Peta Thornycroft, Zimbabwe Correspondent, Sunday Telegraph
Last Updated: 11:37pm BST 12/05/2007
The man elected to head the United Nations Commission on Sustainable
Development has been accused of presiding over the ruin of his own farm in
Zimbabwe and the collapse of many of the country's wildlife sanctuaries.
Francis Nhema, the Minister for Environment and Tourism, was put in
charge of the 53-member commission yesterday, despite protests from Europe,
America and human rights groups.
Opponents said the dismal record of President Robert Mugabe's regime
in running its agricultural economy meant that it was not fit to take charge
of global policy on rural development and sustainable agriculture.
Now The Sunday Telegraph can reveal serious question marks over Mr
Nhema's personal record in managing the rural environment. According to the
owners of the white-owned farm that he took over after it was seized by war
veterans in 2002, much of it is now more like a wasteland.
The 2,000-acre farm in the Karoi district, north of Harare, used to
grow 220 acres of maize and 200 acres of tobacco, irrigated by water from a
dam on the farm, as well as beef cattle, pigs and sheep.
But Chris Shepherd, 42, who still holds the farm's title deeds, said
that when he flew low over Nyamanda recently, he was shocked by its decline.
"There were about 50 acres of appalling maize, which will produce nothing,"
he said. "The place looks dreadful. Two of the tobacco barns that burnt down
after Nhema moved in have not been rebuilt. I could hardly believe my eyes
when I saw the destruction."
Mr Shepherd flew over the farm to check on the land that had supported
his family, more than 250 permanent workers and their families, and 250
contract workers during the season. He said the only part of the farm still
functioning successfully was some grazing land for cattle, which Mr Nhema
had rented out to two white farmers allowed to remain in the area.
Mr Nhema refused to comment on the claims. "You must speak to my farm
manager about anything related to the farm," he said, adding that he did not
own all the land.
Last week the Famine Early Warning Systems Network, which monitors
food security in sub-Saharan Africa, issued an alert that Zimbabwe had
produced less than half the maize it needs to feed its population. Until
2000, when President Mugabe began seizing white-owned farms - which produced
40 per cent of the country's foreign earnings - Zimbabwe was a net exporter
of food. But the agricultural infrastructure has since collapsed.
Little irrigation capacity remains and, with inflation of 2,200 per
cent, its farming sector is on its knees. The catastrophe on the farm Mr
Nhema took over is replicated on about 50 million acres of former commercial
The country's wildlife, key to its tourism appeal, has also suffered
through land reforms. Poaching has hit record levels, and scores of
conservancies have closed.
The position to which Mr Nhema was elected rotates among regions and
it was Africa's turn to choose who should lead the commission for the next
The decision infuriated Western diplomats. Ian Pearson, Britain's
minister for climate change and the environment, said: "Zimbabwe's election
will be seen as an outrage by millions of people who look to the United
Nations for help to escape from poverty. They will asking how the body
charged with promoting sustainable development can maintain credibility
while being chaired by a representative of a government whose failed
policies have destroyed its own economy."
But Mr Nhema defended the decision. "I think it's not time to point
fingers. There is never a perfect method. It's always a method which is
appropriate to each country. So it's important not only to look at Zimbabwe
but to look at each other and see what we can learn."
THE UK government yesterday led international condemnation of Zimbabwe's
election to chair the United Nations Sustainable Development Commission,
labelling the decision outrageous and "wholly inconsistent" with the body's
Francis Nhema, Zimbabwe's minister of environment and tourism, was nominated
for the post by Africa. His recommendation was approved on Friday night in a
vote of 26-21.
But his election comes as his country experiences its worst economic crisis
since independence and in the face of widespread criticism of its President,
Westminster Environment and Climate Change Minister Ian Pearson reacted
angrily to the appointment, claiming it would be seen "as an outrage by the
millions of people who look to the UN for help to escape from poverty".
He said: "They will be asking how the body charged with promoting
sustainable development will be able to maintain credibility whilst being
chaired by a representative of a government whose failed policies have
destroyed its own economy.
'Zimbabwe's election is inconsistent with the aims of the commission'
"How can a once-food-rich country where 1.8 million people now depend on
food aid be expected to give its authority to the UN's work on critical
issues such as agriculture, rural development and land use?"
