the embassy, they will hand in a petition calling on Mbeki to "stop
supporting Mugabe and allow a peaceful transfer of power."
Many of the protestors said they had fled Zimbabwe in recent years in fear
of their lives and painted a bleak picture of how the voting day would
unfold in their home country.
"Texts I'm getting from home say people are going to vote but not
willingly," Willard Karanga, another protestor, said.
"They're going to vote to save their lives because if they don't vote,
they're going to be tortured or killed."
Monsters and Critics
Jun 27, 2008, 18:24 GMT
Washington - The United States will 'take a very strong look' at the
possibility of extending sanctions on Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe's
government following the 'sham' elections that took place on Friday, the US
State Department said.
The United States already has sanctions on Zimbabwe, some members of
Mugabe's family and other 'cronies' in his government and more steps may be
on the way, deputy spokesman Tom Casey said.
'You will see us take a very strong look at additional measures that we
might be able to take in a bilateral capacity against Zimbabwe,' Casey told
Casey accused Mugabe of employing thugs to attack supporters of opposition
candidate Morgan Tsvangirai and his Movement for Democratic Change party,
and using intimidation and violence to ensure he won the run-off election.
Tsvangirai dropped out of the race on Sunday over fears his life was in
danger and fled to the Dutch embassy in the capital Harare. Tsvangirai won
more votes in the March 29 election but not enough for an outright victory
in balloting international observers believed was rigged to keep Tsvangirai
Since then, Mugabe government has launched a brutal crackdown on the
opposition, carrying out attacks that has left at least 90 people dead and
warning voters of consequences of casting ballots for Tsvangirai.
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, attending a G8 meeting in Kyoto,
Japan, told reporters she intends to urge the UN Security Council to embrace
measures against the Mugabe regime. She called the vote a 'sham.'
The G8 foreign ministers issued a statement rejecting the legitimacy of the
Zimbabwean government following the vote. The European Union also called the
election a 'sham.'
Harare - 27June 2008 - Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN), a network
of 38 organisations notes the withdrawal of one Presidential candidate from
the election prior to polling day with much concern and the impact this will
have on the credibility and legitimacy of the election outcome. ZESN has
been running a long-term observation project since December 2007 with
observers based in the country's constituencies. These observers have been
collecting election related information to date.
ZESN notes that the run-off has been marred by low voter turnout and heavy
police presence especially in the opposition strongholds.
The environment on polling day has been tense following a sustained and
violent intimidation campaign against the electorate since the announcement
of the March 29 presidential election results. On the eve of the election
there were reports of suspected ZANU PF supporters confiscating people's
national Ids in Mabvuku, Harare.
In most rural areas and some high density urban areas like Mbare and
Sunningdale queues were observed amidst reports that people were being
forced to go and vote. In Masvingo North, at Matova, St Stanislaus and
Mahoto polling stations observers reported that youth militia and
traditional leaders were writing down names of all those who were going to
the polls as they entered the polling stations and were again asking voters
to provide the traditional leaders with serial numbers of their ballot
papers as they left after casting their vote. The same pattern was also
noted in Esigodini, Chitungwiza, Zengeza and Mufakose where voters were
being asked to provide suspected members of ZANU PF with their serial
numbers after voting. In Zengeza, a known ZANU PF losing candidate in the
harmonised elections addressed voters at her house before they cast their
votes ordering them to record serial numbers of their ballots and surrender
them to her. In Mazowe Central at Howard polling station, suspected ZANU PF
members were recording the names of voters in a register. This was taking
place from a distance of about 300m from the polling station.
ZESN also notes alarming reports from Shamva, Chikomba and Marondera that
many people, including known literates like teachers were reportedly being
assisted to vote. Chikomba Central and Masvingo North Constituencies were
some of the areas where ZESN received such reports at the time of this
In most rural areas ZESN observers reported that traditional leaders are
forcing voters to go and vote. There is systematic gathering and forcing of
people to the polls particularly in Mashonaland Central in Guruve North
Constituency and Mashonaland West in Hurungwe East at Matende Primary
School. Suspected ZANU PF supporters were reportedly moving from house to
house calling on all registered voters to go and vote for ZANU PF. In
Chikomba West Constituency in Mashonaland East people were being ferried by
lorries to go and vote. ZESN also received reports of known ZANU PF
activists serving as polling officials.
ZESN notes with great distress reports that in some areas voters are being
asked to attend all night vigils tonight at bases dotted across the country
to take an audit of who voted and who did not.
