The ZIMBABWE Situation
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Zimbabwe State-Owned Power Utility Staggering Under US$900 Million Debt

ZESA Public Relations Manager Fullard Gwasira said ZESA’s financial position
would improve if local consumers would cough up US$450 million in
outstanding bills - but consumers accuse ZESA of overcharging

Gibbs Dube | Washington  04 March 2011

Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority Holdings Limited is technically
insolvent given its debts amounting to some US$900 million, ZESA Chief
Executive Josh Chifamba has told Parliament this week, complaining that
consumers owe ZESA US$450 million.

Consumers have acccused the state-controlled utility of grossly overcharging
them while failing to provide sufficient electricity to avoid chronic and
long blackouts.

Chifamba told Parliament’s Committee on State Enterprises that ZESA faces
serious operational problems for lack of money and qualified staff.

Debts include US$140 million owed to Southern African regional power
utilities, he said, adding that ZESA requires some US$540 million to upgrade
its infrastructure. But he noted that it was allocated just US$55 million in
the 2011 national budget.

ZESA Public Relations Manager Fullard Gwasira said ZESA’s financial position
would improve if local consumers would cough up US$450 million in
outstanding bills.

“Consumers should pay for what they use in order for us to settle our debts
and thereafter look for funding for capital projects,” said Gwasira.

Economic commentator Rejoice Ngwenya said ZESA should consider selling a
majority stake to raise capital to upgrade and pay down its massive debts.

“Almost all [Zimbabwe's] parastatals are bankrupt and as such I think
government should sell its majority shares in this company in order to
generate money for capital projects and paying its huge debt,” Ngwenya told
VOA Studio 7 reporter Gibbs Dube.

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Zimbabwe denies sending weapons to Gbagbo

05 March, 2011 02:44:00    By

HARARE - Zimbabwe’s Defence Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa on Saturday
dismissed reports by the United Nations (UN) that his country supplied arms
to Ivory Coast.
According to reports, Zimbabwe may have supplied Laurent Gbagbo with

But Mnangagwa said that Zimbabwe itself was looking for weapons following an
arms embargo slapped on the country by Western powers. He added that the
allegations against the country were ‘stupid’.

Earlier this week, UN experts said they believed the arms shipments were
delivered to Ivory Coast in December. The shipment allegedly included light

Speaking to the NewsDay newspaper in Zimbabwe, Mnangagwa said that Zimbabwe
itself was under an arms embargo by the European Union, Britain and other
Western powers. He added that Zimbabwe was actually looking for weapons for
its own military.

Three years ago, Zimbabwe’s neighbours blocked a shipment of weapons to
Harare from China, following fears that they would be used by Zanu-PF on
opposition supporters.

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Zanu PF lays into Biti over poll delays

05/03/2011 00:00:00
    by Staff Reporter

ZANU PF has accused Finance Minister Tendai Biti of trying to delay general
elections by refusing to release funds for the completion of constitutional

Speaking during a meeting with Germany's Ambassador to Zimbabwe Albrecht
Conze, Zanu PF chairman, Simon Khaya Moyo claimed that Biti, a senior member
of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC-T party, was playing politics.

He claimed Biti had released a mere US$1 million for the constitutional
reform exercise against the US$20 million required.

"The outreach programme was completed and we have now reached the uploading
stage and the Minister of Finance is saying there is no money,” Moyo said.

"We should by now have reached a stage where we have concluded the draft
constitution and then go for referendum in June before we go to elections.”

He accused Biti of stifling progress in a bid to delay elections.

"We should by now have reached a stage where we have concluded the draft
constitution and then go for a referendum in June before we go to elections.

"But there are deliberate efforts to stall this process so that there are no
elections,” Moyo added.

Zanu PF wants the constitutional reform exercise completed so that elections
can be held this year to replace the fractious coalition government.

President Robert Mugabe has warned that he may have to dissolve parliament
and force elections if his coalition partners continue to delay the process.

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Police Cancel MDC-T Meetings

05/03/2011 18:05:00

HARARE, MARCH 5, 2011 – Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai,s party, MDC-T on
Saturday accused police of blocking its meetings in Bulawayo, Mashonaland
West and East provinces claiming that the political situation in the country
was too volatile.

The party is preparing for its congress in May and the provincial meetings
are meant to prepare structures for the major indaba. In Bulawayo where
Lucia Matibenga, the MP for Kuwadzana and a member of the MDC-T’s national
executive had been dispatched to oversee a restructuring exercise, anti-riot
police ordered everyone to disperse before the meeting could be convened.
Matibenga said they were shocked because the meeting was being held at the
party offices, which meant that it was a private gathering. The two
detectives who led the anti-riot squad said they were under strict
instructions from their superiors not to allow the meeting to proceed
because of the unstable political situation in the country.
According to the draconian Public Law and Security Act (Posa) political
parties must inform the police if they intend to hold public meetings.