Pearson added: "Zimbabwe's election is wholly inconsistent with the aims of
the commission and the good work it achieves on urgent development issues."
The vote by the Commission on Sustainable Development to approve Africa's
recommendation, which was made in secret, came on the same day as the
Pan-African Parliament voted to send a mission to Zimbabwe to investigate
alleged human rights abuses. They relate "to the arrests and detention,
assault and murder of political activists and members of the media".
Minister for Africa Lord Triesman also stressed his opposition to the
appointment. He said: "For a Zimbabwean minister to chair the commission
while his own people suffer the appalling consequences of his government's
policies is wholly inconsistent with the commission's aims.
"It damages the credibility of the commission itself and its ability to deal
with issues affecting the livelihoods of millions from the poorest
President Mugabe, 83, has been in power since Zimbabwe gained independence
from Britain in 1980, and 27 years on it is facing acute shortages of food
and many other basic goods.
The agriculture-based economy was massively damaged when his government
violently seized white-owned commercial farms as part of a programme to
redistribute land to poor blacks.
This has been compounded by repressive politics and corruption, with
official inflation now running at about 2,200% annually - the highest in the
Germany's environment minister, Sigmar Gabriel, highlighted the fact that
the EU and the United States had imposed travel sanctions, among other
penalties, against officials in President Robert Mugabe's government for
human rights abuses.
"It would not be possible for us to invite the next chair if it is from the
government of Zimbabwe, or to have contacts with the chair," said Gabriel,
whose country holds EU's current presidency.
The US representative at the UN Commission, Dan Reifsnyder, said his country
was "very disappointed" at Zimbabwe's election as chair.
He said: "We really think it calls into question the credibility of this
organisation to have a representative from a country that has decimated its
agriculture, that used to be the breadbasket of Africa and now can't feed
Jennifer Windsor, executive director of human rights group Freedom House,
said before the vote that it was "preposterous" for Zimbabwe to lead any UN
She said Mugabe's government "clearly has nothing but scorn for the UN's
founding principles of human rights, security and international law".
The post of chair rotates every year among regions of the world. It was
Africa's turn and Nhema was nominated.
But the Zimbabwean minister last night dismissed questions about the
appropriateness of his appointment and about his country's international
He said: "I think it's not time to point fingers. There is never a perfect
method, it's always a method which is appropriate to each country.
"So it's important not only to look at Zimbabwe but to look at each other
and see what we can learn."
Meanwhile, Zimbabwe's UN ambassador Boniface Chidyausiku said: "What has
sustainable development to do with human rights?"
Last updated: 13-May-07 01:13 BST
1. Michael Leonard, Edinburgh / 2:55am 13 May 2007
These Commissions are "jobs for the boys".
They have nothing to do with real life.
They're a bit like the rest of the UN in that respect.
2. reflexation, gold coast australia / 3:26am 13 May 2007
Apathy prevents me from spending my money that I earnt with my bare hands,
to buy a ticket to Zimbabwe, procure an arsenal, stake out Graces palace and
kidnap her and the kids so that I could spirit them away to a place devoid
of luxuries like clean drinking water and plentiful corn. UN sanctions and
frozen funds dont bother this most backward of goverments. If you want to
get your way with an african you have to THINK like an african. How does an
african think? F... you is the most common thought. Africans are tribal,
africans are not interested in the envioroment or global warming, africans
just want thier piece of ground, a few cattle and thier MUTI. Stop worrying
about zimbabwe. let it implode upon itself.
Oh by the way, I mentioned apathy at the beginning. My personal apathy
towards africa comes from the fact that the moment despots like Mugabe are
dead another punter will step up to the podium.
3. ken the retired, New Zealand / 5:50am 13 May 2007
A basket case giving advice to another basket case. Mind you I cannot
blame them not taking the advice of the west either - we do not have a good
record down their way - slavery, depots of our own over the years running
their countries, carving up nations on drawing boards in far off countires.
Not such a good look really.
4. jayceebee / 7:50am 13 May 2007
There is only one UN but unfortunately it is one too many.
5. Tatties ower the side, Johannesburg / 7:56am 13 May 2007
This just makes the UN look so shabby!!!!! Let us hope they name the 26
countries who voted for this ridiculous appointment.
