Sun March 27, 2005 10:33 AM GMT+02:00 By Emelia
BULAWAYO, Zimbabwe (Reuters) - Zimbabwe's opposition chief
tore into President Robert Mugabe on Saturday for letting the country slide
into decay, urging supporters to hand the ruling ZANU-PF a resounding defeat
at Thursday's polls.
Campaigning in the Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC) stronghold of Matabeleland, party leader Morgan Tsvangirai also
told Zimbabweans to step up their fight against rampant
Tsvangirai and his MDC aides received a tumultuous
welcome in the Matabeleland capital of Bulawayo, Zimbabwe's second city,
where Mugabe deployed crack troops in the 1980s to quell dissent that killed
hundreds of people.
The crowd erupted into a rapturous roar as
Tsvangirai arrived, greeting him with the MDC's open palm salute and party
slogan chants of "Chinja Maitiro" (Change your ways).
ZANU-PF is widely expected to win the polls after clamping down on
opposition activity over the past five years, including intimidating MDC
officials and halting the party's meetings in rural areas where a majority
of the people live.
But the opposition is trying hard to win votes
by attacking Mugabe's management of the economy.
no one can manage the economy better than he did, but where have you seen
any economy where millionaires are poor," Tsvangirai told some 15,000
The Zimbabwean dollar has slid to 6,000 to the U.S.
dollar on the official market compared to around 55 five years ago. On the
black market, the U.S. dollar bought 300 Zimbabwean dollars five years ago;
today it buys 12,000.
"We want to make sure that we rebuild
industry ... create jobs," said Tsvangirai.
He said the MDC
wanted some of the land grabbed from white commercial farmers for
redistribution to landless blacks to be made productive again to combat food
shortages sweeping the country. Analysts say many of the people given land
have been unable to farm due to lack of seed, fertilisers and
harshly against HIV/AIDS, telling mainly the youth to use condoms to tackle
AIDS, which a U.N. agency said this month killed a Zimbabwean child every 15
"You will perish. We don't want to have a government
ruling over graves," Tsvangirai said. "You must protect
He also told supporters to ditch the tradition, common
in parts of Africa, by which a man can "inherit" the wife of a dead brother,
saying the practice could help spread HIV/AIDS.
quarter of Zimbabwe's adults are infected with HIV, making it one of the
worst-hit countries in Africa.
Tsvangirai took a swipe at ZANU-PF's
campaign against British Prime Minister Tony Blair, saying it was deeply
"While Mugabe is talking about Blair, we will be talking
about what we will feed our children, and while he is talking about (U.S.
President George W.) Bush, we will be talking about how to create jobs for
our youth," he said.
"If he wants to challenge Blair, he must
go to Britain."
Mugabe has been publicly at loggerheads with Blair
since he launched his land reform campaign in 2000.
blames Blair for sanctions slapped on Zimbabwe by the European Union and the
United States in the aftermath of the land programme and for a drying up of
donor dollars that have helped force his country into steep economic
He says Blair backs the MDC, which is the biggest
challenge to his rule since independence from Britain in 1980.
HARARE, March 27 (Xinhuanet) -- Residents in
Hwange, some 800 km west of Zimbabwean capital Harare, are having sleepless
nights following the invasion of the town by stray elephants that are
destroying property and fruit trees, according to Sunday
The elephants are running away from the nearby national
park insearch of drinking water.
It is believed that green
trees are now scarce in the parks andthe jumbos were being attracted to the
residential areas by green mango trees.
So daring are the
animals that Mpindani Mpala, a resident, got the shock of his life on
Tuesday night when he spotted a giant elephant just two meters from his
Another resident, Themba Chindoro, whose three
mango trees weredestroyed on Thursday night, appealed to the relevant
authorities to take action.
"They are having sleepless and
scary nights because of the elephants. We now fear for our lives and fruit
trees," said Chindoro.
The mango fruit, which is in season, is
a delicacy and good source of income at this time of the year for many
people in Hwange.
On Monday night, the jumbos ran riot,
uprooting virtually everytree at the St George's Primary School orchard,
resulting in scores of pupils making a quick return home on
Two weeks ago, some National Railways of Zimbabwe
employees working on a faulty cable had to make good their escape after a
herd of elephants made a surprise appearance at the work site.
Bulawayo's outspoken Catholic Archbishop Pius
Ncube has openly called for a Ukraine-style "peaceful popular mass uprising"
by Zimbabweans to oust President Robert Mugabe, the Sunday Independent
"I hope that people get so disillusioned
that they really organise against the government and kick him (President
Mugabe) out by a non-violent, popular, mass uprising," Ncube told the paper
in an interview.
"Because as it is, people have been too soft
with this government. So people should pluck up just a bit of courage and
stand up against him and chase him away."
Thursday's poll, Ncube said: "No way will elections kick him
"Mugabe has made all his plans. He cheated in 2000 and
in 2002. They are very well schooled. They will cheat."
He went on to say that Zimbabwe's registrar-general was "200% pro-Mugabe and
he has shown how dishonest he can be in elections in the
Another front-page article of the Sunday
Independent reported that the answer to the question of how the ruling
Zanu-PF was cheat was: "It's in the voter's roll,
The report read that as of last week, the voter's
roll had 5,7-million registered voters, according to the Zimbabwe Election
Commission, which said it closed registration for Thursday's election on
"It has grown by more than 100 000 in the
past three weeks," read the report.
government has persistently refused the Movement for Democratic Change
access to two CD-Roms that hold all the information on their voter's
The newspaper reported the MDC saying the accurate
figure for the voters' roll should be 3,2-million based on the census of
2002 and extrapolating statistics collected door to door of people not known
at addresses given on the roll in a mix of a dozen rural and urban
constituencies ahead of Thursday's poll.
reported that Mugabe's former spin doctor, Jonathan Moyo, now standing as an
independent, was also unhappy about the voters' roll, "although he saw no
problems in 2002 when he was information minister".
How will Zanu PF cheat? It's all in the voters' roll, stupid Sunday
Independent (SA) Date posted:Sun 27-Mar-2005 Date
So how is Zanu PF going to cheat? That is the question on
many lips ahead of Thursday's national poll. If Zanu PF wins as most
predict, no one, including observers (of whom there will only be enough to
cover two thirds of the polling stations), the few accredited foreign
diplomats or, most importantly, the people, will ever know if the ruling
party beat the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) fairly and squarely.
"It's all in the voters' roll, stupid!" said an MDC candidate cheerfully
when asked the "how-will-they-cheat" question in Bulawayo this week. As of
last week, the roll had 5,7 million registered voters, according to the
Zimbabwe Election Commission, which said it closed registration for
Thursday's election on February 4. (The commission is the legal mouthpiece
for several other authorities that are really running the poll.) It has
grown by more than 100 000 in the past three weeks. The Zimbabwe government
has persistently refused the MDC access to two CD-roms that hold all the
information on the voters' roll. To audit the voters' roll for duplications
of unique identity numbers, therefore, the MDC has to lug several kilograms
of faint print-outs to check the veracity of the information. Its
private-sector data consultants say they have the software in place to check
for duplications to audit the roll electronically within 48 hours of
receiving the CDs.