But the law does not seem to apply to Zanu (PF) which on Wednesday was
allowed to hold a rally attended by more than 20 000 people at the Glamis
Arena in Harare.
Police also barred meetings of the MDC faction led by Welshman Ncube
scheduled for Bulawayo and Chitungwiza claiming that they did not have
adequate manpower.MDC has threatened to go ahead with the rallies with or
without police clearance.
Police commissioner general Augustine Chihuri has been accused of being a
Zanu (PF) activist which has made it difficult for him to discharge his
duties impartially. On Friday visiting United States deputy Secretary of
State for African Affairs Susan Page appealed to the police to stand up to
their commanders who were openly abusing their powers and showing allegiance
to Zanu (PF).

“We recognise that not everyone within the Zimbabwe Republic Police and
armed forces supports or is engaged in violence,” she said.
“The United States applauds those patriots serving their fellow citizens and
their country by maintaining law, order and stability.

Meanwhile one of our reporters in Bulawayo Nompumelelo Ncube reports that
anti-riot police are patrolling the streets of Bulawayo where they harassing
shoppers and vendors.The police spent the whole day iintimidating commuters
and residents at the city's main taxi rank, Egodini.

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SA talks tough on Zim

by Own Correspondent     Saturday 05 March 2011

HARARE – Zimbabwe should hold elections only after fully implementing its
power-sharing agreement including adopting a new constitution, a top South
African official has said, in a sign Pretoria maybe losing patience with
President Robert Mugabe who has demanded fresh polls with or without a new

In a statement that reflects growing regional impatience with the continuing
bickering among Zimbabwe’s political leaders, South Africa’s Deputy Foreign
Minister, Marius Fransman, said Pretoria would not allow Mugabe to hold an
election until he has met outstanding conditions of the power-sharing pact
officially known as the global political agreement (GPA).

While Mugabe and Tsvangirai have both called for a vote to choose a new
government to replace their uneasy coalition, the two rivals have however
differed on the timing of the polls with the former insisting they should be
held this year without fail and even before a new constitution is in place.

Zimbabwe is drafting a new Constitution that will guarantee a free and fair
vote and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has said polls should only come
after a new charter has been adopted and political violence and lawlessness
in many parts of the country ended.

Fransman sided with Tsvangirai, saying any Zimbabwean elections must be
based on provisions of GPA.

"The South African position and that of the Southern African Development
Community (SADC) is to ensure that the next elections as envisaged in the
GPA are held under a new constitution that would have been the product of
the constitution-making process supported by the Zimbabwean electorate
through a referendum,'' he said.

He added: "In this regard, any calls for elections without the finalisation
of the constitution-making process are in breach of the GPA as well as the
Constitution…which gives legitimacy to the inclusive government."

Fransman said Zimbabwe should resolve sticking GPA issues such as the
disputed appointments of Attorney-General Johannes Tomana, central bank
governor Gideon Gono and provincial governors as well as the swearing in of
MDC-T Treasurer-General Roy Bennett as deputy agriculture minister.

Political analyst Donald Porusingazi said the change in the tone of South
African diplomacy towards Zimbabwe reflected growing regional impatience
with Mugabe.

“We are seeing a trend in which various South African ministers are openly
criticising Mugabe. There is genuine fear that following the resurgent
violence in Zimbabwe and the dangerous political rhetoric by Mugabe and ZANU
PF things may quickly explode in Harare and it is the neighbouring countries
that will suffer from an influx of refugees,” Porusingazi said.

Fransman’s boss, Foreign Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane last year described
Mugabe as “a crazy old man” and said South Africa “cannot do quiet diplomacy

She proposed exposing "the dirty actions" of Mugabe's security chiefs who
are accused by the MDC-T and rights groups of spearheading ZANU (PF)
violence campaign.

Tsvangirai last month hinted he could boycott any election unilaterally
called by Mugabe this year without reforms to ensure the vote is truly
democratic and urged regional leaders to help pressure to stop calling a
snap vote.

South African leader Jacob Zuma is SADC’s official mediator in Zimbabwe and
is understood to be drafting a roadmap that should see Harare hold free and
fair elections.