6. rpb / 7:57am 13 May 2007
Spot the difference:
African country run by whites for whites was osctracised for the way it
treated the black popluation.
African country run by a black dictator ( note how this article still
refers to him as 'president' - very pc)
that has effectively self destructed a successful economy/self
sufficiency - no one dares to speak out in the West.
Number 3 - ken the retired: why go on about the past and imperialism? We
are talking about today, when a dictator in a prosperous country chose to
That really isn't a good look.
International Herald Tribune
The Associated PressPublished: May 13, 2007
CANBERRA, Australia: After spending several weeks recommending that
Australia's cricket team cancel a September tour of Zimbabwe, Prime Minister
John Howard's government took the issue into its own hands Sunday, banning
the team from visiting the African country.
"The government, through the foreign minister, has written to the
organization of Cricket Australia instructing that the tour not go ahead,"
The World Cup-champion Australians were scheduled to play three one-day
matches in Zimbabwe. They likely would have spent less than two weeks in the
country led by President Robert Mugabe, who has been widely criticized for
human rights abuses.
Cricket Australia said it might try to play the three matches at a neutral
"We accept that the Australian government has the responsibility for making
decisions about our nation's international relationships," chief executive
officer James Sutherland said.
"Given our commitment to help Zimbabwe cricket develop, we will now explore
the possibility of playing the three ODIs (one-day internationals) we are
due to play against Zimbabwe in September at a neutral venue outside
A spokesman for Zimbabwe's ambassador to Australia, Stephen Chiketa, said
Chiketa would not be available to comment on the Australian decision until
On Friday, Chiketa said cancellation of the tour would only hurt children in
"You have young players in Zimbabwe who want to emulate great cricket
players in Australia," Chiketa told Australia's Seven television network.
"Take your politics somewhere else."
Howard said Mugabe was behaving "like the Gestapo" towards his political
"The living standards in the country are probably the lowest of any in the
world, you have an absolutely unbelievable rate of inflation," Howard said.
"I have no doubt that if this tour goes ahead it will be an enormous boost
to this grubby dictator."
He said the legal basis of the government's decision was solid.
"We do have power over people's passports," he said. "We have made our
position very clear."
Howard also said it was better for the Australian government to take the
blame for the ban, and not cricket authorities.
"It's pretty obvious to me that the players and the body wanted to act in
conformity with public opinion but in the end, not surprisingly, they wanted
a situation where the decision was taken by the government and not the
players," Howard said.
"I don't think it's fair to leave a foreign policy decision of this
magnitude on the shoulders of young sportsmen. It's much better, in the end,
for the government to take the rap.
Australian skipper Ricky Ponting said in a statement he was "comfortable"
with the government decision.
"As captain of Australia I've never had a problem playing against
international cricketers from Zimbabwe," Ponting said. "As a playing group
the Australian squad understands its responsibility to spread the word of
cricket throughout the world ...."
The Australian government said Friday it was investigating legal ways to
cancel the tour without the team incurring a US$2 million (?1.48 million)
fine from international cricket authorities.
In August 2005, International Cricket Council chief executive Malcolm Speed
said that the ICC's policy was that international matches proceed unless
blocked by a government ban.
"For the past three years at least, we've been asked that players be allowed
not to comply with their agreements with Zimbabwe, or that cricket not be
played in Zimbabwe," Speed said in 2005.
"ICC position has been consistent: we say to governments that we don't take
decisions based on political judgments - we expect governments to do that."
Mugabe, 83, has ruled Zimbabwe since it gained independence from Britain in
1980. He has been criticized by the West and domestic opponents for
repression, corruption, acute food shortages and gross economic
mismanagement that has driven inflation above 2,000 percent - the highest in
the world. Mugabe has acknowledged that police used violent methods against
Critics say Mugabe drove the agriculture-based economy into ruin since the
government violently seized white-owned commercial farms in 2000 as part of
a program to redistribute land to poor blacks.
May 13, 2007 12:00am
THE Federal Government would prefer Australia not play against Zimbabwe at
all for the time being, Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said today.
This extended to proposed matches on in neutral territory, he said.
Mr Downer told journalists in the Adelaide Hills town of Stirling that the
government's decision to ban the world champions' planned September tour of
the African country was made after discussions with Cricket Australia (CA)
on Thursday evening.
