The ZIMBABWE Situation
An extensive and up-to-date website containing news, views and links related to ZIMBABWE - a country in crisis
Return to INDEX page
Please note: You need to have 'Active content' enabled in your IE browser in order to see the index of articles on this webpage

Morgan Tsvangirai heads for Europe and US in bid to raise cash

June 6, 2009

Jan Raath in Harare
The United States, Britain and Europe will welcome a Zimbabwean leader on an
official visit to their shores for the first time in nearly a decade next
week as Morgan Tsvangirai, the Prime Minister in the new power-sharing
Government, embarks on an international tour to try to win support to
rebuild his shattered country.

After nearly ten years of policies designed to isolate Robert Mugabe's
autocratic regime in Zimbabwe, Mr Tsvangirai is expected to be embraced by
President Obama in the White House early next week. He is expected to
receive a similarly warm welcome from heads of states across eight European
capitals, including London.

It is the first top-level effort from the new Zimbabwean Government - which
still has Mr Mugabe as its President - to resume close relations with the

The speed and ease with which Mr Tsvangirai has been accommodated into the
schedules of world leaders is being seen as a carrot to Mr Mugabe, who has
been forced to cool his heels in Harare by sanctions against him and about
230 of his cronies. Only one Cabinet minister from Mr Mugabe's side of
government will be able to accompany Mr Tsvangirai to America, because he is
the only one not banned from entering the US. Several, however, are being
granted visas for the European leg of the trip - Simbarashe Mumbengegwi, the
Foreign Minister, among them - because a clause in the European Commission's
sanctions allows them to be waived for "political dialogue".

Zimbabwe needs billions of pounds in international aid for the
reconstruction of an economy wrecked by corruption and abuse of power in the
past decade of Mugabe rule. A £5.3 billion, three-year reconstruction
project is planned - but although Mr Tsvangirai will personally be well
received, Western diplomats say his chances of securing the funding package
he wants are remote.
Concerns remain that Mr Mugabe has failed to demonstrate sufficient
commitment to reform and genuine power-sharing, and continues to use the
security forces, judiciary and media to stiffle change. Potential donors are
worried that funds could be diverted to him and to his cronies.

"Until the finance ministry can ensure that nothing will be channelled to
corrupt use, as it has been before, forget it," said one.

Instead, London, Washington and Brussels will continue to insist that aid
money goes to humanitarian agencies' projects, although Sweden is tinkering
with what is called "the humanitarian-plus option" of paying salaries direct
to teachers and nurses.

Many of Mr Tsvangirai's senior officials - some of whom have still not been
put on the government payroll - admit to the frustration of trying to work
within a government where Mr Mugabe's side often makes things as difficult
as possible.

Mr Tsvangirai has had to have his Prime Minister's address to the nation
recorded privately because the pro-Mugabe state media have refused to handle
it, and he is now struggling to have it broadcast.

"Every day is a struggle to get the tiniest thing done," said one of Mr
Tsvangirai's officials, who asked not to be named. "It is utterly

Mr Tsvangirai is due to visit the US, Britain, France, Germany, Holland,
Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Belgium, the latter as headquarters of the EU.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Zimbabwe growth at 2.8 pct in 2009

Sat Jun 6, 2009 3:28pm GMT

CAIRO (Reuters) - Zimbabwe's economy, devastated by an economic crisis, is
forecast to grow by 2.8 percent in 2009 helped by the new government's
recovery programme, a Zimbabwean Economic Planning Ministry official said on

"Our forecast this year is that the economy is going to grow by 2.8
percent," Samuel Undenge, deputy minister for economic planning, told
reporters on the sidelines of a Cairo conference, adding this followed the
new coalition government's move to set up a recovery programme to stabilise
the economy.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Transparency International Says Corruption Widespread in Zimbabwe Police, Judiciary

05 June 2009
Interview With John Makumbe  - Download (MP3) Download
Interview With John Makumbe  - Listen (MP3) audio clip

Zimbabwe's police and judiciary are perceived by many in the country to be unreliable and corrupt, according to the advocacy group Transparency International. 

Transparency International Zimbabwe said that of 312 reported cases of corruption, 38% concerned the police, Web news agency ZimOnline reported.

VOA was unable to immediately obtain a copy of the report.

Transparency International Zimbabwe's former chairman, University of Zimbabwe Professor John Makumbe, told reporter Patience Rusere of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that police and judicial corruption reflect a breakdown of the rule of law over the past decade.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Audit to weed out ghost workers

June 5, 2009

david-coltartEducation Minister David Coltart has conducted own audit of teachers.

By Ray Matikinye

BULAWAYO - The government is carrying out an audit on the number of civil servants on its payroll amid reports that 30 000 ghost teachers may be receiving salaries every month. Public Service Minister Eliphas Mukonoweshuro said on Friday the audit was expected to be completed mid-July.