Under Zuma’s roadmap, elections will follow a referendum on a new
constitution and will also set milestones such as electoral reforms, the
role of security forces and how to smoothly transfer power. -- ZimOnline

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MLF Leaders Still In Police Custody

05/03/2011 12:04:00

BULAWAYO, March 5, 2011-Police in Bulawayo are still holding three senior
leaders of the secessionist Mthwakazi Liberation Front (MLF) but they have
since released two female leaders, Ntombizodwa and the organization,s
Zimbabwe chairperson, Nonsikelelo Ncube.

According to MLF official Sabelo Ngwenya, the women were released last
night.Those still in custody are Paul Siwela, John Gazi and Charles Gumbo.
“ We are gravely concerned about the continued detention of the three
officials and we urge the international community to speak out against human
rights abuses by Mugabe government, ” said Ngwenya in a statement to the

Gazi and Gumbo are former Zipra guerrillas while Siwela is a well known
businessman in Bulawayo and a prominent politician.

“ These arrests exhibit the regime's determination to intimidate MLF leaders
and the people of Mthwakazi and in so doing derail our historic struggle for
self-determination, ” said the MLF statement.

According to MLF Gumbo was arrested at Entumbane while distributing his
party campaign material.Siwela and Gazi were picked up from different
locations in the city.Gazi served as a Zipra weapons expert during the
liberation war and is well respected by war veterans in the country.

MLF was launched in Bulawayo in January this year and says its goal is to
liberate the oppressed people of Matabeleland and those in some parts of the
Midlands who are part of what it calls Mthwakazi Kingdom.Analysts have
warned the government not to underestimate MLF saying the organization is
gaining popularity among the people of Matabeleland who have been
marginalised by President Robert Mugabe,s government since independence in

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Ruling Party Militants Strip Supermarket Shelves of Basic Goods

The Bulawayo branch of the Movement for Democratic Change formation of Prime
Minister Morgan Tsvangirai said ZANU-PF supporters were cleaning out
supermarket supplies of maize meal, a Zimbabwean staple

Chris Gande | Washington  04 March 2011

The US-based Famine Early Warning Systems Network reported this week that
while food is readily available in Zimbabwe, many families lack the money to
meet their needs

Militants of Zimbabwe's former ruling ZANU-PF party were said to have raided
supermarkets in Bulawayo and seized imported foodstuffs in the name of
indigenization, leaving neighborhoods in the country's second-largest city
short on basic goods.

The Bulawayo branch of the Movement for Democratic Change formation of Prime
Minister Morgan Tsvangirai issued a statement saying ZANU-PF supporters were
mainly cleaning out supermarket supplies of maize meal, a Zimbabwean stape

The statement said ZANU-PF militants were loading trucks with looted goods.

Bulawayo resident Raymond Phiri told VOA Studio 7 reporter Chris Gande that
most shops have run out of imported foodstuffs which are cheaper than most
local brands.

The US-based Famine Early Warning Systems Network reported this week that
while  food is readily available in Zimbabwe, many families lack the money
to meet their needs.

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General’s wife threatened US ambassador

by Own Correspondent     Saturday 05 March 2011

HARARE – The wife of Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF) commander Constantine
Chiwenga called and threatened former United States ambassador James McGee
in 2009, according to a confidential cable published by WikiLeaks this week.

The cable said Jocelyn Chiwenga called the US envoy on June 18, 2009 “and
insulted and threatened him”.

“On other occasions, she has spoken with embassy staff and criticised the US
with profanity and abusive language,” the cable said.

The embassy lodged a complaint with Zimbabwe’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs
over the threat to McGee.

Jocelyn is no stranger to controversy. In 2002, she threatened to kill a
white commercial farmer, reminding him that she had not "tasted white blood
for 20 years".

A year later, she assaulted Gugulethu Moyo, a lawyer for the Daily News.

Moyo said she had twisted her arm, slapped her on the face all the time
shouting: "So what if you are a lawyer? You want to encourage anarchy in
this country. You want to represent our enemies."

The ZDF chief’s wife also caused a stir at Makro wholesale in Harare in 2007
after she slapped photographer Tsvangirai Mukwazhi, who was accompanying
MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai during a tour of the South African-owned

Seeing the mainly empty shelves at the store, Tsvangirai was reported to
have criticised President Robert Mugabe's controversial price freeze earlier
that year.

Mugabe had ordered shops, businesses, hotels and restaurants to slash their
prices by at least 50 percent, leading to widespread shortages.

Chiwenga was enraged to see the MDC-T leader – now Zimbabwe’s Prime
Minister – accompanied by his bodyguards and journalists in the store, and
immediately ordered guards to close the shop.

