by Lebo Nkatazo
A KEY vote for a new Speaker of Parliament was postponed on Tuesday after
the sitting of the House of Assembly was indefinitely suspended.
MPs are expected to choose a Speaker at the next sitting after Lovemore Moyo’s
2008 election was nullified by the Supreme Court on March 10.
The Clerk of Parliament Austin Zvoma cancelled a scheduled sitting of
Parliament on Tuesday pending the announcement of a date for the election of
Speaker, but was immediately criticised by the MDC-T.
“The constitution, standing orders and Supreme Court ruling oblige us to go
back to the beginning to procedurally and lawfully fill the vacancy in the
office of Speaker created by the dissolution of Parliament at the beginning
of 2008,” Zvoma said.
“Accordingly, I as Clerk of Parliament duly mandated to comply with
provisions of the constitution and Standing orders, do hereby announce that
the election of the Speaker will take place on a future date to be announced
in due course.”
Zvoma said there would be no further parliamentary business until a new
Speaker was elected in line with the constitution.
He added that decisions made by Moyo during his time as Speaker remain valid
“for legal and other consequences”.
Moyo, who is chairman of the MDC led by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai,
was kicked out of the Speaker’s chair when the Supreme Court ruled his
election had breached secret ballot rules.
Six MPs, including Moyo, had displayed their filled ballot papers to the
party’s parliamentary leadership against rules.
The MDC-T has since said Moyo will run again, while Zanu PF is thought to be
considering Simon Khaya Moyo.
Reacting to Zvoma's move, the MDC-T said its MPs "will proceed to Parliament
in spite of a unilateral cancellation of Parliament by Austin Zvoma, a Zanu
"Zanu PF is scared of the vote for Speaker because of factionalism and
divisions in that party. The people’s party of excellence, MDC, is united
and ready to win the vote together with other progressive members of
parliament across the political divide."
Mar 22, 2011, 15:48 GMT
Harare - There were chaotic scenes in Zimbabwe's parliament on Tuesday after
the election of a speaker was cancelled.
Legislators chanted slogans and sang after the cancellation was announced by
the clerk of parliament, Austin Zvoma.
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) said
it would take Zvoma to court over his unilateral decision.
Earlier this month the Supreme Court nullified the election of speaker
Lovemore Moyo from 2008. Moyo is an ally of Tsvangirai and the first speaker
from outside President Robert Mugabe's ZANU PF since Zimbabwe's independence
MDC Secretary General Tendai Biti, the coalition government's minister of
finance, said Zvoma had become 'a willing appendage' of ZANU PF.
Parliament had only reopened on Tuesday after adjourning last month. Zvoma
said there would be no further business of the house until of the election
of a speaker, the date for which will be set by Mugabe.
By Alex Bell
22 March 2011
ZANU PF MPs on Tuesday walked out of Parliament, after the MDC displayed a
united front over the election of a new Speaker of the House.
MPs were meant to vote for a new speaker during Tuesday’s sitting, after the
Supreme Court’s shock decision to set aside the August 2008 election of
MDC-T candidate Lovemore Moyo to the position. But the vote did not go
ahead, after a chaotic sitting, which saw the factionalised MDC come
together to support Moyo as the nominated candidate for the role.
ZANU PF’s Clerk of Parliament, Austin Zvoma, had first thing Tuesday morning
announced that the vote would be deferred indefinitely, claiming that ZANU
PF was not prepared for the poll. The MDC-T almost immediately stated that
its MPs would proceed to Parliament, regardless of Zvoma’s announcement,
staying it was ready to win the Speakers vote.
“ZANU PF is scared of the vote for Speaker because of factionalism and
divisions in that party. The people’s party of excellence, the MDC, is
united and ready to win the vote together with other progressive members of
parliament across the political divide,” the MDC-T said in a statement.
SW Radio Africa correspondent Simon Muchemwa reported that MPs from all
three parties in the coalition government, ZANU PF, MDC-T and the smaller
MDC faction now led by Welshman Ncube, arrived at Parliament for the vote on
Tuesday afternoon. He explained that support for Moyo as the nominated
Speaker was evident, with MDC MPs all chanting his name as he walked into
Surprisingly, MDC-N leader Ncube and his predecessor, Deputy Prime Minister
Arthur Mutambara, appeared to put their differences aside for the purpose of
the vote, walking into parliament hand-in-hand. Ncube and Mutambara have
been fighting for several weeks after Ncube took over leadership of the
party, with Robert Mugabe refusing to swear him in to Mutambara’s position
as Deputy Prime Minister.
But it appeared Tuesday that Mugabe’s favouring of Mutambara did not go
according to ZANU PF’s plan, with Ncube and Mutambara showing their united
support for the MDC-T’s elected Speaker candidate. Muchemwa explained that
this united MDC front saw MPs cheering wildly and the ZANU PF reaction was
to walk out of the House.
“The MDC-T realised that they had a large majority of support with all the
MDC members ready to vote for their Speaker. So ZANU PF MPs just walked
out,” Muchemwa said.
But the Speaker vote did not proceed, and the MDC-T has threatened to seek
the intervention of the High Court to force the vote to go ahead.
William Hague has warned that autocratic leaders including Robert Mugabe of
Zimbabwe could be shaken and even toppled by a wave of popular uprisings
rippling out from north Africa.
By James Kirkup, Political Correspondent 5:25PM GMT 22 Mar 2011
The Foreign Secretary said that recent revolts against authoritarian leaders
in countries including Libya and Egypt will have a greater historic
significance than the 9/11 attacks on the US or the recent financial crisis.
Mr Hague stopped short of threatening military intervention against other
dictators, but warned that they will inevitably face “judgment” for
oppressing their people and suppressing democracy.
In a speech to business leaders in London, Mr Hague said that the examples
being set in north Africa and the Middle East will ultimately transform the
relationship between governments and their populations.
“We are only in the early stages of what is happening in North Africa and
the Middle East. It is already set to overtake the 2008 financial crisis and
9/11 as the most important development of the early 21st century,” he said.
"Inspiring scenes of people taking the future of their countries into their
own hands will ignite greater demands for good governance and political
reform elsewhere in the world, including in Asia and in Africa."
In what will be seen as warning to Western allies including Saudi Arabia, Mr
Hague added that the spreading demand for more representative government is
likely to bring “some degree of political change in all countries in the
Repressive African regimes will also face challenges from their populations
and from the international community, the Foreign Secretary said: “Demands
for freedom will spread, and that undemocratic governments elsewhere should
He added: “Governments that use violence to stop democratic development will
not earn themselves respite forever. They will pay an increasingly high
price for actions which they can no longer hide from the world with ease,
and will find themselves on the wrong side of history.”
Britain, the US and France have said that members of the Gaddafi regime in
Libya could face war crimes trials for atrocities against civilians.
“At a time of such hope and optimism in the Middle East, we cannot let the
Libyan government violate every principle of international law and human
rights with impunity,” Mr Hague said, suggesting that other African leaders
could also face international legal tribunals.