Civil servants started receiving an allowance of US$100 each per month early this year regardless of grade but the finance ministry has assured civil servants that they would be paid proper salaries by the end of June.

The government was compelled to undertake the audit of employees following discoveries that some of the workers were not genuinely engaged by the government, amid reports that some youth militia aligned to President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu-PF party were receiving monthly salaries from the government.

eliphas-mukonoweshuroPublic Service Minister Eliphas Mukonoweshuro

The Ministry of Education, Sport and Culture ministry has since discovered discrepancies in the number of teachers on its payroll and that provided by three major teachers’ representative unions.

The three teachers’ unions have 60 000 members on their books while Minister David Coltart said records in his ministry showed 90 000 were on the government payroll.

Last month, the education ministry conducted its own audit by sending endorsement forms with each pay sheet that had to be signed by teachers at every school for comparison with records at head office before they received their allowances.

“We are doing it meticulously and this is the first time that such an audit has been carried out,” said Mukonoweshuro. “In the past there have been manpower surveys but this exercise seeks to establish who is a genuine civil servant and who is not.”

Over the past few years, Mugabe’s then ruling party recruited its party militia from youth training centres into government structures such as parastatals like the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) to bar members of the opposition from receiving government largesse.

The militias from youth training camps were gradually assimilated into Zanu-PF campaign structures and became notorious for harassing opposition members while receiving payment from the government.

Mukonoweshuro could not reveal the initial findings of the civil service audit or the extent in uncovering phantom civil servants. He said it was difficult for his ministry to pronounce results of an ongoing exercise.

“That would be premature because we want the exercise to be as comprehensive as possible. It is taxpayers’ money which is at stake here.”

Recently, Finance minister, Tendai Biti announced that the government monthly salary bill stood at US$80 million against revenue inflows of US$ US$100 million.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Moves to set up commissions

by Nqobizitha Khumalo Saturday 06 June 2009

BULAWAYO - The government moved closer to meeting targets set under the
global political agreement (GPA) when a special parliamentary committee
invited on Friday interested people to submit applications to be appointed
to four key commissions to be set up in terms a constitutional amendment
earlier this year.

Adverts placed in local papers by Parliament's Standing Rules and Orders
committee stipulate that those applying to be commissioners must be chosen
for their knowledge and experience in the field applied for.

The four commissions provided for under Constitutional Amendment Number 19
are the Zimbabwe Media Commission (ZMC), the Independent Zimbabwe Electoral
Commission, the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission and the Zimbabwe Human
Rights Commission.

Parliament said the application process would close in two weeks time.

Speaker of Parliament, Lovemore Moyo, in an interview last week indicated
that interviews will be conducted immediately after applications have been
invited and said the names of those that applied will be made public while
those that are ultimately recommended to President Robert Mugabe will also
be made public.

The setting up of the commissions will be the starting point towards the
democratisation of state institutions that have been under the control of
Mugabe and ZANU PF.

ZMC will replace the Tafataona Mahoso led Media and Information Commission
(MIC) which during its tenure shut down four independent newspapers and
issued stringent conditions for registration of foreign journalists.

Four freelance journalists have applied to the High Court challenging the
legality of the MIC.

The Independent Zimbabwe Electoral Commission is set to replace the Zimbabwe
Electoral Commission (ZEC), accused by the opposition MDC of backing and
supporting Mugabe and ZANU PF in the last polls.

The Anti Corruption Commission is expected to deal with worsening corruption
in the country while the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission is expected to
start work in reviewing the human rights situation in the country. -

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

PM meets Swedish delegation

by Patricia Mpofu Saturday 06 June 2009

HARARE - Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai on Friday held private
discussions with a visiting Swedish delegation ahead of his visit to the
European nation next week.

Tsvangirai is due to visit at least 10 European countries. He leaves
Harare Monday on a trip to plead for financial support for the troubled
inclusive government.

Sweden ambassador to Harare, Sten Rylander, said Friday that the
delegation led by Jan Knutsson, the Director General of International
Development Cooperation in the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs, had
held fruitful discussions with the Prime Minister.

"It was a fruitful discussion and he is looking forward to the visit.
He will be probably leaving for Europe on Saturday as he is scheduled to
visit 10 countries," said Rylander.

Government sources said Tsvangirai met the Swedish delegation together
with nine other embassy officials of the countries he is due to visit in
Europe as well as America.

The Swedish delegation left Harare Friday night.

On Thursday the delegation, which was in the country to assess the
political situation following the formation of the inclusive government,
held high level talks with senior government officials, among them Finance
Minister Tendai Biti.