The MDC-T leader escaped but Mukwazi was trapped within the supermarket and
attacked by Chiwenga who was shopping  at the time.

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War vet leader a fake

Written by chief reporter
Saturday, 05 March 2011 12:50

HARARE - The head of Zimbabwe's war veterans association, Jabulani Sibanda
(Pictured), was 10 years old when the liberation war ended. The self-styled
war veteran, who has been using classic tactics of mass intimidation to cow
Zanu (PF)'s political opponents, was born on December 31 1970, birth records
show. And it is not only Sibanda claiming to have waged the liberation war.
Most of the self-proclaimed “war veterans” are too young to have served in
the struggle which led to Rhodesia's independence from Britain in 1980.
"Go to hell," Sibanda shouted when confronted about his age, before cutting
off the line. He has terrorised rural areas, force marching villagers to his
rallies and lecturing them ad nauseum on the evils of the MDC and the
perfection of Zanu (PF). Then, in the style of the Red Guards of the Chinese
Cultural Revolution, he forces the villagers to go with him to the next farm
to repeat the process, villagers say.
The only people left in the compounds are those who cannot walk because of
the beatings they have received. Injuries range from simple abrasions to
fractures, concussion and burns. Night after night the pattern is repeated
by Sibanda from one rural area to the other around the country as President
Robert Mugabe's Zanu (PF) party battles to ensure it will remain in
government after elections Mugabe wants midyear.
"It is political violence. This is gross intimidation,'' said MDC senator
for Gutu, Empire Makamure, whose constituents have been terrorised by
Sibanda. The Masvingo province area has received the worst Red Guard
treatment, and more are likely to be targeted.
The tactics appear to be working. The number of people at previously
well-attended MDC rallies is dwindling, and party T-shirts, pamphlets and
posters that were a common sight a few months ago have become a dangerous
rarity. People are so frightened that they dare not even raise their hands
and wave to their friends because the gesture emulates the raised,
open-palmed symbol of the MDC.

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Darkness looms for Zimbabwe

05 March, 2011 19:11

Regional power utilities supplying power to Zimbabwe might pull the plug if
its government fails to settle debts owed by the country's power utility.

The Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (Zesa) evidently owes regional
suppliers more than US$100-million in accumulated debt.

Yet despite facing electricity supply problems, Zimbabwe is exporting power
to Namibia at below cost.

Zimbabwe generates about 1400MW of a required 2000MW, and imports about
300MW from Zambia and Mozambique.

However, Energy and Power Development Minister Elton Mangoma says Zesa
exports about 150MW to Namibia.

Mangoma said Zambia and Mozambique were "willing to export more power if we
pay for the current imports and something towards the accumulated debt of
nearly US $100-million."

He said Zimbabwe expected to receive another 50MW-100MW from the Democratic
Republic of Congo, starting this month.

Power-sector sources said this week it was highly unlikely that Zimbabwe
would continue to get power supply from the regional power utilities and
beyond if it did not settle its debts.

"These regional power utilities have had enough of excuses. Each time they
chase for payments of outstanding debts, they are told things are being
worked out. It is only a matter of time before they get fed-up and stop
supplying us with power," said a source.

Consumers and industrial players are hit by power cuts as the power utility
struggles to provide electricity to all parts of the country.

The government is not likely to provide funds to clear the debts soon.

Finance Minister Tendai Biti has indicated the country faces challenges that
will make the settlement of debts difficult. The government is struggling to
pay decent public service salaries. Promises of salary increases are

There is a dogfight over whether the money from the sale of diamonds should
go towards public service salaries or not, while other essential services
await funding from the government.

Mangoma bemoaned Zesa's US$40-million deal with NamPower to export about
150MW to Namibia. The tariff agreed is below Zimbabwe's cost of generating
the power.

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The truth about ‘sanctions’

Written by Rejoice Ndlovu
Saturday, 05 March 2011 13:44

“Illegal western sanctions” is now one of the most popular clichés in
Zimbabwe’s national conversation. (Pictured: Zanu (PF) stalwarts at the
anti-sanctions rally in Harare this week where thousands of people were
indoctrinated with the ‘sanction’ lie)
There are several key myths that are important to dispel about the position
of foreign nations on the sanctions debate.

