Saturday 19 May 2007
By Farisai Gonye
HARARE - Zimbabwe's main opposition party on Friday launched a
defiance campaign to force President Robert Mugabe's government to release
more than 30 party activists who were arrested last March.
Tendai Biti, the secretary general of the Morgan Tsvangirai-led
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party, said the opposition will soon
take to the streets to demand the release of its activists who have been
languishing in remand prison in Harare over the past two months.
The government accuses the MDC activists of being behind a spate of
petrol bomb attacks on police stations and other state institutions that
took place in March.
The MDC has dismissed the charge saying it is a ruse to crack down and
paralyse the opposition ahead of next year's elections.
The street marches could signal the start of a fresh round of
confrontation between the government and the MDC after state security agents
last March brutally put down opposition-led protests in Harare.
Biti said the MDC campaign, dubbed "Free Them Now", was also meant to
ratchet up pressure on Mugabe to stop the crackdown on the opposition and
civic groups that began last March.
The opposition party will also take the campaign to the Southern
African Development Community (SADC) as well as the African Union to demand
that the arrested activists be immediately released.
"Our structures will have processions, marches, and several forms of
protests to highlight our demands that these activists be released. We are
prepared to pay with our lives for our freedom and the freedom of our
detained comrades," said Biti.
He added: "We are also going to take the campaign to the African
Commission where we are going to file applications for these cases to be
heard. We will approach SADC, the SADC Parliamentary Forum, the African
Union and the rest of the international community."
The MDC launched a trust fund headed by academic and former University
of Zimbabwe Vice-Chancellor Gordon Chavhunduka to raise funds for the
families of the jailed activists.
"The charges (against the MDC activists) are totally trumped up to
ensure that (government) cripples and paralyses the MDC. Even if the SADC
mediation process brings a positive outcome, the party is not in a physical
condition to launch and sustain a political campaign," said Biti.
Biti was referring to efforts by South Africa's President Thabo Mbeki
who was last March appointed by the regional Southern African Development
Community (SADC) to mediate in the crisis in Zimbabwe.
Mugabe, who is facing his biggest electoral challenge against the MDC
next year, is forging ahead with a brutal campaign to neutralize the
opposition and civic groups with state agents for example last week beating
up lawyers who tried to march in Harare to protest against the detention of
their colleagues. - ZimOnline
Saturday, May 19, 2007
THE Registrar-General's Office has increased passport fees in a move
that will help cushion the department from rapidly increasing production
According to a notice at the RG's Office in Harare, ordinary passports
for adults and children less than 12 years of age now cost $150 000 and $75
000 respectively, up from $500 and $250.
Fees for an executive passport processed within 24 hours will be $1
million for adults and $500 000 for children under 12 years.
Adults and children under 12 years requiring urgent passports that
will be issued within three days will be charged $600 000 and $300 000
Fees for the processing of travel documents in a week's period will be
$500 000 for adults and $250 000 for children under 12 years.
It now costs $400 000 for adults and $200 000 for children under 12
years to be issued with a passport within two weeks.
The increases are with effect from May 16.
For lost and defaced passports, the penalty fee has been raised to
$500 000 for replacement, while those wishing to add another name on their
travel documents, be it of a child or a spouse, will be charged $20 000.
For extension of the period of use of a passport and endorsement and
failure to declare a lost or previous passport, the penalty fee is now $20
Emergency travel documents now cost $50 000 during working hours and
$70 000 after hours.
The fee for an emergency passport after hours has been raised to $1,5
Although the Registrar-General could not be reached for comment
yesterday, an official said the new charges were meant to cushion the
department from the increasing costs of processing travel documents.
"The price of everything is going up and we also have to take into
account that there is a foreign currency component in passport production as
we have to import some material we use to process the documents," the
official, who declined to be named, said.
The RG's Office has since March processed 25 000 passports after the
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe allotted it US$7 million to assist it clear a
backlog of over 300 000 applications.
However, despite the intervention by the central bank, queues are
still common at the department's offices.
When The Herald visited the Harare office yesterday, there was a long,
winding queue of people inquiring about their travel documents.
Applicants for birth certificates, national identity cards and
passports have been enduring long hours and delays to acquire the documents.
In many countries, people have to pay the full cost of producing a
passport, with no subsidy from the taxpayer.
Charging full recovery costs eliminates queues as more staff can be
hired to speed processing.
By Patience Rusere
18 May 2007
Commemorations scheduled to mark the aftermath of the 2nd anniversary of the
government's clean up campaign, Operation Murambatsvina, started off on a
low-key Friday, beginning with the cancellation of a prayer meeting
scheduled to take place in Harare's Glen View suburb, owing to security
Networking Officer Rashid Mahiya of the Crisis In Zimbabwe Coalition, did
not elaborate on the reasons for the poor show, but told reporter Patience
Rusere of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe, that they faced security and
logistical problems in kicking off the festivities.
By Blessing Zulu
18 May 2007
South African President Thabo Mbeki has reportedly made some progress in
initiating face-to-face dialogue between Zimbabwe's ruling Zanu-PF party and
the two factions of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change.
Mr. Mbeki, who was mandated by regional leaders to mediate the Zimbabwean
crisis, is expected to report back to the Southern African Development
Community leaders every three months. His first feedback is expected by June
Mr. Mbeki reportedly told his National Assembly Thursday, that the Zimbabwe
discussions are "proceeding very well," though he did not give further
details, saying he wanted to discuss with regional leaders first.
Sources in Pretoria and Harare described the move as a "break through."
Opposition sources said plans for the first multi-party talks are already
To date, the South African team has met separately with the Zanu-PF
delegation led by Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa, and the two opposition
MDC secretaries general Tendai Biti of the Morgan Tsvangirai camp, and
Welshman Ncube of the Arthur Mutambara camp.
Spokesman Nelson Chamisa of the Tsvangirai led MDC, confirmed that they
discussed the progress of the mediation efforts at their National Executive
Council, Friday, but would not give details.
Political analyst and human rights lawyer Brian Kagoro told reporter
Blessing Zulu of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe, that despite the optimism, he
is skeptical about Mr. Mbeki's mediation efforts.
Leading non-governmental organizations have also voiced concern about Mr.
Director Arnold Tsunga of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights and chairman
Lovemore Madhuku of the National Constitutional Assembly, told VOA the
negotiations will not succeed unless Mr. Mbeki urges Mr. Mugabe to stop his
clampdown against his opponents.
Fri 18 May 2007 17:25:15 BST
By Nelson Banya
HARARE, May 18 (Reuters) - Zimbabwe's main opposition party remains
committed to negotiations with the government despite an intensified
crackdown in which many of its members have been arrested or detained, a
party official said on Friday.
The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) says more than 600 opposition
supporters have been abducted and tortured by government agents since
February. It says 150 activists and leaders, including party president
Morgan Tsvangirai, have sustained serious injuries.
President Robert Mugabe's government accuses opposition activists of
unleashing violence in the townships and engaging in "terrorist" activities.
MDC secretary general Tendai Biti said the government was trying to weaken
the opposition ahead of general elections next year through the arrest and
detention of its key officials, but reported progress in the negotiations
being mediated by South African President Thabo Mbeki.
"As a party, we fully welcome the initiative and we believe in the process,
but our first demand is, you cannot have dialogue and elections in a
situation of violence and the attack on the (opposition) party must stop if
we're to have any meaningful discourse," Biti said.
Mbeki told the South African parliament on Thursday that negotiations
between the MDC and Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF "were progressing well."
Biti said the MDC had launched a "Free Them Now" campaign to press the
government to release detained opposition activists.
"We have at least 32 key members currently incarcerated at Harare Remand
Prison, facing totally fabricated and trumped-up charges designed to
paralyse the party," Biti said. Among those arrested is the MDC's elections
chief, he said.
"With the elections technically six months away, how do you expect the party
to organize its campaign when its elections director is detained? We are
institutionally crippled," Biti said.
The MDC planned to take the Free Them Now campaign to the African Commission
for Human and People's Rights, now sitting in Ghana, and to the Southern
African Development Community's Parliamentary Forum.
He vowed the party would defy Mugabe's government, which has banned all
rallies and protests in central Harare as well as opposition strongholds in
"If they think they will cow us, they will not. The choice for Mugabe is
simple: either you give us freedom or we fill all the prisons with our
activists. We are prepared to pay the ultimate price until we get our
freedom," Biti said.
By Alec Russell in Bulawayo
Published: May 18 2007 17:27 | Last updated: May 18 2007 17:36
"Doing business in Zimbabwe?" The gold-mine owner laughed as he drew to a
halt before a police checkpoint, one of the many that now enclose the
country's mining areas. "We have to work like drug dealers."
He broke off his account to charm his way past the police. Then he was
through and into the gold-mining area north of Bulawayo, a honeycomb of
hills and tiny opencast mines where a lawless spirit increasingly prevails -
reminiscent of the Congo under the kleptocratic rule of its late dictator
Mobutu Sese Seko.
As Zimbabwe's economy implodes, it is hard enough to do business in the
towns where, every day, chief executives have to make critical decisions at
a moment's notice as they grapple with the galloping, four-digit inflation
and the predatory ruling elite.
One CEO says he survives - just - by adjusting his prices twice a day. Deals
are done with cash up front. He pays his staff twice a month and lets them
rush out as soon as they get their wages so they can spend it all on food at
that day's prices.
"We're hanging on the fabric of everything perceived to be normal," he said.
"But there will come a time when it will be simply impossible for a formal
economy to continue any longer and there will be a reversion to a street
In the gold-mining sector, which traditionally accounts for a third of
Zimbabwe's gross domestic product, doing business is even trickier, as
President Robert Mugabe's regime strives to take ever-closer control of the
country's main foreign currency earner.
In the past few months, the mine owner who compared himself to a drug dealer
has been arrested - as have many of his miners and other mine owners - often
on patently ridiculous pretexts, including not having a payslip on their
One manager was arrested for not updating his books on Christmas Day and
Boxing Day. "You just pay, pay, pay," said the mine owner.
The only way his operation has survived is by ignoring the regulation that
all gold has to be sold to a subsidiary of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe.
Until last month, the bank paid between 5 and 10 per cent of the gold's
value and then sold it on at the official world price. A month ago, the bank
effectively devalued the Zimbabwean dollar by more than 90 per cent and
increased the price it would pay for gold. But even so, the official price
is way below the black market's.
So the mine owner sells most of his gold illegally. To keep the police off
his back, he plies them with liquor and pays to comply with a range of
flowery new regulations, including the demand for an "environmental impact
assessment" which is being enforced with extraordinary rigour.
"When I started mining a decade ago, I banked all my gold," he said. "Now I
bank just a fraction. What else can we do? We massage our figures in case of
an audit. We manoeuvre and we watch as officials do what they want."
A month ago, Gideon Gono, the governor of the Reserve Bank, said Zimbabwe
was losing between $40m and $50m (?30m-?37m, £20m-£25m) a week through the
smuggling of gold, diamonds and other precious materials. He did not say who
was under suspicion, but diplomats, the opposition and mine owners believe
that officials of the ruling Zanu-PF party and within government are behind
most of the smuggling.
Zimbabwean gold mining has never been for the faint-hearted. Under Ian
Smith, who led Rhodesia into its ruinous civil war, miners - and officials -
played fast and loose with the rules as they tried to dodge international
sanctions, smuggling out precious minerals to earn foreign currency.
But in recent months, the industry has come under unprecedented strain. With
the economy in freefall, and the country unable to honour many debts, the
government is increasingly desperate to acquire foreign currency.
Last November, it ordered a crackdown on the thousands of gold panners who
have flocked to mining areas. With at least 50 per cent unemployment, the
chance of finding a gram of gold is worth risking life and limb for.