Considering the low voter turnout, the forcing of voters to go and cast
their vote, alarming levels of political violence, evident participation of
traditional leaders and known ZANU PF activists in the voting process, voter
intimidation through requests for ballot serial numbers, among a host of
electoral flaws, it is ZESN's considered view that the outcome of this
election in such a climate of fear and coercion will not reflect expression
of the will of Zimbabweans and that the run-off will not solve the current
ZESN urges political players to engage in constructive dialogue to resolve
the prevailing political stalemate.
ZESN has been observing all elections in Zimbabwe since 2000. For the first
time in eight years, due to the late invitation to observe today's election
and a huge reduction in the number of ZESN observers (from 15 433 to 500) by
the Minister of Justice as well as the harassment and intimidation of its
observers, the Network was unable to field short-term accredited observers
to observe the presidential run-off election.
PROMOTING DEMOCRATIC ELECTIONS IN ZIMBABWE
FOR COMMENTS AND FURTHER DETAILS CONTACT
Zimbabwe Election Support Network
THE CANADIAN PRESS
OTTAWA - Prime Minister Stephen Harper has condemned what he calls a corrupt
election in Zimbabwe and may be prepared to announce sanctions against the
Speaking to B'nai Brith International on Friday, the prime minister said
Canada and the international community must pressure President Robert Mugabe
and his regime to hold a free and democratic vote.
"Our government has condemned the corrupt vote in the strongest possible
terms," he said. "And we are working with the international community to
bring in strong measures to pressure the Mugabe regime which has
illegitimately stolen the election."
He called the process in Zimbabwe "an ugly perversion of democracy."
Zimbabwe's run-off presidential vote became a one-man show this week because
opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai withdrew his candidacy after widespread
violence and bloodshed.
Tsvangirai won the first round of voting earlier this spring, but didn't get
a simple majority, forcing the run-off.
Since then, Mugabe's regime has been accused of terrorizing voters in
opposition districts. Dozens have been killed and thousands have fled their
homes in the political violence.
World leaders have condemned the situation, but Mugabe pressed ahead with
voting on Friday.
The G8 foreign ministers closed a two-day meeting in Japan with a joint
statement formally deploring "the actions of the Zimbabwean authorities ...
which have made a free and fair presidential run-off election impossible."
Mugabe, who has been president since his country won independence in 1980,
is believed to want a large turnout so he can claim an overwhelmingly
victory over Tsvangirai.
The 84-year-old politician has said he will never cede power to Tsvangirai.
© The Canadian Press, 2008
International Crisis Group
Francois Grignon in allAfrica.com
25 June 2008
With Zimbabwean leader Morgan Tsvangirai's brave decision Sunday to pull out
of Friday's presidential run-off election, no one in the world can say the
race was ever anything more than a sinister and deadly farce.
Hardliners in the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front
(Zanu-PF) party of President Robert Mugabe have used their absolute control
of state institutions and security forces to perpetrate a wave of violence
and intimidation against Tsvangirai supporters in the Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC).
Tsvangirai had wanted to believe that despite the terror, a real vote was
still possible, but now he has accepted that this is simply not the case.
Regardless of the real result, Mugabe would have himself declared the winner
anyway. There was no reason to play the game and give Mugabe's stolen
victory any hint of legitimacy.
In the first round of legislative and presidential elections on 29 March,
the MDC won a clear majority in parliament. Announcement of the presidential
results was delayed by five weeks while Mugabe's supporters prepared their
survival strategy, including manipulating the results to ensure a run-off
was required between front-running Tsvangirai and Mugabe. The regime had
thus already subverted democracy, and by all accounts, intends to do so
again in the run-off.
International support for Mugabe is disappearing fast even among his
one-time supporters in the region. South African President Thabo Mbeki, the
regional negotiator who has long been perceived as a weak reed in pressure
to end Zimbabwe's national nightmare, has acknowledged Mugabe is no longer
in a position to win a legitimate election.
The international community, and especially regional actors observing the
polls, must stand by Tsvangirai's decision and make it crystal clear to
Mugabe and his party that he will gain no legitimacy from a self-proclaimed
and fraudulent run-off victory - nor by simply declaring himself the
unopposed winner. Mugabe should not be allowed to use this cynical exercise
to perpetuate his power or to insist that he be able to hand the presidency
off to a chosen successor if he decides to leave office as a result of
Regional leaders and the wider world should unequivocally support the MDC's
decision to boycott this fundamentally marred poll. They must send the
message that they will not deal with a fraudulent government that has used
extreme violence to come to power.