Knutsson arrived in Harare on Wednesday accompanied by that country's
Head of Southern Africa, Pereric Högberg. - ZimOnline

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Washington Grants Visa To Zimbabwean Minister of Mugabe's ZANU-PF

By Blessing Zulu
05 June 2009

The U.S. administration has granted a visa to a Zimbabwean minister of the
ZANU-PF party of President Robert Mugabe who had previously been barred from
entering the United States, allowing him to come to Washington next week
with Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.

Sources in Harare said Tsvangirai leaves on Saturday for the Netherlands but
is scheduled to be in Washington on Monday, when he is expected to meet
President Barack Obama.

Tourism Minister Walter Mzembi of ZANU-PF will be traveling with Mr.
Tsvangirai. Though he is not among ZANU-PF officials subject to travel and
financial sanctions, he was rebuffed last month when he sought to travel to
Washington with Finance Minister Tendai Biti.

Sources in Harare said Mzembi is considered to be a moderate and conjectured
that the U.S. administration might be be trying to isolate ZANU-PF

Also accompanying Mr. Tsvangirai will be Economic Development Minister Elton
Mangoma and Regional Integration Minister Priscilla Misihairambwi-Mushonga,
respectively of the Tsvangirai formation of the former opposition Movement
for Democratic Change party and the MDC grouping headed by Deputy Prime
Minister Arthur Mutambara.

The delegation will seek budgetary and humanitarian assistance, government
sources said.

Minister of State Gorden Moyo, attached to the prime minister's office, told
reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that the cabinet has
decided Mr. Tsvangirai and his staff should be in charge of coordinating
humanitarian assistance.

London-based human rights lawyer Dewa Mavhinga said ZANU-PF must capitalize
on the olive branch seemingly extended by the Obama administration and
embrace reform.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Sudan's Beshir in Zimbabwe for trade summit

7 hours ago

VICTORIA FALLS, Zimbabwe (AFP) - Sudan's President Omar al-Beshir, who faces
international arrest for war crimes, arrived in Zimbabwe on Saturday for a
two-day African trade summit.

Beshir will join heads of state from the 19-member Common Market for Eastern
and Southern Africa (COMESA) who are set to approve a free customs union on

Zimbabwe has no duty to arrest Beshir as it is not party to the treaty that
set up the International Criminal Court (ICC), justice minister Patrick
Chinamasa told AFP.

"We are aware that the President of Sudan is under an ICC warrant of arrest
which he disputes. We are not a state party under the Rome Statute. We have
no obligation under the Statute of Rome to execute that obligation," he

The ICC issued an arrest warrant in March for Beshir to face five counts of
crimes against humanity and two of war crimes over the conflict in Darfur.

Sudan is a member of COMESA, which will be chaired from Sunday by Zimbabwe
President Robert Mugabe who takes over from Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki.

Under the free customs union deal, the 19 countries with a total population
of 400 million people will impose the same tariffs on goods from outside the

Raw materials and capital goods will travel across borders without tariffs,
while intermediate products will be taxed at 10 percent and finished goods
at 25 percent.

Also in Victoria Falls is ousted Madagascan leader Marc Ravalomanana, who
said Madagascar needs support and help from the trade bloc, following his
ouster in March.

"It was a coup. I'm sure COMESA will make a commitment so that I get my
country back," he told reporters at Victoria Falls airport.

Ravalomanana this week dismissed a four-year jail term to which he was
sentenced in absentia over his purchase of a 60-million-dollar presidential

COMESA consists of Burundi, Comoros, the Democratic Republic of Congo,
Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi,
Mauritius, Rwanda, Seychelles, Sudan, Swaziland, Uganda, Zambia and

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Ousted Madagascan Leader in Zimbabwe

VICTORIA FALLS, June 6 2009 - Ousted Madagascan leader Marc
Ravalomanana arrived in Zimbabwe on Saturday ahead of a two-day summit set
to launch a free customs union for Africa's main trading bloc.

Ousted Madagascan Leader Marc RavalomananaHeads of state from the
19-member Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) are set to
approve the free customs union on Sunday after trade ministers agreed on a
common external tariff deal.

Ravalomanana said he was invited by Africa's main trade bloc and the
Zimbabwean government and that Madagascar needed support and help from the
trade bloc, following his ouster in March.

"It was a coup. I'm sure COMESA will make a commitment so that I get
my country back," he told reporters at Victoria Falls airport.

"People of Madagascar are suffering. The illegal government is bad and
the situation is deteriorating every day. We have to follow rules of

Ravalomanana this week dismissed a four-year jail term to which he was
sentenced in absentia over his purchase of a 60-million-dollar presidential

On Sunday, Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe will take over the
COMESA chairmanship from outgoing chairman Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki.

Under the customs union deal, the 19 countries will impose the same
tariffs on goods from outside the region.

Raw materials and capital goods will travel across borders without
tariffs, while intermediate products will be taxed at 10 percent and
finished goods at 25 percent.