Sanctions are blocking economic recovery
Neither the United States or Britian maintain sanctions against the people
of Zimbabwe or the country of Zimbabwe.  Sanctions target individuals and
entities that have undermined democratic processes or institutions in
Zimbabwe.  More specifically, sanctions target individuals who, among other
things, are senior officials of the Government of Zimbabwe, have
participated in human rights abuses related to political repression and/or
have engaged in activities facilitating public corruption by senior
officials of the Government of Zimbabwe.
Sanctions also target entities owned or controlled by the Zimbabwean
government or officials of the Zimbabwean government.  Unless a transaction
involves a blocked individual or entity, U.S. persons may, and are
encouraged to, conduct business in, and trade with, Zimbabwe and its people.
British ambassador, Mark Canning has said on many occasions that the
targeted measures did not affect the economy, trade or business. Canning
clarified that the EU measures imposed restrictions on 203 key figures of
President Mugabe's regime involved in the violence and human rights abuses.
The measures also affected 40 companies associated with these individuals
and their sources of finance, he said.

There is a trade embargo against Zimbabwe
There is no US bilateral trade embargo against Zimbabwe.  Trade levels
fluctuate, but in 10 of the past twelve years (with the exception of 2007
and 2009, when the global economic crisis affected nearly all markets), the
trade balance between Zimbabwe and the United States has favoured Zimbabwe,
often by a large margin.
According to Keith Scott, first secretary Political/Communications Affairs
in the British embassy in Harare, UK exports to Zimbabwe between January and
October 2009 were £15 million.  Zimbabwe exported to UK between January and
October 2009 £49 million worth of goods. In 2008 UK exports to Zimbabwe were
£21 million and Zim exports to UK in 2008 were £37 million.
"Zimbabwe actually runs a trade surplus with the UK," Scott said. Another
diplomatic source said the current diplomatic row between Harare and the EU
had culminated in the imposition of legitimate “smart sanctions” based on
the ACP-EU Cotonou Agreement. A Western diplomat confirmed that the same was
true in Europe: "The EU as a bloc remains one of Zimbabwe's major trading
partners," he said. "It’s pie in the sky that sanctions are hurting the
Zimbabwean economy." Exports to the EU currently account for about 36 per
cent of the country’s total exports and cover both traditional and
non-traditional product lines.
Major agricultural export products from Zimbabwe to the EU are tobacco,
cotton, meat products, tree plants, and cut flowers.  Zimbabwe has also
benefited from the STABEX fund for supporting export earnings owing to a
decline in prices of commodity exports.

Aid has been cut off
In fact, the United States provided over US$300 million in 2009 and over
US$200 million in 2010 for humanitarian, food, health, and democracy and
governance assistance to Zimbabwe.  In 2011, the United States will continue
to provide this level of assistance while also raising its commitment to
fight HIV and AIDS in Zimbabwe by US$10 million to a total of US$57.5
According to Ambassador Canning, British aid to Zimbabwe continues.
"Sanctions do not hurt ordinary Zimbabweans," Canning said. "Indeed, levels
of British aid - US$100 million last year - to ordinary Zimbabweans have
never been higher.” Zimbabwe has always enjoyed a balance of trade surplus
in its trade with the EU, despite claims that the sanctions were hurting
trade. The EU is also a major donor for humanitarian assistance.
In a desperate attempt to add more fuel to the ‘sanctions’ fire, Zanu (PF)
on Wednesday forced people in Harare to abandon their work stations to sign
an ‘anti-sanction’ petition. "It's either we attended the signing ceremony
or we lose the market stalls that we were given by Zanu (PF) officials,"
said a vendor.
At least 20 000 people attended the ceremony that was dominated by Zanu (PF)
supporters clad in party regalia and punctuated by music exalting Mugabe in
power since 1980. Thousands of the people were either forced to attend the
event or as is the tradition of Zanu (PF) bussed. The use of force to ensure
that there were signatures on the pages only goes to show the desperate
lengths that the party will go to to deceive the people.

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Squatting in the Diaspora

Written by Sibanengi Dube
Saturday, 05 March 2011 13:48

I will be turning 40 years-old within a few years time. For all my adulthood
life I have been squatting in the Diaspora, South Africa, after
unceremoniously leaving Zimbabwe on 21 January 1999.
I am still in Mzansi, obviously not by choice, but by circumstantial
coercion. None of my children refer to Zimbabwe as ‘home’ because they were
born in South Africa. My eldest child Sibanengi (jnr) confronted me when we
were in my rural home in Mberengwa last December and demanded to be taken
back ‘home’ as he was tired on being in Zimbabwe.
The home he was referring to is my bank bonded house in Winchester Hills,
Johannesburg where he was born. When other stunned family members reminded
him that he was actually at his “real” home, he retaliated by boycotting his
meals until we left for Johannesburg in a few days time. This encounter has
been constantly coming back to haunt me. It never crossed my mind that I
would have kids who regard my home country as a camping festival
destination. I was distressed.