Most parties and experts inside and outside the country agree that
Zimbabwe's best option would be a Mugabe-free government of national unity
between the Movement for Democratic Change and Zanu-PF. One desirable
outcome would be negotiation of a unity government with Tsvangirai as head
of government and a moderate Zanu-PF leader in a secondary position as
The sticking point is the future role of Mugabe in a transitional
arrangement. Tsvangirai rejects any role for Mugabe but is open to
power-sharing with some members of his party, a position supported by key
regional leaders helping to work towards a solution, including Botswana,
Zambia and Tanzania. By contrast, Mbeki said last week that Mugabe should
hang on as head of state until his succession has been organised.
The Movement for Democratic Change has approached senior military officials
to win them over to a negotiated end to the crisis and a restoration of the
democratic process. Will the hardliners and the security services get on
board? The current violence would suggest otherwise. Top opposition leaders
have been repeatedly arrested and detained in an effort to thwart their
campaigning. Their supporters have been targeted by violence, forcing them
to flee their homes, and some have been coerced into exchanging their
voters' registration cards to access increasingly rare food.
As many as 100 supporters of the MDC have been killed, while hundreds have
been subjected to torture or assault. More than 30,000 people have been
displaced following this new wave of violence. Further, several leaders of
the security services have publicly stated that they would never recognise
Tsvangirai as head of state. They have indicated that even if the opposition
leader is able to pull off an electoral win, they will take up arms to
retain their hold on power. These warnings follow Mugabe's statements that
he will not accept an MDC victory. In such an atmosphere, Tsvangirai had
little choice but to reject this election, as the world must now also do.
Violence has been spreading in Zimbabwe, and anarchy and civil war are
looming with the risk of a split within the security forces. This would have
grave consequences for not only Zimbabwe, but also the rest of southern
Africa and beyond. But this result is not inevitable. Even at this late
moment, there are courageous advocates for peace and reconciliation working
for a negotiated solution both inside the country and in the region. They
deserve international support.
Francois Grignon is Africa Program Director at the International Crisis
28th June 2008
I have to admit that when I heard the news that Morgan Tsvangirai had pulled
out of the election runoff, my reaction was total despair. Why give up now,
I thought, when you were so nearly there? You have just handed Mugabe
victory on a plate. Judging by comments I read from Zimbabwe, I wasn't the
only one who thought that way. Some MDC supporters were asking what all
their beatings and torture had been in aid of? They felt betrayed they said.
I hope that, like me, they have now come to see that it was the only thing
Morgan could do. What kind of leader would he be if he was prepared to let
his followers be terrorised and burnt out of their homes simply for 'voting
the wrong way'? Then we could really have accused him of being interested in
power for its own sake; anything just to get into State House. Instead he
has done the honourable thing; he has put the people's safety first before
his own personal ambitions. It was an agonising decision he had to make but
the reality is that even if Morgan had won the second round, Robert Mugabe
was never going to concede. 'Only God can remove me' he averred, like some
monarch of old claiming the Divine Right of Kings! 'God put me here, only
God can remove me.' Someone should remind the Dear Old Man that God works in
mysterious ways; in England the last king who made that claim had his head
Following Morgan's decision to pull out, there was a massive outpouring from
world leaders condemning the violence in Zimbabwe and in the last few days
even African leaders have finally found the courage to speak out. And last
night it was Mandela himself, here in the UK for his 90th birthday
celebrations, who finally expressed his 'sadness' at what is happening in
Zimbabwe. It was, said Mandela, 'a tragic failure of leadership'. Quite a
mild comment, I would say, but it might have the effect of encouraging other
African leaders to speak out, excluding Thabo Mbeki of course. Mbeki remains
stubbornly unable to admit that he is wrong, that his Liberation comrade has
turned into nothing more than a vicious dictator who fully deserves the
opprobrium being poured on his head. Zimbabweans must solve their own
problems says Mbeki and Mugabe reinforces the message, 'Let them shout as
much as they like in London and Washington, only my people will decide who
is to govern Zimbabwe.'
And on June 27th the Zimbabwean people will once again go to the polls but
no one should be deceived, there will be nothing free or fair about this
election. The violence which I thought would lessen once Morgan pulled out
has intensified but the objective now is to force people to vote and since
there is only one candidate, it's pretty clear that means Vote for RG
That message came home to me very clearly when I read about the behaviour of
a certain Major General Englebert Rugeje in Masvingo on Wednesday this week.