"They come with a little bag, like a rucksack. Rock-climbers have nothing on
these guys," said the mine owner, gesturing at the rocky scrub surrounding
his small mine.
All around were head-high mounds of rocks - the legacy of the panners'
endeavours. "I've seen a panner suspended by a single strand of barbed wire,
30 metres into a hole. Some have killed themselves falling down."
The official aim of the crackdown was to protect the environment. Industry
insiders, however, assume it was an attempt to take ever-closer control of
Almost 50,000 small-scale mines were closed down, according to the Chamber
of Mines. The operation was enforced with the regime's trademark brutality.
"In our area, they locked up thousands of panners," said the mine owner. He
saw many under armed police guard - some being savagely beaten.
"I saw one field with hundreds, guarded by police with machineguns."
"I did a little jig as I went past to cheer them up. They cheered and in a
moment the batons were out and they were beaten. There was one guy under a
tree who was pummeled beyond recognition."
All the while, the industry moves to the brink of collapse. The government
says mining contracted by 14 per cent last year. Gold production was down by
17 per cent in the first two months of this year, according to the Chamber
It emerged recently that for the past six months, the Reserve Bank's
subsidiary has not been paying the miners for the gold they have handed over
for official sales, although the bank says the money has now been paid. Many
mines have had to close their production mills after running out of the
foreign currency needed to import essential chemicals.
"You can't win," said one CEO, weary of dealing with officialdom. "And you
can't play by their rules. They apply them selectively."
Another businessman compared the situation to a novel by Wilbur Smith - the
writer whose trademark is adventures in corrupt African states. "But Wilbur
Smith can't sell here these days because the reality is so much more
colourful than his fiction."
This article is the first in a series on political and business life in
By Tererai Karimakwenda
May 18, 2007
The government controlled Herald newspaper reports that the Minister of
Health and Child Welfare Dr David Parirenyatwa, has urged the World Health
Assembly meeting in Geneva, Switzerland to call for the unconditional
lifting of targeted sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe by the European Union and
the United States. Referring to them as "illegal sanctions" the minister
said they were "severely compromising the country's health delivery system
and affecting the poor people of Zimbabwe.
The truth is the sanctions are targeted at Robert Mugabe and his closest
allies, banning them from travelling and freezing their assets in member
countries. The minister used the usual government spin that pretends there
is much more to the restrictions, saying that it was a fallacy that the
sanctions were targeted at individuals. But he did not explain which
specific restrictions were allegedly impacting on our health delivery
In his address to the assembly on Thursday, Parirenyatwa said: "Some
powerful countries have imposed economic and other forms of sanctions on our
country. The knock-on effects these measures are having on the health of the
people of Zimbabwe cannot be over emphasised. As a result of this, the
quality of our health services provision has been compromised."
Health experts and officials in Zimbabwe have blamed a serious shortage of
foreign currency for the lack of resources and medicines that has plagued
health services for years, created by gross mismanagement of the economy.
The majority of qualified staff have also left for greener pastures, citing
extremely poor salaries well below the poverty datum line and bad working
While Parirenyatwa was busy in denial in Geneva, a senior medical
practitioner told Newsreel on Thursday that a 'tremendous' number of
patients have died of preventable conditions, because of the state of the
country's health delivery service. Dr Henry Madzorera said the system was
now on its knees and the situation was set to worsen as medical operations
at central and district hospitals have been suspended and emergencies were
not being dealt with. Many wards have also been closed because of the
unavailability of nurses.
Doctors at all major government hospitals are back on strike demanding a
salary review hardly two months after their last increment. A sharp rise in
the cost of living has almost doubled prices since then.
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
By Violet Gonda
18 May 2007
The Zimbabwe government has admitted it's broke, we have the highest
inflation in the world, 80% unemployment and the fastest shrinking economy
for a country not at war. ZANU PF has also admitted that the economy is now
its number one enemy. Government says inflation is 3,700% but a senior
accounting firm in Harare says the actual figure is closer to 8,000%. This
has serious political ramifications. So how is Mugabe maintaining his grip
Ozias Tungwarara, Director of the Africa Governance Monitoring and Advocacy
Project, a project of the Open Society Institute, said the primary factor
keeping the regime in power is "sheer unadulterated repression."
Many observers see this as the reason behind the dramatic increase in state
sponsored violence which has reached alarming proportions, with the regime
no longer making any attempt at excuses for using force.
But analysts say the state of the economy is one factor that will determine
the future direction of the political crisis. Prices of basic commodities
are going up nearly every day including massive power and water shortages
and parts of the country have virtually run out of fuel.
Our Harare correspondent Simon Muchemwa said where fuel was found at Z$34
000 a litre on the black market on Thursday it shot up to between Z$36 000
and Z$40 000 on Friday "and the long queues of people waiting for public
transport have returned."
A 10kg bag of mealie meal was Z$41 000 last week but has shot up to Z$110
000. A frustrated workforce can no longer sit and watch as the economic
meltdown continues. This has resulted in many groups including doctors,
nurses, teachers and lecturers conducting on and off strikes.
The regime has always blamed the economic collapse on restrictions imposed
by the west but gross economic mismanagement, poor governance, bad policies
and corruption are the cause. In his weekly column in the Zimbabwe
Independent newspaper Eric Bloch, one of the advisors to Gideon Gono the
Governor of the Reserve Bank, says the government has endlessly sought
others to be the victims of its false allegations of triggering economic
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
Interview with Beatrice Mtetwa
JOHANNESBURG, May 18 (IPS) - There has been widespread anger at the police
beating earlier this month of Law Society of Zimbabwe President Beatrice
Mtetwa and three other lawyers: Terence Fitzpatrick, Colin Kuhini and Chris
The four were assaulted after gathering May 8 with several dozen of their
colleagues in the capital, Harare, to present a petition to Justice Minister
Patrick Chinamasa protesting the detention of lawyers Alec Muchadahama and
According to a May 16 statement from the International Bar Association,
these two men were arrested and charged with terrorism for representing
members of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), Zimbabwe's main
opposition party. The MDC has, in turn, been accused of mounting a terror
campaign to unseat President Robert Mugabe, a charge the party denies.
Police said the May 8 gathering was illegal. However this claim was
contested by Mtetwa, a long-time defender of human rights in Zimbabwe who
has received the International Press Freedom Award, given by the New
York-based Committee to Protect Journalists. She is also the recipient of
the Index on Censorship's Freedom of Expression Award.
The beatings come in the midst of the latest crackdown on opposition
supporters and rights activists in Zimbabwe, which has already experienced
several years of political and economic disarray marked by flawed elections,
rights abuses, rampant inflation and high unemployment.
IPS correspondent Moyiga Nduru recently interviewed Mtetwa, who also
underwent rough treatment at the hands of police in 2003.
IPS: This latest incident comes at a time of rising tensions in Zimbabwe.
Beatrice Mtetwa (BM): There is lawlessness in Zimbabwe. We are not the first
or the last to be assaulted by the police. A lot of ordinary Zimbabweans go
through state brutality everyday. We were assaulted because we had the
temerity to present a petition about the harassment of lawyers...
We wrote to the police chief that we were going to present a petition as a
matter of courtesy, (but) we could have presented the petition without
asking permission because it's our constitutional right. We said we were not
going to disrupt traffic, and we identified a particular route. We wore our
gowns to avoid having some hooligans masquerade as lawyers.
IPS: Could you describe the assault?
BM: When the beating was going on it was severe, bizarre. We were driven
some distance away, told to disembark and lie face down before being
subjected to beatings by the riot police in full view of the public.
Everybody was so afraid because of the police presence.
We were rescued by some police officers who were driving past that route and
had nothing to do with us. They stopped and told their colleagues that the
motorists watching us being beaten might be taking pictures to splash around
the world. They didn't like (the possibility of) bad publicity.
It was thuggery. State thuggery.
IPS: What other challenges do you face practicing law in Zimbabwe at
BM: It's hard. You get a call that your client has been arrested. You
struggle for two days or more to find out where your client is. You struggle
for another day to find out the charges filed against your client from the
police. To make it worse, police ignore court orders.
In a nutshell, law and order have broken down in Zimbabwe.The report we
wrote about the assault on us -- no police station wants to take it. How do
you expect police to investigate their own colleagues?
IPS: How have these difficulties affected your profession?
BM: Some members of the profession get intimidated. Others refuse to take
sensitive cases -- complaints by opposition and civil society; (but) lawyers
have come out in numbers to show they will not surrender their independence
without a fight.
IPS: Millions of Zimbabweans have fled these hardships. Do you every think
of joining them?
BM: I'm too old to start anywhere else. I'm too old to move (laughing). I'm
not a quitter. Besides, it would mean abandoning my responsibility.
F O R B E S JUNE 4, 2007
IN MARCH PRICES ROSE BY MORE THAN 50% AS Zimbabwe
entered the hell of hyperinflation. That was followed,
on Apr. 26, by a 98% official devaluation of the
Zimbabwean dollar. Miners, farmers, tour operators, nongovernmental
organizations, embassies and Zimbabweans
living abroad can now purchase 15,000 Zimbabwean
dollars with a U.S. dollar. For others the official rate remains at
250 per USD.
So, for a crisp $100 bill a tourist can now obtain 1.5 million
units of currency from the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, rather
than the previous 25,000. On the black market that same tourist
can do much better, ZWD 3.5 million per $100.
The economic destruction caused by a decade of the world's
highest inflation rate-and now hyperinflation-is palpable. The
nation's economy is starting to implode, the Reserve Bank of
Zimbabwe is insolvent and Zimbabweans are streaming into
South Africa in search of work. This will end, as do all hyperinflations,
with a regime change: either a new monetary system, a new
political setup, or both.
Just reflect on what happened during the world's last hyperinflation.
It began in January 1992, in what was left of Yugoslavia,
and peaked in January 1994, when the official monthly inflation
rate was 313 million percent. (The worst month of Weimar Germany's
1922-23 hyperinflation saw prices go up 32,400%.) The
results were devastating. Long before NATO struck Yugoslavia in
1999, Slobodan Milosevic's monetary madness had already
destroyed its economy.
In 1999 Montenegro was still part of this mess, since its
official currency was the discredited Yugoslav dinar. But the
mighty German mark was the unofficial coin of the realm. As
an economic adviser to Montenegro's president, Milo
Djukanovic, I repeated the great Austrian economist Ludwig
von Mises' description of sound money as "an instrument for
the protection of civil liberties against despotic inroads on the
part of governments. Ideologically it belongs in the same class
with political constitutions and bills of rights."
President Djukanovic knewthat the German mark was his trump
card, one that would not only stabilize the economy but also pave
the way for reestablishingMontenegro's sovereignty. On Nov. 2,
1999 he boldly announced that Montenegro was officially
adopting the German mark as its national currency. The mark
was replaced by the euro two years later.
The Montenegrin economy stabilized immediately and
began its steady growth amid falling inflation. By 2005 its gross
domestic product was growing at 4.1% and inflation had fallen to
1.8%. It wasn't surprising that in May 2006 voters in Montenegro
turned out in record numbers to give a collective thumbs-down
to their republic's union with Serbia. Montenegro was once again
independent. And on Mar. 15, 2007 Montenegro signed a
stabilization and association agreement, the first step toward
European Union membership (with currency adoption
normally coming at a later stage).
President Djukanoviccleverly inverted the process, effectively
integrating Montenegro with the Eurozone from day one.
As President Djukanovic did for Montenegro, South African
President Thabo Mbeki might just hold the key to stopping
He has been appointed by the Southern African Development
Community- a grouping of the nine Southern African countries,
including Zimbabwe-to mediate Zimbabwe's economic crisis.