“Governments that block the aspirations of their people, that steal or are
corrupt, that oppress and torture or that deny freedom of expression and
human rights should bear in mind that they will find it increasingly hard to
escape the judgement of their own people, or where warranted, the reach of
international law,” he said.
Mr Hague named African leaders including Mr Mugabe, who has ruled Zimbabwe
The Zimbabwean security forces “continue to act with impunity, ramping up
intimidation in order to instil fear in its opponents and to prevent the
people of Zimbabwe from expressing their democratic voice,” Mr Hague said.
He also named Laurent Gbagbo of Cote d’Ivoire, who has refused to concede
that he lost last year’s presidential election, and is “sanctioning attacks
on defenceless civilians in a desperate attempt to cling illegitimately to
Despite repression in some countries, Mr Hague said that Africa now stands
at a “turning point” that could lead to economic growth and political reform
benefiting millions of people.
By Lance Guma
22 March 2011
Robert Mugabe on Monday blasted western countries imposing a ‘no fly zone’
to protect civilians in Libya as ‘bloody vampires.’
"There is no reneging on the resolution anymore, it's there, it’s a mistake
we made...we should have never given the West (the go ahead) knowing they’re
bloody vampires of the past all this room to go for our people in Africa and
try to displace a regime,” Mugabe said after a meeting with Chinese Vice
Premier, Wang Qoshan.
Mugabe accused the West of double standards, saying they were only
interested in Libya’s oil. He said the West was interpreting the UN
resolution to mean permission ‘to bombard any places of their own choice in
But the United Nations had the support of the Arab League when it passed a
resolution to impose a ‘no-fly zone’ over Libya, after Gaddafi forces began
re-taking rebel held towns, vowing to go door-to-door in search of the
so-called ‘traitors.’ Although Mugabe is attacking the West, a crucial point
is that it was Gaddafi’s peers, the Arab League, who called for the
Debate has now shifted to whether the no-fly mandate should be extended from
merely protecting civilians, to including the removal of Gaddafi. Such talk
has worried dictators in many countries.
There is now a growing chorus of voices suggesting the MDC seek United
Nations help in resolving the political crisis in Zimbabwe, rather than
relying on SADC and the African Union (AU). Unlike the Arab league SADC has
bent over backwards for Mugabe and accommodated his repressive regime.
But several UN resolutions on Zimbabwe by the UN have been blocked by a
combination of South Africa and China in the past, and despite analysts hope
that the UN is the most potent organization to deal with Mugabe, it’s almost
certain South Africa would continue to block any action or resolutions.
22 March 2011
Mutare Magistrate Nixon Mangoti on Tuesday 22 March 2011 acquitted nine Rooftop artists and their driver, who were charged with criminal nuisance after staging a theatre performance entitled “Rituals” in Chimanimani, Manicaland Province.
Magistrate Mangoti acquitted the nine Rooftop artists and their driver at the close of the State case after the artists’ lawyers Blessing Nyamaropa of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) and Cosmas Chibaya of Chibaya and Associates applied for discharge at the close of the State case.
State prosecutor Fletcher Karombe had led evidence from three witnesses since trial commenced on 17 March 2011.
In acquitting the Rooftop artists, Magistrate Mangoti ruled that the State had not led any evidence that a reasonable court could convict the artists.
The Rooftop artists namely, Sylvanos Mudzvova, Chipo Bizure, Joice Mpofu, Zenzo Nyathi, Mandla Moyo, Rutendo Chigudu, Amina Lloyd Ayamu, Joshua Mwase, Norman Kamema and the driver Shingirai Muto were arrested on 5 January 2011 at Nhedziwa Growth Point in Chimanimani, Manicaland Province and were detained at Cashel Valley Police station.
They were charged with contravening Section 46 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act as read with Section 2 (a) (ii) of the third schedule to Section 46 of the said Act that is criminal nuisance.
The police accused them of unlawfully holding a public performance, where they performed a drama reminiscent of the political disturbances of June 2008 that incited the affected members of the public to revive their differences.
Harare, March 22, 2011 - Air Zimbabwe pilots on Tuesday went on strike to
protest against the non payment of their allowances.
The pilots downed tools on Tuesday morning and assembled at a car park at
the national airline’s headquarters at Harare International Airport.
Informed sources told Radio VOP that the pilots had resorted to the
industrial action to demand payment of their outstanding allowances, which
haven’t been paid since last year despite promises by management which
undertook to clear the outstanding payments.
“The airline owes us a lot. They haven’t fulfilled their pledge to pay us in
full. So this is the only language that they can understand,” said a source.
The strike action resulted in the cancellation of an Air Zimbabwe flight to
Johannesburg on Tuesday morning.
Air Zimbabwe board chairperson Jonathan Kadzura confirmed the strike and
said the national airline had done nothing so far to avert or end the
industrial action because it had no money to pay the pilots.
“It is the same old thing. Money, that I don’t have,” said Kadzura when
reached for a comment by Radio VOP on Tuesday. Air Zimbabwe pilots went on
strike last September demanding payment of their allowances.
Tuesday, 22 March 2011 12:21
By Nduduzo Tshuma in Bulawayo
Water Resources Management and Development minister Samuel Sipepa Nkomo has
condemned poor working conditions and abuse of employees by a Chinese
contractor, China Nanchang, working on the Mtshabezi-Umzingwane dams link
This follows the death of one of the workers, Charles Moyo, in an accident
two weeks ago and complaints by some of the workers that company officials
in charge of the project were abusive.
Moyo died on the spot when the walls of a 10 metre-deep pipeline caved in on
him and five other colleagues while laying pipes.
Sipepa, who visited the deceased’s family last Thursday in the company of
the permanent secretary in the ministry, Ringson Chitsiko, presented $1 000
to the family to cover funeral expenses.
Moyo’s colleagues yesterday told NewsDay the company exposed them to
dangerous working conditions and made them work without protective clothing.
“At times we do rock-blasting without any form of protective clothing. Some
even work without shoes.A number have sustained cuts on their hands from
carrying fragments of rocks with bare hands while others have sustained
various injuries because we are not given any form of protective clothing,”
said one of the workers who spoke on condition of anonymity.
The company’s 46 employees alleged they were paid $4 per day and were
sometimes forced to work on weekends without overtime allowances.
The workers said they were made to travel more than 10km to work on foot.
They also accused the contractor of deducting money from salaries of those
who attended Moyo’s funeral wake last week.
“We did not sign any formal contracts and if the contractor decides to stop
us from working, they just tell you to stop coming to work,” said Tapson
Nyathi, one of the workers.
He said one of the Chinese nationals at the site was abusive and at one time
kicked a driver for refusing to follow his orders.
“The problem is that these people do not understand our language and they
give instructions, some of which are unreasonable and they expect us to
follow them. One day a crane driver refused to lay pipes as the crane had
its hydraulics damaged and one of the Chinese contractors kicked him
accusing him of failing to do his job,” said Nyathi.