All the shops were ordered to close and the population of the town was
forced to attend a rally at the local stadium. Having got his captive
audience in place, the Major General launched into his tirade. As soon as he
started to speak the crowd proceeded to stream towards the exits but armed
Youth Militia barred all the gates and the people were forced to listen to
his chilling words: ' We are going to make sure you go and vote, not for any
person of your choice but for President Robert Gabriel Mugabe. I am not
asking you to do so but we will force you to go and vote.' And the Major
General continued, 'Zimbabwe is tied to the gun. Therefore anyone who wants
to rule this country should forget about voting but find his own guns to
rule.' Major General Rugeje is a serving officer in the Zimbabwe Army; he is
not some half crazed war veteran whose words can be dismissed as so much
Chinotimba-style nonsense. The Major General speaks with the authority of
his master, the Commander in Chief of the army, who dismisses the cross on a
ballot paper as a mere gesture when compared to the might of the gun. That's
democracy Robert Mugabe style.
What can the people do tomorrow as they are 'herded' ( the Major General's
term ) towards the polling stations? The simplest solution would be to
disappear. Hide out in a hole somewhere until it's all over but even that
will not prevent the beating you will get afterwards for not voting. It
seems the people have no choice, they will have to cast their vote or risk
their very lives. Spoil your ballot paper, the MDC advises but even if you
are forced to vote for Mugabe, don't panic because no one is going to
recognise the result when he declares himself the 'democratically' elected
President of Zimbabwe.
Thabo Mbeki flew in yesterday in a desperate attempt to persuade Mugabe to
call off the election. Mbeki's appeal was apparently met with outright
rejection. The election will go ahead. Mugabe cares nothing, or so he says,
for world opinion but he is looking dangerously isolated. As African voices
are now raised against him he threatens to reveal their own faulty
democratic credentials. Threats and violence are the only weapons he has
left. Like Ian Smith before him, Mugabe is at his most deadly as the day of
reckoning draws ever nearer. Will his cronies in the party remain loyal as
harsher sanctions are imposed and they can no longer travel abroad, access
their ill-gotten gains or send their children to expensive schools abroad?
One day before this sham election, the gallant freedom fighter, Tendayi Biti
was released from gaol and what he said about his interrogation reveals much
about the fractured state of Zanu PF. They are not the united party they
seek to portray. Instead, they are desperate to find out who is making deals
to secure advantageous positions in any future Government of National Unity.
The rats are fighting among themselves as the ship of state begins to sink.
It may take weeks or months but the end is very near, I believe. The
sacrifices of the courageous Zimbabwean people will not have been in vain.
MDC already has control of the Lower House; hope is not lost, freedom will
come and Robert Mugabe and his monstrous ego will sink without trace beneath
the waves. Such is the fate of all dictators.
Yours in the (continuing) struggle. PH.
In The Field
June 27, 2008
Posted: 1654 GMT
Zimbabweans voted today in an election many called a 'sham.' But ordinary
people from Zimbabwe were stuck outside the country watching the events in
their homeland unfold.
And so was I. CNN is banned by the Zimbabwean government from reporting in
the country.So I spent the week talking to Zimbabweans living in
Johannesburg. I met them at Park station in downtown Johannesburg and in a
refugee camp next to a plush golf course outside of the city.
At the station they gather commodities that they have bought to take back to
their families. There are few commodities in Zimbabwe and the inflation rate
is over two million percent. They were taking rice and maize meal, clothes
"There is no reason to go and vote since they are beating us like this,"
said one man at the Park station, "It doesn¹t make sense." Another agreed, I
can't use any of their names, they are afraid that Mugabe's government might
monitor CNN's broadcasts and website, "Even if we go back and vote, Mugabe
would not accept it. It is better for us to stay here, we are free here."
I was at the refugee camp as voting began. Many Zimbabweans live here and
they were depressed about their country. They had voted in March. Now they
were too fatigued at the politics or too afraid to go back.
They got hold of relatives, worried about their safety back in Zimbabwe.
Texas talked to his grandmother. She was too afraid to chat on the phone
because thugs were intimidating people at the polling station. Joseph also
got hold of his grandmother. She said that militia where forcing people to
vote and checking their hands for ink. They stain fingers when you have
voted in Zimbabwe.
I also met Nesbitt and his father. Nesbitt's father is a war veteran. War
veterans are generally associated with ZANU-PF. But his father, who doesn't
want us to reveal his name, fled the country a week ago. He says he was put
on a list an MDC supporter, though he has no real political affiliation.
"They said I was an opposition supporter because I am not following their
footsteps," he said, "I fought for democracy, not for brutality after
Not all Zimbabweans are refugees, of course, there are over a million of
them living in South Africa. Privilege is one of them.
Privilege is a 24-year-old Zimbabwean waitress who's been living in
Johannesburg since 2005.
She hopes for a better tomorrow in Zimbabwe, but she has gotten used to her
"I am better than I would have been had I been in Zimbabwe, so I can say
that I am happy."