With a bold stroke Mbeki could stop Zimbabwe's monetary rot
and at the same time promote the interests of South Africa and other
members of the league.
South Africa is at the center of the Common Monetary Area,
which also includes Lesotho, Swaziland and Namibia. All three of
these issue their own currencies but peg them to the South
African rand at par. Moreover, the rand circulates legally in
Lesotho and Namibia.
The nine-country league should propose that the rand
common area be expanded to include Zimbabwe. A currency
board, similar to the one that operated in Zimbabwe from 1940
to 1956 (it was called Rhodesia then) should be established. It
should issue Zimbabwean dollars that would be fully backed by
and convertible into rand at a fixed rate. The currency board
should be initially capitalized by South Africa. In addition, the
rand should be allowed to circulate legally in Zimbabwe.
Adopting this plan is the only way to salvage what's left of an
Steve H. Hanke is a professor of applied economics at the Johns Hopkins
University and a senior
fellow at the Cato Institute in Washington, D.C. Visit his home page at
Two more excellent articles by Dr Hanke can be read by clicking here... The World's Greatest Unreported Hyperinflation and Broom of Titoism
18 May 2007 17:38:09 GMT
HARARE , 18 May 2007 (IRIN) - Cosmas Maphosa, a male nurse, went to a
school uniform shop in the Zimbabwean capital, Harare, to buy a winter
cardigan for his daughter, but returned home empty-handed because the price
had doubled since when he had decided to buy it three days ago.
Determined that his daughter should not feel the winter chill, Maphosa
borrowed some money from a friend and returned to the shop the following
day, but again did not have enough money because the price had doubled from
the previous day.
Maphosa takes home a monthly salary of Z$200,000 (US$5 at the parallel
market rate of US$1 to Z$40,000), so the Z$800,000 (US$20) cardigan was well
out of his price range; his daughter will just have to spend the winter
without any warm school clothing.
On Tuesday the Central Statistical Office (CSO) said annual inflation had
risen to 3,713 percent in April, up from 2,200 percent in March, but despite
suffering the world's highest inflation, Maphosa, like millions of other
Zimbabwean consumers, is puzzled by the steep rate at which retailers,
wholesalers and other service providers increase prices.
"This is madness; these people are killing us. How on earth can prices
increase almost on a daily basis? And why is it that all the time the hikes
take place, they are mostly by 100 percent?" Maphosa wondered.
Sometimes he fails to report for duty because transport costs from his home
in the dormitory town of Chitungwiza, just outside Harare, to his place of
work in town have increased from Z$250 in January to Z$10,000 at present.
"Even striking for better wages has become tiresome and meaningless, because
by the time the government awards you the amount it feels like, the
increment would have been rendered useless by inflation," he told IRIN.
One of the few certainties in Zimbabwe is that the cost of commodities will
increase, including those on the government's price control list. A
one-litre bottle of cooking oil that cost slightly more than Z$10,000
(US$0.25) two weeks ago, now costs Z$57,000 (US$1.40); a bar of soap has
gone up by about two hundred percent in the same period, a 10kg packet of
maizemeal jumped from about Z$12,000 (US$1.30) last month to Z$50,000
Evelyn, 28, a departmental secretary at the University of Zimbabwe (UZ),
told IRIN that drawing up a family budget was an exercise in futility.
"Imagine, you cannot even carry the exact bus fare on your way to work
because the chances are high that you will be told fares have gone up; you
can't even make budgets for household commodities, as used to be the case
seven or so years ago."
This trend began in earnest in 2003, when Evelyn remembers prices "would
change in the morning, afternoon and evening, and life was so unbearable."
That year the country was hit by a debilitating shortage of bank notes as
the economy, according to analysts, responded to the ZANU-PF government's
fast-track land reform programme.
In 2000, the government began redistributing commercial farmland owned by
white farmers to landless blacks, denting investor confidence and severely
reducing agricultural and industrial production.
The effects of hyperinflation have left the government at a loss. In March,
Vice-President Joyce Mujuru asked in an address to businessmen: "Tell me,
just who is it that sits somewhere with a phone and calls shops on a daily
basis to say the price of this or that commodity has changed to such and
such a level?"
Alvis Dliwayo, a branch manager of a chain store in Harare, has an answer
that "should be obvious to both the government and the consumers".
"Retail business, like most aspects of the economy, is now controlled by the
black [parallel] market, particularly that of foreign currency. Our
wholesalers go to the parallel market to buy foreign currency, with which
they import commodities, and every day the rates are changing, forcing them
to increase wholesale prices, the costs of which are passed on to us,"
Dliwayo told IRIN.
The scarcity of foreign currency has caused the local currency to devalue at
a gallop. In February, US$1 cost Z$3,000 on the parallel market, but on
Friday the price was heading for Z$40,000; officially, one US dollar is
pegged at Z$250.
Dliwayo said most wholesalers charged an employee with monitoring the
exchange rate for US dollars on the parallel market, and the latest rate
dictated commodity prices in the local currency.
"In our case, as retailers, we are also doing more or less the same thing -
sending junior staff to spy on what prices other supermarkets are charging,
just in case we are left behind," said Dliwayo.
He conceded, however, that in some cases, the price hikes were not always
determined by the exchange rate, but by some unscrupulous businesspeople
making super profits by charging "crazy" prices.
The argument that the foreign currency exchange rate determined prices does
not always wash with consumers, who pointed out that price increases by
retailers also affected old stock, which was bought at a lower exchange
"Clothing shops, for instance, can stock the same items for months, yet they
will be changing prices frequently. The bottom line is that we are now
living in a dog-eat-dog environment, where corruption has become a culture,"
President Robert Mugabe recently approved the National Incomes and Pricing
Commission Act, which the government hopes will rein in inflation and make
salaries and wages more sustainable, but economists have viewed the
legislation with scepticism.
Establishing a commission "will not work at all", Eric Bloch, an economist,
told IRIN, because government must first address "the issues of wanton
printing of money, corruption [and] over-expenditure, and unless it revives
agricultural and industrial production there is no way in which prices and
salaries will stabilise."
Bloch said the government, employee representatives and business should
resume the stalled social contract talks, because this would be the only
real way of arresting inflation and cushioning consumers against the
ever-rising cost of living.
Previous government attempts to control basic commodity prices have been
unsuccessful, leading to accusations by Mugabe that industry was
collaborating with the political opposition by increasing the cost of living
to sow discontent among Zimbabweans.
The Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries, which develops and promotes
business activities, maintains that price hikes have been the only way to
remain viable, since industrial production has fallen by as much as 30
percent from pre-2000 levels.
Mordecai P Mahlangu
To those of you who care about human rights, the rule of law and human
I was one of the lawyers assaulted by Mugabe's thugs in Harare on 8 May
Our crime: we sought to present to the minister of justice and commissioner
of police a petition by Zimbabwe lawyers protesting the unlawful arrest and
detention of two of our colleagues, and the defiance by the police of court
orders requiring their release and declaring their arrest and detention
We assembled outside our high court. Before we could exercise our
constitutional right, we were ordered by a senior police officer to
disperse - or else. We sought to comply. As we were trooping away some of
the police thugs in plain clothes said we were moving too slowly and in the
In actual fact we were going to our offices. They then set upon us with
rubber truncheons and baton sticks. I tried to assist one of the female
lawyers as she was close to being hit. For my chivalry, I was singled out.
I was hit twice on the head and back, and four times on my arms by a female
who seemed to relish assaulting an unarmed defenceless lawyer.
I ended up with a swollen head and badly bruised and marked arms and back.
Other of my legal colleagues were hit in varying degrees. The president of
the Law Society of Zimbabwe Mrs Beatrice Mtetwa was arrested with three
others, driven away in an open truck, and assaulted severely. She needed
medical attention. By comparison, I probably got off lightly though I am
still in pain.
None of us were charged with any offence, for we committed none. All we
wanted was to assert the rule of law and persuade the Mugabe regime to
respect laws and the rights of citizens.
For our efforts we were violated and humiliated. But we cannot give up on
our country. We cannot yield to a despot or succumb to this lawlessness.
While we do not plan to be martyrs, we will nevertheless stand for what is
For all its brutality, the government of Mugabe and its instruments of
oppression have lost the battle of ideas and values. They rely on brute
force to assert themselves. In the long term this is not sustainable, as
history amply demonstrates.
Some of you may ask: how can we help? Well I have no great ideas in this
regard. The least you can do is pray for the people of this land and for
good to triumph over evil. You may also also document these atrocities so
that those responsible may know that they will one day be required to
account for their misdeeds. You may assure us you care about our battles.
I suspect that I might get into trouble for this email. But others in my
country have made greater sacrifices than any I have so far contemplated.
Regards and many thanks for reading this.
Institute for War & Peace Reporting
Electricity and water supply worsen as country struggles to pay for
By Tariro Chimuti in Harare (AR No. 112, 18-May-07)
Abigail Mutisi, 23, has a newborn baby girl she has named Progress, but the
fulfillment of being a mother for the first time has not come with the
happiness it should. She is afraid the child might not make it through this
Exaggerated anxiety, this might be called. But picture this: Mutisi has not
had running water in the lodgings she shares with her husband for three
weeks and they receive only four hours of electricity a day.
For the nappies she has two choices: to go to the Mukuvisi River a few
kilometres away from her home in Harare's poor suburb of Glen Norah or to
wait until her husband returns from work so he can search for water in the
Sometimes there is a communal tap running somewhere where he can queue for
about 20 litres of water, or he might be able to buy water from homesteads
that have wells.
"There is simply isn't enough water for us," Mutisi says in frustration as
she holds a half-dressed Progress. "I now avoid using nappies altogether and
only dress her in her waterproof pant which is easier to clean."
She says water in the Mukuvisi is hardly clean itself, for the little river
flows through industrial areas collecting waste from factories that no
longer dispose of their waste properly.
It's not only about cleanliness. Progress needs warm food during the day and
throughout the night, but because of power outages this has become almost
"The baby eats cold food most of the time I really do fear for her," said
The Zimbabwe Water Authority, ZINWA, which is supposed to provide water to
all urban centres, has failed dismally to do so, citing a lack of foreign
currency to buy treatment chemicals. It also blames old equipment at the
water treatment plants, most which was inherited from colonial Rhodesia and
is more that 50 years old.
ZINWA was established only a few years ago and is a parastatal under the
ministry of water and infrastructural development. It is in the process of
taking over the treatment and distribution of water from local authorities,
a move that has been resisted by most cities and towns. In December last
year, it successfully assumed those duties for the city of Harare but it is
facing stiff resistance from the second city of Bulawayo and smaller cities
such as Gweru.
The cities that are resisting the takeover argue that once their water is in
the hands of a parastatal, efficiency will be compromised. This is exactly
what has happened in Harare. Most of the water treatment chemicals are
imported from South Africa and again the foreign exchange to pay for them is
Workers at the water treatment plants say some of the chemicals they are
provided with are substandard or obsolete.
Investigations have shown that the provision of the chemicals is outsourced
from companies that belong to senior officials of the ruling ZANU-PF. To
maximise profits, these officials take a lot of shortcuts and end up with
either the wrong chemicals or an undersupply.
Because of the economic downturn, most industries in Harare just let their
waste flow into the rivers. Harare water is heavily polluted, not only with
industrial waste but also with raw sewage, which now is left to flow freely
into the rivers that feed into the reservoirs. The city council does not
have the money to repair burst sewers, which are left to go for weeks
Last week, the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority Holdings, ZESA
Holdings, through its chief executive officer, Ben Rafemoyo, announced that
it would introduce 20-hour load rationing periods for households in support
of winter wheat production. Under the scheme, domestic consumers would be
disconnected from 9 pm in the evening and reconnected at 5 pm the following
Although a junior officer in the parastatal withdrew the statement the
following day, many believe it was just an attempt at damage limitation -
for on the ground, the power cuts are real. On May 15, most of Harare's
central business district was without electricity the whole day.