COMESA consists of Burundi, Comoros, the Democratic Republic of Congo,
Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi,
Mauritius, Rwanda, Seychelles, Sudan, Swaziland, Uganda, Zambia and
Zimbabwe. (AFP)

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Security of Re-abducted MDC Members Guaranteed

HARARE, June 6 2009 - Judge President Justice Rita Makarau on Saturday
granted security to three Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) activists who
were re-abducted on the 2nd of June and forced by the state to testify
against their fellow party members.

In her address to the court when she withdraw an application by the
state to force the three MDC party members to appear as state witnesses on
the 8th of June when the trial of the six MDC members, who were also
abducted in October last year, Judge President Rita Makarau said the three
will be protected by law and should give their true testimony without fear
on Monday 8 June when the trial kicks off.

"I am personally going to guarantee your security on the trial day,
and you should also seek security before you start giving your testimony. It
is not my responsibility to grant you security but the law should do that
for you. You should also show the courage you have shown to me when you were
narrating your reasons for refusing to testify against your fellow party
members, and this should be done truthfully because if you lie you wont be
protected by the law," said Judge President Makarau.

The three MDC members who were re-abducted are Fanny Tembo, Lloyd
Tarumbwa and Terry Musona.

Judge President Makarau also applauded the three's lawyers, Innocent
Chagonda and Chris Mhike and the state which was represented by Chris
Mtangadura from the Attorney Generals office, for their apolitical approach
to the matter.

"I want to thank the defence team and the prosecution for the
professionalism they have shown in dealing with this matter. You have done
me proud because you did not put any political connotation to this case
throughout the hearing. If our justice system treats all cases like what you
have done surely everyone will be fairly tried without political bias," said
Judge President Rita Makarau.

The three MDC members were arguing that the state was forcing them to
testify against their fellow six party members whom they were abducted with
by state agents, and who are being charged under the criminal law and
codification act.

The activists whose trial date has been set for Monday 8 June at the
High court are Cecilia Chinanzvavana, Fidelis Mujabumi, Violet Mupfuranhewe
and Collin Mutemagau.

The three through their lawyers last Thursday filed an urgent chamber
application challenging their forced appearance in court as state witnesses.
The chamber application was heard on Friday and Judge President Justice Rita
Makarau requested that that the three be brought before her to narrate their
ordeal leading to the application.

The three were brought before the Judge President on Saturday
afternoon where one of them Fanny Tembo told the court that if their
security was guaranteed, they would tell the truth on the trial date
contrary to the state's affidavits which state that the three are state

He also said he was not aware of the contents of the state affidavits
which he said he together with the two other activists were forced to sign
while in abduction.

The trial will kick off on Monday the 8th of June at the High Court of

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Villagers accuse Mohadi of seizing cattle

June 5, 2009

mohadi-injuriesDumisani Moyo shows the injuries he sustained when he was assaulted by Mohadi’s workers

By Vusisizwe Mkhwananzi

GWANDA – Villagers in the Ngoma area, 100km south of Gwanda town say they have lost hundreds of cattle to co-Home Affairs Minister Kembo Mohadi who has allegedly been using force and taking their animals away.

Late in April Mohadi’s son and workers allegedly raided the village at dawn and seized over a hundred cattle, claiming they had been stolen from the ministers’ Umzingwane Farm in Beit-Bridge.

Mohadi’s wife, Tambudzani, reportedly stormed a cattle sale in Nhwali were she forcibly took away fifteen cattle.

One of the villagers, Dumisani Moyo was beaten up and later kidnapped when he attempted to prevent his father’s herd of 78 cattle from being seized.

Moyo, who still has visible scars all over his body, told The Zimbabwe Times that an assortment of weapons was used to assault him.

“They had fan belts, axes, sjamboks, spears, knives, nails; in fact they had all the weapons”, said Moyo who sayd he now finds it difficult to use his right hand.

Moyo and his younger brother say they were kidnapped and spent two days without food at Mohadi’s farm before being taken to court charged with stock theft.

The two were, however, released before trial and rushed to Beit-Bridge hospital for treatment but are still to get their cattle back.

Police are reportedly afraid to investigate the case. The minister is responsible for the police force. Villagers have now sought the assistance of the President’s office to resolve the matter.

“These cattle are ours; we have stock cards to prove ownership but the police say the case is beyond their powers, but we will fight on until we get our cattle back”, said a defiant Moyo.

Gladys Gumbi, a widow who lost all of her sixteen cattle, says she has been deprived of her source of livelihood.

“I would from time to time sale cattle for the upkeep of my kids but now I don’t know whether I will be able to survive”, said Gumbi holding back tears.

She added that Mohadi’s workers smashed the windows of her house and stole possessions, including radios and axes.

Other villagers who lost their cattle include Nkosiyabo Gumbi (14 beasts), Jociaus Muleya (13), Tsworelo Ncube (6) and Tukuluho Ndlovu who lost four cattle.