Whether Privilege and other Zimbabweans ever get to live in their home again
depends on how the ruler of that nation and the leaders of the world decide
whether the people of Zimbabwe deserve a fair shake.
Posted by: CNN Correspondent, David McKenzie
Sunday, June 29, 2008; Page B01
HARARE, Zimbabwe -- My father, who lives in Zimbabwe's countryside, wrote me
a letter the other day. The 74-year-old man wrote that he had not had soap,
cooking oil, sugar or tea leaves -- virtually anything -- for a very long
time. Could I help? And if I had any old shoes that I was no longer using,
could I send them to him?
I felt castrated as I read his words. Like many Zimbabweans, I am in no
position to aid my loved ones; I had been out of a job for a whole year when
I got the letter. My father might have forgotten that, or simply been so
desperate that he just had to let me know about his plight. The company I
had worked for had closed down without any fanfare, and severance packages
were not paid. In an eerie way, the demise of our company mirrored the
demise of our country: The bosses at the top had proven adept at ruining the
company, not at running it efficiently with the welfare of the people at
heart. So we paid the price.
Now here was my father, asking for help I was honor-bound to give but simply
could not provide. I was filled with impotent rage -- the same feeling my
fellow citizens get as we watch Zimbabwe spiral out of control, caught in
the turbulence of bad, self-serving decisions by the powers that be,
ostensibly on our behalf but always at our expense.
In particular, my father's case fills me with simmering fury because he has
been a staunch supporter of President Robert Mugabe's party, the Zimbabwe
African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF), ever since the 1960s, when
he had served the liberation fighters in any way he could in their struggle
against then-Rhodesia's British overlords. Back in the 1990s, when Mugabe's
rule was turning sour, I was amazed still to find in my father's house an
official portrait of the president. When my father was in his early 60s, he
wrote to inform me that he had taken up a job in a different district as a
secretary for his beloved party. He was eventually forced to retire, and he
has been trying to eke out a living as a peasant farmer ever since. My
father has been devoted to the party that he says has nurtured him over the
years. What does he have to show for it? The very people he has pledged his
loyalty to over the decades are the ones responsible for his plight.
It is not just my father who is writing letters of lamentation; almost every
one of us has plumbed the bottoms of our hearts every day. We may never
write those thoughts down, but each moment we spend agonizing about how we
are going to make ends meet is, in essence, the sending of a plea -- one
that no one, sadly, seems to be able to answer. The hope of change offered
by the March 29 presidential election has been ruthlessly and systematically
crushed, and all that remains is the stains of our butchered dreams. Like my
father, we have all been betrayed, treated shoddily and been victimized for
daring to speak our minds. In Zimbabwe, if you question a wrong or criticize
an injustice, you are labeled a member of the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change. Since the regime rabidly calls the opposition puppets of
the West, that label can have dire consequences.
One relative, a tobacco seller in his early 40s, was particularly bitter
about the youth militia that is carrying out most of the regime's dirty
work: boys and girls barely out of their teens who are ordering elderly men
and women about with impunity. "Tisu tirikutonga," they declare: We are the
ones in power and control. And so they are.
"What hurts me the most," my relative said, "is that at my age, I have to
live in constant fear. To come here to Harare, we had to ask for permission,
and on our return, we have to go and report that we are back. . . . I am not
a politician. I just want to earn a decent living and get by."
"The problem is that there are people who did not tell Mugabe the truth,"
another relative pointed out. "They lied to him that he was still popular.
When he came to address rallies, they bused people from all over the
province, and it was the same crowds that were ferried to the different
venues, most of them forced. When Mugabe saw them teeming in their
multitudes, dutifully cheering and applauding him, he thought they truly
No longer. If anything, our trials and tribulations have deepened with the
failure of March 29 to materialize into meaningful change -- a stillborn
hope that haunts us.
There is a surreal quality to the crisis unfolding here. For the many
citizens who depend on the state media, it is business as usual, featuring
robust coverage of Mugabe's campaign appearances. Opposition leader Morgan
Tsvangirai's withdrawal from the run-off vote that was held Friday was
treated like a non-event. One neighbor, a devout soccer fan, observed, "This
is like having a penalty shootout with only one team." But Mugabe seems to
see nothing wrong with banging the ball into an empty net, then sprinting
down the field celebrating his victory. In fact, he does not seem to mind
playing the entire match on his own. As long as he is playing, all is well
But for the rest of us -- for my father, my relatives and friends, my
country -- all is not well. The other day, a devout Mugabe supporter had
assured a friend of mine that once Mugabe had clinched his victory, the
terrible inflation wracking the economy would go down, probably a day or so
after his inauguration. Such people seem to believe that diesel could come
out of a rock. We ordinary Zimbabweans do not deal with inflation by making
unrealistic assurances; we deal with it in its grittier, raw form, in our
day-to-day struggle for survival. Last week, Zimbabwe's dollar fell a
staggering 80 percent on the country's illegal currency markets as people
hunkered down before the presidential runoff. In barely a week, the price of
a loaf of bread -- which can be found only on the black market -- has shot
up from $1 billion to more than $6 billion, but even that could have changed
by the time this article appears. In less than two weeks, we have watched
the fares for a commuter omnibus, our common means of public transportation,
shoot up from $500 million to a price somewhere in the billions.