Prime Minister John Howard this morning announced the ban, saying the tour
would have been a huge propaganda boost to the regime of Zimbabwe's
President Robert Mugabe.
When asked today if it was a good idea for the two teams to play in neutral
territory, Mr Downer said: "I think it's best not to play against Zimbabwe
for the time being if that can be avoided. But we certainly, above all,
don't want our cricket team going to Zimbabwe".
Mr Downer said the decision was "a dramatic thing for the government to do".
"But in this case the Australian cricket team were caught.
"They either went to Zimbabwe and would have made a political statement by
going there, albeit inadvertently, or else they don't go and, of course, it
can be said that the government has interfered with their sporting schedule,
but I think this is the best solution.
"I think by banning the tour of Zimbabwe, the Australian government and I
think quite rightly the Australian people, through our cricket team, are
making a very strong statement to President Mugabe that his regime is a
disgrace, it's an obnoxious and evil regime, and it's so bad that we are not
even going to allow our cricket team to go there."
Mr Downer said that once President Mugabe was replaced as the country's
leader and Zimbabwe was liberalised the sporting link would resume.
"While this obnoxious regime is in place we are not having the world's
greatest cricket team go to Zimbabwe," he said.
He said CA representatives had indicated to him that they felt it was more
appropriate for the government to decide the fate of the tour.
Mr Downer said he did not expect Zimbabwe to agree to play Australia in
"I don't think it's very likely to happen as I doubt very much the Zimbabwe
Cricket Union, or for that matter the Zimbabwe government, which no doubt
runs the Zimbabwe Cricket Union, would allow Zimbabwe to be humiliated to
the extent they accept that the international community refuses to come to
their country," he said.
"But we would look at it if the situation arises".
Sunday May 13, 2007
In recent years, Africa's economic development has moved up the
international agenda. The continent's exclusion from rising global
prosperity, its disadvantages in the competitive environment of
international trade, its burden of crippling debt are no longer just laments
of African governments and aid organisations. They are rightly seen as
matters of concern for the whole world. In that context, the United Nations
Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) should be an institution of some
importance and authority. Thanks to the election of Zimbabwe to its chair
last week, it is certain not to be.
Zimbabwe is a failing state. Its President, Robert Mugabe, is a tyrant. He
has stolen power in fraudulent elections, crushed political dissent, forced
capital to flee and impoverished the labour force. The whole country is an
advertisement in how not to run an agrarian economy, let alone develop it
International efforts to isolate Mr Mugabe are clearly failing. Last week
Fifa, football's governing body, approved plans by South Africa to allow
teams competing in the 2010 World Cup to base themselves in Zimbabwe. South
Africa's ruling ANC retains some loyalty to Mr Mugabe because of his help in
the struggle against apartheid. That is unfortunate. The Zimbabwean leader's
crimes against his people nullify any status he once had as a champion of
Diplomats from outside Africa lobbied against the CSD appointment, which is
made by different continents in rotation. This was Africa's turn. For that
reason, governments from the developed world did not make too public their
objections to Zimbabwe's nomination, knowing that vociferous protest would
be portrayed as racist meddling by ex-colonial powers in the affairs of
their former possessions. But the states who backed Zimbabwe - it was
elected by 26 votes to 21 in a secret ballot - cannot have been unaware of
the consequences. They have brought the CSD into disrepute. They have
compromised the authority of an institution that should be a vehicle for
positive change in Africa.
Dear Family and Friends,
There is a cold wind blowing through Zimbabwe this week; the white
poinsettias are in full flower and the birds that people call the Seven
White Helmetshrikes) are back in our gardens and open bushland. All are a
sign that winter is here and these seasonal milestones are now almost the
things that are normal or predictable for Zimbabweans stuck in the eighth
Sitting in the dark of an electricity power cut one night this week,
listening to battery powered short wave radio, it was with disbelief that I
had happened to lawyers in Harare. A group of 30 lawyers had gathered
the Harare High Court and were intending to walk to the nearby Parliament
buildings to present a petition to the Minister of Justice. The lawyers were
protesting the arrest of two of their colleagues, both prominent human
practitioners. As the protesting lawyers gathered outside the High Court, so
did the numbers of armed police. Within minutes a peaceful gathering under a
clear blue winter sky turned into obscenity and mayhem.