Mohadi’s could not be reached for comment.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Cheap Imports Collapse Troubled Textile Industry

Shame Makoshori

4 June 2009

Harare - ZIMBABWE'S textile workers this week appealed for government's
intervention to halt the mass importation of textiles after results of a
recent survey revealed that 5 231 jobs had been lost in eight months as the
industry responded to increased foreign competition by cutting jobs.

The importation of textiles, which started taking its toll on the once
vibrant industry in the early 1990s when cheap fabric from Mozambique
flooded the local market, has accelerated since the liberalisation of the
country's economy in February. Most industry players are now on the brink of
collapse after failing to withstand the heat from cheap imports.

Last month, the Zimbabwe Textile Workers Union (ZTWU) warned, in a letter to
Industry and Commerce Minister Welshman Ncube, that further job cuts were
imminent if government does not take swift action to minimise the influx of
cheap fabric into the country.

The ZTWU membership has declined from 11 523 workers in September 2008 to 6
292 at the end of April.

"The industry is in intensive care," ZTWU secretary general Silas Kuveya

"Our statistics reveal that from September 2008 to April 2009, the textile
industry in Zimbabwe lost about 5 231 jobs and if the issue is not addressed
as a matter of urgency, the textile sector will loose more jobs.

"The above only refers to the textile industry and we believe that the
clothing industry is also affected in the same manner and this affects our
economy as well," added Kuveya.

Recent statistics by the National Union for the Clothing Industry indicate
that 16 000 workers remained in the industry in 2006 from about 24 000 in
2000 as the effects of hyperinflation, power and foreign currency shortages
combined to subdue production.

Two years ago, industry leader David Whitehead Textiles Limited escaped from
the jaws of closure as a result of the harsh economic terrain worsened by
the effects of imported textiles.

In the 1990s, another industry giant, Cone Textiles, now operating as
Modzone Enterprises, had to be rescued from collapse after serious viability
concerns triggered by the increased competition from imports and input

Several other small textile companies have closed shop due to the hostile
operating environment.

The ZTWU said it has particularly been enraged by the sale of two-in-one
blankets in Chinese and Nigerian shops weighing only 3,5 kg instead of the
recommended 5kg.
The union said while it appreciates the need for competition on the domestic
market, it noted with concern that there is "unfair" competition emanating
from some blanket manufacturers.

"The union has discovered that there is a sub-standard two-in-one blanket
being purported to be imported from South Africa and sold in local Chinese
and Nigerian shops.

"In actual fact, it seems this blanket is made in China and its packaging
and distribution is done in Zimbabwe while the bag is written 'Made in South
Africa' and the blanket label is written in Chinese," Kuveya said.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Zuma vows to continue supporting Harare

by Own Correspondent Saturday 06 June 2009

JOHANNESBURG - South African President Jacob Zuma has said his
government will continue supporting efforts to resuscitate Zimbabwe's
economy and bring back democracy in the troubled northern neighbour.

In a state of the union address last Wednesday Zuma, who is also the
current Southern African Development Community (SADC) chairperson, urged
"all peace-loving countries of the world" to support the inclusive
government in Harare to help resolve the current political and economic
problems confronting it. ?

"The plight of the Zimbabwean people has had a negative impact on the
SADC region, especially South Africa. We call upon all peace-loving
countries in the world to support the inclusive government to achieve
economic recovery," said Zuma.

The newly elected South African President, who unlike former President
Thabo Mbeki has been outspoken against Mugabe's autocratic rule, said South
Africa will continue with its efforts under the regional SADC grouping to
find lasting solutions to political problems in Zimbabwe and other
flashpoints in Africa.

"As the chairperson of SADC and facilitator, we will participate in
promoting the inclusive government until free and fair elections are held in
Zimbabwe," he said.

Zuma said problems in Africa, and Zimbabwe in particular, will impact
on every nation in the region adding that it was important that neighbouring
countries help Zimbabwe in its recovery efforts. ??

The South African president also vowed to continue supporting efforts
to resolve conflicts on the continent's hot spots including Darfur in Sudan,
the Saharawi Arab Republic and Madagascar. ??

Zuma, who survived an eight-year battle against corruption charges
that threatened to ruin him, was inaugurated as South Africa's third
democratically elected president last month following his ruling African
National Congress (ANC) party's victory in national elections in April.

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai
and Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara formed a unity government under a
power sharing deal brokered last year by former South African President
Thabo Mbeki on behalf of SADC.

Under the inclusive government, Zimbabwe has halted its spectacular
economic collapse, abandoning its worthless currency and easing price
controls, which has brought food back on to store shelves.

But with state coffers empty, unemployment at 94 percent, more than
half the population surviving on international food aid and some squabbles
still dogging the unity government, the country remains mired in crisis.  -


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Zimbabwean, Betty Makoni is my hero!