The MDC says the accurate figure for the voters'
roll should be 3,2 million based on the census of 2002 and extrapolating
statistics collected door to door of people not known at addresses given on
the roll in a mix of a dozen rural and urban constituencies ahead of
Thursday's poll. In a densely populated block in a constituency in Harare
the MDC says it found that 64 percent of registered voters were not known at
their given addresses after a laborious house-by-house audit. The University
of Zimbabwe's statistics department generously estimated that the voters'
roll could be as high as 4,6 million, if 80 percent of youngsters had
registered as soon as they had turned 18. The university statistics did not
estimate the huge numbers who have left Zimbabwe since the study was done
nearly four years ago, nor the rising toll of HIV/Aids and the decreasing
life expectancy, now down to about 35, according to the World Health
On Thursday people will vote at more than 8 000
polling stations, with three queues at each station and only one polling
agent to monitor all the processes, such as checking ID numbers, on one day.
The polling agent is not permitted to use a cellphone or any other means of
communication to report any hitches during voting, or to let anyone know the
results immediately after counting ends at the polling station. That
information will be telephoned through by the government's presiding
officers to the 2005 command centre in Harare, staffed by the same people as
in 2002, but now called the National Logistics Committee. And, in case that
information worries conscientious observers, there is more. The Zimbabwe
Electoral Commission said last week that voter registration was continuing.
It said those who registered after February 4 would not be allowed to vote
on Thursday. But it also said that anyone whose name did not appear on the
roll, but had a receipt from registration officials showing that they should
be a voter, could bring their receipt along on Thursday, and they would be
allowed to cast their ballot.
The voters' roll, therefore, has
a wide variety of rigging options in each and every constituency, but
particularly in rural areas, and only analysis of the electronic version of
the voters' roll would allow Zimbabweans and the world to know whether
voting and counting on March 31 was accurate. Jonathan Moyo, who is standing
as an independent candidate, said this week that having only one polling
agent for three polling queues invited rigging. Moyo is also unhappy about
the voters' roll, although he saw no problems in 2002 when he was
Battle lines drawn - Main contestants, Zanu PF, MDC predict
victory By Foster Dongozi and Valentine Maponga
BUOYED by recent
developments, both the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and
the ruling Zanu PF are predicting "convincing victories" in Thursday's
The MDC's prediction is based on the
"unprecedented attendances" its rallies have attracted in the heart of what
was previously "one-party" constituencies in the rural areas - Zanu PF's
purported strongholds. The opposition's prediction is based on the belief
that people attending its rallies are doing so freely, while those at Zanu
PF's are usually coerced.
But Zanu PF is buoyed by two recent polls that
predicted it would reduce the MDC's seats in parliament after voting on
Thursday this week.
One of the surveys entitled," A report on the
findings of an opinion survey on the March 2005 general elections", says
Zanu PF is likely to secure a maximum of 83 seats, while the MDC will get at
least 56 seats.
But Ethel Muchena a research officer with Mass Public
Opinion Institute (MPOI), which released a preliminary result of an opinion
poll, described the survey as "trash" as it was impossible for Zanu PF to
win by a wide margin. Her argument is that the Joseph Kurebwa survey does
not depict actual facts on the ground.
The survey was quickly
dismissed by the MDC, which said it was "partisan" and ignored the fact that
Harare and Bulawayo were safe seats for the opposition, which had also made
in-roads into rural constituencies.
Zanu PF believes that its nationwide
donations of computers to schools and pledges that it will not allow
Zimbabweans to starve, following the current agricultural season's crop
failure, will portray it as a caring party.
Campaigning for Thursday's
general elections intensified with the presidents of the MDC, Morgan
Tsvangirai, and Zanu PF's Robert Mugabe criss-crossing the country in a
final bid to garner votes for their candidates in the parliamentary
Tsvangirai, who did not enjoy access to rural areas because of
political violence during 2000 has "tamed" previously so-called "no-go
areas" such as Uzumba-Maramba-Pfungwe, Mutoko, Murehwa, Gokwe, Bindura and
Mount Darwin where attendance figures have been very high, much to the
annoyance of Zanu PF.
At 81, Mugabe has defied age, energetically
addressing rallies across the country, where he has been donating computers
in order to woo more voters.
Today, Tsvangirai is expected to address a
star rally at the Zimbabwe Grounds in Highfield, while Mugabe is expected to
head towards Mutoko and Rushinga, before rounding off his party's campaign
trail in Harare.
Addressing a rally in Mkoba Stadium in Gweru yesterday
Tsvangirai said his party would win the elections "overwhelmingly" and
change the country's Constitution, rendering Mugabe powerless.
have thoroughly done our ground work, especially in rural areas and the hour
has come for us to be able to change the Constitution. We should all go and
vote on Thursday. Our win will make Mugabe powerless. We are going to give
him his package on Thursday."
Speaking on the sidelines of a campaign
rally at the former impregnable fortress of Zanu PF, Murehwa last week,
Tsvangirai complained of intimidation and violence.
levels of violence have gone down considerably, violence and intimidation
are still a common denominator."
Tsvangirai's rally at Mutoko Centre had
just been disrupted by Zanu PF supporters, leading to the arrest of three
At Murehwa Centre, more than 3 000 MDC supporters wearing
party T-shirts and bandanas put up with harassment from Zanu PF activists,
who were ordering MDC supporters to leave the rally, although police details
were in the vicinity.
When Tsvangirai visited the Murehwa centre
fruit and vegetable market, he was mobbed by vendors, who started following
him as he conducted a walk-about.
However, the vendors, mostly women,
were threatened by angry Zanu PF youths.
In an interview with The
Standard Tsvangirai said: "My final message to Zimbabweans is that they
should go out in their millions and vote for the MDC. An MDC victory will
also present Zimbabweans an opportunity to ease Mugabe out of power and give
Zimbabweans an opportunity to rebuild the country.
"What we want is a
tolerant society, where MDC and Zanu PF supporters live side by side in
harmony. As Zimbabweans we are a family and beating up each other or killing
people does not help us as a people."
Tsvangirai said Mugabe and Zanu PF
had run out of ideas and needed to make way for a new political dispensation
to bring fresh ideas.
He said the MDC had mounted a spirited campaign
around the country and expected to stroll into Parliament with a
"We had a very effective strategy which saw the MDC easily
penetrating the rural areas," Tsvangirai said.
Zanu PF Politburo
member and former deputy political commissar, Sikhanyiso Ndlovu, who is a
candidate for Mpopoma constituency, predicted the ruling party would reclaim
most of the seats it lost in the 2000 elections.
"Conditions are now in
place for free and fair elections, our only complaint is that the MDC is
very violent but we have told our supporters not to take the law into their
own hands," Ndlovu said.
MDC spokesperson, Paul Themba-Nyathi, said they
were concerned about chiefs and traditional leaders siding with Zanu
The MDC says it has not received information on how postal ballots
were distributed, raising fears that the privilege might have been abused to
rig this week's parliamentary elections.
Themba-Nyathi said: "Our
agents were not there and we don't even know what is happening. We don't
even know who voted and in what constituency. The whole process of postal
voting has been very secretive. There has not been enough publicity on the
whole issue." But yesterday the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission dismissed the
MDC's allegations saying, in fact, that Donald Chirunga, who is with the MDC
Directorate of Elections, has been witnessing the process since it started
on 14 March.
The Standard understands that members of the security
forces, mainly police and army officers have compulsorily received ballot
papers and voted for the coming general elections without even applying for
Police officers, The Standard understands, were presented with
envelopes with their names and the serial number of the ballot paper
Zimbabwe has 40,000 to 45,000 soldiers and around 25 000 police
officers in an electorate of 5 789 912 registered voters.
yesterday said the army had applied for 2 527 postal ballots but only 1 262
qualified for postal ballot votes.