Four lawyers, two of them women, one who is 80 years old, ran into the
doorway of the Ministry of Justice, thinking they would be safe there. One
women described what happened next:
"They dragged us out and threw us into the back of a truck."
The lawyers were taken to an open area next to a golf driving range and
entertainment centre on a busy main road leading into Harare. There, on the
grass and in broad daylight, the lawyers were assaulted by the police.
Beatrice Mtetwa, one of the lawyers said: "They were beating us everywhere,
back, my stomach, my arms, my buttocks. It was such a spectacle. Motorists
road nearby stopped to watch. A police car with two officers stopped. They
rebuked the police who were beating us. They said: ' Why are you doing this
Then we were abandoned there. They said: 'Now you can go and demonstrate
with your swollen bodies.' "
When the electricity came back on that evening, there did not seem to be a
report on the main ZBC TV news bulletin of eminent lawyers being beaten on
the main road. Instead there were reports of high school fees and of water
shortages and of a senior government official giving blankets to an
telling the audience to vote for Zanu PF in March 2008. The day after the
the lawyers there still seemed to be no mention of the event on ZBC news
now the top story was of electricity cuts for domestic areas of 20 hours a
Three days after our country's most prominent human rights lawyers were
physically beaten by police in full view of men, women and children on the
roadside, the United Nations elected Zimbabwe to head the Commission on
Sustainable Development. What sort of a prize is this for a country which
cannot feed itself, cannot generate sufficient electricity despite nature's
abundant blessings, and where life expectancy is the lowest in the world?
on the UN and on the men in their suits and ties who lobbied for Zimbabwe to
chosen. Do any of you ever need the services of a lawyer? I know some good
ones in Harare!
Until next week, thanks for reading, love cathy.
Copyright cathy buckle 12 May 2007
by Fanuel Jongwe Sat May 12, 11:19 PM ET
HARARE (AFP) - Zimbabwean cashier Cosmas Gwizo does not look forward to pay
For the 43-year-old earning 500,000 Zimbabwean dollars a month (about 2,000
dollars) the receipt of his salary cheque is a painful rather than joyous
"Each time I receive my pay cheque I start scratching my head trying to work
out how I will manage for the coming month and I find the money will not
last me a week," Gwizo told AFP.
"I often forego basics like milk, cut down on things like meat and stay at
home if I can't pay bus fare to work. It's painful when you work and yet you
can't properly feed and clothe the body that toils."
In its most recent report, the government's Central Statistical Office (CSO)
said the poverty threshold for a family of five had risen from 973,800
Zimbabwean dollars a month in February to 1.7 million in March as inflation
reached 2,200 percent.
A family with an income below this margin is classified as poor, calculated
on the cost of a basic basket of goods and services an average household
requires to survive -- including foodstuffs, transport and basic healthcare.
Figures from the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) put the poverty
line at 19,000 Zimbabwean dollars in May 2002, when annual inflation was at
Currently, an estimated 80 percent of Zimbabwe's 13 million population is
classified as poor.
With the country's seven-year economic downspiral showing no signs of
relenting, Gwizo is one of many facing a daily struggle to stretch his
salary to care for a wife and three children.
"Most people are doing without a lot of things they need. How they are
surviving with the little money they are earning is a big question,"
independent economist John Robertson told AFP.
"We have a very deprived population which is becoming more so as the
The monthly salary for an average urban worker ranges between 90,000 and
500,000 Zimbabwean dollars. The price of a 10 kilogram packet of the staple
maize meal is 114,000 Zimbabwean dollars and a loaf of bread costs 8,000
Bus fare from the suburbs costs around 7,000 dollars one way.
Most families resort to skipping meals and many walk or cycle up to 30
kilometres (19 miles) to work.
Some supplement their salaries by moonlighting as smalltime traders of
clothes or scarce commodities like sugar and cooking oil from under their
desks at their workstations -- usually selling on credit.
Others double as cross-border traders and street vendors over weekends and
"I make an additional 450,000 dollars a month from selling mobile phone
recharge cards to passers-by," says security guard Langton Bhowa.
"That is more than double my salary of 200,000 a month and is how I manage
to come to work everyday."