Blame at our door
My experience is not alien to my friends and family members, who are dotted
around the globe as Zimbabwe continues to be a refugee generating pot.  Why
are we in this situation? Who is to blame? We may all ask.  Why this curse?
Could it be Zanu (PF)?
Zanu (PF) might have authored the situation that we find ourselves in, but
the blame lies squarely with all Zimbabweans. How then can victims of the
situation become instigators of their won predicament? The honest answer is
that we allowed Zanu (PF) Pharisees to openly privatise our country for the
benefit of few Zanu (PF) idiots as the majority gets snared by maddening
poverty and hopelessness.
One painful reality is that very few Zimbabweans feel at home when they are
in Zimbabwe. Who would be proud of a home where violence is perpetrated by
State institutions who are supposed to provide security, hope and
confidence?  We might all be proud Zimbabweans but the beautiful country was
made inhabitable under everyone’s watch.
We surrendered territory to a few greedy clowns, who have been plundering
the political and economic landscape of the country for the past 31 years.
Takaranwira makudo munda, manje haachada kubudamo. We gave Robert Mugabe a
signed blank cheque book, literally giving him a green light to insert any
amount that suits his ravenous taste for sumptuousness. These former
guerrillas, masquerading as national heroes are nothing other than
unrepentant full-time murderers who will never stop killing as long as we
continue to surrender ourselves to be guillotined.

As I write this, 47 activists, including two former MDC MPs, Munyaradzi
Gwisai and Job Sikhala are in detention facing charges of treason for
watching a video of revolutionary protests being staged in North Africa.
Guess what the general populace’s reaction is to these wanton arrests of
innocent citizens: non-action.
Where is the crop of former student leaders who warned the nation about Zanu
(PF)’s indecency? Have they gone underground or surrendered to Zanu (PF) as
Zimbabwe goes up in smoke? What happened to the selfless bravery of the
former student leaders, who used to be the beacon of light? Was their
resilience drowned by ‘academic perfume’, as the Police Commissioner,
Augustine Chihuri, once put it in reference to military tear gas that was
used by riot police to disperse demonstrating students?
It is interesting to note that most of the best brains to come out of
Zimbabwe are being absorbed by the lucrative NGO sector where their energies
and brain power are consumed by writing project proposals and concept
papers. Some have even grown so influential to an extent of controlling,
distributing and approving budgets of donor communities. They are in the
business of trading calamities.  Their stock is the crisis bedevilling
Zimbabwe. All they do is to document or analyse the crisis for a living but
adding nothing of value to mitigate the crisis.
Zimbabweans are petrified of confronting Robert Mugabe even though he is
already one foot in his grave. Yes! This is a fact. It is public secret that
Mugabe is always in and out of operation theatres. Zimbabweans are genuine
cowards, hell-bent on preserving their lives with no regard of the quality
of life they are subjected to. They are an opposite of Egyptians who
confronted Mubarak’s armed soldiers on tankers, with prayers and stones.
Zimbabwe has been mortgaged to Zanu (PF).  Can we honestly afford the luxury
of folding our hands as the nation faces extinction? Zimbabweans are good at
masking cowardice.  Some claim to be apolitical, mouthing neutrality at
every turn and event. It is an individual choice to join politics, but in
Zimbabwe there are only two options that are obviously identical. It is
either all Zimbabweans must demand freedom from Zanu (PF) or we force Zanu
(PF) to deliver freedom to us by any means necessary

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Library neglect kills reading culture

Written by Tavada Mafa
Friday, 04 March 2011 16:14

HARARE – The state of libraries in Zimbabwe’s main cities is a cause for
concern with fears rising that the country’s reading culture will be
At Highfield Public Library, once a well-furnished and spotlessly clean
space to study, there is a US$2 entry fee to visit the decaying building.
When the municipal officer manning the desk is asked how children can afford
to pay such a fee for every visit he responds, “It is just a directive from
Roof leaks in the library have rendered the better part of the reading area
unusable and the floor is littered with tattered book pages. Despite this,
scores of students, whose parents are well off enough to afford the
admission charge, spend their afternoons at the few remaining reading desks.
A Harare Social scientist, Pascal Masocha, said that in the face of a
booming technological industry, libraries must be furnished with things such
as internet enabled computers. “There is need to come up with innovative
techniques to resuscitate the young generation’s interest in the libraries,”
said Masocha.
A Harare economic analyst, Fred Nyamadzawo, said Harare must set aside a
special budgetary allocation for community services departments. “We have
excellent infrastructure in these libraries, but it needs maintenance,” he
said. Harare’s Mayor Muchadeyi Masunda admitted that the council had failed
to maintain library infrastructure. “The libraries are not in the state that
they should be,” he said, attributing that to various factors including the
council’s bad financial position.
“Council had to start from scratch when there was the introduction of the
multiple currency system and that affected our budgeting and as a result we
have not been allocating the annual grant to the libraries.” However,
Masunda said that a management board of volunteers was recently set up to
resuscitate the libraries. He is also alleged to be attending a fundraising
dinner in London in an attempt to raise money for the repair of libraries.