Water shortage hits Harare suburbs By our own
A CRITICAL water shortage has hit Harare, with most suburbs in the
city having gone for the past two weeks without running water. The situation
poses a serious health hazard for residents of the capital.
residents who spoke to The Standard last week said the situation had gone
out of hand and they feared for their health. Among the affected areas are
the low-density suburbs of Borrowdale, Chisipite, Gunhill, Greendale,
Avondale, Hogerty Hill and Mainway Meadows in Waterfalls.
suburbs of Mabvuku, Tafara, Zimre Park and Msasa Park have been without
water for the whole of last week.
Combined Harare Residents' Association
(CHRA) vice chairperson, Israel Mabhoo, said the water crisis showed that
the local authorities were not concerned about the residents'
He said the association had on several occasions raised concerns
with the relevant authorities but no improvement had been done.
council continues to cut water supplies without even notifying residents
despite our persistent calls. Everyone knows that the whole water system is
now old and needs an overhaul but the people at the top are very arrogant,"
Mabhoo said people who stay in affluent northern suburbs have
drilled boreholes on their properties while those in areas such as Tafara
and Mabvuku fetch water from streams and unprotected wells exposing
themselves to water-borne diseases.
"People deserve to know if there
is a problem. We don't rule out that there might be some mechanical problems
sometimes but this has gone for too long," he said.
Msasa Park and
Mainway Meadows had been without water for the better part of the past two
weeks and residents in the areas say the situation has gotten out of
"We don't know why the council cuts water supplies without
notifying us. Can you imagine going for days without water in an urban set
up, where almost everything requires water," said Steven Mapanzure of Msasa
Shamiso Manyadza of Greendale said residents of that area were now
relying on water from boreholes and swimming pools to cater for domestic
"We have been facing these water problems since 2003 and the council
seems to have failed to resolve them," Manyadza said.
official in the Harare City Council said the problems started after a
transformer failure at the Morton Jaffray Water Treatment Works two weeks
ago. There are only two transformers at Morton Jaffray, the main one and a
The stand-by unit (transformer) had been sent to
Bulawayo for repairs, said the official who requested anonymity.
we speak most of the reservoirs are empty and it will take some weeks for
the problem to be rectified. The problem is not only in the few suburbs you
mentioned but the whole town has been dry," said the official.
council spokesperson, Leslie Gwindi could not be reached for a
Harare's water supply system has been dogged by problems ranging
from obsolete equipment, lack of proper planning and poor
Meanwhile, Zimbabwe's second largest city, Bulawayo, is
facing a critical shortage of water because water levels at all major dams
which supply the city dropped to well below what is normal this time of
year, The Standard has learnt.
The Zimbabwe National Water Authority
(ZINWA) said on Wednesday the low water levels in most dams in Matabeleland
region were a cause for concern.
Most dams in the region have not
received enough inflows since the beginning of the rainy
Bulawayo executive mayor, Japhet Ndabeni-Ncube, said :"The water
situation is very critical. All major dams here have low water levels and
it's not healthy. We are left with water supply for less than 15
ZINWA catchment manager for Gwayi (Matabeleland north province),
Richard Msendo, said dams such as Umguza, Tshongko and Mananda were less
that 15 percent full.
Shangani dam, which is 93 percent full, is the
only water source left in the province.
Msendo said the low water
levels were likely to have a negative impact on agriculture in the province
as most farmers relied on irrigation. "Tshongoko dam is of major concern to
us because most farming operations that depend on it for irrigation have
been severely threatened," said Msendo.
He said Tshongoko provides water
for both irrigation and domestic use to residents of Matabeleland North
Mzingwane Catchment Manager (Matabeleland south province),
Tommy Rosen, said dams such as Silalabuhwa, Upper Insiza, Antelope and
Mangwe had not received significant inflows due to the ravaging
He said the water levels had drastically dropped and it was
unlikely that the valiable water would last to the next rainy season, unless
significant inflows were recorded soon.
The shortage of water in
Matabeleland region has become an annual problem. The Matabeleland-Zambezi
Water Project (MZWP), initiated by the government to alleviate the water
crisis in the region, remains on the drawing board.
The MZWP chairman,
Dumiso Dabengwa, was not immediately available for comment.
SADC Parliamentary Forum protests over poll
snub By Valentine Maponga
THE Southern African Development
Community (SADC) Parliamentary Forum, a body that monitors elections in
several countries in the region, has officially protested to the government
after being barred from observing the 31 March parliamentary elections, The
Standard has learnt.
Kasuka Mutukwa, the secretary-general of the
Forum, said they were "disappointed" and had lodged an official complaint
with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Harare over the case. "We
made a complaint some weeks ago but up to now they (Zimbabwe government)
have not responded," Mutukwa told The Standard last week.
this month the government, through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, invited
the Forum under SADC Election Observer Mission (SEOM) and not as an
independent body as has been the case in previous elections.
argument is that we have not been invited in our own right as an autonomous
institution of SADC, which is a fundamental departure from the established
practice by other SADC countries," Mutukwa said.
It is widely
believed that the Forum was not invited as an autonomous organisation
because during the 2000 parliamentary elections it declared the polls were
not free and fair. It cited violence and intimidation as the major
The Minister of Foreign Affairs Stan Mudenge was not
immediately available for a comment last night.
In a statement,
the Forum said its participation in the parliamentary elections under the
arrangements proposed by the government required reconsideration and
resolution by its Plenary Assembly.
However the Assembly, the
supreme policy-making body of the Forum, is only expected to meet during the
period between 31 May and 8 June, this year.
Mutukwa said the
Forum also recognised that under the SADC Principles and Guidelines for
Democratic Elections, Member States were not obliged to invite observers to
"However, the Forum seeks to make a contribution
to the conduct of free and fair elections by observing elections and making
recommendations that are aimed at entrenching and deepening gender equality
and democracy throughout the region," he said.
The Forum has
observed at least 13 elections in 10 southern African countries since
These were Namibia (1999), Mozambique (1999), Mauritius
(2000), Tanzania (2000), Zimbabwe Parliamentary (2000), Zambia (2001),
Zimbabwe Presidential (2002) and Lesotho (2002).
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ), which in the past year has tried to
stabilise the weakening local dollar by accelerating efforts to wring hard
currencies from Zimbabweans in the Diaspora through the "Homelink" campaign,
has now fixed the exchange rate to thwart further depreciation.
hushed policy somersault - which has absolutely buried hopes for a fast
exchange rate convergence by December this year - comes against a backdrop
of an avalanche of forex pressures stemming from depleted foreign exchange
receipts from the supply side of the economy. Economists and
industrialists have blamed the RBZ for "poor policy signaling" through its
impractical macro-economic targeting arguing that central bank's targets
"showed a feverish attempt to give industry a streak of false
University of Zimbabwe economics lecturer, Chakanyuka Mangwiro,
told Standard Business that the exchange rate policy drift to a defacto
fixed regime, had sounded the death knell to the envisaged exchange rate
unification by December this year.