For most families milk for their tea, margarine and jam have become luxuries
and a square meal is a rare treat.
"Most workers are overstretched and can't meet their dialy requirements let
alone invest," Best Doroh, a financial analyst with ZB Financial Holdings,
"Wages and salaries are not keeping pace with inflation and ... that is the
kind of trend we will continue to see."
The ZCTU said wages were so low that employers could be said to be enjoying
"As the economy continues to slide so are disposable incomes," said ZCTU
president Lovemore Matombo.
"We can no longer afford to send our children to boarding schools, neither
can we afford one decent meal a day.
"Workers are subsidising their employers through finding other sources of
income to raise bus fare."
The southern African country's economy has been on the decline since the
turn of the century, and four out of five people are unemployed.
By Terry Sweetman
May 13, 2007 12:00am
ZIMBABWE is a country of vast potential, brought to its knees largely by the
policies and wickedness of its President Robert Mugabe.
He and the ZANU-PF party have dominated politics there for almost 30 years,
strangling democratic institutions, gagging, defaming, jailing and torturing
political opponents, discriminating against minorities and terrorising
In the process, they have reduced a prosperous nation to an economic basket
Mugabe was swept to power with all the credentials of a post-colonial
freedom fighter after the war against the breakaway white minority
government in 1980. He was hailed by his people, but squandered that
goodwill and betrayed the trust implicit in the agreement that ended the
He used his guerilla army to slaughter opponents, embarked on war in the
Democratic Republic of Congo and launched populist but disastrous economic
His growing megalomania was epitomised by the ironically named Operation
Restore Order, launched in 2005 as an urban-renewal program in the capital
Harare but used to destroy the homes, businesses and livelihoods of 700,000
His single most tragic economic decision was a ruthless reform program to
strip farmland from the white minority.
A country that was once an exporter now imports food and suffers
hyper-inflation and chronic shortages. Life has become a day-to-day
Mugabe's people are starving, life expectancy is falling, infant mortality
is climbing and an estimated five million out of 13 million Zimbabweans live
Every day he remains is a tragedy for his people, a disgrace to southern
Africa, and an affront to human rights everywhere.
Trinidad and Tobago Express
Sunday, May 13th 2007
The images that were flashed on BBC and CNN last March showing
Mugabe's goons beating the daylights out of the Zimbabwean political
opposition, shocked and outraged many. The millions who saw those images
were reminded that freedom fighters often become transformed into monsters
who suppress that self-same freedom which they regard as being "justified"
in order to secure the victories which they won on the barricades.
Zimbabwean reality is however complex, and there are several competing
narratives as to what is taking place in that unfortunate country. According
to one perspective, Robert Mugabe, the freedom fighter whom many of us once
celebrated and hero worshipped, has embarked on political and economic
strategies which have led to the total collapse of the Zimbabwean economy,
the pauperisation of millions of citizens, particularly those who do not
belong to his Shona tribe, and the collapse and atrophy of many of its
modern democratic political institutions. Mugabe's critics accuse him of all
kinds of sins-voodoo economics, tribal cronyism, sham land distribution,
hubris and vanity in respect of his reputation as a freedom fighter,
jealousy of Mandela and Mbeki, and much else.
African and diasporic opinion is however split down the middle in its
response to Zimbabwe, much as it initially was in respect of Amin's
vulgarities in Uganda. Many Africans view Mugabe as a hero who has had the
courage to confront the Europeans who had stolen their land without paying
The British Government is being roundly criticised for failing to
honour the commitments which were negotiated at Lancaster House during the
run-up to Zimbabwe's independence. Blair has in fact explicitly rejected
Zimbabwe's claims for compensation.
In the minds of many Africans, especially those in southern Africa,
Mugabe has shown a great deal of patience and statesmanship (in part to
avoid difficulties for the ANC in South Africa) but had no other option but
to force a settlement of the land issue once and for all, not only out of
concern for his legacy as some allege, but also on behalf of the freedom
fighters of Zimbabwe, and the landless in the rest of southern Africa.