In Zimbabwe, we talk of these billions without batting an eyelid. A friend
from my neighborhood has a 4-year-old son who is in kindergarten. The other
day, I saw this boy holding a wad of $50 million notes; unless they all
amounted to a billion of our dollars, he could not buy a mere sweet with
them. Even our kindergarteners have to be billionaires these days.
Zimbabwean tycoons now talk in terms of quadrillions of dollars. I still
haven't been able to get my essentially artistic mind around denominations
with nine zeroes, much less 15. You should see the people frowning, trying
to count the bank notes.
As I count, I think of my father. His needs cannot be met, let alone my own.
The skyrocketing rise in the cost of transport and basic goods, most of
which can be bought only on the black market, means that what one earns is
less than what one must spend on survival. Yet day in and day out, people
trek to and from work. I can only conclude that we have all been turned into
criminals of one kind or another, selling and buying on the black market in
order to make ends meet -- which they barely do. And all we want is better
lives for ourselves and our children -- and an aging father who once
believed in Robert Mugabe.
The author is a Zimbabwean writer. The Washington Post is withholding his
name for safety reasons.
Thursday 26 June 2008
by: Matt Frei, BBC News
Look around the world and what you see is one nasty regime after another getting away with it.
Washington - The generals of Burma thumbed their nose at the global community, first by gunning down monks in the streets, then by watching their own citizens die rather than accept urgently needed aid after the cyclone.
The government of Sudan happily continues to sponsor what President George W Bush has called "genocide", and a phalanx of outrage from Hollywood to The Hague has been powerless to stop it.
Iran continues to enrich uranium - and its own coffers thanks to the soaring price of crude oil - while the Israelis are wondering whether they should put a stop to Tehran's alleged nuclear programme with a unilateral strike sanctioned by the US.
And now it is Zimbabwe's turn to proffer two fingers.
As he prances around the campaign trail in his colourful jackets, the still-sprightly 84-year-old Robert Mugabe reminds me of the Joker in Batman, laughing at a disapproving world.
His opponent Morgan Tsvangirai has been forced to hide in the Dutch embassy.
The wife of the mayor of Harare, a regime opponent, has been beaten to death.
Zimbabwe is a country of destitute, frightened billionaires.
There is consistent evidence of systematic harassment and murder of anyone who dares to support the opposition.
And a ham sandwich now costs 3.8 billion Zim dollars, when we last checked.
Zimbabwe is a country of destitute, frightened billionaires. And yet there seems very little that a disapproving world can do about it.
Call it the axis of impunity. It is a club that speaks volumes about the state of the world.
There is no shortage of moral outrage about the members of this club. What is missing is the moral high ground.
When America points a justly accusing finger at Burma's generals, it no longer has the same clout as it did a decade ago.
The double standards of Guantanamo Bay are one reason.
The other is the concept of "the coalition of the willing", the phrase used by President Bush to describe a fairly reluctant bunch of fellow travellers on the regime change express.
This further eroded the weak authority of the United Nations and introduced an air of voluntary laxity into matters of global urgency.
When I put it to Jendayi Frazer, the Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, that Zimbabwe might be a case for "regime-change", she almost reacted as if she had never heard the phrase.
Diplomacy has replaced the 101st Airborne Division as the administration's tool of influence.
The trouble is that it is firing blanks.
Just when you actually want Uncle Sam to throw his weight around a bit, he says he is bogged down, busy, otherwise engaged - call back later.
Then there is good old fashioned economic self-interest.
Why would the Chinese rein in their clients in Sudan if they need to buy all the oil and copper they can get their hands on?
And what hope is there for Europe to speak with one thunderous voice when its 27 members cannot even agree on a basic common constitution?
And if you're Russia, Iran or Venezuela - the axis of crude - and you can rake in $145 for a barrel of oil, why should you be listening anyway? You're laughing all the way to the refinery.
The UN is toothless, the EU is gormless and the US has had "the willing" kicked out of it by Iraq and Afghanistan.