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Mugabe’s lessons in light-touch tyranny

By Alec Russell

Published: March 4 2011 21:17 | Last updated: March 4 2011 21:17

The Big Man was taking no chances this week. Loyalists were ferried through
the run-down capital singing revolutionary songs and banging the side of
their trucks. State television pumped out propaganda. Dozens of activists
were in court on treason charges after being arrested for watching a video
of Egypt’s democracy protests.

It was a bravura display of light-touch tyranny. The climax was a sulphurous
address. The father of the nation lambasted the “imperialists” of the
perfidious west. Then he flew to Singapore on the state airline, clearly
utterly confident in his hold on power.

Libya’s revolutionaries can sadly as yet only dream of Muammer Gaddafi
flying out of Tripoli. The orator was not the exotically clad colonel vowing
to fight to the last man and the last woman. Rather it was his fellow
African autocrat Robert Mugabe. In a dapper suit with matching hanky and
tie, the 87-year-old Zimbabwean this week delivered a master-class in the
exercise of power. Would-be revolutionaries and tyrants alike should take

While no two are the same, there are enduring features of tyrannies – and
how to topple them. These two leaders certainly have much in common: both
imposed economically disastrous “indigenous” revolutions; both rail at the
west while craving its respect; both see themselves as the embodiment of
their states.

In the old days there were two basics to a despot’s longevity – state
television and the army. The former may have waned in the age of the web,
but the latter remains pivotal. Col Gaddafi has not been as adept as Mr
Mugabe at keeping his army on side. It is a mistake he may rue. While Libya’s
dictator may have proved more resilient – or rather ruthless – than Egypt’s
or Tunisia’s, in the eyes of a master of his craft such as Mr Mugabe he
should never have reached this sorry pass where regiments have changed

The unseating of tyrants is an inexact science. A mere accident or misstep
can tip the harshest regime. The persecution of László Tokés, a Calvinist
priest in the Romanian town of Timisoara, was a run-of-the-mill spot of
secret policing for Nicolae Ceausescu’s Securitate in late 1989. Yet his
arrest was the equivalent of the suicide of the fruit seller that
precipitated the downfall of Tunisia’s regime, provoking a protest that was
to uproot the Ceausescus’ rule. Two weeks later Ceausescu looked out from
the Central Committee building with disbelief as the shout “Timisoara”
rippled through the very masses bused in to cheer him. Four days later he
and his wife were shot dead.

There is, however, also logic to the survival of autocrats. Mr Mugabe
understands perfectly well the need to counterbalance despotism, and avoid
elementary errors. It is often said that Ceausescu’s mistake was to go to
Iran as the Timisoara protests erupted. There is no way Mr Mugabe would have
gone to Singapore if there was trouble at home.

When Zambians decided in 1991 that after nearly 30 years they had had enough
of their president-for-life, Kenneth Kaunda, he is said to have telephoned
Kenya’s leader Daniel arap Moi in a panic. Moi’s response was tart, a
confidant told me. “Didn’t I tell you always to keep your people in your
capital, well-fed.”

That was a basic slip, but the amiable KK was frankly not tough enough to be
a president-for-life. This could never be said of Mr Mugabe. Since the
emergence of a viable opposition he has had no qualms over unleashing
appalling violence ahead of elections to intimidate the poor into staying in

Yet he is clinically scientific in his use of violence. To pre-empt any
threat from a rival, early in his rule he presided over the massacre of
thousands of members of the minority Ndebele tribe. Since then, outside
election seasons the boot boys have been kept on a leash. (Speculation of a
snap summer election is thought to be behind a recent surge in violence.)

He has, indeed, ravaged the economy to stay in power. Foreign companies are
the next in his sights. But he is, in truth, a subtler figure than the
cartoon tyrant depicted in the British press. There are plenty of worse
tyrannies that get a fraction of his coverage. Rackety the regime is but it
is not a totalitarian state. He is too canny for that.