“The driver had to turn back to avoid further attack by the Chinese,” he
Nkomo said the abuse of the workers was unacceptable.
“We cannot allow these members of the contractors to abuse the locals. I am
going to talk with the head contractor so that this stops otherwise those
who abuse the workers will have to leave the site,” he said.
He also suggested that the workers form a union that would present their
grievances to the Zimbabwe National Water Authority’s Umzingwane catchment
manager Tommy Rosen.
No comment could be obtained from the Chinese contractor at the time of
going to print - Newsday
With the government keeping international and non-governmental partners at
arm’s length over their alleged politicization of food, sources say ordinary
Zimbabweans may end up suffering as Harare is ill-prepared
Sandra Nyaira | Washington 21 March 2011
Agricultural and food experts have been voicing concern for some time about
the impact of a recent drought on Zimbabwe's soon-to-begin maize harvest,
but new information suggests the food-security impact could be much greater
than previously thought.
Agriculture Minister Joseph Made said Monday that the provinces of
Manicaland, metropolitan Bulawayo were being added to those of Matabeleland
South, Matabeleland North, Midlands and Masvingo as facing critical food
Observers said Harare could need up to US$300 million to meet food
requirements if it turns to the international marketplace to meet national
food requirements, particularly in light of steep increases in grain prices
over the past year.
With elements of Zimbabwe's national unity government keeping traditional
international and non-governmental partners at arm’s length over their
alleged politicization of food, sources said ordinary Zimbabweans may end up
suffering as Harare is ill-prepared.
The government has said that things look worse on the ground than its recent
crop and food assessment suggested. The Cabinet has instructed the
state-controlled Grain Marketing Board to start sending grain to the
But experts said the GMB has not held significant reserves for some time and
will not be able to meet food needs. The agency says it will be selling a
50-kilogram grain bag for US$16 in some areas - out of reach for many
cash-poor rural and urban dwellers.
Dadirayi Chikwengo, chairwoman of the National Association of
Non-Governmental Organizations, told VOA reporter Sandra Nyaira that the
food situation is dire.
Chikwengo said the Zimbabwean government must work with traditional partners
to conduct a new assessment and allow such partners to help feed the
Economist John Robertson says Zimbabwe could have avoided food security
problems if most of the farms seized under land reform had been put under
crops this year.
"We've had poor weather in parts of the country but if crops had been grown
in the first place, we would have reasonable crops today," said Robertson.
"But very little of the land is planted and we see very little activity on
the land that was taken through the land reform process," he said.
The Matabeleland Liberation Front has called for a separate Matabele state,
and while the Abammeli Human Rights Network says it does not necessarily
share this view it believes everyone deserves legal representation
Sithandekile Mhlanga | Washington 21 March 2011
A group of attorneys who broke away from the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human
Rights to form the Abammeli Human Rights Network said Monday that they have
officially begun to represent three members of the Matabeleland Liberation
Front facing treason charges.
Members of the Abammeli Human Rights Network, which taps prominent
Matabeleland lawyers, say they broke away from the Zimbabwe Lawyers for
Human Rights last week after the latter organization said the Liberation
Front's views were too radical.
The Matabeleland Liberation Front has called for the creation of a separate
Matabele state. An Abammeli Human Rights Network spokesman said the group
does not necessarily share those views, but believes that everyone deserves
A Bulawayo High Court judge Monday postponed ruling on bail for the three
defendants: John Gazi, Thomas Gumbo, and former presidential candidate Paul
Abammeli lawyer Kucaca Phulu told VOA reporter Sithandekile Mhlanga that the
case has drawn much attention in the region and the High Court was packed on
by Irene Madongo
22 March 2011
Residents in Harare are demanding action to be taken against Local
Government Minister Ignatious Chombo, for firing two councillors who were
part of a committee investigating corruption claims against him.
Last week Monday Chombo reportedly dismissed MDC-T councillors Warship Dumba
and Casper Takura, accusing them of fraud and mismanagement of council
funds. But Dumba and Takura were part of a special committee formed to
investigate the theft of property in Borrowdale and Avondale, which
implicated Chombo and businessman Phillip Chiyangwa.
On Tuesday, Combined Harare Residents Association chairman Simbarashe Moyo,
said they are fed up with the Minister abusing his power and want to
finalise their course of action against him at an upcoming meeting. Strike
action will not be ruled out, and they also want to approach the Prime
Minister Morgan Tsvangirai to intervene, Moyo said.
“We are going to explore several options in trying to expose this kind of
heavy handedness by the Minister,” Moyo said.
“What is left for us is to make as much noise as possible. We are going to
go a step up to mount pressure on the Minister, to mount pressure on the
Prime Minister even so that, if possible, he should rein in on his
Ministers,” Moyo added. “It has reached a level whereby to ignore it will be
actually dangerous, not [just] to the person ignoring it, but even to
everyone in the country.”
It’s been reported that Chombo’s deputy, Sessel Zvidzai who is an MDC-T MP,
has already taken the dismissal issue to the Prime Minister. Meanwhile,
Dumbo and Takura have reportedly threatened to take legal action against
While he accuses councillors of corruption, Chombo himself is widely
associated with it. He shocked Zimbabweans last year when the staggering
amount of property he owned was revealed in his divorce case. In addition to
properties in the capital, he has interests in several farms, mines and
hunting safari lodges in other parts of the country and in South Africa.
Critics say there is no way a former university lecturer could have acquired
such wealth on his salary.
Various residents associations around the country have long been calling for
Chombo to step down, because of allegations of corruption against him.
By Alex Bell
22 March 2011
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai is being urged to seek help from the United
Nations (UN) to intervene in the Zimbabwe crisis, as efforts to force action
from regional leaders again seem set to fail.
UK based political analyst and former diplomat, Clifford Mashiri, has
written to Tsvangirai asking for a possible meeting, saying: “I am taking
the initiative to express my personal wish that you as our Prime Minister
and MDC President pay a visit to the UK so that I and hopefully other
interested Zimbabweans can have a decent conversation with you on how to
resolve the current crisis in our country.”
Mashiri told SW Radio Africa on Tuesday that Tsvangirai is in danger of
further isolating Zimbabweans in the Diaspora, by not making the effort to
engage with them or give them the chance to explain how they believe the
situation back home could be solved. Mashiri said that he is particularly
concerned about the UK’s recent decision to resume deportations to Zimbabwe,
and said this is partly Tsvangirai’s fault for insisting that all was well
back in Zimbabwe.
Mashiri also used the letter to urge Tsvangirai to consider seeking UN
intervention, saying: “The option we seek to discuss with you is seeking
help from the office of the United Nations Secretary General to compliment
what has been achieved so far by the SADC and the AU, and help map-out a
realistic roadmap for free and fair elections in Zimbabwe.”