Age of Non-Intervention
The emphasis now seems to be on regional bodies that most of the world barely even knew existed until recently.
Asean has tried to grapple politely with Burma.
The African Union is sending peacekeepers to Sudan.
And Zimbabwe awaits the stinging sanction of the Southern African Development Community. Take cover!
The good things about these neighbourhood watchdog schemes is that they are regional.
If his African neighbours berate him, then Robert Mugabe can no longer claim that he is being hounded by Rhodesia's former colonial masters.
Unfortunately the neighbours also need to shed their milk teeth.
Jacob Zuma, South Africa's president-in-waiting, may have called the actions of Zimbabwe's ruling party Zanu PF "unacceptable".
The President of Namibia has chimed in.
But the man who really counts - President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa - has remained mutely on the fence, apparently unwilling to ruffle the feathers of his former comrade-in-arms.
But whatever debt the ANC leadership owes Mr Mugabe from its days in opposition against apartheid, it must know that it would probably never have come to power if the international community had not imposed stringent sanctions against the Pretoria regime.
This crisis is about Zimbabwe's future and South Africa's reputation.
There is clearly more work for sanctions to do.
The British bank Barclays, for instance, opted out of business in apartheid South Africa but continues to function in Zimbabwe, which has made a mockery of human rights as well as the value of money - both of which are surely good reasons to cut ties.
The crisis in Burma, Darfur and Zimbabwe illustrate how messy the global picture has become.
We are living in an age of non-intervention, where the stage is crowded with fuming ringside observers.
It is time to get back to the drawing board.
Matt Frei is the presenter of BBC World News America which airs every weekday at 0030 BST on BBC News and at 0000 BST (1900 ET / 1600 PT) on BBC World News and BBC America (for viewers outside the UK only).
African Press Organisation
HARARE, Zimbabwe, June 27, 2008/African Press Organization (APO)/ - Freedom
House will host a special briefing on Monday featuring top representatives
of Zimbabwe's opposition party and civil society organizations to propose
solutions to the country's political crisis following its one-party
presidential runoff. The discussion will examine possible courses of action
for international and African bodies seeking to resolve the political
standoff with President Robert Mugabe and the country's deepening
Representatives of the Movement for Democratic Change, Crisis in Zimbabwe
Coalition, and Zimbabwe Election Support Network, and Media Institute of
Southern Africa in Zimbabwe
will lead the discussion via video link from Johannesburg, South Africa.
U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Carol J.
Thompson will participate from Washington.
WHAT: Post-Election Briefing on Zimbabwe Political Crisis
WHERE: SEIU Building, 1800 Massachusetts Ave., NW, Washington, DC
WHEN: Monday, June 30 from 3-4:30 p.m.
SOURCE : Freedom House
Getting away with inflation is easy, just ask Zimbabwe
27 Jun 2008 16:47
Causing inflation is a no-brainer. Getting away with it is even easier. The
only small hiccup is having to callously disregard the somewhat dire
consequences for your fellow-citizens. Clear that hurdle and you qualify for
the job. But qualifying does not mean you will get it - not many qualifiers
have cronies who will give them the nod. There are even fewer who have the
presence to bull**** the whole nation and get away with it.
Gideon Gono in Zimbabwe has given us a wonderful demonstration of how to go
about inflating a currency and causing minute-by-minute price rises. He has
been printing money at such a rate that the presses have been running
white-hot. He has printed so much that by 23 June 2008, the value of the
Zimbabwe dollar had fallen to 21,888,000,000 or 21,888,000,000,000 pre-2007
Zimbabwe dollars per 1 US dollar. The largest denominated note was then 50
billion Zimbabwe dollars and some estimates put the rate of price increases
at something like 400,000 per cent per annum. However, Gono still has some
way to go to beat the 1994 Brazilian, the 1923 German, and, daddy of them
all, the 1946 Hungarian inflation which had prices doubling every 15 hours.
If he keeps up the good work, he'll beat the record without much difficulty.
On its website, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe swears to uphold the values of
honesty, integrity and uprightness. It also claims that its primary goal is
"the maintenance of the internal and external value of the Zimbabwean
currency." According to the bank, the interest rate is 6,500 per cent, CPI
974,925,192.9 (now don't forget the .9) and the year-on-year inflation rate
is 100,580.2 per cent. Gono doesn't even claim the 400,000 per cent. You
see, you can be a master inflationist and still be a little modest about
your achievements. What a smooth operator!
What the Zim experience is showing us is that even with such a spectacular
demonstration of inflation-creation most commentators continue to believe
that printing too much money does not cause rapid and general price
increases. This means as a country's inflationist, you are home free.