Zimbabwe is failing to produce enough wheat for domestic consumption. This
has mainly been blamed on the land reform programme started in 2000, with
experienced white commercial farmers and their black workers being evicted
from their farms and replaced largely by inexperienced landless blacks with
little or no knowledge of farming.
Some of the farms went to politicians who had no intention of farming but
rather turned their new possessions into holiday homes. And those new
farmers resettled on the former white farms who could have produced crops
found that most of the equipment left on the farms was either looted or
vandalised during the chaotic land grab.
In an attempt to revive the production of wheat, a mainly winter crop, the
power utility has been forced to channel the electricity supply to the farms
that the government hopes can produce enough wheat for the people.
ZESA Holdings is failing to generate enough electricity for both urban and
rural consumers because the power stations are in a state of great
disrepair. The utility presently produces 1,420 Megawatts a day, leaving a
deficit of 500MW.
It imports some of the country's power needs from South Africa, the
Democratic Republic of Congo and Mozambique. However, there have been
reports in recent weeks that at least one of Zimbabwe's foreign suppliers,
Mozambique, is threatening to cut the supply because Zimbabwe, which lacks
the requisite foreign exchange, is failing to pay its debts.
A spokesman for Electricidade de Mozambique, Adelino Muchanga, was recently
quoted as saying, "We understand Zimbabwe's situation as of now, but we want
them to pay because we should be using the money to fund other projects. We
want to see the debt paid." The amount is reportedly 55 million US dollars.
Abigail Mutisi is not as lucky as Zimbabweans who are affluent enough to buy
generators. In most rich suburbs during the power outages, one can hear the
purring of generators, but for Mutisi these are completely out of her reach.
Only the very rich can afford them. Most low-to-medium income families
depend on paraffin if they can get it. Zimbabwe has been in the grip of a
liquid fuel crisis for the better part of the last decade. Paraffin, the
lifeblood of most poor homes, is the scarcest. When it is available it is on
the black market and, again, at the black market rate of 25,000 Zimbabwe
dollars to 1 US dollar, is just too pricey for the majority.
The last resort is firewood, which is now plentiful. It comes from invaded
farms where new farmers and poachers are chopping down trees with impunity
to make a quick buck. Driving into the city centres, one cannot miss the
stacks of prime indigenous msasa logs piled along the roads for sale.
Commentators say a huge environmental disaster is looming in the countryside
as the farms are laid bare by the wood poachers.
The water and power woes are set to continue, as there is no end in sight to
the political crisis that has left Zimbabwe in the shape it is now. The
pariah status the country has earned in the past decade as a result of the
wayward behaviour of its leaders means that Zimbabwe has few friends on the
African continent and abroad willing to bankroll its utilities.
And the collapse of agriculture, which was the backbone of the economy, and
the parlous state of industry in general means Zimbabwe cannot in the near
future export enough goods to earn much-needed foreign exchange.
Tariro Chimuti is the pseudonym of an IWPR contributor in Zimbabwe
By Tichaona Sibanda
18 May 2007
Many Zimbabweans have played down hopes of progress from the latest efforts
by South African President Thabo Mbeki to end the country's deteriorating
Mbeki told Parliament in Cape Town on Thursday that talks between the ruling
party and the MDC were going on 'very well,' without elaborating further.
The Zimbabwe Independent reported Friday that a South African mediation team
recently held a crucial meeting with Robert Mugabe in a bid to kick-start
Sources told the weekly paper that Mbeki had sent a delegation led by his
Local Government minister Sydney Mufamadi to meet Mugabe and government
officials. Their aim was to discuss modalities of the mediation process,
designed to find a negotiated settlement to current political and economic
But despite these latest efforts many Zimbabweans remain convinced that
nothing will come out of the talks. In an interview with Newsreel on Friday
Johannesburg based Zimbabwean economist Luke Zunga said he didn't think
Mbeki's mediation would bring peace any closer and blamed Mugabe for
stifling the proposed peace talks.
'Personally, like any other Zimbabwean in the diaspora, I have little faith
in the mediation effort. These proposed talks represent a showdown for
Mugabe and we all know he doesn't want to be second best. Both Mbeki and
SADC lack enough resolve to deal with him,' Zunga said.
Two months ago SADC leaders mandated Mbeki to find a lasting solution to
Zimbabwe's problems. So far he has had consultative meetings with both
factions of the MDC and Zanu (PF) but there has been no open discussion and
civic society has so far not been involved.
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
May 18, 2007 10:34 AM
The Human Rights Council is just one (entirely representative) part of
By Anne Bayefsky
On Thursday, the United Nations elected new members to its lead
human-rights protection body, the Human Rights Council. The so-called
"reformed" agency (which replaced the thoroughly discredited "Commission on
Human Rights") will now include three new states with a special penchant for
abusing human rights: Angola, Egypt, and Qatar. They join the likes of
current members Azerbaijan, China, Cuba, and Saudi Arabia.
In order to be elected to this U.N. club, these states had the
onerous task of pledging to take human rights seriously. Angola pledged "to
continue...mainstreaming human rights throughout the society
[and]...promoting the rule of law, access to justice and reconciliation..."
What Angola neglected to mention were some features of current conditions in
the country, as recited in the recent State Department Human Rights report:
".the abridgement of citizens' right to elect officials at all levels;
unlawful killings by police, military, and private security forces; torture,
beatings.corruption and impunity." etc.
Egypt pledged to "preserve the freedom of the press, the
independence of the judiciary [and].fulfil.political, social and economic
reform, anchored in the promotion and protection of human rights..."
Mysteriously omitted from the Egyptian promise were, in the words of the
State Department report: ".limitations on the right of citizens to change
their government; a state of emergency, in place almost continuously since
1967; torture and abuse of prisoners and detainees;.arbitrary arrest and
detention.restrictions on civil liberties-freedoms of speech and
press.female genital mutilation," etc, etc.
Qatar's grandiose pledge read: "The State of Qatar pays great
and increasing attention to the goal of promoting and protecting human
rights," and it pointed to its constitution, which "guarantees" "equality
before the law, the prohibition against discrimination, personal freedom,"
and a whole host of other rights. Among the other guarantees in Qatar,
according to the State Department report: "citizens lack.the right to change
their government peacefully.judicially sanctioned corporal
punishments.freedoms of speech (including the use of the Internet), press,
assembly, and association continued to be restricted.Discrimination against
women." And for good measure, according to the 2004 Criminal Code,
"Individuals caught proselytizing on behalf of any religion other than
Islam" are subject to "imprisonment of up to ten years."
None of this made the slightest difference to the General
Assembly members who elected the U.N.'s human rights watchdogs - 172 of the
192 members of the General Assembly voted for Angola, 168 for Egypt, and 170
A week ago, another U.N. election stirred controversy when
Zimbabwe was elected to chair the U.N. Commission on Sustainable
Development. The government of Robert Mugabe vies for the title of the worst
example of unsustainable development in modern times, having raped and
pillaged the vast human and natural resources of the country for decades.
However appalling these electoral results may be, it would be a
serious mistake to take them out of context. The U.N. presents a broad array
of elected officials governing its various agencies and bodies. Here, then,
are the broader context and some of the illustrious members of U.N.
U.N. Disarmament Commission Vice-Chairman : Iran, Rapporteur ;
Committee on Information: China, Kazakhstan
U.N. Programme of Assistance in the Teaching, Study,
Dissemination and Wider Appreciation of International Law Advisory
Committee: Iran, Lebanon, Sudan
Commission on Social Development: North Korea
Commission on the Status of Women: Qatar, Togo, United Arab
Commission on Sustainable Development: Sudan
Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice: Libya,
U.N. Children's Fund (UNICEF) Board: Bhutan, China
U.N. Development Programme Executive Board: Algeria, Kazakhstan
World Food Programme Executive Board: Zimbabwe, Sudan
International Labour Organization Governing Body: Saudi Arabia
U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Executive Committee:
Lebanon, Somalia, Sudan
U.N. Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT): Zimbabwe
Working Groups of the Human Rights Council on Arbitrary
Detention and Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances: both groups have a
member from Iran
General Assembly Vice-Presidents: Bhutan, Libya, Zimbabwe
Third Committee on Social, Humanitarian and Cultural Affairs of
the General Assembly, Vice-Chairman: Belarus
The big picture? Not only do the human-rights abusers sit on the
human-rights protection agency, the nuclear proliferators sit on the
disarmament commission; the deniers of freedom of information sit on the
public information committee; the international law violators sit on the
appreciation of international law committee; the enemies of social
development sit on the social development commission; the misogynists sit on
the women's rights body; the savage sit on the development commission; the
criminals sit on the crime prevention commission; the forced abortionists
sit on the children's rights fund; the undemocratic are members of the good
governance and sustainable development programme; the food crisis
manufacturers are members of the effective food aid programme; the anti-free
association experts sit on the labor-protection governing body; the refugee
creators sit on the refugee protection executive committee; the agents of
homelessness are members of the human settlements protection programme; the
masters at arbitrary detention and involuntary disappearance sit on
detention and disappearance prevention groups; those who systematically
ignore the U.N. Charter sit as leaders in the assembly charged with
promoting its respect.
Undoubtedly, there will remain those perpetual optimists who
will fancy these examples as isolated incidents and hence will judge that
U.N. camaraderie is worth the gambit with American taxpayer dollars. While
they dream on, the Organization of the Islamic Conference just does the
math. After yesterday's Human Rights Council elections, they remain with a
chokehold on the "reformed" human rights body by retaining a majority of
each of the African and Asian regional groups, which in turn control the
majority of the Council itself.
It isn't a pretty picture. And it gets uglier every time the
U.N. members - the majority of which are not full democracies - go through
the pretense of holding elections. They've got the pledging down all right.
Their resemblance to nations with rights, freedoms, or real democracy,
however, ends there.
By Obert Madondo
Last updated: 05/18/2007 22:37:33
IT IS absolutely ridiculous that Robert Mugabe's Zimbabwe, with the world's
fastest-shrinking economy and an inflation rate of 2 714%, should be elected
to lead a United Nations agency.
Last week the UN Commission on
Sustainable Development voted Zimbabwe to lead the agency for the next year.
Members of the agency voted by secret ballot, 26 for and 21 against, with
The agency's motto loudly promises "development that meets the needs of the
present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their
The African vote won the day for Zimbabwe. The message in the vote is clear:
Zimbabwe is the quintessential African torch bearer on preserving the
present for future generations to inherit. What a crude joke!
In 2005 the Mugabe regime demolished whole neighborhoods and informal
backyard industries in the countries' major cities, leaving an estimated 700
000 people homeless and without livelihoods.
Thanks to Mugabe's disastrous land reform project, corruption and repressive
rule, Zimbabwe, once Africa's bread basket, faces an acute bread shortage
and possible mass starvation. Even with good rains, massive capital
investment and a democratic political culture, the agricultural sector will
take years to recover.
The same goes for the country's physical, social and moral infrastructures.
On the surface, African leaders simply sided with Mugabe as usual. After
many of them retain power by rigging elections and brutalising the
too. The reality is: this time African leaders used the tyrant in the global
conversation with the dominant and domineering West.