Michealene Cristini Risley
Posted: June 5, 2009 06:28 PM

I met Betty Makoni back in spring of 2007. I was introduced to her work by
photojournalist and dear friend, Paola Gianturco:

Paola and I were going to hear Betty speak in San Francisco but by accident
when I called for a ticket to the event, Sara Dotlich, who was head of
African Affairs for IDEX, answered the phone. Idex is a non-profit "that
provides grants to those who promote sustainable solutions to poverty."

After my conversation with Sara, she arranged for Betty and I to meet in a
small Café in San Francisco. We talked and shared our personal stories of
abuse as children. Betty's story was horrific. By the age of 9, she had
already been raped and watched her mother beaten to death before her eyes.
We spoke the same language; a language of survivors who turned their
personal stories into something more collective to change the world. We were
like an old married couple, we finished each others sentences, read each
others minds and left that restaurant as life long friends. In truth a
relationship that was cemented by the same origins of pain. A pain that for
both of us caused a deep and burning desire to help others.

So much of the anger and resentment surrounding rape and abuse is stirred in
a large bowl with love and laughter and other confusing factors. It is tough
to mix those ingredients together into anything that resembles a normal
life. The combination of those feelings makes sifting through the items for
the recipe painful at the very least.

I suppose part of what Betty and I had in common at that point was the
resilience to keep moving through the pain to find a place of comfort. We
both had healed enough to create productive lives and raise families. Both
of us had a strong desire to help others through the maze of abuse. Even if
helping others is defined by simply telling your personal story-it is enough
to make other survivors feel less alone.

Betty founded an organization called The Girl Child Network, a place where
girls could come after being raped or abused. The number of children abused
and raped in Zimbabwe is staggering. This behavior is fueled by the belief
that if a man rapes a virgin he will cure his AIDS. Makoni has created three
empowerment villages in Zimbabwe to help girls devastated by this myth. She
has saved thousands of lives. Betty continues to tell her story, even though
it is difficult. She must encounter those traumatized every step of the way.
Sometimes she can help them, sometimes she cannot, but pain follows her like
the skin upon her frame. Vital but unwanted. The aftermath of abuse, no
matter how well you have healed, often hits you when you least expect it.

For Betty, telling the truth and helping these girls has put her life at
risk. After I went to Zimbabwe to tell her story, and after my own
imprisonment, they hauled her into prison for harboring me, an "alleged CIA"
agent. In the prison cell, she had to stand for days without food or water.
Despite this, Betty never waivered from her support of the girls.

So many people REFUSE to discuss rape and abuse. I often say that I can
clear a room, when I start talking about this issue. It would be funny, if
it wasn't so true. The only way we can begin to understand and eradicate
abuse is by talking about it. According to Amnesty International: "One out of every three women worldwide
is beaten, coerced into sex, or otherwise abused in her lifetime."
According to the US Census Bureau roughly 3 billion women inhabit the globe. One third of that is 1.1
billion women. Think about this-1.1 billion women will face abuse in their
life time. Isn't it time we stood up and said, enough?

By they way, Betty isn't only my hero, check out her recognition at

Please check out our upcoming documentary on Betty Makoni:

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Walking amongst us

Dear Family and Friends,

Life is strange, almost surreal, in Zimbabwe this winter 2009. A week
into June and the weather still can't quite decide if its winter or
not. Mosquitoes, usually long gone by now, continue to emerge at dusk
and come into our houses, sitting on ceilings and roofs waiting for
victims. The weather isn't the only thing that's weird at the moment.

Deputy Prime Minister Mutambara came to our town this week. One port
of call was the local government hospital which has been in a state of
near collapse for a couple of years. Gaping potholes that littered the
road leading to the hospital were hastily filled before the Deputy
PM's visit but the patching stopped a couple of metres past the main
entrance gate. You fall into the holes on this main road just a corner
away. The mentality of making things look good just for the leaders
and only when VIP's visit, continues to haunt us and the rights and
needs of ratepayers and members of the community remains elusive.

There's a notable increase in the amount of big 4x4 vehicles
belonging to international charities on our roads. UN departments,
food programmes, medical organizations, religious charities. We hear
this week that the ICRC are feeding our prisoners, providing inmates
with blankets, soap and clothing. Unicef are drilling boreholes at the
University and our supermarkets are filled with South African goods.

'Zimbabwe for Zimbabweans,' the much quoted Mugabe mantra, is never
more hollow than now.

So destroyed is our agricultural foundation and so collapsed

our production at home, that imported South African goods are cheaper
than home grown food. Imported frozen chickens continue to be 2 US
dollars (20 SA Rand) cheaper than birds grown in our back yards. Its a
surreal situation not likely to improve any time soon as farm grabs by
senior political and security men continue unashamedly even as we try
to put the country back together again.