Mashiri said on Tuesday that, although he was being diplomatic in his
letter, he is “very unhappy with the foot-dragging by SADC.”
“I am not alone in this. Many people believe SADC has failed Zimbabweans. I
am also not with South Africa’s Jacob Zuma and his mediation efforts,”
Mashiri said. “What difference has it made? The situation is not getting any
better as we can see by the selective application of the rule of law,
political violence and the denial of different civil liberties.”
Tsvangirai last week returned from a brief regional tour, where he met
leaders from Botswana, Zambia, Mozambique, Swaziland and South Africa. He
told the leaders that SADC urgently needs to intervene in Zimbabwe, which he
warned was on the brink of becoming a police state. But so far, the only
regional reaction to Tsvangirai’s efforts has been for South Africa’s Zuma
to promise a return of his mediation team to Zimbabwe this week.
Observers have commented that it is unlikely SADC, which has been dismissed
as a ‘toothless bulldog’ will do anything to stop the ZANU PF violence and
intimidation across the country, because they have never done anything
meaningful in the two years that the unity government has been in existence.
Written by MISA-Zimbabwe
Tuesday, 22 March 2011 14:04
Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights on 17 March 2011 filed an appeal with the
High Court challenging a Bulawayo magistrate’s denial of bail to Vikas
Mavhudzi who is facing charges of attempting to overthrow the government
through comments posted on Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s facebook wall.
According to the heads of argument filed by Lizwe Jamela who is representing
Mavhudzi, magistrate Gideon Ruvetsa erred when he denied the accused bail.
He said the state had not proved how a simple and unsophisticated man could
pose a threat to the safety of the public and security of the state which
had security structures at its disposal nationwide.
Jamela argued that the court had no reason to assume that his client was
going to continue sending messages to people encouraging them to revolt
against the government. Jamela told MISA-Zimbabwe that the state had since
filed its opposing papers on 21 March 2011.
Mavhudzi who was arrested in Bulawayo on 24 February 2011, was remanded in
custody to 25 March 2011.
Through the facebook posting, Mavhudzi is alleged to have "unlawfully or
suggested” to Tsvangirai the taking over or attempt to take over the
government by unconstitutional means or usurping the functions of the
He had thus allegedly sent an email to the Prime Minister saying: “I am
overwhelmed, I don’t want to say Mr or PM what happened in Egypt is sending
shockwaves to dictators around the world. “No weapon but unity of purpose
worth emulating, hey.”
by Business Reporter
WORKERS at the comatose Zimbabwe Iron and Steel Company (ZISCO) have
welcomed the Redcliff-based firm’s takeover by ESSAR Global Limited and
urged the new investors to address the issue of unpaid salaries which, the
say, date back to December 2010.
ZISCO ceased operations more than a couple of years back weighed down by
undercapitalization, heavy debts and poor management forcing the government
to sell a majority 54 percent interest in the company to ESSAR in a bid to
revive the company’s operations.
The new investors have committed to relieve Government of debts reaching
US$340 million as well as invest up to US$750 million in the revival of the
ZISCO has over the years suffered a massive flight of skilled human capital
and the few who remain – mostly to help maintain the moribund plant – want
the issue of unpaid to be salaries addressed.
“We have not been paid since December last year and we hope the new
investors will address this problem. They should also get rid of the present
management since they are responsible for the collapse of the company,” one
employee told NewZimbabwe.com.
Some of the workers said they had been advised that the back salaries would
be paid during the week.
Meanwhile businesses in Redcliff and Kwekwe are also upbeat over prospects
for the local economy with ZISCO’s revival.
“Once ZISCO returns to viability we should see business picking up in both
Kwekwe and Redcliff,” said a local retailer.
Most of the major local employers such as BIMCO and Lancashire Steel – both
subsidiaries of ZISCO – took a hit from steelmaker’s collapse with effects
also being felt in other downstream activities as well as the retail and
ESSAR says it plans to boost ZISCO’s production capacity from one million
tonnes of steel a year to 2.5 million tonnes in the next three to four
The company also plans to set-up an iron beneficiation plant in Chivhu and a
power plant at Redcliff to meet additional requirements that will come with
the boost in output.
"We will work with Government to put up a power plant (to ensure adequate
supply for Ziscosteel increased power needs," a company spokesperson was
quoted as saying by state media.
The official said there was a huge gap between production and demand for
steel in Africa, which ESSAR could exploit by raising capacity at ZISCO.
He however, said this depended on the availability of basic infrastructure
including an efficient rail system, adequate power supplies and other key
"The infrastructure should be available – 2.5 million tonnes of steel is not
a joke. For instance, this would require 4.5 million tonnes of iron ore per
year, around 2.5 million tonnes of coal for coke and a lot of limestone," he
MISA-Zimbabwe Alert Update
22 March 2011
Zanu PF activists arrested for tearing copies of Newsday
Two suspected Zanu PF activists were reportedly arrested in Harare during
the weekend after they tore copies of the privately owned daily, Newsday.
The suspects who were detained at Harare Central Police Station, were set to
appear in court on 22 March 2011.
According to Munn Marketing distribution manager Tonderai Charamba the duo
was part of a group that was demonstrating in the city ahead of the
anti-sanctions campaign launch by Zanu PF at its provincial offices in
They allegedly confiscated and tore copies of Newsday and other Alpha Media
Holdings’ publications, The Standard and Zimbabwe Independent.
Alpha Media Holdings chief executive officer Raphael Khumalo commended the
police action saying similar cases had been reported in the past but no
action had been taken against the culprits.
The editor of Newsday, Brian Mangwende, said: “Those responsible (for
tearing the papers) should face the music. The arrests show (that) the
police … did the professional and honourable thing by apprehending the
misguided elements of society. We commend the police for a job well done.”
Tuesday, 22 March 2011
The MDC and judicial freedom
The MDC is a genuinely democratic party which believes in Constitutionalism and the rule of law. At the core of the rule of law is the belief that disputes must be settled after due process and that there can be no resort to self-redress and self execution. That is why for many years, the MDC has persistently and consistently sought redress in the courts of Zimbabwe.
We have filed endless applications with different results with the various courts in Zimbabwe. The reason why we did this was our strong belief in the Judiciary and we still believe that disputes can be resolved in the courts of this country.
To that extent, I and the party I lead truly believe in the independence of the Judiciary. This means that there should not be an executive interference in the work of the Judiciary. This also means that the conditions of service of those who serve in the Judiciary, the provision of the necessary requirements such as law reports, translation and recording equipment and research assistants, must be provided and enhanced.
It follows that the Judiciary itself has a duty to uphold the laws of the country in a fair and just manner.
My recent comments on the Judiciary were clearly an immediate reaction against a judgement that affected the morale of my party. Those comments should not be taken out of context. They are not in any way a departure from my strong belief in judicial independence nor were they meant to undermine anyone.