The global stage is a dirty arena of power-posturing, muscle-flexing and
outright below-the-belt kicks. Countries with the bigger economic and
muscles always prevail. Who can challenge the mighty United States of
This is not to say that those with rising economic and perceived military
muscle are lightweights. China, for example, has used its rising economic
strength and growing global influence to defy criticism of its appalling
domestic human rights record and cuddling of violent regimes around the
Belligerent North Korea continues to cause global headaches and anxieties,
thanks to its perceived nuclear capability.
African countries, individually and collectively, have neither the military
strength nor economic power to influence global issues in any significant
way. Now, a disturbing trend is beginning to manifest in their response to
global political issues.
Robert Mugabe has become the poster child for Africa's defiance against the
West. In fact, African leaders are engaged in an invisible brinkmanship with
The West imposed sanctions on the regime for alleged human rights abuses.
Some Western leaders have become caricatures in their never-ending scramble
to demonise Mugabe. Secretly, African leaders take offence to the posturing.
At their extraordinary summit held in Tanzania at the end of March, Sadc
heads of state and government came up with a supposedly historic resolution
on Zimbabwe. They expressed solidarity with Mugabe. They called on Britain
to honour its obligations to fund his chaotic, corrupt land reform
programme. They labeled the Western sanctions illegal, and called for their
The West has been the most vocal critic of the South African President Thabo
Mbeki's ineffectual six-year-old "quiet diplomacy" on Zimbabwe. African
leaders chose the same Mbeki to mediate the political impasse in Zimbabwe.
The African Union supported the Sadc position.
The list of contradictions is endless.
It's been suggested that African leaders' position derives from dominant
domestic sentiment. According to this sentiment, Mugabe is a pariah in the
Western media and a hero in Africa outside Zimbabwe at the same time.
In 2004, the monthly New African magazine asked its readers to nominate the
most influential African leaders of the 20th century. Robert Mugabe polled
third after Ghana's Kwame Nkrumah and South Africa's Nelson Mandela who came
first and second, respectively. The magazine is not necessarily anti-West
but is excessively pan-Africanist.
To many Africans, the 2005 Murambatsvina crackdown and recent brutal assault
on the opposition are no-events. Mugabe's stature remains intact. The
reasons for this misplaced mentality are numerous.
Racist colonial regimes deprived, enslaved, humiliated Africans and
their resources. In South Africa, the model of African democracy, millions
blacks are still homeless, jobless and poor while a minority, mostly
beneficiaries of apartheid, leave in mansions and commute in private jets.
Independence from colonialism and apartheid has benefited a few in Africa.
Meanwhile, global capitalism, seen by many as a direct beneficiary of black
enslavement and the plunder of Africa's resources, continues to exploit.
Global capitalism manifests itself on the continent in the continual
deprivation of access to ownership to the continent's resources like land,
diamonds and oil.
Now, to many Africans, Mugabe's only crime is that he boldly expropriated
Could it be that ordinary Africans are also engaged in an invisible
brinkmanship with the West as some of their cowardly leaders? They are
peace-loving. They resent the illegal Iraq war. They're appalled by the
resultant senseless killings of innocent civilians.
Avenues for African expression on the global stage are too few to expose the
core African sentiment on global issues. The influential African media is
controlled by liberal forces, real and pseudo, which are in turn beholden to
the exploitative global capitalist machinery. African governments rely on
Western governments for aid and economic investment.
They can only criticise the West indirectly, primary-school style. In
school, the weak, little boys would not dare challenge the big bully. Then
day someone comes along and challenges the bully to an open fist fight. The
result is unimportant. The weak boy's deserved moment of revenge lies in the
To African leaders, Mugabe is a godsend. He's the master crusader against
neo-colonialism and other stinking isms. He's the bulwark against the
West. He can say all the harsh words against Tony Blair or George W Bush
that African leaders would not dare utter publicly.
African leaders chose Mugabe's Zimbabwe to lead the UN agency as a stance
against the West, period. The two-week session leading to the election was
dominated by scripted speeches, we're told. The African representatives came
armed with uncompromising position from their masters in the continent's
In the end, the African vote was an anti-West, pro-Zimbabwe vote. The UN
African caucus nominated Zimbabwe for the post last month. The West had
enough time to protest or kill the vote. Instead, Europeans, who dominated
the opposition to Zimbabwe's candidacy, responded with pro-West vote,
Both sides exposed the UN to yet another round of ridicule.
Although, African government trounced the West again on the Zimbabwe issue,
their victory is a liability, in the long run. The continent needs more
voices on the international stage. In Zimbabwe, Africa has the wrong ace.
Using Mugabe against the liberal West reflects a fundamental inclination
But who can blame African governments? In the larger context of global
politics, Mugabe is the weapon of choice for the cowardly. During the 60th
anniversary commemorations of the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) at
the UN in New York in October, 2005, he ranted and raved, called global
powers all sorts of ugly names.
Representatives of governments beyond Africa applauded.
Another dirty Mugabe-based impasse is on the cards. The continent is somehow
flexing its muscle against the bullish global powers. The African Union
recently made it clear that Africa would not let the European Union dictate
the terms of the forthcoming inaugural EU-Africa Summit scheduled for
Lisbon, Portugal, in December.
The summit seeks to forge closer EU-Africa economic and political
co-operation. No Zimbabwe, No Summit, the AU leaders have boldly declared.
Enter China and global economics. Through its soft stance on tyranny and
generous interest-free loans and, lately, the successful China-Africa
China is upstaging everyone else.
The EU is desperate to regain Africa. It is against Zimbabwe's participation
and, simultaneously, desperate for Africa's diamonds, oil and other
resources. The summit is pivotal in this effort.
Again, the Mugabe spectre looms large. Ghanaian Foreign Minister, Nana
Akufo-Addo, whose country holds the AU chairmanship, recently vowed that
Zimbabwe would attend or else the summit is on ice.
The summit has been postponed several times since 2003 as Africa refused to
balk to Western pressure to exclude Zimbabwe. Portugal, which assumes the EU
presidency in July, is desperate to see the summit succeed this year.
Interestingly, Portugal has already vowed that closer economic and political
co-operation with Africa is central to the success of its EU presidency.
If African countries maintain their pro-Zimbabwe stance, the EU will be
forced to swallow its pride and accommodate Zimbabwe at the summit. Then
Africa, using Mugabe, would have scored another dirty goal.
Obert Madondo writes from Canada. He can be contacted on e-mail:
May 18 2007 at 07:14PM
Zimbabwe's main opposition on Friday launched a campaign to pressure
President Robert Mugabe's government to free a lawmaker and 31 activists
detained on terrorism charges.
The opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) said the campaign
dubbed "Free Them Now!" would include an international lobby to call for the
release of the opposition officials rounded in a police crackdown in March.
"Over 20 innocent civilians are being held as political prisoners
against flimsy charges," the party said in a pamphlet released at a news
"We demand that the terror campaign and brutality stop now. We demand
that all political prisoners be set free now. We appeal to well-wishers to
lend us a hand in this troubling time as we are facing challenges to cater
for the welfare of the political prisoners and their families."
MDC Secretary General Tendai Biti said: "This campaign will not only
be restricted to Zimbabwe, but we are going to take it to other African
centres (such as) Accra, Johannesburg, Nairobi, and of course to other
"... We are prepared to pay for this freedom with our lives. The
leadership is prepared to pay the ultimate price until we get the freedom we
deserve," Biti said.
Lawmaker Paul Madzore and 31 activists were arrested in a police
crackdown on the opposition in March and charged with terrorism, banditry
Biti dismissed the charges as fabrication
The arrests came days after security forces beat up MDC leader Morgan
Tsvangirai and scores of supporters during a prayer rally convened by a
coalition of opposition, church and rights groups.
The Southern African Development Community (SADC) appointed South
African President Thabo Mbeki to broker dialogue between Mugabe's ruling
party and the MDC.
Biti said talks between the MDC and the ruling Zimbabwe African
National Union - Patriotic Front (Zanu-PF) were not possible amid the
crackdown on the opposition.
He said MDC had listed issues for discussions brokered by Mbeki,
including a new constitution and the right to vote.
Mbeki has often came under fire for failing to publicly criticise
Mugabe. - Sapa-AFP
Saturday 19 May 2007
By Nqobizitha Khumalo
BULAWAYO - The family of a man shot and killed by the police last January is
suing Home Affairs Minister Kembo Mohadi and Police Commissioner Augustine
Chihuri for Z$20 billion in damages.
The Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) is helping the family of
Artwell Magagada, 25, file for compensation after he was shot and severely
wounded while walking from a food outlet in Bulawayo city centre where he
worked. The suit was filed on Wednesday this week.
Magagada was allegedly shot by police Superintendent Milos Moyo from Ross
camp police station in the city. The police officer fired at a crowd of
revelers who were celebrating the coming of the New Year outside near the
food outlet where Magagada worked.
One of the fired bullets hit Magagada on the head. He was hospitalised and
kept at the Catholic-run Mater Dei Hospital where he later died.
Mohadi and Chihuri are first and second respondent respectively while Moyo
is cited as third respondent in court papers.
ZLHR lawyer Sindiso Mazibisa, who is representing the Magagada family, said
the family was suing Mohadi and Chihuri in their capacities as the
responsible authorities of the police.
"We are taking the Minister of Home Affairs, Kembo Mohadi and Commissioner
Chihuri to court in their capacity as the responsible authorities of the
police according to the Zimbabwe constitution and the laws governing this
country," said Mazibisa.
Zimbabwean police are well known for their heavy handed tactics against
civilians and in the past have been accused of committing human rights
abuses especially against government opponents.
Scores of innocent civilians and suspects have been shot and seriously
injured or killed by the police over the past few. For example the police
two months ago shot and killed opposition activist Gift Tandare as they
broke up a prayer rally organised by the opposition Movement for Democratic
Change party and churches.
The government, which has increasingly relied on the police and army to
contain public discontent in the face of worsening economic hardships,
denies that its security forces violate human rights. - ZimOnline
Mail and Guardian
Carol Hills | Johannesburg, South Africa
18 May 2007 04:22
Zimbabwe has not officially rejected a Pan African Parliament
(PAP) decision to send a team of fact-finders to the country, PAP president
Gertrude Mongella said on Friday.
"There has been no official communication from the government of
Zimbabwe," she said in a briefing at the close of the PAP's seventh ordinary
session in Midrand.
"... And I would not like to pass judgement on the government of
Zimbabwe before I get any official communication."
The fact-finding mission was approved by 149 PAP members last
Friday. Only 29 -- including most of the Zimbabwe delegation -- voted
against it, and three abstained.
However, it was later suggested in the media that the Zimbabwean
government intended blocking the mission's entry to the country, as it had
done to similar delegations in the past.
It had long been decided that the PAP work only on "official
communication" to prevent any misunderstandings, said Mongella.
The PAP would send Zimbabwe an official communication of its
intention to send in fact-finders, "and its response must be officially
"So let me wait for official communication, then we'll know how
we deal with the situation," she said.
Mongella said the date of the mission had not yet been
"We just finished today [Friday], so when we are ready we'll
announce the date," she said.
In debate on the proposal to send in fact-finders, delegates
from Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries said it had
charged President Thabo Mbeki with facilitating between parties and he
should be given a chance to do so.
Mongella hoped the two initiatives would "reinforce" each other.
"We are all interested in having a peaceful Zimbabwe," she said.
"People should not be feeling it's either/or. What is needed is
every effort to make sure a peaceful situation is restored in Zimbabwe."
She said people sometimes thought missions were sent to
countries only to do policing.
"The spirit in the Parliament is to know what is going on."
It had to have access to the information it needed to discuss
the matter in "an informed way" and to debate positive action in solving the
problems of Zimbabwe.