"Although the Reserve Bank of
Zimbabwe sustains claims that its exchange rate is a managed auction system,
the truth is that it is now fixed without announcement. What we have now is
a defacto fixed exchange rate regime, not a managed auction system,"
A managed auction system, technically known as a "dirty
float", is torn along a narrow template of fixed rate and free float whose
lower and upper limits within which the exchange rate is allowed to float
are arbitrarily set by the central bank.
Mangwiro said contrary to
Zimbabwe's situation, a "dirty float" regime demands that the central bank
maintains a pool of forex reserves manipulated to influence or "manage" the
exchange rate within narrow bands, buying excess forex when the market is
inundated with surpluses, and selling hard currencies to offset
"But our dear Zimbabwe does not have these reserves and this
has forced the monetary authorities to revert to the old fixed exchange rate
regime," said Mangwiro.
Economist John Robertson said the monetary
authorities' surreptitious roll-back to the regulated exchange rate regime
follows a cumulative slump in the traditional sources of supply of forex
Robertson said: "The shift back to the regulated (fixed)
exchange rate is linked to trends on the supply side of the economy.
Traditional sources of foreign currency have diminished because exporters
are now producing less. "For instance, the clothing and footwear industry
has significantly reduced its production causing a decline in its exports.
The land issue has also adversely affected the agricultural sector's export
He added: "In addition, production costs for our exporters
have also increased because of high inflation, meaning our exporters are not
making a profit. For enhanced price viability, we need to free up the
exchange rate to give more local dollars to local exporters. When you lose
export revenue from one sector, the effect for the whole economy will be
The exchange rate value between March and April this year
differs marginally with its value in the comparable period, signifying the
subtle regulation of the exchange rate, he added.
The RBZ last year
rushed to establish the forex auction system, in the absence of a strong
export base to feed the system with autonomous flows of hard
This oversight has left the auction system precariously exposed
to the whims and caprices of "Homelink dollars", which have been given a new
dignity in Zimbabwean international economics, and this underlines how
stranded the country's policy makers have become.
Last year alone
Homelink, born in the second quarter of 2004, poured into the auction system
a paltry US$54,8 million, about 3,2 % of the year's gross forex receipts of
US$1,7 billion. Even this is very small compared to the US$3,8 billion
Zimbabwe earned in 1996.
Sabotage alleged in Gweru council By our
GWERU - Service delivery to residents by the MDC-run Gweru
City Council has hit a brick wall amid allegations of sabotage by council
officials aligned to the ruling Zanu PF, The Standard has
Minutes of the council's Environmental Health Committee indicate
that some officials in the council have not been co-operating with the
director of engineering services, Jones Nantambwe, in a bid to discredit the
opposition MDC-run council. Nantambwe confirmed before councillors that
he was encountering problems in coordinating his department, as he was not
informed of important developments by some of his subordinates.
times it was difficult to coordinate the activities of my department because
reports were being made elsewhere and that I am not informed of important
developments," Nantambwe is quoted as saying in the minutes.
said the strategy was designed to discredit the Sesel Zvidzai-led council,
which has cleared the council's $1,3 billion overdraft after only nine
months in office. The overdraft was left by the former Zanu PF run-council
Cases of theft of council equipment were also rampant, the minutes
A switchgear, which takes more than one hour to dismantle, was
recently stolen at the city's Southview Pump Station, where guards and
attendants are supposed to keep a round the clock watch.
Poverty haunts 'ghost' mining towns By Bertha Shoko
recently in Mashava and Alaska
POVERTY is wreaking havoc among thousands
of workers, who are struggling to make ends meet following the closure of
mines, effectively shutting down their only source of livelihood, The
Standard has established.
The more resourceful have taken to prostitution
or stone-carving, while others have embarked on gold panning in an effort to
provide for their families. Among the areas seriously affected are Gaths
Mine in Mashava and Mvuma both in the Midlands, and Alaska and Mhangura in
Mashonaland West, where mines closed down over the past few years citing
viability problems, left mining communities with no source of
Alaska and Mhangura mines were shut down in 2000 after more
than four decades of operation.
Although some of the former workers,
mostly of Mozambican and Malawian origin, were given compensation including
houses and monetary severance packages, the majority of them now live
miserable lives because inflation has eroded the value of the monetary
Most of the former mine workers and their families at Alaska, a
former copper mine, have resorted to working on nearby commercial farms and
resettlement areas. Some have become highway "fish mongers", always on the
run from the police, because their activities are considered
"The mine was closed in 1998 and since then we have no regular
source of income," said Sherpard Batapanzi, chairman of Alaska Youth Corner,
a peer education initiative.
"Most people here now survive through
farming, seeking work in commercial areas nearby and fish mongering. We
really have no future here and most of our young people are going to town
and surviving by dubious means."
However, income generated from such
activities is seasonal and cannot sustain them throughout the
At Gaths Mine in Mashava the situation is different as there are no
surrounding commercial farms. The former mine workers have ventured into
gold panning risking their lives in the process.
Once they hear of
gold deposits discovered anywhere, they rush to claim a "slice of the
They have nicknamed this gold rush, "DANIDA", after the
non-governmental organisation, Danish International Development Agency,
which assists disadvantaged communities through self-help
At Mashava, group of former commercial sex workers, who are now
into knitting, sewing and crocheting following a capital injection by
National Aids Council (NAC), said poverty had forced them into
Miriam Makambira said she engaged in commercial sex
because, then, she knew of no other way to survive.
"When the mine
closed we were left without a steady income. I slept with men to get money
because I was desperate," she said.
Another former commercial worker
Elizabeth Makombe boasts of once being a "hardcore prostitute".
was once hot property in Mashava and every one here knows me. Men used to
fight over me at Shabanie, and Gaths mine. I have now seen the light. I
should use my hands to look for other ways to survive honestly," she
The Ministry of Health and Child Welfare has cited farming and
mining communities as having one of the highest prevalence rates of HIV and
Aids in the country, currently pegged at 33,4 percent.
executive officer of the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC)
Dominic Mubayiwa, said the mine closures were unfortunate but inevitable
NAC urged to scale up Aids programmes Aidswatch with
RURAL communities say the National Aids Council (NAC) should
scale up HIV and Aids programmes in various parts of the country and strive
to be more transparent, ensuring that those affected and infected by the
pandemic benefit from the National Aids Trust Fund.
Though NAC has
the potential to change the face of the HIV and Aids pandemic, bureaucracy,
failure to educate the Zimbabwean population about its operations and how to
tap into the Aids levy as communities and individuals, had made NAC a target
of criticism. Various rural communities that spoke to The Standard during a
week-long tour organised by NAC expressed concern over the slow pace at
which NAC is reaching out to communities.
At Murereka Township, which
is under Makonde Rural District Council in Mashonaland West, NAC has helped
set up various Aids programmes such as peer education, home based care (HBC)
and orphan care.
These programmes, funded through the District Action
Aids Committee in the area, are slowly taking shape but the Murereka
community complained that some of the initiatives were under funded and
lacked material support.
On the HBC programme volunteers said the kits
and medicines were not enough and were replenished or beefed up late making
their work difficult when dealing with patients.
"We would like NAC
to look into the issue of HBC kits because they are essential," said
Florence Guzanga, vice chairperson of the Murereka HBC
"The need for care is great in this area and sometimes we
go to patients without all the essentials and are forced to refer them to
the hospital when we could have easily treated them in the comfort of their
homes, surrounded by their loved ones."