As a party, we remain committed to judicial independence. We have never sought to undermine anyone in the Judiciary and we will continue to place our matters before the courts. That is why, as recently as last Saturday, our lawyers were before Justice Chiweshe, arguing for the lifting of the ban on our peace rally.
In a democracy, the courts must have the freedom of exercising their duties without undue interference from politicians and the executive. We believe in the separation of powers of the executive, the Judiciary and the Legislature. The Judiciary will remain the last bastion of the defence of the rights of citizens in a democratic society.
Morgan R. Tsvangirai
MDC President and Prime Minister of the Republic of Zimbabwe
By Lance Guma
22 March 2011
Mugabe’s ZANU PF party is in the middle of a full scale crusade to violently
force people to sign their ‘anti-sanctions’ petition. This week attention
briefly turned to Tsholotsho North MP Jonathan Moyo, one of the ZANU PF
strategists behind the campaign, and his hypocritical parroting on the
Writing in May 2006 Moyo, then an independent MP after being sacked by ZANU
PF, argued that targeted sanctions, including the Zimbabwe Democracy and
Economic Recovery Act (ZIDERA), “cannot be said to be illegal either in
terms of United States law or international law.”
Moyo proceeded to say; “If there was any illegality in terms of
international law, the government of Zimbabwe would have by now taken the
matter up with the appropriate international bodies with the relevant
jurisdiction. The fact that no such thing has happened or will happen shows
that the mumbo jumbo from the ZANU PF government about the so-called illegal
sanctions is cheap propaganda.”
Astonishingly Moyo even defended his inclusion on the targeted sanctions
list, arguing; “Sovereign countries have a right to take policy measures and
enact laws such as those contained in the sanctions targeted at some
individuals in this country including this writer (Moyo), as long as those
measures are lawful in the countries imposing them.”
Moyo attacked what he called the ‘policy poverty’ of Mugabe’s speech at the
opening of parliament in 2006 saying it “demonstrated that the ZANU PF
leadership is now brain dead, hence its policy delinquency.”
Moyo said; “Despite spirited attempts to attribute the present economic
turmoil to the so-called illegal sanctions, all available indications
suggest that the sanctions issue is indeed nothing but propaganda. That is
why there is no response to it either in the fiscal or monetary policy.”
A fitting summary of the political games at play was to come from Moyo when
he said; “Mugabe and Murerwa (Finance Minister) understand that the
sanctions talk is pure ZANU PF propaganda for mobilising political support
from the masses by seeking to make them believe that their suffering is due
to economic sanctions imposed by imperialist foreigners and not a result of
the failure of their government.”
But five years later Moyo is once again part of the ZANU PF team of
strategists trying to make something out of the so-called anti-sanctions
petition. Over the weekend he had no hesitation in singing the praises of
the campaign, claiming it had ‘gathered further momentum’ with “its
localisation at major centres in all the country’s 10 provinces.”
What Moyo calls the ‘localisation’ of the campaign has been a campaign of
terror and intimidation to force people to sign the petition. In Marondera,
ZANU PF thugs closed down all the shops and beer halls in the Rujeko suburb,
ordering people to attend the signing of the petition.
Similar bullying was reported in Mutare over the weekend, where violence
erupted in the eastern town of Mutare as ZANU PF again forced people to
attend their rally and sign the anti-sanctions petition. Loads of trucks
were seen passing by the Christmas pass leading into town, just before the
In Bindura white commercial farmers were paraded in front of people at the
anti-sanctions rally in the mining town. The farmers were forced to sign the
anti-sanctions petition. The scenes are being replicated countrywide and
even school children are being forced to sign the petition.
War vets in Mutare visited Sakubva High 1 and Sakubva High 2 and forced all
students in Form 4 to 6, plus the teachers, to attend a lecture on ZANU PF
policies. “After waiting for more than four hours in the heat, singing ZANU
PF songs, they were later forced to sign the ZANU PF anti-sanctions
petition,” the MDC-T reported last week.
It is this violence and intimidation by ZANU PF that led to the imposition
of the targeted sanctions by the West and strategizing behind the scenes is
the man who once admitted that the anti-sanctions crusade was just mere
22nd Mar 2011 15:53 GMT
By Obert Gutu
Zimbabwe is presently on a knife edge.A country with so much promise, so
much potential, has literally been reduced to a political war zone.
A visitor to Zimbabwe these days might be forgiven for thinking that there
is no inclusive government in place and that in fact, the government is
wholly under the control of only one political party; Zanu PF.
Such is the level of polarisation presently pervading our
political environment that one wonders whether this otherwise great nation
called Zimbabwe will ever rise up to take its rightfull place amongst the
comity of nations.
We are our own worst enemies as Zimbabweans.The majority of our people
deliberately refuse to take an active interest in matters concerning the
governance of their country.
Many people think that politics is too dirty for them and that they
shouldn't be bothered by a game with no
rules and also a game that anyone can play; without any minimum
qualifications required. Well,these people are wrong because politics is an
essential component of our daily lives.Whether we like it or not, everyone
of us is a politician.
This is so because politics inevitably impacts on our lives directly or
indirectly.We cannot wish politics out of our lives.No, that can never
happen because politics
is an integral component of human existence from time immemorial.
During the past few weeks, we have witnessed ZanuPF going into overdrive
with its so-called anti-sanctions campaign.We have seen hordes of people,
country wide, being force-marched to attend so-called anti-sanctions
We have seen the nation's scarce resources being commandeered to bankroll a
laughable and idiotic campaign against so-called illegal sanctions.We have
seen grown men and women huffing and puffing; screaming their voices hoarse
and chanting slogans against so-called illegal sanctions.
Some of us have been thoroughly amused as we watched otherwise respectable
businesspeople and churchmen supping with the devil; screaming hate language
on national television and behaving as if they had taken leave of their
senses. Cry the beloved country, Zimbabwe!
I have stated it in previous articles and I will repeat it here and now: it
is Zimbabwe that needs the world and not the world that needs Zimbabwe. Zanu
PF's fascination and obsession with so-called illegal
sanctions is clearly understandable. This is a desperate and thoroughly
unpopular political party that has since realised that they are on their way
out.They have realised that as a political grouping they have nothing new
and/or fresh, in terms of policies and strategies, to
sell to the electorate.They know that the people are now fed up with the
Zanu PF diet of lies,corruption, greed, malice and hate.
As such, they have decided to adopt a scotched earth policy.As Zanu PF
inevitably faces the exit door; they have become possessed by the demon of
violence, the demon of intolerance, the demon of looting and
the demon of mass destruction. As they are being peacefully pushed out of
power by the democratic forces led by Morgan Tsvangirai and the MDC, Zanu PF
has since turned lethal in its destructive agenda.
They are behaving like a bull in a china shop.They want an election in which
they will compete against themselves. Thus, they will bann, forcibly, any
gathering of the country's democratic forces.They fear the MDC led by Morgan
Tsvangirai simply because they know that it is the largest and most popular
Put simply, Zanu PF is afraid of the people. Shame.