Col Gaddafi, however, appears to have allowed things to slip too far. There
are fears that a civil war may loom. But the most apparently impregnable
regimes can implode overnight. What we are waiting for is someone in the
army to move – and if, or as, the revolutionaries move closer so that
likelihood will grow.

We should remember Zaire. One steamy May day in 1997, the playboy son of the
kleptocrat Mobutu Sese Seko was treating the capital as his fief. The next
he was firing a grenade at the national bank before fleeing for his life.
(Is there a moral here for Col Gaddafi’s son Seif al-Islam?) It was not just
that the rebels were at the gates. The army’s commander had thrown in the

We should also remember Romania, where the joyous shout “armata e cu noi”
[the army is with us] signalled the end of the regime.

No two topplings are the same. Zimbabwe’s opposition prime minister
explained Mr Mugabe’s survival to me by saying that after its independence
war Zimbabwe was wearied of fighting. He also hailed its coalition
government – yet he added we could wake tomorrow and find a spontaneous

But if I had to bet on it, Mr Mugabe will die in office and Col Gaddafi will
not see out the year or even the month.

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Hit List

March 5, 2011, 3:08 pm

Dear Family and Friends,

At 6 am in the morning, seven soldiers dressed in camouflage stood hitch
hiking on the main highway leading to Harare. A few kilometres along the
road another group were trying to flag down a lift. This was the day that Mr
Mugabe and Zanu PF were holding their much advertised ‘Anti Sanctions
Petition Campaign.’ The early morning was cool and overcast, the roadside
grass dripping with dew, drenching strings of children as they cavorted
along the road towards their schools. Smiling and waving, shiny-faced and
innocent, they pushed and giggled, proud in their bottle green, navy blue,
and deep purple uniforms.

On the outskirts of Harare there were three Police roadblocks within ten
kilometres and an increasing number of soldiers sitting in the back of open
pick up trucks. In the centre of Harare some shaven headed youths and a few
newspaper vendors were wearing full size Zimbabwe flags strung around their
necks and draped down their backs. And so the city braced for what was

The first sign of what lay ahead came , as it always does, with shouting,
whistling and banging. These are the Zanu PF  ‘youths’  calling people to
come to the Zanu PF function. By 9 in the morning numerous big open trucks
full of people were heading towards the venue. A 60 seater bus went past,
filled to bursting with people even standing in the aisles. On the roof rack
of the bus, sitting in fifteen lines of four, were another fifty or so
people. These on the roof rack were the rabble rousers. Wearing the national
flag wrapped around their heads and draped like towels round their
shoulders, they whistled and shouted, banged their hands on the sides of the
bus and waved their fists, the Zanu PF symbol.

A truck filled with white-robed Apostolic church members went past, forty to
fifty women sitting on the floor of the truck, watched over by half a dozen
shaven headed Church men, also wearing full length white robes. Sitting half
in and half out of commuter minibus windows, youths wearing Zanu PF T shirts
shouted for people to go to the Anti Sanctions rally. Mostly people did what
they have become used to doing: they looked away and tried not to make eye

“Down with Sanctions” the speakers at the rally shouted, clenched fists
thrust over their heads. Down with, down with, down with – the same
feverish, negative, chorusing that so personifies politics here. Mr Mugabe
said there was a Hit List of Western companies he had instructed his
Minister of Indigenisation to look into. Companies which include Old Mutual,
Rio Tinto and BP. Barclays Bank and Standard Chartered Bank were singled out
particularly by Mr Mugabe; he said they were on the Hit List of foreign
owned companies to be investigated by Minister Kasukuwere.

Two days later I popped into my local branch of Barclays Bank. They have
installed new security doors since I was there a couple of weeks ago, a
fascinating little coincidence considering the Indigenisation Hit List talk.
I thought I’d find the place full to bursting, with worried customers, but
there was only one other non staff member in the bank on an otherwise busy
Friday morning.  The Personal Banker on duty couldn’t answer any of my
questions like: is my account going to be safe here, or, is there a chance
you will close your branches in Zimbabwe?, Looking nervously over his
shoulder, smiling even more nervously, he talked quickly and quietly:  the
Hit List speech was the first time he’d heard about this, he said, they were
as much in the dark as I was. I was worried about my account, he was worried
about his job. I didn’t tell him that as a farmer I knew all about these Hit
Lists and as a result was now a dispossessed farmer. The farm indigenisation
Hit List left nearly three quarters of a million people who worked on the
land without homes, jobs and pensions.  Three quarters of a million people
of whom less than 10 thousand had white skin colour.

Until next week, thanks for reading, love cathy. 5th March 2011.

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