A standard HBC kit, according
to Ministry of Health and Child Welfare guidelines, should consists of
disposable as well as re-usable gloves, bleach for sterilisation purposes
and medical supplies such as pain killers, among other
Guzanga also urged NAC to scale up the provision of food to
People Living with HIV and Aids PLWAS saying that drug therapy should be
complimented by a good diet.
"Most of our patients die not because of
Aids but due to malnutrition. They are also stressed up because they are
bedridden and cannot provide for their children. NAC should scale up on food
provision to PLWAs as a matter of urgency. The supplies we have here are
erratic," she said.
Also needing support at Murereka is the peer
education programme. There is need for a resource centre or youth drop-in
centre equipped with information about HIV and Aids to raise awareness among
youths. The orphan care programme also needs support.
NAC was urged
to provide food, fees and uniforms for orphaned children in time so that
they do not feel different from other children.
In Mashava, a former mine
township, a group of former prostitutes were assisted by NAC to start a
knitting, crocheting and sewing club. However, the programme could die a
natural death because the club has failed to secure a reliable market for
NAC maintains that it is purely a co-ordinating mechanism
that only provides people with capital for income generating projects and
the rest, in this case looking for a market, is up to the respective
This policy, I thought, lacked rationale and I was of the
opinion that it could be applied selectively.
My argument being, here
is a group of former commercial sex workers, in a impoverished former mining
community who cannot find a market for their knit wear not because they are
not resourceful but because they lack exposure. And NAC just sits there and
says 'we are co-ordinators and not implementers".
jacketed in policy implementationcan can one be? Through experiences and
learning and also for moral reasons, can NAC not change its policies
In Chivi South, Masvingo, villagers want by NAC to scale up
food provision for oprhans and PLWAs and replenishing HBC kits
"We have 53 PLWAs under the home based programme and our
biggest concern is food provision for them and their families. Some of them
are not capable of working as they are bedridden and yet they must eat and
also provide for their children," said headman Tsungai Jochomi of Ward
"Also, our HBC volunteers travel long distances to see these patients
and we feel they need bicycles to assist in their work. It is really hard
work for them."
Headmen Jochomi also said NAC could help his ward by
giving them capital to start income generating projects and use the proceeds
to help those affected and infected by HIV and Aids in his area.
managed well these income-generating projects can empower communities to
better themselves. Proceeds from these projects can be used to pay school
fees, buy uniforms for orphans and other vulnerable children, and buy food
for PLWAs and even fund other HIV and Aids programmes in various
From experiences from the tour, I am of the opinion that
the key is empowering communities economically and through HIV and Aids
ON 11 March I watched the ZTV newshour with excitement as
an official of the Department for International Development United Kingdom
handed over a cheque of US$2,7 million to the United Nations Population Fund
to be used by Zimbabwe's Ministry of Health and Child Welfare in its
maternal health programmes to reduce maternal deaths and pregnancy related
Dr Elizabeth Xaba, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry
of Health and Child Welfare who was present at the ceremony said the timely
grant would go a long way to enhance the Ministry of Health and Child
Welfare's capacity to achieve the Millennium Development Goal
target. During the break on the same news bulletin, the Zanu PF advertisement
in which they denounce Tony Blair was screened. What
Tony's Blair's government has done a lot to uplift the lives
of suffering Zimbabweans. The donation made on 11 March is only one of many
more that the British government has made to improve the lives of
Zimbabweans. Any assistance we may have received from our new friends from
the East is nowhere near the assistance that has been given to the people of
Zimbabwe by Blair's government, and Mugabe knows this very well. Let him
deny it on television if it is not the truth. Mugabe is the one who is not
telling the truth, not Tony Blair.
The donation made by the British
on 11 March 2005 is a big contribution towards the empowerment of women in
Zimbabwe, and anyone against the empowerment of women must be viewed as the
Women of Zimbabwe's number one enemy. Zanu PF and Mugabe are against the
donor that makes practical efforts to empower the Women of Zimbabwe, so,
therefore, Women of Zimbabwe must consider Zanu PF and Mugabe as their
number one enemy.
Zanu PF's hatred for Blair started when Blair's
government asked the Mugabe regime to account for money that had been
advanced to the government of Zimbabwe for land resettlement. Government
could not account for the money, which could have been pocketed by the
corrupt sharks surrounding Mugabe. Mugabe was warned by Edgar Tekere about
the sharks that surrounded him, but we all know that Tekere was fired from
Zanu PF as a result. Mugabe protected corruption for too long, and now he
wants to shift the blame on Blair.
With the drought that has almost been
confirmed, Zimbabweans, whether they support Zanu PF, the MDC, Zanu or any
other political party, and even those with no interest in politics, will
need a lot of food assistance from Britain, the United States of America and
other countries that Zanu PF hates so much. There is therefore every reason
for all Zimbabweans in their right frame of mind to vote against Zanu PF
candidates in the forthcoming parliamentary elections.
Zanu PF has
caused all the suffering that we are all going through, and Zimbabweans from
all walks of life must have realized that by now. Let us therefore turn out
in our millions and vote against all the Zanu PF candidates contesting in
this election come 31 March 2005.
We have suffered enough, and we cannot
allow ourselves to continue this way.
ZIMBABWEAN politics seems sadly to continue to go in the
direction of most other Third World politics. Instead of enunciating
policies, name-calling and political posturing seem to be the order of the
Our politicians practise a brand of politics heavy on personality
while light on principle and policy. Were it not for the serious nature of
the governance issue, one would simply enjoy the circus that has come to
town in the form of upcoming parliamentary elections. However, this
cannot be the case, as these aspiring parliamentarians are the individuals
who are supposed to lead us and make life defining-decisions.
elections are never short of colourful characters with entertaining but
hollow rhetoric. Considerable sums of money are spent on nationwide junkets
and of late, besides the globetrotting, there is campaigning by the aspiring
So-called purges of mafikizolos, decisions on whether to
boycott elections or participate and plenty of other unimportant activities
all served to cloud the major issues at hand. Participating parties have
failed to answer the most important question - that is - how do they intend
to improve the lives of Zimbabweans.
Exasperated Zimbabweans are
stuck with the major opposition party's bright idea of campaigning
everywhere else on the planet earth except at home. On the flipside it seems
that no news bulletin is complete without some ruing party apparatchik
donating the now mandatory computers to some remote school. Of course, this
largesse is never complete until the imperial West and all its local puppets
have been soundly whipped verbally.
One wonders what these parties have
to offer the general populace. There is no substance at all in anyone's
campaign. It is all veneer and no wood.
Simply put, Zanu PF says vote for
us because we liberated the country from colonial rule and as such possess
an inalienable right to rule the country for eternity. The MDC says vote for
us because we need to remove the current oppressive regime and then worry
about the rest later on. Smaller fly by night political parties say vote for
us because .? Well just vote for us. Can we really operate on any of the
Sadly, as Vince Lombardi, a legendary American football
coach said, "when all is said and done, not much is done". Once elected our
gallant sons of the soil will doze off in Parliament for five years, until
the next circus is due in town.
Quite frankly, I would not trust my
future or that of any other Zimbabwean for that matter, with the current
crop of clowns clamouring for our votes. There is an urgent need for all
parties to decide who they really are, and then inform the electorate just
why the hell we should vote for them.