Asked about the lack of involvement of the youth in dialogue in
Zimbabwe, Mongella said: "That is why we're going there: to see what's on
"If we knew the situation now, we wouldn't find it necessary to
go there and see the situation on the ground."
The team would, among other things, have to see the elders and
the traditional leaders. -- Sapa
International Crisis Group (Brussels)
18 May 2007
Posted to the web 18 May 2007
The following is a dinner keynote address by Gareth Evans, President of the
International Crisis Group, to the Aspen Atlantic Group/Stanley Foundation
Conference on Africa: at Risk or Rising? The Role of Europe, North America
and Europe on the Continent in Berlin on May 5, 2007.
Of all the hundreds of thousands, or more likely millions, of words I must
have publicly uttered as Australian Foreign Minister for eight years, and a
parliamentarian for 21, it is a little disconcerting to find myself best
remembered in Australian politics for just three of them - uttered from the
misery of the Opposition benches about a year after leaving office - when I
described myself as suffering from 'Relevance Deprivation Syndrome', or RDS.
The International Crisis Group has proved a pretty good cure for that - but
an important part of the supplementary treatment has been this regular
meeting of 'Madeleine and Her Exes'. I'm grateful for the chance to be here
again with Secretary Albright and her distinguished cast of former foreign
ministers and policy experts: it's always a stimulating experience.
I'm not sure that I'm quite so grateful about the poisoned chalice I have
been offered as a 'Dinner Keynote' speaker. As we all know there are various
death slots in this business - first up in the afternoon after a good lunch
on a warm day being the most lethal - but a dinner speech on a serious
topic, and there cannot be many more serious than 'Conflict and Mass
Violence in Africa', towards the end of a conference, when everyone is
pretty well speeched-out, must come a close second.
So I'll try to minimise the pain, and just offer you a series of rather
staccato observations on the topic - five bits of good news, five bits of
bad news, and five things the international community (including those of us
who hover on its edges and try to influence it) can do to make the bad news
better. After which we can pick up one or two themes for more discussion, or
go back to the carousing and gossiping that I suspect we would all rather
Some Good News
1. Despite almost universal perception to contrary, and how
counter-intuitive this seems, the overall number of conflicts and episodes
of mass violence in the world has declined dramatically since the end of the
Cold War, and nowhere more so in recent years than in sub-Saharan Africa.
The figures come from the Human Security Centre run by Andrew Mack at the
Liu Institute at the University of British Columbia, of which our colleague
Lloyd Axworthy was the founding father, and they are compelling.
Overall, the declines since the early 1990s have been of the order of 80 per
cent in the number of serious conflicts (with quite a few conflicts starting
but many more ending during the period); 80 per cent again in the number of
those killed in battle; and - closely tracking the big decline in the number
of civil wars - a drop of 90 per cent in campaigns of 'political mass
murder' (genocide and so-called politicide and the like).
From 2002-2005, the number of armed conflicts worldwide shrank 15 per cent
from 66 to 56 - but by far the greatest decline was in sub-Saharan Africa.
Between 2002 and 2005, the number of state-based conflicts in sub-Saharan
Africa declined from 13 to 5 or by 60 per cent; the number of non-state
conflicts from 24 to 14. In addition to decline in overall conflict numbers
in the region, the number of sub-Saharan African countries experiencing one
or more conflicts on their soil shrank from 15 to 8. In 2003, Africa was
home to 46 of 89 cases of armed conflict and one-sided violence that year.
In 2005, it was home to only 25 of 71. The drop in number of conflicts in
this region has been the single most important factor driving down the
global armed conflict toll over the past four years.
2. It's not just a matter of abstract statistics, which (as all of us in
politics know from years of using and abusing and misusing them) can be very
misleading: all this has translated into some very visible and specific
achievements in particular country situations. The most significant
successes in conflict resolution and successful peacemaking have come from
the African regions that witnessed some the worst human tragedies of the
1990s: Sierra Leone and Liberia in the Mano River area of West Africa and DR
Congo and Burundi in Central Africa's Great Lakes.
3. The decline in armed conflict in sub-Saharan Africa has taken place
despite the fact that 'structural' factors (poverty, low growth, lack of
state capacity etc) associated with heightened risks of conflict have
changed little or even worsened (for example, between 2003-5, the number of
low-income countries under stress increased from 11 to 14). The best single
explanation for the big declines in conflict and mass violence, both in
Africa and around the rest of the world, is that there has been a major
increase in international support for efforts to end wars and prevent them
from restarting. What we all do - through the UN, through regional and
sub-regional intergovernmental organisations, through significant players
(like the U.S., or in Africa, South Africa) operating at a bilateral
governmental level, and at the level of NGOs like my International Crisis
Group or Human Rights Watch - does actually seem to matter: however
frustrating it seems from time to time, we are not all wasting our time.
4. There have been major advances in conflict prevention and resolution
institution-building over the last decade or so, which gives cause for hope
that this is all not just a transient phenomenon, and that we have a real
chance of going on doing better in the future. The African Union has been
established with a completely different and much more activist mandate than
the OAU it replaced; the EU has gradually been getting its act together both
militarily, with Operation Artemis giving a good foretaste of what might be
achievable as the concept of battle groups takes hold and the recent
German-led effort for the Congo elections, and through excellent civilian
peacekeeping operations like the Aceh Monitoring Mission; the UN has
established a Peacebuilding Commission to fill some of the huge gaps which
had previously existed in ensuring sustained commitment in post-conflict
situations; many individual countries have developed much more sophisticated
in-house conflict prevention and resolution mechanisms; and even NGOs like
mine, which didn't exist a decade ago, are established features of the early
warning, response and general conflict policy landscape.
5. There has been accompanying all this a big conceptual shift away from the
traditional Westphalian notion that sovereignty is, in effect, a license to
kill. We didn't manage it with Bernard Kouchner's droit d'ingérence, or
'the right of humanitarian intervention' in the 1990s - which was a noble
and effective rallying cry for some, but overall enraged as many as it
inspired around the world; nor with Kofi Annan's suggestion that we regard
national sovereignty as having to be balanced by individual sovereignty -
which really only restated the problem without resolving it. But we do seem
to have got there with the concept of the responsibility to protect (or R2P
as we are now all calling it in this age of acronymphomania) - which starts
with the responsibility of sovereign states to protect their own people from
genocide and ethnic cleansing and other crimes against humanity, but doesn't
finish there: when they fail to do so, through incapacity or ill-will, the
responsibility shifts to the wider international community, to be exercised
by appropriate means up to and including military force. Embraced
unanimously by the more than 150 heads of state and government at the 2005
World Summit (with strong, and crucial, support, from sub-Saharan Africa),
and endorsed since by the Security Council, this is - in the history of
ideas - one of the biggest normative shifts we have seen, and taking place
in the shortest time.
Some Bad News
1. The conflicts and mass violence situations that have not been resolved in
Africa, include some very bad ones indeed, with Darfur, Chad and Somalia -
and in its own way Zimbabwe - being the most currently troubling.
In Darfur, since the Government of Sudan began its extreme overreaction to
the challenge to its authority launched by Darfur rebel groups in 2003, more
than 200,000 have died violently or from war-caused disease and starvation,
more than 2 million remain displaced and homeless, with another 2 million
dependent on international assistance. Countless numbers of women have been
raped, and adults and children seriously injured. The government-supported
'Janjaweed' militias, responsible for most of the atrocity crimes, have been
neither disarmed nor controlled, and in some cases are now fighting among
themselves. The rebel groups have divided and multiplied rather than
consolidated since the signing of the Darfur Peace Agreement (DPA) in Abuja
in May 2006, and the overall humanitarian, human rights and security
situation has again deteriorated.
As the conflict spreads and deepens, aid operations are threatened, with
civilians, once again, bearing the brunt of the escalation in violence and
insecurity. Meanwhile, the ruling National Congress Party in Khartoum
continues to deny the gravity of the situation, to obstruct the deployment
of a strengthened peacekeeping force to the region and bolster the
undermanned and struggling African Union mission, and to hinder the
resumption of serious political negotiations. And the international
community continues to fiddle, refusing to put in place even the kind of
very robust economic sanctions that would do much to change President
Bashir's current cost-benefit calculation.
At last count the EU had expressed 'concern' in one way or another 54 times,
without significant accompanying action. And President Bush has yet again
threatened to take coercive economic action if Khartoum does not rapidly
move to embrace the full hybrid force package. But we've heard that before,
and we'll no doubt hear it again, while the people of Darfur continue to
The instability in Darfur is increasingly being exported to Chad, where more
than 200,000 Darfur refugees are housed in camps. Within Chad, at least
90,000 Chadian civilians have been displaced by violent attacks from
Sudanese and Chadian militias in 2006, and the pattern of chaos, lawlessness
and attacks against civilians is increasingly spilling across the border,
further complicating an already fragile and vulnerable internal situation
with its own deep roots.
As in Darfur, the NCP has exploited the lack of resolve on the part of the
international community, and weaknesses in its junior partner, to delay and
frustrate the peace process, often playing the Arab and Muslim solidarity
card, to oppose western pressure.
Somalia, which has known no effective central government since 1991, is now
plunging again into full-scale bloodshed following the Ethiopian army's
intervention in support of the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) in
January, backed by the U.S. - seizing Mogadishu and Southern Somalia from
the Islamists, and an assorted group of conservative pragmatists and
militant hardliners, accused of sponsoring separatist Somali movements in
Ethiopia and harbouring Al Qaeda-linked international terrorists. The
African Union has decided to believe the fiction that the TFG was a
legitimate government, implementing the program of transition, and has sent
a protection force to add to the chaos now prevailing in Mogadishu. It might
well face its first peacekeeping quagmire in the coming months.
Simultaneously, in Zimbabwe, a political and economic crisis that has
reached its seventh year is pushing the country, if not necessarily toward
major internal conflict (though I was struck by the amount of speculation I
heard about this when in South Africa a few days ago), certainly towards
total collapse. The world's fastest-shrinking peacetime economy has left the
country teetering on the brink. The combination of that meltdown, rampant
corruption, a deteriorating humanitarian situation, high poverty, political
paralysis, and repression mirrors the situation in the Congo during the last
days of Mobutu's rule. And now, in defiance of the growing domestic outcry
for a radical change in leadership and new policies to return credible
democracy and prosperity, we have President Robert Mugabe evidently
determined to run for another term and extend his rule.
2. On the responsibility to protect principle, we cannot, unfortunately,
assume that the bridgehead achieved at the World Summit and in subsequent
Security Council resolutions will necessarily hold. Some member states -
particularly in Asia - were very reluctant to accept this part of the Summit
outcome document, and continue to fight a rearguard action against it. They
have been much aided in this respect by R2P's false friends. Occasional
efforts by defenders of the 2003 invasion of Iraq, notably the UK
government, to paint it as justified by R2P principles (as other defences in
terms of possession of weapons of mass destruction or support for
international terrorism crumbled away) have succeeded admirably in
reinforcing the arguments of R2P opponents that any concession as to the
limits of state sovereignty would create an excuse that would be exploited
all too willingly by neo-colonialists and neo-imperialists keen to return to
their bad old interventionist habits of decades past.
One sign of possible difficulties ahead was the rejection by the Security
Council in January this year - with vetoes from China and Russia (cast
together for the first time since 1972), and South Africa voting against -
of a resolution condemning Myanmar's appalling human rights record. The
argument of the opponents was that the government's behaviour was not 'a
threat to international peace', and thus outside the Security Council's
jurisdiction. It is certainly arguable that Myanmar's human rights
violations, while deplorable, have been not of the same character or scale
of those in Darfur, or Kosovo or Srebrenica or Rwanda before it, but it is
disturbing nonetheless to see any return to favour of a broad view that
state sovereignty inherently confers protection from international scrutiny
and censure. As Desmond Tutu, put it: "If others are using the arguments we
are using today when we asked them for their support against apartheid, we
might still have been unfree." Those of us concerned to consolidate R2P as a
universally accepted international norm - and one legitimising close
attention by the Security Council to the behaviour toward their own people
of a number of deeply unsavoury regimes - will have to stay on our toes for
a good while yet.