Zimbabwe, they say, is no longer a one-country problem, but a
At an April meeting of the Southern African Development Community
(SADC) in Tanzania, most African Heads of Government agreed that the British
Government was the root cause of the problem, and called on Blair to honour
the obligations to compensate Zimbabwe for the historical injustice. SADC
also called for the lifting of all the sanctions which were imposed on
Zimbabwe by the Americans, the British, and the European Union. In sum,
instead of demonising Mugabe, African heads condemned the British and the
Americans and insisted that the Zimbabwean problem was an African problem
which could best be resolved by the sovereign African people, using African
strategies of conciliation within their regional and continental
Some African leaders went further and were full of praise for Mugabe.
Zambia's Vice President, Rupiah Banda, called Mugabe "one of the most
outstanding leaders in Africa and the world, one who had shown courage by
embarking on a controversial land and reform programme in the face of
Western criticism." Other radical Africans opined that the economic crisis
was the result of policies designed by the two governments to make Zimbabwe
"scream" and cry "uncle". Legislation was in fact introduced and passed in
the US Congress giving the President the power to instruct the World Bank,
the IMF, and the other US-controlled agencies to place a cordon sanitaire
around Zimbabwe as was done in respect of Lumumba's Congo, Allende's Chile,
and Saddam's Iraq. Zimbabwe's economic collapse is seen as being entirely
due to the sanctions in respect of trade, development loans and aid which
the US and Britain have imposed on Zimbabwe. And there is some truth to
these claims, though there aren't many truths in Zimbabwe.
Western governments are openly funding opposition leader Morgan
Tsvrangiarai (who is not without blemish) and the Movement For Democratic
Change (MDC), and destabilisation and "regime change" are very much a part
of that strategy. The Americans in fact openly boast about what they are
doing to subdue Mugabe and "Save Zimbabwe."
Some African leaders are not enthusiastic about Mugabe's open defiance
of Western opinion. President Kufuor of Ghana regards the crisis in Zimbabwe
as "embarrassing." Kufuor admitted that some African Heads did try to get
Mugabe to behave. As he told one interviewer, "I know personally that
presidents like Mbeki tried desperately to exercise some influence for the
better. Please do not think Africa is unconcerned. But what can Mbeki do?
Are you proposing that Africa compose an expedition team and march on
Zimbabwe and oppose? It does not happen like that. We in our various ways
are trying very hard". Ghana is however considered by many to be Africa"s
"weakest link" in its fight against the machinations of Bush's
neo-conservatives in Africa.
One is not certain how this epic battle for the soul and economic
salvation of Zimbabwe will be resolved. Britain and America clearly see it
as a "fight to the finish" since a lot more than land is involved. Mugabe
has not buckled so far, and has in fact told them, "bring it on". He also
warned Britain and the opposition in Zimbabwe that "we will never ever allow
ourselves to be colonised again, and we will deal firmly with those bent on
promoting anarchy". Mugabe in fact accuses the opposition of being an
instrument of imperial penetration in the pursuit of "regime change", and
thus had no apologies to make for having used violence on the opposition. As
he boasted, 'we have degrees in violence'.He has shown that he has a
graduate degree in violence.
While the elephants are fighting violently, the grass is being
trampled. The grass here are the poor peasants and indeed the bulk of the
Zimbabwean citizenry who are suffering wanton destitution, malnutrition,
premature mortality, and in many cases, regime-inflicted homelessness.
Lawyer says mercenary's freedom fight being stopped by politicians. Tracy
Sunday May 13, 2007
The lawyer representing former SAS offficer Simon Mann has said his client
would have been safely back home in the UK by now if Zimbabwe's politicians
had not blatantly and directly 'interfered' in the legal process over the
past few days.
However, he said that the Old Etonian, an alleged mercenary who has been
held in the notorious Chikurubi maximum security jail in the capital Harare
for the past three years, is now enjoying slightly better prison conditions
since a magistrate ruled last week he should be extradited to Equatorial
Guinea to face trial. He is charged with being a ringleader of a failed coup
attempt there in 2004.
The country, known for the cruelty of its prison regime and, along with
Zimbabwe, one of Africa's worst violators of human and democratic rights,
has pledged it will not hang Mann, 53, if he is tried and found guilty
there. His sentence in Zimbabwe - for buying weapons from state-run arms
firm without a proper licence - expired on Friday, but he has been refused
Immediately after last Wednesday's ruling, Mann was taken from his cell,
told to change his khaki prison garb and was within hours of being put on a
plane to the Equatorial Guinea capital Malabo where the prison - Black
Beach - is infamous for regularly starving and torturing inmates.