IT is not true that there is "unfettered media access for
all political parties" in Zimbabwe now, as The Herald suggested in its
comment (8/03). The Herald itself declared on 3 March that it had no
obligation to cover all political parties equally.
coverage has been heavily tilted towards the ruling party, whose leaders are
on many occasions allowed to unfairly attack the opposition without any
response. The Herald and ZBH have so far covered almost all the rallies by
President Mugabe. However, we have seen only bits of Morgan Tsvangirai's
rallies, when he is leader of the country's biggest opposition.
the few occasions that he has been covered, Tsvangirai has been ridiculed
and accused of embracing government programmes when he is articulating his
party's policies. On ZTV, there is no attempt to show viewers the number of
people at the few Tsvangirai rallies that have been shown. Yet, the camera
is allowed to roam freely at Mugabe and Joyce Mujuru's rallies.
Herald's claim that some groups of observers - the SADC Parliamentary Forum
was clearly in mind - have been barred from the country because they have
prejudged the polls is even more ridiculous.
How then have ANC and South
African government observer teams been allowed into the country after their
president trumpeted the equally pre-judged view that the poll will be free
AFTER their appalling display of ignorance of elementary
economics and parliamentary operations (ZTV Election Programme of Tuesday
the 15 March 2005) Supa Mandiwanzira and Happison Muchechetere must be
helped in a very simple manner.
These two brothers must be reminded
of the functions of International Monetary Fund (IMF). It is very
disheartening to display such ignorance on national television and at such
juncture. For Muchechetere, one is quick to excuse the brother for displaying
ignorance on economic issues but for Mandiwanzira, I thought he had learnt
one or two facts about economics from his once popular "Talking Business
with Supa", but alas I got the shock of my life.
The two could
possibly go back to basics for starters and the following elementary
economics text books can be a good starting point; "Introductory Economics
": G.F. Stanlake; "Economics": John Beardshaw; and "Positive Economics ":
As a patriotic Zimbabwean, I am willing to lend the two my copies
of these texts to make all of us a well-informed society.
believe that one should not try to involve himself in issues he does not
fully comprehend especially on national issues which will have attracted
Next time ZTV should get proper interviewers who are
knowledgeable on issues which will be tabled for discussion for that
particular session. ZTV needs to know that it takes more than just a trained
journalist to be able to put across meaningful questions to whoever is being
Mandiwanzira must be commended for his entreprenuerial
skills and tenacity at his investments mainly , African Business
Communications (ABC), Mighty Movies, haulage trucks and of late bringing in
of Zhing Zhong TVs, stoves and refrigerators from the Zimbabwe-friendly
Zhing Zhong nations of the East. He should fully utilize his energies in
those areas, while leaving those areas in which he is not fully informed
about for the better informed.
As for ZTV, is that the best they can
offer in terms of the composition of their panel? I want to force myself to
believe that they can do much better than this.
Is the mandate of the
panel of interviewers to debate with the interviewees or is it to just put
across questions? The issue of being partisan interviewers is an obvious
one, but let these people ask questions which are beneficial to the
The anchorman should be given the prerogative of asking his panel
to submit to him their questions for purposes of vetting to avoid
unnecessary embarrassment on national TV as happened to
Honourable Tendai Biti and Honourable Priscilla
Misihairabwi are not part of that group of people. For learned people such
as Dr Ibbo Mandaza to try and speculate as to the euphemism behind the
Zimbabwe Democracy Act of the US is very strange.
To have a better
understanding of Parliament Mandiwanzira and Muchechetere must find time to
visit the House when it is in session or at least keep quiet.
and Misihairabwi as patriotic Zimbabweans should help the two gentlemen by
finding time from their very busy election campaign schedules to educate
them about the operations of Parliament.
Unfortunately I am not privy
to a text book that explains the operations of the Parliament of
Zanu PF panicking as MDC heads for certain
AS the MDC whirlwind campaign for a new Zimbabwe, a new
beginning gathers momentum, Zanu PF is panicking. Their spokesperson,
Webster Shamu, sensing a convincing defeat has begun to prepare the ground
work to explain the reasons for his party's defeat. He claims in The Sunday
Mail that the MDC is training youths to disrupt elections.
all logic that the MDC would plan to disrupt elections that it is certain to
win. The regime in Zimbabwe has done everything to ensure the election is
inclined in its favour. It has used the police to refuse MDC meetings and it
has retained unfair media access among other key indicators for free and
fair elections. Despite all attempts to frustrate popular will, the people
have remained resolute that they will vote for change. Wherever the MDC
campaign teams have gone, the people have turned out in their thousands, old
and young. The message is the same. The people of Zimbabwe want a new
beginning, a new Zimbabwe with jobs and food. They want affordable Aids
drugs. That is why they will vote for the MDC.
For the record the MDC is
not training any militia. It is only for unpopular regimes like the Zanu PF
government to train the militia in a bid to suppress the will of the people.
History has proved that this strategy does not work. It is beginning to fail
for Zanu PF today as a growing number of young people who were initially
cheated into joining Zanu PF are joining the MDC on a daily basis. It is
this realization that has motivated the statement of panic from
The MDC will win the election because it is concerned about the
things that the people are concerned about: jobs, food affordable Aids
drugs, affordable transport and decent housing.
The party has also
developed clear programmes in the economic policy Restart to turn this into
reality in a new Zimbabwe.
ZIMBABWE'S crippling foreign currency shortages showed no signs
of abating last week at the start of the tobacco selling season, the
country's major quick hard currency earner, it has emerged.
analysts told StandardBusiness that high expectations that the opening of
the auction floors would provide respite to firms battling to access hard
currency, were mere wishful thinking. "It will be a drop in the ocean given
the deficit we have on our balance of payments," said Tapiwa Mashakada, the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change's shadow finance
Said Eric Bloch, an independent analyst: "This year's crop is
much smaller than all the hallucinatory forecasts." More than half of the
crop will be below standard, he added.
The tobacco marketing season
opens on April 5, with a paltry 85 million kg projected to pass through the
country's three auction floors. The government had announced at the height
of its farm invasions that the new farmers would this year boost tobacco
production to 160 million kg from last year's 65 million kg.
with an optimistic projection of 85 million kg expected to start trickling
in at the Harare-based auction floors, analysts have predicted that most of
it would be a poor crop that will likely fetch low prices.
because of the inexperience of most new farmers and manpower shortages are
some of the constraints that new growers of the golden leaf - whom the
government has pinned so much hope on in the past - have to battle
Experts also pointed out that while the government obtained
substantial earnings from forward selling arrangements with countries such
as China, most of that money had already been committed.
once the country's top foreign exchange earner, was the panacea to many of
Zimbabwe's hard currency problems and the government used to plan basing
most of its forecasts on the expected crop, which is popular with cigarette
manufacturers throughout the world.
Zimbabwe is on its seventh year of a
severe foreign currency crunch, the main symptom of the economic crisis that
has engulfed this southern African country and widely blamed on President
Robert Mugabe's government's mismanagement.
Traditionally, the golden
crop has earned Harare 31% of its foreign currency. But its contribution has
since tumbled in the last five years in tandem with the fall in
A record high of 237 million kg was sold in 2000 earning US$400
million, but Zimbabwe's tobacco crop is now a shadow of its former glory. In
2003, tobacco receipts tumbled to US$183 million - dipping further to
US$139,4 million in 2004. At a projected price of US$185/ US$190c/kg this
year's crop might fetch US$160 million.