Perhaps the most surreal and frightening thing of all is that 4
months into Zimbabwe's unity government, truth, justice and
accountability is simply not featuring. The very men and women who led
us to this diabolical state; the ones who stole, beat, burnt and
killed are walking amongst us untouched - as if nothing happened.
Zimbabwe cannot be allowed to move on without truth, justice and
accountability. Until next week, thanks for reading, love cathy.

Copyright cathy buckle 6th June 2009

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Zimbabwe Still A Work In Progress

The Following is an Editorial Reflecting the Views of the US Government

05 June 2009

Zimbabwe's transitional government marked its first 100 days in office
recently, and its leaders can be justly proud of the progress so far. Since
President Robert Mugabe grudgingly agreed to share power with Morgan
Tsvangirai as prime minister, the economy has begun to stabilize, hospitals
and schools have gradually reopened, government workers are receiving modest
amounts, and food is increasingly available in shops again. Given Zimbabwe's
total collapse in 2008, the country has come far.

But while improvements have been made in these areas, hard-line factions
within the government continue to stymie comprehensive reform. Zimbabweans
are still being detained for their political beliefs and activities, and the
nation's agricultural sector, once among the most productive in Africa, is
in shambles due to ongoing farm invasions and government mismanagement. The
country's humanitarian situation continues to deteriorate in the wake of a
major cholera epidemic, among other factors.

Zimbabwe's friends in the international community have been quick to address
the country's humanitarian needs and will continue to do so. According to
the United Nations, donor nations have provided more than $246 million since
November for medical, feeding and other relief programs there. The U.S. has
provided more than $150 million in humanitarian aid so far in fiscal year

While the government has requested financial aid beyond humanitarian
assistance, unresolved problems in implementing the power-sharing agreement
raise doubts that any funds provided directly to the government would reach
those who need it most. In light of the Mugabe regime's disastrous record of
handling the nation's finances and caring for those in need, those doubts
are justified.

The United States is closely monitoring the government's progress with
regard to providing development assistance in the future. But at this point,
much more work needs to be done. Foremost, there must be movement toward
democracy, true power sharing and a commitment to human rights and respect
for due process. Zimbabwe is seeing real change, but the journey is just

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Lessons of Zimbabwe revisited

June 6, 2009

From Timothy Scarnecchia, Jocelyn Alexander and 33 others

FOR a number of scholars, Mahmood Mamdani’s ‘Lessons of Zimbabwe’ (LRB, 4 December 2008) requires a further response, given Mamdani’s stature as a scholar and public intellectual.

Some aspects of his argument are uncontroversial: there was a real demand for land redistribution – even the World Bank was calling for it in the late 1990s as the best way forward in Zimbabwe – and some of the Western powers’ original pronouncements and actions were hypocritical. There is a real danger, however, in simplifying the lessons of Zimbabwe. It isn’t just a matter of stark ethnic dichotomies, the urban-rural divide, or the part played by ‘the West’.

One of the more difficult tasks for scholars working on Zimbabwe is to convince peers working on other areas of Africa to look more deeply at the crisis and not to be fooled by Mugabe’s rhetoric of imperialist victimisation. Mamdani has, unfortunately, fallen in with this rhetoric by characterising Zimbabwean history and politics as fundamentally a battle between what he sees as an urban-based opposition, supported by the West, and a peasant-based ruling party besieged by external forces.

This flight of fantasy portrays Mugabe and his Zanu-PF cronies as heroes of a landless peasantry (which is how they see themselves) and the state – backed up by the paramilitary violence of war veterans and others – as the vanguard of a peasant revolution.

We suggest that Mamdani acquaint himself with the large body of Zimbabwean scholarship, which is easily available, rather than selectively using the arguments of scholars such as Sam Moyo and Paris Yeros on land reform, and Gideon Gono, Mugabe’s Reserve Bank governor, as his source on sanctions. Citing Gono is rather like using Milton Obote’s writings as a source for conditions in Uganda in the 1960s and 1970s. A starting point for more informed scholarship is the recent Bulletin of the Association of Concerned Africa Scholars, found at

Mamdani’s portrayal of Zimbabwe’s opposition politics is insulting to those who continue to endure so much in their struggle to build a better Zimbabwe. He argues that urban trade unions have always been marginal to the nationalist movement because of their supposed ‘Ndebele leadership’, and that the current opposition follows in this ‘weak’ trade-union tradition as well as being in thrall to Western interests. What he doesn’t mention is the trade unions’ hard-fought battle against repression before and after 1980. There were many challenges to overcome, among which ethnic politics was hardly the most prominent. That leaders such as Morgan Tsvangirai managed to reshape the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) from what had been a pro-Zanu organisation into a viable political opposition by the early 1990s reflects an Africa-wide and Africa-based phenomenon that Mamdani apparently missed. By accepting Zanu-PF’s argument that the MDC is primarily limited to urban areas and is the product of the West, Mamdani’s account loses credibility.