Lawyer Jonathan Samkange told The Observer he was able to lodge an appeal
against the extradition in time but had no idea when it might be heard.
'We have a strong case. Mr Mann is extremely sick. We fear he will not get a
fair trial in Eqatorial Guinea, and to remove him is unlawful. Even Mugabe
does not want to be breaking the law in the full glare of international
publicity. But we are at the mercy of what the politicians want. Our chances
are dependent not on the law but on the Zimbawean government and where there
is political interference there is no justice. He should have been deported
to the UK when his sentence expired under the law.'
However, last week Zimbawe's beleaguered justice system was reminded of its
precarious position when Law Society president Beatrice Mtetwa, 49, and four
others were badly beaten by the police in full view of a block of flats and
passing motorists after an attempt by lawyers to deliver a petition to the
minister of justice, Patrick Chinamasa, and the commissioner of police,
Augustine Chihuri, asking the government to guarantee the safety of the
A day after Magistrate Omega Mugambate made the extradition order, and on
the same day as she refused an application for Mann to be allowed bail,
Zimbabwe's biggest hotel and leisure group signed a multimillion dollar deal
to develop seaside tourism in Equatorial Guinea while Mugabe, with a failing
economy and disastrous energy shortage, last month announced a 'friendship
delegation' would be visiting the oil-rich country.
Mann has always claimed the arms were destined for a company guarding
diamond mines in the Democratic Republic of Congo and that a confession
about a coup plot was beaten out of him.
But the former British army officer, who made a fortune from a private
security company he set up to guard oil fields in Angola during its civil
war, was convicted of firearms and security offences. His friend Sir Mark
Thatcher later pleaded guilty in a South African court to providing finance
for the plotters.
Samkange visits Mann frequently as do representatives from the British
counsulate who take him food and reading material - Shakespeare is allowed
but he has been banned from reading about explorer Scott of the Antarctic.
11 May 2007
On April 29th MDC Branches in North America elected an Interim Provincial
Executive which was mandated to prepare for an MDC North America (USA &
Canada) Provincial Congress and also to coordinate the pro-democracy
activities of MDC Branches in that region. Before the elections were held,
all Branch Chairmen (Ohio, Massachusetts, Indiana, Toronto, Philadelphia and
Dallas) and the Deputy Secretary for International Relations Ms Grace Kwinje
gave key note addresses in which they called upon all MDC members to be
resolute in their efforts to confront the illegal regime in Harare headed by
Matibili Mugabe. The MDC Chief Representative in North America, Dr. Handel
Mlilo acted as the elections presiding Officer. Maxwell Zeb Shumba was
elected the interim chairman and Mr. Andrew Mudzingwa his deputy. An entire
list of the Interim Executive is listed below.
Maxwell Zeb Shumba
Deputy Secretary General
Deputy Organizing Secretary
Information Secretary & Publicity
Dr. Rhoderick Machekano
Deputy Information Secretary & Publicity
Dr. Stanford Mukasa
Secretary for Women's Affairs
Secretary for Youth Affairs
Dr. Douglas Mpondi
Deputy Secretary for Youth Secretary
Organizing Committee: Chairman: - Allen Bako,
Members: - Joseph. Nyamanjiwa, Zvidzai Ruzvidzo, Andrew Mudzingwa, Nicholas
Mada, Aaron Mhonda, Cornelius Msimbe, Oswald Chibanda..
Information Committee: Chairman: - Dr. Rhoderick Machekano,
Members: Dr. Stan Mukasa Rest Nyamukora, Clara Matonhodze, Oswald Chibanda,
Njabulo Nkiwane, Alfa Bumhira
Disciplinary Committee: Chairman; Andrew Mudzingwa.
Members: Chengetai Chitewere, Owen Chikonyora, Tandi Masamvana. Zvidzai
Fundraising Committee: Chairman: Owen Ndlovu,
Members: Cornelius Tauyanago, James Charlie, Joseph Tafirenyika, Stan
Mukasa, Nicholas Nyandoro
Website Administration: Shingai Munhamo, Sibanengi Masuku, Edgar Moyo,