The foreign currency squeeze
is bound to add more problems to Mugabe's embattled administration that is
also the subject of targeted sanctions from key European nations and the US
Zimbabwe will be forced to budget for food imports now that
most of the country has experienced bad weather and crops in many regions
"We are heading for a very serious foreign currency crunch
with or without tobacco sales," warns Daniel Ndlela, an economist at
Zimconsult, adding that a sharp devaluation of the Zimbabwe dollar is
Public drinking and MDC rallies sundayopinion By Marko
ON Saturday 19 March, I attended an MDC rally at the local
community hall. It was held between 1PM and 5PM. Ten hours later, I was
locked up. My arrest had nothing to with the rally some five or so hours
While it has become customary that attending an MDC rally has
its hazards, which include running battles with a belligerent police force
seemingly under instruction from the executive to deal with the opposition
accordingly, the Sizinda rally seemed too good to be true. That at least was
my case because later I was held by the police. During the rally, the
MDC's provincial youth chairperson made sure to remind the crowd that this
was the same hall where some two years ago the so-called Talibans (the Green
Bombers) were camped and beat up law abiding citizens at regular intervals
as if they were responding to a call of nature.
The 19 March rally was a
success by any standard, and if it is to be used as a pointer to 31 March,
Gibson Sibanda, the MDC vice president and candidate for Nkulumane, is
headed for another five years in parliament. And the crowd that cheered him
on was in stark contrast to the twenty or so people I had seen earlier in
the week gathered at the Zanu PF Tshabalala offices being addressed by the
party's candidate for Nkulumane, Zanu PF youth leader, Absalom
But as everyone left the MDC rally in high mood, little did I
know that a visit to the local pub to allow me to reflect on the day's
events would include a more than flirting moments in a cell reeking of
urine. Not that I would have loved being arrested for attending an MDC
The very fact that the police were absent at the MDC rally was
good enough as the ruling party attempts to give this election a facade of
being free and fair. And this as an election that would have Zanu PF
officials (and Thabo Mbeki) saying "this time there were no reports of
police interrupting MDC rallies".
"This time" always means there was
a last time, and that tells us a lot about the claim of free and fair 2000
and 2002 polls whose result was still in dispute until recently when the MDC
decided to drop these cases as we approach another legislative election. So
there I was thinking 9PM was too early for me to retire to bed.
always complain about how rude commuter touts can be, especially when there
is an audience. Just listen to these cops. They seem to think everybody
arrested for public drinking is a hopeless sod who only understands the
language of corporal punishment - sjamboks.
I saw them use it when the
door was opened for my release. Some guys, perhaps smelling fresh air,
thought it was not a bad idea to try and talk to the officers who had opened
the holding cell. "Go back in," barked one of the officers to my fellow
inmates. But when the men tried to negotiate with the officer, he raised his
sjambok in a fashion reminiscent of those white cops called iJoni during the
Smith years. He did not try to scare them, but raised it up high as they
scurried like frightened rats.
I always thought this was reserved for
political activists, but I was seeing drunks being beaten up for public
drinking! Zimbabwe is a land of many ironies. I would not have been totally
surprised had I seen this earlier in the day during the MDC rally. So what
has changed? Is it adherence to SADC protocols about freedom of association
and movement that has led to the absence of youth militias and police
officers at MDC rallies? And now they are taking it out on people who can
afford the drink despite the difficult circumstances?
The irony here
is that there was time when the green bombers "arrested" people for public
drinking outside Bulawayo's pubs in the high-density suburbs. A cop, who
appeared to be in charge of the travesty of treating public drinking as the
force's public enemy number one, much as the professor has been treated by
his erstwhile paymasters, was actually saying to a guy who was not too eager
to pay the fine: "Why are you being stingy with Mugabe's money?" He spoke in
Sindebele and you could not tell whether he was mocking Mugabe's money as
being useless, or simply mocking this man for having a stiff
The other officers were busy haranguing other
men arrested for public drinking. A wise guy who pointed to a newspaper on
the desk saying the police should be arresting those dangerous criminals
reported in the paper and not drunks was threatened with arrest, and you
could see the awe with which these cops are held by mere mortals. The
thought of sitting on the other end of the police counter was enough to
silence the man, never mind that he had a point.
Women were there
too. Two women were picked up where I had been when they got out of their
car to buy something for an eight-month-old baby.
The fact that they had
the baby with them was not good enough for the arresting officers. "We have
heard that line a thousand times before," one of the officers said. The two
women were arrested for soliciting, never mind that the husband of one of
them was there. Another officer actually suggested they should arrest the
husband as well, but it was not clear what for. His suggestion was not taken
Now the part that takes the biscuit: When I was arrested, I had not
even taken a sip of the beer, but when we got to the police post about four
or five hundred metres from the pub, I noticed it was almost half empty! The
officer was helping himself to the spoils. I am sure it tasted like he had
bought it himself.
What I had done was behaving like a typical
hopeless sycophant, opened the beer and handed it to him for his drinking
pleasure. It sure was a perverse pleasure watching these men in uniform
behaving as if they owned our lives, and this time not because we were some
spies writing news dispatches about Zimbabwe to foreign papers or MDC or
Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) or National Constitutional Assembly (NCA)
activists, but simply because of an itching thirst for a cold
I did think though about those scribes who have had the "pleasure"
of spending nights in Harare's notorious remand prison. You get a sense of
identifying with what it must have felt like for those brave men. If they
could be treated as such - and spend days inside - and this for men (and
women) who would safely claim to know their rights, what about the anonymous
imbiber who does not even know under what law he is being
It's a jungle out there. Imagine the ruling party losing
hundreds of thousands of votes as a protest for being arrested for public
drinking! After all, Zanu PF has left no doubt in people's minds that it
owns the police force. The small consolation was that there were no arrests
during the MDC rally.
Bad governance receding in Africa sundaytalk with
THE relationship between many Africans and their
governments is only comparable to the disillusion, distrust and suspicion
that become the permanent bodyguards of a man or woman who has been jilted
too many times.
If care is not taken such a person may not have any
successful relationship again even when he or she meets the genuine person.
The weight and hang-ups of the past are such that they cloud the present and
threaten future relationships. The alarm bells are on 24/7 patrol
singing: Not again, or once bitten twice shy, or any other lyrics that warn
against trust and building confidence.
Just assume that the current
relationship will end in the same bleak alley of past ones, do not raise
your expectations and do not expect much. This defensive prop becomes a
permanent shield against any disappointment. Consequently, potentially good
and rewarding relationships are not given room to nurture or for
However, as no human being is an island to himself or
herself we are doomed to trust and take risks in sharing our lives with
other people because without doing so whatever we may tell or convince
ourselves about, our lives may never be complete.
partners, are necessary evils. What can you do without them and what can you
do with them?
How many Africans will run towards the police, the army or
any of our security agencies when they are in trouble? Most of the time we
are running away from them because if they are not the source of your
problem you may compound your problem by running to them! That's why many
Africans talk of "the government", "those in power", or "the regime",
instead of "our government".
The alienation is not just against the
coercive organs of the State. Even the civil arms of our governments are as
anti-people as their security counterparts. I was amused by a friend, Dr
Patricia Daley, who is a Geography Don at Oxford University (one of only two
Black Africans who are full faculty members) some years back, when she asked
me about the population of Nigerians in the United
Apparently in the census figures she was looking at that time
there were only 150 000 Nigerians in the Queen's own country! I could not
resist laughing because anybody familiar with the demography of Africans in
Britain will know that even countries with a much smaller population in the
UK than Nigeria (Uganda, Ghana or Sierra-Leone for example) will easily
notch up that number and still be counting. So I told her maybe that was the
number of Nigerians in Peckham or Dalston alone!