Against this background, we realise that the so-called anti-sanctions
crusade is a desperate sideshow meant to woodwink the people into believing
that they are living in poverty because of illegal ''sanctions'' imposed on
Zimbabwe by Britain and her allies in the
This is complete and unadulterated nonsense. I have read ZIDERA back to
front and I hereby challenge any right-thinking person to show me the number
of times that ZIDERA has been invoked to deny Zimbabwe
access to both domestic and offshore lending.
Can somebody be honest enough to explain how exactly ZIDERA, that was
enacted by the United States congress in 2001 when Zimbabwe's economy was
already on its knees courtesy of Zanu PF misgovernance and corruption, has
majority of Zimbabweans to live in abject poverty. Can somebody tell me how
travel restrictions imposed on just over 160 people have caused the economic
meltdown that was the hallmark of Zanu PF misgovernance from 1980 to
February 2009 when Morgan Tsvangirai and his MDC party came to the people's
rescue by agreeing to form the inclusive
government? The problem with ZanuPF is that it takes people for granted.
It believes that forcemarching people to its rallies will
save it from total annihilation come the next elections. The people spoke,
resoundingly, on March 29, 2008 : they rejected ZanuPF's politics of
thuggery, intolerance and looting. Come the next elections, the people will
speak again; this time more resoundingly.They will
vehemently reject Zanu PF's politics of retribution, callousness, thievery
and corruption. In their teeming thousands, the people of Zimbabwe are going
to vote for hope; they will vote for real change; they will vote for a
bright future and they will vote for a New
In a nutshell, the people will overwhelmingly vote for the MDC led by Morgan
We are acutely aware of the fact that, countrywide, people are being forced
to sign the Zanu PF anti-sanctions petition.We also know that people are
being threatened with death and some other unspecified
action if they do not append their signatures to this so-called petition.
This is desperate act by a desperate regime.The people have rejected Zanu PF
and no amount of force and coersion will change their hearts. Zanu PF
propagandists and other sycophants might huff and puff but the truth of the
matter is that Zanu PF is a party in terminal decline; torn apart by
factions that hate each other with a passion. Only a miracle will save Zanu
PF from total annihilation during the next elections.
And miracles don't happen often!
It is true that for the past thirty years or so the people Zimbabwe have
suffered under debilitating sanctions. These sanctions have been very
painfull and corrosive. These sanctions have caused widespread poverty and
anger amongst the generality of the people. These sanctions have been
toxic.And these sanctions were exemplified by Zanu PF's unbriddled
corruption over the decades; ZanuPF's rabid intolerance of any dissenting
voices and ZanuPF's morbid fear of the people.
It is these sanctions, imposed against the people by ZanuPF, that should be
What makes some of us happy is that the freedom train will not engage
reverse gear.The freedom train is on an unstopable march to a New Zimbabwe.
They may ban our peace rallies, ban all our meetings, beat us
up, imprison us and do all sorts of other nefarious things against us as
they are wont to do.But there is one thing that is certain: they cannot
break our spirits and they cannot reverse the tidal wave of change sweeping
through the African continent.
As for me, I will only sign the so-called anti-sanctions petition on one
condition : over my dead body! Sanctions, what sanctions?
Obert Gutu is the Senator for Chisipite in Harare.
Prashant Dayal , TNN | Mar 22, 2011, 07.11am IST
AHMEDABAD: The Mumbai crime branch busted a match fixing racket from a hotel
in Ahmedabad involving three Dawood men, who sneaked into the hotel where
the Australian team was put up to play Zimbabwe in the World Cup game on
The tip-off from Mumbai police exposed Gujarat police's tall claim that
foolproof security has been provided for the quarterfinal match to be played
here on March 24. Sources told TOI that the three D-company men stayed with
the Aussie team in a five-star hotel in Satellite area and met them in the
lobby where the deal was struck for spot fixing. Australia won the match.
An intelligence input on the day Ahmedabad was fixed as a venue for the
quarterfinals, had warned that WC could be a terror target. The police had
then told TOI that they would be screening all hotel guests. The Australian
team arrived here four days before the match, accompanied by an observer
from the International Cricket Council's anti-corruption wing. Intercepts
showed that the Dawood men made calls to London, Nairobi and Nagpur. The
duration of these calls ranged from 39 seconds to 1.20 minutes. The phone
taps also revealed details about the spot fixing. The Mumbai police tipped
off the ICC about the match being fixed and the possible outcome. Sources in
the anti-corruption wing confirmed that the match was fixed.
Soon after the match, it was reported that the ICC had taken note of the
slow batting in the first 10 overs by Australian openers Shane Watson and
Brad Haddin. The two openers scored just 28 runs in 11 overs and 53 in 15
overs in a match that Australia won comfortably. However, the slow rate of
scoring in the first two powerplays was scrutinised by the ICC's
anti-corruption and security unit.
The Australian team, however, rubbished media reports that the ICC was
investigating the game.
“My pen is a broom sweeping vendetta pebbles from talk tables.”
U.S. Embassy welcomes the Black Poet to celebrate
World Poetry Day
Harare, March 22, 2011: The United States Embassy hosted Mbizo Chirasha, popularly known as ‘The Black Poet’ in performance circles, for a discussion of the “metaphor of voices and rhythm of words” featuring a scintillating recital of his works to mark World Poetry Day.
“The Embassy is pleased to mark this important day. Poetry calls forth those voices in society that would otherwise go unheard and gives them a powerful tool for expressing their deepest feelings, thoughts and beliefs. Poets have the power to influence hearts and change minds,” said Michael Brooke, Public Diplomacy Officer at the U.S. Embassy in Harare.
In typical poetic form, Chirasha told his audience, which included students from Westridge High School in Harare, that, “metaphors are the lotion drying political syphilis from the manhood of the state, my pen is a broom sweeping vendetta pebbles from talk tables, and my ink is a detergent cleansing political stains from parliament overalls.”
Describing his works, Chirasha said the common theme in most of his poems has been respect for women and recognizing their suffering and endurance. “It’s a coincidence of creation and creativity, that’s what I believe in,” said the poet whose work is featured in over 40 journals and anthologies around the world.
However, Chirasha’s poetry cuts across issues to include children’s rights, politics, social lives, gender issues, praise and protest, culture and African pride.
Chirasha read some of his published works, including “Identity Apples,” published by the Memorial University English Department in Alberta , Canada; “Anthem of the Black Poet” and “Decade of Bullets,” published in India; “Haiti My Generation,” published in United kingdom; and the popular, “African Names.”
“This poem reshuffled cabinet; the rhythm resigned the president and its metaphors adjourned parliament,” said Chirasha reciting his poem, “Letter to my daughter,” published locally.
Asked why he preferred publishing outside the country, Chirasha bemoaned the lack of structures to support writers in Zimbabwe, and said he was thinking seriously about writing his poems in Shona for local audiences.