Commentators, who fortunately include a whole raft of economists, will blame
things like the increase in the oil price, executive salary increases, the
greediness of shop owners, the current account deficit, the phases of the
moon, or some other such concrete phenomenon, leaving you free to "do your
own thing" while everyone continues to smile on you.
Semantic confusion enables inflationists to do the job and avoid being
nailed. A century ago, the word inflation meant an untoward increase in the
quantity of money in circulation and even non-economists knew that this
caused general price increases. They knew that debasement of the currency
meant a reduction in its purchasing power and they would get fewer goodies
for their bucks. Alternatively, they had to hand over more bucks for the
same quantity of goodies. According to pedantic economists the word
"inflation" meant an excessive increase in the money supply (the cause),
which always resulted in general price increases (the consequence). Then
some genius (it must have been a budding inflationist) thought of the clever
idea of calling general price increases "inflation". Give the consequence
the name of the cause and even economists no longer know their A's from
their E's - absolutely brilliant!
Our own Tito Mboweni was just getting up steam last year in June when the
year-on-year increase in M0 (the monetary base, which includes notes, coins,
and bankers' deposits with the Reserve Bank) hit a peak of 22.65 per cent;
his conscience then got the better of him and he took his foot off the
pedal. He is obviously not callous enough to be a true inflationist. You
have to have a hard heart to erode the purchasing power of the savings of
old-timers, widows and orphans, and others on fixed incomes. When you start
issuing new money like it's going out of fashion, you reduce the purchasing
power of all the money already in circulation. It's a steal, of course, if
nobody blames you, but you can't afford to let twinges of conscience affect
your inflationist performance.
Give it time. In South Africa, there are people after Tito's job who think
he's been a fuddydud for sticking to the Reserve Bank's primary objective to
"protect the value of the currency in the interest of balanced and
sustainable economic growth in the Republic" as required by the
Constitution. For people burdened with the injunction to act with "honesty,
integrity and uprightness" that could be a problem, but as Zimbabwe has
shown, there are ways around mere words in constitutions. No thoroughbred
inflationist will be deterred by semantics.
Citizens will love the lower interest rates that result when you first
increase the money supply. They'll borrow money to buy property and all
sorts of goodies that they've always wanted but couldn't afford. Banks'll
throw money at them and many will borrow as much as they can and spend it.
When everyone starts blaming everyone else for price increases, your pals in
government will talk about and even introduce price controls, labour unions
will clamour for inflation-plus wage increases, and eventually some
curmudgeons may even start dragging your name into the blaming business.
When the red alert flashes it's time to act. Don't breathe a word about
money supply! Come down hard; give the usual long list of reasons for the
price rises and declare that excessive spending has to be curbed. Consumer
behaviour must change; inflation expectations must be expunged from their
minds; those that borrowed all that nice lolly from the banks and spent it
must suffer the consequences; they must be choked by having to pay so much
interest that they have nothing to spend on other things. Ratchet up the
interest rates, then everyone will complain but tell you how responsibly you
are acting. What a life! You'll probably get a medal for your noble efforts.
* Eustace Davie is a director of the Free Market Foundation.
Sadsbury PA: MDC North America (NAP) has a vibrant team in place to face
the many challenges taking place now and beyond. We have secured meetings
with key African members of the UN Security Council and we will impress on
them to change course on the Zimbabwe issue and side with the people. The
meetings are scheduled with UN Ambassadors for Burkina Faso, South Africa,
We are resolved to send the Mugabe regime away for good. Representatives who
voted were drawn from the following branches and locations Dallas Texas,
Columbus Ohio, Indiana Indianapolis, Philadelphia, Penn State, Raleigh
North Carolina, Nashville Tennessee, and New York city. The sub-committees
on Finance, Information, Disciplinary, Lobbying, and asylum & Immigration
will be in place at the next meeting.
The following people were elected and this is an Interim structure
until a congress is held.
Mr. A Bako Chairman
Mr. C Msimbe Deputy
Mr. T. Nyandoro Acting Secretary General
Mr Z. Ruzvidzo Secretary General on
Ms A Murambiwa Women Chairperson
Mr. O. Chikonyora Treasurer
Mr. W. Makota Deputy
Mr. N. Rusike Organizing Secretary
Mr.S Masuku Deputy
Mr. O. Ndhlovu Information & Publicity
Mr. S. Maswela Deputy
Mr D Mpondi Asylum & Immigration Secretary
Mr P Bere Youth Chairperson
Media : firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com
Political Asylum firstname.lastname@example.org
New branches & members: email@example.com