But what the figure
showed was that many Africans even though part of Britain's"visible
minority", were absent officially. Even our embassies cannot tell you how
many of their citizens are resident in the United Kingdom or any country in
the world for that matter.
In some countries they do not even know what
the actual population is anyway.
Many of these émigré Africans are
directly or indirectly running away from their governments therefore why
should they go and register at their embassies or high commissions that they
However, Africa is changing and changing for the better and
should and will continue to do so in spite of challenges here and there.
This process requires new ways and cultivation of new attitudes in dealing
with our governments and in the way our governments deal with us. There are
good governments in Africa. There are reforming governments in Africa. Bad
governance is receding even if at snail speed in some countries.
at the recent events in Togo. Faure Eyadema has been forced by sub-regional
and African consensus, to step down.
Two weeks ago, I wrote arguing that
the military coup that led to him succeeding his dictator father could not
have died sooner, should and would not stand. There was no clairvoyance in
that certainty. It was based on the good wind of change going across
Because Africa was united in saying "No" the rest of the world
had no choice but to follow our consensus.
A few years ago this would
not have been possible. Now that it is, we should recognise it and work
towards making this good practice standard practice.
There is no point
sniggering at it as many are doing. If we continue to see an unchanging or
unchangeable Africa we are both undervaluing our democratic struggles and
short changing our gains. Togo shows a new resolve on the part of Africans
to enthrone constitutional rule in Africa.
Even if Baby Eyadema were to
be elected president after the transition, it would have been done under the
constitution not by a military fiat.
We should not be timid or coy about
praising our governments when they are doing well. We cannot build and
institutionalise responsible government in Africa if we continue in the
destructive culture of "them" and "us".
Confrontation and condemnation
should not be our first and only tool of engagement. We should seek
co-operation and where possible and desirable, embrace collaboration and
embark on confrontation where and when necessary.
These tactics and the
strategies they demand need not be mutually exclusive. All of them are
useful and necessary in building sustainable democratic societies and
political communities that are at peace with them.
We just need to deploy
them where and when most applicable or simultaneously some
Much of our activism, especially in these days of professional
foreign controlled, donor-driven, materially rewarding Ngoism, is too skewed
in favour oppositionism instead of positive engagement with our governments
You need to ask why European and American
governments and charities should be arming you, aiding you and building your
capacity to confront your own government.
Why are they not building
the capacity of Africans living in their own countries to be effective
citizens where they are? Why should Africans or people of African origin in
these countries be marginalised while they are promising you heaven on earth
Dependence on foreigners or their money will not build Africa.
Rome, they say, was not built in a day, but the Romans were there and
willing to build it.
could be preparing the groundwork for something sinister. Last week it
alleged the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) was training
militias for guerrilla-style assaults that would sow seeds for a regime
There is a familiar ring to the charges: they only appear to
emerge on the eve of watershed elections, but after the polls they vanish
and are forgotten.
Three recent examples will serve to demonstrate
the government's desperation in conjuring up these "plots".
run up to the 2000 parliamentary elections the government announced the
arrest of what it described as three "highly trained military personnel".
The government said the three had entered the country and were from the
Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and carried an array of military
equipment, when they were arrested. In the end the three were
The event, coming as it did during a phase when Zimbabwe was
playing a leading role in "Operation Sovereign Legitimacy" in the DRC was a
stunt intended to portray secret conspiracies for daring to go to the aid of
a fellow African nation, which the West was waiting to rape and plunder
because of its immense natural resources.
Then in April 2000, on the
eve of the June 2000 parliamentary polls, the government announced that it
had intercepted an MDC document, which detailed plans by the opposition
party to "sabotage the economy and engage in a military and shortages
In exchange, the government alleged, the MDC would receive
sponsorship from the local white, farmers, industrialists, the pro-Rhodesian
lobby and Western forces led by the United States and the United
According to the government, the document explained how the MDC
would enrol all commercial farmers as a reserve police or paramilitary force
and guarantee genuine "black/white" equilibrium in numbers and ranks within
the defence forces, in the event that it was voted into power.
government suggested the document outlined how to create artificial
shortages in order to bring about general discontent among enlightened
professionals in Zimbabwe. The document also allegedly suggested an
immediate repeal of the War Veterans Act. The idea was to sow seeds of panic
among the veterans of the liberation struggle, by suggesting an MDC
government would not honour pledges for support made by the State to the war
Whether a measure of how the government evaluated this
puerile propaganda, Chen Chimutengwende, then Minister of Information, Posts
and Telecommunications, was dropped from government.
But there were
also allegations that five members of the opposition had undergone military
training in Uganda with a brief to come back and stage an insurrection
against the government. It was alleged the five had trained alongside
Rwandese invasion forces, the Kidogo, assisted by their Ugandan allies in
the invasion of the DRC.
Eventually and as in other previous covert
schemes, nothing came out the government's reported "investigations" into
Last week's allegation by the government that the MDC was
training people in military activities should be seen as an extension of
previous attempts by the government in its continuing war against the
opposition, whenever its intelligence informs it of an impending threat to
Initially the aim of such undercover propaganda activities
by the government is to strike fear in the hearts of opposition members and
their support because of the threat of facing a treason trial. This
therefore, is intended to create confusion in the opposition camp in the
hope of derailing its campaign.
The second strategy is to serve as a
threat that hovers above the heads of the opposition, ready to be activated
whenever necessary. The late nationalist Reverend Ndabaningi Sithole died
with a death sentence hanging over his head.
The other strategy is to
use this as a trump card in the event that an election is lost to the
opposition. Charges will be brought against the winning opposition
candidate; he or she will be imprisoned, resulting in a bye-election being
called. Insiza showed how the ruling party could reclaim a lost constituency
by sealing it off and then pouring in the militias to whip voters into
But the electorate is much wiser now and it is hoped the foreign
observers will be able to visit a substantial number of constituencies and
polling stations so that they can make an informed assessment of the
campaign, conduct and outcome of the 31 March 2005 parliamentary
Professor Jonathan Moyo, Zanu PF's propaganda chief until 19
February 2005 could be the first to be singled out for this treatment, if
the ruling party loses the parliamentary seat in Tsholotsho on Thursday this
President Robert Mugabe, campaigning in Tsholotsho on Wednesday
last week, disclosed that Moyo met the Army Commander, Lieutenant Phillip
Sibanda, on an "unclear mission" and that this had raised fears the former
minister "might have harboured thoughts of staging a coup as he tried to
wriggle his way to the top".
The timing of the announcement is
ominous because the government has known about this approach to the military
for a long time. President Mugabe is setting the stage for the whole
machinery of the ruling party and the government to descend on the MDC and
Moyo in a bid to demolish them.
Last week Mugabe tried to persuade voters
in Tafara/Mabvuku that the reason why they hounded the elected mayor of
Harare, Elias Mudzuri, out of Town House was because of the incompetence of
the opposition-led council. The gods have a cruel way of returning the
compliment. Various suburbs of Harare have been without water since Monday.
It is not the MDC responsible for such sabotage yet no one faces the axe.
The Solomon Tawengwa executive was fired after Harare went without water for
a similar duration. Zanu PF has a way of campaigning for the