“We lack that administrative connection in terms of writing. We lack consensus as writers, and publishing houses are closing shop,” he noted. Contributing to the discussion, another poet, Thando Sibanda, said the study of literature should be made compulsory at all levels of education in Zimbabwe so as to promote an environment that supports writers and poets.
World Poetry Day is celebrated on March 21st, as declared by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in 1999, to "give fresh recognition and impetus to national, regional and international poetry movements."- ZimPAS © 2011
ZimPAS is a product of the United States Embassy Public Affairs Section. Queries and comments should be directed to Sharon Hudson Dean, Public Affairs Officer, firstname.lastname@example.org Website: http://harare.usembassy.gov
by William Gumede Tuesday 22 March 2011
Many an African dictator is trembling in his (invariably dictators appear to
be mostly men) boots, following popular uprisings that swept long-time
rulers out of power in Tunisia and Egypt.
Libyan people are rebelling against their ruler, Colonel Muammar Gaddafi –
and he is fighting back violently. Gaddafi has ruled since 1969 when he took
power in a coup, making him Africa’s longest ruler.
Meanwhile, Zimbabwe’s ruling Zanu PF has prohibited state owned media from
reporting the full extent of the Maghreb uprisings – presumably lest its own
people get ideas from the citizen of Tunisia and Egypt. Robert Mugabe’s
government charged 45 students, trade unionists and activists with treason,
accusing them of watching news videos of the uprising in Egypt and plotting
to topple Zimbabwe's autocratic president.
But will the domino effect of these popular uprisings also sweep dictators
out of power further south? ??Zimbabwe, Swaziland, Lesotho and other
Sub-Saharan African countries are also ruled by long-time autocrats and
their people are suffering as hard – if not harder – than those in Tunisia
In Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe has been in power since 1980. In Cameroon Paul
Biya has been in the saddle for 29 years. Yoweri Museveni has presided over
Uganda since 1986. Jose dos Santos has been in power since 1979, and is
preparing to stand for another term – while, incredibly, grooming one of his
children to take over. The list goes on.
There are some parallels, but also some clear differences, between societies
in the north, and those South of the Sahara.
The first parallel is that both the Maghreb countries and those South of the
Sahara have allowed – in the words of South African Finance Minister Pravin
Gordhan, ‘inequality to grow, allow(ed) joblessness to accelerate (and is)
about state(s) that doesn’t actually perform (and is) about a minority that
accumulates things for itself’.
ECONOMIC CRISIS, ELITES AND UPRISING
All African countries are about to feel the delayed effect of the global
financial crisis, just as Tunisia and Egypt had. Typically in countries,
like Swaziland, Lesotho or Cameroon, leaders pride themselves on the fact
that they have supposedly not been so harshly affected by the recent global
financial crisis. However, they are mistaken – the true effects are yet to
But many of those countries depend heavily on Western aid. With the
austerity in most of the major donor countries, this aid may either dry up,
or trickle into a drip. Even the budgets of international organisations and
NGOs heavily active in development projects in these countries have been cut
or will be reduced.
In some African countries more than 50 per cent of the national budget comes
from foreign aid. Combined with a perceptible rise in the prices of basic
food and living costs in most African countries, ordinary African people are
having it tough.
Desperation is easily turned into the political outrage. Just last year,
high bread prices caused violent riots in Maputo, Mozambique. With
day-to-day living expected to become even worse, such riots may this year
turn into full-blown uprisings against the ruling elites.
Like in Tunisia and Egypt, there is a deep gulf between the relatively small
ruling elite, living a ‘bling’ and elite lifestyle, and a majority of the
poor – a potent grievance, a festering sore if one happens to be the
unfortunate poor individual.
The effect of the global financial crisis has also hit the relatively small
middle classes in countries south of the Sahara, just as it also hit the
Tunisian and Egyptian middle classes. In Tunisia and Egypt the middle
classes were also starting to feel the pinch of difficult economic
Generally in these regimes, the middle classes are locked into the system,
and often have much too loose opposing it. The combination of squeezed
middle classes, the usually long-suffering poor working classes and the
unemployed and underemployed youth are a potential explosive cocktail – also
in the countries south of the Sahara.
YOUTH AND UNEMPLOYMENT
The demography of all African countries has changed so dramatically since
independence, so much so that young people now make up most of their
populations, whether the country is south, or north of the Sahara. Young
people were at the vanguard of the uprisings in both Tunisia and Egypt.
Furthermore, young African people – those unemployed - now have generally
higher levels of education, although in most cases, not with the kind of
technical skills African economies now desperately need, compared to a
Globalisation and new technological advances, such as the internet, social
media, such as twitter, have meant that many people in Tunisia and Egypt,
including the youth can see how better-off their peers in Western countries
live, compared to them.
MEDIA FREEDOM AND CONTROL
In most African countries most of the media is in state hands, so ruling
parties can ensure news about official corruption, mismanagement or
wrongdoing is kept out of the public domain.
Private media, where present, often does not have a wide reach. Furthermore,
such private media is often also financially vulnerable. The state in many
African countries still directly controls most of the economy – whether in
North Africa or Africa south of the Sahara.
And if they don’t, they have indirect influence, through their ability to
restrict private companies trading licenses, and so on, should they refuse
to toe government lines.
This means in most African countries the state is still the biggest
advertiser. If they are not, they can influence the private sector not to
advertise in print, broadcast or electronic media they perceived to be
critical of government – or risk losing government contracts or operating
Radio is the largest medium in Africa, including South Africa, but it is
often controlled by governments. In many cases, independent FM radio is
frequently only given licenses if they do not cover political issues.
Although community radio is increasingly proliferating across the continent,
they often also have the same restrictions – or they just refrain from
covering politics to stay on the good side of governments.
The news blackout in most African countries means that leaders and political
movements can stay in power for longer without many of their supporters in
the far-flung rural areas knowing the extent to which these leaders abuse
This is why the likes of Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe can get away with blaming
his government’s own bad governance on the work of Western ‘imperialists’,
former colonial powers, minorities or opposition groups supposedly linked to
A flourishing private and independent media that conveys information to
citizens about the corrupt activities of leaders and ruling parties, which
is not conveyed to them by official media, plays a crucial role in informing
citizens of what is really happening in their name.
Not surprisingly, ‘people power’, the phenomenon where African citizens
finally kick out bad governments that have ruled for far too long, often
always coincides with the growth of private independent media– that can
provide citizens (especially ordinary members of these parties) with the
real story – and a growing civil and opposition movement, that can offer an
THE ROLE OF NEW TECHNOLOGIES
The rise of the internet, social media, the mobile phone, has meant there
are now alternative means of communication outside that of the state-owned
In the uprisings against unpopular governments in Tunisia and Egypt, new
social media, that can circumvent the official media, and the rise of
independent media, such as Al Jazeera, has done the trick also.
Although the internet is not as widespread in many African countries south
of the Sahara compared to Egypt or Tunisia, the power of the worldwide web
is still potent.