3. There has been a conspicuous failure to get serious in relation to the
kind of enhanced civilian and military capacity building that is necessary
if we are to give real operational content to the responsibility to protect
concept, and also to lift our game still further in response to peace
operations generally. In particular there has been a failure to give
effective financial and logistical support to the African Union to better
enable it to fill the gap between rhetoric and reality when it comes to
operational effectiveness. It's one thing to support 'African solutions to
African problems', or an - again much to be desired - increase everywhere in
the world in regional and sub-regional roles and responsibilities in
relation to security matters. But it's quite another thing to use this as an
excuse to abdicate responsibility for giving the kind of material support
that the major developed countries are very capable of delivering. (In
this context there may be something to be said for the idea of a newly
created US military Africa Command, to more effectively deliver military
cooperation and support, but there is a lot of understandable scepticism
that first has to be overcome about what else the US might be carrying in
its baggage in proposing to play such a constructive role.)
4. There has been a lack of coherence, consistency and consensus in the way
in which the key international players respond to these situations: a point
that has often been made, about the EU response to various conflict
situations, but the point can easily be generalised. Even in a highly
specific area like response to actual or threatened mass atrocities, it
remains very difficult to get countries to move beyond acceptance of the
general principle that sovereignty has its limits, to get agreement on what
precise action should be taken by whom and when, above all when, the
question of military intervention arises.
Part of the problem here is that a crucial part of the R2P package - as
conceived by the Canadian Commisson which gave it birth, and the High Level
Panel and Secretary-General's reports which recommended it to the World
Summit - was left as unfinished business, ie. adoption of a set of
prudential guidelines as to when the use of non-consensual force would be
appropriate. We identified five of them: the seriousness of the harm being
threatened (which in the case of internal misbehaviour would need to involve
large-scale loss of life or ethnic cleansing to prima facie justify
something as extreme as military action); the motivation or primary purpose
of the proposed military action (whether it was primarily to halt or avert
the threat in question, or had some other main objective); whether there
were reasonably available peaceful alternatives; the proportionality of the
response; and, not least, the balance of consequences - whether overall more
good than harm would be done by a military invasion.
Of course - with the world of national interests, and perceived national
interests, and cynical realpolitik being what it is - no criteria of this
kind, even if agreed as guidelines by the Security Council, will ever end
argument on how they should be applied in particular instances, for example
Darfur right now. But it is hard to believe they would not be more helpful
than the present totally ad hoc system in focusing attention on the relevant
issues, revealing weaknesses in argument, and generally encouraging
5. The other piece of bad news worth emphasising is that, although things
have been improving in many ways on the democracy front, the problem of
governance in Africa, and in particular governance at the top, remains
desolately widespread. The 'big man' syndrome is still far too evident, with
too many of the renaissance heroes who have been successively identified
proving to have feet of clay - Meles , Issaias, Museveni and now Obasanjo
being pretty clear examples for a start. As most of us who have been foreign
ministers would be quicker to testify than those who write theses about the
causes and solutions of conflict, individuals just do matter a huge amount,
often much more than underlying deep-seated structural factors. I guess it
may ultimately be just a matter of luck of the draw whether a vulnerable
country in transition finds itself with a Mandela, rather than a Milosevic
or a Mugabe, but Africa has not had a huge amount of luck in the past in
this respect - and with only a small handful of exceptions, it's not clear
that it's luck is going to get much better in the future.
Things We can Do to Make the Bad News Better
1. Get our heads analytically very clear about what each situation requires,
because despite superficial similarities, they are all different, with their
own dynamics. We should not plunge into any kind of remedial action,
preventive or reactive, without having a pretty comprehensive idea of all
the forces in play, local, national, regional and international. You'd
expect me to say this because analysing these situations is what Crisis
Group does, but necessity in this case is actually accompanied by virtue - I
really believe it.
The need for case-by-case analysis is particularly acute when it comes to
devising solutions, or creating the conditions for solutions, and getting
consensus among all relevant players as to what those solutions should be.
The current situations in Darfur and Zimbabwe, for example, require a rather
different approach to sanctions.
I n the case of Darfur, I think it's hard to argue that we don't need right
now - in addressing both the security need for an effective
civilian-protection military force on the ground, and the political need for
a cooperative approach to the necessary new political negotiations - some
very tough measures on the table to change the balance of calculation, and
balance of risk, for the Bashir regime. The threats have been made so often
they're now a joke in bad taste: it's time to implement them, and the U.S.
and the EU can do so between them without the need for UN support, though of
course that's always desirable.
In Zimbabwe, by contrast, while we should certainly maintain the present
targeted sanctions, it is hard to believe that their wider or deeper
application would - in the present condition of the country - make any
difference. What we need is an approach, focused on finding a workable
exit strategy for Mugabe, that his neighbours in SADC can fully buy into and
actually make work.
If Mugabe is intent on remaining in office until he dies, little can be
achieved through diplomatic efforts, and we face a future of confrontation
and conflict, hopefully short-lived. But there remains a chance that a
package can be devised which would assure Mugabe of immunity from
prosecution - however ill-deserved that might be - and the confiscation of
his assets; lift international sanctions; offer some protection of his
political and ideological legacy, by not vesting power immediately in the
MDC opposition for which he has such loathing, but rather a ZANU-PF
loyalist, albeit with provision also being made for a ZANU-PF/MDC
transitional arrangement; and have the British provide some resources for a
reasonable land reform program 27 years after Lancaster House.
2. Get our heads clear about the peace versus justice trade-off which is
often involved in conflict resolution. The issue is constantly now arising
with the role of the new International Criminal Court - e.g. in Darfur and
Uganda. Because the ICC's jurisdiction under the Rome Treaty is only
available for events occurring after July 2002, a great deal of its work is
necessarily bound up with ongoing conflict: the peace versus justice dilemma
is much less of a concern when prosecuting past crimes arising out of
We simply have to acknowledge that situations can arise in which the need to
advance a peace process can work against the impunity principle to which all
of us in the human rights community are so committed: as much as it may
shock the conscience to contemplate not pursuing prosecutions when major
perpetrators of atrocity crimes are involved, this can be helpful in certain
circumstances in ending conflict, and in saving as a result a great many
more lives. The classic case is Nigeria's initial grant of asylum to
Liberia's murderous Charles Taylor in 2003, not at all unreasonable given
the prospect then looming of thousands more deaths in the final battle for
Monrovia. The corollary is that if such deals are made, they have to
continue to be honoured, as was not the case here: Robert Mugabe, for one,
is acutely conscious that Nigeria, under international pressure,
subsequently handed over Taylor for prosecution, without making any serious
attempt to prove that he had acted in breach of the conditions of his
In the ICC case, if decisions to give primacy to peace over justice do have
to be made in certain hard cases, those decisions are best made not by its
prosecutor but by those with appropriate political responsibility. The
prosecutor's job is to prosecute and he should get on with it, with bulldog
intensity. If the judgement has to be made, on occasion, that the interests
of peace should override those of justice, then that should be for the
Security Council to decide, as it has the power to do under Article 16 of
the Rome charter, enabling it to suspend prosecutions for renewable periods
of twelve months.
3. Get the R2P norm consolidated, with a global campaign aimed at embedding
it among the recalcitrants and potential backsliders; finishing the
unfinished business about rules governing the use of force; and helping to
generate effective responses to new conscience-shocking cases, as they all
too inevitably come along. Some preliminary discussions have already taken
place on the formation of an organisation which might be called the
'Global Coalition for the Responsibility to Protect' (GCR2P for short) -
which, supported by foundations and governments and private sector
donations, would draw together civil society organisations to work with
like-minded governments and international organisations to recommend
strategy, coordinate efforts, identify gaps, build political will, and serve
as an information clearing house on R2P. Any such organisation should be
structured, on an evenly balanced North-South basis, with distinguished
patrons from around the world, and with an effective working secretariat -
probably most effectively based in New York, but visibly more broadly
connected, especially in Africa and Asia - not trying to tightly control
campaign and related activity, both top-down and bottom-up, but helping to
guide and coordinate it.
4. Get serious about capacity building - civil and military - in all the
multiple dimensions, well known and often listed, that are necessary for
this to be real.
5. Emphasise the good news, rather than the bad. It reinforces morale, helps
to get governments to take action, and in particular to unlock treasury
vaults. Let the perception continue that deadly conflict and mass violence
in Africa is inevitable - that these are ancient enmities that have
prevailed from time immemorial, and will continue to forever - and it will
always be hard to build and sustain effective international support. Get the
story out that serious efforts to prevent and resolve conflict - through all
the multiple institutions and measures that are now available to us at all
stages of the conflict cycle - do make a huge difference, with the proof
already on the table in the dramatic decline in the number and intensity of
conflicts, and that support will be much more readily deliverable.
To get that story out - that there is indeed an end in sight to the
scarifying violence that has debilitated so much of Africa for so long - is
the challenge for all of us here. And what makes it easier than many of the
tales we had to tell in our previous political lives is that this story
happens to be true.
Saturday 19 May 2007
JOHANNESBURG - South Africa on Friday said it will soon set in place easier
mechanisms for the black majority to acquire land saying the government was
eager to speed up its land reform programme.
Agriculture and Land Affairs Minister Lulama Xingwana told Parliament in
Cape Town yesterday that her department will streamline the process of
buying land in the country.
President Thabo Mbeki's government has said it wanted to allocate 30 percent
of the country's farmland to the majority blacks by 2014 to redress the
injustices of apartheid and colonialism in land allocation.
But critics say the land reform programme has been very slow with just 4
percent of farmland having been allocated to blacks since the end of
apartheid in 1994.
"This issue of land will continue to raise emotions because people are
inextricably linked to it, they identify their origins, identity,
livelihoods and prosperity to it.
"Without land redistribution, the agrarian revolution is impossible,"
South Africa has in the past said it will not "copy" Zimbabwe's land reforms
that saw President Robert Mugabe encourage the violent seizure of white
farms for redistribution to landless blacks.
Mugabe's chaotic and violent land reforms saw plunged the southern African
country, once deemed the breadbasket of southern Africa, into economic chaos
with millions of Zimbabweans surviving on food handouts from international
food aid agencies. - ZimOnline
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Letter 1 - Ben Freeth
It has appeared to me for some time that the anti-white racism from the
government of Zimbabwe needs to be exposed more than it is. When we hear
this week of Obert Mpofu stating that he wants all "white" farmers out of
his constituency we are hearing the words neo NAZI apartheidism. They are
not new words. We have heard these words in Zimbabwe for many years now.
What has happened in the last 7 years on the farms is quite simply a policy
of ethnic cleansing on racial lines.
The only difference between this phenomena now and this phenomena under
Hitler or Vorwoed is the fact that it is now black on white and not white on
black. The most tragic part of Zimbabwes racist policies though, is not what
has happened to the whites per se. The most tragic part is the effect that
it has had on the poor and the weak of all races. Sadly, other African
leaders admire and applaud Zimbabwes racism. Zimbabwe stands out for them
as the champion of black nationalism. "Pan African" patriotism appears to
have its psyche based on the racial championing of the worlds black people
over the worlds white people.