Mamdani has also sugar-coated his portrayal of political violence in Zimbabwe. He fails even to mention that many ‘peasants’ in Shona-speaking Zanu-PF strongholds turned against Mugabe and major Zanu-PF leaders in the March 2008 elections. It was this reversal that sparked a new round of state-sponsored violence against the same Shona peasantry that Mamdani cites as the beneficiaries of Mugabe’s benevolent dictatorship. In addition, during the months preceding the run-off election (April-June 2008), food relief was denied to rural areas, leaving the World Food Programme and other groups to scramble to re-establish supply to the Zimbabwean peasantry Mamdani suggests are at the centre of Zanu-PF’s concern.

Repressive legislation and actions by Zanu-PF activists are magically transformed by Mamdani into acts of generosity to outsiders. After noting discrimination against farm workers in gaining access to land on the grounds they or ‘their elders’ came from another country, Mamdani adds that ‘some were given citizenship.’ Yet he omits the fact that just before the 2002 presidential election the Zanu-PF government removed citizenship from many farm workers and other Zimbabweans whose parents or grandparents had non-Zimbabwean citizenship rights. The disenfranchisement of tens of thousands of perceived opposition supporters disappears in Mamdani’s analysis.

Mamdani’s contention that the West, not Mugabe and the Zanu-PF government, is responsible for the current crisis is as dangerous as it is wrong. By selectively citing instances over the past eight years when the West has cancelled donor funding, Mamdani gives the impression that the West has not been involved in sustaining life in Zimbabwe. The reality is that there are whole sections of the Zimbabwean population that the Zanu-PF leadership would rather punish with starvation than allow to support the opposition.

“We would be better off with only six million people, with our own [ruling party] people who supported the liberation struggle,” Didymus Mutasa, one of the key insiders in Zanu-PF, said in 2002, when drought again threatened to kill thousands of rural Zimbabweans. “We don’t want all these extra people.”

Western food aid has been a lifeline for ‘these extra people’ – when the state has allowed access.

Sanctions cannot excuse the callous disregard for human life Mugabe and his associates have shown, dating back to the Gukurahundi between 1983 and 1986 (which Mamdani glosses over as a brief bout of violence following from the tension between Zanu-PF and the ‘Ndebele unions’ in 1986), or the repeated land seizures which have been going on since the 1980s, the forced removals, violent reprisals, and the withholding of food aid. Furthermore, Mamdani’s suggestion that the fall in direct investment in Zimbabwe is the result of sanctions is dishonest.

There are no sanctions against direct investment in Zimbabwe, as shown by Anglo American’s willingness to invest $400 million in Zimbabwe during the summer of 2008 to protect access to platinum mines. There have been large investments from South Africa, India and China, as Mugabe has bartered away the nation’s resources for short-term interests. It is the kleptocracy and violence fostered by Mugabe and Co that has scared off other investors, not sanctions.

At a time when thousands of people in Zimbabwe are threatened by a cholera epidemic – in part at least as a consequence of Zanu-PF’s decision to replace MDC municipal officials with Zanu-PF ‘urban governors’ – and international donors are scrambling to help deal with the collapse of the health sector and widespread hunger, intellectuals such as Mamdani should display more responsibility and less posturing in their attempts to draw meaningful lessons from Zimbabwe.

Jocelyn Alexander, Linacre College, Oxford
Andrea Arrington, University of Arkansas
Michael Bratton, Michigan State University
Bill Derman, Michigan State University
William J. Dewey, The University of Tennessee
Matthew Engelke, London School of Economics
Linda Freeman, Carleton University
Petina Gappah, Zimbabwean writer and lawyer
Kenneth Good, RMIT University Melbourne
David Gordon, Bowdoin College Amanda Hammar, Nordic Africa Institute
David McDermott Hughes, Rutgers University
Diana Jeater, University of the West of England
Tony King, University of the West of England
Bill Kinsey, University of Zimbabwe
Norma Kriger, Cornell University
Todd Leedy, University of Florida
JoAnn McGregor, University College London
Clapperton Chakanetsa Mavhunga, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Showers Mawowa, University of KwaZulu Natal
David Maxwell, Keele University
Donald Mead, Michigan State University
John Metzler, Michigan State University
David Moore, University of Johannesburg
Shylock Muyengwa, University of Florida
Blair Rutherford, Carleton University
John S. Saul, York University
Richard Saunders, York University
Timothy Scarnecchia, Kent State University, Ohio
Anne Schneller, Michigan State University
Marja Spierenburg, Vrije University of Amsterdam
Colin Stoneman, JSAS Editorial Coordinator
Blessing-Miles Tendi, Oxford University
Wendy Urban-Mead, Bard College
Elaine Windrich, Stanford University

Back to the Top
Back to Index