In Zimbabwe’s last elections, people used mobile phones to text witnessed
attempts at vote rigging by ZANU (PF) (Mugabe’s party) strongmen at voting
stations in remote areas. This meant that opposition groups, international
observers and independent media could be informed more quickly than during
Mobile phones are more promising among poorer Africans. This presents
potential for the internet if most of these mobile phones can be made
internet capable. Furthermore, the potential to bringing news via the mobile
phone is an attractive option for Africa.
So if a revolution is unlikely to arrive in most African countries south of
the Sahara via the internet, it may arrive via the mobile phone.
CURBS ON MIGRATION
In Egypt and Tunisia many young people and professionals in the past could
migrate across the Mediterranean to Europe to seek better prospects.
However, economic difficulties in most of Europe have meant that these
countries blocked entry barriers for the young from Africa – the phenomenon
of ‘fortress’ Europe.
It is also now more difficult for young Africans to seek greener pastures in
Europe or the US. Of course countries neighbouring South Africa, such as
Lesotho, Swaziland and Zimbabwe, also have the option of exporting many of
their young to relatively richer South Africa.
Yet, South Africa itself has felt the brunt of the global financial crisis –
all this after leaders initially claimed the country rode the storm. Last
year more than one million people lost their jobs. In spite of all the talk
by politicians that they will create millions of jobs this year: looking at
their plans it becomes quickly clear this is half-baked and mere wishful
The opposite appear more likely; more people will lose their jobs this year.
South Africa is also now tightening entry barriers for those looking for
jobs from neighbouring countries. This will force the unemployed young at
home – where they could become a potent force for change.
PLAYING THE ELECTIONS GAME
One big difference between Egypt and Tunisia compared to other African
countries south of the Sahara, is that there are more incidents of staged
elections in the latter which on regular occasions give the masses an outlet
for their frustrations. The recent presidential and parliamentary elections
held in Uganda springs to mind.
Furthermore, the opposition parties in these countries are so irrelevant –
little alternative policies, and generally clones of the ruling parties and
each other (the opposition political parties in Nigeria are a good example);
they are more of a stumbling bloc to genuine democracy than anything else.
In the Ivory Coast presidential election that took place last November
strongman Laurent Gbagbo lost against Alassane Quattara, but still insists
he won. Whoever finally becomes president, there is very little, if any,
differences between their policy platforms or even the outlook of the two –
so it will in real terms be more of the same.
Most of Africa’s dictators are of course being propped by Western giants or
the new Eastern powers, such as China, in exchange for oil, minerals or for
strategic geopolitical reasons – Kenya is a good example.
Zimbabwe recently stated that China’s Development Bank will pump in up to
US$10 billion of investment in the country’s mining and agriculture sector,
a big boost for Mugabe political survival.
Over the past few years, Tunisia’s supposed economic ‘miracle’ – in spite of
political autocracy - was toasted by multilateral organisations and Western
powers. Egypt was a strategic focus for the US and the regime there was
flush with foreign aid.
Even Libya joined the US-led ‘war of terror’ and became an ally of Western
powers – which shored up Gaddafi’s powers ahead of the recent rebellion
against his rule by ordinary citizens of Libya.
It is instructive when US President Barack Obama pulled the plug on Egypt
the regime caved in. Many African countries south of the Sahara have in the
past either like Swaziland, kept on the right side of the US, by claiming
they are partners in the ‘fight against terror’, or have been kept in power,
by financial support from China (who needs their minerals), as is the case
of Zimbabwe, or South Africa (in Zimbabwe because of historical ties as a
fellow liberation movement).
Long-time strongmen Yoweri Museveni in Uganda and Meles Zenawi of Ethiopia
have been the darlings of the West, in spite of their autocratic behaviour.
Recently Ethiopian economists and scholars wrote an open letter to Nobel
Prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz, who is close to Meles Zenawi, to
distance himself from the autocrat.
Most African regimes – whether north or south of the Sahara – have been in
power because the army has been loyal to them. These regimes have generally
showered the army with largesse to keep them onside. With difficult economic
times ahead it will prove increasingly hard to keep feeding these armies.
Furthermore, in the cases of Egypt and Tunisia once it became clear, to the
army, that the regimes had lost the support of powerful overseas backers,
they changed allegiances, or at least remained neutral.
In countries south of the Sahara, the army still remains a formidable
obstacle. That is why in countries, like Zimbabwe, in order to bring about
change, the army may have to be bought off, or at least given enough
incentives, for example amnesty and job security, to remain neutral.
UNITY IN DIVERSITY
Tunisia and Egypt are countries that are relatively ethnically homogenous.
Except for perhaps, Swaziland and Lesotho, most countries south of the
Sahara are ethnically diverse.
More importantly, in most of these countries unscrupulous political leaders
and parties have played off different ethnic groups against each other to
remain in power, or did so on the back of the most dominant ethnic group, or
by forming ethnic alliances.
This means that in many African south of the Sahara countries, people often
perceived their problems in the context of the fact that they are in the
‘wrong’ ethnic group, rather than blaming it on their bad leaders or
governments, no matter the ethnicity. Nigeria, Zimbabwe and Kenya are cases
LIBERATION AND THE LIBERATED
Finally, in some African countries south of the Sahara, parties of
liberation and independence are still in power. Many supporters vote for
them mostly on the credentials they acquired as a result of their struggles
The youth in many countries south of the Sahara, where liberation or
independence movements are still in power, are often mobilised by youth
wings of these ruling movements. The youth leagues are often allowed to be
more radical by the founding liberation and independence movements, in order
to periodically disperse popular anger among the youth.
A good case is the ANC Youth League, and its leader Julius Malema or
Zimbabwe’s ZANU (PF), Mozambique’s Frelimo or Angola’s MPLA youth wings.
In African countries ruled by independence/liberation movements, the number
of youth participating in civil movements outside these leagues is small –
though not insignificant.
Youth, like their senior activist predecessors, may protest against
incumbent liberation/independence movement now in governments, but still see
these movements as the parties of liberation and independence.
Angry youth in such cases are not demanding for these
liberation/independence movement governments to be removed, but for them to
improve the way they govern – or to allow them to share the spoils of
As the demography of most African countries is increasingly becoming
younger, these credentials independence/struggle credentials are wearing
thin. This changing demographic means many young people have little if any
memory of yesterday’s liberation struggle.
And very soon, young voters will have no recollection of the anti-apartheid
or the anti-colonial struggle, and may not simply vote for ruling parties
because of their historical liberation movement record. This may herald the
kind of youth-led rebellions seen in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya.
Revolution south of the Sahara may not come immediately, but it is certainly
on its way.?--?First published by Pambazuka News
* A version of this article was first published by the Foreign Policy
* William Gumede is senior associate and programme director, Africa Asia
Centre, School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London.
His forthcoming book, The Democracy Gap, Africa’s Wasted Years, is released