Last week Africa put Zimbabwe forward to chair the UN committee on
"sustainable development". Zimbabwe, since it began its racist land policy
7 years ago, has had the fastest regressing economy in the world. A week
after Nhema [the Zimbabwe Minister that was voted into this UN chair] had
taken his farm from a white man the pigs on the farm resorted to cannibalism
because, rather like the people over much of the continent, they had not had
food or water. This is not only sad, but it is a symptom of the greater
sickness which bedevils the African continent today: the sickness that has
lead to the abject poverty in which most Africans find themselves.
When Thabo Mbeki stood up in defence of Zimbabwe [and its anti white
policies] at the latest SADC meeting he said: "The fight against Zimbabwe
is a fight against us all. Today it is Zimbabwe; tomorrow it will be South
Africa, it will be Mozambique, it will be Angola, it will be any other
African country. And any government that is percieved to be strong and to be
resistant to imperialists would be made a target and would be undermined. So
let us not allow any point of weakness in the solidarity of SADC, because
that weakness will also be transferred to the rest of Africa". The
imperialists in black Africanism speak are "white" people; and like the
Zimbabwe government Mbeki, in pure delusional propaganda speak, attributes
Zimbabwes woes to Zimbabwe being "undermined" by these "imperialists".
And that is the sickness. The sickness is encapsulated in the lie that "I
am not the one. I am not responsible for my own actions. I can not be
blamed for the corruption and mismanagement and hunger and suffering in my
nation; in my constituency; in my sphere of influence...." The sickness
brews in the stubborn resistance of Africa to shoulder the moral
responsibilities that come with freedoms. God, in giving us choice, also
gave us laws. When we step outside the bounds of these laws we are sowing
the wind and will reap the whirlwind. The woes of Africa are not the fault
of the "white imperialist" [although he is blamed for them all]. Like in
NAZIISM, there has to be a scape goat. The woes of Africa rest with our
lack of moral courage to take our responsibilities seiously and make the
right choices to do what is morally right in Gods sight.
Many have argued that German Jews could have done much more to prevent their
fate under NAZIISM. African whites must surely argue the same. In country
after country they have had their farms confiscated and they have left
Africa to try to feed itself and fail. The whites have mostly vanished like
the wind, out of Africa, sadly, but with minimum fuss. In Zimbabwe it has
been no different. The Commmercial Farmers Union has dialogued its members
into obscurity until Zimbabwe has taken its place beside the rest of the
African nations that can not feed themselves. The CFU continues, like the
band on the Titanic, to play their sad, sick "dialogue with dictators" tune
while the ship sinks beneath the waters. Its leaders lack the moral courage
to stand against the injustice that unfolds so predictably; and so
injustice, and all the baggage that goes with injustice, takes its place.
It is time we bring these injustices into the light. We argued in the
Supreme Court of Zimbabwe on 22 March 2007 about the racism [amongst other
things] in the land reform programme. We are putting together papers for
the international courts now. We would appreciate information [that we can
then put into affidavit form] from anyone who has experienced specific
racial abuse in the take over of their homes and property, especially where
racism is clearly evidenced as official policy of the Zimbabwe government.If
we do not take a stand against this injustice we shall only have ourselves
to blame for the continued injustices that Zimbabweans of all races have to
endure in the future
Letter 2 - Cathy Buckle
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
Sisters (The White Helmetshrikes) are back in our gardens and open bushland.
All are a sure sign that winter is here and these seasonal milestones are
now almost the only things that are normal or predictable for Zimbabweans
stuck in the eighth year of turmoil.
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
heard what had happened to lawyers in Harare. A group of 30 lawyers had
gathered outside 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 rights 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
of the 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,
on my back, my stomach, my arms, my buttocks. It was such a spectacle.
Motorists on the 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 in public?' 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
orphanage and telling the audience to vote for Zanu PF in March 2008. The
day after the assault of the lawyers there still seemed to be no mention of
the event on ZBC news because now the top story was of electricity cuts for
domestic areas of 20 hours a day.
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?
What shame on the UN and on the men in their suits and ties who lobbied for
Zimbabwe to be
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.
Letter 3 - A 16 year old Zimbabwean
Please take 5 min to read this. If it helped England it will help the Zims.
We need all the help we can get.
This is from Margaret Kriel's Morning Mirror, please try and pass it on to
as many people as you can,
I am a 16 year old person living in Zimbabwe. I think the time has come for
a more direct
appeal, and so I am writing to you, the world.
Maybe, just maybe, there might be someone out there who can help us...
It's tough here now. The inflation rate is so high that if you don't change
money within 6 hours you could get half the amount of foreign currency that
you would have originally received.
We're starving now; people die around us. In the last year alone at least
ten people associated personally with my family have died despite the fact
that they were only middle-aged. Other people don't make it to middle age.
They don't even make it past childhood.
Our once-proud nation is on it's knees. We flee or die. This beautiful,
bountiful once-rich land has become a living hell. We have dealt with it
until now; we have made a plan. That was the Zimbabwean motto: "MAKE A
But now we can't make a plan. We're too tired, too broken, too bankrupt. We
can't afford life, and life does not cost much, not really. We cannot afford
to eat, we cannot afford to drink, and we cannot afford to make mistakes,
because if we do we die. We don't have the capital to support ourselves, and
those few who do, have to deal with the horror of watching their friends and
family fall into absolute poverty as they cannot afford to help them.
We're waiting desperately for a great hand to pick us up out of the dirt
because at the moment we are outnumbered by Fate herself, and so we close
our eyes and pray. We have fought for too long, and have been brought to
breaking point. We simply stand, heads down, and bear it. Our spirit has
gone; we are defeated. After a valiant struggle of over fifteen years, we
have been broken.
There is no will left, no spirit. Like a horse that has been beaten until it
cannot fight anymore; we are the same, and, like that horse, we stand dusty,
scarred and alone, with dried blood on our sides and lash marks along our
flanks. Our ribs too stand out; our hide is also dull.
Our eyes are glazed, our throats are parched, and our knees struggle to
support us so that we stand with splayed legs to bear the brunt of the next
beating, too dejected even to whimper...
This is my plea. The thought of picking ourselves up again is sickening; one
can only take so many blows before oblivion is reached, and we are teetering
on the rim of the bottomless void. One more push will be the end of us
all...There must be someone out there who can do something. There must be
out there who cares! We are a destroyed nation, and the world sits back and
watches, pretending they cannot hear our cries. I appeal to you all...
A 16 YEAR OLD ZIMBABWEAN......
IN WORLD WAR II WHILE HITLER WAS BRUTALLY TAKING OVER THE WORLD, THERE WAS
AN ADVISOR TO CHURCHILL WHO ORGANISED A GROUP OF PEOPLE WHO DROPPED WHAT
THEY WERE DOING EVERY NIGHT AT A PRESCRIBED TIME FOR JUST ONE MINUTE TO
COLLECTIVELY PRAY FOR THE SAFETY OF ENGLAND, ITS' PEOPLE ANDPEACE.
THINGS DRASTICALLY CHANGED AND WELL, THE REST IS HISTORY
GOD IS THE ANSWER AND PRAYER IS THE ONLY WAY FOR ZIMBABWE!
IN VIEW OF THE CURRENT STATE OF AFFAIRS IN ZIMBABWE WE ARE ORGANISING A
DAILY ONE MINUTE PRAYER TIME AT 8 A.M. OR 1 P.M. OR 8.00 P.M. AT ANY ONE OF
THESE TIMES, PLEASE STOP WHATEVER YOU ARE DOING AND SPEND THAT ONE MINUTE
PRAYING FOR GOD TO INTERVENE IN THE AFFAIRS OF OUR COUNTRY.
SOMEONE SAID IF CHRISTIANS REALLY UNDERSTOOD THE FULL EXTENT OF THE POWER WE
HAVE AVAILABLE THROUGH PRAYER, WE MIGHT BE SPEECHLESS.
OUR PRAYERS ARE THE MOST POWERFUL ASSET WE HAVE. TOGETHER. WE CAN MAKE A
IF YOU KNOW ANY OTHER CHRISTIAN BROTHER AND SISTER WHO WOULD LIKE TO
PARTICIPATE IN THIS POWERFUL EXERCISE, PLEASE PASS THIS ALONG.
24-hour Solidarity Vigil
Letter 4 - Jacquie Gulliver
Could 'A mother' please explain if I'm a Rhodesian or a Zimbabwean? I've
lived here since 1949.
Letter 5 - Ben Freeth
I read in the Zimbabwean that the CFU continue on the road of appeasment as
they dialogue their way into history. "A regional CFU member told the
Zimbabwean that the Union members' reconfirmed their absolute commitment to
urgent dialogue with the government with out pre conditions and to assisting
them in succesful, orderly implementation of land reform'.
Could Union members perhaps comment on this?
The article goes on to say: "white farmers...have agreed to accept the
governments target and immediately resettle families...with free tillage,
seed and fertiliser. They have also resolved to drop all legal challenges
against the government".
Could other white farmers perhaps comment on this too?
We for one are not dropping any legal challenges. We saw what happened in
2002 when the CFU refused to legally challenge the section 8 legislation and
we all ended up on the wrong side of the law and were arrested en masse.
Before the CFU blindly set out on the "dialogue" road 90 percent of white
farmers were still on their farms. Five and a half years later they have
dialogued us down to 90 percent of white farmers being off their farms; and
they apparently "accept the governments target".
Could the CFU hierarchy perhaps comment too?
Letter 6 - A mother
President Mugabe is correct.
The country of Zimbabwe is in the state it is in because of England.
Without the imput of England into this country, which in the 19th Century
had no written language, it would not be able to register in the World..The
black Africans who are reading this letter would not have had the education
to do so.
Many of them would not even be alive without the missionaries, doctors and
nurses from England who cared for their ancestors.
110 years ago the population was 650,000 now it is 11,000,000+ those abroad.
Without the imput of England the grandparents of the present adult
population of this country would not have been transported to areas where
they could continue the subsistence farming they understood.
Without the imput of England the large areas of this country which had been
a subsistence agriculture, were farmed so well that the people removed from
them had suppliments to an incomplete diet that their basic farming produced
and other people who werent farmers were fed, extra food was sold to other
Without the imput of English education the present educated class would not
have been able to read of the injustice they perceive the removal of their
grandparents constituted. They would not now be able to address this issue,
sometimes personally or more often with the manipulation of the uneducated,
using in most scenarios, the senseless violence which pervades this country.
Without the imput of the English this country would not have had the
transport system, of roads and rail to move people, crops and other
essential commodities to other countries.
Without the imput of the English commerce we would not have been able to
make the money which has brought into this country the technical machinery
needed to advance it into the present century.
Without the imput of England President Mugabe and many other of todays
politicians, would not have been able to study for their degrees. In Mr
Mugabes case certainly, while imprisoned as terrorists in Rhodesian
President Mugabe (and his goverment) has addressed all of these imputs of
He has put the education systems began by England into complete disrepair.
He has put the medical system began by the Roman Cathlic Church and England
into complete disrepair.
He has completely annihalated the agriculture industry.
He has destroyed the courts of law and their officials.
He has destroyed the police force.
He has detroyed the prisons to the extent that they have become death camps.
He has destroyed the commercial viability of this country.
He has re-written the history of this country, to such an extent that even
the highly educated black and coloured officials in every sphere of life
consider themselves blessed to be in todays Zimbabwe FREE of laws.
To not be in this country, when they had food and transport and electricity,
and money and means of life.
He has subjected this country its people and the African Society, so well to
the Stalinist Doctrines and the old tribal traditions, that everywhere he is
considered a God.
HOWEVER some of the white people will remain here to 'put ON the lights'
after he and the black people of this continent have PUT THEM OUT.
All letters published on the open Letter Forum are the views and opinions of
the submitters, and do not represent the official viewpoint of Justice for